A God centered weekend of healing, restoration, relaxation, and sisterhood under the Texas stars for the widows of our soldiers.



Our Mission & Beginnings

A mission statement. How do you describe this event with a mission statement? The why and the how of it all began long before I had the slightest idea what was going to happen.

My dad served in the Korean War, my father-in-law in the Navy, my mother-in-law in the Airforce. I was a young navy wife and mother of an infant. Like you, that meant deployment and time away from each other that is never regained. I had a small glimpse of trying to be courageous and keep dad informed of first steps, first smiles, first laughs. I gained a heart for all branches of service and my heart has grown for your losses.

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How is a whole other story. My husband and I lived in the same house for 28 years. We raised three children, two girls and one boy, got them out of the house and built a log cabin on the ranch. Throughout the build I would pray for God to bless all who enter and protect them while they are here. During my prayer I envisioned my family and friends. Time goes by, the house was finished enough to move in right before Thanksgiving 2015 and life went on. I was and still am in a bible study. During our circle prayer time I would often pray for God to send me. “I will go Lord, send me, my hands and feet will do your work." Oh trust me, I included my bible sisters in my prayer! One day my mother-in-law, Esther, asked me to go to a Barbara Bush Women’s Health event. Taya Kyle was the speaker. The following day was Chris Kyle’s birthday. Imagine the emotions. She cried, I cried. Need I say more. The whole day my mind was consumed with the thought of our American Widows. What happens to them? When they get handed a flag, they are handed an eviction notice if they live on base. Then what?

When we went to bed that evening my husband asked me how the speaking engagement went. I told him I couldn’t tell him a thing about what she said, but I could tell him a lot about the emotions I felt, and the pain I saw from the loss she, like you, have endured. I told him it made me want to do something like, like have a retreat for the widows of our soldiers! He said that would be a good thing to do and fell asleep.

Well that was all I needed so I began contacting different organizations, telling them my desire to have a retreat. I needed someone to help me get this going. I needed someone to vet me and help me offer my home to the military widow. No one contacted me back. I didn’t push this on them because if they didn’t want to get involved in something like this right off the bat, they weren’t my people.

A few months go by and I am at a store in town taking care of some business. A man from Texas Veterans Commission, Tony, and a woman from the Texas Workforce Commission, Amber, came in and wished to speak with me. Tony gives me his presentation on hiring veterans and I tell him about what I have been trying to do. He tells me “I can help. The girl that helps these widows get the VA benefits is just a few doors down from me.” An answer to sincere prayer. The next thing I know this retreat became more than an idea. A team of women came to me and we began planning and reaching out. God has moved this to a reality.

My mission is to have this retreat spread throughout the state of Texas. There are people who just don’t know that they can do something. I didn’t know until it was put in my face. I pray that other people who have been blessed will extend their hospitality to our American Widows. I want Texas to set an example of what true hospitality is, and for each host or hostess to entertain and support these women in their own personal way. If you have a great place in the city where women can be pampered or entertained, then do it your way. If you live by a lake, have an awesome water adventure. Whatever it may be that God has blessed and equipped you with, use it.

Most important is God gets the glory. He intended this cabin to bless more than my friends and family. I know this to be true. He has much bigger plans than I could ever dream up. It is His answer to my prayers and I pray every day, if you attend this retreat, it is God’s answer to your prayers.

—Jennifer Thorp, Founder


Watch the KLST segment about Jennifer Thorp and her vision for the Oaks of Life Retreat.


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