Lavish HOPE: An Opportunity for Ministers’ Wives to Connect

by Kaley Ihfe

“These weekends are truly a gift and rejuvenate my heart, mind, and body in so many ways. When I come home, I feel like I have a better capacity to be a fully, loving minister’s wife since I was loved in a space where I was fully known,” wrote one Lavish HOPE participant after one of our retreats.  Lavish HOPE is a ministry that provides spiritual, emotional and physical care to wives of ministers (currently wives of preachers) through a series of three retreats. These retreats give women the opportunity to share their stories and experience God’s nurturing presence and include wonderful amenities like having your own room and bathroom, wonderful food, and a spa treatment (if desired).

It is actually more difficult to recruit women to be a part of Lavish HOPE than one might think.  I can remember when I was asked to be a part of the first cohort in 2018.  My first thought was, “I don’t have time to take 3 weekends to be away from my family in one year.”  My second thought was, “I don’t really need something like this.”  If I am honest with myself, I was also a little afraid of getting to know new people, specifically other minister’s wives and finding out that I am not as talented, as capable, as good, etc.  (If you are familiar with the Enneagram, it should not come as a shock to you at this point to know that I am a 3.)  However, there were two things that made me decide to put aside my fears: having my own room (not being on a bunk bed in a large room, typical retreat style) and the caregivers. I didn’t know who the other women in the cohort would be, but I knew that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to soak in time with women who had been following the Lord and listening to His call for decades. 

The one hurdle still left to overcome was the price tag – I knew that I could not afford to pay and wasn’t sure that the church could pay for it. Heather Hodges, the founder and first Director of Lavish HOPE, reached out to our executive minister who reached out to the elders who graciously agreed to pay for the retreats.  What a gift!  It helped me feel so appreciated that they would give this gift to me and helped me feel like my efforts were seen.

The truth is that ministers’ wives have many obligations.  We usually have jobs.  We often have children.  We have extended families (parents, siblings, grandparents) who often live in different cities than us, and it can be difficult to see them because our husbands work weekends.  So taking on another weekend thing feels like a lot.  It felt like a lot to me – but after that first weekend retreat, I was hooked! I had no idea how wonderful it would feel to get away, to have some time to myself and to have time with other women who knew what it was like to manage the pressures of family, work, and ministry – who knew what it was like to live in a world where income and community and faith are all tied up together.  

It turns out that a number of women share my concern when they are approached about coming to Lavish HOPE  – and also end up loving the time together. Here is what some women had to say about their feelings as they came to their first retreat: 

  • “I was nervous going into the group originally but was not only pleasantly surprised, but delighted by the experience.”
  • “I have connected to the other ladies so well- before the first weekend I was worried about bonding.”

It is time to recruit for our next Lavish HOPE cohort which will start in Fall 2024.  If you are a church leader, I would love for you to seriously consider offering Lavish HOPE to your preacher’s wife as a gift of appreciation to her.  One of our participants said recently, “Lavish Hope has been the most life giving experience I’ve received as a ministry wife. It is a priceless gift I wish each and every ministry wife of every denomination could receive.”  Even though it can be a scary thing to say “yes” to, every woman who has been a part of Lavish HOPE has loved the experience, and it has given all of us a support network some of us didn’t even know we needed.  

Please go to for more information and contact Kaley Ihfe at with any questions!

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