Dates:     2019 dates and application information coming soon.

The 18 Inch Journey Retreat is about going beyond what you know about God in your head to really knowing Him in your heart. Led by Jonathan and Melissa Helser and the Cageless Birds, this retreat will expand the possibilities of what your daily relationship with God can look like.

This retreat is a four day intensive for your heart.  It focuses on practical tools for your personal growth, as well as creating an atmosphere for rest and retreat. Come experience the love of God and discover the beauty of the home He’s made inside your heart.

What to Expect:
These four days are set apart for…

  • experiencing family and encountering the inexhaustible love of God

  • learning to hear and journal the voice of the Lord for yourself

  • learning the tools we have cultivated within our community -- these tools have created a doorway for us to experience so much sustainability and breakthrough in our marriages, lives, friendships, ministry and especially in our relationship with the Lord.

  • taking creative risks in a safe and encouraging environment

  • exercising and exploring your identity as sons and daughters made in the image of a Creator

  • celebrating, championing, and encouraging every heart

  • sharing home cooked meals around the table and enjoying lots of Maker Coffee

  • discovering Jesus inside one another

  • times of worship and adoration in the presence of the Lord

  • being challenged and stretched in a way that maybe you're not used to -- there is always a reward that comes when we choose to get away and seek the Lord.

We have experienced first hand how powerfully the Father can meet our hearts in a matter of four days.  Each day is intentionally designed and fully scheduled to pursue Jesus' heart together. You will receive deeply from both His presence and from the joy of engaging new friendships.

Who the 18 Inch Journey Retreat is For:
You don't need to be an artist or a musician to come, however you must be willing to take a risk and step out into your God-given right to be creative. Come hungry and willing to engage Jesus in new ways and be seen and known in family. 

We desire that people from every arena of life, work and ministry would come.  These four days will feed and nourish every area of your life including ministry, relationships, marriage and parenting.

By applying for the 18 Inch Journey Retreat, you are saying yes to being willing to engage with your own heart, the heart of the Lord and the hearts of other people.

Here are a few amazing testimonies from some of the men and women who came to previous retreats:

From the moment I pulled in, I felt welcomed - expected - even known, though I had not met anyone else before. Everyone immediately felt like family. I was blown away at how easy it was to immediately let down walls and defenses, and to realize there were walls in me that I never even knew existed. I knew that you had truly cultivated a community of safety, vulnerability, and authentic, Jesus-focused love. I feel that everything you did with us each day modeled the invitation of the Father. I did not feel pressured into doing anything. I was invited, and eager to answer the invitation.
— Taylor
I really didn’t know what to expect. I just knew I was supposed to be there. I will forever remember my time there as the first place that I saw Jesus face to face. I have been a Christian for a while but I have never seen him like I encountered Him that weekend.
— Misty
The level of professionalism and excellence surrounded by love was unbelievable. God confirmed and revealed so many things to me I was astonished at times and almost in a state of laughter. I know God set me up for some incredible experiences through Him and the staff.
— David H.
Personally I feel peace like never before. In the past I would be stressed and not know why, but now I’m learning to carry His sweet presence in a new way. We were greatly impacted and wrecked in a good way. We will soon be beginning to disciple and steward our worship community in our home through our church family; and we know being at the retreat was pivotal for knowing how to pour and serve our own community with excellence while pursuing Gods presence together.
— Renee

A Place for the Heart
4228 Beckerdite Rd. Sophia, NC 27350


The 18 Inch Journey Retreat is held on our beautiful 52 acres called A Place for the Heart.  This quiet retreat is great for coming away from the noise of the world and hearing the voice of the Father. This is where we host the 18 Inch Journey and live and work year round.


You will stay in beautiful cabins tucked in the woods and overlooking the lake. Since we do not have co-ed housing, men and women will be divided into separate cabins and married couples will not be housed together.  The women's cabins both have a ground floor and a loft with a bathroom located inside the cabin. Each cabin sleeps six to eight. The men's cabins each have two rooms that sleep four to six per room and there is a short walk to the bathrooms. All linens and towels will be provided in your cabin.


Attendees are responsible for their own transportation.

We will provide one complimentary shuttle service run for pick-up at Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTI) on Wednesday April 11 at 2:30pm, that will arrive at A Place for the Heart at 3:15pm  and one drop-off shuttle run on Sunday April 15 that will depart at 7:00 am and arrive at the airport at 7:45am. If you would like to use our complimentary shuttle service, please make sure that your incoming and outgoing flights fit within this window and designate your desire on your application.

Airport Information
Piedmont Triad International Airport - 40 minute drive
Raleigh Durham International Airport - 1 hour 30 minute drive
Charlotte Douglas International Airport - 1 hour 30 minute drive

thank you for your interest

2018 applications now closed

Acceptance process:
Due to size and space limitations of this retreat, we will only review the first 60 applicants.  You and your spouse can apply together using the same application.  Applications will be open for submission from January 5 to January 12.  We will notify you by February 2 if you are selected.  Payment is not required to submit an application.  If you are selected, you will be given a registration / payment deadline.

Why an Application?
We have chosen to use an application process because of high demand for our events. We have found that more people means less face-to-face conversations and less intentionality. It is our desire to always be able to fit people around the dinner table, to always have the capacity to look the people that come in the eye.  In order to do this, we have chosen to use an application process to preserve the intimacy of this event. 

We also realize that four days is a very limited amount of time.  One of our highest values is community and it is our desire that you would step into family as soon as you step onto the land.  We want you to immediately feel how loved and seen you are by those around you and by the Father. It is our desire to get to know you a bit before your arrival and an application will empower us to do this.

Cancellation by Registrant
To reserve your spot for the 18 Inch Journey Retreat you are required to make a non-refundable deposit of $75.00 within two weeks of your acceptance. Full payment is required by March 16th to hold your space in the 18 Inch Journey Retreat.  You may cancel your registration and receive a refund up to 3 weeks prior to the date of the event; minus your $75.00 non-refundable deposit.  In the event that you cancel your registration less than 3 weeks prior to the date of the event, you will forfeit 50% of the entire registration fee.  Regardless of when you cancel your registration, your registration is not transferable to another event, date, or person.

Cancellation by The 18 Inch Journey Retreat
If the event is made impossible by any act of God, war, earthquake, fire, strike, sickness, accident, epidemic, act of government, its agencies or officers, or any other legitimate cause beyond our control, we will cancel the event and will gladly refund you in full.

Contact us at with any questions, in the subject write "Retreat".