Warning - this is going to be a very long post with lots of chatter about my amazing weekend retreat at a Christian Women's Conference. There will be a million links to websites and books/music I want to buy later and also some of my own notes about the speakers and singers --- both to share my experience with you, but also as a way for me to remember the weekend when I come back and read this message again months from now (I do that often with my blog posts). There's not much talk about WLS in this post, sorry.
I only worked a few hours on Thursday morning, then started my weekend with a 90-minute massage. OMG! Then I drove 4.5 hours down to Columbus, Ohio where I checked into the Hyatt Place hotel (it was seriously the best hotel experience of my life, they were awesome!). Friday and Saturday I spent in a conference with 11,000 other women and when they let us out for breaks and such, I explored the downtown area on foot. Sunday I slept late and left the hotel around noon, then shopped my way home and around 9:30 p.m. I pulled into my driveway, unloaded the car, unpacked my suitcases and went to bed early.
It was one of the best weekend getaways I've ever experienced. I'm so glad I went. I've returned refreshed, relaxed and rejoicing. My task list is still looming and I'm still very very very far behind on my school work and the book stuff -- but I'm looking at it with a fresh perspective right now.
I attended the Women of Faith Imagine conference. If you're not familiar with what that is, lemme explain. It is a huge gathering of women (11,000 women) - we crowd into a massive arena and listen to amazing speakers teaching lessons from the Bible. Then we worship together with top notch singers. We laugh and cry and sing and learn together. This was my first time attending, but I'm definitely hooked and plan to go every year. The Columbus conference was the first on the Imagine tour, so if you're interested, check their website for the rest of the tour dates.
Some of the speakers and singers who were there include:
|Up Close and Personal with Mary Mary|
- Natalie Grant - she brought us all to our knees with her song "It is well with my soul". (Here's a video that was captured at another WOF conference - it was so much more powerful than I can explain.) I knew she was a great artist, but I had no idea she was SO great. Her new CD is Love Revolution.
- Women of Faith Worship Team - These four ladies lead us all in worship at the beginning of each day and whenever we all gathered back after breaks. They sang amazing songs from their new CD Rejoice. What an inspiration they are. What beautiful voices!
- Mary Mary - wow! such energy! Before the conference I hadn't heard of them but they had me hooked with their first song on Friday night. Their latest CD is called Something Big which debuted at #10 on the Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart (yes, that's all music, not just Christian music).
- Luci Swindoll - I'm officially in love with this lady! I resisted buying her book at the conference because I wanted to get the ebook for my Nook (I tend to actually read ebooks whereas hard copy books go unread). Her latest is Notes to a Working Woman, but I've also got a couple others on my wish list: Doing Life Differently and also Life! Celebrate it. My biggest lesson from Luci this weekend was quoted in the Cliff Notes section and was something she prayed before her message: "Lord, give us meaning rather than more."
- Shelia Walsh - What I love about Shelia's messages (besides her awesome Scottish accent) was how she brought the stories of the Bible to life. Learning the meaning behind different words helps to bring a story to life. My favorite lesson from Shelia was: "It is not the sheep's job to get itself safely home - that is the job of the shepherd. And the shepherd knows where to find you." The book they talked about this weekend was "The Shelter of God's Promise" - but she's got another book that was release last year that it at the top of my list: "Beautiful Things Happen when a Woman Trusts God."
- Angie Smith - of the blog Bring the Rain really touched the hearts of many this weekend. She shared her story of losing her baby daughter shortly after she was born and how God brought her through that storm in her life. She also wrote the book I Will Carry You. For being scared to speak in front of such a large group of people - she certainly touched every single heart in that arena. Wow!
- Lisa Harper - I love that you're 47 and single and so happy in your life. It gives me hope! (OK, not that I'm happy you're single... sorry, didn't mean it to sound that way LOL). But because she's single, it makes me want to read her books. Untamed and A Perfect Mess - two books now on my list. My favorite lesson from Lisa was: "Drop your rocks and stand together." Referring to when the woman who was caught in adultery and Jesus said to the crowd that those who have not sinned should throw the first stone. The crowd dispersed. But Lisa pointed out that nobody stayed to stand beside the women in support - they all left. So it is not enough to just drop your rock and leave, we also need to stay and stand by our brothers/sisters to give them support and love.
- Dr. Henry Cloud - Seriously?! This man is amazing! I took so many notes while he was speaking and I know I missed a lot of gems - But what I got was still amazing. Two things stand out from his messages: "Never leave home without your monkey." and "Your brain works on oxygen, glucose and relationships." Checking out Dr. Cloud's Facebook Page I see lots of people talking about how great his books are and that they can't put them down. He talked about The Law of Happiness in one of his messages and Necessary Endings. But I'm checking out his book called: How to Get a Date Worth Keeping.
- Nicole Johnson shared her testimony and a bit about her life. My favorite lesson from her was: We are not enough, but in God's hands, He allows us to become enough." She touched on her book called "A Fresh Brewed Life" and taught us that coffee is at its best after the beans have been crushed, ground and brewed in hot water, which is a beautiful parallel for how God can transform a crushed life into something delicious and lovely.
- Kim Cash Tate shared her story too. She's a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom who recently quit her job as a lawyer to be at home with her children. She had a new Christian fiction book out about three friends: Faithful. My favorite lesson from Kim was: "You are not your past, the color of your skin, your career, your sins, your relationships ... you are a new creature in Christ. Your life dreams may be different than God's plan, but he'll bring you around to his way of thinking eventually."
- Laura Story made a surprise appearance on Friday. Her current song Blessings is one of my favorites right now. Listen to what she says about it in this video.
- Lori Roberts
Whew! That was a much longer run-down than I'd planned. But I wanted to capture the essence of what these people brought to my life over the past weekend. It takes a lot for me to completely forget about the hectic life I lead and all the things on my to-do list... but these people did it. And when I landed back on my Monday morning, faced with too much to do at work and a schoolwork list that is not based in any form of reality... I realize I'm looking at the task list differently today. The hectic-ness hasn't changed, but my outlook has been adjusted and I have more peace. What gets done will get done and what doesn't get done, oh well... the world will not end if I miss a homework assignment or two, ya know.
The verse that guided the weekend was Ephesians 3:20a:
God can do anything, you know-far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!~Pam