Where can you go to experience the fellowship of 18,000 women in worship? Well, one place is the Women of Faith Conference. I was there over this last weekend and cannot begin to explain the impact! I guess it would be an understatement to say that I went into the weekend exhausted mentally, physically and even spiritually. As I have mentioned before the past two years have been unbelievable in their intensity as Warren and I have lost our fathers, the children have gone through personal struggles and our mothers have moved into the neighborhood. We are thankful to have them here but the logistics of selling and buying houses is tiring, especially while everyone is grieving. Our church is facing major changes, for the better, but every change brings stress of its own. Our homeschool co-op is delightful... but it is work. Our CHALC (Coalition of Homeschoolers Across Lancaster County) Board is a wonderful group, but being Presidents for the last year,and this one coming, is also a huge responsibility, which we cannot take lightly. SO.....all of that to say...this chick was going in to that conference on fumes!
The conference begins with the incredible Worship Team leading this stadium full of women in beautiful praise. My eyes are still dry at this point. I am just loving it! I lead worship in our church and really appreciate the loveliness of what was happening. Thousands of voices lifted up to our Heavenly Father.
The Friday Pre-conference featured Sheila Walsh (!) and Dr. Henry Cloud talking about fulfilling those dreams that we have smothered out of busyness or FEAR. Taking those very difficult first steps to use the talents and gifts that God has placed in us. Whatever they may be.
Then came Saturday...Oh my! My eyes were barely dry the whole day. Now, I don't cry a lot in my day to day life. I'm just too busy keeping myself occupied to take time for cleansing tears...or any other kind. This is what started me off on Saturday...Sandi Patti!!!! That woman can really, really communicate through song. You have to understand that my Dad was a student of the hymns. When he prayed out loud he would often find the words of a hymn would say what he wanted to say better than he could so he would quote them at some point in nearly every prayer. At his funeral in November of 2005 we sang some of his favorites and I do mean sang. I determined that there would be no tears and in his honor I would sing with all that was in me...because Daddy would have loved it. And so I did!
Cut to this weekend and Sandi Patti...she sang those songs with all that was in her. Could I sing along? Oh No! I was immersed in the beauty of the song and the emotional devastation of missing my precious Daddy, whom there really has been little time to grieve. I wonder what the dear lady beside me was thinking as I sobbed. Good Grief!...no really! What I have learned in these past couple of years is that you can postpone those intensely painful feelings but you must and will go through them before it is over. Grief will not be avoided indefinitely. SO...here I am in the midst of it...Thanks Sandi!
Carol Kent was a new speaker to me. She is a mother. This woman has been through something that would be almost worse than the death of a child, if it weren't for the grace of God in their lives using this tragedy for God's purposes. Carol's son took the life of another man. He is in prison for life with no chance of parole...EVER! She has written many books but two that were featured this weekend were When I Lay My Isaac Down and A New Kind of Normal . I have not yet read these books but will as soon as possible. You can find more information about Carol at her web site. She is a truly amazing daughter of God!http://www.carolkent.org/books/index.html
Little Patsy Clairmont had us nearly rolling in the aisles with laughter as she recounted her travels to Israel and Africa over this past year. If you know anything about Patsy you know that she was an agorophobic who now speaks to thousands of women and who has high energy as well as a quirky sense of humor. From her trip up the Masada (Israel) in what she referred to as a tic tac box on a piece of floss (the cable car), to the recounting of the cape horn buffalo stampede in Africa she had us in stitches. http://www.womenoffaith.com/conferences/speakers/07/PatsyClairmont.asp
There was so much more...maybe I'll get to share later...All I can say is if you have opportunity to get to a Women of Faith Conference...run, do not walk, to get yourself a reservation. Push other commitments out of the way and do this for yourself and your family. Really! You'll appreciate them so much when you come home...and they appreciate you after a couple of days without you!