Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
I can still remember the day back in 2004, that my friend Rita stopped me in the hall, pointed to me and said, “YOU need to go to Women of Faith this year. It’ll change your life.” I seem to think I rolled my eyes at her and laughed. I was tired, beaten down with life and grief (I’d buried 10 friends that year), and frankly I was not in the mood for some churchy, happy, smiling faced, woman’s conference. I was falling apart and the last thing I wanted to do was sit around and listen to a bunch of women who had it all together tell me how great they are. Don’t mind my pity party or self loathing – or the fact that I lived in constant comparison at that time – and always (in my opinion) fell short of everyone else – I was apparently enjoying it because I stayed there for an awefully long time. There is defeat brought on by life and there is the kind of defeat brought on by ourselves – I was losing hope.
The truth is, I was already secretly handing in my ministry resignation to God — going to a conference was not (in my opinion) going to fix me. I’d already convinced myself that I was too broken to be of any use anyway. Basically while I hadn’t given up on God, I had pretty much given up on myself – and thought he has too.
Ever been there?
Feeling smug in my ability to ignore my friend’s recommendation, I was not amused when I got a flier in the mail inviting me to a Women of Faith Conference in Oklahoma City. Nor was I amused when a gal in my bible study announced that she was going and wanted someone to come with her and decided it would be me.
I’m a believer that God speaks through people. When I hear something once I might pay attention — but when the message comes to me three times in one week, I’ve learned to listen even when I have a broken heart.
I’ll never forget that first conference. I was introduced to wonderful teachers and speakers like Kathy Troccoli, Sheila Walsh, Patsy Clairmont, Luci Swindoll, Thelma Wells, and Marilyn Meburg. I laughed. I cried. I learned and I leaned into Christ for two solid days. I had no idea Christian women could be so honest with eachother. Chonda Pierce was even there – which is how I met her, but that is another story.
I knew then and there, if I only go to one conference a year WOF was it. Every year, God breaks my heart open just a little bit more and makes room for His healing touch in my secret places. He fills my heart with scriptural truths, joy, and tears and faith in what He alone can accomplish. This year was no different.
This year I got to go with a bunch of gals from my church who had never been before and since it was in Tulsa they thought “Why not.” — What a joy it was to be there with them, laugh and cry with them — and stretch out to God with open arms — knowing that He was reaching back. One of the gals even asked if it was always like this and when I said yes, she said “oh this is a no brainer, I’m coming back next year.”
How cool is that?
Women of Faith is totally Christ focused. It’s full of gifted communicators and teachers who share their life stories, and share a faith in Jesus that always leaves me astounded – and hungry for more. I love it.
I’ll give you a brief recap of the Imagine Tour and some of what we learned. If you want to know more about the speakers, just click on their names to go to their web pages.
Marcus Buckingham: In a world that mainly focuses on fixing what we’re weak at, author and speaker Marcus Buckingham offers a rather different paradigm. Marcus believes that our strengths are gifts from God and he suggests that we find what we are strong at, and grow in those areas. Now I’ll be honest I reviewed Marcus’ book Find Your Strongest Life Now a few months back and I had a hard time reading through it at first. It’s a bit too technical for me. I read a page of credentials and my eyes start to roll back into my head, but that’s just me. Once I saw Marcus speak and explain his thoughts at WOF’s opening day, I gained new insight into what it means to use the gifts God has given us – not for ourselves – but in order to make a difference in the world. Strongest Life is definitely one for the tool box. Marcus has put together an easy test that helps you find your strength categories. I’m a Creator/Teacher. If you’d like to take his simple test, simply click Strong Life Test. and see for yourself. – and remember, this is just a tool — Our toolboxes are only as useful as the tools we place in them. I like adding things to mine.
Lisa Harper: My first question is how did this wonderful bible teacher keep from being on my radar all these years. I really like this woman. She’s bright, funny, intuitive, and scripturally sound - I could relate to Lisa on almost every level. I say almost, because I haven’t lived through everything she has. But close. Lisa talks about a personal relationship with a God who is passionate, powerful, loving, and untamed. She speaks of a Hero in her life – named Jesus and what he has done and continues to do. She speaks about the women in his life from Mary to Martha to the woman in rags, she speaks of His grace, forgiveness, attention and love that he displayed towards them and continues to display towards us today. My only regret was not taking notes — I really wish I’d done that.
Luci Swindoll: How do you describe a woman like Luci? She’s a painter, a singer, a liver and lover of life. She is passionate about everything she does and brilliant to boot. What I originally liked about Luci was her common sense approach to living out her Christian walk. She embraces the life God has given her and does her best to live it out to his glory and not her own. She’s a giver in every aspect of living. She spoke about the importance of feeding our souls – with important stuff, not stuff of the world, but stuff of God’s gifts to the world – she is also careful to remind us not to be selfish with that, but to share with others.
Sheila Walsh: Even though Sheila is second on the roster, I’m writing about her last. I cried my eyes out the first time I heard Sheila speak – her story is so profound and heartbreaking and refilling all at once that you can’t help but be moved by it. I’ve had a wonderful time watching Sheila grow over the last six years. She is a beautiful, anointed, and gifted teacher, singer and speaker. I can only describe this journey as watching her grow into her skin and be happy there. She’s British (or maybe Scottish, I’m not sure) and it’s easy to mistake the posture that comes with it as cold assurance – when in reality I find Sheila to have this tender heart that just melts anyone’s who knows her. She teaches with clarity and focus and apparent confidence. This year she taught on trust — she spoke of Gideon and Abraham – and to quote my girlfriend – she got “in my business.” and I love it. She has a very gentle and affirming way of combining Gospel and Law in life changing lessons. If you saw only her — it would still be worth the price of the entire weekend.
There were more speakers and skits and singers but it would take a whole week to write about them. They are all wonderful teachers and inspiring women who speak of a faithful and true God. If you’d like to know more about Women of Faith please see their web page at www.womenoffaith.com
Have a blessed Monday ya’ll