Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways
acknowledge him,and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Women of Faith 2011

What can I say?  Leading up to this years' WOF conference I wasn't as excited as in years past.  So much had gone on prior to make life crazy.  I felt like I did such a poor job organizing this year and that had me in the "Debbie-Owner" mode before we left.  As always though, I only needed to be in the presence of what had to be 15,000 women, singing praise songs, laughing and crying for about 15 minutes when my mind shifted and I couldn't wait discover each and every blessing.

Coming with an open mind and heart is a must.  You never know in what way Jesus is going to touch you and ask you to make a change.  Here's a visual of one of the best moments from the weekend left to right; Sandi Patty, Mandesa, blonde head in back is Lisa Welchel, Marilyn Meberg, Patsy Clairmont, Amy Grant, her guitarist, and Brenda Warner, (green shirted man in the back was Amy's drummer):

The 2011 WOF Conference had a theme - "Over the Top."  Can I say, it was exactly that?  I can?  Okay - It was exactly that, over the top.   So much information to take in over a short amount of time.  It's hard to come home and remember everything.  I expect though that God will help me remember what it is He wants me to remember.  So, here are some high-lights....

Patsy Clairmont:

This amazing woman shared a testimony about a learning experience she went through as her son suffered a terrible illness and nearly died.  Her focus was on change.  The reality is, none of us really like change, and finding a way to be accepting of it can be so difficult.  But, when you can look back over your life and recognize the times where God put change in your path and you can clearly see His hand in it, that is when maybe, just maybe you can allow yourself to be more accepting of it the next time.

Patsy's change came when the hospital needed some equipment in her sons' hospital room.  They decided he would be moved to another room.  To another floor.  Resulting in a different team of doctors taking over his care.  To a domineering doctor telling Patsy she could sit there, but not say one word, to a decision to change her sons' medication.  Through the entire process, Patsy had to dig deep to not say anything and allow the change to take place.  All these changes, then the final one regarding the change in his med's, were ultimately what saved his life.  An affirmation for Patsy that sometimes, yes, change can be good.

"Say yes to God, thank you to Him more often, and No to others and things that will get in the way of doing what God is calling you to do."
"Whining is anger coming out of a small place."
"Sarcasm is anger going underground and coming back up wearing a clown suite."

I think the 3 R's came from Pastsy:
Refuse bad thoughts
Replace with good one's
Repeat the process

Marilyn Meberg:

Marilyn talked about people wanting more.  You know how you feel sometimes?  Something is missing, but you aren't sure what?   You just know you want - - more.  She described a time at a restaurant where she and Lucy Swindol were out to dinner together.  The background music consisted of a young man singing and playing the guitar.  He was, as Marilyn described, "not operating in his gift."  Can anyone else relate to that?  I sure can.  When this young man set his guitar aside and went off to take a break, Marilyn made a bet with Lucy.  She wanted Lucy to pick up the guitar, play something and sing, and with that, Marilyn would buy her dinner.

What happened afterwards was rather amazing.  Lucy took the bet, only she sang a wonderful song beautifully.  People who hadn't noticed the music before, put down their forks, etc, and listened.  When she was done, they hollered, "more, more...."  A simple case of not even realizing it, but suddenly wanting more.

Through this funny story, Marilyn wove her invitation to all in attendance.  Anyone here not know the Lord as their Savior?  Just pray this prayer with me and we can solve that right now.  Of course, those are my words.  Marilyn is pure class.  She adeptly invites you to pray with her and make a change in your life like no other.  Accept the Lord as the Lord over your life.  I adore Marilyn.

Andy Andrews:

He was a newbie to WOF and to me.  I'd never heard of this man/author before.  But apparently his books are on the New York Times Best Sellers list.  One of them had been rejected by publishers 51 times before someone agreed to publish it.  And surprise, surprise.  People love it, hence, making the best sellers list.

Andy A. was definitely entertaining.  He was ALL over the stage, up and down the stairs leading up to the stage, and all around the stage below the platform, even moving amongst the audience.  I don't think he could stand up there and speak if they told him he couldn't move around.  Seriously, this man must have had ADD as a child.

And funny.  Very funny man.  He made you laugh and made you think.  I bought two of his books, "The Travelers Gift," and "The Final Summit."  Sorry, Honey.  I know.....I needed another book like I needed another hole in my head.  But, I couldn't resist.  He was so inspiring and very interesting.  I've barely started, "The Travelers Gift," but I'll let you know what I think when I'm done.  It's all about "seven decisions that determine personal success."

He told an adorable story about how he could vividly remember a period of ten days in his life where God was moving and in big ways.  He was out of town though and couldn't wait to get home to share with his wife all that God had been doing.  His little boy, who I think he said was 5 or 6 at the time, kept interrupting and wanted time with him.  So, when his son said, "Dad I want to catch a flounder," Andy figured it was the perfect solution to keep him occupied for a little while so he could talk to his wife.  Because you had to be quiet and patient to fish/catch flounder.

To make a long story short, Andy doesn't think for one moment his son will catch a flounder, but he sets him all up on the dock, even letting him choose an oversized lure that won't possibly work, so he can have a few minutes to talk with his wife.  What happens next?  Only moments after dipping his line in the water he hears, "Dad, I think I caught him."  When Andy turned around his sons' pole was bent nearly over.  So, he told his wife to get the net.  When he went over to help his son, he hollered to her that they needed a BIGGER net!  Low and behold, Andy's little boy caught the biggest flounder any of them had ever seen. Who, but God, could put a huge flounder on the end of the fishing line, with the wrong kind of lure, all because a little boy said, "Dad, I want to catch a flounder?"  Can I get an Amen?  Amen.  My new saying of choice, "I think I'd like to catch me some flounder..."

Something significant that Andy talked about was reading.  He said straight out how important it was to be a reader.  Even if you didn't like to read, you had no excuses.  Reading was an opportunity to put the good INTO your mind instead of all the mediocre stuff that is readily available at any turn of your head.

Additionally, what I gleaned from Andy was that you never really knew to what degree things you've done will impact someone else.  He wrote a book called, "The Butterfly Effect," which I had heard of at some point in time, and described how what you do today will affect God's work, and as you look back you can see His hand in it all.

He had a very neat story describing this, but I can't even begin to tell you the names of the characters and what they did.  But at the end of it, I was in awe.  We think our actions only impact the here and now.  But, that is so not true.

And finally, the biggest thing Andy taught me was the difference between a Mistake vs Choice.  "I am sorry" is acceptable for mistakes, but only the words, "will you forgive me" can push our forgiveness reset button.

Funny moments:  Andy's story as a small child, singing Amazing Grace in front of church, but using different musical themes to get the job done.  Resulting in a dad who wasn't very happy.  And singing to the theme of Ghost Rider's in the Sky.....Did I say he was funny?  Oh, I did.  Okay...

Brenda Warner:

Brenda shared her testimony.  It was an amazing testimony.  The hardships she faced as her husband left her for someone else.  She was pregnant and her son was extremely disabled.  Brenda is a former Marine and one thing she learned from being a Marine is to always, "Live with courage, honor and integrity, even when things don't look like you want them to look."  She did that even as she stood in line for food-stamps.  Her story ends happily as she found and married Kurt Warner, football player, and had five more children together making her the thinnest mom of 7 I've ever seen.

Lisa Welchel:  

Maybe you've heard of her.  She was a child-star and had an acting part on the sit-com, "Facts of Life."  As a result of many factors in her life, Lisa discovered after the age of 40 that she truly didn't have any close friends.  Her talk revolved around her struggle to make friends, the mistakes she made in trusting the wrong people and how she finally learned that in order to have close friends you first had to learn how to BE a good friend.  It took her a long time to set her vulnerability aside and let people in.  I enjoyed learning from her aspects of friendship I'd not considered before.

Sandi Patty & Mandesa:

Both these singers inspired me greatly as they shared the success they've had in the area of weight loss.  Mandesa is 112 pounds lighter and Sandi is now just overweight and no longer severely, morbidly obese.
Something that touched my heart was when Sandi signed one of her songs, then encouraging those in the section of the auditorium for the deaf to sign along with her....ah....blessed that's what I felt!!

Here is my daughter Allie as she stood with Mandesa for an autograph!

And her best friend, Lucy, as she received her autograph!

Amy Grant:

Boy can she sing.  I'd never seen her in person and I guess I hadn't realized how little I know her newer songs because nearly the only one I recognized was "Better than a Hallelujah."  I'm a little embarrassed to say that, because all I listen to is Christian Radio, but I just didn't know the songs she sang and I wished I did.  They were beautiful.

She mentioned something I think she said came from her grandmother, or maybe an Auntie, "Lord, lead me today to someone that needs You and to make a difference for eternity."  How wonderful is that?  It has resonated in my mind.  I want that for me!

While Amy has this amazing voice and can sing like crazy she has a humorous side to her as well.

When her now ten year old daughter was three years old, they were riding in the car and she wanted to talk to Daddy.  So, Amy dialed his cell, and handed the phone to her daughter.  She saw a smiling face in the rearview mirror, then heard this little voice say, "Well, I'm wearing play clothes, what are you wearing?"   :o)

And, as she stood there playing her guitar and singing, she paused in between songs to say that it just occurred to her that she'd packed the same clothes she'd worn to the benefit concert the night before.  Her alarm didn't go off and she woke up late, packing and grabbing quickly.  She had quickly forgot just how stinky every one was at the benefit concert which had been held out in a barn.  

Don't let anyone tell you the musicians and speakers that attend WOF are not real people....

This year I had the pleasure of sitting with two WOF newbies, Lucy G. and Jody E..  I nearly had whip-lash looking back and forth at them, trying to gauge whether  or not they were having a good time.  This is our foursome, left to right Lucy, Allie, and Jody, with me hiding in the back:

And a cute picture of my girlies....if God had blessed me with a third daughter, I could only pray she would have been as sweet, kind, and caring as dear Lucy.  Her momma did something right raising this young woman.  I'm so proud of her I could pop....and I'm proud of my girl, Allie.  She been through a lot of changes this year and is doing her best to take it all in stride.  As in-stride as Allie can get.

Our group had a little mix-up at Will-Call when we tried to pick up our tickets.  The mix-up have you curious?  Okay, well, our tickets were assigned to a Pamela Parker, in New Albany, Ohio.  Of all things!   It only took a few extra minutes to get it figured out and our tickets were in hand.  But, I have to admit it was fun to blame Pamela Parker in New Albany for any glitches during our stay at WOF...."What was that New Albany group thinking of anyway, we'll just blame it on New Albany," could be heard a few times over the course of the weekend.  ;o)

And so another year of WOF comes to a close.  Blessings upon blessings came from the two day weekend spent in San Antonio...I have one other tid-bit type blessing to share, but I think maybe I'll save that for another day...

"Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God...?"  Rom 11:33

Walking with the King,
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