Friday, August 26, 2011

Women of Faith Weekend - More Than I Could Have Imagined

A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to attend Women of Faith in Atlanta, GA.  My highschool friend Cathy and I drove the 4 hours to Atlanta in hopes of having a nice weekend together, away from our kids and the responsibility of family. Not only did we have a nice weekend, we got a chance to be refreshed and inspired. Here we are at the conference (please excuse the grainy iPhone pic).

I am not going to lie though, I have been dreading writing this post.  I just couldn't figure out how in the world I was going to be able to write a post that accurately summed up the weekend.

For starters, the music was great! From the Women of Faith worship team leading us in praise and worship music, to Natalie Grant totally bringing the house down, to the sweet, ministering voice of Laura Story, to the passion that flows from Mary, Mary, the music was the best I have heard in a long time, if ever. I had never seen any of these ladies in person/concert before, and none of them disappointed at all.  I can't wait to get some of their music loaded onto my iPhone so I can listen to it over and over!

If all that great music wasn't enough, the speakers were even better!

Lisa Harper made us all laugh as she shared her "naked man" story, but the way she tells stories from the Bible really causes you to think about those stories in a whole new way.  She was so down to earth and real, that it made you feel like you were one of her dearest friends.

Steve Arterburn was not technically a "women of faith",  but he shared real life stories of how God had redeemed his life when by all accounts, personal and professionally, he was a failure.  Who can't identify with failure?  We have all been there for sure.

Nicole Johnson presented not only her popular skit "The Invisible Woman", but also shared her personal story of a broken, shattered, life and how God turned it into something beautiful. Normally you think of Nicole as a very funny, lighthearted person, but hearing her share her story showed a totally different side to her that I think almost everyone can identify with. Having her step out from behind her characters and stand vulnerable before an audience of thousands, was touching on so many levels.  Don't we all need to step out from behind the characters and masks that we wear, and just be real with one another? It sure made me think about the mask that I wear sometimes...the ones that say "I'm fine", even though I know I'm not.

Luci Swindoll was so funny and real. She has such an outgoing personality.  It's hard to not walk away from hearing her without wanting to just grab onto life, and live it to the fullest!

Sheila Walsh...I'm not even sure where to begin here. She has so much Bible knowledge mixed in with practical application. She shared her stories and was way more honest about her mental health struggles than most people would be. I am sure it took more than a fair share of bravery to be totally honest about that, when for most people, that would be a source of shame and embarrassment. Her honesty and openness about her struggles and how God has walked with her were inspiring and uplifting. If all that wasn't enough, she also has an amazing voice. Her versions of traditional hymns leave you with chill bumps as her voice echoes in the rafters.

Angie Smith. If you have ever read her blog or her book I Will Carry You, or heard her speak before, then you will understand why describing her and her story is so hard. She walked us through a time in her life where most people would have turned their back on God and just walked away.  However, Angie and her family decided that no matter what news doctors can give you...our Jesus is still the same as he was before the bad news came. Her unbelievable faith is both humbling and inspiring.  She encouraged us to trust God in the face of fear and reach out to him as "Kyrios"...the one to whom I belong. As she shared the story of her daughter Audrey, there was not a dry eye in the room as I'm sure thousands of mothers like me, imagined how they would feel if they were facing what she and her family faced.  Her honesty and humor make you wish you could just sit with her for coffee once a week and share like old friends.

One of the highlights of Women of Faith for me, was getting to actually meet Angie.  After following her blog for years, and having already read her first book, I was anxious to read her second book What Women Fear. I wasn't sure if there would be a chance to meet here at the conference, and was happy just to be able to hear her speak. I was so excited when I saw that she would be signing books as well.  I got in line early and was able meet her and have her sign my new book.  Let me tell you...she is just as cute and sweet in person as you would imagine. Here we are at the book signing.

Noticing a trend here with all the speakers?  Real... I think that's what Women of Faith is all about.  Allowing women to be real with others and ourselves and knowing that God loves us, in-spite of our fears and failures.  Women of Faith gives us a change to sit with thousands of women just like ourselves and "Imagine" what our life can be life if we just turn our hopes, our fears, our pasts, and our futures over to a God who loves us more than we can ever imagine.

Thank you so much BookSneeze and Thomas Nelson for the opportunity to attend this awesome event. I am forever grateful!

If there is a Women of Faith event near you, I urge you to find a way to attend.  You won't be disappointed!  Click the banner below to see if Women of Faith will be coming to your area.

Women of Faith Imagine

Two tickets to the Women of Faith event in Atlanta were provided to me by Booksneeze, in exchange for two blog posts about the event.  The thoughts, opinions and photos are all my own.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Women of Faith - Atlanta, GA

About a month or so ago, I got an e-mail from Book Sneeze, saying they were looking for bloggers to attend the Women of Faith events around the country this Fall.  I have had many friends attend these events before, and they all had a great time, so I was excited to see if Woman of Faith was coming to a city near me.  Luckily, they were coming to Atlanta, GA, which is about 4 hours away.  So, I decided to throw my name in and see if I might be one of the bloggers selected.  I was really excited when I got an e-mail back from them a few weeks later saying that I was chosen to go!

I have never been to a Women of Faith Event before, but I am really looking forward to it. Below is a preview video provided by Women of Faith. Check it out!

There are going to be lots of great speakers and musicians at this event and I'm sure they are going to be awesome.  I am especially looking forward to hearing Angie Smith of Bring the Rain.  I have been reading her blog for a little over 2 years now and she has such an amazing story. Also, Laura Storey will be singing at this event. Her song Blessings has been all over christian radio stations in my area and has really spoken to many people lately. I think it's gonna be a great time and really nice chance to get away and spend some time around other Christian women.

Tickets for these Women of Faith Events are still available in most areas, so check out the Women of Faith Website for locations and ticket information.

Disclaimer: 2 Tickets to this Women of Faith Event were provided by Book Sneeze.  The options expressed in this post are my own.


Friday, August 5, 2011

First Day of School

It's that time again. School started back today for our school system.  Yeah, I know, it's strange to start on a Friday, and I have no idea why they did that.  Emma was really excited to be headed to school this morning. No joke, she really was!  I think she was getting tired of being with me and Madeline all day. I can't believe she is in 3rd grade now. Time has just really flown. It seems like yesterday that we brought her home from the hospital.

Here is Emma this morning, before heading out to get on the bus.

For comparison, here she is on the 1st day of 2nd grade, next to the picture from this morning.

And just for fun, here are some shots from Kindergarten, 1st grade (we home schooled, so there is no picture from the actual first day), 2nd grade, and 3rd grade. Wow...what happened to my little girl?
Maybe I will dig up some pictures of me from my 1st day of 3rd grade and do another post next week.  Me and Emma look so much alike, I'm sure it would be an interesting comparison.  I'll have to get my mom to find a picture for me.

Until then, have a great weekend!