I had the wonderful opportunity to spend the past two days in Washington DC at a Women of Faith conference. I simply can't express what a moving experience this was.
First I have to tell of my journey to get there. I got an email from Thomas Nelson Publishing announcing an opportunity to win two tickets to this amazing experience. I have wanted to go to this conference for years so I applied. Of course, I never dreamed I would win the tickets. Then about two weeks ago - there they were in the mail. I almost cried. I scared my daughter to death. I was so emotional I couldn't speak and she had no idea what came in the mail. And then I realized - I couldn't go. I had to work. As I said, I never dreamed I would win so I didn't ask for time off. And I thought that if by some chance I did win, I would get an email or something - some sort of notice other than the tickets just showing up two weeks before the event - something that I would have time to ask off work. I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't be able to go. The problem - I couldn't find the email about the opportunity and I couldn't remember which publisher had sent it (I review books for a few different companies) so I didn't know who to call and tell that I would have to decline so that they could get the tickets to someone else.
So I decided to see what I could do about getting off work. I figured Friday wouldn't be too much of a problem as I knew someone who could work for me. I prayed and felt peace with being able to go Friday and have to miss the Saturday sessions. And then on Monday when I went to work my supervisor said "I can make do without you on Saturday if you still want the day off". I didn't know whether to fall to my knees or burst into tears. I actually did neither as I wasn't sure how this wonderful young man would handle my emotions. lol. But the most awesome thing is that God worked everything out so that I could be there - from me never imaging that I could win the tickets, to not being able to find the email to contact the publisher, to getting the time off work. All things are possible with God!
Friday morning my daughter and I got up early, packed up our things and headed out. We drove about an hour to the Metro station and began the journey - we had never ridden the Metro before. But God went before us. I asked a lady in the parking lot a question about the parking. When we got inside the terminal she was in there and she walked us step by step through getting a parking pass and tickets to get us to DC and back. What an absolute angel. And we were off.
The conference is so very well organized. Everyone was lovely from the folks taking the tickets and checking bags as you enter, to the vendors selling the books, bags, shirts, etc., to the people handing out the box lunches, and of course the people on stage - the host, worship team, speakers and musical guests.
Before I speak to the specifics of the conference I would like to offer a few gentle suggestions to help make it a more enjoyable experience for everyone attending.
Please be on time. We missed a chunk of a speaker's talk because of the women who were standing in the aisle talking about where they wanted to sit and crawling over people. Also remember that if you sit in the back rows (which we did so we could sneak out to the bathroom) there will be people who ask the usher's advice on where to sit and voices do carry a bit - you also get a good bit of the noise in the hallway.
Please don't talk on your cell phone.
And please be aware as you are getting ready that you will be sitting very close to other ladies. Heavy perfumes are really not a good idea. Many people are either allergic or very sensitive.
Okay now on to the fun stuff.
The day starts with a lovely group of four ladies who lead you in worship. These talented ladies have a great passion for what they do and it is shows in their spirited singing. And they come back time and again with more and more amazing songs.
The speakers we were privileged to hear were Sheila Walsh, Henry Cloud, Lisa Harper, Nicole Johnson and Luci Swindoll. Natalie Grant was the musical guest.
We had to miss the Friday evening session where Mary, Mary and Ken Davis performed.
Friday Sheila Walsh and Henry Cloud each spoke twice and then did a question and answer session. On Saturday Sheila Walsh spoke again, giving her own personal testimony which was so incredibly moving. Lisa Harper was next to give us a glimpse into her personal story. Nicole Johnson followed up with not only her story but later in the day did a wonderful dramatic presentation. And Luci Swindoll, who I was most anxious to hear, gave a wonderfully funny talk. All these ladies bared their souls and were completely transparent to us. It was humbling to be allowed a glimpse of the things that were so personal to them but they were willing to share with all of us to help us in our personal walk with God.
Natalie Grant gave a very moving concert. If you ever have the chance to hear her sing It Is Well With My Soul - don't miss it! I have to mention - we had magnificent seats and the speakers walked up the aisle right beside us and sat about ten rows or so in front of us. Natalie is the tiniest little thing - and it is amazing the big beautiful sounds that come out of that tiny little body.
And one other thing that I noticed - and it's probably silly for me to mention it but, I'm a shoe girl. All these ladies, who walked around on the stage for sometimes a half hour or more at a time, had the most amazing high heels. lol.
So I sing my praises to God for being able to go, to be able to treat my daughter to the experience, for the transparency of the speakers and the loving kindness of all the people we met along the way. It was an amazing experience - one I hope I will have the chance to repeat - and one that I encourage every woman who can to experience.
And I will leave you with my favorite quote of the conference: "The Shepherd knows where to find you" (Sheila Walsh).