Sunday, September 25, 2011
As I sit here looking out at the beautiful Phoenix sky with the gorgeous mountain back drop, I am attempting to wrap my mind around all that I experienced at the "Over the Top" Women of Faith Conference the past two days in this beautiful desert city. To begin with, I traveled here from the center of the states to be with my Southwestern Sister and my Northern Sister. We packed our bags and headed for the US Airways Arena, not quite sure what to expect, since none of us had ever been in attendance at a Women of Faith Conference before.
I mention our "bags", because each one of us were carrying one. The bags we carried all looked different, but they were each heavy and quite cumbersome. One sister carried a "medical bag" full of uncertainties and challenges that are new everyday. She finds herself having to navigate the uncharted territory of a visual handicap that would most certainly not be on her "wish list" of life experiences, but I have watched her gracefully hold the bag without dropping it. My other sister carried the luggage of a crumbling financial market where a mere year ago clients were plentiful and jobs were abounding, but now, people are having to rethink and pull back on previous expansion ideas, and thus forcing her to do the same in a balanced response. She too, carried the tote high without ever dropping it. My big bag held uncertainties right along with them, so as we walked up to the hotel room, we were thrilled to figuratively and literally drop our bags and proceed to a "safe place".
As we entered the auditorium and plopped our tired and weary bodies in the chairs, the lights went off and the music began to play. Suddenly, warmth filled the room and our "bags" began to fade away with each word we sang. The worship team (Jovaun Woods, Michelle Swift, Hope Darst, and Kara Tualatai) sang from the heart and led in a genuine expression of praise to the Lord. It was a precious way to enter into God's presence and allowed us a time to truly enter into worship and contemplation with Him.
This was just the beginning of our great two day journey without the weight of those previously mentioned bags....it was a spectacular trip! We heard stories from Andy Andrews, Patsy Clairmont, Deborah Joy Winans, Marilyn Meberg, Lisa Whelchel, and Brenda Warner. Tim Hawkins made a one time appearance on Friday night that made me laugh so hard, my cheeks were hurting by the time he exited the stage! We experienced authentic worship led by Mandissa, Sandi Patty, and Amy Grant as well. It was a real treat to participate in this incredible event.
Here is what I walked away from the conference with...and without. First of all, I walked away empty handed.......without my bag!! I am no longer carrying a load and I think my sister's would agree, that we left those heavy bags at the foot of the cross where they belong. Will we pick them up again? I hope not, but we are challenging each other not to....that's for sure! The three of us are going to say "Yes" and "Thank you" to God each and every morning, "the first thing upon awakening", like Patsy challenged us to do. The Bible verse from Romans 11:33(MSG) was the focal point of the conference and so, I conclude with it and the two verses that follow:
Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It's way over our heads. We'll never figure it out.
Is there anyone around who can explain God?
Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?
Anyone who has done him such a huge favor
that God has to ask his advice?
Everything comes from him;
Everything happens through him;
Everything ends up in him.
Always glory! Always praise!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
And those verses completely sum up what the Women of Faith conference was all about!! It was a great privilege to worship with a group of women who love the Lord so dearly. Thank you to the Women of Faith team for the opportunity to attend such a great event!!
Nothing ever escapes your sight. I am guessing that their might be some people reading this tonight that are carrying very heavy bags. I am asking You to help them leave their bag at the door of Your house and walk away empty handed and full hearted! (Help me to keep my hands off of my old bag as well.) I praise and exalt You above all. Thank You for the chance to spend these past few days with my sisters!