Today's title has nothing to do with yesterday's 'loving like a dog' post. WOF is not woof spelled wrong. Lol! WOF stands for Women of Faith. It refers to a group of conferences where women...and almost entirely only women...gather to be challenged, changed and encouraged by some of the best women speakers of this day and time.
Yesterday was a bit of a frantic day for me. I woke up and starting writing. I'd been awake for probably 1/2 hour of my scheduled 1 1/2 hours set aside to write. I was writing and I felt God change my mind. His desire was for me to write about love yesterday. So I started over...wrote quickly before my kids were to wake up for school. I got almost done and the race began with the sound of that first alarm.
Showers, clothes, breakfast, forgotten homework, lunches, shoes, hair and out the door. Next was the chauffeur services I provide. I dropped my older kids off at their school and dropped my middle son off at his PreK class. Then I parked my van and finished writing. I hit Publish and raced home. The race continued until my husband was almost literally pushing me out the door so I wouldn't be late to catch my ride with my church peeps. I arrive at my church (an hour EARLY mind you) and the first woman I talk to asks me..."You're not going to lick us today are you?" (In reference to yesterday's dog lover post!) Bahahaha! Shari that was just what I needed to start my weekend of laughter and uplifting.
Oh how blessed I am to be a woman of faith. To be just one name. One story. One testimony of God's faithfulness in this sea of women. I was surrounded...completely surrounded by women of faith. Many of the ones that surrounded me are ones that I covet the prayers of. Their faithful prayers are what help get me through the scheme of the enemy some days. Their prayers and accountability are what helps me to wake up each morning to write. And their generosity and love are what allowed me to come to this conference! If you are not currently surrounded by women of such faith and love...you are missing out. I'm sooooo thankful for my army of warriors and I would not trade my position as a part of them for anything. Not. Even. Chocolate. ;-)
Today I'm going to give you my favorite highlights from last nights Women of Faith conference. We were only there for a few hours...but God. He was there. He was moving. He was speaking. And He.Was.Good!
We began last night with worship. One of the first songs we sang was 'Our God'. I LOVE that song. I love to sing those words. 'Out of the ashes we rise'. Picture yourself, for just a moment, without Christ. Many of you lived many years knowing full well you needed Him...but still you refused. Your life was without eternal purpose or gain. You were dead. Some of you knew the key to purpose and life...and you still chose to cremate yourselves.
What happened when you asked Christ into your heart and asked Him to be your Lord and Your King? You did not appear before Him still dead. You were not a pile of soot and ashes. You weren't even covered in them. You became the beautiful bride of Christ. Spotless. Blameless. That sinful godless past...forgotten. You rose out of those ashes because our God promised to restore what had been stolen. He saved us immediately from death and promised us life!
If you still carry your ashes around...know that it is YOU that is hanging on to them. If you look in the mirror and see the soot of your past staring back at you...the enemy's scheme is working. You are forgiven and they are forgotten. It truly is as simple as that. And anyone that tries to throw those ashes back in your face will, in turn, get covered in them. God does not live in the past. He couldn't and He wouldn't.
After worship we listened to a Christian comedian. We laughed...some of us until we cried. (Ahem...Little Debbie) He started off by saying, "Hello my name is Ken Davis and I'm the husband of a woman of faith." Loved that! I love that my husband can speak those words of me. There was a time in our first years of marriage that I was a woman with faith but not always a woman of faith. I would choose when I wanted to pull the faith card and when I wanted to wallow in my circumstance.
One of my favorite parts of Ken's talk last night was when he got his serious face on. He talked about our overall choice of dealing what life throws at us. We choose. We can either can get grumpy and angry...or...we can laugh! I love to laugh and I love to make people laugh. What can we do to become people that can laugh at the enemy's feeble attempts to tear us down or embarrass us? We know...we have access to THE Foundation of joy. Christ gave us a foundation that can radiate pure joy...no matter what. Himself. If you are feeling weak and less than joy-filled...are you forgetting what is the base of your foundation? "The joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10 And in the words of Ken Davis..."Joy is standing on a platform of faith so solid that nothing or no one can shake it."
Sheila Walsh was up next and wow. She was honest and real. God's strength was shown perfect through her weakest times of life. She started off as a powerhouse...and ended the same. She was reading a familiar passage in Mark 4:35-40. You probably know the story well. It is when Jesus falls asleep on a boat that He asked His followers to get on. So Sheila asked..."When a storm hits you, out of the blue, and you weren't expecting it...do you know the firm foundation on which you stand? And when that storm hits you...how does it change your view of God? The cross gives us permission to be transparent. The cross WAS...only because we could not do it alone. We were never created to. We don't have to pretend to have it together. We can be transparent and real. You aren't fooling everyone. Storms show what you actually believe...not what you want to." (That section is slightly paraphrased only because my fingers couldn't keep up. Lol.)
I loved that Sheila highlighted a couple of key words in verse 35 of that passage in Mark chapter 4. "When evening came, Jesus said to His disciples, 'Let's go over to the other side of the lake.'" Her response to Jesus' words..."He didn't say lets go to the middle and drown. Hahaha. They had seen him heal and do many miraculous things...but they'd never experienced a storm. Did Jesus do storms?"
"If Jesus brought you to it...He will bring you through it." I have no idea who coined that phrase...but oh how true it is. We follow God's voice and when the first challenge arises...we choose to doubt in what we first heard from God. "I am sure that the One who began a good work in you will carry it on until it is completed." Philippians 1:6
And my last favorite quote from Sheila, "God is raising up an army of women who dare to believe that God will use them just as they are. Jesus knows your whole story and He loves you! Be willing to be real. To share who you really are under the mask. Sometimes God takes you to prison to set you free. Sometimes the most precious gifts come in packages that make your hands bleed when you open them. God wants you to praise Him in the storm...praise Him when you don't see the break in the clouds yet on the horizon. You are not identified only with your roles. You are not...fill in the blank...so and so's mom, Joe Schmoe's wife, etc....
You are a daughter of the King of kings and nothing and no one can touch that! On the day that you see Jesus face to face...whatever you are going through...it WILL be worth it! I promise."
Highlights from Mrs. Holly Wagner "God could have had you born at anytime in history...and He chose now. Are you willing to follow through with the assignment He's given you? We aren't supposed to run from the rubble. We are supposed to step into it and do what we can to make the community livable again. In this world of devastation...it can be the church's finest hour."
And finally...Third Day.
For me personally it was lovely to worship with a man who looked more like Jesus than my husband. ;-) I loved their concert. I loved their words. But I love more that no matter where I am...and who is on stage...there is not anyone I'd rather worship beside than my own husband. (All over the world right now I should hear a resounding 'Awww'. Lol!)
Here is the most powerful message I took from Mac Powell last night. Even if you aren't feeling powerful as a woman of faith. Even if you can't tell if our prayers are making a difference in the now. Do not give up. The power of a praying wife. A praying mother. A praying friend has been proven its success over and over and over again. Keep praying you powerhouses of prayer! Your answers are in the son who cried out to Jesus instead of taking his life. It's the husband or wife who commits to the other when they don't deserve it. It's the friend who rejects your invitation over and over but finally gives in and meets Jesus. Every time. Every rejection. Was it now worth it?!?!
Rise up women of faith. Day two is about to begin! :-)