I was so blessed this weekend to be able to go down to Atlanta to the Women of Faith conference with my friend, Christy. The theme of the conference this year is Imagine and their key verses are Ephesians 3:20-21 which say;
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.We cannot even imagine the things that God can do within us.
There was great worship, amazing teaching, and lots (and lots) of women. We had some free time and some adventures on Marta and some time to hang out and catch up on life. It was a lot of fun and a great break from our four kids and my amazing husband, but the best part of the weekend was how God spoke through everyone involved in the conference.
The overwhelming message that I took away from the weekend is that God wants to use everything in our lives for His glory. He wants to work through us and through our situations and, through our experiences, show us and those around us who He is. The speakers were all honest about their lives and spoke the truth about who God is and where He has met them in the midst of their experiences. God doesn't need us to be perfect, because when we are weak, He can be strong. He is bigger than any problem, any sin, anything that we have that might be holding us back from him.
We heard several speakers, including Steve Arterburn, Sheila Walsh, Laura Story, Nicole Johnson, Angie Smith, Luci Swindoll, and Lisa Harper. All of the speakers were incredible, but my favorite was Sheila Walsh. She's a former host of the 700 club, an amazing singer, and the author of several books (if you have little girls, you'll recognize her as the author of the Gigi, God's Little Princess series). Interestingly enough, she only has one child, a boy. I'm not sure how, as the mother of only a boy, she ended up writing the books that my 5 and 2 year old girls beg for, but I was thankful for her before I heard her this weekend, and am even more thankful for her ministry now. She spoke to us more than once and shared a little bit of her life story and some of the trials that she has come through. She made us laugh and think. One of the things that she spoke about was from John 14.
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.Sheila said "Peace is not the absence of trouble, it is the presence of Christ." I think that is so true and is is something that is easy to forget on the days when everything is going wrong and you're running late and you just locked your 11 day old baby in the car and the fireman who show up to help you don't actually have the right tool to unlock the car probably are wondering if you are sane as you sit crying with them for ten minutes until the other truck arrives (not that I've ever done that...) Or the days when all your kids are fighting and you just want one tiny moment of quiet, or even the really big issues like when your husband loses his job and you have no income for five months, or when you lose someone you love, or are hurt by someone.
In Mark 4, Jesus calms the storm when he is out in the boat with disciples. He can calm any storm in our lives, if he chooses. God is sovereign and in control and our hope is at the throne of grace.
Sheila also talked about forgiveness. Forgiveness is God's gift to us to live in a world that's not fair. She said that fair doesn't live here anymore, but Jesus does. I am so thankful for that. He meets us where we are and changes us. She said that the great message of the gospel is that you get to come as you are. Don't clean yourself up to come to the Father. He already knows our sins and our shortcomings and still he loves us and calls us to Him.
It was a great weekend and if you have the opportunity to go to a Women of Faith conference, I would definitely take it (unless you're not a woman, because then you might feel a little bit out of place....)