Saturday, February 22, 2014

Women of Faith Unwrap the Bible Conference February 21-22 Houston, TX

About 5 or 6 months ago, our ladies at church began talking about attending a new Women of Faith conference called Unwrap the Bible in Houston.

It was advertised to be produced by the Women of Faith organization, but would be done a little different than the typical Women of Faith conference.  It was presented with more of a focus on Bible study, more "meat" to the lessons than the usual conferences, and a different feel in the worship.  When I heard the list of the women who would be speaking, I may have climbed over a table and elbowed a lady to get to the front of the line to sign up.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't quite that dramatic, but folks...the speakers who would be at this conference are women who have had deep, immeasurable impact on my faith over the years, so there was no way I would miss this conference.  So I put my name on the list to attend.

And then I promptly forgot all about it.  Yeah, I's like spiritual amnesia.  I didn't forget about the speakers who would be there or what the conference was supposed to be all about.  I just didn't write it immediately on my calendar so I didn't think about it again until last month when our ladies' trip organizer mentioned it.  I think I sort of gasped & said "Wait...when is that?  Are we still going?  I didn't put it on the calendar so I'm not sure if I can go.  Eeek!  Quick, tell me the date!"  After a brief moment of panic, I found that this weekend was blank on my calendar so I wrote it down.  In permanent marker.  'Cuz you know, that makes it more official.

Over the years, I have been to quite a few Women of Faith conferences and every single time I've come home feeling richly blessed.  And with my excitement about the ladies who were speaking, I knew this time would be no different.

So yesterday, I took the day off work so I could finish packing and get to the church in time to leave with the group.  Thursday night I checked the laundry to make sure that the clothes I wanted to wear were clean, but I waited until yesterday morning to really start packing.  I got everything together and into my bags early yesterday morning and then fooled around at the house until it was time to leave.  As I picked up my bags & threw my jacket over my arm I noticed that my jacket looked a little dirty.  Our weather keeps going back & forth so I thought I might need it.  I sniffed.  It wasn't really stinky, but it was sort of stale-smelling.  It needed a little freshening up, so I did what every smart girl would do.

Ok, so fast forward about 7 hours until I was sitting in the giant Lakewood Church of Houston, TX.  And friends, I mean HUGE.

(I sat at approximately 7 o'clock from Joel Osteen's face on the big screen, on the floor near the front.) 

Kari Jobe, who is such a little cutie, stepped onto the stage first last night and completely knocked my socks off.

I kept thinking to myself "I hope she sings Revelation Song" and "Healer" and several others ...and she did.  But later she did this song that I hadn't heard before called "Forever" and man oh man, I could hardly stay in my row of seats.  I wanted to dance in the aisles.  It brought out the Pentacostal girl in me.  Seriously, how can you possibly sit still when you hear these lyrics?

"The ground began to shake...the stone was rolled away...His perfect love could not be overcome...Now death where is your sting?...Our resurrected King...Has rendered you DEFEATED.....Forever He is glorified....forever He is lifted high...forever He is risen, He's alive, He is alive."  (You can watch the video for the song HERE, but when you do be prepared.  Powerful stuff!)

And then after about 15 years of reading her books & working through her studies, I saw Beth Moore in person.
I mean, we were about 50 yards from the stage and she doesn't know I was in the crowd at all, but I got to SEE her with my own eyeballs...not just on a video or a simulcast.  We're best friends now.  Or at least she feels like a girlfriend now.  She is so down to earth and NORMAL acting.  Girlfriends, she is just as precious in person as she is on all those videos we've all watched as we worked our way through Breaking Free & James & Esther & Psalms & Jesus the One and Only & To Live Is Christ and all the rest of her Bible studies.  She is able to pull you in with her southern belle charm, her sense of humor and her knowledge of the Word.  A few notes I took from her talk last night (but there was SO much good stuff it was hard to write fast enough):

*There is nothing in your background, in where you've come from, that He can't use where you're going.
*You are not strong enough to mess up bad enough to foul up His plan for you.
*In Gen. 21, when Hagar & Ishmael are in the desert and she puts him under a tree to die, God brings a well to them.  Sometimes that's just how life is.  We can't pray or work hard enough to get to God, but He comes and meets us where we are.
*No matter how deep a pit you dig, He'll show up with gifts in His hands.

After Beth spoke, we sang a few more songs with Kari Jobe and then retreated to the hotel for the night.  It was after 11:00 when we got there and close to midnight before I got into bed.  (I would whine about how late that is, but let's just be honest.  That's pretty close to my regular bedtime.)  There isn't much about the hotel to share, but I had to take a pic of this showerhead.  It was so cool and made it feel like you were taking a shower in the rain.

And in case you are not from Texas and somehow think that it is all cow pastures and horseback riding, this was my view out the hotel window.  (Of course, this is Houston, home of the worst traffic in the state, where it's way more populated and than any city I've ever lived, so this isn't my personal reality but there is a LOT of this sort of scenery in Texas.)

Anyway, when we finally made it through traffic and arrived at the event today, we walked in as Lisa Harper was about to exit the stage.  I was so bummed because good golly I love her!  I only caught the last minute or two of her talk.  I'm not sure what she talked about, but if you have a moment, say a prayer for Lisa.  She is a single lady who is in the middle of adopting internationally.  She is giddy and anxious for her little girl, Missy, to come home!

After Lisa spoke, one of the wisest, funniest and most Godly women anywhere took the stage.  Priscilla Shirer (daughter of Tony Evans) is, I think?, the youngest of the WOF speakers.  I've done two of her studies and have watched numerous videos of hers on youtube.  She is so gifted in speaking.  And all of that is awesome, but to top it off, she's gorgeous, too!  See?

A few notes from Priscilla's talk:

*Your best will never be good enough.  God wants us to realize that we need Him in every situation, so when we do our best work, put our best foot forward, bring our A game, we still need HIM.
*Running out is the prefix to your run-in with Jesus.  If you feel like you're running out of time, running out of money, running out of faith, just hold're going to run into Him.  The primary way we see God in our lives is not with our best/brightest scenarios -- it will be in the struggles & hard places when we've "run out".
*Don't ever let it become a casual thing to discuss what He did for us on the cross!
*Salvation is every day.  If it was a 1 time experience, God would have taken us up to heaven the same day we accepted Him.  Daily living, longing for Heaven, trusting in Him...that is salvation.
*When you run out, just own it.  And then when He tells you how to handle it, don't question, just do it!

After Priscilla, Sheila Walsh took the stage.  I have written about her and her books on my blog several times.  See that search bar at the top left of this page?  If you type in Sheila Walsh, you will find several posts, so clearly I love her!  Her talks are always so awesome & today's was no exception!  She spoke from Esther, and through the course of her talk, she walked us through the ENTIRE book.

A few notes from Sheila's talk:

*Evil always demands worship.
*We have an Enemy who is hell-bent on destroying us, but we have a Savior who is earth bent on delivering us!
*People are ruined not as much by doing what's wrong, but by doing it & never repenting.
*There is restoration and healing for every daughter of the King.
*Until we are ready to leave all the consequences to God, we may celebrate the resurrection, but we are not living in its power.
*Sometimes God will take you to a prison cell to set you free!

We took a break after Sheila's talk to venture into the church building and locate the bookstore and WOF product tables.  Since I knew that I could find all the speakers' books online if I really wanted to buy one, I went to the church bookstore instead.  It was very similar to my local Lifeway and every other Christian bookstore I've been to over the years, so I headed back to the auditorium to make sure I didn't miss the next speaker.

I have only seen Christine Caine online so I wanted to make sure & hear all of her talk.  She is a little fireball.  She is a tiny little lady with the most beautiful Australian accent so even if she had stood on the stage & sang Jesus Loves Me off tune, I would've loved listening to her for that accent!  Between she and Shelia Walsh (who has a really cool Scottish accent), WOF is becoming quite a multi-cultural affair.  Love that! are a few notes I took during her talk.

*There are no expiration dates on God's promises.
*Until we replace the facts of our circumstances with the truths of God's word, we will never live in faith.
*We have become so enlightened by science and education that we have forgotten the truth of God.
*Most of what we pray for is a management issue, not a miracle issue.  We should be praying for miracles!  If you mismanage small things, why would He give you more to manage?
*God has an appointed time for His work in our lives - don't put a due date on His hand.

The conference closed with more music from Kari Jobe.  Awesome, my friends.  That's the only word to describe the last 24 hours.

Oh.....and here's a crazy thing.  Or at least it seems crazy to me!  When we arrived last night, my seat was 2 away from the end of our row.  Shortly after we sat down, 2 ladies from Atlanta, GA showed up & sat in those seats.  I briefly spoke to Lynn, who sat next to me, before the evening began.  She was friendly and kind, but that's about all I learned about her last night.  This morning, I was digging in my bookbag and accidentally dislodged a package of crackers that flew out & landed between our seats.  We both looked for them, but decided that they must've landed in her purse.  She reached for her purse to retrieve them but I told her to keep them.  I had several packages of crackers in my bag, so I would not miss those.  In thanks, she handed me a card for a free ChickFilA sandwich.  I laughed and told her that my daughter works there.  She then laughed and said that she & the lady she was there with work for the corporate offices in Atlanta, so somewhere along the way, she's probably seen paperwork for my daughter.  Ha!  I looked her name up on the company's website tonight & found that she's actually one of the Vice Presidents of the whole company!  Of all the seats in that giant building where she could sit, she landed next to me!  I realize it's not that major of a 'connection' but to be able to meet one of the people who runs the company my daughter works for was pretty cool!

I'm heading to bed tonight, thankful for this weekend...thankful for the sleep I am about to get...thankful for the Word spoken into my soul in the last 24 hours....thankful for the ministry of Women of Faith...thankful for my life.

Now ladies, I'm going to grab my sword & charge off into the night.  Goodnight!  God bless!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Year of Dates: February 2014

This month's date was to visit the gun range and then go out for ice cream sundaes afterward.  Remember, my honey is in law enforcement.  While we were dating, he was in school to become a cop, so I sort of went through the police training with him.  I remember lots of nights when he hung out at my house and taught me different self defense maneuvers, restraint holds, tactical "tricks" of the trade and of course, we spent a lot of time target shooting.  So for us, this is a fun date!

Today we went to a local indoor gun range to shoot.  When we arrived (at 10:40 AM) we found a sign on the door stating that they would be closed for a private group to use the range from 8-12.  We were bummed!  Fortunately, they are located next door to a little cafe, so instead of having "Shooting & Sundaes" we opted to have brunch and then return to the gun range.

After eating, we returned to the gun range and we were able to watch the private group do their practice drills.  It was fun to watch the group -- both young and old men -- go through shooting drills at different targets, from behind obstacles, running from one target to the next.  They finally finished up shortly after 12:00 and we were able to get to our reserved lane.

Friends, I grew up shooting guns outdoors and since meeting Larry in '92, I have done plenty of target shooting --- usually old milk jugs, aluminum cans and the like.  Today was my first day at an indoor range.  And let me tell ya, it is clear that it's been a while since I shot.  ha ha!  I used to be a better shot than Larry, but today I was not so great.  {As a side note, if the target was a burglar, I would've still killed him/her, but I wasn't as great a shot as I used to be!}

I didn't get pictures of our brunch, but here are a few from our time at the gun range.  First, Larry shooting...

Then me!

After shooting, it was time to clean the guns.  Fortunately, my sweetie is proficient and quick at this job!

Does it help make this look any less sad to know this was the target we BOTH shot at?  With 2 separate guns?  ha!
And of course, the date picture we always get together!

{Note:  Sorry!  No pic of the envelope and card inside this month!}