All is quiet and foggy on the prairie this morning. Not even the birds are awake. Usually at this time you'd find me in the choir loft at church, but Roy has kind of been on the puny side this weekend and we decided he needed to stay home and rest. These past few weeks have caught up with him, busy at the office, helping me with my father and too many early mornings after semi late nights. He is still asleep. For the fact of the matter, Buddy is asleep too, but then sleep is Buddy's hobby, just like most kitty cats.
Maybe Roy is feeling kind of puny because I was not home most of the weekend, you know not to fix him chicken soup to help him feel better. Dena and I went to Abundance, a Lifeway Women's Conference. It just might be the best women's conference and even the best women's event I have ever attended. Yes, hyperbole is my middle name, but this statement isn't hyperbole. The whole event was done with excellence. It was held at Champion Forest Baptist Church and they provided a great venue space. Champion Forest's design is so spacious. The speaker tables, ministry tables and vendor tables weren't all crammed together. The lobby seating and conversation areas were warm and inviting and dare I say comfortable...yes! The volunteers were kind, informative and helpful. So kudos to Champions Forest. What a great foundation to build upon...I know prayer is the foundation but if the venue isn't a proper fit, it becomes a major distraction and frustration.
All the speakers were spot on prepared and good. They were open, genuine, real, deep and funny. On Friday I listened to a John Maxwell one and a half minute video on what makes a great communicator? So you know he's a GREAT communicator if he can tell that in a minute and a half. He said if you don't communicate from the heart, it doesn't matter your knowledge or what you say. Your passion for the subject matter begins at, I want to help you. I want what I'm talking about help your situation. All these speakers are great communicators and the fruit of their heart was evident. The spoke and there wasn't any agenda of their own.
The ministries that were presented to us in print and in interview were, Compassion, Christmas Child, and Gracewood. Loved how we heard the hearts of the people involved and those who have benefited from the ministries. No emotional plea, no bargaining...just the story of lives changed and how we could join in and participate with them.
The graphics, outstanding! Although at first I thought the video and sound of rain could be counter intuitive with women, but there weren't any mad dashes to the bathroom at the sound of all that water.
I was happy to see that the vendors had a variety of offerings and it wasn't just a bunch of Jesus Junk. Rao's Bakery had a little set up with great coffee and cupcakes as big as your head, muffins that could feed a family of four and iced cookies that are right up there with Memorial Bakery.
Travis led the worship music. It was thoughtful. It was deep. The words profound and as Lisa Harper said, when he leads worship it softens our hearts to hear. Cece Winans did a mini concert, no ministry Friday night. Awesome!
And attending with Dena was just so much happiness and joy. Since Roy and I have moved out to the prairie, she and I don't get to have spontaneous shopping or dinner as much. Both of our lives are full of responsibilities and it was great to pull back from them for this short period of time to laugh, to hear truth and to laugh. Did I mention laughing? We started out at Black Walnut for a late lunch and then headed over to the other side of the ends of the world, along with half of Houston. Google maps and my GPS didn't agree on routes. So we kind of did a mishmash of both directions to the Holiday Inn Express. We decided early on we didn't want to do all that back and forth driving. With gas prices, it is cheaper to stay in a hotel. Another fun bonus was getting to laugh and spend a little time with Kimberly "The Invisible Woman", Kmac, and other LPM staffers volunteering at the conference. We ate lunch with two women from First Baptist Irving and we had a blast with them. Our churches have traded staff members over the years, almost as much as baseball teams. The great ice breaker...do you know such n such? Loved cheering on and praying for our home girl Tammie Head when she spoke. I am fortunate to have attended with a friend that almost always has a to go box by her side and because she brought the leftover chips and salsa and some of her grilled cheese sandwich from lunch, we had a delicious dinner when we got back Friday night.
Women's ministry has come a long way from dressing up in Sunday/designer best for retreats complete with fashion shows. They have come a long way from being inspirational. Thank goodness there weren't any crafts involved and no helpful hints in the kitchen. The speakers this weekend weren't produced from the ubiquitous women's ministry mold. They all were different. No fluff, no poofiness, no frou frou, no emotional tricks to produce "event tears." The emphasis was on Jesus, serving others, and doing little things that produce profound results. We weren't entertained, we were invited in and involved.
This was the first Abundance event and there are others planned this year around the country. If you are near to one, attend. I hope this isn't the only year they do this.