Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Laughed, I Cried, I Went to a Funky Tea Shop (Women of Faith Reflections Part II)


Women of Faith is a conference like no other. It is a Friday and Saturday full of laughter and tears, speakers and music- at times heart wrenching and at others hilarious. You leave completely overwhelmed but overflowing. Some years it can take a lifetime to fully process everything God is working in you in such a short time. It is profound and simple all at the same time.

The schedule consists of speakers interspersed with drama, music, and comedy. The speakers this year were amazing. They shared their hearts and, as I said in Part I, were not afraid to admit their failings and frustrations. They were real and honest and they shared sufferings and tragedies that brought the crowds to tears, but they shared them in such a way that left everyone listening with hope that there is a God and He is bigger than any of our circumstances.

Friday’s first session began at 10 am and continued until 3:30, when there was a long break before the 7pm evening session. Sheila Walsh and Dr. Henry Cloud were the speakers for this session and they were excellent. I had never heard Henry Cloud speak and I was quite impressed. He was intelligent and clearly knew his stuff, yet he was also very down to earth and straight talking. I really appreciated this and liked him immediately. He shared a few points from his book, The Laws of Happiness (which I now want to read) and spoke about the psychiatric research and how it backed up what the Bible said (imagine that). My favorite quote was when he stated that happy people are givers and then settled down all the women he knew were blustering over that by saying that people are not happy giving when the life is being sucked out of them by control freaks. Ha! I love it.

I Tweeted several key moments throughout the weekend (although there were times that were too profound to sum up in a Tweet)and I’d like to share them here, to give you the flavor of the speaker’s messages.

"As you are, right now, you are outrageously loved by God." -Sheila Walsh

"Only 10% of your happiness is based on circumstance." -Dr. Henry Cloud

"Happy people are connected." "Who's your monkey?" Henry Cloud

"Sometimes you have to give up perfectly good stuff to make room in your life for the 20%" (20% is where the life is) -Dr. Henry Cloud

"It's okay to not be okay. Wherever you are now, just show up." -Sheila Walsh

"Peace is not the absence of trouble, it is the presence of Christ." -Sheila Walsh

"The God of the universe loves misfits. And life begins when we all admit we are misfits and broken." -Nicole Johnson

"He takes what we'd throw in the trash and makes it a treasure." -Nicole Johnson

"Live in the now. Live this very moment fully." -Luci Swindoll

As Queen of the Misfits, you can see why I could relate so well to speakers who are willing to admit their place among the misfits, to share God’s outrageous love for us right where we are, and to encourage us to find life in this very moment and allow God to transform us into treasure. Powerful stuff.

I can’t finish this before sharing how much I LOVE Natalie Grant and have enjoyed seeing her in concert over the years as she’s moved from newlywed to mom of three. She’s genuine and talented and I’m a fan. The Mary Mary concert was also great and I loved that they took the time to share things they have learned and to teach this white girl how to look in the mirror and say, “Not Today!” with as much soul as I can manage.


Oh, and I have to mention the funky tea shop my friend and I hung out in between sessions Friday! It was like no tea shop I have seen in this area, with an art gallery meets spa vibe (the art was, in fact, for sale) and the friendliest staff. We sat and drank mochas (we weren’t in the tea mood) and ate cream puffs and cake next to the waterfall. It was incredibly relaxing (and quite reasonable!). I would highly recommend visiting the Tea Haunt Canvas when in Hartford, CT!


To sum up, I highly recommend Women of Faith and if you haven’t yet attended a conference, I would encourage you to check one out for next year!



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