Finding laughter and inspiration with a stadium full of faithful women

I haven’t really spent all that much one-on-one time with my sister-in-law, save for the occasional trip to Target. So I was most pleased when she agreed to use my extra BookSneeze-provided Women of Faith ticket.

photo courtesy
I thought it might be a nice opportunity to get to know her a bit better, and I was right. Among other things, I know now just how skilled she is at parking an SUV into a very small parking space, that sentimental children’s books make her cry and that she may need a caffeine intervention.

We spent the majority of Friday and Saturday with several thousand other women, all there to be inspired and uplifted. There were, as you might expect, laughter and tears.

Par example:

The Comedy 

The lady in front of me came perilously close to falling out of her chair laughing when Ken Davis was on stage. He was — and I don’t use this term lightly — a hoot.

The Music 

Natalie Grant activated the waterworks with her rendition of my favorite hymn, “It Is Well.” It was acapella, the crowd sang backup, and it was just beautiful. That song always makes my heart soar.

The Women of Faith worship team all had beautiful voices. And I know this is insignificant in the great scheme of things, but they were all wearing extremely cute clothes all weekend. I especially loved the purple hosiery.

Mary Mary — a wildly entertaining and talented pair of sisters — nearly had me throwing my hands in the air. Nearly. This is a thing I very rarely actually do. Even when I just don’t care.

The Speakers 

Henry Cloud spoke on happiness. “Happy people,” he said, “are connected from the heart.” He also said that we “run on the fuel of relationships.” Both of which are kind of what I was trying to get to in that post about finding friends. A good bit of what he said was just what I needed to hear, and it did indeed strengthen my resolve to find some good monkeys. (Which would make sense if you clicked on that link and read a bit of the book.)

Luci Swindoll was at the Women of Faith event that I went to years and years ago, and I vaguely remembered that she was wry and wonderful. Incredibly enough, my memory was accurate! She is indeed wryly humorous and thoroughly wonderful. This time around she was talking about enjoying every moment of life. I want to remember this part in particular: “If we enjoy the world, we improve it.” I think I need to do more enjoying and less wishing for something else, be that a different season, a different pants size or a different pizza topping.

The fabulously named Nicole Johnson presented a short dramatic bit that went straight to my heart. It was about invisibility. As in: I Am Washing All These Socks Etc and So On and So Forth and No One Ever Notices. Rockford is pretty good about saying thanks for the stuff I do, so I more frequently feel invisible at the grocery store. Where for some reason the deli guy never, ever acknowledges my presence. Nevertheless, it spoke to me. And now I might just buy her book on the subject.

Nicole, Lisa Harper and Sheila Walsh all talked about hurt that carries over from childhood. My parents divorced when I was 5 or 6. I remember bits and pieces of that time period — my next-door neighbor telling me my dad was moving out; the 12-hour drive to my Granny’s house, where we were moving; watching “Gremlins” without sound on the drive-in screen from the balcony at my dad’s apartment — but I don’t specifically remember any feelings of devastation at the time. It did squish my heart when Lisa Harper talked about being disappointed over and over again by her father, who didn’t show up to pick her up for his weekend visitation. I missed my dad every single day growing up, but it could’ve been worse. I consider myself very fortunate to have a dad who valued his time with us enough to show up when he was supposed to show up. Even so, I have a very hard time when he leaves after a visit, and I’m sure I’m overly sensitive on other topics where he’s concerned. I think it’s because I still feel a little cheated from all that time I missed out on with him when I was small. And thus, Nicole, Lisa and Sheila made me weepy.

The Company 

I don’t think I’ve specifically told you all that much about my sister-in-law. She left a successful career more than a decade ago to stay home with her children, and she has put her every effort into raising them ever since. There are four of them now, and she’s homeschooling them. All four of them. With one teenager, two staggeringly close their teens and a 4-year-old. The mind boggles. But that’s not all she does. She also volunteers at her church, her house is beautifully decorated, she’s a great cook, she has a lovely singing voice, she’s tall, she grows her own vegetables and she looks perfectly put-together every day. What I’m saying is: If she weren’t so nice, she would be very difficult to tolerate.

She would laugh and wave this off with a slightly self-disparaging comment, but I tell you with all sincerity: She’s one of my heroes. She’s the model of a wife and mom that I hope to be. (Except not with the four children. The very thought makes me swoon in an unpleasant manner.) (Even though I love those kids quite a lot.) (Two is enough for me and my puny energy reserves.)

So! I enjoyed the weekend overall, and I did come away on Saturday more inspired than I was on Thursday. But there was something that rubbed me the wrong way. The “theme” of the event was “Imagine,” but the sessions didn’t really reflect that at all. It seemed like they’d just kind of randomly picked a word and Scripture (Ephesians 3:20) in order to make some nice-looking logos for the T-shirts. I’m thinking maybe they don’t really need a theme. The overarching theme for some of the speakers seemed to be “My most recent publication, which is available for purchase in the concourse.” I know this is a business, and I know the speakers/authors need to sell their wares to make a living. But I’d suggest they ask the speakers to lay off mentioning their books and let the emcee handle the sales pitch.

Lest we end on a sour note, here is a video clip of the very funny Ken Davis:

Disclaimer: BookSneeze and Thomas Nelson gave me a pair of tickets to attend this event.