Two days before the Women of Faith Conference, Brian and I had discussed when we’d like to start having children… again. Those conversations never end well. I said I might like to go to graduate school. Brian said you have to pay for it yourself then. And what about kids? Before we got married, you said you’d have kids after you finished college. Can’t you go back to school and get a masters after the kids are grown up?
“Think about it babe,” I said. “If we have four children, three boys and a girl, and we have them two years apart, and they live with us until they’re 18, that’s 24 years until they’re all gone and I could go back to school. It make more sense to put in two years now, and then we have the rest of our lives to have kids.”
“But, if we wait that long, I’ll be so old, like 26. I’ll be like Abraham!” Brian exclaimed.
I laughed. “I don’t think 26 is quite as old as Abraham babe…”
“Well, I thought that once you finished school, we’d start a family.” Brian said. “And now it sounds like you want to be a career woman instead of a mom. I think you’re putting your career before your family.”
“Two years, babe! Two more years is all it takes to get a graduate degree!” I exclaimed.
Brian sighed. “I can’t talk to you about this anymore.” So that was that.
I still thought I was right, but the conversation bugged me. I felt guilty. Was I being selfish? Was I putting myself before family? Did I secretly want to be a career woman and not a family woman?
I’d never been the type that dreamed of her future children running around the house, that planned their names 20 years in advance, that oood and ahhhd over other people’s babies. I don’t even really like holding babies. And the whole idea of giving birth…doesn’t agree with me. The only time I’ve ever been car sick was when I was riding back from the Ladies’ Retreat, and when I woke up from a nap, all the ladies in the car with me where sharing their birth stories. Yep, I threw up. And I almost fainted.
But when I was at the retreat, and listening to Patsy talk about overcoming fear, I realized something. While I kept telling myself I wasn’t ready to have children, honestly, I hadn’t really prayed about it. Ever.
I was afraid that God would say yes, you are ready. So I hadn’t even asked.
Patsy said that while she was recovering from agoraphobia, she had to ask herself, “Am I saying no to this activity, or going to this place, because I’m afraid, or because it’s not wise? If it was because I was afraid, I knew I had to make myself do it. The only way to overcome fear is to face it.”
Was I saying no to having children because I was afraid, or because it isn’t wise?
I have a lot of fears: I am afraid of being a bad mom. I’m afraid of being pregnant and giving birth. I’m afraid of having a human being dependent on me for it’s very life. But am I hesitant just because of fear, or because it’s not wise for where we are financially and for where I am in my life?
I realized that the only way I’ll know is to pray about it. So I’ve started praying that if God wants us to have children sooner than later, He’ll let us know. If He wants us to wait a few years, He’ll show us that too.
Last weekend, I attended the Women of Faith Conference, and brought a friend, for free. So before I divulge the details of the fun, worshipful, refreshing, and convicting weekend, I want to thank Booksneeze for partnering with Women of Faith to give bloggers the chance to go in exchange for at least two blog posts about it, one before and one after. I can tell you right now, I don’t think I can fit all I learned into one post, so today I’ll tell you about day one, sessions 1 and 2.
Tara and me, being very excited about the conference about to start
The first session started at 10:00 am. After worship and some introductions to the speakers, Patsy Clairmont took the stage. She challenged us to start every day with three words. First, with “Yes.” Yes to whatever God has planned for us that day. Yes to His schedule and timing. Secondly, with “Thank you.” Thank you for another day. Thank you for all of His blessings. Thank you, even during the tough things that some days will bring, because they are opportunities to glorify Him. And thirdly, “No.” No to people and activities that divide our attentions from what is most important. No to Martha business, and Yes to Mary attentiveness.
She talked at length about our emotions. Sometimes as women, we feel enslaved to our feelings and we let them control us and dictate our behavior. Patsy said, “God has equipped us with a will that is stronger than our emotions.” We can choose to listen to truth over what our emotions are screaming at us. We can choose to believe the truth of God’s Word and what He says about us, and other people, regardless of how we might feel.
Patsy finished with three truths:
Life is messy. No one has it all together. We are all broken people with messy lives in need of grace.
People are textured. When we think we really know someone, we might be surprised. We need to realize that people may be hiding hurt or brokenness that we are unaware of, and they need our mercy and compassion.
God’s ways are mysterious. His ways are so much higher than ours, we can’t understand why He does what He does a lot of the time. But we can trust His character, and believe that He does have a plan and no suffering is wasted.
We took a break for lunch, and I was pleased to discover that we didn’t have to pay for lunch after all. Every one got a free boxed lunch, and the leftovers were donated to an area shelter.
Notice the WOF label on the water bottle 😀
When we came back, Andy Andrews spoke, but I didn’t take any notes, because he was kinda all over the place… literally. The entire time he talked he paced all over the stage, running up and down the stage stairs, up and down the aisles, and back and forth in front of the stage.
But basically, he told his life story. He lived a normal life until the age of 19, when his mom died of cancer and his dad died in a car crash. Soon he was homeless, and through the influence of a man named Jones, started reading autobiographies. Soon he was hooked, and while he was homeless, he read over 200 biographies. He determined a set of seven principles that guided the men and women he read about, and began implementing them in his own life. Now, he has written several novels in which the characters apply these principles, and he is a motivational speaker who encourages audiences to apply the principles to their lives.
He also talked about investing in yourself. I think it was one of his principles, but he talked about the importance of reading. Reading invests in our mind, because it increases our knowledge and wisdom. Investing in ourselves makes us a better contributor to society.
I learned a lot from session three, so I’m going to save that for another post. But at some point during session three, there was a Q and A for Patsy and Andy. The questions and their answers were so enlightening, I wrote them all down. I’ll save some of them for another post, but the first question was related to the first session: “How can you make your will stronger than your emotions?”
Patsy replied, “It already is!” She explained that many times we don’t realize it, because we haven’t exercised it. Our will is like a muscle, and the more we exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Whether we are refusing a fourth piece of cake or a self-deprecating thought, our will is already stronger than our emotions, and we need to choose to use it to say no.
That session ended at 3:30, and we had a break for dinner, until Session 4 started at 7:00. Tara and I walked down to TGI Fridays, not realizing that the Diamondbacks were playing the Giants that night. We had great seats to watch the warm up!
Tara and I had a great discussion during dinner, and since we still had plenty of time before the next session, we kept talking and walking. Tara was surprisingly energetic after eating, so we spent the rest of our time walking around the block and then doing laps around the concourse. I was SO full after my wonderful meal at TGIF, I would have been perfectly content to sit in our seats for an hour and let my food turn to fat, but it was good for me to get in my exercise for the weekend!
If you go to the Women of Faith conference, I highly recommend going with a friend. Not just because they’ll encourage you to exercise, but because when you discuss the messages with someone else, you learn so much more!
I loved Friday night. Session 4 started with all of the speakers giving a short introduction. We’d already met Patsy Clairmont and Andy Andrews, and we were introduced to Mandisa, Marilyn Meburg, Sandi Patty, Lisa Whelchel, and Brenda Warner.
Lots of People!
We sang several fun songs about being women 🙂
Deborah Joy Winans performed a hilarious skit about all the roles we play as women. She opened a suitcase and pulled out a prop for each character role we play, such as Wendy the Workaholic, Charlotte the Chauffeur, Linda the Love Slave, and a peppy exercise girl, accountant, soccer mom, and psychiatrist whose names I don’t remember.
We were also privileged to see Tim Hawkins, since the Phoenix event was the only one he could make. Both Tara and I laughed so hard that we almost threw up, that’s how funny he was! If you need a good laugh, look him up on you tube. My favorite parts of his thing were the thesaurus prayers, bedtime prayers, and his dance to “Party in the USA.” If you ever get a chance to see him live, do it!
The Women of Faith tour partners with World Vision, so we got to watch a video of a beautiful true story about an ordinary woman who decided to start sponsoring a little girl at a Women of Faith Event. This woman corresponded to this girl and then with her young mother. They were able to help this single mother start a business, send her children to school, and journey from hopelessness to hope. When World Vision gave this woman and her husband a surprise trip to visit the family, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place!
Probably my favorite part of Friday was worshiping with Mandisa. I loved her music before, and I’d been inspired by her weight loss journey and blog, but seeing her live was so much better. Her talent is mind-blowing, her joy contagious, her worshipful heart inspiring.
When I got home, I made a list of my “takeaways” for the day:
1. Say “Will you forgive me,” more often.
2. Plan to invest in my personal growth.
3. Face my fears to overcome them.
4. Realize that all my choices and actions matter.
5. Realize that Brian and I are both broken, and I must take responsibility for myself.
6. I need to build Brian up more, making a conscious effort.
7. I will pray about when God wants us to have children.
8. Write to sponsor child.
Over the next few days, I’ll tell you more about how I came to those conclusions.
To end today’s post, what do you think about saying Yes, Thank you, and No every day? How would your life be different?
Have you used the Refuse, Replace, and Repeat strategy before? Do you believe that your will is stronger than your emotions? Why is it hard to exercise our will and not obey our emotions?
I think as women, it is so easy to give, give, give of ourselves, until we run dry. We run dry emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes even physically. We pour ourselves into the lives of others around us, whether that’s thorough teaching a Bible Study or teaching our children at home, working with a non-profit or volunteering at the homeless shelter. We wish there were more hours in a day. We love what we do, but after awhile, we start to feel empty.
At least, I do.
Sometimes we need some time away to be filled back up.
Time away from all we’re doing to just be still. Time away from all the demands on us so that we can focus on hearing His voice. Time away so that we can step back and re-evaluate our lives and refocus our priorities, lining them up with His priorities. Time away from all the “Martha” busyness of serving others so that we can have some “Mary” time of sitting at Jesus’ feet.
Doesn’t that sound good?
September 23-24th, I’ll be attending the Women of Faith Conference in Phoenix. I’ve never been to one before, and I’m so excited for this opportunity! I get to go for free, thanks to Booksneeze, a book review program for bloggers from Thomas Nelson Publishers.
The video shows most of the speakers, but here’s a link to the full line up. I’m REALLY excited to see Mandisa! And Tim Hawkins! If you don’t know who they are, look them up on youtube, you won’t regret it!
Have you ever gone to a Women of Faith Conference? What was your experience? Are you considering going this year? If you go to the Phoenix one, shoot me an email!