Well friends, the GFC Beautiful Conference has come and gone but not without having left its impact on my life and others. This year's theme was "Found" - how we found God in the darkest hours of our lives or how God found us in the darkest hours of our lives. #Perspective
This conference was different for me compared to last year's Fearless conference. That conference was, no way best for me to put it other than "raw". It was a real awakening for me and I really felt God was bringing forth my purpose, my story, that had been dormant in my life for so long. Life and the hurt that it brought in my teens and early 20's caused me to create this lock box of my emotions and stories that I did not want others to know because of the shame I felt. But leading up to the Fearless conference, I felt a stirring in me that I couldn't quite figure out why until that conference. I left that conference a hot mess but with a renewed sense of purpose. A purpose that I am still working towards. Undoing what shame had done for ten plus years is not going to get fixed overnight.
This year's conference I wasn't sure what God was going to do in me but I was excited. A couple weeks leading up to it, I was asked by the women's ministry director to be part of a panel discussion that they were going to have on Friday morning. When I first saw the email I thought to myself, "I think she sent this to me on accident". I even told my husband that. Again, the shame and lack of self-worth is still a real struggle for me. When she responded to my email that "Yes!" she did want me on that panel was another sign, to me, from God that my story is part of my ministry and is to be shared. It made me even more excited about the conference!
Okay, so that was a lot of deep talk there. Go ahead and get you a cup of coffee, cozy up on your couch and let's get to the conference recap!
Day 1: Thursday PM
Prior to the service, they fed our tummies with some good ol' BBQ food from 4 Rivers. I sure do love me some pulled pork and baked beans y'all. After devouring that meal (very quickly I might add because it was outdoors and it was cold) we went to the main sanctuary. The evening consisted of: the lovely ladies from The Pew, Paige and Ashley, kicking off the event, a musical performance and worship.
After the evening service, we went out to the lobby to enjoy some hot cocoa (so appropriate for the weather), churros and flavored popcorn. With that second wind of energy, thanks to the sweet treats, we made our way back to the sanctuary to dance the calories away in the after party. Listen, your girl thought she was JLo on that dance floor with churros in one hand and a mini donut, that I happened to come across, in the other hand. I really do pride myself in my skills of double fisting desserts wherever I go. I broke a sweat like no other and almost broke a hip with some of the dance moves. Had to remind myself that I am not in college anymore. But it was so much fun just dancing the night away with all the ladies there!
Day 2: Friday AM
I stopped by Starbucks to wake up and caffeinate before heading to church. They did offer coffee at church but after all the dancing from the night before, I needed the real deal, yo.
The Pew ladies kicked off the morning followed by worship. The keynote speaker for the AM session was Sharon Tubbs, who was actually the morning speaker for last year's conference. Her message about not being ashamed of your story really spoke to me. Your story is meant to be shared. The events that happen in our lives, both good and bad, is material that God is allowing to be added to our story. Not sharing our story is wasting what God has given us to minister to others and further elevate His kingdom. Seriously, it was as though God was speaking directly at me because, as I've alluded to above, this is something that God has been dealing with me over the past year. I get it God. Noted.
After that session, it was time for the panel discussion that I was participating in. The host, Chrissy Mayer, had some questions for us to discuss about the conference and what "found" means to us. It was like having life group on stage except with hundreds of ladies in the audience listening, the brightest lights in your face and seeing yourself on the big screen. No big deal. It was a forty minute session and it felt like five minutes. It flew! I could have continued on for another couple hours, no lie. It felt so good and so right. There was so much more that I wanted to share! This was just the beginning in my opinion.
Look at your girl on the big screen!
When that was done, it was lunch time. I think they knew that a lot of us ladies were still trying to make new year's resolutions happen with good eating and provided salad for lunch. Confession. I had a slice of pizza that I found backstage before eating my salad. Papa Johns. I couldn't resist. 🙍
Break Out Sessions
With full stomachs, we headed to the break out sessions portion of the conference. We could choose two of twelve sessions ranging in topics from parenting, cleaning/organizing, body image, marriage to prayer, healing, and rewriting your story. Not an easy decision to make choosing just two!
For the first session, I attended my girl Sanjie's session "Be Transformed" which was about understanding the season you are in and finding your identity in Christ. This is a message that one needs to hear on the daily because it can be so easy to fall into the bad habit of trying to be someone according to what the world tells you or what you see on Instagram. Can I get an amen? We, as Christians and daughters of the King of Kings, need to look to our heavenly Father for our identity through reading the bible and seeking His presence in prayer. #preach
For the second session I chose to attend the "When God Gives You a Makeover" session by Rossaue Hosein. So, if I'm to be honest, this was not where I was originally planning on going to because my friends were going to another session. While the other session didn't necessarily appeal to me, I was going to go so I didn't have to go to another session by myself. #introvertproblems However, the room that the other session was in was FREEZING which forced me to go to another session. But I really think it was God pushing me to go to the other session because He knew what I needed to hear.
Rossaue shared her testimony of being healed of food allergies after having dealt with it for five years. She expressed how she, being a prayer warrior and believing for healing and miracles in others' lives, failed to believe that healing could happen in her own life. She came to the conclusion that she would always have these allergies but God proved her wrong. That resonated with me so much because I, myself, have fallen into that rut with my diabetes. I've stopped believing and claiming that healing in my own body. Her testimony inspired me and gave me a renewed hope to continue praying for my own healing.
Once the sessions were done, we went back to the sanctuary for a fun segment with the The Pew ladies including live band TrevLove and the Froots (get it???), giveaways, a schooling on organization, and a surprise 40th birthday celebration for Paige.
After The Pew, it was dinner time and our last meal together with Carrabba's Chicken Marsala, Pasta, Ceasar Salad and Bread.
Friday PM Service
The final service kicked off with amazing worship and another musical performance. Then Lisa spoke sharing a personal story and the story of Job about how God is there with us even in our darkest hour when we think we are alone. Because of the words of others, those who we call friends/family, have made us feel shame and alone. He is there and He hears us.
The service ended off with women gathering together in prayer. Powerful.
Such a great experience and perfect way to start the new year. As a small token of this conference, we each received this bar necklace with the word "found" inscribed on it. Serve as a sweet reminder of this conference and that we are found in Christ.