these are some of my picture highlights of the she speaks conference last weekend.
my next post will be the highlights of the messages i heard.
the women of table eleven! i just sat down next to cynthia (far left) on the first night and we all fell in love! the four ladies in the middle are all friends from baton rouge, although lee (in purple) now lives in arizona. sandra (next to me in blue) is a breast cancer survivor and that’s her daughter, kristi, in light pink in the back.
van walton is the director of spanish ministries for proverbs 31 ministries. she is an incredible woman of gentleness, kindness and encouragement.
van was the leader of my speaker evaluation group. she created such an atmosphere of such peace and openness in our little sitting room each evening. she made herself so available to us prior to the conference and i was so blessed and impressed by her emails before we got there. (i even had a wardrobe question that she helped answer over the phone.)
van, thank you for your willingness to be used to speak life and blessing over our little fun group. you are such a gift.
bridging the (age) gap between my new bff’s shawna kirk and laura amstutz. as shawna pointed out during our first real conversation over dinner on saturday night, we have the type of connection where you just know you’re loved and accepted…you can just sink back into the gift of that friendship and be exactly who you are. like…soulmates.
shawna and laura were there to represent compassion international. i think there were close to 70 children who received sponsors as a result of them being there to advocate on their behalf.
laura and i discovered we have way too much in common for us not to be destined to be friends. she is an artist in nashville and she also hosts art therapy workshops. i love her heart and her work. find both here.
this is my new friend, cindy finley, who i just happened to be sitting next to at lunch on saturday. turns out, we couldn’t stop talking (i know, imagine that…me! i couldn’t stop talking! i know…) she and her husband are pastors in virginia and have six children of their own (i couldn’t believe it either). last summer, they were going to sponsor a child from kazakhstan only for a few weeks. once katya went back home, the lord laid it on their heart to adopt her. so began their story of adoption from eastern europe, which opened their eyes to the reality of sex-trafficking. it is HORRID.
cindy’s heart is to minister to women between 20-35, helping them work through life and love in god. however, through her family’s experience of adopting katya, she is also compelled to expose the horror that is sex-trafficking.
these are the women that were in my speaker evaluation group. we met with one another on friday and saturday nights. i was so moved by each of their stories and so impressed by each woman’s courage to talk about the brokenness and redemption in their own lives. i’m convinced that we can only speak about what we know, and that god has a purpose and a plan for each of us. he does not waste any of our pain or our tears and my experience has been that he uses our lives to minister to other women who are going or have been through similar challenges.
it was an honor to be a part of this group.
(standing, left to right): monica, deedy, carrie, lottie, carole, sandy, & me)
(kneeling, left to right): laura, erin, tonya, van & heatherly)
angela thomas delivered our Saturday night message. y’all. she is a spitfire. SPIT. FIRE. amazing. UH. mazing. for reals. i’ll talk more tomorrow about what i learned at the conference. but she b l e w me away. not to mention, she’s hysterical. aaand she has her master’s of divinity from dallas theological seminary. (i know, i know…)
p.s. beth moore delivered our saturday afternoon talk via satellite. i know. it’s true.
this is obviously not the greatest picture of me and shari, but it is better than it might have been had she actually stayed KNEELING DOWN like she started out doing (she is eleven feet tall, i swear).
shari braendel is the resident fashionista of proverbs 31 ministries. she is a client of my bff-amy, having recently published her latest book, good girls don’t have to dress bad. shari has been an image consultant for over 20 years, working in cosmetics and in fashion. and now she uses her gifts to help christian women dress right for their body type, as well as young women understand how to dress modestly but still true to their personality. BUT she does it in a way that is honest but not threatening. she has such a unique niche for her ministry and she knows exactly what she is talking about.
this is the woman that i told you i was going to have breakfast with on saturday. (when she got off the elevator she didn’t see me. seriously, she is 17 feet tall). she is hilarious and REAL and a JOY. if you ever get to attend one of her ‘what to wear’ conferences, you’ll be in for a real treat. she also offers personal image consulting and now offers a ten-month program for women who would also like to pursue image consulting in christian settings.
and this is my precious friend, heatherly. she is a teacher in boston, has two (?) kids, a husband and a tender heart. she is tough and strong and sweet and soft – my favorite type of woman. i wish you could know her. you would love her like i do…and it’s not like we even got to spend tons of time together! i just know i love her and you would, too.
as for me, i learned that i still have a lot to learn. and that if it takes two or twenty years for the lord to put me in front of 5 or 5,000 people, i would spend that time studying the word of god and going deeper in my own walk with him. i have no desire to make my name known if it doesn’t honor god. nothing is more important to me than knowing him more and loving the people he loves, christian or no. that is what i’m called to (and so are you). my life doesn’t belong to myself. i am not my own. everything i’ve been through has not been in vain if it can change the life of just one person (in particular, my own. so, there you go! not in vain. told you.)
in the meantime, my job is to be responsible to ENJOY the life i have now and to love god and love other people.
i know this weekend was pivotal for me. not in a mountaintop, emotional way (i think i’ve kind of outgrown that). but it solidified my desire to serve god with everything that is in me. as micca campbell put it, it’s so in me that i can’t not do it. it will just be up to the lord to do it is all. fine by me!
charlie gaddy once asked me, ‘what is your blue sky, mary kathryn?’ (i love asking people that question now.) i probably didn’t have a very good answer then, even though i’ve known all of my life that the thing that brings me the greatest joy is loving god.
and so, i ask you friend, ‘what is your blue sky?’
what is the thing that you can’t not do with your life?
are you doing it?