Apr 17, 2010

An Extraordinary Weekend

This Friday night and Saturday morning I attended a wonderful ladies' event at FBC Jackson. For the past several years they have hosted the Extraordinary Women's Conference here. I attended in 2007 but was unable to attend the year after. I knew I wanted to go this year, but we've recently started attending FBC and I wasn't sure if anyone that I've met so far would be attending. (attend, attend, attend - there, I think I got that out of my system.) Anyway, a few said they would be there, but I wasn't sure.

So, I did something I've never done before. I signed up to work the event as a volunteer, not sure if I would know anyone there. I have to admit, I was a little anxious. I'm not a shy person by any means. So, it wasn't that I was nervous about attending and meeting new people. But I have always attended something like this with a friend or group of women from my church. I really prayed on the way to the church Friday afternoon that God would move in my life. That He would remove my uneasiness. That He would remove any fears or anxieties I had. And that He would move and change me, in spite of any sin or baggage I brought with me. I prayed that He would work in, and speak to me, whether I met anyone I could hang out with or not. And let me just tell you, God is so good. He answered all those prayers and more.

Before I arrived, I had no idea what I would be doing as a volunteer. I registered online, so I did know that I would work at a product table, but didn't know which one until I arrived. I checked in and was told that I would work at Angela Thomas's table. I almost fell out right then. If you have never met me in person, you wouldn't know this, but I am Angela's biggest fan. I have done EVERY Angela Thomas study. Some twice. I have even bought copies of her studies and sent them to friends so THEY can do it. I adore her. (Well, as much as you can adore someone you've never met and only know through her biography in the front of a Bible study.) To put it mildly, I was so excited! And wouldn't you know it, God placed me with two of the most beautiful, funny, sweet girls I have ever met.

I can't speak for anyone else, but the three of us had a great time this weekend. We laughed and joked from the very first moments we met. The girl in the middle is Angela's oldest daughter, Taylor. She is lovely inside and out. The smiling face on the right is Samantha. She should be in investigative reporting. She had every thing except my momma's maiden name out of me within 20 minutes. I have a feeling you'll see her face on this blog again in the future. We hit it off and were BFFs (ha) by the end of the night.

I also got to see a lot of familiar faces from my past. First, I saw Robyn Jones. Her husband is a former minister from Harmony, our last church home. I taught her oldest daughter in Sunday school. She (the daughter, Tori) recently accepted Christ as her savior and Robyn had her call me to share the news a few weeks ago. I was so excited for her. And I was happy to see Robyn and catch up for a few minutes.

And then, I looked up as saw this beautiful, blue-eyed lady. This is Ginger Parker. She and I met at Kindermusik. Her daughter, Kinsley, and Sara Madalin have attended two classes together there. I almost didn't recognize her because she cut her hair. Her husband is a minister in the Vicksburg area.

Then, from across the room I saw this gal.

That's Julie Cook. She and her husband worked with us at our former church to produce and perform "Heaven's Gates, Hell's Flames" for about three years. I haven't seen her in forever. I have thought of her many times and have searched her out on Facebook more often than I can remember. I was so happy to see her. She and her husband have since taken a church in Louisiana. It was great to see her.

(I know it looks like I didn't really work much, and that all I did was take pictures of people I saw. But I really did sell some merch. I was multi-tasking. Ha.)

The opening songs were by Mandisa. She's a former American Idol contestant. She was all over the stage. So much energy. I really enjoyed her.

Then Christian-comedian Chonda Pierce spoke. She was hilarious and just "precious." Bless her heart.

And then, during the break. . . OH!!! THEN!!! I got to MEET Angela!! She was so sweet to all of us. I'm sure she thinks I'm crazy. I just went on and on about her studies and how I'd done "Do You Think I'm Beautiful?" twice and "When Wallflowers Dance" twice and how I'm her biggest fan and could I please have a picture with her? Ha. She was just as sweet and lovely in person as she seems in her photos and on the her DVDs.

Here we are: Heather (another volunteer at our table), Angela, me, and Taylor.

Then I saw another face from my past - my very distant past.

This is Rhonda. She is the older sister of my best friend from elementary school, Rebecca. I haven't seen her or her family in at least 15-20 years. It was such a surprise.

Finally, the night ended with a concert by Jeremy Camp. He was really good. I love his song, "I Still Believe."

Saturday morning, the conference continued. And I got to see my former college roommate, her mom, and daughter. Here I am with Penny and her mom. Just seeing her makes me laugh. We had so much fun in Copiah-15 as Freshmen and Sophomores in college.

And this pretty lady is Debbie. I've known Debbie for years as my dental hygienist. She's also grown to be a friend through the years. She cracks me up. The last time I was in her chair, she had me laughing so hard there were tears in my eyes. Her daughter, Margaret, is also Sara Madalin's sitter on Monday nights while I'm in class.

This is another speaker at the conference, Stormie Omartian. I've done one of her studies before too, "The Power of a Praying Woman." She signed a children's book for Sara Madalin.

And finally, Mandisa again.

See her crown? There was also a former Mrs. America who spoke this weekend. She gave out crowns as one of her gifts at her table. You could look throughout the crowd and see crowns everywhere. She gave them away in promotion of her book about being a princess of God. Anyway, Mandisa had her princess crown on as she closed out the afternoon.

I REALLY enjoyed this weekend. God was faithful. He moved. He ministered to me through these women. And He gave me many opportunities to share my testimony with women who came by Angela's table. I spoke with several women who have struggled through infertility, miscarriages, and who've battled with insecurities and the pains of their past. So, even if I didn't sign up and go with anyone I knew, I have to say that turned into a great thing. Had I been there with people I knew, I most likely wouldn't have met new people, or had opportunity or freedom to share with the women I met, as I was able to.

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P.S. Oh, yeah. I did see several people I knew from FBCJ as well. I also met a few new people there that I hope to get to know better.


K Storm said...

God knew right where He wanted you to be this weekend, didn't He? How cool! I've done Making Your Life a Beautiful Offering by Angela Thomas and loved it! Glad you were so blessed and could bless others!

Melanie said...

Sounds like a fantastic experience! I've heard good things about FBC Jackson. That's right down the street from our church (First Presbyterian).

Paige said...

Wow! So glad you had a wonderful weekend. It amazes me how God takes us and uses us for his Kingdom even when we are not sure about it. Hope you have a great week!

Anonymous said...

That is so neat! Wish I could have been there!

Jeanette Huston said...

I am following from MBC!


Jeanette Huston