Monday, October 31, 2011

Women of Faith Imagine: Ft. Lauderdale

Oh my! Where do I begin? Saturday's Imagine venue was truly life-changing. Words cannot express the Holy-Spirit anointed, from-the-heart testimonials. Each speaker touched me in a special way that I will never forget.

First of all, our seats were unimaginable! We were seated on the ground floor and within rows and directly behind the speakers and Mary Mary. I had the blessing of personally thanking Lisa Harper . I mouthed a "thank you" as she walked by. The Imagine Team and worship singers walked by our row all day long. Awesome and humbling!

Lisa Harper weaved her opening tale in a way that no doubt everyone was surprised and entertained by her account of a jog in the park. What was harder to hear was her account of being raped in a bar at a young age because her father was having an affair with a waitress. I cried the whole time. I related to so much of what she said about not having a child. We all cheered when she shared her story about adopting a "brown baby". We also cheered when she took off her jacket!

Nicole Johnson gave me a double dose of blessing. I will never forget how she shared her story of being invisible yet seen by God. Each speaker held a prop to emphasize their main talking point. She held a big picture book. I didn't just enjoy her presentation. I actually felt as if I were eating a feast. Feasting on every word, eating up everything offered by someone who so clearly understood! Throughout the entire day, confirmation of things God had been speaking to me kept hitting me between the eyes. Nicole's presentation glittered brighter than the mirror balls overhead. Though she wore black, she was the brightest vision to me because she understood my pain, my perfectionism and my struggles to be seen - performance issues. Thank you Nicole Johnson!

Angie Smith was my favorite speaker (sorry God, I know You don't have favorites!) Yes, I understand why the Women of Faith program stated, "Women around the world feel as though they're lifelong friends with Angie Smith-and most of them have never met her in person..." I appreciated (understatement) her transparent sharing of her hard moments. "Special" does not describe the invitation she gave to women in the arena who had experienced the loss of a baby no matter what the circumstances. Her family photos made me cry (in a bittersweet way) for I was so happy for her and yet so sad at the same time. I cannot fully explain the depth of gratitude to have gleaned from her experience. I will never forget all she shared. Her happy moments balanced her presentation and she seemed like someone I would run into the grocery store and instantly feel connected to her. Praise God Angie Smith obediently followed God's calling to encourage women!

Luci Swindoll reminded me that there are way too few Titus women in my world! She was calming and wise in her sharing of the necessity of music in one's life. She was a slower speaker and less physically expressive in her presentation but compassion, subtle humor and love exuded from her in a way that made me long for home. I don't feel I know as much about Luci Swindoll, the woman as she seemed to talk more about others and situations and less about her hard times. However, she seemed to be the calming, steady  force on the Imagine Team.

Sheila Walsh left me with the takeaway of a lifetime! Her bummer lamb I will never ever forget. I went to bed Saturday night replaying her account of the farmer. On Sunday morning the vision of Sheila standing there so close yet up on the stage clutching that stuffed lamb was seared in my brain. She held it not just in an embrace, but up high near her chin just as a child would do. A child would hold that animal tight so that no one in the world would ever take it from her. I was reminded of my own difficult childhood and wishing I had someone to hold me. No doubt the bummer lamb will be what I become in the lives of others. Because without God caring for me (the rejected lamb) and calling me by name, I would be dead - or in a very bad way.

Mary Mary blessed me with music. My friend Elizabeth and I danced and laughed and yelled the lyrics out loud (no one minded!). The timing for Mary Mary was perfect as we were feeling a bit sluggish after the tasty box lunch Women of Faith provided. Because I have been asked to review this venue, I would be doing a disservice if I did not share a few facts that concerned me about the talking time with Mary Mary. Twice one of the duo used the Lord's name in vain (yes). Also, she made a statement that Mary the mother of God was perfect. Maybe some Catholics believe this, but I was a bit surprised by her doctrinal statement. Lastly, she stated several times that we are all God's children. That statement was not biblical. For if it was, then why did Luci Swindoll give an invitation to salvation (Romans 10:9-11).

Because I am a hard core evangelical born again Christian - as my blog states, I will give you the Truth! not sugar-coat or tell you what you want to hear. I believe this transparency gives value and helps to help you make a great event even more fantastic!!!

Thank you Thomas Nelson and Women of Faith for the great seating! I know you wanted me to feel like a VIP (and I did). I tweeted the whole time but forgot to take pictures (was having too much fun).

I filled out the blogging paperwork in the middle of the program. I did want to tell you that it was difficult to see the pink-colored and fine print on the form. Even though they raised the house lights, I had a hard time making out the text. I believe you may not receive as many of those forms back because of the visibility challenge. Maybe you could make the fonts larger, black or even use both sides. Also, the form said to hand in at the concourse. That was confusing. I believe others may have been confused by that direction as well because the friendly basket-holding volunteer at the exit doors only had one returned form (we turned ours in at the book stand) and there were flocks of women flying by...

Imagine I will never ever forget. I cannot express my gratitude enough for the opportunity to review this venue. I met so many wonderful women and made memories to last a lifetime. I will be a better wife, a stronger woman, a more faithful friend - - and yes, I will always embrace the fact that I am a bummer lamb - and always the first to respond to my Father's call. The first because I know His voice. Imagine that?! My life will never be the same again. Thank you Imagine Women of Faith!!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Are you a manufacturer of a product or currently market a service? Christina will review it! Email with product name, description and manufacturer's suggested retail price along with any other information relative to said product. You will receive a response via email within two weeks if product will be reviewed. Please note not all products will be considered reviewable. Please do not send products without prior consent. Note: Products sent for review will not be returned. Product submission authorizes consent for said product to remain in sole possession of recipient. No monies shall be exchanged for product submission nor permission granted for reviews prior to submission. Reviews shall remain effective and in full force at sole discretion of blog administrator and/or authors related to

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