Monday, February 06, 2006

How was the 2006 Grace Women's Conference?

I'd love to hear about the 2006 Grace Women's Conference from some gals who attended. I really didn't hear much at all yesterday.

How was it?
What did you learn?
How many were there?


HV said...

The conference was well attended. I am not good with guessing numbers but I would estimate around 200 ladies. I attended with my daughter and met a few ladies from Grace, but also had a chance to visit with a few ladies from other churches in the area during meal times.

My daughter and I were both encouraged by Emily's testimony of God's faithfulness in her life. She was diagnosed with stage four cancer in 1997 and has been through a tremendous amount of treatment and pain. She has seen how God has lead her through each step of the way; a true testimony of God's providential guidance and care. God even allowed Emily and her husband Bob to witness to a young man going through a bone marrow transplant. He responded to God's calling before he passed away.

The other thing that was apparent in both Emily and her husband Bob was their love for each other. They haven't had an easy life, but God has made them strong in their faith and brought them closer together as one in their fifty years of marriage. It is encouraging for women of all ages to see how committment to God and your husband can take you through all of life's trials and you will be strong in the end.

It is wonderful that Grace Church is willing to share events like this with people from the community. I am sure many were blessed as we were. Oh, and by the way, thanks to all who worked hard to put it together. The food was wonderful and an added bonus!

Brianna Heldt said...

I was really inspired by Emilie's talks about prayer and also by her testimony and battle with cancer. It is also always great to spend some time with other women out of the normal church setting.

I hope it's okay to say, though, that some of the things presented were troubling to me. We talked about this at growth group last night as a couple of us had attended the retreat, and we all (both men and women) seemed to feel the same way. The mentality that wives should be in full make-up and "not wearing slippers" as we say goodbye to our husbands in the morning, because when they get to work they are going to be surrounded by attractive women who have spent the last two hours getting ready--as Bob Barnes suggested--just didn't sit well with me. (On a side note my own husband leaves for work at 5:30 a.m.--sorry, but I will not be getting up at 4 a.m. every day to get ready! What good is that if it causes me to basically be useless the rest of the day because I'm exhausted?)

Society and "the world" are constantly telling women they are not pretty enough, that we have to look a certain way to be attractive, etc.--we get plenty of that without someone telling us that somehow we are not honoring our husbands (and therefore God) if we're not looking a certain way (and not only that but to imply that our husband is going to be tempted once he gets to work because of it! Doesn't seem to be giving men very much credit either!) It seemed like so much emphasis was put on "doing" and what we should be looking like to honor our husbands. I believe one quote was that there are women out there who want our husbands...(so in other words we better get our act together if we want to keep them!)

Obviously all of that is out of context, but nevertheless those things were said and while I did enjoy the conference, I also thought it was a shame that there was such a focus on that sort of perfectionism (I was reminded of the story of Jesus, Mary and Martha. The one who chose to sit at Christ's feet chose correctly, not the one bustling about to make things perfect.) I desire to honor the Lord and my husband. I desire to keep a clean home and make our home a happy place for our family. But I don't think this was the answer...I also really hope no ladies walked away discouraged about their home or about their appearance, or worried that if they don't look a certain way their husband will be unfaithful.

Sorry if this seems critical or negative; I'm truly not meaning to be. Bob and Emilie have amazing faiths and an amazing story and I'm glad I attended--it's just I think that sending this type of message can be dangerous (making certain things Biblical or absolute that in my opinion aren't, or at least not to the extreme that was presented.) I wasn't going to post anything, but I know for a fact that I am not the only person who left with this impression. I am so thankful to God that He cares so much more about me than just what I look like or how organized I am! (And that my husband does, too!)

Jeannett Gibson said...

Well, ok...

I first want to say that I hope none of the things said by Brianna or myself (or anyone else for that matter!) are confused with the grand effort and hard work put forth by the organizers of the conference. I commend them for all of their time and energy and am happy to see them serve our community so faithfully. Thank you. :0)

However, I agree with Brianna...while Emilie's testimony was amazing, and her prayer discussion downright inspiring...I think that the particular focus on cleaning and makeup and perfectionism was concerning. Now, I understand 110% that as wives, we should not just sit at home eating bon bons while the house is in shambles and look like we just rolled out of bed when our husbands get home from a long day at work. However, I was especially concerned by Emilie's comment that "If Jesus came to your house, would you let Him in?" I do not believe that this is the type of pressure we should be emphasizing. Organization and neatness are certainly virtues, but not the basis upon which we should base our salvation and/or faith. I understand that Mrs. Barnes was probably not saying that specifically, but I can only imagine that this may have been the message taken away by many, considering that the message of cleanliness and how to properly set a table dominated so much of the conference. In fact, Saturday morning I jokingly commented to one of the women "so did you organize all of your closets last night?" Her response: "No, but I didn't sleep all last night I was so stressed out."

On another note, the bulk of the conference was aimed at stay at home, married women. While these women are in attendance at Grace, I think that the focus missed a large portion of the audience. I think we were very blessed to have many college students and younger women who work outside the home, etc. present at the conference, who were completely ignored by the topics. It just seemed sad to me that 3/4 of the conference was spent on how to properly use a feather duster, rather than how to enrich our hearts' desire for a relationship with Christ.

Our duty as women of God is not to be the Holy version of Martha Stewart...but to be stewards of all that Christ has given us and look to Him for guidance. Feather dusters and all.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with some of Jeannett's points and understand her perspective in others, I find her comment, "It just seemed sad to me that 3/4 of the conference was spent on how to properly use a feather duster" to be an exaggeration and misleading to anyone who did not attend. As I remember it, about 2 minutes was spent on "feather dusters."
Cyndie Hamley

Jeannett Gibson said...

I'm was more of a figure of speech...I meant the concept of cleaning, organizing, and looking pretty dominated the conference. You're right, feather dusters specifically, only last a couple of minutes.

Anonymous said...

Okay, to answer the original question asked by Pastor Tim:
About 200 attended the conference, although a handful could only come one day.

I was encouraged by Emilie Barne’s testimony of how God can redeem a poor little broken Jewish girl from a fractured family and bring her into a vital Christian marriage. I was challenged by how God took Emilie’s empty nest and turned it into a fruitful ministry to millions. I was amazed by how God took Emilie from her death bed, strengthened her marriage and restored her ministry. While her body and voice are weak, her message is even more powerful.

Personally I came home with renewed commitment to pray for my children and grandchildren.
I felt motivated to organize my clothes closet. Boy it felt good to drop off two big bags of clothing at the Goodwill!
I have a new tool for communicating with my husband, “Just think about it!” (Thanks to Debbi, Vivian and Paula P. for making up the little cards.)
I’ve started lighting little votive candles in the evenings and find they do provide an atmosphere of serenity.
I’m more convinced than ever that if I listen with the expectation of hearing God’s voice, I will hear his message for me.
Once again, God has shown me that he is faithful to his promises.

Cyndie Hamley

Anonymous said...

What a great Women's Conference our Grace Ladies put on for us! Thanks, Cyndie, for your hard work and vision - fabulouse speakers and we basically only had to walk out our front doors!

Bob and Emilie Barnes were a class act and godly, besides. Because of their suffering, faithfulness, and love, they had much to offer and we were privileged to sit at their feet (and laugh and cry and search our hearts.)

I disagree that the emphasis was on neatness, order and beauty. I can use all the help I can get in any of those areas, especially organization since I've begun working some outside the home. Their light touch in those practical areas were needed and refreshing, and didn't preclude or subjugate their message of hope, mercy and grace.

Real life is dust and sex and What's for dinner, mom? and because God is in all of the above and more, they are right up their with having our quiet time on a regular basis. So glad they came and that we could take some needed moments to reflect on what areas needed cleaning up, inside and out. And, I love my duster if I can just remember where I put it!
sue donaldson

Anonymous said...

PS I meant to add that a young single friend of mine who doesn't attend church came and loved it and cried--God is working in her life; and another single girlfriend came and cried and laughed and began attending Bible Study that very week - so I know God used it in a mighty way, across ages and marital statua and all that sort of thing. Yippee and Praise Him totally.

Lara Laity said...

I didn't go to the women's conference so I can't comment on it, but I thought maybe this could be the place to offer some suggestions of ideas I have for future women's conferences. 1. I would love to have someone come to speak about how we as women can be serving Christ in SLO. I would love to hear of specific opportunities that are out there, how others are serving and how God is working through them. and also how to mix service with raising children. What sort of opportunities are there for women with kids of all ages. Can I be serving in the community while I have an infant? 2. There was a woman missionary that taught one of the Perspectives classes and she talked about raising her son be a servant. I would love to hear her speak again. 3. It would be good to be encouraged with Deut. 6:4-9. What does that look like to impress the Lord's commands upon our children; To talk about them when we sit at home and when you walk along the road, etc.?
4. And I also thought that it would be really neat to set aside some time at the women's conference to actually go out and serve our community somehow. What better way to get to know one another than to serve along side eachother. Maybe we could invite the single mom's from the community to come have tea and soak their feet while we watch their kids. Or maybe we could plant gardens (taking care of all the expenses - plants, dirt, tools) for some poor families and teach them how to care for them. I'm always longing just for some time to connect with other women in the church. Why not do that while planting tomatos? I bet others of you have better ideas than those, but it's a start. Any thoughts?

Brianna Heldt said...

Those are some sweet ideas Lara. Hearing from a woman missionary would be amazing. It is always great to get outside of ourselves and do something for others so I REALLY loved your ideas about helping the single moms and the poor.