My first Women of Faith experience was in 2001. Several ladies from my church were going to Women of Faith in Anaheim, CA and they invited me to go with them. We didn’t really have the money to attend, but my husband and I saved for the expense. We were new in the area and felt would be good for me to make some friends at our new church home. Besides that, it sounded like a fun break from my day-to-day life of mom, wife and church secretary. On a sunny Friday afternoon, I left our 1-year-old daughter with my grandma and headed out in the van full of laughter and soon-to-be memories. Little did I know that these women planned to bless me with my ticket and hotel expenses or that these would become true sisters in Christ. The weekend started with a fabulous dinner in an Anaheim restaurant packed with women and more laughter.
From there we went to the conference. It was unlike anything I had ever attended. The music lifted my spirits and the speakers inspired me. We laughed and cried ever more than in the van on the way there! Each woman spoke from her heart and touched me in an unexpected way. The sincerity filled the enormous room and reached me all the way in the top row. Like Thelma, I grew up with my Grandma. I dreamt of traveling the world with Luci. Sheila’s stories of motherhood seemed so much like what I anticipated with my daughter. My heart went out to Barbara who was unable to attend due to her illness. Marilyn let me know that it was ok to be a Christian with a slightly sarcastic sense of humor. Nicole knew my deepest thoughts, from standing alongside my mother-in-law during her fight with breast cancer several years earlier to wearing multiple hats every day. I went home with new friends and a renewed energy unlike anything I had felt in a long time. This was something I planned to attend over and over again.
What happened that weekend prepared my faith for a sudden change that would forever change the world. The following Tuesday was September 11, 2001. I turned on the television as my husband prepared for work and watched the World Trade Center crumble to the ground. I stood in disbelief as my husband entered the room and hugged me. Together we stood dumbfounded at the horror taking place. I quickly dressed, gathered my things and headed to work with my Bible in hand. Throughout the day, many people visited and called the church. No one knew quite what to say or do, except to pray. My weekend at the Women of Faith conference seemed like it had taken place a lifetime ago, but the results were still there. My faith did not waver in the following days. In fact, it continued to grow as I searched the scriptures and sang hymns.
Attending the Women of Faith conference that year wasn’t a life-changing experience in itself. It did, however, prepare my heart for many life-changing experiences. I am so thankful for the people and events that God puts in our paths to prepare us for our future. While I haven’t attended every Women of Faith conference since then, it has a dear place in my heart and I would encourage any women to attend.