As women of faith, how often do we really encourage each other? Do we allow others to see that we need encouraging? Or even better, do we even realize we need encouragement? I didn’t.
At the end of last month, I had the privilege of attending a woman’s conference that was hosted by the organization, Voices of Encouragement (VOE)
Now, how I came to be there is an interesting story. I have a neighbor, Edna, whose daughter is the same age as my son. When our children were both in high school, they hung out together, but Edna and I never really seemed to find the time to connect and get to know one another. We were friendly, saying “Hi,” when our paths crossed, but we didn’t really have too many shared activities. I had heard about some kind of vague reference to her starting a non-profit to encourage women, but I didn’t really think it was relevant to me.
Then around December, I was looking for someone to go to a concert with me, someone who might enjoy the kind of music that is not typically appreciated by many middle-aged women. I timidly asked her husband first if this musician was someone my neighbor enjoyed, and was pleased to hear that yes, she did like the musician, and she might be interested in going to the concert.
We finally got together to discuss the concert plans, and in the course of our discussion, we began sharing and finding more things in common. For example, she wrote a Bible study devotion for her youngest daughter to take with her to college. She had it published, shared it with me, and I found it to be quite perfect for the busy college freshman’s life. I shared with her that I had written a Bible study for my daughter, and I shared it with her as it is published on this website in the form of the Daughters and Disciples series.
From this conversation, Edna invited me to attend the VOE conference as her guest, and encouraged me to consider what else God might want to do with this blog and the Daughters and Disciples.
So, I went.
The theme of the conference was on Wisdom, Wealth, and Wellness. These are similar to the themes I wrote about in Daughters and Disciples. The speakers were amazing, the women were very accepting and welcoming, and yes, I was encouraged.
See, I was sitting at a table with a group of women who were invited for one particular reason or another, and none of us knew each other. As we began to share how we came to be there, I tried to describe how it was that Edna thought I should come and referenced the blog. One of the women asked what it was called, and I said, “Moving Forward in Faith, but I know that’s not very original. I am looking for a better title.” And let me tell you, my apologetic, I know it’s not very good, disparaging comment did NOT go over well with these women. Lovingly, but firmly, they responded that I should embrace what I have done, and keep “moving forward.” That really stopped me in my tracks, and I realized that I have not developed the confidence in what I’m doing nearly as much as I thought I had. I didn’t even realize I needed encouraging. So, even while I am in the midst of my final semester of getting this school counseling master’s, I realize I cannot just stop posting, even if I can only do so once a month.
There are two things I want to share with you that different women shared at that conference. The first is an affirmation statement by J.L. Bolton, and the second is a poem by Anita Gill-Anderson.
The affirmation statement inspires me because I know the unkind thoughts, the tendency to disparage and devalue my work, are habits I need to break. I haven’t written my own affirmation statement, yet. But, I will. Just read it and see what I mean –
My life is a mess,
There’s just so much stress!
NO, those thoughts are history,
I now live in victory!
I’m fearfully, wonderfully made.
On me, holy hands have been laid.
My help’s from above,
I’m redeemed by his blood
Sometimes there’s attacks,
But then there are comebacks!
With those I grow stronger,
Defeat is no longer.
God gets the glory,
For my winning story.
Plus there r twisters,
He gave me some sisters –
I got V.O.E.
To always lift me.
With God on my side,
There’s faith in my stride.
The devil…wants me brokin’
But JC, he ain’t jokin’
I AM said I AM,
I AM J-L Bolton!
I am thankful that Ms. J.L. Bolton allowed me to share this with you. What if we all reminded ourselves of the things we know to be true? What things do you need to remind yourself of each day?
Anita Gill-Anderson has given me permission to publish the poem on this blog, and she asks that if anyone would like to share it, to please make sure you give her the proper credit. If you would like to contact her directly, just send me an email, and I’ll share your contact information with her. (The comments button is at the top of the page, and direct messages can be sent to me on the Contact page.)
Here is the link to her poem, “W” to the 5th Power “G”
The first line is, “We are Wise Women Who Walk With God.” It’s powerful.
I am so thankful for Edna and the other women I met at the conference. If you want to see what else is happening with Voices of Encouragement, go to the website: voicesofencouragment.com
The next conference is scheduled April 27, 2019. You’ll be blessed for sure!