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“Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God…?” Romans 11:33 (MSG)

 

This was my fourth time to attend the WOF Conferences and, to be completely honest, I wasn’t planning on going this year.  They had decided to split the core group of speakers and welcome “some new friends to the porch.” While I was certain that these new “friends” were wonderful women, I was not excited about missing-out on hearing from Sheila Walsh, Luci Swindoll, and Mary Graham. Besides…I had heard their inspiring messages before.  What new messages of hope, love, and encouragement could they possibly be bringing to Oklahoma City?  Fortunately, God had other plans…I was contacted and selected by Thomas Nelson Publishing through their blogger program Booksneeze, to be their guest at this years conference and to write about my experience.

 

I am so thankful and overjoyed that I went.  As Patsy Clairmont says, “Change can be good.”

 

I have decided to make two posts regarding the WOF conference so that I can fully share the wisdom that was given during this two day conference.

If you have never attended one of these events, it is difficult to fully explain the experience.  No matter who your are, where you are from, or what is going on in your life, the stories shared here will resonate with you.  Even having heard the narratives of Marilyn Meberg, Patsy Clairmont, and Lisa Whelchel before, I realized that the stories shared at this event were different; moreover, that I was in such a different place in my life as well. I have already found myself sharing the truth of “more” and finding real contentment, as shared by Marilyn Meberg, with several of my patients over this past week.  The testimonies of each of these incredible women (and wonderful man–Andy Andrews) were poignant, transparent, and pointed fully to the power of God in each of their lives.  Each of the speakers share with such intimacy, despite being with 7,000 of your closest girlfriends, that you leave feeling like you really know each of them and share a special bond.

 

And then there’s the music…

There is nothing more moving than singing worship with 7,000 women.  I still get chills thinking about singing  Revelation Song as led by the four talented women of the Rejoice   Worship Team.  The entire Chesapeake Arena was energized as we danced & sang with Mandisa and the Worship Team. Amy Grant shared a very intimate and beautiful concert with us that concluded with the entire WOF lineup dancing on the stage with her.  I am always in awe of the incredible talent of Sandi Patty and so grateful to be able to hear her sing my favorite song, The Prayer with her husband Don Peslis.

It was an energizing weekend filled with truth, wisdom, renewal, and hope….truly it was Over the Top.

I’ve got my Kleenex, my waterproof mascara, my dancing shoes, and a heart overflowing with JOY! I’m ready to go “Over The Top” today with Women of Faith!!

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It’s Coming! 2011 Women of Faith Conference:  Over the Top

I will be there for the Oklahoma City Event, November 11-12, 2001 as a guest of Women of Faith through their blogger network program.  I hope that you will consider attending this event when it comes near you.  It is an incredible weekend of music, testimonies, stories, tears, laughter, and rejoicing.  If you’ve never been, you can’t even imagine how “over the top” this experience will be.  I was not able to attend last year and I really missed that time of renewal and refreshment with my sisters in Christ.  The conference has changed over the years and the entire “core group” of Porch Pals are no longer at each event.  I look forward to laughing with Patsy Clairmont and learning from Marilyn Meberg; being overwhelmed by the incredible music of Sandi Patty, Amy Grant, and Mandisa.  I hope that you will consider attending; it is an experience you will not soon forget.

Light & Faith…

“When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: Either you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.”
-Edward Teller

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Laugh and Be Married!

Review:  Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage by Mark Gungor

After one of my dear friends proclaimed that this book, “Laugh Your Way  Better Marriage” had saved her marriage, I decided to check it out for myself.  After reading the first section, I actually found myself laughing out loud.  Mr. Gungor presents a very solid look at marriages: the myths, realities, and land mines that can occur.  Gungor begins with the supposition that there is no such thing as a “soul mate” and that relationships succeed by learning to live well with the person chosen to be one’s mate.  He presents the “Laws of Marriage Physics”, most of which have been well established in various books on male-female relationships (men and women are different and have different wants, needs, and communication styles), in such a way that is both insightful and entertaining.  I found myself in agreement with most of Mr. Gungor’s assessments and advice: “Marriage takes courage…discipline…endurance…forgiveness.”  I recommend this book for any couple in any stage of marriage.  While most of the information is not novel, it is refreshing to find a book that doesn’t encourage people to “follow their bliss” but rather teaches them how to work together and cultivate their relationship skills.

It’s Not Him, It’s You! by Laura Berman, LCSW, PhD

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I explored an exceptional new look at love, relationships, and intimacy from Dr. Laura Berman.  Dr. Berman is a well-know sex educator and therapist, who has published several best-selling books on sexual health and pleasure, as well as hosting a new television show on the Oprah Winfrey Network “In The Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman”.  In this book, “It’s Not Him, It’s You”, Dr. Berman focuses specifically on the needs and concerns of women–with emphasis on taking personal responsibility for getting “your needs met” and resolving any particular issues that may be keeping you from “getting the love you need and want’’ including issues that can occur with relationships, certain mental conditions, body image concerns, as well as family challenges.

 

The information is presented in a very accessible manner: including multiple-choice quizzes, Top 10 lists, and wonderful explanations and illustrations.  Please note: this is a serious look at sexuality within the boundaries of a relationship and does contain many explicit, but not inappropriate photographs and should only be viewed by appropriate audiences.  Some of my favorite parts included her list of “Relationship Commandments”,  the “Top 10 Ways to Stay Connected”, and “Are you a Vixen” (which was followed by specific instructions and tips if you are in need of a transformation.  Overall, this is an excellent look at this very sensitive and important aspect of any woman’s life and well-being.

The Invisible Woman: A Special Story for Mothers by Nicole Johnson

The Invisible Woman is a small, gift-book that I became aware of after seeing Nicole Johnson, a dramatist with Women of Faith.  I was fortunate to see her perform the monologue of the same name which tells the tale that is so familiar to many women who are wives and mothers: the tale of becoming “Invisible”, her term for being under-appreciated and unnoticed.  Johnson takes a profoundly different approach to this predicament: instead of promoting the need for validation by suggesting ways to gain applause and demanding attention to oneself, she promotes a very different perspective of service.  Through the journey of Charlotte Fisher, Johnson guides the reader into an appreciation for the “big picture”.  Johnson compares motherhood to being one of the countless, nameless workers who built the cathedrals in Europe; who did so not for their own glory but for the greater glory of the ultimate project.  This insightful book would make a sweet gift for any mother or grandmother, but will especially encourage any woman who is feeling “less than” because the position of “mom” isn’t compensated by prestige or money.

A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook

by Bob Stahl, PhD and Elisha Goldstein, PhD

I have a confession: I am a huge fan of Jon Kabat-Zinn.  Dr. Kabat-Zinn is the founder/father of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, a non-religious form of meditation, that is based on training our consciousness to be in the “present moment”.  This type of meditation can be learned though attending 8-week MBSR classes or clinics (of which there are presently none in Oklahoma), figuring it out from Kabat-Zinn’s book: Full Catastrophe Living, or by attending professional training programs.  Dr. Kabat-Zinn leads such programs through the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY and Watsonville, CA…neither of which are convenient to Edmond Oklahoma.  While I may still attend one of these courses eventually, I was thrilled to find another option:  “A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook.” Written by two of Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s students, Bob Stahl, PhD and Elisha Goldstein, PhD., this workbook presents Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Stress Reduction program (MBSR) in an easily accessible workbook-style that is intended for self-study by individuals.

A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook does a wonderful job of leading the individual step-by-step into a meditative practice while explaining the mind-body connections.  It includes mp3 files of guided meditations, a “must” for beginners, and includes sections on mind-body yoga as well as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approaches for anxiety and stress. Although it would be preferable to attend the full eight week MBSR program, this workbook is a delight for those who are unable to do so, yet desire the benefits of mindful living.

 

The Art of Comforting: What to Say and Do for People in Distress by Val Walker

Do you ever hesitate to say something to someone who has just lost a loved one or experienced some other tragedy for fear of saying the wrong thing?  Is the thought of spending time with someone who is grieving or even just crying anxiety provoking? If so, The Art of Comforting may be the book for you.  In our fast-paced world, comforting has become a lost art.  With each step we take away from face-to-face communication in favor of texting and emoticons, we grow increasingly unfamiliar and unskilled with expressing real compassion and warmth to others who are experiencing distress.

With The Art of Comforting, Val Walker has written “the book she needed but could not find.”  Ms. Walker contrasts the “quick-fix” ways of mainstream culture while clearly delineating the characteristic of being “comforting.”  She expands on many of these characteristic, including: being present & listening, empathetic, respectful, calm, hopeful, validating, and others.  Throughout the book, she shares the wisdom she’s gleaned from interviewing some “comforting professionals.”  Ms. Walker provides useful lists of “do’s & don’ts” as well as “less helpful & more helpful” statements.  The book concludes with lists of comforting things: books, movies, and music. However the items included here are not entirely intuitive. Did she really need to include music by The Pussycat Dolls and the movie Mad Max? Despite being somewhat disorganized and rambling at times, this is a good review of a much needed subject. (expected release date: 10/28/10)

I was inspired by one of my patients who reads a chapter from Proverbs each day as her daily devotional.  I thought this sounded like a great idea; after all, Proverbs is one of the original “self-help books” and contains such incredible wisdom such as “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver” (Prov 16:16) and “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Prov 17:22) However, Proverbs also holds such admonitions such as “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.” (Prov 11:22) and “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Prov 21:2) I quickly found myself discouraged, convicted, and wanting to abandon my devotional.

Fortunately, I soon discovered a a book by one of my favorite people from Women of Faith, Patsy Clairmont: Kaleidoscope: Seeing God’s Wit and Wisdom in a Whole New Light.  Described as a “whimsical look at Proverbs”, Mrs. Clairmont approaches Proverbs with chapters devoted to topics and particular verses.  Mrs. Clairmont’s lighthearted, humorous, yet faithful examination of Proverbs is very pleasant, easy-to-read, and encouraging.  This book is intended as a daily devotional, with 33 short chapters, but could be read straight-through as well.  I recommend it to anyone looking to explore Biblical wisdom in a non-intimidating way, with applications for our present-day lives.

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