On February 16th, I had the tremendous blessing of being the speaker at a women’s conference. I had been asked by the pastor several months ago if I would do it, and I excitedly accepted the opportunity. We decided on two 45 minute sessions for the three hours that it would be held. The rest of the time was filled with music, door prizes, another woman sharing some thoughts, and a wonderful break filled with lots of appetizers and goodies.
The conference was held at a church that I had never been to previously, but my dear friend Holly was a member of. When they were planning the conference, Holly lovingly suggested me as the speaker, and the Pastor decided that he would ask me. When opportunities like that arrive then I am so excited to say YES!!
I have spent the last several months praying about what I would be sharing and gathering stories, quotes, and verses that seemed like possibilities to insert into the talk. The heart of what I wanted to share was with me through the months, and I just kept praying that it would all come together. I marveled when I sat down to put the slides together, and everything just seemed to fall into place!! I kept thanking God for how well it was coming together and for the peace and excitement that I had going into it.
The last couple of weeks were a comedy show leading up to it. My vehicle would not work anymore. My laptop stopped working. I was battling sickness. Kylee’s car needed to go to the shop for repairs. I was walking through my house and all of a sudden my ankle gave out, and I was suddenly in much pain, and it just hurt to walk. Each time the next thing would happen then I would half laugh and think, “I hope this means that this is going to be a great women’s conference.” I would also amidst my half laughing also be practicing deep breathing to keep my anxiety down with everything that seemed to be going wrong. I also filled my days with lots of prayer and praise.
I had planned to do a bake sale the Saturday before the women’s conference. This was probably not the best planning as the week leading up to the bake sale then I am literally living in the kitchen for hours before and after work baking. This left me little time to keep preparing or even to rest leading up to the conference. However, by the grace of God all went awesome at the bake sale, and we raised enough to fully fund one of the three $1000 scholarships that we give out each year in honor of my son PK who was killed at the age of 18 in a car accident in June 2013.
I was thankful for how well the bake sale went. It is so wonderful to live in such a loving and supportive community. I was also so happy to have both of my daughters home to help me on that Saturday at the bake sale. The week leading up to the women’s conference went very well for me with time to tweak and sort through what I had written and was trying to settle on.
I was so excited to have heard from my daughters that they were both planning on coming to the conference. I am so thankful for the closeness that the three of us share and how we can all support each other and be there for one another. I love that we can pray and cheer each other on. We have been through so much trauma together losing my husband in a work related accident in which he died in August 2011, and then as I mentioned, my precious son was killed just 22 months later.
During my time of praying about the women’s conference, it was on m heart to call the first session “Faith in the Valleys.” During that session, I planned on telling our story and some of the valleys that I had encountered including the deaths of our guys in the first session. I then planned on sharing the faith struggles that occurred during those times. I tried to keep it real and to share how much I struggled when my faith and my circumstances were conflicting. What I mean by that is that my belief as a Christian woman in a God who could do miracles was unable to make sense that my husband and my only son had both died. I tried to share the deep pain of losing my only son and the questions and doubts that accompany the grief of losing my son. I then tried to share what quotes helped me in those valleys and the scriptures that I was standing on during those times.
The second session was entitled, “Resting in Him.” In this session, I tried to share how I was trying to grow in resting in The Lord… I focused on four areas: Resting in His Peace, Resting in His Love, Resting in His Hope, and Resting in His Joy. In each section , my goal was to talk about what was stealing the topic from me/us. For example, what steals peace from our lives. I shared about my peace stealers from anxiety/worrying, fear, being too busy, etc. and shared verses and things that I try to stand on and focus on in those moments. I did this in each section.
The final thoughts on the session were filled with quotes that encourage me including this one:
“I don’t want to just go through this life, I want to grow through this life.” John Maxwell
I enjoyed each moment of the conference. During the thirty minute plus break of appetizers, etc and after the conference, I was able to connect with so many wonderful ladies. It is always a blessing for me to hear the stories of others and what is happening in their lives. I always learn something from each one that I have the blessing of sharing with. That Saturday morning at the women’s conference was no different. I met so many incredible, beautiful women!!
One of the sweetest ladies came and sat with me for a few moments and held my hands during the break. She was an elderly, beautiful lady that had the sweetest spirit that you can imagine. She looked into my eyes and shared how she had been married for over 50 years and how she lost her husband. She shared that she had recently lost her son. She expressed how different that grief was and that she had even been asked by others if she loved the other people in her life as much as her son because she was so much more expressive and overwhelmed in her grief for her son that she had lost. She said that she felt more “normal” listening to me and that she was relieved to know that I “understood”. I shared with her that I had been asked similar questions and how hurtful it is to be “judged” about how you are grieving. I also shared with her that there is no way to compare the death of your husband and your son. As she held tightly to my hands and as her eyes filled with tears, I knew at that very moment that I was thankful to be at that conference just for that sweet moment with one of the kindest ladies that I had ever met.
A dear lady that I had been praying for that lost a daughter to a battle with cancer was there. It was an honor for me to meet her and to have the opportunity to tell her face to face that I had been praying for her. One of my dear friends who recently lost her 19 month old grandson after he died from his battle with cancer was there. Just short of two weeks of the loss of her precious grandson, I knew deep in my heart that it was very emotional for her to be there. Yet, there she sat with a brave face on amidst her own grief not only for her grandson but also for her daughter. Her daughter is in deep grief over the loss of her baby. The girls and I got her to come and sit up front with us for the second session. A dear friend of mine who had lost her husband a couple of years ago was there with one of her dear friends. She and I have bonded through the past couple of years as we have both had to learn to be single moms for a time and not only deal with the grief of our own becoming widows but of the tremendous grief of our children who missed out on having their daddies continue to raise them.
There are so many stories that I could share from that beautiful morning. Probably the biggest blessing in addition to having my beautiful daughters sitting there was being introduced to such a loving, wonderful community of women from that church. Each woman that I met was so gracious and loving. It was a joy to meet each one and to connect with them. I believe after Saturday morning that I have a new, special group of ladies that I was just blessed to have the privilege of meeting and sharing with.
The Pastor blessed the girls and I with a gift card for Tacos For Life which is a place that the girls and I love. They also gave a generous donation to the scholarship fund that is set up in honor of my son who died. Each year, we give 3 $1000 scholarships in his honor to student athletes. These were surprise blessings that sure blessed our hearts…They had many door prizes there, and it was lots of fun to watch all of the ladies claim their prizes.
Their praise and worship team was there, and they led us in a few beautiful worship songs. We also had a special treat of two ladies who came from a different church to sing “Peace in the Valley.” There were many blessings on that beautiful Saturday morning. I am so thankful for all of the incredible, beautiful women that I had the opportunity to meet and connect with!
Thank you so much Pastor Mitch and the sweet ladies from Christian Valley in addition to all of the ladies who came from surrounding churches including some of my dear friends. I loved spending time with you all. I loved the opportunity to share a little bit of our story and to highlight a few areas that I am seeking growth in. What a joy our time together was! Thank you with all of my heart.