Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Women of Joy, 2012, a Weekend to Remember

This past weekend I had the blessing of attending a Women of Joy conference.  It was such a great experience that I felt I need to blog about it.

Words escape me as I try to articulate the power of the event.  So, instead of fumbling around incoherently, I think I will let the pictures paint the story of the weekend.

On Friday, after 7 hours on the road, we arrived in beautiful San Antonio, TX just in time to check into our hotel room and get in line for the night's events.

 We got in and found some seats and the evening began with, me and 3,000+ sisters in Christ gathered  to praise the Lord who brought us together in that place.  The music leader for the weekend, was Charles Billingsley, and his dynamic presence created a brilliantly wonderful atmosphere of worship.

Well, I say 3,000 sisters in Christ, but I feel I have to honor the one man who was brave enough to step into that auditorium filled to capacity with women. 

Next up was prolific Christian author, Max Lucado.  He was inspiring and seemed as easy going as his books portray him to be. 

Saturday morning, I got up nice and early to go over to the venue and stand in line.  I hadn't come all that way to have bad seats!  I wanted to be up close and personal where the action was.  We were about 4 rows back from the stage, I think. 

The morning session began with more worship music lead by Charles Billingsley.

The first speaker Saturday morning was Christian fiction author Karen Kingsbury.  She is a wonderful story teller. 

Then, Anita Renfroe hit the stage like a lightening bolt.  She is as funny as she is beautiful.  She surprised Charles Billingsley and Phil Waldrep, the director of the Women of Joy seminars, brought them on stage and had some fun.

The morning adjourned at noon, so we headed out to find a place to eat.  The riverwalk was beautiful, the only fly in the ointment was that it was drizzling rain and I didn't bring an umbrella.  My friends were more prepared than I. 

We finally found the restaurant-  the only problem was, we could see it but we couldn't get to it. 

We did indeed, finally, find our way to the restaurant, but the wait was long.  We settled in to wait our turn for a table.

After the meal I decided to leave alone, so I would have time to get in line early for the Jeremy Camp, Adam Cappa concert that night.  I took the scenic route.  Not on purpose, mind you, but it was a happy accident because the scenery is just gorgeous there on the river.  I was helped by a police officer and a hotel security guard when I got lost.  It would have helped if I had given them them the right name of the hotel where I was staying.  I had Hilton on the brain, but we were at the Marriott.  Once I realized my mistake, the Hilton security guard escorted me to the Marriott.  I wish I had taken a picture of him, but alas, I didn't.  What a blessing it was for him to help me find my hotel or I might still be wandering around the streets of San Antonio.

I made a quick change in attire and freshened up, then headed over to the convention center to stand in line.  I arrived 3 full hours before the concert started and already a long line was forming.  I was about 75-100 people back from the front of the line.  Some ladies had camped out there since the morning session let out at noon.  Everyone loves Jeremy Camp, man.  Unfortunately, there was some un-Christian-like line cutting going on. :(

Once the doors opened, two hours after I arrived, there was a mad dash for seats.  We got seats 11 rows back from the stage, in the center. Not as close as I would have wished, but close enough to be happy about waiting so long to get in.  Sadly, we witnessed more un-Christ-like behavior as people fought over seats.  I couldn't help but wonder what Jesus would have done had he personally witnessed the scene.

The evening started off with some more music with Charles Billingsley.

After that, newcomer, Christian artist, Adam Cappa took the stage.  For such a young man, he really commanded the stage and praised the Lord through his music.   After the concert he stood at his merch booth and interacted with his fans.  I had my picture taken with him, but it was with my friend's camera, so I don't have it to post.

At last, the moment all were waiting for-- Jeremy Camp appeared playing a red, white and blue piano.  The crowd went wild for Jeremy.  However, from what I've heard of Jeremy Camp, he doesn't sing to receive accolades from fans, but rather, sings to honor Jesus and gives Him all glory and praise.  At any rate, he was wonderful in his performance. 

It was a wonderful, tiring, yet invigorating day.  All I had on my mind was getting back to the hotel and falling into bed.  Once I got back to my room, however, my roommate was already asleep, so while fumbling around in the dark, I attempted to get into bed, but misjudged just how high off the ground the bed was, and face-planted right onto the floor, which then woke up my roommate anyway.  So much for trying to sneak in without waking her (sadly there is no pictorial evidence of that scene, which is probably for the best).

The next morning arrived way too quickly. In my sleep deprived mind, I thought I was at home, however the orientation of the bed and nightstand were not the same as mine at home, so I hollered out WHO MOVED THE NIGHTSTAND! My poor roommate probably wondered what kind of mad woman she had been stuck with for the weekend.  Once I realized where I was,  I made a mad dash to gather all my things and check out of the hotel before heading over to the venue for the last session of the weekend.  I had a great time in line, meeting other women and recalling the events of the weekend with them.  This group of women were exceptionally friendly and made standing in line so much less painful. 

Again we found some seats when the doors were opened.  Charles, once again opened the session with songs of praise.  That day, he was sporting some pink pants.  Not everyone can pull that look off, but it looked natural on him. Not sure what that says about him, but he rocked those pink pants, which he called salmon colored. 

Football player Tim Tebow's mother, Pam Tebow was the speaker that morning.  The take away from her message was - we all have a purpose in the Kingdom of God.

The morning was ended by one last praise and worship music session courtesy of Charles Billingsley.  I hung around afterward to meet him.  He shook my hand, and said he liked my shirt, a bright green number, I purchased from his booth.  He seemed a nice and gracious sort of man. 

All of us tired, but with lighter hearts, headed back home.  I loved getting to know some women from my church in a deeper way.  It was a wonderful bonding experience.  However, after a total of 13 hours sitting in the back row of a big van, right over the rear wheel (I felt every bump, pothole and rut between here and San Antonio), I was happy to be home.  

I think I counted more hours standing in line and waiting than actual session time, but it was worth it.  I've already pre-registered for next year's event and I can't wait. It's a wonderful time to come together with fellow believers, from all walks of life, all with their own story, women who may or may not have the same doctrinal views, with a single purpose in mind - To honor Jesus, our savior.  It doesn't get any better than that this side of heaven. 

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
~Psalm 100:1-3