Last weekend I went to my first Women of Joy conference, ours was in Branson, MO which is about a 4 hour drive for us, so not bad.  The conference sells out the night they open ticket registration which is during the conference the year before so last year I had to send deposits with our group to be able to buy my tickets for this year.  My mom was going with me but one of my friends ended up not being able to go so my sister took her spot.  The three of us shared a hotel room and a friend rode down with us but was in a different room.  This was really different from the other women’s conference I went to with our church because it was like our group was so disconnected.  At the last one, which was a Beth Moore conference, we all rode the people mover bus thing and pretty much stayed together other than times were we might have chosen different nearby restaurants or been in our hotel rooms.  This time, we all took separate cars, grouped up as we wanted and met down there.  We sat together as much as possible during conference times but there was always someone missing, sitting elsewhere for whatever reason.  Meals were on our own and free time on our own with everyone doing what they wanted.  The only time everyone was really together, it seemed, was at the hotel Friday and Saturday night for pizza and a cannonball competition in the pool (of which only like 4 women participated in while the rest of us watched) and then ice cream on the second night.  Even then, some people were missing.  One woman had gotten pregnant and had the baby since the tickets were purchased and he, as I understand it, ended up not being very cooperative, and I rarely saw her.  But I think in the long run, everyone had fun.  It was just different.

I really enjoyed the speakers that we had, and, of course, the Chris Tomlin concert. I was a bit mad at myself though. Leaving Friday morning, I decided last minute not to take my “real” camera because I didn’t want to lug around another bag and 10 lbs. Figured my phone would be enough. If I’d had the foresight to look up who was doing the concert, I would have made sure I’d taken it just for that.  It was pretty cool seeing him in concert again.  The last time I saw him, I was probably a senior in high school, or just the year after that.  I used to see him a lot at the youth conferences we’d go to, before he was famous.  He was always my favorite music leader that would come to those conferences.  Christy Nockels appeared with him, she was very good, but I’m just not as familiar with her.

For speakers, we had Candy Wood Lindley, Rachel Ramsey Cruze, Jan Silvious, and Nancy Stafford and I really enjoyed all of them.  Nancy Stafford especially really spoke to me.  In a nutshell…

Candy Wood Lindley suffered a very deadly type of cancer in the bones of her head and over several years in the 1980’s underwent many, many surgeries.  She was originally told she’d be blind, lose most of the bones in her face, that they wouldn’t be able to get all of the cancer, etc.  A very bleak prognosis but with God she came through it and not only lived, but was able to avoid most of the rest of what the doctors told her as well.  She has an amazing story and I plan on buying her book on my Kindle soon.

Rachel Ramsey Cruze is the daughter of financial wizard Dave Ramsey.  She spoke on her upbringing and about how to raise financially responsible children.  I got a few ideas from her, but have yet to implement them.  (Ha.  I already know the basics of Dave’s plan for us but she brought me some new thoughts about getting kids to do some chores around here and encouraging them to save for something they want, etc.  Elijah already does save up but he needs to be more on a chore plan as well as having an ultimate savings in addition to his “saving for this item” savings.)

Jan Silvious was our second speaker on Saturday and she spoke in general on dealing with difficulties and being a beautiful woman inside.  I also plan on getting her book when I can.  Some of the things she said have been bouncing around my head since she spoke, about rumination vs meditation.  She’s encouraged me to get back to memorizing Scripture.  I’m starting where I left off with Psalm 121.

Nancy Stafford was our speaker on Sunday and was the one I take most to heart so far.  I was surprised to learn she also had cancer in her face but overcame it, blowing past the prognosis of “kiss your modeling and acting career goodbye.”  She reiterated a lot of things I’ve already heard and known about beauty but it was almost as if hearing it for the first time.  Oh, I should mention that she is best known for her appearance on the Matlock show with Andy Griffith.  People my age and younger don’t really know who she is – she ended up turning down more roles than she took because she wanted to choose clean, healthy, and God glorifying roles after she was saved.  So maybe she has become largely unknown today, she has done what’s right and good and is very happy and secure in her choices.  And, you guessed it, I’d like to get her book when I can.  Oh, and she’s so funny.

In our long period of off time on Saturday, we took our time at lunch, rested for a few minutes, then did a bit of shopping.  Our second destination was one of the outlet malls and my mom dropped the three of us off and went back to the hotel to rest.  I felt like I was 13 again.  Went in Old Navy with the other two but then, after making my (as is typical) quick purchases, I headed off on my own.  I had gotten a “Mommy missed you” gift for each of the kids there then ended up in The Disney Store and getting Kayleigh two Frozen shirts for her birthday.  She’s gonna be psyched.  It’s tomorrow, by the way.  I guess I should wrap her presents before she gets home from school.  Anyway I even got 20% off there because of the ads everywhere, it was a promotion with the mall.  I then ended up buying 3 bras (gag but actually needed) at one of the outlet stores then a wallet for Steve at the Wilson Leather outlet since he needed one badly anyway.  All that in addition to the two scarves I’d bought at the conference and the scarf and shrug I got at our first stop that day.  I also ended up with a conference t-shirt.  My sister owed me a bit of money so she bought that.  So, more shopping than I have done in a long time.  I don’t usually do that!  I mean, I had recently just bought some Christmas presents for the girls I’ll be buying for this year, so it’s not even like I go on huge sprees for Christmas.  Which reminds me at the same time I’d bought me a scarf on clearance online and it was here when I got home.  I seriously need a scarf intervention.

It was fun though and I’m making plans for next year.  I registered my spot and one for my dear darling friend Marie.  :)
She lives the other way so we’ll have to meet in the middle in Branson and I want to block it all out so that all my time is spent with her.  All these other people I can see the rest of the year.  :P