The Women of Faith conference in Columbus was April 29-30. Kelly got a group of women together to go to the conference together. Last year my cousin Amber and I only went on Friday because we were using Becki's and Kelly's tickets since they couldn't come down until Saturday. I knew after just that one day I wanted to come back for the full 2 days. It's an amazing conference!
Friday morning Amber drove down to my house and once she got there we (along with Lainey) left to head to Erin's house to meet up with her and Mattie and drive to Nationwide Arena. We left a little later than we wanted to and then on the road we had a little tire trouble so that made us even later but we made it and the 4 of us headed out to the conference.
We ended up arriving there before Kelly's group from up north did, which surprised me because I thought they would beat us with our late start. We were waiting outside of Nationwide Arena when we decided we'd go ahead and go inside to wait on them. It was then that I realized I forgot mine and Amber's tickets! Noooooooooooo!! I called Kelly and she said they should have a ticket place we could go to and that we'd figure it out when she got there. We went ahead and went to the main ticket place and the people at the ticket tables were so nice! I told them I had forgot our tickets and then printed us new ones no problem! Crisis averted! Thank you God! I didn't want to have to miss the conference because of my own forgetfulness.
Once my cousin Amber and I acquired our new tickets we went ahead and checked through. They check your bags for food and drink as you go through and after last year (Amber and I had to throw a ton of stuff away!) I knew I'd have to be clever to sneak something through. So I put some cheese crackers in a cloth sandwich bag and it was smooth sailing and because I had Lainey with me I was able to take my bottle of water in too.
I didn't realize it at first but Friday morning and afternoon seating was general admission so we could sit anywhere so we got to sit pretty close. Here's a pic of before the conference started as we were in our 'close up' seats.
The theme for this year's conference was Imagine.
Soon enough Kelly and her crew arrived and sat with us in our close up seats. The praise team did some singing and then the speakers started. We heard from a guy named Henry Cloud. I'm not real familiar with him but he was a good speaker. We also heard from Shelia Walsh. I really liked her!
Before we knew it it was time for lunch so we went and got our boxed lunches and took them back and ate in the arena. We also managed to snag even closer seats! Booyah! Lunch was pretty good. We had turkey sandwiches with chips and an apple. We also had a Little Debbie for dessert. Lainey chewed on mine and made it mush but it was still good!
Such a fun time!
After lunch it was a Q&A session where people turned in questions for the speakers to answer. Then we got to hear a little bit from Angie Smith! She was so nervous and you could tell but God bless her she still did well and she was funny too. It just made us all jazzed up to hear her speak later in the conference.
They dismissed us for a few hours before the next session so some of us decided to go eat dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. We ate there last year and it was yummy good so it was kinda no brainer to eat there again.
Kelly, Stephanie, and Mattie with Lainey
I got the fried macaroni and cheese balls. So good!
We had to get our cheesecakes to go because it was getting really close for the evening session to begin. Erin, Mattie, Amber, and me ate ours while I drove. I got the red velvet cake and cheesecake and it was so good!
The evening session was filled with some great music and dancing (mostly me lol) to Mary Mary! We also had to go to our assigned seats, which were up in the balcony but I was sitting right on the edge so I could see everything really well! It made Kelly nervous though. lol
By the time Friday night at the conference was over it was like 10 pm! And yet I was still awake! Whoa! The group split up to go to where they were staying for the night. Mattie was supposed to stay in the hotel with Kelly and her group but the hotel kinda messed up on their rooms and Mattie decided to go back to Erin's house to stay, which is where Amber and I were staying too. I was so excited! I was kinda bummed she wouldn't be staying again so it really made me smile that it changed.
The morning came all too quickly and we got ready and hit the road for Saturday's conference. The speakers we got to see this day was Luci Swindoll and Lisa Harper. We also got some more of Sheila Walsh. Nicole Johnson did some drama for us too. (I hope I'm getting things on the right days!)
During one of the small breaks I had to sneak away and get some ice cream from the UDF stand near us and some cotton candy! It was also the perfect opportunity to get some photos in of some of my great friends!
Gotta have my treats!
Me, Kelly, and Mattie
Me, Kelly, and Becki
Kelly and Becki
For lunch we got the boxed lunches again and ate on some tables near our seats. We had chicken sandwiches this time along with chips and oranges and a rice krispy treat. Lainey liked to suck on the orange.
One of the best parts of the conference was getting to hear Angie speak. She was simply amazing and she told her story so well. Like Kelly told us, she told our story too. And she really did!! You could tell she was so nervous but once she started telling Audrey's story her words just flowed and flowed so eloquently. Kelly had emailed Angie and had arranged for our group to meet her but we weren't sure when it was gonna happen so Kelly kept trying to make it happen for us.
We also got an amazing concert from Natalie Grant. She is really awesome to hear in person. I just knew too that she was gonna sing her song Held and by golly I was right. It was emotional to hear but even more emotional for me was when she started singing my favorite hymn, It Is Well With My Soul. It was just.....wow. That was totally from God because I was thinking before Natalie's concert how I would love to have sung that hymn while we were at the conference. Of course, it made me cry. And to hear so many women singing it was just chilling.
We even got a surprise performance from Laura Story with her song Blessings. That was definitely a blessing! Below is a video of her actual performance.
On the last speaker of the day the group made its way down to wait in line to get Angie's autograph. I'm so glad we left when we did because they closed the line at a certain point. But Angie had our back because she told the people looking over things to make sure the Sufficient Grace girls were in line! Thanks Angie! ;)
We were all so very excited to meet Angie. At least those of us who knew who she was and how BIG of a moment this was for anyone who has lost a child. She gives us a voice. When it was our group's turn Kelly went up to her and told her it was the Sufficient Grace group and oh man were there squeals! Angie took a few minutes for each of us and then signed books for us. She really cared for each and every one of us.
When it was my turn to go up I just happened to be breastfeeding Lainey but that didn't stop Angie! Oh no! I think it may have even made her more excited. You should've seen her face! She even asked if she could take a peek and of course I totally let her. She even said that it was the first time she ever saw a blog reader's boob. lol She is so funny!
I can't even begin to tell you how amazing it was to meet her in person and to share a little bit of our children with her. When she was signing my books I told her about how she sent me the song I Will Carry You to use at Carleigh's funeral before it was released and how much it meant to me and I thanked her from the bottom of my heart. I actually teared up telling her and so did she. She is just the sweetest ever!
I was a little sad for it to be the end of the conference already. I so wished we had another day! We had a wonderful group of ladies attend and it was a pleasure spending the weekend with them.
Erin, Mattie, Amber, and I split from Kelly's group and went to my van. (We parked in a different area.) We decided we weren't ready to call it a day yet so we decided to go out to eat at Olive Garden. We ended up staying there for like 3 hours just eating and talking. The time went by so fast. I even sampled 2 glasses of wine (my first!). For 25 cents you can't beat a sample!
After dinner we went back to Erin's house and just sat in my van talking for a while. Mattie decided she was gonna stay at Erin's for the night and then Amber and I decide to stay too since it was already 10 pm and I am not a good night time driving (I tend to fall asleep). Erin, Mattie, and I stayed up until 2 am just talking. We seriously stayed up until we couldn't stay up anymore. We were all yawning and struggling to stay away. We talked about our babies, this journey, and so much more. I wish I could sit in the same room and talk to them like that more often. Even Lainey stayed awake later than usual.
Oh gosh, the morning came too quick! I seriously wanted to keep sleeping but we had to get on the road and so did Mattie. So after some goodbyes we got on the road and on our way home. What a truly great weekend. :)