This last weekend I was blessed to take part in the women's conference for my church! I was able to see it shaped, molded, and formed into a different type of conference for the women this year. We assessed the conferences from years past and felt the Lord directing us to simplify things. We used to have 5 speakers, this year we had 3, we used to have maybe 20 minutes for personal time this year we had 30-40. All of it was geared toward us, as women in the body of Christ, coming together and sharing our struggles and triumphs in order to become a more cohesive unit in the church.
I'll admit to being slightly wary of what this weekend was going to look like. I'm a planner, a HUGE organizer, and a weekend where a lot of aspects were left up to "the Holy Spirits leading" was admittedly a bit frightening. I say this now with regret because, looking back, I see how there was no way in which I could have planned it better and, because of our flexibility, I was able to spend valuable time discussing what the next session would look like right before we started. It gave me a fresh perspective, anticipation, and immense peace. We knew that God would be leading us, which meant undoubtedly it would be to His glory, not ours.
As the conference came to a close on Sunday, we introduced a 90 program (for lack of a better word) that is to help instill a habit of discipleship and personal time with the Lord. The Aletheia (as we are calling it) falls on the heels of the men's version, The Alliance, and we use The City, a web-based communication system similar to Facedbook for our church, to keep in touch as women through these 90 days.
We're only on day 3 but already I know I have personally been so encouraged. The other women have also mentioned they feel the same way. There is a daily scripture passage to read and then we are able to reflect on what the Lord is teaching us through that passage, struggles, triumphs, or just encouragements and prayer requests to each other every day. It's a lot of posts to read through, but they are the second best thing (to the scripture reading that is).
As I read through this morning (and again this afternoon to catch posts I hadn't yet seen) it hit me how truly amazing and unique this is. I'm not saying that we've found something better than any other church, or that we are better at community because we're doing this program, but I have noticed a few things. First, I've noticed the urge to pray more! To pray immediately when a sister shares a struggle, or when there is a triumph mentioned, to praise God for it. Secondly, I have noticed a lot of struggles and trials - persecution if you will. It is hard and painful, but at the same time encouraging in a way because the devil doesn't attack someone who's not a threat. I wouldn't wish the hardships we are facing on anyone, but I do choose to be encouraged by it and strengthened by the fact that God is right there with us, facing the hard times and, most importantly, giving us strength to make it through!
I am so thankful to the women who are vulnerable and open, who struggle yet turn to Christ, who see the blessings and thank God for them. I know I am not alone in my walk, and God has provided a way for me to tangibly see that! Praise Him :)