“Trust! Trust? Trust.” Note the punctuation. Note the progression. Can we trust, period?
“Trust” was the theme of a phenomenal women’s conference I attended last weekend in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was a pinch-me-I’m-dreaming kind of weekend.
My dear friend and mentor, Judy Russell, and I flew up on the same flights, on Dear Ol’ Delta, with our friends, Liz and Bill Higgs, for a two-day conference called “Set Apart” , held at Northwestern College. Flying into a completely snow-covered landscape was a first for me. Beautiful!
Impressive from beginning to end, this thirty-one-year-old conference (!) was well organized, offered exceptional keynote speakers : Liz Curtis Higgs and Ann Voskamp, included eighteen different workshop options, plus a fun lunch option each day (where Liz and Ann were interviewed while we ate), and the list goes on and on, on a gorgeous campus. (Checkout www.setapartconference.com )
Judy and I took several workshops in between lunch and the keynote addresses. Each workshop instructor was unique in his or her own way. They clearly loved the Lord and desired God’s best for us, sharing applicable lessons for us to take home and put to use on a plethora of topics. Fascinating! (Our brains got quite a workout!)
Before we get to the keynotes, let me show you an “every day grace”, like we talked about last week, that’s blossomed one hundred fold. (Click here to see more about every day graces.) Last year Liz and Ann were both invited to join Women of Faith. They were asked to attend a team meeting for training and planning. Both gals admitted to feeling intimidated upon arrival. Instantly, they crossed paths and an every day grace was born.
Their sisters-in-Christ connection was evident throughout the lunch-time interviews. Attendees got a glimpse of how Lizzie has taken Ann under her wing and how they both juggle life just like you and I do. Can you get over how God brought the two of them together at this conference after orchestrating their meeting last year?
Soon you may see the two of them reciting from the Book of Romans on Ann’s blog. Liz has taken the plunge to join the Romans Project, memorizing three different chapters in Romans. Go to www.aholyexperience.com to learn more!
Now, for the keynotes: Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts spoke on two topics: The Fear Buster that Breaks You Free and Breathe and Leap. She kicked off each morning following beautiful worship, Friday and Saturday. I couldn’t take notes fast enough. A palpable hush came over the room while Ann taught, taking you deeper and deeper into God’s Word and His truths.
Ann addressed overcoming our fears, suggesting we name at least one we’re currently dealing with. She implored: “We must take it to God, turn it over to God, and release it to God. We cannot feel fear and be thankful at the same time. Whatever you fear is your god…”
Ann is a very powerful teacher. She shared some of her own fears, including some of the rough places she’s endured. She admitted to having a clenched fist toward God as a young girl.
She confessed anger toward Him after witnessing the death of her younger sister, after having an ulcer at the young age of seven, all the while still struggling with agoraphobia. We found ourselves thinking, “Wow, if she can overcome and is still overcoming these challenges, maybe I could too…”
Ann added, “Jesus gave the greatest courage in the lowest of places. Humility births courage.”
Let these quotes of Ann’s sink in for a minute:
(1) “God takes you out of your comfort zone because that’s where you meet The Comforter.”
(2) “The stability of your world depends on your willingness to praise God.”
At the end of her first talk, she had us pray with our hands open, palms up toward God…therefore unclinching our fearful fists.
Her second talk empowered us to “leap” after conquering our fears. Summarizing, she added, “The answer to our anxiety is the adoration of Christ. Nothing can overwhelm you like His grace can overtake you.”
Ann and Liz signed books for hundreds of girls off and on throughout both days, always gracious with each individual, intently listening and always hugging. How they stayed “on” for us all is amazing.
After workshops, lunch and more workshops, Lizzie took the stage, Friday and Saturday. While you’d think we’d be nearly napping because of a long day, au contraire. Napping with Lizzie? NOT an option!
Her two messages were: “Trusting a God Who Forgives” and “Trusting a God Who Redeems”.
Liz rocked the house. She’s a master at staying in tune with her audience. We’d laugh one minute, cry the next. Then cry from laughing!
Judy and I sat up close one day and pretty far in the back the next. We could see Lizzie’s engaging facial expressions up close, which are priceless, but in the back, we loved hearing the uproar of laughter. Sounded more like four thousand women, than one thousand!
While Liz can be funny, she will stop at nothing to teach God’s Word with diligence, excellence and tear-filled passion. She proclaimed she’d never “gloss over the Gospel”. She said, “I will NOT change the Gospel and I will NOT clean it up!” Let’s just all JUMP to our feet on that one!
The audience had the opportunity to study thru’ the Book of Ruth with Liz. Her thorough research and offerings of different versions of the Bible are eye-opening. Several times you could tell the audience was stunned, and Liz would say, “Well, look! It’s right there in the Bible!” Contagious enthusiasm.
Friday we studied thru’ Chapter One of Ruth. Because attendees could either attend one day or both, Liz caught the ones up on Saturday who’d not been there Friday by doing a tidbit of her “Righteous Ruth Rap”. (Do NOT miss this! You can watch this hysterical rendition of the entire Book of Ruth on YouTube. It’s four funny minutes!)
Paralleling Boaz to Christ, Liz taught us more and more about Christ, our Redeemer. What Boaz did for Ruth, Christ does for us. Beautiful, amazing grace lessons.
Liz also shared her incredible testimony. She showed us how God can and will use anyone. She pointed out that Boaz’ Mother was Rahab the Harlot…She said, “Rahab was called into the Kingdom of God. She didn’t fall into it. God loves to use broken people.” To which we all breathed a sigh of relief!
Liz’ book, The Girl’s Still Got It—Take a Walk with Ruth and the God Who Rocked Her World, is what her talk was largely based on. I can tell you from experience this book works really well as a Bible study to do with friends in small groups or large ones. The accompanying video is powerful teaching by Liz while she takes you thru’ chapter by chapter in the Book of Ruth.
One of my favorite quotes in Liz’ book about enduring trials and trusting is: “It helps to remember that hard times are purposeful, meant to refine and redirect us.”
Liz also taught us about the Hebrew word, “Shubh”, which means “to return, go back, turn back”. Twelve times it’s used in the first Chapter. Can we absorb this? Can we follow this? Will we turn back?
Read how Ruth was redeemed. Naomi turned back to her God, who became Ruth’s God, who already was Boaz’ God. May we ALL have the wisdom to turn back to God.
Liz says, “God is the only one who can redeem us from our past and guarantee our future.”
Liz also has an excellent blog you can find by going to her website: www.lizcurtishiggs.com She’s currently blogging about the Women of Easter.
Let’s look at that progression again: “Trust! Trust? Trust.”
Let’s heed these wonderful teachings from Ann’s and Liz’ experiences and words of truth from God’s Word. YOU can trust the Lord. He is Sovereign over all.
Everything! Everything? Everything.
Finally, let’s close with a very exciting FYI: Liz and Ann are both speaking in Louisville in our near future! Liz will be with Women of Joy at Freedom Hall April 5-7. (Go to:http://womenofjoy.org for details). Ann will be the speaker at the Women’s Luncheon during the North American Christian Convention and will teach workshops on blogging, all on Thursday, July 11th. (Go to www.gotonacc.org for ticket information.)
‘Til next time!
(This post is dedicated to my most fun travel partners of the weekend: Judy Russell, and Bill and Liz Higgs. Judy gets the “most- efficient-packer -of -the -century “ award! She drove us around Minneapolis like it was the back of her hand. We stopped wherever we delighted to take pictures. She indulged me for a chocolate stop. Or two. We “dared” to take the tunnel at Northwestern. We walked the steps in Nazareth Hall, one for every book of the Bible. Well, of the Old Testament. We loved our time we got to grab with Lizzie. While exhausted, Liz still came up to our room for a fun visit Friday night. We could have talked the night away, but Lizzie said she was “about to fold up like a card table”, so we sent her on her way before Bill came after us! Thanks, too, to Bill who checked on us throughout the conference while juggling Liz’ book table. He’s the quintessential multi-tasker and is forever patient with us giggly, ga-ga- girls. A good time was had by all. Thank you, Sweet Lord.)