My very good friend in Fresno posted a Myspace blog the other day about her experience this past weekend at a Women of Faith conference, and I asked her if I could share it on my blogs. First, a little background - Carianne and I have been friends for a long, long time. To borrow a phrase from Mark Lowry, we go "way on back back, waaay on back!" In fact out of all the people I know in this entire world (aside from relatives), she and I go back the farthest. We had lost contact for a few years but then we reconnected a few years ago. At that time, Carianne was in a sad, sad, pathetic shape, spiritually speaking, and I single-handedly nursed her back to spiritual health through some hard hitting "get your act together" emails and some intense "how long must I put up with you" phone therapy sessions! Just kidding, Carianne! :)~
But seriously, back in the old days we never shared any type of connection as far as consciously sharing our life in Christ, but it's been very cool to see each other now, even 2000 miles across the country, grow in our relationships with Jesus and with our families. I know Carianne has been through a lot in her life, and I can see how she has grown over the years and how she continues to grow, as evidenced by her blog post about this past weekend - which sounds like it was a weekend that will be remembered for a long time to come. I'm sure we can all relate, in one way or another, to the often painful process of peeling back the layers of our souls in order to find renewal and healing from the Lord through His grace.
Here are her own words:
AMAZING, INSPIRATIONAL, UPLIFTING, TEARFUL, JOYFUL, INSIGHTFUL, AND WONDERFUL...are just a few words that can be used to describe the Women of Faith conference that I attended this weekend. The women there were full of texture, layers, honesty, purity, and the list goes on.
Their stories were often my own stories. Their struggles, their hardships, and their pain, reflected mine. I could relate to these women. And the good news is...well, it's God's good news...that none of these experiences are important anymore. He has showered us with his divine GRACE...his infinite GRACE. We have been cleansed by his grace. Whatever we have done, whatever has happened to us, it's all been erased in God's eyes. He sees us only as the beautiful, yes, I said beautiful, and flawless women He CREATED us to be.
Our own history, and the pressures we allow to be put on us by society, have tainted the vision we have of ourselves. If there was one thing I took from this experience it is that the ONLY thing that matters is what God sees in me. Yes, I have to live among many in this lifetime, and I will tend to care what they think and say, because I am human...but at the end of the day, when I am home, and in my quiet place with God, I will ask him to wash away those negative thoughts and restore in me the only thoughts that matter....HIS!
The woman that touched me most was Sandi Patti. She has a story to tell and she tells it well. She is probably the one I related to the most. She has a book called, LAYERS. As she spoke about some of the things she tells more deeply about in her book, I was struck between the eyes. I know about layers...I got a lot of them. We all have layers I think. Not to get too into it, you would need to read her book, as I have in 24 hours, but I realized that I have layers upon layers of shame, guilt, regret, abandonment, pain, and this list too goes on and on.
What Patti shared was how she peeled back those layers, a very painful process, and then allowed herself to be cleansed and renewed in God's GRACE. What a beautiful image! So because of this weekend, I am now working on peeling back my own layers and replacing those feelings of shame, guilt, etc., with God's infinite Grace. I'm replacing the negative views of others, and myself, that have been layered on me, with God's perfect view of me.
In closing, I'll just mention the amazing and beautiful Nicole C. Mullen. Look her up when you can. Her voice is so angelic and her music powerful and moving. Her music is for God, that we just get to enjoy. You must listen to "When I Call on Jesus". This song will move through you. Enjoy! There will be a new Women of Faith next year, in Sacramento. You may want to consider heading up there for it. You won't regret it. And the time away, focused on God will be worth the time and money! Blessings
By the way, Ogre's have layers, too! (I couldn't resist).