Friday, November 9, 2012

Time Out for Women--Amazing!

Is there anything like the unique energy a group of people creates when they are unified?  Especially women.  There is something so special about women getting together and working towards a common goal, whether it is service-oriented or striving towards self-improvement.

Last weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Time Out for Women conference in Portland, OR, and got to experience that energy first hand.  This is an event that has been going on for 10 years, with annual national tours. I only heard about it in May, and it sounded like such a great thing that I knew I had to go.  After organizing a group of 3 other ladies from church, we decided to make a weekend of it, complete with hotel rooms, restaurants, and train rides.  We had such fun!

Although it is presented by the LDS church, it is really for anyone.  It was a two-day event, Friday evening and Saturday throughout the day, with motivational speakers and musicians.  It was never boring, and, although it was attended by 3500 women, there was a great feeling of sisterhood in the room.  Yes, 3500 women all together in the same room at the same time. 

I think that one of the reasons why the event was so successful was because of this year's theme:  SEEK THE GOOD.  We were all there seeking goodness--in the speakers, in the friends we were sharing the experience with, and in our lives as we listened to the words and music that was offered.

We heard inspirational words about forgiveness from Virginia Pierce, beautiful violin music from Jenny Oaks Baker, and were reminded of the value of womanhood by Sheri Dew (an absolute force of nature, this woman) on Friday evening.

Saturday, from 9am until nearly 4pm, we heard from the beloved Mary Ellen Edmunds, DeAnn Flynn, Wendy Ulrich, John Hilton III, Laurel Christensen, and musical guest Hilary Weeks.

If I had to pick my favorites, I would have to say that all of Friday evening was absolutely incredible.  (I was so jazzed and stimulated that I'd be surprised if I got 3 hours of sleep that night.) I have two favorite speakers from Saturday.  One was John Hilton, a young religion teacher at BYU who spoke very eloquently on prioritizing our time and on applying scriptural questions to our lives, mainly these:
  1. How is it that ye have forgotten?
  2. Knowest thou the condescension of God?
  3. Have ye inquired of the Lord?
  4. Why should my heart weep?
  5. What shall I do?
All of these are questions that appear repeatedly, and all of them tap into our normal human flaws.  We easily forget what we have learned.  Or, we don't want to remember.  We often look for answers in worldly ways, when we should have inquired of the Lord.   And, although the answers are usually right before us when we ask "what shall I do?" doesn't it seem like sometimes we explore all of the wrong options before arriving at the right one?

My other favorite speaker on Saturday was a young woman (I say young because she is one year younger than me) named Laurel Christensen.  I liked her immediately, not only because of her message, which was on "waiting," but because I could identify with her in many ways.  She is 40 and unmarried, yet is still striving (and succeeding!) to keep her sense of self in a church that emphasizes marriage and children.  And, even though I am married, that chapter of my life when I was a single adult is not very far behind.

After very little sleep on Friday night, and a very full and stimulating Saturday, my little group of ladies and I arrived home tired, but very happy and fulfilled.  I also arrived home feeling quite grateful--grateful that such a wonderful event exists and ready to apply the uplifting messages that I'd heard.

All in all, I had a fantastic weekend that was all about Seeking the Good.  I have so many thoughts on that phrase.  Maybe in another post.  Until then, I challenge anyone reading this to seek the good in your own life.

*If you are interested in learning more about Time Out for Women, you can visit their website HERE and sign up for their newsletter.  The 2012 tour has ended, but locations and dates have already been set for 2013.  Any woman of any faith would benefit from this experience.  

A picture of my TOFW journal, which I nearly filled with notes, thoughts, and memories.  And to the left, next year's tour schedule, not available yet on the website. Click the pic to see it full-sized.

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