What a weekend I have had! My oldest daughter turned 18 (I’m now the mother of an adult!), and I took the girls down to Pittsburgh (7 hours away) for a Bible quizzing tournament with some really good friends. Becca decided she wanted to spend her 18th birthday with friends, so off we went. I know it sounds geeky, but our church does quizzing and the girls have learned so much Scripture that way, and met so many wonderful friends. (By the way, you can catch up on more of my personal side by following me on Facebook!). I just want to say that driving 7 hours in one day is REALLY TIRING.

And now I’m back and this week is dedicated to conference preparation. I’m speaking at the women’s track at the Break Forth conference in Edmonton next weekend. Break Forth is a HUGE conference attended by 15,000 people every year. They have amazing speakers (obviously), great worship, and wonderful times of prayer.

I’m giving five different talks I have to finalize, but I’m excited about them!

Conferences can be such a renewing time in your Christian walk–if you do them right. I think we all need special times throughout the year when we hear a different speaker–someone other than our pastor–to give us a broader perspective and remind us more of the wider body of Christ. And the thing about a conference is that it’s intense–lots of classes, lots of worship. You dedicate a specific amount of time to God, and hearing from Him, and allowing new thoughts and ideas to percolate.

Sometimes conferences aren’t as effective if we let them become too social. Not that there’s anything wrong with friendships, but sometimes you need that prolonged time just to hear from God. That’s why I’ve often been tempted to sign up for a conference all by myself–no friends at all, so that I would have to spend the weekend as a retreat.

But even if you do go with friends, if you center your conversations around what you’ve heard and what God is telling you, it can make such a tremendous difference in your life.

Full Circle 2013 Women's Conference

For those of you who aren’t in Alberta, there’s a wonderful conference coming up February 8 and 9 near Toronto: the Full Circle Lead with Love conference. The women from Full Circle on 100 Huntley Street will be hosting the conference, and Kevin Leman will be keynoting. He is such a wonderful speaker (and really funny, too!), with lots of practical wisdom.

The conference will occur over two days, but there is an opportunity to purchase a ticket for just the Friday or Saturday session. Dr. Leman will speak about sex/intimacy and marriage relationships on Friday evening and how to ‘lead with love’ in your family, workplace and in your relationships on
Saturday.

Conference attendees will also receive a bag filled with special gifts, enjoy a chocolate fondue on Friday night, a gourmet lunch on Saturday, and an opportunity to win a free makeover and door prizes. You can learn more here.

If you don’t live near either of those, I’m hoping to start a series of webinars on marriage that you can attend right from your own home (which obviously cuts down the costs substantially). Look for more info about those coming soon! In the meantime, if you could take a quick survey for me to let me know what topics/time/pricing would be best, you can do so here.

The concept of taking a break from your daily routine and listening to God is rooted in Scripture. Paul took an extended leave before he started his ministry to grow closer to God. Jesus often withdrew from the crowds to fill Himself up again. God even designed us for one day of rest–with periodic times throughout the year when there is more extended rest. If your schedule is such that you have no rest, then you’re likely running on empty. Figuring out times to fill up are so important. And what better time than the middle of the winter, when we’re all a little burnt out anyway?

So let us know in the comments: are there great women’s conferences coming to your area? And what do you do to fill up? What special things do you do throughout the year to be challenged in a new way, to hear a new message, to take time just to listen to God?