My Washington Speaking Tour!

It is generally a good idea that, if you are about to speak for three nights straight, you DON’T fall UP stairs on a ferry and get a huge gash on the bridge of your nose which threatens to swell and bruise badly.

I’ll have to keep that in mind for next time, since obviously I did not heed this warning last week!

I’ve been visiting family in British Columbia for a few days before beginning my 3-night speaking tour in Washington state. And on the ferry over from Vancouver Island I bashed my nose open.

Here’s me in the hotel holding ice on it to make sure it didn’t swell up!

photo(1)

But my nose behaved and did not swell, and with some creative makeup you could barely see it last night! Here’s my daughter and me at my book table at the Life Center in Tacoma:

SheilaKatie Tacoma

I’ve had quite the week getting here. Aside from the nose gashing experience, I also had a big mishap with the shipping of my books. I had to get some across the border, and filling out government customs forms gives me hives. I just clam up at the thought that I’m going to do something wrong–and last time I filled out the forms I did. Where it said “Net Cost”, I calculated the average net cost of all the books and entered it there. Then I got a phone call from FedEx’s customs broker. Apparently under Net Cost, you’re supposed to write either “Yes” or “No”. Who knew?

Anyway, I shipped my books with a bit of a cushion so that if I messed up the paperwork again they’d have time to get a hold of me and still deliver the boxes to Tacoma. But then on Wednesday night, two days before they were supposed to be in Seattle, we got a call that they’d been at the border for a week stuck in customs because I put the wrong currency in one box. They hadn’t called me until now.

I was really upset, but I had it out with God and was truly at peace at losing out on the $600 in shipping, and knew the books wouldn’t make it now. But I prayed that God would work a miracle.

And sure enough, after getting passed back and forth to multiple people at FedEx, all of whom said it wasn’t their problem, I talked to a supervisor who went to bat for me, and they overnighted the boxes and they were waiting for us! So I’m trying to figure out a good gift to send the FedEx woman in the Toronto office who really helped me. A gift certificate for a restaurant? I don’t know. But it’s not often you find someone who will go out on a limb for you like that.

Anyway, I just needed the encouragement this week, and maybe God just wanted to show me He could still work miracles. My nose didn’t swell (despite profuse bleeding and a lot of pain), and the books got there, and the talk was so much fun! 500 women in Tacoma, lots of laughs, and a great Q&A period, too. My daughter even figured out how to set up my new backdrop:

GirlTalk Banner

Which is great, because she has to set it up two more times! I’m in Yakima tonight and Lake Forest Park tomorrow. And it’s going to be fun!

Right now I’m sitting in a McDonald’s (yay for free wifi!) before we head over to the church. Awesome drive through the mountains today. We stopped at a lookout and took some pictures; this doesn’t do it justice, but it was lovely:

DSC_0139

So we’re all ready to go for two more nights!

As always, if you’d like me to come deliver my Girl Talk–straight talk on intimacy and marriage–at your church, just email my booking agent and he’ll get a package out to you.

And if you have any great ideas of what to send the FedEx woman who rescued me, let me know!

31 Days to Great Sex
31 Days to Great Sex is here (only $4.99!) It's the best $5 you'll ever spend on your marriage!

Learn to talk more, flirt more, and even explore more! You'll work on how to connect emotionally, spiritually, AND physically.

Find out more here.


More on Perimenopause, Where I’m Speaking, and Other Cool Stuff!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in Canada. And I had something amazing to be thankful for–I got to hug my oldest daughter after six weeks of not seeing her! That’s the longest we’ve ever been apart. She went off to university last month, and I’ve been pining away for her, though I’m exceedingly proud. Picked her up  yesterday and I actually started crying. Wasn’t expecting that! But we’re together for the next week, so I’m really excited.

Pink Pad App

A bunch of you were asking after my post on Perimenopause yesterday what was the app that my daughter and her friends use to track their cycles? So when I saw her I asked her. It’s Pink Pad. You can take a look! And it tracks your mood and other symptoms, too, just so they don’t come as such a shock and you can be prepared.

I’m going to MOMCon–the MOPS Convention!

Now, back to my daughter: she’s coming with me to the MOPS Convention in Kansas City this week! On Thursday I’ll be giving my Girl Talk presentation–twice!–to a whole bunch of moms of preschoolers, and I’m so excited. If any of you readers are going to be there, please make a point of coming and saying hi. I know there will be about 3000 of you, but I’ll be hanging out at my booth with my books and my manager dude (and my daughter!) when I’m not speaking or doing media, and I’d love to take some pictures with some of my regular readers. So do stop by!
Girl Talk with Sheila Wray Gregoire

I’m firming up dates for the Spring and Fall

And one of the big things that I’ll be doing there is firming up dates of WHEN I’m coming to what part of the country. I know a whole bunch of you have asked for packets on Girl Talk to see if I can bring it to your church. It’s a great evening where I use a lot of humor–and practical advice–to talk to women about how sex is supposed to work in marriage. And it’s so much fun! If you haven’t received a package, and you asked for it, just email my manager again and nudge him. But now is the time to book, because I’m really doing a first come, first serve basis. I’m booking a 10 day tour in May and a 7 day tour in April, and then another 10 day one next October. So if you want me in your part of the country for one of those, just email me and pick a date now, and then I’ll work around you.

Another HUGE Bundle Sale is Coming–Don’t Miss It!

So many of you LOVED the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle Sale that ran last May–you got $700 worth of ebooks for $29. Well, there’s another one coming–in just one month! From November 4-November 9, you’ll get:

  • 80 + ebooks focusing on healthy living (including my 31 Days to Great Sex! But if you already have the book, you’ll still find this bundle an amazing deal)
  • Mentorship program/Coffee Table Conversations. This is such a cool feature, and it’s NEW to this bundle. Each week, for 12 weeks, you’ll get a 1-hour podcast from an author expert, and access to a private Facebook group to talk about it.
  • $150+ free bonuses like $26 of eco-friendly laundry detergent, $15 of natural soap and skincare, $15 of herbal remedies.

So you won’t want to miss it! Make sure you’re signed up for at least one of my newsletters to get notified by email–or just check in with the blog during that week!

healthy-living-bundle-600x200

Girl Talk: I’d Love to Come To Your Church!

DSC_0165

I’ve had such fun since The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex came out, speaking at churches around North America about God, marriage, and sex.

Yes, I raised a few eyebrows. But if we don’t talk about this in church, where are people going to turn when they need help or information?

I’ve created Girl Talk, my signature event, where we talk about how God created sex, why He created it the way He did, and how we can make sex better by focusing on the three main areas of intimacy: emotional, spiritual, and physical. I go into the roadblocks for a good sex life, the reasons we often have trouble enjoying sex or initiating sex, why our guys may not want it, and more! And it’s a lot of fun.

I just uploaded some clips from a recent event I thought you might like!

Here’s the intro to the talk:

Here’s me talking about why women often feel guilty about their bodies:

And here’s me talking about what God really meant intimacy to be about:

Here’s another clip from the same talk, but at a different church, talking about how God made men and women different when it comes to sex:

I would absolutely love to bring this to your church or MOPS group! You can learn more about the event here, but these are the dates I’m booking right now:

October 3-8, Arlington, Virginia

(I know this is short notice, but I’m going to be there anyway): I’ll be in Arlington, Virginia, and I’d love to meet with some Bible study groups or MOPS groups to give a pared down version of the talk, or if you have time to get an evening event, I’d love to do that! I’m in the area anyway, so I’m looking to fill up my calendar!

November 7, Saginaw, MI area

I’ll be in Michigan touring, and I have ONE opening! If you’re near Saginaw, I’d love to speak to your group! I can do morning, afternoon, or evening.

January 15-20, Pittsburgh, PA area

Are you in Pennsylvania? I’ll be there, too, and I’d love to speak for you!

February 20-21, Toronto area

I’m looking to book up my Toronto calendar! I’m already in the area on the Saturday, and I’d love to do more.

April 23-25, western Ontario

I’d love some Kitchener, Cambridge, Waterloo, Sarnia, etc. engagements then!

May and June 2014, southern states tour

I’m looking at putting together some talks in South Carolina and Georgia. If your church is there, let me know!
Email Sheila to Host Girl Talk in your Area!

Not in Those Areas?

I’d still love to book something with you, perhaps in fall 2014 or spring 2015. So send me an email and we’ll see what we can do!

NEW Edition of To Love, Honor and Vacuum; Fighting Acne; and More Fun Stuff!

Good morning, everyone! I have so much to fill you in on today!

To Love, Honor and Vacuum Will Soon Have a Second Edition!


Probably most of you don’t realize why this blog is called To Love, Honor and Vacuum. I started blogging in 2008, but in 2003 my first book came out. And it was called–you guessed it–To Love, Honor and Vacuum: When you feel more like a maid than a wife and a mother.

I really love that book. It summed up a philosophy of marriage and family that I had come to walking through the early years with my girls (they were 8 & 6 when it was published), and it really helped women get some perspective and focus on what was really important.

This blog was meant to support that book.

But then the blog kind of took on a life of its own. And so we went to back to my publisher and told them we’d like to update it, publishing a second edition. And this time, instead of the blog being based on the book, I want the book based on the blog. So it will have a lot of my themes (which means more about sex! There was a chapter, but it will likely be expanded), and material that you’re used to seeing from me–just so much more in depth.

I’m looking forward to writing it this summer!

And speaking of summer–

Getting Ready for More Speaking Tours–Michigan, Virginia, and Pennsylvania

I just finished my last speaking tour of the year last weekend. Yay! I’m off until early October, and I plan to do a LOT of writing. I’ve got the second edition to write, but also one other ebook and one other book proposal.

But in October I’ll be in Virginia; in November I’ll be in Michigan; and in January I’ll be in Pennsylvania. And I would love to bring my Girl Talk event to your church (where I talk about sex & intimacy). It makes an awesome outreach, and it’s always a lot of fun.

Find out more about it here, and email my booking gal here to inquire about dates, cost, etc.

Fighting Back Against Adult Acne

We’ve been talking about Fighting the Frump a lot on this blog, but I have found that one of the hardest things to deal with, especially as an adult woman, is acne. I’ve had oily skin my whole life, which has turned into a blessing as I age because I just don’t get wrinkles. But it means that I’ve fought acne a ton.

And my girls inherited that gene, and so they’ve been dealing with this throughout their teenage years, too.

acnetenefamily2I was sent an acne kit to try recently (and my 15-year-old tried it and liked it, too!). Acnetene is a kit that helps control and heal acne.  It comes with several products – AcneWash, PimplePads, PimplePaste and ClearCream.

 Each product is designed to target a specific aspect of the skin healing process.    Starting with the AcneWash, it gently cleans pores of infection, dirt and oil.  Many people don’t know that often acne is a result of dirt and bacteria on the skin, so eliminating these will help to heal the skin naturally.

The PimplePads are a daily toner that disinfects and deep cleans the pore to remove stubborn contaminants. To exfoliate and irrigate pores, there’s the PimplePaste.  It penetrates deeply to get rid of bacteria and smoothen your complexion. Finally, the ClearCream is great for moisturizing and returning hydration to the skin.

Acnetene is well known for not overly-drying the skin while eliminating acne.  It targets people that have acne due to bacteria on the skin.  People with acne due to hormonal imbalances may not benefit from this product, so if you find that it’s not having the desired effect, it may be a good idea to see a dermatologist.

One of the major benefits of Acnetene is that it uses natural formulations!  Instead of harsh, harmful chemicals, Acnetene works based on natural ingredients designed to heal.  Your skin will clear of pimples while acquiring a healthy, youthful glow! One of the things that I’ve found with a lot of acne formulations is that you’re essentially just putting alcohol on your skin. It may clear the blemishes temporarily, but it strips your skin of moisture and really throws off the pH of your skin, causing a lot of wrinkles and other problems later. Acnetene doesn’t do that.

If you are on the market for a natural acne treatment that works, Acnetene may be for you! It’s on sale right now for $49 (regular $78), so check it out!

Stopping Temper Tantrums Before they StartTrigger Points for Tantrums

Yesterday’s post on the trigger points for conflicts obviously struck a chord, and it’s been shared all over Pinterest!

It just occurred to me in looking at my pins on Pinterest, though, that I wrote a similar article about temper tantrums in kids. If we understand what actually causes tantrums, we can avoid many of them. So if you have toddlers, you need to read this: How to Stop Tantrums Before They Start.

Your Thought for the Day

I shared this on Facebook yesterday, and I wanted to share it here, too:

You cannot drift together; you only drift apart
Don’t drift in your marriage! Have fun together. Here are some posts on that:

There you go! Some thoughts for today. What’s going on in your life today? Let me know in the comments!

I was compensated for part of this post.

Our 6-Week Class Begins Tomorrow!

School of Intimacy

Tomorrow is the big day! My first webinar class will launch. We’ll be meeting every Monday for 6 weeks, going through The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex. Don’t have a copy yet? Don’t worry! You’ll get one sent to you the first week of class.

And if you have to miss a class, you can always watch the recording later.

It’s a chance to go deeper, hear my voice, and ask me anything you want. And you’ll be able to discuss things with other class members (even anonymously if need be).

I’d love to have you join us!

So sign up now!

A few other tidbits:

I had a great time giving my Girl Talk event in Wallaceburg, ON on Thursday night. Remember, if you want to bring Girl Talk to your church (a fun evening where I talk about marriage, intimacy, and sex using humor and lots of practical info), you can get more information here.

Then Friday night Keith and I spoke in Waterloo, ON on sex to a young adults’ church. Great evening, and so exciting to see so many younger couples out.

KeithandSheilaElevation

Tomorrow is your chance to enter our April giveaway (I thought I’d have time to post the giveaway today, but I’m rushing around a lot! It’ll be up tomorrow). So come on back.

Have a fun and relaxing Sunday, and remember to do something with your spouse that involves laughter.

Girl Talk–Coming Near You!

Girl Talk backdrop

Last week I flew to Minneapolis for two events: a Girl Talk night in Willmar, MN (where I give my signature talk on sex), and then a Saturday event in Hastings where I spoke first on To Love, Honor and Vacuum, and then repeated the Girl Talk talks.

Girl Talk women's event--coming near you!

(Look at the AMAZING setup they did on the stage! It looks just like my book cover):

Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Still 30% off at Amazon!

It was very physically stressful–I caught a horrendous stomach bug the night before I was supposed to start, and let’s just say I felt quite terrible. But a ton of people prayed and by the evening I was well enough to go on and nobody noticed (more about that in my column that’s coming out on Friday).

Sheila Wray Gregoire gives her Girl Talk event

Sheila Wray Gregoire gives her Girl Talk event

But it was really satisfying in lots of other ways, because it was just so much FUN! I love speaking on sex because it’s something that women honestly really want to talk about, and most churches don’t do a good job of covering it. I’m not shy, either; I don’t stay away from the “taboo” words that we don’t say in Christian circles (though I do it very tastefully, and not rudely). And in the second half I do a Q&A where I read through everyone’s anonymous questions and then answer them, before finishing with the rest of my talk.

The talk is divided into two parts. In the first half I talk about how God designed sex and why He made men and women so differently. We also cover how society has messed sex up, and how our culture invades our own sexuality and often messes US up.

In the second half I focus on how to improve our marriages in the three areas of intimacy in the bedroom: emotional intimacy, physical intimacy, and spiritual intimacy. And then we look at how to put it all together.

Girl Talk women's event--coming near you!

DSC_0215

I use a lot of humor, and yet I also tell some touching stories about what it really means to make love and not just have sex.

DSC_0249

DSC_0252

In Willmar, when the women’s ministry committee first went to the leadership at their church, the leadership was a little hesitant. They weren’t sure they would get women out to an event like this. But the committee pressed on, certain that women really did want to talk about this. And sure enough, they had 320 women out (125 is the norm for a women’s event). And they had tons of community women, not just church women, because it’s a really easy event to bring friends to. It doesn’t sound like it’s going to be “churchy” (and it isn’t), and seekers want to hear about sex.

Girl Talk women's event--coming near you!

In Hastings, one of the organizers, who brought along a 30-something friend, said that it was just so great how I could deal with real issues and still bring it right back to God, without sounding preachy.

That was the biggest compliment anyone could give me.

I’d love to bring a Girl Talk event to your church! I get questions all the time–can you come to Ohio? Can you come to Sioux Falls? Can you come to Atlanta?

And the answer is, YES! I would gladly try to arrange a tour near you.

DSC_0150

But I need to start somewhere, and the place that I’m mostly likely to start is a place where a church has hired me. So if you want me to come to your area, why not ask for a package of info to send to your church? I can send it directly to you, but if you’re not the women’s ministry leader, and you know the women’s ministry leader’s email address (or the marriage pastor’s email, or whomever would be the right one in your church), let me know that, too, and I can send it to them, saying that you requested it.

I’m looking at booking two tours next fall, and potentially one this June if I can arrange it in time, so I have three potential states/provinces I can get to. But it’s really whoever responds first and actually books me that determines where I go.

Finally, if you’re in NASHVILLE–I’m COMING in April (my husband’s at a conference, so I’m tagging along) and my days are quite free. I’d love to stop by your Bible study group, or MOPS group, or maybe even set up an impromptu night event. Let me know, because you wouldn’t have to pay travel expenses or my usual fee since I’m already there.

I’d love to join you.

And remember–if you want to go even DEEPER than a Girl Talk night, you can sign up for my 6-week, indepth online class on The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, where we’ll cover even more!

The School of Intimacy–Take Your Marriage to the Next Level

The School of Intimacy

I am so excited to announce to you the launch of The School of Intimacy!

I mentioned it briefly during Fight the Frump week, but I’m so excited about it I wanted to take a post and explain what it’s all about in the hopes that you will join me.

I’ve teamed up with a woman named Susan, who has launched courses for other authors and has a vision to provide in-depth online training in the area of families and relationships. We women are so busy that going to a conference is often out of reach. We don’t have time, and we don’t have the money. But, Susan says, that shouldn’t mean that those doors are closed. With new technology, we can bring all the information you’d get at an in-depth conference to you, right in your own home. And I love that vision!

She’s done other online courses, but she wanted me to be the first one to offer a course in her School of Intimacy. And so we’re all set to start on April 8.

For six weeks, on Monday nights, I’ll be speaking for about an hour and 15 minutes on The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex. We’ll cover what God designed sex for; how God made men and women differently; how to increase our physical intimacy, spiritual intimacy, and emotional intimacy in the bedroom, and how to deal with a lot of the struggles we face, whether it’s low libido, husbands with low libido, overcoming negative views of sex, defeating porn’s influence, etc.

The difference is I won’t JUST be lecturing. There will be an interactive component where we can have discussion (with the opportunity to be anonymous if you wish), and you can shoot me questions. And then after each night’s presentation, we’ll have an even longer Q&A. If you can’t make the class live, you’ll always have access to the recordings, but it is more fun if you can be there and participate.

Throughout the week there will be “homework” (which no one will take up :) ) that you complete–spiritual exercises to help you focus on how God wants you to see sex and how to make this part of an abundant life; and practical exercises to make it real in your life.

We’ll also have a private members’ area on the website for discussions, and a private Facebook group where you can talk about your homework, etc.

I get so many emails from readers who have some real difficulties, and I don’t have time to answer them all or do justice to them all. But here’s a chance for you to get over 9 hours of intense teaching, and a chance to get your questions answered.

When we were getting this course ready, Susan wrote a survey that several hundred of you graciously took (thank you very much!), and from that survey we figured out what type of class most people wanted, the length of the class, and the price point. We thought we’d launch with a six-week course at $99 (that’s the early bird rate), which is right in line with what most people said.

Nothing will change on this blog–I’ll still be blogging, and coming up with new ideas (I was thrilled at the response to Fight the Frump last week! I may do something like that again). But I know some of you want to go deeper, and this is your chance to do so.

When you enroll, you’ll also get sent a copy of The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex (which makes a great wedding gift if you’ve already got one!), and a place where you can send in your questions for me to make sure that I cover them.

Reading through the survey results, I was encouraged by how people described my teaching.

It’s honest, real, and in line with God’s word. Instead of blaming outside issues that you can’t
control in marriages, she tells you how you can work on yourself.

It’s real. It’s helpful. It’s simple. It’s funny.

The idea of sex being about emotional and spiritual intimacy not just physical. Also, how a “bad girl” can still become a “good girl.”

I love that Sheila is open and honest about so many different issues that the church is often too scared to bring up.

Her candor and her ability to love through words.

It is honest, real, wise and godly.

Real true issues and answers. She isn’t afraid to say what needs to be discussed.

If you want “real” teaching about marriage–and not just the sugar coated stuff we often get–this course will satisfy.

Will you join me? I’d love to get to know you all better, and to actually have a chance to talk with you.

Enrol now! And do so soon, because the class size will be limited to help with discusssion. So secure your place early.

Thanks, all! I look forward to seeing you many of you there.

Nurture Your Marriage this Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!

I know some of you are so excited. You’ve bought the gift, you’re planning the dinner, and everything will be perfect.

And some of you are just in a funk. Your relationship isn’t going well right now, and how can you pretend to be all lovey-dovey when you’re not? They say that Valentine’s Day is hardest for single people, but I’m not sure that’s true. I think sometimes it’s hardest for those who are married but struggling.

Ticket for Wife SOSI’d just say to those of you who are sad today, try to love anyway. I know it’s hard, but sometimes that can be the first step in a longer journey towards wholeness.

And if that’s what you’re looking for, here are three opportunities to build your marriage:

1. WifeSOS conference–TODAY!

I’m joining my friend Marnie as she hosts this WifeSOS event. It’s so much fun! You can listen free on the internet (or by phone), and it’s four hours of amazing mentoring from some of my favourite women. And interspersed there will be some great worship leaders and some chances to win books (including The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex)!

I’ll be speaking about sex in marriage, so if you’ve ever wanted to actually hear my voice, and not just read my words, now’s the time! Pam Farrel, of Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti, fame is up first (Pam also wrote the foreword to my book)! Vicki Tiede, who was featured on this blog a while back talking about how to handle it when you discover your husband is using pornography, will be there, as will Kathi Lipp, who is such a funny woman and who will be talking about how to pray God’s word for your husband.

And did I say it’s FREE?

It’s Free.

So head on over and sign up to get the invite!

2. A Day Together Marriage Day

Live in Alberta? I just want to do a shout out for the Day Together . Put on by FamilyLife and held at Cross Pointe church in Calgary on March 2, it’s a wonderful day to renew your marriage.

A Day TogetherAnd if you’re still looking for that perfect Valentines gift for your spouse, check out the Valentines promotion for A Day Together!  If you register by February 14, 2013, and enter “win romance” in the other category of the “how did you hear about this conference” question, you will be entered to WIN a ROMANCE Package including dinner at Earls Restaraunt, and the book “Love That Lasts” by Mike Woodard.  Only until Valentines Day!

Once you have registered, you can increase your chances of winning.  Just share this promotion with your friends and when they register tell them to put your name in the “other” category of the “how did you hear about this conference” question, and you will both be entered in the draw. It’s that easy!

3. Win a whole FamilyLife Canada conference!

Finally, if you want more than just a Day Together, you can win an entire Weekend to Remember conference–lodging included! This is an awesome deal, and since Keith and I speak at quite a few of them, you may even get us!

FamilyLife Canada Photo Contest

You have until February 25 to upload a photo–and it’s super easy to do! Need a “fabulous” family photo? Here’s one of my favourites from some friends of mine:

Awesome Family Picture

Just do something funny like that! Or take a look through Pinterest for some ideas (and follow me while you’re there!).

Weekend to Remember is held in Canada every year in the Maritimes (usually Fredericton or Halifax), in Niagara Falls, in Barrie, in Whistler, in Victoria, and in Banff. What an awesome getaway!

And now, my friends, I just want to wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day. May your heart be softened towards your spouse. May God give you gratitude and love for your whole family. May God work on your hearts so that you will forever be connected so intimately that nothing can come between you. Where there are big problems, remember that God is still bigger. Where there is heartache, remember that Jesus has seen it all. And may we fall more in love with God and become the people that He wants us to be, which will also make us the wives (and husbands) that we want to be, too!

(Oh, and do join me today for the WifeSOS event! Even if you can only catch part of it.)

My thanks to the Bandy family for this awesome picture, which I’m going to use in a contest of my own soon. The older girl, the one with the awesome expression on her face, is a good friend of my oldest daughter. The middle girl, on the furthest left, is a good friend of my youngest daughter. I think this is super!

What's Coming Up–Women's Conferences, Webinars, and More!

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?

Round-Up of Neat Stuff Around the Web This Week!

I have a confession to make. I’m feeling really overwhelmed today.

I have a really busy schedule for the next two weeks: On the weekend of the 27/28 I’m speaking at the huge Break Forth convention in Edmonton, Alberta, leading the women’s track. I have five talks I have to practice and perfect before that.

But before I can even do that I have a big article for Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family magazine about sharing chores with your husband. And I have a column due this morning.

I’m finding the columns quite stressful to write recently. I’ve been doing this for over 10 years now, in secular papers, and it’s harder and harder to come up with topics. Most of the things I’d like to say I’ve already said. So it’s always about finding a new slant on things.

And I try not to throw in totally controversial stuff all the time because I don’t want to totally turn people off. So last week, for instance, I wrote about how research shows that cohabiting before marriage increases divorce rates. That’s controversial. I’m sure to get flak for that.

I’d like, therefore, to write more of a feel-good column today, but I’m completely out of ideas. So I have to get a rough draft of an article done, and a column, and practice these speeches, and I’m finding myself stressed even in my sleep! I’m sure you’ve gone through periods like that, too, when it’s just so overwhelming it’s hard to start.

Yesterday in church our pastor was talking about “the joy of your salvation”, and how “the joy of the Lord is your strength”. And he was asking us if we’ve lost our joy. I thought and prayed about that yesterday, and I think one of the problems I have is something that’s quite common among those in ministry: it’s hard to get excited about God if every time you have a great insight in your devotions you think to yourself, “I have to weave this into a talk!” or “I should write about this.” Sometimes I’d like to just BE with God. Sometimes ministry gets really tiring, because it’s hard to be creative and spiritual on demand.

I’m not saying I’m going to quit; I’m just saying that there are times that I’m tired. Happily I’ve already scheduled two weeks worth of blog posts, so I don’t have to worry about writing this blog! I actually don’t find the blog stressful because I can write about whatever I want, and I’m not worried about sticking to a word count or writing or publication. It’s just my thoughts, and you all seem to like them enough since my traffic keeps growing. It’s the other things that I’m overwhelmed by.

On thing that God did remind me of yesterday, though, was that it’s hard to have joy if you don’t actually spend a lot of time talking and listening to Him. So I thought I’d share just a few links that are on my list for helping me not become overwhelmed.

1. Bible Study

Are you interested in doing something new with your devotions this year? Or do you just want to start trying to HAVE devotions? On Wings and Waves has a great post introducing her “Study the Epistles” series, where you spend 2013 working through the epistles.

But she doesn’t just do that; she’s also got a free printable that tells you what to do during your devotions if you’re just stuck and you don’t know where to begin. And she’s got printables that go along with her devotional series. So check her out!

2. Read Your Bible in a Year

My friend Rachel Wojo also has a challenge to read through your Bible in a year. I’ve done this a few times and it was so valuable! I know it’s late getting to the party, but if you do two days’ worth of readings for the next two weeks you’ll catch up.

3. Free Blogging Planner

If you’re a blogger (like me!) and you want to get more organized at it in 2013, Mama Jenn has a free printable to help you plan your posts, your giveaways, your social media campaigns, and even track your statistics. You can download it here.

And if you’re a blogger, would you like to earn some money? Last month a bunch of bloggers made over $50 each by writing a post introducing the 31 Days to Great Sex! I’ve got a great affiliate program with it, and it’s easy to sign up. With Valentine’s Day coming, it’s a wonderful opportunity to let people know about this great resource (and earn some money, too).

So there are a few links you may like, and now I’m going to go back and stare at a blank computer screen praying for inspiration! If you could pray with me, I would sure appreciate it.