So, did you enjoy part 1? Again, I apologize that it is so long. I totally understand if you don’t read it. I just need a place to put out all my thoughts of this spirit changing weekend.
We had another early morning wake up call on Saturday, headed into the arena around 7:30 AM. While Holly was in the bathroom, Peggy told me that the hi-light of her conference experience so far had been meeting Holly and I. I can’t tell you how proud that made me.
The morning conference opened up with comedian Anita Renfroe. You may know her as the “momsense youtube sensation”. If you’ve never heard of her, I encourage you to do some googling- she is hilarious!
After Anita came Sheila Walsh. I had never heard of her before but she delivered a talk that I needed to hear. She opened with a funny story about how her husband bought her a snuggie for Valentine’s day. It just so happened that Miss Mandisa was sporting a snuggie on the “porch” where all the speakers sit, because that Nashville gal was not used to cold Ohio weather! After Sheila’s story she told a more personal one about a dark time that her family experienced, where her husband had gotten addicted to spending money and spent everything they had. It was to the point where they were going to lose their home, so she told him that she was done with him. As you can imagine their house turned dark and cold with tension. Shiela felt so badly for their 10 year old son, and one night she asked him if there was anything she or his dad could do to make him happy, what would it be. He turned to her and said “It’s you mom…you need to forgive dad”. Sheila didn’t understand why and felt this was unfair, but felt God telling her that she had to let go. She encouraged us to let go of hurt feelings or let go of anything that was holding us back from living a free life…to let go and let God. This really touched me, I think this is one of the talks that I was meant to hear.
After Shiela I left the arena to do bathroom duty and take over for Holly…but they introduced Lisa Whelchel, who played Blair on Facts of Life. Holly knew how much I wanted to hear her so she told me to get my butt back in there and she would take over. I know this review is already SUPER long but I feel the need to inform you guys that Facts of Life is MY SHOW. I first started watching it when it was on Nick and Night years ago, I was maybe 12 or 13. I loved it and watched it every single night. I’ve learned so much from that show! I’ve always loved the characters; never in my life did I think that I would MEET one of them. Anyways, Lisa walked up to the stage and gave her story. She told us that when she was just 10 years old she moved out to California by herself and had to be an adult- find an apartment, pay bills, balance her checkbook. When she was on Facts of Life, after she had gained some weight, they used to make her weigh in every single morning in front of everyone., but to her she felt like this was normal because her childhood had been ripped away. She realized that the child in her had never come out, and she worked so hard every single day to try and please everyone and do things “right”, or by what she thought was right. She married a pastor, had three kids who she homeschooled, wrote books and traveled as a speaker. One day she broke down and realized she couldn’t do this anymore, and that she needed to open up her heart. She needed someone to protect her and to listen to her and guide her. She encouraged everyone in the audience to find that person, that person who will support us and be there for us in any situation, so that we don’t ever have to feel empty. Her talk was awesome, and she made me feel so much more connected to her.
SO ( I promise we’re getting closer to being finished)
It was time for a break in the program, and Holly and I were on a mission to find some starbucks. The security guards at the arena told us of one located in the mall attached to the arena, about a 10 minute walk. So we hustled over there…got to the mall, no starbucks. The security THERE told us that there was one downtown but it was a few blocks away in the opposite direction. We got back to the arena and headed the opposite way- nothing was going to stop Mandisa’s shoutouts. A nice young man was walking in the street so Holly flirted with him and asked him where Starbucks was. He offered to walk us there, along the way he asked if we were enjoying Women of Faith and how we knew each other. Once we got to Starbucks he asked for money, I knew that was coming! The things we go through to get some dang Starbucks! I finally got my skinny venti iced carmel latte. I was happy.
We walked back to the arena and figured out the afternoon bathroom schedule- the conference was running about 20 minutes late, so all the ushers worked together to figure out who wanted to see what. Everyone was just so nice!
The afternoon kicked off with a concert by Ayiesha Woods, with her brother Donny Woods singing backup. What an amazing vocalist! I love her music, ended up downloading both her albums when I got home. I suggest her song “New Beginnings” to anyone going through a similar life phase as me!
After Ayiesha was Marilyn again…I must admit that by this time I was exhausted, so I can’t remember much of her talk (probably lucky for you all, haha) but I DO recall her talking about the importance of getting professional help if you are having issues with anything instead of keeping it all inside.
I missed the next speaker because I was on bathroom duty, but as soon as she was finished speaking Holly and I sprinted down to the floor of the arena. We sat in the front row because Mandisa was closing the concert with my favorite song from her 2nd album, “Freedom Song”. The Women of Faith Worship team was singing it with her, found out that one of those people was Missi Hale, a student of Janet’s. How cool is that! She's got an amazing voice- and kept smiling at us during Freedom Song :)
After Mandisa sang we literally had to spring from the bottom of the arena to the top and around to her autograph signing. By the time we got there, it was already at full capacity for how many people they could sign stuff for, and her shuttle was waiting. Ayiesha Woods and Lisa Whelchel were also doing signing’s at the time. I worked the middle of the line again, met two girls who were so excited to meet Mandisa.
Mandisa’s line was still pretty long and Lisa’s was getting shorter, so I hopped over there because I absolutely had to get a picture with BLAIR from Facts of Life. I told her I was a big fan and that I loved her story, also that I had bought her book the day before. I got my picture and then switched back over to Mandisa’s line. She was being really rushed because her flight was leaving within the next 45 minutes, but we got another picture and hug and thanked her. I wish I could have said more but she had to get on a plane!
We said goodbye to all the other volunteers and I left that arena a better, strong person than I had been a few days before.
Holly and I went to dinner at Red Robin and then went back to the hotel, looking at pictures and videos, watching Law and Order, and having a blast. It was so great to be able to spend some time with her! We went to sleep pretty early and woke up today for our last few hours together. Had breakfast and Denny’s and then I dropped her off at the airport. I was sad leaving her, it was such a wonderful weekend and having her part of it made it even better!
I said in part 1 that Mandisa’s speel about her food addiction and the reason she began overeating in the first place caused me to have a revelation today. Here it is.
I was driving home, listening to Mandisa’s album and having a conversation with God. I have been struggling with this weight thing for so long, and after I lost 30 pounds in the spring and then gained it all back I was so confused and alone. Well, I started reflecting on Mandisa’s words and realized…that my food addiction and my anxiety in social settings is what has caused my struggle for so long. I have been trying to dig back into my past for so long to figure out wy I turn to food as my comfort, why I eat instead of filling my life with goodness. I can distinctly remember eating a whole bunch of fast food or a big meal before going to anything social in high school and even college- so like Mandisa, I was using food to cover things up- I didn’t want people to talk to me, so instead I just ate to get rid of attention. You guys, this revelation is SUCH a huge relief for me, I can’t even tell you. I don’t know how many of you will understand the struggle I’ve been through with this, but now that I have this figured out it is SUCH a relief and a step in the right direction. I feel free! I feel so much better, that now I can REALLY make progress in my weight loss journey because I can now relate the two with each other. I cannot wait to share this with my therapist, I am so excited. I am FREE!
Okay, my hands hurt from typing. I feel like I have more to say that I left out, but I’ll leave that for tomorrow…I’ll make a post called “Women of Faith: The Forgotten Tidbits”. :)
I love you all, fireflies.