Jeff and I are fortunate to be a part of a small cohort of church leaders currently being trained in church planting. There are 13 couples in the group and we take part in a two year program full of summits, conferences and various curriculums. The men in the group are currently participating in more of an immersive track which involves heavy study, seminary credits and papers. From the onset of the program I was desperate for more instruction and inclusion.
I am so grateful our church values men and women equally. This is sadly in stark contrast to how the church has functioned historically. In an effort to progressively alter this tradition, our church created a summit which invested in women and provided them with educational tools and a platform to share their views. It was one of my favorite weekends ever.
There were various lectures on the hardships of planting, serving in ministry and managing career and family. There were also breakout sessions on self care, gospel hospitality and rest. In between sessions we enjoyed countless meals and prayer time. It was so life giving and encouraging to hear from real women leaders being REAL about the trials of life. The authenticity of the women reminded me why it is so important to teach and share from the humble position of truth. Not every lesson is an easy, clean or perfect one but it is so important that we share it just the same.
As the rain fell hard over Fort Worth, TX (where the summit was held) we moved closer together as we shivered in our boots. We were warmed by our stories...tales of grace and ruin and memories of what God had done all wrapped in the hope for what God would do. It was beautiful. I am so so grateful for the wives in my Western group. Their openness, acceptance and energy is a gift to me every minute I spend with them. They are so beautiful and SO SO FUN.
As refreshing as the sessions and teachings were (which included an open floor meeting with our National Leaders) we also got to take a mini road trip to Waco, TX and visit the Magnolia Silos. This was the highlight of the weekend. I love Fixer Upper and of course Joanna Gaines is also an idol of mine. I love her and Chips' commitment to family in life and comfort in the home. It was a bucket list moment to experience their store and park with 10 of the women I love so much.
We spent an hour (or was is two?) in the massive design shop where I picked out the most perfect vase. I am striving to be more intentional with my purchases and want to collect more items of remembrance which represent places God has done much work. This weekend marked the affirmation of our church in my abilities to lead and my desire to create hospitable spaces. I wanted something for our home to remember it by. And shout to my husband for encouraging me to pick out some things that I love! He really is the best supporter I have.
After the shop we stood in a line that was WORTH ALL 45 MINUTES to try the famous Magnolia Bakery cupcakes. Myself and the ladies laughed and swooned over our menus as we debated which treats to pick at the counter. I opted for a Lemon Lavender cupcake and the Silos Chocolate Chip cookie with almonds and peanut butter. They were divine. Due to the rain and the near closing time we lucked out with a practically empty courtyard and found the perfect table to sit and chat. We laughed and took photo after photo to capture the memories we were making there.
Among the many take aways from the weekend were how much I desperately need to have more fun in my life. Of course my blog and Instagram showcase the highlight reels but I could do with more adventures lately. I have felt so stuck in a self - conscious rut. Anyone else? This weekend reminded me the importance of fun, getting outside, buying something I love and eating cakes with friends. And I plan to do a lot more of those things very soon. I am loved and accepted, I don't need to prove anything to enjoy life. The things I love like dessert and hosting as well as the trials I face like rejection and loneliness are not only special but also universal. I am uniquely made and yet go through the same things as everyone else. It's funny but it's true.
Thanks again to SOMA for all the work you all put into this weekend! It blessed in so many ways!
~ A ~