Sunday, August 11, 2013

Geeking Out At The Women Living Well Conference

Hello and WELCOME! If you found me through Time Warp Wife, I am absolutely giddy that you are here!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously... short of some close friends and my mom... this blog is not usually so heavily traveled! I love making connections, so please feel free to leave a link to your blog if you have one. Thanks for stopping by! :) ~Mandy

{Pardon any misspellings or grammar errors or run-on sentences. I am feeling a little under the weather, but wanted to share this while it's fresh!}

Yesterday was nothing short of amazing.

Other than getting up at 4:30 a.m.

That part kind of sucked.

But, I was so excited to hit the road with some girlfriends and go to the Women Living Well Conference in Ohio.

If you have never heard of Courtney from Women Living Well, let me introduce you to her.

She's an adorable blonde who chooses to live her life by serving her family and allowing her husband to take the lead in their family.

Seen by many as archaic, oppressive and repressive, Courtney lives a life serving God and her family.

And she's fabulous.

Here I am with her!

I was ridiculous and tongue-tied and I think I even talked over her (?!).

(Note to self: ALLLLLLWAAAAAYS wear fitted shirts when you know there will be photo ops! I'm afraid mine does me no favors in this photo.)

So let's back up to the morning when I arose before the rooster.

I stumbled out of bed and jumped in the shower.

Then I decided to put my contacts in...which is a big, fat mistake if you're still half asleep because they burn like acid.

There I stood in my towel with my eyes tearing up like Niagara Falls, convinced I'd have to go to the conference with dripping wet hair, an ill-fitting towel and eyes feeling like they had razor blades in them.

It passed.

Then I got dressed in the carefully chosen outfit from the night before (after a series of outfit changes befitting an Oscar Host on Oscar Night).

No outfit is complete without Spanx (or my $9.99 Target version) so, I shimmied into mine (which was actually more like squeezing sausage into a tube. There was tugging, pulling, weeping and gnashing of teeth, but finally I had them on...and they graciously covered my gut, which after 6 babies, is still quite an issue for me. I breathed a sigh of relief to be covering my "trouble area" and excited about looking slimmer in pictures.

And exactly 5.2 seconds later the top of my "no-slip" Spanx rolled like a burrito right on down to my waist. And suddenly the area I was trying hardest to conceal was on display and beautifully accentuated in all its bunt-cake, muffin-top glory.

Oh well, no time to fuss, I still had to do my hair and make-up, unload 800 car seats from the van since I was having passengers, make some coffee, and grab a bagel.

I unloaded the van, only to find enough food under each car seat to feed a 3rd world country.

I grabbed some towels for my friends to sit on and loaded my bag in.

It was somewhere between unloading the 4th car seat and reaching into the depths of the back seat to recover my 7 year old's lost Lego guy that my Spanx decided to journey north. At the same time, the friction from my hurried movements was increasing the temperature of my mid section to about the temperature of hell.

If you can imagine a thick piece of lycra being yanked up between your butt cheeks after being heated to inferno degrees by a blow torch, you'll get an idea how I felt.

But there was no time to change as my friends started to arrive!

Photo: Women Living Well Conference!

{L-R: Kim B, Annice, Kim C. AWESOME women and wonderful road trip buddies!}

In we packed, 4 giddy women, sans kids and husbands, and took it on 2 as we peeled out of the driveway.

The journey started off right on target when, within 5 minutes of leaving my house, I took a wrong turn and put us on the highway heading in the wrong direction.

No worries...after a quick U-y, we were onward again.

The tolls posed a new problem, however since my driving skills are rusty. I'm used to driving short trips from Point A to Point B and this highway driving business is a thing of my past. I forgot our van goes over 50 mph.

It was at the first toll booth where we had our first near-death experience. I started down a lane that wasn't open, and with cat-like quickness, I jerked the wheel and headed to the next lane. And then I inexplicably stopped with the van perpendicular to the toll booth.

Never fear, the kindly semi truck driver about to T-Bone us layed on his horn in a friendly "I'll allow you the right-of-way" manner.

And then we were off...again.

And then I took a wrong exit and we had to circle around.

And then I did something else that scared all my passengers.

And then we were there!


We were united with the other parties of our group. And it was the first time all 5 members of Deliberate Women were EVER in the same room together!!

Photo: Here we are at the Women Living Well Conference!! The first time off all 5 of us have been in the same room together !! :) L-R: Annice, Ginny, Lindsey, Mandy & Alayna

{Deliberate Women L-R: Annice, Ginny, Lindsey, Me, Alayna. SOOOOO Blessed to be in ministry with these ladies!}

And then everything began.

I TOTALLY lost it and got all excited when I saw Courtney stand up and address us.

I could even ignore my creeping Spanx and 900 degree temperature.

I couldn't even begin to share with you all I learned. Over the next few weeks I'd like to try.

Let me just say to be in a room with so many other women who love God and speak out so boldly about their faith and about loving their husbands and families using God's principals was so absolutely refreshing.

We were not even in the conference for 1 minute and I was teary.

I know I am ridiculous.

I was so absolutely excited to see someone in person whom I had looked up to and admired from afar. (And she's tinier in person than I thought!!)

I think every single woman who spoke cried and shared raw emotion with us as they shared their hearts and their testimonies. And we cried right along with them.

These were real women with real stories, and backgrounds with pain and trials and happy times. They were more than the beautiful head shots we see on their blogs.

I'm not sure if their talks went exactly as they'd planned them, but I know God was working in my heart through their words.

Darlene from Time Warp Wife won me over.

Photo: I got to me Darlene from Time Warp Wife. She's AMAZING!!!! Hate that FB won't let me tag her page on my phone!

She is amazing. I read her testimony on her blog over a month ago and was floored as she shared about her infidelity and the grace and forgiveness her husband showed her. They now have a thriving marriage and she shares on her blog how to be a Godly wife and how to overcome problems in marriage and love your husband Biblically.


If you don't know, I have a history of infidelity as well.

In past relationships I have been both the Cheat-ER and The Cheat-EE.

In neither circumstance did I show grace and dignity like Darlene and her husband did. But I want to learn to be more like her and build a marriage like she is based on God's principles.

We also got the privilege of meeting Karen Ehman from Proverbs 31 Minitsries. In a word...Love! :)

She's hysterical. And I learned a new term from her: "Horizontal Fellowship" HAHAHAHAHA!

To be delicate, that describes the fellowship between husband and wife. ;)

She was so funny and so real.

She shared her struggle with her weight and she won me at "I can't stop eating this Twinkie."

It was like she spoke my heart.

And her "out there" and mildly, maybe-bordering-on-inappropriate sense of humor was like looking in a mirror. Except much wiser and much funnier. :)

I got to speak with her (and she signed my copy of Courtney's new "Women Living Well" Advanced Copy Book!! All the while probably thinking "You could have at least bought MY book for me to sign...") and I praised her for her sarcastic wit and sense of humor...she said "I thought maybe I'd tone it down but my husband told me to just be myself". And I got weak in the knees because I often have the same conversation with myself about toning it down. But Joe would probably agree that I should. ;)

It was at that point that I left the conference ladies alone and allowed them to eat their lunch unimpeded.

And then I spent a small fortune buying books the ladies had written, because Dear GOD I cannot help myself.

And then at the end we flocked up to the stage to have our picture taken on "THE COUCHES" that the conference ladies sat on for their "Round Table" discussion.

And we posed all "The View" like, dreaming of a day when {maybe-God willing} we can host an event like this.

And then we got in the way while they tore down the stage and tried to pack up and say their goodbyes. :)

Darlene asked for a link to our Deliberate Women blog and I panicked about the quality of the site and the misspellings and grammar errors surely in my posts. :(

Then dinner called our names.

And the preggo girl in our group was ready to eat one of us since she hadn't really eaten all day (she's the one in the far back, left salivating and telling the waiter with her eyes that he better get us some bread STAT!)!

We skipped out to our cars (minus my constant wedgie), light as feathers--or rather seriously gorged on some good eats-- after a full day of hearing wisdom from ladies we admired and knowing we still had a stretch of hours ahead of us full of great company and no kids. :)

And then we took a group shot in the parking lot while annoyed drivers waited and we all sucked it in to look our best.

And then we hit the road.

And the conversations that took place in the next 2 hours were so wonderful. We opened up about different things, shared some stuff from our "closets" and--I feel--bonded.

There's nothing like late night chats by the light of the dashboard to bring about openness and honesty, is there?

I got to know those 3 ladies better than ever and I respect them more because of it.

And...aside from a weird detour that my GPS probably thought would be a cute prank that sent us all over God's creation and all long Route 70 and a terrifying moment when I swerved to avoid hitting Ricky Raccoon and we all screamed...we were back at my house.


Safe and sound and so full of wonderful experiences.

I saw my friends off and climbed up the front steps, anxious to hug Joe and get OUT of those BLASTED Spanx!

I checked on all my sleeping babies, thankful to be back home with them.

And, with a complete, full-on pounding headache, I laid on the couch and Joe rubbed my head until I fell asleep. :)

It was pretty much a perfect day.
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