By Vicky Orefice
Well friends, the GFC Beautiful Conference has come and gone but not without having left its impact on my life and others. This year’s theme was “Found” – how we found God in the darkest hours of our lives or how God found us in the darkest hours of our lives. #Perspective
This conference was different for me compared to last year’s Fearless conference. That conference was, no way for me to put it other than “raw”. It was a real awakening for me and I really felt God was bringing forth my purpose, my story, that had been dormant in my life for so long. Life and the hurt that it brought in my teens and early 20’s caused me to create this lock box of my emotions and stories that I did not want others to know because of the shame I felt.
I wasn’t sure what God was going to do in me at this year’s conference but I was excited. A couple weeks leading up to it, I was asked by the women’s ministry director to be part of a panel discussion that they were going to have on Friday morning. When I first saw the email I thought to myself, “I think she sent this to me on accident”. Again, the shame and lack of self-worth is still a real struggle for me. When she responded to my email that “Yes!” she did want me on that panel was another sign, to me, from God that my story is part of my ministry and is to be shared. It made me even more excited about the conference!
Okay, so that was a lot of deep talk there. Go ahead and get you a cup of coffee, cozy up on your couch and let’s get to the conference recap!
Day 1: Thursday PM
Prior to the service, they fed our tummies with some good ol’ BBQ food from 4 Rivers. I sure do love me some pulled pork and baked beans y’all. After devouring that meal (very quickly I might add because it was outdoors and it was cold) we went to the main sanctuary. The evening consisted of: the lovely ladies from The Pew, Paige and Ashley, kicking off the event, a music feature and worship. Debbie Altman shared her story of being “Found” and it was the perfect beginning for our theme.
The keynote speaker for the evening sessions was author and speaker, Lisa Harper. During the summer, we did a short bible study using her book, Believing Jesus. It was the first time I’d heard of her and her story of adopting her precious little girl, Missy, from Haiti. You can hear that story here. She has a way of opening up the Word to bring applicable understanding. Her ability to say something so profound and moving then quickly ending the thought with something that made you bust out laughing is a true gift.
After the evening service, we went out to the lobby to enjoy some hot cocoa, churros and flavored popcorn. With that second wind of energy, thanks to the sweet treats, we made our way back to the sanctuary to dance the calories away in the after party. Listen, your girl thought she was JLo on that dance floor with churros in one hand and a mini donut, that I happened to come across, in the other hand. It was so much fun just dancing the night away with all the ladies there!
Day 2: Friday AM
The Pew ladies kicked off the morning followed by worship. The keynote speaker for the AM session was Sharon Tubbs. Her message about not being ashamed of your story really spoke to me. Your story is meant to be shared. The events that happen in our lives, both good and bad, are material that God is allowing to be added to our story. Not sharing our story is wasting what God has given us to minister to others and further elevate His kingdom. Seriously, it was as though God was speaking directly at me because, as I’ve alluded to above, this is something that God has been dealing with me over the past year. I get it God. Noted.
After that session, it was time for the panel discussion that I was participating in. The host, Chrissy Mayer, had some questions for us to discuss about the conference and what “found” means to us. It was like having a small group on stage except with hundreds of ladies in the audience listening. It was a forty minute session and it felt like five minutes. It flew! I loved hearing everyone share what Found means to them.
Break Out Sessions
With full stomachs after lunch, we headed to the break out sessions portion of the conference. We could choose two of twelve sessions ranging in topics from parenting, cleaning/organizing, body image, marriage to prayer, healing, and rewriting your story. Not an easy decision to make choosing just two! I heard they were all phenomenal!
For the first session, I attended Sanjie’s session “Be Transformed” which was about understanding the season you are in and finding your identity in Christ. This is a message that one needs to hear on the daily because it can be so easy to fall into the bad habit of trying to be someone according to what the world tells you or what you see on Instagram. Can I get an amen? We, as Christians and daughters of the King of Kings need to look to our heavenly Father for our identity through reading the bible and seeking His presence in prayer. #preach
For the second session I chose to attend the “When God Gives You a Makeover” session by Rossaue Hosein. She shared her testimony of being healed of food allergies after having dealt with it for five years. She expressed how she, being a prayer warrior and believing for healing and miracles in others’ lives, failed to believe that healing could happen in her own life. She came to the conclusion that she would always have these allergies but God proved her wrong. That resonated with me so much because I, myself, have fallen into that rut with my diabetes. I’ve stopped believing and claiming that healing in my own body. Her testimony inspired me and gave me a renewed hope to continue praying for my own healing.
Once the sessions were done, we went back to the sanctuary for a fun segment with the The Pew ladies including live band TrevLove and the First Froots, giveaways, a schooling on organization, and a surprise 40th birthday celebration for Paige.
After The Pew, it was dinner time and our last meal together with Carrabba’s Chicken Marsala, Pasta, Ceasar Salad and Bread.
Friday PM Service
The final service kicked off with amazing worship and another musical performance. Then Lisa spoke sharing a personal story and the story of Job about how God is there with us even in our darkest hour when we think we are alone. Because of the words of others, those who we call friends/family, have made us feel shame and alone. He is there and He hears us. The service ended off with women gathering together in prayer. Powerful.
The conference was a great experience and perfect way to start the new year. As a small token of our time together, we each received a bar necklace with the word “found” inscribed on it serving as a sweet reminder that we are found in Christ.