By Vicky Orefice

The 2019 GFC Beautiful Conference is officially in the books and it did not disappoint! This year’s theme was “Stronger” and when I think about what that means to me, I think Stronger in HIM and Stronger TOGETHER.

I’m sure I’m not in alone when I say “Life is hard”. I feel like my faith, patience, strength is tested on a daily basis at work, at home, in my car, and on social media. Can I get an amen?? When I feel like giving up, God is there to lift me up and make me stronger. I have some major introverted tendencies that sometimes get in my way of being with others. But my story, my talent, my being was given to me by God to share with others and help make them stronger.  I love this video because it breaks down the small ways we can help each other become stronger.

“Be Where Your Feet Are”

Hannah Brencher, TED Talk speaker and author of “Come Matter Here”, shared with us her journey to building a life that matters. A couple points that I took away from this session were 1) be where your feet are and 2) break away from technology and be present.

Okay, so I am a Type A – always with a plan, thinking five steps ahead and checking off my checklist. While that personality is great for my line of work, it causes me to never really be content where I am and always looking for the next big goal, project, plan. But I need to take a step back, appreciate where I am in my life and know that God has me there for a reason. Part of that is “Break away from the phone and pay attention to the person in front of you and make them feel like they are the center of the universe”. I thought to myself, what easier way to make someone stronger than making them feel like they are the center of the universe?

If you have not read her book, go ahead and open up Amazon now and add it to your cart because it is a must read!

Our gal Jeanna White interviewed Hannah where she opened up about her journey through anxiety and depression and the start of her organization More Love Letters. Later in the day, we all had the opportunity to write a letter to one of three people as part of the letter bundles and this was probably my favorite part of the conference. I love writing letters and receiving them! My collection of stationery, washi tape and pens is a force to be reckoned with! I am making the decision to send more letters to my friends and family and also be part of sending cards for Hannah’s letter bundles. While writing to the young lady in the session, I was brought to tears because it was as though I was writing to my 14-year-old self. Just another reminder of how I can help make others stronger.

The breakout sessions list this year was so good and so hard to choose only two! If I could have multiplied myself, I would have attended like 6 of them for sure. The topics ranged from Mommyhood and Marriage to Worship and our Walk in the Lord. There was something for everyone. One of the sessions that I attended was Sanjie Jackson’s #LIVINGYOURBESTLIFE where she gave us 5 practical steps. Her message was in line with Hannah’s message about stepping away from technology and being present, breaking it down in easy ways to live it in our day-to-day.

Okay, can I take a moment to brag on our worship team? I mean, they are the real deal. Not only do they have the talent but they have the heart. What an important responsibility it is to bring the church to the presence of God through worship and it’s one that they do not take lightly. God showed up during worship in a might way. Tears were shed. Knees were bent. Hearts were touched. The video to live performance of “Rescue” by Lauren Daigle was a perfect set-up to Lisa Bevere’s message that night.

“Courage does not happen in isolation. Courage happens in community.”

Lisa Bevere, NYT bestselling author, and internationally known speaker graced our stage for the second time at a Beautiful Conference. What I love about Lisa is that she has this fierceness in her message and doesn’t hold back. She made a lot of references to lionesses and how they live in their prides. They don’t just think about themselves and do their own thing but instead play a role in the pride. Imagine what we could do when we move from thinking about ourselves to focusing on others. We really are stronger together!

Ain’t no party like a Beautiful party!

Ladies and gals of Grace Family Church KNOW how to par-tay! We brought the party essentials but the ladies brought the movesssss. We group danced to the ‘cupid shuffle’ and ‘cha cha slide’ and sang our hearts out to classics from Whitney Houston and Cyndi Lauper. When we needed a break from all that cardio, there was an array of refreshments and treats to choose from. Holy popcorn options! Birthday Cake flavor was screaming my name…. Along with the mini donuts. Hey oooh! We also had games and not one, but TWO photo booths! Seriously, you can never go wrong with a photo booth!

Shout out!

Shout out to Carrabba’s and 4 Rivers BBQ for feeding our bellies. There are people who eat to live and there are people who live to eat. I would be the latter of the two~

Shout out to the ladies who put their physical strength to the test in the Stronger Challenge. After several rounds of arm wrestling, the two winners went to the final round of Sumo Wrestling Dance Off. Yep. It was as funny as it sounds.

Shout out to the GFC Men who served during the conference. From helping with set up, passing out snacks, opening doors, moving chairs, cheering everyone on to the after party, to helping put everything back in place at the end. They did all of that with a smile on their face.  

Shout out to the creative team that designed the branding of the conference. I loved the simple look of the black and white with the green element from the eucalyptus. which carried over through everything from the booklets and pens to the jewelry and clothing. I am confident to say that I wasn’t the only who loved it all based on the line and how quickly some of the shirts sold out! P.S. If you missed the good news, more shirts are arriving soon!

I am so grateful to be part of a church with such amazing leaders and volunteers who help make conferences like this one possible. I hope that you were able to attend the conference and were just as blessed as I was. If you weren’t able to join, you can still get poured into and find community by joining Beautiful Monday Night or any of our Beautiful Groups!

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