Lisa Santelli, GFC Lutz
Psalms 33:4 – For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.
Faithful and True. That was the theme of the 2023 Beautiful conference, and it was woven throughout the entire event. From all the fun details … the swings, the slide, axe throwing, and of course the dance party – Extra efforts poured into making this a special event!
The first day started with a fun 70’s vibe. The opening act of “Dancing Queen” introduced our Beautiful hosts, Ashley and Patricia, strutting their fabulous, fancy finds from Goodwill. These two know how to bring the fun. From there, we were led into incredible worship, which flowed through the entire weekend. And, we don’t want to forget about the evening opener, which mixed hip-hop dance moves, a graceful ballerina, a princess belting out tunes and a choir rejoicing. Through this remix, our creative team knew how to showcase that we are an eclectic group of women, but we have one song and dance that flows through our hearts: the love of Jesus.
This year, we had an epic line-up of speakers! Kristi McLelland introduced us to the first mention of women in the bible found in Genesis 2. “Ezer Kenegdo” meaning “helper suitable” in Hebrew, which is what we are, all the time, to everybody. Ezer Kenegdo is a warrior helper, filled with strength as she stands face to face and side by side with those around her. Kristi brought this Middle Eastern lens to help us view the bible with a new view.
Irene Rollins shared her story of restoration and deliverance from addiction. As a pastor’s wife, she sloped into a downward spiral. Her testimony connected with many women struggling from a variety of strongholds and needing breakthrough. Often, we can look like we have it all together on the outside, but are holding onto deep pains internally. It’s so important to find a trusted community and reach out for help, because God wants to see us all delivered from our pain, shame and disappointments.
Then, there was Lacy. If you haven’t heard of this young, bright light, you all need to start following Lacy Abercrombie. She will have you full-out bellyaching laughing in a heartbeat. Through her humorous way of storytelling, she shares the love of Jesus with grace and giggles.
Friday night closed with the powerhouse, Christine Caine. Christine preached on Lot’s wife. In Luke 17:32, the only woman Jesus ever told us to remember is Lot’s wife. Lot and his family were saved from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, with one instruction, “don’t look back”. But, as they were fleeing, Lot’s wife looked back. Christine commented that, “Lot’s wife had prioritized her past over her future.” This sentiment hit home for me. Where am I trying to move forward? And are there areas that I’m still looking back? Hurts that I’m carrying. Plans that didn’t go as anticipated. Longing for what could have been done differently. In these moments, we are to remember Lot’s wife. We are to remember to keep looking towards Jesus and stepping forward. As Christine put it, “we are called to be the salt of the earth, not calcified and stuck like Lot’s wife.”
On the final day, Lisa Harper brought it home. She started with a prayer over women who have been in a season of waiting. Then, she took us through multiple places in the Bible where we are reminded of the sovereignty of God and how His character is faithful and true. She encouraged us to continue to show gratitude along every step where God redeems us and answers our prayers.
Not only were we given so much encouragement through these teachings, but the Beautiful Conference is also about creating an experience to meet new friends. Part of my behind-the-scenes glimpses provided access to view friendship at the speaker level. Most of us know by now that Christine Caine and Lisa Harper are besties. They shared stories how they have the type of friendship that no matter if they are halfway across the world from each other or what they are doing, they reply to each other’s texts and answer their calls. But they don’t stop there. There were new speakers this year, a few of them had never met before. I saw the seasoned speakers scoop up the rookies with love and kindness, becoming fast friends. This is the essence of the Beautiful ministry. That every woman in our church finds their group to help shape, challenge, and grow closer to Jesus. So, even if you couldn’t make it to the conference and feel like you missed out, you can still get connected. In fact, right now, is the perfect time with groups starting back up. Just show up…there is always a seat at the table for you.
To learn more about the Beautiful ministry or get connected in a group, click here: https://gfcflorida.com/Ministries/women
To learn more about the speakers from our conference, please visit their individual sites:
Christine Caine: https://christinecaine.com/
Lisa Harper: https://lisaharper.org/
Kristi McLelland: https://www.newlensbiblicalstudies.com/
Irene Rollins: https://irenerollins.com/
Lacy Abercrombie: https://www.instagram.com/abercrombielacy/
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