I still can't believe I had the experience.
I mean, I did. (Duh.)
But, I still sometimes have to pinch myself.
Women of Faith brought me out to Nashville to par-tay with all the other large group leaders from around the country at their All Access Conference.
And one of the best parts? My Mom-in-Law is a group leader in Washington, so we got to par-tay together!!! How cool is that?
Airplane ride out...
(Check the background. Hilarious.)
Me with a women who has put more solid foundation into my life than she'll ever realize, Mary Graham.
She's the President of Women of Faith, and from watching her I have learned so much about patience, respect, timeliness, careful speech, and priorities.
She has shown me such grace and care, and it is because of her that I have been able to keep attending Women of Faith over the years.
Because of her I found myself, last minute, at the 2010 Denver WoF...
which is where I clearly knew I was supposed to lead a group of 75 women to the 2011 Denver WoF.
I haven't led a group of more than just a few since living in Montana and Denver, but here we go. Together.
(Are you coming with me?)
I'm so thankful for Mary.
Lisa Harper is SO much fun. I seriously click with this girl. Although, sometimes I'm at risk of peeing my pants from laughing too hard.
The amazing Luci Swindoll. This woman has swagga, let me tell ya.
What a mentor from afar and inspiration she has been to me over the last decade.
Truly, one of the most incredible things for me was sitting just about 15 feet away from Amy Grant as she sang and was so real.
(Remember, she's one of my "people.")
She got caught in traffic because of a snow "storm" (1.5 inches) in Nashville and was about 45 minutes late to the hotel.
When she came in she just went straight to the stage and began to play.
So real. So you. So me. That's why I love her.
See? I can't even describe anything in words. It was just beyond what I could say.
I ran across my purse sister. =^)
Mine was a Christmas gift from my hubby.
Hers was a Christmas gift to herself after her hubby went and bought a new truck. Ha!
With my MiL...
The conference was at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, which was stunning.
I can honestly say that I have never been to a hotel with such stellar service.
There was never a "no" or an "I'm sorry, we can't do that." It was always, always "Of course!" or "Let me check on that for you."
I was truly impressed.
Usually at something like this you prepare yourself for food that's maybe one notch above cafeteria fare... but our meals were spectacular!!!
(Which was also kind of a bummer, because I was meeting so many people and talking so much that I didn't usually get to finish.)
Of course, I had to take some videos to show the kids... and you. *wink*
This is a pic of where the riverboats go through the Delta.
(Doesn't that just sound fancy?)
The fountains in the Cascades were so fun to watch! Except that I wanted to climb in and wade around and duck under the shooting streams.
On our last day there I saw a guy with waders doing exactly that and tending to the plants. I wondered what he'd say if I offered him ten bucks to let me do it.
Oh, no! I may fall over the balcony to my death in the lush greenery below!
Shiny boots in one of the stores at Opryland.
I had to capture them. (Even though they weren't good quality.)
Ummm... yes, please.
Wait. $5,000? Nevermind.
Holy cow!!! It's Michael Hyatt!!!!! I know, I went a little cheesy. It was just so awesome to meet him!
This guy seriously, seriously has massive God-given wisdom on leadership.
If you don't already (because I've referred you enough, people, but here's another chance), you need to follow his blog.
Incredible, life-giving insight.
(And I got my picture taken with him! I thought of saying, "Okay, now silly picture!" But, I refrained.)
One of the coolest things is that he took time to chat with me for a bit, as if we were acquaintances that just hadn't seen each other in a while.
Well done, Mr. Hyatt. Well done.
I could (and have) learn(ed) so much from you.
The (i adore) incredible Mary Graham, Michael Hyatt, and Luci Swindoll speaking on mentoring.
It was one of the most knowledge-gaining sessions for me. Very casual and laid back, but so full of life and wisdom.
Oh, dear me!!! We went to the Grand Ole Opry!!!
This is the newly refurbished green room at The Opry. See that iron bar on the wall over there?
Yeah. That's where the water reached in last year's flood.
The damage was devastating everywhere. Everything redone/rebuilt.
What an experience to stand and look out at these seats.
See that bit of the stage in the lower left-hand corner? The water was 4 feet high on the stage.
So, basically that entire bottom floor was a submarine. Crazy.
Yes, they gave those that wanted to an opportunity to sing on the stage of The Opry.
you know I didn't pass it up. (I almost did, but I realized I'd regret it for a lifetime.)
What did I sing? Amazing Grace, of course.
It was a funny thing how when I set foot in that circle...
the one that my favorites have walked upon...
thinking of The Judds, Pam Tillis, George Strait, Garth, Reba, Lorrie Morgan, Diamond Rio...
I suddenly got very nervous...
I mean, it was just in front of the rest of the tour group and our guide...
but even if there was no one else in the room I think my stomach would have still been doing flip-flops...
it's the history of the place...
the stories that circle could tell...
but I let my voice ring out on the hallowed stage of The Grand Ole Opry.
And it felt good.
Yes, we bought the picture.
Lynn, Tammy, Me (of course with the guitar), Carolee, and Jennifer.
Being goofy out front... because it's often what I do best.
(Or maybe it's just want I do often.)
Oh, my goodness gracious, the voice we got to hear!!!
Sandi Patty was incredible as always. I love how normal and down-to-earth she is!
And I now know why people love Mandisa so much. That girl is awesome!
(Not just her voice. Her heart.)
She has been on an amazing journey this past year, and has lost 100 lbs to date! (You rock.)
Lynn & I had to pose with the horses... I think it may be required.
(At least, it is in Angela Land.)
Me & Sandi... because we're cool like that...
(Yes, I realize I'm very white. Shush.)
My MiL with the (awesome, again) Mary Graham...
What would the trip be without some silly faces?
What an incredible time this was.
I know I tell you over and over that Women of Faith has been such a foundation for me over this last decade. So much of who I've grown to be... my passion for life... has been nurtured at this conference.
And being around these women in a setting such as this?
I knew before... but now I know that I know that I know...
these speakers and singers are real, people.
They're you and they're me, simply sharing what God has shown them through the years.
How thankful I am to be a part of this big family.
I heard story after story of life-changing... of grace-giving... of JOY and HOPE... of devastating circumstances being overcome... of lives restored and relationships renewed.
I am PUMPED to take a group of women to the Denver conference this fall.
(Are you going with me?)
The thing is, you don't realize how much you need it until you're there.
You have no idea what you will receive until you go and receive it.
Thank you to Women of Faith for this incredible experience.
I won't forget it for a lifetime.
(Can't wait for September 30th!!!)