Here’s a story I’ve never told you. It’s an old story, and it is one of the touchstones in my life. That’s not to say I think about it all of the time. But, when I do think of it, it’s one of my very best memories. It may take me a lot of words to tell you this story, but you will be rewarded in the end. Oh, yes you will. Here goes:
Being married to H and raising our children is one of the best things that ever happened to me. H is the man of my dreams. For real. And my children? Well, I loved those two people with all of my heart. I still do. They were (and are) the joy of my life. I was way too strident in my child-rearing approach, though. I was too heavy-handed with the religion and morality expectations, but that’s a story for a different day. My point here is to make sure you understand that I loved those years with our young family. I need you to understand that part so I can tell you the next thing.
Always, as my children were growing up and my husband was establishing himself in his ministry, I felt as if there was something different for me. Not better. Just different. At the end of the day, after the children had been fed and bathed and read to and tucked in, after they’d gone to sleep and H and I lay together beneath the sheets with my leg draped across his, I’d say, “I wonder what I’m supposed to do?” I just felt as if there was something … else.
If you’re reading this, and you’ve wondered that same thing about your life, I want you to hang in here with me. Because I want you to know I understand the questioning. I understand how the question sometimes makes a person feel guilty — especially when you look around the dinner table and realize the life you have is beautiful. How can there be anything else? you may argue with yourself. I completely understand.
Well, one day, all those years ago, I heard about a women’s event called Women of Faith. It was a group of women — all of whom I’d never heard of. My only connection to this group of women was Charles Swindoll. My mom and dad had introduced me to Dr. “Chuck” Swindoll’s teachings years before, and I’d read practically all of his books. My parents had been on a cruise with “Chuck” back in the day, and they had come home beaming. Chuck’s sister, Luci was part of the Women of Faith lineup and I was ready for an afternoon just for me. So, I scraped together some pennies and bought myself a ticket to the Women of Faith Conference in New Haven, Connecticut, way back in the year 2000. I had no expectations, and I didn’t even plan to stay for the entire time.
I went to the conference all by myself. My seat was at the very top of the arena, in the very last tier of seats, and at the very tip-top of many long flights of stairs. According to the clock, I arrived late. But I was actually right on time.
Have you ever been to a Women of Faith event? Have you ever experienced an arena filled with women, singing songs about God and faith and questions and hope? When I walked into that arena, and as I climbed the stairs, the music filled all the spaces in the building and in my heart. I can’t tell you what the song was, but I know I was singing along and raising my hands as I climbed the stairs to my seat. Walking up the stairs, I was able to see the faces of the women in the arena as I passed them, on my way to my seat. They were so beautiful, and I — breathlessly making my way up those stairs —was touched by their worship. Before I reached my seat my face was wet with tears.
Once I reached my seat and settled myself in, I turned around to get my very first glimpse of the stage. I had never seen anything like this before. I’d been to concerts in arenas before. But this was different. There was something powerful and liberating and holy and special going on in that place. As I faced the stage and took everything in, my questioning heart received an answer.
OK. So, let me clarify something here. Because I am about to tell you God “said” something to me. I don’t mean to say I actually heard an audible voice. And, the only reason I can say with any element of surety that it was God is because it couldn’t have been anything else (weak argument, I know), and because what that voice “spoke” to me all those years ago, has actually happened.
Standing there, gazing at the stage, I felt a promise drop into my heart and that promise was this, “You are going to have a ministry, too. You are going to speak to women for me, and you are going to help them experience what you’re experiencing right now.” It was just a moment, but it was a moment where I knew I wasn’t crazy for thinking there might be something … else. Honestly, I didn’t linger on that promise (or, you may prefer to call it a thought, and that would be fine). I moved into the Women of Faith event and found myself laughing and crying and taking notes in my head and learning there were women out there who were (and are!) doing fantastic things because of their faith, and because of grace. For many years after my first Women of Faith event, I kept going back. Some years, I went with women I hardly knew. Sometimes, I went with dear friends. Some years, I stayed overnight in hotels and other years I commuted back and forth each day.
The women of Women of Faith were pioneers for so many of us. They spoke our language and helped so many of us find our voice. This year is the Farewell Tour for Women of Faith. This year, we get to thank them by showing up, the same way they have shown up for us over all these years — going from city to city to let us know we aren’t alone and that laughter heals us and that God isn’t as far away as we may have been led to believe. This year — when I have got two feet solidly planted in some kind of growing ministry thing that God is weeding and watering and throwing sun on, despite my humanity and my doubting and fearing and testing out his faithfulness to see if it will stick. This year, when Women of Faith and the women who so boldly led so many of us into the realization of the answers to our questions (“I wonder what I’m supposed to do?” Is that you?), they reached out to me (!) with an invitation to write a few words and extend an invitation to you (!).
I hadn’t told too many people my Women of Faith story before my conversation with Jen, the sweet woman who called me from Women of Faith. I told her how a promise/thought was dropped into my lap, all those years ago when I was wondering if there might be something else. And I told her how — fifteen years later — I am living into that promise. Jen reminded me the theme of this Farewell Tour is: “You are seen. You are known. You are free.” It’s true. I can’t think of a greater honor than to stand here in my little spot on the Internet and invite you to Women of Faith, in the location that works best for you. After all these years, the women who will be speaking at this year’s event are so very dear to me, and you probably know them, too. Women of Faith is offering $20 off tickets to this year’s Farewell Tour, for readers of JumpingTandem. To register and receive your discount, visit the registration page and enter DRIGGS20 when you check out.
Only you know if God seems to have saved a little space in your heart (yes, even among all that is already so beautiful) for something … else. If you feel as if there might be a promise/thought you need to hear, I’d encourage you not to push it to the side or feel guilty about what might be stirring up on the inside. Live fully where you are. Enjoy the moments and the love and the laughter and the wonder and the mystery of the place God has you right this very moment. But don’t push aside the possibility that another season may have something else wrapped up in itself, especially for you.
Back in those days when I was wondering if there might be something else for me, God reminded me that he gives us the desires of our hearts. On the phone, Jen and I tripped over each other with our words, so excited that we understood that promise in the same way! It’s (at least) a two-layered promise: Not only is God the one who can fulfill our desires to impact the world for good; God is also the one who puts those desires in our hearts in the first place. He sees you. He knows you. He is the one who can free you to live fully into every good thing he has in store. And, while you wait to see what that might be, gather up a few friends, and give yourself over to the Women of Faith Tour when it comes to an arena near you. Don’t forget to use the code (DRIGGS20) to receive $20 off each ticket!
Details for your planning purposes:
Regular Price of Standard Ticket: $99
Regular Price of a Premium Ticket: $109
Prices include all event sessions (lunch not included)
Find out about local hotels at the Women of Faith website
Some questions for you: Have you been to Women of Faith? If so, what are some takeaways that you can share with us? Have you ever wondered if there’s something else for you? What are some of the touchstone moments of your life?
I love the sweet circle… And I get this… I feel like I am standing with my toes in the edge of the water… Knowing there is a parting coming…clarity… People are speaking visions for me…to be honest that I don’t see… But trusting God does and I am thankful He will make it clear. Thanks for sharing this story!!!
There’s an element of excitement, knowing there may be something just at the top of the staircase, even when we’re not quite ready to put all of our weight on that next step. I keep having to remind myself that God does not concern himself with time. He is not constrained by it, the way we are. So, I try to convince myself to enjoy the moment I’m in. “Try” of course, is the operative word in that sentence.
Patricia W Hunter
Love, love, love, Women of Faith. My mama – who knew I adored Patsy Clairmont – bought me a ticket to one of the 1st events in 1996 – held in a church in Lakeland, Florida. It was the 1st time I heard the song, “Shout to the Lord” and experienced that kind of worship. I went all by myself, and as much as I loved being there, I longed to be with a group of women. I’m not sure how many times I’ve returned to a WOF event – but it’s a lot. I went as often as I had the resources and opportunity. I’ve been with groups from church, with my daughter and daughters in law, with a former pastor’s wife, and also with groups of friends. Connecting with Patsy Clairmont is one of my sweetest memories. We had messaged back and forth and agreed on a place to meet at the venue, and when she saw me, she ran toward me with a big hug and, “There you are!!!” She also loved on my daughter Emily (who had just returned from Rwanda), grabbed her by the hand and took her over to meet one of the other speakers who had also just returned from Rwanda. I told Patsy later that the best thing she could ever have done for me was to make a big deal out of my Emily, but I have to also admit that Patsy made me feel very loved. I have much, much love and appreciation for the opportunities attending WOF events have provided over the years to grow in my walk with Christ and nurture relationships with family and friends.
My goodness! That story is PRICELESS, Patricia! That Patsy Clairmont. I’ve never met her, but boy, do I admire her! She has made me laugh so hard it was almost dangerous. What a beautiful picture you’ve painted of her generous spirit and kind heart. I have to say, though, she probably got the same impression from you that did from her. 🙂
I had a bad experience 17 years ago (not their fault) but I’m glad it was a pivotal place for you. Love seeing how your ministry is growing!
Well that’s a bummer. If that’s the only time you went to WoF, maybe this Farewell Tour is the time for you to give it another try?
OH, man- you were in Connecticut? So cool! I have been blessed to be at the very first WOF in lik 1997 or something…and I fell in love with it and it was so small yet BIG, and I bought every single Maragaret Becker CD after that I could find…and I had the best time ever. Then one year I went after losing our home…and listened to Sheila Walsh talk about that…same thing! Friends had given me a ticket. I sat by myself and cried like a baby…and it was good. And then I was blessed to go again with my Bestie….and that was the best and I have not gone for a few years BUT I got two tickets THIS YEAR…because my girl…my daughter said she would want to go…and I am praying. Hoping. Believing. For some kind of miracle, for this last year. Love your heart and story, Deidra! Maybe I will share my own WOF story….oh, can’t wait to see them…especially Patsy! Lovethem all!
Wow! You were at the very first one?!?! And, you’re going to the Farewell Tour! What a beautiful experience for you, Dawn. WoF has been experienced by 5 million women in 89 cities over the years. Isn’t that incredible?
These stories you are sharing here? Well, I imagine they’ve been repeated millions of times because of the ministry of WoF. What a legacy! For those who are reading this, and who are trying to decide whether or not to go to this Farewell Tour, I hope they’ll take advantage of this generous offer from WoF and snag a ticket for themselves.
Of course, God can speak to us anywhere, can’t he? But, what a great experience it is to sit among all of those women and experience WoF one more time!
Your words have hit my heart this evening – singled me out and sat me down in the best possible way. I am on the cusp of “that thing” and I have heard that voice. I know it to be God. It is. I’ve never attended Women of Faith but my early years as a believer introduced me to Chuck Swindoll. I’ll have to check the schedule to see if they’ll visit the east coast.
They’ll be in Hartford, and in Philadelphia! Wow! I’d love to go with you! Let me know if you decide to go, Lisha. (Just invited myself into your experience. Ha!)
My best WOF memory is the time before facing open heart surgery #2 for my girl. I was full of fear and anxiety but somehow I’d found Romans 15:13 to hang on to. I even memorized it. Then while waiting for the evening of WOF to start I heard the ladies in front of me asking what Romans 15:13 said. I, with my puffed up chest, was going to recite it to them but just refrained and listened to their curiosity. Turns out that was THE theme for the event. It was on everything. Sheila Walsh had t-shirts that said “Life is hard” on the front…. “But God is Faithful” on the back. Needless to say, I bought the t-shirt, the coffee mug, and a photo album. I filled that photo album with pictures of my girl and wore the t-shirt while we waiting for hours during her surgery. That verse is my life verse and that saying is still my mantra. Just in case you are curious… Romans 15:13 says: “May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Here’s another story with a prayer request. Another time I attended I don’t remember much except another teenage daughter came as well. We were embattled in huge conflict at the time. It was so huge, that she left our home her senior year to live with her sister who we were also in conflict with. Our group scattered across the area for some reason. All I remember was the pain at seeing her across this huge place both literally and in the reality of our hearts. The years have mended the broken places, yet there is always some remnant of the baggage of those years with two of my daughters. I remember asking God then, for a time down the road, where we would sit TOGETHER worshipping at a WOF conference. This seems like the last chance…but I’m scared to ask them to go. There, I said it…. I’m scared. We live in better relationship but those hurts run deep. Do I want to make this happen? I don’t even know. So, pray for me to let God work however he chooses… to give me more grace and more courage because I know HE IS FAITHFUL.
Barb, I’ve got goosebumps reading these stories of yours. I’m praying, sister. This year, I’ve had some real knock-down, drag-out bouts of depression, fear, doubt, and anxiety. Through the fog and in the darkest moments, I have (here I go again) “heard” God “say” one word to me: Hope. Hope does not disappoint us. It is an anchor for us. I was wondering, “What does Romans 15:13 say?” and I was just about to click away to look it up, when there it was! Thank you so much for sharing it here. I am hoping with you, friend. Hope does not disappoint.
Jody Ohlsen Collins
Deidra, I have attended several Women of Faith events here in the Seattle area and have been blessed by them all. The first person I heard speak was Sheila Walsh, kind of her ‘coming out’ party about her depression and all. I remember watching her as a ‘celebrity’ on television with Pat Robertson, thinking, “She’s got it all together.” I applauded her and her bravery and honesty when she announced to the world that she definitely did not have it together and that was okay with God.
Many others, Marilyn Meberg, Luci Swindoll have all ministered to me. And with lots of laughter through the tears.
What a gift of God.
What a gift for you.
Thanks for sharing with US.
Jody, I went the year Sheila told that story, too. So powerful. I’ve remembered it, all these years. It’s still one of the most moving messages I’ve heard at WoF. There is something so freeing when someone like Sheila Walsh — people who really do seem to have it all together — let us in and show us they really are just like us.
I hear you, I hear you, friend. For I remember the day He spoke to me, in a whisper that was loud and clear. He gave me the vision of the ministry that I have lived out for 13 years.
I’m moving in a few weeks to a new home in a new state. And I have to believe that He will speak again and share a new vision of His heart.
I am waiting. Yielded. And wondering, wondering …
You’re moving? I had no idea. I’m so out of the loop. Your ministry and your words of encouragement are always so welcome and healing. Thank you for sharing your perspective, and for following so faithfully. I’m believing with you, Linda.
my transition journey’s turned into an unexpected series …
i guess this is the way us bloggers process life, huh?
your sweet words are water to a thirsty soul, Deidra. as always!
I loved your WOF post, Deidra! I will never forget when you and I traveled to Des Moines to see Ann at WOF. Remember our room on the 23rd floor? And how we thought it would be a good idea to climb all those stairs? Good grief. I thought I would die.
Honestly? Every time I “take the stairs” I think of you, Jennifer! And Laura Boggess. She and I have done the same at Jubilee — two years in a row! But I think the highest floor with Laura was the 17th. Whew!
Years ago as a new Christian I went to an WOF with ladies in my church, all older in the Lord then me. It seemed to me all the women who spoke that day were just for me. It was my first time to raise my hands in worship as the music whirled around me. My first time to clap and say amen to the messages coming into my heart. I felt shackles drop all around me as God broke through some barriers in my life. I bought my first books written by women that day and was forever changed. Never in my wildest dreams could I see God using me as He used those ladies but He has…and still is. Oh it’s on a smaller scale in the world view but in His, my willingness to speak, share, sing, witness for Him will count for eternity just as those wise women at WOF. They build on the foundation of my salvation and gave me courage to say yes when ask to teach my first bible study. What an impact they have had…and God continues to raise up other women such as you Deidra and others I read in the blog world. i will have to find out when they are close to me and see if I can fit it into my schedule. Blessings.
Wow. Your first books written by women! That just really speaks to me, Betty. The women of Women of Faith, and all the people who work behind the scenes, have really done something, haven’t they? What a great example for all of us. They certainly have created a ginormous platform, but that doesn’t mean their ministry is more significant. Knowing what I know about them, I’m sure they’d agree with me.
I sure hope you can take advantage of this generous discount they’re offering, and I hope they’ll be visiting someplace close enough for you to get to them. Of course, you’re always welcome to join me here in August in Nebraska, when Women of Faith brings the event to Lincoln. 😉
Created Well @ TheAntiBlog
I went to WOF in 2008 and God put me on the trajectory to discover – truly discover – HIS grace. I grew up in church and became a disciple of Christ in 2002, but I was buried under legalism, anxiety, and depression. It literally changed me attending this conference. I’m trying to get a group together from my church but if I have to go BY MYSELF I’m going!!! Thanks for this!
Oh, I relate so well to your story! It’s so interesting to me how many of us have to work our way into an understanding of grace, even though we’ve been in church forever and a day. I don’t think that’s anyone’s fault. I think it’s simply a function of the fact that we are human, trying to convey some sort of understanding of the divine. Thank God your journey to grace led you to freedom!
I do hope you get to go this year, and I’m so thankful to Women of Faith for offering such a kind discount.
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