Blog by Vanessa Clack & Sandy Hopkins
I’m not a girlie girl, I don’t like crowds and I’m also an introvert. So when my church starts promoting its women’s conference – Devoted, and the women I’m friends with start personally inviting me to attend, one has to be ready with a good excuse. It turns out lack of funds is not a good excuse because apparently it’s not an event to be missed and they even helped with funds to get me there.
So without a valid excuse, I found myself attending my first ever Devoted Conference. In fact I not only attended, I volunteered – partially because I was worried I wouldn’t have anyone to sit with, and also out of gratitude because I know these women truly care for me. It turns out my concerns were unwarranted, I found myself making new friends in every session I sat in when I wasn’t serving. On top of that, volunteering enhanced my first women’s conference experience. Other women were volunteering for the first time on my team too and I feel like the church I attend has now become my church home because I have invested part of myself into my church and others have invested into me.
When I stopped worrying about how I would fit in and instead focused on how I could help others, I found I had a purpose and didn’t worry as much. Have you worked out that most of the things we spend so much time worrying about never actually happen?!
Then there were the speakers. Each one bought something different and were so open and raw. Each shared with a vulnerability that I found breathtaking – I always find myself protecting myself from being so vulnerable, but these women opened their life to me and in doing so have spoken into my life and given me a renewed sense of hope and faith.
Threaded through the entire conference was a sense of honor and gratitude which directly oozes out of the heart of our amazing pastor Sharon Kelly. Everyday women who serve our community and beyond, despite their own personal hardships were given the spotlight for a few well deserved moments and I can’t help but be spurred on to keep moving forward because of them.
What would I do without the church?! To some people church can be a great habit or good place to bring your family. For me it has been a lifeline. I would not be standing here today without my church. My church is my family away from home, my support system, my firm foundation when everything else about my life has changed, my refuge when life gets tough and more. Sometimes I feel so needy and can be hard on myself, and it’s those times I throw myself into “the deep end” at my church and offer to help. It’s then I realize they need me too!
Psalms 126:5 TPT
“Those who sow their tears as seeds will reap a harvest with joyful shouts of glee.”
This season has shown me that my tears can have purpose. If I use my tears as seeds and keep sowing into other people’s lives, rather than feeling sorry for myself, my tears can produce a harvest and serve a higher purpose. How humbling to know that my weakness has Godly power!
2 Corinthians 12:9 TPT
“But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me.”
God thank you so much for the church – and especially for my church. Thank you that it’s your plan for us to find community, safety, family, support and so much more in The House of God. Though imperfect, she is the vehicle through which you reach, nurture and love people and I pray you continue to use me for Your Glory. AMEN