I missed my Friday post, partly for the same reasons I’m writing instead of sleeping at 12:30 in the morning and partly for other reasons. First, we were out of data on our WiFi card and our new month didn’t start until Saturday, and even though I have unlimited data on my new iPhone, I wasn’t sure I was up to blogging on a three-inch keyboard. Second, we spent the morning winding up our New Year’s visit with David’s mom and the afternoon driving home. I intended to write on Saturday, but then the real reason kicked in – I was preoccupied. Several months ago our pastor asked if I would consider coordinating a one-day ladies’ conference our church was planning to host. If I had said no right then, I might have posted a blog on Friday, and I might be asleep right now. Instead I said I would think about it and pray about it and let him know.
He gave me copies of some e-mails between himself and Edwina Patterson, the conference speaker, along with some guidelines she offers to someone like me who has never attended a women’s conference much less coordinated one. I read through the material, and although there was more to it than I expected, I thought I could handle it. After all, I spent 17 years in a business that involved design showrooms and trade shows. I handled multi-million dollar accounts and developed seminars to train customers how to sell our products. Our church has an average attendance of 120 people, and our town has a population of 1,239. Surely I could easily handle a conference of this size. How hard could it be? And so I began.
The guidelines called for eight committees plus a steering committee made up of the eight committee chairs. Piece of cake. I made out my agenda, prepared my materials, and called a meeting. It was well attended, everyone was enthusiastic and wanted to help, but no one wanted to head up a committee. Have I mentioned that I have a few control issues and that I have just a teensy bit of trouble with change? But being a caregiver taught me that I have very little control of anything, so I sighed inwardly and shifted gears. As we discussed the various needs, the women began to say things like I can take care of this or I can help with that, and God began to show me parts of the Body. I assigned duties, things began to happen, and the conference began to grow.
This is to be an area-wide event, so we invited women from other churches to join us in planning. We had more meetings, and again, they were well attended, but not always by the same people. Sometimes it felt like we were starting from scratch each time, but we continued to move forward – and pick up momentum – like a snowball rolling down a steep hill.
We publicized – posters in all the businesses in town, mentions and ads in the weekly newspaper, PSAs on two local radio stations, mailings to other churches, postings on Edwina’s and our church’s websites. We discovered that the “Field of Dreams” principle applies to conferences, too. If you publicize it, they will come. Our sanctuary comfortably holds 210 chairs, our fellowship hall seats 60 at tables and we have 8 restroom stalls including the men’s. At last count we had approximately 200 women registered, 17 children for child care, and more registering every day. We have name tags to print, gift bags to make up, snacks and lunches to prepare, extra chairs to set up and a hundred other details to take care of. There was an insert in Sunday’s bulletin with a schedule for cleaning the church, setting up, decorating and food preparation. I stood back between Bible Study and church and after the morning worship, and I watched groups form in the aisles and the hallways. I saw the food committee, the registration committee, the facilities committee, the men who are helping with parking. There were questions and nervousness and laughter and excitement, and it was organized chaos, but it was beautiful.
In the 12th chapter of 1 Corinthians Paul compares the parts of the church to the parts of the body, and he describes how God brings order out of chaos.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.
25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 1 Corinthians 12: 14-18, 25-27
That’s what God has done with the conference he dropped in our laps. He has used the different parts of our church body to bring order out of chaos. People have used their skills and abilities to solicit donations from local business, design artwork for our posters and flyers, plan menus that will work with a crowd that may have to balance food on their lap, organize a restroom ministry that will make standing in line an enjoyable experience. And through it all, we have cared for one another, reassured one another, helped one another, loved one another. How hard could it be? Not hard at all when the first thing we do is pray for one another.
So anyway, that’s the main reason I didn’t blog on Friday and why I couldn’t sleep tonight. There are too many details and too much excitement running around in my head. But now it’s almost 2:00 am, and I’ve accomplished two things. I’ve written a rough draft for Monday’s post, and in the process I’ve become tired enough that the editing and polishing will have to be done later. For now, pleasant dreams.
P.S. Ladies, if you’re in the Emory, Texas area and would like more information about our conference, go to www.bbcemory.org and click on the Redeeming the Time banner.