Well it's not often I get to spend a couple of days with over 500 women and only a handful of men for company, but that's what happened to me as I attended our REAL women's conference! There's so much I could say about what was an outstanding gathering, but here are just a few of my thoughts in no particular order.
First off although it was a women's conference the teaching we heard from Catrina and Shauna Niequist was excellent, and would have been as relevant and life changing for men as much as for women. We're hoping to have all the talks up online by the end of the week - once they're up I'll link to them and would like to encourage everyone in our community to listen to them.
Secondly to say how proud I was of our church. The army of volunteers who worked incredibly hard both before, during and after the conference to make it all happen, the staff and academy students who went way above and beyond what might be written in any job descriptions, all combining to produce an event which blessed not only the women of our community, but had a much wider impact with women from churches all around the country as well as other nations being inspired, encouraged and set free.
Thirdly to say how proud I was of my wife. There's a unbelievable amount of effort which goes into organising a conference on this scale and she did an amazing job of pulling it all together. I'm now looking forward to having her back :)
Fourthly the realisation that for all our planning, organisation and attention to detail all that we're ever doing is creating an environment where God can do what only He can do. He is the one who changes lives and sets people free - it was wonderful to see Him doing that all through the conference.
Finally it was excellent having Philippa Hanna there - it's the first time at REAL we've had a singer / songwriter with us and it added yet another dimension to what was already an amazingly creative event. We must never settle with anything we do but always be open to new ideas and ways of doing things.
I'd really encourage all the women in our community, as well as any women reading this from other churches, to book in now for REAL 2015. It's going to be on Friday 19th and Saturday 20th June with our great friend Priscilla Reid from Northern Ireland already confirmed to be with us. There's a big reduction in price if you book in before midnight on Friday 4th July so why not buy a ticket for yourself and some friends - you can get tickets and find all the other details here.
For anyone who missed it our media gurus produces a great highlights real - if the player below doesn't work you can find it here.
Hope to see you there (even some of the men who can come and keep me company) in 2015.