Since April 2007, I have been attending the Women of Joy Conference in Branson each year with several women from our church! It's always a time of great fellowship, awesome speakers, and spiritual refreshment! Plus-it's a guaranteed weekend away from my adorable, precious, VERY LOUD children!!! Ha!! This year the conference was April 29-May 1. The week before, we had been having TERRIBLE tornadic weather across the state and TONS of rain! Several areas around us flooded and the route that we usually take was CLOSED!!! We weren't about to miss our weekend getaway, so we were determined to make it to Branson regardless! Satan sure tried to keep us from our weekend, but he lost! We ended up making there after some "alternate" routes caused a 4 hour trip to turn into an 8 hour one...but, we made it nonetheless!! However, the group in this picture made it a little easier than the group I was with!! They had to pick up Allison(far right) at the Springfield airport, so they left just a bit earlier than our group and made it before the roads started closing. The tiny pictures are stolen from Dena's Facebook page and I have no idea how to make them bigger, so we are just gonna go with it, ok?
Allison, Ashley, and Dena
Jessica, Karla, and Jennifer
Ashley, Gretchen, and Elizabeth
This is Jessica. She (along with the GPS) led us (Gretchen, Elizabeth, Karla, Jennifer, and me) into the great unknown on our little adventure to Branson. (Really it wasn't her fault, but I like to tease her about it!!) You know how you hear those stories about people following their GPS onto these roads that are in the middle of nowhere?? Seriously....it happens. This is where we ended up.............
Thanks to Karla and her MAD GPS skills, we were back on the main road in about 10 minutes. I would love to know what the people that lived out in the boonies were thinking when they looked out their window to see a Suburban full of women barrelling down their one lane gravel road (it was more like a driveway, but we'll call it a road since it actually made it on the map)! LOL!! I can't remember all the names of the "roads", but I do remember something about Pumpkin Patch Drive and Sheep Shave Lane!!! It made for lots of laughter and was a fun beginning to our great trip! Once we finally made it to Branson, we met up with the other group and had dinner before the conference started.
Charles Billingsley was our Worship leader! We all love him! I think there has only been one year that we attended that he hasn't led the Worship!
After we heard Sheri speak, we hopped on down to the nearest Starbucks. My friends are as obsessed with coffee as I am Dr. Pepper! I have yet to acquire a taste for coffee, and I'm not sure that I ever will!!! However, I decided that night that I needed to look more sophisticated and grab a Starbucks! Ha! Who cares if it's Hot Chocolate--it's in a Starbucks cup, so nobody knew;-) I probably should have gotten a real coffee since at the time that this picture was taken, I had been up for 40 hours straight. Yes, I confess....I stayed up the night before to watch The Royal Wedding. I planned on sleeping all the way to Branson, but with all the excitement of the closed roads, dirt roads, and laughter, I just couldn't sleep! Here's a picture of me enjoying my first "Starbucks".
We woke up Saturday morning and enjoyed hearing Sylvia Harney and Liz Curtis Higgs! They were both great, but I LOVE Liz!! She has become one of my favorite speakers!!
I'm currently reading Here Burns My Candle, one of Liz's books. It's based on the Old Testament story of Naomi and Ruth, but it's set in another time and place. It's good so far!!!
After we heard Liz speak, we headed out to do some eating, visiting, and shopping! We ate at a Burger Joint where the wait staff sings during your meal! It was fun and the food was great!
Allison, me, and Dena (who was introduced to dipping hot french fries in a milkshake at lunch!) YUM!
Jessica and Ashley
Ashley and Jennifer
After our free afternoon, we returned to the convention center for a concert by Casting Crowns!!!! Let's just say there were THOUSANDS of women stampeding into the center for a good seat! I would have loved to have been a bystander watching that happen! I'm still laughing! The concert was AMAZING! For now, I am just going to leave it at that! In the future, I may have a little something to share that was totally and unmistakenly ordained by God! If you are friends with me on Facebook, you may remember my status saying, "Never say Never". That wasn't a Justin Bieber promo! It was a reminder to NEVER say "Never"--to anything! You never know what God has in store!
Our final speaker was Lisa Harper!!! She's hilarious, and she is an awesome Bible teacher! We have all come to love her!
I bought two of her books at the conference that I am reading right now (yes....I have severe ADD and am known to read 3 or 4 books at the same time during the course of a couple of weeks. It just depends on what kind of mood I am in as to which book I might pick up). A Perfect Mess and Untamed are both great reads so far!
We are already registered for next year's conference, so the 2012 countdown has begun!