A few weeks ago I mentioned that I recieved two free tickets to attend Women of Faith‘s Over the Top event. I also mentioned my worry about attending women’s events after my poor track record with them. I decided to drag Keri, from Pop Parables, along with me. I figured if the conference was a bust, at least I’d get to spend some time with her.
“Get ready to be INSPIRED!”
We nearly jumped out of our seats as the announcement boomed over the PA system.
Turning to Keri, I giggled and said I expected a follow-up warning about keeping our arms and legs inside the ride at all times.
That’s when I began to think that Women of Faith was a lot like Disneyland. Here are a few of the other similarities I discovered:
Before we were allowed in the Key Arena, where the Women of Faith Over the Top event was held, we were required to submit all of our bags to an inspection and dispose of any outside drinks. As I stared at the trash cans full to the brim with Starbucks holiday cups, I began to wonder what all of these women were faithful to (while at the same time rejoiced to find I am not the only one with that particular addiction). The idea that a bunch of Christian women needed their bags searched for explosives or weaponry was slightly ludicrous, but I understand the need for caution in this day and age. You never know what that much estrogen in one room could result in. What if they ran out of chocolate?!
No visit to Disneyland is complete without being accosted by the paparazi as soon as you pass through the gate. Keri and I were similarly approached as we walked through the arena entrance. I don’t know about her, but I was not ready for a group shot as I was still trying to figure out where we go next. As usual with these pictures, I’m left feeling dazed and confused and my face reflects that. Here’s that shot:
I am glad to have a picture of the two of us though. And, Keri looks good! It’s all about the memory, right?
3. The Cost of Living
Have you ever noticed that the cost of living at Disneyland is much higher than anywhere else? By that I mean…eating. I noticed the same to be true of the conference center. I had skipped lunch and dinner that day, so I needed to find something to tide me over. A bag of popcorn and a bottle of water to the rescue…only costing me $10. The next day’s snack of french fries and a coke cost me an additional $10. You’d think I would have learned my lesson the first time…and also, I should really eat better.
4. Lights, Camera, Action!
As the event began on Friday night, I was blown away by the production aspect of it all. The show seemed worthy of a Disney street parade! I was confused by the use of pop music as the worship team sang about how we’re all family and girls wanting to have fun. I expected a refreshing time of worship after the long day I’d already had. Honestly, I cringed a little as I pictured a video of this being played on YouTube. It was slightly reminiscent of “The Holy Ghost Hokie Pokie.” It didn’t end there, Sandy Patti did an entire Disney medley after sharing her dream of being a Disney performer. It all was well done, but I had some trouble connecting it to being a woman of faith.
5. “Exit through the gift shop”
At Disneyland, every ride requires that you exit through a store full of “priceless” memorabilia to continue the magic at home. Overpriced mugs, stuffed animals, apparel and more are thrown at you. The Women of Faith event had a marketplace where you could purchase books by WoF authors, CDs by WoF artists and so much more. As the conference progressed I began to see women everywhere walking around wearing the same purple shawl. Much like the Goofy hats at Disney, everyone purchases one, and I was left wondering if these women would ever where their shawl again after leaving the conference.
All joking aside, I must admit that as I left the Key Arena Friday night I was not holding out much hope for what the next day would bring. I felt discouraged that once again a women’s event had been overly cheesy and overly marketed. If not for the facts that the tickets for free and Keri was with me, I would have bailed.
But, I went back on Saturday…and I’m so glad I did.
Much like at Disneyland, it’s easy to focus on the cheese, the show, the overpriced EVERYTHING. You can get frustrated and irritated by it all. Or, you can push that aside and enjoy the magic with the people you’re with.
Here’s a few of my favorite moments from Saturday:
- Lisa Whelchel spoke on the difficulties that can accompany friendship with other women. She was funny, heartwarming and I feel like I really learned a lot from her presentation. One of my friends has read her book, Friendship for Grown Ups, and I have added it to my Wishlist.
- Patsy Clairmont was feisty and hilarious. She shared her son’s battle for health, and how difficult it is to watch people suffer. The lessons she came away with, and shared with us, on change were so helpful to me as I’m going through so much change in my own life.
- Selah. Oh man. I don’t even know what to say here. They’re amazing! Not only are they talented performers, but their personalities made me wish I could hang out with them. Allan Hall’s talent on the piano was displayed as he went through a line-up of 80s power ballads that he used to impress women. An extremely pregnant Amy Perry let us all in to the trials she was experiencing with maternity clothes and frequent trips to the bathroom. I was cracking up. My favorite part of the entire show was definitely watching Todd Smith’s daughter. She attended the conference with him, and was captivatingly adorable. Whenever the jumbo-tron camera panned to her you could see her jump like she’d been stung by a bee, and then try to act happy about being on the spot. She shared candies with the WoF speakers on their “front porch” and by the end of the conference she was up on the stage dancing with everyone. So cute!!
All of the WoF production was well done and enjoyable. The best part for me had nothing to do with it, though. Driving back and forth to Seattle with Keri, chatting with her between the sessions, and having coffee together overlooking the Seattle Center was exactly what I needed. Women need connection, conversation and…caffeine…and chocolate! The opportunity to experience this event with a friend and to share our stories with one another was what made it memorable.
There’s another WoF event coming next year and I have a feeling I’ll be attending it. I want to hear Sheila Walsh, Angie Smith and see Selah again. But, I will also make sure that I have one (or more) friends with me.