God always has a plan and He certainly did when He put it on my heart to take the ladies in our housing unit to a one and a half day conference in Athens, TX in January.
I had been planning and hoping for a while that a friend and recent releasee, Samantha could join us but things couldn't get worked out to let her come. One of our board members, Jeannie, joined me in rounding up the T. and Mary C. when unexpectedly we were blessed with the arrival of a third resident, Amber. She was two days out of rehab and incarceration when we piled her in a car with all of us and we took off three hours from the housing unit to praise, worship and learn about our wonderful God.
We were able to enjoy the wonderful teachings of Lurna Cumby, whom several of our board members were able to enjoy at the October Psalms 34:18 retreat in Clifton; the keynote speaker, Leslie Vernick and the wonderful vocal stylings of Sandie Dickie. The Cowgirl Get Together is an annual event and was sold out this year to 1100 women. Already they are planning a larger venue for next year! What a wonderful treat for us all.
While I try very hard to provide learning materials and my own personal testimony to the women we serve as a means to assist each woman in her growth in her relationship with Christ, meetings and retreats like this are so much more powerful when added in the presence of such worship and praise that cannot be duplicated anywhere else with hundreds of women all of one heart.
To top off the great weekend, the ladies we took with us were able to meet some of the ladies heading up Women of 3 Crosses, women who have reached out to our friend, Samantha for quite some time while Samantha was still in her season of incarceration. What a joy it was to have a picture of sisters meeting for the first time and what a joy to watch new friendships in His Name form instantly.
As if all this wasn't enough, for those of us old enough to remember this pizza parlour, Jeannie and I were able to reminisce about our favorite pizza joint in Columbia, MO as we found one in Athens that looked the same! Still old style signs and building, we were thrown back to our youth and Jeannie's college days.....Columbia may not have a Ken's Pizza anymore, but Athens still does and wow, what fun to shoot a couple of quick pics on our way out of town.
Does God provide, yes He does! Does God heal, yes He does! It is hard to explain or describe what happens in the hearts of the women as they walk through their lives post jail time; but often it includes conflict among themselves, continued conflict with their families and conflict with the world; but for a brief moment, a weekend away, five ladies shared a hotel room, coolers full of food, and a day and a half of learning and sharing and basking in God's love. It makes the ministry so worth while!