Monday, April 21, 2008

How To Kill My Husband

And Other Things I Learned at Women’s Bible Conference

Yes, there was a session on how to kill your husband. Granted, it was killing him with words, not a frying pan, but progress is progress. Ha!

I didn’t think it was possible, but the Grace & Truth Conference this year was even better than last year’s fantastic premiere. The food was top-notch, the sessions truly enriching (if not bloodthirsty), and the sistership…priceless.

There were a whole lot of sessions. Too many to go through in detail, but my favorites were the aforementioned (Controlling Your Tongue: A Matter of Life and Death) and the sessions on Courageous Femininity by Holly Stratton.

Pastor also presented a paper, “How to be a strong woman in a weak man’s world.” It was one of the best I’ve read on the subject. I really hope he thinks about publishing it (or at least reading it aloud at a Sunday night service).

A couple of women (from other churches) asked me why Pastor and other male members of the church leadership were at the conference. At a typical Baptist women’s conference, the men usually volunteer to serve the food at the luncheon, and that’s the only time you see them.

The Grace & Truth Conference, however, featured Pastor as one of the main speakers, along with our male song leader to lead songs, and another male member of leadership to direct us to sessions.

Now, in backwards Baptist churches, this could be taken as a sign of the male leadership’s lack of faith in the women of the church to plan their own conference.

Believe me; I’ve been in THOSE churches.

However, in our church, the fact that Pastor is involved means he cares deeply about the conference. I know it’s hard to understand unless you attend our church (or one like it), but it’s actually a badge of honor for Pastor to attend the conference.

He prays for the women of our church; he cares about their spiritual growth; and he knows and values the importance of women’s lives at home, at work, and in the church.

I’ve often said the main difference between Pastor and all the other pastors I’ve known is that he understands fully the misconceptions of women in the church (especially backwards Baptist churches) and tries his best to make sure it doesn’t happen at Morning Star.

If we’d still been at another church, I might have had the same thoughts, “Don’t these guys trust the women to plan their own conference? Do they think we’re stupid or not spiritual enough?”

But at Morning Star, it makes perfect sense to have church leadership involved and active.

It made the conference even better.

I also got to connect – in real life – with one of my blogging friends! My new friend Julie attended the conference and made me laugh so hard I almost spit up my tea. (I’m discovering we old-time-Baptist-school-and-church-survivors are a humorous lot.)

I’d just like to publicly thank all the wonderful men and women who served at the Grace & Truth Conference. It was an amazing time, and I can’t wait until next year!


Charity said...

Quick question... Why do you assume that if there are men at the ladies conferences at those "other" Baptist churches that they wouldn't be there for the same reasons that your pastor and the men in your church were at your conference for? Does that make sense?

Ann-Marie said...

Because I know those other men. And I know why they were there. And it's not because they loved me in Christ and valued my thoughts and abilities, let me tell you.

BTW, I just meant "in churches I've been in" not that other people's churches are necessarily like that. I can only speak from my own experience.

Plus, I should add, I would have been wondering what they were doing there if we'd been at any of our other churches - I was only trying to explain why they were there - and that it was a good thing.

The "old" me wouldn't have understood and resented it. I thought this might explain it. I'm sure other churches have wonderful, supportive men involved in women's ministries, as well.

Heidi said...

If they have a Ladies conference.
Some of these churches (ok. one in particular that I grew up in) don't want any empowering of women, so ladies conferences would be taboo unless it is how to be a doormat (submission workshop). How to make delectable meals and bring slippers to lounging husband so as to be his sex slave (marriage seminar). Finally, don't dare ask him to do anything around the house because he has had a hard day of work--anything to stroke his precious ego (workshop on proper communication). Need I say more?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it thoroughly!

Juliet said...

It was a great time...spiritual and all the fun that comes with being with other ladies.

The food is GREAT! Can you post who will be coming next year? I forgot. But I have the dates down on my calendar for next year.

psturg said...

Wow, "ALL the other pastors you know" could almost feel offended by this. Maybe you should have titled this, "How to kill ALL the relationships with pastors I know"

Set that aside, I'm glad you had a nice time. I do think it is a good idea to have the pastors be a part.

psturg said...

Have you ever considered, with the other women that appear to be in your position, being grateful for the grace of God that has placed you in a good ministry, instead of constantly berating your past. I'm not seeing the benefit, unless it is to make yourself feel better, or the biblical justification for the mass of criticism.

Alice said...

I wish I could have been there! I hope to come next year. I've never known pastors to be involved in any women's events, so I would have taken it as a good thing as well, like they actually cared enough to be there.

Ann-Marie said...

Oh, for crying out loud.

All right, Psturg – you want the honest answer? Here goes.

You, my friend were not oppressed.
You, my friend, were not minimalized.
You, my friend were not dictated to on what you could be when you grew up and STILL BE IN THE WILL OF GOD.
You were not told you were less because you were a woman.
You were not subjected to ridiculous dress.
You probably never looked into the eyes of a “man of God” and read his obvious disgust for you, simply because you possessed different anatomical components.
You were not treated like a second class citizen just because of your sex – by people who were supposed to HELP you grow spiritually.

And you do not still worry that thousands of little girls will have to go through the confusion and despair you did of believing that kind of life is the only way they can be close to God.

Yes, I’m still working on letting go – I’m not going to deny it. Yes, I know I need to forgive and let go – but I will never – NEVER - agree that the things that happened in my past…are past...because they’re not. They are a part of me, and I will campaign to the ends of the earth if necessary to help other women understand they do NOT have to LIVE THAT WAY TO BE GODLY.

There you go, kiddo. I love you – you know that, right? But dang it, this is important to me.

P.S. – Seriously? I just did this post, because if I had been a woman from another church attending the conference I would have wondered about the male speakers. Seriously. That’s the only reason. Okay? I’m not trying to bash anyone.

You, my friend, are a great guy.

Ann-Marie said...

And another thing - dang it - I AM grateful to be in this ministry.

I am happy and well-adjusted!


Ann-Marie said...

And yet another thing - when I say "all pastors I've known" I mean "all pastors I've sat under" and that's really only four guys.

psturg said...

ok then. If you had just said that in the first place, I would have joined your crusade. I love you and still have the plaque coming for our Ann-Marie and Brett Guest Room (notice how your name is first, that is how higly I think of you and all women)

psturg said...

yes . . . highly not higly

psturg said...

you called me kiddo . . . what is that? I'm laughing at the kiddo thing. I hope you were attempting humor and not a slam.

psturg said...

now I'm just adding comments to bump the stats on your blog page.

Heidi said...

psturg is too funny.

Ann-Marie said...

Whew! Relief...

I was worried - psturg - after I fired off my little diatribe that you might be like, "I'm so desecrating that plaque!"

I reserve "kiddo" for my nearest and dearest, so you should be higly honored. I think I mostly call Candice kiddo - but sometimes I use it with other friends, too.

You are truly a good guy - and I'm not just saying that 'cause you're family. We miss you!

a joyful nusiance said...

Heidi forgot to mention how at OTHER seminars, they have workshops about what clothes are and are NOT modest for women to wear.

It was SO nice to go to a womans retreat where womens clothing was not brought up ince!!

WendyJanelle said...

Hahahaha! Well, I thought this post was hilarious, but the comments are even better!
Ann-Marie, you have some tough skin and a great sense of humor, no wonder you are so well-liked! :-)

WendyJanelle said...

Oh, and I loved your first paragraph! Heh, heh!