I’m recalibrating after a busy Canadian Thanksgiving week, and getting back from speaking at the Revive 2017 – Adorned: Women Mentoring Women the Titus 2 Way conference in Indiannapolis the week before. (#Revive17Indy)

The conference, based on Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s new book, Adorned, featured 7 speakers and fourteen 20-minute teaching sessions, interspersed with live worship and drama. It was amazing!

Here are 10 things I loved about it:

1. The Female Drummer

I LOVED seeing a female drummer! And meeting a dirt bike racing champion!! And talking to the girl who’s studying to be a nuclear physicist. Being a Titus 2 woman isn’t about squeezing into a cookie-cutter stereotype. And that’s a good thing for me . . . because the two items topping my Christmas wish list this year are a table saw and power planer.

 

2. Singing in English, Spanish, and Korean

It was the first time ever that I’ve experienced a crowd singing in English, Spanish, and Korean. The multi-ethnic, multi-national flavor to #Revive17Indy thrilled me. The plenary speakers were ethnically diverse. The 3,000 on-site attendees came from every US state (except Connecticut) and from countries all over the world. More than 400,000 women joined the conference by live stream. Almost 200,000 of those were from Hispanic countries like Columbia, Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chili, the Dominican Republic. Others joined in from the United Kingdom, Canada, Nigeria, South Africa, Iran, Syria, India, Germany, and Spain. Wow! I LOVE that!

 

3. Being Hugged. Lots

Physical touch is not my primary love language. I’m more of an acts-of-service type of girl. But I love getting loved on at conferences with lots of hugs. Hugs in the green room. Hugs in the hallway. Hugs in the washroom. Introduction hugs. Reunion hugs. Laughing hugs. Teary hugs. Joyful hugs. Empathetic, heart wrenching hugs. I don’t think the male hug-repertoire is nearly as extensive. From my observation, male conference goers restrict themselves to the occasional greeting-hug or chest-bump sort of hug. But at a women’s conference? . . . hugs are abundant, and a mainstay of communication. Must be a girl thing.

 

4. Seeing people who I want to be like when I grow up

I love being around godly older women like Susan Hunt. Her kindness, gentleness, wit and wisdom inspire me. Like a dry sponge falling into a tub full of warm soapy water, I just want to immerse myself in her presence and soak it all in. I could listen to her beautiful southern drawl for hours. One of my favorite conference Susan-quotes was, “Aging doesn’t have to keep me from fulfilling my purpose of enjoying and glorifying God.” Indeed. At 77 years of age she models this excellently. I want to be like her when I grow up!

 

5. Being reminded that there are people who want to be like me when they grow up.

I am coming to terms with the fact that these days, I fall into the “older woman” category far more often than I fall into the “younger woman” one. Many, if not most, of the women I spoke with at the conference were younger than me; girls in their teens, in college, launching careers, or just getting married. One girl, a senior in high school, trembled like a leaf when she got the chance to speak to me. I gave her a big ol’ bear hug. Her momma told me that her daughter’s one hope attending the conference was to be able to meet me, as I had profoundly influenced her life. Just as I look up to Susan Hunt, there are young women who look up to me and want to be like me when they grow up. It’s a sobering thought. I pray that I will not let them down. Dear Lord, please help me be faithful.

 

6. Nancy’s Boa and Dannah’s Boots

Revive17 conference staff received an email from a lady wanting to know where she could buy the teal colored blouse I wore during my Friday evening session. Eyeball roll. Sigh. (Anthropology.) Male speakers have it easy. No one notices their wardrobe or cares if they’ve appeared in the same suit and tie at every conference and on every video for the past 10 years. But female speakers? Women will scrutinize (and remember) every wardrobe item. I wish this weren’t the case. I wish I could wear jeans and a T-shirt or my Lulus. I wish I could wear the same outfit for video sessions 5, 6, and 7 that I wore for video session 2.

And speaking of video, you’re not supposed to wear anything with small stripes or busy patterns. Nothing too white. Not too much black. V-Necks are bad for head shots. Button up blouses are risky since they might pucker. Above-knee skirts are bad for sitting on stage. Your outfit must have somewhere to fasten your mic pack. Dangly earings, bra lines, panty lines, and clothing that shifts when you move are all a no-no. . . Those of you who are public speakers know how incredibly difficult it is to find outfits that check off all the boxes. I hate that a significant part of my conference prep is wrestling with the question of what I’m going to wear. (Double sigh.)

Having said all that, I want to give kudos to Nancy and Dannah for the Boa and the Boots. Fun. I shouldn’t care or notice, but I did. I guess it’s a girl thing. (Or maybe a speaker-who-knows-how-tough-it-is thing.)

 

7. Being tempted by chips while teaching on Self Control

So I get the email with the list of sessions Nancy wants me to speak on.  Sound Doctrine – Yay!  Reverence – Yay!  I think I’ve got a handle on those. Self Control? – Yikes! Who me?? The woman who just wasted 2 hours browsing furniture refinishing tips on Pinterest when she should have been answering emails and paying bills? And who’s skipped 5 exercise classes in a row for the sake of  getting a bit more sleep? And who can’t resist an offer of a loaded Starbucks latte or a yummy DQ blizzard? Maybe Nancy should get Susan Hunt to speak on self control. I just don’t think I qualify as the poster child for this trait.

But as I prepared, I was comforted by the fact that self-control comes from the Lord, and not from my ability to muster up more willpower. What’s more, it’s undergirded by grace and wrapped up in grace (Titus 2:11-12). So I don’t need to beat myself up when I fail. I just need to lean in, listen, and learn. As I do, the Spirit of God will train me in sophron (self-control/sound-mindedness) . . . giving me the ability to put on the brakes, and to find the I-will power to say yes to what’s good and I-won’t power to say no to what isn’t. So YAY!!  Self Control!! Because the ability to resist that bowl of chips – or whatever the temptation may be – ultimately comes from Him and not me.

 

8. Funny skits that made serious points

The drama team was amazing. I laughed and laughed because their skits depicted so many real-life situations that I’ve personally experienced. How did they know I frequently gasp and grip the dashboard when my husband is driving? Or how I reacted as a mom when I felt stressed by the busyness of chauffeuring around my kids? Ha. The actors in the troupe were such great storytellers. And their skits weren’t only funny, they were also instructive. I couldn’t help but think of how Jesus utilized stories to drive home a point. He was the Master storyteller. He understood that a powerful narrative could compel and transform. It reminded me that to be an effective teacher, I need to communicate in a way that helps women connect the dots between theology and real life. . . so that truth isn’t just an exercise for their minds, but also a mirror into their souls and “aha” moment for their hearts. Because what’s the point of theology if it doesn’t impact the way we live?

 

9. Discovering that Titus 2 can be fresh & exciting – Even if I’ve heard it all before

A couple years ago, Nancy and I co-wrote True Woman 201: Interior Design – Ten Elements of Biblical Womanhood, a Bible study that focused on Titus 2:1-5. Nancy’s new book, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together is based on Titus 2:1-5. The Revive17 conference was based on Adorned, and its 14 teaching sessions aimed to unpack the Titus 2 passage phrase by phrase.

I’m constantly amazed at how I can revisit a portion of Scripture that I’ve studied several times, see fresh truths, and be deeply challenged by it all over again. But I must admit I was somewhat skeptical. A whole conference on Titus 2:1-5? (Stifled yawn.) Surprisingly, however, I was far from bored. On the contrary – I was riveted. And so were all the other women in the room.

I must confess that that biblical womanhood has never been my favorite topic. It certainly isn’t the one I would have chosen to teach and write on so extensively, or picked as a life-message, given my own druthers. Nevertheless, I am firmly convinced that in this day and age, understanding who God created us to be as male and female is a critical “need of the hour.” Given the response to the message, I daresay that countless women are feeling the void, and are hungry for the truth about who God created them to be as women, and the implications for how they should live.

Which brings me to my final point:

 

10. Feeling 2008 all over again

After the conference a woman rushed up to me and excitedly exclaimed, “Mary, this conference felt like 2008 all over again!” I knew immediately what she meant. She put words to what I sensed about the significance of the moment.

2008 was the year of the first ever True Woman conference. Besides the thousands who joined us in-house, an estimated 10,000 women joined via live stream. We were overwhelmed by the response, and more than a bit shocked when ‘True Woman” groups began to spontaneously spring up all across North America, and even in the Dominican Republic. We knew the event was significant. True Woman 2008 was more than a conference. It was the start of a movement.

True Woman conferences have taken place every second year ever since: 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016 – plus two International True Woman conferences for Hispanic women in 2015 and 2017.  Revive conferences–which focus on women’s leadership training–have taken place in the odd years: 2011, 2013, and 2015. But something unusual happened for Revive17. The conference sold out months ahead of time. Organizers managed to arrange for more seats . . . and those sold out too! They couldn’t accommodate everyone who wanted to come. What’s more, streaming capabilities were stretched to the limit, as over 400,000 women joined by live stream. That’s as many women as participated in the 2017 Women’s March on Washington!

“Feeling 2008” means having a strong sense that God is up to something bigger than we can imagine. I don’t know what. But I do know that He’s stirring and moving in the hearts of women in a profound way. Stay tuned. The Ten-Year Anniversary of the True Woman Movement – TW2018 –  is just around the corner.

Speaking of which, you might just want to get your tickets now.