I had decided before I got to the event on Thursday night that blogging it would not be a main goal of the weekend. I wanted to enjoy all the sessions and really concentrate on what God was speaking to me through the songs and sessions and not focus on what I would say about it on my blog later. That being said, the conference was too good not to make some post about on here if only to help more people know about it and want to go next year! So I didn't take copious notes of all sessions and only have iPhone pictures, but I definitely want to share with you what an amazing weekend it was.
Thursday night started with Melissa singing. This was my first time seeing Melissa in person and getting to meet her! Not only is she an amazing vocalist, but she has a heart for this type of ministry. Loved hearing her sing in person and hearing her and Jim together!
Solveig Leithaug also sang Friday night and briefly on Saturday morning. I had heard her a few times on Gaither videos, but wasn't extremely familiar with her music. She has style all her own within gospel music, a little reminiscent of folksy. She is a great songwriter as well. A couple of times she decided to just sing without the track and just play her guitar, and for me those were my favorite moments. She had her daughter sing with her and then Melissa joined her on one song at the end of Friday night. Also, she gets major kudos for singing a few songs on Saturday morning when she had a plane to catch that morning!
Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne's Pretzels, spoke on Friday night and Saturday morning. She told her story of her daughter dying in a farming accident when she was only 19 months old. That led to a serious of events and bad choices that led to a hard road of blame and shame. She said that the two things that got her through her life were the grace of God and a good man. Her husband stayed by her side even after a period of unfaithfulness. She also emphasized that everyone has a story to tell. Don't think that your story is boring and can't help someone. God will use it for His glory, that's why He is having you walk through it. Her story is incredible. Check out her book Twist of Faith for her full story.
Friday night also featured Marla and Keith Henry. Marla is Jim Brady's sister (his parents and another sister were also there). Marla is a great singer as well and her husband is an incredible artist. He drew as she sang for their portion of the program.
Saturday morning had a slight schedule change. The group Sisters was supposed to be there but unfortunately had change their schedule last minute. Instead, we got a surprise - Tim Parton was there. He played a sang a few songs that morning.
In addition to Solveig and Anne, Michael Booth and his wife Vicki were also there. Jim called Michael to the stage for them to sing a few Booth Brothers songs together minus Ronnie. They even had Melissa join them on a song!
Vicki Booth then shared her story and gave her testimony. It was so powerful. This was the first time she had ever shared her story publicly. She had a hard childhood that led her to struggle with issues into her adulthood. She was very open and honest about the feelings of depression that she went through as an adult. Michael was by her side the entire time chiming in, sometimes with comic relief and sometimes helping bring a point home. His reaction was pretty funny when she skipped over the part of how they met for time's sake! I appreciated Vicki's openness and really thought she did an incredible and heartfelt job of sharing her story. The thing that really helped her was getting involved in Bible Study Fellowship. The big takeaway was the importance of staying in God's Word and spending quality time every day reading.
So for someone who was not going to really focus on blogging the event, this is only part one. Part two with Friday night and Saturday morning's sessions will be up later this week!