Alrighty. There’s tons to say about Women’s Conference, but this post has lots of pictures so I’ll try to keep it bare-bones-ish (Ha! As if I know how to do that!!!)
I really want to tell my Aunties and Gram about what the activity was more than anything, so that’s what I’ll stick to for this post. More later. Maybe. I’m trying not to make too many promises on this blog anymore!
First picture = Me and my good, good friend Marilee! This picture, though taken during the lunch portion, is going to represent Opening Exercises in the Chapel (of which there were no pictures). I conducted, and I asked Marilee to speak. Marilee is incredible. Again… keeping things short… but Marilee… wow. I asked her to talk about how she draws upon the powers of the Atonement in her day to day life to find power and peace and happiness. Her talk was beautiful. She was the wise, uplifting, humble yet powerful Marilee that I so love! We could have dismissed right then and there and everyone would have gone home filled.
(That darling baby girl I’m holding is Miss Mabel of THIS family. Please notice her pearl bracelet. What a cutie!)
After Opening Exercises and the Talk, the Sisters had their pick of 3 classes/presentations to attend. And they got to grab a little snack as they headed out. I took this picture when they were almost all gone. They were so yummy! Thanks Caristyn!
The first class session was 40 min. long. The sisters attended one of the following:
President McNabb (1st Counselor in our Stake Presidency, and contributor to ldsfair) give a presentation about Mormon Myths. He gave examples of faith promoting stories that exist in the church, explained which ones were fact and which were fiction, and spoke about the importance of discerning between truth and error and not perpetuating false claims no matter how inspiring or helpful we think they are.
Brother Hobson, a University Professor and member of our Stake, ran a financial class discussing lifetime financial planning… things like managing debt, retirement strategies, the power of compound interest, dealing with risk, and spending less than you make. I loved that this class was different than your typical monthly budget/couponing class!
Lastly we held a Panel Discussion, with panel members Sisters Goode, Blew, Bucey, and Adomaitis, lead by moderator Sister Patterson. The panel discussed ways that we can find joy and happiness now in our lives, even when we face challenges related to our family situations. The Sisters on the panel represented a wide variety of family situations that are found in the church (single sisters, single mothers, part member families, parents w/children who have gone astray etc.), and they discussed important questions like: What teachings of the gospel bring you hope in your situation? How do we still show love to family members who choose a different path? How do you handle insensitive comments from others? What can other members do to support families that are facing these challenges? Stuff like that.
It turned out beautifully. The sisters on the panel were such great examples and the class (which… let’s face it… had the potential to be a real downer) was actually wonderfully uplifting! This class was my baby, and I worried like it the way a good momma does, but I am so thankful we did it. I think topics like this are so important, and that they could probably be discussed more openly and more often to the benefit of all!
After the 40 min. classes we held 6 smaller, 25 min. classes. They ran twice in a row, with a short passing time between, allowing each sister to attend 2 of the 6 offered.
There was Relaxation Techniques, a class teaching ways to calm mind, body and spirit, and how to create peaceful environments taught by Marianne Jarvi:
Easy to Make Gifts was taught by Emily Fulton. She had the most darling ideas! And for all kinds of occasions/people! I love that she had lots of very LDS type things. Stuff to give kids at baptisms… good visiting teacher gifts… etc. So cool. I wish the pictures were bigger so you could see everything (My favorite idea was a notebook with tabs she had created with the prophet and apostles pictures on them for organizing your notes by speaker. Cool! Oh! And a really cute small jar she made look like a cupcake with caulk as the frosting!). Everyone who attended this class got to make a set of cute tile coasters.
The next 2 are combined because I didn’t get great pictures! Dang it!
Missy Stowell (Our Stake President’s wife, and super awesome Mom!) taught a class called Traditions that Teach. She talked about ways to use holidays to teach the gospel and also shared ideas for things we can do all the time to reinforce gospel principles. Like… lunchbox notes… and car games. Awesome! She had fun giveaways and tons of great ideas. She’s amazing! Darling Marcie Christensen taught strategies for organizing, de-cluttering and simplifying your home.
Our most popular class was probably this next one… Keeping Romance Alive in Marriage! (Also my baby 🙂 ) We had co-teachers for this class, my good friend Emily Savage, and Mary Lunt. We wanted both younger and more seasoned perspectives. Sister Lunt is married to President Lunt, our recently released Stake President, who served as Bishop prior to that. I have had occasion to observe the pair of them together and have always been very touched by their obvious love and affection. If they could still be that way after all of those years of him serving… well… we figured she’d have some great advice for us. And we were right! Em did a great job too, as always! I appreciated her candor and thoughts on myths we sometimes mistakenly buy into related to romance. She’s great in front of a crowd!
The last class option was a Service Project headed up by LouJean Ferrell and Janice Tarver. In this class there was no lesson. You could just sit and chat with your buddies and make some cards for a good cause. Sister Ferrell and Sister Tarver donated the cards (They made over 400 or something ridiculous like that!) to local nursing homes. Residents who can’t pay for, or can’t get out to purchase cards for their loved ones can use the ones we made! Can you spot one Cindy Burton in this collage?!?
After all 3 class sessions had ended we met back up in the gym for lunch. The activity was 3 hours long, and some of our sisters traveled 2+ hours to attend. When people come that far you have to feed ’em! And of course we always love more time to just spend socializing 🙂
Okay. I am normally the food girl, but for some crazy reason I insisted on being the decoration girl for this event. I’ve already alluded to what this entailed, and I’ll probably write more about how it all came together later. For now I’ll just show you the final product. My theme? Chinese Cherry Blossoms. Springy. Feminine. Happy. And I just gotta say… I wish you had been there. I don’t feel like the pictures do it justice. I thought the room looked lovely. And yes. Each and every one of the about 600 vellum cherry blossoms were made by hand. We glued them on fallen branches for the centerpieces, sprinkled them on tables, and made a gorgeous “tree,” (don’t know what to call it!) for the dessert table (which was the prettiest part of the room). I loved them!
And I have to show you some of the signs my Secretary Caristyn made. I love that everything fit the theme!
For lunch we had a Chinese Sesame Ginger Chicken Salad (and one vegetarian-version salad and one gluten free dressing, and one nut-free salad 🙂 ), homemade rolls, and an assortment of desserts that the Sisters brought. Yummm!!!
People had been trickling in throughout the day. By the time lunch arrived we figure about 150 Sisters came. Not too bad for a Saturday, also considering how far some people had to travel!
I saw a couple of tables with my dear Urbana Ward friends and I had to snag pictures. Oh how I love these ladies! I secretly wanted to get a group picture with all of the Urbana ward people who came, but that didn’t feel right given it was a Stake activity. I love all of the Sisters in the Stake, but you know… your ward… they hold an especially close place in your heart, right??
Kiersten, Talitha, Bonnie, Melanie, Candy, Marilee:
Emily, Sara, Chelsea, Morgan, Terra, Emily, Holli:
See those lovely flowers by Holli? I interrupted lunch to present the former Stake Relief Society Presidency (of which Holli was a part) with flowers that Sister Nakea had arranged, to thank them for all that they had done for all of the Sisters in the Stake, and for me personally. They are super neat people, and getting to thank them was one of my favorite moments of the whole conference.
Our Presidency: Caristyn Drollette (Sec), Joanne Broadbent (1st Couns), Cindy Nakea (2nd Couns) and Me. I am working with some incredible women, have I told you that? I have learned so much from these dear Sisters! Note to self: Take the photo BEFORE the event. We were all a little ragged and ready to go home at this point!
And then after everyone left all that was left to do was clean… and continue to deal with all of these jars!!!! (There were 90 total. Ack!)
Raise your hand if you love Relief Society!!! I do!!! What a wonderful day! And what wonderful Sisters!
Now, a full week and a few days after the activity, I feel like life is finally back to normal, and I’m takin’ a breather before we jump into our next big thang!