A few weeks have passed. Women have returned to their towns and cities. Laundry has piled up once again, dinners have to be made, and many tasks need completed every day, whether in the home or at work. Single, married, or with children, any woman who attended ALIVE 2015, whether in Nashville or the four satellite locations (Pennsylvania, Florida, Canada, and Arizona), has settled back into her “normal.” But, hopefully, those norms no longer look the same because she is different as a result of the weekend.

Vonetta Carter, Belinda Selfridge, and Layla Solms are just three of the 1,224 women who attended in Nashville and in satellite cities. They personally share their thoughts below in how God has used ALIVE to bring about change in their own lives and the ways in which he uses them to minister to others.

What has God taught you through ALIVE?

Vonetta Carter, pastor’s wife at First Wesleyan Church in Nashville: God has taught me to not be ashamed of my past, because he cannot get the glory if I don’t tell people.

Layla Solms, administrative assistant for Indiana North district superintendent: Through the process of helping plan ALIVE, God has shown me that if I show up with a willing attitude and a loving heart, he will use me in ways I had not previously considered. During ALIVE I learned that, not only is my daughter my kid, she is my sister in Christ; that’s not something I’d really considered before. The responsibility to train and nurture not just my daughter, but other sisters in Christ, really struck a chord with me. There is a sense of excitement and urgency that we don’t have to necessarily know what we’ll be doing in any given ministry or mission, but God wants us to show up and he’ll take care of the rest. He wants willing, humble, and faithful people to share the good news of Jesus with everyone, regardless of what we may or may not have in common.

Belinda, family pastor at Sent Church in Plano, Texas: I attended the Life Track entitled, “Practical Tools for a Rhythm of Life,” by Jo Saxton. Here are some things I’m still chewing on:

“If you are running on empty, you don’t run long.”

“Is this just a demanding season or do you need more boundaries?”

“A life unobserved can get out of control completely.”

“When was the last time we had meaningful rest?”

“Jesus prioritized his time, no matter how legitimate the need.”

“Could we dare to ask someone for help or will we proudly burn out alone?”

“‘No’ is a complete sentence. Is there something(s) you need to say ‘no’ to?”

I chose this Life Track because this is an area I struggle with. If anyone asks what I need prayer for, the two most common things I say are: wisdom and balance. This session was a great reminder/encouragement of how important it is for us to take time to recharge or we will become ineffective and possibly crash.

How are you different as a result of attending ALIVE?

Vonetta: I feel like I am more confident and more empowered to share my story, and I was able to meet some phenomenal women who had some life changing stories that really changed and challenged me.

Layla: My heart has been softened toward others, especially women, and I sense (and obey) when the Holy Spirit nudges me to offer a word of grace or an act of hospitality–even a brief prayer over someone when they need it.

Belinda: I think it has caused me to contemplate what it means to be fully alive. I feel fully alive when:

  • I am serving as pastor. Even on those difficult days, I know that for this present time/season, this is what he has created me to do.
  • I am riding my motorcycle on a beautiful spring day and listening to worship music
  • A little gal or fella comes running up to me to give me that knee hug (you know the one where they bear hug your knees) or when they crack that huge smile when I walk into their classroom to give them a high five.

What are your important take-aways from the event?

Vonetta: You have to show up to go up. In order to grow as a woman of God you have to make yourself available for times of impartation. We have to be willing to be transparent, real, and relevant. It’s all about taking off our masks and being willing to say, “I am going to allow you to see me without my make-up on.”

Layla: God wired me in such a way that sometimes I’m just not able to engage and focus in a large group setting, just like my 14-year-old daughter Chloe. He gave us the opportunity to have one-on-one time with keynote speakers Bianca Olthoff, Jo Saxton, and Jo Anne Lyon. The conversations we had in our car about God’s work in our lives, bits about the everyday mundane and wonderful, as well as honesty about life stuff, travel, and the desire to serve our families well all ministered to Chloe and me.

One morning Jo Saxton invited Chloe and me out for coffee. She took the time to engage with Chloe about her hopes and dreams for the future. She also encouraged me to begin writing, and I’ve started a new blog. I’m also the social media coordinator for gracetable.org. Additionally, I’ve volunteered to review and promote newly published books and have joined a few writers’ groups.

Belinda: I continue to reflect on Bianca Olthoff’s statement: “How do we take a Sunday morning message and make it Monday morning living?” Our challenge as Christ followers is to live out what the Word says every day. Our faith in Christ Jesus should transform every facet, every fiber of our lives. Our challenge as pastors, small group leaders, shepherds, disciplers is to communicate a Sunday morning message or Wednesday night Bible study or small group lesson in such a way that encourages the hearers to live it out every day. Jo Saxton also said a few things that have stuck with me, including “We are sent ones.” Or “We aren’t supposed to be ready; we are supposed to be faithful.” Or “God is enough. If it’s impossible, then let’s just see a miracle!” And Dr. Lyon’s thoughts have remained with me: You are more than you know, because of the power of the Holy Spirit working in you.” Or “We don’t see miracles, because the prayers we pray we can answer. Do we pray with faith for God to do the impossible or are we praying for God to do what we think is possible?”

How is God using ALIVE in regards to your ministry with and to others?

Vonetta: Now I am not only working with women and teens, but I also have the opportunity to work with elementary age kids. They are so impressionable and they want to learn. They just need someone willing to roll up their sleeves and come alongside them and be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Layla: I’m working to organize a Free The Girls collection event in Fairmount, Ind., and possibly Grant County. I’m making new friends in my community–being intentional about engaging in meaningful conversation, really listening to ladies when they speak. Most days I wake now up asking God how he wants to use me that day, rather than having my first thoughts be about what I plan to wear, eat, drink, etc.

Belinda: We had 29 gals from Sent Church attend this conference. It was wonderful to see how God was working in each and everyone one of them! I wrote an email to them after the conference:

Don’t let the laundry, kids, work, dust, stress, relationships, or the mundane tasks of life take you away from what you learned at this conference. Keep looking for where God is at work. He continues to be up to something in your life, in our church–and it is when we are walking in step with him that we are fully alive!

Read more of Vonetta’s story, Layla’s story, and Belinda’s story.

Pictured: Twenty-nine women attended ALIVE from Sent Church in Plano, Texas.