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Christian conference a blessing

Friday, April 29, 2011

Two weekends ago, I had the privilege of being the "humorist" for a Christian conference. Nearly 1,000 women attended, and I was completely humbled by the faith and intelligence of the other keynote speakers and singers who used their expertise to impact the women present.

Dr. Joneal Kirby was the keynote speaker. I had first met Joneal when she and I spoke at an event last fall. I found her just as engaging this time as I did then.

She passionately serves Jesus Christ. Her countenance radiates a love for her Savior as she challenges ladies to get serious with their prayer lives and Bible reading.

Others on the dais included Shannon Herman and Latayne Scott. Shannon is a professional counselor who spoke about the need for prioritization in our lives.

She was an absolute delight. Shannon's expertise is in eating disorders, depression and body image. Dr. Latayne Scott, author of 16 books, has won national awards. Her speech dealt with the "bittersweet contradictions of faith in a mysterious and terrifying God of love." That title alone should give you a clue as to how Biblically inept I felt while listening to her.

Some of my favorite time was spent in my one-on-one talks with Dr. Delois Smith, the vice president for diversity at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She shared her challenges as a woman in a male-dominated workplace and how her goal was to always exemplify the love of Christ. Her examples illustrated her personal struggles in overcoming gender bias.

All of those women impacted me greatly, but I was especially challenged by Dr. Cheri Yecke, the dean of graduate studies for Harding University. With her detailed PowerPoint presentation, Dr. Yecke demonstrated the Godly principles upon which this country was established and how far we have strayed from our founding fathers' intent.

When she played a video clip of President Obama's speech in which he said, "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation...," I could hear myself -- and many others -- groan. Just who was the "we" about whom he spoke?

Because of Dr. Yecke's compelling speech, I attended her workshop. As a former liaison to the White House for the U.S. Department of Education (one of many high-ranking positions she has held in education), she has written books on how we can begin to help turn this country's schools around.

Dr. Yecke showed copies of letters in which our founding fathers wrote of a need for education that taught of "God, morals and academics." I listened as many audience members, teachers themselves, described how they felt helpless in their quest to teach spiritual principles in their classrooms. It was encouraging to know that women like Dr. Yecke are doing their best to empower others to become proactive before we lose everything our founding fathers saw as imperative to this nation's survival.

I returned home from that conference, not only energized by all that the speakers shared, but also motivated to be a better informed and bolder representative for Jesus Christ.

I went to the conference hoping that I could be a blessing to others, only to discover that I ended up the one being blessed.

Patty LaRoche
Patty LaRoche: Face to Face