Monday, April 28, 2014

Middle Tennessee Women's Retreat-2014

Dear Friends,

OMGoodness, has it been a wonderful weekend! I attended my first Middle Tennessee Women's Retreat in Nashville, TN. This was the 23rd year for the retreat and it is hosted by the Ann Downing Ministry. Ladies from 25 states came to the retreat, including all the way from Maine. I didn't know fully what to expect, but I knew whatever I experienced that it would be good.

My baby boy, Shawn, and I loaded up my SUV and headed to Nashville early Friday morning. Along the way Shawn decided he would run the half-marathon on Saturday to benefit St. Jude. He's done that race before, so it was natural for him to run again. Shawn did run the race and is only slightly limping now. Overall, he made it fine.

I stayed at the hotel all weekend with the exception of scavenging for food late Friday night after all of our retreat sessions were over. I was starved.

I can honestly tell you that I didn't know one single speaker on the program when I read the brochure. I could understand that if I've been hiding in a cave all these years, but I haven't. Anyway, I don't remember the last time I've laughed so hard in 2 1/2 days. We laughed, cried, praised God, prayed for our fellow attendees, made life-long friends and just felt so comfortable with each other.

If you ever get the opportunity to hear Sue Duffield, Kendra Smiley, Kathy Blume, Sharon Kay King, just to mention a few, do it. These are some mighty talented ladies that are "on fire" for God.  There were other workshop speakers, but I didn't get to take their workshops. Still I heard from others how great they were.

Yesterday morning during our worship service, Jeff Duffield, Sue's husband, played the piano for us. I told him when I get to heaven I'll be able to play just like he does. Right now what I play could not be considered worship music. My chording can't be classified as "playing" a piano either. lol

My buddy, Shannon Knight, is the person who encouraged me to attend the retreat and be a vendor. I trust Shannon completely, so I took his suggestion and ran with it. Not only did I sell many books, but I donated a portion of my profits back to the retreat to help with next year's expenses which Ann had asked for.

The musical portion of our weekend was awesome. Sherri Thrower led us in worship each day which was sweet. We listened to Ann Downing, Shannon Knight who has made the first cut and moved on to the next level in the Singing News Magazine awards for Solo Artist of the Year, Daryl Williams, a most phenomenal songwriter that I got to meet for the first time, and Chris Golden, one of the sons of William Lee Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys. After talking with Chris for a little while, I felt like I had always known him. He drummed for 17 years with the ORB, then felt God calling him to a different path in the music world. Now he sings for Jesus full-time.

Shannon mostly did the sound for the weekend, but he did get to sing a couple of songs. I would have enjoyed hearing him more, but we were on a strict time schedule.

I met some absolutely AWESOME ladies that will be my friends forever. We had the best time together and agreed we wanted to keep in touch. There is one thing that totally overwhelmed me. MANY times during the weekend ladies, total strangers, would tell me that there is just something about you. I heard it over and over and over again from people I've never met before. I told my husband last night that I hope what they're seeing is the light of Jesus shining through my life.

I had a very unexpected pleasure meeting one of my FB friends for the first time. Her name is Pauline Patterson and she is a well-known Southern Gospel music promoter from Kentucky. Pauline asked if she could interview me for a magazine she writes for. With absolutely no hesitation at all, I told her YES. I will let you know when my article comes out and give you the link to it so you can read it yourself. 

We were so caught up at our banquet table Saturday at lunch that NONE of us noticed when a lady from another table slipped over and STOLE a dessert from one of our ladies. We were all amazed that out of eight grown women, none of us saw that happen. Eventually, a lady at our table thought she might know who the culprit was and the practical joke came to an end. The lady with the missing dessert ended up with two. That's a pretty good return for a stolen dessert. lol

At Saturday night's banquet, a lady named Norene Dysart and her daughter sat at our table. As we talked, I found out they are Southern Gospel Recording artists with a Country flavor that have been nominated for a Singing News Magazine award too. I just happened to tell her that I'm a Southern Gospel songwriter. They are looking for some original material as they head back into the studio for their next project. Norene said she would like for me to send them some music to consider. I will. Doesn't it just blow your mind how God works in every situation? And to think I thought I was going to the retreat mostly to sell books. What I got out of it was much more than I could have ever dreamed possible.

This was my first retreat to ever attend, but I would gladly return again. It would be hard to top this year, but I bet they can.

I hope you all have a great day.

Until next time,


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