Sunday, November 22, 2009

EWomen '09 conference - Charleston, WV

I went to the Extraordinary Women's '09 conference in Charleston, WV this Friday and Saturday and wanted to say what a true blessing I received. I heard about it through K-LOVE and debated for several weeks on whether I wanted to attend or not, because I didn't know of anyone else that was going and I would most likely be going by myself - which I did - but, it was totally worth it. Besides, the way I see it, when you attend any kind of Christian event, you are never truly alone. God is always with you, as well as, your many brothers and sisters in Christ, whom we will all meet in Heaven one day. :) On Friday - 11/20 - the event started at 7pm & went to about 10pm. Michael O'Brien lead out in a few Praise and Worship songs, followed by Julie Clinton, who is the President of Extraordinary Women. She gave a brief announcement about who will be performing and what to expect. After she was finished, comedienne Chonda Pierce came out and gave a very funny stand-up routine. Then, there was a 30 minute intermission, at which time I had the opportunity to meet Chonda and get her autograph. After the break, the evening concluded with a mini concert from Matthew West. I really loved his new Christmas song, which will be featured in the newest Christmas movie from the Veggie Tales called, Give This Christmas Away. The video is posted on the Veggie Tales website, on the right hand side of the page. Just a quick warning - it's a tear-jerker. :) When the concert was over, Matthew came down and stood near the stage to sign autographs, so I was able to have him sign my program. I also got my picture taken with him. To see pictures from the first night of the event, you can click the link below where they're posted on my Facebook profile. It is set to public, so you should be able to view them without any problems. http://www.facebook.com/tabrownwv?ref=profile#/album.php?aid=2037747&id=1060962851 The event continued yesterday morning at 8:30am. Michael O'Brien led out again in some more Praise and Worship songs. Afterwards, Julie Clinton read a short devotion written by her daughter, Megan, from her book, Totally God's, followed by a quick prayer. Then, Karen Kingsbury came out and spoke for a little bit and read from 2 of her newest books - Princess and the Three Knights and Let Me Hold You Longer (which was a definite tear-jerker). Afer Karen was finished, there was a 30 minute intermission, in which I took the time to meet Stormie Omartian and get my picture taken with her. She also signed her book, The Power of Praying, that I brought with me. I also decided to wait in line - about a 40 minute wait - and meet Karen Kingsbury. I bought 2 of her books while I was there - Miracles (which is a devotional) and Shades of Blue, which she signed. I got my picture taken with her as well. While I was waiting in line to meet Karen, the intermission ended and Michael O'Brien came back and lead out in a couple more songs, then Angela Thomas came out to speak. I only got to hear her during the last 10-15 minutes, which I believe she was leading out in a mini bible study about God's miracles. After she finished speaking, they broke for an hour and 1/2 lunch. I walked over to the mall, which is across the street from the auditorium, and got something to eat. Also, before I left to go to the mall, I was able to meet Angela near her booth and had my picture taken with her. I didn't have any of her books, so she signed my program for me. After lunch, Michael sang some more and opened up for Mandisa, who did a 30 minute mini-concert. She wasn't feeling well . So, as far as I know, didn't stay around long after the event was over. I was unable to meet her, but it was understandable. Even though she was going through a rough time, she did an oustanding job & I commend her for being 'real' with us about her struggles. The event concluded with Stormie Omartian, who shared her testimony and the power that prayer had on her life which inspired her to write her first 2 books - Power of a Praying Wife and Power of a Praying Husband. I really enjoyed listening to her speak. Prayer is one area where I am not very good at and I have several of her books. They have really helped me on numerous occasions. If you're like me and struggle in this area, I highly recommend her books to anyone needing a prayer boost. You won't be disappointed. :) Here are the pictures from the second day of the event. http://www.facebook.com/tabrownwv?ref=profile#/album.php?aid=2037837&id=1060962851 I really had an amazing time and I'm glad I went. I'm already planning on going next year and hopefully bring some people with me to enjoy it with. :) OK. Well, this pretty much concludes my recap of the event. I'm pretty sure I might be forgetting something, but I'm really tired right now and have a horrible headache. So, I will leave it at this for now and if I remember anything else, I will add it later. Bye for now.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I made an important decision

After 14 years & this past week, I made an important decision to "kick the habit" and quit smoking for good. I started smoking when I was 21 & quit once back in 2004 for 30 days. But stress do to work & other personal problems caused me to start back up again. I came to this decision after my best friend's mom was recently hopitalized with breathing problems, which turned out to be COPD, as well as, a viral pnuemonia. She's in her late 50's & has been a smoker since her teens - I believe. I went to visit my friend last Saturday & we went over to the hospital to check up on her mom. She had been in there for about a week & she was on a ventilator. They tried taking her off of it for a couple of hours, but had to put her back on because she was struggling really hard to breath. They told my friend that they would probably do a tracheotomy on Monday or Tuesday. My friend was very stressed out & concerned over her mom. She's usually a very strong person, but cried several times, praying that God wouldn't take her away & that she would give her a lung if it came down to it. My friend is a smoker as well & the week before her mom went into the hospital, she was sick with the flu for 5 days. She used to smoke between 1 - 2 packs a day, but during that time, she didn't smoke, or even have a desire to smoke. Then, once she started feeling better, she practically quit cold turkey. Unfortunately, after her mom was hospitalized, she started smoking again, but it was only 4-5 a day, mostly when she was really stressed. I hadn't talked to my friend all week and then she finally called me yesterday before she left work to tell me her mom was doing a lot better. The doctor's did a trach on Monday & she started off on a big tube, now she's on a smaller one. She's able to speak a soft whisper now, which made my friend happy that she could finally understand her when she talked. Plus, her eyes started looking better. Before, they were really bloodshot & now, they are almost completely white again. She said their plans are to do a barium throat test to see if she can swallow & if so, they'll be able to take her off the trach and put her on oxygen. Then, once she gets her strength back, she'll be able to come home in a couple weeks. I was soo happy to hear the great news. She also told me since last Saturday, she's only had maybe 1 or 2 cigarettes a day & would be finished with her pack in the next day or so. Once she's completely done, she won't buy any more. She's already cleaned up her house & taken out all the ashtrays. She also goes outside when she wants a cigarette. She won't be able to smoke in the house once her mom comes home, so she's eliminating all traces. So, basically in a nutshell, this is the main reason. I figure that if my best friend can do it, so can I. Plus, seeing her mom last Saturday in the hospital really put things in perspective for me. I know that it won't be easy, but Philipians 4:13 reminds me that, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." So, my plan is to take it one day at a time, and reminding myself that in my weakness, the Lord is strong. I've also bought a box of Commit Lozenges for back-up, especially for in the mornings and those other times when I want a cigarette out of bordem or after eating. Wish me luck & keep me in your prayers. I plan to update my blog on my progress on a daily or weekly basis, as time allows, to keep me accountable.