I'm back from The Gospel Coalition Women's Conference and so very refreshed. As I said earlier this week, it's been a busy season since before we left for Japan and the month of June has kind of done me in! Though the timing of the conference wasn't ideal (Brad had piles of work to do after three weeks away and had to jump into solo-parenting during a preaching week... any Pastor's wife reading this knows the pain!), in many ways the conference was at the perfect moment. After all, spending four days sitting under some of the most gifted teachers, learning, growing, and catching up with dear friends whom I only see at these sorts of events every couple of years is recipe for rest and joy for just about any Christian woman. Here were a few highlights:

I stayed with two women from Montreal - both English-speakers who are actually missionaries from the States. All three of us were particularly blessed by the worship lead by Austin Stone Worship, since it was the first time any of us had sung in English with a congregation in many months (10 months for me!) Their version of Man of Sorrows was the first song I sang (because we skipped the first session), and it was just beautiful.

In addition to my two housemates who I shared an Airbnb with, I spent the most time with my dear friend Vanessa who I've known since early university days. Vanessa and I kind of have a redemption story going on in our friendship. We started out friendly but not close friends, but at a certain point we clashed and both kept our distance for a couple of years. We were both prideful and stubborn and gradually were convicted of such things, and slowly kept up with one another again, mainly through social media since we don't live nearby. Month after month, we let one another back in and formed a stronger friendship than we'd ever hoped to have. We walked together, thanks to Whatsapp and Instagram, through infertility, loss, dashed dreams, reconciled hopes, babies, job changes, etc. Today she's one of my closest friends and I can't help but sing God's praises when I reflect on how he brought us together and redeemed our broken friendship to be one that really reflects Jesus and brings us each closer to him. Tears!

So yeah, I spent a lot of time with Vanessa, who was staying in another Airbnb nearby. I also reconnected with past co-workers and old friends who are now in Hamilton and Toronto and my old mentor from my university days who lives in Kentucky now. It was so good to see them all! We laughed and cried and prayed together and asked each other for counsel and wisdom. It was really everything friendship should be.

We stayed in the cutest neighbourhood just outside downtown Indianapolis called Fountain Square. It's like Le Plateau of Indiana, if that were possible! Cute bakeries, Indy fusion food, hip brunch joints, rainbow houses... just yes. By the way, if you're ever in Indianapolis, I highly recommend Bluebeard and Milktooth! We ate at a couple other places that were fine, and had to stop by Chik-Fil-A for some fries, but other than that I made salads with hard boiled eggs for lunch and made breakfast at my Airbnb in the mornings.

The conference itself was jam-packed with amazing content, but I've learned over the years of conferenc-ing that I do best and retain most when I cut a few seminars or sessions and don't rush to attend every.single.thing. All of the content from the entire conference is now available for free on TGC.ORG, so I figure I can always catch what I missed this summer from the comfort of my couch :)

The main sessions I attended were Mary Wilson's, D. A. Carson's, Jackie Hill Perry's, Jen Wilkin's, and John Piper's. Jackie and Uncle John were my favourites! Here are the workshops I attended, and I loved them all!

1. Co-Laboring in the Gospel: A Conversation For Pastors’ and Elders’ Wives with Lauren Hansen, Megan Hill, Latoya McCutcheon, Noël Piper.

These women had such wisdom to share, and they even graciously answered one of my questions in the Q & A at the end! I haven't listened to the audio yet to see if my question made the edit, so you'll have to let me know.

2. Marriage and Family: Practicing the Principles of Scripture in the Home with Melissa and Michael Kruger. 

I loved this seminar for many reasons - Firstly, it was fun to see the husband/wife duo play out and to hear from both sides on some key issues. Second, I just love Melissa Kruger. She isn't as well known as Gloria Furman or Jen Wilkin, but she needs to be! She is incredibly wise and speaks so gently into challenging topics. I first heard her in 2014 talking about contentment (listen to that talk HERE!), and I've recommended that specific talk to more people than I can count. I've listened to it over and over again. I bought two of her books and her newest Bible Study, too, but more on that below! Lastly, I'm always drawn to anything marriage-related because frankly, marriage is hard! And as we do pre-marital counseling at our church, I love having extra wisdom to share.   

3. Still Needed: The Importance of Discipling in the Teen Years with Jen Wilkin and Melissa Kruger.

This was such a great workshop! J Wilks and M Krugs (as we started calling them during that exact seminar, lol) are such a pair! I respect both of those women immensely and have benefited from their ministry for years (Jen's influence dates back to 2011). I loved hearing how they're discipling their teens and ways they're trusting God with their almost-grown kids. I learned so much in that hour, I took four pages of notes!

I can't wait to listen to many of the seminars this summer. It was so hard to choose just three to attend! Here are some that I'm particularly excited to hear (and local friends, I'd love to plan a listening party (June 27, 28, or 29 work, contact me if you'd like to be a part of it or host it!).
One highlight that never changes year after year is the BOOK STORE! Most books are 40% off even Amazon prices and there are various free resources too. It was hard to control myself but I think I did a good job not going too crazy. Let's just say our bags were very heavy on the way home!


We were greeted at Registration by a free book by John Piper. What a treat! When I Don't Desire God is an excellent book for all Christians and a top one we recommend to others. I'm re-reading it and only a few chapters in and I can say it's pure gold. I also received a free ESV Scripture Journal for the book of Mark and a Reformed Classic, Little Book On The Christian Life by John Calvin. Then I bought the following:
The conference was such a boon and I'm heading into summer refreshed by God's word and motivated to live out the habits of grace! I have more resources than I know what to do with, which is very humbling and wonderful. Having access to and the ability to buy (and read!) these books is such a high privilege. Simply being an English-speaker allows for so much training and discipleship and attending a conference like this is truly a gift. If you attended or have listened from home, I'd love to know what you learned and which talks were your favourite! And if you've never been, the next conference is in 2020!

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