Posted by: angelnorman | April 14, 2010

Women of Joy 2010: Day 3

I woke up on day three with nothing but excitement– not to just to hear Karen Kingsbury and worship one more time with Charles Billingsley- but to get back to my family at home. I couldn’t wait to see my kid, to wrap my arms around him, and to kiss my sweet husband who I couldn’t stop thinking about (or texting.)

The praise and worship portion of Day 3 was particularly powerful. Everyone was really giving it their all and submitting to the power of the music- and the Holy Spirit.

Karen Kingsbury read “Let Me Hold You Longer”, which was the book I purchased for Nick, and there was not a dry eye in the house. She spoke of relationships, of family, of the importance of living every moment counting your blessings.

Something I really want to share with you regarding this though is the testimony our bus driver, Susan, gave afterwards.

My mom had ensured that Susan could attend the conference free of charge (to her at least) if she wanted to. And Susan attended every speaker, never really acting as though she necessarily enjoyed it. I asked her at one point if she was having any fun, and she said that she wished she was just less tired so she could have MORE fun, but that she was glad she was attending. I felt a little bad for her, for some reason. Maybe I just wanted her to be as into it as everyone else, but then I didn’t know if she was comfortable to really express how into it she was in front of us. So I would occasionally watch her for signs of tears of happiness, smiles of joy, or something like that… just to see if she was loving it or hating it.

So after we adjourned for the final time, we all piled in the bus ready to go eat lunch at Applewood Farmhouse. We had collected a dollar from each person who could give and presented it to Susan as a little thank you gift. She smiled sweetly and thanked us all, and then asked if she could say a few words.

She told us that she hadn’t known why she was chosen to be our bus driver, chosen to attend the conference, but that Sunday morning she had finally learned what God was wanting her to hear. She explained that two years ago around Christmas, her son committed suicide. She didn’t know how to get through it, you know, because she had to keep working. So she kept driving, and crying, and trying to work through her pain as best she could.

After hearing the message that God helped Karen deliver, Susan was sure that God was wanting her to know that He understood her pain and felt every single ounce of it with her. Just as she loved her son, the Father loves her. She knew that it was no accident, no mere coincidence, that she had been brought to Sevierville with us. Oh, how we all cried when she confessed her life-changing experience to us that afternoon! And as each of us exited the bus to eat lunch, we all wrapped our arms around Susan and told her how much we loved her and how glad we were she had shared.

And just so you know, this was one of about twenty things I saw the Lord do for us this weekend, myself included.

Once we were through eating, we all went and shopped at The Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge. I LOVE THAT STORE.

This is a few of us acting silly. If you can’t tell, they stuck me in the tallest one and I was about 5 inches too short for it.

When we finally arrived back at the church to where our vehicles waited on us, the ladies of my mother’s women’s group presented her with a gift as a thank you for all her hard work.  She wept, as usual, and let them know how much of a blessing they are to her. And she meant it, I can attest to that. My mom is working on her third year as Women’s Ministry Director for her church, and it’s something she pours her whole self into. She loves it more than she loves most of the other activities she takes on, that’s for sure. It has been a major source of happiness to her in the past couple of years, and as such, it has been a blessing to me. Most of those women love my mom so very much, and I in turn love them for that. I loved seeing them come up to Moma and wrap their arms around her to thank her for her hard work or to encourage her when things were getting her down this weekend. And things WERE getting her down… she was under constant attack from outside sources it seemed. My poor mom couldn’t catch a break except for those little bits of love and encouragement that her friends- OUR friends- would give to her.

And by the end of the trip, all those bad moments had slipped away. My mom was surrounded by the love of God and her sisters-in-Christ, and nothing else mattered.

My mom asked me on the way home what I had thought about the whole thing. So I told her this. It’s not at all what I expected. I thought it would be more free time, more of a relaxing getaway than what it was. But even though I went into it looking for some sort of mental and physical fulfillment, what I got out of it was so much more! It was spiritual fulfillment like I had never before experienced. My heart had been moved, and I fully believe that my God had spoken to me and told me how to handle a few things that have been weighing on my heart. It was, without a doubt, exactly what I needed– an energizing and uplifting spiritual experience.

It was probably the best weekend I’ve had in a looooong time.



  1. I love you Angel!!

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