Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Building Godly Women Conference

I had such a wonderful time of fellowship recently with the delightful ladies of Tangent, Oregon, and the surrounding area at the Building Godly Women conference. The hard working ladies from Grace Bible Fellowship put in lots of hours and elbow grease to host a warm and polished event that was enjoyed by all.

Hi ‘n’ ‘bye, San Francisco! Hope I get to stay longer next time!

I don’t know if you realize this or not but Tangent, Oregon, is really, really far away from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where I live – 2,435 miles as the crow flies. Fortunately, I was flying on an Eagle, not a crow, that took me from Baton Rouge to Houston to San Francisco to Eugene, Oregon.

It was my first time in San Francisco. I did not leave my heart there, but I did leave plenty of tracts, and that’s pretty much the same thing. I hope I get to see more than the inside of the airport next time, although it was one of the nicer places I’ve changed planes.

When I arrived in Eugene, I learned that everyone was worried I might not make it in due to a snow storm which had passed through the area that day, but God was very kind to skirt it around the airport somehow. Sadly, only a few flakes were falling as we left the airport. This Southern gal likes to visit her snow.

My kind hosts for the weekend, Dee and her husband, Mike, picked me up and welcomed me into their lovely home, where they treated me like royalty for the weekend.

Dee sure studied up on me and blessed me with my favorite snacks and thoughtful gifts, including some goat’s milk bar soap made by her daughter, and a beautiful water bottle adorned with cherry blossoms, the official decor flower of the conference. And check out those gorgeous (real) tulips in the background!

See those chocolate covered hazelnuts? Hazelnuts (filberts) are grown right around the area I was staying in (and they were really good!).

Friday, I had the opportunity to rest up a bit before some fun outings…

Lunch with some of the planners.

After lunch, Dee was so kind to take me to see a couple of local points of interest. We stopped at the Larwood Wayside, a gorgeous little picnic area on the banks of Crabtree Creek, which is adjacent to the Larwood covered bridge, built in 1939. Covered bridges are a dying breed in the United States. Only about 750 remain.

We came to a fork in the road, so we took it! Ironically, this fork was on the side of the road rather than at an actual fork in the road. Why is it there? Who knows?

Behind me you can see one of the many grass fields in the area. Grass is grown as a crop for seed, hay, and sod.

The beautiful snow dappled mountains we saw as we left the fork are the Cascades.

Friday night, it was conference time!

Charcuterie cups for the ladies to snack on – what a great idea!

Our first session was Hooked on a Feeling: Living by God’s Word Instead of Our Feelings, and it was a great way to kick things off. Scripture is our authority as Christians, and we shouldn’t let our feelings lead us around by the nose.

Pastor Tom Pennington (no relation) was so kind to welcome and pray for the ladies.

Friday night fellowship:

Saturday, we hit the ground running with How to Study (and Teach!) the Bible. This is such a crucial skill for Christian women today. We’ve got to be good students of the Word so we can disciple our own children and the women and children of our churches.

Between sessions, we were treated to a scrumptious brunch of quiche, coffee cake, and fresh fruit.

Feast your eyes on these exquisite table settings. Each of those cherry blossoms (on all of those tables!) was made by hand from tissue. Can you believe it? If someone hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t have known they weren’t real.

Our final teaching session was Discernment 101: Learn to Discern. We talked about what discernment is, and how to use it – identifying false teachers and false doctrine – to the glory of God.

We rounded out the day with lots of fellowship and pictures.

The cherry on top of this wonderful weekend was a trip to breathtaking Multnomah Falls, the second tallest waterfall in the contiguous United States (Yosemite Falls in California is the tallest). I’m so grateful to Mike and Dee for going out of their way to make sure I got to see it.

On the way to Multnomah Falls, we caught a glimpse of majestic Mt. Hood, completely blanketed in snow. Mt. Hood is actually a dormant volcano and is the highest mountain in Oregon.

After a lovely dinner with Mike and Dee, it was time to say goodbye. My deepest thanks to them, the conference planning committee, pastor Tom, and all the men and women of Grace Bible Fellowship who worked so hard to host a fantastic conference, took care of all my needs, and made me feel so welcome. If you’re ever in the area and need a good church to visit, make plans to spend the Lord’s Day with these wonderful brothers and sisters.

If your church or organization is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information, or to find an upcoming event near you!

Photo Credits

Many thanks to Dee and other conference attendees who took most of the photos above. You may assume that if I’m in the picture or if it’s a good quality photo that I didn’t take it. The remaining photos were shot by me.

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Beautifully Rooted Among the Chaos Conference

I had such a wonderful time last weekend sharing with the delightful ladies of the Omaha, Nebraska, area at the Beautifully Rooted Among the Chaos women’s conference. The women’s ministry team from Providence Bible Church in nearby Gretna worked so hard and put on a lovely event that was enjoyed by all.

Photo credit: Lola Gomez, AP / The Dallas Morning News

Things got off to an iffy start Thursday as the first leg of my trip took me from Baton Rouge to Dallas to change planes. The recent ice storm had all of us concerned about flight cancellations and delays. I praise God for His omniscience in providing me what was originally supposed to be a four hour layover, because my first flight was delayed over an hour. But even with the delay, I still had plenty of time to grab some Chick-Fil-A and catch my breath before my next flight … which also ended up being delayed by about an hour. Considering all the problems the ice storm caused in an area that doesn’t often have to deal with such things, I thought DFW and American Airlines did a pretty good job with only one hour delays.

I finally made it to the airport in Omaha, where my wonderful hostess for the weekend, Trudy, and her husband, Ross, collected me and whisked me off to their lovely home. They treated me to a Nebraska favorite, Valentino’s pizza. So good!

After dinner, I was ready to crash. A lovely hostess gift bag full of Nebraska charm awaited me in Trudy and Ross’ well appointed guest room!

Trudy really studied up on me! She knew I love local goodies, that I never have much room in my suitcase to take gifts home with me, and that I’ve been collecting Christmas ornaments from the places I visit.
An A+ hostess! This is the kind of hospitality I aspire to!

Friday morning I had the luxury of sleeping in a smidge, plus a little time to get some work done, and snap a couple of photos. Trudy and Ross’ house backs up to a small lake that was partially frozen. Isn’t it beautiful in the winter sunshine?

Soon, it was time to head out for lunch with the event planning committee and then on to the conference site. Le Peep has not made its way to Louisiana yet, but we have a breakfast / brunch place that’s similar, so I knew it was going to be good. And, boy howdy, was it! If you ever happen upon a location, be sure to stop in and order everything on the menu. I had the Monte Cristo crepes. C’est magnifique!

After getting settled in at our hotel, it was conference time! The conference was held at Omaha’s Tiburon Golf Club. The view was picturesque and the staff was so helpful and accommodating.

The event planning committee did a superb job decorating and preparing the materials!

Our first session was Hooked on a Feeling: Living by God’s Word Instead of Our Feelings, and it was a great way to kick things off. Scripture is our authority as Christians, and we shouldn’t let our feelings lead us around by the nose.

I had a little trouble with my voice during the session, but the ladies were all so kind to pray me right through it, and the Lord quickly restored things to normal.

Saturday started with Rock Your Role at Home and at Church, followed by Teach What Is Good: Discipling Younger Women in the 21st Century. The ladies enjoyed their time of fellowship and encouraging one another in their discussion groups between sessions.

Next on the agenda was a hearty lunch of hamburgers or grilled chicken sandwiches. It was quite a repast!

Finally, we wrapped up the day with a great Q&A session. These ladies were so astute and asked some very thought-provoking questions!

Picture time with the ladies is always fun!

After another wonderful dinner with the conference planning committee, it was time to say goodbye. Many thanks to Trudy and Ross, Mary, Terri, Susan, Kim, and Skyler who prayed for me and the attendees every step of the way. They all worked so hard to host a fantastic conference, took care of all my needs, and made me feel so welcome.

If your church or organization is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information.

Photo Credits

DFW and Valentino photos credited in captions.

Le Peep logo courtesy of Le Peep.

The photos with me in them were kindly sent to me by event planning committee members and attendees.

All other photos by Michelle Lesley

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Jesus Camp Nantucket Retreat (and 30th Anniversary Jaunt!)

It brought me such joy, recently, to share with a great group of ladies at the Jesus Camp, Nantucket Women’s Retreat on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. Conferences are super for reaching out to women in your community and surrounding areas, but retreats provide an intimate atmosphere for that’s conducive to both formal instruction and informal, one on one discipleship. And we had plenty of time and space for both! Many thanks to Darcy Creech Marelli for opening up her lovely homes and hosting this biannual time of refreshing for women from all over the country.

I love the way Darcy decorates her homes with these varied and striking maps of Nantucket!

My husband doesn’t often get to come with me to speaking engagements, but since we’ll be celebrating our 30th anniversary in December, we decided to make this a “working second honeymoon,” driving up to the retreat together, exploring Nantucket, and visiting any sites that caught our fancy on the drive home. (In case you’re wondering, it’s about a 24 hour drive from our home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Hyannis, Massachusetts, where we caught the ferry to Nantucket Island.)

Our view from the ferry as we docked in Nantucket.

Darcy and her friend Sheree graciously picked us up at the ferry and whisked us out to the High Point, the Jesus Camp property, a lovely home and guest house perfect for hosting retreats and other getaways. (Ladies if you enjoy admiring beautifully appointed homes, be sure to check out the slideshow and video of High Point here. You love the nautical and local island themes!)

Things got off to a cozy start Wednesday night with the arrival of all the retreat attendees. We shared a delicious dinner, then had the opportunity to hear everyone’s testimonies. Our backgrounds varied from those of us who were born and raised in church and came to know Christ at an early age to those who had survived abuse, or walked on the wild side, or were involved in heretical church backgrounds before coming to Christ later in life. There is no such thing as a “boring” testimony. Every new birth in Jesus is a miracle of His mercy and grace.

Thursday’s teaching started with God’s Word, Our Foundation, discussing the necessity, authority and sufficiency of God’s Word. We rounded out our instructional time with Teach What Is Good: Discipling Women in the 21st Century, examining biblical and practical discipleship and women’s ministry. Each session was followed by a time of Q&A and discussion groups.

Friday, session 1 was Hooked on a Feeling: Living By God’s Word Instead of Our Emotions. As Christians, our feelings don’t get to lead us around by the nose, we submit to the authority of Scripture instead. Our second session was Discernment 101. Both teaching sessions were again followed by Q&A and discussion groups. Many of the ladies were new to discernment and were disappointed to learn that some of their favorite ministries, authors, and teachers are false teachers. But they were all very gracious and receptive, and I had several fruitful conversations with women who were eager to learn.

During free time, the ladies enjoyed chatting around the dinner table, relaxing in the pool and hot tub, and trips into town and to the beach.

Retreat swag! Darcy kindly provided these resources and gifts for retreat attendees, and gave me a special treat of honey from High Point’s hive!

Ana, a retreat attendee who is originally from Guatemala but now resides in Ohio, brought me these lovely gifts. Homemade buckeyes and Guatemalan gifts and coffee. The sale of this coffee supports the orphanage and foster care home Ana and her husband still operate in Guatemala.

All too soon, it was time to say goodbye. It was a wonderful time of fellowship in the Lord, and I’m looking forward to going back next year! Many thanks to Darcy and her assistant, Otilia, who worked so hard to host a great retreat, took care of all my needs, and made my husband and me feel so welcome.

If your church or organization is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information.

When the retreat was over, my husband, Scott, and I had the opportunity to explore the island a bit. We went out to Great Point, the farthest point on the island, and had a wonderful time seeing the seals and the Great Point lighthouse. The shops downtown were charming, and we enjoyed an authentic Nantucket dinner at The SeaGrille.

The next day, we boarded the ferry and headed back to the mainland. Since Plymouth, Massachusetts, was only 30 minutes away, we decided to make that our first sightseeing stop.

At Plimoth Patuxet we saw recreations of a Patuxet home site and 17th century English village. We enjoyed seeing Wampanoag (Indian) boats, dwellings, and a cooking demonstration. The Wampanoag word for the succotash stew (turkey, beans, corn, celery, onions, etc.) our guide was making means “throw it in”. (There’s a running joke in Louisiana that that’s pretty much what “gumbo” means, too.) They would just throw in whatever they had and keep adding to it. We sampled some at the visitors’ center, and it was pretty good – basically a turkey and vegetable soup. We also saw the English village, made up of several Pilgrim homes and a fort.

We loved the beautiful fall foliage and scenery in the Plymouth area.

Our next stop in Plymouth was Jenney family grist mill. It was situated in a lovely little area, on, of course, a running stream. It still operates several times a week.

From the mill, we walked over to Plymouth Rock. It sits ensconced in a little pavilion on the side of the road. No velvet ropes or admission fees, no big hoopla. It’s just there. Along the way we saw some other Pilgrim points of interest including the Scrooby Leyden Church / Mayflower Meetinghouse and the Church of the Pilgrimage, along with monuments to Governor William Bradford and Elder William Brewster.

Our final stop in Plymouth was the Mayflower II, a replica of the original Mayflower. It was much smaller than I expected, and very spare in its appointments.

My husband is a JFK buff, so the next day we drove the half hour to Boston and visited the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of the University of Massachusetts. (If you’d like to hear the “My Daddy Is President” song, click here.)

I had wanted to visit New York City on our way home, but, unfortunately, we didn’t have time. This is as close as we got.

After Boston, we headed for Hershey, Pennsylvania, and spent most of the day at Chocolate World. We went on a ride that explained how chocolate is made, designed our own candy bars, went to a chocolate tasting, and took a trolley tour of the town.

And one last stop on our way home from Alabama. I finally got a chance to go to Buc-ee’s!

Photo Credits

All photos marked with a white star were taken by Ana Morales.

Photo of The SeaGrille courtesy of The SeaGrille.

All other photos by Michelle Lesley

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Women Thriving God’s Way Retreat

What a joy it was, last weekend, to share with my sisters from Highland Bible Church of Woodland Park, Colorado at their fall retreat: Women Thriving God’s Way! Conferences are great for reaching out to women in your community and surrounding areas, but sometimes you need an event where it’s just family. Retreats provide an intimate atmosphere for the women of a local church to bond together as sisters in Christ. It was an honor to speak into HBC women’s family time.

I grew up in southern New Mexico, but I had never crossed our northern border into Colorado before, so it was exciting to touch down at the Colorado Springs airport.

First on the agenda was dinner with Pastor Jeff and his wife, Sharon (who kindly picked me up at the airport), and Adriana (who organized the retreat) and her husband Asa. In the body of Christ, you never meet a stranger, only extended family, and we had a wonderful time of fellowship together.

After dinner, Adriana and Asa checked me into the delightfully rustic Golden Bell Camp and Conference Center:

On Friday morning, Adriana and her daughter Jenny Lynn were so kind to take me around and show me some of the sights. The Colorado Springs area is home to a number of notable sites, including the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center, the United States Air Force Academy, Pike’s Peak, Focus on the Family, The Navigators, and their striking conference center, Glen Eyrie Castle.

Since our time was limited, we focused on two other sites I was particularly interested in, The Garden of the Gods, and Charis Bible College.

The Garden of the Gods is a beautiful area just outside of town, with huge sandstone rock formations set against Pike’s Peak as a majestic backdrop. It’s easy to ignore the evolutionary fairy tales about how the rocks and mountains were formed, because it’s more than obvious that God’s awesome creative hand was at work here!

After a great lunch at a local deli, we did a quick drive through tour of Charis Bible College. I know, kind of a weird choice for sightseeing if you know anything about the school. Or me.

Charis “Bible” College was founded by Andrew Wommack, a key figure in the New Apostolic Reformation / Word of Faith movement. If you’re at all familiar with Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry, Charis is kind of like that but with more of a “real” college atmosphere and approach. Still, students are required to take courses with titles like “Healing,” “Holy Spirit I & II,” “Establishing a Prosperous Soul,” and “Operating in God’s Best”. And yet the code of student conduct has the audacity to admonish:

“Spreading false doctrine is not allowed…it is not appropriate to…teach against the doctrines in Charis’ statement of faith.”

The campus is gorgeous and the surroundings enchanting.

I was intrigued by this unique speed limit sign (below). No explanation was posted, and I searched Charis’ website and the internet extensively to no avail. At first I thought it was a reference for a Bible verse, but I looked at every chapter 22 in the Bible, and the only 22:53 references I found were:

1 Kings 22:53: He served Baal and worshiped him and provoked the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger in every way that his father had done.

Luke 22:53: When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.

Pretty appropriate if you ask me, but I doubt Andrew Wommack would have chosen either of those verses.

The only other thing I found is that 22.53 km/hr is roughly equivalent to 14 mph, so…maybe that’s it? I don’t know. If you know, comment below. Curiosity is about to kill me! :0)

Not long ago, my friend Justin Peters was preaching at HBC, and he and Pastor Jeff took the time to visit a class. Needless to say, their questions weren’t welcome, and they were Kicked Out of Charis. I didn’t have time to do anything that would get me kicked out. :0) (You can see more of the opulent insides of the buildings in this video, too.)

We arrived back at Golden Bell in plenty of time to rest up for a fun and delicious dinner and “getting to know each other better” time of fellowship, followed by our first teaching session on biblical womanhood: Rock Your Role at Home and at Church.

Participant gift bags. Thanks, ladies! I really needed a new journal!

Saturday after breakfast, we got right down to business with our second session: Holy Mothers (and Others) of God’s Word, one of my favorites. We strolled through the Bible and took a brief look at the lives of several of our Old and New Testament sisters, and their examples of holiness to us.

Between teaching sessions and other activities, the ladies had the opportunity to craft these cute Christmas ornaments. They kindly gave me a couple to take home. What a treat!

Session 3, Practical Holiness, a look at practical ways to pursue holiness in our daily lives, came right after lunch. And after a fun afternoon of rest and recreation, capped off by a mouth-watering supper, we ended the day with teaching session 4, God’s Word: Our Foundation, addressing the necessity, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture.

I had to get up at 4 a.m. to catch my flight home the next morning, but it was worth it to be able to be with my own church family Sunday night. Flying on 9/11 was an interesting experience. The Colorado Springs airport asked us to observe a moment of silence in remembrance, and everyone respectfully complied.

Many thanks to Pastor Jeff, Sharon, Adriana, Jenny Lynn, Russ, Ely, and all of the HBC ladies who worked so hard to host a great retreat, took care of all my needs, and made me feel so welcome. If you’re ever in the Woodland Park area, be sure to stop in to Highland Bible Church for a visit!

If your church or organization is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information.

Photo Credits

All photos marked with a white star were taken by retreat attendees.

All other photos by Michelle Lesley

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Denton, Texas, Conference

I had a such a wonderful time recently sharing with the ladies of The Church at Pecan Creek of Denton, Texas, at their spring women’s conference! Ladies from as far away as Louisiana and Oklahoma, as well as various areas of Texas, came out to fellowship with us.

The FAA’s mask mandate was dropped about ten days or so before my trip to Denton. I fly a lot, and – no joke – I haven’t been this excited to fly since I was a little kid.

Felicia (wife of TCPC’s pastor, Trey Talley) was my charming hostess for the weekend and greeted me with this awesome gift bag when she picked me up at the airport Friday afternoon. Boy, were my husband and sons jealous! They love them some Bucc-ee’s, and we don’t have one in Louisiana. (Don’t worry, I shared a little bit when I got home.)

Photo courtesy of The GreenHouse

Dinner at The GreenHouse that night was tasty, and I spent a lovely evening chatting about all things women’s discipleship with Felicia and the other two elders’ wives, Melodie and Carrie.

My dear friends, Beki (Mrs. Gabriel Hughes) and Jennifer (Mrs. Tom Buck), came all the way from First Baptist Church, Lindale, Texas, for the conference. Providentially, we discovered we were staying in the same hotel, so we got to catch up for a little while after dinner. (I was just the tiniest bit excited to see them. :0)

Beki, Michelle, Jennifer
Photo courtesy of Beki Hughes

Beki brought along Sonya, another sweet friend of ours, and they blessed me with these great gifts. Beki didn’t know it when she bought the mug, but “You Are My Sunshine” is Louisiana’s state song. They told me that the Lindale Candy Co. is just down the street from FBC Lindale, so both places are now, of course, on my bucket list of places to visit.

Saturday morning, it was conference time!

All of the ladies were greeted by these two handsome gents. Holding the door open for ladies will take you far in life, young men! :0)
Welcome and check in. It was such a great idea to invite conference guests to visit TCPC for worship the next day!
It was super helpful to have the schedule up on the screens throughout the church.

In our first session on Suffering, we explored Jesus as our hero in suffering, the hope in our suffering, and ways to biblically handle our suffering.

Session two was all about Managing Media – being wise and discerning with news, social media, movies and TV, and other media we consume.

Session three was Hooked on a Feeling: Living by God’s Word Instead of Our Emotions. We studied Jesus’ example of living by every word from the mouth of God and some practical ways to be led by God’s objective Word rather than our subjective feelings.

We finished up the day with a fun Q&A session. These ladies asked some sharp questions!

Keep an eye on TCPC’s website for soon to be posted conference video. In the mean time, my good friend Robin Self over at A Worthy Walk was also able to attend, and she has kindly shared her thoughts and notes on the conference with us in her article, A Day With Michelle Lesley.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Buck
Photo courtesy of Robin Self
Photo courtesy of Morgan Lynn
Photo courtesy of Beki Hughes

For lunch, Felicia whisked me away to Rosa’s Cafe, and I am crushed that we don’t have one here at home. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was fun!

During and after the conference there was a little time for a few more pictures…

It was a full house!
You’re never too young to learn sound doctrine!
Photo courtesy of Morgan Lynn
FBC Lindale brought a group of 41 women to the conference!
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Buck
Beki, Jennifer, Michelle, Robin Self
I love these ladies!
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Buck

And all too soon, it was time to head home.

Many thanks to Felicia, Melodie, Carrie, the pastors, elders, and all of the other ladies and gentlemen of The Church at Pecan Creek who worked so hard to host a great conference, took care of all my needs, and made me feel so welcome. If you’re ever in the Denton area, be sure to stop in to TCPC for a visit!

If your church or organization is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information.

Photo Credits

As marked.

All other photos by Michelle Lesley