Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Walk in the Word Conference

I had a such a wonderful time at the Walk in the Word women’s conference at New Prospect Baptist Church, sharing with the ladies of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, and many from the surrounding areas.

A few shots of the scenery. Lawrenceburg is a charming town – exactly the size I’d want to live in if given the choice and if I had to move.

NPBC put me up in a very nice, new hotel. Getting settled in, this is the sign that greeted me as I exited the elevator and started searching for my room. It cracked me up every time I saw it, so I thought I’d share it. Maybe I’m missing something (perhaps a degree in calculus, engineering, or metaphysics?), but I don’t see the logic here. Do you?

After I arrived Thursday night, Kendra, Charissa, and Donna fed me well at the wonderful Brass Lantern restaurant, where I just fell in love with Johnny’s Famous Fruit Tea. Fruit tea is a regional favorite in Middle Tennessee – sweet tea with pineapple juice, orange juice, and lemonade (move over, Arnold Palmer!). Here, I found a recipe for you if you’d like to try it.

Friday’s events started with a lunch date with NPBC’s pastors’ wives at Strikers Steakhouse, and possibly the best salad with grilled chicken I’ve ever eaten. It was so great to chat with other sisters in Christ about parenting, church, women’s ministry, and other issues dear to our hearts.

Friday night, we got things underway with session 1 on biblical womanhood, Rock Your Role at Home and at Church. It was encouraging to explore the beauty and value in God’s Creative design for women and the roles He has set aside for us.

Pre- and post-conference fellowship, door prizes,
and beautiful autumn decorations.

After a fun break for fellowship and desserts, came our second session, Suffering. Everybody goes through suffering at some point. The Bible teaches us to look to Jesus, the hero of our suffering, so we can take hope in our suffering, and biblically handle our suffering.

Each of the four sessions started off with worship music from these lovely ladies. Three part harmony? Yes, please. It was obvious that they worked hard in preparation to present a fragrant offering to the Lord in song.

Saturday morning’s first session was Practical Holiness. What does it mean to pursue holiness? In this session we took a look at how the Bible defines holiness and how to practice holiness in our daily lives.

And after a delicious lunch of grilled chicken, veggies, and absolutely heavenly cheesecake, was our final session, Hooked on a Feeling. Are you living life according to your feelings and emotions? This session was all about biblical and practical ways to live according to God’s Word instead.

These were both from Hooked on a Feeling. On the left is a quote from the session made into a meme by one of the sweet ladies who attended. On the right is a screenshot of notes taken by Chloe – a darling 9 year old young lady. In case your eyes are as old as mine, it says, “God is not a bad master. He is a just and true and kind master.” Chloe, you are a good listener, and I love your tepee! (I sometimes doodle while I’m taking notes, too. It helps me think. :0)

Throughout the conference, attendees had the opportunity to support Hope Haven, “a Christ-centered ministry offering life-affirming services to women and teens who are facing an unplanned pregnancy crisis.” Women were invited to take a baby bottle home and fill it – not with formula, but with funding, to help this wonderful ministry. I thought this was a super idea for a women’s conference. Maybe you’d like to try it at your next women’s event.

Many thanks to Charissa, Kendra and Dave, Donna, Cheryl, and all of the ladies and gentlemen of New Prospect Baptist Church who worked so hard to make Walk in the Word a great conference, took care of all my needs, and made me feel so welcome. If you’re ever in the Lawrenceburg area, be sure to stop in to NPBC 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

Restaurant photos courtesy of each respective restaurant.

Of the remaining photos, about half were taken by me (Michelle Lesley) and half by Charissa Kilburn or one of the other ladies at the conference. They got so mixed up, I’m not sure which are which. Just assume if it’s a good picture, I didn’t take it. :0) They are all used by permission.

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Faber, Virginia Conference

Recently, I traveled to scenic Faber, Virginia, and had a wonderful time sharing with the ladies of Pop Up Church, Adial Baptist Church, and many from the surrounding areas.

Tucked away amid winding country roads in the mountains of central Virginia,
Adial Baptist is a beautiful, historic church built in 1856.
When ABC was first built, men and women were segregated during the service,
and even entered and exited through separate doors,
which you can see in the rear of the sanctuary.
A sad reminder of our sinful past in the South. I am standing in one of the side balconies looking across to the other. This is where the slaves sat during the worship service. They also had separate entrances into the church.

The decor for the conference was welcoming and charming. The windowsills in the sanctuary were strewn with these delightful blue roses.

And don’t you just love these posters? The Bible verses were from my teaching sessions.

Friday night kicked off with a delicious lasagna dinner. Then, in our first teaching session, God’s Design for Biblical Womanhood, we looked at God’s unique design for womankind. God ingeniously created us differently from men because His creation wasn’t complete without womanhood in the world.

Saturday morning started with a wonderful time of doughnuts, coffee, and fellowship. In our first teaching session, Walking in Biblical Womanhood, we learned how to rock our role as godly women, walking out biblical womanhood in our day to day lives. Then we wrapped up the day with an awesome Q&A session.

Conference swag and snacks! (Thank you to my anonymous friend who made me the beautiful potholder!)

Some of the lovely ladies who attended the conference. I’m forever grateful to Melissa (in the burgundy top, bottom left), who was a superb hostess and went out of her way to make me feel at home and show me all the local points of interest. (Melissa also shared her photos and thoughts about the conference here.)

If you’re familiar with the television show, The Waltons, from the 1970’s, you may recall that it was based on the real life and memoirs of Earl Hamner. Earl was born and raised in Schuyler, Virginia, right down the road from where I was staying. He and Melissa’s dad even went to school together as children. Melissa was kind enough to take me up “Walton’s Mountain” to Schuyler to see all of the Waltons/Hamner sights.

On the way up to Schuyler, we passed through Rockfish, a neighboring town that played a major part in the show. All that’s left on the main road is the old post office and the nearby railroad tracks.

When we got to Schuyler, the first place we went was the Walton’s Mountain Museum. It is actually housed in the old Schuyler Elementary School where Earl Hamner (and Melissa’s dad) attended. They have converted several classrooms into replicas of the various sets from the television show: John-Boy’s bedroom, Ike’s store, the kitchen, the living room, and the Baldwin sisters’ parlor and “recipe machine”.

Across the street from the museum is a delightful bed and breakfast which was built to mimic the Walton home from the show.

Next door to the bed and breakfast was the actual house Earl Hamner grew up in.

Nearby in Schuyler are Schuyler Baptist Church (the church the Hamners attended), the site of Ike’s store (the original store burned down in a fire years ago), and some other points of interest.

Many thanks to Melissa, Pastor Mike Hevener, and all of the ladies and gentlemen of Pop Up Church and Adial Baptist Church who worked so hard to put on a great conference and made me feel so at home.

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

Photo of exterior of Adial Baptist Church and balloon photos courtesy of Adial Baptist Church.

All photos of Michelle by Melissa Morris.

All other photos by Michelle Lesley.

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Waterford, California Conference

I had a super time last week sharing with the wonderful ladies of Waterford, California, at First Southern Baptist Church’s women’s conference.

This was my first time traveling to northern California, and I’m indebted to everyone who took the time to show me around and tell me all about the things that make this area of the country so special, especially Pastor Greg, and the delightful couple who hosted me in their home, Lisa and Curt.

The Waterford area is covered with almond and walnut groves. This is a picturesque almond grove across the street from Curt and Lisa’s house.

Another of Curt and Lisa’s neighbors has recently acquired a few llamas. Aren’t they cute! Don’t worry, we didn’t get close enough for them to spit on us. (When I posted one of these pictures on social media, several folks corrected me that these are alpacas, not llamas. I’m no expert, and that may very well be, but here’s what I read that led me to the llama label. If I’m wrong, I stand corrected! :0)

Curt is the head of South Blossom Designs. He crafts phenomenal cutting boards, chopping blocks, serving boards, and other specialty artisan wood items. Go get a jump on your Christmas shopping!

These are some of the awesome hostess gifts and snacks from the ladies of FSBC. Those walnuts are straight from a local grove and were so fresh! And, of course, Cheerwine is my favorite, and is hard to come by where I live.

Friday night of the conference kicked off with a delicious steak dinner grilled by the fantastic men of FSBC. I also want to put a word in for one of the drink options, which was a cocktail of cranberry juice, Hawaiian Punch, and Sprite. That was super good.

And check out these lovely decorations:

Next up was our first teaching session: The Authority, Sufficiency, and Necessity of Scripture. God’s Word is vital to our lives as Christian women, sufficient to instruct us in the ways of life and godliness, and we are beholden to Scripture as the ultimate authority over our lives.

Saturday morning, after the ladies were treated to breakfast, it was time to get down to business with session two of the conference: Discernment 101: Learn to Discern. How can we tell the difference between the biblical and the cheap, unbiblical knock off? We looked at some scriptural and practical ways.

Our final session was a stimulating Q&A with lots of insightful questions. These ladies know their stuff! Afterward, it was fun getting to chat with several of the attendees:

When I travel, instead of buying souvenirs, I like to try whatever food is iconic to that area (clam chowder in Cape Cod, Chicago-style pizza, etc.). California doesn’t really have a specific iconic food, but In-N-Out is pretty close for me because I always see people raving about it online, and we don’t have In-N-Out here in Louisiana. So, for a special post-conference treat, Lisa took me to In-N-Out so I could see what all the fuss was about.

My verdict (the short version): It was good, but 5 Guys (which we do have here) is just as good. (You can check out the slightly longer version here.)

I also got to try some northern California style Mexican food (which is different from the southern New Mexico style Mexican food I grew up on and the Tex-Mex Louisiana offers), which was excellent, and a delectable Latin dish called Chipotle Milanesa at Cafe Bravo in Oakdale.

All too soon, it was time to head back home. I even got a few good pictures from the plane:

Looks like some of the mountains already got a light dusting of snow.

Considering our flight plan, I’m almost sure this is part of the Grand Canyon. It’s kind of hard to tell from the pictures, I guess. And, I didn’t get a picture of it, but I saw a dam that sure looked like it was the Hoover Dam, which also would have been in keeping with our flight plan. Besides Tiger Stadium all lit up at night at LSU, those are the coolest things I’ve ever seen from a plane.

Nothing special, and the lighting is terrible, I just really like the geometric pattern of these circular, square and triangular fields.

Many thanks to Pastor Greg, Lisa, Curt, and all of the ladies and gentlemen of FSBC who worked so hard to put on a great conference and made me feel so at home. If you’re ever in the Waterford, California, area, be sure to stop by and visit First Southern Baptist Church of Waterford.

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

Photo of chopping block courtesy of South Blossom Designs.

All photos and videos of Michelle by Lisa Cowan.

All other photos by Michelle Lesley.

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Rooted in Christ Conference

What a pleasure it was to share with the wonderful ladies of Ekalaka Bible Church in beautiful Ekalaka, Montana, for the Rooted In Christ Conference.

I flew into Rapid City, South Dakota, which is just down the road from Mt. Rushmore. Since I had never been there before, Pastor Jon, his lovely wife Kati, and their super sweet kiddos, Liam and Evangeline, were kind enough to take me there for a quick tourist stop before we headed north for Ekalaka.

As if taking me to Mt. Rushmore weren’t gracious enough, they also drove me up into Black Hills National Forest where we saw Spearfish Canyon and Bridal Veil Falls. I was there a little too early in the year for the full fall color “leaf peeping” experience, but one species of tree (no idea which one) had already turned an eye-popping yellow, and those were absolutely exquisite.

As we headed up toward Ekalaka, we passed through Belle Fourche, South Dakota, where the geographic center of the United States is located, as well as Sturgis, South Dakota, home of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Along the way, it was fun to see small herds of deer and antelope roaming the open fields. And have you ever seen such a beautiful sunset?

The natural beauty of Montana is stunning. Kati has quite a way with flowers. Look at these beauties at her house:

Saturday afternoon was day one of the conference, and the ladies of EBC had things looking spiffy. Check out these charming decorations:

Session one was Walking in Biblical Womanhood. We took a look – mostly from Genesis – at God’s perfect creative design for womanhood. After a delicious homemade lasagna supper, it was time for session two: Walking In Biblical Womanhood. God wants us to fill out Creation with godly womanhood, not buy into the feminist narrative that we have to be exactly like men to have any value.

Do I laugh at my own jokes? It’s a dirty job,
but somebody’s got to do it! :0)
Chatting after the conference

After a warm time of worship with the EBC branch of the family Sunday morning, it was time for day two of the conference that afternoon. Our first session was a stimulating Q&A with lots of insightful questions. Following another hearty supper of homemade soups and sandwiches, our final session was Discernment 101: Learn to Discern. How can we tell the difference between the biblical and the cheap, unbiblical knock off? We looked at some scriptural and practical ways.

Door prizes
My lovely hostess gifts from the ladies of EBC. The pendants each have a line from a hymn in them. Kati picked out this water bottle before she even knew I was going to be speaking on the Armor of God passage! Providence!

Bright and early (well, actually, it was really early so it wasn’t bright yet) Monday morning, I had to say goodbye to the delightful town of Ekalaka and wing my way back home. On my first flight I had the pleasure of sitting next to a very nice lady named Jodie. She and her husband were flying home from visiting some of the same sites I had seen in South Dakota, and she was kind enough to show me her pictures. Some of the pictures were of the crafts she creates and sells in her Etsy shop, and they were just so adorable and well crafted that I had to share them with you. Head on over and do some early Christmas shopping at Jodieshappyhill. (And I believe she might add some more items, so you may want to check back every now and then.)

Many thanks to Pastor Jon, Kati, the kind ladies I had lunch with on Saturday and Sunday, and all of the conference attendees and members of EBC for your warm hospitality and for making my trip so memorable. If you ever find yourself in rural southeastern Montana, I highly recommend you make it a point to visit with the fine brothers and sisters of Ekalaka Bible Church.

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

Photos of Michelle speaking / chatting, conference dinner by Kati Champlin.

Sunset photo by Tina Brady.

All other photos by Michelle Lesley.

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Nashville, Arkansas, Women’s Conference

It was such a joy to be with the ladies in the Nashville, Arkansas area again at Maranatha Baptist Church’s 2021 women’s conference.

When I first saw this sign, there was a beautiful herd of cows behind it, but by the time I had a chance to take pictures, they had moooved on to greener pastures!

Last year at MBC’s conference, I spoke on biblical womanhood. This year, we tackled the topic of discernment in session one: Discernment 101: Learn to Discern. How can we tell the difference between the biblical and the cheap, unbiblical knock off? We looked at some scriptural and practical ways. Modesty seems to be a current kerfuffle in evangelicalism, so dressing our bodies while addressing our hearts was the order of business for session two. Next was a delicious chicken salad lunch (with some out of this world cookies for dessert!). And, wow, did these ladies have some smart and insightful questions in our final Q&A session!

If you like, you can listen to the audio from these teaching sessions at MBC’s Sermon Audio page as soon as they’re posted. (The modesty session was a condensed version of the three part podcast series on modesty Amy and I recorded earlier this year on A Word Fitly Spoken.)

Hostess gifts

One of the things traveling for speaking engagements has taught me is a deeper appreciation and longing for graciousness, generosity, and hospitality, which all seem to flow so naturally from the many pastors and women’s ministry directors I’ve worked with. Those are not things at which I feel I excel, but I aspire for God to grow me in those areas. My hosts, Margaret and Tom, as well as Pastor Bruce, and everyone at MBC were so kind and treated me like a queen.

Benjamin keeping us on the road.

And last, but not least, see this guy? This is my second to youngest (19) son Benjamin. Some of you may have heard me mention on the podcast (A Word Fitly Spoken), that Benjamin is our producer, which he does out of the goodness of his heart and on top of a nearly full time job, plus church responsibilities and activities. This young man insisted on taking off work to spend two full days driving me to and from the conference and serving as my handler during the trip. I didn’t have to lift a finger for anything, and had everything I needed, thanks to him. I hope I’m not embarrassing him, but I’m just so grateful to God for blessing us with such a fine, godly young man for a son.

I had an awesome trip to Arkansas, and it was such an honor to teach the lovely ladies of Nashville. Many thanks to Margaret, Tom, Pastor Bruce, and all the hard-working men and women of Maranatha Baptist Church for your sweet hospitality and for putting on such a wonderful conference. I highly recommend this warm and welcoming church to anyone in southwest Arkansas who is looking for a doctrinally sound body of Believers to join.

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

Photos of Michelle speaking by Benjamin Lesley.

All other photos by Michelle Lesley.