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tragedy

Bible Studies, Blog, Faith, Parenting, prayer, Spiritual Gifts, Writing

Women’s Battles Show with Vickie Oakley, March 22

Imagine it is a normal, routine day for you. But imagine that day turns out to be the worst nightmare of your life: your precious child’s life is suddenly taken. 

How can a parent bare his or her own child’s death? How can you even go on any more from the intense grief?

Join International Speaker/Host Beth Jones with her special guest Vickie Oakley for this powerful episode as Vickie shares about the day her 17 year old daughter was involved in a 2-car accident, with both cars filled with teens. 

“All of the kids in those cars went home, except my daughter. That night she went to the funeral home,” Vickie says.

Yet through her relationship with Christ, Vickie found hope and faith. Ironically, her daughter’s name was Hope.

Vickie will be sharing how God has turned her life around through her daughter’s death for God’s glory.

We’d love for you to join us in the chat room on Saturday, March 22, 2014, @ 10 a.m. Central Time (11 a.m. Eastern Time) by clicking here.

You can also call into the show.

The call-in details are below:

Talkshoe Phone Number: (724) 444-7444
Call ID: 98698

Vickie has been married to her husband for 19 years, and is the mother of 2 children, 1 surviving, 1 deceased. She is the Director of Human Resources for a 120-person engineering firm.

Vickie has a Doctorate in Ministry in Christian Counseling, a Masters in Human Resource Development, a B.S. in Psychology and Sociology, and is a Certified Life Coach by the International Christian Coach’s Association. She has taught Sunday School for 25 years and loves to teach the Bible. Vickie has been involved in Women’s Ministry for 10 years. Her favorite books in the Bible are Isaiah and John. She currently attends CrossWay Ministries Church in Andalusia, AL.

She is an avid photographer and motorcyclist, riding hers and her husband’s Harley Davidson motorcycle. She loves to read God’s word, write, and speak. She has 2 fur babies, Blue, an American bulldog, and Harley, a Daschund.

We’d love for you to join us for this show, and be sure to invite a friend!

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Grey sleeping cat -"Image courtesy of [papaija2008] / FreeDigitalPhotos.ne
Blog, Faith, Homeschooling, Marriage, Parenting, prayer, Spiritual Gifts, Writing

Shades of Grey

Grey sleeping cat -"Image courtesy of  [papaija2008] / FreeDigitalPhotos.ne

Image courtesy of [papaija2008] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net/

Today after I bought groceries and returned home, I was feeling fashionably cute and comfortable in my leopard-print blouse, short black skirt, black tights, and tall black boots and am thankful that temps here in the midwest aren’t still below zero after the “polar vortex” winter storm suddenly hit the U.S. Yes, I was finally outside, breathing fresh air!

As I walked on the short sidewalk leading to the steps of our back door, I noticed the icy sludge that crunched under my boots and immediately thought how different the weather conditions here are compared to the intense humid heat in Kenya, where Ray and I recently traveled to speak at a conference.

What a contrast. I began musing how life itself has so many contrasts. Shades of grey, even among people.

The saved and the unsaved. The rich and the poor. Men and women (Mars and Venus). The married and the single, widowed, or divorced.

Even in marriage, there is such stark contrast. An eternal covenant, a man and a woman uniting and becoming one flesh, such happy memories of their children and grandchildren. But also a lightning flash moment of intense pain and rage, when a single betrayal causing overwhelming hurt threatens to unravel and annihilate 10, 15, or 25 years of marriage.

Contrast like this is difficult for me to understand. Why isn’t it just one way or the other? It should be so much simpler, either a happy marriage or an unhappy marriage. A satisfying, beautiful life or a miserable, unhappy life. Black or white.

Unhappy couple

Unhappy couple

Why is there mixture? Why is there grey?

I am and have always been a very black-and-white thinker. Right is right; wrong is wrong. With me, there’s not a lot of “grey” area. My mind often runs AGV Italo-train fast, cleaving like a thick piece of raw steak thoughts, ideas, and people into neat, precise categories.

I love those short black boots; those beige dress shoes are ugly.

Mexican food is my favorite meal and I could eat it every day; beets are gross and disgusting.

Sandi Krakowski greatly inspires me as a woman entrepreneur; Lady Gaga really knows how to market and loves her fans, but she is offensive and ridiculous.

Black or white. No shades of grey.

He loves me; he loves me not.

She stays; she’s leaving. 

Loves me, loves me not, loves me

Loves me, loves me not, loves me…

Yet without the grey, without contrasts and mixture, there’s no room for grace – God’s grace and our own grace…grace for us to receive, grace for us to extend to others in return. God, I am so deficient in grace; help me.

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. – Ephesians 2: 8-9, NLT

Grace means to get something that you don’t deserve ~ God’s unmerited favor. Mercy means that you do not get a punishment that you deserve ~ God’s compassion. (Resource: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/20-inspirational-bible-verses-about-grace/)

Everything isn’t always divided so cleanly, like a man chewing on a pork chop until only the bone remains, without even the fat.

Compartmentalizing all of life (even God’s word and people) into either black or white categories is much simpler and easier for us, but it’s devoid of grace, which is like color to an artist’s canvas.

Copyright 2012 Leah Jones

Copyright 2012 Leah Jones

Ansel Adams preferred and became famous for working with black and white photography, as he felt color was distracting and could divert a photographer’s attention away from achieving his full potential. But color makes a room, an outfit, a painting come alive.

Grace is the vibrant, beautiful color that brings us to life. And sometimes that color is grey.

Not everything is black and white. Not everything fits neatly into categories.

Life has contrasts. Life has joy. Life has pain. A woman in labor will cry, scream, and even rage at her husband or coach to go away and leave her the #?! alone. She will say she just can’t do this anymore; it hurts too much. But when that beautiful baby is born, she laughs, kisses her little one, and is filled with joy at the most beautiful baby in the whole world. (My babies certainly fit this title!)

 

mom and her baby

A mom and her baby

Marriage and family are filled with precious, happy, good memories. There’s also pain that stabs unexpectedly and instantly, and this is the grey area, the contrasts, the place that gives room for grace to abound.

John testified about Him and cried out, This was He of Whom I said, He Who comes after me has priority over me, for He was before me. [He takes rank above me, for He existed before I did. He has advanced before me, because He is my Chief.]
For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift. ~ John 1: 15-17, Amplified Bible

We ponder many perplexing things in life, like why there are so many starving people in the world, why women and children are being trafficked globally more than ever before as sexual slaves, why innocent people are tragically hurt or killed, why governments become corrupt, why sick people aren’t always healed. Ultimately the 2 questions we are asking in our hearts in these situations are:

  • Why do bad things happen?
  • Does God know or care about this and is He still good?

This week on Facebook, I was shocked and horrified to read the status of one of my “Facebook friends” – a woman I’ve never met in real life and don’t know very well, except by her face and her usually positive, encouraging posts. This is what her status said:

My daughter died.

Oh my God. Her daughter was having emergency surgery and that is all I know now. I don’t think anything could be more difficult or horrible to go through. Words are simply inadequate for a situation like this. The last time I checked, she had hundreds of comments (including my post), saying we were praying for her.

Why? Why did this happen? I don’t know. Shades of grey.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know one thing: God is love and God is good. He’s not like people. His ways are far above ours. (1 John 4:8; Isaiah 55: 8-9)

Jesus on cross

Jesus on cross

And He longs to shower us with His grace, comfort and strength, and wants us to become overflowing fountains of grace to others.

Grace supplied from God…in the heart-wrenching, painful shades of grey. Grace we give to ourselves and others…in the shades of grey. 

Man and woman embracing

Image courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Difficult, agonizing lessons so that we might be molded into His perfect image. The Man of Sorrows.

Jesus wept. (John 11:35)

The suffering servant,

So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. John 13: 4-5, NLT

The only Son of God, who was accused, tortured, bled and died for you and me so we could know and be with God forever. The ultimate Grace Giver.

Now Wonderful, Counselor, Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV

What are your thoughts on this? Are you a very black and white thinker, too? This week think about those areas that are “shades of grey.” They are opportunities to study grace. Leave your comments below.

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Me and my precious friend Shelley Valasek, at the fountains by Crowne Center, Kansas City, MO
Blog, Business, Faith, prayer, Spiritual Gifts, Travel

The RELEASED Women’s Conference was amazing!

Heather Denney laughing at RELEASED Women's Conference

Our daughter Heather Denney laughing at RELEASED! Women’s Conference

Has God ever told you to do something that you didn’t want to do?

In my experience, if I really don’t want to do something, it’s usually God.

That’s how I felt after I spoke at Doreen Penner’s retreat in Canada and she mentioned coming to visit me here in America and us having a retreat here.

I didn’t want to be rude. I love Doreen. She’s an awesome person. I wanted to see her again.

But as soon as she said it, I thought, “Oh, NO! God is going to make me do another women’s retreat!” I’d planned and hosted two before, and I knew they are:

  • a lot of hard work
  • a lot of stress
  • a lot of expense.

And guess who’d be doing the hard work? Me. And who’d probably be paying for most of it? Ray and me. I didn’t want to deal with the stress, either.

I balked. I resisted. I dug in my heels and wouldn’t even answer her the first two times she mentioned it.

The third time Doreen mentioned it, I knew I needed to answer her. I prayed to God and talked to Ray about it.  I hoped they’d both say no.

To my chagrin, God told me to do it and Ray said he thought I should do it.

SIGH.

I’m glad I did now. 🙂

team

RELEASED! Women’s Conference Team
Karen Wells, Doreen Penner, Naima Johnston-Bush, Helen Reimer
Front Row: Rochelle Valasek, Beth Jones

The powerful worship and the freedom of dance

The worship and praise was led by Dr. Naima Johnston-Bush. What a voice! I didn’t want her to stop singing.

Many women said the worship and praise was one of the most powerful parts of the conference. Women laughed, cried, and danced.

Worship/praise leader Naima Johnston-Bush

Worship/praise leader Naima Johnston-Bush

When I saw my friend Suzy Bunton dancing out front and the young girls dancing in the back of the room, all I could do was smile. God’s presence was there. That’s all that mattered to me.

Suzy said that God told her to kick off her shoes, wave a banner, and dance. She’s been in pain in her hips lately, but as soon as she started dancing, the pain subsided. Dancing sets you free.

The anointed speakers – the rhema word

Each of the speakers shared a rhema, timely, anointed word that imparted truth and hope to the 39 women present.

Speaker Helen Reimer

Speaker Helen Reimer

  • Helen Reimer shared about her quadruplet sister dying in utero and one of her triplet sisters and her mother dying in a tragic car accident when Helen was only 4 years old. She was told they were “sleeping” at the funeral home and didn’t understand why they wouldn’t wake up. At the funeral service, she witnessed dirt being shoveled on top of the caskets and began screaming and crying because they were throwing dirt on top of her sister and her mother. She also shared about her numerous childhood sexual abuse incidents. Many women came up to Helen afterward to share with her that they, too, had been sexually abused in childhood. Helen shared the healing she’s experienced and the hope she has today through faith in Christ. Women cried during Helen’s presentation time. God’s presence in the room was strong as she shared her powerful story.

 

Speaker Rochelle Valasek

Speaker Rochelle Valasek

  • Shelley Valasek shared about her many medical problems and the nearly-fatal car wreck she had last year when she almost died. When she showed the power point picture of her car that was like a smashed can, the audience gasped. Shelley’s message is that God has a Divine Purpose for your life. You will not leave this earth until that purpose is established. Shelley’s presentation moved many women to tears, especially one young woman in the audience. Each time Shelley speaks, she gives away a little gift to an audience member whom God shows her during her speaking time. For this conference, she’d bought a beautiful, “bling” butterfly thumb ring and gave it away to a young woman who is recently widowed and a single mom, whom she knew nothing about – it was God! I talked with this woman during a break and she had tears of happiness in her eyes from this gift from Shelley. She had been deeply touched by Shelley’s presentation and this gift. God amazes me how He does things!
Speaker Doreen Penner

Speaker Doreen Penner

  •  Doreen Penner shared about the transformation of the caterpillar to the butterfly. When Doreen first mentioned having a conference here, she envisioned a yellow butterfly and felt the theme would be one of freedom and transformation. God gave me the word “released,” and our incredibly talented, artistic daughter Leah drew a yellow butterfly and a yellow daffodil with her graphic art tablet, that became our logo for the conference.
Daffodil-butterfly-copyright-2013-leah-jones

Daffodil-butterfly-copyright-2013-Leah-Jones

(I was so thankful that both our daughters, Heather and Leah, helped me so much to prepare for this conference and attended.)

Our daughter Leah

Our daughter Leah in the pretty green blouse and black pants she wore to the RELEASED Women’s Conference

Some of the highlights from Doreen’s presentation were that

(a) God has a dream for you (you’re meant to fly!);

(b) God needs to first prepare you for your calling (the caterpillar must grow to become the beautiful butterfly it was meant to be);

(c) Transformation involves FAITH, developing your character, and timing (the caterpillar can’t leave the cocoon early. God has the perfect timing for you to fly.);

(d) God wants you to be set free – free to BE, free to SERVE, and free to LOVE. Doreen is one of the most polished, professional speakers I’ve ever seen. She is filled with wisdom and exudes peace. She gave us the spiritual “meat” for this conference. I loved what Doreen said: “Spread your wings. You never know how far you will fly.” AMEN!

Karen Wells

Speaker Karen Wells

Karen Wells talked about the freedom of forgiveness. When we forgive, we are set free! A few of the ways we can identify that we are holding onto unforgiveness are:

  1. You feel emotional pain.
  2. You’re waiting for someone else to be sorry.
  3. You feel like it’s too hard.
  4. The person will only do it again.
  5. You’ve tried and it didn’t work.
  6. You don’t feel like forgiving.

Forgiveness is a decision, a choice. Jesus by choice died on the cross so you could be forgiven. He is our example. Forgiveness sets us, the prisoner, free!

One thing which Karen said which struck the women was that maybe the person we need to forgive is ourselves. Karen’s presentation and personality of joy and laughter truly blessed the women.

RELEASED! Women's Conference, Kansas City, MO area

RELEASED! Women’s Conference, Kansas City, MO area

The Italian catered lunch

With this event, I knew I’d have way too much to do to cook or even to delegate cooking, so I had the lunch catered by Perazelli’s Italian Restaurant. I never really got a chance to sample it other than a couple of bites, because I was so busy, but I heard it was delizioso: they served salad, meat lasagna, bread with garlic butter, and cheesecake for dessert.

At 12 noon, they brought the food that had warmers underneath, set it down on the table, and the women dug in. Easy – love it! I also loved the cute purple and yellow butterfly paper plates, cups, and napkins I found online. Catering was DEFINITELY the right decision!

Catered Italian lunch

Catered Italian lunch

My friend Ruth Christian also made chocolate brownies for the afternoon snack, which were EXTRA delicious!

My wonderful helpers!

I’m so thankful to:

  • God for His wonderful, loving presence at the conference;
  • My hard-working, devoted husband Ray Jones for being a work horse the last 6 months to help (financially) make this conference happen;
  • My team of intercessors who faithfully prayed the last 6 months for me, my family, and this conference;
  • My amazing team of personal assistants who unselfishly said yes to God, encouraged me, and worked so hard to help make this wonderful event happen;
  • Our incredibly generous sponsors who donated 21 (yes, twenty-one!) door prizes and contributed to the women’s goody bags. Sponsors, YOU MADE AN INCREDIBLE DIFFERENCE IN WOMEN’S LIVES!
Some of the sponsors' doorprizes

Some of the sponsors’ doorprizes

Words aren’t enough to thank you all! I couldn’t have done this without all of you!

Attendees Lindsey Dawson, Heather Denney, Simmie McMillan, and Sandy Cunningham

Attendees Lindsey Dawson, Heather Denney, Simmie McMillan, and Sandy Cunningham

What women said about this conference

“I just wanted to say thank you for hosting and sponsoring this special day. Each of the women who spoke had such powerful messages and I took something away from each of them. Even though I was raised in church, I am still young in my Christianity and am looking to women like these to learn from… Today was awesome and I’m truly looking forward to your next women’s faith event. In Christ, Lindsey Dawson.”

“Thoroughly enjoyed conference. Loved the theme. The worship music and prayer was powerful.The speakers were incredible. Food and snacks delicious and perfect. So well organized and could not miss that seeing/sensing the heart of God for all involved was a key ingredient in the preparation and activities. The seven hours just flew by.”- Carol Nyhan

“Beth did a super job with intro’s and pulling all this together. Naima was very awesome. Helen did so good sharing her testimony and I was very touched. Rochelle shared about “empathy,” which brought understanding. Doreen’s presentation was clear and concise. I appreciated being encouraged that caterpillars change from the inside out. Karen was phenomenal, very well done, relatable, fun, and a great blessing.”

“The music was very anointed. I got free from some weights during praise.”

“Overall, the whole experience was wonderful.”

“The speaking time, the experiences shared, the continuing growth, and the wisdom shared was invaluable.”

“Beth Jones’ Released Conference 2013 was a joy and a privilege to be a part of. With amazing attention to detail, spiritual discernment and great wisdom, Beth crafted a conference that was truly anointed. The presence of the Lord was greatly felt as she served as first a prayer warrior for all in attendance and then as a gifted hostess for the event. Beth truly hears from the Lord, adjusting as needed, serving willingly and putting together an event that truly released many women from bondage, fear and personal struggles. As the Worship Leader for this event, Beth’s planning and prayer set the atmosphere for me to minister in freedom! I would be honored to attend or serve at another event hosted by Beth Jones. She is truly equipping women to use their gifts for God!” – Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Broken Box Ministries

The highlight for this conference was meeting my precious friend Rochelle Valasek from the Nashville, TN, area for the first time in person. “Shelley” and I have been online friends for about a year now and have talked a lot about getting together. I am so happy and excited that I finally got to HUG my dear, sweet friend. Shelley is one of the most loving, giving people I’ve ever met. She’s even more wonderful in person! I already miss her SO much!

Me and my precious friend Shelley Valasek, at the fountains by Crowne Center, Kansas City, MO

Me and my precious friend Shelley Valasek, at the fountains by Crowne Center, Kansas City, MO

This weekend was one of joy, freedom, and transformation through the power of God.

I learned many new things which I’ll be sharing in the weeks ahead. One is which I am the one who deeply needs to be transformed.

Me in my olive green dress, little black jacket, and tall black boots, the night before the conference when our team went out to dinner

Me in my olive green dress, little black jacket, and tall black boots, the night before the conference when our team went out to dinner

This conference was amazing. To Jesus Christ be all the praise and the honor and the glory, forever and ever, amen!

Our cross centerpiece. During the "Butterfly Exercise," we wrote down what we needed to release to God to be free on paper butterflies and laid them down at the foot of the cross.

Our cross centerpiece. During the “Butterfly Exercise,” we wrote down what we needed to release to God to be free on paper butterflies and laid them down at the foot of the cross.

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