**Disclaimer: the thoughts and 'lessons' in this post are directly from Ms. Carol Kent and what I took away from her messages, including my own notes and thoughts.**
Carol Kent was by far my favorite speaker at this conference. Her testimony was heartbreaking and powerful all at the same time. Her son, Jason Kent, is serving a life sentence for first degree murder without the possibility of parole, and he's using it to serve the Lord and help other inmates (for more on his story, go here, and for his mother's story, go here). I knew nothing of Carol or Jason's story before the conference that day, and when she gave an "update" on her son, I was basically in shock. This woman, this God-fearing woman, had her world ripped from beneath her feet when her son committed murder. Her only son. And instead of losing control, she fought even harder to serve God and know that He was in control of everything. It deepened her faith and the faith of her husband, Gene. It was truly remarkable to hear her speak about the events surrounding her son's incarceration. Even with everything going on in her life, she still had a spark in her eyes for God. She radiated joy and happiness, and her only child is incarcerated for the rest of his natural life. This woman is strength and the absolute image of a faithful Christian. She's a role model if I've ever seen one! God knew how badly I needed to her her messages that day.
Carol's message was on how to grow a wildfire of faith.
1. Trials are inevitable.
2. Trials are for a purpose.
3. Embrace the purpose of embers.
*This one stuck out to me. Sometimes, we just need to blow on the little glowing light of God in our life, no matter how small, and it can turn into a wildfire. All you need is to stir the pot.
4. Document what the Lord has done.
*Just like the story of Moses in Exodus 3:2-12
5. Pierce your world with light.
6. Review the truth of the shekinah glory of God.
7. Meet the God of the flame.
In Carol's second session that morning, she talked of 7 Life-Changing Principles:
1. Time alone with God.
Spending time alone with God is crucial in our daily walk. Some are morning people and others are night owls. I've been struggling with this for the past few months in trying to figure out the best time for me to spend some alone time with God, as I'm definitely not a morning person. Per Carol's advice, though, we should each due this at the peak time of the day, whether it be bright and early in the morning, during our lunch break, or in the peace of the evening. She also recommended writing out your prayers to stay in line with God's truth. This is also something I'm going to begin working on, and it'll help me to see what God is laying on my heart time and time again, and to pay attention to the things that come up most often.
2. Walking & Talking
We should practice walking and talking in line with the Lord. All too often, especially with today's technology, we're distracted. In Carol's words, "Turn interruptions into divine appointments." So much truth.
We've got to tell the stories of what's happened in our lives. We can't simply keep it to ourselves. Share the glory! If God is working in your life, don't be afraid to shout it from the rooftops. Your story matters. Belief is reviewing, meditating, and rehearsing. We're all on a journey, some longer than others, but Carol taught me that I've got to share what God has taught me in the middle of my journey. Right now, he's teaching me grace and strength in Him. I'm deepening my relationship with the Lord in ways I could never fathom before, and I'm loving every minute of it.
“Be still, and know that I am God"
4. Asking Questions
For this, turn to the Gospels. Look for the questions that Jesus asked, and you'll see they aren't simply yes or no questions. Some important and profound questions that were asked of Carol were, "What makes you weep and pound the table?" and "What is enough?" These are definitely great questions, of which I'll be turning into blog posts of themselves in the near future :). But don't be afraid to ask questions.
Compassion is the heart's response to a person's need combined with a helping hand of mercy and grace. Carol asked us a very serious and soul-searching question: WHAT DID YOU DO TODAY THAT ONLY A CHRISTIAN WOULD DO? That day, the answer was a little more obvious: we went to a Christian women's conference! But the days since have been a little harder to answer. It helps me strive to be better and to extend compassion to those suffering around me. After all, we all suffer.
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
6. Casting Vision
This one struck a chord with me. She told us to verbalize others' giftedness and build them up in their faith. We aren't all good at the same things. We're made differently and have different special abilities (not like we're superheroes or anything...). It's important to be proud of those abilities and to build each other up instead of being green with envy, praying and hoping that one day I might be good at singing or running or counter intelligence.
7. Unconditional Love
Jesus loves me completely. God uses weak things to praise Him, so hang your weakness on His strength and give Him the glory! No matter whether you're at your lowest low or highest high, He loves you just where you are and accepts all of your flaws and shortcomings. Lord knows I have plenty of those! Yet, He loves me and shows me His strength and mercy time and time again. As long as I keep running into His arms, He'll never let me fall.
This conference was one I cherished and learned a great deal from. I walked away refreshed and my faith newly lit. It also affirmed a lot of things that have been on my heart lately which I so desperately needed. I'm very quickly becoming a fan of these conferences and look forward to participating in more and more as time goes on. I'm so blessed to be surrounded by my Savior's love for me and people that share in my passion for God.