My Time Out for Women Weekend, On Stage and Off

Teresa presents at the Minneapolis Time Out For Women

Yes, that’s me on stage at Time Out For Women in the Minneapolis Convention Center this weekend. The show’s producers asked me to present my essay about one truth I know—no matter what. The theme of the women’s event, which will be held in more than 20 cities in 2009, is Sweet Assurance, the certainty that comes when you know life’s truths. The truth I know is that God’s grace enables me to see beyond my own weakness to reach out and love others.

To share the same stage as singer/entertainer Michael McLean, singer/songwriter Cherie Call, and authors and speakers Brent Top, Deanne Flynn, Mary Ellen Edmunds, Brad and Debi Wilcox, and Kim Nelson made me nervous. And while I’ve spoken in front of large audiences, I’ve never done so on a stage alongside professional presenters and musicians. But, they were generous in their encouragement individually to me and inspirational examples as performers.

The most entertaining creative treat was listening to Michael McLean and Cherie Call tell the inspirational stories behind the songs they sang. Music speaks to many people like words speak to me. I could hear their artistic passion and that stoked mine for my current writing project.

I liked Deanne Flynn’s reminder to focus on the essentials in a family, but Brad and Debi Wilcox reminded me that laughter is also essential.  All the presenters gave genuine and lighthearted presentations without detracting from the depth of their messages. I can learn from that.

The one thing I wished I’d known before I went on stage was that the bright spotlights would blind me from being able to see the audience. When I speak, I like to focus on one or two individuals in the audience and continue to return to them to gauge their feedback and feed off their reactions. This assures me that my message is being received.

On stage, though, the spotlight disconnected me from the audience. I could not see them. Not being able to gauge their reactions humbled me, but it also taught me.

I can receive all the praise and feedback of those who hear or see or read something that I create, but in the end there is only one who’s acknowledgment will be sure and lasting. I can only rely upon the Spirit of God in my heart as my most reliable source of affirmations and personal feedback to know that I’ve succeeded.

That truth, learned in the moment of delivering my essay, works hand-in-hand with what I presented. The grace of God, not the praise of man, strengthens and uplift us. That’s what I gained on and off stage this weekend in my Time Out.


  1. Carrie
    Oct 26, 2009

    I love the essay, read it if you haven’t yet! I have heard the story of the hibiscus before but this time I really started to ponder the symbolism, really cool.

  2. David
    Oct 27, 2009

    Congratulations – it is apparent that the other speakers were in good company having you there. The essay was meaningful to me in that I knew Lily and her husband… great job on the essay and congrats again on being able to speak at the Time Out for Women weekend.

  3. Camille
    Oct 29, 2009

    “He gave me the power to distinguish his voice above my internal battle, and trust that His love was enough for me to respond.” Oh those internal battles! They can get the best of us sometimes. Thanks for the “sweet” reminder to listen for his voice and the Spirit! And I’ve been pondering your kitchen wall too. 🙂 I’m very familiar with that scripture and all that it implies having learned it and then taught it to others, and then re-learned it and taught it again. It must be time to re-learn it again! That’s what I need to practice “listening” for, all of those fruits.
    And did you cry when you presented your essay! I’m sure I would have.

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