Soma Women's Conference 2016: "Because of Christ"

Last Saturday, 110 women gathered together to hear teaching from God's Word and stories of God's everyday faithfulness in the lives of sisters within our church community. The theme was "Because of Christ," from Paul's letter to the Philippians. The event was entirely planned by the women of Soma, with the support and encouragement of our elders and staff.

We started the day grabbing coffee and breakfast in the gallery. Ladies from both the downtown and midtown congregations reunited, and some of our relatives joined us for the day, too. We headed into the sanctuary where we were greeted by Emily Shields, wife of Pastor Brandon. (You'll often find Emily behind the scenes in Soma Kids or just talking with folks in between services, so it was a pleasure to see and hear her heart for our women!) Traci Stahley, wife of Midtown elder Josh, also emceed throughout the day. You could hear the Lord stirring in Traci's heart as she introduced speakers and storytellers. Each lady took the stage with contagious excitement and humble confidence.

Robin Mackinnon, who serves as the Director of Soma Kids at Midtown, spoke from Philippians 1. She introduced the book to us by explaining some of its background. She stirred our imaginations and helped us appreciate the thrill of receiving a letter – especially from the apostle Paul. As we understand the significance of the book to its original readers, we can understand its significance for us today.

However, Robin didn't merely get us excited about hearing the rest of the book; she showed us that "because of Christ, we can live in a manner worthy of the gospel." She helped us remember that we represent the gospel we've been graciously entrusted when we stand in bold, unified strength in the face of suffering. In her concluding statement she said, "Suffering is like a grace in disguise." What a truth to ponder as we each experience our own kinds of suffering– from constant car problems to uncertain political times and beyond!

After Robin introduced us to Philippians, Mollie Hall shared how God has continued teaching her to rest in who he is, rather than fret about what she's not. Her words resounded with ours when she said, "'I'm not enough, but I should be' is a lie that can only be replaced by the truth that 'I'm not enough, but I don't have to be.'" As we heard more from Philippians, we learned all the more that this is true because of who Christ is and what he has done for us.

Jodi Sarver spoke with the efficiency and compassion that comes from being a mother of four children and her years of experience working with college students with Cru. She confronted our selfishness, our uniquely feminine way of struggling with rivalry and conceit (namely, comparison), and our insecurities that often turn into idols. She ended her talk by reminding us that "out of God's love we love each other and we love the world." We learned from Jodi that "because of Christ we can love differently."

Adrienne Evans shared her story of God redeeming her life from unhealthy eating and exercise habits. She told her story honestly, and reminded us that often God's work in our lives is over the long haul, and that we must continue to cooperate in his work. Because of Christ we can be victorious even as we continue to fight strongholds in our lives.

We had so much truth to digest over lunch, which included an amazing spread of soups, salads, and mini pies from Soma’s very own Lauren Wiley, founder of Ruby’s Bakehouse. It was a great time to relax, connect, and of course visit the photo booth!

To kick off the afternoon, Mary Buente recounted the story of God's faithfulness in the mundane as she moved from living on her own and into a house with several roommates. At the time, she saw no reason why she was doing this, and the only perk was that she saved some money. Shortly into life with her new roommates, she came to realize that she needed to use the money she was saving to help her mom. As Mary told her story, we saw a God who gives grace for transitions in life, who continues to heal broken people and relationships, and who gives joy in every season of life.

Jody Barbour, wife of Bobby, mom of three crazy kiddos, and friend to each person she talks to, shared the hope we have when we truly rest in Christ. She reminded us to embrace the reality of being a struggling saint, and to focus on the goal of living out our trust in God. One way we do this by staying in healthy community where we call out sin and call each other to fix our eyes on Christ.

Tara Gornik shared God's grace in her family's move overseas as missionaries and then back stateside. Through culture shock, reverse culture shock, and doing work she'd never imagined doing, Tara showed us a God who is faithful when life starts taking a course you never mapped out.

Deb Dunlevy spoke with a rawness you'd expect from someone of the previously-Grunge-styled and deconstructionistic Generation X. We saw the hope of Christ shine through her as she pointed out the things that steal our joy. She admonished us to, like the psalmists, be frank with God about our anger, our despair, and our brokenness. She encouraged us to come to our good Father with the things we want, trusting his heart to deny us the things that are not good for us and to give only what's best. She reminded us that life in Christ is free.

At the end of the day, we had so many truths to ponder, so much to be thankful for because of Christ. The best part is knowing that the journey doesn’t end here. We were encouraged to continue learning and growing in the context of community, specifically through discipleship groups.