We women often feel like we spend a lot of time pouring ourselves out, juggling a variety of responsibilities. Yesterday I wrote for a couple of hours, then worked at my part-time job for seven hours, came home and created something out the the nothing that was in the pantry for dinner, then quizzed my daughter on her history “key terms” for an hour and a half to prep for a test. By the time I fell into bed at about 10 p.m. my neck hurt.

busy_momToday was much the same–an early morning dentist appointment, couple of hours at my part-time job, then a block of writing time (which is my full-time job), and a quick trip to the grocery store. After checking in with my kids when they got home from school, I’m back on the computer, a working from home mom trying to get it all done.

It’s important, in the midst of days like these, to find a way to replenish our reserves. Use whatever analogy works for you: put on your own oxygen mask first, prime the pump, fill your cup, whatever. All of us, men and women, must be filled if we are to pour out. We must stop and let God fill us with his love and power, so that we can pour it into our families, our work, our ministry. There are small, daily practices, like taking some time for quiet reflection and prayer before starting a busy day, or spending a bit of time with a friend for coffee and conversation, that can refuel us. But once in a while, we need a little more extended time of replenishment and inspiration. But it’s not always easy to find.

So in the interest of empowering and equipping, I want to mention two very cool events for women that are coming up. If you haven’t taken time for yourself (I’m talking spiritual and intellectual stimulation, not getting a manicure!) then these may be just what you need to re-energize and strengthen you for the tasks God has called you to in your job, family, church or community (or all of the above). If you are anywhere near the Chicago area, I hope I’ll see you at one or both of these events.

January 23: Synergy Chicago. this one day conference, led by author Carolyn Custis James, is entitled “Finding Your Place in the Story.”  It will be held at Christ Church Oak Brook (directions on on the registration page). Synergy’s vision is “To see women wholeheartedly following Christ and partnering with their Christian brothers and each other to build His Kingdom.” Their mission is “to connect, equip, and encourage women in vocational ministry to be effective leaders and laborers for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” This is a great seminar to help anyone in ministry to be more effective. it’s also a great opportunity to network with other leaders.

I’ll be there as an attendee, and I’ll also have a book table, so if you come, please stop by and introduce yourself!

Learn more and register by clicking here.

February 20: Simple Compassion Chicago: This is another one day conference, based on my new book Simple Compassion. If you’ve been trying to figure out how to link your faith with action, how to take beginning steps of social justice, this seminar is for you. It will be held at Breakthrough Urban Ministries, 402 N. St. Louis, Chicago.

This one-day seminar will jump start your justice journey. We will look very practically at how we can become women who make a difference: women who act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. It will provide a safe, guilt-free environment for discussing, asking questions, reflecting and strategizing.

I’m teaching four sessions on how to become a difference maker, but the day will also include plenty of group discussion and time for individual reflection and processing. This is not just a day of information but a day of spiritual formation, as we listen to each other and to God. You can register by emailing Mike Murphy at Breakthrough Urban Ministries mmurphy@breakthrough.org and just telling him you want to attend. Cost is only $35 and includes lunch and free copy of Simple Compassion.

Here’s a more detailed description of the four sessions:

1.       Compassion Begins with You. every woman matters to God, whether she’s in Sierra Leone or San Diego, in a slum or a suburb. We’ll look at some biblical women who stepped up to be difference makers, and how we can follow their lead. God has a unique calling for each of us—how do we discern that? It starts by letting go of our “little old me” syndrome and believing that God actually is calling us to be his hands and feet in the world. Even small acts of justice and compassion matter, because even if you only help one person, that person matters!

2.       Compassion Grows in Community. The Christian life was never meant to be lived on our own. We were made for community—and sometimes, the people in our closest circles are the ones who are challenging to love.  How can we extend compassion to the people closest to us—whether they are family, church members or next-door neighbors? This session focuses on making a difference right where you are, and why you need others to come on the journey with you.

3.       Compassion Extends Beyond Our Comfort Zones.  Although we can make a difference no matter where we are, God calls us to truly see injustice around us, and not insulate ourselves from it. There are people who need God’s love and tangible help—things like food, clothing and shelter—within an hour of your door. This session will look at women who are making a difference in the Chicago area, and offer some next steps for getting involved with ministries here in the area.

4.       Compassion Offers God’s Love to the World. It is impossible to talk about God’s heart for the poor without looking at the situation in the developing world. We will look at some big issues like human trafficking, poverty, lack of clean water and others. The goal is to see these issues and see how we can take very small steps to make a difference by both what we do, and what we decide to stop doing. We’ll look at some women who have focused their energy on one global issue and are making a difference in that area.