On Saturday, February 7, 2015, Cairn University hosted the 3rd Annual Upright Heart Ladies’ Conference in the Highlander Café. For three years running, Nurse Alison Kikendall has organized the Ladies’ Conference, open to female Cairn students and women in the surrounding communities, to gather together to learn more about their design as daughters of the King and to worship and celebrate the goodness of God and His creation.
The conference was kicked off with worship led by Teri Annan (Cairn’s Mail Services Supervisor) on vocals; Scott Mitchell (father of current student Ashley Mitchell and husband of last year’s conference speaker Lisa Mitchell) on guitar; Matt Morges on bass; and Tim Rigby on electric drums.
The keynote speaker was Kim Maddox, who focused on the issue of identity. Kim began with asking the crowd a question: “What would you say is your identity?” Kim speculated that many of them would say “student,” “friend,” or maybe associate themselves with their particular ministry. When recounting how she would answer, Kim shared that many days she would identify herself as a widow as her husband passed away four years ago from cancer. Despite the tragedy, Kim declares that “faith says who I am,” and that “we need ‘God-ggles’ to see who we really are. We can do this by reading the Word of God.”
Opening up with Mark 5:21-36, Kim shared the story of the woman who had been suffering from a blood disease for twelve years and was healed by touching Jesus’ robe. The Bible does not reveal her name, and she is identified only by her illness–one that deemed her unclean according to Leviticus 15:19-33. For twelve years, she was isolated from her family, her community, and the tabernacle. For twelve years, she suffered from hopelessness, exhaustion, misery, shame, and alienation. Yet this unnamed woman, who was essentially without love and support from anyone, was so full of faith that she knew she only had to touch his cloak to be healed.
One of the many insights that Kim shared was Jesus’ role in the crowd. In the midst of all of the people surrounding Jesus, this woman was able to get right behind him to touch his cloak. “Jesus is crowd control,” Kim explains. “Imagine this: When the woman moves right, Jesus moves right.” Jesus weaves around the crowd effortlessly so that all order is maintained in the crowd, and the woman is able to find and follow after Jesus.
Immediately after the woman touches Jesus, He asks, “Who touched my garments?” (5:30). While Jesus Son of God knows who touched His cloak, He asks so that He is able to bless her: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease” (5:34). The woman who was afflicted for twelve years and was identified by her illness was shrouded in a new identity–one as a kingly daughter of faith.
After Kim’s message, there was a short break and a unique testimony from Cheryl Williamson, a dear friend of Kim’s. As the women finished up enjoying the homemade cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and cake pops, as well as fruit and a chocolate fountain, they tuned into Cheryl’s story.
Cheryl is nicknamed the “Puppet Queen” at her church, as she is known for her use of puppets and props in children’s ministry. During her testimony, she displayed life-size “paper dolls” made of cardboard to represent her different identities as the Puppet Queen, a career woman, a mother, a wife, and a friend. Cheryl shared her struggles balancing all of the different identities and feeling unmotivated and inadequate enough to perform all of her duties.
However, recalling examples and specific women from the Bible, such as Eve and the woman who suffered from her blood disease for twelve years, Cheryl was able to recognize that she didn’t have to hide and could tell Jesus the truth of all of her doubts and fears. She was finally able to step into her identity as a daughter of God.
The 3rd Annual Upright Heart Ladies’ Conference closed with several praise songs, communion, and prayer. The speakers and the women at the conference enjoyed a day of fellowshipping together and encouraging one another to see themselves as God sees them–beautiful, worthy, and loved by their Father in heaven.