Tahlequah Daily Press


April 16, 2014

Conference attendees get words of encouragement

TAHLEQUAH — Words of encouragement and door prizes were bountiful Saturday morning at the annual Zoë Institute’s Women’s Conference.

Ten women shared words of wisdom in areas from happiness to health, and 100 gifts were given out, including the grand prize of gasoline for a year.

“It’s a fun day; a day of women getting together to talk girl talk,” said Rosita Campbell, greeter for the event and administrative assistant at Zoë.

She also spoke about financial success during the conference.

“It’s a good day for us to learn new things and to grow, and to share hope,” said Campbell.

Program Director Rhonda Clemons-Hill welcomed attendees with an overview of programs provided through Zoë, such as child care, a new parenting class, the school backpack program and the Hands of Grace Food Bank.

“We partner with Abundant Life on Celebrate Recovery, to find help with habits, hurts and hang-ups,” said Clemons-Hill. “All the money that comes into Zoë is miraculous. We get no state funding. God fixes it, arranges it and makes it happen.”

Many clients of Zoë are women starting over after surviving abusive relationships.

“One woman who came to us had a husband who would count out toilet paper squares she could use each day. He raped and beat her. After her baby was born, he started again,” said Clemons-Hill. “She went through our classes. Now she has a master’s degree, owns her home and her kids are thriving.”

Donna Jones gave 10 tips for happiness, including laughter, activity, and fostering relationships.

“You don’t have to be crabby even if your mom and grandma were. Forty percent of your happiness level is in your control,” said Jones. “Did you know laughter boosts your immune system?”

When working on a to-do list, her advice is to put chocolate as the first item on the list, so the first thing is always easy and fun.

“Be grateful and appreciate what you have,” said Jones.

For speaker Erin Webb, a spiritual life is a happy life.

“Come as you are; God accepts us as is,” Webb said.

Her tips included being mindful of others, doing the hard things that are most rewarding, and checking your attitude.

“We don’t have to get it together before we go to God, we can go to God confidently. He knows what we’re like,” she said. “God’s love is continuous. It’s not one time like a rinse cycle. He’s always forgiving our sins and cleansing us.”

Her encouragement was to have goals hard to accomplish without God’s help.

“We can understand our strength, and seek dreams where we rely on God to succeed,” she said. “Gratitude sustains joy and blessings and creates opportunities, and begins where my sense of entitlement ends.”

Beth Brandt’s presentation was based on the book “How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Your Kids Will Talk.”

“Think about what kind of life you want your kids to have as an adult,” said Brandt. “I want my kids to love God, so I pray out loud so they know what I pray about.”

She also encouraged parents to be present with their kids.

“Make time without the phone, computer or TV and just love on your kids,” she said.

Christy Young offered tips for making drastic life changes.

“Change your playmate, your play places and play things,” said Young. “If your best thinking got you where you are [such as on drugs, or in jail], let someone think for you, find someone who’s been where you are who knows how to get you some place better.”

Young said when she was a recovering addict, she got clean, got out of prison and got married to a man who had been clean eight years. He relapsed and she thought she was going to use drugs to feel better.

“I called my sponsor instead and I rely on God,” she said.

Taking responsibility for her past choices and not blaming others is an important step, she said.

“Fill yourself up with God’s word and always remember you are a child of God and he things you are worth it,” she said.

JoAnne Clinton lost her husband unexpectedly last winter. She attended Saturday’s conference because she is still struggling with each day.

“The speakers were encouraging,” said Clinton. “I wonder how we handle our day sometimes. Prayer.”

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