The Avenue Church of Waxahachie is sponsoring a women’s conference titled “Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God” featuring renowned author and conference speaker Sheila Walsh.

The conference will be held from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, April 17, at the Avenue Church, 1401 Ferris Ave.

“The cost for the conference is $25 and lunch will be available for an extra $5,” said Sunny Buskirk, director of women’s ministry at the church. “We know this conference will be sold out. We only have 500 seats in our worship center and we have about 65-75 ladies coming from Corsicana and some are coming from Mansfield – and we still have two months to go.”

She said they are making a special push to promote the conference throughout Ellis County and if interest keeps up, they will possibly consider moving to a larger venue to handle the crowds.

“We are very blessed to have (Walsh) because she is only doing 20 of these conferences throughout the United States this year and she has chosen the Avenue Church as one of those places. It will be a wonderful time. She will speak and then have questions and answers,” Buskirk said.

Known as an inspirational communicator and a unique combination of author, speaker, worship leader, television talk show host and Bible teacher, Walsh is a featured speaker with America’s largest women’s conference, Women of Faith, with over 4 million women in attendance each year.

In a telephone interview with the Daily Light on Tuesday, Walsh, a native of Ayr, located on the west coast of  Scotland, Walsh shared some of the circumstances of her life that thrust her into a speaking ministry that is international in scope.

“After graduating from London Theological Seminary, I went into Christian recording, under the Sparrow label,” she said. “Later I came to America where I attended the Fuller Theological Seminary in California.”

Walsh’s ability to connect with her audience is largely due to her transparency and willingness to be open about a dark period in her life.

“I guess you could say I started off on a good path but with a bad reason,” she said, explaining the experience of her father suffering a brain aneurism when she was just a young girl.

“Before the aneurism, he was such a loving, kind hearted man, but afterward, he became a frightful stranger,” she said, saying that he attacked her with a cane and was soon taken to a psychiatric hospital, where he died shortly afterward at the age of 34.

“I became a Christian when I was 11 years old. And in my mind, I had decided that now I had a new Father and so therefore, another chance to get it right, whatever it was that I did wrong concerning my first father,” Walsh said.

For the next 20 years, Walsh worked to become the perfect Christian woman – a feat that she said almost killed her.

“Through those years, my greatest fear was that I would end up just like my father,” she said. “And sure enough, my greatest fear was realized – one minute I was the co-host with Pat Robertson on the 700 Club, and the next, I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital when I was 34 years – the very same age my father was when he died.”

It was through that dark experience that Walsh came to realize something about the Christian life she hadn’t known before.

“That experience was God’s gift to me,” she said. “Sometimes God has to take us to ‘prison’ in order to set us free. One of the truths that I learned was that it’s not about me getting it right – it’s about the fact God loves me regardless. I learned that I’m not the good news – it’s Jesus Christ.”

At a time in her life when she least wanted to be a public figure, she was invited to speak at a women’s luncheon in California. Feeling helpless, she said she asked the Lord what she was supposed to do.

“He told me to just stand up there and tell the truth – to tell of my journey,” she said. “When I spoke to those ladies, it was shocking to me to find out how many of them had such brokenness in their lives.”

Asked what some of the greatest issues were in the lives of women, Walsh was quick to respond.

“So many women are just broken inside. They bring with them powerful wounds from early childhood – and they play those messages over and over in their heads,” Walsh said. “They bring those wounds into a marriage or other (current relationships). I’ve discovered that my brokenness is a greater bridge to connect with people than to pretend holiness.”

Walsh has spent a large portion of her life talking to groups of women about living in brokenness.

“We tend to try to edit our lives – but God has seen the entire movie,” she said

She said a second issue in the lives of women is fear.

“Fear is such a powerful influence,” she said. “A lot of women have been sold the idea that if you love God supremely, all will go well. But that’s not what we’re promised. In the life of Joseph, we read about him being betrayed by his brothers and imprisoned for something he didn’t do – and yet, in all his experiences, this little phrase kept recurring, ‘But God was with him.’ ”

She also cites forgiveness as a crucial issue in the lives of women, saying that forgiveness is God’s gift to those who are living in a world that’s not fair.

“I’ve found that in life, the most important things are the fact that the truth is what matters, that a relationship with God, my closest friends and family,” she said. “Every morning I pray, ‘Father, I don’t know where you’re going today, but I’m coming with you.’ ”

When Walsh isn’t on the road speaking, she’s taking her two small white dogs, Belle and Tink, for walks and being involved in her son’s life, Christian, age 13.

“I love the unexpected things of life,” she said. “The unexpected snow we’ve just had. We built an ice palace out of it and we all crawled in it and drank hot chocolate.”

She said although she and her husband Barry have one son, their home is usually filled with neighborhood friends of Christian.

Walsh’s favorite song is “Amazing Grace,” which she says she’s planning to record with a Celtic orchestra.

“I’ve loved that song for so many years – it’s one that never gets old,” she said.

Walsh is author of the best-selling memoir “Honestly” and the Gold Medallion Award nominee “The Heartache No One Sees.” Her newest book, “Beautiful Things Happen When A Woman Trusts God,” releases in 2010 and includes a woman’s Bible study. Also releasing in 2010 is her first fiction trilogy “Angel Song.” “Gigi, God’s Little Princess,” her line of books and videos for little girls won the National Retailer’s Choice Award and is the most popular Christian brand for young girls in the United States.

Tickets to the conference can be purchased online by logging onto the church’s Web site: www.theavenuechurch.org.

For further information about the women’s conference, contact the Avenue Church at 972-937-5301 or visit Walsh’s Web site at www.sheilawalsh.com.

Contact Paul at paul.gauntt@wninews.com or 469-517-1450.