WAXAHACHIE — Extraordinary women inspiring and uncovering hidden strengths in other remarkable, yet struggling, women defines "Deeper Journeys."

Not only amplifying a sense of sisterhood within Ellis County, but also knitting together a foundation of encouragement and spiritual insight, the ladies conference is investing inspiration, laughter, and purpose to those needing it most.

“Deeper Journeys is a communitywide event, so it’s churches from all over Ellis County that will come and be a part of it, and people from all over. Yesterday, we had somebody from a church in Argyle, a group of 15 that are coming,” explained Sunny Buskirk. Buskirk is part of the Ladies Ministry and a coordinator for "Deeper Journeys," a conference taking place at The Avenue Church Saturday, March 4. “We usually have a little more than 1,000 women attending from all over. We have people from Corsicana, Dallas, Rockwall, Mabank, and many more. And some of them they know the speakers, or get on the speaker’s website and go, ‘Oh my gosh! They’re going to be in Texas - we’re going!’ It’s just a real encouragement break time."

Starting the conversation, Buskirk explained the annual event is entering its ninth year. Since its conception in 2009, the conference has promised to empower women to their fullest potential through food, music, and special guest speakers.

Over the past calendar year, Buskirk and her team have been hard at work to ensure a relaxing and enjoyable time for those who attend.

“I’ve already booked several people for next year because getting these people you have to book early. A lot of time and energy went into this event, and it’s going to be really good,” Buskirk included. “We have a following of people who have come before and will keep coming, and we’re really excited about that.”

SPEAKER LINEUP

Featuring an all-star cast of presenters for this year’s conference, "Deeper Journeys" will be hosting a fusion of enthusiastic and influential speakers, assuring a good time amongst the festive, estrogen-fueled seminar.

“We really try and bring really dynamic speakers that wouldn’t normally come to Waxahachie,” Buskirk expressed, incorporating the present principle of “Vision” into the central theme of the convention.

“Every year we do a different scripture that we base the conference on, and the speakers will touch on, and this year it’s about vision,” she said, adopting the premise of the conference from the book of Habakkuk. “Without a vision, people perish. We all need visions. God has given us so many promises in his word that he is faithful to do."

Among those speaking on the topic of vision will be Kelly Minter, an accomplished Northern Virginian Christian musician, author, and speaker. Known for her songs that have been recorded by Point of Grace, Joy Williams, and Sonicflood, Minter is also an accomplished author. She has written books such as “Hannah’s One Wish,” The Living room Series,” and “No Other Gods.”

Though her endeavors are vast, Minter’s journey would depict a different story.

“Kelly Minter grew up with a lot of depression, and the only thing that got her through was God’s word, it was like a healing bond. So that’s her heart. And now she writes all sorts of Bible studies, and she’s phenomenal,” Buskirk explained.

Another well-established speaker is Nashville singer-songwriter, Ellie Holcomb, a contemporary Christian music artist who was awarded "Best New Artist" at the 2014 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards. Recognized for her albums “As Sure as the Sun,” "Magnolia EP,” and “With You Now,” Holcomb is all too familiar with loss and hope, which she portrayed in her newest album, “Red Sea Road.”

“Ellie Holcomb has gone through some struggles and the hope that you can get, you can hear it in her songs. And now she’s been nominated for New Singer of the Year, and got the Dove Award for it,” Buskirk said, before quickly changing her tone as she mentioned comedian, Anita Renfroe. “I think you’re going to laugh, especially with Anita Renfroe, and laughter is good medicine. Anita has been on Dr. Phil, CBS, The Early Show, Fox News, Moms Night Out, she’s just great."

With a unique blend of sass and edge, Renfroe’s musical comedy act travels an offbeat trail that takes on all things female. The Christian comedian and YouTube phenom is also known for "William Tell Momisms" — a set of clever music parodies and knee-slapping truth-revealing books that help Renfroe keep her audiences rolling.

To match Renfroe’s humor, Marilyn Meberg is also a force to be reckoned with. As a practicing counselor and public speaker, Meberg is an accomplished author of more than 12 books, including "Constantly Craving," "Love Me Never Leave Me," and "Tell Me Everything."

“Marilyn Meberg is a speaker for Women of Faith, she has two Masters, and she is the most hysterical person you’ll ever meet,” Buskirk stated, recalling a personal moment she had with Meberg.

“Last year I traveled with Women of Faith, with Luci Swindoll, and she was in a wheelchair, and I would push her. So we’re going through the security at the airport and Luci, and I could go through the fast line, but they wouldn’t let Marilyn. And Marilyn’s going, ‘Oh no, I need to go with them,’ and the lady said, ‘No, over here,’” she chuckled. “And finally Marilyn leaned over and whispered in the lady’s ear, and the lady went, ‘Oh! Go right ahead.’ And I went to Marilyn and said, ‘Oh my gosh, what did you say?’ And she said, ‘I told her I was her doctor and I needed to be with her."

“I mean, she’s crazy, but she has a private practice and two Master degrees. She’s a counselor, so she’s got some real sound wisdom, especially for anybody who’s going through struggles, you’ll probably get some hope from that,” Buskirk described.

ADVENTURING TOGETHER

Bringing a brilliant collection of top-notch women for an occasion to comfort and empower optimism in seasons of personal warfare, Buskirk reminds those that there is always hope — and for those leery of the church atmosphere, there is no reason to fret.

“That’s one of the goals of our pastor; he wants to reach the ‘unchurched.’ He doesn’t want anybody coming in and feeling intimidated. Whoever you are, you are welcomed. That’s our big thing to reach out to the community, because you can identify with real people who have struggled,” Buskirk divulged. “It’s about going deeper with the Lord. God’s word gives us such direction and hope. I always say, ‘It’s a great time to bring a friend.’ If you know of someone who’s struggling, they will benefit from it. We’re really excited because it’s going to be a great conference,” she finished with a smile.

Deeper Journeys will take place Saturday, March 4 from 9 a.m. — 3 p.m. at the Avenue Church, located at 1761 U.S. Highway 77 in Waxahachie.

To purchase tickets visit deeperjourneys.com or call (972) 937-5301.

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Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer

(469)-517-1450