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Stephanie Abney
The end of a perfect day at Time Out for Women. Time to take it all down.

PHOENIX — More than 4,000 women filled the Phoenix Civic Center this past weekend as Deseret Book’s Time Out for Women program focused on seeking the good. It seemed appropriate that the 10-year anniversary tour of the event ended in Phoenix, the place where it all began.

A program bringing messages of inspiration and encouragement aimed at the busy Mormon woman was planned in Phoenix in September 2002. It has evolved into an annual event with several stops across the United States and Canada. (The 2013 schedule is available at deseretbook.com/timeout.)

The celebration, held Friday night and all day Saturday, offered a smorgasbord of music and presenters, each hoping to touch the hearts of everyone in attendance despite the wide range of ages, interests, vocations and life circumstances. This was the second year that I have attended a Time Out for Women, and I wasn’t disappointed. I found something of value that I took away from every speaker and each musical number.

Last year, I met one of my daughters in St. George, where we attended a Time Out for Women event together. This year I attended in my home state, and I went alone. But I was far from lonely.

I was quickly caught up in the excitement created by Friday night’s lineup. Musician Michael McLean drew everyone in with his touching songs.

Author Jason Wright delighted us with his wit and true-life examples of failures that turned into successes, including a few of his own.

The last speaker Friday night was author and screenwriter Heidi Swinton, sharing tales of how she came to write The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' President Thomas S. Monson’s biography, “To the Rescue.” It amazed me how I was laughing one minute at her charming anecdotes and was deep in thought the next as she spoke about seeking the Savior daily in our lives.

I ran into numerous friends and made several new ones. The theme was “Seek the Good,” and I took pages of notes as I gained new insights on seeking the good in life, in myself and in others. I couldn’t help but notice another, underlying theme — one of reunion. It was fun to watch friends embrace and for me to reconnect with friends I seldom see anymore who were there.

Saturday proved just as satisfying. Jericho Road performed, interspersing their music and some great stories throughout the presentations.

Chris Williams told his powerful personal story of forgiveness when a teenage drunken driver killed his wife, one of his sons, his only daughter and his unborn child. There was hardly a dry eye in the audience.

Then we were entertained by bloggers, cook-book authors and friends Sara Wells and Kate Jones. They dispelled the myth of the supermom next door and encouraged moms to just be the supermom their kids already know.

Anthony Sweat, a full-time religious educator for the LDS Church and a popular speaker at Especially for Youth and Education Week conferences, spoke next, giving us a new perspective on charity. He said, “Charity is the Atonement working in us. It’s not an action; it’s a condition or a relationship.”

Singer-songwriter and family therapist Julie de Azevedo Hanks taught us how to understand our emotions and use them to become our authentic selves. We were told to honor our emotions and learn how to use them for good.

Author and book editor Emily Watts instructed us on how to "save the princess" (indicating the women there were all princesses). She shared some helpful hints, as well as some humorous experiences and probing personal questions to help us "seek the good."

It was an exceptional event, and I'll be back next year and bring the rest of the women in our family old enough to attend. Yes, I sought the good this weekend, and I found it.

Stephanie Abney, eternal optimist, private school teacher and freelance writer, lives in Mesa, Ariz., with her husband, Jim. They have five children and 18 grandchildren. Email is [email protected] and she blogs at stephaniesaysso.blogspot.com.