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Courtesy of Brianna Lim
Brianna Lim and Roxy Slover pose with members of Mercy River at Time Out for Girls in Visalia, Calif.

Time Out for Women in Visalia, Calif., was an opportunity for women throughout California – and some from outside the state — to gather and be lifted and to laugh with a program that included Deseret Book authors and musicians.

S. Michael Wilcox gently urged attendees to pour out their hearts in prayer, not just to “say” prayers. He spoke of Hannah and her grief over not having a child; she “poured out her soul before the Lord … out of the abundance of (her) complaint and grief.”

Emily Watts, whom I told my daughter was the Mormon Erma Bombeck (and, sadly, since Brianna is only 16, too young to know Bombeck, the metaphor was lost on her), told some wonderful, warm stories of mothering and just being a woman.

Singing trio Mercy River performed and spoke throughout the day Saturday about rising higher, the theme of Time Out for the year, and with the research and writing I’ve done about self-image, I found myself particularly appreciating their song “Beautiful for Me,” that the Savior is telling every woman, “You should have seen me smile the day I made you.”

Emily Freeman concluded the event with tender messages about reaching higher and how the Savior “reaches my reaching.” She spoke at length about Peter and his experiences with faith and walking on the water, and I loved her simple personal experience about a friend bringing her butter when she needed it. She could easily have bought more herself, but for some reason the Lord inspired a friend with a kind gesture.

My teenager was blessed to attend the concurrent Time Out for Girls event, and during each break, we found each other and updated each other on what we were learning and enjoying particularly. She shared her own sweet and funny stories she had heard from John Bytheway and Hank Smith (she related what was probably a hilarious tale about Smith swinging his wife-to-be around and landing on a cactus afterward and lamented that she couldn’t tell it as well as he did).

Since I live in Visalia, I felt particularly lucky to have Time Out here in my own town. The event has previously been in Fresno a couple of times and Bakersfield, each about an hour’s drive away. It took many of us Visalians by surprise when we learned it would be held here. My husband simply had to drive two miles and drop me, my daughter and some friends at the convention center downtown. It was lovely. We hope that Deseret Book, which puts on the events, decides to come again.

Because I live here, I felt particularly gratified when it was announced on Saturday after lunch that the women who attended had donated enough food for 309 meals to be put together for donation to the local food bank, twice the number they had expected. Becky Kennedy, a representative from the Tulare County FoodLink, spoke to us briefly and expressed gratitude for our contributions, which will be sent home with students at two local elementary schools.

For information on the Time Out for Women "Higher" tour, including a scheduled of cities, presenters and registration information, go to tofw.com.

Cathy Carmode Lim is the founder of RatedReads.com, a website that reviews books and gives them ratings according to content. She is also a copy editor and blogs at LifeandLims.com.