Finding faith in life’s challeng-ing times is focus of NW Iowa Women’s Conference

This year’s NW Iowa Women’s Conference will focus on con-necting attendees to faith during the most troubling times in their lives.
The theme, Undone: Making Peace with an Unexpected Life, aims to help women persevere when losing one’s religion isn’t just a reference to an R.E.M. hit, but strongly-contemplated reali-ty brought on, often, by force’s beyond one’s control.
In fact, that’s the personal message the conference’s fea-tured speakers hope to share because it’s something Michele Cushatt and Cindy Finch have personally experienced.
“To me, God is my safety, my anchor, so I’ve always, always had a hunger for him. He served me well until my life fell apart,” Cushatt related. “I’d always treated faith like a math equa-tion.”
However, following a divorce, she said treating her faith like an equation no longer worked and she had to reinvent herself.
“I was struggling with my faith,” Cushatt recalled just be-fore being asked to attend a Bi-ble study with a friend.
At first, she was reluctant, “But I did show up. That was the start of a major transfor-mation for me.”
Cushatt went on to lead that Bible study. That gave rise to a ministry that includes a blog, books, podcast, and speaking engagements.
One of her books specifically focuses on how people can de-velop what she describes as an “unshakable faith in the face of an undone life.”
“We don’t understand what God does or doesn’t do what we need him to do. We don’t under-stand why pain and suffering are allowed to continue. We don’t understand why we pray and pray for resolution and it doesn’t happen,” she related. “In those places, we tend to feel our faith is shaky.”
Her advice? Seek out “hidden treasures” of faith in “the middle of the very dark places.”
“They’re there, and they’re hard to find sometime, but you need to look for those gifts and share those gifts with others,” Cushatt advised. “Our suffering and pain become a little bit less crushing and we’re able to re-capture some measure of good even in the grief.”
The second speaker, Cindy Finch, is a clinical family thera-pist who practiced at Mayo be-fore joining a practice in Orange County, CA.
“I help people overcome in-credibly difficult problems in their lives,” she said, describing a practice that works with the mentally ill and chronically sui-cidal. “At the same time I’m a follower of Christ.
“The work I do is to bring those two things together to help people find hope in their darkest of hours,” she reasoned.
Like Cushatt, Finch offered advice to folks by relating those moments to being a bus or train that’s going through a dark tun-nel.
When that happens, she said, “I don’t jump off, I sit still and I trust the engineer. When life gets incredibly dark, that doesn’t mean you’re out of the will of God or that you’ve done some-thing wrong it’s that God has led you into a faith-making experi-ence.”
“When things go wrong in their life, it doesn’t mean that they’re wrong, it means they have to have faith in God,” she concluded.
Rolfe native, Hannah Smith returns for her third NW Iowa Women’s Conference. She is the daughter of longtime conference organizer Julie Maley, who, will serve as director for the 10th and final time. However, the confer-ence itself will continue on as it transitions to a new director, Kelly Howard of Humboldt.
The 2018 NW Iowa Women’s Conference is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 10, at Faith Community Church of rural Palmer. The daylong event will begin at 9:45 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. with lunch included. For more information or to register, visit

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