TUPELO • “Relinquish,” The Orchard’s 2019 Women’s Conference, will be Aug. 9-10 at the Orchard’s Tupelo campus on Coley Road.

Best-selling author Angie Smith will be the featured speaker for the two-day event. Smith is the wife of Todd Smith, who co-founded the Christian contemporary music group Selah. The Smiths and their four children live in Nashville.

Smith’s writing and speaking career grew out of a blog created during a time of personal crisis. When she was pregnant with their daughter, Audrey, the Smiths discovered the child would not survive childbirth.

Smith created her blog, “Bring the Rain,” as a way to keep friends and family updated and to process what she was going through during that time. Now Smith writes books and Bible studies and speaks to women’s groups all across the country.

Orchard staffers Jessica Gray and Tiffany Harmon organized “Relinquish,” and they agreed Smith was the perfect fit for the event.

Gray is the senior pastor’s assistant and the director of First Impressions at The Orchard. She said Smith’s writing had spoken to her personally.

“I’m reading her book, ‘What Women Fear,’ which I can so relate to,” Gray said. “She had crippling anxiety growing up, and a lot of women are natural worriers. That theme will come up in the event as well.”

Gray said Smith uses stories from her own life in ways that are both humorous and relatable.

“When she was a kid, she was scared of Santa Claus,” she said. “And it was because she didn’t feel worthy to get any presents. That’s a real thing that lots of women struggle with – feeling like we’re good enough.”

Gray said while Smith is an entertaining speaker, she is also a solidly grounded student of the Bible.

“She’s a good biblical teacher,” she said. “It’s not just all about the ‘feels’ with her, and that’s something we were looking for. I don’t think every women’s event has to be emotionally driven.”

Gray said women of all ages and backgrounds will be refreshed by “Relinquish,” and that the event was intentionally scheduled so women with school-age children could get a back-to-school boost.

“We planned it purposefully on the first weekend after school starts,” she said. “That way mamas can get kids started and then have a weekend to do some good self-care, which is important whether you have children or not.”

Event co-organizer Harmon is the lead pastor’s assistant and helps plan worship at The Orchard’s Tupelo and Baldwyn campuses. Like Gray, Harmon said she related to Smith’s background.

“I don’t know her personally,” Harmon said. “But I did a study of hers last year and it just spoke to me. We have very similar backgrounds.”

Harmon explained that, like herself, Smith did not grow up in a church family. She said Smith found a creative approach to learning the Bible basics she had missed as a child.

“She taught herself the Bible out of a children’s study Bible. As an adult,” she said with a grin. “She only had a King James Version of the Bible, and she couldn’t understand what was going on, so she went to Lifeway and got a children’s Bible and read through it.”

Harmon said Smith’s writing and public speaking appeal to women of all ages and backgrounds.

“She’s just special,” she said. “She’s the real deal. She’s relevant to women of any age and no matter where you are in your walk with God, whether you are mature in faith or if this is a first step. You’ll feel like she’s your best friend.”

Event sessions begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 9 and at 8:30 Saturday morning, Aug. 10. Tickets are $40 at the door or $25 if purchased by the July 10 early bird deadline. More information about Angie Smith is available on social media platforms.

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