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Taking time out: Women learn, connect, get inspired

Jacki Johnson, of Edmonton, Alberta, has traveled to Calgary and Lethbridge for Time Out for Women. This year, the event was scheduled for Edmonton for the first time.There, Mormon wards and branches can cover a large geographic area, and members don't often see each other outside of church meetings, said Johnson, who has three children and five grandchildren and is a speech language pathologist and a consultant for deaf and hard-of-hearing students."We all need to be assured that people love us and that Heavenly Father loves us," she said. "I find that collectively, with a thousand women in the room, we feel so uplifted and buoyed when we go back to our world and our lives."This fall, there are Time Out for Women events in nearly a dozen cities, from Logan, Utah, to Richmond, Va. The first 2009 event was in Ogden, Utah, in January, and upcoming locations include Logan, Utah; Boise, Idaho; Pleasanton and Riverside, Calif.; Minneapolis; Kansas City, Mo.; and Phoenix. This year's theme is "Sweet Assurance: The Certainty That Comes When You Know Life's Truths."Events help women take a "time out" for themselves with music and presentations focused on inspiring and reassuring them. "(Time Out for Women) came out of seeing a need for women to gather," said Laurel Christensen, the program's general manager. "There is time when women need to take a time out from their responsibilities and feel rejuvenated."One goal of the program, which is sponsored by Deseret Book, is to bring women together to be inspired and reconnect with themselves and others, Christensen said. Another is to provide a "unique environment for those of other faiths in a gospel setting," she added.About 8 percent of those who attend aren't members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to the surveys and feedback organizers receive.Friday nights at Time Out for Women feature a concert and speakers. Saturday's program includes presentations by LDS authors and musicians.Presenters, who vary by location, include Hilary Weeks, Kenneth Cope, Sheri Dew, Mary Ellen Edmunds and S. Michael Wilcox.In Logan (Sept. 18-19), the presenters include musician Cherie Call and authors Emily Watts, Brent Top, Jill Manning and Edmunds. The St. George event Nov. 6 and 7 will feature Cope, Watts, Edmunds, Manning and Carolyn Rasmus. For the first time, the event will be in Salt Lake City. The Nov. 13 and 14 event includes Dew, violinist Jenny Oaks Baker, Weeks, author Emily Watts, Kris Belcher, Wilcox and Edmunds.It was Jenny Clawson's first time to go to a Time Out for Women in Ogden, Utah, in January."At Time Out for Women, you have to evaluate your role as a wife and mother," the Layton, Utah, mother said. Her story of a "Sweet Assurance of Hope" in handling her son's leukemia diagnosis is featured on the Time Out for Women Web site.The first time Shauna Hostetler attended Time Out for Women, she and a friend from her ward drove about three hours to Orlando, Fla."I had never heard of it before," said Hostetler, of West Palm Beach, Fla., who is an event planner and mother of five. "And I loved every second of it."The next year, she volunteered to help out."I just like being in a room with like-minded people and feeling their energy," said Hostetler, who oversaw a local committee to help with the Orlando event in the spring. "I come home feeling boosted up and encouraged. I just feel like that I'm not alone and there are a lot of women like me."The camaraderie and rejuvenation draw Hostetler and thousands of other women year after year.Lindel Marsh, of Lexington, S.C., said she feels that rejuvenation and sees it in others."I just know that when I go and talk to people who are tired and worn out when they go, they come back and ... they are pepped up," said Marsh, who is a mother and grandmother. "Everyone has something that they are struggling with."Marsh, who said she begged to have the event come to Columbia, S.C., added that Time Out for Women doesn't solve all of your problems — but can help make responsibilities, burdens and struggles feel lighter.Not many women from her area can make it to BYU's Women's Conference or other similar events because of time and travel expenses, she said."We all can't live in Zion, so they bring Zion to us," said Andi Cook, of Klein, Texas.Cook, who has been going to the programs in Houston and in San Antonio the last several years, said she has seen the programs and presenters appeal to every age group, from empty-nesters like herself to mothers and single sisters."It's very practical, down to earth and the ABCs of life," said Cook.For information on locations, registration, costs and presenters, go to