Saturday, August 29, 2009

She Speaks Interrupted... but He's speaking...

Ok, this has to be short, because I am so stinking tired...
(of course that could make this longer cause I will ramble... but I will try to restrain myself)

God has done some amazing things this week. He has used Lysa TerKeurst's book, "What Happens When Women Walk in Faith" in a powerful way in my life. Through it He has spoken to me that I really need to draw a line in the sand. Earlier this week was horrible. Then God used Wednesday as my draw a line in the sand day.

I chose to walk forward from that day, with the determination to honor God in all I do. Whether or not my life circumstances change (I am still a wife and mom of 2 small kids...) how I HANDLE them can be totally different. I only have gotten through the 3rd chapter, but it has already affected my life in a powerful way.

I have shared in the past months that I have felt that God has started to give me dreams back. I have been thrilled to see dreams coming back into my life. It has been amazing. I never thought I could dare to dream again.

Well, as much as I have said that, it's still very scary.

I have followed the Living Proof Ministries blog for quite a while. I saw that Beth Moore was going to be in Green Bay for a Living Proof Live event yesterday and today. I really wanted to go. But after She Speaks, I figured that it wouldn't happen.

I mean, 2 events in one month? I knew we couldn't afford it.

Wednesday morning I felt prompted to just express to God the desire of my heart.

I really and I mean REALLY wanted to go to see her. Live. In Green Bay.
So, I asked God that if He wanted me to be there, that He would make it happen, because I really wanted to go.

I never even asked my husband about it or told him. Until. Wednesday. Night.

Guess what he said?


Go for it. If I could get a ticket, go.

I was blown away. As I lay in bed that night, nearly levitating in my excitement.... I prayed about it, praised God, and knew that I had to ask someone to go with me.

My dear friend Cindy was the first person I called in the morning. She knew Beth when she (Cindy) lived in Houston. Like, her kids grew up with Beth's kids... I knew Cindy would want to go. And as it was only one night away, I figured that she would be able to do it.

She just about died when I called her and asked if I could get her a free ticket, would she want to go. She said YES, and then just about cried, cause she had a meeting this morning at church. There was no way she could get out of it.

Talk about being bummed out!!!!

I called LPM and got (amazingly, after 24+ hours of the offer being up on their blog) one of the free tickets for Green Bay.

I called and got a hotel room.

I called another friend, and told her about it and as we talked, my brain finally kicked in and I asked her to come. She called and SHE got a free ticket too.

I packed and hardly slept Thursday night. Visited Cindy in the morning and shared some of the growth things that God was doing. Then Sandy met me and off we went.

I don't know if I can describe just how cool the weekend was. Those of you who were there in Green Bay, or there via the simulcast know how high energy the worship it, how anointed the message was, and just how God used all of those to work on your hearts and lives.

He did the very same with me.

Sandy and I were able to get there early enough that we were able to get on the main floor, very close to the stage, close enough to be able to see her without looking at the huge screens. Sandy had never heard Beth speak. Had never done one of her studies (neither have I, though we are doing Esther together this fall). And Sandy hadn't been to a big event like this in years and years.

Needless to say God spoke to me, using a dynamite woman, who had devoted her life to Him, to glorifying Him, and to speaking His truth to other women around the world.

The theme for the weekend....

"The heart of your desires"

She used Psalm 37.

Yes.... God giving us the desired of our hearts. After He told me to tell Him the desire of my heart to even get there.

The BIGGEST thing that He did this weekend...
the HUGE thing...

God revealed to me how much He had healed me, and imparted dreams to me... given me dreams to dare to dream. And how He had opened up my heart to start to have desires again. I had, for so long, hidden my desires, so that I wouldn't get them crushed, taken away, or have them denied.

God has opened my heart up so much this past year or two.
Just talking with Cindy on Friday before Sandy and I left helped show me even more the progress I have made.

But God also revealed to me that (and this is word for word what I wrote down right before the sessions started this morning)

I am afraid that the desires of my heart are not in God's will - that they are driven by the flesh.
I have been afraid to dream and have desires for things.

As Beth talked more, it crystallized even more.

I fear having dreams for something more, something bigger, beyond just today. I am afraid to commit myself, all of myself to them, because what if they fall through again? I mean, I had dreams before, and when they fell apart, I was crushed and so I shut down. As I have gotten closer to dreaming again, and desiring things, Godly things, I have gotten scared. I guess of being hurt.

So, I haven't committed myself fully to the dreams and desires that God has given me recently. I have held back some.

Beth got to a part of the talk this morning, right before a half hour break... which could be used as prayer or re-dedication, or whatever we needed.... to talk about our need to commit.

We are to delight in the Lord, and to make room for delight we have to commit.
-walk away from indecision
-am I in or am I out?
-we are to commit our way to the Lord

I went up and prayed with an encourager, and then went to a spot up near the very front, that they reserved as an alter area, where you could come and kneel and pray and do your business with God, without anyone bothering you if you wanted.

I fell to my knees.
Knowing God was asking me to let go.
I was afraid to.

But I was more afraid of what would happen in me if I walked away from this event without letting go. Without doing my business with Him. Right there. Right then.

I finally was able to pray, out loud (though it was so noisy in there, especially as the worship team came back out, no one heard me) and surrender.

As I started to pray there, Travis Cottrell and the team started to sing the song "Mighty to Save." Yeah.
You know the part...
"Savior, He can move the mountains, my God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save...."

When they were done with the verse and went to the above words from the chorus.... well, that's when I knew He could take all my fears. He could take all my dreams and desires and He would take them, mold them, and make them His, and enable me to do what He wanted me to do.

I will end this post with what I wrote in my journal as a record of my decision.

"I commit my fears of pursuing the dreams and desires You plant in my heart to You - You are not a God who gives fear, but power, love and a sound mind. I choose to follow You, Jesus. Wholeheartedly - waiting, learning, growing - daring to dream the dreams You give me."

I am not going to follow Him, and hold part of myself back from Him anymore.

God, help me to see the times when I am holding myself back from you. Times when fear has a stranglehold on me. Continue to free me and heal me. Continue to give me the desires of my heart, and what is under my desires... what my heart's desires are. I will delight in You, Lord, and commit my way to You. Thank You for showing me that You delight in me.... I love You, Lord. I give You my heart, have Your way in me. Amen

* One of my favorite quotes I think... Delight is "a venti joy with an extra shot!" *

Saturday, August 22, 2009

HE confirms, She learns... She Speaks Part 7

I was still afraid that I was making it up in my head. I was still afraid that I was taking something that could be too "sensational" and that it would distract from the rest of the message I really felt led to share.

Isn't it funny how God uses things like the next break out session to confirm exactly what He wanted you to do?

I walked into "Crafting a Noticed and Needed Message," by Karen Ehman.

Yup. That was the title.
Love how God does those things!

Now I had prayed through and picked these break out sessions well before I ever went to She Speaks. God orchestrated everything to be exactly what I needed to hear, when I needed to hear it.

I could probably write a book about what Karen shared. I will try not to! But as she talked it became very apparent that I had to share the story God wanted me to. One of the first things I wrote down was this quote.

You can do teaching couched in your own story that only you can tell.
I have the right to talk about my story.
In my stories I need to be real and honest.


God will always be stretching you in the area of your talk.

No wonder I found it so hard in the weeks leading up to She Speaks to believe that God had really called me there, and that I struggled so hard with feeling loved by Him, no matter what. My friend, Cindy had shared that was one of the things that she always found. She was stretched and challenged on the very things that she would be teaching on in a talk, the whole time she was preparing. I believed her, but had to be reminded frequently before my trip!!!

One of the big things I took away from there (among others) was that I need to be "stuffing my files." Remembering, noticing, writing down incidents, quotes, stories and making note of where I got them from. Create a folder on my computer to quickly type down something to remind myself and save it frequently.

Karen shared about five different areas to crafting a needed message.

  1. Prepare. (stuffing files, praying)
  2. Write.
  3. Practice. (recording self regularly, using family and friends to practice on)
  4. Deliver. (using silence, no vocal crutches)
  5. Live. (don't just preach it, but live it)

All of those were so good, and I was able to use them right on the spot with my talk. But there was a problem. I wish I had this information well before I had crafted my 5 min. talk. I had no time to completely rewrite it and make if flow better. I wanted to use all the things she talked about in the "writing" portion and incorporate them into my talk.

I just had to let that go.

One of the things she challenged us to do within the next week of leaving She Speaks, I have yet to do.

It's on my "list!"

First I need to pray about it, but then name 2-3 areas that I feel God is calling me to speak on. I have to pick an example/illustration from life, one from an outside source, and then pick one passage of scripture... for each of those areas. After that, I need to craft the skeleton of those talks.

That is definitely something I want to do. I am slowly coming out of my exhaustion, but have been slow to pick up on life, and start doing the things around the house I want to.

I have been trying to mentally prepare myself for letting my son go. He is heading into the "big" elementary school this year, to kindergarten. He is looking forward to it. I am wondering how it is going to change our lives.

Maybe there is a talk in there somewhere.
Another thing to stuff in a file folder?

It's funny how the more I write about what I learned, and go over my notes again, I find it all applying to and weaving into my life around me now. It's strange and good at the same time. So rarely have I come back from a conference and been able to retain, and recognize how things I have learned there work into my "everyday" life.

When I went into my next session by Wendy Pope, “Teaching by the Book,” I learned even more about preparing a talk. She really went in depth about using the online resources available. She gave websites and everything. It’s amazing to me just how much there is out there.

I was like a kid in a candy store! I love studying and writing and researching. Finding all these different things, well, I can’t wait to use them!

There is so much Wendy talked about that I am going to use the next time I prepare a message. Again, I was disappointed that I couldn’t use some of the stuff she shared in preparation for my 5 min. talk.

Again, I had to let it go.

A few key things she said that I just saw in my notes.

You can never pray enough.
Pray for everything God lays on your heart.
Pray for passion for His message for the event.
Ask God to give you ears to hear and eyes to see.
God speaks in more places than you church.

After Wendy's break out session, I talked with Katie. She had to go to our room and finish up her talk, and practice. I had to do the same, so I told her she could have the room, and I found a secluded corner of the atrium in the hotel, and curled up with my bible, journal and talk.

I sat, praying, journaling, and finally crying (yes, again….) as I tried to prepare myself for sharing not only the 5 min. talk, but my heart and the story God had told me to share.

I didn’t realize just how raw the story was, until I tried to figure out how to share it, how much to share, and how to fit it into just the intro of my talk.

Honestly, I was scared. It was one thing to share this specific story in writing, in general terms, on my blog, but it was completely different to do it in person, with more specifics…

(to be continued)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Series "interrupt-us"

Everyone, I am so sorry that I have been so lax at continuing all that happened at She Speaks. It was incredible, I am still processing, and life has had a way of taking over everything this week.

I woke with a horrible headache this morning, and it never really went away.
I went back to bed when my hubby got up, because I couldn't function.
I slept till noon.
I got up and pretended to be functional while my kids played around me and I stared off into space.
Then after I finally stirred myself to make the kids supper (I couldn't eat, my stomach was still too sick from the headache) we went for a walk.
I didn't go far, just to a neighbors a few blocks away.
She and I sat and talked while the kids played in her back yard....
...until Peter got hit in the nose with something, panicked and bled all over the place.

We came home once his nose stopped bleeding, I built a fire in our fire pit, and settled down out there with the kids, till it was way past their bedtime, but the stars had come out and they were thrilled to look up and see so many of them.

They went to bed, I went back outside for a bit longer, and now am heading to bed to try to keep this headache from getting worse.

I know that my Thursday will be very busy, but I hope to get back to the series again, God willing, tomorrow. Otherwise it might not be till the weekend!!! (Yikes, sorry about that)

Sometimes that is just the way life is.... it seems to interrupt us.

God, please help me through tomorrow and the rest of this week. You know what it is all going to look like. You know exactly what I need for each day. Please bless the coming days with sweet times of fellowship, joyful times with my family, and precious time with You, Lord. Thank You for Your strengthening power... sustaining me, and all of us, all our days. I love you, Amen.

Friday, August 14, 2009

She Ponders, She's Terrified... She Speaks Part 6

Then it was time to get up and start a new day. I was looking forward to all I would learn and the people I would meet, and the ways that God might speak to me this day....

I settled in Saturday morning, not distracted by worry or concern (yet) about my talk that evening for the speaker evaluation group.

I had been praying for God to give me one thing to take home from She Speaks, and felt like He had really given it to me the night before, through the prayer room. Not only had He healed in the past, but He HEALS now and in the future.

But I was still expectant to learn things from the speakers and sessions of the day. Little did I know that God was going to give me several more "one things" to take home with me!

Wendy Pope got up and spoke that morning about "What to do in the W.A.I.T." When we feel we have been given something, a dream beyond our horizons or abilities to bring to fruition, what happens next? She reminded us to not ask what happens next, but ask God what happens now. What's my everyday with him now? Do I have to give up my dreams? Sacrifice them for a season for someone else?

Hmm. Maybe. Maybe I do. I have to serve Him in my now, and give those dreams up. Not that I give them up, hopelessly, figuring I will never get them back... but give them into His hands.

His capable, nail-scarred hands. His hands that gave up dreams (humanly speaking) of being the Messiah, when He died. But His hands impart life to all of us now, because He gave up the dreams, His very life, as a sacrifice for someone else... for us.

His hands are more than capable of restoring those dreams to us, after we have faithfully served Him in the now. There is so much good in the waiting.

Work out our salvation
Accept the invitation to move
Invite others to be a part of your calling
Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Pray and follow hard after His leading in the now. Move ahead, even when it seems impossible, and way bigger than where you presently are. Open up your eyes to see who God has placed around you to come alongside, someone who "gets" your calling. Even if you feel like you are running away from your calling, because of circumstances around you (if you are sacrificing them for a time for someone else) know, intimately know that God is good... know it so much with your head and deeply with your heart, so much that you can almost taste Him.

After our opening general session, I went to Lysa's break out session on "The Power of a Story." There was so much good technical information there, and she shared so many stories and how she has used them. One statement she said really resonated with me.

"We need to be living lives that have stories."

As I thought about that phrase, I finished up the break out session and moved on to my next one.

Then I started hearing God. He was impressing something on me.
I ignored Him and went into my next session.

"Living lives that have stories."

I took notes during the next session, but my anxiety was building and it was extremely difficult to concentrate.

God kept after me the whole session.
I continued to ignore Him.

"Lives that have stories."

By the time that second breakout session was done, and we were heading into lunch, my stomach was in knots.

I knew what God wanted me to do.
I didn't want to do it!


I trembled at the strength of His voice. Fear was stretching its cold fingers around my heart. Panic had my hands sweating, and I felt like I had been running a marathon.

With all my effort, I pulled myself together enough to walk in the door, sit at the nearest table, at an empty place. I ate quickly. Then got up and left. I skipped the dessert and headed for my room.

I stopped, and tried to distract myself from God, by looking at the book table. But again I was looking at it with unseeing eyes, as I tried to argue with God. The more I argued in my head, the stronger His voice got. The stronger His voice got, the more fear invaded me.

I know the enemy was using that fear to try to drown out God.
But the Holy Spirit wasn't going to let that happen.

I finally headed up to my room. I headed straight for my bed, and threw my bag of stuff down on it. I sat at the end of the bed, just wanting to curl up in a ball and sleep. (It's an escape for me...) I slid off bed, sinking to the floor, wondering at what I was contemplating. I pulled out my 5 min. talk and read through it again.

I kept telling God, "No, I don't want to do this. My talk is fine. It's timed out. It's what it needs to be, and I don't want to change it!"

He listened, but was still firm that I needed to change it and start it with a story. That doesn't seem so big, but I knew which story He wanted me to put in.

I finally listened, and quickly wrote, in pencil, over the top of what I had already written and printed out. I wrote out the story that He wanted me to. I knew I had to keep it short, but had to really share it well, so that others could grasp it without me going into too much detail.

It was painful, it was dramatic, and it definitely impacted how I viewed God's love for me. It tied in directly with my talk through Romans 8:35 and 37.

I left my room shaking, and headed for my break out session. I was scared. I mean, not just anxious or slightly panicky. Scared. Stiff. I wanted to be transparent with my story, and I was the night before. But to share this? To give details? To try to weave it in, when I had no time to really practice it, pray it through, anything? Oh, I was terrified. This felt way too exposed, too vulnerable.

I couldn't believe that God would want me to share this story. I referred to it when I originally wrote the talk at home, but didn't give details. Now God was really wanting me to spell it out? Really?

I was still afraid that I was making it up in my head. I was still afraid that I was taking something that could be too "sensational" and that it would distract from the rest of the message I really felt led to share.

Isn't it funny how God uses things like the next break out session to confirm exactly what He wanted you to do?

(to be continued...)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

She Speaks and She Sleeps!! She Speaks Part 5

I headed towards Amy's room, hearing voices and laughter floating down the hall towards me. My steps quickened without my realization, as I came closer to where I knew God had placed me for that weekend...

I walked into the room and saw chairs arranged to face a music stand at the front of the room. I was greeted by Amy, and met Danielle for the first time. She and I had been corresponding the last couple of weeks. We had run across each other's blogs just before we found out that we were going to be in the same speaker evaluation group. How awesome is God?? I also saw Monica, who I met earlier that afternoon (was that really the same day??) on the shuttle ride from the airport. Katie came in shortly after me...

...and the room slowly filled with these women...
...these wonderful women of God...

...all on different roads...
...all different walks of life...
...all different stories...
...all the same amazing, awesome, God and Lover of our Souls...

Only God could have orchestrated each of the evaluation groups as He did that weekend. All the stories I heard, all the different types of people He put together, either from similar backgrounds or completely different... depending on what we all needed....

Amy Carroll was such a blessing. Her laughter and her understanding and compassion touched all of our hearts I think. She immediately put me at ease. So, though I was still nervous, I was able to settle in and relax in her presence. I praise God for her, because she was exactly the person our small group needed to lead us.

We were all relatively novice speakers. Some had been speaking before small groups, or in/around their churches. But from what I remember (and any ladies reading this please correct me!!!) none, did it very regularly.

It was a night of our telling of our stories to each other. Introducing ourselves some, where we were from, what our families were like, etc. And then we gave our testimonies. "Our Story" talks, 3 minutes in length. They were timed to give us an idea of how quickly things could go.

It was very good to get our feet wet, when we all were so hesitant and I think, truly nervous about how we would be received. I was blessed so much by everyone's story. It was amazing to hear the heartaches, the victories, the struggles, the sadness and the extreme joy that they all, we all, had tasted.

For me, it was so relieving to share my story, and to find only acceptance and love. I mean, I laid it all on the line with the first sentence.

"October, 2 years ago, found me in a hospital be, on a suicide watch. This wasn't exactly what I had anticipated when I became a believer."

Yes, I did start out that way. And no, I didn't hold anything back.

It wasn't the time or place. I had asked God to show me what to say, to give me the words, to change things at the last minute if He had to... and this is what He wanted me to say that night. To share some of how I had become a believer, but also some of what I had gone through the past few years. So, how could I hold anything back.

When I walked into that room, my tiredness had melted away. Probably because of the adrenalin kicking in.

Needless to say, after meeting all these beautiful women, and starting to share my heart with them, and starting to see the bonds we shared with each other.... I WAS WIPED OUT!

I got back to my room and dumped my stuff, and in the process, realized there was a blogger meet and greet going on downstairs.

I headed down there briefly, and caught the end of it. The main reason I went down though was to catch up with Lee and see how her night had been. We got the chance to talk some, and I got to meet Susan (a.k.a Runner Mom).

Then the fatigue set in. It wasn't even tiredness, it was beyond exhaustion.

I don't think I was even intelligible by the time I got to my room. I remember vaguely talking to Katie. I think. I got my clothes ready for the morning (I think) and headed to bed. I was asleep so quickly, and so soundly, I never heard Katie working on her 5 min. talk in the other bed, never heard her shut off the light... nothing.

Not until the alarm went off in the morning to get me up....

Then it was time to get up and start a new day. I was looking forward to all I would learn and the people I would meet, and the ways that God might speak to me this day....

(to be continued)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

HE heals and HE promises... She Speaks Part 4

My breath caught in my throat, fresh sobs welled up as I found my name, and read the name of God by which it was so lovingly placed...

The God Who Heals.

My thoughts raced back through the past few years. I remembered God has done some amazing healing in my life.

I cried tears of thankfulness for all that He had done, but I have to admit that for a moment, I almost felt disappointed. I saw the significance for my past in that, but what it meant for right now didn't sink in right away....

....I don't know why it didn't, I guess I am a slow learner....

I wrote down the scripture references on the back of my She Speaks book they gave us and went back to the chair where I had left my things.

I sat down and soaked in the peace in that room. I started thinking about heading back to my room to rest.

Then it hit me.

Yeah, I know you were probably already thinking this by now.... I said, sometimes I am a really slow learner!!!!

The God who heals.

The God who HEALS!!!

Here I was feeling so sick, anxious, exhausted, and just plain icky. I was getting more and more depressed and questioning why I was here...

...when God reminded me that He is the God who heals.

It wasn't that I felt immediate healing then. I didn't. It was a promise.

He has healed in the past.
I cried out in desperation to Him.
Why wouldn't He answer me now?

He knew better than I, what I was going to be needing that night, and the rest of the weekend. He knew that all I wanted to do was hide and not interact with anyone else for the rest of conference. But He also knew what He had planned for me.

I needed Him. More than anything, I needed Him. I needed a promise that He would be with me, that He would strengthen me, that He would enable me.

I got it in His name.


That flash back that I had, of the past years of healing. I don't think I consciously thought of it then, but now looking back at that night, I think it was planted then. It was a reminder to me of all He had done.

He had been with me.
He had strengthened me.
He had enabled me.

If He did it in the past, why wouldn't He now?

I sank back into that chair, crying, still feeling sick and tired. Begging God to make me feel better so I could get through the night. I picked up a slip of paper to write a prayer request, and as I tried to write, explain where I was at, what was going on, and ask for prayer... I could barely see for the tears.

I signed the prayer request, dropped it in the waiting bowl, and leaned back in the chair.

I wanted to pray, but couldn't seem to get two thoughts together coherently. I cleaned myself up a bit, and someone else walked into the prayer room and sat with her back to me on the other side of the room. I sat for a few more moments, but now was distracted and self-conscious again, so got up and left the room.

I cleaned myself up better in the nearby bathroom.

I realized that the dinner was just letting out so everyone could go to their break out sessions. At this point, I still was planning on heading to the room to rest. However, I had to walk past the room where my break out session was going to be held. As I started to walk by, I saw that the room was just starting to fill up with people.

I saw the speaker standing, getting ready.
I also saw there was a chair, at the end of a table, right near the door.

It was like I was drawn to that room by a magnet. I told myself I would sit for a little bit, and if I felt worse, I would be able to slip out. I sat down.

Shortly after that, the only other person from my church who came to She Speaks, came up behind me. Dawn and I only found out the other was going for sure, about 6 weeks before the conference. I had talked to her about it in January, and then forgotten. I signed up, then she did too, and we didn't mention it to each other again, until a mutual friend told me that she was going.

Dawn offered a seat near her. I told her what was going on, and that I wanted to be near the door in case I felt worse. She said ok, and then asked if she could pray for me.

She wrapped an arm around my shoulders and prayed right then and there. Needless to say, the tears started flowing again. I couldn't stop them, and by then, I didn't even try. When she was done praying she gave me a hug, and made her way back to her seat.

I sat back down as our speaker was introduced. I knew her, though we had never met...

Micca Campbell.

I had worked through her book, "An Untroubled Heart" this past year in a blog book study. I knew her story, and felt like I knew her heart.

Her session was titled, "Fear Not."

Hmm. You think that God wanted me there???

The verse she spoke on was from Isaiah 41:9-10

"I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are my servant;' I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
(emphasis mine)

Did you see the bold words there? Do you remember how I said that I needed to see a promise that He would be with me, that He would strengthen me, that He would enable me?

Several of the things that Micca said that stood out to me was that it is so easy to focus on our own weaknesses, but if we ask God, He will strengthen us and help us. She said to quit thinking about what I can't do, but think about what HE CAN do.

I don't think I need to say anything other than that. How to I expound on that? God drew me into that room, and didn't let me get up through the whole talk. At the end Micca said something, and I don't know if this is a direct quote or not, but this is what I was prompted to write down.

After she expounded on the point of "I will uphold you." I wrote this:

"I can DARE TO DREAM because He is with me, and He is for me."

That session strengthened me to go on through the night. It was like God was speaking directly to my heart. In that session, He WAS Jehovah-Rapha. He brought healing to my fears, strength to my body, and confirmation to my spirit that He had called me here. It wasn't some imagining of my own that got me here. He brought me, drew me, provided for me to get to Charlotte, NC.

I felt the sickness in my stomach subside some. I was still shaky, but it wasn't the "I'm gonna fall over dead if I don't sleep," shaking anymore.

Looking back at it now, I can see that God was working in me to heal me. He was saving me from the sticky fingers of cold fear wrapping around my heart. That coldness of fear that would have kept me from learning and growing, and pressing ahead through the weekend. God took my heart in His hands once again, and breathed His Spirit through my heart, making it living flesh.

I was still scared.
But I left that meeting room resolved to go and face my fears.

I walked towards the elevator (did I mention I HATE elevators?!) and rode up to the 11th floor, to meet my speaker evaluation group, and our group leader, Amy Carroll.

I headed towards Amy's room, hearing voices and laughter floating down the hall towards me. My steps quickened without my realization, as I came closer to where I knew God had placed me for that weekend...

(to be continued)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

She Escapes and She Breaks... She Speaks Part 3

The longer I had to sit around that table, the worse I felt. Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer, and I spoke to Katie, and excused myself from the table....

My plan was to head for my room. I was going to skip out of the break out session, and instead try to get some sleep before our speaker evaluation, because I felt like I couldn't even think straight. When I am over tired, and don't have enough sleep... especially when I have had a severe lack of sleep and lots of activity... well, it's not so pretty. I get physically ill, and non-functional.

I didn't want to start my weekend that way, so I figured, in my own understanding, that I had better go get some sleep.

I headed out of the banquet hall, and started walking down the hall towards the atrium and elevators. The further I got from the hall, the worse I felt. I stopped at one point to figure out where I was, and where my break out session was supposed to be, and saw a room marked "Prayer room" on my map.

I sat down in a chair, and paused to take a breath, figure out the time, and try to figure out if sleeping would really help me. Or should I really try to find the prayer room?

Finally I got up and wandered back towards the hall and book table. I argued with myself the whole way. Then I saw it.

The banner that read:
The Prayer Room.

I remembered Lee telling me, just after we met each other, that she had seen my name in the prayer room, and I was going to like where it was placed. When I asked her where it was, she said I had to go into the room to see for myself.

I stood outside the prayer room for a few minutes, then turned to stare unseeingly at the book table while I tried to make up my mind about what I was going to do.

At that point I was feeling so vulnerable and ready to cry, so tired and strung out, that I was about ready to crumple into a heap.

I remembered Lee telling me that there were different names of God scattered across the tables in there, and that each person had been prayed for, and their names were placed by the name of God that God impressed on them.

I was very curious to see where my name was, that Lee had seen. I wanted to know why she was so excited about it. But I argued with myself that I had no time to do this. I needed to sleep so I could function for the rest of the evening. I didn't have time to "waste" in the prayer room.

Time to "waste?"

Finally I gave in to curiosity, and really to God's prompting, and turned toward the prayer room door.

I felt God literally pushed me to the door. I opened it, and cautiously looked inside.

Seeing the room was empty, I walked in and let the door shut softly behind me.

I stopped for a moment near a chair and let the silence soak into me. The room was lit softly, there was gentle music playing the the background. There were chairs scattered and grouped around... along with plenty of boxes of tissues. (This was a women's conference after all, they had to know there would be tears!)

I just felt God's gentle Spirit wash over me and rest on me. I fought the urge to worry about someone else come in behind me, and just stared at the cross in the middle of the tables in front of me.

As God's Spirit fell on me, I hardly noticed as the tears started falling. I remember crying out to God, out loud...

"God, I can't do this! I am so tired and I don't know what to do. I don't want to go through this conference distracted and hurting and tired. I want to hear from You!"

I was overwhelmed by the fear and anxiety that had been niggling at me all day, that I had been fighting with the Word of God all day, that the extreme weariness had finally let through. I sand into a chair, with this utter feeling of helplessness, crying... sobbing.

I pulled myself together some, and finally got up, and faced the tables. I was determined to find my name among 600 others, to see what God wanted to tell me about Himself.

It was a relief to let some of those tears out. I knew God was making my heart more tender. He was using every encounter with other people, every time I forced myself to introduce myself to someone new, every moment I was willing to surrender to Him, every talk I heard or book cover I read, to open me up. All I had been asking Him to do, up to this point was show me one thing that He wanted me to come home with.

Still with the tears flowing (though not as hopelessly as before) I got up and started reading the names of God, and scanning for my name among the hundreds there.

Then, finally I found it.

My breath caught in my throat, fresh sobs welled up as I found my name, and read the name of God by which it was so lovingly placed...

(to be continued)

Friday, August 7, 2009

She Listens and She Eats... She Speaks Part 2

The air was electric, and the sense of the Holy Spirit settling on this place was palpable...

Katie and I walked into the main banquet hall and found a table with room for the two of us to sit. It wasn't long before Cheri Keaggy was leading us in some songs and worship. Then the P31 team came in dancing to "We are family." They were so funny!

It was really awesome to see them all come in together. They all got up front and Lysa introduced them all to us and shared how much it meant to be working with all of them and to be truly family.

I remember sitting and listening to Lysa talk that night about "Finding your own remarkABLE."

You will have to remember that I was running on little to no sleep. I had been up since about 3:30am. It was a long day already and after dinner I still had a break out session and my evaluation group!

Some of the things that jumped out at me was one part where she asked what blocked our personal revival. Eventually my mind connected that with a statement she said about what do I think about more than Jesus? She brought up the verse in Jonah 2:8 that my friend Cindy has commented to me several times. (Ok, more than several times... it seems to be a theme lately)

"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs."
Jonah 2:8

So what is the thing that I think about more than Jesus? What is the thing that is holding me back from following Him with all of my heart? What about me is like the rich young ruler.
Wanting to follow Jesus, wondering what I still lack, and then when I hear it, am I willing to make the changes necessary to give up what I value above HIM?

I am still thinking about what it is that I value above my Jesus.

I am not 100% sure yet.

It could be my comfortable life.
My comfortable home.
My comfortable family.
My comfortable routine.

Hmm... my comfort?
Isn't Jesus all about us getting out of our comfort zones and jumping out of the boat to walk on the water with Him?

The other thought from her talk was summed up this way.

What are the things that we all go around saying, "I have to..."

I have to make supper for the kids.
I have to clean the bathroom.
I have to get groceries.
I have to go to church.
I have to spend time with God.
I have to go to work.

When you start saying those things with the "I have to" phrase, don't you start resenting those things you "have to" do?

I start thinking about all the things that make demands on my time, and wonder if any of it is really worth it.

Lysa challenged us to change how we said those statements. To think about those things we "have to" do with thankfulness.

I am able to make supper for the kids.
I am able to clean the bathroom.
I am able to get groceries.
I am able to go to church.
I am able to spend time with God.
I am able to go to work.

Doesn't that change how you look at those things? It sure does for me. Suddenly it makes me aware of how blessed I am to have these different things to do, and how blessed I am to have the health, capability, and opportunity to do these things.

I want to re-write the script in my mind that I don't "have to" follow after God, but I am "able to" follow after Him.

What a powerful way to open the conference.

Following that, we had our dinner. I must say the food was excellent all weekend. I never felt hungry.

But that night, the more I ate, the worse I felt. I started feeling light headed. I could feel my stomach getting sick. My tiredness, exhaustion really, was catching up with me. So was my anxiety about the evening and my first talk I had to give.

The longer I had to sit around that table, the worse I felt. Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer, and I spoke to Katie, and excused myself from the table....

(to be continued)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

She Travels and She Meets... She Speaks Part 1

How do I even sum up... I don't think I can.

My weekend at She Speaks started with a drive down to my parents house on Wednesday afternoon.

I felt tired and distracted leaving home, so I stopped in Steven's Point, about 20 min. from home, at a park by the Plover River.

It is a beautiful park with bridges over the river.

And wonderful places to curl up at the edge of the water and reflect.

Which is exactly what I did. I curled up and rested and prayed, and asked God into this whole weekend.

I had a great deal of concern about my talks, and how it was going to go. I was worried about being there without really knowing anyone. But at the same time I kept praying that God would speak to me. I headed into the conference with fears that He either wouldn't speak to me, or that I wouldn't understand it.

I spent time that afternoon praying that God would show me what He wanted me to hear from Him... and that He would speak it in a way that I would be able to discern. I asked Him to open up my heart to Him and help me rely on Him.

Little did I know how much He would answer those prayers.

God has a way with that doesn't he?

I wish I could say that I took loads of pictures. Unfortunately, well, I didn't. I kind of forgot to pull it back out until Saturday night. And then I only took a couple of shots, and then took it out long enough to get a picture with my evaluation group, and Amy Carroll, our evaluation group leader.

Go figure... I guess you will just have to use your imagination. :)

I had to get up at 3:30 am central time on Friday morning. I knew it was going to be a long day, but I had no choice because my plane left from Milwaukee very early. I flew to Detroit, and switched planes for the flight to Charlotte, NC.

The plane flights went well. I had no trouble with connections. Only with anxiety. I was fine with the take offs, but I started to get nervous about the landings, because I just get a bit motion sick. But as soon as I started praying, God just took the anxiety away, and I could feel my spirit just calm down. I took a couple of pictures of the plane for my kids (who have never flown before) and made a teenage boy laugh next to me because I was trying to get pictures of us flying through the clouds for my 5 yr old son.

I got there, found my luggage, and found the shuttle to get to the hotel. Surprise, surprise, I met one of the women in my evaluation group on the shuttle. Monica was just such a sweet lady, full of love and laughter and made me immediately relax.

I checked into my hotel room, cleaned up, and texted my bloggy friend Lee Merrill. We finally met face to face in the hotel lobby for the first time. If you haven't met her, head over to her blog. She has such a heart for God, is so much fun, a riot actually, and a warm gentle heart. I couldn't help but love her even more than I already did, from our getting to know each other on line.

I got to meet my roommate Katie. She was such a blessing to me. Her story is a miracle of God's intervention in her life. I wish I could have gotten to know her better. I am hoping that as we continue through this year, we will be able to get to know each other better.

After Katie and I were able to talk a bit and get to know each other a little bit, we worked our way down to the lobby, and towards the banquet room where we were to have our opening session and first dinner together.

As we walked closer, I could hear the swell of women's voices. Women getting to know each other. Women anxious to meet God this weekend. Women prepared to learn. Women desiring to worship their Father together.

The air was electric, and the sense of the Holy Spirit settling on this place was palpable...

(to be continued)