Hey everybody! Gosh, it has been almost two weeks and I have missed writing! My current situation is that life is nuts! Our ministry is crazy busy, (which is super exciting!) I am working harder than a one-armed paper hanger planning our 2018 event calendar, I went back to school last month to obtain my Master’s Degree in Christian Counseling, I have started a business AND I was the keynote speaker at a Women’s Retreat last weekend! I probably need to get back to that “Breathing Room” bible study that my hubby gave me for Christmas:) It’s a struggle because when you are wired like me, one thing is good but four is better! I want to tell you about ALL the things but I want to start with the Women’s Retreat. It was amazing.
I was asked about six months ago to be the speaker for a retreat hosted by a local women’s ministry. I was beyond honored and humbled and worked hard over the last several months to prepare. The theme of the retreat weekend was “Anchor in the Spirit” and was based on Hebrews 6:19. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” NIV. I read several different versions of the verse each day as I prepared and I shared several different translations of the verses with the attendees but my absolute favorite comes from the Message version – “We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go.” Oh, how that speaks to my soul! Grab it with both hands and never let go. God loves us so much and He promises to never let us go. What a comfort as we traverse through such a hurting world.
The retreat was held in St. Simons at Epworth by the Sea. It was a beautiful backdrop for a women’s get away. You all know how much I love my family but it was so nice to just be BY MYSELF for a couple of days. I was obviously surrounded by lots of other women during the scheduled events of the retreat but I drove down BY MYSELF, I stayed in a room BY MYSELF (thank you sweet Jesus) I enjoyed our free time on the island BY MYSELF & it was good! I am in that stage of life that “by yourself” moments don’t happen too often so I always try to relish them when they do. Some of my relishing was interrupted because Bella texted me approximately 101 times and face timed me about 95 but I relished that too since I know these days won’t last forever. That girl loves her Momma:) Anyway, I spoke three times and I felt prayed up, studied up and ready to go. My sweet tribe of best friends were back home covering me in prayer and I surely felt it. I love to speak and share about how big our God is and what he has done in my life but I usually do get a little nervous. Not this time. There was not one butterfly the entire weekend and I absolutely loved being behind the podium speaking and sharing. It has always been one of my dreams to speak to women at conferences and retreats and I can’t wait for the next opportunity! I was totaling channeling my inner Lysa Terkeurst/Jen Hatmaker & I felt like God was saying “See, this is your jam! So get out there and promote it!” So I said “Yes, God! Keep giving me a platform and I will keep giving you glory. Let’s do some auditoriums and stadiums!” #goals
I did not know any of the women at last week’s retreat except for the one who asked me to speak. They were all kind and welcoming and you may have seen me post a picture of three sweet faces who were always smiling & nodding at me and gave me such silent encouragement from their seats! I wanted to remember those sweet faces. I opened on Friday evening just by sharing my story so they could get to know me and my background & begin to see how our God redeems and restores. He hears our cries and He answers. Saturday morning, I talked about trials – how God uses them to mold us, relationship building, spiritual warfare and combating that with prayer. Then on Saturday night we talked about practical ways to walk it all out, specifically growing your relationship with people and with God. One of my suggestions is always journaling. I love to write and have always journaled but even if that is not you, I would encourage you, just as I did the retreat attendees – start journaling. If nothing else, at the end of the day you will have a beautiful record of God’s faithfulness. I have never done this before but with the retreat group, I brought my journal stack and I shared actual excerpts with them. I hope they heard the pain in some of the entries, the humor in some of them and then God’s redeeming love & hope typically answering me in the next few entries. It was a beautiful time of reflection for me as I prepared & also as I read aloud and shared that with the group. All of my friends and small groups know that I plan to publish those entries one day. People need transparency & I think those entries will help women who are walking similar paths. Just a heads up, the word “casserole” will probably be in the title of my book. Many will know what that means but if you don’t, stick around and I will share one day:)
I know some will read this and think “well, great for you but I don’t have a story like that to share” & I would say that’s not true. You don’t have my story and I don’t have yours but we ALL have something we can offer others. I encouraged the group to share their story however they can & I encourage you, dear reader to do the same. You don’t have to go on the radio or stand up at a conference or share from your church’s pulpit but maybe you start a small group and share with three other women. Maybe you have had a struggle and in the power of Christ you overcome it, so share that with your pastor or counselor and they can offer you as a resource to others they encounter along the way. The point is that you don’t have to share it with everyone because you may not be wired like me but you can always share with someone. My whole point in all that is we should use our pain and subsequent healing as a microphone to the world because if we don’t share, then how is the world going to know how great our God is? I think we have to be the messengers of hope to a hurting world. You can start by just acknowledging the pain. Acknowledge that it exists. If you know someone who is going through something (especially if it is something we don’t like to talk about out loud like addiction or affairs or mental illness) just reach out. Pray for them and let them know you are praying, hug them when you see them, take them a casserole or just sit with them for a while. Those things can make all the difference as your friend walks through a tough time.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to share and spend time with the women last weekend and I am so thankful for the time I had BY MYSELF:) I would love to book more events throughout this year so if you or someone you know is in need, please reach out & please invite your friends to follow my blog! I will reveal details about my new company, website, etc. in my next post but my blogging and public speaking will all fall under the new company as well as a few other things I am passionate about! Wash your hands, keep loving people (but don’t get to close to them or touch them), avoid buffets and try to stay well in the midst of this flu epidemic! God bless you all!