Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Road of the Redeemed

Did you hear the huge sigh of relief coming from my house last night? We just finished a very busy couple of weeks and are so excited to have all of next week off.

A couple of months ago my friend Lindsee, who is a girls minister at a church here in Houston, asked if I would share my testimony at her middle school and high school girls retreat. I always say no to things like this because it is just not what I'm spiritually gifted to do, but I told her I would think and pray on it. The only reason I gave it a second thought is because it was telling my story rather than teaching a Bible lesson. I really had a heart to share my story with these teenagers, but the issue was actually telling it up in front of them with a microphone. Eek! I can't even make announcements in my Sunday school class - in front of my friends - without my heart pounding out of my chest and losing my breath.

So, I took a month (sorry, Lindsee!) to get back to her with my answer. I prayed and prayed and prayed and pestered my mom and husband for advice. I was really wanting them to tell me not to do it or for God to give me a flashing NO sign. That didn't happen. My friend Kay said I should do it. Mom said only I could make the decision and Curt told me he didn't think I could outrun this one. Great!

One day I said, "God, I really need you to tell me right now whether you want me to do this or not. Please, just make it obvious!" The next morning I opened my eyes in a half-dream state and in my mind I was saying the things I needed to tell the girls. I'll call that a sign. As the day progressed I couldn't even remember what I had half-dreamed, but I had the grace to tell Lindsee I would come to the retreat.

God's timing is so amazing. We went to LifeWay's women's leadership forum at Ridgecrest two weeks ago. Mom, Melissa and Curtis each spoke. The kids and I tagged along and we had a great experience. Curtis kept the kids and let me go to a lot of the breakout sessions. There were so many great ones to choose from. They are serious about equipping leaders!

As I was looking through the list of seminars, I saw one by Rachel Lovingood (I will love her forever) that was basically about how to give a talk and be yourself. It could not have been more perfect for me. I took tons of notes and of course when I was preparing my talk I couldn't find them. But what she said got in there.

Last week was super long. I was starting to get very nervous and I just wanted to wake up and it be the day after the retreat. My flesh was freaking out about the prospect of not performing perfectly. Gag! But that is a struggle for me. If I can't do something really well, I just don't do it. It was a fight to stay in the spirit in my thinking and there were a few tears shed.

Curtis went out of town for two days, which made my preparation a little stressful. I needed to leave for the retreat at a certain time on Friday night and he literally walked in the door from the airport just in time. (I was speaking the next day but I needed to hear the other speakers.) God had mercy on me because I made it there in 15 minutes during rush hour and that is just craziness.

Long story short, the retreat was amazing. Lindsee did a phenomenal job leading everything. The worship leader, Debbie, was incredible and I want to be her best friend. The other two ladies who shared their testimonies, Penny and Laura, were fantastic. The Gospel was boldly proclaimed through their stories as they testified of His power to transform lives. I loved being around the teenagers. I really miss student ministry. The weekend was just such a blessing.

My story was the very last part of the retreat. The last ten minutes before I was to start, I thought I was going to pass out. Seriously. I was so nervous. Thank God Lindsee let me sit on a stool to share my story. Lots of friends were praying for me and, I have to tell you, as soon as I sat on that stool in front of the girls, God's grace was there for me. Oh Lord, I thank You for Your faithfulness!

I'm praising Him because:
-I didn't sob the whole way through. Just a couple tears at the end.
-I didn't pass out.
-There were some sweet adult leaders who were nodding their heads and smiling at me while I was talking. They encouraged me.
-When I opened my Daily Light devotional book that morning, Micah 7:8 (which I was going to share) was the first verse listed. Wow.

I told the girls that I used to drive down this long, dark, scary road late at night during my senior year. I would be afraid and would want to pray for God's protection, but because of how I was living, I told myself that I couldn't and shouldn't pray. I closed my mind to Him, which breaks my heart to think about.

The retreat was at a hotel close to that road and although it would take me twice as long to get home, I turned my car right toward it.

That road has now been redeemed.

He makes all things new.

62 comments:

debra said...

I love that you drove down the road. A beautiful picture, indeed.

Heather said...

I am so glad things went well friend! No doubt you were a blessing to those sweet teenagers, what a blessing they received to her your testimony! Speaking in front of large crowds would make me want to hurl too, but Praise God for giving you peace and strength at just the right time!!

BTW, small world friend, Rachel Lovingood and I taught teenagers together for 2 years back at my home church. :)

Erica said...

Oh, what a testimony to how he makes all things new! I love your redemption story...I would really love to sit over coffee and hear more! Your faithfulness to share made Him proud!

Miss Texan said...

Praise God! It blesses me just to read this- I can only imagine how God used you speaking to those girls!!

Amanda said...

Heather, that is too cool! I had a feeling you knew each other.

Tara G. said...

God is so overwhelmingly tender and good! What an awesome spiritual marker!

Angela said...

I'm new to your blog but I would love to read your story! Have you already posted it on your blog?

-Angela

Rikki said...

OH MY GOODNESS!!! Amanda, I know you do not know me and I know you get tweets and comments from people all of the time that you probably don't know but please hear me when I say this....THIS BLOG POST COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE PERFECT FOR ME THIS AT THIS VERY POINT IN TIME!!! I am seriously weeping! Thank you for sharing.

Marc and Charity said...

Awesome that you drove that dark road! All Glory to Him!

Immeasurably More Mama said...

This is beautiful. So glad that you said YES to sharing your story...no doubt those girls were blessed by the Lord through you. Many of us have a dark, scary road that we have traveled before. I am forever thankful that we love and serve a God who redeems and restores those things in our lives that are not pretty. Enjoy a restful week with your precious family!

Little Steps Of Faith said...

This speaks loud girl!
I have no more words than that:)
(yea, I know that's a surprise!)
Let me " eat it before I tweet it."
And I'll be back;)

Xoxo
Angie

Marla Taviano said...

That is just awesome. From Curtis telling you that you couldn't outrun it to you driving down that old road. Bless you for obeying. Love you!

gregandkim said...

Oh my word did not see that coming. Just beautiful. He trusted you on Saturday.He certainly is looking to His right and saying "She has an incredible spirit doesn't she Son". I heard that once from a sweet southern lady so I won't take credit:)
Well I have to make breakfast and wipe these tears so my girls won't wonder what in the world is matter with momma.

Sweet blog post and certainly would have clapped my hands off and smiled my cheeks off for you and His faithfulness.

Michele said...

What a cool story, Amanda. Praise God for his faithfulness and bless you for having the courage to follow him down an uncomfortable path.
Glad you didn't pass out. :)

Michele

~S~ said...

I'm so proud of you! I really think you underestimate yourself as a teacher. Your gift comes in a different form than your mom and sister, but you have taught me many things over the past few years. I love being a step behind you in marriage and mommy-hood.

Darla said...

Beautiful! He certainly blessed your "yes"!

connorcolesmom said...

Amanda,
That made me cry! I see so much of myslf in tht story. I absolutely hate to talk in front of people. It terifies me! Everytime God calls me to lead a Bible Study even when the group is a small one I have to pray for Him to keep me from fainting. I love how He gives us all that we need and equips us for the things HE calls us to do. Praise His name!
I am so happy for you!!!
Much love

Johnnie said...

Amanda, I loved you going back down the road and letting God proclaim it "redeemed." I'm so proud of you! There are some roads I need to return to myself so that He can bring healing and restoration on my behalf.

Angie said...

Beautiful!

cmnb said...

WOW! I so needed to read this today! I am preparing to speak to a group next week and as much as I LOATHE speaking in front of people, I know it's what the Lord wants from me so I could not say no. This is just the encouragement I need! TFS!

Church Lady said...

Great job Amanda!! I know that God has and will continue to bless you for your obedience.

Sister Lynn said...

And you testimony continues...

Praise Him!

annalee said...

what wonderful words of redemption! i'm so glad you followed His lead to speak at this special event.

CAROL LIVIN FOR GOD said...

Amanda when I read your blog it just touched my heart. You have a gift girl and towards the end of your blog I had tears in my eyes not tears of sadness but tears of joy because you are amazing you painted a beautiful picture.
Happy Thanksgiving
Carol

Ginger said...

Oh, my gosh. That closing line said it all. You may not see it all now, but I am telling you there were many girls who related to your story in just that area alone. If just one heart heard you--that's worth all the fear of speaking out in the world.

Siesta OC said...

Love the road redeemed! HE is!

Lindsee Lou said...

I love you, my sweet friend. I am so thankful for you and your willingness to share your story despite your flesh fighing against it. You blessed those girls (and me) in a mighty way and they are still talking about each of you. I have a feeling they'll be talking about it for a while! They're at such an age where they are so impressionable.

This post left me in tears, the road has been redeemed! Serving with you was such a joy to my heart. You are amazing! Let's do lunch soon and I'll share my story with you this time.

Enjoy every minute of your family time this week!

ThirtysomethingMom said...

I know you do not know me, but I was thinking of you because you had asked for prayer on your twitter page. I can totally relate to the nervousness and not wanting to do something that isn't going to turn out perfect.

God is working on me still in those two areas...just trying to depend on Him.

Irony...I love how God makes situations very ironic. You driving down that road in Victory is just a perfect way to end that day!!

Thanks so much for sharing!
Mary in Alabama

Carrie said...

I needed this - thank you :-)

California Dreamin said...

Thank you for sharing. :)

Debbie said...

I love you too. ;)

Kiki said...

Love it friend! Amazing how God is faithful!

Dana said...

Thank you Amanda for being obedient and brave. I loved hearing your story of redemption and I know my girls did too. As you were speaking, I wondered if you had ever drove down that road again....I love it that you did. :)

lizz5990 said...

Wow I love the ending! Have you ever shared your testimony on your blog? I'd love to read it. I thought (assumed) you always walked with the Lord?

Beth said...

Oh Baby, there's just not enough I can say or right words with which to say it. I'll just have to leave it at this: I am so proud of the exact woman of God you are. Exactly YOU. With exactly YOUR past, present, and future. I wouldn't have missed life with for anything on earth and I am so proud of you. Our family didn't have the luxury of putting on much of a front. We were just too messed up, or maybe just too wounded. Anyway, it doesn't do anybody else any good. Real's the way. Real's the way. That's what Jesus honors most.That road you used to fear is no longer dark. No longer dangerous except for the kingdom of darkness. What a beautiful thing. I love Jesus for so many reasons and this is another big one.

Amanda said...

Liz and Angela, I have shared things before on the blog but not in as much detail. I'm not sure if I ever will. I'm thinking I won't but you never know.

Kristen said...

Yeah! Amazing how the Lord worked out all the details..He is so faithful! I'm proud of you!

Mary R Snyder said...

Precious story. Thanks for being so real and open.
And PRAISE God who redeems so many roads!

Tara said...

Amanda,
I read your blog regularly, but have never posted. Just want to tell you what a blessing it is. Thank you for being so real.

Deidre said...

The last few sentences did me in. I love hearing stories of the things we do that only God could push us through. I have no doubt He will award that obedience. I love that the blessing usually starts with our ownselves.

Thanks for sharing this story~

Michaela said...

Thank you Amanda for coming and sharing your story and weekend with us. I know many of our girls needed to hear your story and about the redemptive power of the Lord. I had to share my testimony with our small group of 10 people last week and I was crazy nervous so I don't know how you did it, but I do know that God was speaking through you and using you to open up the eyes of those girls. Thanks again!
Also wanted to let you know that I used to tape the radio too! But only because my parents wouldn't let me listen to anything but KSBJ so I would tape other stations at my friends houses. I was a sneaker!

Kim ~ Kay Kay said...

Thanks for sharing, Amanda! Neat story and what a blessing. He is proud indeed!!!

Shellie Paparazzo said...

God calls all of us to share our stories. I just flat don't like mine. I've been supposed to write mine to prepare to share it at some point at Celebrate Recovery here in Moscow, but can't seem to even write it. It's been driving me crazy!

JayCee said...

Thanks for sharing, Amanda....that was a beautiful testimony! I also love that you drove down the road!!

Bobbie said...

I always felt you're an amazing young lady, but now I know you are! Those young ladies that heard your testimony will be forever blessed. Our God is so awesome!

Carrie Beth said...

What a beautiful picture. He has redeemed you, indeed! Thank you, as always, for sharing your heart. I have two sisters and we have all gone through times when we felt inadequate to do certain things because our sister was so gifted in that area. The nice thing about sharing "your" story is that it is actually "God's story in you". You don't have to be a gifted orator to share that story.....just a willing vessel!
LOVE that you went back down that road!

Lisa @ The Preacher's Wife said...

Full circle, sister. A road is just a road unless Christ transforms it. So proud of you and I know those girls were marked.

Heather said...

I love this, Amanda. I always relate to your posts whether they are about mommy things or Jesus things (or both!!) Thanks for blogging and encouraging me.

Holly said...

Amen! Redeemed is such a wonderful word...and wonderful place to reside.

Love you and was among those praying for you, even though I took an internet break, my heart was praying for you and Lindsee.

katiegfromtennessee said...

Wow, Amanda, the Lord did have that planned out for you, and even gave you more encouragement through the confirmation of that scripture in your quiet time. You definitely seemed dependent on Him for a presentation/testimony that would glorify Him. He blessed that for sure. God's grace, yes, definitely!:) I love that He makes all things new. How powerful are those words?

Blessings a plenty to you Amanda,

katiegfromtennessee

Karen Campbell said...

Thank you for sharing. What a beautiful heart you have. I love reading your blog. By the way...I get nervous giving announcements in Sunday School as well. :)

Deirdre said...

wow. 'Manda you really got me this time.
What an amazing god we serve that he would have given you that scary road so long ago simply so that it could be redeemed and used as an example.

you are lovely, and loved dear one.
Deirdre

Beth said...

incredible. wow!

Lindsey Nobles said...

Amazing. SO PROUD OF YOU!

Missy said...

I am so proud of you for doing that. I know you were such a blessing to those girls.

The Redhead Rambler said...

Thank you so much for being willing to come last weekend and hang out with us and share your story! So many of those girls have grown up in church and have much of the same story you do. I know they saw how the Lord transformed your life and it encouraged them to let Him do the same for them. You are a blessing. Thank you for going WAY out of your comfort zone to follow the Lord!

thegypsymama said...

Girl, I am SO thankful for you and your beautiful honesty!

~Lisa-Jo

Kelli said...

I think my most favorite part of all of this is that because you honored God and spoke a blessing on these girls, you were able to drive down that road. I have a "road" or two I could use a good drive down redeemed.

Love you!

Shelli Littleton said...

Sweet Amanda, that was beautiful. And I "second" that you underestimate yourself partnered with Christ! I get so scared when I speak to a group, even my 5th grade Sunday school class! But what God is teaching me ... it doesn't matter the knowledge, the perfection ... it's just the heart; like your mom said about being real. Sincerity - that's what moves hearts to Jesus. Those dark roads ... makes us so cherish the redemption and our Redeemer. You gave me chill bumps!! ... your whole family is so good at that. :)

Shelli Littleton said...

And Amanda, one more thing ... God is working on me regarding a perfectist attitude. I wrote about this on my blog ... yesterday, my husband wanted the girls to start drawing underneath our dining table! What?! Special memories, he said! He's not afraid to color outside the lines like I am. The mural began. I crawled under the table last night, and Karalee had written, "Believe in the Lord." Just had to share that with you!

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I read this last week, Amanda, and gave a shout out of praise to God for His faithfulness to you. (And now I can share it with you, since I'm not nursing a baby at the moment.)

I loved the story coming full circle as you drove down your road. Only God redeems like that.

Ashley said...

I LOVE THIS POST! I even let out a little gasp at the end...love the idea of that road redeemed - in every way. God is so good. You really are a gifted writer, FYI. Not that I'm an expert, but I really enjoy your style. Thanks for sharing!