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.