A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the She Speaks Conference with two amazing women. I must say, what an incredible experience that was for me! Imagine: 650 women, completely in love with God--who have a passion for telling others about their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, through their writing and speaking--coming together to build each other up and be equipped to minister in the unique way that God wired them.
This story started several months ago...back to when I was online one night reading a blog when I should have been reviewing for an exam I had the following day. The truth was, I was overwhelmed! I was at such a point where I honestly didn't care if I failed the next day's test. I was tired and exhausted. My brain was on information overload. It had been such a stressful semester--probably the absolute worst in my 10yrs of college classes. The tension level at work had elevated to all-time high. My times with the Lord felt practically non-existent. Prayer became tears, deep breaths, or a clenched jaw as I went about my day. And worst of all, I was starting to drown again in the sin that once held me in bondage.
I needed a break from the stressors, but most of all I needed my relationship with Christ restored. I needed HIM. That's when I saw the post. A post that was actually written for the previous year's conference. I pulled up the link and read all about She Speaks. I read how it was a conference put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries for Christian women writers and speakers--or wanna-be writers and speakers. I knew then that I had to go...because somewhere deep within was a faint flame that burned inside of me. A fire that needed to be kindled. My spirit yearned for my Savior and the passion that He gave me for WORDS written on a page.
I read and read and started to feel hope rise up within me. I didn't register that night, but had decided that I wanted to go. There were a few details that I needed to sort out first: getting the days off from work, the cost of the conference, the trip up to North Carolina, the hotel room, and someone to go with. Since I couldn't figure all that out that night, I resigned to studying and promised myself that I would register as soon as finals were over.
By the time I did go to register, it said that the conference was already full and that I was put on the waiting list. Number 131. That was me. I knew that the chances were slim, but I also knew that it was a God thing. I requested the days off from work, and was hopeful. But as the weeks went by with no word from them, I began to question if I really was supposed to go. Since it didn't seem like it was going to work out for this year, I felt like I was disqualified from being able to go. I prayed and prayed. And when I still didn't hear back, I was heart broken--because I truly felt like it was something that I needed and it was this particular season that I needed it most. It just didn't seem right that this year is when I would find out about it only to not be able to go until next year. Finally, I surrendered it to the Lord.
Not too long after that, I received an e-mail saying that my number was up and I had 3 days to register or it would go to the next person on the waiting list. I was ecstatic, but strangely, I did not feel at ease about going. There was still the issue of not just the cost of the conference, but ALL the expenses of the entire trip. I felt like I just couldn't justify spending that amount of money on myself. I didn't mind spending it on others, but spending it on a conference for myself felt wasteful. (After all, the money in my savings was already allotted for the offer I made on a house...and I needed every penny of it to qualify for the mortgage.) Also, some of the breakout sessions for the conference were already completely full and I didn't want to pay full price if I wouldn't be able to participate in only half of it. So I prayed. Day 1, nothing. Day 2, nothing. Day 3, nothing still. Finally, the evening before I needed to send a response, I got the release in my spirit that I needed. And for the first time since my number was called, I was excited again. I asked God for one more confirmation and said that I would need to know that He was my provider. I woke up the next morning and opened the devotional email that I receive each morning. It always has a prayer and thought for the day.
The Title for that day: My God Shall Provide.
The Question: "Have you ever gone through a time of complete dependence on God for your material needs?"
The Verse: "And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19
The Challenge: "Acknowledge the Lord as the provider of every need you have today. He is a faithful provider."
"Dear God, I may not have excellent speech or be as educated or wise as some people, but this one thing I know, that Jesus Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice for my sin and has risen to sit at Your right hand, so that I may receive Your forgiveness, a new life, and eternal life with You. Though I may be weak and fearful at times, I can be strong through the power of Your Spirit. God, please speak through me and live through me that I might touch the lives and hearts of the people I come in contact with each day. May You be glorified. In Jesus' name, amen."
It was all EXACTLY what I needed.
A few hours and emails later and I was registered, had a flight booked, a room to sleep in, and friends to go with.
There were a few hiccups along the way, but we got there.
I learned great tips that weekend on writing and speaking, but the most impactful of all, was the sweet time I had alone with the Lord in the Prayer Room and what He spoke to my heart as I surrendered my all and poured my heart and devotion and worship before Him at the foot of the cross. That weekend I said Yes to Him. Yes to following Him wherever He takes me. Yes to laying down my pride and allowing the story of redemption to be known. Yes to opening my mouth and allowing Him to fill it.
During the first 2 days of the conference, my daily devotional e-mail was about how good it is to have mentors. (One of the ladies I was with was our church's Women's Ministry director whom I look up to as a mentor. The other was a close friend's mom who I completely enjoyed getting to spend time with and got to know more closely.) On the last day of the conference, the devotional was about how Satan is a thief and how we must be on our guard, especially after a great victory. It mentioned that even Jesus -- (after His baptism and the heavens opening up, the Holy Spirit descending upon him, and a voice from heaven saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.") -- was led away to the desert by the Spirit and tempted by Satan. The night prior I had a horrible dream and when I had woken up that morning felt like Satan was tormenting me with my past and tempting me, and condemning me. The e-mail was right on target. I finished getting ready to go down stairs for last session, but still felt uneasy.
As God would have it, the last session was titled "Welcome to Your Inauguration and was about how Jesus, after being baptized, was tempted in the desert by Satan. The speaker encouraged us to get suited up for war, because battle is imminent.
She said that we are to put on the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, have our feet fitted with the Gospel of Peace, and take up the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of The Spirit.
We are called to be dressed for battle so that we CAN stand, and having done all, to STAND FIRM and watch as God works.
Ephesians 6:13-17 New International Version (NIV)
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Oh and about the house...my mortgage application was processed and approved in record time and with great ease. I closed on the house yesterday!!! :) Truly, the Lord provides.