Thursday, January 31, 2008

She Speaks Conference - Priceless

(This post is written as an entry for the "She Speaks" Proverbs 31 Ministry Scholarship Opportunity. Please link to January 29, 2008 post and Thank you.)

Registration Cost - $525.00
Travelling Expenses - $200.00
Lifetime Benefit - Priceless

Long before I arrived in North Carolina, long before I sat in one "She Speaks" session, the Lord was calling me on a journey I will never forget.

I had just arrived home from speaking to approximately 200 women at our church - the very first time to speak in front of an audience of more than 10 ladies. I came home so excited, as one lady had responded to an invitation to receive Christ and I was sensing the Lord directing me to respond to future speaking opportunities. Amidst the rejoicing of how God had used me, was a feeling of great inadequacy. I can recall sitting down in my rocking chair at home after a walk to our mailbox and praying, 'Lord, I feel so incompetent - like Moses I'm slow of speech - yet, You used this empty vessel this morning. If You ever want me to do this again, could You provide me with some training? Where does someone go to learn how to 'speak'?' I surrendered this desire to the Lord and reached over to sort the mail I had just brought into our home. The very first thing I opened was a Proverbs 31 Magazine and as I pulled it out of the envelope my eyes were drawn to bold print in a little square on the back of the magazine - "PLAN NOW TO ATTEND SHE SPEAKS 2005"
It was as if God was immediately answering my prayer.

I wish I could take the time now to share all the roadblocks and emotional mountains that were overcome as I surrendered each one to the Lord. You have no idea all the fears that began to attack, but the Lord supplied at each turn and provided me with His strength and courage. From the moment I arrived at the hotel and 'just happened' to get on the elevator with Lysa TerKeurst herself, the weekend was one that will be cherished in my heart forever. The general sessions were inspirational and uplifting. The break-out sessions were instructional and enlightening. The speaking evaluation sessions were bonding and encouraging. It was an incredible experience.

One of the highlights for me was Saturday evening during the Worship session. We were asked to pull out index cards which had been distributed earlier and write down the main thing that was keeping us from following God's vision for us. At the front of the room stood two large crosses. When we were ready, we then came forward and nailed these cards to the cross and in exchange for the burden we released we were given a scripture promise form God's Word to take away with us. It was a time of meaningful prayer, worship, surrender and praise.

Not to diminish the value of the wonderful speakers, but the Lord also taught me that my greatest learning came in the process. The training during the weekend was wonderful, but God's training began back in February of 2005 as I surrendered to His plans for me. What I had looked at as preparation, God saw as the goal. The goal of the purpose of God was being accomplished in me. It's the process, not the outcome that glorifies God. God knew back in February when He called me to attend the Conference all the 'storms' I would pass through before arriving in North Carolina. The question of reaching my dream was of little importance, but did I become more like Him along the way? I pray that the Lord will continue to teach me that the opportunity to obey is now. It might not involve speaking or writing to thousands or even hundreds - it might be speaking to the grocery clerk in the check-out line or writing a few sentences to a lady who just looks lonely.

I feel like this is just a sampling of the weekend I enjoyed, but I hope just like the effects of eating a couple of potato chips or a mouthful of chocolate, it will have you yearning for more and that many ladies will be drawn outside their comfort zone, as I was, to taste and see that the Lord is good. It really is impossible to fully capture how personal the Lord became to me as I trusted Him, waited on Him, called on Him and desperately needed Him every moment, every day. He is good. His mercies are new each morning. Great is His faithfulness.

In complete humility I say, there is no reason why I should receive this scholarship. As I know the Lord provided in every way three years ago to enable me to attend, I also believe that if He ever desires me to return, He will make a way. I would love to attend some writers track sessions as I have a secret longing to one day be God's hand and pen His words, but I will wait and trust in Him. I pray that as the Lord continues to guide me into all He has planned for me, that I will follow not just in obedience, but with a willing heart. I kneel humbly before Him asking Him to change me into the woman He desires, the wife, the mother, the sister, the friend, the neighbour. I pray I will share His love in the every day moments and trust Him with whatever He desires to bring into my life.

To paraphrase a thought that I have heard Lysa herself share, long after you forget the names of those you'll meet; long after you forget the teachings in the sessions; it is my prayer that anyone who attends will never forget the personal experience they will have with the Lord as they step out and say 'yes' to all He has planned for them. The lifetime benefit is truly priceless!


Carol said...

Beautiful, Joy!!!! Love it!

Amy L Brooke said...

Great post. I hope you get to go!

Miss Sandy said...

Thank you for sharing this life changing moment and the benfits of attending this event. Truly beautiful post! Blessings on being able to attend again!

Bev Brandon said...

You have a very humble heart!

Renee Swope said...

Hi friend,

Holly told me she has a surprise for me, from you. You are so sweet!!!

I love your post about She Speaks and wish so much that you could have won, too. I do pray that God miraculously provides a way for you to be there again. I'd love to give you a big hug.

You are a great writer. Keep sharing your heart and the powerful lessons God is teaching you.


swile67 said...

Hi Joy!! It's been fun to find you in the blog world! Thank you for all your prayers and work at bringing Lysa to Canada! It was a wonderful day! I'm enjoying reading your blog!!! Take care, Karyne

Amy Carroll said...

I hope the Lord sends you back to She Speaks very soon! I still remember the depth of the messages that you shared with our evaluation group, and I would treasure the chance to reconnect in person!


Honea Household said...

What a good post! Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting. It's encouraging to know there are others out there like me. In fact, I am probably at the same place you were at once in your life. I get devotionals daily from Prov 31 ministries. The other day, Renee Swope sent one out that poked my heart. Let me know if you didn't get it and I will forward it to you. It was about discovering who you are, etc. It was interesting. She suggested several books that I am going to read. Because, if someone asked me what my dreams are or who I was, I wouldn't be able to answer.

Thank you for your encouragement. And I do not think I am a good writer, but thank you. I look forward to reading more of your blog.