Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Unwrapping His Gifts

"I Found Joy in a BIG God" Part Thirteen

'Joy, stand up. Stand up. She's asking for volunteers. The sooner you get this over with, the sooner your heartbeat will return to a normal rate and your hands will quit perspiring. You'll feel better once you get this over with. The gals in this room don't look like a lynch mob. Just do it. Stand up'.

Those were the thoughts running through my head three years ago as I sat in my first Speaker's Evaluation Group at "She Speaks". Suite 412 of the Renaissance Hotel would be my platform, and other aspiring speakers my audience. Though fear was strong, passion for the Lord and His message did propel me to my feet and the journey began.

Leading this evaluation group was the kindest, most encouraging gal. She was so happy and cheery, presenting a very non-threatening atmosphere. Lovingly she shared words of advice to counteract the knocking knees and unsteady nerves. Her constant smile during my entire mini message was an invitation to keep going. She seemed excited to hear what I had to share. She made going back the following evening so much easier. Her countenance created a safe and welcoming harbour. God and His Word are my life, and I had an attentive assembly.

One gal in this peer group captured my heart. She sat quietly. Her heart had recently been grieved, yet in her pain she was ministering to us. Tears flowed. She was real. Despite her loss, God's strength was sustaining and shaping her and giving her a testimony to share. She touched my life in a profound way. We exchanged e-mails, but like so often happens, life interrupted plans of staying in contact. However, I often thought of her. In our brief encounter that weekend her name was written across my heart.

Now, three years later, I was excited to be seeing my group leader again. We had e-mailed back and forth, increasingly more as the Conference was drawing closer. In fact, she made a visit to Canada weeks before I was to head to the States and it was such a surprise to receive that message informing me of her whereabouts. Unfortunately, her schedule didn't allow for any free time, but we did visit via computer.

Saturday morning, just before lunch, it was so great to connect again with Charlene. We hugged and shared and enjoyed a quick time of reminiscing together. While speaking with Charlene, she asked me if I knew that one of the gals from our group in 2005 was at the Conference again this year too. When she told me who it was, I knew God again was acting beyond what my heart could imagine. Can you believe it was this gal who had touched my life so deeply three years ago. Charlene said she would try and find her, and if she did she would bring her over to see me. Now, you must realize, there were over 500 women at this Conference. For Charlene to make this happen, she would have to first find this gal, and then find me! Not an easy task...BUT GOD!

Saturday evening while eating supper I felt a tap on my shoulder and it was Charlene standing there with Cheri. I couldn't believe it! God is SO GOOD! Our time together was far too short - only minutes and a quick picture, but again I felt so blessed. God was lavishing gifts on me that I would treasure always. (*As an aside, God was going to bring Cheri back into my life for another God-story before this weekend was over, so be sure to stay tuned!)

My Mom has a saying I've heard so often, "Each new day holds some lovely secret waiting to unfold". God loves to surprise us with unexpected blessings. He enjoys giving good gifts to His children. Thank Him today for some of the many blessings He has given to you and be sure to include His best gift ever - Jesus!

Tomorrow I will unwrap with you the message that God sent me to North Carolina to hear. Y'all come back now!


Paula (SweetPea) said...

Well, yeah, how could we not come back with a cliff hanger like that? haha smiling here.

Thanks, Joy. It is always a pleasure to unwrap the gifts He's giving you. We get to unwrap them as we read your words.

Runner Mom said...

Joy, I just LOVE your posts!! You let Jesus just shine through your words :).

On Sunday, I had to give the ministry moment at all 3 services about that Bible study y'all have been praying over--please keep them coming! As I got up to speak at the first service, my entire body was shaking!! My voice didn't give it away, but I was holding onto my Bible for dear life! By the last service, God had calmed my nerves, and HE and I were having a BIG time! If I ever get the chance to attend She Speaks again (I really want to!!!), I may have to try the Speaker's Tract. Sounds like it was fabulous.

Hope you have a wonderful day, my friend!! Miss you.

Charlene Kidd said...

I so appreciate your post today. You have no idea how much I needed it.
You are truly a blessing.

Marilyn said...

Joy it's just so obvious from your writing that God has done a BIG thing in your life! You are so full of Him! And it overflows in your writing and drips down on us!


Jerralea said...

Your story makes me think of that quote from Esther, "for such a time as this." Isn't amazing how God works out all the details to make people's paths cross when He wants them to find each other?

Can't wait to read "the rest of the story!"

tiggerdaisy said...

I love God's gifts!!! And I love hearing you paint the picture of His wonderful gifts!

Until the next installment,
prayers and blessings!


Cheri Bunch said...

Dear Sweet Joy~
I am overwhelmed with how special you are. I am so thankful for you! Do I just keep saying that? I just got home. I left very early this morning. You make me smile!!!!!

Love you,

Renee Swope said...

I love reading your posts. First, you are such a great writer!!! So very gifted with words girl!

Second, I love these posts about She Speaks. It went by so fast and your posts make me feel like I am still there. In fact, through you, I get to be in places at the conference that I actually wasn't able to be in. I love that!!!

Can't wait to hear about your story with Cheri. I just love her!!


Kelley said...

Oh Joy, you sure do know how to write a cliff-hanger!! I will definitely come back tomorrow for more of the story. I am so impressed at everything you have written concerning the conference. I wish I would have done a better job at journaling through the experience but most of the time I was too exhausted to even pick up my pencil. Can you believe it has been almost a month since it ended?

I count you as one of the biggest blessings I have received through the whole experience but one of the "regrets" I have is that we didn't get to spend much time together. I guess we will just have to attend again next year!!

Take care friend and thanks for all the prayers on behalf of me and my family situation!!

See ya tomorrow....

Bonita said...

So you know my sweet friend, Charlene! Isn't she a dear? We've known each other for nearly 13 years now. I was even at the birth of her third child! I'm so glad you love her as much as I do. What a cool story about you meeting up with the other woman that touched your heart as well. I can't wait to hear more!