She Speaks 2017

We are back from another whirlwind trip--this time to North Carolina. As we have never been to this lovely state, it was a nice, albeit different experience. Randy had fun seeing the sites while I went to a speaker's conference. A novelist at a speaker's conference? Um...well...yeah. I thought the same thing. Let me backtrack a bit.

About a year ago, I signed a contract with Revell to write two non-fiction books on Old Testament biblical women, one of which is in progress now. Non-fiction is not at all like fiction, though it carries some fiction elements. And mine will carry fictional scenes mixed throughout. But the focus is on how the women of the Bible lived and what they can teach us by their lives. Working title of the first is When Life Doesn't Match Your Dreams.

Naturally, a non-fiction book made me think--perhaps I should learn to be a speaker too. A logical conclusion, yes? Er...maybe.

At the time, I asked a friend who writes both fiction and non-fiction about all of this, and she told me about the She Speaks conference. I was too late for the 2016 event, but I stuck it on the back burner of my thoughts. Actually, I forgot all about it until my assistant said something that jogged my memory.

Fast forward to this spring. I waited so long to sign up that I missed it until this same friend happened to have connections that made a way. And yet...though I signed up and then saw door after door open, I still hesitated. I still don't know if God is calling me to speak, but I thought it might be wise to learn. I mean, just in case.

The truth is, I backed into going to this conference.All the preparation exhausted me until I ended up crying the night before we left and vented all over my poor son - who listened so kindly, I might add. It's amazing what excuses we make when we second guess ourselves and doubt God at the same time.

In the end, I got on the plane and we made our way there. The only glitch in the weekend was a hotel-wide, eight block-wide power failure that put us in the dark Friday night. But by then I was too tired and there was no way I was going outside in my pajamas unless there was a fire, so I asked God to please have the lights on by morning...oh, and could He please find my chap stick? Somehow I had lost it and silly as it sounds, it mattered to me.

I crawled into bed and what just happened to roll off the covers and onto the floor? That silly chap stick. So I went to sleep believing that God had the rest of it covered. He reminded me that He did at 4:20 a.m. when the light from the bedside table blinded us awake.

I learned a lot that weekend. A lot more than how to trust God in a power failure.

I went only because it seemed like God was pushing me in that direction.

What I really learned was that God sent me there to help heal my soul.

You see, When Life Doesn't Match Your Dreams was born out of my own deep grief and personal pain.

And this weekend God brought the right amount of women into my life to show me we are all so alike in this. We all hurt, don't we? Each one of us will experience broken places in life and if we don't deal with them, if we don't find ways to let God heal our wounds, we're going to bleed to death--emotionally and spiritually.

God knew that. He knows us so well. Can you sense it, beloved?

I'm working on Hagar's chapter of the book next, and what did she call God? The God Who Sees Me.And don't you know that's exactly what He did for me, and hopefully many other women in that conference hall this week.

I know this is long, but let me give you just one example of how much God cares for us. The author/speaker who helped me out and pointed me to this conference was teaching about speaking. I walked into her class a little late and was looking for a seat. I glanced over and saw a woman from Michigan that I knew! I hadn't seen her in years, but there she was. So I took the seat beside her and hoped to talk to her afterward.

But then another woman walked in later than I did and she took the seat beside me. She was young, from California, and had the nicest smile. So comforting.

The talk began and toward the end the speaker had me in tears. When she ended, the California girl looked at me and told me she could feel pain coming from me and she took my hand and said, "I don't usually do this..." then gave me some encouragement she believed came from the Lord.

Now that might sound like an isolated incident, but it wasn't. Everywhere I turned, God brought someone along my path and despite stories far worse than mine, they were praying for me?

And slowly, like a flower's petals blooming, I felt the ache inside slipping away. My focus shifted. My heart yearned for more of Jesus, less of me. And on the flight home I read the Gospel of Mark on my phone, struck by the way Jesus was "amazed" by His own people when they doubted or when a Gentile showed great faith. You want to amaze Jesus? Show Him great faith!

I daresay all of those women in that huge conference room had stories to tell, and most of them or at least many of them were living lives they hadn't intended. Some of their speeches or the books they wanted to write were about broken dreams and lives that didn't go the way they were supposed to go. And yet...God had drawn them there. They mattered to Him.

As we all do.

Our goals matter. Our hurts matter. Our dreams matter. Whatever concerns us concerns Him...even something so small as a lip moisturizer. Call is silly, but I call it love.

Jesus loves us enough to let us stumble in the dark with just enough hope to see the light that is coming in the morning. He wants us to see, Beloved. He is the God who sees us, but do we see Him?

Do we want to know Him more than we want those unmet dreams? Do we want Him more than anything else this life has to offer us? Do we want Him enough to amaze Him with our faith?

That's what sent me to North Carolina this past week. God had to send me miles from home to get my attention in a way nothing else could. And while I've posted some pictures of some wonderful people I met there, the real purpose and Person I encountered best...the One I brought back home with me with a fresh perspective of His grace, was Jesus.