I decided to sit in the registration area on the pretty couch. My goal was to make a friend. I resolved to smile and extend my hand to whoever God sent my way.
You will be brave. You’ve got this.
But my knees were knocking under my maxi dress. As a first time attendee at a conference for women writers and speakers, I couldn’t think of anything witty to say.
I needed a friend. If just one woman would invite me in and be a safe place to land, then I’d stop feeling like I needed to vomit. My stomach was somersaulting just like that day in the 4th grade when I carried my lunch tray into a huge cafeteria full of chattering kids who refused to make eye contact as I looked for an open seat.
I gulped as a brown haired woman walked over with her She Speaks bag and asked if the seat next to mine was taken.
“Please join me,” I responded.
Pretty please with sugar on top. Please be my friend. I am not a serial killer. I promise. I play nice.
I learned that her name was Rebecca, and as she started sharing her story, I lost myself in the similarities.
You do church drama?
I taught drama for years at a Christian school back home.
Me, too. Yay!
She gets me. [Insert sigh of relief here.]
My new best friend and I adopted Lucy — who’d sat down across from us and smiled. We headed to the pre-conference lunch buffet chatting like we’d known each other more than 5 seconds. In the line we started talking to Karen and made it a foursome.
Y’all, in less than 1 hour, God sent me 3 amazing new friends.
All I did was sit in the open and leave an empty seat.
God always shows up if you create open space for Him to show off.
After lunch, we moved into the conference center for the welcome and opening worship. As I stood and linked arms with my sisters, we lifted up our hearts to heaven and sang a new song:
Here the Word, roaring as thunder
With a new, future to tell
For the dry, season is over.
There is a cloud, beginning to swell
To the skies, heavy with blessing
Lift your eyes, offer your hear
Jesus Christ, opened the heaven
Now we receive, the Spirit of God
We receive your rain...
The downpour of God’s goodness and glory started that morning, and I spent three wonderful days sitting under the teaching of incredibly wise women who are passionate about proclaiming the name of Jesus.
- Karen Ehman and Jennifer Dukes Lee both encouraged me to love the women sitting at my own table, rather than looking for imaginary followers that I’m hoping Beth Moore will share with me some day.
- Lynn Cowell challenged me to put my big girl pants on and keep going when it’s messy and hard because God’s calling is not about my comfort.
- Katy McCown impressed upon me the importance of investing in you, my audience. She told me to pray for you.
- Pastor Chris Hodges said I must suit up for success by wearing a garment of praise and assuming the best about others.
- Chrystal Evans Hurst argued that interruptions are an invitation to experience an intimate encounter with Jesus.
- Whitney Capps kicked my behind by proclaiming: “If you want to change the kingdom, go home and love your local church.”
My heart left Charlotte, NC full. But God was not done speaking yet. He had the sweetest surprise for me in the quiet.
Two days after the conference ended, I still needed a nap to recuperate. My hubby was driving us home, and I grabbed my Bible and decided to catch up on my Old Testament readings. I was about 4 days behind in II Chronicles.
Y’all, I thought for sure I’d be snoozing down the highway in no time. I mean, hello… II Chronicles is not normally my favorite.
I started reading with pen in hand looking for one verse to highlight for each chapter. When I reached the end of chapter 5, my heart skipped a beat:
Indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying:
‘For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever,’
that the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.
God speaks loudest when I stop striving and simply look up and allow His glory to pour down into the quiet places in my heart.
When God’s glory comes down:
Our hearts are filled with praise
When we clearly see the goodness and grace of God, we cannot help put proclaim He is glorious.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. (Psalm 86:12, NIV)
Our eyes are lifted in prayer
In the light of His holiness, we see our need for mercy and forgiveness and seek a Savior.
O my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to all the prayers made to you in this place. (II Chronicles 6:40, NLT).
Our body is prostrate in humility
Those who fear God forsake pride and fall down in reverence and awe.
When all the people of Israel saw the fire coming down and the glorious presence of the Lord filling the Temple, they fell face down on the ground and worshiped and praised the Lord, saying, “He is good! His faithful love endures forever!” (II Chronicles 7:3)
I went to She Speaks to learn about writing and speaking, but God reminded me it’s all about Him. If I just cut away everything else and center my focus on His majesty, that’s when the magic happens.
When God’s glory comes down and grabs hold of you, everything changes.
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