My mom has thought for a long time that I should be a writer. I thought, "Well, I love to read. I love to journal. I'd like to make some money. Maybe..." I went to a homeschool conference where Marybeth Whalen did a session called So You Want to be a Writer. That may not have been the exact title, but it's close. She said two things that day that stuck with me. One of those things was that her book For the Write Reason was being sold by a particular vendor. The other was that whatever it was that we really didn't want to talk about, that might be the very story God was calling us to write.
I bought the book. I've read it from cover to cover many times. One of the authors in the book was also a speaker, and she talked about speaking too. I realized that I much prefer speaking to writing. Speaking and teaching are talents that God has given me, and I tremendously enjoy. That's a really spiritual sounding way to say that I'm a drama queen.
Marybeth's other statement, the one about sharing our story. The one that's hidden and painful. I just looked at God and said, "Unh-Unh. No way. No how. It's done. You've healed me. That skeleton belongs in the closet, and it's staying there."
I followed Marybeth's blog off and on for a couple of years. Through her blog I was introduced to Proverbs 31 Ministries. It was also through her blog that I heard about She Speaks.
My attendance in 2008 at She Speaks was nothing short of a God thing. First of all, I mentioned it to my husband very casually. He said, "Why don't you go?" I said, "Well, because I'm not sure that God really is calling me to write or speak. I'd hate to go and spend mumble-mumble dollars if that isn't even what God wants me to do." See, my husband is known for being frugal. (That's a nice way of saying: He's so tight when he opens his wallet, it squeals.) We're a single income family. I told him I wasn't even sure if I'd follow through on writing or speaking. I knew he'd never want me to go. Plus he'd have the kids for the whole weekend. He said, "I think you should go." I was in shock!
I hooked up to the internet, and found that the conference was full. I was disappointed, but not terribly so. Obviously, being this was not God's will for me. Then I got the email that said there were more spots. Did I still want to go? I signed up for the speakers track, but also chose some writers track sessions. God confirmed His call for me to speak. But that was not what the weekend was all about for me.
As I prepared my material for the speakers track, God asked me to pull my skeleton out of the closet. I was not happy. I considered staying home. I went and shared 3 minutes of my testimony. Truly, when I opened my mouth to sing the first two lines of Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places (singing is NOT my gift) it was an act of faith. God pulled the voice from my lungs. I could not have made the first sound by myself. When I was done, I shook so hard I thought my notecards were going to fly out of my hand.
Presenting a five minute teaching was not nearly as painful or difficult. At the end of our presentations, Luann Prater, our Proverbs 31 leader shared part of her story. Our stories were so very similar. I couldn't believe that God had chosen that group leader for me. Turns out that not only are our stories similar, but Luann dresses up and does "the woman at the well." Drama is my thing. Becoming a Bible character is my favorite way to tell a Bible story.
I went downstairs feeling like I'd been kissed by God. After Renee Swope spoke about living in the shadow of the cross. I was broken. Broken by God. I wrote down those things from my past that still had hold of me. With tears pouring down my face, I joined so many others who were laying down their own hurts. Luann met me halfway, hugged me and whispered that she was so proud of me. She was the arms of Jesus that night.
My call to speak was confirmed, but the most important thing was that Jesus healed wounds that I'd long ago buried.
In the past year, I've shared my story a little at the time and I've found that there are many women who bear similar scars. They don't see themselves the way Jesus sees them. I've spoken a couple of times for church services. I shared the story of the sinful woman who annointed Jesus' feet and my story with our small group at the fall beach retreat. I've started this blog. I also wrote, am directing, and performing in our church's Easter program.
I have dreams of sharing Jesus with women wherever and whenever He allows. I also dream of sharing Him with women and girls in prison/juvenile detention facilities. When I return to She Speaks, I will focus on: where I go from here and strengthening my speaking skills. I look forward, also, to being a blessing to someone else.
If you have any desire to write, speak, lead women's ministry or improve your blogging I highly recommend the She Speaks Conference. I was honored to have been in the company of so many of God's women, all striving to serve Him more.
Lysa Terkeurst is sponsoring a scholarship at her blog. To enter, check this out.