Sometimes it takes days, even weeks, to process what God is doing in our lives. His ways are higher than our ways!
Three years ago, I attended Women's Leadership Forum in Nashville, TN. (Hosted by LifeWay) The Forum is the BEST leadership development conference I have attended. National speakers, worship leaders, breakout session leaders, and top-level mission and ministry leaders are on hand to pour into women's lives and ministry callings. I remember being at the event and soaking up every ounce of God's presence. On day two of the conference, I vividly remember walking through the vendor area and praying a specific prayer. "Lord, when the time is right, will you open the way for me to serve at this event?"
I don't know if you have prayed a prayer that surprised you, but if you have, you can relate to how I felt. I was immediately uncomfortable! If you have read God in the Window you know I spent many years running from my calling and constantly trying to talk God and others out of it. So, for me to pray a BIG prayer asking for an opportunity to serve, was VERY unusual.
Fast forward to six months ago. I was sitting in my office checking emails. I saw one that caught my attention. It was from my sweet friend, Kelly King, who serves as the Women's Ministry Specialist at LifeWay. I opened the email and read it. I then closed the email and opened it again and reread it. Yes, it appeared to be the real deal. In the email, Kelly asked me to serve as a breakout session leader at #Forum18. Y'all, I was so surprised! I did not see the invite coming. I immediately thought back to my prayer in 2015. "Lord, when the time is right, will you open the way for me to serve?" Without hesitation, I hit the reply button and said, "YES!"
As I prepared for Forum, I was especially grateful for the theme of "Confident" based on 2 Corinthians 3:4-5. There could not have been a better theme for me. The week of the event finally arrived! I drove to Nashville and was pretty calm most of the way. I made it to the event and I was enjoying my time. I had so much fun meeting people, making new friends, and connecting with ministry leaders from around the country. I will be honest, I had moments of feeling excited, nervous, anxious, and scared. (Side note: We put way too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect and have it all together! People just want to see Jesus! Life is so much more fun when we get over ourselves and the need to have it all together or come across a certain way... preaching to myself!)
It was the second day of Forum and something so special happened. It really was, and is, the most precious thing ever! I was standing in the exact same vendor area where three years prior I had prayed, "Lord, when the time is right, will you open the way for me to serve?" and I was talking to a friend and ministry leader. I heard my phone ding and saw a text message from my son. I quickly read the text because I am a mom and that is what we do!
Jake's text was simple. It was a picture from the white board taken that day at his school. The picture said, "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." Jake then texted, "This is all the pep talk you need for your breakout session."
I read the text and straight up started crying. I had to end my ministry conversation and go to the bathroom because ugly cry was on the way! I was taken by so many things. First, through Jake, God reminded me that His plan is never about comfort or ease and that true life, real life, abundant life, begins when we move beyond what we can do and attempt what only God can do through us. In that moment, 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 came to life! "Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God."
Second, when God uses my kids to speak truth into my life, stand back. The tears are going to flow! I love my people. I am deeply committed to my people. Jay, Jake, and Andrew are my people. They have been with me through the ups and downs of life and ministry. They have cheered, sacrificed, and benefited from the journey.
Over the years, I have made it my goal to be present in my kids lives. I work hard not to miss the big things and to always cherish the small things even in the midst of my travel schedule. The Friday night of the Forum I was missing Jake's last home football game as a Senior, and it was hard on my momma's heart. I wanted to be in two places at once, but I couldn't. Sometimes ministry requires sacrifice that hurts. The moment Jake sent his text to me, I knew God was reminding me that Jake understood and that Jake has always been a HUGE supporter of True Vine. (Hence the ugly cry because God is so good to take care of our hearts!)
After I dried my tears, I replied to Jake and let him know how much I needed his text. The next day arrived and I led my breakout session. Friends, it really was SO MUCH FUN! The room was packed with sweet women who were ready for the Word to be poured into their lives. We talked about how God is our Creator, Sustainer, Protector, and Provider. We dug into the reason why we serve and how God gives us everything we need in order to serve.
I drove home later that afternoon and thought... only God. Only God can take a girl full of insecurity, doubt, worry, control, anxiety, fear and set her free to enjoy life based on His grace. Certainly, I am still learning how to be that girl and will for the rest of my life. But for one hour in time, I soaked it up and enjoyed being way outside of my comfort zone. I am so thankful that God was and is my confidence!