Thursday, July 22, 2010

Going public and asking for prayers


Every time I say something like "going public" or "asking for prayers", or even both in the same sentence, inevitably someone comes back at me with a "you're not pregnant are you?!" No, I am not. Not since June 15, 2007 have I been pregnant, and God willing, never again will I be pregnant. I love what I have and I am trulytrulytruly blessed far beyond worth when it comes to the reproductive side of life, but I don't think I could handle any more blessing. (No, Lord, that is not an invitation to prove me wrong. I know I never ever dreamed that I could handle all that I do currently handle, but I don't need another lesson here. {smiling})

Anyway, now that we have that straight, I would like to share with you all what I will be doing one week from now, and ask you to pray for me. I will be attending She Speaks, a conference for women who are or who desire to be equipped for speaking, writing, or women's ministry! It is put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries in North Carolina. I am super pumped.

My desire to attend something like this began over seven years ago, although I did not actually know this conference even existed until 18 months ago. In November of 2002, I attended a weekend seminar on the Holy Spirit and had a physical experience with Him. Praise God I was willing to go to that seminar, that He met me where I was, and that while I was there at that seminar He graciously catapulted me light years ahead in my weak and self-effort-driven faith walk. Praise Him praise Him praise Him. I have not and never will be the same again!

Anyway, about 4 months after my physical encounter with the Holy Spirit, Dan and I attended Family Life's "Weekend to Remember" marriage seminar, and while I was there, I kid you not, I envisioned myself up on stage speaking. Yes, in front of hundreds--if not thousands--of people, I could picture myself speaking! Weird. (To really hear that the way I meant it, you would see "weird" typed "weeeeeeeeeeeird")

Little things like started happening from them on out. I'd be in church, and catch myself composing a sermon. (A lot of sermons.) I joined Bible studies and had things to say. (Good things, not just dead-air fillers; things that were good enough that wise people I respected would say to me, "you should write that down".) I started reading a particular blog with regularity, and found myself blogging in my head while I did dishes. (So I started a blog, but did not trust myself enough, and let it stay dormant for almost 2 years.)

Over and over and over again, for the past 7+ years, I have envisioned myself speaking or writing in some capacity, no matter the venue. Again, I say, weeeeeeeeeeeird.

What changed all of it for me from "weird" to "OK I'll try it" occurred in September 2008 at Great Plains Presbyterian Pilgrimage. Dan and I had attended as guests on the Pilgrimage weekend in March of that year, and this was my first time to serve as Team for the Pilgrimage weekend. And on this, my very first time on the Team, the leader asked me to give one of the talks. Unbeknownst to her, this was the moment I had been waiting for! I embraced the call, I prayed, I sweated and poured over composing a talk, I practiced, prayed, and practiced some more, and then the time came for me to give it.......and the Lord knocked it out of the park. I mean that to say that any ounce of nervousness I might have felt, any lack of confidence in myself, any fear that my talk sucked, any negative anything, was replaced by excitement, empowerment, fun, and the sense in my spirit that this had to be just the beginning. I had the time of my life standing in the podium and I was sad when it was over! God. is. good.

But wait--there's more! Also, on that same weekend, a dear friend, a man whom my husband and I both greatly respect, a man so full of wisdom one cannot help but admire him, came to me and said that the Lord had been speaking to him about me, and that I "would be in ministry to women". Me. The topic of conversation between the Lord and my friend. Me, the 6-kid Mom. Me. Useful to God for other women. Me.

Fast forward nearly two years, and that one talk became a spring-board for taking the Lay Speaking classes offered through my denomination, and I am now doing pulpit supply in our local area. I have preached in 5 different parishes, at the invitation of their pastors, a total of seven times, and will do so again this Sunday. (I should probably be writing that sermon!) In addition to the pulpit setting, I have spoken at an additional three Pilgrimage weekends, and have been the MC for a women's one day retreat hosted by Wausa Women's Ministry. Lastly, I have resurrected the blog and have found extreme pleasure in posting to it, despite some very late hours typing into the night.

Through all of this, 18 months ago, I heard of She Speaks. I began to drool. I began to pray. I left it to God, and the details (aka, money) did not magically appear, so last year I did not go. I was totally OK with that. Then last January, I again saw that She Speaks was gearing up for their 2010 conference. I began to drool. I began to pray. I left it to God, and the details (aka, money) magically appeared. Miraculously appeared. (Did I mention lately that God is good?? Well, He is. Don't you ever forget that.) Holding the money in my hand, I prayed some more, I asked Dan for his blessing and my oldest friend for her opinion. The rest is history.


I can honestly say that I have no idea where--if anywhere at all--I hope this will take me. I am not sure why I am feeling compelled to go. I am not sure why God gave us money just when I needed it to register for the conference and again just when I needed to get a plane ticket. I am not sure why my husband is so excited to see his wife (the mother of his six high-energy children) get on a plane and follow a dream. I am not sure what that dream is. All I can be sure of is that I have to go and see. I have to force myself to think outside the box a little bit (ok, a LOT) and see if God is trying to use me for something else besides just motherhood and local church duties. Those are so very wonderful, and if God merely wants to better equip me for those tasks, then I will praise Him for it. But, I have to go and see why my brain never rests, why I dream of traveling and speaking, and my childhood fantasy of writing has been resurrected.

My request, if you have read to the end of this very long post, is that you would say a prayer for me. The last thing I want to do is chase after wind against God's plan for me. Please pray that I feel Him strongly while I am there, and that He will give me a conviction in my spirit that this is either totally right or totally wrong. Thank you sooo much.

I leave Thursday the 29th and return Sunday the 1st. Posting may get a little scarce for the next week or two. I still have to finish my two talks for the conference and write that sermon. But it has been fun being here tonight!!


Tami said...

I am so happy to know you :) (I just had to tell you that) and you can count on prayers being sent from me & my family :) You are going to do great things...I can feel it!!!

Andrea @ Unfailingly Loved said...

Praying for you, Shelly! I am looking forward to meeting you and experiencing the Lord together -- seeing what He has for all of us who are stepping out in obedience.

See you Thursday!

kim said...

Hi Shelly,

I am so glad to have found your post through Google alert. To think you are just south of me a bit. I loved your post on She Speaks and believe it or not, have been feeling the same way about speaking although this year I am in the writing track, but taking sessions in all three areas. This is my first She Speaks and my first air plane ride.
Blessings on your trip and hopefully our paths will cross in North Carolina.

Jen Carey said...

Praying for you Shelly, I know you'll have an awesome experience!! So happy for you.

Mandy K. said...

Good luck and have fun at She Speaks! Ever since I began reading your blog, I knew that God had this purpose in mind for you. Thank you for sharing your faith, and our prayers are with you!