Audience of One
Before I get started, you may want to buckle in. This one is a little longer than usual.
I mentioned I went to Granbury, Texas this past weekend to teach a retreat the Lakeside Girls had themed Audience of One. To say the Lord messed me up over this one would be an understatement but in order to explain fully, I’ll need to back up a bit.
My church’s annual retreat was 2 weekends ago. I taught from James 1 which we all know is not for the faint of heart but I knew beyond all doubt that was supposed to be my text. Those of you who know me well understand I’m not one to blame the devil for every failure – I can fail just fine on my own thank you – but never in all my time of teaching have I ever felt so oppressed or dark or unable to communicate the thoughts that were on the paper right in front of me. I’ll never know on this side of heaven what war was being waged but in an inexcusable nutshell, I blew it.
My disappointment in myself was overwhelming. I have an undying affection for my church girls and we always have such a great time together. I never feel I can do enough to return what they do for me so this weekend is my token of love to them. I want to be sure their time is as fulfilling as it can be from the accommodations to the food to the Word. It’s important to me for my favorite people to feel they’ve really heard from God and had some fun in the process. I don’t know about them, but for me personally I normally leave exhausted but exhilirated. That make sense? This time I just left exhausted and defeated because I felt I’d let them down. All I wanted to do was go home and quit and buy a retreat in a box for next year. (Still considering that, actually.)
That said, before The Major Fail, I fully expected to float right out of that conference and into the next. And the next was huge to me, too. The group of women I was going to serve had entrusted their first ever women’s conference to me. As if that weren’t enough, the queen of my iPod and our church cd player, Nicol Sponberg (Selah!), was going to be leading worship. But no pressure, really.
On the way home, between sobs, I said to the Lord, “If there was ever a weekend I needed to go in on a high, it’s this one.” You want to know what He said? “Child, if there is ever a weekend when I needed you to go in on a low, it’s this one.”
You see, I was to teach on the Redemption and Ransom of God. Pure love stuff, y’all, straight from Isaiah 43:1-4. What I realized is that it has been some time since my heart has really been broken and that I’ve sensed His flat out, extravagant, scandalous love toward me. I’ve come to know that God allowed whatever was going on the previous weekend to be a set up for what He wanted to work in me for the next. I told the Texas girls that perhaps the Lord knew my home girls would forgive me for stinking it up whereas they would not.
I can’t even begin to describe the past couple of weeks with my God. He has been so tender and has met me on the pages of His Word every single day to the point of being ridiculous. There are many things I could share but I have to tell you this one story.
Driving home from my church retreat, in the midst of all the snot-slinging, as clearly as I’ve ever felt the Lord speak to me He told me to fast Diet Dr. Pepper. “Are you kidding me?” I asked. He wasn’t. “How long, Oh Lord?” I cried. “I’ll let you know”, He said. End of conversation. So, I laid down that most wonderful tonic and straight away went into detox tremors.
During that following week (the one prior to leaving for Texas), every time I jones’d for a Dr. P I would cry to Him to give me strength and fill me in a different way. And He did. Praise Him, He did. I’ve never been aware of Him so much as I was during that time, so much so that I’d begun to think that maybe it’d be okay if He just took them away forever.
Here’s the cool part though. I met up with my wonderful hostesses, Nell and Lou, at the airport. I was staying in Nell’s home so while at lunch she asked what I liked to drink. I said, “Diet Dr. Pepper” without explaining my fast. She then explained to me that she had been to the grocery store without an idea in the world what I liked and when her eyes settled on the Diet Dr. Pepper a voice said, “She is a Diet Dr. Pepper girl”. I just have one word for you:
He said He would let me know and that was my sign, girlfriends. But let me tell you the craziest thing. I have drank a few since then but in a way I can not explain, even though they are still delicious they are not nearly as satisfying. Once you’ve tasted the Living Water it’s hard to go back to aspartame and formaldehyde. Amen?
Here are a few pictures from Granbury:
A bunch of crazy people. It’s always sad for me to leave a group knowing I may never see the women I bonded so quickly with again. Will y’all come see me in Alabama so we can laugh some more?
Precious Kathy! Her husband is the Children’s Pastor at Lakeside. If we all had 1/10th of Kathy’s energy Red Bull would go out of business. Love you, girl!
Y’all, this woman. I really prayed I wouldn’t act like a goober when I met Nicol but she is so amazingly humble and unassuming you couldn’t get starstruck if you tried. She and hubby Greg were so fun and ministering alongside them is a gift I won’t ever forget. They shared about losing their sweet 10-week-old son, Luke, to SIDS and Christ’s strength through their brokenness was something to behold.
Doing her thing. Effortlessly and beautifully. And would y’all check out that stage? Lakeside Girls have decorating skillz.
Heidi, me, Nicol, and Gina. Heidi was the mastermind behind the graphic design. Amazing! Gina is the Sr. PW at Lakeside. I want to raid her closet. She’s over the top in all the good ways. And will y’all please tell Nicol and me that our legs look long? We were trying not to look stubby scrunched up on the steps.
So, it took all that to say thank you Lakeside Girls. You ministered to me more than I ever could have you. The same thanks goes to my home girls. You are my safe place and ones whom I know will overlook my flakiness and faults.
Thanks for sharing, it looks like fun was had by all!
Have a blessed day!
I had been praying hard for you… now I know why! Love you.
.-= Mary Beth´s last blog ..Conversation With My 7 year old Niece =-.
Lisa – What an incredible weekend you had here in Texas. We loved you – and after you shared with us your heart, we love you more. I have shared with my College/Career class that I teach different things you have revived in my heart. Our class lesson that weekend was Where is God when I’m Suffering? Is God trying to send me a message after that weekend. Then I’m going through a Max Lucado book at home – and the first lesson is on knowing that/how God loves me! I believe He’s speaking straight to my heart about something I think I may take for granted. I pray I hear Him. Thank you for your love for people – most especially ladies. I hope to see you again soon! I will be praying for you, your family, and your ministry.
OK – Apparently, I was not supposed to send that response! I died somewhere! Just wanted to say thank you to you for sharing your heart – your honesty – your “realness”. I truly believe God is speaking directly to me about areas in my life – pride being the main one, perhaps. That weekend blessed me so much (Texas!) – and as I taught my College/Career Sunday School class I shared many things I learned. Our lesson that following day was “Where is God when I’m suffering” – Can He get any more direct? Then I am also going through a Max Lucado book on my own – and the first lesson is knowing how and that God loves me! Amazing!
I hope that I run into you again soon – would love to sit down and chat perhaps. I know you rarely have time for that when you travel. My prayer is for you, your family and your ministry! Thank you again for sharing!
Loved this story, and the whole diet Dr. pepper thingy! :0
.-= O Mom´s last blog ..My oldest daughter =-.
Thank you for being so honest and transparent. I believe anyone who is privileged to stand before people have times of feeling as though they have fallen flat – – on their face. For me, it’s usually God’s way of reminding me where my strength and ability come from, and. . . it’s not from me!
Looking back, I’m sure you are thankful for the experience, because out of it, God met you in a special way on the pages of his word and loved on you! Absolutely priceless!
.-= Sherry´s last blog ..Out of the box =-.
Oh Lisa, we home girls ARE your safe place. I can’t speak for everyone else, but your MINOR train of thought loss only made you more endearing to me. It lets us regular folks know you are human! And though you may have perceived that you failed us, I can tell you wholeheartedly that you blessed me more than you will ever know. You know I had been struggling with a decision in my life, a big, life changing one! Your message from James was like a big ‘ol thump on my head from God, saying “child, trust me..be obedient to my will, even if it hurts, even if it’s not what you think you want.” These verses you taught on answered my prayers.
James 1:2-3: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
James 1:19: “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
James 2:17-18: “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”
So, honey, I became a “doer”! I jumped in head first with my faith and gave my situation to God and he has blessed me so much it makes me wanna shout! I have tears running down my face now thinking of what a blessing your message was and how it has changed my life!
My dear friend, I’m sure the devil made you doubt yourself, and that God brought something beautiful from that doubt, but there was never any reason to doubt yourself! Without trying to sound like a broken record, you are a blessing to me, my family, and our church, your messages and ministry are a blessing, and even your faults are a blessing. You just keep “doing” and setting a good example! Love you sister!
.-= Karri Willoughby´s last blog ..My sweet baby boy is turning 6! Through the years with Cohen =-.
I do not have time for the tears that are streaming right now…but just want you to know that I totally agree with Karri! You taught us hard truth and I pray dilligently that we apply it! Praise Him for His lavish love and as I learned Monday night, he is the initiator of that love so instead of telling Him I love Him, I can say, I love you too!! Keep on bringin’ it! Love you!
Mrs. Lisa……..I have told you that I am a note taker and you should soooo see my listening guide from the retreat!! It is full of things that you taught us! This Homegirl is proud to call you My Preacher’s Wife! I love you and if I didn’t tell you before YOU ROCK!!! Your message was awesome!!!! LUV YA BUNCHES!!!!
.-= Melissa Lea´s last blog ..MckGiveaways….. =-.
I love this post.
I totally forgot this was your Texas weekend. Why didn’t you remind me?! :-) And can I just say I can’t believe Nicol Sponberg was there!!!!!!
What a beautiful story!
I’m at the beginning of a 2-month fast from several things (not just food). Like you, I went into it wondering why & if I’d make it. It’s only been 5 days, but I honestly haven’t missed any of those things. When I think of them, I cry out to God. It’s a wonderful reminder that I need to turn to Him & away from the world more than I do.
Awesome that Nicol was there. I love her!
.-= Melissa @ Breath of Life´s last blog ..Don’t Ask… =-.
What an awesome testimony! I love how God used what seemed horrid for His glory! Thank you for sharing this in all it’s wonderful detail.
And your legs look sooooo long! :-D
.-= Gail @ Pandemonium in the Parsonage´s last blog ..A change is in the air =-.
OK, first question Lisa….who is that GIANT standing next to you…oh, wait a minute…it’s me!! Yeah, Heidi has great graphic skills….wouldn’t you have thought that she could have at least made me a size 4!!! Ha! Ha!
Seriously, I began praying for you and your teaching for our weekend almost a year ago. Jesus showed up in such a mighty way….and you my friend were such a conduit for His lessons.
Love you! And can’t wait to see you back in the Lone Star State…and we do have some great Mexican food, huh?
Wow, look at those loooong legs!
Oh Lisa. . . Karri, Deb, and Melissa have already said it perfectly! I love it that you are so authentic and sincere! (don’t even threatin’ the “retreat in a box” thing EVER again!) I too and so thankful and proud to call you My Preacher’s Wife! Love ya!
Thank you for sharing this. I feel like that most times when I get done speaking. It has gotten better, and the Lord must be using it somehow since He keeps giving me opportunities. I love how intimate He is with us, and how He uses the times we feel like a failure to keep us close and humble.
.-= Kathleen Schwanke´s last blog ..Abide in the Vine =-.
Oh, it was fun! I can tell! (Picture me…grimacing, with a furrowed brow and arms akimbo…a determined look on my face as I raise my fist in the sunset-purpled sky and act like Scarlett O’Hara…”I will go to one of Lisa’s speaking gigs…I WILL!”)
Okay, pouting over! It does look like you all had a great time! While I was praying for you all, I just knew that it was so!
As for your homegirls, I am sure that they were moved in ways that you never anticipated and may never know. And Girl, don’t say they were moved to the door, because you know that’s not what I meant!
.-= Colleen´s last blog ..A Very Random Update =-.
Stop it! Don’t let satan trash up on you!
Your(His) message was delivered…..and you were obedient to do it!
I hear it wasn’t a flop …..listen to those accolades!
And dang……those are some crazy loooooooooooooong legs!
.-= wanda´s last blog ..A girl can dream… =-.
I loved this long, wonderful, honest post. While some things might seem random or coincidence to others, it’s a reminder that God is always in the details!
.-= Marsha´s last blog ..spring, sprang, sprung =-.
awesome testimony my friend! Love the way God sets us up like that.
.-= inga´s last blog ..Better Than a Hallelujah =-.