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.