"You must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don't be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!" Then the Lord touched my mouth and said, "See, I have put My words in your mouth!" Jeremiah 1:7b-9
Nearly two and a half years ago, I opened my prayer journal and the above verse was at the top of the page. The words struck me and have continued to be powerful since that September night in 2006.
You see, at the time God had put a book on my heart, but my doubts led me to believe it wasn't possible and maybe I had gotten the wrong message. After sharing my first 20 pages with a close friend, she encouraged me in my work and advised that I keep seeking God's direction.
I did just that and like I said, He led me to the words above. And though I doubted my ability to write a book, the words in Jeremiah reminded me though my fingers would strike the keys, it was God who would supply the words.
And that He did! At times I'm excited, but most of the time I'm a bit scared, you see my walk of faith will be available for the world to read in two months. Letters from Leanne - The Beauty of a Spiritual Mother-Daughter Relationship has just moved past the final editing deadline.
As this process comes to completion, I know God isn't finished. He hasn't just asked me to write a book, now He is showing me I will have to speak about this. Which is scary - writing alone in my basement is one thing, speaking in front of others is another. But if it's God's will, I know He will make it happen. And in a way, He has as I've shared my story with our MOPS group, in my women's Sunday School class and on my blog. But each time I finish, I have the feeling that I could have done better...
Which brings me to what this post is all about - about a year ago, I read about Proverbs31 She Speaks conference for the first time. A conference designed to encourage and educate women and teenage girls who feel called to speak, write, blog or lead ministry. When I first read about it, the thought of me attending never crossed my mind, but last July as I read posts from those who attended, God really put it on my heart.
At the time my book was being reviewed by a few publishers and I knew speaking would be part of the journey, so I began praying for God's guidance in all of this. By the end of July I was convinced to start saving money even though the thought of me, an Iowa farm wife traveling across the US was scary - it seemed this was what God wanted...
Until mid-August when we found out we were expecting our 4th child. Initially I was shocked, because this didn't line up with our plans at all, but in time I embraced the idea and looked forward to welcoming a new member of our family.
That joy didn't last long; on August 30 I had a miscarriage and had to say good-bye to a baby I would never hold. The experience was painful, but yet God was at work. I had yet to hear about any plans for my book, but prior to the miscarriage had really wrestled with the idea of publishing or not.
You see not everyone is in favor of me sharing my story because some don't understand my faith. But as God led me through the darkest days I've ever experienced my faith became stronger and so did my desire to share. Just 10 days after our loss, I was presented the opportunity to sign a contract for my book.
Now we fast forward to this past January when the editing process is in full swing and the publisher is beginning to discuss promotions of the book, the She Speaks conference comes back to mind. A dream I thought had died seemed to be resurrected.
Though it felt God was leading me there, my reasons for not attending were much greater in number. No matter what excuse I thought of, it still came back to the biggest "pro" there was - God was telling me to go.
One day I showed the website to my husband and he asked if it would be beneficial and after I answered yes, he said, "I don't know if I'd send you alone." So I approached my friend and co-author about the possibility of us going together. She was excited about the idea until she heard the dates, July 31-August 2. She will be leading a High School mission trip in Colorado at that time, so I thought the dream had died again.
Until my husband tells me you could fly and meet up with one of the blogger girls, so why don't you register. Again I was surprised, but I kept putting it in God's hands. Which is a constant necessity because it seems I'm trying to convince Him I can't do this.
So much so that in late January, I wrote this, "Lord, are you calling me to do this by myself? I don't know, please show me. Driving home I was thinking about this - why do you want me to go? Do you have plans I don't understand? I know you do, but is this part of it? I thought of Renee telling us how you give us experiences so we can share and I think of all that's happened and wonder what you will do with that. I don't know, but I let my mind go and then I thought, 'is that what I want?' Honestly I was thinking about what that meant - stepping out, change, being in the light and my answer was no, but God then you reminded me, it's not about what I want. It's all about you."
Time has continued to pass and for awhile I had myself convinced I was to attend, but I've kept those thoughts to myself for fear of others thinking I'm crazy. And events of the last week have me doubting once again and wondering how God is putting this all together - me, a shy farm girl, who's family thinks I'm too "religious" writing a book, attending a conference in North Carolina that will equip me to speak up about my faith.
Sometimes it makes no sense at all, but God keeps moving me forward. So much so that last week I read Lysa TerKeurst's blog and she shared that they were giving away a registration to She Speaks. My reaction was similar to my initial thoughts about the conference - that sounds great...for someone else. But today my husband said, "There's a reason you read that."
I know there is and I'm wondering if it's for confirmation. Obviously if I won, I'd get the message that this is part of God's plan for me, but I also know He just might work by me simply putting these thoughts out there for you to read.
I'll close with my final thoughts from my prayer journal back in September of '06 and though I worry and doubt this is still the prayer of my heart, "Lord, I want to do your will - show me and Lord, then give me the confidence, strength and ability. I know I can trust you!"