The Rise and Shine Women's Retreat was held on Saturday, October 31st and what a day it was!! Above is a picture of the planning team along with our guest speaker, Renee Swope from Proverbs 31 and her assistant, Leah DiPascal. (From left to right - Leah, Rachel Beran, me, Renee, Judy Walsten and Leanne Anderson) The event was one we've been working towards and praying about for months and God showed up in a big way to answer those prayers and more!!
I'd like to try and capture a bit of the journey this has been, so to start at the beginning - in September of 2006 God put it on my heart to write a book and a couple of weeks later the idea of a women's conference was impressed as well. Doubt took over though and I really didn't think that would happen. I'd read plenty of books and attended a few conferences that I knew there was no way I could do either. I was right, alone I couldn't, but after putting the ideas in God's hands He continued moving me forward.
He started with the book, but about a year ago reminded me of the idea of a conference. I entertained it in my mind for awhile, still thinking it was a bit of a stretch, but yet no matter how much I tried convincing myself this was crazy, the idea didn't go away. So by December I stepped out and shared with my husband and a close friend and mentor and they agreed it would be work, but encouraged me to keep listening to God and move forward.
So I did and by January, we'd set a date, had a location, contacted Renee Swope to speak and created a planning team. It was all a bit overwhelming, but God kept providing confirmation as this is what we were to do. But by the end of February circumstances made me second guess all that was taking place - I found out I was expecting a new baby!! And with a due date of October 29th, 2 days before the retreat, I honestly didn't understand what God was doing.
I questioned how this was all supposed to happen and wrestled with the fact that I may not attend a retreat I was planning and excited about. I also felt bad in a way thinking here I had this idea, put a team together and may not be there to help. But still God confirmed it all - I remember in March when we were going to sign a contract and officially book Renee as our speaker. Before printing the contract, I emailed the team a second time to make sure this is what we were to do. After hearing another round of yes responses I printed the form and felt God say, "You need to do this."
That thought came to mind quite often as we kept moving forward. At times I'd wonder, "Why God? Why do we need to do this?" I never heard an answer, but tried to create one a few times, and often thought about the women who would be attending. And though I'm sure He had more than one reason for us to plan this event, He answered my question this past Saturday.
When God impressed on my heart, "You need to do this" I never thought the reasons would be so many and so personal. Like I said I know other lives were touched, but not until I was driving home did I realize I was one of the women we'd been praying for. Our goal for the retreat was that women would be encouraged, refreshed and renewed and leave with the desire to "rise and shine." He answered that prayer for at least one attendee - ME!
I look back at the journey of the last year and I am amazed at His faithfulness - God provided every step of the way. Including the birth of our little man on the 12th of October. And then He topped it all off with a wonderful experience this past weekend, one in which I was truly blessed. It was an honor to meet and visit with Renee and Leah on Friday night - they are wonderful women - so real and have a huge heart for God and His people.
Then Saturday, wow, I still feel like I don't have words. It was so neat to see faces for the names we've been praying for and hear stories of hearts touched by God. Listening to Renee was an opportunity to hear from God - I related to so much of what she said and was greatly encouraged by her obedience.
It seemed like God had so much to say and from the stories I've heard He wasn't just talking to me! I could elaborate but for now all I can say is I'm so grateful we serve such a BIG God, one who is good and has plans that are perfect. Tonight I encourage you to listen to His voice and follow His lead because when we believe, He will bless!!