Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Looking back...

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. Philippians 1:3-5

Our pastor is now preaching through the book of Philippians and last week as he taught from verses 3-5, I thought much about the ministry events I've been blessed to be a part of. Four years ago we were prepping for the first ever Rise and Shine Women's Retreat held in Cedar Falls, Iowa. It was a joy to see a vision God had given me unfold and a blessing to work with wonderful sisters in Christ as we worked to share the Good News.

The experience was fun, but it also included work, a bit of stress and lots of learning. God taught me long before the retreat ever took place. In February of 2009, we developed a team, set a date and invited Renee Swope and then days later I found out I was expecting. Baby Beran was due October 29th, 2 days before Rise and Shine would take place. 

To say I struggled with all of this would be an understatement; I don't even like to admit where my mind went, but God is leading me to do just that. News of a little one overwhelmed me...we had 3 children ages 2, 4 and 6 and I was in my first year of homeschooling - I wasn't sure I could handle adding a new baby to the mix. Fear also accompanied the news...6 months earlier we'd had a miscarriage and I did not want to experience that pain again. And worst of all were the selfish thoughts. I clearly remember the night I saw the positive sign and mentally did the math. I knew the due date would be near the event date and said to my husband, "What if I can't be there?" He sensed the pouty, anxious tone in my voice and simply responded, "You think God can't do it if you're not there?"

I knew what he said was true, but it was a reality I didn't want to face. That didn't alter the fact that it was something I could not change. So I moved forward with a heart willing to let God's plans unfold...obviously they already were!! I honestly didn't know if I'd get to take part in the event I was helping plan, but I trusted the work God would do. 

As the months passed God proved Himself faithful as He did more than we could have imagined and even asked. He taught me much and blessed me with a new little boy on October 12, who at nearly 3 weeks old attended his first, and maybe last, women's retreat. That year Renee Swope shared about moving out of our shadows of doubt and encouraged us to live under the shadow of the cross - a message God etched on my heart and is still helping me live today.

Leah, Rachel, Jill, Renee, Judy and Leanne at Rise and Shine '09
A year later, God opened the door for another retreat and we were thrilled to bring Lysa TerKeurst to Iowa. Once again God worked in mighty ways! In the morning before the event began I can recall Lysa praying that God would mess with us and in the days following that's exactly what He did. Days after, He clearly began showing me I had to cut back and as time passed He led me away from every ministry leadership position I held. 

Friend, can I tell you that messing was hard. And it again involved a pregnancy, which again left me overwhelmed. I thought there was no way I could be the mom of 5 children, but then I recalled Lysa's word's, "If you call yourself a woman of faith, be prepared to live a life that requires it." 

Rachel, Jill, Lysa, Holly, Judy and Leanne at Rise and Shine '10
So I again moved forward, letting go of my plans while trying to trust God's. I adopted a new motto for life - "Have FAITH and Be Clay!" I realized I had no choice but to believe God and trust His plan while I allowed Him to make me into who He created me to be. As I grew closer to Christ, I began to understand God didn't need me to do anything, but He chose to use me and I was grateful. I finally came to a place where I was thankful (well most of the time) with where ever He chose to use me. He taught me that pouring into my 5 children was more important than speaking Truth to hundreds of women.

Time marched on and I was busy...no longer as a MOPS coordinator, event planner or Sunday School teacher, but my days were full as a wife and Mom and my time was spent digging into God's Word and getting to know who He made me to be. Thoughts of women's events now consisted of contemplating which one to attend, but there was a small hope that maybe someday I could help with one again. I even occasionally prayed about one in our local area.

Honestly I thought that would unfold years down the road, but in March of last year God opened doors that I didn't even know existed! In August of 2012, the first ever ReNEWed Life Women's Event was held in the small town of Cresco. Lisa Whittle, a national speaker and author, was there and delivered a message many needed to hear.

Kim, Teresa, Lisa, Jill and Rachel at ReNEWed Life '12
During one of our conversations I recall Lisa saying, "I do what I can do and trust God to do the rest." These words reminded me of words Lysa T. had shared as well, "My job is obedience, God takes care of the results." Since that day nearly 12 months ago, that is what I've attempted to do. Have I failed? Yes, more than I'd like to admit. Have I grown? I have to believe the answer is yes. Have I seen God? Yes and friend, can I encourage you? When you obey God will bless!

Which leads me to today...this week we are prepping for ReNEWed Life '13 and I'm excited that Wendy Blight will be in Cresco to share from her heart while God touches ours. The event hasn't even taken place, but because of memories of what's brought me to this place, I trust God has good things in store. And really Saturday isn't about event, but instead what God will do.

Friends, will join me in praying for the final details, the attendees, Wendy Blight, our local speakers, our team, the worship team, volunteers, food providers, decorator and all the others who will be involved. It's a joy to have you partnering with us as we move forward. 

As I close this post, my mind goes to the verse our pastor will preach on next - Philippians 1:6, "being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

Friend, can I encourage you to move from thinking about "the good ole days" and instead allow memories of what God has done to lead you to a place of thanksgiving? Reflecting on where you've been brings encouragement for where you are going!


  1. Jill, what a lovely God-honoring post.

    I am so excited to be part of this legacy of God's work in your small community of Cresco. Thank you for including me.

    You are such a wise woman to look back at what God has done as we prepare to invite Him to do a great work again. I cannot wait to see what God will do in our midst this year as we seek to draw closer to His heart and dig deeper into His Word!

    Praying...praying...praying for our time together!!

    See you in a few day!!!

    Blessings to you,


    1. Thank you Wendy!! I too am excited that you will be a part of this...clearly it's part of God's plan! Looking forward to all He will do!!

  2. Really encouraged me tonight... thanks for sharing Aunt Jill!! :)