I am finally getting around to writing about the phenomenal weekend that was SHE SPEAKS.
* Fair warning here--this may only be interesting to my parents and grandparents. But here's how it went:
Oh, and a few posts back I wrote that no matter what was to come, those ABSOLUTELY PRECIOUS moments I shared with Justin, Trevor and Aila the night before the conference started are ones that I will never forget. I mean it--it all brought tears to my eyes. THEY ARE MY FIRST MINISTRY and I can't even express the joy I had spending that time together with them.
THE SWEETEST MOMENT OF THE WEEKEND:
When the conference wrapped up, there were several women waiting in the lobby for rides, airport shuttles, etc. when Justin and the kids came down the hall to get me. I was reading when I heard Aila's voice waaaay down the hall shouting, "MAMA!" and I turned to see them all running toward me. I won't even apologize for it, but we all made quite a scene in that hallway--the kids PLOWED into me and we were rolling on the floor (all dressed up still) and laughing belly laughs. I looked around and saw several women watching us--crying and smiling. To the end of my days I am going to remember that moment as one of my sweetest. :)
First, the Lord did a LOT of speaking. Seems like it should have been called "HE Speaks!!" He really spoke to my heart through his Word and during my prayer times--it was SO MUCH good stuff that I have to give the nutshell version--it really came down to two main points. Seems strange to simplify them to these two points, but this could take all the live-long day if I don't:
1. Doesn't matter about my inabilities. He has established me as a planting of the Lord to display His splendor. And though I am small, he still has chosen me to display His glory and splendor, which is ANYTHING BUT SMALL.
2. I also felt Him calling me to a deeper level of repentance and righteousness. Just sort of like, "Okay, Thea. This is where we're headed--turning away from anything that has a hold on you, and forging on to something so much deeper, more challenging, and sweeter. Are you coming?"
Okay, so on to the conference. We opened with the advanced marketing track, which was really interesting and gave me a lot of good insight into things for the future--websites, newsletters, marketing, etc. I won't lie, I was a little bit like a deer in the headlights with everyone asking things like "Now, how do I connect my blog that has 3,000 visitors a day with my website?" Not exactly anything I am dealing with at this point. I had a bit of a freak-out morning shortly before the marketing track began in which I asked "Am I really supposed to be here?" and God answered "Absolutely." Needless to say, that's the nutshell version of that conversation. But it was good to really be built up right before going into the sessions where people were talking websites, bio sheets and marketing for more bookings--otherwise I think I would have REALLY felt like a fish out of water. But it was SUCH good info, and hopefully things I'll be implementing in the not too distant future, I pray!
Another moment that REALLY hit me is one that may not have even registered with anyone else, because it was spoken in passing, but OH how it hit me: Lysa Terkeurst, president of Proverbs 31 ministries, said she went and spoke to a group of women at a church, and when she finished there was a standing ovation, applause and praise. Yay for Lysa! But then her marketing guy called the church 6 months later and asked how the women and the women's ministry was better off or had grown of changed because Lysa had been there. Well, pretty much nothing had changed. When I heard that, it totally HIT ME LIKE A TRUCK. I mean, why waste anyone's time if LIFE CHANGE is not the end result? I know GOD is the one to change hearts. But just like Andy Stanley emphatically says, if they don't remember it 5 minutes after they walk out the door, how can that truth really begin to bring about a change in their lives? SO TRUE. I really feel that burden as I've been putting together talks. If there is no take-away, then it's back to the drawing board. People need to know how truth can TRANSFORM. I even came up with a tagline based on THIS VERY THING.
NOW...ON TO THE EVALUATIONS!!
Speaker Evaluation Group -- FRIDAY
This was the night for my 3-minute testimony. As I was ready to get up and speak, I all of a sudden got VERY nervous. I've been fine standing up in front of 300 people to share, but there was something about standing up in front of 12 other speakers with CLIPBOARDS that terrified the ever-loving heck out of me! Not to mention that it is my story--my life--and a difficult although redemption-filled snapshot of my life. I knew I was visibly nervous, which made me even more nervous! Other than the nerves, it seemed to go fine. I received the following feedback:
First, the POLISHING POINTS (things to work on):
3 people gave polishing points.
"You seemed a little nervous."
"I could tell you were a little nervous, that's all."
"You did NOT need to be nervous!"
And then there were thankfully many PRAISE POINTS (I'll share just a few):
"Felt like you were very warm and connected."
"Great passion with a powerful story to tell."
"You are a gifted communicator."
"Gripping from the start."
"You connected with your audience."
"Keep doing exactly what you're doing."
Speaker Evaluation Group -- SATURDAY
This was the night to share "God Stretch (Oil & Flour, Fish & Loaves)" which was my 5-minute Biblical teaching. After Friday night's "NERVE-FEST 2009" I spent a lot of time praying. I was frustrated because it felt like my nerves got in the way--so I prayed that the Lord would really strengthen me to speak His truth!
Well, what a difference. IN HIS STRENGTH, I walked up completely calm, moved the podium out of the way since I just really felt I did not even need the notes near me, and then IN HIS STRENGTH I spoke. It felt like it just couldn't have gone better!
First, POLISHING POINTS:
There was just one this time: "Watch the shade of lipstick you wear." Hmmm. Okay, that's one to think about, since it's the lipstick I wear EVERY SINGLE DAY!!! So... mental note--go get a color consultation at the mall. Noted!
And then the PRAISE POINTS -- again, I will put just a few:
"The best tithing message I've heard--and I've heard a few!"
"You are so genuine."
"You are a wonderful teacher."
"Girl! What are you doing in BEGINNING speaking?"
"You have a fabulous stage presence."
"What a great, needed message from the heart."
"You were so awesome! I see God's Holy Spirit pouring through you! It was truly amazing to listen to you teach God's Word. Please continue to use this speaking ability for God's kingdom."
And, HALLELUJAH after Friday night's Nerve-fest, it was good to read "You seemed very relaxed." Thank you, Heavenly Father! It was ALL YOU!!!
The weekend was really an awesome time to get to know Jodi, who is a gifted teacher of the Word, the one who is leading the podcast team, and is just an all-around FUN gal. I love that she loves "The Office" too. It was just really neat to get to talk through this passion we share to speak in His name. Also, I got to spend a bit of time talking and praying with Rae, also on the podcast team. And then Christy, an awesome woman who I met prior to She Speaks (and she ended up in my evaluation group)! So many phenomenal women.
Another really big highlight was spending time in the PRAYER ROOM. They had a room set up for women to just go in and pray. It was just awesome to be in there. And they had several names of God on pieces of paper on tables around the room, like El Shaddai (God Almighty) and Jehovah Jireh (The Lord will Provide). The staff prayed over each conferee and put their name next to one of these names of God. Mine was EL ELYON -- God Most High. INDEED!
In the end, I just felt all the more that I am truly pursuing a calling that the Lord has given me. It was really, really exciting. There's that little part of me that feared the American Idol Audition experience, where someone gets up and swears they were made to sing, and once they start to "sing" it is just all kinds of wrong. It was nice to get some confirmation that, in His strength, I can do this. Because of His great mercies, He is equipping me to speak in His name.
Phew! If you made it this far (anyone still with me?) pat yourself on the back. And THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH for praying and checking in with me on how it all went!
Looking forward to many more amazing things!
P.S. Podcasts have all been recorded. So exciting! I am so, so thankful just to be a part of it all. Hopefully very soon I'll be posting a date that our podcasts will be up on The Women's League website!