Saturday, August 29, 2009

Me, Myself & Doubt

“When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.” Matthew 28:17 (NIV)

Is it possible to believe and doubt at the same time? NO. I mean, YES!!! Absolutely not! It is, too!

If two people were having this conversation, it would be tense enough, but if this were a conversation between me, myself and I--well, that’s just scary. Yet, how often do I find myself in this exact predicament? I put my eyes on Him, He shows Himself to me, and at the same time I'm wondering if that was actually Him or not.

The above verse from Matthew occurs after Jesus’ ministry on earth, after He has died, after He has been risen from the dead, and after others said He'd appeared to them and was still alive.

The “they” in the verse refers to the eleven that had been with Him the whole time. Now, if it’s possible for almost a dozen men to see everything in person that Jesus had done and still have some doubts afterwards, then how much more true is that for you and me as His disciples today?

This is no surprise to God. He knows us intimately enough to understand that we are going to doubt Him from time to time. How faithful He was, though, to give us His Word as a reminder that He is God, He is faithful and He listens to our prayers. This is where our faith in Him kicks in---it is even modeled for us in Scripture.

In Mark 9:14 (NIV) and following, a father comes to Jesus and wants Him to heal his son who has an evil spirit. The dad says, “…IF you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

Jesus corrects him, “If I can? Everything is possible for him who believes.”

The father’s response back is what I can relate to… “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” The passage says that the dad exclaimed this! Exclamation point!!!!

Notice in this last emphatic statement that, even though it is an oxymoron technically, it is also NOT an oxymoron. “I do believe,” the dad exclaims.

This shows his limited belief, the kind we can do on our own. Then he says, “help me overcome my unbelief.” This puts the emphasis back on God to do the work in us.

We can muster up all the belief in our hearts, souls and minds, but without God’s help to do so, it will never be enough. This desperate dad gets it! God wants us to get it too. I suspect that’s why He put it in Scripture.

At the end of Luke 24, it goes into the same story that Matthew was telling about the disciples, only it adds more of the details. As they were walking along discussing their doubts about whether Jesus had been resurrected or not, Jesus appears to them and asks them why they are doubting.

See, even though He knew their doubts, He didn’t want them to stay there.

So He patiently pursued this process with them, even showing His scarred hands and feet in order to “prove” that He was alive. The next verse is the key: After all of this conversation, in verse 45 it says, “Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” Jesus gave them instructions and His blessing after that, then was taken up to Heaven.

This was their life changing moment. After He opened their minds, they understood. Once again, it was His power, not their ability to believe on their own. It says at the end of the verse that “then they worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.”

How cool is that! Before Jesus opened their minds, they half-worshiped, half-doubted. After He opened their minds, they had great joy and continually praised Him. We can enjoy the latter, if...

...If we'll stop trying to believe on our own with what little we have and begin to depend on what plenty He has.
...if we'll open our minds so that we can experience Him to the full.
...if we'll study His character and remember His faithfulness.
...if we'll learn to hear His voice and tune out the doubting.

He will help us overcome our unbelief. And there's no doubt about that. Exclamation Point! Do you believe it?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Where's The Backdrop?

Imagine spending twenty dollars on a ticket to see a play. You get there, excited to see what entertainment is in store for you. The curtain opens, the opening lines begin, but you soon realize that there’s no backdrop, no set, and the actors and actresses are in street costumes…it’s just a story, a raw script. If the acting is phenomenal, you might get what you paid for, but it’s really difficult to enjoy and understand without the proper setting. Oftentimes the backdrop and costumes help explain the story, the characters, etc. It would lengthen a play significantly if the actors had to explain everything to the audience without these tools.

In some ways, the same can be true of God’s Word, though it will NEVER return to us empty or void. This great treasure is given to us. We open it and read a wonderful verse, maybe a common one that gives us reassurance or peace. Or maybe we've been encouraged to look up a particular verse. We read it and are given insight, but often we miss the full blessing and effect of it because we don’t understand the setting or the characters. Let us take a common passage and explore this idea together:

“Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:28-31
Every time I read this verse, I am humbled, comforted and blessed. However, when I read some of the notes in my study Bible and went back to the beginning of the chapter, I was even more so. By the time I got to this verse, I was truly enlighted and invigorated. The cool thing is that it didn't even matter that I don't have a theology degree. If I were to listen to a Bible teacher instruct on this verse, I’m sure I would learn a ton; however, I’m talking about reading the Bible through my brain, and I’m an every day person with limited education on the background of His Word. That said, with only a few extra minutes, this is what God taught me about this very special passage in Isaiah.

In the notes of my Study Bible it explains the historical context of the chapters that precede this one. I’m not going to go into that, because one fact would lead to another, but the gist of it is that God has allowed “His people” to go through much hardship…war, battles, death, illness…in chapter 40, he allowed Isaiah to provide comfort to them by reminding them of these three things: 1. Who we are, 2. Who God is, & 3. What God gives to those He loves.

Verse 6 of chapter 20 says that “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.” What a beautiful setting to this story!

It goes on, (vs 7 & 8) “The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God stands forever.” Now we know who we are in light of who God is---the ornamental kind, but grass nonetheless. I can picture Him reaching down His hand gently, picking me up in all my “grassiness,” and whisping me where He wants me to go next.

Then it continues to give us a picture of who God is: (vs.13 & 14) "Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed Him as counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way? (vs.18) To whom, then, will you compare God? (vs. 25 & 26) To whom will you compare Me? Or who is My equal? says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? (It is) He who brings out the starry host, one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”
Isn’t this an amazing backdrop for us to see? Throughout all of Scripture, since it is said to be “God-breathed,” He is that backdrop indeed!
This picture of who we are in light of who God is sets us up for the popular passage in verses 28 through 31. Just as we begin to get a grasp on the story, the grand finale of this marvelous play full of beautiful scenery, imagery and interesting characters is revealed to us. We get to see what God, this incredible, One and Only Deity, gives to those He loves, even though we are likened to the grass that withers and fades. Only God would love and comfort us in our smallness, you know?

Doesn’t all that background give a fresh and fuller meaning to the familiar verses we started with?
HE is the everlasting God.
HE is the Creator of the ends of the earth.
HE never tires, never runs out of energy.
No one can fathom what HE understands.
Only HE can give strength to the weary and power to the weak.
When we hope in HIM, the One who never stumbles, we will have renewed strength.
HE will make us part of the scenery as we soar on wings as eagles.
HE will make us part of His drama as we draw on His energy, walking without becoming faint.
Now that’s a play I’d like to pay my twenty dollars to see acted out on stage. I challenge you when you hear a beautiful verse or feel conviction about a passage of Scripture to dive in and research the background, the context, the history, the setting. Let God help you grasp the fullness of His Word through the power of His Spirit which searches even the mind the God.

Let's ask Him to open our eyes, sharpen our minds and help us to hear all that He would have for us to know. He will reveal to us what insight we can handle at the time, because He knows what we need more than we even know ourselves. I pray that each time we read His Word we can visualize Him as the magnificent Backdrop of every story and teaching, the Breath behind the characters, and the One worthy of all the applause and glory.

Open the curtains now, Lord. We’re ready to get a glimpse of You.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What Comes DOWN Down down, must go up Up UP!

Romans 11:36 (NLT)
For everything comes from Him and exists by His power
and is intended for His glory. All glory to Him forever! Amen.

As I read this passage, it jumpstarted my heart. He read it to me piece by piece, and it was powerful.

For ___________ comes from Him—

Fill in the blank. For (blank) comes from Him.

Think of a gift, a talent, a provision, a privilege or a blessing. Put it in the blank.

and exists by His power…

Whatever you put in the blank—not only does it come from Him, it exists by His power. That means that it is still there because of His power to give, sustain and take away. Whatever you have been given and still have is nothing short of His choice for you to have it.

and is intended for His glory…

This thing, do I really use it for His glory? Am I proud of the gift itself or am I proudly proclaiming the Gift-Giver? The word intended kind of caught me off guard. He, the Maker, the Giver, and the powerful Sustainer didn’t intend for us to use our fill-in-the-blank for our own egos…but for His glory. Period.

All glory to him forever!

All that we have, all that we are, all our hopes and dreams…they are to be for His glory. The forever part makes this so.

Want a promotion in your job? Only if it is for My glory, Child.

Are you using a special talent for Him? Please care more about My fame and renown than your own, Dear One.

Have you been given wisdom and faith? Let your motive be to draw others closer to me.

May the very life we have been given be used for His glory. This is something we must ask from Him, because it will not come naturally for us. It very well may be a trait that is grown little by little in us as we submit to Him each day. Let’s pray to earnestly desire for Him to be our glory forever and ever…

Lord God, I am blown away by the power of Your Word. So impacting. The same Word that has been there from the beginning of time—in its power—in its perfect timing—has convicted me once again. May it do the same in my brothers and sisters as You choose, and may we constantly remind each other of all the glorious things You have done in our lives. I pray from the bottom of my heart that You would help me to learn how to use all my stuff for Your purposes…that I would come to You with empty hands, an undistracted mind and an open heart. Lord, for all of us, when we see each others’ gifts and talents and blessings, may we see only You—and You alone. And then give You the glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“For in HIM we live and move and have our being.”
Acts 17:28a

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

In Vogue

In my quiet time this morning, God caused me to pause and ponder this:

"So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it." (Colossians 3:12, The Message)
It's amazing to me that the Lord gave me the Holy Spirit, and I can wear Him every day. I don't want to wear my flesh while His beautiful garments lay on the shelf of my heart. As I trust, surrender and obey, the Lord's compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline & love will radiate. And His colors definitely look the best on me. :)

Lord, I praise You and thank You for giving me the Holy Spirit. It gives me hope & encouragement to know I don't need to go it me to be in vogue with You. Have Your way in me today, I pray.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Personal Call for Prayer & Support

Dear Friends,

It’s not everyday that an opportunity such as this one comes along, but in faith, I’m answering God’s call to go to Asia. In fact, our team of 13 men and women are traveling to Cambodia from October 28th-November 7th to lead a conference for the leadership team and the families of World Relief.

Now in its 14th year in Cambodia, World Relief is committed to working alongside the Church of Cambodia in building its capacity to serve the poor in the name of Jesus Christ so that the healing and transforming power of the Kingdom of God is manifested in all its fullness in Cambodia.

The goal of our team is to provide spiritual refreshment and encouragement for these leaders, and in doing so, I know God will do a powerful work in our lives as well.

While I've always been passionate about missions in the past, this is my first time to actually experience it in the "going" role. I'll be leading the children, ages 4 to 12, in teaching, worship and activities, along with some of my other team members. After being a kids’ praise and worship leader for almost 20 years in my own country, I am leaning on the Lord to translate that passion and knowledge to kids who love the same God in a different language and culture. If you have any suggestions for me, I would love your input!

The events that led up to my going on this trip are a blog post in and of themselves, if not more than one. Empty hands held high, I'm trusting what God has for me, though I confess to being wayyyy out of my comfort zone. Stretch time.

If the Lord leads you, I would love to have prayer support and/or financial support for our trip. Asking for prayer is easy for me. Asking for money is not. But we’ve been encouraged as a team to give others an opportunity to be a part of our missions journey. By doing so, we expand the missions experience to a wider array of people. It is up to the Lord to prompt others to pray or give as He chooses, and I know He'll provide in His creative way and time.

Each of us has been asked to raise $2800, which covers all meals, accommodations and airfare (our biggest expense.) All donations are tax deductible, and you will receive a receipt that you can use for tax purposes. All support raised is considered team support, so any funds I raise over and above what I need will be put into our team fund to cover costs for the entire team.

Whether or not you feel led by God to support financially, I hope you will pray for our team. We long to be unified, effective, surrendered and flexible as we work together, and we ask for protection and provision for the families we leave behind while pursuing this call.

For His Glory,

If you feel led to give, checks should be made payable by October 1st to Bent Tree Bible Fellowship with “Cambodia 2/L. Shaw” in the memo line and sent to the following address:

Bent Tree Bible Fellowship
Attn: Outreach Ministry
4141 International Parkway
Carrollton, TX 75007

"But I'll take the hand of those who don't know the way,
who can't see where they're going.
I'll be a personal guide to them,
directing them through unknown country.
I'll be right there to show them what roads to take,
make sure they don't fall into the ditch.
These are the things I'll be doing for them— sticking with them,
not leaving them for a minute."

Isaiah 42:16, The MSG

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Deactivate the Hyperdrive

I'd love for you to join me at Internet Cafe Devotions today. But I'll warn you, I'm a little bit hyperactive...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Anticipation Proclamation

As a young girl, I remember the start of a new school year being so exciting! The first day of school for me was as New Years was to the grownups I knew. It was a time for vows and resolutions: THIS would be the year to make perfect grades. THIS would be the time for me to make new friends. Yes, THIS would be the defining year of my talents as well as my personality. I would even be a better Christian witness, and EVERYTHING would be more exciting than the year before….

The cherry on top was the blessing of new clothes (or even someone else's handmedowns), cool school supplies and all the other “stuff” that was required for a student to get a good start to the new year. Cha ching! Christmas in August!!!!

On the other side of the beaming and scheming, though, was Anxiety, just waiting to rear her ugly head. What will I wear? Which teachers will I have? Who will I sit next to? WHERE did these pimples come from? Before the first bell had even rung, Anticipation, Aspiration and Anxiety had become inseparable friends of mine.

Nonetheless, now that those days are over, I wouldn’t mind having that feeling of great expectation again. Sometimes I get so distracted in the dailyness of life, even anxious about what's around the corner, that I miss the renewal and hope the Lord is offering me each day. The Bible is filled with promises to anticipate:
Lamentations 3:22-23
“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

2 Corinthians 4:16
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

Psalm 51:10
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Colossians 3:10
“…and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
So what does this mean for us? It means that we can be like school kids at the end of summer each and every day, but without the worry. No matter what fruit we are lacking, the Lord will be faithful to provide it as we put our hope in Him. It is a daily (for me, hourly sometimes) process….it is a “giving over” of ourselves with the exchange of renewed eagerness for the great things God can do in and through us as we let Him. We can choose to serve ourselves, our anxieties and our desires; or we can start the day with dependence on our Lord, who will faithfully show up and keep His promises. Let’s decide to proclaim our anticipation in Him alone this very day!
“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you,
then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….
But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

Joshua 24:15

Monday, August 10, 2009

Kindred Spirit Encouragement

I'm always amazed how the Lord brings about encouragement at the perfect time. Filled with the blues of getting ready for school to start on top of coming down from the mountain of my She Speaks high, the Lord put a beautiful greeting card in my mailbox from a very special sister in the Lord.

Have you met Darlene from Kindred Spirits Greetings? She's a humble lady and probably will be embarrassed that I mentioned her in this public way, but she blessed me so much!

Here's how. She sent me this custom made card just to encourage me in the ministry God has given me. I had no idea how beautiful her cards were, WOW. And because God has gifted her with the ability to write content as well, she wrote me a special message:

"LauraLee...a heart filled with desire for true intimacy with her beloved.
A woman of compassion sharing the love of our Creator~
by reaching around the globe to strangers along the way.
A bridge of love built by one.
Kindred of the Most High, through the blood of our Savior.
One mind, one people, one nation.
Set apart from our once unrighteous state of being.

By touching His throne from the depth of our hearts~
the beauty within each of our individual relationships with Him unfolds.
As our passion to know Him grows we begin to understand
how each trial, each heartache and each loss
lovingly reconstructs our thinking, our desires, our will, into His dna
heirs to HIs throne indeed; through the Blood of our Salvation.
You touched my heart, LauraLee."
(c) Copyright 2009 Kindred Spirits Greetings
by Letha Darlene

I had to share this powerful act of encouragement and sisterly love by a kindred spirit in Christ. May we all remember when the Lord prompts us to bless another with our gifts and talents to do so, like Letha Darlene. And if you want to see the incredible variety of creativity she has with her greeting cards, visit her website, Kindred Spirits Greetings.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

She Hides at She Speaks

I walked into the She Speaks conference with an overwhelming sense of peace. I read that many were concerned about their wardrobe and their speeches and book proposals, and though I had my days of anxiousness, by the time I walked in I was completely relaxed. Each person I met enthralled me with their experiences leading up to the conference. God was calling me to be "others-focused," and it was a whole lotta wonderful. Except for the normal bit of nervousness that came Friday night just before 3-minute speech time, the Lord's peace prevailed.

Until Saturday afternoon.

The session after lunch came, and a funk came over me right in the middle. I felt dizzy, sick to my stomach, exhausted, numb. It was as if I had been sitting in the middle of a beach somewhere basking in the sun, and out of nowhere a gynormous wave rolled in and knocked me over, leaving me flat on my back.

So I did what any "others-focused" individual would do. I limped to my room and hid. Behind that closed door, I hoped that my roommate wouldn't come in and see me sobbing on my knees by the bed. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. Had I been sandbagging my anxiousness only to have it explode and make a mess now? Was I exhausted from the days of preparation getting ready for the trip? Was it a spiritual attack? What in the world had come over me?

As I moved to the bed and tried to drift off to sleep, my cell phone rang. It was my 11-year-old daughter, and she was in the same shape I was. She missed me. She felt like she was doing everything around the house and others were taking her for granted. She didn't want to tell anyone, especially Dad, because she didn't want to come apart in front of him. I advised her to go into her closet and pray (the only place she has privacy), and to ask the Lord for strength to talk to Dad. I told her, "Sweetie, you'll be amazed how much better you'll feel if you can find the courage to admit to dad how you're feeling." We cried together for a little while longer, and I shared with her how I was feeling too.

While I was ending my conversation with my daughter, my roommate Amy Bayliss walked in. She saw I was a mess, but she didn't pry. I felt led to tell her what I was going through, but I didn't want to bother her with it. After all, she had another publisher's meeting to go to and a whole list of things to be focused on herself. It was a mixture of my care for her and pride that I wanted to continue faking my strength until she left the room again.

Then I remembered my words to AnaLee. You know, about how much better she'd feel if she just admitted she was weak. So I grabbed Amy, and I told her. She immediately prayed as I continued to weep, and I was amazed. A healing wave of peace and relief flooded over me. Not long after Amy left the room, my daughter called again. She said she took my advice and went into the closet to pray and that she was ready to talk to Daddy. I was definitely able to encourage her after what I'd just experienced.

The memory of this mind-boggling moment ministers to me on so many levels. Pride had convinced me that I was to be "on" while at the conference or else I'd be no good to anyone. I let the enemy discourage me and speak lies into my ear. I almost cancelled my publisher's meeting AND my talk on Saturday night. Honestly, the thought went through my mind that maybe I'm just not cut out for any of this stuff. Nobody else was in their room having a meltdown, I thought. LOL, Like I would know...

The power of releasing our pride and our weaknesses to one another can be an amazing thing. Often, we have experiences that are meant for the Lord's ears only, but in this case, He wanted me to admit. I don't know why I felt the need to hide when the unexpected hit me. But I was humbled and encouraged in a way I will never forget. Maybe the next time I won't be so stubborn.
"Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]."
James 5:16, The Amplified Bible
"If one falls down, his friend can help him up."
Ecc. 4:10a

Is God leading you to walk out of your hotel room
and let someone pray for you?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

She Pauses to Ponder Praises from "She Speaks"

"Our prayer for you this weekend is that you will be encouraged, equipped and empowered as you prepare for God's unique calling on your life..."

This was the purpose the Proverbs 31 ministry team listed in the front of our GORGEOUS She Speaks conference books, and it was fulfilled.

I'm still in the process of pondering, but I must's time to let some praises ring.

This She was encouraged:

* I was encouraged by corporate worship. To sing and pray along with Cheri Keaggy, as well as 600+ women set my heart on fire, and released my tears to water it.

*I was encouraged by a group of women bloggers (a group too large to mention each by name but will probably end up in the form of a story at some point) who all "knew" each other and invited me to join their lunch parties anyway. (photo below) As I listened to them talk, I was so blessed by their heart to minister to women with their own unique voices in the world of blogging. I also learned that I am not a true blogger; instead, I'm a writer who has a blog. Believe you me, this is true. (But I know who to call with questions, no doubt). And I laughed. And laughed. And spewed that sugary sweet North Carolina tea all over. Heather, especially ;) would get me rolling, then Lisa would calm me down (and get me to the airport on time. Thank you.) :)

*I was encouraged by my roommate, Amy Bayliss. We talked, we laughed, we prayed, we got past the surface. She is more amazing than I ever imagined. And besides, she brought me a beautiful journal, the best-smelling candle ever, and CHOCOLATE. Need I say more?

*I was encouraged by the speakers, Lysa TerKeurst, Jennifer Rothschild (my spiritual hero on earth), and Renee Swope. I will be chewing on their messages for an ENORMOUSLY long time, applying them as God enables me to do so. I'm compelled to say that every single time Lysa prayed, I cried. I've been starting my day with "Good morning, my Jesus," and ending it with "Good night, my Jesus" ever since.

*I was encouraged by Suzanne Eller, who happened to get the seat right next to me on the airplane ride home. For me, that was no accident, only a God-incident. She encouraged me with her powerful story, her wisdom in the Lord and in the writing business, and she confirmed some of my thoughts about ministry as well. I am ordering her book, "The Mom I Want To Be" today, and I can't wait to read it through the grid of the authentic and beautiful person I met on the airplane.

*I was encouraged by Zoe Elmore and the rest of my speaker evaluation group. Hopefully, they were mutually encouraged by me. But Zoe made each one of us feel relaxed, and she pumped us up in the process. I can't wait to read her book when it's completed (wink). She is already an AMAZING speaker, and quite stylin' I have to say.

*I was encouraged by catch phrases like "Grace, Grace, Grace," and "in ministry, there should be no competition." Can you imagine what our world would look like if all of us lived with those beliefs out in front of us?

This She was equipped:

*I was equipped with so much incredible information about speaking and writing through the workshops that I know I will be processing it for many months. Micca Campbell was a HUGE highlight of my weekend, and I can't wait to buy her book and soak in the message that she speaks and lives. I also need more of her sense of humor. It is ADDICTING.

*I was equipped with resources galore. I had access to books, music and advice from professionals to help me become better at my calling. I even learned what colors fit my skin type by the "What Not To Wear" expert, Shari Braendel.

*I was equipped spiritually. This team put more emphasis on giving us what we needed spiritually than they did in any other area. They know the secret to any success in life at all starts with a relationship with Jesus Christ. As someone who is passionate about ministry, this impressed me above anything else.

This She was empowered:

*I was empowered with God-confidence. Each and every time I felt inadequate or unable to do what I was supposed to be doing, the Lord used someone or something at the conference to build me up. And I saw this happening ALL OVER THE PLACE.

*I was empowered with God's Word. Truth was everywhere you looked and listened. All that was needed was a soft, surrendered heart for that Truth to sink in and make a difference. It did for me.

*I was empowered by the Holy Spirit. He worked on me, He moved in me, He strengthened me, He humbled me, He showed up. Especially in the prayer room the team set up for us. I spent some time there allowing the Holy Spirit to still and speak to my tired, anxious and hungry heart.

*I was encouraged and empowered to live out my calling. And yes, it is a calling. It doesn't matter to me if I communicate his name to ten or to ten hundred. It doesn't matter to me if that is through writing, speaking, outreach, giving or encouraging. I will live out my calling in Spirit and in Truth with the Lord's power and strength doing the work in and through me. And if I forget this, it's right here "out loud" on my blog for any of you to remind me at a moment when you see me thinking otherwise.

Many thanks, and much love to the Proverbs 31 staff and ministry team, to all my new friends, and especially to my Jesus. I paused. I pondered. And now I praise You, my Lord, my Savior, my Life. Thank You.

Out to lunch with the blogging ladies. Wowzer, if I only had an ounce of the knowledge they do...and they have the gift of gab too, which of course, I know NOTHING about.

My sweet roomie, Amy. She is a woman inspired, and she inspired me in more ways than ten.

Kidnapped to lunch from the conference (shhhhh). I need a boot camp after that burger & pile of fries I consumed.

My speaker evaluation group. I was in awe at the stories these ladies shared. We all went out on a limb to share a piece of ourselves (albeit just 3 & 5 minute pieces...though we tried our hardest to stretch the time), and I was enriched in the process.

Amy and I kept running into Lisa, and it would've been cool to have her as a 3rd roomie. She took the time to pray over me before I walked into my 2nd publisher's meeting. I can't wait to share with her why that ministered to me so much.

"If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ."
1 Peter 4:11