Saturday, September 22, 2012

My "True Woman" Experience

I am sitting in a hotel room right now, unable to attend the final session of the True Woman conference because I woke up with a locked back that will let me move only tiny bits. On this day especially I wanted to be at this conference, to be surrounded by other Christian women praising our Lord. Today is the 7th anniversary of my dad entering Glory and I just want to feel close to him today. While disappointed, I am still completely overwhelmed by what God has already shown me this weekend. I arrived at the True Woman '12 conference Thursday morning for the leadership pre-session and sat at a table of strangers. Some were fellow pastor's wives, some ladies ministry leaders, and others leaders of other ministries. As we shared around the table a little bit about ourselves and we all answered questions about our lives and ministries, I was met with the ever familiar withered look from women that I get when I share that I own a salon, homeschool my kids, and run our ladies program at our growing church of almost 300 now. I've learned never to say those things all in the same sentence, but when women ask questions and put the pieces together, that's when they get a look of disbelief. Just a quick note here, when you respond to me with a withered stare and the comment "that's just too much, how can you do all that?" I immediately feel defeated and start to question if I'm doing something wrong. All I know is that I love my husband, I love my children, and God has put in me a deep desire to see girls and women grow in their walk with the Lord, beginning with myself. He has orchestrated situations and events in my life to get me to where I am today and I am right where He wants me. So, back to the conference! The leadership speakers revived in me the call of what I'm doing. Women have so many needs that go so much deeper than her hair color. When a woman sits in my salon chair, I'm not just there to give her a great cut. I'm there to listen to her, be a friend, give her godly counsel when necessary and point her to the savior. I can't meet every need, only God can. But, I can point a woman to the Truth. I can share my life with her, pray for her and with her, and teach the Word of God which is the ONLY book to live by. As I entered the evening main conference session on Thursday I felt good about myself, about what I do for the Lord. I won't go into detail out of respect for my family, but I found out on Thursday afternoon that we have just entered a very serious point of crisis and here I am at a conference all weekend torn between staying and toughing it out or heading home. Either way, there's absolutely nothing I can do about it and I came to this weekend to get alone with God and hear from Him, so I stayed. I went on to the first session even though I wanted to stay curled up on the hotel bed talking to God about this crisis. So, there I was in the session with 8,000 other women, feeling revived and quite proud of myself for making the decision to stay. (Pride goes before a fall). After a while they get to the "prayer experience" of the night. Oh boy, I was raised Baptist and this is usually the part where I say this is too charismatic for me and slip out, but this time I stayed, and it changed me forever. Every woman usher started to get up and grab this long paper linked chain (like the ones you'd make in grade school) and began carrying this thing all around the giant arena, wrapping several times over. The thing was huge! The man leading the prayer experience shared with us that this chain was made up of individual links, and every single link had the name of someone at this conference on it as well as a prayer for each one of us. He also shared with us that for MONTHS this chain has been being created and that each one of us has been being prayed over, NOT by pastors wives, NOT by churches, NOT by the staff (although they all prayed too), but by PRISONERS in a women's prison who had been spiritually free'd through salvation and they were praying that every woman at this conference would experience God's FREEDOM! You can imagine, I lost it right there. I can't even go into the experience I felt at that moment and the next hour as the tears wouldn't stop. They showed the LIVE stream of these women who were virtually joining the conference from their prison and I know that there were women at this conference locked inside their own prison who are a thousand times more captive than these women are. That opened our prayer experience and I can't do it justice to explain in words, but He led us 8,000 women through a time of scripture fed, spirit led, worship focused prayer that changed my entire view of prayer. Not only did God pull me out of my comfort zone as I prayed about personal things with a group of about 4 other strangers, but He showed me how to seek His face in prayer. As if that experience wasn't enough, God chose to use one of these complete strangers who I don't even know her name, to meet a need in my life this weekend. I will probably never see this woman again and she probably doesn't even know the magnitude of what she did for me, but God was speaking to me. He let me know in a VERY REAL way that He is right here with me. I "know" this truth and trust completely that He will never leave me or forsake me. God has given me many experiences over the years that have developed in me the knowledge of His faithfulness, but none through the broken, raw experience of truly seeking His face in prayer like this. I know I'm a Baptist and writing this out all makes it sound so emotional, touchy-feely, and may make you uncomfortable. To that I say shame on US for living for so many years with such a cut-and-dry belief about prayer that we forget how big our God is and the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit. I've been struggling for weeks over how to go about teaching a Bible Study on prayer to our ladies this fall and God graciously gave me my answer this weekend. Friday was amazing too and my heart is so overflowing with truth that I am still processing it all and I am sure it will come forth as future blogs because the heart can only pour out so much in one setting. :o)

1 comment:

  1. I feel like I may have mis-communicated a bit in this post about my belief on prayer. There is so much in scripture about prayer and how it is supposed to be lived out in a believer's life. Some prayers are that of praise and worship to God, some are personal requests, cries for help, others are confessions or repentance prayers. There is also the need for intercessory prayers as we lift up the needs of others. ALL of these facets of prayer are important. I felt the need to clarify my statement above. I am not saying that it is wrong to share prayer requests and to pray from a prayer list in order to lift people up to the Father. This is a HUGE part of the Christian life and we need to do this. I am so grateful for our dedicated team of prayer warriors at our church that have a vital ministry. I have my own prayer list as I pray daily for the women I serve, for my family and friends, and many other needs. But I have been missing a very important part of my prayer life by not allowing the scriptures to be a primary point in my prayer life. As I expressed earlier, God showed himself to me this weekend in ways that I can't even fully explain as I let go of my comfort zones and fully engaged in talking with God. We should absolutely not throw our lists away or quit sharing prayer requests. But for me, I personally need to add in the richer aspects of scripture and spirit led prayers in my life and in my relationship with other believers. I hope that clears up my thoughts a little better for you. I'll be teaching through this starting in November if anyone would like to hear my whole heart on the matter and see from the scriptures how we can have a fulfilling prayer life that makes a difference for God's Kingdom.