Saturday, September 13, 2014

My day with Jesus, Beth and Katie

There is this lady I admire who speaks at women's conferences nationwide about Jesus.  She writes phenomenal, life-changing Bible studies, too.  She is beautiful, inside & out.  Maybe you've heard of her.  Did I mention she's a Texas girl, which makes me love her even more?

Girlfriends, if you haven't heard of Beth Moore, let me give you just a teeny tiny taste.

Beth is both hilarious and wonderfully intelligent.  Over the past 15-ish years, I've been through a number of her Bible studies.  They were all incredible!  Confession time: there isn't a single one that I've ever finished all the homework for.  You see, they all follow a workbook format where you go in once a week & watch a 45 minute long video with a room full of ladies, then you talk about what you learned and discuss your homework from the previous week.  Let me tell ya, Beth Moore's studies are meaty.  So meaty that the 5 days' worth of homework you're supposed to complete between group meetings never gets totally done at my house because it requires so much time.  If I could make a full time job out of doing Beth Moore Bible study homework, that would be great, but anyway...she's GOOD y'all.  But friends, if you ever get a chance to do a study of hers, do it.  Even if you don't get a chance to pick up the workbook one single time between meetings, you will learn so much from the videos, from the girl talk around the table when you are hiding the book in your lap so that the others can't see you didn't finish the homework.

A month or so back, I saw a post on Facebook by a friend who is the pastor's wife at a local church.  She said that her church was hosting a Beth Moore simulcast event TODAY.  I was giddy because, folks, it's been way too long.

Let's rewind.  When my kids were younger, I was in a new Bible study every couple months.  When one study ended, our church would have another one waiting and we'd plow ahead into it.  I loved the camaraderie of sitting with a group of girlfriends (or strangers who became girlfriends by the time we finished the study!) and hearing how God spoke to them through the study that week.  But I loved spending time soaking up the Lord even more.  I had young children then and spending a lot of time reading anything by myself meant that I would likely doze off, but during those caffeine-fueled hours of reading my Bible and the workbooks, I was filled with doses of HIM through and through.

All that changed about five years ago.  Upon moving to a new church and our finances hitting an all-time low I began giving up organized Bible study time in lieu of working in the paid childcare side of the building.  Oh how I've missed the devoted girlfriends & Jesus time.

Sure, I still attended church.  I've taught 4 and 5 year olds for four years.  I've listened to a million sermons.  I've read Scripture on my own.  But there is something special and unique about the time we spend with other women pouring over the Word of God.  So today, I went to a simulcast event at my friend's church (along with 190,000 other women worldwide.)  I know a lot of the ladies who attend church there.  We talked about the event at length on Facebook.  I planned for the day, bought a new spiral to take notes in, set out my highlighter and Bible last night.  I was ready!

Except for one little detail -- I was going alone.  I know my reason for going was not to socialize, but in the past few years I've become more of an introvert, more of a homebody.  I like my alone time, but if I'm going into a room full of people, I like having a steady shoulder by me.  Today was a stretch for me.  GOD was stretching me.

When I arrived this morning, I waved to friends (the ladies from the church) but they were all 'working' so they were outside the auditorium doing their thing and I had to select a seat, not knowing who was sitting where or if I'd be parked next to a weird stranger all day.  I tried to remember why I was there, and focused my mind on spending the last few minutes before it began praying for God to show me what He wanted me to see today.

An elderly, white-haired lady sat down next to me and introduced herself as Katie.  I had never met Katie before, but throughout our time as next-door-seat-neighbors today, we spent some time talking.  Throughout the day, Beth had us turning to our neighbor & repeating things she said.  "You are a beautiful woman." ...  "God has a plan for you."  Each time, I was struck by the warmth and sincerity in Katie's eyes.  What a sweet lady!  I learned later tonight that she used to be a missionary.  I can imagine the way she talked to people in whatever place she served --- holding their attention with her kindness and care, holding their hands, showing them the Word and living alongside them.

As Beth's worship team led the music, I surrendered to the Spirit, closing my eyes, clapping and lifting my hands, folding them in prayer, wiping the tears that escaped.  Doing this day on my own, I found myself soaking it all in.  I wasn't whispering to my neighbor or focusing on the people near me.  It was all about me & my Creator.  As Beth began to speak, my heart melted. I felt like I was back in those old, familiar chairs at Bible study class.  Surrounded by my girlfriends, I leaned in a little closer to hear God whisper in my ear.

In an opening comment, Beth mentioned Luke 1:45.  It says "Blessed is she who believes ... that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished."  The first 5 words to that verse were sort of a theme verse for us today.

A few notes from today about doing womanhood well:

*It is impossible for me NOT to qualify for an encounter with Jesus Christ.
*Jesus changes the story of every woman He meets. (and He is writing a great story.)
*Acts 1:24:  He is the heart-knower.
When considering past pain, is it time to take off the bandage from your healed heart?  Do you just like the comfort of wearing the bandage?  Are you getting a rash from wearing that bandage too long?  Move on.  Jeremiah 7:24 says to focus on Him and move forward, not backward.
*God wants a woman to know WHO she is & WHAT she is not.
With that in mind, Beth challenged us all to write down this Identity Declaration:

(Please click it to blow it up bigger & read it!)

Beth suggested that sometimes we need a clean sweep to find what we're missing.  Is your life filled to the brim with so many things, so many relationships, so much STUFF that you tend to lose focus on the ONE thing that wants our attention most?  (God!)  Is it time to sweep a few things out of the way?  God doesn't want to be just one of many things that keeps you busy.


One of the points we wrote down today states "A woman's joy is not the same without girlfriends to share it."  We are really not connecting our joy deficit with our girlfriend deficit.  {Quality time!}

In scripture, EVERY instance of the phrase "complete joy" or " your joy may be full" is in connection to a time shared with multiple people.  In this day & age of social media, texting, emailing, etc., we are losing our understanding of being together with family and friends.  People in your life can only rejoice FOR you, not WITH you, if they're reading about your life on twitter & facebook, email, etc.  We must endeavor to preserve physical proximity with friends and family.  That connection is so important.  If hospitality is not your gift (hello, blinding neon arrow that is pointed in my direction), find ways to physically be with your family and friends on a regular basis.

And the same connection with Christ is equally important.  While you may not be able to physically stand next to Him, listening to a sermon or reading a book about God or worse, "liking" or "pinning" pictures of inspirational things online aren't the same as having an intimate, close, personal relationship you pursue daily.  We need that connection with Him, too!  Prayer, worship, and time in the Word is vital.

As the day drew to a close, Beth asked every person in the convention center where she was, every woman in a church or small group environment watching a simulcast, every lady sitting at home in front of her computer to turn to the lady next to her, whether you knew her or not, and speak these words over her as a blessing and a commission to go out into the world and live as women of God.  As I turned to face my new 'tas philas' (Greek for girlfriend), sweet Miss Katie reached out & took my hands.  In the most precious moment of my day, we looked into each others' eyes and spoke these words.  Powerful words, friends.

My Beloved Sister,
Jesus drew you to this day. To call you to respond. What will you do with what He has said?
God chose you and gifted you for this very generation. You are the exact woman Jesus came looking for today.  Stop telling yourself this is about someone else. You are the one He wants.
You’re not too young.  You’re not too old.  You haven’t strayed too far or waited too long.  Let Jesus step fully into your story and write a narrative for your life. That does the world good and gives God glory.  People out there need what you have to offer.

Quit listening to your fears and insecurities. Stand up and step out and meet some needs.
You are my sister. I’ll cheer you on. I will support you and love you.  I’ll stop competing and comparing.  I want to be a woman women can trust.
Let’s do this thing side by side. We’re so much stronger together.
Sister, stay in His Word. Fight for love and keep your faith.  Follow hard after Jesus all the rest of your days.
He will never do you wrong. He will never reject or betray you. He will make something beautiful
out of all your pain. In every loss, He will be your gain.

A lost world is waiting out there.  The darkness is aching for light. Get out there and serve with all your might.  

Because, my beloved sister, You Are A woman Of God.  Go show somebody what she looks like.

As I chewed on my lip and tried not to cry, looking into the eyes of this precious, tender, older, wiser sister in Christ, a lady at the church snapped this picture.  She texted it to me tonight.

I can't imagine having spent my day next to anyone else.  Tonight as I go to bed, I am thankful for Beth Moore and for Katie.

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