Cherish was amazing! And, I know that word gets overused a lot, but it's the only word I can think of that can truly describe this gathering. Amazing.
And, it wasn't amazing because of all the cool stuff that was put together, but it was amazing because God spoke to me through so many things and in so many ways. I prayed for a sensitive and open heart before I left and, boy, did He ever answer that prayer. I was a mess. A mess in the fact that God really got a hold of me and made me look at some things in myself.
Everyone has things that they wish they could change about themselves. I am no different. I have always struggled with not feeling worthy of the things that God has put in front of me. I have always shrunk back in uncomfortable situations or when God wanted me to do something I was not altogether at ease with. I'm learning that God wants to make me uncomfortable. In my weakness, He is strong. When I'm comfortable, I don't need His help. But, He wants to be my All-in-All!
I always say to others, "Do it afraid." Just do it. But, I don't always live this out. Now, I'm encouraged to do it every time ... every time God puts something in front of me ... do it afraid. I think a lot of times that's how we know it's God.
I owe a lot of gratitude to these lovely ladies who God used to teach me so many things this past week.
(That's Donna Crouch, Lucinda Dooley, Nancy Alcorn, and, of course, the incredible Charlotte Gambill. Click on the names to find out who these awesome women of God are.)
From the time I got to England to the time we left, I felt like a queen. I was definitely give the royal treatment.
I mean ... I had a driver.
And, we enjoyed our driver with this lovely lady, Helen Burns, who we gained lots of wisdom from on those rides together. She's kind of a big deal.
When we arrived at the conference on the first night, we were escorted straight to our seats, which were up front, second row, directly behind those women up there. Wow. Didn't even expect any type of reserved seating. Cool.
But, the thing that literally brought tears to my eyes was what happened after the first night.
On our itinerary was written "dinner in green room." I thought, "Well, that's sweet. We'll probably be with a ton of other pastor's wives & leaders." But, when I was escorted up to the green room, I was not prepared for what I saw.
I was greeted by volunteers who asked for my drink order. They fixed it up right there. The rooms were gorgeous, decorated with lots of flowers and candles. You know, stuff girls like. Then, my friend and I noticed a long table that fit about 10 people.
Then it hit us. We were about to sit at that table. Suddenly, my eyes began to water. WHAT?!
We were going to sit at the same table that these incredible women of God were going to sit at. We were going to eat with them every night.
I felt overwhelmed. I felt unworthy.
I mean ... it's just me, this little ol' Louisiana girl going to sit with the likes of these ladies. This is when I wanted to shrink back yet again.
But, the thing that had me all overwhelmed and teary was something that Charlotte had said in her message earlier that night, that at that point, hit me like a ton of bricks.
She spoke about the banquet table God has prepared for us and how some of us don't fully eat of everything God has for us. We sit back or some of us don't even sit because we're too busy running around serving everyone at the table.
Then, she said this: "Some of you feel unworthy to sit at the table, but God says you're worthy."
Spiritually speaking, this table was a picture of God's love for me. No, in the natural, I was not worthy to sit at that table. Not at all. But, God was saying, "Here. Sit. You are worthy."
I was humbled.
For three days, I sat and took everything I could from these ladies. I prayed that God would just fill me up with all the knowledge and wisdom they had. And, He did.
So ... I lavished in the gift that God had given me. I just took it all in.
I thank God for the opportunity and the extra-special blessings He poured out on me during this time. My head is still reeling over it all and I continue to reflect on my experience. I look at my notes daily, reminding myself of all He's taught me.
Here's a few more pics ...
This was our gracious hostess, Anne Crane, who we left calling "friend." We love her. She pastors Abundant Life Church in Belfast.
We shared, what else, but a lovely tea with her.
We got to enjoy more pampering with some of the ladies. Guess who that is sitting next to me? Only Glenda Scanlon, Charlotte's mom. She and her husband Paul, founded Abundant Life in Bradford.
And, there's my buddy, Sonia getting her shoulder rub with the remarkable Nancy Alcorn.
Our last night at dinner ... Horrible picture, but our only one with Lucinda Dooley & Donna Crouch.
To our most gracious & kind host ... Charlotte Gambill, we love you!!
Hope to see these ladies again!