I don’t recall who was speaking or what they said, but I made mental note of the web address and checked it out that afternoon while my kids napped. Opening the home page, I saw She Speaks advertized. As I read about the conference, my heart skipped wildly and I had the strongest sense that I should go.
I wasn't looking for something like this, yet this wasn’t out of left field for me either. I had earned a masters’ degree in communication from a Christian university. I was teaching public speaking at my local university. And I was writing a monthly column for a local parenting magazine.
Plus, there was that day at the neighborhood pool a couple of years back. I was attempting some semblance of a quiet time while my husband and kids swam. Sitting on the lounge chair under the shade of the arbor with my Bible and journal, I came across a verse in the Old Testament. The words promised Jeremiah would be a prophet, and they spoke straight to my heart. It was as if God whispered, "Remember this." I had no idea why.
There was only one problem with the text I read on the She Speaks banner at the P31 homepage that day – the conference began tomorrow, and it was completely sold out. “Oh well,” I tried saying as my excitement evaporated. But it wouldn’t leave my mind. So I called my husband just to tell him about it. He prayed on the phone with me, and then said, “Call them and see if you can come.”
“But it starts tomorrow.”
“But it costs several hundred dollars!”
“Just call and see if it’s possible, Rachel.”
“But you’d have to keep the kids all weekend…”
“That's fine. Just call them.”
So I dialed the number. A cheerful voice answered. Admitting this inquiry would sound crazy or presumptuous or both, I told her of my discovery of P31 and She Speaks that day, and my conversation with my husband that afternoon. (I sort of blamed it on him.) She put me on hold. For about 3 minutes I sweated the possibilities of her answer. Then she returned and said, “We had a pregnant woman registered, who went into labor this morning. She just cancelled. So if you can get here tomorrow, come.” (They now have a waiting list for such situations.) I remained calmly professional while on the phone with her, then called Rick and squealed the news.
I drove the four hours to Charlotte the next morning, having no idea what I was getting into. For some reason, they put me in the advanced mentoring group lead by Lysa TerKeurst (hadn’t a clue who she was). There I found out I’d be required to give a speech the next day in front of Lysa and the advanced gals– a speech all the other women had been preparing for months.
I attended every session, overwhelmed by both the amount of information, and my sense of who-am-I-to-do-this. But with each session, I also sensed growing confirmation this was God-ordained. I remembered that verse I’d read and journaled by the pool three years prior:
"Therefore this is what the LORD says: 'If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman.'" ~Jeremiah 15:19
I went back to my hotel room between most sessions, cried, prayed, questioned God, praised Him, cried some more, and then applied fresh makeup before rushing back down the elevator to the next session. Friday night, I called my husband for prayer, then stayed up until 2:00 AM writing my speech.
I love when it is so clear I'm on an adventure with God. This was also the year the ministry decided to form a speaker team. Out of sheer conviction that God was ordaining this, not me seeking it, I applied to the team.
I’m so very thankful that my ministry work came to me in such an unplanned, unlikely, unexpected way. It's comforting on the occasional days when I still ask God and self: who-am-I-to-do-this?
Listen up! We're offering one scholarshp to the She Speaks conference! Have you followed that link to see what it's about? You have until midnight on Thursday, April 22nd to post a comment here telling me what it would mean to you to be awarded this scholarship to attend the 2010 She Speaks speaker track. What are you passionate about communicating??
This scholarship is not just a give away. It is for women who have never attended She Speaks before, and would not otherwise be able to attend. If you can afford the $575 conference, please do not enter to win the scholarship - go register! A winner will be randomly chosen from all comments left here and on all the P31 blogs listed below - so go comment there as well to increase your chances. The winner will be announced on Friday, April 23rd at the P31 home page. I hope you win!
Thankful that God welcomes each of us into His work.