Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Under Construction and Time with Cousins

Back in April (yes, I am that behind on blogging and more...what is my problem?!) I had an awesome opportunity. Steve has a cousin, Josh, who pastors a church in Wisconsin, and his cousin's wife, Ali, plans an annual women's retreat for the church and community. Shortly after she decided on this year's theme, "Under Construction," I happened to put up a blog post that was in line with what she had in mind. So Ali invited me to come and speak to the ladies about God's ongoing construction in our hearts and lives!


When she asked me, Ali acknowledged that this might be way out of my comfort zone, but the truth is, something like this is easier and more comfortable for me than the day-to-day work of motherhood! That's not to say I don't get butterflies, of course. It had been years since I'd spoken in front of a big group like this for any length of time! But generally, speaking to a group of women is something I count as an exciting privilege, not a terrifying obligation.


The bonus for this opportunity was the invitation to spend time with Josh and Ali. Steve and I have often said we'd love to spend more time with them and wish they lived closer. So this speaking gig was a perfect way for us to connect with them: Steve and the boys got to hang out with Josh and their kids while Ali and I were at the retreat, and then we stayed a couple of extra days after it was over.


As we anticipated, it turned out to be a wonderful trip. I loved sharing my heart with the women, as well as hearing a couple of them speak and interacting with them offstage. And these retreat planners go all out! The hotel ballroom was decorated with all kinds of traffic cones and construction signs and dump trucks--the ladies at the registration table were even wearing hard hats and orange vests :) So many little touches that made the weekend special and fun.

After the retreat, we had some sweet times of fellowship with Josh and Ali. And our boys *loved* their second cousins. 


We are wishing more than ever that they lived closer to us! 


Anyway, I bring all this up again now because the audio from my talk has recently been posted online. This message is so close to my heart--it weaves together themes God has been writing in my life over the last decade. Here's a summary:
God IS at work remodeling our hearts and making us look like Jesus, but the slow process can easily frustrate us if we’re focused on ourselves and our results. Amy encourages us to embrace the mess, celebrate grace, and trust God’s promises to finish what He started.
To be honest, I'm struggling to believe my own words lately--have often been feeling defeated and discouraged. I should probably listen to this, but I hate hearing my own voice! So if you find yourself in a similar place, frustrated with the chasm between where you are and where you want to be, wondering what God is up to in the messiness of your life, I hope you'll find a little encouragement and fresh grace to persevere in these words. Click here to download the mp3 file or listen online

1 comment:

Ali said...

It was so tremendously wonderful to spend time with you, Steve, and the boys! I wish we could plan this every year. And I have heard so many women tell of how blessed they were by your talk. It really touched my heart to hear one of our senior members say that your message reminded her that God can still use her. What a terrific ministry God did in her heart through you!