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Archive for November 2014

ANGELS AMONG USTHE STORY OF MY FIRST AFA WOMEN’S RETREAT

What happened? The floodgates opened; but, I’m getting ahead of myself again. First, let me share exactly what I wrote in my journal… 

Saturday, November 8, 2014 9:41 a.m.

      Here I sit at the Women’s Retreat that I never planned to attend, but You, Father, had other ideas. I don’t know of a single reason, yet, why You wanted me to be here, but it doesn’t matter anyway. I may never know and, then again, You may show me later – either way is okay. I have enjoyed it. I’ve had fun and now I am truly enjoying sitting here by the lake.
          Please forgive me, if I messed up back there in the worship time. I truly felt You were speaking to me that we should march around that room 7 times to break bondages, the same way You “broke” the wall at Jericho. I still doubt myself though – and question. It’s not YOU I don’t trust – It’s ME!!! 

While writing that last sentence, the floodgate of tears opened as God revealed to me exactly what was wrong. He revealed to me what I have been battling with – unknowingly – for the last five years. This, I began to feel, was the entire reason for me being at this retreat. However, now that I had the answer to that question (Why did I have to go on this retreat?), I felt it left me with even more questions! Why was I still struggling with this? Would I ever be able to overcome it? I could write no more in my journal. All I could do was sob and cry out to my Father, the One Who loves me – yes, loves me still! I felt I should talk with a certain lady at the retreat; but, I wasn’t sure of the chances of that happening. I told the Lord I would leave it up to Him. If I was truly meant to speak with this person, He would provide the opportunity. Not only did He provide that opportunity, He provided it almost immediately! Yet, even when that lady spoke to me first, I almost didn’t take it. I answered her question to me then turned to finish what I was doing; but, I knew I couldn’t ignore this opportunity. I turned back to her and said simply, “Actually, can we talk?” So we stepped outside the meeting room and I explained to her what had happened. She spoke quite matter-of-factly to me and absolutely nailed it! The guilt, confusion and, quite honestly, almost “shame” that I felt over this HAD to GO!!! As I had said, more times than I can count over the last five years, God is a gentleman and He will NOT override man’s free will. To provide an explanation in the shortest way I know how, I had been struggling with what I guess could be called self-doubt for the last five years because of my second marriage. I was not looking to get married, but I truly felt God was in it. I was led to believe I was marrying a Godly man and I prayed about it and truly felt it was the right thing to do. Then, one month before our first anniversary, I came home to find my husband had left. For the next five years I struggled with self-doubt because I wondered how I could have missed God THAT bad! He showed me in many different ways and assured me that I was wrong in my thinking. Somehow the enemy tricked me into believing I had accepted it and moved on, when in reality, I had not. 

With GREAT happiness, I am here to tell you that, because of Him sending me on the retreat where He could get me TRULY quieted before Him, my Father has COMPLETELY broken that bondage. With that bondage broken, He has been able to do so many other things in me – in my heart, in my faith, in my strength and courage in Him – things I feel sure He wanted to do a long time ago; but, He had to wait for me to be ready. Well, now I am ready and He is awakening a great hunger and boldness in me! The feelings of self-doubt and timidness are GONE and He is replacing them with feelings that I can’t even begin to describe. 

Getting rid of that self-doubt may have been the main reason for Him taking me on the retreat; but, other good things have come from me being there, too. Remember in Part I of this story, when I shared how I didn’t even want to be at “that” church? Well, I feel it only fair to share, the next Sunday (the Sunday morning following the retreat) when we went to church, I didn’t feel as much like an “outsider”. It felt more like being in a wonderful second home. Trust me when I tell you, it wasn’t because anyone in that church was any different than when I’d started going there last December. It was because I was different. 

I would also like to share, the change I am feeling in myself today, some two weeks after the retreat, did not happen overnight. I get stronger and stronger every day and He is filling me with so many thoughts every day and showing me things He wants to do through me – YES, little old me! Does He need me to do these things? No, absolutely not! He just loves me so much, He WANTS to include me in His plans and allow me to play a small part in them. 

Since allowing Him to completely remove the unhealthy thoughts from me, He is filling me with so many HEALTHY things and revealing so much to me that I wouldn’t be surprised if y’all see more posts here from me soon. As I’ve said before, I don’t usually post much in my blog because I only post when I feel it is something God wants me to share for some reason. Whether it’s to possibly help someone else going through something similar or to give someone something to really think about and ponder on. Since the retreat, though, He has been giving me a lot to think about and ponder on and, when I feel He is telling me to share something, I will. 

I love y’all and I thank you for taking your most valuable possession, your time, to read the story of my first ever AFA Women’s Retreat – and beyond 🙂

P.S. How cool is it that in our (mine and my husband’s) devotion time this morning, He gave me the scripture that truly sums up this first ever “series” of blog posts that I’ve written……

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” ~ Philippians 1:20 (NIV)

ANGELS AMONG USTHE STORY OF MY FIRST AFA WOMEN’S RETREAT – PART III

I pushed open the door to find……..my SECOND God-wink. My roommate was inside, but she was no stranger! It was a sweet, sweet lady I had met a couple of years before and she is a very dear, sweet friend to me! Now I KNOW I’m God’s favorite because here He is blessing me again! Now all that was left was to see if I was going to enjoy the retreat and to see if God was going to show me just why I had to be here. 

First thing we did was go over to the cafeteria for lunch and then it was back to our “meeting room” (that’s what I’m gonna call it in this blog post anyway). I want to share a little ‘side’ story here. Let me just say this – these ladies know how to fix some food! There was so much food there was no way we would ever be able to eat it all; but, we definitely put a serious dent in it – LOL Anyway, back to my side story, this retreat was about angels, remember? Well, I just want to say that room was either very crowded with angels or else the angels that were there got very rambunctious. We were in line to get our first fill of the wonderful food I mentioned when, quite suddenly, to our left, a picture on the wall started swinging and fell to the floor! Scared us quite a bit for a second. The glass broke and went everywhere, but, thankfully, no one was hurt. We saw it happening, but had no time to do anything about it and, I need to add, there was no one near the wall where the picture was hanging. I still say the angels were just flying around and knocked it off – LOL – and now I’ll get back to my ‘regular’ story. 

The message Friday evening was wonderful and there were a lot of people being prayed for and having bondages broken. After the service was over, we were free to go to our room and turn in for the night or we could stick around for the talent show. I think pretty much everyone stayed for the talent show and it was truly great. It sure made for a late night, especially since we had to get up early the next morning, but it was so worth it! 

My roommate had told me Saturday would be an “easy” day. Yes, that’s what she told me. However, I’m thinking her idea of an “easy” day and my idea of an “easy” day, are two different things! In her defense, however, there is a reason why it wasn’t such an “easy” day for me. I’m getting a little ahead of myself, though. 

First, we gathered in front of the building where our meeting room was located to have a group picture made. Have you ever tried to get over eighty women in one picture? It was quite interesting to say the least. Then we went over to the cafeteria for breakfast and afterward it was back to our meeting room. We had some wonderful praise and worship time. During that time, I felt in my Spirit we should all march around that room seven times. Why? Again I felt, the same way they marched around the walls of Jericho seven times, y’all need to march around this room seven times to completely break the bondages that ladies were receiving prayer for Friday night. My response? “No way am I going to start marching around this room. These people don’t even know me. I am not about to do anything like that. This is my first time ever being at one of these retreats. I’m not sure it’s really You telling me to do that, Lord. I am just going to stay right here and mind my own business.” That’s exactly what I did, too. After the praise and worship time, we had what they call “Lap Time”. My roommate shared some things with us and then everyone was to go off on their own, anywhere on the campsite, and spend time with God. 

I already knew where I wanted to go. I went and sat down on a bench facing the lake. I had taken my journal with me so I could write my prayer. I figured sitting by the lake, listening to the water would be a wonderful place to write and to listen for God’s voice. 

I was not disappointed. I began writing in my journal and you are going to be very surprised at what happened then. However, you’ll have to wait for Part IV to see just what that was.

ANGELS AMONG USTHE STORY OF MY FIRST AFA WOMEN’S RETREAT – PART II

Now let me explain how God took care of Objection #4 and what happened afterward.

A few weeks prior to the retreat, God orchestrated it so I had a chance to sit and talk with the person I felt I was ‘betraying’, if I went on this retreat. I found that situation had been resolved and, in fact, had really just been a total miscommunication of information, which left me feeling MUCH better for that situation. However, it still left me with one objection – my weakest objection – that ever-so-simple yet ever-so-crippling “fear of rejection”. Yes, I know it should not be something I am still battling, but it does still rear its ugly head from time to time – and sometimes when I’m not even truly aware of it. I was not looking forward to riding the bus with a lot of ladies that I really didn’t know and I was getting fearful about sharing a room with a complete stranger. 

I prayed and prayed and asked others to pray for and with me about this. I know God heard and answered those prayers because He put too many different women in my path, at totally different times, telling me what a good time I was going to have. A few days before the retreat, I actually started to feel like I was getting a TEENY bit excited about it. Although, I would be lying if I said I was totally excited and ready to go. To be honest, I think I still just wanted God to change His mind and allow me to stay home, where I would be “comfortable”; but I was also okay with going, if He said I needed to go. 

I believe God honored my obedience to His invitation to attend this retreat before I even got to the retreat. The day before we were to leave, a very good friend sent me a text to let me know she was going on the retreat, too. She does not attend this church and I had actually already been told by someone else that she would be attending, but she didn’t know that when she sent the text. I found out she was driving her vehicle and no one was riding with her so I said, “Well, we can’t have you riding all by yourself. I guess I’ll just have to ride with you. LOL” So, God allowed me to go without having to ride the bus! He just loves me that much 🙂 

When we arrived at the site of the retreat, we checked in and got our room assignments. We  FINALLY located my room, and I said I was going to put my stuff down and would meet her back at the central room (where most everything took place). When I got to my room and went to put the key in, I realized the door was already open. I thought, “Okay, here we go. Time to meet someone new and pray we will be good roommates.” I pushed open the door to find…….

Be sure to come back for Part III to see what I found when I opened that door.

May I also add this was the most challenging blog I have ever in my life posted. Why? Because I posted this while riding in the car and that sun makes it awfully hard to see my computer screen and see where my cursor is – LOL

ANGELS AMONG USTHE STORY OF MY FIRST AFA WOMEN’S RETREAT – PART I
(Also, my FIRST experience at sharing a blog in more than one post – LOL)

Months ago it was announced in church that it was time to sign up for the Women’s Retreat, which would take place in November. This is not something I was interested in as it is way out of my ‘comfort zone’. I never signed up because I had no intention of going – no intention at all!

And then I received a message on Facebook. It simply said: “You need to go on the women’s retreat Nov. 7/8”. That was it – not, “We’d love to have you join us…” or “Would you consider….”, just direct, blount and to the point. At first I thought, “Really? So sorry, but, not happening!” Let me explain all the objections I had for not going.

First of all, my husband is an Assistant Chaplain at Holman Prison through the We Care Program, which is much like being a missionary in that he has to raise his own support to be able to do what God has called him to do. Lately his support has been a little less than normal so we are trying to be very careful with what God supplies and I knew I didn’t need to spend money on a “frivolous” Women’s Retreat.

Second, being in large groups is not my idea of fun. It’s too much like high school all over again – “No one will want me there. I won’t fit in. I’ll get my hopes up that I’ll have fun and then be very let down and disappointed when I wind up with no one to talk to.” It’s just easier to stay to myself and not go through the hurt of rejection yet again. 

Third, this is not even my church. This is my husband’s church. It is where he was going when we married and I started attending there with him after our marriage. In fact, it was very hard for me to go there at first because of some things that happened in the past and because I already felt like “that’s the church where people go that dress fancy (nice) and have money and they really don’t want someone like me there.” Please know I am being brutally honest about how I FELT. I am by no means saying it was right, just being honest about my feelings. I know I spent some mornings in the bathroom crying my heart out because I didn’t want to be there. I knew there was a reason God wanted me there (besides the fact my husband was there) but I was behaving like a spoiled brat because I wanted to be where I knew people and where I knew those people loved and cared about me and we HUG when we greet each other to show our love for one another! 

Fourth, because of something that happened very recently, I had a very personal reason I did not want to go on this retreat. I am not at liberty to say any more than that. 

So, without going into all those objections, I simply replied to the Facebook message explaining that I would not be able to attend because we were trying to be very careful with our money. I also said I appreciated the personal invitation, but I would have to pass this time. To which this person replied, “Just let me know if you would like to go and I will get you sponsored. Love ya!” Seriously??? “Okay, God”, I said, “if this is You, I guess I won’t really have a choice.” I replied, saying I would see if I could get that Friday off and, if I could and someone was covering the cost, then I would go, IF there would be someone willing to room with me, which I seriously doubted – LOL 

Yes, I got that Friday off and yes, the cost was covered and yes, they had someone that would room with me. Another late comer and someone I did not know – but then there aren’t that many I would know, anyway.

Stay tuned for Part II to see how God took care of ALL my objections and find out what happened at the retreat 🙂


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