Every March for the past 3 years I’ve travelled to Dallas, Texas with these friends [plus sweet Alli!] for the Hope Spoken women’s conference. If you know me, you know I absolutely love weekends like this – being with other women, believers, spending time with old friends + connecting with friends from around the country. I love worshiping God, hearing from his Word, the late night chats, constant coffee and simply a refreshing “break” from the reality of being a full time mama.
I also love that because we do this every March, this weekend serves as a marker for all the Lord has done over the year. 2014 at Hope Spoken started the process of grieving the loss I suffered via miscarraige a few months before. When Casey shared, “you can’t judge someone else’s grief” that set me free to really be free to grieve my own loss, and in turn understand suffering on a deeper level with others. I also shared my own story in 2014, as I realized that although sometimes “unexpected”, God writes the best stories. Right after Hope Spoken in 2014, I started IVF. As you can imagine, I left on Sunday a total wreck.
March of 2015 brought new challenges. We had just moved to Bryan from west Texas, and were in the process of having our son Camp evaluated by the school for special services. I went to a small group Saturday night for “special needs” mamas and that was the start of once again, grieving the loss of what was supposed to be. Adding another “arrow of faith to my arsenal” as Brynn so beautifully says. I also started dreaming big dreams with God again, and He encouraged my heart so much through my sweet friend Stephanie. It was a paradox – of dreaming big things, but also grieving my current reality. Needless to say, once again, Sunday I left an emotional mess.
Which brings us to 2016. This time my best friend for over a decade, Brynn, got to finally join us (hooray!) and it was once again a sweet time with good friends. We worshiped, cried, prayed, and stayed up until almost 3 am both nights processing. The Lord met me in such a sweet way last weekend, reminding me most of all that HE IS WITH ME, and he is enough for me. He hasn’t left. He’s with me when I’m broken and hungry, He’s with me when I’m under attack and exhausted, and He’s with me when I’m dancing in a field of wildflowers in the light of day. He is with us sisters! I think He knows it’s so easy for me to forget, that he needs to get me quiet and still to remind me that he hasn’t gone anywhere.
When I was leaving on Sunday, Mary Liz asked what I thought or how I was doing – and all I could say was “I’m not a wreck!” As I processed more, I realized that I am OK. My circumstances from the past two years still haven’t changed, but my heart has. God is with me, and I know that. He is good.
The stories I heard last weekend were beautiful beauty-from-ashes stories that brought LIGHT to such darkness. Here are a few nuggets:
- rest in our identity and who God says we are -Sarah, Neighbors Table
- “there’s so much mess behind the pretty” – Sarah Schnieder
- sometimes hope can feel like a 4 letter word, there can be pain in the hope // joy + grief = hope deferred. – Amanda, My tiny tribe
- “we won’t bury our hope. where he leads us to go, there’s a red sea road” – Ellie Holcomb
- “a lot of us are living scripts and not stories” – Holly Gerth
- “I am loved by the author!” – Holly Gerth
- “the end isn’t two words on a page, but a person”- Holly Gerth
I loved spending time with girls I communicate with all year long via technology. From my college besties, my oily team, blogger friends, or my noonday family. I love love love connecting with women and I especially loved that although we have so much to talk about in regards to “work”, that was NOT what this weekend was about. NO ONE led with “what do you do”, instead we focused on who we are as daughters of the most high. It was beyond refreshing!
Loved getting to lead a small group of women again this year. small gatherings and intentional conversation, processing + prayer really are the heart of hope spoken and it was an honor to get to know and hear the stories of these precious women. I was reminded (and encouraged) that we ALL HAVE A STORY to tell – with characters and chapters. Don’t believe the lie that you don’t have a story, YOU DO!
then Ellie Holcomb oozed such joy as she shared her story + song with us, and made me SO PUMPED to come home and find a sister to have “fighting words” with! and by that, I mean memorize scriptures to fight the lies with the truth. I don’t know what that looks like yet, but I think it’s time I go back to memorizing scripture alongside others. Would love to hear from you if this is something you practice, and you have some tips!
let’s do that. let’s SPEAK HOPE!