It Is Well, even when it really isn’t

Friends, I don’t know how you’re feeling this holiday weekend. Maybe your heart is bursting with joy even more than your full tummy.
Or maybe your heart isn’t full at all.

 

Maybe your heart has an empty space that a loved one once filled.

 

Or maybe your heart aches because your “family” doesn’t feel like a family at all.
Maybe these last few days have been filled with abandonment, drama, anger, and/or hurt-filled words.

 

Or perhaps you are like me, and your recent days have been filled with good things, a side of organized chaos that accompanied hosting, and the heartache of the news of the death of a loved one.

 

No matter where you find yourself, can I whisper some encouragement to us for just a moment. Can I remind us that no matter how high we climb or low we slip – Father is right there with us (Psalm 139:8.) That He is near to us, the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:17-18) and He hears our cry and is our deliverer. (Exodus 14:14, Psalm 3:3, Lamentations 3:21-26.)
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(YouVersion Image)

Horatio Spafford penned the words to the Classic Hymn It Is Well as his ship neared the site where his four daughters had tragically died. This man whom had recently lost all of his investment properties in the Great Chicago Fire and a young son to illness, was simply sending his family ahead of him for a special time away. He had planned to follow soon after he addressed some important business back home…and unfortunately their ship sank on the way to their destination. His wife sent him a message informing him of this tragedy containing 2 lung-piercing words: “saved alone.” And asking “What shall I do?” They lost all four daughters when the ship sank. Such deep tragedy and yet he was still able to write such powerful words.

 

How does one write such trusting words when tragedy strikes so deep? When things are not well. Not even close…

 

Though I am certainly grieved by the loss of my spunky aunt, I know I don’t feel the depths of heartache that my beloved cousin, her daughter is experiencing tonight. I don’t know the depth of pain her sisters and brothers are enduring. I can only imagine the hurt as I haven’t walked their road… But I have been paralyzed by the news of a death that stole the breath out of my lungs before. I’ve tasted the pain of a loss so unimaginable that my heart felt it would die at the thought of reality. It’s as though words cannot fully explain the ache in your heart with such a loss.

 

The song It Is Well has encouraged my heart in broken times for years. I am encouraged through music and the vulnerability in this song speaks to me. It reminds me that if someone can face tragedy that deep and still proclaim that God is good…then so can I. It often isn’t about what we can SEE. It is TELLING our souls, that IT IS WELL. Reminding our souls where our source of joy, light, life, and peace comes from.

 

We too can have peace that surpasses understanding. We too can know that God is good. That “It Is Well” with our souls because this broken world is temporary.

 

No matter what we find ourselves looking at, we can also proclaim that it is well.

 

My favorite hymn, born out of tragedy, yet it encourages me so deeply. And Kristene DiMarco’s version is absolutely a favorite of mine. If you’ve not heard it, you simply must take the time to listen to it now:

 

 

“So let go, my soul and trust in Him, the waves and wind still know His name…” – Kristene DiMarco

 

Be encouraged my dear friends. Whether you are high on the mountain or feeling trapped in the valley – you are not forgotten. You are loved. And if you are His, then you know that He has the gift of peace and joy that does not come from what you see. May you too, be able to sing tonight: It is well, with my soul.
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YouVersion Image)

In Christ,
Amy

 

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Busy: Permission to Slow Down

It’s my son’s senior year. He’s an athlete and his final football season was quite demanding. This is also the year where school decisions are being made, standardized test (ACT) scores are undeniably critical, and senioritis is a real threat. It just so happens that my husband and I recently experienced promotions that we’ve both worked toward for years. God-given appointments where we are certainly called to use our gifts to make a positive difference. With these come responsibilities and added time to adjust and train. There are a host of other things going on in our world that we are ever so grateful to be a part of like being leaders in different ministries in our church. All wonderful things that we love so much! Take all this and add some things I haven’t mentioned, and mix in the holiday season. A word comes to mind that most of my friends have exhaled so much lately: busy.

slow the rush

My dear friend Mande shared a provocative question this morning as she poured her heart out to our church. I would love to pose that question to you:

Are you honoring God in your current season? 

Life will not slow down unless you slow it. I assure you, the enemy of your soul would love nothing more than to keep you busy. Tie up your open moments with social media and an endless to do list until you are burnt up, burned out, and altogether snappy. Loves it.

And you want to know why he loves it? Because if you are too busy then you won’t notice the important stuff. You won’t notice the moments all around you where you have the perfect opportunity to be fully present and connect with the ones you love the most, right in front of you. Where you may give your best in the day at your job or out in public and bring what little you have left to your home. Where you get to a point that you are so spent you can’t think of anything that can bring you peace because you see no end in sight. Anxiety takes over and all you want is to numb the pain and stress of it all or to wish the days away.

underwhelmed soul

You were meant for more. You are worth so much more. Hear me: YOU are so valuable that you owe it to yourself to learn a beautifully difficult, but at times very necessary word:

No.

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If you need to hear it from someone, then hear it from me: you have permission to slow down. To say “no, I can’t make it” to a precious special event you’ve been invited to because you need to return sabbath back into your week. Because you need to prioritize time in your home that allows you to soak up your loved ones and not feel as though you are rushing off out the door to an endless list of demands.

allow yourself to be interrupted

You have permission to free up your time and say “no, I’m not available to attend ___ but thank you for thinking of me” with no further explanation. Sometimes you will need to say no to good things that will undoubtedly be fun, but you need to recharge. Not everyone will understand this but it’s okay to say you have plans to have no plans with your family because you are busy and unavailable. You have already blocked that time off to be with your spouse and children or to replenish your soul alone with the Word. Keep some “whitespace” on your calendar so that you aren’t suffocating from life’s demands. Do this so that when God interrupts your plans you are not so spent that you miss the opportunity to be Christ’s hands and heart extended.

This holiday season, I not only challenge you – I urge you. Pray about every opportunity you are so kindly given to connect and choose wisely. There’s nothing wrong with bringing peace and moments of sabbath into your days so that your family remains strong and you are able to take time to fill your own cup. Remember, you can’t pour anything out of an empty vessel.

When was the last time you spent privately reading the Word, seeking His presence, slowing your spirit? If you can’t remember… Go ahead and close that laptop or phone browser and block off some time to hide away. Do it now – if you can, but no further out than in the next week – you have permission to say no, and slow down. Enjoy this season. Enjoy these days.

Your family and your future self thanks you.

Love in Christ,

Amy

P.S. – Please read this with all the grace and love that our sweet Savior has for you! Don’t beat yourself up or feel like you’re too over-extended to slow down. Just take a moment to ask that He help you begin to make healthy choices in the coming days and weeks, and trust Him when He nudges you to say no and of course, say yes when you feel you’re supposed to say yes. But don’t say yes out of what Lysa Terkeurst calls a “disease to please.” You don’t owe others so much of yourself that you give them your peace, too. No condemnation. No guilt. xoxo (And check out Lysa’s book The Best Yes – it will change your life.)

https://thebestyes.com/

(note: these images are not mine, they are borrowed from Lysa’s ministry Facebook page’s posts with the hope of inspiring you by her words from her book as you read what my heart felt led to share with you about fighting the “busyness” of this season. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram – she and her ministry team are such a blessing.)

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Reminding myself that He’s faithful

This has encouraged many on my Facebook page so I thought perhaps I should share it here, too. Here’s what I posted:

Going through some old notes on my phone tonight and I found this declaration I wrote to myself and the prayer I was clinging to when I was facing significant difficulty during a major life storm. Perhaps someone else is facing a dark storm right now and could find encouragement in reading this declaration and praying with trust that He will provide the wisdom and peace you need. He’s so faithful. So wonderfully faithful…

Here is what I wrote in that note:

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-Even in the darkness I declare my God is faithful.
-In the joyful and the broken moments.
-When my lungs are heavy and labored.
-When my prayers are jumbled and weak.
-When the world is spinning too fast for me to keep up.
-Even His Word is the only solid thing I can hold onto.

His strength sustains me.
His love surrounds me.
His promises carry me.

Hold me faithful One. Fight for me. Give me wisdom. Give me faith.

________________________

Be encouraged dear ones. He hears you. He holds you. He’s with you. ❤️

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Till, Plant, Grow, Harvest

I have been battling a very difficult season. I’ve been interceding and praying with a fervency I have difficulty finding words to express. I’ve poured God’s Word over my wounded heart and spirit and renewed my mind with it’s healing balm of promises and truths. Very recently I’ve seen shimmers of light peaking through the dark clouds. Echoes of life and hope coming in and touching my soul. As I contemplated these moments of good, I realized that the difficult was and is necessary. It was then, that I pictured a garden.

I’m no gardener. I’m no farmer. My thumb is as black as the darkest night, in the center of the longest tunnel and brings inevitable death to every green thing that relies on me for water or care. I mean, isn’t the rain supposed to water them? Okay, fine. You want a plant to die, please bring it to me. I’ve got you.

IMG_44A974EE28D2-1However, I have plant lovers in my family and circle of friends. I remember being a young child watching my dad on a tractor, pulling a tilling attachment over a large section of our grassy yard. In hours, where once there was lush green grass, there was now broken soil. The broken soil revealed what was within and what was beneath. Roots, worms, insects, and rocks were exposed for all to see and the sun to heat. All that was hidden, has been brought out into the light and no longer allowed to hide in the darkness of the facade of beauty within the grass and weeds.

Recently I’ve watched such exposure within someone I love deeply and my earth has certainly been broken and any assumptions I had have been laid bare before me.

I’m facing a tilling season.

And I’m starting to realize that this breaking of me, is the making of me.

This breaking of the person I love going through a tough time, is the making of them.

This breaking of you, is the making of you, too.

That hard thing you’re going through, it won’t be forever. It won’t be easy. But if you are a child of the One true King, and you seek Him with fervency throughout this tilling, life is ahead of you. Life is within you and waiting to bloom… And oh the beautiful purpose He can give to our trials we endure. The life we can speak into others once we’re on the other side and they’re just approaching the trenches. But right now…perhaps you’re in the middle of that hard thing. You’re in the tilling…the breaking of your earth, revealing all that is within and underneath and you’re ready for life to return. Perhaps a seed is on it’s way…or has already been planted…

I know that a seed is a dead thing. But when that dead thing is placed into that fertilized and churned soil, provided with thirst quenching water, and exposure to the life-giving sunlight – it is revived. New life is born.

The old dead way gives birth to a new life way.

Perhaps you are being prepared for a planting. Perhaps you need to ask what is this tilling bringing me to? Perhaps you need to fulfill your thirst with His water. Perhaps you need to expose yourself to the life-giving Son-light. Perhaps it’s in this time, you will be revived. Perhaps this is the moment for which you’ve been created – He’s writing your story, and it’s bigger and better than you ever could’ve dreamed (Esther 4:14, Ecclesiastes 3:1.)

I’m confident of this because I can trace His goodness in so many places all my days of following Him (even in the darkest of difficulties) – seek Him and He will guide you. (Lamentations 3:24-26, Proverbs 3:5-6) He is your deliver. Your victory. Your shield. (Psalm 91:9-16, Zephaniah 3:17)

Spend time in His Word.

Pray. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Talk to Him like you talk to your Bestie.

Meditate on good things that bring you to remembrance and hope. (Philippians 4:8, Matthew 22:37) Such as fill your mind with His scriptures and promises. Listen to music that reminds you of His hope and promises and not of your pain. Seek the counsel of wise friends and let them hold up your arms in this battle like Aaron did for Moses. Let them carry your burden in prayer. (Ecclesiastes 4:12, Galatians 6:2)

May this breaking of you, be the making of you.

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May you find shimmers of hope in the Son-light.

Love in Christ,

Amy

 

Here are some of my current favorite resources:

 

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Romania – the final 3 days

Tuesday March 6th was our second to last day in Romania. That morning we were headed to spend time at a women’s rehab facility. Miheala had asked me earlier in the weekend if I would share my testimony again. Early that morning I went to pray and spend time preparing my heart and I was in a total fog. I can’t explain it – it was really strange. Annetta came upstairs and walked into the room and immediately shared with the others they needed to gather around me and pray – she didn’t know I was experiencing this mental fog but God knew I needed my sisters to rally around me and pray. We sang worship songs on the way and when we arrived I still felt very oddly foggy.

It came time to share my testimony and I prayed under my breath at each translation break. Asking that God would help me focus and share and speak what details He desired for me to share… I learned later that He had allowed me to speak with a clarity that I did not hear within my own mind… Because inside my mind it was muddy…sticky…difficult, like thick tar… I shared some new details and “secrets” I hadn’t previously shared and I also pointed everything back to the redemptive power of Jesus my King. I shared of the restoration and the true joy He gives. I shared of the life His water gives when we turn from our poisonous wells and seek to quench our longing with His “water.” And then Mihaela asked me to sing.

I had only planned to play a song called Clean by Natalie Grant but when Mihaela asked me to sing I knew immediately I was to sing No Longer Slaves by Bethel.

And I knew immediately to go to the back of the room and as I sang I raised my arms and hands high as though singing a proclamation of freedom over that house –

I’M NO LONGER A SLAVE TO FEAR – I AM A CHILD OF GOD!

I AM SURROUNDED, BY THE ARMS OF THE FATHER. I AM SURROUNDED BY SONGS OF DELIVERANCE. WE’VE BEEN LIBERATED FROM OUR BONDAGE WE’RE THE SONS AND THE DAUGHTERS LET US SING OUR FREEDOM!

His Spirit filled that room and touched those women. Tears were falling, hearts were moved. It was beautiful… I took no pictures but their beautiful faces and the echo of their tears are etched within my memory and for that I am so deeply grateful. Billie had a word for one of the women that hit her so deep but in such a precious, Holy Spirit led way. Those beautiful women that Jesus loves so deeply… I pray they embrace the love and freedom He has for them…

That afternoon we had the incredible opportunity to spend time with Anca & Maria at a foster home. They are wonderful women and are showing such love and care to the children that have been placed with them. Out of respect for Anca and the children I will not be posting pictures of them here but I will post a couple that don’t have their faces in them. It was so fun playing with them, praying for them, and being silly with them. They realized quickly we were kind and there to have fun and so they embraced us. One sweet girl held me so tight I almost started crying – but I kept my wits about me since I didn’t want to scare her – ha! We played games with them, they did dance routines for us because that’s something the 2 older girls LOVED doing haha and they built things with legos we brought them also. And I downloaded Snapchat to see if they liked seeing the filters on them and – I kid you not – those kids knew how to use that better than I did! hahaha!! So funny! I have some precious photos and videos (& snaps) from that beautiful day and I will cherish them always.

Next we had more Romanian fast food. I can’t remember the name of the place but it had a very happy smiley on the sign. Here’s my dinner: more mamaliga & sausage! YUM!

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Never fear – I gave the gluten away 🙂

One other really special thing happened on Tuesday…While we were at Anca’s, our friends Adi & Elena came to bring us a gift. Elena had brought us each 2 of her grandmother’s handmade doilies!! Her grandmother is the reason she knows Jesus as her Lord and savior – one of our ladies had led her husband in the prayer of salvation just a few days earlier and so she wanted us to have a piece of her heritage by giving us something her grandmother had made by hand. Wow!! The generosity of the people here astounds me. I’m absolutely humbled to know these beautiful people and love them inexplicably. Just a few nights earlier (Sunday night) another sweet friend (Adina) and her husband (Flavius) came to bring us a special gift also. Her parents make pottery for a living and she brought us each 2 pieces of this gorgeous handmade pottery as a gift!! SO kind! We had asked multiple times if we could buy some so she even had extra sent to her via bus so we could buy it too!! We made certain to buy every extra piece so we could bless her family.

Wednesday March 8th was our last day in Romania! Wow! I can’t believe it came SO QUICKLY. It started with another fun breakfast at AMEC. This time it was a dill omelet – I could’ve eaten that every day – SO GOOD. Here are some photos of the place we had a lovely breakfast of cucumbers, tomatoes, cold cuts, various eggs, etc. – AMEC:

We had the opportunity to go into the Center that morning and visit Dana, one of our OSCES friends who works at neat coffee shop. I had the opportunity to eat at Super Mamma one more time! (Romanian Fast Food) and get to know Stephanie a little more. While some stayed at the church finishing up the art project in the children’s area the rest of us went to METRO to pick up food for preparing dinner for the homeless shelter that night. We chopped and chopped and prepped and then had the opportunity to feast on the stew Michael had prepared. So good! We also enjoyed some eggplant spread that Mihaela had made that was delicious! We ate so much of it and enjoyed it so much that Adi went and got more from his house for us to eat. HAHA!! Again, their generosity blows me away!

(random, the last 2 pictures were from a public toilet in the center. I found it interesting that she’s behind glass like we were at a bank! And….yes…she measures out your TP for you before you go….Hope you asked for enough)  😉

Okay…okay…back to ministry stuff: upon finishing up the food, we had the opportunity to see the living room area where the church used to meet. Wow!! God has done big things for Michael & Mihaela’s church and greater days are still yet to come! We then went to the homeless shelter and provided dinner, sang Our God as a group, and chatted with folks there. We had brought socks and items to bless the men and women there and had prepared them in bundled packages to give away. They were very grateful for the toiletries, scarves, hats, socks, etc. They were also grateful for the dinner. We had more than enough and it was an honor to share with them.

Something really cool from earlier that day was that Michael explained the variety of stuff that we had been involved in. He explained that everything we had done was connected to a ministry someone in the church was connected to and had their hearts in. So we had the honor and privilege of coming alongside these folks and serving with them and loving those they love and it was awesome!! From the foster home to the homeless shelter to the women’s rehab facility to the radio station and on and on and on. Wow! God is doing big things in Romania through Michael’s church. I pray He continue to rise up people whom are ready to go and be His hands and feet and heart!

Some of us were crazy enough to stay up ALL NIGHT LONG on Wednesday night, haha!! We knew we were leaving at 4 am to fly home and this would help with the transition and fend off jet lag. There was a midnight Romanian pizza delivery, a lot of silliness and laughter, some coffee, and some that dropped like flies but 3 remained strong: Addie, Tinsley, & I made it the whole night. We were deliriously tired but knew that would help us on the planes…

Thursday morning (March 9th) at 5 am we arrived at the airport to head back to the US. Our precious friend Magda had changed her shift at the airport to be able to be there and say goodbye. She helped us get checked in and then gave us hugs as we boarded the plane. I was blessed enough to have accidentally gotten outside before they realized it wasn’t boarding time yet so I was able to spend a few extra moments with Magda and steal a photo:

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On the planes I was able to get the gluten free food I had requested and it was actually really good:

Our flights were relatively uneventful – unless you count that last connection where we literally RAN through the MASSIVE airport like that scene from Home Alone where we are about to miss our plane and then thankfully make it and get settled and breathe because we know the next stop is ATL. Phew – I was SO glad I wore layers :).

There were other adventures and fun moments but this is getting longer than I typically allow…better wrap it up. Thank you for following our journey. We are already planning for our trip back and until then I will pray for my new friends and stay connected thanks to the beautiful world of technology. Until then, te iubesc my Romanian friends!

Love in Christ,

Amy

 

PS – If you would like to know how you can partner with the Gravitts and the incredible ministry they are doing in Romania – please let me know and I can get your contact info to them. I can get you added to their newsletters that go out. If you’d like to bless their ministry with a financial gift, please feel free to do that via our church’s website, here:

http://www.thecitychurch.cc/giving-1/  (indicate it’s for the Gravitt’s when the field comes up to select what you are giving to). Blessings!!!

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Romania – Days 6 & 7

March 5th marked the 6th day in Romania and this trip seemed to really be flying by at that point! I was starting to feel healthier each day (thank Jesus!) but still weak and battling illness. Naturally I was still quite tired and in disbelief that our time was passing so quickly! That morning we had the awesome privilege of worshipping God with brothers and sisters in Christ at Michael’s church. We also had the opportunity to hear several of them share what God was speaking to them that morning. This was especially touching because many of the women boldly stood up and shared what God did in their lives as a result of the conference we had just wrapped up the night before (see Romania – Days 4 & 5.)

I can’t believe it’s been 4 weeks ago. That morning at church was so moving for me. There’s something incredible about worshipping God alongside others with multiple languages lifting high the name of Jesus.

It was also a very humbling experience because the women shared about how God spoke to them through our conference over the prior 2 days. Each one of the ladies on our team had left lasting impacts on the hearts of the Romanian women for the glory and honor of God – He had done (and I trust continues to do) big things in their lives. We are so humbled to have been used by Him in this way!

Several things were said that touched my heart but at this moment I am thinking about how one sweet young woman shared that after hearing my testimony and all I had been through and having seen me worship so “enthusiastically” that she saw that I was truly joyful because of what God had done in my life and brought me out of. She was challenged to deepen her worship, too. Wow! YES! AMEN! That is it!! I worship from a place of deep gratitude. I think about the words and pray the lyrics as I’m singing and I sing them as if He’s with us in the room (because He is!!) They are not just songs!! We are singing powerful declarations!! And sometimes I cannot contain myself. He’s SO GOOD!!!

“I love God because he listened to me,
listened as I begged for mercy.
He listened so intently
as I laid out my case before him.
Death stared me in the face,
hell was hard on my heels.
Up against it, I didn’t know which way to turn;
then I called out to God for help:
“Please, God!” I cried out.
“Save my life!”
God is gracious—it is he who makes things right,
our most compassionate God.
God takes the side of the helpless;
when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me.”
Psalm 116 1-6

Amen!!!

Love the song Mercy by Amanda Cook!! I’m SO grateful He delights in showing mercy!!

There were other stories and sharing of how God had touched the hearts of so many women. We were moved to tears and blessed by hearing their kind and courageous words. We also had the opportunity to take pictures with many of them that morning before heading into the center for lunch with the Gravitt’s and then splitting up for ministry assignments that night. Here are some pictures from Sunday morning:

After having an awesome lunch and afternoon with the Gravitt’s we split the team up for ministry.  A handful of us went to hang out with the OSCES crew. They are a student ministry at the local college and they wanted to talk to us about school, being missionaries in our jobs back home and on our campuses in our college days if we were believers at that time. Such incredible young men and women! They have an amazing future ahead of each of them. How blessed they are to be serving God so young and with big dreams already! It was such a privilege to sit with them and share our personal journey’s and perspectives on faith-based programs at college and methods for reaching their campuses for Christ. Here’s a group photo!

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Monday March 6th was our (mostly) free day and we took a 3+ hour, bumpy, adventurous van ride to Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania! It was a neat day where I got to spend a lot of time with Tinsley & Marcie – SWEET girls!! I enjoyed much fun with my mission sisters and that night we were able to take all of the church volunteers and translators out to a nice dinner when we returned to Sibiu. It was a very late night but very enjoyable – also full of some sad goodbyes :(. Here are a few pictures from Monday:

Just a couple more days to share about… Feel free to check back and/or subscribe. Thanks for reading and sharing in my journey! ❤

Love in Christ,

Amy

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Romania – Days 4 & 5

Friday 3/3 marked our 4th day in Romania. After spending Thursday resting, praying, and preparing I was ready! God had spoken clearly to me and I was excited to get our conference started that night! I just knew big things were coming. Our whole team knew it, we’d been praying for and expecting it for quite a while as we prepared for this trip.

Friday was busy, and began with a delicious breakfast at AMEC:

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Addie and Annetta took time to stuff the journals with beautiful bookmarks Addie’s mother had made for the women:

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and we planned out the necessary details of the day. Some of us had to go to the grocery store to get supplies for the conference. There’s a deli there with hot (actually cold) food options so we planned to eat lunch there also. It was a neat place and they were playing Love Shack throughout the store when we arrived. haha! 🙂

Later that day it was time for the conference to begin. We got the tables decorated, practiced the music, made sure the schedule was ready and everything else you don’t know you need to do to get a conference going in a foreign country 🙂 – haha!

I was having trouble when we were preparing for worship and I could barely practice. I started pulling back and trying to reserve my voice. Before the conference got started, Addie & I were upstairs in the little kitchen grabbing hot tea because she was struggling, too. We agreed together as we sought the Lord for His strength and ability. We know the powerful things that happen when we rejoice and battle through worship and praise. We asked that He be honored and glorified because we are there in His strength and it is His ability that equips us to carry out His work. After praying we went on down to get started with the conference. It was a beautiful evening!! I began to sing lead on No Longer Slaves and while singing God touched me and I felt a physical change and my full voice return!! He allowed us to sing with power!! I found out later that people were weeping during worship. So honored to serve with Kathy & Addie & our Romanian friends through the worship ministry there. Still so honored to have had this opportunity!

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Friday night was amazing! We planned a mixed worship set so that the Romanian team would lead some and we would lead some. I loved getting to hear Marcel & Demisa lead worship for the with Stefan on the cajone (I’m sure I spelled that wrong…) They are SO talented!!

Saturday was also incredible. I witnessed God do big things in the hearts and minds of the women. He really reached into their hearts and encouraged them and ministered to them. They would share with us some tough but incredibly humbling stories of how our stories connected with them and how God had encouraged them through us! I’m so grateful to have been a part of this.

Something that was really incredible that I want to point out is that God took 10 VERY different women and spoke to each of us what He wanted us to share and though we didn’t know what each one was going to share – it fit PERFECTLY together. It was beautiful!! Like an intricate puzzle that only He could create, this conference flowed so well. He was at work in every tiny detail. Right down to the worship songs that had been placed throughout. It was amazing to see how each one connected somehow with the other. There’s so much I loved about this conference but there are a couple of things that I want to share about here: Sisterhood and our stories are worth telling…

Sisterhood. These women need each other. They need to know it’s okay that life gets messy and it’s okay to let someone in to “see” your “mess” so that you can encourage, challenge, and pray for one another. It’s healthy to have that friend that you can share anything with that will tell you to your face when you’re wrong or need correction but will hold you and cry with you when you’re breaking and the world and everything in it doesn’t make sense. The one that will pray bold and heartfelt prayers with you because their heart is intertwined with yours. These are what we call sister-friends back home, and this is what we call a sisterhood. We need each other. And we all have stories worth telling. My beautiful friend Melodie began the discussion about the importance of this when she taught on Sisterhood Friday night.

You have a story worth telling. Unbeknownst to me, my talk would compliment this too when I shared that Saturday afternoon. My message was more of a testimony… I shared some VERY difficult things from my past. I shared of pain, abuse, shame, and brokenness. I shared about a broken girl on a broken way whom had lost all hope at one point. I also shared though about how God knew in advance what I would need…and who I would need. He sent me a treasure in the form of my best friend from back home (her name just so happens to be Amy too!) She would say the tough things I didn’t want to hear but desperately needed. She also would speak life into me and pray harder with me and for me than I knew how to pray myself. I am who I am today because of the gift that is her friendship. I needed a sister-friend, we all need a sister-friend. We were never meant to do life alone. Never.

As I shared about the hard moments and the miracles and the blessings, I was moved and humbled at the tears that these beautiful women shed alongside me. Even my precious translator was wiping her tears as she communicated my story. As I exposed my very naked soul before these strangers I found such encouragement and freedom. I shared because I wanted them to see that no matter how dark life can seem, no matter how difficult things can be, and no matter what you’ve been through or has been done to you – NOTHING is beyond the redemption and grace and restoration of Jesus. He can take those ashes and give you beauty. He can restore joy that is so true and so pure that no one and no thing can take it away. Some of that was understood and some was spoken but our hearts connected that day in a way that I cannot fully explain with words.

I have a story worth telling. You have a story worth telling. Don’t hide and don’t do life alone. Allow others in so they can pray with you, laugh with you, cry with you, rejoice with you, and love you. And as you share your story, don’t forget to give glory to the One Who gives you life and every good thing.

Love in Christ,

Amy

Pictures from the conference:

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