Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Be Strong and of Good Courage

I grew up with three brothers (one older, two younger), so I pretty much played by myself most of my childhood years.  I had my own room, my own closet and my own toys.  My brothers certainly didn't want to play with me or my toys - no dolls for them!!

As a teen-ager, I spent a lot of time in my room by myself.  At a very early age, I adjusted quite well to doing things by myself and pretty much always leaving the house alone.

As I got older, married, raised a family, I wondered often why I never minded being alone or going places alone, shopping alone, etc and never minded just my own company.  I always figured it was because of the way I grew up; the dynamics I grew used to.

In my 40s, I discovered I am actually an introvert! 
The light came on! 
That explains so much!

I've said all this to say - I really don't mind being alone.  There is a difference between being alone and being lonely.  I am usually alone, but not always lonely.

Since my husband died, I have done things alone that I never imagined I would - been to Florida a couple of times by myself for a month at a time, even driving it alone.  Every year I go to Maine for a few days alone.  I've gone to the movies alone, flown to Idaho, Florida, Virginia, Washington and Ohio alone, gone to concerts alone, shopping alone, go to the beach alone all the time, etc.  Most of those things I don't think twice about.  I realized very soon after Phil died that if I wasn't willing to do a lot of these things alone, I would be spending quite a lot of time at home.  So, I stepped up and stepped out.

But you want to know what still makes me nervous every single time?

Entering a room full of people by myself!

Whenever I have to do that, I feel like a gawky, unpopular teen-ager entering a room full of people, not knowing if you have a friend in the room or not.

So, for the last couple of weeks, I have asked myself several times -
why? why? why? did you just do what you did?

You know what I did? 
I made reservations for the Allume Conference to be held in Greenville, South Carolina. 
I am flying by myself to a conference that will be attended by about 450 people and I don't know a single one!! 
A 3-day conference with a Welcoming Night party and a Closing Night party! 
Multiple conference sessions and 3 meals a day! 
Did I mention I don't know a single soul??
Can you see that I will be out of my comfort zone here?

I have been writing this blog for almost a year now.  A couple of weeks ago, I finished my second book that I hope will be out by Christmas.  I am feeling a little more comfortable these days calling myself a writer.  Ten years ago, I would have never in a million years imagined where I would be today.  I had no plans, actually, never had any desire or dreams about being a writer.  I "fell" into this calling after my husband died.  It was no surprise to God, but quite a surprise to me.

Anyway, I've struggled with this calling for awhile and have been praying much about it these past few months.  About a month ago, I googled "Ladies Conference in New England."  I was looking for a retreat to go to; not very seriously, but definitely interested in seeing what was out there.  Through a series of what I call "God-incidences," I found the Allume Conference that sounded interesting and featured Ann Voskamp (one of my favorite authors) as one of the keynote speakers.  As I clicked further to find what Allume was all about, imagine my surprise to find it was actually a conference for bloggers! 

To make a long story short, after praying about it and thinking about it for almost a week, I truly sensed I was supposed to go.  Everything lined up in a way that only God can line things up. I began to see that He had provided in miraculous ways before I even knew about the conference!  I am now registered for the conference, reserved at the hotel and scheduled to fly!!

2-3 days after this is all done, I break out in a cold sweat as it finally dawns on me that I will be walking into several rooms over the course of the conference where I know absolutely no one!!

And then, even as I'm sweating about that, I find out Ann Voskamp will not even be at the conference after all!! 

God has set me up!!
God has set me up - - - to deliver me!
At least, that's what I'm telling myself!
I am sensing that God plans to show up in a big way.
Because I know my God, I know that when I am willing to step out of my comfort zone and follow Him, He plans on showing up.  He plans on meeting me right where my courage ends.
As my knees are shaking together, my spirit is getting excited to see what all
God has planned for me.
I am counting on:
prayers being answered
questions being answered
new friendships
new direction
hope anchored
unexpected God surprises
and more!
I feel somewhat like Abraham, setting out to a land that I know nothing about. 
I don't even know where it is! 
I don't know what to do when I get there! 
All I know is to take the next step and trust God!
Trust God?  That's something I've had experience with.
I think I can do that!
What about you? 
Is God asking you to take the next step? 
Is He calling you to a country that you didn't even know existed before He mentioned it?
Are you fighting a battle you've never fought before?
Do you not know what to do with the blessing?
"Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, ..."
Joshua 1:3
"I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."
"Be strong and of a good courage:"
"Only be thou strong and very courageous,"
"Have not I commanded thee?  Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest."
Joshua 1:5c, 6a, 7a, 9

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