A couple of months ago, when the grey clouds hovered over my head and I would lay in bed at night with the blackest of thoughts on my mind.... On one such night as that, I lay there thinking, "What is wrong with me? I need something. Maybe a women's retreat or something? Last year the ladies at our church had one and I missed it. They said they were going to do it again, I wonder when that was?" Since I couldn't sleep anyway, I looked up the event on fb to see when it had been and imagined how encouraging such a thing would be.
Fast forward to about two weeks ago.
One day I received this message from a friend: "Would you be interested in attending the Women's Conference at Gospel Haven on March 11 & 12? Look up Joy in the Journey at Gospel Haven (Facebook page)"
I looked it up and excitement started stirring inside me. I'd never been to any kind of a women's...anything. I always seemed to hear about it too late or it was too far away or I didn't have the nerve to pursue it. Here was an invitation put right in front of my face, to a place close to home where I could easily overnight with someone I knew and Dorcas Smucker was a speaker? Surely this was a God thing!
I eagerly texted Chris and asked him if he thought I should go? What followed was one of those complicated husband / wife series of misunderstandings where this feeds on that and he heard one thing and she heard another and I'm not even going to attempt explaining it. Suffice it to say, the result was a hurt wife who made the decision to lay the whole thing down and not bring it back up again. I determined to give it to God and leave it there. After all, if He wanted me at a Women's Conference He could make it happen, right?
It sounded good, and I did it with the noble intention of being the respectful wife I long to be but it drove a wedge between us.
Days passed, and the Joy in the Journey facebook page indicated that registration was full; my little dream was fully dead and the wedge was still between us. One day Chris and I were driving along and some comment he made brought up the hidden issue I was still battling with. We hashed and explained and shook our heads at each other. I came away with some new insight on how to ask my husband questions, I'm not sure what his take away was - complete exasperation maybe?
In light of our conversation, and because I still held a secret hope that maybe God really did want me at a Women's Conference, I snuck onto Joy in the Journey's fb page and sent them a message wondering if they ever have cancellations? They replied that they didn't usually have many but they could add me to a waiting list of 15 if I liked. That sounded less than hopeful but I said, why not? And prepared myself to chalk the whole experience up to learning some marriage lessons.
The conference was to be held Friday evening through Saturday, March 11 - 12. Saturday morning, soon after 7, I was still laying in bed scrolling mindlessly through facebook and thinking about the day and how I really should get up, when a message notification popped up. "I have a last minute cancellation for the conference today, would you still like to come?" ?!?! Twenty minutes later I was on the road, still rubbing sleep out of eyes that had not yet returned to normal size.
I had plenty of time to think on my hour and a half drive. I concluded that even if the day was terrible - if I felt like a fool in the middle of hundreds of women I didn't know and was too tongue tied to talk to; if the speakers were pathetic, like I've always secretly thought most women speakers are; if Dorcas Smucker turned out to be nothing like the woman her writing portrayed her to be - it would still be worth it.
God cared about me.
Oh, I knew He cared. But it was as if He had reached down, in the midst of my mistakes and failures, to place His hand on my shoulder and say, "You trusted me and I care about you."
My drive also gave me time to recover from my shock enough to wonder what I had gotten myself into?! I fleetingly wondered if a day of shopping at all the stores I was passing wouldn't be a better option than walking all alone into a church packed with strangers but the thoughts were never really serious. How could they be when God had shown His care so clearly?
It was a good day....no, an Amazing day! I discovered a friend in the sea of strangers and she took me under her wing. The speakers were excellent - I've decided there are more decent women speakers than I once thought. And Dorcas Smucker was everything her writing portrays her to be, only better! Hearing her speak and having the opportunity to shake her hand and give her a hug was certainly the highlight of my day.
I made the drive back home with a splitting headache and spent my evening doing laundry that hadn't gotten done and preparing for a Sunday School class that I should have spent more time on. I was tired and my head hurt and it was the weekend of turning our clocks forward but my heart held a glow.
He cares about me!
To each of you, on this Monday morning, let me offer this hope: He cares about you, too.