Friends, this past weekend, I have the privilege of attending a conference at a local church. The speaker at their women's ministry in-house retreat was Ann Voskamp, author of "One Thousand Gifts". If you have heard of this amazing woman, then you know how incredible this conference would have been. If you have not had the honor of "meeting" her, I would highly recommend you check out her blog - A Holy Experience and also get your hands on a copy of "One Thousand Gifts".
Quite honestly, I am not sure how to write this post. I am truly still in awe of this incredible woman's message of thanksgiving and of trusting in God.
Have you ever had an experience that you just knew was a God thing? It was meant to be? This conference was most definitely a God thing for me. You see, as soon as I heard about it, I jumped at the opportunity to purchase my ticket as soon as possible. I had that ticket for quite a while when Moira's new soccer season began and it became evident that there was the potential for a soccer tournament to be held that same weekend. The conference was Friday night and Saturday morning, and soccer would be Saturday and Sunday. I wasn't sure what to do - do I go to the conference Friday and not Saturday, or do I try to hand my ticket over to someone who could go both days? I tried to give the ticket up, but no luck. Then it was decided that Moira's team would not be participating in this tournament after all, so I could go after all!
Here's the thing. I was excited, but I was having to convince myself I was excited. We had so much "stuff" going on that was creating a lot of stress in my life last week leading up to the conference. Our regular nurse fell ill on the job here and wound up heading to the ER in an ambulance last Wednesday. Our part-time nurse - how do I put this nicely? I think that while she loves Peyton, her young age and lack of knowledge about workplace professionalism have gotten the best of her. By the time Friday rolled around, I was pretty tired and stressed. However, by the time Friday night came upon me, and I was awaiting my ride to the conference, I realized that everything fell into place just so - shouldn't I take that to mean that perhaps I should consider this a God thing? My friend suggested that perhaps there was something coming up in this conference that I was meant to hear. I believed she might be right.
The Friday evening session began with some contemporary worship. The second song that came up was In Christ Alone. You may recall the significance this song had for me back in February during a particularly difficult time. That struck me as significant in this moment as well. The worship time was wonderful. A video would play before Ann was introduced and she came to the stage to share with us her message. You can watch that video here.
Before she even took the stage, I was captivated by Ann. While I had a copy of "One Thousand Gifts" sitting atop my desk for some time, I had not actually finished reading it. Things got busy. Life happened. As much as I wanted to read it, it just hadn't happened up to this point.
I honestly have never seen anyone quite like Ann before. Her inner beauty radiated through her outer beauty. Her voice. Oh, her voice. I have never heard anyone speak the way she does. There was something completely other-worldly about listening to her speak. She shared her message, essentially a teaching on her book, and it touched me deeply.
I am honestly still trying to take everything in right now. Her messages on both Friday and Saturday spoke deeply to me. I met Ann at the end of each day. I had her books signed. I shared with her briefly...quickly...my story of having this space that was birthed out of a dark time in my life where things were so unimaginably difficult that I had to stop and force myself to find the blessings and joys in life or the darkness and despair would have swallowed me whole.
My story...this story of mine.
Without realizing she was out there and what her story was, I have been trying to live in thanksgiving for the blessings in my life that are from God. Her dare to us to begin penning our list of "God gifts" is really something I have already begun without even knowing that is what I was doing. Each week, I host a "Thankful Thursdays" linkup which is specifically to share these gifts and blessings with you.
Her story...her One Thousand Gifts.
Ann shared about these "God gifts" in our lives. She spoke of this list we might create as being God's love list for us. She said we were made for the purpose of giving Him glory. She summed it up in one Greek word - eucharisteo.
I have so much to still digest from this conference. That said, I wanted to at least share this much with you. I want to sit down and reflect on the notes that I took during the conference as well as absorb the book itself, which I am completely immersed in now. I am excited to share more with you.
I feel like this conference was meant to mold and shape me into something better. I asked Ann if I might share what she shared with us here on this blog. She so graciously said yes. She shared that it's not her - it's all Him! I know that she was the vessel used to convey the message to me, but I completely agree. What she shared was of Him. I feel like He was speaking to me. That voice of hers - the one that seemed other-worldly - it was Him speaking to me. As I sat on the verge of tears at the end of the conference, I knew that this was going to be life-changing for me.
|Ann praying with me.|