Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Reflections On Speaking At My First Retreat

There is something that has been on my heart for a few years now. 

Well, maybe I should start at the very beginning... 

speaking on contentment

For ten years I've watched my husband speak in front of groups. Honestly, he made it look way too easy. 

For years God has been working on my heart, teaching me things and unfolding our family's story in a way that I never dreamed possible. There has been pain, heartbreak, surrender, and redemption. Up until this point the best way that I had found to express the things on my heart was through writing. Yet, English was my least favorite subject in school.

Speaking about these types of things has always been on my heart. 

A few months ago a dear friend asked me if I would come and speak at a women's retreat at their church. I immediately thought, "how fun, I love women's retreats" and somehow the word "yes" came out of my mouth before I could think twice about it.

It was only afterwards that I started reviewing the facts...

Wait, I'm an introvert...

I'm not a professional speaker.

Wait, I don't like being the center of attention...

I'm not a professional speaker.

Wait, I'm just a mom of five who lives in Minnesota...

I've spoken on different things over the years, but I'm not a professional speaker.

Lord, surely you have someone else in mind!

Then they started announcing to this group of women that I was coming. I felt like a priest or a pastor preparing to perform their very first wedding. I was a ball of nerves! You don't exactly announce to family and friends present at the wedding, "by the way, this is the very first wedding ceremony that I've ever my whole life."

For months I focused on the retreat theme that had been chosen, contentment. I prayed about it, read books about it, and studied what the Bible had to say about it. It wasn't a new topic for me. I mean, I am a Christian woman, in my 30s, living in America...not to mention that I live in Minneapolis, the proud headquarters and hub of Target! 

I've actually been wrestling through the topic of contentment in my own heart for years.  

In fact, in the past six months this topic has been unfolding in my heart like a delicate rose. Yet, when I sat down to prepare my notes I had no idea where to start. In a moment of panic I approached my husband and told him that I would hire him as a consultant to help me prepare my outlines for the 3 sessions (I was hoping he would forget the fact that we have the same checking account :-D). Being the kind soul that he is, he gave me some very helpful pointers. However, right before he sent me on my way to prepare he mentioned that it takes him roughly 6 hours to prepare a 30 minute talk. 

What?!? You make it look so easy! I almost went into a panic right then and there.  

The retreat was THREE sessions long and I had already spent countless hours preparing...with only a few chicken scratches jotted down in my notebook to show for it. I knew in my heart what I wanted to say but how do I put it into words...knowing that everyone will be staring at me!?!

Well this past weekend the retreat came and went. The moment I got back into my car to travel home there was a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders...I had done it! The words I spoke were far from perfect, I was nervous and I probably said, "ummm" way too many times. Yet God used this experience to not only teach me more about contentment and encouraging some precious women, but also to teach me a little bit more about myself. Like for one, I may not be the professional speaker of our family...but God can use anybody...

and I mean anybody.

I need to just be me...the introverted, mother of five who loves God with all of her heart. 

retreat on contentment

It was definitely a fun experience to speak at the retreat and enjoy a little 24 hour trip away from home. It also just might have been the quietest car ride I have been on in a very long time! :-)

It seemed fitting that the Nester's book would show up on my door step today. 

the Nesting Place

It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Have you been stretched recently to do something that you thought was too scary to do? What are your thoughts on contentment?

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  1. A friend of mine has spoken at our "Ladies Day of Encouragement" two times in years past and is speaking again in about 3 weeks. She has said over and over again that preparing for these events draws her closer to God and has shown her more about herself and how broken she is than anything before or since. It works out perfectly though as God's light shines through those cracks and He becomes what people are focusing on, not her. I have no doubt that whatever you said to those women will be used for God's glory, after all, it's all about Him. :) May we all be content in that knowledge.

  2. You did a fantastic job, Sarah! I have shared with so many people about how your speaking was the perfect combination of your story (real life!) and information that God wants us to know (the harder part!). Just the same as your blog is! If you hadn't shared with us that it was your first time, I would not have known!

  3. I wish I had been there! So proud of you friend!


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