"An Unforgettable Weekend" by: Heidi Avery

Well our long awaited Renee Swope event has come to an end and it was far more wonderful and God filled than we could have ever imagined. Renee and Leah flew home yesterday to get back to their lives and now we have to do the same. I don’t know about you, but I’m still tired. It’s a good tired, restful and it makes me realize that God gives an assignment and then he gives us rest. He knows just what we need.

I can’t help but think today of the domino effect of women saying yes in obedience to God. All of this started with God placing a burden on Kelli’s heart, one she could not shake, one that she felt the urgent need to move on and so she did. Then one by one we all said yes too.

Who can stop God? No one.

Thursday night we had, what seems to me now, a pre-celebration of what God would be doing over the weekend to follow. We hung lights that truly did shine his glory throughout our beautiful church. We ate and laughed… no giggled in deep anticipation of what He would do. We rejoiced in Him and knew without doubt that God would show up and show up big. Why? Because we believe in Him and we just knew that we were acting in His will. Let’s not ever forget that feeling… we can know the feeling of being inside of His will… it’s beautiful, a place we want to dwell in always.

Friday, was restful because we were ready. We checked Renee and Leah in to their hotel and off to church to get the last minute loose ends tied up. Plugged in all the lights, opened the doors and with everyone in position we began to welcome God’s guests into our lovely church. It wasn’t long before we heard the sweet sounds of music from Anita and the praise team inviting us to the beginning of our evening. The music was beautiful and worshipful and I do not believe there was a woman (or man) there that wasn’t perfectly prepared for the message that God laid on Renee’s heart for us. I also do not believe that there is one of us that will not be looking at Christmas differently this year because of her act of obedience in sharing that message with us. I think we’ll all be trading our bucket of naked barbies in for His presence and not just for Christmas, but forever.

In our give-away we gave a bible away to a woman that did not have one… a prayer answered. And even more, God’s beautiful invitation given by Pastor Joe welcomed two sweet women into the arms of our Jesus. Who really knows how many women that night breathed in that breath of life prayer… only God. Praise His name! It was a Spirit-filled evening that we will not soon forget.

Saturday morning, I personally walked into our darkened lobby and sat and praised Him for the evening before and asked him to be there again… and no sooner did the words leave my heart, I knew full well that He would indeed be there with us. And, of course he was.

Renee’s talk on the “Purpose Driven Mom” inspired us all to go mining for gold in the hearts of our children. Her ability to relate with each of us in our places of motherhood captivated us. We not only experienced sweet conviction, but we left refreshed and ready to be “yes moms” continuing on in our mission to raise up little disciples for Him.

Afterwards the lobby was all a buzz with plans of spray-painted gold stones and fish bowls and spoken words of encouragement to one another. As we cheered each other on we felt a renewed sense of responsibility for our little ones lives. It was wonderful.

Kelli drove Renee and Leah to the airport on Sunday morning and on the way Renee told her that she’s heard from several women that attended the conference on Facebook already! They have been touched and expressed gratitude for her message filled with biblical principles and life application. Awesome!

God is awesome and we are all blessed and filled with joy to be walking with Him and to be in fellowship with each other over Him. When I think about that burden that He laid on Kelli’s heart I wonder, what if she would have said “no?” What if, when she called me with that burden, instead of encouraging her, I said to her… “you are crazy!” I look back at our bible book club and the friendships that have sprung to life and think about all of the sweet blessings we would have missed out on along the way.

What blessings do we miss when we say “no” to God’s prompting? We won’t know… but we would miss them that’s for sure. Anyway, for today we can rejoice in the blessings we’ve received for saying “yes” this time and I think you’ll agree with me, I am motivated to say “yes” again. God could lay that initial burden on any one of our hearts next. What a blessing it is that He’s given us such a wonderful support system in each other for when that happens. We need to be not only encouraged by that, but we should each be empowered by it. Any one of us could be given His next assignment, think about that! When you feel that burden, you’ll know it and we’ll be here to tell you… “you’re not crazy” and we’ll come along side you, cheering you on and supporting you throughout the entire process. Together we’ll see His plans come to life again, together we’ll experience His blessings again and together we’ll be warriors for His Kingdom. Let’s all pray without ceasing and see where God invites us next, okay?

PS: I know we all left Friday night wishing we had that wonderful poem that Renee wrote and read to us… well, I was able to find it online! Enjoy…

The Manger of My Heart
This Christmas, Lord, come to the manger of my heart.
Fill me with your presence, from the very start.
As I prepare for the holidays, and gifts to be given,
Remind me of the gift You gave,
when you sent Your Son from Heaven.
The first Christmas gift, the greatest gift ever,
You came as a baby born in a manger.
Wrapped like the gifts I find under my tree,
Waiting to be opened, to reveal Your love to me.
This Christmas, Lord, come to the manger of my heart.
Search me and know the most intimate parts.
Reveal to me if I have ever hung a sign within,
Claiming it off limits, implying “no room at the Inn.”
Restore to me the wonder that came with Jesus’ birth,
when He left the riches of Heaven
and wrapped Himself in rags of earth.
Emmanuel, God with us, Your presence came that night.
As angels announced, “Into your darkness,
God brings His Light.”
“Do not be afraid,” they said, to shepherds in the field.
Speak to my heart today, Lord, and help me to yield.
Make me like those shepherd boys, obedient to your call.
Casting distractions and worries aside,
to You I surrender them all.
Surround me with Your presence, Lord,
I long to hear your voice.
Clear my mind of concerns and all the holiday noise.
Slow me down this Christmas, let me not be in a rush.
In the midst of parties and planning,
I want to feel Your hush.
This Christmas, Jesus, come to the manger of my heart.
Invade my soul like Bethlehem, bringing peace to every part.
Dwell within and around me,
as I unwrap Your presence each day.
Keep me close to You, Jesus.
It’s in your wonderful Name I pray.

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