Thursday, July 20, 2017

Speak Up

I needed a getaway.

More than I realized.

The past year of my life has been packed full with activities, demands and that ugly word I so despise - depression.

At the end of last year, I informed Depression that she would not be making the transition into 2017 with me.  And for the most part, she hasn't - although she still finds ways to sneak back in if I'm not watching out for her.

Fast forward to last week, I attended a Speak Up conference for the first time ever.  I'd heard about it for years, but never made it a priority to go.  

This year was difference.  

Thanks to the persistence of my friend Carissa Yoder, I found myself sitting among hundreds of other writers and speakers at Calvin College wondering if there was still a message hidden somewhere inside of me and how, in Heaven's name, would I dig it out if I found it... much less find the time to share it?

God met me there.

He met me through the faces of several people.

He met me through the woman who told me that the only holdback she had with writing was TIME.

No kidding?!  

She had forty some years on me at least.  I sat listening to her tell of her life in the idyllic beauty of her life out west.  She told me about her lack of pets, children, husband and time... yes... time.

I stared stupidly as I tried to compute her words.  

No time?

I pictured my life back home - demands piled higher than my eyeballs.  A life where finding "time" is both laughable and seemingly unreachable.

Conviction slapped me in the face.  There will always be excuses for not writing.  "Time" is forever fleeting - no matter how full... or empty my hands may be.

Ironically, I never saw my new friend the rest of the conference.  


After that, God grabbed my heart through the overriding message of the Speak Up conference - WE ARE ON THE SAME TEAM.

Those words fell like a healing balm on my heart.  I felt wanted.  Protected.  Needed.  Lifted up.

Renewed and refreshed - the calling He gave me rang louder than ever inside my soul.

New friends and old - what a gift!
And then there was FRIENDSHIP - That weekend, God broadened my circles.

He gave me the gift of renewing old friendships and discovering new.

The enemy does his best to make our world feel small and insignificant, but God calls us to step out and discover how big His plans really are.

And finally, FEAR.  I watched as some fancy little layers were peeled back to reveal the truth of what was hiding in me.  Fear of man.. fear of failure.. and fear of man again.  

And in the knowledge of this newfound truth, I found the key.  By letting fear dictate my actions, I had opened myself up to the presence of Depression.  By refusing to do the thing God had asked of me, I was left vulnerable to all that Depression has to offer. 

What is the message you carry?

How do you plan to deliver it?

When do you officially become a writer or a speaker?  

Do you even have the right to try?

These are all questions I ran into at Speak Up - and conviction fell heavy.  

I do have a calling.  I do have a message.  

And I've also let pride and fear close my mouth and shut my laptop (hence the date of my last blogpost).

I wonder if you've felt the same?  Truth is, we all are invited into the calling of speaking up.  Our messages aren't all the same nor are the sizes of our audiences.  But we can't deny the truth - God gave you a message - don't deny the world the gift of hearing what He has to say through you.

Speak Up!

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