I was dithering for a number of reasons but the main one was the fact that there would basically be a room full of women, possibly talking about shopping, makeup, fashion, and other stuff I don't really get or have any interest in!!!
There were a couple of reasons I actually ended up attending the conference and they were all to do with people and friendship. I had coffee with one such lovely lady who felt I should go as she felt God would have something to say to me. And another lovely friend agreed to go with me so I didn't feel on my own or isolated while being surrounded by hundreds of women. Sounds odd I know but all you girls know what I mean and where I'm coming from!!
Anyway I attended the Friday evening opener which consisted of music, worship, drama, chat, prayer, a message but most importantly for me, writing a sentence or word on a label. This could be something you felt you wanted to get from the weekend or a question or just something that was on your mind at that time.
I looked at the blank brightly coloured label and didn't know what to put at all. You know one of those writers block moments, but then I felt prompted to put 'What's Next?'
This is a phrase that's been buzzing round my head for some months now. I feel in yet another season of change and uncertainty. Wayne has started a new job, Gemma's starting GCSEs in September, it looks like my wonderful worship band is going to have to change personnel again and I'm not getting any work. So I felt I needed to know What's next for me? Where does God want me to be? What am I supposed to be doing?
Well the Saturday morning provided me with my answer. The guest speaker Shauna Niequist started by saying she was going to read some of her writings which put me at ease straight away as I've read and really enjoyed both her books 'Cold Tangerines' and 'Bittersweet'. She started by relaying how she deals with busy or stressful times in her life. Her first phrase struck me the most which was 'Present over Perfect' and she went on to talk about giving yourself permission.
To me this meant, enjoy the moment you're in. Enjoy the Present and treat it as a Gift. A time to enjoy being and not doing. Enjoy your friendships, keep listening to God's promptings and reaching out to people, enjoy your family, your wonderful husband and beautiful daughter. Enjoy playing in your worship band and building community with them as you rehearse and share life together. Enjoy knitting again, enjoy reading, enjoy all the mundane stuff of life. Enjoy being me and don't try and be anyone else. Enjoy building new friendships.
Basically: Enjoy life and give yourself permission to just be.
Thankfully it was a quick answer and God was also able to help me deal with some other stuff over the weekend. Things I needed to accept. Stuff that has happened and I need to draw a line under and move on from. This helped me to serve on Sunday with a warm heart and one open to His will for me.
We also enjoyed a new format to our meeting on Sunday which included a New Liturgy which Aaron, Shauna's husband led us in. This was a very powerful experience for me and included old and new alike and just helped us to praise God in a truly honest and open way. Not everyones cup of tea I understand that, but I loved it!!
I could also mention the beer time, food, fun, text messages, laughter and tears shed with some very lovely friends, as well as the prayers and encouragement I personally received. Maybe another blog entry!!!
So I want to finish by just encouraging you to ask yourself what's next for me? Am I in the right place? Am I doing the right thing? Scary questions but I know very, very worthwhile.