Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hope Spoken

I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to put into words what God placed on my heart this weekend at Hope Spoken in Dallas. At the end I was talking to Jami Nato (I am a shameless name dropper. Deal with it.) and she was like, "You have a blog right? Are you going to write a post about this? I'm not sure if I'm going to." And I was like, (in the calmest voice I could muster because...hello, I was talking to Jami Nato...who really made me feel like I had met Kristen Wiig in the flesh. Which makes it doubly amazing.) "I don't know if I'm going to write about it. It's just so personal. How do you even begin to put it into words?" But then I thought, it's too big not to. I have to try. Forgive me for the length. Sometimes I lack the ability to edit. It all seems important in my head.

(In case you are wondering, I did not play it cool. I was running up and attacking people all weekend professing my great love for them. It was usually well received ;) After the conference I was at lunch with several of these girls and was talking about my introvertedness and Joy Prouty said, "I have a really hard time believing you're an introvert." So evidently I'm an outgoing introvert. Who knew.) 
Here's the thing. I struggle with friendships. I struggle with connecting deeply with women. I moved around so much throughout my childhood, I was constantly wondering if people wanted to be my friend. I was constantly friends with people who already had a lifelong best friend so I often felt like sort of a third (or fifth) wheel. That, coupled with a family that was not very close-knit, I started making poor choices that made me feel better in the moment. A lot of poor choices that changed the course of who I became. That has carried through into adulthood. I still wonder if people really like me and want to be my friend. I have about two best friends (like deep, rich, fully connected friendships, where I don't doubt where I stand with them). One of them is here in Des Moines and one of them lives in California, who I only get to see once a year, if that. I've never had a group of friends I belong in. I wanted the 90210 or Saved by the Bell model where each one is a valued member of the group.
This weekend I became real life friends with a few women who I'd already developed incredibly deep, real friendships with over Instagram. Women I missed desperately and loved before I'd even met. I found my people. I found the women whom my soul longed for. This might sound crazy or overly-dramatic to some but I think most of you women will understand. That need for us to have women in our life who feel like true bosom buddies is a God-given real need. And I was just incredibly humbled by the lifelong (yes, I have no doubt they will be lifelong) friendships God finally brought me through social media and a weekend conference we all took a chance on. I'm humbled because they are all amazing women. Godly, kind, generous, funny, incredibly talented and beautiful women. Sherry, Kirby and Naomi- you each took home a good sized chunk of my heart.

And I was also incredibly humbled (and yes, a wee bit intimidated) that I got to hang out with some of the Blogger Greats, who's lives I've watched unfold for years. Unbelievably inspiring and talented women who are using their gifts for God's glory. I can now officially call each of them a friend and that still blows my mind a little (ok, a lot. I might have teared up when I saw my picture on Ashley's blog this morning.) I was hanging out in a hotel room with all of these women until the wee hours of the morning and sort of asking myself, "what the heck am I doing here? I do not belong here." But as the night went on, I felt myself connecting with these women and realizing, it's not about how big your blog is or how great you are at photography. They wanted to be my friend because they liked me as a person. (at least I think so ;) Our worth is found in Christ, not in the numbers at the top of our Instagram account. That was a profound moment for me that weekend.

(hotel shenanigans captured by Joy Prouty and stolen by me, with permission of course ;) 

my favorites. 
So you're probably starting to wonder if the weekend was just about the friendships for me. Half of it was. But half of it was an incredible awakening in Christ. A realization of just how big our God is. Hearing story after story all weekend of God's redeeming grace was a beautiful thing. It was literally a sob fest from Saturday morning until it was over on Sunday. No one could stop crying. I don't think I've cried so many tears in a 24 hour time period in my entire life. We started worship on Friday night and my heart was hard. I didn't want to sing because I knew I'd start crying and I wasn't ready for that yet. I was almost embarrassed by it; to admit that to myself and to God. I've been walking an extremely hard road in my marriage for the last few years and specifically for the last nine months, coupled with very long days of lots of single parenting with three boys who suck every last drop of my energy and patience on a daily basis. I'm not ready to share my story on here (and not sure if I ever will) but have opened up to a lot of people about it one on one.
My soul is walking through a parched desert and this weekend was a stream in that desert. And I believe there are many more to come.
     Isaiah 43:19 "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."
Leslie Padgett gave an incredible talk that inspired new hope within me. My favorite analogy she used was the Verizon Wireless, "Can you hear me now?" guy. He starts in the middle of the city, asking, "Can you hear me now?" Then he moves somewhere a little more remote and a little more remote until he's in the absolute middle of nowhere. That's like what God does with us. We start out in the middle of our safe and happy little comfort zone and He asks, "Do you trust me now?" Then he makes us just a bit less comfortable and asks again. Then He keeps moving us further and further away from our comfort zone until our whole world is ripped apart and we feel like we're dangling on a precipice barely hanging on and He says, "Do you trust me now?" Boom. Hit me in the gut. And my heart cried out, "Yes. I trust you." I'm trusting Him to restore and redeem and to make a way in the wasteland. A new and beautiful thing. And I perceive it. I feel it trembling and bubbling up in my soul. But I have to wait. I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other in the middle of the desert. 
And maybe my favorite quote of the weekend by Lauren Chandler,
     "When he walks us through that desert, he wants us to know that we need Him more than we need that promised land." 
I was slowly closing up my heart. I was saying I had faith and hope but I think deep down I had lost a sliver of that faith and hope. Lauren said, "Your stuff...your situation is not too much! Are you calling My cross not enough??" I tend to limit God's abilities in my mind. I tend to put labels on what just *might* be too big for him. I ripped those labels off this weekend. The God of the universe, who created each and every person and unique personality knows exactly what needs to be done. He knows the exact number of days we'll walk through that wasteland. But if we're giving it up to him in faith and prayer, not a single day will be wasted. 
Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see"
There were a lot of stories shared this weekend. Stories of loss and hurt and heartache and pain. But God is the Great Redeemer. He put a girl in my car for the drive to and from Dallas who has walked an unbelievably hard road this past year. Like, the worst kind you could imagine. I won't tell her story but if you want to read it, you can here. I believe it was no accident God placed us side by side in that car, strangers before this weekend started. Two women who didn't have much in common but who's stories God wanted the other to hear. One of the most precious moments of the whole weekend came for me on that drive home when I was sharing my heart. Sharing about what God has taught me through a painful season. And, with tears streaming down her face, she said to me, "That might be the most profound thing I have heard all weekend." And I caught my breath and my heart skipped a beat and I just started repeating in my mind, "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you Jesus." I am deeply humbled...I mean really and truly humbled...(and getting choked up just thinking about it) that God might use me. Little old me. A mess of a mom in Des Moines, Iowa. That He might use my story and my ability to be open and vulnerable to bring some healing to someone else. I will keep telling my story. And I will keep thanking Him for what He's brought me through.
I used to be slightly envious of other people's great faith and their closeness with God. I now know that's a foolish thing to be envious of. You just never know the fire they've walked through in order to gain that faith. 

15 comments:

  1. Let me just wipe the tears first.
    Ok. Thank you so much, Haverlee. Your take-aways from Hope Spoken ministered to me so much. I'm always embarrassed to say it, but I need friends. Thank you for affirming and justifying this desire/need in me! It's not pathetic! Friendships are designed and used by Jesus! Anyway, your story is a giant encouragement to me. I'm so glad you wrote all of this down!

    Ps. I spent the last 40 minutes getting lost in your blog and love it so much. The book list on the sidebar? Yeah. That's for me.

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  2. your heart just shines through and your words speak deep. Honored to be getting to know you and thankful God is speaking to you. Meeting you, you just exude a loving heart that is so authentic, It really blessed me.

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  3. i don't have time to read a lot of blogs anymore but i wanted to come read this for a few reasons. first of all, i am an outgoing introvert!!!!!!! i feel like with the juicy pear jelly belly and now this, i need like 50 twin emojis. i am so happy for you that you got to have this time. and a little envious. ;) MAYBE you will talk me into being in some of these shots next year. we will see. next time you come see your bestie in cali, i'll drive to meet you. xoxo.

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  4. Wow!! I just discovered you through my sister in love Naomi... And I am feeling kind-of like a inspired creeper! Haha... I have tears streaming down my face from reading this. I can't even begin to put into words my thoughts as I've read this. I feel like I so want to meet you one day! Anyway.. Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty in this post. It really met me in some deep places I have been wrestling with. So - Thank you and hugs from a stranger you don't know, but who feels like they are kind of getting to know you! Kimberley

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  5. Thank you! I'm not very good with words so just, thank you.

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  6. Loved every last word of this. You know how much I love you, friend. I will always look at that bed picture with SO MUCH warmth and love.

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  7. i sure love you, lady. so glad you shared this. you're not alone, and i love you. xo

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  8. Darling darling. How I love you. So proud of you for so many reasons. THANKYOU for writing this - you are such an inspiration to so many. And one day (I really believe this) YOU will be sharing your story on a stage, for hundreds of hungry hearts to hear. I love you. Did I mention that? Foreverrrrrrrrrrrrr :)

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  9. Jennifer BrowningApril 3, 2014 at 10:49 PM

    Absolutely beautiful. I moved a lot growing up too, and I feel so similarly with regard to friendships. ❤️ Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Haverlee! Oh my, this was SUCH a beautiful and vulnerable post. My heart swelled and my eyes welled up with tears reading it, following you, not just in words, but in spirit. In KNOWING what that desert feels like and being able to find the "YES I trust you now, Lord" in the midst of the pain. I'm so glad to be getting to know you better through IG and blogland. I wish we had had more time to connect. I think you're one of the most adorable people, and I would totally want to be your friend. :) Also. Did you or did you not come up to be after my talk, grab my arm, and say "I'm gonna email you." Well, I'm gonna hold you to that. xoxo

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  11. Wow. Just wow. This had me in TEARS! So thankful for you for sharing so openly and being so vulnerable. I relate to this so. much. God is really speaking to me about friendships and being more intentional about them. I'm definitely an introvert and we moved when I was younger to a small community that was really hard to make friends in. There were only 4 girls in my class and they already had their "besties" and I was the strange new girl and a lot of hurtful things were said to me during that time but I remember how close I drew to Jesus and how he really became my best friend through all of the loneliness. But....now I sometimes use my "Jesus is my best friend" as a cop-out and man am I ever convicted. It's so scary to reach out sometimes and fear that we may not be "good enough" or that our reach may be rejected. But the reward is so rich! It's worth the risk :) Soooo glad you stepped out in faith!

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  12. Beautifully written Haverlee.

    It was no accident that we ended up together. God knew that I needed to hear your words and I grateful for your willingness to share and to allow me to do the same. I am still trying to wrap my spirit around all that I walked away with that weekend. It was so big, and deep, and so so good.

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  13. So haverlee. I love you. you are rock solid and every bit of inspiration i needed. Thank you for letting me creep into your fun and taking on an unknown. Your friendship is legit and I hope, very soon, we can chat again and take awesome photos together. I love your heart and pray for your future. xoxo - a partner in crime in a hope spoken weekend of awesome. lesley

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  14. Wild applause for this vulnerability and beauty.

    Lady, I liked you from the start!

    And I have thought (and cracked up) SO many times about your comment that I always looked lost. BECAUSE IT's TRUE. As much as I was all, "I'm not usually like this!", the startling reality is that, more and more, I sadly AM. I loved you for saying it.

    Let's be pals.

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