As I sit here exhausted from the last several days that seem to all blur together, I can’t help but look back. I think back to the first Women’s Conference held at the Fairview Park Campus. Not the first Journey Women’s Conference as it was held off-site and was really part of what birthed Journey. I am thinking of the second one, but it was the first at the Journey Fairview Park Campus. I think to the many 10-11 pm nights that Pastor Jennifer Wilkes, Zulma Ramos, and I had the entire WEEK before the conference. We had about 5-6 ladies that helped pull it all together and it took a few days to assemble it all. This year, a staff of 13 and 5-6 workers assemblies it in hours! We’ve come a long way in just a few years! I sure am feeling all 47 years of my age right now though! lol
I can’t tell you how many times throughout the weekend I heard comments from various sources in regard to the amount of time we as staff spent on this event. How we really should get time off, how we all shouldn’t have to be there, how it takes up so much of our time. etc. And you know, some days, in my mind, I can almost buy into all that. But then I let my heart do the thinking instead of my brain. And do you know what my heart says?
What else would you do with those hours? Really, what else would I have done? Watch a few more TV shows? Sit on the back porch? It’s amazing the number of hours we will spent coaching, working overtime, driving to a vacation spot or just driving with no destination in mind – I’m not saying any of these are bad – I do them all. But spend a few extra hours volunteering or preparing for an event like this and it seems to draw attention, sometimes good, sometimes bad. I can think of one or two things that would be just as productive, but not sure they would have had the impact. No, I don’t think I would change a thing.
And you know the amazing thing?! The many men and women who were not on staff that put in just as many hours as the staff did. They came straight from their secular jobs, some with their work badges on, some with their work clothes on. They served shoulder to shoulder with us. Why? Because they have the same hearts, dreams, and desires – they share the same vision. And how many more would have loved to have been there, but they were unable to make it? I can tell you from experience, just because their bodies weren’t there, doesn’t mean their heart wasn’t. Let me tell you something, if you are not feeling connected, serving is the best cure to that! I spent some really great moments with some awesome servant leaders. We laughed, danced, played, ate, problem solved, sighed, shared, worshipped, and sometime empathized in our common exhaustion. I can honestly say, we have some outstanding servant leaders, just good hearted people. And I am thankful I got to meet a few for the first time over the past few days as well. Dare I say we had fun amongst all the hard work?
With our earthly eyes we see ladies having fun! Putting make-up on men, laughing, eating, eating, AND MORE eating! Dancing, sharing, building friendships – a sisterhood. But with God’s eyes, I can only vaguely imagine what we would see. Hearts healed, chains broken, freedom attained! Women digging out the heart well that had been filled in because of years of hurts, wounds, and judgements. Tears of joy, tears of repentance, tears of freedom. These are the eyes that we use when we do an event like this. These are the eyes that keep us energized throughout the long hours. These are the eyes that make our sacrifices worth it.
So I might sit here exhausted, and sore because my body is old, but truthfully, I can’t wait for the next one! You see, it isn’t my church nor my job that takes up so much time and energy. And it’s not the next Courage Women’s Conference, that I can’t wait for, those things are all but a task set before me to accomplish. No, it’s the next soul I can’t wait to see be set free! The next Woman of Courage to be born! The next Man after God’s own heart to step up! The next … the next is why we do what we do. ALL of us, whether we get paid to do it or not, because our hearts and our eyes long for the next person that God sends our way, for whatever He has for them.
So the next time you see us laboring hour after hour – staff or not – you will know what we are truly laboring for. Look with your heart, look with God’s eyes, and THEN you will the big picture. And when you see it, why not come on out and join us! We’d love to get to know you too, hear your story, hear your testimony, laugh with you, moan with you, Do Life with YOU!!
After all, isn’t that all we are really called to do? Love God above all else, love people as ourselves, and make disciples.
Love God More, Love More People – and God will do the rest. Looking forward to the next!