Not counting speech classes or school presentations, the very first time I ever did any kind of actual public speaking was at our first ever Sonrise Women's Retreat in the fall of 2008. I did one session. I was so nervous I nearly vomited and I think my hands were shaking the entire time. From the fall of 2008 through Christmas of 2013, I spoke twelve times. Retreats, conferences, brunches, and teas. Then, the emails and the calls stopped coming. I assumed the Lord was moving me in another ministry direction. I felt sad but truly believed that any speaking ministry I might have had was over. It seemed like He'd given it to me for a season.
2014 had hit and with it came personal extended family trauma. While our own family's day to day life wasn't directly impacted, we were reeling and, looking back, I wasn't in any shape to have been taking time away from my family to speak. 2015 dawned with the death of our unborn daughter. Our grief was real and raw and a lot of personal spiritual growth happened in the weeks and months that followed. In 2016, our third son was born and with him came the exhaustion of an infant and, then, an energetic and rambunctious toddler.
In 2017, the Lord provided me with an opportunity to speak at a tea. Then, last weekend, I was flown to California to share at a women's retreat. When I was asked to speak at that retreat, initially, everything in me screamed, "NO!" I felt unqualified, over committed, inadequate. And I hadn't prepared for a multiple session retreat in years. After my initial panic, however, I quickly felt invigorated and excited for the opportunity. For weeks, I poured over scripture and commentary. I wrote and wrote and practiced and changed things and then I flew to California.
A couple weeks before the retreat, I wrote this on Facebook...
In two weeks I'll be speaking at a retreat in CA. I've been praying and preparing for about a month now. Please join me in praying for the women I'll be spending the weekend with. Pray that the Lord would speak through me, for safe travels, and that lives would be positively impacted. You guys, there are so many women more qualified to do this, more knowledgeable, more influential, less loud. "But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong..." 1 Cor 1:27
A friend of mine commented on the post and said, "Very exciting to have your calling come to fruition."
I replied, "Did God tell you this was my calling? I wish He'd tell me! Thank you for your support!"
She said, "I think I've known for a very long time that this was your path."
Now, I'm not saying whether it is or isn't. (There was a time, in those first five years of speaking, when I might have thought God was opening doors to a speaking ministry. But then it felt like that door had closed. Of course, looking back, I wouldn't have been effective--in the least little bit--if I'd attempted public speaking in those days.) But I did have someone ask me if she could consider me as a speaker for an event next year and I did have someone ask me if I was going to write a book and I did feel very much that the weekend had been a wonderful celebration of our Savior and His amazing, redeeming love. And I GOT to be a part of that.
I've always struggled with whether or not to "put myself out there" and sort of announce that I'm available to speak. On the one hand, I believe that God will absolutely bring me opportunities if it is in His will. On the other hand, I believe that He wants us to partner with Him in the work He chooses to do in and through us. All of this to say, I'm not seeking to actually build some sort of ministry. I firmly believe that, if it is His will, the Lord will build that house. But I had a jolly good time preparing to meet with the women of Harbor Folsom and I had an even more amazing time sharing with them, fellowshipping with them, and breaking bread with them. If I might be afforded more opportunities to meet like-minded women and hang with them--this side of eternity--I would welcome the chance.
I believe that if this isn't the Lord's will, nothing will come of it. I also believe that I know a lot of people who attend a lot of churches in a lot of different places so, perhaps, the best place to start is just to say to the Lord and to you, "I'm available. Here I am. Use me."
I know my blog is in serious need of an update (and a blogger who is actually attentive to it) but there is a tab up there at the top that says "Invite Lori to Speak" and you can click on it. If you (or someone you know) are looking for a speaker, please check it out.
I desire to honor and glorify the Lord in whatever way I can. He gave me a mouth. He gave me a loud voice. He gave me a heart for women. He armed me with a degree in Theatre which just means that I paid a lot of money to be taught how to stand up in front of people. If I can somehow combine all those things to bring Him praise, may it be so.