I had the most amazing weekend at the Above Rubies retreat in Dickson, TN with my friend Amy, our daughters and nursing babies, and about a hundred other ladies. It was so rich, so full of wisdom and truth and encouragement straight from the Bible.
I asked God in the weeks leading up to the retreat to really speak clearly to me. I was fully seeking Him and wanting to hear whatever it was He wanted to say to me. The excitement was almost unbearable as the first session began and I was on the front row, just a few feet away from Serene, Pearl, Evangeline, and Nancy Campbell. Serene and Pearl sang beautiful songs they had written about God and His blessings of family and marriage. I was almost starstruck :), but I asked God in my heart to move them out of the way and really speak to me. Then the most powerful thing happened. Evangeline stood up with a shofar in her hands and explained that in the Old Testament times, before they read the Word of God, they blew a shofar to signal "a word from God." She blew the shofar and this loud, deep horn bellowed out. Tears welled up in my eyes and I whispered a "thank you" and waited with baited breath and chills to hear what God was saying. She literally shouted, in her powerful Australian voice, "YOU ARE DOING A GREAT WORK!! YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE GREATEST TASK ON EARTH!! YOU MUST GIVE IT ALL YOUR HEART, ALL YOUR ENERGY, ALL YOUR HARD WORK AND DO NOT COME DOWN TO THE ENEMY!! DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED, DO NOT GIVE UP, DO NOT COMPROMISE! GIVE IT ALL YOU'VE GOT! FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR CHILDREN! ABSOLUTELY LOVE BEING A MOTHER!" She went on to remind us all that God could have given each of our children to any woman on earth, but He chose each of us to mother our own children- just how we are, with all our flaws and imperfections. She said, "Your children don't need a better teacher, or a different tutor or babysitter; they need YOU! God gave them to YOU and YOU are the best mother in the world for them!" She took us to Titus 2 where God counsels women to love their husbands, love their children, and keep their house. She showed me Scripture after Scripture that applies to mothers building their homes and training their children and nurturing them. My eyes were opened to truths in Scripture that I felt in my heart were right but now I know it's truly the counsel of God. I saw with my heart that God created a woman with a womb for bearing children and breasts for nurturing them and a distinct role as helpmeet to a husband. It's innate in each of us, the desire to nurture is such a God-given desire and we can just be who we were created to be as women and just live in His wonderful design! Oh it's so beautiful! And I can see where the enemy (Satan) has tried to deceive women and twist their minds to believe their lives would be better if they could go out and conquer and be like men. He's deceived us into thinking only about ourselves and how we can get "me time" and send our children away to daycare or mother's day out so we can do what? Anything more important than our children??? But we wish for freedom from the very gifts God has blessed us with. That is not natural! It's not God's design! She warns us as mothers not to wish them away or say "when they are older, then I'll get to. . . " or try to rush time with them, but to be present and be right there in the moment of motherhood because it will be gone too soon. We only get a small window of time to impact their lives for eternity. Why whisk them off to someone else who is far less capable than their God-given, God-designed, God-ordained mother? Oh I love it I love it I love it!! She says, "Embrace mothering! Be a joyful mother! Be free to be the mother God designed you to be and relish each moment of it! Love your children well!"
Nancy held 6 different sessions where we studied Ezra and Nehemiah extensively and likened Nehemiah's building project to ours of building our homes. (Proverbs 14:1- "The wise woman builds her home, but the foolish one tears hers down with her own hands.") She showed 6 different ways the enemy comes to deceive us and stop the building projects God gave us. I wasn't able to take notes because I had a nursing baby in my arms the whole time :) , but I do remember several and I plan to go back and study Ezra and Nehemiah with Allie over the next few weeks. (isn't it neat that that's where we were in Bible anyway??) I remember that there were "hired counselors" to come and counsel Nehemiah to do things differently than the way God had instructed. Nancy talked about the "hired counselors" that can be sent our way to trick us, too. The serpent deceived Eve in the garden by asking, "Did God really say. . . ?" Nehemiah endured mocking, even from believers, for doing what God wanted him to do. There were people who didn't understand, people who tried to "help", people who even despised him for what he was doing. But Nehemiah said, "I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down to you." The joy of the Lord was Nehemiah's strength and he completed the work exactly as God laid it out for him.
Oh I could go on for days but it's almost midnight. I will say that it was a wonderful time with my sweet Allie. She especially enjoyed the music and the shofar. :) She and Hannah Grace, Amy's daughter, became the best of friends. They swam in the creek at the campsite on Saturday, and I got a special time on Sunday to go to the creek with Allie too. One of the last things we did was gather around our daughters and pray for them. We asked for God's protection over their lives and for their future spouses to be men of integrity who love the Lord and love their wives. We even prayed over their wombs. It was very moving.
Nancy prayed that we would all receive visions from the Lord, and I received some really beautiful, really clear ones. More to come. . . .