While on the topic of thankfulness, I need to detour again and post about a ministry for which I am heartily thankful. Proverbs 31 Ministries. If you haven’t heard of them, you simply must check them out. They can be found here.
I first came to know of Proverbs 31 a few years ago when I had the privilege of hearing its president, Lysa TerKeurst, speak at a women’s conference. That weekend changed my life. Lysa was so sincere and genuine. There were times when it seemed in that room of several hundred women that she was speaking only to me. I knew this woman truly loved the Lord and had been sent by Him to speak to us that day…to speak to me. Little did I know.
While at the conference, we had the opportunity to learn more about the different aspects of Proverbs 31 Ministries. One such offering is a conference they hold each year titled She Speaks. It is a conference for women who feel led to speaking and writing in women’s ministry. After I heard Lysa speak in April, I began to feel that God was calling me to attend the speaking track of She Speaks later that same year. And, so I did.
Now, I must digress for a moment. Attending this conference and driving to Charlotte alone was a huge leap for me. I am not that great with directions. As a matter of fact, when my husband and I met, I didn’t even know how to read a map! The horror! The shame! My husband, who travelled a lot growing up couldn’t imagine anyone not knowing how to read a map. He asked me how I ever got anywhere before him. I informed him it was really quite simple. First, my family did NOT travel that much like his family did. Second, one either knew where one was going, took someone with them who knew where they were going, called and asked for some sort of directions, or you simply didn’t go. Maps? Who needs them? I had managed just fine before him, thank you very much! As a side note, you may be relieved to know that I do in fact know how to read a map now. My husband insisted upon it. It was either that, or he makes me drive! Alright, thanks for indulging me in that little side trip. Back to P31.
So, going to Charlotte (which is about a 3 hour drive for me) alone and rooming with a total stranger was a leap for me in and of itself. But, as is always the case when we trust the Lord, the rewards were so much greater than anything I could have imagined. For as I have said before, He knows the plans He has for me. How much better off I would be if I could simply remember this, trust, and then obey.
The conference was amazing! It was so obvious that God was present, and the women who were a part of this ministry were sold out to the Lord. It was apparent that they wanted us to experience God and to know what it is like to find your purpose in Him and then fulfill it. I came away that weekend standing on the spiritual mountaintop.
Now, I would like to tell you that I discovered my calling for God that weekend and have been revelling in it ever since. However, that is not the case. But…that was simply because my timing is not God’s timing. He knows the plans HE has for me. They don’t always line up with my own vision of how things should be or how quickly they should happen.
As I mentioned, I attended the speaker’s track. However, a speaking ministry has never really come to fruition…well, perhaps until now. Two years and three months later, I think I just may be beginning to see what God has planned for me.
I attended She Speaks in August, 2005. In February, 2006, I was presented with the opportunity to become a Mary Kay Consultant. Now, if you knew me, you would know that was not something I would have ever considered doing if I had not felt that God was calling me to do it. I discussed it with a friend of mine, and she said that perhaps this was the right time in my life for this. She had been a Mary Kay Consultant and felt that it was a ministry opportunity. It would also afford me the opportunity to speak in front of other women on a regular basis. I wouldn’t have considered that had she not pointed it out, and while I was still extremely ambivalent about doing this, I jumped in because what else could I do but obey?
Did I mention that I jumped in kicking and screaming the whole way? I may have been obedient in answering the call, but I haven’t been obedient in moving forward. I have done very little, actually. Why? Fear. Pure, unadulterated fear. Of what, you might ask? Well, I’m still trying to answer that question. Fear of failure, fear of success. I don’t know. The truth is, I don’t know how to do this. I can’t do it in my own strength, and I haven’t figured out how to do it in God’s. I have prayed. I have cried. I have wailed. I look at other women in the company. I see their success, and I just can not envision it for myself. It has been a brutal 18 months. It’s as if God and I were at an impasse. I couldn’t go backward because I knew God had called me to it. And yet, I couldn’t go forward because I was too afraid. And then, a couple of months ago, enter Kay Arthur’s book, Lord, Teach Me to Study the Bible in 28 Days.
I noted in an earlier post that I became a Christian at age 11. I have been a Christian for 26 years. (You can do the math on this…I’m not actually going to announce my age. :0)) I don’t feel like I have ever truly learned to simply study a book of the Bible for myself and glean the truths it has for me. I have done countless Bible studies and have learned much from each one. But to just study a book on my own…not so much.
So I found Kay Arthur’s book and began to do the study. Oh my gosh! It has profoundly impacted my life! During the course of the book, we were using Kay’s inductive study method to study the book of Jonah. Ahhh, the truths I have gotten from Jonah. First, I learned that I was Jonah. In Chapter 1, Jonah flees to Tarshish instead of going to Nineveh as God instructed. If you have ever looked at a map of this, you would have seen that Tarshish is in the opposite direction of Nineveh. Jonah was attempting to go as far away as he possibly could from where God had instructed him to go. God told me to join Mary Kay. While I did get on the boat, I made sure that the anchor was set, and I am still sitting at the dock.
Jonah, also in Chapter 1, God causes the storm to come. The other men on the ship are very frightened. Jonah knows the storm is because of him and tells them to throw him overboard. They do, and he is swallowed by a great fish.
Jonah, Chapter 2. While inside the belly of the fish, Jonah cries out to the Lord. While studying this chapter, Kay Arthur has the reader write a prayer to God. I did, and like Jonah, I cried out to God in my distress. I begged God for forgiveness for my disobedience and asked Him to help me carry out the mission set before me. And while I may have taken the long way around to get there, I am now back to what all of this has to do with Proverbs 31 Ministries.
When I attended in ’05, there was a breakout session hosted by a wonderful woman named Shari Braendel. She did a Christian version of What Not to Wear. Since I am all about fashion, makeup, and the like, I couldn’t have been more in my element. When I heard Shari speak, she had not joined the P31 team. She since has. Later, on the day of my plea to God, He brought Shari to my mind. I knew that she had a website but couldn’t remember how to spell her name. I found her through the P31 website, and upon visiting her site, saw that she had a blog.
I began to read through her posts, and saw that she had talked about a team of ladies she was forming who were interested in doing what she does. She had gone forward to the powers that be at P31, and they agreed that God was doing something. Next year, there is going to be a track at the She Speaks conference for women who are interested in doing Image Ministry. What? I must read this again. God, what are you doing? Is this the answer to my prayer? Are you trying to tell me something?
My head was spinning, and I couldn’t put words to an email fast enough. I contacted Shari via email not knowing whether or not she even saw her own email. While I wasn’t sure whether or not I would even get an answer, so badly did I feel the need to talk to her that I included my phone numbers in the email and asked her if we could talk! And you know what? Less than 30 minutes after I sent the email, she had called me!
I explained how fashion, color, makeup, etc., was something for which I had always seemed to have a knack. I told her about Mary Kay. I told her about trying to figure out what God wanted from me, and that she may just be the answer to my prayer!
Two weekends ago, I had the privilege of attending an event where she was speaking and assisting her while there. It was the most incredible experience! I highly recommend her for a What Not to Wear event for women or her Modest is Hottest event for teen girls. You can check her out here.
Soooo, I think I may be on to something. I am starting my own Image Consulting business with a Christian perspective. Shari is mentoring me. I hope to attend another one of her conferences next month. I plan to attend the She Speaks Image Ministry track next June. And yes, I’m still in Mary Kay. I want to help women with the entire body image and glamour/skincare is a big part of that, so I think I may have found how to make it work for me. More importantly, I think I may have found how to make it work for God.
I can’t say it enough. He knows the plans He has for me. I need to ask, listen, and then obey. He will provide the answers. I heard it said one time that God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.
He is using Proverbs 31 Ministries to help equip me, and for that, I am thankful!