When Life is Filled by the Act of Emptying.....

When we reach of place of letting go or emptying our lives of the things weighing us down, there comes a sense of being handed more than we could ever ask or imagine.

Letting go and emptying ourselves of worry gives more time for joy

Letting go and emptying our need for more "earthly stuff" gives more room for contentment

Letting go and emptying ourselves of the pressure of "one more" household chore gives more time for front porch rocking and friendship sharing

Letting go and emptying ourselves of anger gives more time for love

Letting go and emptying ourselves of the need to control everything around us gives others the chance to step in and lead

Letting go and emptying ourselves of "us" gives God a chance to feel us with Him

This weekend as I sat in workshops at She Speaks (a conference for Christian writers and speakers), I found myself being called to let go and empty myself.

As the messages were shared in the main sessions, we were challenged to "let God chisel us even when it hurt, unclench our hands of the things to which we hold on tightly allowing our open hands to be filled by Him, and then in faith simply do the next thing....."

After the official conference ended, I sat in a hotel suite Sunday night with eight other women from all over the United States who have different stories, messages, and journeys.  While there, I found myself being called to a deeper level of letting go and emptying of myself.

We had all been a part of a pre-reading of Renee Swope's new book, A Confident Heart, answering questions and giving feedback over a five-month period.  But we had never met before Sunday afternoon.

I remember walking into the hotel room feeling intimidated, inadequate, and insecure; emotions which seemed so contradictory to the Scriptures we had read and studied as we had read Renee's book.  We introduced ourselves and Renee told a little bit about each of our stories before we went to dinner.  During dinner we made small talk and got to know each other little better, but I never dreamed what would happen as the evening moved on.

When we returned to the room, we sat in a circle  with our notebook copies of Renee's book and begin to talk.  Originally, we were going to make video clips for her Bible study and share a bit of our testimony.

However, one lady began sharing some deeper issues of her heart and before we knew it, we were all crying.

As one after one, we all opened up, let go of any sense of pride, and emptied our "not so confident" hearts, the room was filled with nine hurting women.  Different stories, different pain, but one common thread drew us together....the need for a confidence that comes from Christ alone.

As I emptied my heartache to them - my deep feelings of sadness that still consume me in my grief at times as I miss Nick more than words can say - I found myself being filled with an even deeper peace and joy than I have ever felt since his death. 

I never dreamed when I entered the room earlier in the afternoon that I would later that very night let down my wall, let go of my smile and laughter, and simply be "me" with a group of women I did not know.

I let go of a lot this weekend but the one thing I released to God completely was my deep need for Nick's story to have a bigger impact on the world than simply drawing me closer to Him.

Yes, I believe Nick still changes lives.  I know he still teaches me, my family, and his friends that life is fragile and that what we do for God is all that matters.  I want Nick's life and death to matter.  I want to know he still helps others who are hurting and that in my pain I somehow help them too.

But in the end, the impact of Nick's passing has pressed me into the heart of God deeply, profoundly, and eternally.........

and if this reality were the only good thing resulting from my broken heart than it would be enough..........

I am filled with hope and joy as I let go of that need, trusting God to do the good work He has planned in my pain.  I am filled to overflowing as I empty myself of my plans.

In the prayer room, I found my name in the lower right corner of this name for God, Jehovah-Rohi, The Lord is My Shepherd.  I love the words that follow this truth in Psalm 23...

"I SHALL NOT WANT."

When we find ourselves in a place of "not wanting," than I believe we are filled.

Only by letting go of the staff, like Moses was called to do, can we truly allow God to lead and be our Shepherd.

Sheep don't need a staff....they need a Shepherd.

What are you holding onto today that you need to let go of?

In what do you need to empty yourself?

When you make the choice to say, "I'm letting go."  I promise that God will become your Shepherd in a whole new way and bring you to the very freeing words of Psalm 23,

"I SHALL NOT WANT."

I love you all so much.

Thank you for praying for me while I was away.

You will be happy to know that when I arrived home this afternoon, I made a very conscious choice not to stress about "things undone" and instead spent time in a rocking chair talking to my mom on the phone, visiting with Evan and Todd, and taking a three-hour nap! 

Here are some pictures from my weekend.

This precious lady who authored a book she gave me entitled, "Heavenly Minded for an Earthly Good," adopted a sweet boy from India in memory of Nick!! :) Nick is smiling, I just know it!

Ann Voscamp, author of One Thousand Gifts, cried as she heard of the loss of Nick and Adrienne.  She said to me, "You've lived these words."  I whispered, "You helped me."  I adore Ann in every way.  Visit her blog A Holy Experience if you want to be inspired.

Melanie Dorsey and I finally met!  Rooming with someone you have been friends with for almost two years but have never seen in person is very special. Her son Andrew died a year after Nick at about the same age and from the same thing.  Our common blogging friend, Susan, introduced us and we have walked the road of grief together.  We are working on a Bible study together which we hope will help others who live a life where God seems to be sleeping during the storm. I was so happy to see my friend Kelly!  As the mom of a son with autism, she has written a book called "The Hidden Blessings of Autism" which I highly recommend for moms who are living this kind of parenting out daily.  Jessica, do not order this book.  I have an autographed copy for you! :) God brought me and Dawn together in such a special way, and I am saving that story to share on another day.  Until then, please pray for Dawn as she lives in very new grief.

 

Here are my new precious friends from Sunday night. 

We are all women who walk very different and tough roads and who find our confidence in Christ and Christ alone.

Emptied yet filled and praying you can find yourself saying the same of you,



6 Comments:

Blogger Jen said...

Praise the Lord for lessons learned and lives shared. Thank you for sharing with us. I feel that you have had a major breakthrough. Will write you about it when I get my thoughts together properly.

Blogger Danielle said...

It was such an honor and privilege to meet you... not because you've been through the loss of two children, but because you are Christ's child and the heart you have to reach out to others is beautiful. You are beautiful.

Thank you for your words of encouragement and your sweet spirit. I am blessed to have met you, and you better believe this will not be the end.;-)

You, dear sister, are a treasure... one I plan to get to know better.

May God bless your time as you seek to get closer to Him. I cannot wait to see the path He leads you on from here.

Love you!

Tammy,

It was so great spending time with you this weekend! I wish I could have stayed for the C.H. sleep-over. I told Renee she needs to make it an annual event. :-)

Let's keep in touch sweet friend! I sense God is going to use you in such a powerful way in the weeks and months to come. I want to stay connected so I can celebrate with you!!

Cyber hugs,
Leah

Anonymous Cris Nole said...

My dear friend, WOW! I so needed to hear your words today as I lost a loved one who was in my care while in flight to home. Today because of your courage to share not because of how I feel, I choose to believe God is a good God even when life feels like a punishment.l Today I will allow Jesus to hold my hurt instead of hide behind it as I head to the funeral home to make arrangments for my dearest 89 year old great cousin. I love you to the sky and back, you have a true gift and it is far greater then you can see or imagine so trust those you have allowed into your heart to tell you that you are like oxygen in a room to the hurting of this world!

Love
Cris

Anonymous Tammy said...

I love you all so much. Cris, I am grieving with you tonight as I clean my bathrooms.....lifting you up as I walk from room to room knowing that God promises that He is close to the brokenhearted and claiming that promise for you and your family in the coming days.

Blogger Jessica said...

I am very excited to read the book! I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed in our Autism journey (mostly from the new challenges we will be conquering soon) and I am certain the book will be a great help and blessing to me. Thanks so much! Love you!

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