Women of Faith | A Full September & Rewind

I’ve been processing months of incredible favor and blessing these last few weeks. Especially a very full September. Let me just run it down for you…

August 31-September 1, 2012 | Life Today Taping Event – Met and received encouragement from Beth Moore

September 5-26, 2012 | Weekly Pink Prophetic Leadership Training

September 6-October 18, 2012 | Weekly Pink Women In Leadership Development Training

September 8, 2012 | Birthday Dinners with our extended family

September 15, 2012 | Beth Moore Living Proof Live Simulcast – 7 Women joined me in my home. My testimony was featured in the Simulcast listening guide along with four other women selected from a field of 400.

September 20, 2012 | Aired my first Blooming Inspiration Radio show from 3-5 pm. Airs weekly each Thursday from 3-5 pm. (Watch the video closely see if you find me in it!)

Blooming Inspiration Radio | Advertising Promo

September 21-22, 2012 | Attended Women of Faith and was able to meet Angie Smith. I’ve followed Angie’s story since the very early days after her baby, Audrey Caroline, went home to be with the Lord.

The evening of September 22nd I also attended the FishBowl Radio Network‘s awards ceremony.

The last weekend of September I looked forward to spending it at home, but ended up at John & Beverly Sheasby’s Grace Encounter in Grapevine instead!

To say the least it was a power packed September full of encouragement, inspiration, and many words to cull through and process as the days waned into October.

I sit here needing to prepare for my radio show on Thursday, heart full and completely given over to our Lord and Savior, Jesus. He is everything Good, Precious and Right in my life. It has been a long hard journey from my prodigal years creating a paper trail of consequent filled, scandalous history in my twenties to the beautiful testimony of redemption that is my life today.

The journey may have begun in bad history but God has turned that mess of living with the “stench of the pigs” into a beautiful tapestry born of beauty from ashes, the oil of gladness for mourning and a spirit of praise for the heaviness of a life lost and then found. Not only do I walk in the liberty God promised us through Christ in Isaiah, but I also fully embrace the Freedom for which Christ died loose in my life. In your life…

As I sat to write today, I have been thinking on Women of Faith and what a sweet time I had with my friend, Angie (not Angie Smith 🙂 ), and getting to spend some time with my youngest daughter, Taylor, who attended with her church.

I had the good fortune of attending Women of Faith this year by God’s graciousness in my life during this season. He has blessed me four times since February with opportunities to attend women’s events without incurring any additional expense.

As I prepared my heart to attend I asked the Lord what He had for me in attending. I didn’t get a firm answer, by my heart filled with expectation. I spent Friday carefully picking my outfits for comfort and style. I packed my overnight bag and talked to Angie several times on the phone. I contemplated and prayed throughout the day. I began to tweet my prayers and excitement about the event and felt the first traces of excitement bubble up inside of me.

Angie and I arrived and found our seats in Section 308. We started to settle in when the women in front of us asked us to swap seats with two of their members since the women were afraid of heights. We moved down to seats in the first row of that section with a good view of the stage.

We had purchased a drink, stopped by the product table outside of our section and settled in for the evening of worship, testimonies of God’s incredible goodness and the promises of His Word and just to receive. The room filled with excitement as the countdown clock drew nearer the time to begin. I reached for my phone to update Twitter and Facebook when I saw I had missed a number of calls from my youngest daughter. She left one voicemail. “Woman, I’m going to keep calling you until you answer you phone.”

Danielle tweeted this picture to my Brittany with this caption: “Look who’s tweet popped up on the @womenoffaith screen!”

I called her back and when we finally did talk she said, “Did you see your tweet up on the big screen? Danielle (@daniellelkins) took a picture of it!) Turned out she was seated right below us with the women of her Alliance Baptist Church!

The first speaker in the line up happened to be Ken Davis! He has a book out called “Fully Alive.”

If you’ve been following my Blooming Inspiration Radio show you know one of my four pillars is “Live Fully Alive.” Yep! You guessed it. I saw the book on the product table and leaned over to Angie and commented. “I think he wrote my book!”

Ken Davis, if you’ve never had the joy of hearing him speak, rambles on about life fully alive from the perspective of living as a messed up human being. He talks about losing your memory as you get older, necessitating the “Airport/Hotel Macarena” and reporting his car stolen after his wife dropped him off at a meeting.

Written by Ken Davis

Ken Davis is very funny. Practically funny, but the story he shares about his precious granddaughter getting lost in the mountains is priceless. So raw, so real… So precious from the heart of a grandfather toward his granddaughter – from the heart of a Father for a lost and broken world. Ken Davis has much to teach us on living life fully alive.

Sheila Walsh hosted the event, and delivered a powerful word on rising before singing her beautiful song, “I Will Rise.” We retired for the evening at Angie’s house and sat up until 3:00 am sharing our hearts and our dreams. I held my new “The Voice” Bible in my lap running my fingers over the cloth cover and leather tag.

The next morning we rose early, dressed and hustled over to the American Airlines Center to get our seats. As we walked through the concourse area checking out exhibits and radio stations we passed a woman sitting at a table with tickets in front of her. I asked Angie, “Do you want to see if we can get better seats?”

She shrugged and said, “Whatever.”

I walked over to the table and inquired. We handed the sweet lady our tickets and she said, “They will be lower. I’m not sure they will be better.”

She shuffled through her pile of tickets and smiled. “Here. These are in 106.”

We walked around the corner and down several rows to our seats only to realize we had landed in the exact same section as my daughter, Taylor. We sat among the ladies of her church for the Saturday sessions.

Max Lucado brought a powerful word on grace. Lisa Harper shared from hear heart about serving others and bringing people to Christ and being a single woman adopting a precious baby girl. We laughed, we cried and then after the morning break – Angie Smith took the stage. I knew what was coming – I had experienced the session she taught at the February event. I braced my heart for the experience in the larger environment. I wanted to receive more, to grow and having my heart wrecked was not on my agenda. I had no idea.

Angie shared on the story of Hagar and Ishmael in the desert after Sarah had insisted Abraham send them away. She read from Genesis 21 and shared the poignant story of her family’s loss of Audrey Caroline, their precious baby girl who was born “incompatible with life.” I knew the moment would come. Angie invited every mother in the stadium who had lost a child to stand. I took my place among the many women that rose to their feet.

I determined in my heart I would not look around as the gut wrenching sobs of death began to resonate throughout the arena. My heart trembled in the moment. The weight catching my breath in my throat. Angie then said, “Look around you.”

I had resolved in my heart not to look because I knew it would wreck my heart, but as her words beckoned my head turned and I saw hundreds of women standing, many weeping all around me. At that moment an overwhelming sense of God’s heart moved through the core of my being. I felt my body physically rock with the earthquake of emotion as my emotions gave way to the feeling. I had no idea what would come next, but I knew what I had experienced did not resonate with my own loss – it felt larger, beyond me and in that one fell swoop I knew God had imparted to me a deep sense of the love He carries for women who have lost children – who are bereaved, robbed of their children.

Lisa Harper came out and shared the gospel inviting those who had never done so to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior and then we worshiped. We turned on the light of our cell phones and waved them in the air as the hearts of 12,000 women sang the choruses of heaven celebrating the rebirth of hundreds of women in the arena.

Women of Faith retweeted my tweet featuring this picture:

@womenoffaith 12,000+ of my closest friends celebrating 100s of new sisters in Christ!!! #WOFcelebrate

My heart wrecked, but full I told my friend I wanted to head down to meet Angie Smith at her book signing during lunch. We went down, stood in line and waited 30 minutes for my few minutes with Angie.

As we stood in line I overheard the woman in front of me sharing that her 17 year old daughter had passed away one week earlier and they had buried her precious girl just the Tuesday before. We all had a story in that line, but how appropriate that God would plant me right beside her in line at that moment. We talked and shared stories as we worked our way through the line. I had not brought my book written by Angie Smith, so I pulled out my brand new Bible and opened it to the first blank page across from the dedication space.

My friend tweeted, “I just love God moments when we are standing in line at a book signing and ministry just breaks out all over the place.”

I watched as this newly grieving mother walked forward spoke with Angie. My friend, Angie, stood beside us snapping photos with her iPhone while I prayed for the words to say to Angie when I stepped up to the table. I hugged the woman I had met in line and walked up to the table to share with Angie that I had followed Audrey’s story back when it was new and written to her about my son’s passing.

She graciously asked me to remind her of the story and I did. She then took her Sharpie marker and filled in the dedication page of my Bible. I felt the weight of the moment when she asked me the date. She said, “This is a Bible, I don’t want to mess this up.” I thanked her for speaking from her heart about her loss and acknowledged to her the many women I knew she was touching through her ministry of tears. One more picture and we headed back up to find lunch…

Michelle Bentham with Angie Smith at Women of Faith, Dallas “Celebrate What Matters” September 22, 2012

As Angie and I topped the stairs some WOF volunteers stood hugging that precious momma I had met in line. I walked up and my heart burst wide open for her. I said, “I need to hug you one more time.”

She fell upon my shoulder and wept the deep, gut wrenching sobs of loss that come when a child goes home leaving a wake of heartache and agony behind them.

Sweet sisters, acquainted with sorrow and grief. Holding onto the promise of hope offer to all through Jesus Christ.

My friend snapped a picture of the two of us together and I asked if I could call her and check on her in a few weeks. We exchanged contact information and I promised to text her the pictures we had taken that day in a moment of divine orchestration, God began knitting our hearts together. As we returned to our seats, I sent the pictures and a week or so later I got a message from Facebook from this sweet woman so new in her grief. Lord help me.

The afternoon featured Pat Smith and the Voice Worship Experience. And, by the time we left the arena my heart was bowed low and my soul awash with so many new revelations of God’s glory and His work in my life. Angie and I walked out and I confessed, “I pray we don’t have to think tonight at the awards ceremony because my brain is done for the day. I have so much to process. It just cannot take anymore.”

My good friend smiled wide. She said, “Tonight will be fun.” Then she paused and seemed to weigh her words a bit before sharing what God had put upon her heart.

I had my new Bible laying in my lap as I reflected. “I did not expect Angie Smith to sign the dedication page. I mean, I just opened to the first blank page and I thought she’d sign it but I did not think she would write in the dedication part.”

My friend, Angie, smiled again. “I know you will get this all on your own, but I sense there is something very significant about that moment you don’t even realize yet.”

I immediately felt the Lord’s promise come up in my heart. Something under the surface that lingered with me in every breath and thought I had experienced since that moment when I stood among women grieving the loss of children. “I know it is significant. The overwhelming feeling that came upon me while I stood today that I cannot even describe what happened right now. And now, I sit here with a Bible in my lap called “The Voice” and  I know that it is significant. A Bible that a woman who is sharing her testimony about grief and loss signed the dedication in… As if God is saying, ‘It’s time to take your place and make your voice heard.'”

Angie allowed a moment of silence to dance between us on the air as my words hung there just lilting slowly sinking in as words of revelation often do. “And Angie Smith wrote it in that Bible and sealed it for you so you always have something to come back to remind you of this day.”

Indeed. The sweetness of the Lord’s glory continues to humble, astound and amaze me. I continue to carry this weight of His greater glory with cautious optimism. And more than all this I do what I  know to do and that is testify to His goodness and grace in every passing moment praying His word rings true and the things of my flesh fall quickly away. May His name always and eternally be praised to the glory of Christ forever, and amen.

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