Monday, April 14, 2014

Lessons from Hope Spoken: 13 things

It's been two weeks since Hope Spoken and on social media, it's clear the messages all of us took away are still percolating in hearts. I was just looking through my notes from the weekend. Not notes I took during the weekend, but ones I scribbled down in an attempt to catch some of the overflow of my brimming heart on the plane home Sunday night.

In the terminal, I felt the swelling of words and feelings about the weekend but my laptop was tucked safely in my checked luggage and I had no journal or notepad. I tried to purchase some form of paper in three gifts shops and when that failed, I asked one cashier if she had a printer from which I could have a couple sheets. No printer either. But a kind man with a briefcase, waiting to pay for a bag of chips, overheard my request and offered to tear a few pages of the yellow lined variety out of his Steno pad for me.

I started hastily spilling out my thoughts as soon as I was seated on the plane. It was a late flight, one of the hazards of living in a state to where few people want to fly, and when the cabin lights were shut off, my seat neighbor, an executive from the U.K. who related his decade long dream to ski in Montana, pressed the button on the ceiling to turn my light on for me.

I scribbled and scribbled until my British friend raised his eyebrows and made a comment on how unusual it was to see someone writing with a pen and paper these days. It's exactly why my handwriting is so messy; I'm horribly out of practice. Writing with a pen and paper for me feels like trying to fill a gas tank with an eyedropper. But my choices were to write, or risk losing much of the memories and emotions from the weekend.

And since it's the 13th (or was last night when I wrote this), I thought I'd share 13 observations collected from those notes that sort of sum up the weekend in my memory.

1. There is a difference between deeply admiring people with faith and actually having it yourself. I don't just want to spectate a life of faith in others. I want to learn from them and grow in faith myself. 

2. There is always someone from whom you can learn, and always someone you are able to teach. God often gives us roles to be a teacher and a student at the same time. I think that's cool.

3. Having close friends with whom you can share your faith (living in community) is not an optional part of the Christian life, and I think we sometimes treat it that way. The functions and benefits of Godly friendship are countless and crucial and so worth the investment. So many times, I've found that God chooses to speak first through those individuals.  

4. Acidy, caffeinated drinks are a bad choice before public speaking. Unless you want to feel even more nauseous and jittery than you already do.

5. Just because you're not a speaker doesn't mean God won't call you to speak.

6. Just because you're not a speaker doesn't mean God can't or won't powerfully use your story when you speak it. The power of it, once you speak it, is relative to and assigned by Him, not you.

7. In order to share your story, you need to understand first that you have one.

8. After you understand you have one, you need to re-understand that actually, it's God's story, not yours.

9. Third, sharing your story requires discerning of when to share it and to whom. It is not meant for all times and for all people, but it is absolutely needed for some time and for someone.

10. Leading/shepherding a small group of women was not as hard as I expected. I suspect love is the only fuel needed.

11. Shame and condemnation from the enemy is a huge and very real problem among women, one that we don't like to talk about. I wrote lots about that in my last post.

12. People behind blogs and social media accounts are people in need of compassion and grace. They (we) are full of troubles, full of need, full of life, struggle, sin, shame, confusion, passion, worship, sincerity, friendship, love, generosity, brokenness, bravery, and absolute beauty.

13. It would have been a disaster for me if God had not shown up and put His words in my mouth and His spirit in my heart both behind that podium and the rest of the weekend.

I prayed and prayed for #13 to take place, for God to show up for me and speak through me at Hope Spoken. I knew a lot of other people who were praying the same. God answered those prayers with a resounding Yes. He said, "I'm not going to leave you hanging when you step behind that podium. I will not leave your side."

I wonder how my every day would be different if I depended on Him that much for my daily life. If I never once slipped into the "I got this," mode. If I never once presumed I knew what to say already.

All these lessons, all these truths that rose to the surface over the course of that weekend are things I want to hold close. Particularly #13. Because I know what a disaster day feels like. I know I can become one in 5 seconds if I am not rooted and grounded, and understanding how utterly dependent on God I am. Every hour I need Him.

I'm looking forward to this holy week of resting in His promises; He has forgiven my disasters, broken the chains of my shame, and redeemed my seasons of faithlessness . And I will be celebrating that those acts came at very high cost.

Mercifully, one I didn't have to pay.  



  1. "I wonder how my every day would be different if I depended on Him that much for my daily life. If I never once slipped into the "I got this," mode. If I never once presumed I knew what to say already."

    Love this quote, Leslie. Love this post. Thank you so much for sharing, you are an encouragement!

  2. "7. In order to share your story, you need to understand first that you have one. "
    just this morning, a classmate shared his testimony in chapel and began it by saying, "i don't have a testimony of the supernatural or of miracles." and i just wanted to shake his neck and remind him that his very salvation is supernatural. being forgiven is supernatural. being able to forgive is supernatural. i just wish we would stop downplaying our stories and His work and start embracing them, even if they seem boring or ordinary.

  3. I am so sad i had to sell my ticket at the last minute. I wish i could have been there. thanks for sharing your heart i look forward to getting to know you better . Have a very blessed holy week sister

  4. This is so encouraging to me. Espeically today, when I decided to start my own blog after years Of being fearful. Thanks for sharing😍