Their resources and conferences are rock-solid doctrinally and Christ-centered, and have been used by God to teach me, convict me, and mature me, and I wanted to share with you a bit of my journey through these conferences.
I attended True Woman in Chattanooga, 2010, in the midst of some very difficult circumstances at the church where my husband served as youth pastor. There was much controversy and much drama in the church, and very little love and very little kingdom work going on. Much of it seemed to be aimed at my husband for reasons that were never spelled out. Our friends and family outside the church were telling us to leave, that we should not stay in a church that for all outward appearances seemed dead. Even people inside the church began telling us they would leave if they were us. The pastor and his wife, close friends of ours, were themselves already looking for another church.
But we had a history of running away when things became difficult, and we strongly felt that God did not want us to do that this time. We were committed to staying until He Himself told us to go.
So I came to Chattanooga physically worn out (I was pregnant with baby 5, and would find out the next week that I also had mono), spiritually weary, and confused. People kept sending us other ministry opportunities that looked wonderfully inviting. A couple were even pretty much offered to us if we wanted them. It was so tempting. Our current church was so miserable. Business meetings had become shouting matches. We were having to protect our children from some of their teachers who would say unkind things to them simply because of who their daddy was. I was just empty. The whole conference was wonderful, but then James MacDonald preached. His sermon sticks with me to this day. The Greek word “hupomene” is permanently etched into my brain. God spoke through him that day to affirm that my husband and I were doing exactly what He wanted us to do. Remaining under the trial, not looking for a way out, so that steadfastness could have its work in us, making us perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
I went home and wept with my husband. The road ahead looked no easier, but we were no longer confused. God wanted us to stay put, and that’s what we would do.
Fast forward two years to True Woman ’12. I attended in Indianapolis, this time pregnant with baby 6. We were still at the same church. Our pastor had indeed left to go somewhere else, and things got even worse after he left. We went from business meeting to business meeting not knowing if there would still be a youth minister’s position by the end of the meeting. Finally we got a new pastor and on the surface things looked like they were improving. There were no more shouting matches, but there was no increased love or unity either. My husband had made a personal commitment to staying through the interim period to help the new pastor as much as possible. Over the summer of 2012, through mentoring by some godly pastors, my husband finally felt free to start looking to fulfill the call God had placed on him several years earlier to pastor a church. So when I arrived in Indianapolis, we had just started the scary and exciting process of praying for a church where my husband could serve as senior pastor for the first time, while still serving in a church that was full of unresolved conflict and hard feelings. And at this conference, I got to sit at the feet of my hero, Joni Eareckson Tada, as she spoke about suffering. I was not suffering physically, but I just soaked in her every word. I thought, “My suffering is nothing compared to so many. If they can serve faithfully through their suffering, then so can I.” I went home strengthened to face the uncertainty, the not knowing where or when we would be called somewhere else, and the not knowing how to keep serving with joy in an environment that was difficult for me, but almost toxic for my husband.
And now, two years later, how things have changed.
We stayed the course at that church, not trying to leave until God Himself opened the door, which He did this past March. March 30 was my husband’s first Sunday in the pulpit of our new church, and outside of our wedding day and the births of our children, that was the most joyful day of our marriage. We have been there six months, and we keep pinching ourselves to see if we’re dreaming. This church is not perfect, of course, but we are awed and humbled with the way God has blessed us by allowing us to serve in this congregation. So this time, I came to True Woman for the first time not in a hard place. And this time, it wasn’t one particular message that God used to speak to me, it was every single message. I realized, over the course of the weekend, that this was the first time in a very long time that I wasn’t in what I would define as a storm. During our marriage, we had served at four churches, three of which had been extremely difficult situations for various reasons. We had lived through unemployment or underemployment on three different occasions, and as a result we have struggled financially for years. We also had six babies and two miscarriages in a ten year span, so I was constantly pregnant or nursing, never sleeping and always fighting the emotional swings that accompany those times. We had moved seven times. I was living in survival mode for years.
Finally, Saturday morning, one little note in Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s message on Psalm 107 struck me. Verse 33 and 34 talk about God turning rivers into a desert, a fruitful land into a salty waste. She cautioned us that when we do find ourselves in a season of calm, out of the storms for the time being, we should be very careful to still be just as dependent on the Lord as we were in the storm, lest He send another storm our way to force us back to Him. I realized that is what this season in my life is all about. I am out of survival mode, and I need to learn how to live when there is no storm. It’s almost as if I have forgotten, or never learned, how to walk with Him in peace. My heart was filled with fresh joy. He has been so good to me. I look back now and see so much good that He did for us and worked in us during every one of those difficult situations. And now I see specific areas He wants me to focus now that the storm is over for a time. Taking time to really listen to my kids instead of just managing the crowd. Reaching out to the parents and kids on my kids’ sports teams instead of just sitting through practices and games trying to catch a few moments’ rest. Getting to know our neighbors instead of just hunkering down inside the house, hiding from the world. And above all, deepening my communion with Him in a time of peace, getting to know Him in a new way, so that I will have a better foundation and look more like Him the next time a storm hits.
(Interestingly enough, I had an injury to my neck/upper back two weeks before the conference. I was in bed for ten days. We weren’t sure if I would be able to go, so my husband put out a plea for prayer. He and I were convinced that God wanted to meet me in Indianapolis. Many people prayed for me, and the night before the conference, my pain was relieved to a large degree, enough that I could take my ice packs and attend the conference, and even focus on something besides pain. The timing of that injury seems suspicious, but the power of prayer is stronger than any other power that may have wanted to keep me from hearing from the Lord that weekend.)
So thank you, Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Your books, your devotionals, your radio programs, and most of all the True Woman Conferences, have been used by God in mighty ways in my heart, and by extension, in my family. Thank you, Revive Our Hearts, and the True Woman movement for making these resources available. Thank you especially for the scholarship for pastor’s wives that I was able to receive for the first time this year. May God add blessings to you for your faithfulness to pour out your life for women like me.