Well, I made it on the coach without drowning in a pool of tears!
This morning at 10am I made the decision after careful prayer and discussion with my husband, that I would accept the offer of a ladies’ conference ticket which starts today! I’ve attended this conference before- Cherish, but after finding out I was pregnant last year, I decided that I wouldn’t attend, and so I sold my ticket. Completely happy and at peace with my decision, I didn’t have another thought about the conference but to wish the ladies well and praying they have a good time.
Yet there has been a succession of events in the lead up to Cherish that made me think this morning- maybe God wants me there! Yesterday was filled with what I call ‘God moments’ where I literally could feel a gentle nudge, encouraging me to go. I was practically put in situations where I couldn’t say no.
Fear of leaving my daughter was holding me back. She’s so young and we’re still establishing a routine. The night feeds are hard, let alone when you’re looking after Ava all day as well- how would Carl cope on his own? He’d be exhausted. Carl lovingly reassured me that he would be ok and that I needed to go and receive Gods word, to spend time with Him, giving my undivided attention. I still wasn’t convinced though.
I prayed about it and laid awake most of the night wrestling with my decision. I know Gods calling me to go- but I really don’t want to! I don’t want to leave my baby. I also didn’t want to disobey what I knew God was so clearly asking me to do. I couldn’t help thinking He had a message for me, a God intervention or moment that He wants to use to speak to me at this conference.
So as I reluctantly step out of the car and give my baby one last kiss for 3 days, I watch Carl drive away and immediately I feel what I can only describe as, emptiness. I felt like a huge chunk of my inner being had been torn away, it’s difficult to explain. Such a big part of me has been by my side for the past 5 weeks and 9 months before that. Now all of a sudden I have two free hands, my clothes are sick free and my bag is filled with my own belongings instead of nappies, nappy bags and feeding bottles. I still haven’t mastered the art of travelling light though- somehow I still had two luggage bags, both I practically had to sit on to close the zip. I am no longer Mum for the next 3 days, I am Cheryl- who is that? I can barely remember.
As the coach parks up outside of church, I bite my lip and do my best to dodge the ‘are you ok?’ questions, quickly changing the subject and focusing on the trip ahead. I couldn’t shake this empty feeling, and as I shared this with others, one lady said ‘you might feel empty now but you’re going to be filled when you leave this conference.’ Immediately my perspective shifted! She gave me a totally different outlook on how to deal with this emptiness. I really do feel so empty that I am totally ready to be filled with Gods word, His love, His presence and rebuild a relationship that’s become a little stagnant since having a baby.
After experiencing this totally alien sensation of complete emptiness, I thought about how often people must feel empty- surely I can’t be the only one. Perhaps it’s when your son/daughter leaves home- empty nest syndrome I’ve heard it called. Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one- someone who played a huge part in your life and now they’re gone you feel all alone. Perhaps you’ve lost a job or you’re retired and feel like a huge chunk of your life has evaporated. Whatever your situation, I wonder if you’ve experienced this emptiness feeling I’m talking about.
As I reflect on this today, I can honestly say that it’s only by feeling this empty that I am ready to be filled. I feel I’m coming to this conference leaving everything else behind- all my personal baggage and hang ups! Don’t hear me wrong- I do not in anyway include my daughter or husband in that. What I mean is all the distractions that come with being a Mum, being at home or even just life in general. I have so many distractions, stress, tiredness, house work and a multitude of other things that have hindered me spending some quality time with God these past 5 weeks. I feel I’ve filled myself with all these other distractions, I’ve been so overfilled there’s actually been no room for God, no room for Him to move or speak in my life. So as embark on attending this conference today, I feel he’s emptied me of all these distractions for now, released me of my motherly duties for the next few days so he can shake me and speak directly to me.
I am expectant of what He has in store. There are many things I’ve been praying for over the past year; dreams, direction, purpose, decisions to make and I now wait in anticipation for how God is going to use this conference to speak to me, to do a work in and through me.
Already as I reflect on this time last year, I am so thankful for the work God has done in my life. This time last year, it had only been 3 weeks since losing our baby Hope. I don’t think I made it through one of the messages without practically drowning in my tears. I remember constantly thinking, ‘why did I come.’ Nothing seemed like it was for me, I couldn’t hear God and wondered why He wanted me to be here. Then on the last evening, there was a moment I’ll never forget. Its still so fresh in my memory. The lead speaker felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray for any barren women in the room and those who were praying desperately for a child. I broke down, practically on my knees. I never opened my eyes, but among my tears I heard the instruction to pray for these women. Immediately I felt the surrounding women’s arms placed upon my body. The power of prayer is just that- powerful, and I felt that supernatural power work through my body. Those of you who know me, will know that in the September I found out I was pregnant with Ava Joy. Our sweet miracle.
Why have I shared this with you? My point is this, I was so empty- its often the word I use to describe how I felt after the miscarriage- that I literally felt like I had nothing left to give or live for. But being that empty, as heart-breaking as it was and still is, meant that God could completely fill me, both spiritually and physically with new life!
If you’re feeling empty right now, perhaps you feel you are an empty chamber with nothing left to give or offer. Whatever your situation or circumstance, I believe God can and will fill you up with love, new life and new purpose. He can regenerate the energy less. I know in the past 5 weeks being a Mum, although I love it, I’ve felt like all I have to offer is expertise on changing a nappy, bathing and feeding a baby. Perhaps you’re in a similar position and feel you’ve lost sight of your purpose and often label yourself as ‘just’ a mum, I’m just…, what could I possibly have to give? I really do believe God is going to fill you to the point where you’re overflowing! There are no limits to His love and I am totally expectant for how the Holy Spirit is going to move amongst this group of women over the next few days. Or perhaps you’ve filled yourself with so many distractions, you’re so in control, so busy that there is no room to be filled- you’re already overflowing and it’s not with the right things. Perhaps you need to allow God to empty you in order to make room so you can be filled a fresh! Perhaps you feel empty but you constantly try to fill that empty gaping hole with possessions, distractions and materialistic things?
Are you expectant for what he can do for you? Are you ready to be filled? I am- bring it on!
‘But no matter how much I do or get, it’s never enough to fill me up. And it’s not supposed to be.
Why? Because the empty places in our hearts were created to be filled by God alone. The deepest thirst of our souls can only be quenched by Him.
Dear Lord, show me the empty places in my heart and the ways I try to fill them. Then lead me back to You and show me how I can position my heart to be filled and fulfilled by Your promises and the power of Your love. In Jesus’ Name, amen.’
Renee Swope proverbs31.org
Ephesians 5:18 (NLT)
Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,