Monday, April 20, 2015

Sisters In The Storm

"Still" by Hillsong

When the oceans rise 
and thunders roar
We will soar with you 
above the storm
Jesus you are King over the flood
We will be still 
and know you are God.

I got 30 new sisters last weekend!

We journeyed from all over Charlotte and surrounding areas and met  together on the shores of Ocean Isle Beach to retreat, to laugh, to grow in our spirits, to be renewed in our faith and to be refreshed in christian community. We came to ponder how to discover God's peace in our storms. We came to hear from the One who commands the winds and the waves. Jesus.

Tonya, my fellow writing friend and co-retreat speaker, pulled in just a couple minutes before me. I stepped out and we both looked up at a majestic oceanfront beach house which would be our home for the next 4 days. Aptly named, Splash Kingdom, we stood in the driveway and took it all in--two simple midwestern raised and southern planted girls gawking happily up at this incredible 12 bedroom jewel.  No words needed to be said- we stood for a moment, grinning at each other, amazed by the opportunity God had given us to minister His peace at such a heavenly location!  Yet the loveliness of this vacation home paled in comparison to the breathtaking radiance that we would soon discover within the women that God had called together this weekend.

We talked about The Vessel, The Storm, The Sand and The Treasure.

The Vessel: The one being refined by the storm - You, me, our families and our friends. We are all
                     intricately different vessels created for His glory and purpose. Wonderfully and
                     fearfully made. Each of eternal worth and value to God just as we are.

The Storm:   Storms in nature and storms in our lives are to be expected. No one is exempt. Storms
                     need not define us but turned over to God have the power to Refine us!  As Christians,
                     Storms have a purpose to draw us to God who is always with us in the midst of them.
                     "Sometimes God calms the storms and sometimes God lets the storms rage and calms
                      His child."

The Sand:      Storms can rub off our rough edges. Like sea glass, the sand (i.e: the difficult situations,
                       people and events of our lives) over time, turns broken shards of our life into
                       something beautiful. The Potter has the right to re-fashion and re-purpose His vessels.          
                       God allows us the freedom to choose to surrender to this heart makeover.
                       Brokenness brought to God becomes beauty and purpose. He can be trusted
                       with our hearts.

The Treasure:   Each of us carry within our vessel a treasure. The Holy Spirit. Purpose and Hope.
                         Like a message in a bottle. We are God's workmanship, His poem.   Surrendering          
                          our "Storm Stories" to Jesus uncorks the bottle of our testimonies and allows the
                         message to go forth with power and joy in us!  Misery surrendered to God becomes

32 Individuals arrived at the beach retreat. Some not knowing a soul, some good friends and others vaguely acquainted with each other.  Over the course of the weekend it stormed...and we rained and God ministered, the wind blew and hearts were healed. Finally the sun came out and we basked in the beauty and warmth of it. Grateful.

We risked vulnerability to share our stories. We opened our hearts to the Lord and asked for healing, we worshipped, prayed,  laughed and cried together.  And while we weren't looking, something amazing happened...We became sisters!  Sisters in the storm.  All the while, God was accomplishing a deep work in hearts and minds, setting many free from shame, fear and hopelessness. New dreams were birthed, old dreams were resurrected, compassion, forgiveness and repentance swirled like mist throughout the weekend. The final night God set our feet to dancing!  Yep! Sometimes joy is so thick the only appropriate thing to do is dance... so we did!

Do you know that you are God's beautiful vessel? His Treasure?  Will you allow the storms of your life to be used of God to do their refining work in you?  Will you allow The Lord to use the rough and scratchy parts of your life to fashion into a testimony of His goodness, grace and power?  Will you take the risk of sharing your "storm story" with another who needs to know that she is not alone?

Your Sisters in the Storm will be cheering you onward!