Monday, August 26, 2013

It's Not About the Shoes (or the Notes)

A few months ago, I got a phone call that I was unavailable to answer. When I saw the missed caller's name on my phone, my heart sank because I had a gut feeling about what she was wanting. As I listened to her voicemail, my stomach did a flip flop. Yep, I was right. She was calling to ask me to be the next speaker at our Lake Charles Diocesan Women's Magnificat Breakfast. I laughed and thought how flattering, but "No, thank you!"

I called her back later to let her know that I would have to pray about it before deciding because we just had so much going on in our lives at that moment with the selling of all our possessions, quitting of our jobs, moving, and becoming full time missionaries. I had no intention of praying about it. I just wanted her to think that I had discerned my answer, because that's what "good" Christians do. A week or two (maybe three) went by before I realized while sitting in church waiting for Mass to begin that I hadn't called her back. I decided to call her after Mass and let her know that I just couldn't do it.

Mass began, and I realized it was the Feast of the Visitation. I smiled as I thought about Mary going to visit Elizabeth. I had just been bombarded that week with people frowning upon my love for Our Blessed Mother Mary. It was a confirmation to me that "Yes, Mary is important." Through her "Yes" Christ Our Lord came into this world. I was still thinking of this when the responsorial psalm began. It was from Isaiah, chapter 12, verses 2-6.

 I smiled again as the words, "Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name; among the nations make known his deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name." We had also been questioned heavily that week about becoming full time missionaries with Family Missions Company. Two confirmations in one Mass; God is always so faithful. I was still thinking about how God always speaks to me at Mass, always letting me know His will and continuing to confirm it at the exact moment I need it.

That's when I heard it...THE Magnificat. Father McMillin was reading from the Gospel of Luke and was reciting Mary's words which we refer to as the Magnificat. At that point, I knew two things: 1) I had to say "Yes" just as Mary did. 2) I knew that He wanted me to speak about doing His will and not my will. So, after Mass I reluctantly called and accepted the invitation and then put it out of my mind for a few months.

One day, I realized it had crept up on me. I began to panic. I couldn't do it. I couldn't follow all the wonderful ladies that had spoken before me and been such an inspiration to me. I was just a regular person, ones who struggles everyday to be a kind, loving, generous, faithful, joyful, patient wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, Christian. "Why me?" was what I continued to ask myself. "Why not all these other ladies who have it all figured out?"

I sat down a hundred times to write out my talk. I can write blogs all day long, but knowing that I was going actually be saying these words out loud to people I knew, I couldn't write anything. I kept thinking about who would be there. I imagined what they think about me if I said this or that. I thought about how they would judge me for having done this or that. Or how they might laugh at or make fun of me afterwards in their "cliques." (I know how Jr. High of me! But I was terrified.)

I then panicked even more when I realized that I had sold all of my "good" dresses and clothes at our last garage sale. It would give them even more to talk about afterwards if I showed up in my one dingy dress and flip flops. (Yes, it was junior high and high school all over again!) I suddenly lost all the confidence I had gained over the last ten years about my appearance, height, style, etc. It was crazy!

So, the search began for a new dress and shoes. I am 4 foot, 8 inches and wear a little girls size 2 1/2 shoe. Try finding a dress and shoes my size without butterflies, hearts, or peace signs! It's not easy! I searched and searched several towns and numerous stores. My new worry over the clothes took the place of worrying about the actual speech I was going to be giving in two days. Finally, after driving home from a day of shoe shopping, I was really upset with God for not answering my plea for the perfect pair of shoes to match the dress I had finally found, when I heard Him say, "It's not about the shoes."

Whoa! I always wanted to hear His voice like others have claimed to have heard, and I finally do, and its about shoes! I just laughed at myself thinking about how silly I had become over the dress and shoes especially when I hadn't even prepared the actual talk yet.  I looked up and said, "OK, I get it!"

Once again, I sat down at the computer and typed and typed and deleted and deleted. I was so certain about what God had wanted me to talk about in the beginning, but as I sat down to plan it all out I keep second guessing what it was that God had wanted me to share. Satan has a way of getting into your head and messing with you when he knows God has big plans for you. Finally, I gave up and begged my community to pray for me and over me.

With one day left, I poured my heart out onto the pages and didn't look back. I typed and typed and typed just letting the Holy Spirit guide me and praying that it would all make sense the next day since I was not going to have time to proofread and edit it before the next morning. Actually, I didn't get to finish it before it was time to leave for Jennings, but knew that I could "wing" the ending about our call to missions since I had told it numerous times lately. No worries!

The morning of the talk I went down to the hotel business center to print out my unfinished talk only to find that the printers didn't work. I laughed thinking about how Satan was so determined to keep me from sharing my testimony. No worries! I emailed my talk to a friend and called her to print it out and bring it to me. And off I went to the breakfast without a computer or any notes leaving my husband standing in the hotel parking lot panicking enough for the both of us.

My friend arrived at the breakfast with a folder in hand. She opened it to show me this document that was printed in a microscopic size font. I laughed. I had sent it to her in a Word document in a size 16 font and double spaced for easy reading. It was printed in a size 8 font and had very little spacing between words much less between each line. I continued to laugh, knowing that this was part of my growing as a missionary for Christ.

I had questioned God many times about how I was going to be able to preach the Gospel in other nations. I had been told by numerous people, "God will give you the words. Just TRUST HIM." I knew this was a test. I knew that this was part of His plan for me. I knew that I just had to trust Him to give me the words that He wanted me to use. I got up on that podium and gave my testimony (over an hour long) without any notes and without new fancy shoes!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My First Interview

About a month ago, I received an email from Stephanie Shick, A Dreamer's Wife.  She had stumbled upon my blog and wanted to "Spotlight" my blog on hers.  It sounded great at first.  Then I read what that meant---an interview.  I laughed at first and thought "Interview me?"  That was crazy.  Why would anyone want to interview me?  We hadn't even done anything yet.  We are still just sitting and waiting for our life as missionaries to begin.  What could she possibly want to ask me?

Then I panicked and closed the email without fully reading it.  I was worried that this might be a phone interview where I'd have to come up with answers on the spot and would sound so dumb. Or worse; it might be a video interview where I'd have to be on camera coming up with on the spot answers. I'd not only sound dumb with all the "uh, uh, uh", but I'd look dumb too!  Two of the things I hate more than anything---public speaking and cameras!

But I knew that I was going to have to say "Yes" no matter what it entailed.  I had made a decision long ago that I would follow Christ no matter what He asked me to do.  And this was NOT the first time that He had called me out of my comfort zone to do things that I did not want to do.  He had recently been calling me to lots of speaking engagements that I did not want to do.  Each time I was blessed abundantly for my "Yes."

This was just another one of those things that I was just going to have to do no matter how horrible it sounded to me.  So, I opened the email back up to see what I needed to do next and prayed, "Lord, help me to be able to do this and to know what it is that You want me to say." To my relief, Stephanie just wanted to email me some questions! Whew!  Writing! That's what I love to do.  Thank you, Jesus!

Hopefully, many new people will read about Family Missions Company and feel the call to do as Jesus commanded.  "Go and proclaim the Gospel to all nations."

Here's a link to the interviewA Family on a Mission {July’s Dreamer in the Spotlight: Melissa Seilhan}.