In October, it will be four years since the first time I distinctly remember the Lord showing me I would one day be a speaker. I was at a pregnancy center banquet in Charlottesville, Virginia with my grandmother (she is one of the founders of a thrift store in my hometown, which was started over 30 years ago, and they host a table at the banquet each year).
(Here is a photo taken from that night of my grandmother's friend, myself, and my grandmother)
Anyways, I was around 18 weeks pregnant with Lily and I had just found out conclusively that she was a GIRL (though I knew in my heart she was all along). I had been at Massanutten Resort in Virginia with my brothers and grandmother that week and the Lord worked it out for me to be able to attend the banquet with my grandmother. I was still early enough in my pregnancy for people not to know that I was pregnant unless I told them. If I wore baggier shirts, I could hide it quite well. I wasn't at the place where I was ready to tell everyone about being pregnant. So, nobody at the banquet that night knew.
(This photo was taken of me the day of the banquet)
He was cultivating a desire and passion within me that I never knew I could have. I couldn't keep the tears from falling that night as I thought of my sweet girl growing in my womb and how God had completely changed my heart and future already through her.
I remember looking around at the people there and thinking that they had no idea that I had a little one quietly growing within me, hidden from all eyes. I saw the director of the center there that night that I had met with early in my pregnancy and so wanted to run up and give her a hug to thank her for being there for me, but didn't since it was still not known to all.
I already knew that my unborn baby was to be named Lily and smiled when I saw lilies in the centerpieces of each table.
(not a great photo as it was taken on my cell phone, but I'm thankful to have it!)
I took that lily home with me to dry it out and it remains in Lily's memory chest to this day.
Even though nobody else knew about my Lily, God knew... and He always did know about her and love her. And He was giving me a hope and promise for my future through my little Lily. The lilies in each centerpiece were a symbol of this.
I knew in the deepest parts of me that I had a specific calling on my life to be a voice for the unborn and those in unintended pregnancies... in a very public way. Little did I know the turn my story would take and that I'd have to say goodbye to my precious Lily Katherine before she ever took her first breath. In my imaginings, I pictured standing up there speaking, with a beautiful little girl to show off. Things might have gone differently than I thought they would, but the story is more beautiful than I ever could have dreamed and my calling is the same.
I knew the plan God had for me life, but honestly had no idea how long it would take to come to pass. It was all in His perfect time and way because He knew when I'd be ready. He knew when my heart would be healed enough to share.
It was such a special, memorable, beautiful night of speaking at my first banquet. I can't fully put to words what it meant to me, to see how faithful God has been to blossom this vision in my heart and then bring it to fruition. A dream He gave me. Even when other people thought I was "dreaming too big" to think I could out of nowhere become a speaker. But, I knew God gave the dream to me and I wouldn't stop dreaming. I had "tried to make things happen" before this time, but I truly believe the Lord wanted to show me it would only be Him to bring it to pass, not me or anyone else.
The Lord can give you a vision for your life and future and please never let anyone tell you it isn't possible or the dream is "too big" or that you couldn't possibly hear from God. Cling to Him and trust Him with the dream. There may be several voices in your life telling you otherwise, but listen to His voice alone.
I never could have imagined I'd be a speaker. After all, it doesn't come naturally to me. I am an introvert and do not like standing in front of a crowd to speak, let alone about something so raw and personal. That's another reason I know this is God's plan: it's not about my reputation, but about His glory. The passion is so intense that I cannot deny this is my calling. The Lord chooses the weakest and least likely among us to be a testimony to His strength.
After four years, here we are. I have spoken at other events and venues and have many more coming up, but there's something special about the first pregnancy center banquet because that is where I was when God first gave me the dream.
At this banquet, just like the banquet four years ago, lilies were a part of the centerpiece of each table, as a tribute to my Lily girl. As another precious reminder that He'll never forget her. He loved her then and He loves her still...
I will share much more about the banquet soon. You can watch the video of me speaking below.
It is only the Lord Himself opening the doors and this is and will forever be always, only, ALL for HIM!