Need a speaker for your ladies' retreat?
I'd like to recommend someone to speak at your ladies retreat: my wife, Missy.
Here are four reasons I think she would do a great job:
- She is an articulate, effective presenter
- She has a jaw-dropping story
- Her talk would be Biblical
- Her talk would be practical
Here is a little more detail on each of these, and a summary of the message she has on her heart to present.
Missy is an articulate, effective presenter
I was reminded again of this just the other day when after a conference where both of us had spoken, our host turned to Missy and said, "Rave reviews! Rave reviews! Your people were raving about your presentation." There was a bit of an awkward moment, then he turned to me and said, "Oh, and you were good too."
I have had many people over the years tell me, "I have been coming to these training events for years. Your wife is the single best trainer we have ever had."
Missy has a jaw-dropping story
Missy married her high-school sweetheart one year out of high school. A few years later, her husband felt called to ministry and they moved to Louisiana so he could attend New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. After graduation, they moved north and he pastored a couple of churches in Louisiana.
These were good years for Missy. She was hesitant about being a preacher's wife at first, but came to really love it. She developed some deep friendships and found a place of ministry in teaching a Sunday School class for women as well as various kid's classes at other times. Life was good.
If Missy were to have heard a sermon on, "How to affair-proof your marriage," she would have listened and taken notes. But, she would have secretly thought, "It couldn't happen to me." Life was good for them, and she thought they were both committed to God and their marriage and it just couldn't happen to them. This is a central theme of her message: it ( "it" is not just referring to an affair, but any unthinkable calamity) can happen to you. "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" 1 Cor. 10:12 [NIV]
Missy had a good marriage. Maybe not an incredible marriage, but a good marriage. They had their bumps, but don't all marriages? Hers was a very normal marriage. They had just attended a marriage enrichment retreat and recommitted their vows to one another. Vows, as it turned out, that didn't mean much.
Two months later, the wheels fell off. Missy's husband, Chris, fell in love with a deacon's wife in their church, a member of Missy's Sunday School class. I will fly over the details pretty quickly. Chris resigned his position and they moved back home to New Mexico. Missy's hope was they'd work on their seventeen-year marriage and get their lives together. But, the relationship persisted and a few months later, it happened. Missy had taken their youngest son to an event in El Paso, TX, along with her sister and nephew, while their older son spent an afternoon swimming with a cousin. When she got home from a long day with the kids she found a note on the bar from Chris that said, "I am leaving. I don't know if or when I will be back." There was nothing in the note that would lead her to believe she would would ever see him again. She had no idea where Chris went or if he'd ever return. She could only assume her boys would grow up without a father.
To describe what happens to you in a moment like this is almost impossible if you have not been there. For those of us that have been there just hearing about it brings a pit to our stomachs. It feels like living death. The pain is excruciating. It feels like your soul is crushed in a giant vice. It feels like acid, fire, death. It can happen to you.
In fact, the message of the Bible is, in part, it will happen to you. Perhaps not a divorce, but pain--really bad pain--will come. It may be a divorce, the death of a child or something else, but eventually, for most of us, the train wrecks come. Not speed bumps; train wrecks. We all take our turn. Eventually the storms come to the just and the unjust. It can happen to you. That is the first part of Missy's message.
The second part is much more positive: it can happen to you, but Romans 8.28 is till true. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 [NIV]
You cry and you cry and you cry and then you realize, you have to get up and go on with life. There are kids to feed and a life to be lived. Somehow, we must learn to live the new life that we never thought would be ours.
I have always felt that ours is a very Romans 8.28 life. I had been divorced about 4 years when I met Missy. Although my story is not exactly like Missy's, there are many similarities, and the pain that comes along with the shocking reality that accompanies the horrible revelation that your spouse no longer wants to live life with you was something we both shared. We had something in common that both of us wished was not so. We dated briefly and were soon married. For a while she traveled with me, working the book table and tagging along.
One day, I said to her, "One of these days you are going to get bored. You ought to work up a talk for preschool and children's workers." She resisted just a bit, but said she would think about it.
About a month later she walked in the house and I announced, "Congratulations! I just booked your first speaking engagement!" After she picked herself up off of the floor I explained that I had been totally honest with my host, explaining that she had never done this before, but I think she would do a great job. "Oh, and the first one is cheap!" She agreed to take the opportunity and would tell you today she is so glad she did.
I say again - I have been told by many of her participants that she presented the best Sunday school training they have ever heard. Only God could work that out. Only God could match me up with a world-class preschool and children's trainer. Life is hard. It can happen to you. But, Romans 8.28 is still true.
It is true in another way as well. Eventually Chris found his way back to Las Cruces, and back to God. He did end up marrying the woman he had had an affair with. With time and the grace of God, Missy's relationship with Chris is as healed as it can be. In fact, oddly, he has become one of my best friends. He leads a Bible Study in our home each week. Missy often baby-sits their new child. The Bible says, "How good it is when brothers dwell together in unity." We might paraphrase, "How good it is when exes dwell together in unity."
My ex and I have a similar story. Missy and I did a Sunday School training meeting in our house a year or so ago. Both my ex, Sharon, and Chris and Missy and me all go to the same church and are all involved in Sunday school. So, we invited them both along with a lot of other teachers. I remember telling my mom about this. Her response: "Your life is so weird!"
Weird, yes, but a very Romans 8.28 life. It sure beats fighting with your ex forever. It can happen to you, but Romans 8.28 is still true.
Her talk would be Biblical
Missy is not interested in just telling her story. She is long past the need to tell her story for her own healing. She wants to provide solid Biblical teaching about what the Bible says about pain and suffering and how it comes to us all ,but God is with us. She wants to talk about forgiveness and how God calls us to forgive, even when it is difficult. She wants to talk about how the Bible speaks of fleeing from sin. It doesn't just tell us not to sin, it tells us to run. You can't stand near the fire and not get burned. We must run. She has a passion to see that her story prevents others from having a similar story and how to live victoriously in spite of it happening.
Her talk would be practical
This is the real point of every teaching, isn't it? Real teaching, (what I call disciple-making teaching) is "teaching them to obey." Not, "teaching them everything I have commanded you." No. It is "teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." We are not out to make smarter sinners; we are out to make saints.
Missy's presentation would have a strong application about three things:
- How to survive a gut-wrenching loss.
- How to forgive those who have hurt you deeply.
- How to get on with life when you feel life is over.
If you are interested in having Missy speak at your ladies' retreat, you can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I think you will be very pleased with the results.
If you would like to listen to Missy's story, click here http://www.joshhunt.com/MissyLadies.mp3