New to the blog? Start from the beginning.
I stepped on a Greyhound bus in Jacksonville, Florida headed for Samson, Alabama. I didn’t even know where that was. Just weeks earlier I resigned at the children’s home, packed my stuff and started my life without the people who saved it. Armed with a Walkman and a Billy Ray Cyrus tape (seriously??) I was headed for Camp Victory. This was the beginning of my passion for kids, young people and anybody or anything that would make me laugh. This was the summer between my sophomore and junior year at Clearwater Christian College. In many ways, that summer I would find out who I was absent of the children’s home or the sad orphan story.
I don’t remember where I was when I met a dynamic, funny, crazy and amazing girl from Crestview, Florida. We were instantly friends, we shared the same name, and the exact same sense of humor. That summer Amy & I would spend countless hours talking about our futures and how we were gonna save the world. A passion for Jesus is the other thing we shared and after that summer I went back to college with a bunch of stuff; a whole lot of memories and a friendship that would span years, denominations, marriages, divorce and a Facebook connect.
I reconnected with Amy about 4 years ago. We occasionally would chat on Facebook and I saw them once when they came to Florida, but mainly, we both continued living our lives, hers full of it’s own illnesses and drama and mine, well, I don’t have to tell you about mine.
That random post solicited a bunch of interest from lots of people, but Amy’s response rocked my world, and brought into focus everything I knew God wanted from all this craziness. At first, it was just a request to speak to some people she works with on a conference call. I am not a domestic violence expert, but somehow I was talking to people who spend their careers taking care of this ever-growing segment of the population. I thought it was a little weird, and I was constantly pushing from my mind what God was trying to bring to the forefront. Ouch.
I received an email from Amy after another posting; “would you be willing to come and speak to our congregation about courage? We are in a series about courage and Chuck (Amy’s husband) asked me to ask you. Think about it, pray about it and please feel free to say no”. I did none of that, I hit reply and said YES. Seriously, Watson…seriously?
The date was set for March and it was only January, so I had plenty of time to prepare, buy the plane ticket and pray about it. Fail.
I blinked and I was on a plane to NE PA, headed straight into a snow storm. Solid, just solid. On the way to the airport, I texted Amy (let’s say I was at a stop light) asking if I should cancel because of the storm. Her response? “We are flexible, whatever you feel comfortable with; or what God is telling you”. Ok, she could have left that last part out. So I sent her a text “I am going to throw caution to the wind, see you in a few hours”. To which she responded “this is so why we are friends”. Delta and I are good buddies, so I settled in my seat to, prepare? Fail.
I got to Philadelphia and it was COLD. Amy & Chuck picked me up from the airport and it was like no years, no divorces, no illnesses, no surgeries, no drama had happened, at all. I slept so well that first night (thanks Robbie for your room) and if you know me, you know that is a miracle. And the whole weekend was just like that, miracle after miracle after miracle. The black cloud that seems to follow me? Yeah it was over somebody else this weekend.
We watched the weather all weekend as it would dictate if and how much I would “get” to speak. I never took my PJs off on Saturday. I was doing some work on my laptop in front of this gorgeous window they have that overlooks mountains and snow. And there it was. A big giant ball of red and gorgeous yellow in the sky preparing to tuck itself in for the night. I dropped my laptop, ran outside with no shoes, no coat and no common sense. But I captured pictures of the sunset that night. I drive my friends crazy with my love for sunsets.
We had an amazing dinner, and more laughter. I went up to bed early to…prepare? Fail. I slept, like a newborn baby. I woke up Sunday in a panic? Nope. A calm, weird, crazy peace about speaking and could have cared less about the weather forecasts of billions of inches of snow.
“I used to wish that I could rewrite history, I used to dream that each mistake would be erased, that I could just pretend that I never knew the me back then. I used to pray that you could take this shame away, hide all the evidence of who I have been. But it’s the memory of the place You brought me from that keeps me on my knees, even though I am free.” Point Of Grace
The first service was at 8AM. And if you know me, I am not sure of my own name at 8AM, any 8AM on any day, ever. Chuck and I had gone over a few questions, and I sort of knew what I wanted to say, I was using the famous Watson preparation, you know, just figure it out as you go along. Except I was being bathed in prayer. Mama Bootsie, Crissy, Cheryl–any of you would be lucky to have those people in your hip pocket–were praying. And then God just took over.
Chuck’s very first question of me: “Amy, who are you now? Tell us a little about yourself”–he had already told embarrassing children’s home stories about me–taking all my options to make them laugh. What came out of my mouth were words that were not mine, nor are they now. “I am the precious daughter of our King, who is loved so well”. Wait, who said that? And that was just how it went. Question after question and answers that weren’t mine. At one point I had to remember that Chuck was the preacher, not me. The second service came around, and the same thing happened. It didn’t quite catch me as off-guard this time. A precious daughter of the King, wow, just wow. Not an orphan, not a survivor of domestic abuse, not an over-comer, not brave, not courageous, not strong–just a precious, precious daughter of my King.
“Heal the wound but keep the scar, a reminder of how merciful You are. I am broke and torn apart, take the pieces of this heart and heal the wound but leave the scar” Point of Grace
After church I took a deep breath, ate an amazing lunch, got back in my PJs and sat in front of that window again. To prepare? Fail.
When the big snow flakes started to come Chuck was on the phone with church leadership trying to determine if they should cancel Sunday night service. I was scheduled to speak for 40 minutes–so I have to admit when I saw the snow coming, I was relieved. I was nervous. Amy kept saying “I don’t want Amy’s story to be wasted, I want as many people as possible to hear it”. And just like that, the snow stopped. So, I took the next 15 minutes to…prepare? Fail.
We got to church and I was so nervous. My heart was beating out of my chest. I walked into the sanctuary and there was a podium and a microphone. This was legit. I fought the wave of nausea. O, my gosh, I was so nervous. And people started to pour into the sanctuary. We gathered in a circle and we prayed. These people had to be sick of me by then, so the introduction was short. Then minute #1 was there. I looked over the audience and saw everything that you would expect to see in a segment of any population. There were people in that room who are much more gifted than I–there were people in that room who were missionaries for longer than I have been alive–there were young women in that room. And there was my rapidly beating heart. Thump, Thump, Thump. Deep Breath…
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us” Romans 8:18
Certainly, it was helpful that we are studying Romans in my Bible study. But I knew that I didn’t want anybody to think that I have a corner on pain. I wanted to tell a story of hope and peace–hope and peace and all it’s cousins.
The next 39 minutes are a bit of blur to me. I know we talked about Grace that is so sufficient for our pain. We talked about our God praying intercessory prayers for us; especially when we can not speak. We talked about restraining orders and nervous breakdowns and redemption. We talked a lot about redemption.
“I will build a alter with the rubble that you found me in and every stone will say of what You can redeem” Point of Grace
None of those words were mine. I fell asleep last night almost audibly saying “ok, ok, ok whatever You want”. Indeed, whatever You want indeed.