Last week, as I was preparing to leave town for a writing conference in OKC, it seemed like everything was against me. I had sick kids, was extra busy and overwhelmed by all it took to get our family prepared for me to leave for 5 days. If I hadn't already paid for the conference and hotel I would have opted out and stayed home. I didn't have any excitement about coming, really just confusion as to why I’d signed up in the first place.  I had a feeling either the conference would be terrible or really great due to the forces working against my going.

Up until the moment I was walking to the conference door I was dreading it. Within minutes of being there, I felt a peace I hadn't felt all week. I knew this was the space God had reserved for me for the next three days. The information was invaluable. Each day I learned more than I could imagine and was affirmed daily by people through prophetic words and through the sharing of their stories.

On the second day a girl, who sat at my table that day and had brainstormed titles with me the day before, wrote me a note that she kept envisioning a bouquet of flowers when I told my story of Matthew and Gathering Hope. She said I was adding to that bouquet one flower at a time and that there was something inside of me that was about to bloom. Later that day, another woman at my table told me during a break that she kept seeing a picture in her mind of a bouquet of flowers with the word HOPE spelled out inside the flowers. Neither of them knew what the other had said to me. I texted Peyton to tell her about it and she was in the process of messaging back and forth with a florist to figure out arrangements for Gathering Hope! Crazy.

Last night the conference ended with a service with prophetic words and an anointing for each person. I'll be the first to tell you that prophetic word isn't something that I've experienced much and so I was apprehensive.

Wendy, the leader of the conference, had proven herself throughout the week as a woman deeply connected with God’s voice and I had definitely come to trust her throughout the past 3 days. She had a key for each person with a word written on it. Each word God had given her to write but none were specific for any of us yet. As we felt led, we walked up to her and she prayed over us and gave us our word. Many people had gone before me and many of the words I felt could have applied to me. I had a list in my head of what word I would get since I've felt quite sure of my path lately.

When I finally gathered the nerve to walk up to receive my word, God reminded me that I cannot predict His thoughts and plans. My word was the opposite of what I am. I wasn't excited or impressed by it. My word? LIVELY. Really? That couldn't be my word. I'm a lot of things. Lively isn't one of them. I'd seen person after person go before me and they'd literally laugh when they got their words because it was so obvious that it was God ordained. If I believed their word was straight from God, then I had to believe mine was too.

As she spoke my word over me and others gathered to stand in agreement, slowly I started to understand. She told me that though I do not project sadness, my eyes still wore the sorrow of losing Matthew. She said God showed her a picture of a babbling brook. A lively brook. That brook is inside me but it has been dammed up. They gave me permission to release the brook. By living LIVELY, with joy again, I wasn't dishonoring Matthew. Really by living with that deep rooted sadness, I am dishonoring. It's okay to be happy. It didn't mean that I am forgetting him. I felt released to smile again. “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” - Psalm 126:5

I will find the lively girl inside of me again. She's still there. She's ready to emerge like a babbling brook bringing forth joy and life.

She told me that she saw me in Psalm 23 walking beside still waters and through the valley of the shadow of death, fearing no evil. It would be by walking with other women through that same valley I'd find healing for myself while we seek healing for them.

Though I heard other words that I felt better suited me, I cling to LIVELY as a promise. I will emerge, smiling victoriously.