I have been waiting for this weekend for what feels like months. My church hosts an annual retreat in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina every year. It’s a weekend away with 100+ women feasting on the Word and learning from and about each other. I love retreat weekend. But, not every woman can go away. Family dynamics, finances, any number of things make it difficult for everyone to attend, so, our women’s ministry is holding a second retreat during the year right here in Lake Wylie at our campus. And last night was day 1 of a two day retreat titled “Count it all Joy”.

It’s interesting. I have been a part of the women’s ministry team practically since I arrived in South Carolina. I have taken a break from leading a growth group for a bit (after 3+ years of leading an amazing group of women who I miss seeing on the regular). My “newish” job requires a lot of me, including a lot of travel. That, and I needed to fill my cup. I’m not great at doing that, truth be told. But I was feeling pretty depleted.

About six weeks ago I started taking a course offered by our discipleship leader, Robyn. Robyn, like me, is a certified Christian Life Coach. She studied in a different program than I did and she’s sharing both what she learned in her program as well as what she has gleaned along the way. It has been a combination of scripture focus, deep diving into our core beliefs (about ourselves and about how we see God), and healing. I think the healing is what I have loved the most.

My journey to 52 has been a wind-y path, as is everyone’s. I’ve experienced my share of trials and joys. And through it all, the undercurrent, the theme, has been Grace.

One of the favorite phrases of the Mormon’s is “after all I can do, Grace will make up the difference.” That phrase triggers me to this day. Because Grace says there is nothing I can do — the price has already been paid. Grace isn’t a bridge, Grace is like a giant sherpa blanket. It covers us, envelopes us, protects us. It’s doesn’t make up some “difference”. Christ paid our debt – all we have to do is believe. To accept that truth.

This class has had me examining what I believe to be true. As much as I like to believe I’ve shed the damaging messages I received as a Mormon, I have found that some still reside deeply in me. But the wonderful part of this process is that I feel like I am truly starting to let the hurt and the messages go, little by little. And every day I feel like I am drawing closer, deeper in relationship with Jesus because little by little I’m understanding the gift of Grace even more.

Today I will sit on a panel with other women who have been through it. Through trials and difficulties but they have come through it and counted it all joy.

As I sit here thinking about what I want to say, this thought grabbed me. It doesn’t matter what I say. It doesn’t matter if I have the perfect words. It doesn’t matter if I remember the scripture that impacted me perfectly. In Christ’s physical absence, the Holy Spirit was left behind — in me — in all of us. He will tune the ears of those in the audience who need whatever it is He would have me share, and it will be heard in just the way it needs to be regardless of the delivery — because it’s not about me. And that makes me so thankful.

I’m excited about today. I am excited to fill a chair on the stage with these other amazing and beautiful women. The collective energy of those women who believe as I do so strongly in Jesus. What a privilege to be invited. I can’t wait to see what Jesus would have me hear today in their messages that is just for me.

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