This is Melana (AKA Moose Mama) and Veronica, along with Tiffany (AKA For His Glory) - who graciously extended the offer for me to ride with her to San Antonio, and Adrienne (AKA as Fuzzytop). They are a sampling of the most genuine, beautiful, caring and special women I have met on this crazy blog journey. Melana and I shared tears as we talked about my son that day waiting for the event to begin. It was so precious to me. Tiffany and I became fast friends - it really seems as if we are long lost sisters - after our ten hours in the car together. We talked our way to San Antonio and all the way back - though we both were worn out and immersed deeply in our experiences from the weekend. SUCH Blessings to be sure!
Jennifer (AKA Jenmom) has been my internet friend since near the first of the year. She and I are regular IM chatters and so meeting her was a highlight of my weekend. I mean, a real highlight. I so looked forward to finally putting her face with her name. She walked with us and sat with us through the entire event and I loved every minute spent with her. She is a joy filled, beautiful woman of God. Love You, Jen! I did not have the opportunity to meet all the women in this photo, but I did meet Stephanie (AKA Ocean Mommy) at lunch earlier that day. She is in the middle, fourth from the left.
This is the other photographer featured in this post. Nesha is a quiet wife and mother from Virginia who went ahead of us early on Saturday to ensure we had great seats for the morning session. She took wonderful pictures and shared them with us! Can I be honest? Nesha was snapping away with her camera on Friday night, and I was weary of using mine so I just said, "I think I will let you take pictures for me, Nesha." I was half kidding, but she delivered and I love the photos. I will be sharing my favorite weekend shots of Beth and her girls in a future post but for now, suffice it to say - Nesha has an eye for beauty and captures it well with her lens. Thank you, Nesha. I miss our hugs and talks, too.
Okay... now on with the story because this post is already a mile and a half long.
Tammy -(AKA Grateful in Georgia) - A kindred heart
Twinkle - MY GEORGIA friend. Twinkle and I "met" over at the Lifeway Forums some four or five years ago when I landed there through the online study of Believing God. She prayed with me through the difficult days of my son's last year and blessed with sweet words of comfort, encouragement and prayer in the aftermath of my loss. She is my Georgia friend who wore her hat, her boots and her wranglers because she was in TEXAS! I love you, Twinkle. I really am so glad we got to hug necks.
I captured this photo taken by Cindy off of her blog.
Cindy (AKA Still His Girl) and Gayle (AKA http://thewestiecrew.blogspot.com) are very special NEW blog friends - as in we did not meet until San Antonio. I met Gayle when she needed to find her way back to the hotel after lunch on Friday. We soon learned that she is precious, gentle and well a genuine blessing of God even if only for a moment of the day. She made her way back with us by bus and there we got to visit. I was surprised on Saturday morning when I saw her sitting behind us. I came up the row before the session began and sat down to talk with her a few minutes...
That is when Gayle noticed my little dog, Justin. I had already had the occasion to introduce him to Margaret Kennedy (http://www.margaretkennedy.org/) while looking for Nesha on the floor. This little dog is named Justin. Gayle asked about him and I told her the story of how he reminds me of my son. She wrote about our conversation and what followed HERE. Sharing Justin's story is one of the ways I know that his life continues to have meaning. And, so God blessed me that day with two occasions to tell his story through this little Build-A-Bear Dog.
Cindy also took this picture of me as they sat behind us during worship.
Travis led us in a soul stirring song called, "Before the Throne of God." He told us to "sit down" while he sang, but truthfully, I could not stay down. The worship that took place inside of me during this song just turned me inside out and allowed me to pour out all the painful things I've carried for three years out at the foot of the cross. I found myself standing before His throne, just He and I.
I was able to pour out my love as an offering, a sacrifice of praise. He in turn poured out His healing Spirit upon my soul. He began to mend fully my broken mother's heart.
I want to leave you with the words to Isaiah 60 and the soul stirring words of "Before the Throne of God." You can sing the precious words of this hymn of faith in the video included in this post.
The Glory of Zion
1 "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
4 "Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the arm.
5 Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come.
6 Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.
7 All Kedar's flocks will be gathered to you, the rams of Nebaioth will serve you; they will be accepted as offerings on my altar, and I will adorn my glorious temple. 8 "Who are these that fly along like clouds, like doves to their nests?
9 Surely the islands look to me; in the lead are the ships of Tarshish, bringing your sons from afar, with their silver and gold, to the honor of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.
10 "Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you. Though in anger I struck you, in favor I will show you compassion.
11 Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night, so that men may bring you the wealth of the nations-- their kings led in triumphal procession.
12 For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined.
13 "The glory of Lebanon will come to you, the pine, the fir and the cypress together, to adorn the place of my sanctuary; and I will glorify the place of my feet.
14 The sons of your oppressors will come bowing before you; all who despise you will bow down at your feet and will call you the City of the Lord, Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
15 "Although you have been forsaken and hated, with no one traveling through, I will make you the everlasting pride and the joy of all generations.
16 You will drink the milk of nations and be nursed at royal breasts. Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
17 Instead of bronze I will bring you gold, and silver in place of iron. Instead of wood I will bring you bronze, and iron in place of stones. I will make peace your governor and righteousness your ruler.
18 No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise.
19 The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
20 Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.
21 Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor.
22 The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly."
(New International Version)
"Before The Throne of God Above" (Words Charitie L. Bancroft, 1863)
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence to depart.
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made and end to all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To long Him and pardon me.
Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My sould is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high, With Christ my Savior and my God!