Monday, July 8, 2013

Speak Up!

My first memory of the words "speak up!" occurred when  I was a shy, chubby six year old with bangs that were way, way, way too short! I was in first grade. We sat at tables, not desks. I was a proud member of the snowflake table. (It must have been winter.)  Mrs. B was our teacher. She was quietly walking around the classroom, watching us as we filled out our math worksheets. Suddenly, abruptly, she stopped at our table.  She stood silently behind my chair. The silence was broken when she loudly asked, "Joyce! Do I need to put mittens on your hands?" I was silent, but mostly I was mortified! She just accused me of the most grievous of all first-grade sins - counting on my fingers!!! She waited for what seemed hours for me to answer her question. I couldn't. Tears trickled down my cheeks. All I could manage was a small, barely audible "no!" She could not hear me. "Speak up!" I couldn't speak up. So, I just sat sniffing back the tears.

Fast forward many, many years.  I am no longer at the snowflake table, but I am at a table, and I am surrounded by seven women whom I have never met.  We are the members of small group #3, and we are nervously awaiting for our name to be called.  Our leader asks if anyone wants to go first. No hands go up. "Okay ladies, I will just go in numerical order as your names appear on my list. Joyce, you're first." Gulp! Inside my head I was screaming a run-on sentence that I was sure everyone in the room could hear. "No!!!! I'm not ready to stand here and give a three minute speech and have all of you evaluate me because I'm not prepared and I'm wearing the wrong outfit because I have to remember to hold in my stomach with this top and I know I'll forget to hold it in while I'm speaking to all of you people that don't know me and suddenly it will be so obvious to all of you that I've been cheating on Weight Watchers!"

I gave my speech. The evaluations came. They were gracious and encouraging and beautiful. That was my first encounter with "Speak Up". And for the next three days I was filled with creative ways to use my God-given talents and desire to speak and write for Him.  I learned so much! And equally important, I met women who are now friends. This conference blessed me with hope and also with healing.

No longer do I need to shudder when I hear the words, "Speak up!" God has replaced my horrible memory of Mrs. B. Today, I hear the words "Speak Up" and I remember three lovely days filled with the wisdom of Carol Kent, the music of Frances Drost, and divine encounters with men and women who blessed me with their encouragement and inspiration. To God be the glory, great things He has done!


Arlene Gabrielson said...

Wow! Love your writing! Isn't God good? Can't wait to connect and hear more of God's voice through your blog!


JJ said...

What a great story! So glad you were encouraged at Speak Up. Now we WANT kids to use their fingers to do math! So funny.

~robin said...

Love this post AND your writing voice.

~robin said...

Love this post and your writing voice!!!

~robin said...

Love this post AND your writing voice.