You can catch up by clicking here and reading Part I –https://armouredup.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/a-perfectly-woven-web/–
I couldn’t have been happier seeing Mary come out of the grocery store pulling her luggage, a look of uncertainty in her eye. Her outward look matched mine; however, I wore mine on the inside. We embraced and she confessed that she woke up that morning uncertain that she would be joining us and was close to canceling. “I’m so glad you came,” is what came out of my mouth, but what I was thinking was, if she had cancelled, I would have also. We boarded the bus warily, I’m sure each of us skeptical for different reasons…she, never being around so many Christian women in so intimate a setting and I in the midst of healing after having my trust breached (once again) by Christians. We pull off, eyebrows raised, destination known, future uncertain…with only God knowing what the condition of our hearts would be on the ride back home. During the ride I pointed out Rashayna and told her that I wanted to introduce them that weekend. She stared at her for a while and said she looked so familiar to her. We settled in and chatted the rest of the way about nothing and everything. We arrived and were given our room assignments and instructions to meet in the dining room. We met our other roommates, a sister who had recently discovered she was expecting after the devastating loss of child born extremely premature just a few months prior and our fourth roommate was a woman I had never met, but was strangely drawn to with a story which would prove to blow back all of our hair. She was one of the speakers and all I knew about her was that she had a story!! The Weaver was busy weaving…
After dinner, we gathered in our meeting room. I found seats for us and held my breath as the program began with worship. I so wanted her to be comfortable and I was straining to focus as our first speaker took the microphone; opened up in prayer and began to talk about the many veils we wear as women to mask our feelings. <“Breath, Arlene, she’s talking to you,” is what I kept hearing…”Let Me handle Mary and you just receive. I am God, you know.”> Note to self and the reader….Uh, God is God and we are not! How refreshing is that??? – With an exhale, I began the process of entering in that rest I so needed, casting my care and Mary over to Him and guess what? It works! I spotted Mary taking page after page of notes. Our next speaker talked about the labels we wear as women; some self-imposed, some inherited, some given to us, some of which stick and alter our perspectives, our choices, our decisions. Was that a tear I saw Mary wipe away or was that mine blocking my vision? The program closed and a spontaneous decision was made for all of us to take a walk to a fire pit where our weekend’s leader kicked down “discomfort’s door” and with transparency that later Mary would say moved her beyond belief, she welcomed us into her pain and floored us with the details of what was currently raging in her personal life, threatening to prove that God had forgotten her and her family. That opened up the door to many other women sharing intimate details. I noticed that Mary had sat with Rashayna and they had been chatting. I sat off to the side praying that Mary would get up and unmask the enemy giving her an opportunity to disarm him in the company of some powerful women. Just as our time that first night as a group was coming to an end…the cold becoming a bit much and just as I was pleading to the Lord for her to raise her hand, Mary did just that and with the strength that I saw in our leader just moments before, she stood up, introduced herself and poured out what she had shared with me, ending her introduction with something like, “I’m not sure exactly why I’m here and I don’t know if I’ll ever believe the way you all do, but I’m here,” and that, my friend, is all that God needed to hear!
We retired to our rooms, some too amped to stay behind closed doors and us four opting for a more intimate setting in our room. Kim, the woman I was so drawn to began to share a little of her testimony. I noticed her peace, how beautifully she spoke…both gently and confidently, with so much ease. Mary, who is as smart as a whip, and Kim began engaging as I listened. Kim answered some pretty difficult questions with such practicality and with a deftness I hadn’t seen in a while. She too, had miscarried her baby just six weeks prior and would be sharing her story. She hesitantly shared that she had a picture of her 12 week old baby and asked if we wanted to see. She also wanted our opinion as to whether it would be too shocking to share as part of her story. God worked it out that our fourth roomie was fast asleep and missed our conversation altogether. Kim shared the picture of her baby and she just beamed as she showed us. That picture would prove to change Mary’s mind regarding the horror of abortion. God…on the move even up to the time we turned our lights out and said goodnight. I’m sure Mary had a lot going on that she was processing, as I fell asleep thinking about Kim and her amazing faith.
I have asked Kim’s permission to share her testimony, one which she so powerfully shared with us on the next day, which concluded with a letter she had written to her baby the day after she miscarried, along with the picture she took of her baby. Kim’s response to my request was “Of course. Anyone who values your writing, I’m confident will value what God has and is doing through that letter and photo. It’s funny that you bring up Mary…when this woman who I did not know (with wavering faith) looked at the photo and said, ‘I don’t think I’m Pro-Choice anymore,’ I knew God was going to do great things with this. I trust whatever you decide.” Here is a link to that letter and photo. http://wynottme.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/dear-baby/
The next day Mary woke up with a lightness to her. After breakfast, we met once again to hear our sisters speak on topics varying from dealing with envy and strife to one of my personal favorites…the testimony given by the former Miss Alabama and powerhouse woman of God about faith and the word and how to wield it while God works in accordance with it. We took a break for some quiet time with the Lord, after which we would have lunch, some free time and then back for the beginning of Mary’s long-awaited breakthrough…when Rashayna would share what appeared to be a message prepared just for Mary’s ears.
Rashayna has a soothing voice which has a buttery or velvet-like texture to it and she began speaking from the back of the room as a video played. She showed the Lifehouse skit “You’re All I Need,” which tells the story of a young girl having found Jesus, only to be wrestled away by the demons of her past, and the fight which ensues and ultimate victory as Jesus breaks through to win her back. Rashayna shared her message with the precision of a surgeon and I knew without a doubt that this message was the most important message that Mary would hear that weekend…this would be the message which she would never forget and later, Mary would confirm that to be the case. At the end of Rashayna’s message, prayer was offered and as I opened my eyes, there was Mary making her way forward. Of course I began directing traffic in my head saying….”no, don’t go that way, go to the right, towards Rashayna…no stop!” Another sister reached Rashayna before Mary could, but God had a better plan. As the evening drew to a close, after many more tears, it was time to head back for the night. Mary said she wanted to stay behind for a minute.
A minute turned into at least 2-3 hours as Rashayna swooped in and spoke to her in a language only they recognized, their past beliefs, experiences and circumstances being eerily similar. Mary met her match in Rashayna who is extremely intelligent with the most tender heart. Rashayna was firm, tough as nails and determined not to allow Mary to wear her out with her questions and stubbornness. One of my favorite lines that the Lord dropped into Rashayna for her to deliver was one which gave Mary pause to think about and for which she had no response. It went something like this – “The philosophies and beliefs you have, have gotten you to this point. They are no longer serving you and the lifestyle you are striving for. It is time to establish new philosophies and beliefs based on the Truth.” Can’t you just hear that “ZING” where you are? Just as we were wondering aloud where Mary was, she appeared at the door with a tear-stained face, red nose, looking like she had been in a fight and had lost! haha. Rashayna followed her in looking pretty spent as well. She told her to tell us what she had just done. It took her a minute to form her words, but she said it and when she did I could have just fallen out again, but I kept my composure as I heard her say, “I gave my heart to Jesus…I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior.” I went to sleep that night with the biggest smile and with a heart filled with gratitude…in awe at how God had moved and planned and orchestrated so many circumstances, situations and events in order to make Himself known to one, while healing the heart of another. (My journey to healing began on the zipline, which I shared a while back in my blog titled, “Zipline to Freedom.”)
Our final morning together, Mary got dressed up in her Sunday best and I asked her (although I knew the answer) why she was wearing heels. She said, “I’m going to church…I think I can make the 1:00 service when we get back.” hehehe One of the last things I said to her the night before was that she should prepare for a bumpy ride, since the enemy is not happy at all about losing one of his soldiers and those words were prophetic. Soon after she arrived at church that day, she received a message from back home that her mom was being hospitalized and it was serious. Mary’s first text to me was a prayer request. Here’s what she wrote…”Just got a text…my mom is in the hospital. My dad, sis and mom r in such fear. I’m at service and will stay here then call my family. What r some scriptures that I can pray for my mom. I don’t feel equipped with the bible and jesus and I feel I will be on a plane to Chicago by tomorrow.” God was wooing her back to her family, the family she had disengaged from for years. She was in Los Angeles…as far away as possible from her former life and the crippling pain she had run from seven years before. She arrived in Chicago with her notes from the weekend which she used to strengthen herself and her mom. Here’s another text she sent me giving me an update. “…The good thing is she is asking for jesus to help her and he is right here with me…I prayed over her when I first got here but I now need to do it again and feel confident without doubt.” God moved on her mom’s behalf. Mary made the decision to move back to Chicago to pick her life back up and move forward. She has found a church and is serving and just recently shared with me that her mother, sister and aunt have all received Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
A couple of weeks ago she was in town and she and I met with Rashayna over lunch and I was able to rest my eyes on a miracle. While she spoke, I marveled once again at how far she had come, recognizing that the Lord was still doing a work in her in order to complete His “takeover” of every stronghold that attempts to linger. I sat back staring at the two of them visiting the memory of what I just wrote about and as I write this I am teary once again at the lengths our Heavenly Father will go to in order to prove His unfailing love. As life will have it, Mary is back in Chicago, Rashayna and her family are packing to move to another state and here I remain amazed that for that moment back in February our lives merged and what began as a favor for a friend (Victoria) became a story woven so beautifully, so intricately that no one person could ever take the credit for…for it was the Master Weaver at work behind it all.
“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!” Psalm 36:7 NIV