By Esther Doele
Do you remember your freshman year of high school and the mix of emotions – awkward, nervous, but still excited? It was a trip out of your comfort zone. I took a step out of my comfort zone. It wasn’t a clothes- or shoe-shopping spree, although I could use one with spring here and summer not far behind. Believe it or not, the step out of my comfort zone was a trip.
As I write this, I'm thinking, Seriously? How could any trip be out of your comfort zone? I have wanted – no, needed a trip forever.
I have two daughters, Christianna and Eula, ages 9 and 7, whom I homeschool. Their request before the school year: “Don’t give us easy work. Make sure it is challenging!” It is indeed a challenge for the three of us, but it's been a lot of fun and we will do it again next year. Then there are Sunday school classes, children’s programs at church and women’s ministry. Does any of this sound familiar? Again, how could any trip be out of my comfort zone?
Well, this was not just a trip but an invitation! Although I thought it was extended from my mom Eula Carlisle, the weekend proved she was only the messenger. She told me about the conference in Kentucky and explained that Jannice May called and personally invited her to attend. She said my dad told her she should go and I agreed. This would be her first time because of past scheduling conflicts. However, it seems someone changed our last name to Job. This name change included trials of all sorts that could occur at any time.
Mom told Mrs. May she would like to attend, but she needed to be available to go to Connecticut at short notice. She explained one of her daughters was awaiting a kidney transplant. Mrs. May told her the airport is only a few minutes from the conference location, and husbands often come and talk while their wives attend the conference. Mom was almost in agreement if not for the long drive. Could her daughter come to help drive? Mrs. May said, “Sure!” and that is how I became involved.
Three problems: first, I thought the conference was for pastors’ wives only; second, who would take care of my daughters? And third, I could not afford it. Well, God took care of the problems (aka excuses). I found out as I am a ministers’ wife I could attend. My sister, Jackie, volunteered to take care of the girls for the weekend. My mom talked to my sister, Juanita, who took care of my expenses, making the whole idea an offer too good to refuse. The weather was perfect for a trip to beautiful Kentucky, referred to by some natives as “God’s country,” and we stayed at a beautiful hotel. My husband Phil worked overtime so he could come as my driver.
The conference exceeded the beauty of the trip and hotel. My mother and I were truly refreshed. The presentation by Curtis May about the book of Luke, gave us a deeper appreciation of the book and also of God’s great love for women. Carol Rischer’s talks on Genesis 2 and 3 about God and the Garden renewed, refreshed and inspired us. What encouragement to know God extends an invitation to us daily in his garden and he is there waiting for us. The testimonies affirmed God’s sovereignty in all things. The women were pretty on the outside but God with them through their trials is making them just as beautiful on the inside. Their trials allow them to relate better to the women and people they serve as ministers' wives.
My mother, who was in the ladybug group, which she loved, evolved into a butterfly. I could see her and the other women connecting by talking, sharing and encouraging one another. The bonding occurred as we hugged, cried, praised and prayed for and with one another before our Father.
I am glad I accepted the invitation and stepped out of my comfort zone. I went and drank of the living waters and indeed was refreshed. Don’t take my word for it – just accept your invitation to the conference. Get out of your comfort zone because that is where the blessings are.