About a year ago a small group of women began praying for a Christian women’s conference in Punxsutawney. The following spring I learned about licensed marriage and family therapist Deborah Dunn’s Southern Christian Women speaking ministry. Her vision to reach out to women in small towns who had neither time nor finances to attend a bigger conference resonated in my soul. I contacted her. Would she be available in the fall?
“The only date I have open this fall is Oct. 16,” she told me.
“Pencil me in,” I said.
Somewhere in the exchange of emails, she mentioned that she keeps her speaking fees low not only so more women could afford to attend, but also to help the sponsoring organization raise money for a worthy cause. I thought of the Punxsutawney Christian School, a cause close to my heart. The recession, I knew, was taking a toll on the school. Maybe this was a way I could help.
I think this is when I first got conference-related goose bumps—and they weren’t caused by fear or cold, but a keen awareness that Someone other than I was orchestrating this, and I was being allowed the privilege of being a small part of a God thing. And it was evident from the beginning, from the way folks jumped on board, offering help, that this was indeed a God thing. Renowned Christian author Karen Kingsbury donated an autographed book for a silent auction. Artist Dianna Moretti painted four posters, each depicting a season. These, too, were auctioned off. The sound techs at the church we used donated their services for the day.
I have neither time nor space to relate all that gave me goose bumps from April until Oct. 16, but let me tell you about the hankies.
I had 100 bookmarks printed with a poem I’d written that went with the conference “Seasons of Life” theme—“Mama’s Hankie.” My plan was to attach ladies’ hankies and use them as appreciation gifts for donations to the school. But where would I get 100 women’s hankies—preferably old hankies?
While we prayed and searched, I began to fret. I wanted to give a healthy donation to the school—but, with slow ticket sales, would we bring in enough to break even? We sent out a request to PCS parents for hankies. We spread the word. One of the planning team gals, Sue, hunted for hankies everywhere she went—and became our “hankie lady.”
One week before the conference, I counted exactly 100 hankies to be washed, ironed and tied to the bookmarks. About four were stained and couldn’t be used. But wouldn’t you know—exactly four more hankies came in that week.
My doubts and fears vanished in another bout of goose bumps: A God who cares enough to provide 100 hankies would surely see that our financial obligations were met.
They were—and we gave a healthy donation to the school.
When You call me to serve, Lord, and fear and doubt begin to assail, remind me—with goose bumps if You have to—that You are in control. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Matthew 7:7-11