Many people don’t know that my wife is a famous, internationally-acclaimed women’s speaker. This is mostly because she has not, as yet, actually been asked to speak in any other countries. Nevertheless, I expect the invitations to start rolling in, any day now.
Each year our church hosts a Christmas Luncheon for women — a lavish, decorative affair in which women of the church vie with one another to host and decorate the most beautiful holiday table. Fine china is dusted off, elaborate centerpieces are constructed, and more than 250 women flock to our church for this bright spectacle. After the meal and traditional singing of Christmas carols, there is usually a speaker who attempts to inspire the women of our church and their guests with a scriptural message. This year, the Women’s Ministries director asked my wife to be the speaker.
While we were putting away the last of the tables, after everyone had gone home, Becky came up to me. “I am so glad that God used me to ask Kathy to speak,” the Women’s Ministries leader confided gleefully.
I had to agree — Kathy presented her ‘talk’, as she called it, with confidence and clarity, using Romans 12:12 as the core of her message:
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.
Kathy’s parents sent her these beautiful flowers.
My thoughts drift back to that weekend in early October when Kathy ‘got the call’ as we were driving to attend a leadership retreat. Immediately, she asked me my opinion:
“Should I do it? It seems very scary. What if I can’t connect with the women?”
At first, Kathy had many doubts about speaking publicly. Even after we prayed about it for several days, and she had agreed to serve as the speaker, questions continued to bubble up:
- What passage will I speak on?
- What if my hands shake and my voice quavers too much?
- Why would any of these ladies want to listen to me?
- What if this is not a calling from God, but only my own desire to be heard?
- What will I wear?
Admittedly, the last question was perhaps the most difficult for me, as a man, to address.
I valiantly made an attempt. “What did you wear last year?”
Men and women don’t always think the same way, I’ve noticed.
Kathy is a busy person; homeschooling five children, running our household, trying to keep enough food in the house to feed ravenous boys — all these seem to fill her hours. Add in an aggressive prayer and Bible-reading schedule and a discipling relationship, and there isn’t a lot of extra time in the day. Still, she dove in and began studying and preparing her message. We gathered commitments from some of the prayer warriors in our church, to pray regularly for the event. It wasn’t long before Kathy had a passage of scripture that was coming alive to her in a new way. Eventually, she developed the entire message, complete with funny personal anecdotes and effective visual props. She wrote it out, first as an outline, and later filled in all the details.
“How do pastors come up with a new sermon every week,” she asked me one day, shaking her head.
These three boxes were part of the talk – a spiritual makeover.
I was impressed by her passion and energy. I am currently taking a hiatus from teaching my Adult Sunday School class, largely because those two qualities were missing in my teaching. One week she managed to connect with the speaker from the fall Women’s Retreat, whom she felt did an incredible job of challenging and encouraging the ladies of our church. Kathy drove an hour, and spent the better part of an evening with her; praying, sharing and studying. The week before the event, she began rehearsing in our bedroom, using a CD rack as a podium, and a full-length mirror to hone her eye contact skills.
We continued to pray. We remembered these verses in Matthew 10:18-20:
On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Although she wasn’t arrested, we still thought the verse would apply. If God wanted Kathy to speak, then God would give her something to say, and would, Himself, cause those words to be effective.
Joshua and Daniel and I had the privilege of serving as waiters for the event, and so (after we bolted down our meal in the kitchen) we were able to watch and listen as Kathy spoke. I was praying furiously, yet somehow still able to listen as she unfolded her ideas and connected with the audience.
It was a great message — simple, practical, spiritual, transparent and personal. The ladies laughed at her jokes and seemed attentive — many of them came up to me afterward and complimented me (presumably because I had the clever foresight to marry Kathy). I am very proud, but even more, I’m delighted to see Jesus glorified and for the gospel to be promoted.
Some things in Kathy’s Hope Box – before the makeover.
When we arrived home, Kathy and I went upstairs and snuggled in our bed to talk about the day. Eventually she wound down, and we assembled the kids to do our daily ‘chapter’ Bible reading, currently with an Advent twist.
“How ’bout milkshakes and a Christmas movie,” I shouted. “Who’s with me?” There was a rush of feet for the door. Life goes on, even when you’re a family of an internationally-acclaimed women’s speaker.