As the opening prayer began, my calm began to dissipate. My mind was telling me, "Focus on the prayer, and don't worry. You're going to do just fine." My heart, however wished to be speeding down its own private autobahn and was not happy being restricted to the confines of my pericardium.
Ten seconds into the public prayer I faded into my own prayer. "Be still my heart, Lord. Be still my heart, Lord. Be still my heart, Lord." I must have said it twenty or thirty times before I heard the speaker introduce me. "Please welcome Karen Aldridge who is going to come up and talk about our summer mission focus."
Okay, let me back up just a smidgen. I have talked in front of groups before. Talking in front of groups is not a problem for me. This was a much larger group than I have ever talked to, but that in and of itself really wasn't an issue. Although, I did experience a first with this group: I have never used a microphone... ever. I can't sing, so I've never even attempted karoake. I've never been in a play. Unless you count those little colorful, plastic, preschool, echo microphones, which I don't, I've never used one.
I'm not sure what I expected. I guess I thought I'd stand on the stage and holler at the top of my lungs -- I don't know. I just never considered the microphone. So when the speaker handed me the microphone, I panicked just a little. Many questions zoomed through my head in the three seconds or so it took me to climb the steps and approach the podium. Do I hold it up to my mouth? Do I hold it down low? Do I hold it straight out? Should I hold it with one hand? Should I hold it with two? Do I talk loud? Do I talk soft? WHY, OH WHY, HAD I NOT PAID CLOSER ATTENTION TO PEOPLE HOLDING MICROPHONES ALL MY LIFE? The only microphone vision I could conjure up was Steven Tyler and all his scarves, but I had no microphone stand, and I hadn't worn a scarf.
So, I decided the best possible solution was to just admit my microphone ignorance to the group. It was the best thing that could have happened because right away the crowd laughed which calmed me and slowed my heart back to country road speed. I hadn't even intended it as my opener, but there it was, and it was a success. It's amazing -- God can even work through the clumsy mechanics of a microphone to answer a prayer.
But none of this was the reason my heart began to race in the first place. This time and this group was different. I wasn't talking for me or for the crowd or for a company I worked for. I was carrying God's message, and having Him entrust me to deliver it with the power that only a message from God deserves was a bit scary. I couldn't mess this up -- it was for God -- it was for the ministry -- it was for Diane, my sweet sister in Christ and spiritual mentor -- and it was for the unborn babies.
The ministry is Lydia's House. Lydia's House (pictured below), when it opens, will be a maternity home deep in the Appalachian Mountains of Southeast Kentucky in a little town called Benham. Lydia's House is part of Backpack Mission Ministries Inc. which feeds hungry children in this extreme poverty-stricken region. Through God's prompting, Diane Durham created Backpack Missions and through her work with the children she found out about another desperate need in the area.
There are unborn babies who could be saved if only their young mothers had some place to go. In many cases, the families of these young, pregnant women cannot afford to feed the family they have much less another mouth. And the fathers of these unborn babies don't want to have anything to do with the woman or baby once they find out the woman is pregnant. Abortion, to these women, is an easy solution -- and in their minds, it's the only solution.
Lydia's House provides another solution. Pregnant women who choose Lydia's House will find:
- a respite from the harsh environments in which they live (rumbling creek running through Lydia's back yard pictured right).
- a soothing haven in which to grow and nurture their unborn babies.
- Christian people who will feed their souls with the good news of Jesus Christ.
- the time to focus on their situation and make the best choice for their unborn babies -- not abortion, but whether to raise the baby or place baby for Christion adoption.
- if they choose to keep baby, skills lessons and all the support they will need to help them prepare for a return to the real world with their sweet babies.
We are finishing up remodeling and reconstruction projects at Lydia's House, but God has already done some great things there. Some big and some small, but all are a part of His plan.
There are four bedrooms, each holding two women. A few months ago, Diane and three others were there painting and someone said, "What are you going to name the girls' rooms?"
Diane said, "I haven't thought about naming the rooms, but I would definitely call one of them Hannah's room."
One by one, they each gave a name they liked. Elizabeth, Sarah, and Mary were the three additional choices. Just like that the girls' rooms were named and they painted scripture to associate the biblical woman with the room on the focal wall of each room.
A little later someone said, "do you realize that all of those names we came up with are the names of women who had miraculous births?" God is so sweet! At Lydia's House every baby saved from abortion will be a miraculous birth.
By the way, God kept my presentation focused and powerful (just what I had been praying for in the days leading up to the event), and the night was a success. I made some great contacts -- people who may like to share their talents or time at Lydia's House, and we received over $300 in donations.
If you want to learn more about Lydia's House or Backpack Mission Ministries, click here.
Scripture inspiration for the naming of Lydia's House -- "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay." - quote from Lydia in Acts 16:15