Reflections on Friday Night Overflow by Liesel Araoz
On a Friday night in Houston, you battle traffic to get anywhere. When our beloved “Mama Nat” and I were messaging today about the dinner for women in our community who are parenting on their own for our Overflow ministry at Bayou City Fellowship, she said, “Ya know, I hoped 40 women would come. But double that have registered. And the Lord once again does immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine.”
This is how it’s been for me in this ministry from the beginning. I was a single mother for five years before I met my husband. I remember crying out to God for him to give me a place in the community of his Church. Like Natalie said in her text today, the Lord did immeasurably more than I could have asked or imagined. He gave me mamas in the faith, brothers and sisters of all ages, and children who I get to disciple alongside their parents. It takes a village, and I was reminded tonight how thankful I am to have found my tribe in this Kingdom family.
The chatter and laughter that happened in the lobby of our church tonight was so robust that you had to raise your voice at times to hear the person you were trying to communicate with. Women who came in after dropping their children were tired. They’d battled traffic and all the things before they climbed into their cars to get there, but within the first five minutes of making their plate of homemade lasagna and decadent Italian sweets, they’d found new and old friends at a table.
I personally loved the game we played, where all the women would rotate around their tables getting to know the new person sitting across from them - “speed friend dating”!
It was through Overflow that I met one of my dearest friends and our speaker for tonight’s dinner, Melissa Williams. It is a special thing to look at a friendship and say, “Only God can connect people like this.” Tonight she shared a follow up to her session she taught during our conference in June about dating Jesus. She used real life scenarios to call out the lies of why we choose to not open our Bibles or when we choose to put it on the shelf and claim, “We’re on a break”. From her own life experiences and relationship with God, she dismembered the enemy of his weapons he uses to provoke shame and aloofness by exposing the reality of the struggle as a single mother.
She shared that in our times of daily devotion to Jesus, it is like a date He’s invited us on. She shared the way that God pursues and loves and is as exciting as a first date every time, but intimate in knowing us enough for us to say, “Lord, I didn’t wear mascara this time, because I have a lot of things I need to cry about.” She also talked about how awkward it would be to make someone wait for a date for 17 months. “No one would wait at Olive Garden for that long! Why do we make Jesus wait like that before we go spend time with him?” He wants our hearts!
When you first open the Word, you don’t really know what to do. You don’t know where to go. When you’re learning to pray, you don’t really know what to talk about. Just like forming a relationship with a person, our relationship with God also grows and things become more natural. We acclimate to His culture, and become more like Him- just as we become like the people we spend the most time with. She emphasized that if you don’t spend time with Him, your being idle in your relationship is actually doing more harm in every way than good.
We closed out the night with a time of prayer. Women collectively held hands and prayed strength for one another. I heard one woman say, “I feel like my heart took a deep breath.” That’s something only God can do! God is so faithful to equip those whom he has called, and there has never been a more profoundly called group of women in all the earth. Tonight was really special to our hearts, because our hope was never to plan, host and work an event once a year. Our hope is to see women walk as saved and redeemed members of Christ’s covenant, redeemed and restored, filled with the Holy Spirit to overflowing to equip the generation they’re raising in the way of the Lord.
We are so thankful for all the women who made tonight possible, and so honored for those who fought to come spend such a sacred evening with us. It would not have been the same without a single one of you there. I’m personally so thankful to be a part of this and what it means to me!