Reflections and Overflow News! By Liesel Araoz
Walking into the Overflow Conference, I felt as if I had come home after being away for a really long time. It has been a special privilege for me to see Overflow develop since our group was just a small book study that didn’t even have a name. We were just a handful of single moms, out of the thousands upon thousands in our city, who found a place to be loved by Jesus and the Church. We were upheld by a church that wants to love people radically in Jesus’ name, led by women and men whose obedient lives and hearts are an example of this message of “overflowing” from fullness of the Spirit of God.
In 2012, there was unity within our solidarity as a group. With tears and laughter and questions, we pursued Jesus through pouring over the Scriptures to learn about his love and provision for us. We were a group void of pettiness and distractions and was instead so full of hope and honor. And oh, what marks my memories of those women is that we prayed together and believed everything God says in His promises for each other and our children!
Every year after the conference, we all reflect on stories and share in awe of what the Lord did and how He networks people. There is something special about every year, and this year was not an exception.
Right in the middle of the registration table, where women would check in to get their nametags and programs, there was a kids bicycle painted green and adorned with robust, large paper flowers. Standing tall in the room, the whimsical bicycle stood like a landmark in the road we are all on as women. A place where our names are on the list, making sure we won’t be passed, requesting hope, requesting a word from the Lord, asking for rest. A place in the journey where every woman was looked in the eye - seen, heard and welcomed.
Expectation for what God would do was so thick you could scoop it up and cup it in your hands.
Friday night included the women of Overflow, volunteer women, and women coming to hear what the Lord had to say through Lisa Harper. We all need the same Jesus. Whether we’re married, single, widowed or never married. Lisa Harper, an ambassador of Jesus and messenger of His reconciliation, spilled out his love and spelled out his hope with love and honor. It was impactful to everyone there to hear her say, “One of the greatest hindrances for overflowing with hope and joy in the Holy Spirit is unforgiveness. Forgive them. Whoever they are.”
You could feel the walls that had been brought in that night, on shoulders bearing loads held up by spit, blood, and pieces of the past, resolve and melt as the truth of the living and loving God was spoken into the marrow of each woman. You could not mistake this for anything but a piece of Heaven. Raising children on your own is a lifestyle that most often involves a lack of control over many of your circumstances and a need for a lot more grace in most areas.
On Saturday, breakout sessions were carefully organized to cover varying topics with women who have “been there” or understand the trauma and residual disappointment that this life can tempt us to lean towards. However, the teachers shared the message of hope for the future that is found when you entrust all the messiness of life to Jesus. He doesn’t miss a piece of it. It’s not too messy for Him. We are not too much for Him.
While we were planning the first Overflow four years ago, I remember the planning team meeting for the final time before the conference. As a single mom, I knew the pangs of walking in alone, feeling like my circumstances were written on my forehead. Now, I know this was a lie called shame. I was a single mom and the Lord had now blessed me with community. I wanted the same for other single moms. I raised my hand really high with the question of “what next?” We gather these women together, and then what? How do we connect with these women when they come back on Sunday? How do we facilitate ongoing discipleship for them? It was an easy “yes” for the rest of Overflow leadership to come up with a simple idea to have a group during the summer for the women to learn the promises of God breathed for them (and everyone) in the Scriptures. Our heart was for these women to learn and experience how to lay our children, finances, singleness, brokenness, dreams, nightmares, and overall messiness at the feet of Jesus, press into the Word, ask questions before the Lord, and learn to discern His voice for an answer.
I wildly love the Overflow conference. There is symbolism in the design, intentionality in the organization, a willingness in the Body of Christ to draw in daughters and their children to the Father. Women are eternally impacted through the outpouring of the Spirit of Truth.
But as much as I love the conference weekend, my favorite part are the Sundays that follow, where we get to know women in the Summer Groups in a closer relationship. Over the years, I’ve been allowed to watch as God restores broken hearts, restores broken marriages, changes desires so that they are whole, right, and good, and set women’s hearts on fire with love for the Prince of Wholeness.
If you are in the Houston area, and you are looking for a way to be and feel like you are part of a church, we have two Bayou City Fellowship campuses that have Overflow Summer Groups. They're made up of women who are raising children on their own and want to be surrounded by women who will pray and lock arms with them as we, together, follow Jesus. We believe when God has done something before (like He has done since 2012), not only can He do it again, but He can do a new thing that makes sense right now! We invite you to come and join us. It truly won't be the same without you. You can find details on time and location on the home page HERE. If you will scroll up and click “Contact Us”, we can help you get connected to a group. We would love to have you join us!
Our Overflow ministry loves our online community, and we have smaller events throughout the year that you won’t want to miss like Friday Night Overflow! SAVE THE DATE! September 22nd! If you have not already, come follow us on Instagram and Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our blog to stay connected and get updates delivered straight to your inbox! You are loved deeply and prayed for daily.
Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
Isaiah 64:4 ESV