We just got back from Wisconsin where I was invited to speak at a homestead event for women, called Riverside Bible Camp. The event was entitled “The Heart of the Pioneer Woman”. A few months ago, one of the directors of the camp contacted me through email and asked me to speak for this event.
I thought at first, “WHO, ME???!!” I thought maybe I was among some other speakers so it was not too much trouble at all. After they sent the itinerary, I found out that I was the main speaker and that I needed to prepare for 3 different one hour sessions. That was when I swallowed hard and said, “Oh. Kay.” People were coming from all over to be a part of this event and wanted to hear what I had to say about my journey to becoming a pioneer woman.
About two years ago, after I wrote my first book, Living Virtuously, I was laying in bed one morning and I felt a calling from God. It was almost like an audible voice that said, “Erin, you are going to be a speaker!” And I was like, “WHO, ME????!!!!” I laid there just bug eyed and confused. I thought, who would want to hear me speak? What on earth would I talk about? A few moments after that the phone rang. It was Debi Pearl. She asked me if I would be willing to speak at the Shindig in place of her, which was the very next day. I said “Okay”, hung up the phone and then started to panic.
There was no time to prepare anything, I just had to go up there and speak off the cuff which is not hard for me. I tell you, I am a talker. It gets me in a world of mischief, but I can sure keep words flowing from my mouth, so that is not a problem. BUT, this was a big deal. I wanted to be a good example and say something that would give encouragement, something that would bring God all the glory! That is where you feel humbled and the same place you get on your knees and beg God to give you the words to say. And He supplies!
I met Debi in the room where I was to give my speech, and there was not a single person in the room. “I told you, no one would want to hear me speak!” I was relieved. She smiled at me and we began to set up chairs together until a gentleman walked into the room asking if Erin Harrison was here. I piped up and said that I was she. He then said, “You are in the wrong room and the wrong floor. People are waiting for you upstairs!”
My heart skipped a beat as I hustled out of the room with Debi. We made our way upstairs to that room which was packed with hundreds of people!!! All chairs were taken and there were yet hundreds standing. Talk about nervous! My knees were buckling and shaking. I did not have a paper or a plan, but I knew I was called to speak! I started to share the story of my life and there was not a dry eye in the room. Even grown men were crying. I was crying! My voice was quivering and the emotion came out along with the power of what God has done in my 38 years of life! And it did encourage people, give them hope, and God got all the glory! Really, God is the only reason I can do anything good!
Fast forward to this past week, as I got up in front of this new group of ladies, some who never even heard of me before. All they knew about me is that I was a homesteader. This time I was prepared with a whole grand slide show of photos of my entire story. I had them laughing and crying and then laughing and crying some more!
I saw something. I saw that I was born to do this! I looked back at all these memories with photos to help tell the story and realized that I had a story that is full of life, adventure, purpose, God’s mercy, and hope! What a miracle! As I shared my pioneer story, how we started homesteading, it truly gave others vision for what they could do and that is precious.
Many of these precious women came to me after the event and thanked me for sharing my story because it was a story that really spoke to their heart in a special way. God used me that day! Now I know it is a gift, God truly uses even someone like me who was a total mess. I sure made a lot of mistakes and I sure went through a lot of trials that created a dependence on Him. And that is where He wants us.
There was all kinds of other ladies teaching classes about cheese making, fermented foods, baking, and even wool. It was so precious. They did such a great job pulling it all together. I loved seeing women tying on their aprons, coming together to bake pies, learn, and fellowship. It was really something to behold, such a good feeling in your heart at the end of the day! Every woman that I hugged was another precious soul that God created for a purpose. Each woman with a desire to follow God and work with her hands, like a Proverbs 31 woman. I did not want it to ever end.
The other thing I am excited about is our future Homesteading Camp! We got to ask a lot of questions about how to do our camp on a small scale and folks, it is going to become a reality! I even had a bunch of the ladies tell me that they want to come to our camp and learn! What a blessing! I am also leaving myself open to travel and speak for more events if people invite me!
Here is a letter from the director of the camp…
I just wanted to thank you again for being such a huge part of the success of The Heart of the Pioneer Woman event at Riverside Bible Camp this past weekend. We enjoyed having you here and all that you had to share. It was a fun day for all of us. I hope that you enjoyed being here too. It was a blessing to meet you and your husband, Mark.
You are such a gifted speaker, and you did such a great job sharing your testimony with the ladies. You truly emulated The Heart of a Pioneer Woman and for that, I am thankful. Thank you for the time and effort that you put into your presentations. Thank you for traveling across the states to be with the ladies in central Wisconsin. Thank you for being who you are in Christ.
I want you to know how grateful I am for what you have done and how much I appreciate you!
With a thankful and grateful heart,
“As soon as I got home I had to let my husband know I may bring animals home without prior discussion but they are never bigger than a chicken,
so I am not as bad as it could be.”
“You were wonderful! What a powerful testament to God’s grace and power. I knew I’d like you when I heard you went to school for fine arts…I like you more now that I see you went to Lawrence too! God’s kingdom is so great, and small, all at once.”
“Erin, thank you so much for sharing your powerful testimony! I will definately be following your blog, I asked my dh if he wanted to sell our house and find an old farmstead yesterday on the way home from church, he was pretty quiet. Lol.
God is great!”
“Such a fun weekend at my childhood camp learning about how to be a pioneer woman. I took a class on pie making, essential oils, fermenting food, and gut health!
So thankful to Maria and the rest of the camp staff for all of their
hard work making the weekend so wonderful!”