First off – newbie alert here! My apologies in advance for typos, ramblings and such. Your grace is much appreciated.
Wow – Where to begin?
Stephen Covey is famous for saying, “Start with the end in mind.” While I love this principle, one that I know the Lord invites us to pursue each day, it is difficult to begin something so beautiful keeping in mind that it will eventually come to an end. A time of sweet fellowship, worship, devotion and prayer. A time to sit and be still before the Lord. And of course a time to learn from precious women (and Joel) of the faith that have walked this path before.
I can’t even believe that I’ve been back for a few weeks now. In so many ways, it feels like I just woke up from an amazing dream, and I keep tossing back and forth in the sheets trying to make myself fall back asleep. Clinging so desperately to those fading feelings of such joy in the presence of the Lord. I blink. Alas. This dream is no longer my reality. Have you ever been there friend?
But before I get ahead of myself…
Tuesday morning I took my precious munchkin out to a movie and lunch for a little “QT” before hitting the road. Cute date, huh?
I’m so thankful to the whole host of friends, not to mention an incredible husband, back at home willing to help while I was gone.
First leg of the trip was back to my roots. The Star City of the South. Good ‘ol Roanoke. It was a quick stop over for one night, to see my mom for her birthday and get some time with my childhood friend. Talk about a woman with a story of God’s grace. One day when I get around to podcasting, I would love to interview Jessica. (Girl – I’m so sad we didn’t get a picture!)
This is the view I wake up to when I visit my mom. Pretty incredible.
Psalm 143:8 “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.“
Quite time (finishing up my P31 OBS – Hidden Joy), coffee and I’m on the road. I do love time in the car alone. Not a knock to my precious boys, road trips with them are another kind of special. Ever since I could drive, I’ve had such sweet time in the car alone. There is just something about it. Most often I reserve this time to binge all my favorite podcasts, but today I just wanted to fellowship with the Lord in a different kind of way. I was nearly hoarse by the time I reached the hotel. Good thing God doesn’t require a good singing voice, only a joyful sound. Glory!
So I obviously knew this conference was in Concord, NC. I’m only somewhat familiar with the area. I have been to and through Charlotte many times, so I was aware that Concord is slightly north of Charlotte. Upon arrival to my room, I looked out the window and thought to myself, “What is that in the distance?” Low and behold it was the Charlotte Motor Speedway. I love when God does small things to remind us how much he is in all the little details of our lives. Adam and I had been the the Coco Cola 600 there 12 years (and two months) prior. I laughed out loud and said, “Oh God, you are good.” To think of the many miles that have been driven on that track and the many miles Adam and I have put behind us, from that moment until now… WOW. #goGod
Also – I love to travel with comforts from home. This time I had room for fresh flowers (to remind me of my happy place)! Candles are a must and the precious little painting is from a dear family friend (and reminds me of all those I love.)
Thursday morning. Up early – nice quite time with the Lord. Y’all, I brought my sneakers. This is SO not me. Adam is always the one to pack his in hopes of getting a few work outs in. Not me. No sir! I once did a 10K with several other couples, and the only reason I went was to had a good time with my friends. We were doing a foodie tour of Richmond the day before the race, and truth be told, that is the ONLY reason I said yes. Anywho – I laced those bad boys up and went out for a brisk walk. I had my praise music on and I even picked up a jog y’all! It was glorious.
Before the conference began, I had signed up for a tour of the Proverbs 31 office. What a treat!
What a beautiful space!
As we were wrapping up, the cutest gal asked if I drove and had a seat she could snag for the ride back. God knows how much I cherish my car time alone. But, alas my time is His, to do with what He would like.
I said yes. Little did I know that Kim and I would become fast friends. She’s a spunky petite thing from Colorado, a wife, mom of four and a speaker. Link over to her at KimFearing.com or @KimFearing6 on Instagram.
Pre-conference! Talk about butterflies. I was shocked. I’m typically pretty confident walking into this type of setting. This time was different. In a strange way that I had not experienced before. You see, growing up I went to many acting and modeling conventions, auditions, casting and open calls. The vibe at these gatherings is not exactly what I think of as “healthy.” Unfortunately, for the most part, everyone is comparing themselves to each person, sizing their opponent up in every way. “Am I prettier, thinner, more unique?” “Who is my competition?” “Will the scouts like me the most?”
THIS my friends, was NOT that. Praise God! Though, yes, I was surrounded by beautiful people, their beauty exuded from a different place. I’ve tried to describe the environment to some friends of mine since being back and this is the best description I can come up with. It was like a mini-utopia of sorts. There were 800+ women gathered in one place to worship the Lord. These women were all unique. Stories of heartbreak and loss, betrayal and shattered dreams, slavery and deliverance. Each woman was there with a united calling. Some were like me, just stepping out in obedience to the Lord, and some were well seasoned speakers and writers. But – we all have the same call. God has placed a story in our hearts. One that has to be heard. Not because of us, but because of who He is. Not because of what we have done, but because Jesus is the One who did it all. God our Father has allowed the trials in our lives so that He could bring us through to the other side. Bearing scars? Yes. But those scars are proof of His healing touch. Do you know I mean friend? I know you have them too.
These are some of the beautiful faces I met.
- Jess Alston – Dig Deep Podcast
- Jess is a ministry leader at her church in Maryland and her podcast takes you through several different teaching series.
- Stephanie Broersma – Reclaimed Ministry
- Stephanie and her husband went through some pretty tragic stuff in their marriage early on. But – what satan meant for evil, God is using for good! She now leads a ministry to women following in her footsteps and is launching a devotional in just a couple of days! You can link over and order that HERE.
These were some of the amazing women (and Joel) we heard from.
Y’all! It was so much! So many great things. After the pre-conference was over, and I went to an hour prayer meeting after dinner, I honestly felt like I already had SO MUCH wisdom and knowledge in one day. How could we possible take in anymore? Well – we did! I can’t say thank you enough to those of you that held me up in prayer. You have no idea how much I felt it. The only time I truly felt overwhelmed was at night. I tossed and turned with so many new things swirling around in my head.
All good things of course, but so much to process.
Each session I attended was so invigorating. Every speaker had several nuggets to walk away with. I am just now sitting down to go back through my notes and develop a plan. I have been antsy to do so, but also wanting to soak up as much summer as I can before it fades away. Back to school – right around the corner. How can that be?!
As I said, I am still processing. I do know that I have some goals set and things to work toward on the horizon.
I need to say a big thank you…
This thank you is to you. Yes YOU. The one reading these words. I know it is a lot. I know I haven’t “found my voice” and ramble a bit here and there, disjointed as all get out. But thank you. Thank you for sticking with me this far. I hope that this is the beginning for us. I hope you’ll come back.
The other HUGE thank you is to my family and friends who supported me getting here. Quite literally. Going to She Speaks has been a dream, and it was only made a reality by some very special an generous folks I’m honored to know and call friend (and family.) I really am so unbelievably grateful for the opportunity to travel to such an amazing conference. It’s been humbling. So again, I say thank you.
Sunday morning before hitting the road, Gretchen and I hoped in the car and headed over to Elevation Church. I’ve been several times to the campus in Roanoke, but I wanted to experience the main campus. Would you believe that it was actually smaller and more intimate than the big campuses? It was quite nice. Of course the worship was amazing! It was so nice having this extra nugget of time with Gretchen, as we had only met for 5 minutes or so at the conference in the days before our ride together. Yet another woman with an amazing story. I’m so excited to see where God leads this beautiful lady. She attends Rick Warren’s church, Saddleback out in California, so we were comparing notes.
After church I began my climb back north. I stopped off in Roanoke once again for an official birthday dinner for my mom and birthday drinks with dad. Bonus: my sister was in town from San Francisco!
Up and on the road bright and early back to my boys…
A moonset and a sunrise.
And so we end where we began. While beginning with the end in mind in this context may seem sad, it is quite the opposite. Beginning this journey never did I imagine I would be so blessed. Stepping into this I was excited to meet Lysa, a woman I feel I’ve known for years, she gets me. I was excited for all the alone time to just be still before the Lord. I was excited to hear from some pretty amazing women of the faith. My expectations were blown out of the water, hands down.
As I tell my little munchkin
“Don’t be sad because it’s over, but be happy because it happened.”
I shall carry the memories with me always.