But I wasn't just where I left me.
I have returned from 4 days in North Carolina at the She Speaks Conference, where I experienced some pretty encouraging meetings, some incredible new friendships, and quite a bit of soul-strenthening.
The worship, the messages, the stories, the people… I feel closer to God and to Jesus than maybe ever before in my life. That's a bold thing to say, but that's how powerful this weekend was for me.
A game-changer for me was hearing Christine Caine speak. She is one of the best speakers I've ever heard (and my dad owns a speakers bureau, so I've heard a lot!) She focused a lot on the story of David, how God really worked in him for a very long time before he could become king and fulfill his calling.
Christine used the analogy of a dark room, which really struck a chord with me, being a photographer. What she said was this:
In a darkroom, we must be very careful with the film, because if it is not properly cared for and if light touches it before the chemicals that create the picture are done, the picture will be destroyed.
God works in us a lot more like a roll of film than a quick upload to Instagram.
So we need to go into the darkroom with God, a place of obscurity and anonymity, and let him work in our hearts so that his image is in us. Because if the light of God within us is not greater than the light of the world outside, the outside world will destroy us.
"God's not looking for more shooting stars; he's looking for more lighthouses," she told us.
It doesn't matter if we have an audience of 7 or 7 million, we need listen to where God has called us, assigned us, and let him work through us to help and guide others. God is preparing us for the thing that he's already prepared for us, Christine said.
I went into this conference not knowing a single person, but my roommate Courtney was awesome, and completely encouraged me the whole weekend, even in the midst of her busy schedule as one of the conference presenters. And she introduced me to Megan, and by the end of the weekend, all three of us were calling each other our "She Speaks sisters." What an incredible connection I felt with both of these amazing moms and women!
me and Megan
Lysa Terkeurst gave me so many reminders throughout the weekend to be more "unrushed."
"Sometimes we're so busy serving (our schedules), that all we serve is busy."
"When a woman lives with an overwhelmed schedule, she will ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul."
Yes, I can slip into this way too often, and yes, I need to look to God to "unrush me." I came home and immediately got together with my best friend, and we had a long, heartfelt conversation about how God is calling us to better serve others and how we need to listen to our friends and people around us with more intention so that we can know how to serve them without them telling us.
I got to give hugs to so many wonderful women that I follow online, and who have been so supportive of me and our family.
with Crystal (I can honestly say she has changed my life!)
with Michele (my favorite break-out session, she is an incredible storyteller!)
This weekend was very exciting for me personally, in all kinds of ways, and I will share much more about that later.
But the most exciting thing was how God worked in me this weekend. I am not only experiencing the usual post-conference energy and invigoration that comes from hearing incredible speakers and making new connections, but there are some key take-aways that are firmly imprinted on my heart.
And the more I heard and learned about the Bible, the more I want to hear and learn. I am seeing God's teachings in new ways - the stories and the history and the way it applies to my own life.
Also, a special thanks to my amazing husband who ran the house and took care of the kids with no complaints and no problems while I was away for 4 days!
She Speaks was so powerful, in so many ways. I'm so glad that God led me to this conference.
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