Monday, June 23, 2008

Weekend Wrapup - Part 1 - She Speaks

This past weekend was stuffed so full, I could not possibly begin to tell you all about it in one post.

So, I think I will start with She Speaks. It was fantastic!

I always go to conferences with a pretty open mind. I try to go with the mindset to be available to learn what I need to be better at something.

I have attended conferences in my younger years that were required of me because of a job and I just learned skills that I needed to advance in that career. Always those conferences were motivating in some way but also exhausting, overwhelming and often I was left with the feeling that I missed something.

I was tired after this conference, but missing something is not a feeling I had when leaving She Speaks.

I really did not know why I was going to She Speaks. Last year after roaming around on the Proverbs 31 website, I found the conference information. It was not yet open for registration, so I just watched for it to do so. I became a regular reader of Lysa and Renee's site after Renee spoke at our women's retreat. So, I guess that I felt a bit at home with Proverbs 31 before I ever even registered for the conference.

I thought I would go for the Speaker's Track because I have done a little speaking with MOPS and our women's ministry.

Then I started to blog. I thought maybe the Writer's Track would be better.

I've also been involved in women's ministry for years now - so the Women's Ministry Leadership Track sounded interesting, too.

In the end, I went ahead and just signed up with my first instinct - the Speaker Track. All of my sessions were geared toward speaking. They were practical and motivating. Even if I never speak on a professional level, I will definitely be able to use what I learned just speaking at my church.

Saturday night while I ate dinner and chatted with the ladies at my table, one of them asked me the million dollar question, "what are you going to do now?"

Good question.

I don't know. What should I do?

Should I make a bio page and start speaking more? Start trying to improve my writing and getting a little more serious about it by maybe submitting an article to a magazine?

But in my mind, I just asked God - "Lord, what am I doing here?"

Those familiar feelings of doubt and insecurity just began to creep in.

Because there was more talent there than I can even begin to tell you.

The bloggers that spoke, Shannon, Sophie and Melanie - those women are every bit as sweet and genuine as you think they would be. They are exactly - No, better - than who they are on their blogs because they are real. Real live smart beautiful women that unselfishly shared what they know with hundreds of other women. It was exciting to be in the same room with them and so many other talented bloggers.

I met Jo-Lynne. She is basically the reason I even have a blog. She helped me immensely and even designed this blog that you see today! She continues to be so wonderful when I have a question about blogging. I felt like when I met her, I had known her for a long time. I just wish we could have spent more time together. I met Amy - sweetest smile ever! And Alyssa - one of the most beautiful mama-to-be's I have ever met! These ladies are amazing writers and bloggers.

Jo-Lynne and me!

Writers were getting set up with book publishers. One in my very own evaluation group, Cinderella, met with one.

Tables were filled with studies and books written by past She Speaks attendees.

The speakers were incredible, warm, funny, honest and amazing women. Their words impacted me in so many ways.

My speakers evaluation group (below) was phenomenal. The women in that group were in no way beginners and they truly knew how to make scripture come alive with personal stories. They were very generous in their comments and evaluation of me. Not a negative one in the bunch. They made me feel awesome.

I am excited to see where God takes each of those women. I know they are going to do great things for him!

So, to say that I was feeling a little underqualified would be an understatement.


This is the difference between those career conferences and a conference like She Speaks.

This is a ministry of God. These women are doing God's work. And there is no way I was going to get out of there feeling like that.

After dinner, Renee Swope spoke. She talked about how we often can live in the shadow of doubt. I love to hear Renee speak because she is warm and transparent. She is someone who women can relate to because she shares the real events in her life - the real struggles, the real joy.

We were asked to pray and write on a card what we felt led to concerning our fears, doubts and insecurities. Then if you wanted, to take that card up and lay it at the foot of a cross. Then to pick up a promise (various scriptures and words written on cards for us to take). To live in the shadow of the cross and not our doubts.

Okay, so I covered my card with doubts and insecurities. I walked up to the front and laid it at the cross and thought, if they find this card, they are going to think I am a total basket case. I got my promise and spent some time praying over it.

The scripture was what I needed from God at that moment. Exactly what I needed. I may share it later this week, because this post is getting too long.

What I need to share here now is that I didn't leave She Speaks feeling unworthy. I didn't leave feeling underqualified. I didn't feel like I was missing something.

While I still am not positive where God is taking me, I am so open to WHERE EVER that is as long as he's with me. I know that whatever the reason I went to that conference will be revealed to me some day. I will need the tools I learned. I will meet those women again. I will pray for them. They will pray for me.

I left feeling filled. Filled with the blessing of peace from a God that has his hand on my life.

I guess with a normal career or leadership type conference you leave with the tools you may need to help you advance a career.

With She Speaks, I left with the tools to lead a better life.

A life that says, I am worthy.

I am a creation of a big God.

I am not underqualified because he qualifies me.

Thank you to all of the women at Proverbs 31. Your hard work was visible in every detail. You are each amazing!

Update: Check out more recaps of the weekend from a Mr. Linky over at Robin's blog, Pensieve


Kate said...

Oh so great to hear all that the Lord did in your heart through this great conference!!! Can't wait to hear more, thanks so much for sharing!! :) So glad you went!!!

BTW: tag you're it! :)

Kellie said...

Thank you for posting the recap.

It is always awesome to hear a woman's story when she is actively waiting on God!

Lynn said...

Oh Janel,

What a beautiful post. As I read it I could just see the Master working you thoough a process. Helping you prepare for the most exciting journey yet to happen in your life.

It was a privilege to meet you.

Anonymous said...

It is always amazing to hear what all God does in others lives that affects you. I am so glad you had a wonderful time at the conference and like Kate I can't wait to hear more.

Queen B said...

That is such a great explanation of what the conference meant to you. It sounds like such a wonderful experience. I look forward to reading how God will use you!!

fortyb4forty said...

Your words are so encouraging. Being open to God and his leading is something I have been pondering and dealing with the last few months. I am looking forward to reading more.

carrie said...

sounds like a great time.

And I totally know what you mean about living in a shadow of doubt. I do that a lot.

Jo-Lynne said...

It was so fun to meet you! I bet the benefits from She Speaks have only just begun! :-)

Tatum Croft said...

God has such good things in store for you! You are being equipped everyday!
Thanks for being such an encouraging roomie!

Rebecca a.k.a. Mum said...

How cool to go to a blog conference!!! It would be so fun to meet up with people you have *known* for such a long time on the net!

Sounds like you really enjoyed yourself, good on you! :)

SHINE said...

Funny how God leads us to the things we need to hear. I was completely encouraged by your words. I have desired to go to the SheSpeaks conference, but it hasn't been God's timing yet. Thanks for sharing. I have gleaned from your blessings for sure!

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