Writing has always been a passion of mine. Some of my first memories of time spent with my sisters are of me sitting at the kitchen table writing stories and reading to them as I penned them on paper. They were nothing fancy and reading some of them now makes me laugh… why did they sit there patiently waiting for me to write more?
It goes without saying that I have always envisioned myself being a published author. I imagined a world where I was a famous children’s author who spent all her time reading to her half dozen children! When I finished my dissertation in 2011, I swore I would never again write non-fiction. I loved made up stories and writing for fun, not for work!
I originally started a blog to share with our family about our infertility struggles and life with newborn twins. As the years went by I started to blog about Ben’s health and his cancer treatments, but never have I considered this “writing.” I just thought of it as sharing our journey. Over the past year, I have really felt God calling me to share more of this journey we are on and the storms that we have faced and overcome with his help. I just had no idea of what that would entail.
For the past few years I have heard about the She Speaks Conference and longed to go. Moving back and forth across the country has always kept me from being able to attend and this year I was incredibly excited when in January my husband said not only should I go, but we should take the whole family. I energetically signed up as soon as the registration came available, and I remained cautiously optimistic that everything would fall into place for me to go! My sister offered to meet us there and hang out with Ben and the kids while I was in the conference. However, after our family vacation in June I knew it would be best for Ben to not travel, and I prayed about whether I should still go. God seemed to open all the doors that needed to be opened as my village stepped up to help with both Ben and the kids so I could attend!
So last Wednesday I hopped in the truck and drove the seven hours to Concord, NC not knowing anyone attending except for a few new Facebook friends. And God totally blessed my every minute away! I had prayed that I would get rest and return home renewed, strengthened and ready for the months ahead. God provided for my every need and more while I was there.
From the moment I got into the car to make the drive, I felt like God was leading my every step. I decided to drive rather than fly so that I would be free to leave if I needed to get back home for any reason. That left me with 7 hours each way to fill up. Anyone who knows me knows I love to read and that anytime there aren’t kids in the car, I love to listen to books or sermons on cd. I made a list of everything I wanted to listen to while I was traveling and queued up a podcast as soon as I hit the road.
My book for the trip was Sun Stand Still: What Happens When You Dare to Ask God for the Impossible by Steven Furtick. I can’t even begin to explain how powerful and meaningful this book was to me at the start of this journey. This book is based off of Joshua 10. It’s a story of Joshua and his men who were facing an impossible battle, one that no one thought they would be able to succeed at. And Joshua in his mighty, trusting way prayed that God would make the sun stand still until their enemies were defeated, and God made the sun stop in the middle of the sky and it didn’t go down for a full day. I left home feeling defeated and realized before I ever made it to Concord that the battles and storms we are facing today are NOT over and that we too can pray and ask God to make the sun stand still! I prayed several impossible prayers on the way to Concord and I still believe God will answer every single one of them!
Here are the five major takeaways that I have from the weekend:
I have never attended a conference alone before and I have never felt so welcome at one in my life! I tend to cling to those I know in social situations, so stepping out into an environment where I didn’t know anyone was a challenge! I met people within minutes of entering the hotel and the friends I had made online ended up being some of the sweetest ladies I have ever met. I didn’t feel lonely all weekend and I was so blessed to have been loved and prayed for by so many wonderful ladies.
I got to meet so many incredibly strong women last weekend. Every one of them had a story to tell of what they had been through and how God has brought them through it. God has taken many of them to unspeakable places and they have lived to tell about it. I was reminded that we all have the sore spots of our story, but that we can often find a way to grow and learn through those hard places. God has encouraged me to follow so many of their stories, and I am looking forward to seeing where God leads them!
I had moments of discouragement while at the conference as I am sure most first time attenders did. Moments where I felt that this mission is too hard, and there is no way I can do it justice. There were times when I listened to authors speak and thought, there is no way I will ever measure up to that. However, the overarching theme of the weekend was that while writing is hard, God will not abandon us in our calling. If He is calling us to it, He will not only prepare us for it, but He will be right there with us every step of the way. And I don’t have to be as good, or equal to anyone else, I only have to reach the goals that the Lord has set before me!
The overwhelming theme of the weekend was that getting published is hard. It requires work and it requires a platform. Publishers require you to have this following of people who are dying to read your work and who will share it to the ends of the earth to get your name out there. They want to know that you can market yourself if they give you a book contract. And that’s after you finish the hard work of actually writing what you want to get out there!
I chose not to share a room at the conference because I was praying and believing I would get lots of rest while I was away. My nights at home are frequently interrupted by having to administer meds or just because little people need their mommy. My days away were packed full though and the only time I had to talk to my village back home was in the late evenings and the mornings started EARLY every day. When I finally lay down to sleep each night, my mind was on overload from all the information that I took in during the conference. I survived with just a little sleep though, and I walked away from the weekend feeling too refreshed from all of the Lord’s blessings to even be sad about the lack of sleep!
All in all, She Speaks 2017 was an amazing experience and I pray that God will allow me to go again next year! If you are a writer, speaker, blogger or just someone who loves the Lord and the fellowship of other powerful women of God, I encourage you to attend as well. You won’t regret it!
Want to read stories from some of the other great ladies who attended the conference? Follow this link, I assure you, you will be blessed!
A journey with our family through multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy. As well as a look into our struggles and faith!
Being still for Caitlin Grace
The Joy of the Lord is our Strength
Finding Beauty in the Everyday.
Chasing Christ in the Chaos
Learning to Embrace the Storms of Life