Have you ever tried to put a mountaintop experience into words? I am trying to condense what I learned at She Speaks 2017 today, because God worked so powerfully I can’t help but share. Here are four big lessons I’m reflecting upon this Monday afternoon.
God cares about my fears.
I felt silly asking people to pray for my fear of flying when bigger things matter, but He answered those prayers in such a special way.
God knows that I face scary situations, like medical procedures, much better with more information. On the flight there, my seatmate was an amateur pilot. He pulled up an app on his tablet and showed me the exact same screen our pilot was viewing. He was able to show me turbulence before we reached it, so I felt better prepared when it happened.
On my flight home, I sat next to a Boeing engineer. His job is designing electrical systems for airplanes. He shared so much information that I now have a beginner’s grasp on flight patterns. On both flights I spoke with these men for two straight hours, which helped distract me from my anxiety.
Here’s the best part. As far as I can tell, neither of these men are professing Christians. But because they felt their presence was helpful to me, they were wide open to listening to my Christian worldview. One has become a Facebook friend, and the other sent me an encouraging message after he read my blog. Who knows how God will work in their lives through our encounters!
God cares about my feelings.
One of my publisher appointments was glorious. The next one…not so much. I left with a spirit of total confusion. While I walked down the hallway, trying to sort out my thoughts, a woman sitting at a table turned her head at just the right time and called my name. She had recently subscribed to my blog, and I was excited to meet her. But she could see the confusion on my face, and asked if I was doing okay. I shared what had just happened and she listened intently.
After we talked for a while, she offered to pray with me. As we held hands and prayed together, she said, “God, we know you are not the author of confusion.” God’s peace flowed back into my heart as my brand-new friend kept praying. Next time I feel conflicted or confused, I’m calling a friend right then and asking them to pray.
Another feeling God addressed was my guilt over attending She Speaks while my daughter celebrated her ninth birthday on Saturday. I’ve never missed one of my children’s birthdays, and I was secretly hurting. That morning, God spoke right to my heart through Whitney Capps’ message. She said, “If we obey our calling to write or speak, we will miss out on family events. But our families will see that Jesus is the center of our lives, not them.” I felt like God was hand-delivering me a bouquet of flowers with a card that read, “You’re in the right place at the right time.” Of course, tears overcame me in that moment, as they did in almost every session! Can I get an Amen?
God cares about my friendships.
God gave me so many friends through this conference. In the past eight months, I began linking up with dozens of other bloggers and getting to know them online. At the conference, I felt popular for the first time in my life as so many women came up to say “hi” in person. If you’re not linking up your blog posts yet, I can’t recommend it more highly, because you will have dozens of instant friends when you walk in the door of future conferences. I also made great connections in the official Facebook group. If you attend She Speaks in the future, make sure to sign up for the group as soon as you book your trip to maximize your opportunities.
God also taught me to BE a good friend at the conference. At the end of one session, the woman next to me asked me about my copious note-taking. I thought she was a blogger, but she is an agent for some top names in Christian publishing. She was thrilled that I invited her to lunch with me. We visited for almost two hours and I felt like I received a $300 consultation for free, all before she asked me to share my one-sheet. Even though she doesn’t typically represent first-time authors, she was willing to listen to me because she felt included and invited. I got some fabulous advice on how to improve my book. The most beautiful thing happened…when I shared my memoir-based material, she opened up with her own family story. If I had treated her like a power-wielding gatekeeper rather than a friend, I would have missed out on those rich blessings.
God cares about my future.
My two favorite sessions were by Lynn Cowell and Jennifer Dukes Lee. God gave me hope for my future in each special session.
In Jennifer’s session, “How a Small-Time Blogger Can Actually Get a Book Contract,” I learned how many other authors with platforms smaller than mine got book contracts. The knowledge she shared poured hope straight into my often-discouraged soul. I am no longer obsessing about my platform–it’s in God’s hands. I will keep asking, seeking, and knocking, but I will no longer fret after hearing her inspiring message. I loved how Jennifer explained that Jesus left the church in the hands of about 120 people when He ascended to heaven. That’s a platform most publishers would reject, but look at what God did through that “tiny” platform!
Lynn Cowell’s session was titled “Brave Enough to Keep Going.” She was rejected 19 times before her first book deal. Her message of perseverance gave me the strength to keep moving forward. Then God did something amazing through her talk.
Lynn said something like, “I don’t enjoy talking to strangers any more than you do. But I’m going to make you do it anyway!” She gave us a series of questions to discuss with our neighbor. I turned to the woman sitting next to me, a textbook introvert who was in her little comfort zone against the wall. With each question, she opened up a bit more and we found more common ground. We were surprised at how many ways our stories intersected.
By the end of the session, she said, “I am hosting a conference at my church in November. Would you like to be one of the speakers?” I came to the conference on the writing track, hoping to informally learn about speaking from my roommate. I didn’t expect to get booked for a speaking engagement, especially because I’m just starting out! I think God heard me say in my heart, “I’m open to speaking,” and then He threw the doors open.
God has just begun to unfold His plans and purpose for my future, and I’m thankful He revealed great things to me at She Speaks 2017.
I’d love to hear from you if you are a She Speaks attendee! Please share in the comments, and I can learn even MORE from your experiences!
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