Personal

The She Speaks Adventure

September 27, 2015

First morning of the conference

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:35

It’s been over a month since the conclusion of the She Speaks 2015 conference and, well, I’d say it’s about time I write this wrap-up.  It hasn’t been intentional procrastination that has had me put off writing about it, it is simply that there is so much to be told.  But who wants to read a blog that goes on, and on, and on…and on?

I found that every time I have sat down to write something, or when I have thought back on the conference, or someone has asked me about it, it’s the people’s faces – my sisters that I finally got to meet – that flash in my mind’s eye.  As I was praying about what to write about, John 13:35 jumped into my head, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  And it hit me.

From the moment I opened the email from my pastor’s wife about the conference, I have experienced the love of others – and through them, the love of Christ – in a new way.  An amazing, powerful, and humbling way.  So I’d like to tell you about the love of my family, the family of God, introduce you to some of my sisters, and thank each of you who have loved me so well.

As I stated in my first blog, the thought of attending – and paying for – She Speaks 2015 was a mountain before me.  We all know the verse, Mark 11:23, “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”

Mountains were moved!

I cannot claim the faith that moved these mountains.  It was friends like Ashley (also my sister!), BaCall, and Cara, who took the time to read my 100,000+ word manuscript and told me they believed in what I had to write.  They were Proverbs 16:24 to my doubt-and-fear-filled-self.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

It was friends like Kati, who stepped out in faith for me, giving me the encouragement and also, yes, told me what steps I needed to take to move forward with my writing.  One thousand dollars were raised through the Gofundme site she set up for me!  Seriously?!  One-Thousand-Dollars!   

Friends like Luke and BaCall who helped me with all things technical, helping me with my blog, facebook, twitter…all of it!  And let me not forget to mention that they stayed up waaaayyy late, just a few nights before the conference, while I was in tears because I decided that my book proposal was just not good enough and helped get it looking like something I could be proud to present.

They were my Calebs & Joshuas as I faced a land of giants, reminding me that with the Lord:

“we can certainly do it.”

It was my incredibly generous mother and father-in-law who graciously gave hotel, air, and rental car points to me for this trip, totaling well-over one thousand dollars.

Friends donated money, donated items to be auctioned off, took me shopping, loaned me clothes (because this stay-at-home mama didn’t own any professional clothing!), invited me to a weekend away to write & prepare, shared my blogs, liked my Facebook page……and even more so, they prayed.  It’s amazing what God does through prayer.

This is how my She Speaks journey began, being flooded with a mighty love that God used to moved my mountain and get me to She Speaks.

Now let me introduce you to my She Speaks Sisters:

Jennae “Mimi” – “God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.” {Matthew 5:8}

(In the airport, on our way to She Speaks)

Jennae (affectionately known to my daughter as “Mimi”) has been there from the very beginning.  We’ve been friends since 2004, when we served on Jr. High staff together at our church.  From there we’ve shared many adventures together, and have dreamed about even more.  When I signed up for She Speaks, I knew she needed to be there too.  You see, Jennae is one of those ladies that comes to mind when you think, Hmmm, what does being a woman of God look like?  Because it’s her!  Her life is a beautiful example of 1 Corinthians 11:1, when Paul says:

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

You’ll have to wait for her to start a blog (Jennae, hint hint!) to hear her full story, but I can tell you this.  Jennae is steadfast: in her faith, in her love, in everything she does.

Thank you, Jennae, for being my friend, for being Mimi to Faye, for your faithfulness to God, and for spurring me on in my faith as well.

Lisa & Ed – “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” {Matthew 25:40}

I wish I knew their last name!  Lisa and Ed were are guardian angels that first night in North Carolina.  We met them in the elevator down to the hotel lobby.  It was a two-minute, we’re-excited-for-the-conference, hope-to-see-you-later conversation.  The elevator doors opened, Lisa and Ed headed towards the parking lot, and Jennae and I proceeded to the front desk to inquire about restaurants within walking distance.

Our unsure evening turned into one of humbling blessings.  Ed and Lisa had lingered to ask us to join them for dinner.  At our acceptance, they gave us a tour around the NASCAR track, chauffeured us to a Mexican restaurant, paid for our meals, then took us to Walmart where they then proceeded to buy us snacks for our stay at the conference.  These people were strangers to us, and us to them, yet they saw our need and didn’t just meet it, they truly poured the love of God over us that night, making us feel loved and taken care of.

Lisa and Ed, if you find your way to reading this, let me say thank you so very much for being Jesus to us that night.

Sticky Fingers Sisters – “Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” {Matthew 12:50}

Dinner at Sticky Fingers BBQ

                 Dinner at Sticky Fingers BBQ

Night Two: Girls’ Night Out, She Speaks’ Style!  I was thrown into a car with these three lovely ladies, having no idea of the sisterhood that would follow it.  Heather, Helen, and Liz are the sisters I didn’t know I had, and am so blessed to know.  Each of these ladies love Jesus so much and their hearts for Him shine through radiantly.  In three days time, we laughed together, cried together, rejoiced, worshiped, and shared meals together.  Three days was all it took for my life to be impacted forever by these women.  

Thank you ladies, for being my sisters, and for being faithful as you continue to write and speak for Jesus.  To Him be the glory!

Kenisha – “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” {Isaiah 26:3}

Have you ever met someone, and just upon meeting them, the peace that resides in them overflows to you and you are stilled?  Kenisha is that sort of soul.  I was blessed to meet Kenisha before my first meeting with a publisher.  Needless to say, I was nervous.  Shaking, slightly nauseated, nervous…though, I like to pretend I had my game-face on.  Kenisha was sitting at the table checking people in for their appointments.  She had a gentle spirit as she took my name and gave me instructions for how things would proceed, and I expected that to be it.  But no.  She took the time before my appointment to speak peace into my heart and mind.  Over the next couple days, I got to speak with her a few more times.  In the hustle and bustle of working the She Speaks Conference, and through a few bumps and bruises of her own, she brought peace to the hearts of us who were attending.  She was a fierce weapon against the attacks Satan was waging on our hearts.

Thank you, Kenisha, for protecting my heart and mind in Jesus’ truths!

Kelley – “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” {2 Timothy 1:7}

kelley

It was in our peer critique groups where I got to meet sweet-spirited-Kelley.  As my fiction writer’s group finished the session, sweet Kelley came over with paper in hand.  Kelley writes non-fiction, but had begun a novel and wanted to know if we would take a look and give her our opinions.  Let me say, WOW!  Each of us in the group loved what we read.  But it wasn’t her talent for writing that touched my heart that day.  It was her gentle courage.  It is intimidating enough to invite critiquing on something that fits in your familiar genre.  It’s flat out scary seeking it out on a project you’re just beginning.

Kelley didn’t stop there.  We ran into each other throughout the remainder of the conference and smiled and chatted, and she was just as gentle and gracious in her encouragement to others as she was in seeking feedback.  She was the vessel God used to confirm one of our lovely She Speaks Sisters, and I have no doubt it was because of her faithfulness to the calling in her life, and because of her gentleness in spirit.

Thank you, Kelley, for being brave and for your faithfulness to write and speak as God calls you!

Debbie – “Say to the nations far and wide:
    “Get ready for war!
Call out your best warriors.
    Let all your fighting men advance for the attack.” {Joel 3:9}

IMG_7952

And then there was Debbie.  When Jennae and I met Debbie, I walked away thinking, I just met a commander in the Lord’s army!  She arms women with the Word of God!  She speaks encouragement and truth into lives.  She pulled us into prayer for each other, she connected us with the others she met, and she carried scriptures printed onto business cards to place in our hands when we needed to hear Truth.

I think Debbie understands true reality, that life is so much more than just what we see, and that God is a real, all-powerful, loving God.  She gets it.  And she’s arming us for war – the spiritual war that’s all around us.  A war that yes, God has already won, but that we cannot sit by in as bystanders.

Thank you, Debbie, for speaking so fiercely into my life.  You showed me what strength looks like.  You are an example of relying on and knowing the Word of God.  And you literally put the sword of the Spirit into our hands.  Thank you for building us up and preparing us to fight in the Lord’s army.

There are so many other women who touched my life through this conference, who let God’s love pour through them.  Thank you, She Speaks Sisters.  Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for being Jesus to me.  I pray He blesses each of you as you seek to be obedient to His calling on your life to write and speak!

You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.”

{Hebrews 3:13}

 

 

IMG_7944

                       She Speaks

 

Early morning run

                              Early morning run

 

11906727_10205448289226510_1707667344938514328_o

                               Saying goodbyes

IMG_7938

                              Happy Birthday Toni!

IMG_7939

      Hearing from Liz Curtis Higgs

IMG_7934

                        Main Session

11951523_10205448285346413_7056525105547146323_o

11905416_10205448284586394_7726870338437375786_o

(Table 25 Regulars)

(Table 25 Regulars)

1 Comment

  • Reply Liz September 27, 2015 at 4:33 am

    Oh my! So much love! I was just transported
    In time and distance right back to she speaks! You captured so many emotions!! Love you, girl!

  • Leave a Reply