Over a year ago I got an email from Danielle asking me what I was doing in March 2014. Haha. I can hardly plan a week ahead, let alone a year. She told me about this women’s conference that would be happening in Dallas. A dream that the Lord had placed on Casey, Emily, and Danielle’s hearts. A conference filled with stories of Christ in each of our lives, and how we can use these stories for His glory. Hope spoken. And she wanted me to come and share my story. I remember telling my husband about the email and secretly hoping that he would tell me he wasn’t so sure about the whole thing…I mean, I didn’t even know these people in real life! Instead he looked at me and right away told me I needed to say yes. I was so nervous because speaking in public is a major stretch for me…but speaking at a women’s conference…that was totally out of my comfort zone. After Cora died, as I felt God’s leading to keep writing on my blog, I vividly remember telling Him that I didn’t ever want to pass up an opportunity to share the gospel and His faithfulness in my life. I didn’t want this heartache in my life to be wasted. But I would have never dreamed He would give me an opportunity like this five years later. And I love that my husband is such a big part of that. I am the one that is usually writing and speaking but this is the story the Lord has written for our family. And Joel is the one usually in the background, faithfully leading our family and cheering me on to keep writing and sharing and taking these opportunities that God gives me. I love that about him…a lot.
Anyway, back to the conference. Danielle, Emily and Casey were the sweetest hosts. These are ladies that I have admired from afar through blogs and instagram and it was so great to get to finally meet them in person. They were so gracious and I loved their hearts for each woman attending the conference to feel loved and that above all Jesus would be glorified. Oh, and the conference itself? It was so great. They put so much thought into every detail. The decor, food, music, and speakers…everything was amazing. And I’m pretty sure I ate enough cake pops and drank enough coffee for the rest of the year.
I loved that these sweet friends (and sister!) came to the conference with me. They were my cheerleaders. These women have walked through some dark, dark days alongside me. I was so thankful that they came to cheer me on and encourage me. They even all came to my sessions and hid on the sides so they wouldn’t make me cry. And I made them work too. They put all my prints (that sweet Heather designed for me) in plastic sleeves so that I could hand them out at my sessions. I have the best friends.
The weekend was filled with old friends and new friends. I loved being able to get to know women like Jami, Shannon, Carissa, Kimberly, Katie, and so many more. The conference went by way too fast. I wish I would have had more time to spend hearing the hearts of these women. What a blessing they were to me!
Along with speaking in one of the sessions I also got to lead a small group. These women were so great. I loved listening to their stories and the work God was doing in each one of their lives. I know I learned more from them than they did from me!
We were asked to pick a word for our session…”the story of ____”. That was a little overwhelming for me. How do I pick just one word? But right away I felt like God gave me the word blessing. It was so crazy because as I prayed about what I was supposed to share at Hope Spoken and how in the world I could narrow down all that the Lord has been teaching me over the past five years into a thirty minute session, I felt like He was speaking to me about true blessing just as much as I was praying He would speak to the hearts of the women attending my session. Because of some circumstances that unfolded in the weeks prior to the conference I needed to preach Truth to myself. I needed to be reminded of what God’s abundant blessing looks like in my own life. That’s usually how it works when I’ve been asked to speak. The Lord ends up doing a major work in my own heart. And I’m so thankful that He’s not finished with me yet.
So Saturday I was a conference speaker and Monday I was back to riding in tractors and being a farm wife (a very sleepy farm wife!). That just about makes me want to laugh. I remember in college how much a dreaded each and every speech class. I just knew that public speaking would not be what the Lord had planned for me. The profuse sweating, shaky hands and quivering voice seemed like a pretty good indicator to me. And being a farm wife? I told everyone I knew that I would never marry a farmer or live in the country. Haha. I am so thankful that although we sometimes think that we would do a pretty good job planning out our own lives, the Lord has a much bigger and better plan and purpose for us. And what a blessing it is to see that plan unfold as we keep our eyes on Him. It is not always easy or comfortable…and we don’t always understand His ways…but He graciously leads us with the promise of His abundant blessing over our lives.
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16