Last week I had the privilege of being thrust outside my comfort zone. I’m an introvert. I like books and writing and I love solitude. I avoid retreats and conferences like the plague, though I have to admit I’m a bit more open to conferences because they are usually quite purposeful. I do not mean to say that all retreats lack purpose. I know that isn’t the case, but conference are usually like drinking from a firehose. I’m a learner so I don’t mind being pumped full of information on a topic I’m interested in.
My husband so graciously sent me to Grand Rapids Michigan last week for the Speak Up Conference. If you follow the blog, you know we are in the middle of a massive renovation on our home. Letting me go to this conference while he juggles 5 kids and the fixer upper was truly a gift. I would have to say it was also as gracious of my parents as they all worked on the house over the weekend, while I ordered room service, met lots of new people and absorbed all I could.
I love to write and have my sights set on writing a book, though I don’t particularly want to put that in writing. It’s nerve-wracking.
I’ve never been exposed to the publishing world, or how one would go about writing a book, so my time at the Speak Up Conference proved to be valuable. I learned so much from the many men and women sharing and am still processing it all. It was so helpful in fact, I plan on going back next year. Looking back on it all I would say my top three take aways were connecting with like-minded women and being encouraged by the many stories God has given them, the graciousness and encouragement given by the experts and the nitty-gritty information that was packed into the three-day conference.
Connecting with Like-Minded Women and Being Encouraged by the Many Stories God Has Given Them
As I moved outside my comfort zone and got to know the people around me, I heard amazing stories. Stories that can’t be told without seeing God in them. My faith grew as I heard tales of a marriage surviving and thriving through imprisonment, parents fighting injustices in the child welfare system after being falsely accused of child abuse and losing their son for several months, a woman bringing hope to others through her book The Search for Purple Cows after escaping a violent domestic abuse situation with her young children and many, many more. Reading these stories in books is one thing, but meeting these people face to face and hearing their stories is quite another. It is encouraging and faith building to say the least. God has given each one of us a unique story that he can use to bring hope and healing to a broken and hurting world.
The Graciousness and Encouragement Given by the Experts
True experts were sharing their experience and knowledge this weekend. I was encouraged by their humility and willingness to help anyone. Yes, their presentations were professional and well thought out, but they were all so gracious to allow us to pepper them with questions throughout the conference. I expected the conference to be good, but this aspect of it went well beyond what I could have imagined.
The Nitty Gritty Information
It’s easy to think you can find anything you need on the internet. While the internet is certainly helpful, there is no substitute for learning first hand from people with years of experience. There are simply so many things you can’t learn on the world-wide web. Being that I have no previous writing experience or involvement in publishing there is so much I don’t know. This conference gave me the confidence I need to move forward in my writing. I truly feel equipped to take the next step.
Being thrust out of my comfort zone was worth it. If you are a writer or speaker and are looking to be equipped or if you are a wanna-be like me, I would highly recommend the Speak Up Conference hosted by author and speaker Carol Kent.