Ten Things I Learned at She Speaks 2017

1.  Platform is my least favorite word.  EVER.  Of all the words that currently or formerly exist.  
If you didn’t attend SS, you may be wondering what platform means.  Essentially, it’s a “tribe” of people who subscribe and interact on our blogs.  So if you are reading this, please subscribe to my blog so I can build my platform!!  Publishers like to see that writers are going to sell their books.  If we can’t prove that we can sell some books, we may have a hard time getting published.  Ever.  I humbly ask for your subscription to my blog if you enjoy my encouragements.  This is hard for me because I don’t like feeling as though I am promoting myself.  It’s all about Him, our Heavenly Father!!  I pray by sharing my experiences on the blog, you will be encouraged to look for Him daily in your own lives.  I am going to start working on my blog more though, so by subscribing you won’t miss out on anything!

2.  Public speaking is feared more than death by dismemberment.  I agree.

Perhaps you already knew this fun fact.  I did not.  I am more terrified though of public speaking than death by dismemberment. I volunteered to read a small, small snippet of my book in front of a small group.  I cried.  I will be blogging about that experience with soon; I’m still processing the lessons from it…  You all, I am not a speaker!!  Sharing my testimony at a retreat in front of mostly women I know is much different than sharing a piece of my book with strangers.  This simple, yet odd, fact comforted me.  I’m not alone!

3.  Talking to strangers doesn’t have to be scary!

I will continue to teach my children not to talk to strangers unless I am with them, but I actually had a great experience this past weekend!  I went alone with fears of being rejected, being alone the whole weekend, feeling awkward, etc.  Turns out, I loved every single person I met.  I even walked up to a few and struck up conversations!  God pushed me out of my comfort zone, and He blessed me for it.  The women He put on my path this past weekend will be lifelong friends and partners in ministry.  As I said on my Facebook page, I consider these women my best friends whether or not they feel the same!  There is a special, instantaneous bond when meeting other Christian woman who share your call.  These friends, both the ones I got to know well and the ones with whom I only had minimal interactions, encouraged me during a very rough few hours when I declared my intention to quit.  I look forward to commiserating and celebrating with these women as we continue our journeys together!

4.  It’s okay to cry in front of people you respect.  Jesus still loves you!

I will blog more on this in a later post, but my most mortifying moment turned out to be a huge lesson from God.  Reading your work, sharing your personal (and difficult) testimonies about daily life is an incredibly vulnerable experience.  And for a person who cries a lot (when I’m tired, when I’m overwhelmed, when I’m stressed, when I’m overly happy, when I’m sad….you get the picture), it’s no surprise how this particular scenario turned out.  More to come on this . . . 

5.  Writing is HARD.

I don’t just mean for those of you who may not enjoy writing.  I love writing.  I pursued both my bachelor and master degrees because I enjoyed researching and writing.  Writing is a passion of mine!  I learned this weekend it’s so much more than putting my thoughts down on paper.  It’s crafting hooks.  It’s constantly thinking of the reader and keeping them engaged.  It’s time consuming . . . like a full time job.  Of course, with three kids, I’m sitting back at home wondering how will I do this?!  Even when all my kids are in school (because my youngest starts preschool 😭), I’ll have four hours a week at best without any little people in my house.  I have the opportunity to submit a proposal to a publisher, and I am thanking God there’s no timeline because where do I find the time?!  I enjoyed the honesty of the best-selling authors who told us just how hard writing will be.  I am holding firm to the truth: God calls us, and God equips us.  He called me, and He will equip me.  

6.  If you obey God’s command and get uncomfortable, God will bless you. 

I stepped out of my comfort zone in so many ways last weekend, in obedience to God, and He blessed me every step of the way.  From my first solo flight since 2011(ish), to meeting a stranger (now friend) at the airport to give her a ride, meeting more strangers (now friends) before going to a dinner with 100+ women, walking into the conference alone and striking up conversations with people, and more . . . I had myself worked up before the conference.  God blessed me with every single interaction and every single workshop (especially the one which will be my next blog post).  God met me, He upheld me, and He spoke to me through all of the amazing women.  I know this to be a fact: it’s not all comfort from here.  God will continue to push me, and He will continue to bless my obedience.  

7.  Starbuck’s has more than coffee and comfy chairs!  It is also a great place to bond and commiserate with strangers.

My friend Misha said, “Let’s go get a drink from Starbuck’s.”. No, I don’t drink coffee.  She continued to explain not everything is coffee tasting, although “frappucino” sounds like coffee.  This strawberry thing, though, so yummy.  On the final conference day, while waiting for our non-coffee drinks, we literally sank into these amazingly comfortable chairs (they were more comfortable than the previous day!) and pledged to finish out the conference there.  Of course, we didn’t, but those chairs were a much needed source of temporary rest.  I met a sweet woman in line, and have been praying for her as she’s expecting her first child!  It was a great place to engage in small talk (another way God pushed me out of my comfort zone!).  Who knew?!

8.  EVERYONE has a story.  Even the put-together, polished, seems-like-there-isn’t-a-care-in-the-world, well-spoken, outgoing ones.  

No, really.  Everyone has a story.  The person on Facebook with the constantly perky, “my life is amazing” posts?  She has a story, too.  Here’s something else: we all have something unique and important to bring to God’s table.  Truth.  The enemy tried to get in my head by whispering to me that my story pales in comparison to the women I met.  Lie.  My story isn’t actually mine.  It’s God’s.  Perhaps you’ve heard the song “My Story”?  If not, check it out here.  Our stories are God’s stories of redemption in our lives.  Even the ordinary-ness of my life can have an impact in God’s kingdom.  It’s a level playing field!  Share your story, and keep sharing your story.  

9.  Writers NEED community — a community of like-minded women.

I didn’t realize this before the conference.  I also didn’t realize how tough writing actually would prove to be (see above).  I am so blessed for the women I met who share my passion.  I have like-minded women to help improve my writing, to encourage me to be better.  I pray I can do the same with them.  A number of us are getting ready to enter into this unknown realm of book proposals together, and I’m so thankful to have women who understand the process alongside me!  This doesn’t lessen the importance of my non-writers community; they are equally important to me.  Writing can’t be my everything, and my non-writers community will continue to provide balance in my life.  So thankful for God’s blessings!

10.  This past weekend was the most exhausting, overwhelming, and emotionally difficult weekend.  I can’t wait to go back!

Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog and help me build my platform!  This is a very important step in my journey to publication!

Blessings!  ðŸ’•

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