Tuesday, April 8, 2014

how i ended up at hope spoken

last spring i heard about this conference called Hope Spoken. i have been following Danielle's blog for several years so i read about it when it was first announced. i knew i wanted to go, but i also immediately thought about the baby that would be here (i was pregnant at the time) and the money it would cost and all the hurdles i felt like i had to jump to get away for a weekend. a couple days later, my sister sent me a text saying she was going and was buying her ticket. she has always been better about making things happen when she really wants something. i've always been more likely to just think about the reasons i can't or shouldn't do something i really want and then just decide to not do it.

anyway, so flash forward a year and my sister and i have made plans to drive to dallas together the weekend of the conference. gregg took that friday off work so he could stay with the kids.  i still didn't have a ticket and was planning to just hang out in the hotel room, enjoy some peace and quiet and meet up with a friend who lives in dallas. my sister really, really wanted me to go to HopeSpoken though, so when she headed over Friday evening she said she was going to see if any tickets were available to purchase at the last minute. i highly doubted any would be and i doubted even more that i'd have the cash to buy it anyway. so, i ordered a pizza and settled into bed watching a house hunter's marathon while eating dinner. i mean, it wasn't that bad of a way to spend a friday night in my book.

a couple hours later i get this text from Brittany, "come over!! free!! come now!!" um, what? i believe that was my actually reply. so, i put my pizza way, put my shoes on and walked across the street. i had no idea what i was walking into really. all i knew was that few of the bloggers i had followed for years would be there but i had no clue who was speaking, singing, leading worship or anything at all really. as soon as i walked in, i saw Danielle sitting at the registration table. she told me that someone had donated their ticket when they couldn't come at the last minute as way to bless someone. she said they meant to put it on social media but in the chaos of everything it slipped their mind so it was free for me to have. i mean, really?? i think i almost cried and i pretty sure Brittany actually did cry. Danielle then handed me this adorable bag full of goodies and off i went into a room of beautiful women, tissue paper pom-poms and the most incredible cake pops i have ever tasted. like, really..these cake pops. thank God i can't get them in Austin.

(sidenote: let me just say this right now, i didn't get to talk to Danielle much but i didn't have to to see that she is the kindest, sweetest and most sincere person. it was so refreshing to see that.)

Danielle spoke about God's faithfulness when we say"yes" when He speaks to us, even in the scary and unknown moments.

Jenny Simmons led worship Saturday evening and I was blown away by her genuine heart and the story of God's work in her life and through her ministry.

like i said, i had no idea what the weekend would hold but every session was such a wonderful surprise. every woman who spoke did so from a place of true conviction and realness that was so refreshing and encouraging. people were genuine and ready to open up and say some of the hard things that are so easy to shy away from.

shauna neiquist spoke about "more love, less hustle"

the sweet girls brittany and i shared a room with for the weekend.

it takes me awhile to process things. i don't always realize that i am learning something or seeing something new right as soon as i hear it or experience it. it's when i find myself revisiting moments, words spoken, songs sung, pages read that i finally start to get that God is speaking is to me, changing me. so when i headed home sunday afternoon i thought about what a nice surprise the weekend was, how fun it was spend time with my sister and do something i wasn't planning to do. i thought about how i saw so many women being changed, challenged, and encouraged over the past couple of days. i thought about how cool it was to meet some of the bloggers i've been following for years and see their hearts for God as genuine and real as their words on the screen portray them to be. but, to be honest, i didn't really feel like i had walked away with a new challenge for myself. does that make sense?

i drove the four hours home with Oceans and Lord of Lords by Hillsong on repeat (both songs i heard for the first time at hopespoken that am now beyond obsessed with. seriously, my kids keep saying.."mom! we just listened to this song. not this again!") i thought over my time there as the next few days went on and i sunk back into mom-life and i realized that i couldn't quite shake this feeling that i had. this feeling that maybe God has something to say to me and maybe He has something for me to say. i've sorta lost myself into motherhood over the last 4.5 years. i've lost sight of the things that interest me, bring me joy, break my heart and make me who i am. as i mentioned, it takes me awhile to process things and sort through my feelings and, honestly, there just isn't much time or energy for that sort of thing with the legitimate constant needs of three little people at my feet every day and every night. i think what happened that weekend (because it's still in process-i wasn't lying-it takes awhile..) is that God used these women who shared their hearts from such real and raw places, to stir something in me. to remind me of the things He designed me to be passionate about it. the strengths He gave me to be used by Him that i had decided didn't exist anymore. He reminded me that I can be and do something in addition to being a mom to three small children and a wife. i have such a hard time seeing past what's right in front me, requesting my presence and energy the loudest, that i needed something like that weekend to help me see better. God knew that and He used the generosity of a kind stranger to make sure I heard.

for that, i am grateful.

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