It’s been just over two weeks since She Speaks, the writing conference I attended, has ended and I’m still struggling with the right words to really describe how powerful the experience was.
I guess the most succinct way to explain my feelings can be found in a tweet I posted that Friday night:
— Chrissy VanScoten (@CMVanScoten) July 25, 2015
That’s still not enough though. I’d love to give you a glimpse into this amazing journey God blessed me with, so I’m going to break this down into three parts: practical teachings, personal connections, and the power of God. But first, a brief overview:
Ladies started traveling into NC this day. I attended a time of prayer at Proverbs 31 where I met my first batch of She Speak-ers. Several of us met up that night for a dinner to get acquainted with the faces we had been interacting with on Facebook for weeks.
This was the pre-conference day. We signed into the conference, scoped out all the vendors’ tables, and had a half day of sessions, which gave us our first glimpse into what God had in store for us. We had another dinner, this time with twice as many ladies as the night before.
The first official day! We had a very full day of sessions and met even more ladies who carry the weight of similar callings. We also had a special luncheon for members of Compel training.
All too soon we reached the final day. This was another full day of sessions, followed by a meet and greet where we could enjoy getting closer to our new sisters, as well as the ladies who were presenting all weekend.
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And now for the good stuff! These are what I found to be the three main components of She Speaks:
1. Practical Teachings
She Speaks is a Christian conference for female writers, speakers, and leaders. All of the sessions are tailored for these callings. I tried to get a little bit of everything, which means I attended sessions about blogging, graphics, social media, marketing, creating titles, and more. Some of the main sessions were also very practical; Lysa TerKeurst brought her family on stage to talk about the pros and cons of her calling and how it affected her family.
We also had the opportunity to purchase the speakers’ books, which are full of wisdom and practical steps to help us grow. I only grabbed a few–a serious struggle when your love language is books (this is a real thing, I swear!) but I will certainly be seeking out more in the future.
I have a wildly long to-do list after attending all of these sessions and I’ve never been so excited to dive in!
2. Personal Connections
I’m so blessed to be surrounded by so many supportive friends and family members; even though they may not fully understand the calling on my life, they have been behind me all the way and I will never take that for granted.
However, being surrounded by 800 women who all share that calling and fully understand the ins, outs, ups, and downs of it, is seriously an incredible feeling. Bonds were forged so quickly as God brought us into the right sessions, and sitting next to the right sisters, to make His presence known and draw us closer to each other.
Countless women shared their hearts with me, and invested into my calling in a way I had never experienced–in mere minutes of talking. I could write an entire book just explaining those connections, but instead I’m just going to highlight one moment that is very dear to my heart.
Before the conference began, I signed up for a prayer partner. Proverbs 31 then gave me a random woman’s contact information and left it up to us to connect so we could uplift each other before the conference. Gwen had been such a source of encouragement for me and I could truly feel her prayers taking hold in my life.
I was attending the prayer session at the P31 offices on Wednesday, when a noise caught my attention. I looked up from the conference table before me and there stood a woman whom I had never seen before. She looked me right in the eye and pointed to her name tag. Gwen Williams. My brain registered immediately as I jumped up and rushed around to hug her. Picture a slow-motion film scene where two people are running at each other with their arms outstretched. That was us, in an office full of praying women; so we were unable to speak, but God spoke through our hearts and brought us even closer in that moment.
It was truly surreal and one of the most beautiful moments I have ever experienced. What a way to start this journey.
3. The Power of God
I’m always amazed at how God is able to speak to specifically into our hearts when we are all hearing the same words; they just touch us in different ways. I like to think of us as a football team. We (writers, speakers, leaders) are all playing the same game, but we have different roles; some of us play offense, some of us play defense, some are on special teams. Even for all of us writers, there are different areas we need to cover; some of us have to be receivers while others are kickers. So when God is our coach and gives us that great speech just before we go out on the field, it is awe-inspiring that He is able to motivate and instruct each player specifically regardless of the differences in positions.
Again, I could write an entire book here about what God did in my heart in these few short days; there is just no way to succinctly explain it. So I will leave it to this: after meeting with publishers to pitch my book, God absolutely affirmed my calling to be a writer. He told me to stop looking at it as a way to accomplish one of my own goals, and start approaching it with more reverence for His message.
Each speaker deepened God’s words in my heart, growing this lesson inside me. He used their words to solidify the next steps I need to take personally, before my calling can manifest corporately.
I wish I could say more about everything I experienced in four short days, but I fear I
would bore you with every minute detail I’d want to share. All I can say is if you feel any inkling that God may be calling you to write, speak, or lead, go to this conference. It is well worth the cost, and even if you never get published or become a worldwide speaker, God is going to wreck you in the best possible way. You’ll never be the same, and you’ll never regret a second of it.
Do you feel like God has placed a calling on your life? Maybe just one step He wants you to take? Where is He leading you? I’d love to hear how God is moving and share our experiences!