A few weeks ago I traveled to Indianapolis to attend The Influence Conference for the very first time. There really is no easy way to sum it up, except to say that it was incredibly eye-opening and life-changing for me in many ways. It’s taken me awhile to write this post, simply because there was so much to process following the event itself. I have a small notebook full of notes from the sessions I attended, and I’ve been going back through it on an almost daily basis to keep every aspect of that special time at the forefront of my mind. And now I feel ready to re-cap the things I learned and heard God speak to me in my time away, so allow me to just dive in …
The theme of the conference was “It’s Time to Build;” the idea being that it’s time to let go of the ‘try-hard’ and ‘perfectionist’ life, embracing our God-given gifts and passions and putting them into action for His glory and Kingdom, in the here and now. Our mediums and platforms don’t matter. What matters is a heart that is seeking after God and going after the thing He has put in our heart to do. That’s it. And that, my friends, is a message my soul has been craving and needing to grasp for a very long time.
The conference was divided into two tracks – Strategy and Life. I chose to attend the Strategy track because of each session’s focus on practical tips to leverage my blog for God’s glory and my good, as I have sensed Him calling me to do more with this beloved space, both now and for the future. Here are some gems I picked up along the way …
“God loves to find people where they are. We know He uses all things for our good. He loves to equip us with His Spirit, to make His Good News known.”
“What makes failure a success is when we don’t lose enthusiasm or energy. … When we realize we are enough, we realize we have enough.”
“The number of followers, ‘likes,’ and comments we get are not a true reflection of our influence – even in what we think is small, God can use in BIG ways. There is depth to be found and that is what is important.”
– Life Panel
“Start small. Dream BIG. … We can show Christ without even using our words. As we write about our loves and passions, our faith will show.”
– Jen Lula
“What is life-giving for you? That’s what you need to do. You can’t do it all.”
“God says, ‘Take this business, take your influence, take your passions and just use them for me.’ … God doesn’t want a better life from you, He wants a better life for you!”
“Life is messy. God knows that. Let’s not fake it. Let’s be real.”
“What is your niche? Become an ‘expert’ in your niche. … Don’t let your blog be an empty place. Don’t let the work come back void. It’s takes a lot of time, so make it worth your time.”
– Strategy Panel
“No matter what I do in life, life is ministry. … Listen to the voice of God and do what matters. … Be bold. Be brave. Be wise.”
One of my favorite, and most anticipated, parts of the conference was the The Influence Network Member’s Only session with Lara Casey. I’ve been following Lara’s blog and Instagram stream for the past year, and she is one inspiring woman with one heck of a powerful testimony. I appreciated hearing truth from such a successful business-person. Here are some things she shared that particularly resonated with me …
“God can change anything. God makes the ‘impossible’ possible. Two of the best words in Scripture: ‘But God.’ “
“Choose purpose over perfect.”
“Name your fears and what is distracting you. God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things when they are surrendered.”
“Think of your mind as a ‘mental mason jar.’ What is your mental mason jar filled up with? How much space is left for truth, for life, and for God? What do you want to fill your mental mason jar?”
“What fires you up? Do more of what fires you up!”
In addition to the fabulous speakers and other conference perks, such as the Sashes Market, there was of course the connections made with other women who share my heart and passion for blogging, writing, and faith. Right off the bat, I met a few women who had traveled to Indy on their own vs. as part of a group, so we banded together as ‘the single ladies’ and spent a lot of time bonding over coffee, dining, and time spent in the city. Despite our differences in terms of where we live and what our lives have been like and are like currently, it was amazing to see just how much we had in common. The walls came down as we shared our hearts and spoke life to one another. These ladies fed my soul with their transparency, wisdom, and vulnerability. They encouraged me and inspired me and I am so grateful to have met them and plan to keep in touch with them moving forward.
So, the natural question following something pivotal like this is, “Now what?” And my answer is, “It’s Time to Build.”
In the coming weeks and months, I’m going to begin developing a plan of how to take my writing and professional/educational skills as a Social Worker to the next level. I don’t know what it all looks like – how these things all are supposed to come together – but I sense that there’s a point at which my current career intersects with my passions and faith, and that it is here where I will find my calling, my purpose, and the thing God has made me for in this time and place. It’s time to dream and seek and explore and go deeper than I ever have before. It’s time to take all that I learned at The Influence Conference and begin putting it into practice – not just being a hearer, but a do-er. Some hard work lies ahead of me, but I’m intentionally trusting God for the journey ahead. I know what He’s got in store will be better than anything I could ask for, think of, or imagine in my wildest dreams. He is great and the life He offers is good. So good.
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I can’t recommend The Influence Network enough. If you’re a woman with a heart for God and making your life mean something, I suggest checking it out and to seriously consider joining. You’ll have access to monthly classes, forums, and opportunities to connect with others online and in-person for just $10 / month. Learn more about it here.