Two weekends ago I had the AMAZING opportunity to travel down to Franklin, Tennessee for the very last Influence Conference. I’ve been a member of The Influence Network since 2014 and this marked my third Influence Conference experience. It’s been such a blessing to be a part of this community of faith-filled, creative, inspired women the past two years – having the chance to connect with others on-line and in-person, to encourage and pray one another on in the unique passions and pursuits the Lord has put in our hearts, attend classes, and learn about helpful tools and resources to spur me on in my journey has been nothing short of AWESOME and LIFE-CHANGING! (Where would we be without the modern wonder of social media?!?) Although the network itself is shifting gears this year and there won’t be another conference (at least at this point in time), I am looking forward to continued engagement on this platform and seeing how the Lord will use it to challenge and grow me for the future.
As I’ve had some time to further process my time in Franklin, today I thought it was fitting to share about my experience that weekend! Let’s dive in …
Honestly, being in Franklin felt like a “God-dream come true” as I had the chance to visit this charming town that I’ve read and heard so much about from a few of my favorite authors / speakers who live in that area. Visiting places like the Frothy Monkey (best latte ever!), Philanthropy: Fashion + Compassion (I could spend all day in this fabulous boutique), White’s Mercantile, and enjoying meals at Puckett’s Boat House (asiago mashed potatoes, anyone? oh, and don’t forget the hushpuppies!) and Merridee’s Breadbasket (get the house special – chicken salad sandwich, chips, and peanut butter pie – SO. GOOD.) filled my heart with joy! I absolutely love to check out new places and having a full day to explore the area and experience all of this for myself was not only refreshing, but so fun! I really hope to go back in the future and get to see more of this most lovely and historical area!
And then there was the conference at Church of the City. First of all, the church is HUGE and BEAUTIFUL – I especially loved the chalkboard art / signs hanging in the atrium. Very cool! And then the messages from speakers like Jess Connolly, Rebekah Lyons, and Rach Kincaid, just to name a few. God spoke to this girl through their words of wisdom and encouragement, that is for sure!
Here are a few of the major takeaways (paraphrased) from my time at the conference …
- Influence = Ambassador. We are chosen, daughters of God called to bring people into His marvelous light. We need to be preaching 1 Peter 2:9 over ourselves and stay rooted in our identity and running in our purpose.
- It’s time to trash the “ideal self” – the perfect version of ourselves we can think of and maybe experience a small percentage of the time. Our ideal self is not our most influential self. 2 Corinthians 12:9 makes it clear that we are at our BEST when we are at our WEAKEST. So no more “trying to do better” and “bless this hot mess” – let’s just be who we are, right now, in this moment, in real life, and gaze upon the power of the Gospel that is making ALL THINGS NEW. The Gospel changes EVERYTHING.
- Don’t trade INTIMACY for INFLUENCE (i.e. intimacy > influence). Focus on Jesus first. When we put first things first (reading His Word, being in worship, praying and praising, etc.), second things increase. The first and most important thing is Jesus. He is the prize.
- Our intimacy with Jesus is all about (and marked by) FREEDOM.
- God is a lion who fiercely pursues me and loves me hard and mightily. Receive His love. Trust in His love and promises.
- Find healthy rhythms and do more of the things that bring me mental rest and peace.
- Bring whatever is in the dark out into the light. Be honest. Be real. Be vulnerable. Name it. Call it what it is. And let God do His thing. Nothing is too hard for Him. Nothing is too big for Him. Our hope and security is not in the calmed storm but in the One who calms the storm.
- God uses our brokenness and pain in the hard seasons to shine His light, reveal His glory, and ultimately help others.
- All people are created in God’s image and we should be treating one another like it. More love, less hate. This is truth. Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of our differences. And as Christians (especially, as Christians), we should be operating at a higher standard than the rest of the world.
You could say it was power-packed day that definitely left an impression on me at the start of this new year. It was exactly the getaway I needed as I dive into a year of “cultivating everyday abundance.” The messages spoke fresh air into my hopes and dreams for 2017, and confirmed a lot of things that have been on my heart and mind for some time now. I’m always so grateful when God confirms things for me and helps me to clearly see the path I need to take. There’s no other way to do this thing called life, in my opinion. If I don’t have Him, I have nothing.
This time in Franklin, Tennessee, although short, will not be forgotten. I brought a piece of it home with me and I will be continuing to look back on this time and the messages shared throughout the course of the next twelve months as I go hard after God and the plans / purposes He has in store for me this year.