Tuesday, October 1, 2013

my influence conference recap

I have a confession to make. Are you ready?

I'm a horrible blogger.

I mean, I spent 3 days with other bloggers and I took practically no pictures. I feel like I broke some blogger code or something. Am I going to be kicked out of the club now?

No, but seriously. I have this problem where I get so involved in the moment that I completely forget to pull my phone out and snap some photos. Aside from the fact that I always feel awkward asking someone else to take my pictures. Yes, even a fellow blogger.

But seriously, the pictures are scarce, but my heart is full.

I headed to Indy with no anxiety about the conference. I know a lot of women were worried about meeting new people and about meeting online friends. About not fitting in or being included in a group. About whether or not their clothes or hair would be good enough.

I get that. I'm a woman too. We struggle with those things.

But I just knew going in that I was there to get from God whatever He had for me. He had obviously purposed for me to be there, why should I worry about what would happen?

And I'm so glad I didn't worry. I simply was.

So, I didn't realize how many blog friends I have that I'd be meeting in real life. It was pretty awesome that just about every time I turned around I found someone I had already been friends with online and had been dying to meet in person. And the time I was able to spend in conversation and prayer with you ladies was wonderful.

But it was really great to make new friends. I almost feel like I should bust out in song from Girl Scouts "make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other's gold." Ok I'm done. I made it my goal each night to have dinner with a group of ladies I did not know. Each time there were at least 1 or 2 gals I had known previously, but for the most part I got to spend an entire meal chatting with and learning about new people. Hearing the hearts of women I had never met but who had the same purpose and passion as me: Jesus. Like I've said before a thousand times, I love the church. I love that we all live in different places and live different lives, and yet we can come together over a meal and chat as if we've always known one another. There's nothing weird or awkward about it.at.all.

If I had to nail down my favorite part of the conference, it most definitely was fellowship. For all the aforementioned reasons.

But I also want to share some really great things that happened during one particular workshop. If you haven't heard of Lara Casey, stop reading and go look her up. She's amazing. Amazing. Her workshop was exactly the kick in the butt I was needing. She started out by telling us to stop following our dreams. I know, you're like what? That's not very encouraging! But it gets better. She said, stop following your dreams because guess what, scripture doesn't say to follow your dreams. Scripture says, "Follow Me."

And just like that, all the pressure was lifted from my shoulders. For a while now my go-to verse has been Psalm 127:1. It says, "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain." In other words, if whatever you are doing wasn't initiated by the Lord, you're doing it for yourself alone. Her words just confirmed it even more to me. And that encouraged me to simply follow the Lord. Follow His call. Rely on Him alone for everything I need to accomplish that which He told me to accomplish. 

And then, we were told to exchange names and email addresses with someone nearby who can be our accountability person as we work toward our goals. I turned to the gal next to me and we said "hi" and exchanged information. Nothing major. Oh and complimented each others' shoes.

At the end of the workshop we started chatting. I don't even remember how the conversation began. After exchanging business cards she noticed I had "defender of the unborn" written on mine and asked me about it. Turns out she is also involved in pro-life ministry in her home town. Coincidence?  No. God brought us both to that place, put us both in that room, sat us next to each other and engaged us in conversation for a purpose. The next day we had the opportunity to pray together as we read the devotion and prayer for that day from 40 Days for Life

I was blown away that God would send that confirmation to me. I mean, He had already used another blogger to answer my prayer as to whether or not I should take the position at Nevadans for Life. As I sat in Lara Casey's workshop about strategy, thinking about the big goals I've set forth for the pro-life organization I am blessed to lead, He places a fellow blogger next to me, who has the same passion for the unborn as I do. Wow. Just wow.

Bottom line, what did I learn from and about Influence?

Speak up and meet new people
Don't worry about what kind of food you're eating, go to dinner for the fellowship
Ride the bus. it's only $1.75!
Take business cards and actually hand them out
Tell someone your story
Pray for God to reveal Himself to you
The Westin has bikes available for free to ride around downtown. Say whaaaa?
If you have to skip a workshop in order to take a shower, that is a-okay

But seriously, I do have photos to share, just not right now. Ben is playing video games online and if I try to upload photos right now he will be very much not happy with me. Later. I promise.


  1. That last one, is something I need to do next year;)
    It was so good to meet you!

  2. you are sooo funny and I love this writing style. What an amazing weekend and I'm so glad that I got to meet you! God is doing huge things in your life lady. Press on.

  3. Well, I have a grand total of 1 photo from the conference, so I think I may have you beat as far as lack of photo taking goes. Lara Casey's workshop was also a highlight for me--few people are bold enough to go against the "follow your dreams" mantra that is all too widely believed in!

  4. I'm so glad we got to meet! I just wish we could have talked for longer. I love all the lessons you learned from Influence. And I love the story of your accountability partner from Lara's session!

  5. i love that God introduced you two! How amazing. I loved meeting you Jessi! I'm so glad we rode together on the bus and got to go to dinner together (one of my favorite moments). I felt so comfortable around you which I'm thankful for. I love when God does that. Praying for you and your ministry, sister. You have an incredible opportunity for impact!

  6. you blog code breaker!!! haha it's GOOD that you were SO present that taking pictures just slipped your mind!!! i loved meeting you and learning about your heart for the pro-life movement and all! you are beautiful - inside and out!! wish you lived closer to Chicago... because I'd make you be my BFF <3