Imagine walking into your school or place of work with an expectation of one thing, and walking out with an entirely different experience. Welcome to my weekend at Speak Up 2013 – an annual conference designed to equip the next generation to speak, write and lead.
Much was learned at this conference so it may be easiest to share by just diving in with my top 3 Take-Aways from Speak Up 2013:
1. Expect the Unexpected with God. In April, 2013 I held my 2nd Girl’s Getaway…a year after holding my first retreat where 12 women attended and 3 of those prayed to accept Christ. You can imagine my expectation for the second year when 32 girls signed up for this out of town event.
Anytime we set expectations on God, He’s going to teach us a lesson. And this lesson was a difficult pill to swallow. This year’s Girl’s Getaway focused on the baggage that weighs us down…and I walked out of that retreat carrying bags I didn’t walk in with. I quickly recognized it the next time I was in church. I could physically feel the baggage between the hug I was trying to have with God. Thankfully He showed me quickly and I have been able to unpack that bag.
I believe Speak Up 2013 was the conclusion to this lesson. I walked in with no expectations on God and left with my cup running over. Expectations are sneaky sins, and at the root lies pride. Anyone ever have an issue with pride?! Whew – that’s for another blog! Let’s look at my second take-away.
2. God can do more than my mind can fathom. (Thank you for the bracelet Kathe Wunnenberg – I love it!)
Eph 3:20 states “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
I got a taste of this when I met my husband, Ben. I knew it would take someone ridiculously special to spend any significant amount of time with, and I thought I knew what those special things were. Today I can see there is so much more about Ben’s character that I love and had longed for, but didn’t consciously think about wanting. From my experience, I can affirm that God knows the things I long for in the deepest parts of my heart – so imagine my excitement when I found that it lines up to scripture! (Psalm 139)
Knowing that, I don’t know why I still get surprised that God shows me this in other areas of life.
See, when I signed up for the Speak Up Conference, I signed up under the Leader’s Track – thinking it would be good for me to get more guidance on effective leadership, as I am that cleric personality Frances Drost spoke of. (It’s not that I think I’m always right, it’s that I AM always right!! – Told you I need to attend that Leader’s Track – God’s not finished with me yet!)
However, the lure of the assignment for the Speaker’s Track – the opportunity to speak publicly twice and be critiqued – was too much and I switched over in hopes of sharpening my speaking skills. The Writer’s Track itself was never a thought.
The last morning of the conference, I was perusing my schedule and jumped over to the “Writing and Publishing Devotions” breakout with Sandi Banks. I had no idea why I was going there at the time, but that leads me to take-away number 3.
3. Following God’s path will lead you to where He wants you to be. The art of speaking is quite different from the art of writing. While I am gifted at both, I am still working out what that means for my journey. For now, God has placed it on my heart to write a devotional…a type of book that in my most recent years I haven’t really respected, looking down upon it as a replacement to the Bible. A book, God reminded me, that was my gateway to picking up a Bible. And the start to channeling my passion for writing.
So now what?
After Speak Up 2013, I came home longing for more focused Godly conversations. But purposely creating those can be tricky. So I decided to let God figure that out, knowing I would need to listen more.
My first big step in the next part of my journey is to be still. Finding time to do that in my otherwise hectic life with 4 kids at home is difficult, so I began to look at my time as I look at my finances, thus giving birth to the idea of a “30-day Time Tithe”. That is, giving back to God 10% of the time He gives me in a day – 144 minutes each day to be exact. That should afford me time to be still.
And since I’m “a more the merrier” type of person, I extended this challenge to my friends and have about 60 people joining me!
Remember what I said about Ephesians 3:20? God conversations are happening everywhere! Yesterday I was at the grocery store and ran into a girl taking the time tithe. She was so excited to share how God was working in her life as she is spending more time focusing on Him. She didn’t know that He was using her in that moment to answer a prayer of mine. He’s so Faithful.
Coming from my finite mind I can report that Speak Up 2013 was a pivotal weekend in my life. I’m excited to learn all the things God is doing behind the scenes, as a result of this conference.
I thank God for each of you who have supported my journey long term, my new supporters, my mentors and my prayer partners. Thank you for the footprint you have left on my life.
If you are interested in joining the 30 day Time Tithe, all I need is your email address and I’ll get you invited. You can start anytime. It’s between you and God.
(Scroll down for more Speak Up 2013 Pics!)
Can’t focus…must have dessert
Cindy Bultema and I – she is a passionate follower of God – coming out with her first Bible study next year called Red, Hot Faith! Check out her blog at http://www.cindybultema.com
After the conference eats…
On the way home FUN!