In 2012, I watched the Influence Conference from home, with a yearning to join this vibrant community of women. I grabbed my early bird ticket, confident about attending the following year. I said hello to some of the women from the #influenceconf hashtag, curious to see where this would end up in a year. Then I found out the co-founders were creating a site just for that purpose – The Influence Network. It was like they built this playground online for like-minded women to find each other. Hayley (a friend from college) asked me to join the core team, as the Content Manager, and suddenly I was behind the scenes helping with the Influence blog.
In 2013, I discovered I was pregnant with a due date as close to the conference you could get. I was so nervous I wouldn’t be able to attend. But God was faithful, and my delivery + recovery couldn’t have been more different than my first traumatic experience. I brought my baby and husband to the conference, managed the Sashes Market, and took zero notes the whole weekend. It didn’t look the way I had planned. I felt tired from the pregnancy/delivery/etc and a little overwhelmed. So, I focused on connecting with a small group of 3-5 women, and just soaking in as much as I could. I cried my heart out during worship. And when it ended, God whispered to my tired heart, “The work was good.”
And now, the 2014 Conference is over, and my heart is full to the point of bursting. I have to at least attempt to recap some highlights. The bottom line? God showed up in a big way.
As soon as the conference magazine launched, the core team was arriving in Indianapolis (our town!). The day before the conference we had a massive work day (at my house!). It was the most productive meeting we’ve ever had – read Jessi’s post for more on that. And no one got #inFLUence, praise Jesus.
sweet online friends + a new Mocha Club “Giving is Lovely” tee
When our beautiful community of women started to arrive at the hotel, it was like seeing hundreds of dear friends. To me, community makes this conference. What a difference two years can make. I went from a girl looking in from the outside, to a woman who is incredibly blessed by friendships – old and new. As an introvert, I love that this conference is not at all about small talk. I can go deep with women who I’ve just met. This year was a little different because I had invited some of my local, real-life friends to come too. That was a gamechanger in the best possible way.
beautiful friends from church
The speakers don’t dance around topics. I filled up a few notebooks, and each session just kept tying back to our theme – “It’s time to build – His kingdom, not mine.” The Sashes Market was crazy beautiful, like a mini-Anthropologie. The worship with 300+ women was unifying and sweet.
The most surprising thing? Somehow instead of staying entirely behind the scenes, I was handed a microphone a few times through the weekend to speak about topics I am crazy passionate about. And while I would have sheepishly told you before that I am no public speaker, I won’t be saying that anymore. God showed up and gave me the words. They were words that I genuinely believe need to be said, so saying them out loud to one person or 300 was the simplest thing I could have possibly done.
The best thing? The community doesn’t start and stop with a conference. If you feel like the new girl or just bought your first #influenceconf ticket, come meet women and see where God takes these friendships in one year. And when you join the Network today, you get a FREE download of the entire set of 2013 conference audio (a $100+ value), in addition to a complimentary monthly class, online forums and groups.