Last week I traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan to attend the Speak Up Conference, a Christian writing and speaking conference created by Carol Kent Ministries. It was my first conference ever and I really wasn't sure what to expect. Now, in the afterglow, I can honestly say it was a complete life-changer. My suitcase weighed about the same the whole time, but I brought so much more home with me than what I took on the way there. Allow me to explain...
4 Things I Brought Home From Speak Up:
1. Motivation: There's nothing like a weekend away (hello comfy hotel bed that I got all to myself!) from the distractions of everyday life to focus your heart and mind on some specific goals. I've been led to write more over the past couple of years, starting a blog, researching how to write a book proposal, joining some groups on Facebook, etc. but this conference really LIT A FIRE! It was so powerful to be with a huge room full of other women (and a handful of brave men!) who all feel a calling from God to use their words for good in some way. I feel more brave. I feel prepared to set goals. I feel the urgency to write. So yes, I brought home a whole lot more motivation than I had when I headed out my front door last Thursday.
2. New Sisters: I'm equal parts extroverted and introverted, and I tend to feel shy and intimidated when walking into a situation in which I know not a single soul. I was praying for connections and quite simply, praying that the other conference attendees would be nice. I don't like to use such a simple word, but that's just what was running through my head. And God answered that prayer tenfold. The women I met were incredibly kind and encouraging. I met newbies like me, seasoned authors, speakers who were just starting to fly with their writing ministries, and writers who were just starting to soar with their speaking ministries. There was such a wide mix, and I loved it. These women were filled with equal parts talent and humility. And as Cindy Bultema so beautifully stated, "We are co-workers, not competitors. When one of us wins, we all win." What a breath of fresh air that is amongst the dog-eat-dog world of ladder climbing and comparison traps.
I walked in jittery and alone, and I walked out with a group of women willing to cheerlead for me as I will for them.
3. Resources: Over the course of two and a half days, I attended six break out sessions, two Q&A panels with publishing industry experts, watched a mock publishing house pub board meeting, participated in a small group writing critique, had five one-on-one meetings with literary agents and editors, and bought a book on how to write a killer book proposal. I was encouraged by the devotionals from Cindy Bultema and Bruce Martin, and empowered and inspired by the keynote addresses by the bestselling authors Don Piper and Carol Kent. And not to mention the praise and worship that gave me goosebumps every morning, led by the talented and resilient Sarah Schieber. At the end of the day, my brain was STUFFED. Like it was about to explode, but in a good way, if that makes sense. It was swimming with so many pieces of information, ideas, and inspiration. The resources that I gained, both tangible and intangible, were worth all of the time, energy, and money that was invested into this trip.
4. Confidence: I left Speak Up with the ability to make the following claims more confidently than I would have before: I am a writer. My voice matters (and so does yours, dear friends). God has given me the ability to string words together in a coherent manner and I am not going to waste it. I am going to use my words for good. I am going to finish my book proposal. I am going to get my book published. I am going to help my writer friends, or friends who are storytellers but don't know it yet, do the same. I am a writer. It's scary to chase goals, but we can do it.
If you have any desire to tell your story, to write, to speak, to encourage others, etc. then I highly recommend this conference. You will come home with so much more than you brought with you! Also, this post is part of a Blog Hop, hosted by the lovely Cindy Bultema! That's fancy talk for, a bunch of bloggers linking up together and sharing their posts all in one spot. Click below where it says "click here" and it'll take you to the list of all of the other Speak Up attendees who have posts about the conference! Please check out their posts next!
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