Well, my lariat is still hanging on my closet door knob;
My goodie bag is still sitting in a corner of my room
They are the subtle reminders of an awesome event I attended called The Declare Conference this past weekend. For those of you who haven’t heard about the Declare Conference, It is a gathering of Christian Women Bloggers in Dallas, TX.
When I first heard about it, I thought, “So close…and yet so far”. There were so many reasons I thought I couldn’t go. By the time I heard about it, it was too late to get the lower cost ticket. I wasn’t feeling well all week, and I thought I needed to tend to an obligation at home. It wasn’t until the Tuesday before that I was so graciously sponsored (thank you, Declare!), met a great roommate, Stacie Maness, and get this…she also happened to live just an hour away, so we carpooled. On top of that, it turned out that my obligation at home wasn’t needed after all. God provides, doesn’t He? All of the doors opened, and I was elated and knew He wanted me to go. Guess I learned at least one thing—if God wants to re-arrange the circumstances of our lives, He will!
Anyway, the conference was so chock-full of useful sessions, wonderful people, and spiritual insight that I don’t even know where to begin. I guess that’s why I’ve kept my bag untouched this whole week. All the notes and information inside represent an avalanche of resources, just waiting for my now undisturbed block of time to process it all. I’m an information junkie and I can’t wait to pour over all my notes and visit every website mentioned. 🙂
Pull up a seat and I’ll unpack just a little bit of the weekend. First, the tangible: Business cards with links to fellow bloggers such as Alison, Melissa, Jessica, and Janet, (Check out their blogs, they’re really great), the soon-to-be-released book , “The Guard around your Heart”, by one of our keynote speakers, Mary DeMuth, a nice notebook/calendar, coin-purse, and so much more. We were really spoiled by the warmth and hospitality of our hostesses!
Speaking of which, one of the points they made was that they wanted to provide a conference where the technical met with the spiritual, and I believe that’s exactly what happened. What a blessing it was for me to meet leaders in literary world such as Jeff Goins and Jessica Kirkland. They were both so approachable and answered my questions about publishing; they really gave me some honest feedback and pointed me in the right direction for my writing.
More importantly, I discovered one more thing during the weekend.
I discovered that I have baggage. Well, Duh — yes, I know I just said that, but I’m here to say it again~
I have baggage…and not the kind I took home with goodies. The kind I’ve carried around for months, even years…the kind that I now see was weighing me down.
I realized this as our Saturday keynote speaker, Jill Monaco (founder of Single Matters), spoke to us about the faith and obedience she needed to trust God’s plan for her life. What was different about Jill was that she acknowledged the plight of being single and over 30. Needless to say, we older singles are the minority. I for one have been perplexed and quite frankly mortified by how quickly life has flown by. I’ve grieved my own youth like a guest I barely got to know. I was 25 one day and then 35 48 the next.
Listening to Jill, I realized that “baggage” doesn’t belong to just those who have had difficult pasts or abuse. I looked into my own heart and saw a big o’l carry-on loaded full of despair and disappointment. I saw cynicism and regret, and for once I acknowledged the damage it was doing to my spirit. So I opened my Bible and read:
“Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 43:5)
The Psalmist pours out his heart before the Lord and realizes that the Lord is his strength and hope. Why shouldn’t I do the same? If God could control the circumstances that got me here this weekend, can’t He control the circumstances of my life in general?
I’ll admit I am still a work in progress. I acknowledge this baggage, but this is one I do not want to hang on to for long!
Thanks again, Declare, for an informative and rich weekend.