Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Influence Conference 2013

I wrote two posts before settling on this one. 
I couldn't even get all my words together for all the good that happened at the Influence Conference this year. 
To be honest, I had no expectations. At least, no good ones.
I was believing so many lies before I went. 
That I wasn't good enough because my blog wasn't big enough.
That my clothes weren't cute enough.
That I would have a hard time making friends.
That I wasn't as funny as I thought I was. 
But deep within me, God was weaving something from the very start of this. From the very first moment I stepped onto my plane, I was filled with peace. 
My airport/plane experience was perfect. Both flights were early and I am so thankful to the Lord for this. I know He knew I needed this and it was just another reminder of how much He wanted me right where I was. 
  On my flight I took a good amount of time to read in John
 and journal what God was speaking to me about. 
If I can be honest, times like these are rare. I spend time reading in the Word every day but it's rare that I hear from The Lord. And it's not because He isn't speaking to me. It's because I don't spend enough time listening. 
Through a series of events, the best friend I had known all this time over the internet, got in to the airport just in time for us to ride to the hotel together. I remember running to the escalator to hug her because I was just overjoyed knowing I could finally be real life best friends with the girl who spoke an incredible amount of truth to me each day. The friend who knew exactly what it was like to be the wife of a youth pastor. The friend who was one of the big reasons I was even there.
It's hard for me to use the word perfect in any situation but I don't know how else to describe this weekend. The community of girls were exactly what they appeared to be on the internet. 
There was never a time I felt left out, too small, or unnoticeable.
We had meals together, went on walks to crazy "french sushi" restaurants together, and even took a bike ride together. Finally getting to sit down and share life with Brittany as I had been wanting to since first stumbling across her blog many months ago. love her!
Every single session I was in, I felt like the Lord had made it just for me. Every word, every single truth, He had orchestrated before hand for each one of us, individually.
Annie Downs said, 
"A preacher may speak to 300 people on a Sunday morning, but YOU are speaking to your crowd every day, maybe multiple times a day, and you are leading them. Your words are leading other people."
I can't get this truth out of my head. Can you even wrap your mind around how influential your words are? Even if you have 10 followers, you are reaching 10 people for Christ. Ladies, that's just incredible. 
And then there was Haley & Jessi and their incredible hearts for this online community. 
Jessi, so honest and so funny. So much truth and beauty from the deep dark places the Lord had brought her out of to where she is now.
Haley so raw and open. Hearing her say, my husband tells me to be more vulnerable in my writing, in my story telling. & that being a confirmation for me to do the same. Because my husband has been speaking those exact words to me for so long. 
Staying up until 2am rolling with laughter with Teressa & Karmen. Sharing secrets and mistakes and dreams. Listening closely to all the wisdom they had to share. & feeling so overwhelmed with a sense of grace when spilling my hang-ups to them. When Karmen left, I cried y'all.. What an amazing woman she is. Sweet Abby sharing a room with me and dealing with my extroverted self until 2 am & still finding time to grab me some Starbucks because she already knows the way to my heart.
There are so many amazing girls I got to meet like Amy & Emily, Jessi & Jessi, Kristen & Amanda. How can I sum up how much I love y'all?? I even got to hang out with Erin, and I knew her first y'all. So when she makes it big.. we're friends. 
Meeting Ruthie. Can I just say, she is even sweeter in person then on her blog and I didn't even think that was possible. She let me cuddle her new, precious little guy, Ford. She sat with me in sessions and we all were able to have dinner together. Ruthie is such an encouragment to me in my blog. I found her blog early on and loved the way she wrote about Jesus and how honest and open she was about her life. She is one of the main reasons I write the way I do now and why I continued to blog when it didn't seem worth it. It was amazing to spend real life time with her and get to know her because going into it, I thought, certainly Ruthie's blog is way too big that little ole me will get any time with her! But you know, the Lord showed up again and it was all in His hands.
I remember looking behind me in all of the sessions, every single husband of the core team, holding a sleeping babe. How they were there because they believed in Influence and wanted to see lives changed. 
Just walking into the worship room the last night, my eyes filled with tears. As soon as the first song played, they spilled over and I couldn't stop them even if I had wanted to. In every single moment I could hear the Lord saying, 
You are mine. You have nothing to fear.
You can't do it on your own, but I will do it for you.
I have never failed and I never will. 
I love you more than you could ever know.
You are free in me. 
You are free, You are free, You are free. 

He just kept speaking gently over me and I couldn't run away from it and I didn't want to. I wanted to stand there forever, with my hands raised to Him, letting Him sing over me. 
I saw the artist drawing a picture and on one side, she began to draw words, 
the first, anxiety. The second, fear. 
And I just lost it.
  Becauseas I watched her cover those things up, and replace them with scripture and a beautiful image, I sobbed because I knew it was for me. 
It was for all of us, in every way. 
But it was especially for me from my Jesus.
He said to ME, personally,
I love YOU. It's YOU I love. Just as much as this is meant for every person in this room, it is just as much meant for YOU. 
& then I felt a tap on my shoulder. 
It was my sweet new friend, Jessi.
She wanted to know if she could pray over me and I heard the Lord say, 
this, this too is for YOU. I will keep telling you, until you hear me, I love you, I love you, I love you. 
& so I sobbed through her prayer and I just praised the Lord. 
With all I had and without fear.
Without expectations.
& with a great sense of peace. Knowing that I am His. I am Free. I am so very loved.
I don't think there are any words to describe all the things the Lord did that weekend. 
I couldn't fill enough pages of His goodness and His faithfulness to break us, just to restore us to something new.. Something far better. 
This community.. they were everything I had hoped and more. You could see Jesus working in and through them the whole time and I don't think I can ever not go back.  

*I can only do one post today but I promise to continue my
 31 days of YM tomorrow


  1. I am so unworthy of the words you wrote about me but oh so humbled and encouraged. I am so blessed by you Jess and incredibly thankful to have met you. Lets live without fear!!!!!!

  2. ahhh so sweet.. I'm working on mine now.
    it was an amazing weekend friend.
    I am so blessed by you. Trying not to be jealous of your worship experience. That is NOT of the Lord. So thankful you had a sweet last night. miss hearing you and laughing with you already

  3. Jess, I just love this! I'm so thankful we were able to meet at Influence this year but I'm bummed it was only for that short time!

    I love how you write about all the lies the enemy told you but that Jesus through this community just busted into smithereens. I was believing them, too, before this conference, and the past few days with everyone just smashed them into pieces and my heart broke free. He sees us. He knows us. And we're as woman and equipped and Jesus-y as we need to be to make things happen with His mighty strength and for His matchless glory.

    AND IS RUTHIE NOT THE SWEETEST?! Love her so much. And Ford is just the cutest little man.

  4. 1st off, I am so short in that picture. but at least I look tan-ish in the shade ;) But seriously, I am so thankful you spotted this fellow blogger in the airport because the first moments are the most nerve wracking by far. Jess you are seriously so sweet and I'm glad we had the chance to meet and then speak even more after worship. Thank you Jesus for new friends in this great community. I need it!

  5. Aw Jess, I love this so much! I love that you experienced this. I can tell it was just a great experience. All the fears you wrote about, in going to a conference, I fear those things (when and if I am ever able to go to one). Its great to see that none of those fears came true and that you were so loved! Going to check out the blogs you mentioned in this post too!

  6. what a beautiful post. I did not attend the conference this year but it totally makes me want to go next year!

  7. It was truly lovely to meet you.

  8. LOVE this girl!!! I'm so glad you got to go and get encouraged!! :)

  9. So happy to have met you. Loved reliving the conference through your post. The worship was absolutely beautiful! I only wish we had had more time together! Maybe next year!? :)

  10. Oh Jess, what a beautiful post! Wish I could have gone to the conference! It sounds like it was incredible. The Lord is certainly working through you my dear. SO encouraged by your words today.

  11. I am SO glad that you came and that we could finally meet! And girl - YOU ARE FUNNY. Seriously funny. I walked away from hanging out with you feeling like if we worked together - we could change the world. Strange, but true feelings. You were an instant FAVE for me!!! I adore you. Come to Chicago. Abandon the West. Lol.


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