Sooo....first of all, this is probably not the last you will hear me chat about Influence. And quite honestly, I feel like this is only a tiny piece of everything that the conference was. At any rate, you should all be at the conference next year....life changing!
Messy. My daughter HATES to be messy. She completely will freak out if her hands get messy while she is eating or if she accidentally spills some of her food and it lands on her tray creating a mess. Truthfully, she comes by this honestly. I was the exact same way as a kid. And while I have mellowed out on the cleanliness factor through the years, my husband very much prefers things nice and tidy....and not messy.
Yesterday at breakfast I was watching her eat her cereal when she ripped off her bib to hand to me. "Wet" She said. "Messy. New one" She wanted a new bib because her old one was messy and wet. So I hurriedly (when are mornings not a hurry at our house?!?!) handed her a new bib and she was immediately joyful. "New one! Pretty!" Yes baby girl, the new one is pretty.
It wasn't until later in the day when I was thinking back to my time at the Influence Conference that her messy bib weaved into my mind. Messy. It was a word I heard a lot at the conference. I have never been to a blogging conference before, but I LOVED this one. Not only because there were incredible speakers who were motivational, educational and, dare I say, influential. But because most of them were so brave to share their messy lives. From affairs, to depression, to lost babies to the way a mama can feel so overwhelmed by her babies. They shared it all and proved God's grace. And redemption. And love.
My very favorite blogger, Casey Wiegand spoke at the conference and said, 'Our mess is our ministry'. This really resonated with me. I often ponder what I can possibly offer others when I can barely make it through the day myself. How can I be influential to other moms when some days parenting is just so hard and I feel like I am doing a terrible job? How can I be an encouragement to eat healthy and nourish your bodies when I am still learning?
But then one by one, the speakers started pulling the pieces together for me. Barrett Ward told his story and in it, he stressed one thing. He said to Be Bold. Something I am terrified of. Then he told the story of their miracle baby who they thought they had lost, but because of his wife's boldness were they able to find her and bring her home.
Jami Nato exposed raw and private parts of her marriage that only God could redeem.
Jessi Connolly talked about almost losing her forth baby and the realization that without God, we will literally, spiritually and emotionally bleed out. And God has no use for our blood. He only wants our hearts.
It was heavy. And messy.
So I start to think that maybe Casey is right. Our mess IS our ministry. And that it's OK that I don't have it all together. They reminded me that I am created in the image of God and so if I tend me be emotional or fearful or weak.....it's ok because He made me that way and God doesn't make mistakes.
I learned about grace and the power of forgiveness. I learned about redemption and that even the biggest messes we face can be redeemed by God.
I was so nervous to go to this conference, especially since I was going alone. But I truly believe that is exactly where I was supposed to be. God made sure he kept putting the right people in my path and making sure I chose the right speakers to listen to. On the final day of the conference I was chatting with a new friend and finally told her, "You know, I came to this conference ready to learn how to be a better blogger, but the truth is, I am learning how to be a better person." And that right there is worth far more than any number of readers or sponsors or ads. Thank you Influence for the most amazing and life-changing weekend!