The Relevant Conference was nothing that I expected, but everything that I needed.
When I first decided to sign up for Relevant, I had two thoughts about it in my mind:
- It was a Christian conference, where I would get to meet many, many of my favorite bloggers and Twitter friends, and
- it was a blogging conference where I would learn how to get my blog in shipshape, so that I could begin to use it as a source of income.
I was sorely mistaken, and absolutely, wonderfully WRONG.
My experience, like so many others, is at this point still difficult to put into words. How do I describe what happened there? As I was greeted by calls of “It’s MommaKnows!”, much to my shock, mind you, because I didn’t know that anyone knew who I was, I was humbled. I met Heather (Sprittibee), who has been an icon (to me) in the online homeschooling circles for many years, and she knew me. Sprittibee knew me! How weird is that?! So many ladies touched me in so many different ways, that even Thursday evening I found myself weeping while watching the new friendships being found and forged.
Sally Clarkson, Serena Woods, Angie Smith, and Ann Voskamp had no plans. They had no agenda. They only came to speak the words which the Holy Spirit laid upon them to share with us. From Thursday morning, when the first person to recognize me outside of my hotel room was Heather, to Saturday night when 240 Christian women from across denominational lines raised our voices in worship to our Savior, I was wrecked. I was broken, gutted, cleaned out, and healed once again by the Holy One.
I can try to describe to you the highs and the lows, the joys, the ah-ha! moments, the intense sadness and conviction from the Spirit of God but to say that God moved, but my words will fall short. He spoke through these women and He spoke to these women. It was a blogging conference, but it was so much more. It was a women’s retreat, a writer’s workshop, a fellowship offering of praise, but it was so much more.
There were times when I felt the divide: the big-blogger/small-blogger syndrome, and I felt like such a small fish in such an enormous ocean, until I realized that WE are the ones who created that divide. We don’t feel worthy, or valuable, and our insecurities are what create that line which divides us only in our minds.
Several things happened throughout the course of the conference where I saw everything leveled, and saw the beauty of what SarahMae, Jessica, and Dana had hoped and prayed for with this conference. We wept together at the realization of how many of the women had lost a child. It was the most powerful connecting point I have ever seen in my life. I haven’t lost a child but I did lose a grandbaby; I was there when she entered the arms of Jesus a mere ten minutes after her little life began, and I wept at the power of the connection as nearly 50 women stood. We worshiped together, on Friday and Saturday night, and God was there. All of these brought us on down on to the same plane, and it was beautiful. We are all women, and that is all that matters.
I did not learn how to turn my blog into an income source. I learned that I need to return to THE Source. I did not simply meet my online friends. I forged friendships which are now shared by common bonds and much weeping and praise, of conviction and of joy.
Some will not be blogging after this conference. Some will close their blogs all together. Some will press on, seeking the Lord’s direction, His calling, His words, turning their blog stories into writing. We will be turning from stat checking and comment-seeking affirmation, to Spirit-checking and family-loving time. We will also be turning from writing anecdotes and narratives, to writing things deeply, from our hearts, because as Serena Woods and Ann Voskamp both said (I can’t quote them, but the gist of what they said) that everyone has a story, and it needs to be told. We all need to share what the Lord has given us, and what He has done, and that will bless others and touch the heart of God. This is what I got out of The Relevant Conference.
I will write more posts about this wonderful experience. Some will be deep, and some will be shallow. I will share my photos and my stories of connections with women I have grown to love over the course of just four short days.
I will write. I will share what God has given me. To Him be the glory.