No more, No less

IMG_1416Okay, so I realized that my so-called #Influenceconf recap was more like an introduction and not really a comprehensive reflection of all that I “got” out of the conference. I stand by my statement that to sit and flesh out everything from my notes would totally cause Wordpress’ word count to overload and shut me down. BUT, I can do better.

I’ve read and re-read my notes from the amazing sessions & speakers at the Conference to help myself remember. I want to remember the moments and the words spoken. Those words that caused my stiff, tired, skeptical face to wrinkle with emotion, realization and truth.

I do not want to forget. I want those arrows of truth to not just simply pierce my heart, but I want those words to be burned into my mind and heart until they are another thread in the fabric of me.

“There’s nothing you can do to make God love you less AND there’s nothing you can do to make him love you more.” – Hayley Morgan

When Hayley said these words, explosions went off in my heart. I’ve often heard that we relate to God like we relate to our dad, and that is totally true for me. I’m a people pleaser for sure, but I long for my dad’s approval in every thing I do. I’m 31 years old and even still, when I sit down to talk to my dad, I become the 10-year old girl who just wants to hear him say, “I’m proud of you.” The thing is, my dad loves me so much, and I’ve never felt that there was anything I could do or not do that would make him love me any less or any more. But somehow, that feeling gets lost in translation when it comes to how I relate to God.

Here’s what I need to learn and I do not want to forget: “You are loved. Before you even start your day, you are loved. God cannot stop loving you. You are His creation and he created you with a specific purpose. Your purpose is not for perfection. He’s already perfect. It’s time to stop chasing perfection, and start chasing your purpose.”


I decided to go to Jamie Ivey’s session on Shame & Identity. Admittedly, I only chose this session because Jamie is the sister-in-law of my conference roommate, Joanna, and because I didn’t want to go to a strategy/business session. As Jamie began to speak, I sat in that room and realized I didn’t choose that session by happenstance. I was destined to be there.

“The places you feel shame are the areas where you are falsely trying to find your identity.”  – Jamie Ivey

My identity (and your identity) is already defined as a child of God. I am (and you are) His creation and His workmanship. Before this session, I didn’t think that I struggled with shame.

But I do. I sat in that session and the tears started welling up in my eyes as the layers of hurt began to peel away.

For the past 7 years, I have felt ashamed because I’ve not been able to be a mother. I’ve not been able to conceive a child. I’ve not been able to adopt a child. I’m not a mother. 

On that day, in that session, LIGHT was shed on the shame that I didn’t even know I had. Light was shed and I began the slow process of breaking free from those chains of guilt.


While I didn’t *think* I struggled with shame, I KNEW for a fact that I struggle with fear. Fear paralyzes us from realizing and knowing who we really are and what we can do.

“…faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” {Hebrews 11:1} There’s really no room for fear when you’re living a life of faith. God is already at work ahead of us. It’s time to pitch our tents in the unknown and trust that who we are & what we do matters to God.

“Choose Purpose Over Perfection” – Lara Casey

The lovely Lara Casey hosted an Influence Network members-only session and this was more than just a talk or lecture, this was a grace-filled therapy session. This was an invitation to dig deep and to reflect on not just the “what”, but the “why”.

Chasing perfection only makes us feel more inadequate, more irrelevant, more disappointed. Chasing perfection is asking for payment instead of grace. Choosing purpose over perfection means accepting grace and trying things we could never do on our own strength.

Pitch the tent.

To fear something means you respect it. You give it value. The things we fear are the things that have influence over us now. My husband calls them “red-faced monkeys.” If you ignore them, you render them powerless, even if they still fling poop at you! (he’s so funny<3)

It’s time to flip the script. It’s time to shed light on the lies and fears that have paralyzed me.

I’m afraid of being not enough. Not creative enough. Not funny enough. Not pretty enough. Not lovable enough. Not enough.

I feel like for the past 7 years, I’ve been standing in a room with millions of women saying “I want to be a mother,” but no one hears me over the voices of others. I’m afraid that God doesn’t hear me. I’m afraid that He’s forgotten me.

But I know.

It’s time to flip the script. It’s time to build on the identity God has already created for me, and it’s time to start chasing the purpose HE has for me.

Today, I’m saying NO to the fear of never being a mother because I know that is not where my worth lies. 

 

#InfluenceConf Recap

It’s taken me a full week to finally sit down and put my thoughts on paper (or on screen, rather). After the incredible Influence Conference last weekend, I had about a million thoughts running through my head and if I tried to write my recap before now, it would have been a indecipherable mess.

For the few people I talked to since I returned last Sunday, I want every woman I know (and even those I don’t) to go to the Influence Conference next year. My preconceived notions that this conference was really more for bloggers could not have been further from the truth.

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This is a conference by women, for ALL women.

This is a conference where truth is revealed and spoken over the lives and hearts of women.

This is a conference where women pull their rightful seat up to the table that their Creator has specifically made for them.

This is a conference for women who are tired of living their lives ruled by fear, shame, busyness and the endless pursuit of chasing perfection over purpose.

This is a conference for you and for me.

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There’s no way I can fully share all the things I learned in this one blog post because I’m pretty sure WordPress has a word count limit. But I will try to take the next few days to share some of the amazing nuggets of goodness that rocked my face off.

I will try to share those arrows of grace that pierced the hardened walls of my heart.

I will try to share the fingers of truth that peeled back the layers and layers of hurt, disappoint and shame that have enveloped me over the past few years.

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Bear with me, this may get a little messy.

I’m glad there’s no mirror while I type these things because you would see some ugly-crying for sure.

#ItsTimetoBuild

#InfluenceConf Meet & Greet

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In just one week from today, I’ll be on a plane to Indianapolis for the 3rd annual Influence Conference. I’m genuinely intrigued and excited for this experience…and totally nervous.

I'm a hugger. She is not.  Consider this a promise of things to come in a week, Rach:)

I’m a hugger. She is not. Consider this a promise of things to come in a week, Rach:)

I really am an extrovert at heart, but put me in a room with a bunch of women and there’s a HUGE risk that I will revert back to my awkward, self-conscious 7th grade self (with bucked teeth, I might add). So there’s that.

For the past few years I’ve watched and listened to my good {in person} friend, Rachel Kincaid, and my {on the interwebs} friend, Jessi Connolly, talk & dream about this sacred space for women to gather together, worship the Lord and encourage each other to impact the world. A space where interweb friendships become “in person” friendships and lives are changed.

This year, I decided to come in from the sidelines and see these dreams in the flesh. My good friend, Kara, signed up back in the spring and that was the last straw, I registered THAT day. Let’s do this.

My name is Jess. I’m a creative {designer, photographer, paper-lover} who loves to cook, eat delicious food and host parties. I’m so blessed to be married to a handsome man who loves me like no other and who has the most compassionate heart I’ve ever known. I’m totally silly and most of the time, irreverent (with a wee bit of a potty mouth), but I love the Lord and I love people.

I’m excited about this conference and I’m looking forward to overcoming my fear & stepping out of my comfort zone. I’m ready to be inspired and encouraged and if given the opportunity, to return the favor. And to be honest, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve been a part of a REALLY GOOD worship experience. I’m anticipating and hoping for some ugly-cry moments and I know that Chris Kincaid’s voice will lead me to that place.

Beyond my electronics, I cannot leave home without Pilot G2 pens and some pretty paper to write on…oh, and my water bottle <– must have.

I’m looking forward to meeting you ladies next week and hope you will say hello. I have a hug waiting for you.