This has been like, completely and utterly overwhelming to sit down and condense. I want to write a blog that scrolls for minutes as you hold that downward key and I feel like it would take that to encompass how I feel and how much I have to TELL about this conference. First things first..let me be honest in saying I did not come with any expectations for this experience.
Does that sound weird to say? I feel like it sounds negative…but it’s not. I literally mean I didn’t come expecting or wanting any specific thing and I never realized how perfectly that would work out for me. Ironically, a recurring theme was about control and how we need to let go of obsessing about it and how absolutely bananas it is that something told me to chill out and just enjoy this time. That is not me people. Not at ALL. I need control, I need to know what’s on the menu for the lunches! I need to know what’s going on and my objectives but for this, I didn’t. I let go..and it was a beautiful and effective thing.
For those of you who don’t know me, this is basically a very new thing for me still. Last January in 2015, I pretty much came crying to my friend Katelyn who’s been a mentor, dear dear friend and inspiration to me in so many aspects of life. Of course professionally she was a huge inspiration but one thing about her I always admired more than that..her faith. Her strong, passionate and deep faith. I knew that day in 2014 when I burst into tears thankful for the sunshine driving on beach road knowing God was literally shaking me in my car’s seat telling me “I brought you HERE! I gave you this!! Do you see me now!?” — I had to talk to her. Then, I went through a rough patch and was quite literally driven into her arms because I realized I can’t “do this” alone anymore. Mike can’t fix my problems, neither can the girls. No one but God would be able to be strong enough to take care of what I was missing and goodness gracious it was Him all along. So..I’ve been reconnected with God for a little over a year now and here I am at a Christian business conference? Who would have EVER thought?!?!
Here’s what I learned off the bat, just from me signing up in the first place. Don’t EVER say never. You do not know where you’re going to be in a year, in five years, in fifty. We just don’t know. I was so sure I didn’t need the Lord for so long because things that had happened to me were too dark for me to accept that He was even there. Now I know that my pain and hurt are a vital part of my story that I can turn into ministry (like I learned from Ashley Cochrane and her amazing story that made me bawl onto my notes paper) — I can turn scary experiences into a gift to others to show them the goodness of God and how he gets us through things. When I walked onto that campus, my heart knew I had made an incredible decision buying that ticket to Pursuit.
The environment at Winshape is simply magical. I have never been somewhere so quiet and peaceful. The staff is off the chain kind and I was having a hard time accepting it because I thought people in the Outer Banks were awesome and friendly..and they are, but this staff has a servant’s heart to take care of the people around. It was UNREAL! In a good way! The meals were awesome, it was so nice to not cook. I loved the ice cream machine of course 🙂 I loved the swag and all of the goodies, I loved the market where I was able to take home some cute t-shirts and gifts for others. But I want this blog to be about something else.
I was that girl that saw the people singing on TV, years ago, belting out Christian music thinking okay you guys, you do that. Good for you. I was so judgmental. Gosh was I a miserable human being and I’m NOT saying people who aren’t Christian are miserable so please don’t go in some twisted circle thinking that. I am saying that’s who I was. I was so jealous of that faith they had, I didn’t understand it. I didn’t want it either…because I thought it was connected to something so impossible.
But God SHOOK me that day on beach road, “Amanda…do you SEE what I have given you!? I need you to find Me again!” I listened. I just shut up for ONCE in my life and listened. And ever since then, ever since Katelyn sent me those two books Start Here and my Jesus Calling devotional that January, I’ve been hooked. At first, it was selfish because I loved the peace I finally had and then it because more about Him. How can I love and serve the Lord and love others well? That’s what this was all about for me…finding out how I can continue this journey serving Him and learning how to be a better Christian in day-to-day life and in my business.
Worship songs together.
Lots and lots of happy, sad and inspired tears.
Small groups opening up about fears.
The most incredible sunset dinner at ONE table together outside.
My gorgeous roomie and friend Kristi, we could hardly sleep we wanted to stay up and talk!
Community, sisterhood, having people pull me from my typical homebody self to spend time in their presence.
I loved the speakers. I loved their words and passion. Amena had me almost peeing my pants laughing but oh she was so compelling. Mary shook the room and our hearts, Katelyn brought so many bittersweet experiences of her own to share and got us all thinking so hard about life and what we’re really doing with our time. Hannah opened and I knew I would be moved by her but she was even more moving than I could ever have expected. Ashley and Kelly sharing their stories inspired me to watch tragedy turn into ministry and how powerful that is. Jessica shared so many of the same concepts I’ve come up with when it comes to motherhood and she’s BRILLIANT to me so I must say that really was floating my boat, haha! And Jon, well…I now know he likes Pinky Pie and Rainbow Dash because he’s a girl dad and I asked him about My Little Pony…what COOL GUY!! 🙂
Meeting Karen was wonderful. I am always so so so worried that when I meet these people I look up to in person, they’re not going to be nice because honestly that happens a lot. I tend to get so nervous around people I know and look up to for so long and then get let down but not Karen. She is the real deal and is part of something that changed my life and I can’t be anything but thankful to her 🙂