I'm just coming off a writers' conference high.
Loved the sessions. Loved the people I met. Loved the stories I learned.
I had the pleasure of attending a class that did not turn out like I thought it would. I had expectations for what I thought the class would be like, then found out that it wasn't anything near what I thought it would be like.
Lesson #1 of the Weekend: Throw away my expectations and let God fill in the blanks.
I went to the conference with an idea for a ministry. I didn't have a book proposal. I didn't have a speech written. I had an idea to share. A dream.
It's my dream. It's not one that you grow up dreaming about. More like a vision that just won't go away. The kind of dream that you can think of a 1000 reasons why it is just nonsense. But it just. won't. leave.
Trust me, I've tried to discredit it. Or discredit myself. I've argued with God about how I'm not the right person for the task. I have done this back and forth thing with God for about a decade.
Funny thing I've learned about God and dreams: He doesn't really force them. It's more like an invitation to be a part of what he wants to accomplish.
Another funny thing: while he isn't forceful or angry or mean with these dreams, it is still the sort of thing that keeps me up at night and wakes me up in the morning.
So that is what I went to the conference with. An idea. A dream. One that won't let me sleep.
Lesson #2 of the Weekend: Apparently this dream is a good one. Not a unique idea, but unique approach. This is the sort of thing that requires branding and marketing.
Hmmm....another foreign language to me.
Lesson #3 of the Weekend: While I am comfortable writing, speaking and serving need to come in to play at the forefront.
Gulp. Public Speaking.
Oh how I wish that I could be all about JUST serving and writing. But speaking is where things will start.
Are you ready? Here is the nutshell idea that was confirmed over and over at the conference:
1. I'm a speaker. I can be encouraging for your moms/womens/ministry group. I have three distinct topics to visit about. And none of them are about me. They are about YOU.
2. I am a missionary-at-heart. I am not going to Africa. But I will come to your hometown and visit your non-profit, your church group, your ministry or your home and WORK ALONGSIDE you as a volunteer. I want to learn your story and how God is doing his completely awesome God-thing through the work that you do. And I will share that with the groups I am speaking to. And writing for. And my world.
And I want to encourage you and those alongside of you that YOUR STORY is important.
I also want to note that although I love to write, working alongside of you (YES YOU!) is the primary thread to the ministry of my heart. YOU need to know that the work that you do, even if it seems small or insignificant, matters for eternity. YOU make our homes look different. YOU make our communities look different.
YOU are making heaven look different.
YOU and YOUR story matter.
3. As I (gulp) speak for your group and work alongside of you in your local ministry, I hope to compile all of these experiences in a book or blog or you-tube channel. I want to spotlight your story in a way that inspires others to actively engage in their own stories.
Stories that make Heaven look different.
This is something I have learned in my years of working in journalism and writing the stories of others: EVERYONE has a story. I have been fortunate enough to get to learn and share them with others. And even though NONE of these stories have been my own experience, it makes me want to live my own story better.
And the last note (for now) from the weekend is something I shared above: EVERYONE has a story, but not everyone can write or knows how to share their story.
I am a ghostwriter. (BOO!) But don't be scared! My giftedness seems to be in sharing the stories of others, either in writing or photography or journalism.
This is an area that I am hoping to develop.
I learned a lot from the Speak Up Conference in Grand Rapids.
But I mostly learned a lot about what I still need to learn. Marketing and Branding.
And from what I can tell, my brand is YOU.
What's YOUR story?
How is God working through YOU?
How can I come alongside YOU in service and encouragement?
Because that is my story.
Can I add YOUR chapter?