I have been following The Influence Network since the first year of the conference. I have gotten to know women surprisingly well, even just through the internet- imagine that!
In 2012, I watched them start to sell tickets and so much inside said, “YES!!! Convince Andy you should go!!” but an even bigger part didn’t want to leave as my 3rd child, Zekey, had been struggling with seizures since May of that year. It wasn’t time…
In 2013, I was convinced I’d be able to go and even bought my ticket! Something in me never felt right (leaving a sickly child never really does) but it didn’t matter …it was the year! Shortly after, Zekey received a devastating diagnosis but I’d still go…I was living out hope. But just days before the conference, as Zekey had a treatment to help relieve all the things he dealt with having uncontrolled seizures, it was time to address yet another milestone he had lost, eating on his own.
It was recommended that we start an NG tube which was terrible on every level and usually, just a step to take before a child would learn to eat independently but, sadly, not my boy. He’d eat with Jesus when he gained back that milestone and so many others he lost. What a joy! What an ache- the ache of waiting for heaven….
Shortly after the Influence Conference that year, as we were at UofM Children’s to help control my sweet boy’s seizures, my roommate this year (and would have been that year) came in to visit! Kristin is a straight up gem, you guys. I just adore her and her heart!
This year? This year was bittersweet. Sure, I got to go to the Influence Conference, but I went with a heavy heart. I sobbed most of the way there as I talked with God. My boy was safe, in better care than if he were here on earth. There’s something strangely beautiful about that, but my arms felt light, and do most days, because the weight of his body is gone and it seems it has shifted right to my heart. A heaviness only to be lifted when I see Jesus face to face, with a smiling and giddy Zekey right behind him, I’m sure.
I didn’t want to go with expectations. That just seems silly. Expectations put on humans, broken people, isn’t a smart way to walk into something you’ve never experienced. So, I didn’t and I can tell you that I was completely blessed.
I met so many women who had been following along in this journey. I loved the boldness of those who came up and were willing to talk about Zekey with me and how God used his life to draw others closer to Him.
They would come cautiously but I calmed their spirits when I told them how much it blessed me to hear how Zekey’s life touched theirs and to know they prayed for us because, we really felt them. It was beautiful. The internet can be used for good and I felt that.
I think I loved the businesses who were supporting men and women out of slavery and make better lives for the vulnerable the most. It gets me in the heart. Mocha Club, Wildly Co., Better Life Bags, FashionABLE and Beautiful and Beloved, to name a few. Sessions that somehow revolved around this mission, spoke to me the most.
I wanted (and still do!) to learn to start a successful business (garment collective!) because, every sale will bring redemption and THAT excites me. I am motivated when what God does through my gifts, helps to bring redemption to others. I am motived to be courageous like my Zekey was.
Here’s the thing. You have, what I call, “big wigs” or people who are well-known and then you have women who are just starting out in the social media world who attend this conference and it’s just lovely. And, in the end, who cares! We are all CREATED by THE CREATOR. So, as they say, all on the same playing field, doing HIS good work through us.
The problem is, social media is full of numbers. Followers, retweets, comments, likes. We can so easily get obsessed with those numbers. But, when we get too excited about higher numbers, we can start to build our own kingdom.
Jessi Connolly who makes your home beautifully decorated with truth, reminded us to allow God to crush our kingdoms and be a part of building His kingdom. She’s so right. THAT is why we are here- that’s why we were created. When these numbers share Jesus and His truth, it’s beautiful.
My sweet friend, Hayley, who is about to launch the wardrobe for Wildly Co. (eek! SO EXCITED because, ethically made and amazing kids’ line!!!) reminded us that, “Striving is CRAP!” and that influence comes from Christ in us. Love this gal’s heart.
Memories were made. Friends were made. A sob fest I couldn’t hold in any longer came out on Jessi, bless her heart! and the dreams God gave me, to launch Garment Collective were pushed further, because GOD…THE GOSPEL , JESUS and REDEMPTION FOR ALL!!!!
Please, ladies who have never experienced The Influence Network Conference- It isn’t a bunch of women who have their stuff together- it’s a bunch of women who are learning that without Christ, WHO CARES!
You’ll see businesses that point to Him, whether to financially help their family so they can turn around and help others or the products made are bringing new hope to the artisans, we’re all really just learning how to use our online life to point others to Jesus and live out the callings God has place on our lives with bravery.
And so, I went with no expectations on anyone and left feeling encouraged, loved, brave in Him and excited for what the Influence Network is doing for the internet.
On the fence? Come! It was a riot!
Oh, my business cards came in… ha!
Inspired by Hayley who lives bravely (and wearing a garment collective shirt…coming late october!)
My sweet friend, Gretchen from LifeLivedBeautifully!
When being at the right place at the right time happens (right before I drove 3.5 hours home) they welcomed me in with hugs. So many Gospel sharers and seekers here in one photo!
I figured I should wear the shirt, too. Made by survivors! It will never get old.