Blogging isn’t writing; it’s graffiti with punctuation.
~a vile untruth, from “Contagion”
We came together this weekend, we word-weavers.
We came from all over–from across our nation, and at least two others–to talk about our passion … our passions, truth be told. The Relevant Conference, birthchild of SarahMae of LikeAWarmCupOfCoffee (and you thought my blog name was long!) Jessica of Muthering Heights, and Dana of Group Buy Girl Deals , was designed to be a place we could do just that. Sessions ranged from “How to Monetize Your Blog” to “Balancing Blogging with Homeschooling.” In between we hugged newly-met old friends in hallways (what a joy to finally squeeze Ann Voskamp!) changed outfits multiple times, ate lots of cookies, stayed up too late every night and drank potfuls of coffee every morning. I was blessed to help my dear friend Sally Clarkson with her tea for moms and also a book signing, talked volumes with my roommate Kristen, and loved meeting so many lovely women who were truly in love with God and desiring to serve Him with their blogs.
Lynn Custer, a dear friend of Sally Clarkson’s for many years, drove almost eight hours to bring her tea cups and decorations for the ladies’ tea on Friday morning, which occured at a very early 6:45 am on Friday. She’s a wonderful example of servant leadership. She’s Sam to Sally’s Frodo. Sally says we’re a gang now. I think we look pretty intimidating.
Before I left for the conference, I’d received a great bit of advice from an old friend. She shared with me how she’d been attending business conferences for many years, and felt she had always been pressured to cram a ton of learning into a few days–to attend every session, take a million notes, and try to make a zillion connections. It was exhausting, and she ended up frustrated, until she changed her tactic. She said to me, “Just watch for your one thing. What does God want to say to you? What one connection does He want you to make?”
It was great advice, and I was determined to follow it.
At check-in, we received our first clue into all that Relevant was going to hold … our gift bags. Here’s mine, unpacked on my bed.
Crazy, right? I know!
For the most part, Thursday and Friday found me an interested observer. Great conversations with my roommate, dinnermates and friends ensued. The keynote speakers all had great points to make, things I know I’ll be processing for many weeks to come. I filled many sheets of notebook paper. Joy Forney , mom of five and wife of a missionary pilot in Indonesia, had flown from practically the farthest spot away on the globe to speak to us. Most dinners found my roomie and I pretty deep in pointed conversation with Roy Baldwin, the director of Parenting and Youth Family Ministries at Focus on the Family (who was brave enough to immerse himself in this mass of opinionated women and actually *listen*–bless you, Roy!) We also heard from Holly Gerth from (in)Courage, and the author of a new favorite book of mine, Grace For the Good Girl, Emily Freeman, among many other wonderful ladies.
And on Saturday, a special surprise, just for me … God invited me outside to play.
But I found myself on Saturday night, the last session of the conference, feeling as if I hadn’t quite heard my One Thing yet. And time was running out. Dinner again at beautifully set tables …
Conversation with lovely ladies now full of new insight … even David Nevue, playing the melodies of many a quiet time, music that’s become part of my heart.
but I was still waiting, certain there was something else God wanted to say.
Then there was Ann.
And in her message, my heart finally heard my One Thing. Ready?
It’s all about Jesus.
Big revelation, right? But really, it was what I needed to hear. The previous weeks have found me spinning my wheels, stressing over web design, popularity, and prolific posting. Measuring myself by others in those arenas definitely found me holding the short straw, and there were more moments than I care to admit where I questioned why on earth I was even going to Relevant, after all.
Saturday night, though, Ann’s carefully weighed words challenged my hastily-slung-out missives of late. And I saw it all more clearly than I have in some time.
Her question … “Is your blog an instrument for God? Or an idol for you?”
The truth: My blog must be an altar, not a platform. A place to pour out my heart, in my own voice, for an audience of One even while mindful of the beautiful souls on the other side of the screen. A place where I must decrease, and He must increase. A place to cry out the good news of His kingdom, to encourage others to press on, to bless the Lord with all my soul.
I received a warning not to let my voice be used to promote any agenda but His. And was reminded that if I feel small, that’s a good thing! Because it’s all about Him anyway; He, the Word made flesh, still speaking through us if we let Him, as He lives in us. Amazing grace and truth.
Listening to Shaun Groves tell stories of meeting children living in the slums of Africa with sewage running down their streets and joy in their hearts because they are happy for just knowing Jesus; of countries where the church grew exponentially when forced underground by Communist governments; of having his heart expanded for the world as he’s experienced it as a speaker for Compassion pretty much wrecked any remaining idols standing in my heart. Crying through his entire Third World Symphony washed the rubble and dust away. Thanks be to God and hallelujah for deep cleaning! My heart cracked enough to let another child in … this is Maria.
Amazing, the things God can do when we hear Him.
So, what does that all of that mean for my blog? Well, I probably won’t take part in the next hop-on-the-bandwagon blog post challenge/linky/thingy that comes up. Not because there’s anything wrong with blog post challenge/linky/thingies; but because I’m going to take some time to find my voice. To make sure that what I say is bringing glory to God and is said as well as my broken self can say it. Which means there might be fewer words here. But they’ll be better ones.
This is my suitcase before I finally finagled it closed … It’s a pretty good visual for what my brain feels like right now.
More to come here; so much yet to unpack. I pray most of all that when I write, my words will be consistently, deeply, and truly Relevant.