I was so blessed to attend The Relevant Conference this past weekend. Knowing what all God had accomplished in order to get me there, I went in with high expectations. My expectations weren’t even close. God rocked my world this weekend.
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may have seen me posting that the event was life-changing. After more refection, however, I don’t think that’s exactly what it was. Relevant was heart-changing. Now, it’s up to me to make the changes that God has placed on my heart in order to make this past weekend a life-changing event, and I’m already taking steps to achieve that.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting more in-depth on many of the things I learned and the changes brought about thanks to God working through the organizers, speakers, and attendees of Relevant. For now, thought, I’d like to give you a brief glimpse of the top ten things I’ve learned.
1. God loves me more than I can imagine. I’ve already posted about the initial steps God took to get me to Relevant. Those were incredible enough in and of themselves…but it didn’t stop there. God used several people to shower His love and blessings on me this last weekend, from Jolanthe and Jenn who secured a ticket for me to a sponsor who not only covered my expenses, but covered me in prayer before I left.
If you’ve ever felt like maybe you’ve sinned one too many times and God couldn’t really forgive you, let me tell you, He can and He does. He showed me that with incredible clarity this last week.
2. My online time was way out of balance. Crystal Paine, of Money Saving Mom, was the keynote speaker the first night. She read a list of questions to determine if a person has blogging balance. At first they were kind of funny…until I realized that I was answering yes to more of them than I’d care to admit.
3. I need a time management plan. Many of the speakers offered tips on time management. We were all given a free copy of Amy Lynn Andrews’ e-book, Tell Your Time (which doesn’t look like it’s available just yet). I’ve just started reading it, but so far, I really like what I’ve read. This is definitely one that I’ll be posting more about because I’ve realized that one big problem I have is that I don’t manage my online time well.
The hardest part of homeschooling, for me, is still making time to be with my kids outside of school. Even my husband has been getting the leftovers of my time. I’ve already got some thoughts in mind on how to correct that and it starts with managing my time for efficiently. As Sally Clarkson said this weekend, “It’s the living of life that is important, not the writing about life.”
4. The focus should always be on God. Yeah, that probably goes without saying, but sometimes we could all use a reminder. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, in some form or another, “I thought I was going to a blogging conference for Christian women, but I went to a Christian women’s conference for bloggers.”
The message all weekend long was “put the focus back on God.” God first, family second, and blogging/online life an enjoyable, but reasonably proportioned part of your life.
5. I am not as important as I thought I was. That’s not as harsh or self-loathing as it may sound – even as self-important. It’s just something that a fellow blogger reminded us of. It’s a reminder that there were 200 bloggers at The Relevant Conference this weekend who were learning, connecting, and worshipping together rather than blogging, tweeting (though there was plenty of that going on), and updating their Facebook statuses and guess what? The online world did not tilt off its axis.
6. God uses His people to accomplish His plans. God used a handful of people to express His love to me over this last week. He used them to get me to Relevant so that I could hear the message He had for me and have my heart changed. He used the organizers and speakers at Relevant to minister to and encourage 200 women.
I want to allow Him to use me. I want to share with others the love that my God has showered on me this last week. I want to make sure that I freely give back to others the blessings that God bestowed on me this last week.
Another person He is using is Kristen, from We Are THAT Family. You may have seen the Mercy House button in my sidebar. If you haven’t clicked on it yet, you should. I love what God is doing in Africa through Kristen and Maureen.
7. My blogging friends are just as sweet in person as they are online. One of my favorite parts of going to Relevant was getting to meet, in person, some of my online friends.
Jolanthe is every bit as sweet as she is online and so thoughtful…and much taller than I’d imagined. I spent Wednesday night at her house and rode the rest of the way to Relevant with her. It came up at breakfast on Thursday morning that Megan loves Lucky Charms, but she always picks out the marshmallows, leaving behind lots of uneaten cereal. Turns out that there is a place near them where you can buy the dehydrated marshmallows in bulk.
Jolanthe asked her sweet husband to go by the store and get a bag while we were gone because the store would be closed on Sunday when we came back. That bag of marshmallows made Megan’s day when I gave it to her. She loved them!
I think Cheryl may even sweeter and kinder than she seems on her blog, if that’s possible. I loved meeting her in person and getting to spend time with her. She even drove me to Target so that I could get Josh a souvenir since I hadn’t had any luck finding good boy stuff at the hotel.
Shannon and I are kindred spirits – night owls who loathe getting up in the morning and who must each have a hot shower in order to wake up because we’re not coffee drinkers. I loved sharing a room with her and sitting up talking way too late each night.
8. They weren’t kidding about all that swag. I’d heard that I should leave extra room in my luggage for all the “swag” attendees would be getting at the conference. I thought they were exaggerating. Let me just say, “Wow!”
We got so much cool stuff! My favorites are a toss up between this gorgeous Vintage Pearl necklace:
…and this cup from Family Matters:
I had taken my Styrofoam Chick-fil-A cup from my lunch on the way to Pennsylvania so that I’d have something to put my sweet tea in each day. It got crushed before I got there and I wasn’t sure what I was going to use for me tea. I was so excited to see that cup in my swag bag. I carried it around all weekend.
9. Worshiping with 200 Christian women is an incredible experience. I don’t know of too many blog conferences that are closed with a praise and worship service…but Relevant was. It was a praise and worship service that rivaled any I’ve ever attended at any church. God was in the midst of His people at the Sheraton in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Saturday night. His presence was palpable and I was blessed beyond measure to be in a part of worshiping Him with the fabulous group of Christian women who attended Relevant.
Sarah Mae’s closing words were simple, but profoundly true, “Thank you for attending Relevant…and thank you, God, for attending Relevant.” He was there and I am so thankful that I was, too.
10. I am the only one at my house who knows how to do laundry. I am basing this last observation entirely on the overflowing laundry baskets that were waiting for me at home. Just sayin’.