The way I see it, we can be grumpy and stingy with the experience and knowledge God has given us, or we can be generous and share with others. Sometimes we feel like we need to compete for attention in this noisy world. Maybe we think that if we encourage someone else, they’ll just steal some of our success. So, we can be tempted to hoard knowledge. We can even discourage rather than encourage.
But Proverbs 31 Ministries chooses to be generous. Their heart is to equip women to share the word of God with others. Every year in July, they sponsor a large conference called She Speaks with training, encouragement, and the nitty gritty details about how to grow as a Christian author, blogger, and speaker. Bestselling authors, in-demand Christian speakers, successful bloggers, publishers, and agents run workshops and sessions on everything from finding inspiration for writing to the insider information about working with an agent, creating Pinworthy graphics for your blog, marketing your book after publication, how to tell a good story, and so much more.
This year, I stood in that registration line on Friday morning, picked up my beaded name tag, my personalized workshop schedule, my notebook for taking notes, and my tote bag. I sat in workshops led by Emily P. Freeman, Shaunti Feldhahn, Jerry B. Jenkins, Lysa TerKeurst, Karen Ehman, and I wore my hand right out taking notes.
When I arrived, I snapped a picture of the prayer board they had created for us with chalkboard-covered panels and buckets of chalk nearby. I scribbled my own prayer down in an empty space surrounded by the prayers of others there at the conference. It was good to write it out and make it tangible and concrete, a way to focus my time there at the conference.
I chatted with women from all over the United States and from other countries, as well, who were at all stages in this ministry journey. Some of them had published books, or ran a successful blog ministry, or maybe were taking those first baby steps to start speaking at women’s events. Some of them just had the tiniest nudging in their hearts to start writing and wanted to know how to begin. We were as varied as our hair styles and outfits—a beautiful reminder of the way God uniquely designs and calls each of us. There were about 800 of us attending the conference and we cheered each other on all weekend long.
During one of the main sessions, Renee Swope shared about the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume and how others scoffed at her gift. She reminded us to just ‘bring it.” Bring whatever God has given us and offer it back to Him. Bring the gifts that don’t seem enough. Bring the gifts that others laugh at. Bring the gifts that may seem extravagant, like they are just using up everything we have and more. Bring it all to Him.
That was one of the beautiful things about the She Speaks Conference (in addition to the amazing decorations on all the tables and in the welcome area. They were seriously gorgeous and I wish they made house-calls so they could come decorate my house). We were encouraged to bring our gifts to Jesus, and then we were given tools and tips on how to prepare our offering with skill and devotion. They shared with us how to better fulfill Proverbs 31:26: “She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”
Here are some of the books I discovered while at the conference. You can check them out at the links below!
- The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa TerKeurst
- A Life Unleashed: Giving Birth to Your Dreams by Christine Caine
- Writing for the Soul: Instruction and Advice from an Extraordinary Writing Life by Jerry B. Jenkins
- A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman
- Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath