Blogging started for me in college as a way to keep family and friends up-to-date with my travel plans as I studied abroad in the Netherlands. Weekend trips to Germany, France or Switzerland were recapped in great detail, along with a photo dump of favorite images I’d captured. Then when classes were over and we backpacked through the Mediterranean for a month, I’d pop into an Internet café every chance I had to chronicle each memory.
The blog was set aside when I returned from that semester, until after graduation when I found myself going crazy with the job hunt. I needed something to break up my time spent sending out resumes and cover letters, so I revamped the blog. It became a collection of random posts… recipes, updates to friends and family about the wedding and job search, DIY projects and more.
Once I was married, I knew that I wanted to keep up the blog, so it started to become my creative and emotional outlet. I blogged about marriage, faith, food, travel… anything that Thomas and I were doing or experiencing.
I started to read more and more blogs too, finding women in the blog community that I felt drawn to, had similar interests with, looked up to or admired. Women like Casey Wiegand, Danielle Burkleo and Emily Anderson, the three friends who dreamed up the event Hope Spoken. I loved their authenticity, how down to earth they seemed, and how they loved and trusted Jesus. All three are in a different stage of life than me, having been married many years, raising a few kids, but I felt drawn to their stories and their hearts. If they were gathering women around them for a conference, I wanted to be there.
In March of 2013, I jumped at the opportunity to buy my ticket the day they went on sale for the inaugural Hope Spoken conference. I anticipated meeting "blog friends" in real life, hearing some Biblical truth, and getting a better idea of what direction my blog was supposed to take. I recruited another friend to come with me, and in the weeks leading up to the event even considered making business cards to pass out to people I met, just something simple with my blog address and social media accounts to keep in touch.
But despite being drawn to attend through bloggers I admired, Hope Spoken was not a blog conference.
Hope Spoken wasn't about how much online influence I had, who my audience was, or how I could become a better writer. The event was a sacred, beautiful weekend of life stories being told, stories of hope that only comes through knowing Jesus. Stories were told of infertility and miscarriages, abuse, death of loved ones, adultery, damaged relationships, broken families... events that might cause one to lose hope. But hearing each woman bravely share what had been revealed to them during those times was exactly what every one of us needed that weekend. We needed to be reminded that we all have unique, life-giving stories to share, blog or no blog.
I felt so foolish when I met women who didn't even have a Facebook account, let alone a blog that they shared with the world. I was so relieved that I hadn't found the time to print out silly cards to pass out, as if anyone should have cared who I was or what I blogged about. Man. The Lord showed up in mighty ways at this event, revealing to me that I do have a story, that He has a purpose for everything we walk through, and that He has given us each other to walk alongside and encourage as we seek Him through it all.
Today, tickets went on sale for the 2015 event. I fully intended on posting this blog to encourage other friends to register to attend with me, but y'all... it's already sold out. Truly a testament to the life change that happened in March of this year, as 250 women gathered together to speak of hope.
If I'll see you in Dallas next year, I'd love to hear from you! And if you're still wanting to attend, keep an eye out for women who may sell their ticket down the road if they're unable to attend for some reason.
Casey, Danielle and Emily, thank you for your obedience to God's calling for you to create this gathering of women. I'm forever thankful for what I've learned and can't wait to watch God show off His glory in 2015 too!