Every year the Pursuit Conference just wrecks me in the best ways. It grounds me. It puts a flashlight on the priorities and ambitions and dreams of my heart, and it’s as if God comes and sits down right next to every woman and whispers, “Hey, so tell me. How are you REALLY doing? Can we just put the business mask aside for a few days and remember what really matters?”
This was my fourth year attending. I’ve been a believer in Pursuit Community since the year that Karen Stott was still taking her photography workshop from city to city. I walked into a room in New Haven, Connecticut and sat surrounded by other photographers for the first time in my life. As brand new to the industry as it gets, I was so nervous that I was shaking. I was so insecure that someone was going to take notice that my camera wasn’t the nicest one. I anticipated the REAL photographers in the room to snicker and tell me I wasn’t good enough or professional enough to be there. But that didn’t happen.
It wasn’t long before a roll of toilet paper was being thrown around the room due to a lack of actual tissues, as women shared their hearts in the most beautifully honest way. Vulnerable stories of wanting to be a better Mom, a better business owner, a better wife, and a better artist. I am still friends with so many women who were in that room that day. So when Karen announced Pursuit Community would be hosting a conference, well I was ALL IN. And have been every year since. (If you haven’t heard, there are now two conferences in 2016, and there are still Spring Seats open the last I heard!)
This year was different for me. In years past, I have been a small group leader, taught a small break out class, or just in general helped with the set up or packing up. I went simply as an attendee this year, and I honestly felt so out of place going into it- not really knowing what to do with myself if I weren’t helping out. But it’s funny, because not 5 minutes after arriving did I realize just how much I needed to do nothing this year. How much I needed the rest and the empty space. To just sit and soak up every class and hang on the words of every speaker. And boy, did I need that.
I could go on about how each and every speaker at some point in their message, whether platform or breakout, spoke right to the deepest parts of me. Watering thirsty ground.
“If the enemy can get us to forget WHO God is, he can convince us of anything, and knock us out of everything.”-Karen Stott.
“Sooner or later the things of the past have to become less interesting then what’s happening- and what God’s doing- in your life now.“- Christine Caine (quoted)
“Division always begins when we get this unsettled feeling of selfish ambition.“- Jane Johnson
“What if we constantly expected Him to show up..especially in our businesses.” –Katelyn James
“God didn’t bring you here for your expectations. He brought you here for your transformation.” –Hannah Brencher
“But if not, He is still good.” – Mary Marantz
“Stories change stories.” –Esther Havens
“Get off the 5 minute devotional diet.”- Jane Johnson
“God doesn’t want repentance from us, He wants repentance for us.” – Jess Connolly
“We must become obsessed with gratitude for what IS in our lives, instead of grumbling about what we think has been forgotten.”– Karen Stott.
Some day, I’ll share about 2015. The real 2015. The one that didn’t get instagrammed or blogged or splashed on social media. I will share about how it was one of the hardest years I have ever had a business owner. I’ll share how most mornings I seriously considered folding flannel at Bean’s because I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I’ll share about no amount of hustle seemed to create a feeling that my head was above water. I’ll share about how in the year I was creating the art I was most proud of, I also had the most doubt if this was what I was supposed to be doing. I’ll share about how the feeling of being knocked down became the normal. The year that some friendships just didn’t make it through the fire with me. The year that I woke up with unmet expectations and fought disappointment in what I thought things would be, and weren’t. The year that I questioned absolutely everything.
Someday I’ll share about how I learned to trust God differently in 2015. And someday I’ll share how it changed my life.
Register for the next Pursuit Community Conference. It’s not like the rest.
Here’s some tangible conference takeaways that I thought you may want to get in on !!
• Jane Johnson is rolling out a “How to Study Scripture” E-guide at an incredible introductory sale. She literally packs out rooms for Bible studies at Pursuit. Learn from her.
• Hannah Brencher is teaching an online writing intensive! She’s one of the most talented writers I know! Biased.
• You can Pre-Order Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan’s new book: Wild and Free: A Hope-Filled Anthem for the Woman Who Feels She is Both Too Much and Never Enough. Do it.