influence conference & roadtrip : don’t mind if I do

So…the Influence Conference. Ever heard of it? I’d explain it to you, but I’ll let The Influence Network {they’ll do a waaaay better job} …

We believe that every woman has God-given influence right where she is–whether she’s a student, married, entrepreneur, creative, speaker, writer, executive, teacher–it doesn’t matter. Our conferences are a celebration of this truth and the chance for like-minded women to come together to worship, connect and learn together.

— taken from The Influence Network website

Lyn and I were tap dancing around going to this conference this year, each of us not knowing the other was considering it. All in one morning our stories collided and before we knew it, we were calling our husbands, buying our tickets and planning our road trip. Yep, that’s how we roll.

***

This conference had been a long time coming for me. I was introduced to The Influence Network by a good friend a year or so ago. She is one of my encouragers and knew God was at work in my heart…calling me to be an influence and write and share. But I was fighting it. I just wasn’t ready, and I was scared. I took one look at their website and crawled back under the covers. Thanks, but no thanks. But even still, the seed was planted.

Since then, I’ve taken baby steps toward what I believe God is calling me to. Writing here and there, and spreading my wings bit by bit. And when the conference crossed my radar early this spring, my heart lept at the chance to go. What a difference a few baby steps and a year can make, right?!

So we planned kid pick-ups and babysitters to help our hubbies and loaded up the ole’ mini van and started out early one Friday morning. I have to admit it seemed like a stretch to drive 16 hours to a conference and leave our families and hubbies and kiddos behind. I mean, moms just don’t do that sort of thing…do they? Road trips???

Maybe they don’t…BUT they totally should.

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I think we were having a little too much fun during our first half hour. Mind you, it was 5 or 6 a.m. and we were wearing sunglasses in the dark and taking selfies while driving.

How old are we again?!

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For me, it ended up being a few days I didn’t even know I needed. I got to take a shower and sleep in a hotel room and no one was banging on the bathroom door the second I closed it. !

YEP. It was a gift.

And I had hours in a car to unwind and re-calibrate and realize I’m a human being with my own thoughts and feelings and dreams. ??? I think we forget about that sometimes as moms. And don’t get me wrong… I LOVE my kids with the same crazy passion as the next momma. It’s just that I forgot that I was made to love them and to dream and be all that God is calling me to be. He was sending me messages thru friends and thru his word, but I was just too scared and busy and worn down to hear him.

And that’s where community comes in. The people we “do” life with. I say, listen to your encouragers and take note of the things they see in you. The ones who send you crazy-out of your comfort zone text messages and encourage you to be more and grow. To the friends who you know have your back. And plan a day or dinner or weekend with those people and ask yourselves new and bold questions.

Who knows, you might be surprised at your answers. I know I was…

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retha and the big spoon

I also got to hear some amazing women tell their stories and give encouragement. I took pages and pages of notes…and they were such an encouragement to me, that I wanted to share them with you. The following notes are paraphrased at best…I wrote fast and could have missed a word or two!

JESS CONNOLLY:

  • We already are women of influence. We are ambassadors. We have a FATHER. We belong already.
  • We are called out of darkness into wonderful light…
  • “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1Peter 2:9
  • Our influence is given for one purpose only. God’s glory. Influence is to give GOD GLORY.

1. How have you discounted the way God has made you? Do you see yourself as broken, wrong, not enough?

  • God uniquely made each of us. This specifically plays a role in how he uses us. Being shy, inquisitive, if you love cats, unicorns…{ha!} But women spend most of their time trying to change who they are, but it is part of God’s plan for you in your own uniqueness.
  • “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
  • For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalm 139:13-14

2. How have you discounted the story God has placed you in?

  • Where you were born…the time & place…the struggles & the blessings…All of it. God wants to use it.

3. Who has God given you FAVOR with?

  • Your favor. Whom do you have favor with? Have you ever considered THAT?

4. In what ways have you been hurt or broken?

  • What about the ones you have a burden for? When you worship, do you worship on behalf of anyone?
  • The ways you’ve been hurt or scarred…look at the story of Joseph in the Bible. Hardship and brokenness are part of our stories…the reason we can have a ministry at all.

5. In what ways do you hurt others? How is God changing you? Bring those to the table. Repent. Give glory.

  • What people group do you suffer with or from? God might want to take that frustration and redeem it.
  • Many of you have a life giving story sitting inside your broken story but you aren’t sharing it because of shame. You need to repent. It’s not about US.
  • The sin your drawn to & how you hurt others…it’s even part of your influence and God can use it {like pride, wanting people to listen to us, beauty issues, etc}. The real, ugly sin. We need to real repent, real apologize, and real walk in relationship over the long term.

6. What present day parts of your influence have you not paid attention to?

7. Your dreams and visions — what are you Joseph dreams? What are the crazy dreams God has given you?

  • We’re so afraid we’re going to sound like we’re TOO MUCH… Wait, what…Like we’re not daughters of the King???
  • All the back buried dreams and hopes are authored by the Father. Let’s honor what God did or said about us!
  • It becomes like the silent/worshiped/untouched dream when we keep it quiet.

God wants to use you RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE. With your roommates, your parents, in your job… You’re there for a reason.

I really want to encourage you all to get out there and sit and listen to the women God is raising up around you. Or drive 16 hours if you have to…{lol}. Give God a chance to stir up those dreams and callings in your heart. You CAN be an influence. You ARE an influence already, like Jess Connolly said. And it’s not about us, it’s not about dreaming and becoming big or great. It’s about taking the next small step to what God is calling you to so He can be glorified and the people in your little or big circle of influence can be built-up in love.

Who knows…you might even do something crazy like start a podcast like Lyn and I have…?! {we’ve already recorded a few and will be releasing it on I-tunes here soon…} This was actually something we had been “pretend dreaming” about by making jokes about it to each other for months. Then on our drive down to the Influence Conference we made a “pretend list” of possible podcast topics and guests…and we laughed as we did it, of course. Because let’s be honest, it was a little far fetched, right? But then Jess Connolly walked on stage… {insert smiling-laughing-crying-tortured emoji}… and here we are!

I’ll leave you with this…something I heard Lina Abujamra say at Rooted Chicago a few weeks ago… {and check Lina out by the way…her passion for God is inspiring and she is a gifted speaker!}

LINA ABUJAMRA

“People with wounds, listen to people with scars…”

It’s beautiful, and it’s so true. We all have a story. We all have influence. And we ALL have scars. Let’s give God the glory. Let’s quit being afraid to tell our stories and follow our dreams. Even our pretend ones.

xo,

Dannette

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Lauren | 23rd May 16

    This excites me so much! Can’t wait to listen to your podcast!!! And see what God does through your obedience to Him.

    • Dannette Gora | 26th May 16

      Lauren!!! Thank you so much my friend. I sure hope we can connect at a conference or something soon!

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