I can’t think of a catchy title because I have so much to tell you so the name of my recent conference will have to do! I had the absolute honor and privilege of attending the 2018 “She Speaks” conference in Concord, NC last weekend. She Speaks is put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries.
First though, I want to do a quick intro for those of you that may be seeing my blog posts for the first time. I am a wife, mother and Jesus chaser. Please don’t stop reading, I am not one of those people that holds the signs at SEC games shouting that you are going to Hell – I like to share about Jesus’ extravagant love instead. I have experienced it first hand & I just want to share it with everyone! My husband and I run a local ministry for men that struggle with addiction. It is near and dear to our hearts because addiction is a part of our story, my precious husband struggled for 12 years but now he is free (Praise the Lord!) & we want to help free all the others! All of the info about our ministry can be found on our website, http://www.crossroadsrecovery.org. I launched the J. Sappe Company to pursue my writing, speaking events and to promote my interior decorating business. So, you will see home pictures, event pictures, my blog posts and everything in between on the J. Sappe page. If you are new to the blog, welcome! Please click the “follow” button so you will be notified of new posts.
If you are not familiar with Proverbs 31 Ministries, look them up, follow them on social media and sign up for their daily encouragement emails. This ministry was launched in 1992 and I have been following them since the early 2000’s. P31 is led by the amazing Lysa TerKeurst (follow her too!) and she is basically my idol. She writes and speaks so eloquently and I have been reading her books and doing her bible studies for most of my adult life. I am a total fan.
I have always heard about the conference but never thought of attending especially this year because I have so many other things going on BUT God. God intended for me to go and he totally provided a way and worked in all the details. I feel like I got an added bonus because I have family that lives just outside of Concord so I got to spend two nights with them while attending the pre-conference classes.
When I walked in the conference center last Thursday morning I felt overwhelmed, nervous and a little anxious as I am sure everyone else did but it was like once you entered the doors & sat down, you knew God was in that place. I was surrounded by hundreds of other women who were in the same shoes as me, it was their first conference and they were not sure what to expect either & I don’t know if that was the trigger or if it was just Jesus but everyone was so welcoming & it was like having instant friends. Ya’ll know that unfortunately, that is not a normal situation for a large group of women but in this place there was no sizing up or judgment, there was just love.
Here is an example: After the prayer session, I heard two ladies talking about the drive to Matthews (a neighboring town) and I said “are ya’ll going to tour the P31 office at 11:30?” They had also just met and said “yes! do you want a ride?” I hopped in the car with these two women I had just met and carpooled to the P31 office, we picked up one more friend who had taken an Uber there and she rode back with us. It was so fun! I am still amazed at all of the different ages, stages and backgrounds that attended the conference – just in our car that day we had the wife or a trucker who mostly lives on the road and aspires to write and speak, a labor and delivery nurse of 25 years, an attorney turned entrepreneur and me!
My conference kicked off last Thursday with a prayer session at the conference center with P31 staff then I got to go tour the Proverbs 31 Ministry Office (with my new friends)! It was a dream to see where the staff works and comes up with all of the ministry materials that are literally changing lives around the globe! I totally sat at Lysa’s desk and took a pic! I am sad to report that I did not get to meet her face to face but I am forever impacted by her conference teachings. The conference was absolutely jam packed and at the end of those three days I was so tired & was so excited to climb in my hotel bed and stretch out each night. I slept like a log the entire trip!
While at the conference I got to worship and pray alongside 800 other sisters in Christ during the main sessions & that in and of itself was awe inspiring. To see all the women & know God has called each of them to write, lead, and speak. It takes courage to pursue your calling and to be in the midst of so many women taking steps towards that was amazing. I also had the opportunity to attend 11 workshops geared towards my writing and speaking career. It was an incredible opportunity and I am forever thankful.
I want to highlight just a few special relationships that began last week at the conference. First, I want to say that it was clear that God had gone before me because it was no accident that I always seemed to find myself among women that had a family member struggling with addiction. I gave out as many Cross Roads business cards as I did my writing/speaking business cards. By the last day, I just instinctively handed out both cards. This carried right over in to Sunday when I drove to Charlotte to worship at Elevation Church. The precious lady that I sat beside has a son that has and is struggling. I gave her both cards too and she and I have already been texting & I look forward to staying in touch! Only God ya’ll!
Back to those conference relationships I mentioned – first is a new friend named Jennifer. Jennifer and I have kind of known each other over the years through mutual friends & the day I left for conference my best friend, B, texted me to say that Jennifer was going to conference too! She shared her cell and we connected and were of course conference besties. We have lots in common and are now aspiring to do some of the same things in our lives. I am betting our friendship will go on for years and years.
The next friendship I want to highlight is the one with my prayer partner, Anna. I did webinars preparing for the conference and specifically for my publisher meetings and on one of the webinars they mentioned prayer partners. If you wanted one, you just emailed Barb at Proverbs 31 Ministries and she would pair you with someone. I got Anna:) We exchanged emails, prayed for one another and encouraged one another for the month leading up to conference & then we met up once we both arrived. Looking forward to staying connected with Anna. Anyone up for trip to New England? We can go visit her!
Lastly, is precious Chelsie. Chelsie was with one of the onsite vendors & Chelsie makes jewelry. Chelsie also has an incredible story of redemption. She shared during one of the luncheons I attended & I knew I had to connect with Chelsie. Her past includes years of drug addiction which lead to shame and feelings of low self-worth. Chelsie got to the Rescue Mission in Nashville, TN and she kicked her addiction and she found Jesus. While at the mission she met the incredible people of ABLE (follow them at Live FashionABLE) & she got a job and is now the lead in her department. Chelsie has custody of her son and she is getting married this fall & she has a “Freed Up” tee shirt in the mail from me and Cross Roads:) I LOVE a good redemption story! Chelsie was there as a vendor but next year I want to see that she is there as an attendee so she can chase her dream of speaking and telling her story to hopeless women who are still in the shoes she used to wear. If you would like to partner with me in getting Cheslie to the conference next year, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My next several blog posts will be breaking down some of the specific teachings from the conference so I hope you will stay tuned to hear some of the incredible nuggets of wisdom that I stored in my heart (and in my notebook) from my time at the P31 conference. Big blessings to you all! All the love & hugs!