Redemption breakfast. That’s what we called it, after the five of us sat around the table, tearfully sharing our struggles, doubts, and surprising joys. None of us knew we’d meet again for a final heart to heart, each of us gearing up for our journeys back to all parts of the country, after our weekend at the She Speaks 2016 conference.
And yet there we were, running into each other one more time, crammed into a little table in a secluded area of the lobby, clinging to every word and wishing upon wish our flights weren’t looming over us.
None of us knew, and yet God planned it all along.
The thing is, these women who I now call friends, along with a few others who had left the day earlier, these women who I haven’t gone a day without talking to since that beautiful morning, played a role in answered prayer. A prayer whispered in the quiet spaces of my soul over a span of five months time. A prayer for connections with women who do what I do and love what I love, at the She Speaks conference.
I arrived in Concord three days earlier, not knowing a single person. Three days earlier, I sat in the same breakfast lobby, alone, heart racing, pits sweaty, wondering who it would be. Who would the friends be?
My eyes roamed back and forth across the room to corners filled with happy faces, warm smiles, reconnections and embraces, yet I knew no one. Calling it nervous would be an understatement.
But God had been preparing my heart for that very moment, for a time when I would be physically alone, and yet fully dependent on His presence.
I am not alone, not ever. The empty seats around my table stared blankly back at me, a loneliness that threatened to overwhelm.
But God keeps the external loneliness at bay as He fills the internal soul with companionship.
He was with me.
That first breakfast was awkward, yet I was ready somehow. Ready for whatever the Lord was going to do and whoever He would bring my way. At one point I jumped from my seat and nearly introduced myself to another gal who looked alone, until someone else jumped in front of me and I literally about faced.
Then I saw a friendly face, one I recognized from the Hope Writers community, and I went for it, completely girded by the Holy Spirit. Heaven knows, in my own strength I’d never approach a person all on my own.
He pushed me into that conversation, which led to more connections throughout the day and weekend, more sweet exchanges and warm welcomes, and before I knew it the Lord had placed a group of women around me who I came to respect and treasure.
We prayed for each other, listened, and evaluated. We walked laps around the hotel, pouring out our souls, stood in long coffee lines together, and shared bites of krispy kreme donut peach cobbler together (sidenote: whoever came up with that dessert is a genius).
It may have only been three days, but it was rich with budding friendship.
The speakers were amazing and authentic, the workshop sessions were valuable and inspiring. My brain is still reeling from all the concepts I learned which will hopefully impact my craft for the better. My heart was stretched and convicted, and my eyes were continually directed towards Jesus, the giver of all of our gifts and the reason we do anything at all.
Definitely the best conference I’ve ever been to.
But I’m coming away mostly in awe of the way God used this place to connect people who never would have met apart from it.
Classes, sessions, messages–all influential and impactful.
But in the end, it’s the people you walk through life with that matter most. We’re in this together, friends, whatever it is we’re all doing. This dance of motherhood and wifehood and womanhood, it’s a dance that has multiple partners, and I’m convinced I couldn’t get through any of it without the people God has brought to my life, both old and new.
On the final morning at the conference, my breakfast started out alone. The lobby was much quieter, and I was content to eat by myself, having seen God work and knowing for sure He was with me through it all. I wasn’t feeling alone, like I had been three days before. It was good.
And then my peeps showed up and in an instant, it seemed like my first lonely breakfast had been redeemed and transformed into a beautiful array of friendship.
An answered prayer and a redeemed breakfast, for sure.
(I also got to meet Emily P. Freeman! What a treat!)
Would you like to meet some of the women I met? Check out their lovely and inspiring words:
Lisa Hurley at lisamhurley.com
Kathleen Cope at kathleenevelyncope.com
Becky McCoy at beckylmccoy.com
Brooke Turner at hisgraceabounds.com
Andrea Mullens at intentionaljane.com
Lori Harris at loriharris.com
Shannon Evans at agreatparade.com