Heart + Life Change | #InfluenceConf

note to self: take more photos next time
I've already shared the structured version of what I got from the Influence Conference. You know, those key lessons that really anyone attending the conference could have learned. And anyone that didn't attend the conference can now learn from my recap post or other attendee's recap posts or the podcasts when they're available.

What I haven't shared is the heart- and life-change related to the Influence Conference. Because that's a story that doesn't have much to do with the conference at all. And altogether has everything to do with the conference.

It's the lifetime of what led up to this weekend. Dreaming of being a writer as a kid. The fears and challenges I've met along the way. The lies that I'm no good or don't belong. A passion for adventure. Growing up in (and creating my own) loving and supportive family. All pieces of my story and my life--pieces that make me who I am today.

But the change... the calling that I feel God speaking into my life--that more specifically began one year ago. Last October I started reading Grace for the Good Girl and realized... I can do this. I can write. I want to write. I need to write. I started with my post about feeling like the prodigal's sister. Pouting that I don't have a story. But I do. And it's worth telling because of the grace and love of the Father.

Then, a couple months later during Christmas vacation, setting monthly resolutions for 2012. Resolutions of intentional and focused living. Resolutions to do. Resolutions to live on purpose. And a resolution to read. A book each month, to be exact. But it often turned to two. Reading about writing and faith and life with Christ. Reading books that inspire change and connect together to produce change.

All of this together--these resolutions and experiences and books--awakened me to the needs around me, encouraged me to throw myself in God's presence and plead for His direction and purpose, urged me to follow Him in rocking this world in His name and loving in action, and eventually inspired an entire 31 days series on letting our lights shine.

All of this also led me to take that leap of faith in May and buy an early bird ticket to The Influence Conference. Which I attended last weekend. With everything (all the pieces and posts shared above) in my heart and on the back of my mind. Showing up at this conference was just another step in showing up before God.

Guess what: When we truly make every effort to be present continually before God, He responds with more gusto than we can imagine.

We were late to the closing session which was an hour-long song service. We quietly chose a table in the back corner. I wore out on the standing and, not much of singer, also wore out quickly on the singing. So I sat down and prayed. I prayed about the weekend and, for the thousandth time in the last year, pleaded with God for His calling and purpose in all of this.

Then, He responded. The floodgates of Heaven opened. He poured over me His grace and His answers. His specific direction and purpose in my life. A portion of where all of these pieces might lead. The tears flowed over... with relief and gratitude and humility to hear Him. All because He led me to put my faith into action and pray more diligently.

In other words...

When we show up, God shows up.