Last year, I took my commitment to grow as a communicator to another level when I attended the Speak Up Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I signed up to attend again this year, but was stressed over the time away from my family and the time off from work. I almost backed out.
I’m thankful I made the trip, because it was exactly what I needed. I didn’t believe it was possible for this year’s Speak Up Conference to be as outstanding as last year’s, but it exceeded my expectations again.
I reconnected with friends, made new ones, and learned a wealth of new information from the remarkable staff of publishing and speaking professionals. I’m summarizing my time at the conference this year differently than I did last year, because this year’s conference was a heart check.
The conference was exactly what I needed because I was reminded of a few things.
First, I was reminded God loves the broken and uses us too.
That’s all He has, because we’re all broken and we all, deep down, want to know our lives matter. We all want the day in and the day out of our lives to mean something, to know it’s not all a waste.
Sometimes, it’s easy to think there’s no way God could or would use the mess of my life for His kingdom purposes. But He has, He does, and He will.
Second, I was reminded why I do this.
God gave me the gift of writing, so I write to share my story, others’ stories, and the story of Jesus and how I’m learning to follow him wholeheartedly. I write to encourage, inspire, and connect. To give hope, to make you ponder a question you’ve never asked before, to make you laugh or cry. To help unlock a memory stored away. I write to help you see someone in a different light, or help you start the journey of forgiving, or put into words what you can’t seem to.
I write to pass it on.
If my experiences teach you something, reveal a truth, make you think about something you’ve never thought about before, or simply make you feel less alone, that is enough.
Lastly, I was reminded of Who this is all for. It’s all because of Him and for Him. When I gave my life to Jesus decades ago, I told Him to take it all. I meant it with all my heart, but I had no idea what I was in for. All I knew was He loved me and I didn’t want a life without Him. I’ve said yes to Jesus again and again since then and I’m saying yes now.
So what’s next? What do I do with all my ideas and dreams?
I’ll seek Him and pray. I’ll keep following Jesus, living my life, and loving the people God gave me. I’ll serve my family, do my job, and look for ways to love others. Prayerfully, with a heart to do it all well. I’ll learn as I go with plenty of mistakes. I’ll pray for opportunities to teach and serve and share my stories. I’ll write and I’ll dream.
And I’m more ready and determined than ever to live like it matters and inspire others to live like it matters.
What about you? What are your dreams and what’s next for you?