a recap of the Lifeway DotMOM conference {or when God surprises you with joy}

I spent last weekend with a couple thousand women at the LifeWay Women DotMOM conference. It was nothing short of an amazing experience, but not for the reasons you might think. #SurprisedByLife

I almost didn't go.

Not because I didn't want to, but because this little country girl who had only flown twice in her whole. life. has flown a total of four times this year alone. Away from my family. Leaving my kidlets behind. Pawning them off on my parents...or husband...to handle alone (a feat that wears me out!).

With a blogging conference in February, book planning in March, Hope speaking in April, and Allume Social in October, I just didn't feel like I could give up any more time with my family in 2012.

But then my husband said I should go.

More specifically, he said he wanted me to go and had a good feeling about it.

So I said yes.

Here are a few of my takeaways:

1. If you don't already know, I'm a raging introvert.

People wear me out. Please understand, I love people, but having to be "on" for long periods of time completely wears me out. Sometimes I feel like I have to apologize for that. In my weaker moments, I've even felt like there's something wrong with me because of it. I know it can make me seem off-putting, and I've even been called "stuck up" because of it.

But I realized at DotMOM, as I spent time with some of my favorite mom bloggers and friends, that God has given me a group of women who get me—both in real life, and in a small circle of online life. That feeling is so freeing and a gift straight from God Himself.

#mobsociety

Erin (@HomeWithTheBoys) and me (otherwise known as the MOB Society)

2. I've had a tendency to judge people without really knowing them.

It pains me to say that.  I don't like that I've done it, and I won't mention any names (and you'll NEVER guess, so don't even try!), but God blessed me deeply through someone there who invited me into their behind the scenes. It didn't have to happen, and they made the effort. I'm not sure they would ever know that I've felt lesser than in their presence before, but this weekend they took the time to see me, and I left the encounter resolved to know people more before making a judgment.

3. The Christian bloggers I know are doing a good thing.

I sat around a table early Friday morning with some of the most amazing women bloggers I know, and had the opportunity to listen to each of them share their passions for their blogs and the women who read them. Some of them fought back tears as they described the goals of their blogs, all of them spoke with a determined passion.

I left that meeting with the overwhelming sense that we are doing something very good.

No matter how many people read our blogs, the one is enough. One woman who finds hope, is pointed to Jesus, or realizes that she can be a good mom (when she thought she'd messed it all up), makes all the work, all the heart poured out on the page, worth it.

Aside: I've NEVER been to a conference where I felt so valued and cared about. Thank you Lifeway!

#SurprisedByLife

(Erin @homewiththeboys, moi, Amanda @Impress Your Kids, & Jen @QuatroMama)

#SurprisedByLife

(Erin, @homewiththeboys, Ruth @thebettermom, Moi)

4. If you're a blogger, pick something good to get behind

Jen Hatmaker spent some time encouraging us before the festivities got started on Thursday night. One thing she said that has stuck with me is that there are TONS of socially good things to get behind as a blogger. My roomie Erin, was quick to add to that that the most natural thing to do is take a look at what's going on in your life and find a charity related to it (reminds me of Experiencing God...look around you and see what God is doing, and join Him in it).

For me, The Seed Company, with its emphasis on prayer and commitment to ending Bible poverty around the world, just fits. I also left the conference with a tangible way to tell the world about how they can help rescue women out of sex slavery with my new Freeset Global bag. How awesome is it that I get to tell the Freeset story every time someone says, "your bag is so cute!"

(Stay tuned to the MOB Society blog for news about how you can help directly change the lives of two women in conjunction with Freeset).

#SurprisedByLife

Are you a blogger? Do something good with the platform God has given you...no matter how big or small...you can influence the world for Christ.

5. Amazing worship that led me to the cross and reminded me of what's important

The theme for my life this year seems to be "enough." Melissa Green sang a song on the topic from her new album (which I'll be purchasing as soon as it's released), and I realized afresh how grateful I am for all God's given me, not the least of which is my salvation.

It was a good weekend. I'm grateful, thankful, and full.

#SurprisedByLife

Thank you @Dayspring and @LisaLeonard for the beautiful necklace that sums up the whole weekend.