oh, the beauty of this event! i don't have decent photos, but the decorations had that dallas hotel looking fine, y'all. tissue poms in pinks, corals, golds and aquas. twinkle lights everywhere. sweet dessert displays, gorgeous chalkboard signs, a fabulous collection of shops in the market...and people. the people at hope spoken were the most beautiful part. speakers, coordinators and attendees all beaming with hope, a touch of nerves and expectancy.
i was able to see my treasured best friends. which requires a post all on its own, which i don't have the emotional stuff to pen, which i kinda have a pass on because someone already wrote exactly what i would want to share.
here are a few pics i stole from said friends:
this is natalie. she is what a kindred spirit looks like. sadly, i'm finding it rare to meet moms of special needs children who aren't fighting against who their child is. but instead resting in the skillful hands of jesus, who knit our littles exactly as they're meant to be. i really hope to write my heart on this very soon. it was life to my soul to talk, laugh and weep with this strong woman. i dream of a day when we can hang out again, and our kiddos can wrestle and laugh together.
rachel, shannan and wynne. this is a lot of sweetness packed into a tiny picture. these girls are legit. too legit. the scrunchy smile on my face? that's how happy they make me. that's how legit they are. and! we all happen to be adoptive mamas. this was our first time meeting face to face, and it was like we'd always been neighbors. i really miss them. so grateful for our brief time together!
two of the hope spoken angels/hosts, danielle and casey. sweetheart friends and delightful to be around! the best to laugh, cry and eat with. i couldn't have picked better encouragers than they were to me all weekend. they do me so right.
meeting jami in real life. words cannot describe. perhaps our faces can? i love her with my whole heart.
she led the share group for moms of special needs kids. i didn't even know how much i needed that time. gathering with those precious mamas was so inspiring and encouraging. it's wonderful to be with people who "get" a certain part of your life. and while i'm bringing it up, take some time and read this post jami wrote on ignoring special needs people. and listen to the sermon she links there. do. it.
and my little sister, linnea. it meant so much to me, that she was there! sharing that experience together was a highlight of my life. a really big deal.
of course there were dozens more beautiful friends i was able to connect with, even if i don't have pics, they're in my heart :) meals and conversations shared. beautiful music and corporate worship. it was really too much for me to take in, i think.
hope spoken was more than a women's conference. it was a gathering where the lord showed up in powerful ways. that may sound cliche, but it's truer than true. it was so clear to me that the lord orchestrated every minute of our schedule for his own glory and our good. he gave casey, danielle and emily their dream, to make this conference happen. he guided them, and he showed up big and mighty and above what i could have hoped for. hallelujah, what a savior!
all the speakers were so wonderful, i wish i could have heard them all. i was honored to speak two sessions. terrified and honored. i think i may share my session here on the blog soon. the way it was in my notes, which is not at all how it came out :)
i did hear some speakers though, loved them, and i want to share a little i took away from one session:
another sweet highlight, small groups! these are my sweeties:
kk, kara, amy, lisa, jillian, ruthie, katie, heather and teressa. it was so fun to meet these ladies and spend time together. walking through the devotional, unpacking the goodness we'd heard in speaker sessions, sharing our hearts. small groups was just one more way the lord gave us abundantly above what we could have asked for. i think every group was perfectly matched with each other. even though i think i had the best group :) my new friends were so patient with me and really blessed me more than i did them, i know! so thankful.
one funny thing, after the conference, after the tearful goodbyes to friends, i was ready to be home. except home was getting a blizzard! bless north dakota's heart. with multiple flight delays turned cancellations, i was exhausted. praise jesus i was traveling with my sister! we made the most of our extra night away from home and enjoyed sister time. nice hotel, great food and a movie at the mall of america. it was perfect. but we sure were happy to get home the next day! even if home was buried in fresh snow.
if you were unable to make it to hope spoken this year, i encourage you to pray about making it a priority for 2015! it's worth it, and i'd sure love to meet you there! xo