RISE Conference

Girl, Go With God: An Open Letter To The Ladies Of RISE Minneapolis

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It’s a warm night in June as I write this. All the windows in my house are open. I’m watching an episode of Friends that I’ve seen at least 12 times. Friends episodes are like white noise to me. They signal rest.

This is the first week of summer for the boys and me.  The past three months have been a whirlwind of work and projects and shuffling children to and from activities. Rest was pushed to the backburner and now, as two and a half months of no work or school commitments loom, I honestly don’t know what to do with myself. Or maybe it’s that I don’t know what to START doing…

Such is the quandary of the enneagram three, otherwise known as “The Acheiver.” Resting is difficult for us, because the question we’re always asking ourselves is “Who am I apart from the work I do?”

For over 30 years, I’ve told myself the lie that my worth depends on what and how much I accomplish. The more public those accomplishments, the better. The past 15 months have been a journey of uncovering and unraveling that lie and its stronghold on my life. This blog was the catalyst that helped me find the truth.

Curious? Let’s journey back…

In March 2018, I read Rachel Hollis’s book, Girl, Wash Your Face. In April 2018, I attended her RISE Conference in Los Angeles. People have strong opinions about Rachel these days. I have my opinions too, but for now I will simply say this: Rachel’s book and conference changed my life in ways that few things ever have. Not because her words were so eloquent or her conference so moving but because God used those things to reveal areas of my life and my identity that I needed to surrender to HIM.

In the nine months post RISE Conference, I dove headfirst into blogging and social media and all the things required to become a writer and “social influencer.” At the end of those nine months, I was exhausted, anxious and nowhere near reaching the goals I had set earlier that year. In other words, I was losing my enneagram three mind. I was doing the work, and from what I observed, I was doing it just as well, if not better, than many other people…and it was getting me nowhere.

And so, the prevailing question of my life popped back up: WHO AM I APART FROM THE WORK I DO? WHO AM I WHEN I DON’T ACCOMPLISH THE THING I SET OUT TO ACCOMPLISH?

And now, we fast-forward…

After my nine months of hustling towards Internet fame, I took a break. I scaled back. I re-evaluated what was important to me and how I wanted to show up, both online and in life. I haven’t opened Girl, Wash Your Face since early 2018. Tonight, as I’m writing this post, with the windows open, the warm breeze blowing through my house and Friends playing in the background, I crack it open.

In the book, Rachel outlines 20 lies women tell themselves that keep them from pursuing their dreams. I flip to lie number 10: I should be further along by now.

A few pages in to the chapter, Rachel writes this:

“Every single moment is preparing you for the next. But whether or not you choose to see this time as something wonderful—the time when God is stretching you and growing you or maybe forging you in fires hotter than you think you can withstand—all of it is growing you for the person you’re becoming, for a future you can’t even imagine.”

Say what you want about Rachel Hollis, but those words are TRUTH.

This weekend, thousands of women will gather in Minneapolis for Rachel’s third-annual RISE conference. Many of my friends are there, and I am praying for the things they will learn and the ways their hearts and minds will change because of what they experience.

As I look back on my own journey since last year’s RISE conference, I clearly see how God grew me through the things I learned from reading Girl, Wash Your Face, attending RISE and launching this blog. I realize that despite my writing career not being as far along as I hoped it would be, every moment of the past 15 months has been worth it. Just as Rachel said, each thing I’ve done or chosen not to do, each time I felt scared and stretched out of my comfort zone, it was really just God beckoning me to trust Him and teaching me something about myself. In a way that only God can, He used Rachel’s lies to help me exorcize my own and grow me into the person I am today.

 And just who is that person? WHO AM I APART FROM WHAT I DO? I am a wife. A mother. A friend. A teacher. A mentor. A DAUGHTER OF THE KING. The latter title makes me more worthy than anything I could achieve on my own, and I don’t have to DO anything to achieve it.

 So, to everyone attending RISE Minneapolis this weekend, know this: No amount of washing your face or apologizing or hustling will make you any more valuable than you already are.

 Take the things you hear at RISE—many of which will be GOOD THINGS—and evaluate them in light of what you know to be true, in light of Scripture and in light of WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST. And as you leave RISE, feeling motivated to conquer the world, go and try to do just that.

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big and working hard; but remember that many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21).

His purpose may look different for you than it does for the girl who sat next to you in Minneapolis; but that doesn’t make it—YOU--any less valuable.

God can use RISE to change your life, if you let Him. The things you do over the next few months or years post-RISE may alter the course of your future. Take Jesus along on the journey and I guarantee that wherever you end up, you’ll be exactly where you’re supposed to be.

The Power of Story: Together We RISE

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It's history, you can't rewrite it. You're not meant to be trapped inside it.
Every tear brought you here, every sorrow gathered. It’s history, and every mile mattered.

Nicole Nordeman, Every Mile Mattered

I turned the key to the ignition, looked over at my travel mate and smiled. “Tell me about yourself,” I said. Anne (whose name I changed for anonymity) smiled back. “Well,” she said.  “In August of last year, I lost my 11-year-old son to cancer.”

Having talked with Anne a number of times at the conference we attended this past weekend, I can assure you this was not what I expected to come out of her mouth. Our conversations were so lovely and lighthearted that when she asked if I could give her a ride home from the conference (we were headed to similar destinations), I said “yes” without thinking twice. At one point before beginning our journey, the thought did cross my mind that Anne could, perhaps, be a serial killer who preyed on women at personal growth conferences; but it never once occurred to me that her story would be that of losing a child.

As we drove, Anne told me the details of the past two years of her life--hard, unfathomable things that should never come out of a mother’s mouth, much less be part of her reality. At one point, she stopped and said: “This is the most I’ve talked all weekend. I hope I’m not sharing too much.”

I grabbed her hand and told her to keep talking, and she did.

One hour, countless tears and a death grip on each other’s arms later, Anne finished talking. Not knowing what to say, I simply thanked her for choosing to share her story with me. Before she got out of the car, I asked: “What can someone like me—someone who has no experience with half of the heartache and loss you have been through, but who desperately wants to be there for you—do to help?”

She didn’t hesitate when she said: “Just listen.”

I had another hour in the car before reaching my house. During the drive, I contemplated exactly why I crossed paths with Anne. Why was I the one she chose to share her story with? I don’t know the answers to those questions; but days later, her parting words are still ringing in my ears. JUST. LISTEN.

While Anne was talking, I wracked my brain for ways to help her, when the thing she needed most was for me to remove myself from the equation almost entirely and JUST LISTEN.

This morning at the grocery store, I ran into a friend I’d lost touch with over the past year. I took one look at her and knew that something was wrong. As her story of a recent trauma started to spill out over the produce aisle at Trader Joe’s, I stopped her, told her to finish her shopping and come to my house for coffee. The next hour was, yet again, full of tears and holding on to one another for unspoken comfort. And when I didn’t know what to say, I heard Anne’s voice: JUST LISTEN.

So often, we run from the hard things in life. We avoid pain at all costs.

The job is too tough? We quit. The relationship is too difficult? We shut down emotionally. The conversation is too hard? We just don’t have it. But what happens when we can’t run or avoid pain? What happens when we have to sit with it, look it in the face and live it? Sometimes BEING BRAVE means making beauty for ashes even when we don’t want to or don’t know how.  

I will not share the details of Anne’s son’s death or my friend’s trauma here.  They are not my stories to share. I feel confident that those women will share their stories when they are ready; and they will be beautiful.

If I took anything away from the RISE conference, it was that women are so resilient. Each of us has a story to tell, and that story, no matter how big or small we might think it is, can leave a lasting impact on the lives of so many others. But if we don’t make ourselves available and allow ourselves to be ok with the hard conversations, we wont be able to receive the blessings that come from sharing our stories.

So let yourself be broken and sit with those who are. Invite them in. Seek them out. And when you don’t know what to say or do, JUST LISTEN. You never know when someone else’s story might help you write the first chapter in yours.

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