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SheSpeaksI just scared my elderly dog. Thank goodness there are no hidden cameras in my house because I may have just yelled a few PG-13 R-rated expletives at the top of my lungs in my living room less than 24 hours after returning home from a Christian writers and speakers conference where I was mostly on my best behavior.

Here is one definition of humility: realizing you sent the unedited version of your book proposal to the publishers who kindly agreed to further consider your book. Luckily, the unintended file was attached to a gracious thank you note. The second thank you note, the one with the correct, edited version of the book proposal attached- the version which my brilliant real life editor friend painstakingly helped me craft- was a bit shorter and included a self-deprecating joke referencing jet lag after a one hour flight. Ha Ha, aren’t I just the silliest?

And I was feeling so fancy. Sigh…

In spite of this latest foible, I am for the most part flying high after my attendance at She Speaks this past weekend. In addition to the exciting opportunity to meet with two publishers, I attended a number of informative and beautifully presented workshops about writing and speaking taught by some of my favorite Christian authors. The quality of the conference was top notch and I gained a multitude of ideas about how I can make my writing and speaking better.

For instance, when you begin with a paragraph which draws your reader in and makes them want to read more, this technique is called A Hook. I have found in the past, dear reader, you particularly enjoy my stories about the times when I do things which scare the dog, thus my willingness to share my epic failure above. You are welcome.

Beyond the high quality training I received, my favorite part of the conference was three days of uninterrupted quality time with my writing sisters. These brave, talented, passionate women flew in from all over the world to learn more about how to spread God’s love and their message of hope. I met new friends and dug deeper with some “old” friends who are part of my online community. We also laughed A LOT. Laughing is my favorite, as IMG_2553you can see in this photo of my squad. Together, we stretched ourselves beyond what we might have done alone.

Isn’t it often the case that we are most courageous in the context of community?

As we tentatively step outside the confines of our comfort zone and try something new, we encourage one another toward a fuller realization of our best selves. When I see a friend chase her dreams, I am inspired to do the same. When another woman cheers me on and names me brave, I have the strength to try again. We hold each other accountable and remind each other that the journey is worth the effort, even when it is hard. Best of all, through our connection to one another, we hear God’s voice more clearly.

I am grateful today. I am grateful for the strong, generous women who spoke to us at the conference and gave us the gift of their hearts, stories and expertise. I am grateful for the beautiful, brave women who attended the conference with me and shared themselves with vulnerability, grace and humor. And I am grateful for my sister friends back home who prayed for me, texted me and cheered me on while I was at the conference. Through each of you, I felt God’s presence-Jesus with skin on.

We need each other, ladies! In our culture of comparison and competition, we have to be intentional about cheering each other on. Together, we find our voice, remember our power, and move forward in sharing our unique gifts in service to our broken world. We weren’t ever meant to walk this journey alone and the world needs us to work together  Go Team!

SheSpeaksLinkI am linking up today with my new friend, Cindy, who is hosting a “blog hop” for all of us to share our She Speaks experiences. If you would like to read more about SheSpeaks#16 or would like to share your She Speaks recap, click below.

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