but it turned out to be so so wonderful. i went in hoping to meet a few bloggers i had made friends with over the last year or two, but ended up making friends with people i couldn't have even dreamed of connecting with. i posted this on my instagram and i feel like it sums up the weekend pretty well:
as I'm sure most of you know, I love reading blogs. it's probably because I love stories. I love hearing what people have been through and where they have come from. I love hearing what they've conquered and what they've learned. mostly I just love seeing the story He's telling unfold in people's lives. so #hopespoken was kind of a dream for me. a weekend of hearing people's stories of love and life and joy and death and sorrow and redemption and hope. I made new friends, both with girls I was looking forward to meeting and with girls I didn't expect to connect with. it was a good weekend.and really that is what it was. it was a weekend of stories speaking hope into other stories. it was a chance to be reminded that God is in the process of writing the most beautiful story of all time and we get the honor of playing a supporting role in the whole thing.
there were 11 different speakers, all of whom told their story. there was very little teaching and preaching and lots of just honest, "this is my life but look how good He is." i could honestly listen to people tell stories about their lives all day long, so i was a little bummed that the schedule was made so you had to choose 4 of the 8 breakout speakers. i really enjoyed the ones i went to, but heard really good things about the ones i missed.
i also was asked to lead a small group of 10 women for the weekend which was completely nervewracking. i made them goodie bags to win them over. including a mixed worship cd. they ended up being really sweet women who were completely capable of talking without my leading. i learned from them way more than i think they learned from me.
honestly, it was one of the most relaxing weekends i've had in a while. i went into thinking it was going to be challenging or hard, but really it just felt right and kind of like home. i could have stayed for another whole week and just hung out with all the women. i would also like to propose that next year we have a conference where you aren't allowed to wear hard pants (jeans). so basically that means everybody has to wear yoga pants or leggings with long shirts over them. doesn't that sound like a dream?!
i'm really proud of danielle and emily and casey for pulling this conference together. the food was fab, the decorations were incredible, the swag bags were amazing, the speakers had hearts of gold. i never felt like i was imposing if i went to talk to emily, danielle or casey. they were so sweet and so on the same level as everyone else. i loved that.
i highly encourage everyone to go next year. i already have my roommates for next year. i figure i'm just gonna buy a ticket and then if i can't go i'll sell it. wouldn't want to risk missing out!
here are one billion pictures from the weekend, all taken within 30 minutes, all of which look nothing like me.
|ruth, lesley, anna, kimber, me, thuy, ashley|
photo via thuy's instagram
|danielle // hannah|
|wynne // leslie|
these two were some of my surprise treasures from the weekend. i had heard their names in the blogging world before, but they weren't people i had kept up with. that will promptly change as i adore them and would like to immediately move into each of their houses. wynne is a gem and has the sweetest heart. leslie loves depressing music just like i do and we decided we're both melancholy. yes i had to look up what that means.
|ashley // jess|
picture on right from jess
|kimber + anna // kimber|
|sarah + hannah // kara|
|shannan // my small group girls|
emily and i picked shannan up from the airport on thursday to take her to the hotel. friday afternoon rolled around and i was standing with a group of people in the conference area. sweet shannan proceeded to introduce herself to everyone individually, including me. i, thinking she was just joking around, said, "my name is kimberly. i picked you up from the airport." she was so confused and asked if i was wearing a hat in the car. i wasn't. we both laughed and joked around about it all weekend. shannan actually lives 2 hours north of me. she is also a gem. and of course i had the best small group :)
|stacey, me, lesley, emily, ashley, leslie, jami|
photo via ashley's instagram
i can't wait to see what happens for next year. i've got my fingers crossed that i will be able to go.