As many of y’all know, I attended my first bloggers conference the last weekend in July.

Heading into the weekend I felt very nervous. I didn’t know anyone who was going, I knew I was going to be one of the youngest people there, and I was worried about how I was going to get from the hotel to the church were the conference was held, since I wasn’t going to have a car with me.

If you’re a part of the Joy Because Grace newsletter, you received an email from that Thursday. I shared my nerves with y’all and asked y’all to please pray for myself, the conference itself, and the other attendees. Thank y’all so much for praying!

As soon as I arrived at the hotel, peace and excitement washed over me.

About 30 of the attendees ate at the Cheesecake Factory before the conference started Thursday night.

I’m so glad I went to that! Meeting several ladies before the weekend “officially” started was fabulous!

I had the pleasure of sitting next to Lisa Hensley of Delighting in my Days, and we had a fun time discovering that the difference between the “skinny” menu and the “regular” menu is that the “skinny” menu just replaced French fries with a salad. We couldn’t find any other difference LOL!

Words such as “What do you write about?” “How long have you been blogging?” “You have a podcast? How awesome!!” flowed effortlessly across the tables.

I began to suspect that I had found my people.

Photo credit: Karen Rellos

Photo credit: Karen Rellos

Thursday–

Thursday night at Declare was awesome!

When I walked into the church a grin spread across my face. Women were everywhere, gathered in groups and talking excitedly.

I cheerfully approached the registration desk, signed in, and received my name tag.

Then the evening session started.Erica Boutwell and her husband led us in worship, and let me tell you, worshiping alongside these women was an amazing experience! I got chills!

Then Lara Williams spoke about the woman at the well and Living Water. She taught us that we can’t tell people about Jesus and lead them to the Living Water if we’re not full of the Living Water ourselves.

{That was a big “Ah-ha!” moment for me; it explains why I don’t feel like blogging when I haven’t been spending time with Jesus. I can spend time with Jesus without blogging, but I can’t blog without spending time with Jesus.}

Next we had a Q&A panel with the present and past speakers of Declare. That was really fun and helpful :)

Then we had a little after party. There were cookies, so I hopped in line to grab one of those. As I waited in line, I turned to the lady beside me and introduced myself. She kinda looked at me for a second and then looked at my name tag. “Kara Beth?” She asked. I nodded, glad I included my middle name on my name tag.

She burst into a big smile. “Hi! I’m Dianne! I’ve been Facebook messaging you and the other members of CBB about getting breakfast. Are you going to the CBB breakfast tomorrow?”

I blinked. My Facebook messages had been spazzing the last couple of weeks, so I told her I wasn’t sure I had gotten the messages and asked for more information.

She told me where they were going and what time. I smiled, “Sure!” I asked if she was staying at the Marriot (where a lot of the Declare attendees were staying) and if so, could I get a ride? She said she was staying at a different hotel, but she’d connect me with Lori who was staying at the Marriot and who had a car.

By that point we had gotten our cookie, so we went back to the auditorium so she could introduce me to Lori. Awesomely enough, Lori was sitting at the table I had been sitting at earlier.

Lori was glad to give me a ride to the restaurant in the morning and asked if I needed a ride back to the hotel in a bit. Smiling, I told her that a ride back would be awesome.

Then Dianne and I started talking about each other’s blogs {her’s is Sweeter than Honey} and what we write about. We sat down at a table and she pulled out her iPad and I pulled out my laptop and we looked at each other’s sites.

Friday–

Friday’s brunch with my fellow Christian Bloggers Bootcamp peeps was awesome!

We went to a cute little cafe place and had scrambled eggs and coffee. It was nice to meet my fellow students and hear about their blogging journeys. {Here’s a link to learn more about the Christian Bloggers Bootcamp course.}

Mastermind Time–

One of my favorite parts of Declare on Friday was the time with the mastermind groups.

I went to the video creation group, and learned how to do Facebook live! Below is the video where we introduced ourselves and figured out how commenting on Facebook live works :)

I’m so excited to keep learning about videos and how I can engage with you lovely readers via video :)

Dinner with the Experts–

That evening, we had an informal dinner with different experts of various areas of blogging. I went to the video table again, and our expert was Cari Trotter.

She gave us a peek into how she makes YouTube videos and gave us a play-by-play of how she records the videos on her phone, inputs them into iMovie, converts them to a certain format, and then uploads to YouTube. It was so helpful seeing her walk through it and being able to ask her questions as she went along.

Something super cool that occurred because of this meal:
At the beginning Cari had us go around the table and introduce ourselves and share why we’re interested in learning about video. One lady said she had recently written a book for young ladies about dating and sex.

Afterward, I approached her and introduced myself. I told her that I blog about singleness a lot and would love to learn more about her book. Her name is Tracy Levinson.

She and I started chatting and then she told me she actually had a copy of her book in her car if I’d like to have it. Speechless and filled with awe and gratitude, I walked with her to her car and she gave me a copy of her book.

{Tracy’s book is called Unashamed: Candid Conversations about Dating, Love, Nakedness, and Faith. I’ve since read it, and I REALLY recommend it. I’ll be doing a full review here on JBG eventually, but until then you can learn more about it here.}

Then Lori and I went back to the hotel and I had a few minutes to flip through Unashamed before my roomies returned from Declare.

Saturday–

Something that stands out to me about Saturday is meeting Tracy and Linda and eating lunch with them and Lori. We had such good conversations, sharing the deep parts of our testimony and encouraging each other in our walks with Jesus and with our ministries.

They had {and still have ;) } so much wisdom they were willing to share! I’m so grateful I met them.

We had such a good time talking, we ended up missing the session after lunch so we could chat some more. We didn’t even realize so much time had past LOL!

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The sessions–

 

If I could I would give you a point-by-point synopsis of all of the sessions; they were SO AMAZING!! I learned so much from all of them and my notebook is filled with notes.

HOWEVER, I shall just give you a few of my favorite quotes from a few of the sessions :)

“Our plans need to be our sacrifices, not our idols.” -Kat Lee

“Failure is nothing but an opinion.” -Anne Watson

“What we do matters. If it didn’t, the devil wouldn’t fight us as much as he does.” -Michele-Lyn Ault

“Choose obedience over outcome.” -Jenn Sprinkle

“Our vulnerability can be the bridge God uses to bring others to Himself.” -Jen Weaver

“We are called to be an echo of His Spirit, not an echo of everyone else.” -Michele-Lyn Ault

“If we view God through the lens of our circumstances, we will always have the wrong view of God.” -Lara Williams

“When you say yes to God the storm will come.” -Michele-Lyn Ault

“Great things are usually on the other side of our comfort zones.” -Kat Lee

When we look to the things of this world to quench our thirst, we will always be thirsty.” -Lara Williams

The best thing about Declare was the friendships I made.

I loved, loved, LOVED, meeting people and hearing their stories. I loved learning about their passions and how they’re serving Jesus in their online communities.

All of us had two things in common that united us from the very beginning: 1) Our love for Jesus and 2) We all desired to learn how to share that love via our various platforms.

Not everyone I met was a blogger. Some ladies preferred podcasting. Some make videos. One lady I met was there because she runs the women’s ministry at her church and so she was at Declare to learn about godly leadership.

But everyone I met had a heart for the Lord and a heart for the people who He was having them reach.

A few of my new friends–

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My awesome roomies :) {Ali, Tracy, and Patti}

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Tracy and I

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Linda, Kelly, and I

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Linda and I

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Lori and I

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Kathy and I

More pictures from the weekend–

(The following are all taken by Coco Paige Photography}

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