The three of us, just returned from the most amazing conference and since we didn't see a lot of you there, we wanted to give you a couple of brief highlights and tell you sign up to go next year!
What girl doesn’t want to get away? Especially with BFFs sans kids. And in Chicago of all places?! Slam dunk. Though, I believe it was a minor miracle that the stars aligned, our calendars were free (some bribes may have been involved) and all three of us were able to take, what I consider to be, the trip of a lifetime to the Storyline conference, hosted by Donald Miller and Shauna Niequist.
I’ve known OF Donald Miller of “Blue Like Jazz” fame for years. I had read and enjoyed a couple of his books. I even heard him speak at a MOPS conference years ago (don’t tell him this), but I wasn’t overly impressed. Until recently. When Miller’s book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” literally CHANGED my husband’s outlook on life and prompted him to want to “live a better story” and yada, yada, yada, not long afterwards we adopted our youngest two kids from Ethiopia, my faith (and interest) in Miller was renewed.
The message of that book sparked an insatiable desire to actively engage with God’s work in the world rather than (as we mostly had up until that point) wait passively for Him to “show up.”
Enter the Storyline conference.
Miller’s authenticity, vulnerability and edgy (at least in the Christian sense of the word!) humor immediately drew me in. I scrawled note upon note in my cardboard binder under the general banner, “What will the world miss if you don’t tell your story?”
What if MY life could be a page-turner? One that needed to be lived and told? Most importantly, told from my point of view? Without judgement or comparison. I am only responsible to live MY script. Not someone else’s.
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to their graves with the song still in them.” — Henry David Thoreau
The Storyline conference proved to be one more gorgeously, beautiful note in the song of my life. I may not be able to carry a tune, but Lord - I want to sing!
Do your thing
with great love
Shauna Niequists' challenge for such intentionality took my breath for a moment when she said it. So simple yet so urgent.
This was the most impactful moment of the Storyline Conference #storylineconf for me.
What if we broke that challenge down?
What’s your “thing? “ Once you figure out your thing, how can you do it with love (much less great love)? I know this is where my best stuff comes from – this place of whole love, fullness in Him. Why do you and I try to “do our thing” without this?
Also, right now means right now. This is the most striking part of the sentiment. Right now means while I’m on this plane or on a lunch break or in the carpool lane or doing laundry - I am to do my thing, no later. That means instead of watching Dancing with the Stars or some other frivolousness. Right now means here, today, in this moment, I can do my thing with great love.
Other parts of our time in Chicago were just as breathtaking. Have you ever had one of those trips when everything seemed smooth? No flight delays, no misunderstandings, lots of laughter billowing up, and not even a mediocre meal. I even seemed to pack right. This was one of those trips.
And we laughed. Like the first moment we heard the lady sitting behind us laugh – it sounded EXACTLY like George Costanza’s mom’s laugh. And that time we peppered our uber driver with a minimum of 600 questions. (A writer’s conference will make you want to turn someone inside out to find their story, people…we couldn’t help ourselves). Favorite question of the weekend (asked by Holly): “Muhommad, have you ever been swimming in Lake Michigan?”
And as if Donald Miller, sage teacher on the best elements of a great story, had made it a mandatory assignment on our last night of the trip, we tromped over to see the Broadway musical, Amazing Grace. Experiencing John Newton’s identity shifts; hardened slave trader to slave to abolitionist to freedom game changer was proof that someone who does their thing with great love right now can make an unforgettable impact on the world around them.
And so step back into the regular routine (which we adore and would never trade) we must. But not without pausing here to look back, give thanks for such a beautiful moment in time.
This conference was far better than I ever expected it to be. It was marketed as a Christian writers conference, but it was definitely not just for those who fall into those two categories. I would say, it was more like a conference about LIVING life. Who doesn't want that? It was about taking risks, not being afraid to fail, redeeming our suffering, moving forward, loving deeply, living life and not just reacting to it and the list goes on.
Every single one of the speakers spoke to my heart to get on with the business of living. I've had some for reals blows in the past few years, to say the least. Sometimes, it makes me want to stay tucked safely away and sheltered from any sort of difficulty, but in my heart of hearts, what it really makes me want to do is make each day count.
I'm having a hard time narrowing my favorite speakers down. I loved hearing from Scott Hamilton, because he's Scott Hamilton and he's just so little and cute, but with a big giant story. I loved Glennon Melton from the blog Monastery.com and her quote, "The air on the mountaintop is thin and all there is to do is try not to fall. But in the valley, that is where the water runs." But I think my big time favorite, was Bob Goff. He knows how to throw off the chains of religion and LOVE BIG and LIVE BIG. He has a book called, Love Does. I have repeated those two words in my mind a thousand times, since returning home. Love takes action. And when love takes action, life gets interesting. It's not always safe, but its is always better. Here are just a few of the subtitles to his chapters:
"I used to want to fix people, but now I just want to be with them."
"I used to think God guided us by opening and closing doors, but now I know sometimes God wants us to kick some doors down."
"I used to think Jesus motivated us with ultimatums, but now I know He pursues us in love."
"I used to think religion tasted horrible, but now I know I was just eating the fake stuff."
Who wants to read this with me? If you do, I am giving away a free copy of Love Does. Just comment in the section below!
This picture was just one more perk of the conference.