Just like that, Influence Conference 2014 has come & gone already...The road leading up to it was long and uncertain at times, but I am so grateful to God for making a way for me to attend.
I missed the conference last year and experienced record levels of FOMO while scrolling through all the social media channels under the Influence hashtag. I had to go back. Sadly, it seemed like every time I would get a conference "kitty" going, we'd have a financial setback.
It's challenging enough to manage a one income household, but throw in a couple kiddo emergency room visits, a minor surgery, an over-payment from my previous employer, and well, you get the idea. There was something holding me back from asking God for permission to go this year. I didn't want to get a 'no' answer from Him, so I avoided the question. But it got to the point that I couldn't do it without His help, so I humbly asked. I felt a peace that despite my circumstances, my God was capable of covering every aspect of this trip if it was His will. And you know what? Something pretty special happened...
This year, I had the great privilege of going to Influence as a Brand Ambassador for ViBella Jewelry! I didn't know something like this was even a possibility until reading a great post on conference sponsorship from Hayley of The Tiny Twig.
I already had a relationship with ViBella after hosting a giveaway on my blog for them this past summer. I prayed about it, proposed my idea to their marketing team, and was pleasantly surprised when they agreed to partner with me. In exchange, I shared the story of ViBella with other conference attendees and wore their jewelry at every gathering. ViBella also included a pair of earrings in all of the swag bags.
Left: Taking a "groupie" with my conference roommates, Kayla of Many Sparrows & Madison of Espresso & Cream. Right: ViBella Star Necklace, conference pass, & my name tag from a group exercise in Whitney English's session.
As with any great conference, I came home with a ton of swag! Some of my favorite goodies happened to be from the SheReadsTruth gal (Rebecca) after hunting her down when a clue was posted on their twitter account.
The weekend was packed with amazing speakers...Jen Lula, Sammy Rhodes, Whitney English, Jess Connolly, Hayley Morgan, Ellen Parker. And those were just the ones I got to witness.
But can we talk about Lara Casey for a minute? Lara Casey is the editor for Southern Weddings and hosts an exclusive (& intense) workshop called Making Things Happen
. You guys. Tickets for this intensive sell for $1800. And Lara, so graciously, presented a mini-Making Things Happen in a Influence Network members only session.
I didn't know what to expect going in, but what I experienced was a soul exfoliation to the core. I was challenged to get out of my comfort zone, to ask myself some hard questions (like, REALLY hard), and to do some serious vision casting for my life over the next 10 years. It sounds pretty cut & dried, but the way it was presented was entirely unlike anything I've participated in. Just, wow.
Jessica Honegger, the Queen of Noonday Collection, was also a speaker at Influence. I am so inspired by her life and the work that her organization is doing. ViBella is quite similar to Noonday in their mission and operation, so it was awesome to talk to her for a little while about both businesses. Plus, she loved the way I styled the Star Necklace:)
The Strategy Panel consisted of seriously rockin' business ladies - photographer Shanna Noel, Rebecca of Better Life Bags, Lindsay of Lindsay Letters (YES, LINDSEY LETTERS!! And yes, I totally went nuts buying her prints in the Sashes Market), and Natalie & Mandy of Happy Mommy Box.
My "Mom Confession" in the Thrive Moms area. This entry won me an additional swag bag full of fun & pretty mama necessities. In case you were wondering, I am wearing the Priscilla necklace from ViBella in this pic:)
How do I even end this post? I feel like it is just the beginning. The conference theme was "It's Time to Build". And now, I'm back at home with this perspective and a desperate desire to be a responsible steward of this experience. There are days where the only thing I'm building are Lego towers. But it is my belief that it is all part of something greater. So. Much. Greater.
Thanks again to ViBella Jewelry, to my super supportive husband for playing Mr. Mom while I was away, to the conference organizers for bringing us all together, and to all the special ladies I made memories with. God is real, y'all. He can change ANYTHING.
Hope to see you all next year! xx