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Influence Conference

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Make Motherhood Your Own

September 21, 2015

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For the last three days I’ve had the JOY to spend three uninterrupted days with women from around the country at The Influence Conference. I met up with my sister-in-law, Amber, and good friend, Laura, for some much-needed girl time, a break from daily routines and time to think about the bigger picture in life rather than the day-to-day tasks.

Did I mention this was my first overnight trip away from Ainsley? I had big plans for sleeping, but I found my heart needed girl-time and late-night talks more than it needed the extra zzz’s. So although I’m more physically exhausted than when I left, I’m filled up emotionally and creatively inspired more than I’ve been in a long time.

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Motherhood was the topic of many conversations and speaker sessions. As I took in all the information and digested what people were saying, I started to think about all the “shoulds” I carry into motherhood.

I should feel guilty leaving my baby for 3 days. I should miss her so much it hurts and shed tears when I leave.

I should feel more conflicted about being a working mom, and what does that say about me if I don’t?

 

I should make my own baby food.

 

I should read to Ainsley more and buy more developmental toys.

I should feel all the mom guilt about the things I don’t do well. 

Really, the list could go on and on. You know what? I didn’t shed a tear when I left Ainsley on Thursday morning. I missed her, but not achingly so. Knowing she was safe at home with dad and her Mimi, Nana and Papa all loving on her made me happy. I loved eating full, hot meals and sipping coffee and getting ready without rushing. And when I returned home? There was nothing sweeter than hugging that little munchkin and kissing those chubby cheeks. Enjoying my time away didn’t diminish my love for Ainsley. And, dare I say, it made me a better, more refreshed and inspired mom?

As I started to unpack the “shoulds” in my thinking, I realized that at the heart of almost every “should” was comparison. It’s not God’s standards that I’m holding myself to, it’s people in the world around me. And, as we all know about comparison, it’s always an ugly, unsatisfying road to walk.

We all want to be good moms. Heck, we all want to be amazing moms! To give our kiddos love, adoration and support. But how we arrive there comes in so many different shapes and sizes.

There is SO MUCH gray in motherhood, isn’t there? I have to imagine if we freed ourselves up from the “shoulds” and the guilt associated with the choices we make in motherhood the mommy wars would cease to exist. Because isn’t that what we’re all doing when we engage in those debates or carry that guilt or second guess our intuition?

In our hearts we know that this motherhood thing, it matters, it’s weighty and important and we’re desperately looking for validation that we’re doing it the right way. If the world tells us we’re doing things the “right” way, then we have no need to feel guilty.

I’m thankful that this weekend I was able to spend time with moms, women I know and respect, who have different perspectives on what it means to be a mom and what motherhood looks like for their families. I’m thankful for grace and forgivness and fresh starts in the name of Jesus, day-in and day-out.

For a while now, our family has been clinging and meditating on 2 Corinthians 12:9: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

If you’re carrying the weight and burden of shoulds, if you’re tired and weary and feeling like you’ll never measure up to the version of mommahood that you desire, I want to encourage you. Let’s boast in the fact that when we’re messy and imperfect, we can live freely by knowing that our imperfections are an opportunity to point others back to Him.

Madison

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What’s In My Bag: Influence Conference Edition

September 16, 2015

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Tomorrow I’m leaving my favorite people (and my baby for the very first time overnight!) and heading to Influence Conference for the second year in a row. Conferences? Gah, conferences. I have such a love-hate relationship with them because my secretly introverted self feels so. dang. uncomfortable. But once I just do the dang thing? It’s always worth it.

I’m working on going out of my comfort zone more and more these days, and I think it’s doing me a world of good.

So what’s in my bag? Here’s a look:

1. My MacBook Air
I’ll be doing a little work while I’m there and hoping to jot down some ideas for blog content while I’m listening to all the amazing speakers.

2. My iPhone
How else am I supposed to FaceTime my baby five times a day? Plus, what’s a blogging conference without social media?

3. FLYJOY Bars
Conferences are notorious for having bad food and lousy snacks, so I’ll be taking plenty of FLYJOY bars for myself and to hand out. If you’re hungry and attending the conference, come find me and I’ll hook you up!

4. Wet Wipes
I’m getting all fancy and taking the cute, scented wipes since I won’t have a baby in tow. I’m now realizing that #momlife means getting excited about taking fancy wipes in your purse.

5. Business Cards
Purchased on VistaPrint. I’m never really sure why everyone hands out cards. Does anyone go back and look at them after the conference? I’ll never know, but I can’t imagine going without a stack.

6. Lip Glosses
Both basic (EOS) and fun (Victoria’s Secret) because that’s about as close as you’ll ever get me to wearing lipstick.

7. Notebooks
For jotting down thoughts, ideas, prayers and dreams. A couple days away, without distractions, is always good for my heart and mind. It’s such a breath a fresh air to have room to dream and plan and hope for the future.

8. My Joby GripTight Gorillapod Phone Stand
I’m convinced this will make Periscoping and selfies about a thousand times better.

Is anyone else out there going to Influence? If you are, please come find me and say hello!

Madison

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Influence Conference 2014

September 30, 2014

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Last weekend I attended the 2014 Influence Conference in Indianapolis. The driving idea behind Influence is to make your online life more meaningful and intentional through the sharing of your faith, the words you use and the mindset behind what you share on things like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.I’m still unpacking my thoughts and re-reading my notes from the two days I spent at Influence. I’m sure that a lot of what I learned at the conference will continue to impact my writing for months to come, but I wanted to share some immediate take-aways while the conference was still fresh in my mind.

1. There is value in doing things that are difficult and uncomfortable.
I’ve said it before, but I’m a closet introvert. I enjoy giving presentations at work and love making television appearances, but I find large conferences and group interactions entirely overwhelming. It’s hard for me to go, go, go without taking some down time for myself to decompress and process, and I find it difficult to constantly put myself out there and meet dozens of new people.

My knee-jerk reaction is to avoid conferences all together and avoid feeling uncomfortable, but in the days following Influence I’ve realized there is much value in being out of your comfort zone now and again. That doesn’t mean I’m going to sign up for dozens of conferences a year, but Influence made me realize that carefully-chosen, intentional opportunities are important for my own growth.

2. Time spent online doesn’t have to be wasted time. 
Sometimes I feel guilty about the amount of time I spend online. There’s time spent on the computer at work (unavoidable) and the time I spend blogging. Add the time I spend scrolling through Instagram and Twitter and Pinterest to the list and it really adds up. Influence got me thinking about being more intentional with my time online, thinking twice about the negative Tweet I’m tempted to send out or what type of affirmation I’m seeking from a photo I share on Instagram. I’m not saying everything I share needs to be happy and rosy, but there’s a fine line between being real and being just plain negative.

3. Everyone (and I mean everyone) has something they’re dealing with. 
When I arrived at check-in for Influence, I immediately noticed the shiny, well-dressed and put-together nature of all the attendees. But as the weekend went on and I heard the women in attendance share their stories, I was reminded, yet again, that no one has it all together. I know this. You know this. How is it so easy to forget? It was a reminder to me not to be too quick to judge or assume someone has it all together just because they’re wearing a cute outfit and have fresh highlights.

4. God wants me to be me, not someone else. 
As I watched the extroverted, bold women lip synching and dancing on stage at the opening black and white party, I started to get down on myself for being on the quiet, introverted side. Extroverts put themselves out there and boldly share God’s word! They’re the life of the party, the people everyone wants to be around, the first to jump in with something to say. I am not that person. I’m 27 years old and sometimes I still forget that God created me with a specific purpose, and that includes my quiet spirit. Instead of trying to be something I think I should be, I’m working on focusing on being more of who I truly am.

I left so incredibly inspired (and exhausted!) after attending Influence! It was such a blessing to meet so many wonderful, creative and inspiring women. I’m already looking forward to attending next year with a baby in tow! If you’re interested in signing up for Influence, tickets are already on sale here.

Madison