Bound for Blissdom

In exactly one week, I will be boarding a plane bound for the beautiful Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville.

For three days, I’ll be attending Blissdom, an annual conference for women who publish online either as a hobby or business.

I was tickled to receive this little pre-conference package in the mail the other day.

In addition to conference details, it contained some sweet freebies from a few conference sponsors. Getting this gift box has pumped. me. up. for Blissdom.

Although I am excited about attending, I am also a little scared. This will be my first blog conference. I will be traveling and rooming by myself and won’t really know anyone.

Fortunately, my new blog buddies, Traci and Cyndi, have agreed to meet up with me after I arrive. If you haven’t visited these ladies’ blogs yet, you must. You’ll laugh … you’ll cry … you’ll want to put on your “big-girl panties” and do a project. Traci’s blog, Beneath My Heart, has been a huge inspiration to me and was one of the main reasons I started blogging. Cyndi’s blog, Walking in Grace and Beauty, offers a fresh perspective on looking your best while staying focused on what is truly important.

For me, attending this conference is not just about having fun, meeting people and learning more about the business of blogging (although I hope to do all three). It represents a step I’m taking in my life that may signal some big changes ahead.

Change can be scary and anxiety-inducing. For me, it can create a chronic, sick-to-my-stomach feeling, irritability (just ask my husband) and a lot of sleepless nights spent in prayer asking for direction, peace and comfort.

The truth is that, if we are to live our best lives, the lives God intended for us, change is also NECESSARY.

A very good friend of mine, Jess, and her husband recently moved across the country (much to the dismay of friends and family here in Pennsylvania:() to pursue a calling to full-time ministry. Below, Jess shares what she learned recently about embracing change and taking risks:

One of the biggest reasons we, as humans, avoid risk is because we fear failure. Especially in the culture we live, we are so obsessed with “image management” that we avoid failure at any cost. The truth is that failure is inescapable because anything worth doing involves a learning curve – which means failure. That’s why the Bible encourages us that “the godly may fall seven times, but they will get up again” (Proverbs 24:16).

It’s through taking risks that we grow. There are some lies we believe about growth that need to be confronted before we can move forward with being a risk taker for the Lord. For one, we often believe that growth is automatic. No way! It requires a decision, our effort, discipline and energy. We also tend to believe that growing is pain-free and easy. First of all, who the heck said that? Just as children who wake in the middle of the night crying that their legs hurt because they are growing, character and spiritual growth spurts often happen during a sleeping time, a time of waiting.

Another lie about growth is that it is knowledge-based. Growth is not just knowing information, but applying it. It’s what you DO with what you know. The opposite of growth is stagnation. No one wants to be compared to a puddle of rain water that turns green and becomes a prime nesting ground for insects.

So how do we take risks in growth? Here are some suggestions from Pastor Jeff: Assess where you are in order to get where you want to go, and put a deadline on it. Ask yourself, “Where am I? Where do I want to be? How do I get there from here?” Keep yourself accountable to others on your journey. Proverbs 27:17 tells us that “iron sharpens iron.” We need each other.

Be patient. We must go through the seasons of growth and not get fed up and frustrated, feeling like we’ll never get there. Using the principle of harvesting, we must realize that there can be no return without investment. We don’t plant and reap in the same season.

So now for the hard part – dealing with failure. How about this verse for inspiration? “A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful” (Proverbs 28:13). When failure does happen, it is critical that we discuss it. Review what went wrong; ask questions. Don’t run; don’t hide. FACE FAILURE. Then adjust your methods. The answer is rarely to abandon the mission. We must stay goal-focused, not problem-focused. Remember God doesn’t waste anything. He will take your failure and use it to glorify himself. In fact, sometimes our greatest failure is what God uses the most in service to him. Jesus anticipates failure and encourages us to come back to him and help others through their failures – to be wounded healers. Doesn’t that take so much pressure off of your heart?

With these tools, we now turn to making risk investments with our lives. God has given each of us resources (our life, time and money) to invest. He also gives us resources based on our faithfulness. If you’ve got a gift, USE IT. Leverage what you have while you have it! Pastor Jeff says, “It’s amazing how the more opportunities we seize, the more opportunities we’ll see – JUST KEEP JUMPING.”

A beautiful quote by Jim Rohn sums up this topic of risk taking. “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is that discipline weighs ounces, while regret weighs tons.”

Thanks, Jess and Pastor Jeff for those words of wisdom. Blissdom, here I come!

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7 Responses

  1. tiffani says:

    Great post!! I would love to get to Blissdom someday..maybe next year. My daughter is getting married in a few months and after that I can breathe a little easier. Thanks for the encouragement and hope you have a wonderful time! Maybe next year I can meet so many wonderful women. Come visit my blog if you get a chance

    • Susan says:

      Congrats on your daughter’s upcoming marriage! Too bad you can’t make Blissdom this year. Your chocolate-covered strawberries look amazing, by the way!

  2. Sharon Hines says:

    Great post! I have been in the assessing stage…but to be honest, have no idea where I want to be. It’s really bothering me that I have no sense of direction and therefore have no idea what steps to take or goals to set.
    Have a great time at Blissdom…it sounds like a fabulous conference. I would love to get to meet you in person someday…maybe next year. And although I’ve never met them, I feel like I know Traci and Cyndi. I wish I was hanging out with the three of you!!!
    Sharon @ mrs. hines class

  3. traci says:

    So excited about meeting you Susan! We are going to have so much fun!
    Thank you for your kind words about my sis and I. 🙂
    See ya soon!

  4. Jess Allison says:

    Suz! I am so excited for you and the steps God is empowering you to make! I am so encouraged by your honesty as you walk the path of obedience you are on! Love you!!

  1. February 26, 2012

    […] attending Blissdom 2012, a three-day blogging conference for women. If you recall, I had a bit of anxiety about going on this trip, considering I’m a toddler in the world of blogging and many of the women at this conference are, […]

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