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It’s hard to believe that the 2014 Influence Conference is over, that I’ve already attended two years in a row (and have purchased a ticket for 2015). My experience this year felt different than last year, quieter somehow (I did a lot less running around and socializing at all hours of the night), but it was just as impactful and rich and wonderful and life-shaking.

a little behind the scenes prep

a little behind the scenes prep

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Last year, I showed up at the conference knowing no one; I’d even met my roommates on the Influence forums and had never seen any of them in person.

This year, I roomed with Jacey–who I met at the airport after last year’s conference–and Liz; the three of us have been in a writing group together since last November, communicating via texts and Google hangouts. These girls are wise, kind, loving and fun, and spending the weekend with them was an absolute joy.

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(I realize that I said in the Influence podcast not to hang with your roommates all weekend, but I was a bit guilty of that this time around. Oops.)

one my favorite moments: dinner with these girls

one my favorite moments: dinner with these girls

The theme for the conference this year was “It’s Time to Build” and I left Indy with a renewed sense of awe for God and all that He’s doing in my life, as well as with a fresh passion for pursuing the things He’s calling me to, instead of the things that I might seek to do out of striving or seeking glory for myself.

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It’s impossible to share everything I learned during two full days of teaching, so I’ll try to sum it up with a few of my favorite sound bites. Sound good?

Haley Morgan: “striving is crap…His spirit lives within me and pushes out all of that try-hard and look-at-me…Every single day, I have influence because I am in Christ and Christ is in me.”

Whitney English: “these are my people; they get God and the internet…Our beliefs–what we say to ourselves in our heads–determines and guides our actions.”

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Lara Casey: “God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things when they are surrounded to His will and His ways…Busy is the opposite of stillness; we’re afraid of being still because we don’t want to acknowledge what’s there.”

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Jess Connolly: “It’s worth us taking the time in the early stages of building to ask why we’re building…God love HIS kingdom; He hates MY kingdom…decide whose kingdom you’re building.”

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Lisa Leonard: “Write down 10 words and phrases that impact you and resonate with you to figure out what your brand is…The water is big enough for everyone to swim. Let’s work together and be kind.”

Nancy Ray: “Setting goals is the first step to turning the invisible into the visible…It’s not about being successful, it’s about being faithful with the message He’s given you.”

Heather Boersma: “Your God story is the strongest weapon in your arsenal.”

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It was a beautiful and busy weekend of connecting with friends old and new, worshipping God with my fellow Influencers, being emptied and filled back up, and learning practical strategies to further my creative pursuits.

I love my Influence girls–see you next year!!

Come, let us tell of the LORD’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. Psalm 34:3



farmers market

Ok y’all, so I know you’re probably super sick of hearing about The Influence Conference.  This is the last post on it, I promise.  I learned some fantastic, stronghold-shattering, life-changing stuff, and I really want you to benefit from it, too.

IND Honey

a honey vendor at the farmers market in downtown Indy

God created women to be vulnerable, to connect on a heart level, but our fear and the lies we’ve believed have led us to put up walls around our hearts, and many of us are living “small and scared” (as Haley put it), which is causing us to miss out on what the Lord has for us.  There is such freedom in vulnerability!  In addition to being vulnerable with another, there is sweet freedom in being vulnerable with the Lord, and trusting Him with our dreams.  In her session, Haley spoke about the huge difference between striving (1. To exert much effort or energy; 2. To struggle or fight forcefully) versus chasing hard after the Lord and letting Him place dreams in your heart and prepare the way for you to walk in (Eph. 2:10).  To use the same example Haley  used, think about pulling on a rope super hard to bring something to yourself, versus holding the hand of the Lord and walking peacefully and confidently toward that thing. When we release our expectations and hold our dreams in open hands before the Lord, vulnerable to Him, we become free and blessed beyond measure.  Lara summed this concept up beautifully in her session when she said “the Bible never says to chase our dreams; it only says to chase HIM.”  As we stay snuggled up close to His side, and walk hand in hand with Him, He will place His dreams in our hearts and will guide our steps so that those dreams are lived out.

Believing lies will make us live small and scared.  Lies make us weak.  Lies cause us to go off course.  Some lies I’ve believed that have made life unnecessarily difficult at times: I’m not seen or heard, my voice doesn’t matter, other people are more gifted than I am, so I shouldn’t even try.  One thing that really sunk deep into my spirit at the conference is that my good things will look different from other people’s good things and that I shouldn’t try to mimic what someone else is doing well.  Comparison is the thief of joy, y’all!  As we grow more confident in our identity as daughters of the King, we become liberated to shine, and we liberate those around us to shine, as well.  Your work (whatever that work may be) will be much more effective when you’re working from a place of freedom. 


a slide from Haley’s session

Are you believing any lies that are causing you to live small and scared? 

(this post was inspired by Haley Morgan, Lara Casey, and Jessi Connolly)



To name your fears is to destroy them… life begins at the end of your comfort zone.Lara Casey at The Influence Conference

Girls/women have been a source of anxiety in my life since maybe second grade or so.  They have often hurt my feelings and intimidated me.  So, I obviously thought that attending a conference on my own with 300 women I didn’t know and sharing a room with 3 girls I’d never met before was an excellent idea.

I battled fear and totally had some freak-out moments before the conference; moments when I was frantically digging through my closet, convinced that all of the other girls would weigh 95 lbs. and have perfect top knots and be completely decked out in Madewell and Anthropologie–for free, of course, because their blogs are so successful that they have loads of sponsorships.  I feared they would judge me for being a little bit chubby and brand-new to blogging. Instead, I met women who have a passion for writing, for creating, for Jesus, and for one another–women who look at the world just a little bit differently, like I do. Women who, when they poured out their hearts and shared their dreams and struggles, made me exclaim “me too!!!”

Influence Friends1

Influence Friends2                                                                        
 “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (II Cor. 3:17) has been my jam for the past several months.  I want to be completely, utterly free. I want to shake off the things that have been holding me back, and move boldly into the things He has for me.  One thing I’m learning about freedom is that it’s something you have to walk into, something you have to boldly pursue.  For me, breaking free of  being intimidated by other women meant pursuing freedom by being brave and stepping out in faith.  And that meant attending this conference and stretching myself to approach other women and doing the work to find the common ground that leads to friendship.

It would have been easy for me to stick with my roommates all weekend and not make an effort to meet people.  My roomies are lovely, loving girls, and after sharing a room together we got to know one another pretty well. BUT, I purposefully went to meals and sessions by myself, and approached tables filled with girls I didn’t know to ask “is this seat taken?”  I arranged to meet a sweet girl I knew only via Twitter and the Influence forums for breakfast.  I went to a dinner for adoptive moms where I met a wonderful woman who recently completed an Ethiopian adoption, and who I know will be a cheerleader and a source of wisdom and support in my life for years to come.  I saw a tweet about a group meeting in the lobby of the hotel at 10 p.m. to go get frozen yogurt, so I showed up and went along with them.  I met a few girls I really liked during lunch on Saturday, so I arranged to have dinner with them that night.  My bravery and momentary discomfort were rewarded with some sweet friendships that I pray will be lifelong.

leslie and christaThere was a spirit of kindredness in the air, a sense of knowing that we are a sisterhood united by our creative and spiritual passions.  There was no competition, no snarkiness or backhanded compliments, just women cheering one another on and lifting eachother’s arms in support.  Jesus opened my eyes to see the hearts of my sisters, and He did a healing work in my own heart.

I found my people at The Influence Conference, my tribe of fellow writers and creators.  And I am so, so thankful.

Influence Conference Friends



I left The Influence Conference feeling broken wide open, raw, exhausted and so, so healed, inspired, and FREE.  I’m still processing–which is what I’ve heard from many other girls, too–and probably will be for quite awhile.  Y’all, it was A LOT.  A lot of people, a lot of bam-in-your-face truth, a lot of wisdom, a lot of ugly crying, a lot of stepping out in new things.  I was completely spent when I boarded my plane back to Texas, yet I felt more deep-down, warm and cozy in the depths of my heart, content than I have in a long time.

Influence Team

The Influence Network’s leadership team

I’m so in awe of God.  A couple of years ago I had a few words from the Lord, given to me by friends at church, that God was gifting me creatively.  I even went to a women’s conference in Dallas where, one evening, we were supposed to ask the Lord for one word for the girl standing next to us, and the girl to my left turned to me, looked me in the eyes and said CREATIVITY.  When I was getting all of these words I just thought, “oh, that’s so nice! I do enjoy making yarn wreathes.”

I had no idea that the creativity pertained to words, to my writing (which I’ve been doing since I was a child writing borderline-disturbing short stories), and that the Lord had a community ready for me, full of like-minded, supportive women.  I am so, so thankful for The Influence Network, and that I took the plunge to attend the conference in Indianapolis on my own.

Lara Casey

During my flight to Indy I wrote the following wish list for my time at the conference:

authenticity, heart connections, strategic vision for the future, vulnerability, lifelong friendship, equipping, unquenchable passion.

Yes, yes, yes!  All of these things were received and walked into.

Shauna Niequist

Jessi and Haley interviewing Shauna Niequist

I will do at least one additional post about the conference–possibly more.  I received SUCH TRUTH, and I want to pass it on.  For now, here are a few of the nuggets of truth I received:

From Haley Morgan, blogger & cofounder of The Influence Network: “God doesn’t want you to fear the influence He’s given you.”

From Lara Casey, Editor-in-Chief of Southern Weddings: “Set good goals.  Set God goals, born from your core.”

From Shauna Niequist, blogger, author, and the woman I want to be when I grow up: “The more I cram in right now, the less I experience; I lose the ability to feel and taste.”

From Jessi Connolly, artist, blogger, and cofounder of The Influence Network: “God doesn’t want to heal you so He can better use you, but because He loves you.

From Jeff Goins, blogger and author: “Have you been holding back? It’s time to be all in… Your dream is a gift that’s been given to you by God, and it’s meant to be given away.”

Jessi and Haley

Jessi and Haley

God is so, so good, y’all.  Like, ridiculous, crazy good.

This post is a link up with The Influence Network.



Whenever God is calling me to something new, there is a scary, stepping out on a limb element involved; I’ve learned that being obedient to the Lord’s plan always requires bravery.

I’ve known since January 1st that 2013 would be a year of big changes, of new things in my life, a year of new beginnings.   One day several months ago I was reading a blog, and a sidebar button for The Influence Network caught my attention.  I went to the Influence website, and I immediately knew–deep down in my bones, butterflies in my stomach knew–that this was something I HAD to be part of, that this was one of the new things.  I paid the membership fee and joined the network within a few minutes of pulling the site up.  After joining, I learned that Influence has an annual conference in Indianapolis; I knew I had to be part of that, too.

September 26 I will be flying from Dallas to Indy to spend the weekend with hundreds of girls I’ve never met before.  I will be sharing a hotel room with two girls I’ve never met before.  As an introvert who is super new to the blogging/online business community, this is a big, intimidating leap of faith for me.  I am choosing to be brave, to step confidently in the direction where I feel the Lord is leading me.

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23

the influence conference

As any good Pinterest fanatic/type A personality would, I’ve been researching what to bring to a blogging conference.  In addition to my ever-present iPhone (Instagram!!) and the majority of the clothes in my closet, the two things I plan on having with me are my gorgeous new journal for recording profound nuggets of wisdom, and my hole punch/book ring combo thingy for storing all of the business cards I’ll be collecting.

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I’m full of joyful expectation for what these three days will bring.  I am excited for the life-giving, beautiful relationships that will be formed and for the invaluable knowledge I will come away with.  In addition to practical, strategic advice from women who have been blogging and pursuing online businesses for years, there will also be powerful worship and Biblical teaching.  AMAZE.

If you see me at the conference, come say hi!


(This post is a link up to The Influence Network)



Hi, girls–I’m Caroline, and I’m sooo excited to meet you at Influence Conference this week! I live in Dallas with my husband Jon and our pups, the bitties, and we’re in the seemingly never-ending process of adopting from Ethiopia. The Influence Network has been truly life changing for me–the girls I’ve met, the things I’ve learned and the experiences I’ve had–and I can’t wait to attend the conference again!!


I know it can be intimidating and overwhelming to walk into a hotel ballroom full of hundreds of women you don’t know; if you see me, and you’re feeling scared and lonely, please come talk to me!! If you need a place to sit at lunch, or dinner plans, or if you’re hurting and just need a soft place to land, I’m your girl.

The thing I’m most looking forward to about this year’s conference is the relationships. I met some wonderful girls last year, and I can’t wait to reconnect with them and to meet new friends.  Cocktail/frozen yogurt outings after the evening sessions, honest talks, and free-flowing tears and laughter–bring it on. All of it.

The one thing I wouldn’t leave home without… hmm. I’m not a very good rule follower, so there are lots of things. There are the obvious–iPhone, notebook and the good pens, blog cards–and then there are other, less obvious things: power strip, comfy shoes and clothes for late night hangouts, extra room in my suitcase for swag.

Ok, maybe here’s my one thing: bravery.

As I mentioned above, settings like this can be intimidating at first. I promise you, putting yourself out there (asking if you can join a group of girls for dinner, hearing about a late-night get together and tagging along, etc.) is so, so worth it.  Being brave usually = being/feeling a little awkward, but swallow your fear and just smile, say hi, and go.

And, if all else fails, come find me. :)

Check out my blogging conference tips here, and read about my experience at last year’s Influence Conference here, here, and here

(this post is part of the Influence Network meet & greet linkup)



Since I’m preparing to go to my second blogging conference this weekend (Declare), and the Influence Conference is a little over a month away (!!!!!!), I thought it would be a good time to talk about preparing for a blogging conference.  I know it can be super overwhelming, and I hope this helps a little (or a lot).

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Things to bring:

1. Clothes.  Oh, the clothes.  I put a lot (too much) time, energy, and maybe a few tears into choosing my outfits for Influence.  I did not need to stress as much as did; however, it is important to pack cute, comfortable clothes that you will feel confident in.  I packed two outfits per day.  On both Thursday and Sunday I wore two outfits (I changed for dinner and the evening sessions), but I wore the same thing all day/evening Friday because I really loved what I was wearing. And that, I think, is the key–pack your favorites. The things you love wearing and feel good in. I would recommend packing an extra outfit or two and a few accessories (scarves, hats, statement jewelry), in case you want to change things up as you transition from day to evening.

2. Comfy shoes.  You will do quite a bit of walking.  Hotels are big places, and not every restaurant you go to will be just across the street.  I packed riding boots, oxfords, and a pair of wedges.  The wedges were borderline uncomfortable, and I was glad I didn’t bring any heels.


3. Flip flops.  I also packed my black Havaianas because I knew that if I wanted to visit a friend’s hotel room late at night I wouldn’t want to pair my riding boots with my PJs.  I was especially grateful for the flip flops when I had to run down to the lobby at 6:00 am for extra towels.

4. Power strip.  This came in handy in the hotel room.  4 girls charging phones, iPads, and using curling irons/hair dryers/straightners vs. the two plugs in our room… the power strip is a sanity/friendship saver.

5. Blog/business cards.  I ordered mine from Overnight Prints. I recommend getting the card situation sorted out a few weeks early to avoid a mad scramble right before the conference (and ending up with cards you don’t love).

6. Hole punch/binder rings.  I used this to organize and contain all of the blog/business cards I received, and I’m so glad I did!  There’s nothing sadder than not being able to follow up with a sweet new friend because you lost her card and can’t remember her name.

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7. Notebook.  There will be a lot of note-taking, my friends.  Even though a couple of the speakers handed out little booklets for us to take notes in, I like my notes the way I like my cards–contained in one spot.

8. The best pens ever.  Seriously, y’all.  These pens are amazing.  They write like a marker, but they don’t bleed through paper.  Loooove.

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9. Roommate gifts.  I gave each of my girls Rosebud Salve lipgloss, a mini notebook, kleenex, and gummie bears.

10. Cute PJs. Pack PJs you wouldn’t mind being photographed in or running down to the lobby for towels in (ahem).

11. Earplugs/eye mask/Tylenol PM. Bring anything you think you might need to help you sleep, especially if you will be sharing a room with multiple girls. Trust.

12. A prepared heart. On my way to Influence last year, I took some time to pray and think about why I was going to the conference and what I really wanted to get out of it.  I made a list of things I desired to gain from the conference (lasting friendships is one example) and then a list of the things I would do to make that happen.  I left Influence without any regrets because of this time I took to prepare my heart and set my intentions.  I walked in with a game plan; I highly recommend taking some time to do this. Check out this post to see how my preparation paid off for me.

Things I’m glad I didn’t bring:

1. DSLR.  I’m so glad I didn’t lug this around the conference all weekend.  One of my roommates (who is a professional photographer) brought hers, but I felt much more comfortable taking photos in the sessions with my iPhone.

2. Laptop. I had no downtime to work on the blog during the conference, and I took notes with my notebook and the best pens ever.  There was an Influence girl on my flight back to Texas who wrote a couple of blog posts while we were in the air, but I was way too physically/mentally wiped out to write anything coherent, so I’m glad I didn’t bring it with me.

(Keep in mind that you might need your laptop or DSLR, depending on what sessions you’re attending at the conference.)

Do you have any blogging conference tips? Feel free to add them in the comments!




I’ve been a member of The Influence Network for over a year now, and it–specifically the women it’s brought into my life–has changed me enormously. Changed everything.

I met Jacey on the flight home from The Influence Conference last year–somehow we’d managed to miss each other during our time in Indianapolis.  We formed a writing group with another Influence girl, Liz, and it’s wonderful knowing that I have these two girls ready and willing to give me their honest feedback and cheer me on.

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on the flight home with Jacey

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In February, I attended a gathering of local Influence members, and it was a sweet morning of solidarity, of “me too!” and “I’m SO glad we’ve met.”

Brittany and I met that day, and we’ve collaborated and supported each other numerous times since then.  I’m so grateful for her friendship–and her graphic design expertise.

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after a fun photo shoot with Brittany

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sweet Lillie, one of my Influence Conference roommates, hosted our local meet up

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Erica & Annetta, my other lovely Influence roomies

I joined the network for mainly practical reasons; I was starting a new blog and I needed help. But the tagline on the site, “find the women who will stand behind you,” proved to be true, and I have met some life-long friends through the network and the conference.  From sending me cards and e-mails when my grandma died, to teaching me how to create a signature in gmail and editing my writing, these girls have my back, and the blessing of their friendship is tremendous.

Pursuing our dreams, our creative pursuits, putting our hearts out there on our blogs and in our businesses and in our lives, requires bravery. But even more than that, it requires community.

We need your talents, your unique insights, your quirky sense of humor and your kind heart.  We need you.  Join us?

(Also, check out this post from just after The Influence Conference last year, where I go deep into the healing the Lord did in my heart through Influence with regard to community and friendships with women.)

This post is a link up with The Influence Network.




You’re not really supposed to say this as a Christian woman, but Proverbs 31 was always kind of a thorn in my side.

When I was a kid, we attended a legalistic church for awhile that had a class for young girls on becoming a Proverbs 31 woman. It was all about preparing ourselves for marriage, children and home-making–never any talk of college or pursuing the dreams and desires God had put within our hearts.

As a 13 year old, I was deeply indignant about my needs and desires already being put on the back burner when I wasn’t even out of middle school yet.  I wanted to go to college and maybe become a doctor, or a teacher, or a marine biologist. What about my dreams??

Ironically, I now want to stay at home with my kids and–gasp–even homeschool. But, I have made peace with Proverbs 31. I have come to understand that a woman of God can be passionate about her family (even completely devoting a season of her life to caring for them) and still pursue her dreams and passions if she so desires.

Joining The Influence Network has been huge for me. At the conference last September, I met several women who are devoted moms and are still rocking their careers–through online shops, running amazing blogs, and writing books. (Some great examples: Haley Morgan, Jessi Connolly, and Shauna Niequist)

The Sashes Market, the shop at the conference selling stuff made by Influence girls, was inspired by Proverbs 31 (v. 24 “she makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.”).  The Proverbs 31 woman is creating and selling and delivering; she’s rocking it.

During one session of the conference a man holding a tiny baby quietly walked through the hotel ballroom, approached the woman seated next to me, handed her the baby and then left.  She nursed the baby and then sent a text, and he returned and quietly took the baby away again.  I wanted to stand and applaud--both the woman for making the effort to invest in her career and her passions by attending the conference, and her husband for being so kind and supportive of his wife’s dreams.

 Kim of Oh, Sweet Joy! and Ashley of Written on Her Heart–two of my favorite Christian mama role models at The Influence Conference last September:

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Kim taught a great workshop on monetizing your blog


Ashley onstage with her newest babe

What are your views on pursuing your dreams while being a Christian wife and mama? Has Proverbs 31 been a struggle for you, too?

***To my mama friends out there who aren’t pursuing projects and careers outside of their families: please hear me when I say that it’s admirable and brave for a woman to solely dedicate herself to her children for a season.  You’re a rockstar!!



A few representatives of Mocha Club spoke at the Influence Conference last September, and I immediately signed up as a supporter. The Mocha Club is “a community giving up the cost of a few mochas a month to support development projects in Africa.” Mocha Club supports 5 projects in Africa: clean water, education, healthcare, economic freedom, and orphan care. They also run fashionABLE (mentioned in this post), which provides jobs for former prostitutes and women at risk in Ethiopia. Check out their beautiful scarves and bags!

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A few weeks ago I was asked to volunteer at Matt Wertz’ Dallas concert on behalf of Mocha Club to share what they’re doing (not from the stage. yikes) and to sign people up.  It was a fun night, and I met a lot of great people.

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Mocha Club is doing amazing work in Africa, and their projects will be making an impact for generations to come; join us!