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The Relevant Conference: Humbling, inspiring… life-changing

Left to Right: , , , , , , , , , , — I enjoyed all the speakers so much but I especially loved getting to know and . And what’s amazing is that they make me look tall, which is something that rarely happens seeing as I’m 5’4″! {Photo by }

After all of our flight complications, we finally made it to on Thursday evening just 15 minutes before I was supposed to be in the ballroom for the Speaker’s Round Table Dinner. I was still in my dirty-diaper-blowout-soaked clothes, so we lugged the suitcases up to our room as quickly as possible and then I changed into the outfit I was planning to wear.

I had spent money (well, actually a Groupon!) and had my sweater and skirt dry cleaned for the occasion, seeing as I didn’t want to distract everyone while I was speaking with my wrinkled rayon black skirt (because I’m usually too cheap to dry clean it!). When I went to put the sweater on, I realized the dry cleaners had pressed the collar wrong so it stuck out all funky. And I do mean funky.

Um, not gonna work.

So, I dug through my suitcase and put together a Plan B outfit in the three minutes I still had left. (I almost put my skirt on inside-out in all the commotion; wouldn’t that just be like me to look down when I’m up on stage and realize I have this big white tag sticking out on the side because my skirt was on inside-out?!).

With the one minute left, Jesse and I prayed together and then I bounded downstairs, laptop in hand, praying all the way down that God would calm my nerves.

I got into the ballroom and dinner was already just starting, but I had to meet with the tech guy for him to check my laptop to make sure the adapter cord would work and allow my slides to show up. While I was hashing out details with him, came up out of nowhere, hugged me and told me she was praying for me.

She had no idea how much that meant to me right then. God just flooded me with peace again and I went to sit down at my assigned table.

Dinner was spent mingling with the attendees (the speakers had assigned tables and we rotated them every 15 minutes) and God just helped me to keep my calm and be able to focus on these amazing women and their incredible stories. I even managed to sneak in some bites of salad and chicken, too!

All too soon, dinner was almost over with, and I stole away to the restroom to try and compose myself and pray for two minutes in the bathroom stall (I can’t believe I just confessed that on my blog!).

A week ago, I’d planned to get at least two really good nights of sleep before the conference started. Instead, I was running on a total of about seven hours of sleep in a 48-hour period because I’d been up with Silas.

A week ago, I’d envisioned I would spend the last three days before the conference going over my speech with a fine-toothed comb and doing a complete run-through of it with the slides at least five times. Instead, I’d only gone over the entire speech with the slides one time — and that was late the night before and peppered with interruption after interruption.

We’d booked our flights planning to get into the hotel in the early afternoon so that I’d have time to decompress, pray and prepare. But instead, I barely arrived at the hotel in time to change my clothes.

If there was ever a time when I needed God to step in and undertake for me, it was now. I was about to go up and speak for an hour in front of 240 women — many of whom were women I’d long admired from their blogs — and I was exhausted and terrified.

Back in the ballroom, I discovered my computer wouldn’t work with adapter cable and I’d need to run the slides on another computer. By now, it felt like we were about on Plan W, having long ago tossed out my well-laid out Plan A, B and C.

We finally got the slides to pull up on the screen on the borrowed laptop and then the live-streaming wouldn’t work. We were delayed by another ten minutes or so while trying to get that to pull up (all the while I was secretly hoping it maybe was in God’s plan that my talk wasn’t going to be live-streamed!).

came over — out of the blue — and asked if she could pray for me. I remember her praying specifically that I wouldn’t be nervous while at that very moment my knees were knocking together!

Then I was introduced and walked up onto the stage — wondering what on earth the next hour might hold and pleading with God to please guide my mouth and give me peace.

As soon as I started speaking, He did just that.

I’m not sure what all I said, but I felt His presence streaming through every ounce of my body giving me courage, calmness and clarity.

As soon as my talk was over, the most amazing thing happened: People started coming up to me — many with tears in their eyes — telling me of their struggles… thanking me profusely for sharing… talking about how God used it in their lives and convicted them of areas they needed to change.

And I knew that God had shined through in a powerful way. He had taken a weak, inadequate, unprepared person who’d never given a talk longer than ten minutes in her life and He’d used her to impact lives for the glory of God.

It felt humbling and amazing to be His conduit.

The rest of the conference was just incredible. It’s really impossible to put into words, but the best I can describe it is that God moved in powerful ways — healing wounded hearts, inspiring women to do great things for God, encouraging women to recommit themselves to put first things first, changing and transforming lives.

I met so many amazing women. There were many tears shed. Much laughter shared.

And there was authenticity and real-ness and brokenness.

No one was trying to be someone they weren’t. We were ourselves — and we were accepted and loved just as we were.

It was a beautiful thing to be apart of.

Jolanthe from , me and Carisa from — two women whom I’ve been so blessed and inspired by as a brand-new homeschool mom. They are so fun in real-life that I could have spent all week long with them and we would have never run out of things to talk about! {Photo by }

For those who might be interested: You can read more thoughts and take-aways from the conference by other bloggers at or at .

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61 Comments

  • says:

    What an amazing testimony!

  • Amy F :) says:

    Aw! Thanks for sharing…even the details about the bathroom prayer, lol. So glad God blessed you like that! More prayers too- that He would keep leading you and that you would keep trusting Him:)
    PS I like your green scarf! Good choice!

  • says:

    I pray in the bathroom stall every time I go to speak. It’s the one place where you won’t get interrupted 🙂

    And I’ve felt talks go like that, and it is wonderful, where God just takes over and you say what He would have you say.

    I’m glad it went well for you.

  • says:

    Ha, OK so I was even wearing heels in that photo so you really can feel like a giant. 🙂

    You are so inspiring, my dear. I’m learning so much from you. Thank you for sharing your heart and your testimony so boldly.

    Hanging out with you was the best. I am still laughing. Good times.

    xo

  • says:

    what a wonderful post. i love seeing how god worked through you like this.

  • says:

    Thank you so much for what you shared this weekend. It was exactly what I needed to hear and I was so encouraged by your words. I’m sad that I never got a chance to connect with you, but hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to connect sometime in the near future.

    Thanks for sharing your heart so boldly. You truly are a blessing (and I know my hubby and kids will be blessed as a result of what you shared).

  • Laura says:

    That is awesome, I’ve been following Angie’s blog for quite sometime and she is such an amazing woman of God! Can’t wait to look up and read more about the conference!

  • says:

    Crystal, I never would have guessed you were nervous. I think I scribbled 6 pages of notes. God really did move through you and all of the speakers and my world was totally changed. Thanks for letting Him use you!

    I contribute to a site for encouraging Christian bloggers, Gather Inspirit, and we’re linking up Relevant posts, too. Can’t wait to share all the good stuff we brought home with them over the next few weeks!

    God bless! 🙂

  • says:

    Crystal, I’m really glad you share this with us! I watched some of the live streaming and also gleaned a lot from the tweets that were sent out during your talk. I could tell you were really getting to the heart of the matter.

    I actually locked my keys in the car and was late getting home to listen to the live streaming…so I was very grateful it was delayed!

    Thanks for being so open and honest. It is very encouraging.

    Hope you get some rest now you are home again 🙂

  • says:

    I have read this blog (and the others you had a few years ago) and I have also read Angie’s blog for awhile. How neat that 2 of my favorite bloggers got to meet in person. (Have you read her post about the conference? She mentions you in it!)

    Now if only I could meet the two of you……one day, Lord willing!

  • stephanie says:

    Yeah, I’m so happy that things worked out for you.

  • says:

    Crystal,

    I really wanted to thank you for taking the time to have a few chats with me during the conference. I think my husband would want to thank you as well. I came home from Relevant refreshed, re-focused and with a quiet heart, ready to get my priorities in order. My hubby noticed immediately that my attitude had changed 🙂 Talking with you was like talking to an old friend, I appreciated your genuine heart and willingness to bear it all for God’s Glory – and you did just that. I love that now when I read your posts I can hear your voice. I’m excited to see what the future holds not only for myself and you – but for all of the attendees; I have a feeling we’re going to shake up the blogging community for Jesus 🙂
    You’re a joy, Crystal, thank you for being so accessible and available.

    Blessings,

    Donna

  • says:

    Wow. In all that chaos, your faith in God held true, and he stood shoulder to shoulder with you!

  • says:

    Crystal,

    What an awesome testimony of the Lord’s work! I didn’t get to be there, but I did get to listen to the live stream. I was blessed beyond words by your openness & honesty. It was very apparent even through my computer speakers that your speech was totally God inspired! You are truly an inspiration for me!

    Thank You!

  • says:

    I enjoyed meeting you in person, Crystal, and was challenged/encouraged by the things you shared too. Never would have guessed all ‘that’ was going on behind the scenes . . . but just shows again how the Lord really was among us and directing each and every part of the conference to be so wonderful! Thanks for your part in the weekend and for the tips you gave for my blog.

  • Janelle Geels says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your testimony and struggles. When we pray and trust God, he always pulls through. His plan is way beyond our understanding!

    I know that none of you know me, but could you pray for my family? We lost my Grandmother last night. She was the sweetest most God fearing woman I’ve ever known. We rejoice that she is with my Grandfather now. but my heart breaks for my Dad. He lost both of his parents in just 3 months time.

  • says:

    I prayed for you, Crystal. I was unable to listen to all but one of the live streams (Sally on Friday) but I prayed for all of the speakers. I’m so thankful to hear all went so well. What a blessing you are to follow Him in obedience!

  • says:

    *wipes tear away*

    God is amazing. Amen! He humbles us, lifts us up and is always available when we need Him!
    The best moments in life are those God moments, where we have no idea how we did it…but know that His hands were all over it!

  • says:

    Crystal – Wow! I had no idea all the hurdles you had that evening and there was no way we the audience, could tell. Your submission to God and allowing him to speak truth into our lives was such a blessing. You were as cool as a cucumber up there and I have 3 pages of notes from your session. I just read them all out loud to my hubby last night! He is trying to “get” what I am feeling – I am working through serious changes in my life to be right where God wants me and reading the notes to my husband helped him to understand where I’m headed. (I read him all the notes from Ann’s sessions and Sally’s too – isn’t he a good listener :-)!!!)

    You encouraged me friend! And I treasure the time I got to sit side by side with you – what an honor!

    Keep walking with the King!
    Courtney

    • Crystal says:

      You’re so sweet! I loved hanging out with you and sitting on a panel with you and getting to learn from you! You’re a blessing and Jesus shines through you!

  • Aimee says:

    Is there a way to watch the events now or was it only through live-streaming?

  • says:

    Crystal, God used you to start the weekend in a most powerful way. Thank you for following Him and being “his conduit.”

    You are precious and I’m blessed that you are my friend. 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      Thank you so much for coming up and encouraging me that night. It was such a blessing! And I loved getting to talk with you and hear how God is working in your heart!

  • says:

    I heard you speak that night, and it was amazing. I can’t believe things were so crazy for you behind the scenes as you were composed, funny, and detailed throughout the presentation. I loved the pictures and background of your children as well as the fabulous time savings tips that everyone could benefit from. Thank you!

  • says:

    What a testimony to God’s grace! Like others have said, we in the audience never would have known!

    One of the highlights of the conference, for me, was how accessible the speakers made themselves. I know there were many times you and others gave up chats with “old friends” so you could connect with or assist some “new friends”. Thank you!

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank you for sharing how great our God is! So wonderful to hear your testimony and I’m so glad everyone had such a great time at the conference.:)

  • says:

    As badly as I wanted to be there, from the bit I have read about the content of the messages I am so sure my heart would have been heavy and feeling like I should have stayed home with my sweet family over the weekend. In fact there were several unique blessings we received because we were together at home and there are special moments made that the boys and I will take with us as we’re apart from my husband for the 5 weeks we’re in Africa. (leaving in ONE week!)

    I think it’s so neat how God gently reminds us to remain focused and reliant on Him. We need Him just as much through the calm, organized stages as we do through the whirlwinds and chaos.

  • Abbie says:

    I am so thankful God hears us in bathroom stalls. 🙂
    I have had that wonderful peace you talked about. That peace that passes all understanding. It literally floods over you and every “rational” thought you have disappears and God takes over. Thankfully He does!

  • karissa says:

    Is there a place where we can read about the conference? Or the speaches? I would absolutely LOVE to hear ur speach! I wish I could have been there it sounds like such a wonderful experience. God Bless :0)

    • Crystal says:

      There are links at the bottom of the post to a link-up with lots of other posts which include pictures, quotes from the keynotes and lots more about the conference.

  • says:

    Sounds like God was letting you know He was the one in charge that night 🙂 He has a way of doing that to us, doesn’t He?

  • says:

    Crystal, I would have never guessed that you were nervous at all! You were amazing – just proof that God truly blesses whenever we are willing to share our heart for His glory! I personally learned so much from you this weekend, as a wife, mom, Christian, and blogger! You are such a blessing!

  • says:

    You’re “talk” with us Friday night truly touched my heart (well, everyone’s!) and helped to show conviction in some areas of my blogging “insanity” 🙂 It was amazing how God was able to use you as such an amazing testimony to us all- completely and truly amazing!!

    I never got up the courage to approach you and say “hello” formally, but I did get to smile along with Silas as he toddled about the hall outside the ballroom doors! 🙂 (He is just such a joyful and busy little guy!!!! I can tell you have your hands full!!!)

    Anyways, thank you Crystal for standing tall in front of all of us gals in that room and giving us the words that we needed to hear!!!

    You are blessed and a blessing!!!! Take Care {{{{hugs}}}}

    • Crystal says:

      I realized yesterday that I never got to meet you — and I was so disappointed!! I wasn’t sure what you looked like and so I was just looking for your name tag since I knew what your blog was called, but when I read your recap on your blog and saw your pictures, I realized I had seen you all over the place and just didn’t know that I “knew” you!

      Next time, I’ll know better! 🙂

  • says:

    Crystal, your posts as your tagline reads are always uplifting and encouraging. Humorous, thoughtful and a touch of God are always integrated. Another great post.

  • says:

    Crystal, you are a trooper. What a crazy start!

    As a beginning blogger, I wish I could have heard your words of advice from all of your experience. 🙂

  • says:

    Crystal, you were a perfect start to an unbelievable weekend. You helped us focus, search our hearts, question our motives, and our re-prioritize our lives. I was changed from your talk… God truly used your boldness and honesty in many lives. Thank you. Thank you a million!

    I LOVED getting to know you better the last night of the conference. It was so enjoyable talking with you, laughing together, and sharing our experiences and hearts with one another.

    You are a gem! Praying for you!

  • Jacki says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience and for being REAL. It’s amazing how we women all go through life’s craziness, but too often we are afraid to share it for fear of looking “less than perfect”. BTW–I have prayed in the bathroom stall too 🙂

  • says:

    You did a *wonderful* job with your keynote! It was such a pleasure to have you on our speaking team…that you for helping to make Relevant a reality! 🙂

  • says:

    From everything I have read about the conference and your speech, it must have been wonderful! Wish I could have gone. Lots of ladies I love were there!

  • says:

    I love that picture of us! I am so glad I stalked you down to get it! It was such a treat to meet you in person! I wish you weren’t so popular 😉 so we could have sat and chatted longer! I am thankful for the moments we had together, I learned so much from you.
    😉 Carisa

  • says:

    Wow, that really WAS Plan W! I’m so glad God gave you peace as you spoke, even if it was a storm to get there! Loved hearing your heart.

  • Felicia says:

    Beautiful story, and God’s experience, thanks so much for sharing. I love your website!

  • says:

    Perfect. So happy for you Crystal!! Thank you for sharing! <3

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