This weekend’s She Speaks Conference was both a surreal and a “coming home” sort of experience. Surreal, in the sense of hanging out with well-known bloggers, writers, and speakers; comfortable in meeting other women – the bloggers – who are interested in and familiar with the same things that I am. In how many social settings could I engage in meaningful conversation about IP addresses? You tell me.

The day started with a four hour drive, arriving just in time for a lunch date at Chili’s with Robin, Valerie, and Lisa. We got our I-don’t-actually-know-anyone jitters out of our systems, a perfect ice-breaker before heading to the conference.

Robin and I have emailed back and forth a lot and even talked on the phone once, so I was psyched about getting to meet her. We recognized each other immediately and really clicked. Amazingly, we were signed up for exactly the same sessions throughout the weekend.

Friday afternoon’s bloggers’ reception was the perfect way to put faces with fellow bloggers (around 100 of us) in the sea of 560 conference attendees. I met 14 ladies whose blogs I’ve designed, as well as 4 who are presently in my queue. Sophie (BooMama), Shannon (Rocks in My Dryer), and Melanie (Big Mama) were the featured speakers for 3 blogging sessions throughout the weekend.

Shannon and I are originally from towns about 40 miles apart in Arkansas. We could have Called the Hogs, but that might have frightened people.

Renee Swope (The Journey of My Heart & HeBrews Faith Cafe) was one of my earliest P31 clients.

Sophie was every bit as sweet and Southern as expected. What a precious and witty woman, capable of using the word “organic” intelligently in a sentence without referring to food items. She brought the house down during the Blogging Q & A when she referred to “pimping your post”!

Being Lysa TerKeurst’s blog designer is certainly one of the claims to fame of my little SAHM web design business, Barefoot Blog Designs. After all the calls and emails, it was a sweet meeting. Not only is she an inspirational speaker, she has a gift for making others feel special and valued, and that’s no small thing.

This is a group shot, and in order from left to right are yours truly, Shannon @ Rocks in My Dryer, Jo-Lynne @ Musings of a Housewife, Big Mama, Annie Downs, BooMama, Robin @ Pensieve, Valerie @ Valerie at Home, Lisa B. from Simply His, and Sarah @ Genesis Moments.

There was a block of time on Saturday afternoon when the speakers and writers had meetings, but we bloggers were at loose ends. What it created was a perfect opportunity for the “seasoned” bloggers to pull together some tables, pick each other’s brains, and discuss topics that would have been beyond the scope of the sessions.

Oh, and to gab, too. Bloggers have more than the average share of words per day, which is why we blog some of them, thereby sparing our families.

My husband confiscated the laptop for the weekend, telling me that I needed to be a normal person. In this crowd, the absence of a laptop was not normal, so that one backfired on both of us.

Heady with new friendships and a touch of silliness, we hit the local outlet mall, where we tried on outrageously expensive shoes in Off 5th. From left to right: DeeDee @ Fiddledeedee, Missy @ It’s Almost Naptime, me, Tina @ Antique Mommy, and Robin @ Pensieve. I don’t know about the other ladies, but I couldn’t have lasted 5 minutes in those painful-but-pricey heels

I have to tell you, meeting Tina was a thrill for me because she is one of my favorite writers. Missy was cute as can be and totally tops me in the childbirth category; she has 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-year olds!

DeeDee and I snagged a last minute photo op with Marybeth Whalen and realized that all of us are scheduled to speak at the Heart of the Matter Online Virtual Conference. [At this point I could probably say we’re scheduled to speak at the Republican National Convention and no one would notice since I’ve probably lost 95% of the people who started reading this increasingly long post.]

Marybeth is my ticket to this P31 ride. She contacted me a week and a half before last year’s conference about designing her blog, and the rest has been blessing upon blessing showered upon me by these kind and generous women.

We had a relaxed visit in my room Saturday night with our feet propped up and our hair down, so to speak, which is entirely natural considering how much we have in common: homeschooling moms, well-known authors and speakers, lots of kids, authors for the Homeschool Blog Awards, Southerners. Meeting her was one of the great treats of the conference for me.

My calendar is marked for next year’s conference.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the blogger portion continues to expand. Wouldn’t a blog conference for Christian women be an amazing thing?

For more summaries, visit the blogs of the other She Speaks attendees.

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