Highlights of the Proverbs 31 Conference – She Speaks

After an 8 hour drive to North Carolina – I arrived at the Proverbs 31 Ministries Conference called She Speaks The hotel was buzzing with women – women who are professional speakers, authors, ministry leaders in their churches or just starting out in these areas.  Suddenly, I became very nervous as I thought about speaking in front of these sophisticated women! 

The highlight of my first evening was meeting my good friend Karen Ehman.  Karen and I have been on-line friends for almost two years but we have never met!  We have spent hours chatting on the phone together but to hold each other in a tight squeeze and look her straight in the eye – oh my – such a treat! 

Karen picked up on my nervous energy and invited me to her room where she reminded me – Courtney, this is She Speaks not She Freaks!” lol!  Then she and her friends laid hands on me and prayed the most beautiful prayers over me  – *tear*.  Was that not the sweetest gift ever?!!   Unforgettable. (thank you Kim and Mary xoxo)

The next highlight for me was meeting Women of Faith speaker and author of nearly 30 books – Liz Curtis Higgs.


Karen introduced me to Liz and quickly we began to discuss the topic of blogging – exchanging thoughts and ideas.  Then she said – “I’m coming to your session tomorrow!” Oh dear…remember that bag of nerves I carried into the hotel – remember those lovely girls who prayed over me and helped me unpack that bag …well – I picked that bag back up and carried it into my session.  I was about halfway through my talk and Liz’s hand went up – I stammered – Liz who always has a twinkle in her eye – asked her question.  What did she ask???  I can’t remember – it’s all a blur!  But I do know I answered it and she smiled at me – so I think it was okay? lol!

Later that evening she was the keynote speaker.  She made us roar with laughter but also brought a holy hush over the group as she shared God’s truth and love.  Oh she blessed us all so much! 

Another highlight was speaking on a panel with these 3 lovely ladies – Renee Swope (Renee gets the WLW award for making me cry the most at She Speaks – her God-filled words resonated in my soul), Karen Ehman and Lynn Cowell!  The topic was Balancing Family and Ministry.  I loved when Karen said “pray your husband and children are blessed in a way, they could never had been blessed, if you had not said “yes” to ministry.”  So this is a new prayer I’m praying for my family.

Then there was my blogging friend – Rachel Wojo – who I spent the weekend saving a chair for and sitting beside.  This girl has 7 kids – wowsa – one with special needs. She has a great blog here.

Let me pause and high five my fabulous husband and all the other husband’s who watched their children while the mommy’s went away and were refreshed! Thank you Keith (and thank you Grandma and Grandpa Wise for helping with the kids too! 🙂 )

So you may wonder why no mention of Lysa Terkeurst?  I had a great time meeting her and even had a chance to hang out in her room Saturday night and do breakfast with her Sunday morning (totally unexpected!) but something went a little wrong…I’ll write about it tomorrow – it’s going to be titled “The Most Embarrassing Moment of the Proverbs 31 Conference” so stayed tuned… 

Walk with the King,


  1. Love how God has given you these opportunities and will, no doubt, continue to give your more. He has equipped you to do this and is making a way! So cool!

  2. Courtney- I would love to say that I ‘loved’ She Speaks and that I walked away feeling all warm and fussy… in fact just the opposite. I felt like a girl that just started her first day of high school, walking through the cafeteria clutching my tray but no one wanted to let me sit at their table. I felt unsure, unloved and alone. I’m not a “feeler,” so feeling this emotional was so strange.
    I am used to being ‘liked,’ looked too and valued… I felt none of that. I would call my husband and cry my face off, for him to tell me that I am liked, loved and valuable. I questioned if God would or could ever use this newly insecure girl… I would love to report that it got better by Sunday but in fact it never did. As I read my peer evals I wanted to climb in a hole and never speak again… BUT for God.
    But for God, I would walk away. If I didn’t think the people that God wants to set free with his truth were worth it I would never blog, speak or write again… But for God!
    I remember walking through the hallway thinking… ‘God if you’ve called me to speak please let one woman smile at me and offer a kind word. Let one of these P31 women see me… It never happened.
    Today, I woke up in my own bed to the sound of my 5 great kiddos giggling… God reminded me that I am His even if no one ever sees me… He sees me and that is good enough for me.

    1. Oh Nicole (great name by the way – that’s my middle name 😉 ) I am so sincerely sorry. I just don’t even know what to say. I wish we would have found each other so I could have hugged you and affirmed you in your calling. I sat at breakfast one morning with all strangers…but they were all so warm and friendly to me. I sat beside a stranger at dinner the one evening and she too was so kind. I feel like I stood in the hallway and talked and hugged a gazillion women! How did we miss each other? I am so sincerely sorry for your experience and if we are ever at a conference together again – elbow your way to me please. I would love to hear your story and have a chance to encourage you in real life.

      People will sometimes fail you – fix your eyes on Jesus and thank goodness for your wonderful husband. Do not give up!!! Remember Lysa’s story about the time when no one showed up to hear her speak and she was left along the side of the road with her box of books? She may have felt alone and cast aside by people – but her calling was still sure. I had this happen to me 4 years ago – a friend and I, along side our pastor planned an event at our local YMCA and no one – not one person showed up to hear me speak…I had my hand outs ready to go – my outfit and hair just right – and nobody came. Had I quit then – I would have never known the blessings of today. Don’t give up! Keep pressing on – our savior is worthy!

      Praying for you tonight.

      1. Courtney- I saw you several times and you were ministering like a mad woman. I actually giggled one time when I passed you because the table of ladies was hanging onto your words and I thought “You go!!” I think my experience was just as God wanted it to be for me.

        If anyone reads my post… please know that the staff didn’t just pull of an event… They poured their hearts and souls into it. They bathed this entire God led event in prayer and I believe, had I reached out I would’ve been met with open arms. I am usually so outgoing and that is precisely why I think that this was a God thing to change my heart. I felt alone so that I would look to Him alone.

        1. I know exactly how you felt, Nicole. I too entered She Speaks alone – I didn’t know anyone attending except a few ‘online’ sisters. I don’t do well really connecting in large groups like that. And there were a lot of conversations taking place in my head about why I didn’t ‘belong’ there. But what I came to realize is that my journey at She Speaks was about immersing myself in the midst of these women – and not judging myself or them for ANYTHING.

          To be perfectly honest, I had to sneak away a few times just to feel like myself again – to be alone physically and absorb all that I was learning and feeling.

          Unlike you, I did make two or three meaningful connections – I had very private conversations with just a couple of women and they delivered EXACTLY the words of encouragement I needed to hear at the time. I know these few women are going to be a part of my personal prayer circle moving forward, and for that, I am so very blessed. So just as God wanted you to walk the journey alone, for whatever reason, he also wanted me to open up deeply to the women he knew would minister to me…and that was at the expense of the late night gatherings, group photos and saved seats. I got just what I needed at She Speaks. And then some. It sounds like you did as well – although it was not the same experience you expected – or that others had. Thank you for sharing and for letting me share my experience as well.

    2. Hey Nicole,

      Did you happen to find your name in the prayer room? Would you mind emailing me? I would be interested in talking with you a little more. lisab [at] lisaboyd [dot] com 🙂

      Lisa B.

      1. Haha! Yes I did and that was so crazy too. It was listed by “El Roi” the one who sees you. How appropriate and now that I am away from the conference I have to laugh at how appropriate that was for my weekend. He is so good to His kids and ‘sees them’ even when they are having a pity party. My email is live4him.nicole@gmail.com

  3. Nicole, your post makes me so sad. I wish I knew you and could simply sit beside you to listen.

    At one time I considered this conference but no more. My reason? The sheer number of women makes it impersonal and superficial. When I read through some of the blog posts of attenders my impression is of women socializing within their own social strata with little mixing between the levels. Several of the bloggers who are part of the organization sponsoring She Speaks have small fan groups and fawn over each other amongst themselves.

    Your sentence on hoping one P31 woman would smile and offer you a kind word was the saddest statement. You are absolutely correct that your five children see you for the fabulous person you most definitely are!

    1. While I’m so sorry that sweet Nicole had such a lonely experience, I doubt that anyone there had the intention of being snobby or rude. We’ve probably all been “that girl” sitting alone and feeling like an odd-ball at one point or another in our lives. And, sadly enough, we’ve probably all been too involved with our friends physically surrounding us at some point, that we forgot to glance around for other girls in need of a warm welcome. May we all walk away from this conversation with an appreciation of the cost of God’s calling and an open set of eyes for those around us who need some encouragement and friendly embrace.

      Thank you, Courtney for sharing. It must have been so encouraging to be surrounded by so many women on fire for Jesus! Please continue sharing!

    2. Oh my – these comments are so unexpected!!! I’m so sorry you got that impression. I did not get any pictures of myself doing “ministry” – all of my pics are staged and have the question “can I get a picture with you?” before they happen. So it could appear I did no mingling lol! But I LOVE women! And I did talk with many many many more women than I ever took photos of!

      My photos are missing me praying with women, the hugs, the stops in the hallway or bathroom where we talked and encouraged each other. I spent 30 minutes out in the hallway during one session simply listening to a line of women telling me their story – their dreams for their blogs – I gave them advice on how to get started. One followed me to the next place I went and continued asking more and more questions – others handed me copies of their writing to read and critique later – ministry happened. I’m exhausted lol! I gave my all and loved every single person God brought into my path and the other P31 women were too. I can testify that Karen Ehman – worked herself to the bone for this conference. She called me from the airplane and said – I’m so tired I can’t even remember my name! lol! These women sacrificed so much for weeks planning this and worked so hard to serve the women that attended that it hurts to read these accusations from someone who has never attended.

      I think what we are missing here is that we are all sisters in Christ – we are not competitors – I shared this in my session and I want to share it here.

      In Luke 10. Jesus said:
      “He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”

      The harvest is plentiful – the workers are few – we NEED to be workers. We NEEd to ask God to send more workers and we NEED to go! That’s my heart – to help equip the workers, to pray and ask God to send more and for myself to be obedient and go. That was the reason I went to this conference.

      Much Love,

      1. Courtney, I find so much encouragement from you. Just heed your owns words : Keep walking with the King!! Love & Blessings!

    3. Audra- I need to back up just a bit. I am so sorry if my post came across as being the “norm” at the conference. I don’t think that was the case. I also believe that God may have had me walk through this weekend alone because He wanted me to see that I am His and no one else can be Him. I set myself up for a sad heart by ever saying “if I am called…someone else will…” That is not a response I should have had and I wasn’t clear in expressing that. I am sorry for that.
      I looked all over the building and saw love, I just wasn’t part and that could be as much my fault. The heart of the leadership was wonderful and they expressed how much they DIDN’T want us to feel alone.

      Courtney- I am sorry for misrepresenting P31 conference. My choice of words were poor and didn’t accurately reflect my heart.

      1. Nicole-
        Oh, how I wish I could reach through the screen and give you a hug and tell you that you are loved and valued and wanted; that Jesus is crazy about you. The 30 or so of us from P31 try but simply can’t always connect with all 650 women ( and the hotel staff who we seek to love on) while at the conference. We are so imperfect. Thanks for giving us grace. I’m asking God to meet you and direct you and I hope you did gain valuable info to help you in your ministry. Go enjoy your family. I spent all day yesterday hanging with my boys and cleat shopping. 🙂 God bless!
        Karen Ehman

        1. Karen – I want you to know that I made an effort to speak with as many of the P31 team as possible and no matter how busy you were, each one shared a hug and a kind word of encouragement. I’ve never been to an event in which all of the ‘stars’ were so accessible and genuinely interested in talking with the participants. What blew me away most – the two times the P31 team was asked to stand during a keynote – they were spread throughout the room. They sat at tables all over the room – they didn’t all sit together at the reserved table in their own little clique. I didn’t have the good fortune to sit at a table with any of them, but if I did, I’m sure they would have made no indication they were any different from the rest of us. That spirit of sisterhood truly impressed me – despite the fact that I didn’t feel like I was totally part of the ‘club.’ I’m not sure if that make sense but I wanted to share my experience so you know how grateful I am for the message you all shared and the culture you created.

        2. I went to She Speaks in 2003 knowing not one soul there. I am by nature an introvert, but God has been consistently working with me on that & I am much more outgoing in situations where I know no one. It was a difficult time for me as I was in month #7 of grieving the loss of my daughter at birth (too long a story to write here!), and while you are in the midst of grief it takes an overwhelming amount of energy to reach out to others. But God is good & He knew that I needed to reach out to others in what limited capacity I had so I could be blessed by them being “God with skin on”. Not that I was an extrovert, but I had to purposefully engage in conversations or I would feel alone.
          There were over 400 women at the conference that year, and I never clicked with any “one” person who I could sit with for each session or eat with at each meal. However, I believe that was by design so that I would have to engage with others and so I could hear what God was saying to me without the distraction of others. And boy did He minister to me in amazing ways!
          That being said, I never felt that the conference was superficial or impersonal – quite the opposite, in fact. There was depth of teaching as well as personal sharing in the small speaking groups. I LOVED my She Speaks experience & very much look forward to going again some day. Jenn, I would recommend that you try it with an open mind before deciding that it’s not for you. God may have something incredible to tell you there that He won’t tell you until you attend the conference.

    4. Hi, Jenn! I just wanted to jump into the conversation and tell you that sometimes what we read and see online isn’t the best representation of actual events. I have had the honor of attending and speaking at many conferences for bloggers and writers alike and the one I always come back to is She Speaks. Why? Because at She Speaks it is about Jesus, not about us.

      Sure, we are all human and we all want to share our fleshly excitement when we return. We talk about the people we met and the things we did. Sometimes we forget to share how He worked on our hearts. We’re human. It happens. It shows our need for a savior. Please don’t forget that as you read through the posts about She Speaks. The heart of this ministry is to serve and if I could express that to you the way I have seen it first hand then I know you’d understand.

      I’m not sure I understand your comment about bloggers in their own social circles. There are so few bloggers there to start with. Of all the conferences I have attended this is the only one that has no circles. I know. I don’t fit into any circles. I am the girl who isn’t welcomed to any group because I refuse to be exclusive to one. My God doesn’t fit into a box. At She Speaks, there is freedom to be who you are without fitting in.

      Most women come here alone and are greeted by other women searching for the same things they are: love, acceptance, an opportunity to spread their message…what they find is Jesus. Every workshop at this conference is God focused whether it is about technical issues or bible studies. Every blogger there has such an amazing heart for God and would give up their platform or social status any day to serve Him. I personally know of women who gave up book deals, income and their own popularity to serve under the umbrella of this ministry. Not because P31 asked them to but because they could better serve women, reach more women, and do more of God’s work by serving under this umbrella.

      Not one of us is in this alone. YOU are called to share His love and experience His love for you. And He does love you. Close your eyes, call on Him, experience it. And I promise that if you seek and ask God that He too would show you that this meeting of women is in fact the opposite of how some have represented it.

      These women from P31 and Liz Curtis Higgs and some of the other workshop leaders have taught me more about blogging than some of the workshops did. It’s about the people. It’s about the relationships we form. In my session (and from what I hear most of the other sessions taught this same thing) I taught that the day we focus on numbers, stop responding to comments because there are too many, when we look at ourselves as a celebrity, and when we put ourselves on the pedestal as the one who masterminded the whole thing… that is the day we fail Him. It’s not about us. It’s about what we can do to serve His people. God is more focused on the ONE… the one.

      When we get to heaven He won’t ask how many subscribers we had or how much influence we had on social media. He’ll want to know about the individual lives we’ve touched. That is what She Speaks teaches. I’m sorry if we have misrepresented Him by giving different accounts online. I will actually be blogging about all of this on my blog. I breaks my heart to think that we may not be serving Him well with our blog posts and words. But please also give grace and understand that it is an exciting time when you get to meet authors whose words have inspired you for years. We just like to share that excitement.

      Hugs to all of you…

      1. Thank you, Amy, for your thoughts. And, you’re absolutely correct about what is seen online may not be the best representation of reality.

        I find I give the most “weight” to what participants write about their experiences, especially those who might characterize themselves as introverted, rather than the women who are conducting the conference. Those who conduct the conference truly do have a vested interest in the continuance and promotion of it.

        You wrote this: I personally know of women who gave up book deals, income and their own popularity to serve under the umbrella of this ministry. Not because P31 asked them to but because they could better serve women, reach more women, and do more of God’s work by serving under this umbrella.

        In my reading of the blogs of this ministry, I’ve not read of this. It would be gratifying to have someone blog on this very topic.

        You also wrote: In my session I taught that the day we focus on numbers, stop responding to comments because there are too many, when we look at ourselves as a celebrity, and when we put ourselves on the pedestal as the one who masterminded the whole thing… that is the day we fail Him. It’s not about us. It’s about what we can do to serve His people. God is more focused on the ONE… the one.

        This is exactly what I’m seeing when I read blog posts and see the pics posted from the conference. Most (again, NOT all) of the pictures I’ve seen posted have been conference participants pictured with the women who are better known and running the event.

        I’ll try to get over to your blog to read more of your thoughts!

        1. Jenn – I’m struggling as I type – your comments are simply troubling…mostly because they are here on my site and I’m not sure if you are directing them at me or Proverbs 31??? If they are at me – I’m wondering how long you have been a reader here because I have shared about opportunities I’ve walked away from like these 4 opportunities just this year:


          Also, you would know I’m a 100% non-profit blogger…my only heart is to encourage women…- blogging is an act of obedience as I faithfully come to my keyboard and offer up my writing as a living sacrifice to God. As a result of walking in God’s path for me – opportunities have arisen and I’ve wrestled my heart out over them…and to be honest – after turning down an agent 2 years ago, and a publisher one year ago – I have said yes to a book writing opportunity. I’ve said a lot of no’s along the way – but they haven’t always been threaded through my blog posts. And I would hope just because I now say yes – that you would not judge me but rather consider praying for me – as spiritual attack is all around. Satan doesn’t want God’s word to go forth. Pray that I would have strength to withstand the resistance I face each day.

          I am so sorry I have disappointed you. This post here sums up my heart about my fears of disappointing and my strength to keep going. Please take the time to read it.


          Walk with the King,

          1. Courtney, I’m a new reader of your blog.

            My initial response was to Nicole’s experience because it resonated within me.

            I was completely directing my response to Amy’s comments regarding women giving up certain opportunities to come under the P31 umbrella. If this applies to you, again, I haven’t read enough of your blog to be knowledgeable. I think it would be worthwhile if the women Amy refers to wrote about this subject.

            You haven’t disappointed me. I will take the time to read more of your blog in the coming days.

    1. Me too, Jenn. I wanted to go this year, but it didn’t work out. I can promise you that if I go next year I will smile and try to hug every single person I pass and look for those who feel alone. My heart feels sad knowing some moms experienced that among so many GREAT WOMEN!!

  4. I am glad you had a good time and that you could laugh at the mix-up in the program! Be blessed 🙂

  5. Looking forward to hearing the rest of your story! And I want encourage you that the Lord knows your heart of service…even when others are hurting and may misunderstand intentions. He Lord is continually reminding me to take the posture of humility and compassion ( a lesson I am learning as I am also teaching this to my kids). I see this in you…in your words. Thanks for the beautiful visual.

  6. Courtney, it is wonderful to hear that you had such a good time at the conference! Let me just say that you inspire me in so many ways, but mostly because you are “REAL” in Christ! I can relate to you in so many ways. I am soooooo hoping and praying that I can attend next year!!!!!! Be blessed!

  7. Really enjoyed hearing about it and I know you have such a servant’s heart!!! Love the cliff hanger too … until tomorrow … 🙂
    Love ya, Holly in Kyiv

  8. Courtney,
    It sounds like an amazing conference that I would’ve loved to attend! God’s using you and so many woman in these days to shine His light of love and encouragement! I love the pictures you put up and could see the joy in your smile! I’m glad to know that even you–in your gifted speaking abilities–gets nervous in front of crowds, too!! (I lead worship and until I start singing, nervous can get the best of me…)You’re so real, and that’s what makes you great at outreach!

  9. I’m not one for conferences, and I can’t explain why…maybe it was a bad experience growing up. But every time I hear of She Speaks, I desire to go. In God’s timing, maybe I will one day. Until then, I get to read about it, and be blessed by hearing about it!

    Thank you Courtney for telling us about it, and although I’m sure what you write in NO WAY covers the whole beautiful, messy experience, it’s still a blessing to hear about what you can write up! Looking forward to hearing/reading more about it soon.

    And thank you to the other commentors, a lot of love and beauty in those words.

    God bless!

  10. your photos are GREAT! oh i wish i had taken more. you were awesome, by the way, at the breakout. so much great information. thank you! i loved getting to know you and giggling together. i am afraid of where you are headed tomorrow. oh heavens. funny.

  11. I want to and do cry when I read your blog. you have such a close relationship with the Lord. I want that
    but do not know how or what it means to be saved. People have told me just say your sorry and all is forgiven and your saved. but isn’t there more to it. I know if I died to night I will go to hell. Can you do a post about this? please pray for me.
    Thank You

    1. Hi Sue,
      I just want you to know that I just prayed for you and I will keep praying for you. God loves you. He sent his son Jesus to die for you. Something brought you to Courtney’s blog where God’s love is expressed daily and I believe it is God who brought you here. I am not very good with words but I wanted to let you know that someone cares for you and is praying for you.

      Deb V.

    2. Just a couple of scriptures for you Sue – Repent:Luke 13:3, Confess:1 John 1:9, and Believe Acts 16:31. You are loved & your name has been called out in prayer to our Savior, Lord Jesus Christ!!

    3. Sweet Sue! Oh you can have this walk with God- do you believe that Jesus is God in the flesh and that he died on the cross and rose again on the third day? Have you confessed to God that you are sinner and repented of your sins? It is your faith ALONE that saves you! If you believe – you are saved! The Holy spirit has come inside of you and he will guide and lead you. Simply open God’s word and read it for yourself – go to I John – it’s a GREAT starter book. And just read – let his words penetrate your heart. Pray and talk to God – he is listening and he loves you. And walk in obedience to the words you read.

      Once you have placed your faith in Christ – it’s important to find a church that you can attend with sound doctrine. Go every Sunday and be fed God’s word and connect with God’s people – you will find loads of encouragement there!!!

      How else can I help you? Is there something holding you back? Do you feel that you don’t believe or need a specific verse to help your unbelief? Please comment back here or privately email me – I am praying for you today!!!

      Lots of Love,

  12. Great recap, Courtney! And great pics! You have such a wonderful, contagious smile.

    You did a SUPER job speaking in your session on blogging. Thank you! I learned a lot. Now… to put it into practice… Oh dear. 🙂

    1. Ruth it was GREAT to meet you and I just checked out your blog – LOVE it!!! And thank you for the encouragement – it means a lot coming from you – you are so gifted in the writing area! Congrats on your book deal!!! (oh and landing an amazing agent lol!) Keep writing!

  13. Courtney– First of all, I was in that session where Liz Curtis Higgs walked in and then asked a question. And your eyes got really big, but you handled yourself beautifully. 🙂

    Secondly, thanks for working so hard at the conference. I attended two of your sessions and I learned a ton! When you talked about being ready for the new generation when they need godly advice on their smartphones, the hair on the back of my neck started prickling. And I wanted to jump up and yell, “Me, too! Me, too!” But I didn’t, because I’m a Yankee and we aren’t comfortable with that much emotion in public.

    Thanks for sharing your advice and opening up worlds of ministry I had never even considered. God is going to take your efforts and explode them as only He can.

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