Last month I attended the Q Women gathering with my leader friend Jodie. We both were looking for challenging conversations that would stimulate our thinking about faith and women leaders. The tagline for Q drew me in: “Stay Curious. Think Well. Advance Good.” Through Q, husband and wife co-founders Gabe and Rebekah Lyons have cultivated an environment where speakers and attendees engage in a refreshing dialogue around challenging questions, not over-simplified answers.
Worth the price of admission:
• Non-traditional women's gathering. Q Women was thoughtful and thought-provoking, lifting our heads about what's going on with women both locally and globally. And in the day of huge conferences with big names and even bigger production value, this gathering felt more like I was invited to someone’s kitchen table for an intriguing conversation.
• Pace. The pacing of the day helped me slow down and yet stay engaged. With each speaker working with either a 9- or 18-minute timeframe, no one segment dragged on too long. We also had multiple opportunities to discuss what we had just heard with women around our table.
• Speakers. The day was filled with speakers who weren't selling me their books/products/events the whole time. In fact, some of them I had never heard of until Q; it was a refreshing introduction to more world-changing women.
• Location. The Factory at Franklin in beautiful Franklin, Tennessee, is a refurbished industrial building that now houses shops, restaurants, and really interesting event space. It was such a nice departure from the typical hotel ballrooms and conference centers.
• DIY. I’m not normally a fan of anything crafty. However, when Hannah Kate Flora showed us how to spice up a plain votive candle holder with puff paint and spray paint, I actually enjoyed giving it a try. (And it turned out really cute!)
• Ellie Holcomb. Ellie and her guitar led us in sweet times of worship. She is a Nashville native with an honest voice and a heart as big as her smile.
• Swag bag. The swag coordinators were speaking my love language when they put together the contents of the Noonday Collection bags they gave away. Six books, a new Bible study, a beautiful journal, and a candle. (Insert big happy sigh here.)
What challenged me:
• Author and Q co-founder Rebekah Lyons and life coach expert Pete Richardson both spoke to discovering and living into our unique calling. Pete challenged that our calling is a lifetime in the making: that it continues to unfold and mold as the years turn into decades.
• Writer and celibacy advocate Julie Rodgers gave us a glimpse into her experience as a gay Christian living and leading in the context of community. Her voice introduced a conversation at my table around how easy it is to fall into cookie-cutter circles of friends.
• Author Annie Downs gave us permission to grieve the dream whose time has passed and didn’t come true. Her vulnerability challenged me to ask, “What am I waiting for? What do I need to let go of?”
• Q hosted two panel discussions (one with husbands, one with wives) around the idea of what to do with two callings under one roof. While I felt like they missed the mark a bit (What about all the single women in the room? What about all the women who have husbands unsure of their calling?), I give them credit for trying. The conversation reminded me of how unusually supportive my marriage really is and that true partnership is needed for both to live out their purpose.
What I've added to my "to-read” list because of Q:
• Let’s All Be Brave by Annie Downs
• Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray
• “Calling is where your talents and burdens collide.” Rebekah Lyons
• “Too often, we live under the shadow of what we should be.” Sarah Dubbledam
• “Women are not just victims of war; they are drivers of peace.” Shannon Sedgwick Davis
• “Loving well goes a long way.” Julie Rodgers
• “Where we shine brightest is where we can illuminate the darkness the most.” Una Mulale
Julie Pierce has one big dream: to empower women leaders to change the world. She does this through one-on-one coaching, consulting teams, and communicating with groups through Empowered by Pierce. She is on the board of advisors for Today’s Christian Woman, Gifted for Leadership, and Polish Ministries. Julie is passionate about global women’s issues, old-school Amy Grant, and the perfect pie. She has been married to the love of her life for more than 17 years and has two superheroes who call her mom. You can follow her on Twitter @julie_pierce or her blog at www.empoweredbypierce.com.