I know I say "y'all" quite often, but I'm really starting to think that I'm developing a Southern accent. Why? Because I recently came back from my first ever trip to Nashville! Why? Because me and my Delight Ministries group at Akron attended the national leadership conference and it was AMAZING! I'm going to be a social media coordinator and leader for Akron's Delight chapter this fall semester, so this conference was the perfect opportunity for me to get some leadership advice and connect with other Delight chapters around the nation. It was all so worth it and I wish I could relive those past two days!
We left for the conference in two separate cars (four people per car) almost about a week ago. After a long but fun eight hour drive that consisted of both worship and Disney music, we finally made it to Music City. We were starving, so our first stop was at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken which is a hot spot among natives and tourists. Their mild jumbo chicken tenders with fries, mac n cheese, and ranch dressing is sooooo divine!
After dinner, we went on a mini night adventure and explored Broadway. It was full of honky Tonks and Western boot shops, basically every country loving girl's dream! After a night out on the town, we went to Brentwood where we were staying at a host's home. The residents living there weren't there because they were out of town for the summer, but they and their friends who hooked us up with the house were so kind enough to let us say. It was a beautiful home and we were so grateful to stay there!
The following day, we woke up bright and early to attend the first day of the conference, which took place at Marathon Music Works. We got there sometime between 8-8:30 and spent that time getting our swag bags, meeting girls from other chapters, taking pictures, drinking coffee, eating donuts (Krispy Kreme to be more specific), and buying some cute merchandise!
The conference started around 9, which was introduced by Delight co-founders Mac and Kenz, who are basically celebrities. They both started the ministry as a small Bible study at Belmont University, which then turned into a national college organization for women. They were so cute and so friendly, they are literally the perfect role models for women. They opened up with an adorable and hilarious dance number with all the regional directors, dancing to the song "The Middle" by Maren Morris and making all of us in the audience dance along with them!
The rest of the morning consisted of worship, an inspiring speech by Hannah Brencher, and journaling before heading into lunch. During the meal, I got to sit at a table with different women from other chapters and learn more about each of them. They were all so down to earth and I plan on staying in touch with them always. Overall, it was so amazing to be in the same room as so many other women in different chapters around the United States!
After more discussions during the conference, we were all let out around four o'clock for a two hour break. That gave me and my friends enough to explore Downtown Nashville. We managed to find the famous and artsy #WhatLiftsYou wings mural located on 302 11th Avenue S, along with a few other mini murals. I was so happy, that definitely checks off one goal on my bucket list!
Afterward, we stopped by Milk and Honey Nashville for some iced coffee before heading back to the conference. I highly recommend it, one of the best of many Nashville coffee shops!
For dinner, they served delicious tacos either choices of either steak or grilled chicken. It was like we were catered by a mini version of Chipotle! I ate with the same group I ate lunch with, and we got to get to know each other by sharing testimonies with one another. It was a very special breakout session, I even teared up a bit sharing my testimony and listening to others tell theirs. That first day of the conference, I made some new amazing friendships as well as spent quality time with my Akron friends. The eight of us stayed up till two in the morning that night at our host's home. We were just laughing and having a good time with one another!
Day Two - the second and final day of the conference - we woke up bright and early once again to take more pictures (thank you to the kind woman who took our pictures and let us hold her adorable dog!). This time, we all wore our Delight merchandise in honor of merchandise day. From sweaters to hats, every girl was all decked out and full of pride for the ministry!
The first half of the second day was pretty similar to the other day, consisting of worship, speeches from other leaders/directors and lunch. However, we also played a super fun trivia game that involved groups selecting a runner to run over, chug a can of La Croix and answer the trivia question. Then at the end, the two groups with the most points had a tug-of-war battle. It was a blast, so much feisty action and laughs! Unfortunately my team didn't make it to the final "battle", but we still had a fantastic time!
After more speeches and group chats, we had another break period from four to seven before the conference worship finale. We met one of the photographs at the event named Jayda and she went to explore 12th South with us. Y'all, she is one of THE most kind-hearted, pure, creative, optimistic and beautiful women I have ever met! Her photography skills are amazing, and we had so much fun with her. We got coffee with her and talked about Jesus and other good things. She also took the time out of her break to do aesthetic photoshoots with us!
After shopping and dinner, we went back to Marathon Music Works for the final worship. The band played a few songs before Mac came out to give the most inspiring speech ever. She talked about John 21:17 in which God asked Peter, "Do you love me?" to which Peter responded "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you" and the Lord replied, "Feed my sheep."
That verse is so powerful in so many ways. Despite when we're confused as to why God puts us through challenges, what matters most is that we must love Him and feed His sheep. This was an important message for me after a long, busy summer with happy moments yet also disappointing moments. Mac preached about how important it is to feed Jesus's sheep no matter what, whether during positive or negative situations. And during the worship, I kept telling God that I wanted to keep feeding His sheep for the rest of my life. That night, I felt so much weight and anxiety lifted off my shoulders. I prayed with friends and other girls, teared up with joy, sang my heart out, and praised His name. I've never felt so blessed in my whole life. That night, I was changed and I left the conference feeling that exact same way. I'm so grateful for everything that God put in front of me during those two days. The leadership conference will in fact be one of the most memorable, raw, and weightlifting memories of my lifetime. I am now even more eager to be a leader for the University of Akron Delight chapter this fall semester!
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