When I was in junior high, I won my first speech contest.  I won that Optimist Oratorical Contest for several years in a row.  Then I got interested in music and put “speech” on the back burner not giving it much thought until nearly 20 years later.

In 1994, Hearts at Home was born out of my own need as a mom. I emceed our mom conferences for the first six years.

Then my friend, Doris, took me to lunch and had a heart to heart talk with me. “Jill, it’s time you stepped down as an emcee.” My first thought was “Wow! I’m getting fired from my own ministry!” Then she continued, “These moms need to hear your heart. It’s time for you to be a keynote at the Hearts at Home conferences.”

I immediately protested. “I’m not a speaker, Doris. I don’t have any desire to speak. We bring in big names for our keynote speaker and I’m not nearly as qualified as they are.”

Doris would not take no for an answer. She reiterated that it was time to share my heart with the moms. It was time for me to step into my calling.

Well let me tell you that I hadn’t heard that call yet! This was the first time it was on my radar screen at all, but God was using Doris as a messenger that day.

It was during this season that I also learned the phrase, “God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.”

Sure I’d won a few speech contests over 20 years ago, but I’d done no speaking since then.

I began to talk to God about this “calling” Doris said I had. I didn’t believe her, but I also didn’t want to ignore her if God was using her as His mouthpiece.

In time, I decided to answer the call and I keynoted for my first Hearts at Home conference in 2001.  I was shaking in my boots (and honestly, I still am when I step out on that stage now 11 years later!).  However, I’ve found that when God calls you to do something you feel absolutely unequipped to do, you learn to depend on Him in fresh and new ways.

Is your church planning a women’s event in the next year? Are you looking for a way to reach out to the moms in your community and thinking about using an event as a way to draw moms to your church?

I’d love to partner with you and serve as a speaker for your next women’s event!  My schedule is starting to fill up, but there are still dates available in the Fall of 2012, Spring and 2013, and we’re even booking dates in the Fall of 2013.

You can give info about your event and get info from us by using the Request Jill as a Speaker form on my blog. You can also see a video clip here and a list of my speaking topics here.  I’d love to link arms with you and bring encouragement to the women in your community.

I now know–without a doubt– that I am called to encourage women.  However, while I still have kids at home, I balance that calling with boundaries in how many events I take each Fall and Spring.  Because I take a limited number of speaking dates, I wanted to give you a first opportunity at snagging a date before my schedule fills up. If you’re not a women’s leader at your church, feel free to pass this along to the women’s ministry director or pastor’s wife at your church.

There’s a world out there that needs a message of hope and encouragement.  Let’s reach those women together!

Oh, and yes, Mom and Dad. I’m now using that mouth of mine for something good. I know you prayed hard for that one–especially during my teen years!

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