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Your Story Matters

Inspiration from the iGnite Archives
(Originally published July 2012)

iGnite- Share Your TestimonyPoint to Ponder:
Do you view your life experiences as opportunities to provide comfort, support and encouragement for others?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Seven wonderful women and I just flew to Asheville, North Carolina to enjoy an iGnite Escape. During the trip we experienced a delightful variety of adventures. From laughing hysterically at a Paula Dean and Julia Child skit hosted by our eclectic B&B inn keepers, to hiking to a majestic waterfall, to touring the renowned and enormous Biltmore Estate, to sipping on cocktails while overlooking the Smoky Mountains at the historic Grove Park Inn, the entire time was loads of fun! Sweet memories were made, and while all of these events and others throughout the trip were special, the real highlight for me was the newly formed and enhanced friendships.

Over the course of two days we took the opportunity to share our life stories, which was an endearing occasion that allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of one another as well as learn all of the things we had in common. It was also remarkable and inspiring to find out what the human spirit can endure and overcome, which is extraordinary! Story after story reminded me that everyone has a story, and that life is an infinite and inevitable roller coaster ride filled with exhilarating highs, steep lows, and sharp, sudden twists and turns. However, as Charles R. Swindoll reminds us, “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react.” Just like an oyster, who after receiving an irritating and foreign substance between it’s mantle and shell works relentlessly to cover it up, forming a pearl, we too can make the choice to embrace the hard times, learn from life’s peaks and valleys and create our own unique and enchanting strand of pearls.

Dr. Cherie Carter Scott says it perfectly in her book If Life Is a Game….These are the Rules when she says:

As you travel through your lifetime, you may encounter challenging lessons that others don’t have to face, while others spend years struggling with challenges that you don’t need to deal with. You may never know why you are blessed with a wonderful marriage, while your friends suffer through bitter arguments and painful divorces, just as you cannot be sure why you struggle financially while your peers enjoy abundance. The only thing you can count on for certain is that you will be presented with all the lessons that you specifically need to learn; whether you choose to learn from them or not is entirely up to you.

Therefore, align yourself with your own unique path by learning your individual lessons. This is one of the most difficult challenges you will face in your lifetime, as sometimes your path will lead you into a life that is radically different from others. Don’t compare your path to those around you and focus on the disparity between their lessons and yours. You need to remember that you will only be faced with lessons that you are capable of learning and are specific to your own growth. If you are able to rise to this challenge, you can unravel the mystery of your purpose and actually live it. You cease being a victim of fate or circumstance and become empowered – life no longer just “happens to you.” When you are working toward fulfilling your true purpose, you discover astonishing gifts within yourself that you may have never known you have. This process may not be easy, but the rewards are well worth the struggle.

Interestingly, life is a series of fascinating and humbling events that bind us together as humans. Every sentence in our life story is valuable — even those of heartache, challenge, mistakes and perceived failure, as they gave us the opportunity for growth, wisdom to gift to others and a unique and special life to live and share. Therefore, rather than keeping your unpleasant life events to yourself and feeling ashamed, embarrassed or fearful of judgement, flip your mindset and see your experiences as an opportunity to help someone else. There’s no doubt that life becomes increasingly more meaningful when we open the door of vulnerability and share our intimate details and even skeletons with others. Always remember that your story matters and your shiny strand of pearls can be a source of comfort and encouragement for someone else!

Action Item:
Remember that your story matters and rather than have regret or wish things would’ve turned out differently, share your life’s heartaches, challenges and victories and view them as your gift to share with others.

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Lessons Learned from the Smoky Mountain Adventure

 escape hike

by Neissa Springmann

by Neissa Springmann

Each summer iGnite hosts a girlfriend getaway called a Monarch Escape. These adventurous yet relaxing vacations serve as an opportunity for women to partake in new and fun experiences while enjoying the camaraderie and companionship of one another. This summer we spent six days and five nights in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina on what we called, the Smoky Mountain Adventure.

 

Our retreat began in the Hart House, a large six bedroom country style home nestled in the Cane Creek Valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Each day began around 8:00 a.m. and was chock-full of activities such as rock climbing, white water rafting, mountain biking, zip lining and hiking, followed by happy hour back at the house, a delicious dinner and the best part of all — candid and open conversations about the day and life.

 escape zip line

After having hosted four Monarch Escapes, there’s no doubt that the best part of each getaway is the fellowship and opportunity it gives attendees to recharge their batteries. Not only do we all return home feeling exhilarated, confident and full of energy, but the bonds and friendships formed leave you feeling nurtured, supported and loved….and who can’t use more of that?!

 

Check out what a few of this year’s attendees had to say about their biggest takeaways from the trip:

“One of my favorite takeaways from the trip was spending time with new people that I did not know very well or at all before the trip…I truly enjoyed hearing everyone’s “story.” It is very comforting to realize that we all have some common threads as women, moms, wives, friends, sisters, etc.  It is so inspiring to hear the things that other women in our group have achieved and overcome in their lives. I just loved our nightly dinner talks that spurred these great conversations!”

-Jill Watts

 IMG_0472

“During our 100 ft vertical rock climb, we belayed each other. When I was up about 50 feet clinging to any ledge I could find and a little scared, I looked down at JoAnn, who had my rope and my life in her hands.  She said, “I got you, Kathleen.”  I had no doubt that I was going to be fine! I love the “support” we get from each other in iGnite — LITERALLY!!!

-Kathleen Parker

“I’m really thankful I was able to share a week of my life with such kind, adventurous, inspirational women.  I stepped out of my comfort zone and I came home with renewed confidence.”

-Annemarie Glover

 “You never know what you are capable of doing until you try it. It is easy to say no, but when an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone comes your way, say yes and go for it!

-Nancy Dacy

 

Interested in attending a future Monarch Escape with iGnite?
We would love for you to join us!  Visit our website for details about attending future trips.

Click here to see more photos from the iGnite Smoky Mountain Adventure on Facebook