Monday, July 30, 2007

Conference Blessings

There is a very creative buzz in the air. Murmurings about the ACFW conference in Dallas this September. I can't help remembering my first ACFW conference.

I drove to Houston all by myself. That's not unusual. I often drive to Houston by myself but this time I was attending a very large conference--alone. Sure I was meeting my online crit partner and good friend Marilynn Griffith, but we'd only talked via email. We'd agreed to room together, but what if she didn't like me? I was blasted by my insecurities as I circled the Airport Marriott trying to conjure up courage.

I walked inside and took care of registration then I sat and waited for something to happen. Kristy Dykes was sitting too and I'll always remember her kindness and encouragement. I don't approach strangers. I suffer from blank mind syndrome.

I recognized Mary immediately. She is every bit as charismatic in person as she is in her emails. We had fun rooming together. We laughed like crazy when my husband or hers--can't remember which one--called and couldn't tell us apart. Mary and I didn't hang together through out the conference. We split up and did our own thing. The trouble with that was. . . I didn't have a thing. I had no plans. I didn't have one sheets, pitches, proposals or appointments. I was there strictly to get the lay of the inspirational-writing-land.

As stressful as that conference was for me, knowing so few people, I came away from it so filled with the Holy Spirit that all I wanted to do was write. I didn't have a plan, but God did.

When I returned home, I was approached by a friend at the Beaumont Enterprise about writing for one of their inserts. I agreed. I could hardly believe the yes that came from my mouth. You see, I'd written NF many times before and truly hated it. It just wasn't my thing. Why was I saying yes?

Becky gave me my assignments and I met my deadlines. Within weeks I was asked to write for a Chamber of Commerce magazine and then a business magazine. I knew these assignments were a God-thing, and a result of attending the ACFW conference. How did I know? Because Becky had asked me to write for her several times before and I'd always vehemently refused. God wasn't opening this door for me. I believe He was giving me one more chance. A chance to be obedient. Several of the people I interviewed and profiled were very strong Christian businesswomen. Their stories would not have been told the way I told them if they'd been interviewed by someone else.

At the conference, we had been given the opportunity to dedicate our writing to God. I went forward. Someone prayed with me. I know without doubt God used the ACFW conference to change my heart about writing nonfiction and He used Becky to test my sincerity and my obedience. And because I was obedient, He blessed me. What would have happened if I'd returned home and once again, refused to write for Becky? I don't want to think about it. The blessings flowed. I wrote an article about Women In Toastmasters. You can click here to see how that article led to so much more.

My cup runneth over. :-) Thank you, ACFW, for being a place to learn and worship. You are a land of opportunity. :)

Last year, I attended the conference in Dallas and met critique partners, Sandra Robbins, Elizabeth Ludwig, Janelle Mowery and Marcia Gruber for the first time. We're all headed to Dallas again this year, and I know we each wonder what God has planned?

I pray we each truly believe God has a plan for our writing.
I pray we're willing to listen and learn.
I pray we're patient until He reveals that plan.
I pray that we're close enough to Him that we hear and recognize His voice.
I pray that we're obedient.
I pray that everyone at conference is there for the right reason.
I pray we're of one mind--to use our writing for His gain.
I pray no one is hurt or disillusioned but realistic about where they are in their writing.
I pray we show the love of Jesus to everyone we come in contact with because people are watching us with a critical eye.
I praise God for each and every ACFW member.

To God be the glory, great things He has done!


Sandra Robbins said...

I echo your prayer for us as we head to Dallas. I can't wait to be with you again and see what God has in store. Wonderful post, Jess.


Janelle said...

Great post, Jess. I hope we can each come back from the conference having checked off each of those prayers. I feel blessed just to be able to get together again.

Marcia Gruver said...

All this talk about the conference has me excited about September. Creative buzz? I thought it was Janelle's bee.

Lisa said...

I, too, came away from the Houston conference with a deep desire to give all of my writing over to God. Thanks for the reminder that I need to do just that!