Have you ever had an experience that changed everything?
A day that reminded you that you weren’t alone?
A time when you could feel God putting His hand on your shoulder, just to remind you that He had this figured out?
I’m still attempting to put it into words, forgive me if I ramble, but when God does something big, my fingers fly over the keys. (Then I hold down the backspace button for a few seconds before taking off again.)
Two weeks ago, I stepped on a plane in Kailua-Kona, excitement and fear twirling back and forth through my heart.
What if I’m not enough? What if this isn’t God’s plan for me? Even scarier, what if it is?
Through all of it, I felt God’s hand on me, quieting my heart, and preparing me for the roller coasters ahead (emotional and physical).
I landed in Central California, where my mom and I hosted our Once A Queen retreat, based on The Chronicles of Narnia. We were joined by eight AMAZING young women in Arroyo Grande. These girls blew my mind! I can’t express how much I enjoyed hearing their stories and getting into God’s Word with them.
Then there was Disneyland. Haters gonna hate! That’s the happiest place on earth. Say whatever you want! It was glorious!
Then the day came when I boarded a plane for Dallas, Texas where the ACFW Conference was being held.
Okay, pause in the epic regaling. I need to take a moment to expound on one of my new favorite things.
Oh, Texas, you don’t know how much I love you! Your endless food, lovely people, and matchless accent. (Can I just adopt a Texas accent? Please?? Would ya’ll mind?) Everyone continually apologized to me. “Oh you’re from Hawaii? I am so sorry. Dallas is so ugly. You probably hate it here.”
Quite the contrary. I’m in love with this fantastic place! Anyway, expounding over. Where was I?
Oh yeah! The American Christian Fiction Writers Conference.
I got in a day early, and wandered around. I must have walked the halls a few too many times, because several people stopped me. “Are you lost? You look nervous.”
I finally found the book table I was searching for. My Book Therapy, run by Susan May Warren (Author of Nothing But Trouble, Flee the Night, and The Wonder of You).
One of my favorite authors OF ALL TIME! Got it? Good. Moving on.
I got to hear all about her incredible ministry of teaching writing and editing classes, and got to ogle over a few of her books!
I was talking to this incredible lady, when another woman joined the conversation. I stepped back as the two talked, and caught a glimpse of the woman’s name tag.
You know that screaming emoticon? Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about. You use it when you find out that Biology paper is due today. Or when you get your picture taken with Captain America in Disneyland. (True story! It was a great day.) It took every ounce of restraint not to go into screaming emoticon position at that moment.
The Francine Rivers! The—“Oh, Christian Fiction? Like Francine Rivers?”—Francine Rivers. Yeah, I got to talk to her. For thirty minutes! (Insert screaming emoticon.)
What an incredible lady! I also got to see her receive the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award at the Banquet dinner. Now that was cool.
Our fantastic keynote speaker was Bill Myers.
Who is Bill Myers? Shout out to my fellow nineties kids! Remember McGee and Me? How about Wally McDoogle? No? Okay, how about Adventures in Odyssey? He wrote all of them! And he’s got an incredible testimony of how God brought about his career. It was such a pleasure listening to him!
Over the course of the Conference, I had scheduled two agent appointments, and one editor appointment. All terrifying as they loomed ahead of me.
However—as they continually reminded us—agents are people too. And guess what? They don’t bite! (Of course the jury is still out on Chip MacGregor. I never got an appointment with him.) Every appointment was an amazing experience. What incredible people. Their job is such a hard one and they are so excellent at what they do. I was thrilled to get fifteen minutes to share with them the story idea that’s overtaken my geeky little brain in the last year, and I got great responses from all three.
A few other favorite moments:
Seeing the prayer and preparation that went into this massive event. Again, HUGE thankyous to the staff and faculty! Especially to Cara Putman, and Brandilyn Collins who made us first-timers feel so welcome.
Meeting the wonderful Sarah Sundin (Author of Through Waters Deep), and finding a fellow 1940’s fan! Her genre dinner costume rocked!
Sitting across the table from Mindy Peltier, and getting as far as, “I’m from Hawaii,” before she joyously broke in, “I know your cousin!” Small world after all. Loved meeting this incredible lady!
Having pizza with all my fellow Speculative (sci-fi and fantasy) Fiction authors poolside. (As Literary Agent Steve Laube put it when he introduced me to them, “She’s weird like us.” YEESSS! I could not ask for higher praise.)
Standing in a room surrounded by five-hundred authors all singing in worship to the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Throughout the conference there was an overarching theme, one that permeated not only my time in Texas, but my entire trip.
You are not alone.
The Body of Christ extends all over the globe! Everywhere, there are people who have been inexplicably changed by His love and endlessly romanced by His grace. Everywhere, there are people investing in their craft and their sphere, to bring glory to the perfect Creator of imperfect humanity. And somewhere, there is someone who needs to hear the message you have to share, the book you have to write, and the song you have to sing.
Wherever you are today, God’s people are standing with you, a million sparkling lights in this dark world.