Last weekend I came home once again. I attended the Northwest Christian Writers Association Writers Renewal in Seattle. I love working the registration desk because I get to throw my arms around old friends and give an enthusiastic welcome to newcomers--imagining the bright, new world opening up to them.
It's still a mystery how the conference brochure showed up in my mailbox inviting me to my first writers conference--the one that our Writers Renewal has evolved from. It was summer, 1986. My life felt like a major detour. I had been "sentenced" to the couch with a knee injury. Two surgeries later, I was still trying to manage the chronic pain. The invitation to Seattle Pacific University's writers conference grabbed me by surprise and got me thinking beyond a patella (knee cap) that didn't track properly.
When I hobbled onto the campus with cane in hand, I wondered why I had thought this was a good idea. I felt like a 13-year old on my first day of junior high--scared spitless! But something happened during those two days. Even though it was my first experience with writers, I felt familiar...like this was where I belonged. I sensed a new journey had begun...one of stringing words together, being honest and true about my own life experiences; the joys, sorrows, and disappointments. I came away committed to write about the hope we have in Jesus Christ...no matter what's going on around us. Since then, I've had the incredible privilege of sharing this hope far beyond what I could have imagined.
On my drive home from this year's conference, gratitude welled up inside me. How amazing it is to have the support and encouragement from a community of writers/friends who share the journey with me. People who have not only extended their hands to help me, but also their hearts. We are in this together--not fierce competitors who clutch our creativity for fear someone else might steal it. Editors, agents, and workshop leaders reiterate the message: we are here to help you succeed. And they mean it.
The next time you feel frustrated because of some unplanned life-detour, don't despair. This might be the catalyst pointing you in the direction where God is calling, where He can use you and your strengths for His greatest purpose. Without that annoying, difficult time-out in my life, I might not have found my way home.