I see life differently than others. As a writer, that’s turning out to be a good thing. As a person it can be lonely.
This weekend at the Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference, I met brothers and sisters in Christ, who despite our unique personalities, ages and experiences, were bound by a common passion: our love for Jesus and our desire to express that love through writing.
Through them I saw a God who’s not only much bigger than I dared imagine but also more intimately involved than I’d allowed Him to be.
Each person I met has a faith that shines brightly. I want to introduce a few:
I’d only been introduced to Denise once before the conference, but she was a familiar face in a sea of strangers. We ate lunch together and immediately hit it off. What a joy to get to know this beautiful woman with an amazing story of hurt and healing. I pray, as she starts her writing journey, she finds her voice to share the amazing work God’s done in her life.
A mutual friend had been telling me about Jacquee for at least a year, but we’d never met. What a surprise, when I glanced at her name tag and recognized her name. Jacquee is a wonderful woman and we hit it off right away. She’s got a story burning in her and is working on her book. How thankful I am to have met a local fellow writer.
Stephanie, Kelly and Amy are my new friends from Mary DeMuth’s Transforming the World from the Inside Out class. (I’ve already written about Mary and sung her praises; to go on anymore may make me seem like a stalker! Although if you're a writer, check out her So You Wanna Be Published blog.)
As soon as I saw Stephanie, I hoped we’d become friends. She has an infectious spirit and confidence about her. We’re both freelance graphic designers and love the outdoors. Maybe one day we’ll go hiking together. Stephanie’s book idea got a lot of interest from agents and editors she met with. Hooray! I’m praying for you, Stephanie!
Because of her drawl and good looks, I thought Kelly was a Southern belle that this Yankee Kelli wouldn’t be able to relate to. But an accent does not a person make and just beneath the surface I met a woman that’s real, unpretentious and refreshingly honest. She’s experienced incredible loss and sorrow, but instead of being bitter, she’s placed it all at Jesus’ feet and radiates His love.
Amy exudes a quiet, gentle grace. She’s served in the mission field and has such an outward focus. Amy wants to use her gift of writing to spread the Good News to those outside the comfort of our country. Because I tend to focus inward, I loved talking with her. I can’t wait to see how God uses her writing to really make a difference!
Meeting Fran might have been the most divinely-inspired introduction of all. My new, online friend Donna (who is a gift of encouragement from God), met Fran at last year’s conference. She told each of us to look out for the other. We found each other quickly, but it wasn’t until the last day we really got to talk. Fran’s a lovely WOW (Wiser Older Woman) and an experienced writer. In her, I found not only a friend, but a mentor who freely shared her wisdom.
I could go on about the other incredible people I met like Becky, who started a ministry that aids orphans in Swaziland. Or David, a missionary who spent nine years in war-torn Chechnya in the 90’s and is going to the Middle East in a few weeks.
This weekend I found my people. From the moment I arrived, until the moment I departed, I felt at home. Thoughts like, “Do I fit in?” “Does she like me?” “What if no one wants to sit with me at dinner?” were silenced. Whew! I hadn’t realized how much energy my negative soundtrack consumes. Without the “me” junk in the way, I was able to fully engage in the message and the people. As a result, I left richly blessed, passionately inspired and divinely affirmed.
Writing isn’t an easy path to travel. But, I am so thankful God’s blessed me with traveling companions who’ll keep me company along the way.