August 10, 2008

Traveling Companions

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.


Cheryl Barker said...

Kelli, what a blessing to meet so many wonderful traveling companions! You're just whetting my appetite for the new friends I'll make when I go to the North Texas conference next month :)

And how cool is it when we get a chance to meet writer friends that we've gotten to know online?! I met Cec Murphey and got to sit under his teaching Saturday at an afternoon workshop for writers in a nearby city. (I'll probably blog about that later this week.) Can't wait to meet others. Who knows, maybe you and I will get to meet at a conference sometime!!

By the way, I noticed you have put a link to my site on your blog. Thanks so much -- you have blessed my day!!

Donna Teti said...

Hi Kelli,

I am so happy you were able to meet Fran. She is truly a blessing. Also happy you met so many other wonderful people.


Donna Teti

Chatty Kelly said...

What a wonderful trip you had. I attended my first writers conference (She Speaks) in June, and it was just as you described - - meeting new friends and hearing wonderful speakers.

I love Mary Duluth's blog!

Runner Mom said...

Hey, girlfriend!
What an experience!! I plan on going back to your blog this week and checking out some of your new friends!! Thanks so much for this post!! Have a great day!
Love ya,

Pierre said...

Hey Kelli,

It was good meeting you at the writer's conference. I really enjoyed your Extreme Makeover writing that you gave me.

You have a gift! I pray God uses you greatly to touch people's hearts and lives.

God bless,
Pierre Eade

PS. I'm seriously thinking about getting a writer's group going at my church, so stay in touch.

Joy in The Truth (Sharon Sloan) said...

Hi, Kelli!

God is so good! He ordains times and relationships only He can! He is faithful to accomplish His will and purposes.

Denise shared with me about the conference, too! Sounds fabulous!

So thankful He brought you two together there. Denise is a treasure, treasure, treasure. Passionate for the Lord and His Word is Denise in a beautiful nutshell!

You will be blessed with Denise as a Traveling Companion indeed! And she with you, too!

Rejoicing with you!