Well…Did you guess what my adventure was? Give up?
(10:15a.m.) Right now, I’m sitting in the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport waiting for my flight home. I have some time, so, here’s the story…
In the spirit of the Advent Conspiracy, Dan and I agreed to greatly limit our gifts to one another. Certainly we had presents under the tree, mostly for the kids, but our piles were noticeably smaller than years past. And I was happy with that.
On Christmas morning, our carefully laid plan worked surprisingly well. Less seemed like plenty.
And then Dan surprised me with one last present. What does he have up his sleeve this time? It wasn't part of the plan.
First a bit of back story. A few months ago, I submitted a story for a book compilation. I poured my heart into it and felt uncharacteristically confident about my chances. I sent it off and waited. And waited.
A few weeks before Christmas, I received the email I’d patiently anticipated. This is it! The moment I’ve been waiting for. I skimmed the list announcing the accepted authors and stories. I went back to the top and looked again. And again. My name wasn’t there. I worked so hard and felt so sure. The weight of disappointment pinned me to my chair as the reality of my first major rejection sunk in. Devastated I went up to my room and wept. How can this be? I felt so good about it. I don’t even want to write anymore!
Seeing my heartache, Dan offered comfort as best he could. For the next few days, he wondered what he could do to life my spirits and offer encouragement. An idea sparked. (When the spirit of creativity moves Dan, watch out!) The spark germinated into an idea. An idea into a plan. A plan into a present.
So, that’s how I came to open this surprise gift on Christmas morning. My mind swirled with the possibilities; what could it be? Inside the box was a mini-book, beautifully designed and professionally written by Dan himself. (Honestly, on its own the book itself was quite a present!)
Bottom line, the book contained an adventure that was inspired by Dan’s desire to keep me encouraged in writing. To that end, he reached out to one of my favorite writers, Mary DeMuth, and presented her with an idea. Mary enthusiastically embraced the concept and the two of them devised a plan. Dan arranged every detail: the flight, rental car, hotel and dinner reservation. All I had to do was follow his instructions.
So that’s how last night I found myself at a wonderful restaurant situated on a beautiful lake in Rockwall, Texas enjoying dinner with a writer whose words reach me in a way no other writers’ do.
I was and am still amazed that despite her busy schedule Mary agreed to Dan’s proposition. That's what kind of person she is. Despite her writing credentials, Mary is incredibly down-to-earth and "real." In her heart she's a girl who loves Jesus who knows she's saved by grace like the rest of us. Her accomplishments don’t shield her from the struggles we all face. And what delights me about Mary as a writer--her authenticity and honesty--is what delights me with her as a person.
Our time at dinner flew as we chatted on a wide variety of topics and before I knew it, it was time for our next stop: Mary’s monthly writer’s critique group. Several of the women in the group are published authors so I got to see up close and personal what really excellent writing looks like--and how far I have to go! Listening to their critique of my writing showed me things I don't know if I'd ever figure out on my own. During the others' critiques I tried to keep up and soak it all in because who knows if I’ll get an opportunity like this again!
Almost as quickly the night started it was over. I returned to my hotel, my head brimming with the evening’s happenings. What a day!
As I await my flight to return home, I take with me the richness of this experience. I’m encouraged as a writer to take the next step, but I know no shortcuts exist. Writing is hard work. I also return home affirmed by the fact that in my husband God has blessed me abundantly. I am in awe.
Thank you, Mary for your generosity and friendship. Thank you, Dan for your love.