January 14, 2009

A Surprise Christmas Adventure (continued).

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.


Anonymous said...

WOW! How cool is that! Yeah you!

Sassy Granny ... said...

Now that's one creative husband! Talk about a gift that will surely last a lifetime ...

It'll be fun to hear about the things that flow out of this one, unique Christmas gift (that will keep on giving).


JerryLyn said...

Kelli, I'm sure this is an experience, an opportunity you'll never forget. How very special of Dan and generous of Mary--but I sense she's so like that! And I know this will give you more courage, more drive and more ways to seek God's heart and keep at it! Your writing is a blessing to me! Jerrry

Peggy said...

Kudos to Dan!!!!!!!!!
Kelli, you are truly blessed, and I so happy to know you and Dan and be able to call you friends.
More than that, I'm glad we are brother and sisters in Christ.
Hope to see you soon.
Blessings and Love....Peggy

Gail W. said...

Kelli, this is the best Christmas story I have heard all season!!! Thanks for sharing such a powerful lift with all of us. Your thought, "I'm encouraged as a writer to take the next step, but I know no shortcuts exist" perfectly describes where I am right now. What fun to share the journey with those of like minds!

Pierre said...

You have an awesome husband!

I'm reading "The Love Dare" book based on the movie Fireproof. Today's challenge was to help your spouse live out their dream. 10 points for Dan! I need to take some lessons from that guy!

Chatty Kelly said...

That is the most wonderful thing I've heard in a LONG time! Did Mary have a chance to review your project that was rejected? Maybe she could tell you some pointers.

I'm glad you had the chance to be renewed. I've read that to be a writer you have to have tough skin and a soft heart. Keep on keeping on girl!

Runner Mom said...

This is awesome!! What a great idea! Dan rocks!!! I'm thrilled that you had this opp, Kelley! God is going to use your writing that He has blessed you with in great ways...in His timing!

Love you!

Terri Tiffany said...

That is soooo awesome that he did that for you!!!!!I bet that is one trip you'll not forget soon:) How nice of Mary to do that. Had you spoken with her alot before it?

Cheryl Barker said...

Kelli, wow -- what a wonderfully supportive husband you have! And what a great experience! I'm happy for you!

Leebird said...

How awesome! Give your hubby a big hug from the rest of us! :)

Tell him he made us all very proud!

My hubby told me tonight that he'd like for me to be the content editor for the new media arts ministry at our church. He said, "I think it would look great on your writer's resume." So...I think the hubbys are "getting it!"

So happy for your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Lee

Mary DeMuth said...

Your adventure was a blast for me, Kelli! I'm so glad you came out and I'm thankful you soaked up the critique. You're a terrific writer, and I have no doubt your words will reach a wider audience!

Sue J. said...

And I've timed myself to comment after Mary--oh boy!

I started reading Mary when her name was on your blog list. Just from the little time I have spent there, she seems like someone who has had many experiences about writing and is not afraid to talk about them. I have no doubt that you gained an immense amount of knowledge and encouragement in spending time with her (and her writers' group to boot!).

I totally concur with Mary, that you will be read more and more, and that you have a husband who sees this very same gift in you--and showed it in such a tangible way--is the kind of encouragement that would make it impossible NOT to write!

May God continue to bless this entire experience and continue to make good fruit through you!

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

Wow...that tops the charts of the most wonderful things a hubby could do for his wife! :) How much fun is that!?!? Wow!

So fun! And I imagine it took a little bit of courage to take the trip!?!?

Prayed and will pray again that the Lord blessed your time with Mary and that He continues to use it for His purposes and glory!

So excited for you! May the afterglow of this Christmas gift from your hubs linger and linger and linger.....

Welcome home!