The writer’s conference was humbling–in a good way!
What a lesson in humility! Was I humbled? Yes, but not in the sense that we usually say it. I was uplifted, and because of that I was humbled.
Just one year ago I attended my first-ever writer’s conference. This year I was on the faculty. What an amazing year of open doors and possibilities! I owe so much to Marlene Bagnall, the founder of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference. In the past year we have gotten to know each other because her writer’s fellowship meets monthly not far from my home, and I jumped at the opportunity to attend. During this past year she was able to see and critique my writing, and I had the privilege to get to know her, and learn from her.
What an amazing group of writers she leads. The humility runs from the top down in that group. There is an amazing variety of writers, and an even more amazing variety of life stories, many of real pain, of lives brought through the fire of loss, sickness, and more. It is a place of being real, of sharing God’s amazing provision, grace and promotion.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that this group of writers were writers because they had to write, and they were no different than myself. What do you do with that kind of trauma in your life? You can drink, or you can write it down. We chose to write, and in the writing, sought answers from our Heavenly Father, who preciously answered those hard questions, sometimes with equally hard answers, but always in love.
So, here I am, the newbie in the group, and learning so much from these successful writers, and then Marlene asked me to teach one of the segments of Teens Write, based on what she has seen of my writing and because of my experience as editor of J.A.M. magazine. It took me a while to come to grips with that, but once the shock settled in, I realized that to say no to such an opportunity would be a slap in God’s face. When He opens a door, we need to walk through! To do less would be the height of ingratitude.
Even though I struggle with self-esteem, He doesn’t. He has prepared me and opened doors so many times before. My failure is in seeing those things that don’t work out in my life as failures. But He doesn’t see my failures as failures, He sees them as lessons, and advancement. In preparing my bio for the many proposals and manuscripts that were requested by editors and agents at the conference, it finally clicked.
I have a pretty impressive bio! And that’s when I finally saw it. I would never have done so much, met so many wonderful people, without those ‘failures.’ I would still be doing the first thing I ever tried, because it worked. My artwork would never have made it to the White House, I would not have watched my proteges interview people so famous that the kids and I were both shaking with fear during the interview. I would not have been able to expand my knowledge in so many areas and enjoyed so much! God is good!
The teaching part of my conference was fun, and my daughter even said she enjoyed my part the best. (Brownie points, I’m sure.) Thank you, Pam Halter, for the how you lead the way.
At the closing ceremony I listened as Marlene announced two prizes that are given annually, one for a published author and one for an unpublished author. She started telling all about this wonderful unpublished author with so much potential, and I sat dreaming of the day when I might be worthy of receiving such a prize . . . and then she announced the authors name and it was . . . Joy Kieffer!
As I walked down that long isle to receive my award, all I could think of was how many people in that room deserved it more, had worked longer and harder (did I mention that my book was ten years in the making?) and paid more to come. Yes, I’ve been studying the art and business of writing diligently for years on end, and done everything within my power to do the best job possible, but still, I’m a newbie! I heard the story of one writer who came all the way from Australia to attend–didn’t she deserve it just for coming? But, no, this was my prize, one that God saw fit to give me at this moment in time. God opened a door; it was my job to walk through and accept His challenge to go farther, see more and be more.
I was able to schedule a lunch meeting to speak to Ted Baehr, the founder of Movie Guide magazine and the Christian Film and Television Commission about a film project I am working on. I also attended two of his classes. What a lesson in humility and listening to the Spirit of the Lord as he ministered. We were interrupted several times during our lunch meeting, and he was gracious and thoughtful with each person. During the class times he stopped to pray several times, sensing the need for divine intervention in the lives of people in the room. He invited me to attend his screen-writers camp, (clear across the country) saying that my film project was a great script idea. Who knows, God may provide a way. (Thank you, Dr. Ted, for listening to and obeying God.) If you want to see what a person can become who walks through God’s open doors, read up on this amazing servant of God.
Wherever I went throughout the conference, I was constantly met with hearts of humility and encouragement; prayers and tears and joy were shared with faculty and attendees. I ministered and was ministered to. So many names of new friends are burned into my heart, and friendships with ‘old friends’ deepened. There may have been a faculty member there who thought they were hot stuff, but I didn’t meet them. What I have found out in this past year is this–God promotes the humble.
Oh, wait, that’s in the Bible, isn’t it?