Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Blessings Abound

The ACFW Conference of 2022 has come and gone. 

If you made it to St. Louis, congratulations! The atmosphere on the second and fourth floors of our hotel infused those who attended with love, laughter, and lifting of heart and soul toward heaven. As for the third floor...that's another story. (Inside joke. Ask me, John and Amy Walker, Joyce and Al Long, Mellisa and Bill Blackburn, Rebecca Reed, Cara Putman, or Ronda Wells for the explanation. 😁)

 As your president, I found this particular conference especially helpful. Joy Massenburge is new to the national board, and she's been assigned to connect with local chapters and help them be the best they can be. What a firecracker! When the chapter presidents met one evening, Joy was prepared with questions, madly took notes, and assured us of her support. I left that meeting so encouraged! BLESSING!

For the first time in my introverted writer's life, I dared to volunteer at the conference as a "hostess," which meant I would introduce one of the speakers at a workshop or a continuing education course and be the "go-fer" for that time period. I ended up as hostess for Beth Vogt, a romance novelist who now writes women's fiction. What a gracious lady! And she was absolutely thrilled for me when she found out her agent wanted to read more of my work. BLESSING!

Linda and Beth Vogt

Which leads me to the next blessing: appointments with editors and agents. I'm going to include Joyce's initiation along with my experiences to show how God uses appointments for both the newbies and those who have weathered other conferences. 

Keyword: RELAX.

After my introduction to pitching to an agent or editor ten years ago, I've learned to relax and enjoy the encounter. That attitude allowed me to garner a request for a proposal and three chapters to one editor and a full proposal to an agent. BLESSING. 

This was Joyce's first time to attend a national writers' conference and pitch to "big names." She decided to turn it around and ask questions of the editor or agent as to how she could improve her work. They were delighted to help out, and she returned home eager to follow their suggestions. BLESSING.

LESSON: Use the time at conference to learn about publishing from an expert. 

John, Linda, and Joyce
Of course, there were workshops and continuing education courses to help every writer improve their craft. But the biggest take-away was the overarching presence of the Holy Spirit. Rachel Hauck led the worship services. Her love for the Lord invited Jesus to join us when the entire group came together (about 500? of us) and during the optional Worship and Write hour on Friday night.

ACFW also maintains a prayer room throughout the conference for those who want to take a break from the overwhelming pressures of the conference and seek Jesus in the midst of their stress. Notice, I didn't say the conference puts pressure on its attendees. The attendees put pressure on themselves!

I fell victim to that early in the conference. Remember how you may have felt in high school? Everybody was better than you? That was me on Thursday. I knew this ridiculous feeling was from hell itself, but I couldn't shake it. On Thursday night I went to the prayer room in desperation.

The volunteer offered to pray with me if I wanted her to. I WANTED HER TO! I explained my problem, and she began to cry. "I just got off the phone with my husband," she said. "I was telling him how I felt here--exactly like you."

We prayed for each other. 

By Saturday night when I crossed paths with her again, we were gleeful. The cloud had lifted for both of us. We had relaxed and learned and taken in what God wanted us to gain from this weekend. BLESSING!

So. That was my experience this year.

Did anyone attend the at-home conference? What blessings abounded for you? 

For those who were in St. Louis--what blessings did you enjoy?

The more we share, the more we build each other up.

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