The kids were packed and settled at Grammy and Pa’s house.
My sister-in-law checked me in at Delta online.
My brother shuttled me to Detroit Metro. Walked me through printing my boarding pass and checking my bag.
I braved security.
And then I waited, parked at the gate. Thrilled for the adventures to be had on this particular weekend.
I took advantage of this long awaited quiet time to gather some words. How would I present myself? Convey who I am and what my online words are all about?
And then a woman scooted into the seat next to me.
“What waits for you in Harrisburg?” she questioned.
I paused, unsure how much to reveal. “I’m going to a writing conference.”
“Oh, Allume?” she said.
And, uncharacteristically, I squealed, patted her leg, and exclaimed, “Yes! You, too? Oh, how exciting!”
My first connection!
She inquired, friendly, of my goals for the weekend.
I beamed, and poured from deep inside about my anticipation of heart experiences, soul connections, and God at work. I admitted it was not so much professional this time, despite my desire to grow as a writer. We spoke of Facebook and Mastermind groups.
I asked, “And you? What do you hope to get from this weekend?”
She responded, “Well, I am a publisher from Zondervan, and I am going to see if there are writers who match our vision.”
I just admitted to a publisher (unknowingly) that I was not seeking professional advancement this weekend.
Yet, the Lord placed His purpose on my heart, and a book deal was not it.
So, Sandy from Zondervan and I, we flew on the same plane to Harrisburg. And we had a pleasant exchange at the baggage claim about Lysa TerKeurst, Renee Swope, Ann Voskamp, Lisa-Jo Baker, and The Nester. And I was OK with that.
It turns out I had heard Him clearly. In keeping with His timing on nudging me to write about community, the Lord rained it down on me like never before. The first night was every bit as amazing as I anticipated.
I was jumping out of my skin to meet my roommate, Tobi from Favored One. Our hearts were already joined in the world online and by one lengthy phone call. Tobi is a post in herself–I know without a doubt that God put us together this weekend.
But our God? When He gives, He gives in abundance.
And Thursday evening was filled with squeals of joy and recognition, on my part and that of others. The fabulous women whom I have built friendships with online–they were here, in the flesh, with words of encouragement and hope…and chocolate and caramel corn.
We are Allume’s Better Writers Facebook Group. And what you need to know about these women is this: it is rare to find such love and acceptance. We spent the weekend like long-lost friends, sharing laughs and concerns. Not second-guessing any word spoken or its reception. Knowing we could slide into an empty seat next to each other at meals or a session. Sharing the understanding of the weight of words like SEO, migration, ebooks, plug-ins, and broken links.
I was not prepared for the wrestles and disappointments that accompanied the joy.
I learned who I was and who I was not.
For instance, I am no great lover of Twitter. I know, bloggers. It is the new frontier of marketing.
And yet. Phenomenal speakers stod up at a podium, words of life and truth pouring from them. I surveyed a room full of 400+ mighty women…consumed with their phones. Tweeting. And I couldn’t help but think: Might we pause the promotion? Instead of seeking tweets, might we just be–in God’s presence? In the presence of our beloved sisters? Might we be filled by seeking the face of God…and pouring into the body of Christ, those precious women whom we’ve waited months to do just this?
I was not prepared for soul topics to hit so close to home.
I was not prepared for the nudge to consider writing more on the deep, dark, wounded parts of my story. The wrestle.
I was not prepared enough for discrepancy between online personae and in-person ones.
And so, to be honest, every moment wasn’t amazing. Some were hard.
But it was worth it.
The official festivities ended with this:
An imperfect picture, yes. But I cherish it, just as I do the ones taken with each precious sister on the weekend.
The official festivities have ended, but I know His work has just begun. And I can’t wait to see it.
* * *
If you haven’t checked out the blogs of the Better Writers, you’re missing out!
Did I miss anyone? Please leave a link in the comments.