Matthew 7:9-11 Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.
A year ago I was packing for my first ever ACFW Conference. I attended one writer’s conference earlier in the year—a humbling experience in which I learned I knew nothing about the publishing industry and I was leap years behind most other would-be writers in my dream of publication.
Besides that, I failed all my editor and agent appointments miserably. And this first conference was a small one, maybe one hundred people, whereas ACFW spikes above 700 each year. With a very deep breath of courage, I signed up for the ACFW Conference anyway.
In the months in between I wrote a new manuscript using all the knowledge I had gleaned at my first conference. But I was still terrified. As I walked into the hotel in St. Louis last year, my legs trembled. People were hugging and screaming when they saw each other as if this was one big family reunion. The only problem was…I wasn’t a member of their family. There was no one waiting to hug me around the neck.
Introvert as I am, I was petrified, but pressed on.
A few weeks before conference another writer who was the same age as I was started emailing with me. Her name was Erynn and she told me she’d be there with her best friend, Charity. I clung to those names like lifejackets and scanned the hotel, hoping to find them amongst the crowd.
Then I did. And I don’t think I left their side the rest of the week. During a pre-conference session we met Amanda, and an instant bond was formed. Our faithful band of four ate together, prayed for each other, encouraged each other before and after scary appointments, and all and all, became friends.
Committing to keep in touch, we all left for our respective states. But our bond continued. See, God always brings people together for a reason, and the reason is always to be a part of helping each other enlarge His Kingdom.
Over the past year the four of us have critiqued for each other, calmed each other over panicked phone conversations, prayed each other through personal trials, and have become sisters. We learned together that God is good. I know that sounds trite, but it’s easy to forget in the mess of this world that God is good and He desires good things for His children.
Last year at conference, we all wondered if we really were writers. But now, in one year’s time all four of us have signed with agents. I received my first book contract. And this year we go to conference together. There to support, grow, and encourage each other.
I can’t wait to go to conference on Wednesday. I’m still terrified about all the meetings and talking to publishers, but this year I go knowing that I’m part of the family.
I can’t wait for all the people I need to bear hug.