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ACFW – A Family Reunion

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.


About Jess Keller

I'm an author, speaker and chocolate eater who's chasing hard after my dreams.

7 responses »

  1. LOVE this. And so blessed to have you as part of the family. You may not have had anyone waiting for YOU, but we were blessed that YOU were waiting for US.
    You ladies are my sisters, and I couldn’t be more thankful that God brought us together. Love the passage you quoted. Mine has been Psalm 84. Specifically, verses 11-12.

    For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
    the LORD bestows favor and honor.
    No good thing does he withhold
    from those who walk uprightly.
    O LORD of hosts,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you!
    (Psalm 84:11-12 ESV)

    So thankful to travel this road with you.

  2. Ooo, what an excellent verse, Erynn!! I’m looking forward to lots of BCGE time!!

  3. Are you trying to make me cry? I think you might be.

    I cannot tell you just how many times I’ve thanked God for you in the last year. It’s definitely over 400. Especially now that you’ve joined me in the world of YA. You are consistently a light in my life and an overflowing well of promises and optimism when I’m discouraged.

    I CANNOT wait to hug your neck on Wednesday. You gals make this ride worth it. Seriously.

  4. So glad we were all brave enough to come. Love you ladies.

  5. The Lord is good – all the time!
    I get excited just looking at this picture. It stands for sisterhood, friendship, and support. It makes me smile when I think of the connections that are made under His watch and for His purpose ( and also, for our joy)!

    May you have another wonderful ACFW Conference with faith and friends, learning and opportunities galore. (And I hope to see all of you there!) As I said, the Lord is SO good – all the time. ; )

    P.S. Jessica – The blog looks beautiful. I love that it’s a place to belong. How inviting and how true!

    • I hope to see you too, Kristy!!

      Jess, I have to echo Kristy’s compliments on the new blog look. This is the first time I’ve been over here since you redesigned. Love that header!!

  6. Jess – Have a great time at the conference and praying you have great meetings with editors and the like! Can’t want to hear all about it when you get back!
    Love ya, Joan


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