I had left pretty early that morning and then ended up having to go back home. As I was driving down the road I heard God say to drive back home. I wasn't sure why God kept on tugging at my heart to do this, but then I remembered my business cards and my article. I instantly thought back to when I was packing and came to the conclusion that I had probably forgotten to pack my business cards and that I hadn't put my two copies of my article into my bag for my writer's peer critique group. At this point I guessed that God was probably calling me back home to spare me the embarrassment of getting to the conference only to find that I had forgotten two very important things.
I also had forgotten to hug my momma goodbye that morning too, and I knew I should have done so before I had left, but I didn't. So, I turned my little car around at the entrance to a horse farm and headed back home. Of course this was after I was already about 10 minutes away from the house. When I got back I made sure my needed affects (the ones that I was just certain weren't in my car) were in my car, which they already were, I just couldn't find them at first while frantically searching for them (I was so stinkin' nervous about the conference that I was in a tizzy!) and then I found my momma and hugged her goodbye like I never had before.
As I left my momma's embrace, tears welling up in both our eyes and frogs tried to strangle us like mad in our dry throats. I hopped back into my stifling car and headed off towards She Speaks. I understood why I was supposed to go back. I needed my momma to calm my spirit so that I could drive safely to Concord, NC. I wanted her blessing to go... the blessing from my dear momma, the one who has always believed in me and my writings.
I knew that I was bound for the weekend of my life. Even though I was terrified that I would have to learn how to check into a hotel for the first time, have an article of mine dissected by a writer's peer critique group and somehow manage to get the words 'thank you' out of my mouth when I met Marybeth Whalen for the first time. I knew that I was going because God wanted me to go. To drown the worry out I cranked up my AC in my car and jammed out to Adele's 21 album. If you are ever freaking out, I will say that this works well ladies, at least it does for me!
Yes, God most definitely wanted me to be there this year. To learn, to grow, to make writer friends, to stretch myself as the young woman who is now boldly stepping forward into her adulthood. He wanted to SPEAK to me.
I didn't just learn to write better while I was at S.S. I learned about in more depth and received all of the gifts that the Lord had prepared for me to harvest that weekend. I stepped boldly out as a writer and let two very lovely ladies dissect one of my articles in our writer's peer critique group meet. I thought I was going to be fed to the wolves, literally. Okay, so not literally, but I was terrified of letting others see my words that I had written. After Dawn and Mel went over my article drafts I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they didn't think my article was garbage after all! Sure, I needed a few tune-up's for that piece to really speak clearly the message for which I had intended it to convey, but my peer's didn't hate it as I thought they would. I think I gained some confidence in my gift of writing after that evening of pouring over articles for sure.
I didn't just have a glorious weekend full of little squeals of fan girl delight! Although, I will admit to you that I was freaking out that I was getting to meet some of the coolest authors ever. I am going to be like those ladies someday, except I don't want to be exactly like them. I want to be free to be me!
I also finally began to fully open my ears and heart to allow the Lord to speak to me through Lysa TerKeurst, Renee Swope, Ann Voskamp and Micca Campbell. These beautiful women spoke words that affirmed everything that the Lord has been trying to say to me over the last month or so. After hearing all of the lovely speakers I finally heard God say loud and clear: Let ME chisel your heart, Sarah. Be confident in your writing and in your spirit that is a light lit for ME. Treat every day and moment as a precious gift from God. Do not envy what other women and writer's have, for I AM has you placed right where you are at in your life for a purpose, with just the right gift for you.
Not only did I have wonderful women speaking into my life, but I also had wonderful women teaching me how to become a better writer. I learned that becoming a better writer starts out with giving your gift (writing, speaking, women's ministry) over to Him and then letting Him direct your paths in the ministry that He has appointed you to. The writer's track wasn't just about learning how to put interesting sentences together correctly and about how you should be badgering your own work to death while looking for common spelling errors. It was about letting God chisel you...and that gift which He gave you. It was about letting His words speak through me in a unique way for the world to see through the ever expanding world of my writing's.
Oh, and I had my "Aha Moment!" when I discovered that I need to have a writer's notebook going for each of my novel idea projects. Thank you, Glynnis Whitwer, for that wonderful idea! I don't know why (with my being somewhat C.D.O.) I'd never thought of starting writing notebooks for each one of my in-the-works writing projects. I had such a wonderful time chatting it up with Marybeth Whalen, Mary DeMuth and Susan Meissner after our fiction panel session had ended. All of you lovely ladies have given me such inspiration, hope and encouragement in and for my blooming writing abilities. And now thanks to Rachel Olsen I know how to write a devo that is sweet, short and to the point!
There were so many more things that I gleaned and gained from S.S., but honestly I think I'm still processing them all! The Worship with Michael O'Brien was wonderful and moving. The writer's were, amazingly enough, pretty down to earth gals. The food was D-licious. The prayer room was so beautiful and inviting. The classes were sooooo full of helpful information, that my head nearly exploded Saturday evening (with a migraine). My roommate, Joanna, was a joy to meet and to room with. And getting to meet Marybeth, the woman who was called by God to take a chance on me and send me to She Speaks this year, were only some of the many great highlights of the best weekend of my life.
Oh, and I guess I should mention that I really only ever managed to get out the words 'thank' and 'you' out of my mouth every chance that I got to talk to Marybeth pretty much the whole time. Yeah, I was that nervous. I am much more relaxed with words on e-paper I'm afraid. Haha!
I'll probably share more in the weeks to come about what I learned while at She Speaks, but for now I'll let you all go. Please, remember to let God chisel your life, be confident, give many thanks and to not covet what gift's your brother's or sister's in Christ have been given, okay? Your gift and your heart means just as much to Him as the next daughter or son's does.
- Sarah Elizabeth
P.S. - Photos from my awesome She Speaks weekend can be found HERE.