I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness in the exuberant earth. Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with God. Psalm 27:13-14
When I registered for ACFW last spring, I signed up for workshops based upon the course descriptions and my needs at the time. After dinner with Vikki, my focus shifted and no longer did I desperately seek an agent or a publisher. So, mid conference, I decided to change my course list as well. I walked past a classroom advertising a session with one of the biggest names in the Christian publishing world and instead, attended a session called Soul Care for Storytellers. There was no shortage of talent among the presenters, four well respected authors each took one important part of caring for ourselves, Spirit, Soul, Body and Community. They talked about things that God knew I needed to hear more than how to find an agent. Allen Arnold spoke on Soul, noting the difference between Spirit and Soul, words that are not interchangeable despite the fact that we often use them that way. He described the spirit as the place where we commune with God and suggested that we begin each day imagining that we sit on a bench with God, enjoying each other’s presence and asking, “What do you have for me today?” That question led to Kristy Cambron’s presentation on soul, the “vital breathe of life”, when she said as authors and Christians in general, we need to “fiercely protect the moments of Holy” in our lives. We need to walk with a “posture of expectancy”, savoring life and God. In other words, as we live in relationship to God, we will see Him at work in our lives and in the lives of others, not just big moments, but in the small ways as well. He will change the way we look at the world. Katherine Reay talked about taking care of our bodies and emphasized how as authors, we think we need long periods of time to write, but sitting at our computers for hours actually decreases our ability to be creative. Inspiration comes when we turn off our brains during physical activity; blue and green (aka grass and sky) boost creativity; our mental acuity is the first thing affected by a lack of water. Finally, Mary Weber emphasized the need for community noting that as writers, we tend to seal ourselves off from the outside world when in fact, we cannot live life well alone. She described healthy community: safe, messy, vulnerable, accessible, with boundary lines, and clear communication. The point that really hit me hard was that in ministry, including writing, we hold ourselves back for the “big things”, the “Jesus things,” when in fact, “being there for the ‘little things’ makes our community feel important.” The process of writing is often thought of as something done alone, in the desert, when Jesus only briefly was in the desert; He spent most of His time ministering in the midst of the multitudes. So, why was this particular session another divine appointment for me? Because I often let the process of writing get in the way of my time with God, with my family and friends, with physical activity and with being present in this life. I walk around with imagined scenes and stories in my mind which keep me from missing out on the things of this world, the holy moments, the divine appointments. I am so glad God led me into that room and the opportunity to have Him change the way I look at life!