Sometimes you get an answer you weren’t expecting…

Last Saturday, I spent the day at the Northwestern Christian Writers Conference  in Minneapolis. I had signed up several months ago, feeling led or drawn to do this. Then the week before the conference, doubt set in… “Why on earth did you sign up for this?!” “What were you thinking?!” “You’re not a good enough writer to go to a conference!” “What do you really want to get out of this?!” “You’re not Christian enough- you only have a few verses memorized.” You get the idea. I asked a friend what I should do – should I still go? I’m not even sure what I want from it. Her advice was great… “Go. Soak it all in. Leave behind any doubts and just see where it leads you.” 

So I did.

Me and several hundred other people. I was amazed at the number of people in the auditorium for the opening message. I looked around and saw a wide variety of people. I had come alone, but some people there clearly knew each other. Some made new friends with whoever was sitting next to them. I grabbed a coffee and almond bread (which was super delicious- like poppyseed but with almonds) and tried to blend in. I felt like this should be a safe place. It’s a Christian writers conference… everyone should be nice, right? The opening message was good. There was a worship band who sang upbeat music to get us all inspired. Then we had break out sessions – groups of 100 or less got together in separate rooms to lean about specific topics. There were people there with varying writing styles, platforms and goals –  children’s books, novels, greeting card writer, bloggers etc. you few the idea. 

It was a roller coaster day. Intimidating. Uplifting. Intriguing. That was all before lunch. Then I had a one on one appointment with an actual published writer. We had 10 minutes in the cafeteria. The bell went off and your 10 minutes started. You got a warning bell at 9 minutes and then another bell at 10 minutes – switch. I didn’t even know what I wanted to ask. I was flustered & insecure. She asked about what I write and I told her. She talked about “branding” and “marketing” and how my blog name was too vague and I needed to be more consistent with my writing. And she didn’t smile. Not once. She almost looked past me when she talked. Unemotional. Unimpressed. I could feel all of my excitement getting sucked out of my soul and stepped on. Then the words all flooded back in to fill that void – “See, you shouldn’t have come.” “What were you thinking?” I almost left early, but I didn’t. I found the courage to stay. 

Then another break out session. This one was the one I needed. While waiting in the classroom for the session to start, a gal sat by me. She was confident and bubbly. “I love your hair!”, she said with an enthusiastic smile. “Is it naturally red & naturally curly??”, she asked with intrigue. “Naturally curly, artificially red,” I said quietly, returning the smile. She asked what kind of writing I do (which was appropriate, given the fact that we were at a writers conference). I told her that I’m kind of a blogger. “Kind of?!”, she said with the same energy as before. “Girlfriend, you are a blogger! You own it!” I thanked her and told her a little bit of my story. She told me some of hers. Then the session began.

“If something doesn’t feel right, then it’s not the right time. God’s timing is different than ours. You will know when the time is right to move forward or take the next step.” This was the part that I took away from the session. This is what I needed to hear. I was led to the conference to get a feel for what I’d experience if I advanced my writing. But those things aren’t what I want. I don’t want a brand name or a marketing department or critics or a schedule & deadline. I just want to write… for me, for you, when I’m inspired. And I grinned. 

It’s ok to not advance this further. It’s ok to have only 20 or so people read what I write.  It’s ok. It’s enough. Maybe someday things will change. Maybe I will write a newspaper article or be a guest blogger or write a book. But if it doesn’t happen, that’s ok too. 

I hope that you feel direction in your life. What are you called to do? If you don’t feel it, are you listening for it? Are you paying attention? Sometimes it takes a while to get the answer we are looking for. Sometimes we end up following a whole new path. We are here for such a short time. Enjoy the journey!

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. (And yes, I’m keeping the name & not yet changing it to something more generic or searchable… because I can)

Glitter everywhere…

I think when you move to Minnesota, the keys to your new house should come with a chainsaw. I imagine someone in a plaid shirt just grinning and handing it to you saying, “You’re gonna need this!” Since May, my husband, Cameron has been sawing up dead trees (& some that he just didn’t like). He’s gotten a lot of use out of his safety gear from Father’s Day too. It was all practice for today. There was a storm that went through our area last night. It was actually two storms, rain, hail and 70 mph winds. The sky turned dark and the clouds swirled above. Tornado sirens went off and the alarms on our phones went off too. I was still at work at the time, so I had to go to the tornado shelter area. I went home in between the two storms & made it to the basement. 

Today our yard was filled with thousands of pine cones, lots of branches and a few trees. One happened to land on our garage. The rain soaked ground couldn’t hold the giant tree in the 70 mph winds. Today the clean up began for us and many neighbors. The sound of chainsaws filled the humid air. The “Minnesota Glitter” (sawdust) was everywhere. Our boys got a workout today hauling branches and logs out of the way. 

Areas of North Dakota have been praying for rain. I wish we could have sent some their way. I’m just thankful that nobody was injured. We all were safe in the basement last night and even got to watch a movie together. Today our bonding was over tree branches, bug spray and water breaks. We will have plenty of wood for fires and branches to make into wood chips. 

Storms of life take on all forms. Sometimes it’s an actual storm and sometimes it’s a struggle of a different kind. May you find shelter in your storm, whatever form it’s in. Peace be with you on your journey… & keep an eye out for the glitter!

The weather is always good…

I’m not talking about San Diego, although their weather is always good too. I’m referring to small talk. For an introvert, small talk is scary… like a “heart racing, not sure what to say next” kind of scary. I’m not sure when it started or why, but small talk makes me nervous. Christmas parties? Terrifying. Ice breakers? I’d rather not, thank you. I know I have a mass communication degree, so this doesn’t make sense. I could talk in front of 500 people and feel more confident than I do waking down the hallway at work. But the weather is always a good topic.

One of my pet peeves is when people walk quickly past you in the hall and say “Hi, how are you doing?” They don’t really want an answer and don’t give you enough time to respond, let alone return the greeting/question. If they just said “Hi” or “Good morning,” that would be great. The rest flusters me. If I happen to be walking by/with someone though, the weather is always a safe topic for me. Most people can chit-chat about the weather. It’s not threatening, not too personal, and there is absolutely nothing that you can do about it. You can’t make it hotter or colder or dryer or wetter. That’s all up to God & Mother Nature. It’s not political or controversial either. The weather is safe.

I realize it takes me a while to feel comfortable with new people. It takes a while to get to know me. (Unless they read my blog, I guess) Once I feel comfortable though, I can chat for  while. Normally I just let Cameron do the small talk. It’s a skill of his that I envy. My husband has the ability to captivate people, and talk for hours. The thought of that makes me exhausted. I guess that’s one of the ways we compliment each other. He’s not with me at work though. I’m on my own for that. Slowly the walls come down, and relationships are formed. Until then, “How’s the weather?”

Peace be with you on your journey of enough… and if someone only talks about the weather, play along – they may be an introvert. 😉