The Stress and Joy of Attending a Writers' Conference

by Sally Matheny

We've all experienced times, when one thing after another seems to pelt us with discouragement. 

Sometimes, when it rains, it pours.

Two days before I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference I found myself overwhelmed. If it weren’t for the non-refundable deposit, I would have surely backed out. 

It all started with an umbrella.

Two days before the conference, my umbrella flipped its lid during a rainstorm and never recovered. I kept forgetting to pick up a new one. Then I heard they were calling for rain during the week of the conference.

The night before my departure, I begged my husband to pick one up on his way home from work. 

My directions were explicit. It needed to be a one-push-button, compact umbrella. He even called me from the parking lot asking what a push-button umbrella looked like. He assured me he knew what I meant. 

Somewhere between his car, and the aisle with his favorite little blueberry muffins, he forgot all about the umbrella.

When the muffins arrived home, without an umbrella, I dashed to the little store down the street. I grabbed one of the one-push-button umbrellas near the checkout and dashed back home to finish packing.
I should have tested the umbrella at the store. That umbrella weighed less than the six dollars I paid for it. One slight breeze would result in another soggy disaster. I threw it in the back of the van and prayed for sunshine.

There were several misadventures during the week:

·         My room had a broken air conditioner (God quickly sent a repairman).

·         The microwave beeped erratically at all times of the night (I pulled the plug).

·         I became disoriented on campus on numerous occasions (God sent me a new friend to guide me each time).

·         I was locked inside my room, on the third floor, due to a faulty lock (I got out. How I got out is a miraculous story I’ll save for later!)

These things kept me laughing and made for good conversation at meal times.  However, not everything was humorous.

 Early in the week, I was overwhelmed with some writing work I had brought with me. Deadlines looming, I was second guessing every word I wrote.

Then self-doubt began to pour through my clouded thinking.

I tried to pray often when writing but occasionally I allowed Satan to drop a negative thought in my head.
"Who are you to do this?”

Another negative thought drops,
“You have no experience.”
And another,
“You can’t do it.”

Soon, Satan’s subtleties are like Chinese water torture. One drop at a time is not very big by itself. But when consistently follows another, they begin to make their mark.
I cried out to the Lord begging for His help.
It was easier to trust God with things like the broken air conditioner. I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt, the repair would take place. 

With my writing--who can fix that?
I left my room to go to a workshop. On the way, I met a woman on the elevator. Introducing myself, I asked my usual question,
“What do you write?”
“Sunday School curriculum,” she replied.
Hmm…Someone with that kind of experience might be helpful reviewing my project. Thanks, Lord. Do Your thing.

The woman and I talked awhile and ate a meal together later. Without me asking, she offered to look at my work-in-progress. Not only did she help me get back on track, she also prayed for me.

I shared with her the weight I felt about my writing being good enough to lead the children to Christ. 

She  passed along a golden piece of advice. She reminded me of my role, and of God’s role, in my work. I am to do my part and then must trust Him fully with the rest.
Later, God sent several others who committed to pray for me and for the project. This was humbling. They did not know me, but they knew my God.

God gave me friends just when I needed them. He gave me clarity and focus to approach my work with a fresh attitude—one with less focus on my inabilities and more focus on God's amazing abilities.

The second morning of the conference, I walked into the main auditorium to hear the keynote address. 

God is always having a great sense of humor with me. Every single chair in the room has a one-push-button umbrella on it.
God’s blessings are remarkable. Sometimes He sends them one at a time and other times He opens the floodgates.

1 comment:

  1. I can so relate to what you had to say this week. Thanks for the encouragement.


Thanks for sharing! Your comment will appear after review from the moderator.