I have always been better at writing things down than verbalizing them. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I will even text my husband thoughts I am having so I can talk to him in person about them later. That is the only way I know to have them come out as I mean them to. Super healthy, right? Probably not. But, he loves me anyway. Quirks and all. (And there are plenty of them!)
A few weeks back I had a conversation with my 11 year old son, Jordan. For the sake of his pride and privacy, I will not say all of the details. But, he admitted to some wrongdoings. Out of that, we had one of the most heartfelt conversations we have had and I loved every minute of it. It was a growing moment for both of us. With our conversation front and center in my mind the next day, I began to write down a story. I have never aimed my writing toward a younger audience, but this one flowed out of me with ease. I completed it in less than one day. I. Had. Finished. A. Book. I'm not sure if this is just me, but I used to write with the intention of finishing a book and never got past 3 chapters before I'd come to a stop. Life got busy and my focus was on other things. This time, I was writing with the intention of helping someone while telling a story that was close to my heart. I was excited with the idea of getting this book out there, as the topic is one that I feel could help a lot of children under the disguise of having fun! I reached out to an author that I know and asked for advice on where to start. She did not have any for the children's book world, but did tell me of a conference that was going on next week in my area - WORDS, a Conference for Communicators. I was immediately intrigued, but my introvert heart was also thrilled about having a Saturday with no plans. I closed the website without looking into it. The next day, I felt compelled to at least give it a look. I clicked the link and up pop the faces of Jamie Ivey, Jackie Hill Perry, and Lisa Whittle! I geeked out for a bit since I have read their books, follow them on social media, and avidly listen to their podcasts! Scrolling down I also saw the familiar name of Dar Draper, who is a close family friend of one of my husband's family members. She has written Children's books that our kids have loved. I was now so excited, but hesitated looking at the price as we have really had to buckle down financially. But, wouldn't you know it - there was the flash sale! Today only! What?! I fan-girled a little harder as I checked if it was okay with my husband before purchasing. I got the go ahead (Love me some him) and allowed the excitement to roll over me now that it was reality! I did not know at all what to expect, it sounded like a fun day that was now only a week away!
A few days beforehand I started to go full introvert and wonder if I made the right choice. I probably shouldn't show up in my favorite pajama pants and keep to myself. BUT - I was going to go. I felt like the pages were turning on my life and all the doors were opening for this opportunity. This is supposed to be my year of YES. I woke up early and had a few cups of coffee while reading my bible. Doors opened at 8, so I made sure I was there at 7:45. (Eternally early ladies, you get me) I was the first to check in and wandered around looking at the tables of books until the coffee in the cafe was ready. I could smell the joy. Or maybe it was just the coffee. (Same thing) As I was walking over to buy a shirt, a couple walked in. I admired her gorgeous top right away, wondering where it was from. They got to the table before me and I stood in line. She was talking with her husband and I just had to tell her "Your shirt is so pretty! I watched you walk in!" Spewing out my thoughts before entirely thinking them through, as usual. My mom's prayer for me when I was younger was rightfully "Lord, keep your arm around her shoulder and your hand over her mouth." Bless. But, as if she needed that compliment she turned around and said "Thank you!" And her face broke into a beautiful smile - and in a blur that I cannot describe we started talking up a storm. If you know me at all, small talk makes me go cross-eyed. But, we spoke with the ease of an old friend. Within 5 minutes it was as if we had known each other for years. Her sweet husband joined in as well. They invited me to join them for coffee at their table and we continued to get to know each other. She is my people, guys! She is so wonderful and full of the joy of the Lord! AND - She has a blog, FOLLOW HER! BEHOLD HER LIFE Big things are coming for Melanie. Needless to say, we sat next to each other once we found our seats and I was thrilled to find out we had chosen most of the same Breakouts all day! I have a new lifelong friend from Texas, you guys!
Lisa Whittle spoke first and she is so stinkin precious. I was hanging on her every word, while also wondering where she got her super cute dress. Go listen to her podcast right now. It's called 5 minute prayers, and you definitely have 5 minutes! She kicks your butt with so much love, it's a beautiful thing.
"Words matter because THE Word matters." - Lisa Whittle
Writers, write that down. Scratch that, everyone right that down. Find a craft you can nail on Pinterest and hang that quote in your home. It's good stuff. Lisa was so charming and such a breath of fresh air. She is definitely gifted in her words having impact. I was scribbling on my notepad like crazy. So many insightful tips into writing, but all the while pointing straight back to the SOURCE.
Jamie Ivey was next and I was fangirling hard. (Please excuse the poor quality of the photos. Not sure if it was excitement, or the fact that I had to use Snapchat to take photos because my phone was too full. Give me grace.) I have listened to her podcast for awhile now and if you do not, STOP what you are doing and go subscribe. She has a new guest on each week and even the conversations with people I have nothing in common with leave me pointed to Jesus and filled with hope. It is called the Happy Hour because you feel like you are sitting down and talking with a couple of girlfriends. (Seriously - Go, now.) Jamie spoke on Ephesians 2 (Here are verses 2-5) "in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But, God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved." But, God. I once lived a life of sadness and struggle - But, God. Tell it, girl! If you haven't read her book If You Only Knew, go get that too. The audiobook is awesome because she reads it to you and it felt like her podcast. She quoted Anne Lamott from her book Bird by Bird “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Shine. Whatever season you are in, shine where God is telling you to. If you try to go shine on someone else's beach, you will miss saving the boats that will be coming to yours. Bloom where you are planted. Are you not inspired?! I feel like I could just go accomplish all the dreams.
Jackie Hill Perry spoke the TRUTH. I could not write notes fast enough to keep up. I wanted to have it ALL. She is also an amazing poet and rapper. Follow her on Instagram. You will be convicted daily. (Plus, she has the cutest little girl.) Jackie talked about how God could have made the world in any way he wanted. He could have blinked. He could have just willed it into existence. But he SPOKE, and it was. Words are powerful. To those that have the gift of words, use them wisely. "You are a tool to be used that will lead them to the one who will heal them." - Lisa Whittle "I am not the light, and neither are you." - Jackie Hill Perry If we are not careful with whatever platform we have, people will inevitably be let down by us because we are not God. I wish you all could have been there to hear her speak such amazing truths.
ar Draper for sure has a fan in me, both personally and professionally. Dar gave so much insight in her breakout session on where to go and how to go about getting published. If you are an aspiring author, I'd be happy to share that information! But, I won't bore the rest of you with it. She is so charming and full of God's love that it's infectious. We were lucky to have her double as the hostess with the mostess for the conference. "We don't need a lot of words. We need annointed words." - Dar Draper I had her book, The Potty Train, from years ago. I purchased her book What Is Love (which is her first book) and she autographed it for my daughter, Emmie. We have now read the book so many times that Emmie is starting to recite several of the pages with me. It is such a great children's book! Gift this to the children in your life. Emmie and I filled out the questions in the back of the book, and it will be a family keepsake for years.
I didn't get to speak to everyone since during the breakouts we had to choose where to go. During the panel of Dar Draper, Caleb Peavy, Timothy Willard, and Robert Whitlow I received a bunch of encouragement, laughs, and great advice. I'm definitely fans of all of theirs now! Caleb took the time to speak with me a little afterward encouraging me in my pursuit. I could not place him at the time, but I know if I would have I would've geeked out over even more over him. I am now listening to his podcast, Be Creative, as well! So far I've listened to him interview Ryan who is Sleeping At Last and had a small freak out. I love Sleeping At Last and was not sure why I had not heard he did songs about Enneagrams! I immediately looked up the songs and am hooked. If you have not taken the Enneagram test, go do it! And have your spouse do it! I'll talk more on that another time.
It was such a beautiful day that I will remember forever. I am so inspired, not only to write, but to let God's joy and hope shine in me in all times.