by Beth K. Vogt
I’m heading to Indianapolis tomorrow, getting a few days head start on the ACFW conference. I started a mental checklist weeks ago, about the time my Twitter feed and Facebook page filled up with “I’m going!” conversations – and some “I’m not going” laments – and discussions about arrivals and departures, favorite snacks (candy corn, anyone?) and the hunt for gala-wear.
The ACFW conference! Workshops and worship and 15-minute appointments and divine appointments too. There’s the chance to finally meet all those friends I’ve connected with online but never face-to-face. And there’s the not-to-be-missed opportunity to visit the prayer room and, well, pray. Listen. Be still.
Sleep? Just remember the whole “it’s highly overrated” adage and you’ll be fine.
The ACFW staff have planned and prayed over this conference. They have their expectations for what will occur within the Indianapolis Hyatt Regency from Sept 13-15. They want everything to go well. (And that’s putting it simply.)
I’ve planned and prayed over this conference too. As both an attendee and a workshop presenter, I have my own expectations. (Please let me remember how to hook up my laptop to the projector … and deal with it if I don’t. Please help me keep my schedule straight.)
Here’s one thing I’ve learned over the years as I’ve attended Christian writers conferences and retreats – and even planned a few: First the staff, who has planned the conference, shows up. Then the attendees, who possibly scrimped and saved to get there, show up.
And then God shows up.
Yes, God’s going to ACFW this year too.
Whatever else you do during the conference, don’t miss God. He goes before us. He walks beside us and behind us, our constant companion. Look for God – and what he’s doing at conference. Listen for what he might say to you through a speaker or a worship song or an editor or agent or another attendee. Or maybe even in a moment of silence.
Stay up late with your friends, laughing and talking and maybe even reading favorite kissing scenes out loud (a fun 2012 ACFW memory) – but don’t miss God.
Attend every single workshop you can and take notes until your hand cramps – but don’t miss God.
Present your oh-so-polished-and-perfected pitch, celebrating the “I’d like a full” requests and dealing with the “That’s not a fit for me” responses – but don’t miss God.
Because God has expectations for this conference too. For you. For me.
And those of you staying home this year? God’s in that too. He’s still working in your life, even if conference was a “no” for you. Traveling to Indianapolis is a wonderful opportunity – but it’s not some mystical mecca. You can still grow as a writer through your local ACFW group, or the online groups, or even writers communities like My Book Therapy.
A successful conference is that easy: Pray. Prepare. And watch for God.
Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best is often behind the doors marked “Never.” Despite being a nonfiction writer and editor who said she’d never write fiction, Beth’s second inspirational contemporary romance novel, Catch a Falling Star, releases May 2013 from Howard Books. Beth is also the Skills Coach for My Book Therapy (MBT), best-selling author Susan May Warren’s writing community.