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3 Easy Steps to a Successful ACFW Conference – even if You’re Not Attending!

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 Vogt April 2013Beth 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.

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17 Responses to 3 Easy Steps to a Successful ACFW Conference – even if You’re Not Attending!

  1. Susie May says:

    Great thoughts to remember, Beth. I always ask God to surprise me with something – just from Him – and I am always blessed by what He chooses for me. Keeps me right there, in that quiet place with Him despite the chaos and fun of the conference.

  2. Beth Vogt says:

    Thank you, Susie. I agree. God alway surprises me with what he has planned for things like ACFW — I just have to remember to let go of my plans and be willing to listen to him and follow his lead.

  3. Jan Cline says:

    Beth, I’m so glad God will be there. I have a lot of questions for Him about this crazy writing business! Susie May, I love what you said about asking for a surprise from Him. He is so gracious to do that for us! I’m going to ask for a little nugget myself. And ask that I can give one to someone else, it’s the only way I can survive something this big : ).
    See you in two days.

  4. Great thoughts, Beth! That’s been my mantra this year…God’s got this. I can’t screw up His plan for me, even if I mess up my pitch or something like that. He has shown me over and over that His hand is in this. I just have to release this bundle of nerves to Him.

    Can’t wait to see you soon and get a good hug. :)

  5. Beth Vogt says:

    I love your mantra, Lindsay: God’s got this!
    And yes — hugs will abound at ACFW! Be ready, girlfriend!

  6. I have yet to get to ACFW–oh so close so many times but always God has something else planned for me–my home this year. But it’s okay cause I enjoy seeing what happens with those who go and praying for all of you. Love when God shows up. And He will!

  7. Alena T. says:

    Ah Beth!
    Thank you for the reminder. Listen and be still. I’m so thankful for a God whose got it all planned out!

    See ya soon!

  8. Melissa Tagg says:

    Beth…this is awesome. I think I already told you that in an email, but it bears repeating. Awesome. Thank you so much for the reminder. And…see you SOON!!!

  9. Beth Vogt says:

    Alena and Melissa: The good thing is, we shall remind one another and help one another to look and listen for God at ACFW! Yes!

  10. Neat post. I have a feeling God’s packing for ACFW too before He shows up. I wonder what He’ll bring. Sorry I can’t be there this time, but can’t wait to hear :)

  11. Love this post, Beth. Thanks for encouraging those of us not attending, too!

    I’m praying for everyone who is attending– may God show Himself in a mighty way! :)

  12. Beth Vogt says:

    I will be sure to keep you posted. And I will miss your smiles and hugs, Dee!!

  13. Susan Mason says:

    Thanks, Beth! I’m planning to attend your class which I’m sure will be awesome! Will keep you in my prayers. Safe travels!

    Cheers,
    Sue

  14. Beth K. Vogt says:

    Jenny, I thought of you, and several other friends who aren’t attending ACFW, as I wrote this post.
    Susan: So glad to hear you’re attending my class! I’m planning on it beig fun — and informative too! Safe travels to you too!

  15. Ian says:

    Wonderful reminder, Beth. “But don’t miss God”. It was the aspect of the conference that amazed me last year how prominent His gentle hand rested upon the event.

    Thank you for a beautifully written post. WIshing you a wonderful God-filled conference.

  16. Beth K. Vogt says:

    Thank you so much, Ian!

  17. Nice post Beth. Hope to meet you at the conference. Yesterday, in the car I was doubting, wondering if I could do this…then praying, then looked up and saw a sign on the back of the truck with highway arrows pointing to it! (the lane was narrowing). Photo is on my blog, but it read: Am Can. I took it as a message from God. I AM. You Can! He’s even on the road with us as we go to the conference! So, for sure he’ll show up there!