Today I flew home from the Romance Writers of America conference in Washington DC.
I went without any of my buddies, but left with many new and improved relationships. My roommates, Jane Thornton, Nancy Hines and Cecelia Dowdy were strangers on Wednesday but friends by Sunday.
I visited with the lovely and kind Siri Mitchell, unable to stop bragging on her book, Love's Pursuit. Oh man, what a GREAT book. You have to read this story. Siri went to a new level in her writing and story telling. As if she wasn't awesome already.
While I missed the vivacious and bubbly Susan May Warren, I had a great time kind of floating. I could go with whoever. . . whenever. It was fun. God seemed to provide the right friend at the right moment. For both them and me. I went to the conference thinking I would not see many if any people I knew. I left hearing Leanna's voice in my ear, "You know everyone."
I visited with my local RWA Star sisters, too. It was good to connect with them, especially JoMarie DeGioia and Lee Duncan.
The most amazing moments were the God encounters - having opportunity to tell two women, one a major super star author, that God thought she was beautiful. The other, a young woman looking to one day be a major super start author who needed to hear Jesus was real and she could have assurance of faith.
Both Susie and I were up for the Rita Award for best inspirational fiction. I told Leanna during lunch, "I feel nervous like I'm going up on the stage."
But, I didn't have the same feeling about winning. Oh, I wanted to win. Prayed to win. But above all, I prayed to love the person who one with the love of Jesus.
Susie won the Rita. I walked to the stage with a broken shoe (let's not talk about the weekend's wardrob malfunctions) and accepted the award for her. The moment I hit the stage, my heart was overwhelmed with love and joy. Tears hit my eyes. My own disappointment was a thin, pale shadow on the far wall of my heart.
My "gold statuess" for me last Saturday night was what the Lord did in my heart. I'm not going to go into great detail, but let me just say sometimes the highest prize is not the obvious one. Saturday was Susie's night to win the Rita, but it was my night to have some thing deposited in my heart that will go far beyond this life. The Lord answered my prayer in a way I never imagined, then applied a thick layer of grace to keep it in place!
Sunday Jane, Nancy and I, along with an old friend of Jane's, toured the War Memorials in Washingtong. As Nancy and I walked the WW II memorial, we paused to take pictures, tearing up. Please, don't let their sacrifice be in vain!
I ate too much junk food. But who's counting? :)
If I left anyone out, please tell me! After all, I did know "everyone!" How can I keep them all straight.
I'm home now, ready to get to work on rewrites. Take time to thank the Lord for a blessing that you didn't expect. A friend. A family member. Speak graciously of someone who wronged you. Set your eyes on the prize of Christ Jesus!
How has the Lord blessed you in a way you didn't expect, but know it will linger throughout all of eternity?