Another dot He placed on my "JOURNEYS TO JOY" story
Please allow me the time in your too-busy schedule to share what God did to connect me face-to-face with some of the most Godly people and experiences I’ve been allowed to enJOY.
One of the most memorable gifts I’ve ever received from my Lord was given to me throughout the summer of 2011 and culminated in attending the ACFW National Conference in St. Louis, MO in September 2011.
Someday I’m going to share the full amazing Journey that led me to ACFW to begin with back when, but that has to wait for another day. I just mention it to say this message is only ONE never-to-be-forgotten DOT in those God has been connecting in His loving drawing that began in my mother’s womb all those decades ago.
This avenue on my Journey to Joy began in January 2011. I had my then WIP undergoing a final polish and I was longing for the opportunity to join the throng in St Louis for the annual conference. It would be my first-ever national writer’s conference. I started collecting pocket change from my hubby each evening. Then started saving all the single one-dollar bills that I received in change, but rapidly began raiding my dear hubby’s wallet for the same - with his permission, of course.
By May, I realized I was NOT going to meet my goal at the rate the money was adding up. I thought about applying for an ACFW Scholarship but my membership had me one month shy of eligibility.
I felt selfish going to the ACFW Prayer Loop with request for conference fees so I just let it slide and prayed on my own. After all, there were many who needed work, groceries and mortgage payments compared to my desire for meeting and greeting authors, agents and editors.
Then, late May we received a huge financial blow. I needed more prayer power than I was producing on my own - YOU KNOW - “Where two or three are gather in His name...” Well, I chose fourteen of my most trusted ACFW pray-ers and sent off an URGENT REQUEST. I told them about how I’d felt God nudging me to the conference to pitch my novel but the obstacles were growing into mountain size rather than becoming minimized.
One of the fourteen was Kate Hinke, from CA. That lady didn’t just pray. She went behind my computer monitor and sent out an S.O.S. to the other thirteen on the list and began a campaign to get our huge financial crunch dealt with AND get me to the conference. Without going through all she did on my behalf, and it was more than putting her rapid fingers to her already busy keyboard, I can tell you this. She covered all avenues.
I received a check from her that amounted to within one penny of what was needed to take care of the immediate financial blow. It was collected from anonymous donors so I can’t say how many of those thirteen gave toward that. BUT, she wasn’t done. She told the POWERS-THAT-BE about the conference fee need and how I was only one month shy of being eligible. She was told the monies had all been allocated so she couldn’t get any for me there.
Later, she received notice from ACFW that someone had chosen to DONATE my conference fees and my credit card would be refunded the entire amount I’d reserved my spot with, except for the $25 office fee. When I was informed of that via Kate, I was ready to take the credit card and use it on the hotel fees, but GOD had other plans for me. I received another check from the group and I was able to put that toward the hotel room.
I was happy and yet, I still had to come up with the funds for clothing and travel. I had clothing but nothing I’d care to be seen in at a national conference. So, I personally prayed for clothing. I’d lost some weight but couldn’t afford to go shopping. I got an email from Cheri in PA and she asked me for my sizes and measurements. Just like that. She explained that though she couldn’t afford to send money, she and her daughter, Stevie were world-class used clothing shoppers and if a bargain could be found they would find it. I received a box via mail and it had beautiful clothing. So gently used some must have been worn once, if at all. The most significant part was a dress, a gorgeous dress intended to be worn to the ACFW Awards Banquet on Saturday night of the conference. Oh my. It only needed a slight hem and a shortening of the straps .Every article of clothing was a color I’d have chosen in styles I’ve have shopped for myself.
By late July I was still trying to figure out how to get to the conference. I was still too short of funds for flying and I just prayed for God to intervene again. I was having one of my bi-weekly physical therapy sessions and my therapist knew of my desire to get to the conference. She’d been interested in my writing for a very long time and was always asking me about my progress. I told her about the conference. She asked me where it was to be and when. We then went on to discuss other things. Two weeks later, she asked me if I’d be willing to split gas costs, buy my own food and go with her and her sister to St. Louis and back. I was amazed to say the very least. She had talked to her sister and they’d decided to change their vacation dates, as well as their destination for their bike-hiking vacation. They chose to take me to St Louis and go on to ride the railroad-turned-bike-trail nearby.
When we arrived in St Louis, it had been decided that they'd take me up on my offer of sharing my room with them the first night. The following nights I began to take in refugees who’d had problems where they’d been housed. When it came time for me to settle up for the room, my refugees wouldn’t allow me to pay the entire amount. They took it upon themselves to give me a portion for which ever night(s) they used some space in my room. It was such an unusual provision and I had to bite the pride-tongue again. I’d had too much fun with them to expect them to pay for it.
Fifteen people prayed. One person put fingers to her keyboard along with her prayers and in a few short months I found myself in St Louis at the 2011 National ACFW Conference. God saw the immovable mountains standing in my way. He saw the swollen un-crossable rivers messing with my route and He just heard those precious prayers of His people. He moved those mountains, piggy-backed me across the rivers AND blessed my socks off at the conference with a Spiritual connection unlike anything I’ve experienced this side of my Salvation.
Never discount the prayers of others and especially the provision of our ever faithful and loving Father, who owns it all and is the giver of perfect gifts.
I pray you will realize where your own hope lies in getting to this year’s conference and that He will answer in a miraculous way.
Leave a comment if you’d like me to pray that if it be God’s will for you to get there, that He will make that clear to you and provide everything you need for your trip to the 2012 ACFW Conference in Dallas, TX.
I'm going to be loading some pictures of the conference in St Louis (2011) - watch for familiar faces!