Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Gift In The Journey

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 will commit to pray for you from now until the conference is over. I can’t wait to hear how He answers OUR prayers!

I'm going to be loading some pictures of the conference in St Louis (2011) - watch for familiar faces!


Cathy said...

I hope we get to meet in Dallas, so I can give you a hug!

journeystojoy.net said...

I'm not planning a trip to Dallas for this year - UNLESS - God changes things drastically - I won't discount that possibility but my WIP isn't ready and I'd like to take it and another to the 2013 Conference. I will be sure to watch for you - somewhere along the line God will connect us face-to-face and we'll share that HUG!

You have my continued prayers, Cathy - looks like you're headed for Dallas and I'll pray it's at the very least as big a blessing as the one I went to last year!
Love & Prayers,

Unknown said...

This is an amazing story, Joy. When God has slated/appointed for us to be somewhere, He pulls out all stops and presses the GO button. We get to go along for the ride of a lifetime, all the while, glorifying and magnifying His wondrous name. Praise God!!!

journeystojoy.net said...

You've got that so right, Karls.
Thanks for stopping by.
Let's both pray we get to the 2013 conference with our WorksInProgress.

I KNOW if He wants us there, He's going to provide everything we'd need to get there and stay.

Keep up the good writing!

Julie Lessman said...

JOY!!! LOVED reading this story!! You told me in person in Grand Rapids, but OH, to read all the details is AMAZING!! Cannot wait to meet you again in 2013, my sweet friend.

Hugs and more hugs,

Martha Ramirez said...

Love this story! Thank you so much for sharing!

Unknown said...

I have a miracle testimony about St Louis, too. My critique partner Debbie Lynne Costello raised the funds for me to go, and not only that, but the hotel and travel expenses besides. She embroidered bags and sold them to various writers' groups. Some people donated above and beyond the cost of the bag. I needed $800 and that is exactly what came in, and not a penny more. God can do this!!! Just wanted to add my testimony to stir some faith here.

authorkathyeberly said...

Hi Joy,
I appreciated your story and how God provided the way and means for you to go to last year's conference. I too due to circumstances am more than likely not going to this year's conference but that doesn't mean the Lord can't answer my prayer.

Southern-fried Fiction said...

Within acting upon the nudges God gives to us, lie life's
biggest blessings. Kate and the others who helped you were merely the extension of your Father's great love for YOU, Joy. :) Love you, Twinner.

Christina Rich said...

Joy, I'm sitting here reading your story with tears. I didn't go to St. Louis last year even though it's nearly in my back door. This year, I don't know if it's my desire or if God is telling me He is going to send me. I was excited about applying for the scholarship. I even had it completely filled out and then noticed I was 9 days short.

We've had one financial blow after another since Jan 1 and almost lost our home during the process. We are now getting back on track, but even before we were living from one pay check to the next. I had received a decent sum of money in February that was supposed to replace my laptop, pay for Genesis fees, a small local conference and possibly set some money aside just in case. Praise the Lord, my laptop is still working, I was able to enter the Genesis, but the rest went to saving our home. I've been praying God will provide the money for this smaller local conference, but those prayers have so far remained unanswered, which has made me hesitant to pray about Dallas, especially after realizing I was 9 days short. *g*

Thank you for such an inspiring post.

journeystojoy.net said...

Amazing Grace and Love - cometh down from the Father above to bless His children.
I don't feel singled out - just really really blessed that I was allowed to see my faith stretched and REWARDED.

I won't lie, ladies, this last six months has been a test of strength in that faith unlike what went before.

I posted this article as much for an encouragement for me to NOT give in to the circumstances we're in as to encourage any of you longing to get to Dallas - I AM PRAYING FOR YOU!

Jennifer Slattery said...

I LOVED Ane's comments. Amen! And I love ACFW. I've never encountered so many loving, grace-filled, on-fire Christians as I have on the ACFW loop.

Blessings, Joy! Celebrating God's goodness with you and anxiously awaiting where He takes you and your writing!

Sandy Nadeau said...

What a great story Joy. God is good, ALL the time! Hoping some of this medical stuff slows down so I can go to Dallas. I was hoping you'd be there. We will need to meet face to face someday. Thanks for sharing!

journeystojoy.net said...

Yes - all of us will meet face-to-face at some point - here or THERE - we'll be blessed to pieces whichever way He connects us.

Praying for each one of you and your writing journey to the joy God has in store for you.

Thank you for sharing your hearts with me this week!

Barbara Hartzler said...

Thanks for sharing this Joy. It's truly inspiring! I've been debating about going to Dallas this year. Last year we scrimped enough for me to go to St. Louis, but I was working full-time. This year I was out of work for 2 months because a weird hand injury that is still hanging around. I'm not sure what God is up to, but I'm willing to be his servant no matter what. I'll be praying for you and others like Christina who need direction.

journeystojoy.net said...

Thank you for those prayers.

Sandy - Got has me flat on my back since Sun evening with muscle spasms and today they decided my legs need to enjoy the same thing - HA!

So - I prayed for you today - will pray for you to get to Dallas - even without me - He's going to grant us that face-to-face as I stated earlier.

Thank you for your comment - I will be praying for wisdom and discernment in light of what you've shared.
I still think Dallas isn't God's directive for me - I just don't think I should waste the opportunity for applying for the scholarship next year and I don't think it would be good stewardship for me to 'borrow' money to enjoy the connection this year without taking something to pitch - oh - how I'd love to just be in the devotionals and worship services though - oh yeah!

So - my prayers are with you each - GOD'S WILL BE DONE!

Let me know what He's telling you - please!

Wade Webster said...

Joy, I'm so glad you shared your story with us. It goes to show how God works through His people to answer prayers.
Don't forget to re-visit my blog, I just posted my best one ever. It's called THE ANGUISH. Think Gethsemane; I'll see you around. Wade

journeystojoy.net said...

Welcome to Journeys To Joy - thank you for your support and encouragement. I appreciate what you had to say as well.
I'll be sure to check THE ANGUISH yet tonight.
Be sure to come back and see the new Book Review Feature next Tues - will be looking for you again,

Lucy Thompson said...

Hi Joy! You are an inspiration!

I'm a new writer from Australia, and I'm hoping to make it to the ACFW Dallas Conference. Lots of obstacles to get there... as you can well imagine, some rather similar to yours, BUT I'm trusting that God has said yes and I'm going :)

I'd love to meet you and say "Hi!" or as us Aussies would say, "G'day!"

All the best as you write for his glory and as you continue to trust him :)


journeystojoy.net said...

Sorry I missed your posting until today.
I am praying you will be in Dallas this year for the ACFW Conference. I'm not planning on going as I NEED to get to the 2013 Conference - LORD WILLING - but - someday, I'd love to meet you face-to-face and KNOW my prayers helped support your wonderful experience in Dallas!

May God bless and provide as you've never seen before.
G'Day to you too!
Thanks for stopping by, Lucy.

Caleb Breakey said...

Wonderful story of God's faithfulness, Joy! He truly does meet AND exceed our expectations. God is so ... just crazy awesome in the way he takes care of His children.

Much grace and peace!

journeystojoy.net said...

You know, Caleb; sometimes I wonder why I get awe-struck by those amazing things God does for me when He's promised so many times in His WORD - to provide for our needs and He tells us to ask (keep on asking) to seek (keep on seeking) and to knock (keep on knocking) and just to trust Him enough to WAIT on those things.
I'm so impatient, impulsive and down right rude when it comes to going to Him and leaving things thee at His feet and allowing Him to SHOW HIMSELF WORTHY OF MY FAITH>
Shame on me!
He has reminded me many times over in the last year just how much the details of my life mean to HIM!

How can I NOT love such a good FATHER?

Thanks for visiting and posting a comment.

Unknown said...

Hi Joy! I loved reading your story this morning. What an inspiration! I would love to be able to go to Dallas and/or to the Blue Ridge Mountains Conference in October, but our income was cut in half this year so we have nothing extra. But, Lord willing, my husband said if I sold my book by then I could go. So, we'll see.

Thank you for sharing!

journeystojoy.net said...

Hi Melissa;
I won't be heading for Dallas this year - BUT - I'm feeling those nudges from the Lord toward Indianapolis next year. Oh yeah! Can hardly wait to get my second book written that I plan to take with me to pitch at the 2013 conference. I've got the first book in Contemporary WF in first draft - now - I'm trying to get a Historical Romance written to take as well - going to be doing heavy edits after January and then there's those One-sheets and Synopses and all to contend with. I pray you can experience one of the conferences in the near future.
Thanks for stopping by, Melissa!

Lori-Ann said...

I can't believe I haven't commented on this yet!!! This is absolutely amazing...as are you, Joy! Awesome stuff! Even more awesome God!

Every blessing to you, sweetie.


journeystojoy.net said...

He does some mighty powerful things, Lori.
Thanks for stopping by. God is so very good!
Praying you to the 2013 Conference in Indianapolis, IN USA!