ACFW 2013 Conference Debrief (i.e., my head explodes)

I attended my first American Christian Fiction Writers National Conference last weekend.

Information overload.

Information overload.
(Image courtesy of wandee007 /

This isn’t meant to be a post-conference agenda recap, so I’ll just say this: I squeezed in as much as I could–workshops and worship, connecting and networking, meals and yes, even rest. Still I missed a few things. I did not visit the hotel gym as I had intended. I paid an exorbitant price per page for on-site printing. (It’s all good.)

Awesome God-things stacked up while I was there, but I had a specific expectation. Not that I would gain an agent or a publishing deal at my first outing–I knew better than that. This is a long-road business, and I knew that when I signed up.

Publishing journey.

Publishing is a journey. (Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

No, I expected to leave with a well-defined and freshly-renewed sense of purpose, and I had reasons to expect as much: veteran attendees speaking of their experiences and an amazing Sunday before I left, when Jesus assured me in multiple ways that He had His thumbprint on this trip. I expected, quite simply, an A-HA! moment, the kind where everything pulls together into one head-exploding epiphany.

Head-exploding epiphany.

Something like this.
(Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /

But that moment never came.

I was (and am!) still in decompress mode, so I tried not to let it bother me. The entire trip (even the not-so-awesome parts, like getting lost in downtown Indianapolis on my first day) had tremendous value, and I know I’m incredibly blessed that I got to go at all.

And then last night, back in the normal routine of Wednesday night Bible study, there came a pair of thoughts (courtesy of Deanna Davis), both of which made me sit up and listen a little harder.

Sometimes, He gives us information for later;


A spiritually dry time is the perfect time to lay kindling.

And actually, this is a spiritually rich time, full of assurances of God’s presence. Nonetheless, if I experienced the ACFW conference differently than I thought I would, then what’s the takeaway?

What if the everything-blows-apart-and-comes-together-at-once moment is yet future? What if this trip was less about one moment and more about future preparation for that long road I mentioned earlier? What if the purpose was to participate in moments, so there would be a lot of kindling to catch a spark when God chooses to ignite one of them?

Who knows where and when God will ignite a moment?

Moments are made for sparking. (Image courtesy of Fireflyphoto /

In view of all this, I have to smile looking back on my notes from Thursday (a hard day, the day I got lost downtown). I found this: “It’s possible (i.e., likely) that God’s purpose for my being here is not what I expect.”

Amen to that.

6 Replies to “ACFW 2013 Conference Debrief (i.e., my head explodes)”

  1. It was an incredible time and we are all at different phases and pages of this writing journey. I wanted to go to the classes and learn more, but was driven to find an agent and maybe a publisher. Good stuff happened. I’m waiting to see how it all works out. Either way, it was an exhilarating time, met new friends, accomplished some goals. I’m excited about what God has for both of us. I’ve been at this a long time and I’m ready to see some fruit of all of my work. But there’s a time and a season for everything. A time to plant, a time to bear fruit. All in God’s perfect timing. Praying His perfect will in your life and especially in your writing career!

  2. Wish we could have hung out and got lost together (I would, believe you me! No map savvy here)! Love your perspective–I am sure there is SO much to process! Lay that kindling and it will burst into flame at some point, for sure!

  3. I’m sorry I missed seeing you there! I was, honestly, pretty low this year and spent more time than usual cocooning.

    It’s never an “aha” moment for me either, just a lot of “don’t quit yet” moments. For myself, I find God takes apart smaller pieces and puts them back together… anything more and I’d be paralyzed and overwhelmed.

    Hopefully the processing has gone well since. Fortunately Indy’s not too big–getting lost in Dallas would be much worse, I think!

    1. Cocooning, that’s a good word for it. I knew to give myself regular doses of time alone to try to keep that paralyzed-and-overwhelmedness to a minimum. And yes, I’ve worked my way around to suspecting the real significance is in the smaller pieces.

      And I’m going to agree that being lost in Dallas would have been a lot worse, if only for the heat! (I was on foot.) I had a general sense of which way to go, but it was drizzling and I was alone, clutching my bag like the lost traveler I so obviously was… Heh.

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