Heart Lessons From ACFW

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I loved the reminder of this verse!

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I planned to attend the American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW) Conference. Well, I did, and I’ve come home exhausted, but invigorated.

Who knew one could experience so many emotions during a three day writer’s conference?

I learned so much—in the classrooms—but even more as I immersed myself with other writers. I’m still processing everything, but here are some lessons I brought home:

1. Sweet fellowship happens when I come together with people who “get me.” We encouraged each other, prayed for each other and listened to the joys and disappointments of the weekend.

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Mary Vee and Jennifer Zarifeh Major on our first evening

2. Disappointments are a part of the journey. How I handle them will determine what comes next. I struggled with discouragement during part of the conference. My feelings felt so . . . real. The thoughts produced hurt, and the sense of being overwhelmed. Their waves pushed me so far under I could hardly breathe. First, I brought the whole ugly mess in my heart to God. Then I put voice to them with people who have lived it. They spoke God’s gentle truths to me and restored a positive perspective.

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Dr. Reba Hoffman—my prayer go-to gal

3. Sometimes, joy is a choice. I believe my conference experience turned out exactly the way God intended. Many friends received requests for proposals and manuscripts. Most of the time I chose joy for them rather than pity for myself. It’s always amazing to see how God works to unite writers with agents and editors!

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Beth Vogt and Roxanne Sherwood Grey

4. Being teachable makes the disappointments easier to work through. God is the Giver of stories. I am the one who must dedicate myself to learn how to write them. When I have a heart that’s willing to hear and receive guidance, I can work through disappointment more quickly and step forward with a new direction.

5. Look around. When my eyes focused on others rather than myself, I made new friends and found opportunities to encourage others. I also discovered specific things that will help tell the story in my heart. And, I glimpsed beauty in unexpected places.

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The beautiful table at the Gala

6. Expect God to show up. He met me where I was throughout the weekend, and poured out His love in the most unexpected ways.

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Robin Jones Gunn—the keynote speaker

Though these lessons are writing related, they also translate into other facets of life. I came away from the conference exhilarated and so aware of God’s fingerprints pressed into every aspect of my weekend.

What about you? If you attended ACFW, what lessons did you learn? If you didn’t, what are significant lessons you’ve learned in your life?

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22 thoughts on “Heart Lessons From ACFW

  1. Friend, I’m so sorry you were disappointed and discouraged!! I know how that feels, and it’s hard to see others be joyful when you don’t feel that way. But you’re so right–joy is a choice. And you chose wisely. I so admire you! Wish we’d had more time together this year. Hopefully we’ll see each other in February. Love you!

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  2. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, but I wanted to say you were such a blessing to me! I barely know you, yet you took the time to encourage me. I share your struggle. I think a lot of us will be posting on our blogs today about it…I know I did. Anyway, thank you and I hope we meet again.

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    • Jan, I was so glad to meet you. I’ve seen you around online, and now we know each other in person. It was quite a weekend, and you are an encouragement as well. 🙂 I look forward to meeting you again!

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  3. The HARDEST thing about my good news at ACFW was telling my friends who’ve been writing and struggling longer and harder than I have. I KNEW they were happy for me. But I still felt sad inside. But God is gracious. And so are my friends.
    I’m sorry you struggled. I couldn’t tell, because you are a woman of exceptional faith and grace.

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    • Jennifer, I was absolutely thrilled for you. We just never know how God will work, do we? 🙂 I’m so looking forward to seeing all that He has for you. The struggle is okay, because it made me draw closer to Jesus, you know? He knows the plans He has for each of us.

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  4. Hi precious one–
    Thank you for your beautiful, deeply honest and vulnerable post!
    Another step in the journey.
    But—-I am reminded of a verse that’s been on my heart today: “Faithful is He who calls you, who will also do it.”

    Love you, friend.

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  5. I love seeing the pictures 🙂 You are faithful, kind, and determined, new joy will seep in, I’m sure of it. But, I know that disappointment too. It is so, so hard. We are on this journey together, God has you I’m certain.

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  6. I’m super short of times these days, but this is a great blog post. You’re making all the right investments and right steps forward, and you will reach exactly the destination God has for you, and full harvest. Meanwhile, blogs posts like this are pretty worthwhile destinations in themselves 🙂

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    • You are so good with encouraging words, Dee. I know God has the perfect plans for me. And I want to be in the middle of them, rather than on my own path. 🙂 I so appreciate you. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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    • You’re right, Tina. I think I’m bringing some aspect of my writing life to Jesus every day. The learning to depend on Him, lean on Him and find my identity in Him are the key things He’s been teaching me.

      I’m so glad you stopped by!

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  7. I’m just now seeing this, Jeanne. I am so glad you took a moment to introduce yourself to me. Emotions always run high at the conferences, it’s such a whirlwind weekend. I love it though. Breakfast worship service is my absolute favorite part of the conference–well tied with meeting and visiting with my cyberfriends. I hope to see you at the next one!

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    • I’m so glad I got to meet you too, Linda. 🙂 I loved the breakfast worship time—it sets a good tone for the day. And like you, it was great to meet others who had been a picture on the screen beforehand. 🙂

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