So, two whole weeks have passed since I came home from the conference. The first week is somewhat of a blur. I did a lot of cuddling my little ones (particularly Meeghan, who as I predicted has been pretty much super-glued to me), a little bit of fighting off something viral (par for the course after travel, I think), and some praying for those I met at the conference (as well as those who weren't there for various reasons). The Lord has impressed upon me the need for more diligent prayer for particular individuals He's set within the circle of my acquaintance.
I've also had the pleasure of going back through the books I had signed at the conference and at last reading the inscriptions. Some of you wrote me beautifully personal messages, and I was delighted to find those. And I've thought back over the many, many moments that are impossible to capture even in an account as long as the one I just finished ... so many of you I met and felt that I truly connected with, so if I didn't mention your name, please do NOT take it as a sign that I don't remember.
I'm also working my way through the conference recordings. In her fourth session, Mary DeMuth shares a very raw blog post that she recently wrote, exploring the difficulty of spiritual brokenness and of accepting God's perfect (and benevolent) will when you are in the midst of pain and confusion. I could have written that post, at more than one time in my life. I still have moments when I question what that weekend was all about--but I'm finding that coming to terms with not knowing is easier and far more comforting than I ever dreamed.
And He just keeps showering me with reassurance.
I had the privilege of witnessing the sweetest labor and birth this week, with the most radiant mother and the cutest tiny baby boy. Amazing that God could take this birth and use it to illuminate things I heard at the conference, and likewise use things He told me there to give insight on spiritual things taking place during the birth. It's funny, because Randy I. started to introduce me as a midwife, which in legal, technical terms I am not ... but if you consider that the word means "with woman," well ... in a very archaic sense, I suppose I am.
And perhaps this is precisely the role the Lord has me in, in regards to my writing friends as well ... to provide encouragement, support, advice and direction when needed (in the form of a critique or reminding them to listen for God's voice for themselves), or just to hold their hands and whisper, "You're doing great! You're almost there." Beth received news this week of her first contract, for a short contemporary romance she finished several months ago. Ronie is busily revising a ms. to send to both an editor and an agent. Dear Donita still struggles with complications from surgery while under deadline for her latest book. There are others--you know who you are--who I likewise consider it a privilege to stand beside as you labor.
And if you feel so led, please lift me up as well. Attempting anything for God pretty much guarantees spiritual resistance in one form or another ... much of the family is sick with a sore throat/stomachache/headache bug, and I'm feeling very overwhelmed as I once again learn to balance the needful things so that my family is not neglected in the midst of researching and writing, yet time is carved out for those, too. I also need to get back to the gym on a regular basis--this is not a matter of vanity, but of maintaining my health and strength so that I have the endurance to do what is necessary. My back and shoulder are feeling the effects of the rest of me being increasingly out of shape, so I either need to get up earlier (difficult when I'm a night owl and after everyone else's bedtime is my writing time), or figure out a way to get in a truly effective workout with the ball and hand weights. (Using the machines and weights at the gym forces me to work everything, not just what seems comfortable--and to get in that dreaded cardio workout too.)
Where do I go from here? Only the Lord knows. I trust that the coming year will be as great an adventure as the last has been. And He who has begun a good work in me WILL complete it ...