In the summer of 2000, I received the Fall Conference brochure from Inscribe Christian Writers Fellowship. I looked longingly at it, for I’d been receiving it for several years, but had never been able to go. That summer, I felt the Lord was not only saying, "You may go," but "You must go.”
Phil Callaway, Linda Hall, and Janette Oke were the speakers that year. They were inspiring and challenging, and, 11 years later, I still remember much of what they said. But the weekend's greatest impact came after the conference, when I went for a walk with fellow conference-attenders, Jessie and Janet. They knew each other well, but I’d met them both that weekend.
As we walked, I chattered on about my life, and Jessie and Janet were polite listeners. I told them I’d been teaching Kindergarten in public school and writing Sunday School curriculum for my church. The church writing job was over, and I felt the Lord was directing me to do more writing, but I didn’t know what.
As I talked, it seemed Jessie gave Janet a “significant look”, but I thought she could just have turned her face to the side to catch her breath in that afternoon’s ferocious wind.
Then Jessie started talking. She’d written Sunday School curriculum several years before, she said, and had recently been asked by the same company to write on a new curriculum project. She’d told them “yes”, with two conditions: 1) she wanted to write for the Kindergarten to Grade One level. 2) she wanted to work with and mentor a younger writer.
Ah. It wasn’t my imagination that Jessie had been giving her friend significant looks. I’d taught the age level she wanted to write for. I had experience writing Sunday School curriculum. And I was looking for writing opportunities. Her prayers were being answered right before her eyes.
Jessie immediately invited me to join her in writing a sample try-out unit. She was excited, and I was pleased, but I was determined not to get my hopes up. I told myself, “Nothing will come of it.”
I’m very thankful I was wrong. Jessie and I wrote the sample unit and were hired to write for the project, with one small twist: Jessie decided I could write on my own. (A few years later, as we told someone else our story, she said, “It was a God-thing. Laureen didn’t need a mentor.” It seemed God had orchestrated it all just to bring me into the project.)
Over the next six years, I wrote eleven units of curriculum for that company. It was satisfying and challenging, frustrating and joy-giving. It taught me a lot, and, of course, made me a published author. And it all started by attending Inscribe’s Fall Conference.This fall, I’ll attend the Fall Conference for the 12th year in a row. Not every experience has been as dramatic as the first one, but each conference has provided just the impact I needed at the time: A kick-in-the-pants to make time to write when I was letting the rest of life crowd it out. Encouragement to persevere when I felt discouraged and wanted to give up. Instruction, information, and direction from those who were further along the path. And, always, the fellowship of other writers who are working hard to use their gifts for God’s glory...just as I am.