I’m enjoying the feeling of my own quilt tucked under my legs as a storm rolls into Nashville.
It’s not necessarily the kind of storm that will cause major damage, but it’s enough to shake me up a little.
Little known fact about me: I like to leave the T.V. on the Food Network when there is any kind of scary situation going on in the news because Giada keeps stirring in her beach house and the iron chefs keep chopping. Currently, Bobby Flay is throwing down with an unassuming fellow and none of the smily people know about the storm.
I like the Food Network.
I want to live there. Safe. Happy. Delicious. Unaffected.
I got home today after an amazing weekend in Pennsylvania at the Relevant conference. I must say, it was a breath of fresh air. I get really nervous about speaking but it isn’t like that’s the only part that scares me. I have to fly to get there (FYI, they still make propeller planes. I found that out on Thursday. Good to know). I have to meet people who I am intimidated by because I don’t know why on earth I’m sitting on this side of the table when there is wisdom on that side. I am an introvert who pretends to be an extrovert (unless it’s one on one…that, I love). I always mean one thing and say another and then end up crying in my hotel room alone because I feel like a fool. I don’t go to these kinds of events because I have created an image in my mind of the seventh grade, where everyone is chit-chatting and you feel like they are pointing at you and laughing. I fear I won’t make the cut, and the irony is that people come up to me with their hands shaking and say they are so happy to meet me and all the while I’m thinking, “How can I make my hands stop shaking and write something beautiful for them…”
I am going to write the rest of this post if it kills me (sorry, self talk).
I listened to Crystal Paine speak on Thursday night and I decided about 4 minutes into her talk that she was going to be one of my best friends as soon as I could figure out where to hide my True Religion jeans (pocket placement, need I say more?). She was equal parts charming and convicting, and (confession) I had never been to her blog before. I’m the girl who buys the three ring binder and stuffs it with the baseball card sleeves and for exactly 2 weeks I fill it with coupons for things I will never buy. Then I carry it like a badge of honor as I explain that yes, check-out lady, I would like to purchase 14 neutrogena lip glosses, a tube of snot-flavored toothpaste and the DVD “Cars.” And why is THAT weird?
I went to her blog tonight and spent quite a bit of time there…she ROCKS my socks off. But you already know that because evidently I’m the only person in the free world who just found out.
Friday was chocked full of Sally Clarkson, who is one of the most incredible ladies you will ever listen to or read. Her book “The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity” is one of my all-time favorites. She also wrote “Educating the Wholehearted Child,” which was one of the major reasons I chose to homeschool. I can’t speak highly enough of her and to see her in person was to respect her even more…wow.
I spoke Friday night and did not throw up or pass out. Noteworthy.
Saturday I got to spend a little time with Ann Voskamp and needless to say, she is every bit of what you would expect. Beautiful, gracious, elegant in an approachable “Audrey Hepburn” kind of way, but with the kind of laugh where you can see her back teeth (one of my favorite qualities in any person). She looks you in the eye, hugs you like an old friend, and whispers wisdom in the most unexpected moments. My editor Jennifer was with me and said that her favorite moment of the entire weekend was me looking up and realizing Ann was getting in the elevator as Ann saw that I was there. We both screamed and jumped up and down, hugging while the whole thing shook. To put flesh on computer words is such a blessing. And I suppose, kind of dangerous if you are phobic of elevators. Or propellers.
Ann is the kind of lady who loves deep, smiles teeth, and shakes elevators. She shines Jesus, and I know that she won’t like the last paragraph because it might make you look at her…Ann, we don’t. We see Him. Thank you for being brave to make Him famous. A tinge of color looks good in your wardrobe, friend.
All in all, I think the take-away message was unexpected for many who attended. Instead of learning how to increase stats and focus on being media saavy, we sat as sisters and shared the ways we wish we did it better. Saving money, parenting, walking with the Lord, being a wife, and on and on…
And in the middle of a blogging conference, the keyboard tapping stopped. We sat in the presence of the Lord and what He would have for us. So many wise women, all using their own words and gifts to say the same thing.
Bow low and put the first things first.
Hours after my book signing I sat alone in my hotel room, shaking with sadness as I remembered the tears and the stories. I carried their words with me to the desk, where I wept their sorrow. A lost child, abuse, doubt, fear, shame…and instinctively I reached to my side for the remote control.
I held it still, staring at the blank screen.
Who am I?
I’m not her. Nor her. Nor her, nor her, nor her…
Have you heard it too? Rain soaking the toys left outside, dishes piled high, children with dirty cheeks…it would be so tempting to wish it different.
I realize I have turned the T.V. on, and have already found the safe place, hardly realizing I had moved.
Knives chop. Laughter rolls. The oven opens and the perfect dish makes its way to the judges table.
All is right in the place where all is right. It’s perfect. I’m perfect. I didn’t choke on my words or doubt myself. They have no idea I’m up here crying.
The chefs, I mean. Right?
No. Actually I don’t.
So, here’s what I took from Relevant (and I am indebted to Sarah Mae for allowing me the privilege).
We have each been given a gift to be used to further the Kingdom of God. Your worth isn’t on the spine of a book or the statistics of your blog. You aren’t going to be judged by how many followers you had (As Ann so wonderfully said, “Jesus only had 12 followers…” ) or the way you curl your hair. And in this crazy world of blogging, sometimes the most powerful thing we can do is to close the computer. I needed to hear all those words.
It wasn’t a dangerous storm, remember? Just the kind that shakes you up…
This was a weekend spent with women who love well, and I’m better for it.
I will think twice before I click on the T.V. and believe it to be true.
And when you see me, know that I’m not actually that skinny.
They’re just really, really expensive jeans.
Love and prayer,