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Archive for May, 2009

I have bragging rights!!  Want to see them?

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Is that cool or what? 

I can’t help but compare this conference to the one just a year ago.  Not knowing what to expect, I drove two hours to Ridgecrest in Asheville, NC.  How hard could this be? After all this is a Christian conference and everyone should be nice and sweet as apple pie.

Dumping my bags on the extra bed in my room, I poured over the schedule. Eeek! Too many classes–not enough time. I needed them all!  Genre? Hmm…what does that mean?

Just recently I gave myself permission to take my dream of writing off the shelf, blow away the dust and start doing what I always wanted to do.  Call it life happens, lack of confidence or whatever but since I wasn’t getting any younger, the time was now.

  Overwhelmned at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference 2008, is an understatement! In reality, what little I thought I knew was actually a drop in the bucket to what I needed to know.

All these aspiring writers, authors, editors and publishers in one place! I just knew I had dropped into writer’s heaven. It was the coolest thing to be in the company of hundreds of writers. It was nice to talk about writing instead of having people look at you like you have three heads and watch their eyes glaze over when you tell them you are a writer.

Well actually I didn’t call myself a writer. That just seemed too lofty for me. Instead, I explained how I wanted to be a writer. The conversation usually dropped at that point. Occasionally someone would ask “Oh? What do you write?” Remember, I didn’t know what genre meant at that time. “Well, I write fiction, non-fiction, articles, short stories, poetry, devotions and I have a blog.” I explained grinning from ear to ear.  If the truth was known and I honestly can’t remember…gulp…that was in the old days…a whole year ago…I probably said, “I write true stories and untrue stories. I write true articles and untrue poems. I write true devotions AND I have a blog!”

 Even in my overwhelmed state, while at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, I grew a writer’s backbone and realized I am a writer!  Hallelujah! Amen! That may seem like nothing to you but it was no small thing for me. 😀 

I was right. Everyone was nice and sweet as apple pie. I didn’t know a soul there. Yet when I entered the dining room three times a day, sat wherever there was an empty seat, it was as if they had been expecting me. Each time I was ministered to in some unexpected way or found I had something in common with the person next to me.

A writing contest had ran the months preceding the conference but I was nowhere near ready to enter a contest. The night of the awards banquet, I was struck with what an accomplishment it would be to come back next year and win an award. I would be happy with an honorable mention in any category! The winners were like little celebs running around after the banquet getting their pictures taken and I was one of the ones taking their pictures. 

In October I entered the Upstate SC American Christian Writers 2008 Workshop Competition. Yes, I was completely floored when I won first place in the Devotions category and second place in the Novel/Novella category!  Thought you would never ask. Of course, I am glad to show them to you!

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These awards gave me some much needed confidence.

Returning to the Blue Ridge Mountains Novelist Retreat at Ridgecrest was my next conference. Completeing at least one writers conference is required to attend. I loved the ring of, For Advanced Writers. The group is limited to about 50 writers.  Once again, I learned so much!  My lack of writing skills was revealed like a gaping wound in my heart.  How do these people do it? We can’t all be a Steven James, Yvonne Lehman, Diann Mills, Tom Morrisey, or the Benreys, just to name a few. I just don’t have that level of talent. I must be crazy to actually think I could write. Standing in the shadow of these giants deflated me but I knew they had to start somewhere.

Knowing I needed the experience, I must admit, it felt pretty good to fire off my contest entries in six categories to Alton Gansky. The last one went out on the deadline. At least I could say I entered the writing contest at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference 2009!  Humbling, intimidating and just plain frightening is what I felt submitting my writing to be judged by the great authors that attend the conference. Collectively they have written many books, plays and even had their books go into movie productions.  Imagining the judges reading my entries and laughing at the mistakes almost kept me from entering. Not that they would actually laugh. They are Christians and nice and sweet as apple pie. They may think the entry was a waste of their time and my money but laughing is a stretch. So I entered.  I placed in two categories! Yes, I was floored again. I love being floored and hope it happens a lot more.

 

 

 

 

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My poor blog has been so neglected lately. I went away for four days, May 12-15  to work on my house in a nearby town and didn’t have access to the Internet. My laptop was useless.

I came home May 16th,  just in time to pack for my trip to Ridgecrest for the 2009 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, held May 17-21 in Asheville, NC.

May 22-24 was spent trying to recuperate and remember what I ate for the last two weeks for my food journal in Diary of a Chocoholic. That’s going to be fun trying to piece all that together. I recorded some but then it all got lost in the lie I told myself…I will write it all down before I go to bed. Yeah, right! 

During the Writers Conference, I was exhausted at bedtime. Even though the time there was wonderful, I couldn’t remember what I had eaten all day nor did I care at that point. Now I must piece it together and I wish I had carried a little notepad with me. That would have just been too easy.

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How broken would you be if you were called a monster by a child? By anyone for that matter? Connie Culp took out a picture of herself before her husband shot her in the face with a shotgun and showed it to the child, telling them that was what she used to look like.

I am not sure I would have the strength. Connie Culp has more grit than anyone I have heard about in a very long time.

Connie Culp is the nation’s first face transplant recipient. In 2004, the blast of a shotgun ripped through Connie’s face. The shattered facial bones could not support her facial features and her face literally caved in. She was left with one eye, eyebrows, forehead, lower lip and chin. She has endured over 30 surgeries before receiving the face transplant. Connie was a beautiful woman before the attack and carries her driver’s license with her to show people what she used to look like.

We stress over a few wrinkles. Connie has spent years trying to breathe, smell and eat.

I caught a glimpse of her on TV last night but I didn’t watch it. This morning when I turned on my computer…boom…there she was, bigger than life on my computer screen. I began reading her story as tears mingled with prayer slid down my cheeks. I finally had to stop reading because the call to prayer was overwhelming. Bowing my head, I went before the throne of grace on behalf of  this precious woman. God only knows why these things happen. I can’t understand it but I do know that God is in perfect control and is holding Connie Culp up each moment of her life. I don’t know if she realizes it or not.

Read the whole story at www.Foxnews.com and watch the video face transplant recipient speaks out. Connie laughs in the video. What a remarkable woman.

Victims of domestic violence carry pain we know nothing about. They know all about monsters. They know who the real monsters are. I recently talked with a lady that was such a victim. She ran from her husband three times. The first two times he found her and brought her back home. She was too fearful to resist. The third time she was not so lucky. As she ran from him, he shot her and left her for dead. This precious lady survived the attack but moved far away, yet living in fear, for 30 years.

In the meantime she met a wonderful man and life was good for the first time. She had three girls. Her mother was close by and a big part of her new life. She was madly in love with her husband and thankful for the life she used to dream about.

Tears did not fill her eyes when she spoke of terrible physical abuse from her first husband but tears began to flow  as she recalled the pain her second husband bestowed upon her. After 20 years of marriage, her husband left her for a much younger woman.

My first husband hurt me but my second husband killed me.” she sadly stated. 

She, her girls and her mother were devastated. As I spoke with this beautiful, friendly and petite woman, her eyes were pools of anguish. She had lost her mother a month before and it was an unimaginable loss for her and her daughters. These women had been through thick and thin together. She always had her mother to help her through her grief but now she had to be the strong one. This time her mother couldn’t help her heartache.

She is stronger than she knows. Out of her suffering, she ministers to those that are going through what she has gone through. Glory to God…she gets it! I don’t know if she knows she gets it or not but when we are dealt this sort of agony and the torture Connie Culp is going through, God drops a ministry into our laps. No God did not do this but he takes the evil we have endured by the hands of others and fashions it into all the tools we need to minister to others. God always gets the last word.

When I hurt I don’t want someone that doesn’t have a clue, coming to talk to me. Please let someone that has experienced the same sort of ache I am experiencing at the moment to come and talk with me. They know how I feel. They know what I am thinking. They know what I need.  Trained counselors have their place and are much needed in this world but give me someone that really knows and is acquainted with the sorrow I have just been introduced to.

To all the women that are victims of domestic violence; I don’t know your throbbing agony the way you do. I can’t minister to you the way you need ministered to. God hasn’t given me that experiential knowledge. God has allowed me to carry burdens in different areas. He has given me the desire to pray for you. But to you he has allowed the experience. You can go and minister to that woman that desperately needs you right now. Don’t draw into a fetal position and die emotionally. You are greatly equipped and fit to go, share your story and help someone else that has drawn into a fetal position and just wants to die.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV)

The God of All Comfort

Praise be to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any toruble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

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     I just returned from a two day Guardian ad Litem conference in Cary, NC.  It was nice and grueling at the same time.  Small world. Dr. Ruby Payne was there. I had just had a training workshop Wednesday based on her book. 

     I fell asleep in one class. I don’t think that has happened since high school. So many people were complaining about being sleepy.  The food was okay. The information was great and I realize I have a lot to learn and a lot to offer.

         My diet has surely suffered these last few days. However, I did get on the treadmill when I got home. I am exhausted and ready for a day of sitting on the sofa staring at the walls. Yep, maybe all day. Who knows?

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     I attended an all day workshop in N. Wilkesboro on Wednesday, April 29th.  The conference presenter was Annette Snider, a certified trainer of Dr. Ruby Payne’s A framework for Understanding Powerty. It was good. What really struck me was the poverty simulation presented by staff members from Crisis Assistance Ministry in Charlotte to help attendees experience the tough choices that come with being poor.

     It was a good experience to walk in the shoes of a family that works but does not make enough money to  make ends meet. The time it takes to go from agency to agency seeking help was mind boggling.  Sometimes their whole day is spent trying to get their bills paid and visiting  places that may offer additional resources.

     It gave me a healthy respect for those that are struggling to support a family on a low paying salary. They are not buying tobacco, drugs or alcohol. Every cent they get goes to caring for their families.

     The temptation to use dishonest means or turning to crime to get ahead is a reality. Poverty is a sad situation for anyone, but especially children.

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