Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Everything I Meant to Say...

Last Saturday night, 700 people witnessed a miracle. Me, speechless.

Gals at the gala: (l-r) Raquel, Anita, Moi, Sandy, Elizabeth
I was on the stage at the banquet that caps the annual American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. Moments before, I had the honor of being named ACFW's Mentor of the Year. I knew I was a finalist for the award, but as I never really pictured myself winning, I hadn't prepared a speech. I had a few ideas of what I might say, and if I'm going to be at all honest, I'd run through a few phrases in the shower, but when I got up to that podium, holding that bouquet of roses and lovely award with my name etched in the glass, well, my head went empty. That doesn't happen to me often. I'm glib on my feet, usually. And now, looking back, I feel like my lack of preparation was an amazing show of disrespect to my wonderful friends who cared enough to nominate me in the first place.

So...what I'm sharing with you now isn't exactly what I'd planned to say in some acceptance speech. It actually comes from my sermon notes from the Sunday before the conference.

The text: John 15: 5-8
  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Years ago, before I even knew about the existence of Christian fiction, I knew I wanted to be some sort of writer. I clearly remember reading these verses and thinking that, if I didn't follow through in some sort of obedience, God would dry up my very ability to write. Then, last Sunay, as this was the focal point of the sermon, I sat thinking about how far God had brought me. Until that moment, if anyone had ever asked me about the "fruit" of my writing, I would have told of my novels--Nine of them!--and my Awards and Almost-Awards. But that Sunday, God spoke just as clearly to me as He had all those years ago. My fruit wasn't on my Amazon Author Page. My fruit was in the lives of people in whom I am invested. One point our pastor made was that a healthy, fruit-producing vine remains green--healthy enough to produce a crop year after year. My writing friends feed me. I nourish my own career by trying to clear a path for others. My stories thrive because of my critique group, and I yearn for the professionalism of writing-centric conversations.

So...yeah. That's what I meant to say. You know, all eloquent with scriptural references and alliteration and the occasional clever twist of phrase. It's just never easy for me to talk about myself. About my books? Sure. About YOUR books? Absolutely!  Instead, I was all weepy, weepy, bwah, bwah, bwah...ill-prepared for the magnitude of such a blessing.


  1. You were beautiful up there, and your surprise at being selected showed your humility that you pour into others because you love them, not because you are hoping to be noticed or receive an award. I'm proud and honored to call you my friend. You are a blessing!

  2. You were charming and spontaneous and eloquent. You came across genuine and humble. We all couldn't have been more happy for you.