A Blessing and a Writer’s Conference

On Wednesday, I will be leaving to attend the Greater Philly Christian Writer’s Conference. It will be the first multi-day conference I have ever attended. I’m so excited, I’ve been counting the days.

My excitement is about more than the fact that I LOVE to write and to connect with other writers. My excitement is about seeing what God has in store for me at this conference. You see, the reason I have never attended a multi-day writer’s conference is because they cost a good deal of money — for food, shelter and to cover the cost of the speakers/teachers. Some conferences do have partial scholarships you can apply for.

However, the money hasn’t been the only thing that’s kept me from attending one of these conferences. The other is my family. We still have one child at home who is too young to be alone all day and we’ve never wanted my husband to use his vacation days for me to go away because his vacation days should be for him or for family vacation.

Well, this year, God made it clear that He wants me to go to this conference when he provided the finances from someone who was a complete stranger (I have since met this person briefly). This generous donor likes to let God use them to bless others, and they see it as an investment in my future. I was in complete shock at first — I couldn’t find the words to express my gratitude. Eventually the shock wore off and I was able to find out the details of what attending such a conference entails and get the registration taken care of, and to say, “Thank you”, though that still seems inadequate to me.

Also, the way this conference is scheduled and the availability of our older sons, my husband only needed to take two vacation days from work. So, God has provided and removed any roadblocks for me to go to this conference.

In addition, I have since learned that this is the last year that this conference will be offered in its current venue. Next year, the organizer will hold smaller conferences with specific focuses.

So, I am going to this conference with an expectant heart (as I learned in The Story of With by Allen Arnold), and I can’t wait to see what God has for me, whether it be a small blessing or a big blessing. No matter what, I know I’ll come away with a lot more knowledge about certain aspects of writing than I have now, and I will also come away encouraged and inspired, and probably, with a few more friends.

I’ll report about it when I return.

An Unintentional Gift of Love by Z. Barr

Today’s post is a special short story — special because it was written by my youngest son. We just began our homeschool year — his 7th grade year, and this was his first writing assignment. I love how it turned out (it’s one of the best he’s written and I thought it went so well with the illustration). The photo of the illustration isn’t very good, but in the upper left hand corner, there is a man dressed in a white shirt with a hand in the air, like he’s waving. He only had to make a few minor adjustments. I asked if he minded if I share it here, and he gave his permission.

The assignment was to write a story to go with the illustration and to include what happened just before and just after the picture. If you enjoy it, leave a comment that I can pass along to him.


“An Unintentional Gift of Love”

by Z. Barr

     Three-year-old, curly blond-haired Alice and five-year-old, brown-haired Susan were helping Ma with the dishes.

“Ma, when can we go out and pick flowers?” Alice asked.

“When the dishes are done,” Ma said.

When the dishes were done, Alice asked Ruff, their dog, if he wanted to go along to pick flowers and get some fresh air.

“Ruff!” The dog barked. Ruff got his name because of the way he barks.

“Have a good time girls!” Ma called. “And take this loaf of bread, butter, and preserves to Uncle Richard’s farm. Set this basket around fifty feet from the sidewalk that leads to the house. Then go flower picking.”

“Okay, Ma,” the girls said in unison.

The girls left the house and headed toward Uncle Richard’s farm.

“I’ll put the basket down and you and Ruff stay here, Alice,” said Susan. She left the basket fifty feet away from the sidewalk. Richard’s family was under a spell of fever.

When Susan came back, she, Alice, and Ruff went flower picking. Ruff bounded around the girls happily. The girls picked violets, daisies, morning glories, and buttercups.

They saw their Ma’s friends, Joanne and Amelia, deep in conversation. When they noticed the girls, Amelia said, “Hi. How are you and your Ma doing?”

“We’re fine, thank you.” Susan answered.

Once, Susan looked in the direction of Uncle Richard’s farm, and she saw Uncle Richard picking up the basket and waving ‘thank you’ to them.

After Susan and Alice picked armfuls of flowers, they headed home.

When they entered the house, they showed the flowers to Ma, who was embroidering. “Morning glories! I love morning glories! Thank you,” she cried. “Those were the kind of flowers your Pa gave me before our wedding, and he gave more to me before he died of cancer.”

Ma put all the flowers in a vase with water. In less than an hour, the whole house smelled of flowers.



The Story of With by Allen Arnold

The Story of With: A Better Way to Live, Love, & Create by [Arnold, Allen]

Back Cover Blurb:

You are not alone.

“Whether you’re a free spirit, an office exec, a writer, musician, college student, or tired parent–your soul, like mine, knows life is meant to go beyond rat races and rare applause. This book speaks to that belief. And if you’re not careful, you may find tears warming your eyes as you read because finally someone is naming your weariness, your striving, your questions of why you just can’t quite make it, or the emptiness that hit because maybe you did. It is into those places The Story of With reaches–fusing allegory with application–to offer fresh perspective, restored hope, and a rebirth of creativity.”

–From the Foreword by Mary Weber,                                                                                                          Christy & Carol Award-Winning, Scholastic                                                                                                           Pick Author of the Storm Siren Trilogy

This book combines good storytelling and teaching. It’s a story that will touch you deep within. It will speak to you, wherever you are in life, right now. The teaching enriches the story and the message.

Do you know who you are? Are you aware that what you do does not define who you are? This book includes the story of Mia’s journey, and, at the same time, takes the reader on a journey to discover who he/she really is.

When I first saw this book, I thought, “what kind of title is the story of WITH”? As I read it, I soon discovered just how important the title of the book is, and it couldn’t have a better-fitting title. This book will challenge you. It will make you examine your life, your choices. It might inspire you to make some changes.

This book held me captive and left a very deep impression upon me. It resonates with me, and it challenged me to make a few changes in my life. This book fanned a spark that was already in me and created a flame. I am sure I will read this book again. I have much of it highlighted in green. I, who revere books, even dog-eared a page that I want immediate access to–and I have NEVER dog-eared the page of a book before.

This book CHANGED MY LIFE, and I challenge you to read it and let it change yours.