Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Life Lessons at a Writing Conference (Laurie)

Hey everyone! Before I move into my post, I wanted to share some exciting news! Lands Uncharted has a new blogger!!! Sadly Laura has stepped down from being a regular contributor with us, if you missed her farewell post you can read it here. But we're so thrilled to be adding Julie Kitchens as our newest contributor! Make sure to check out her bio (you can find the link on the left-hand side), and if you haven't read her first post yet, Top 3 Reasons to Travel, you can find it here. Welcome, Julie!!

Now, back to our regularly-schedule programming... :)

Back in July, I had the opportunity to attend the first annual Northwestern Christian Writers Conference here in Minnesota. It was a wonderful conference in many ways, but since this is a Personal Notes post I won't go into all the writing-related lessons I learned. Instead, I want to focus on a few life lessons I received during the course of the day that were arguably even more valuable.

First, I had several fun experiences of God leading me to the right person at the right time. At lunch, I saw a stranger sitting alone. Despite my inner introvert telling me to go find a familiar face or join a group where I wouldn't have to talk much, I took a deep breath and asked if I could sit with her. And I'm so glad I did! It turned out she was also a lawyer who left her job to become a stay-at-home mom and is now looking into getting started with writing. As you might imagine, we had a lot to talk about!

Later on, I was sitting on a bench alone and someone asked to join me. She was from the town where I went to college, and happened to work at a middle school there. When I told her about what I write, she asked for my card so she could contact me to come speak to her students about my book when it comes out! As my fellow Lands Uncharted blogger Jill would say, it seemed like total a "God thing" :)

But what struck me even more deeply was a message contained within the time set aside for worship at the beginning of the conference. The singer made reference to the familiar story from the Gospel of Luke where Jesus calls Simon to be His disciple.

As a quick refresher, Jesus tells Simon to "Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch."

Simon answers, "Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing..." You can imagine what he's thinking here, right? Fishing is his specialty, and he's been at it all night with no results. Casting his nets out again was sure to bring nothing but further embarrassment and frustration. Yet, he continues, "but at your command I will lower the nets." And when he does, he brings up a net so full of fish it nearly sinks his boat. (New American Bible, Luke 5:4-7)

I'm sure it's partly because I still have a lot of maturing to do in my study of the Bible and my faith in general, but I'd always taken this story at face value. Nicely done, Jesus - what a clever way to make an impression on your new disciples. But hearing it in the context of a writing conference suddenly added a whole new layer of meaning.

There are so many areas of our lives where we can work tirelessly, only to find that little to nothing has come of it. Sometimes that can be a sign it's not meant to be, or the timing isn't right. But sometimes, you may feel a little pull within you to try again. Send out one more query. Enter one more contest. Make one more effort to become that person's friend. Make one more attempt at that seemingly unsolvable problem.

It's so tempting to say "I'm done. I've already tried so hard, given it my best shot, and it's over. I refuse to let it waste any more of my time." And there certainly will always be a risk that nothing will come of it. But what if, like Simon, Jesus is prompting you to try one last time because He's prepared the biggest catch of your life? Talk about inspiring!

These reminders of how God can act in our lives if we're willing to listen and take a chance came at just the right time for me, and I'm hoping I can really take them to heart as I step further and further out of my comfort zone towards the unknown of becoming a published author. Even if I hadn't learned anything specific to writing, I'd say the conference was a success :)

What coincidental connections have you made by happening to meet the right person at the right time? Have you had an experience where you planned to give up on something but tried one more time with a positive result? Has a familiar story ever taken on new meaning for you when put in a different context?

Thanks for reading!


  1. Very inspiring post, Laurie. I was recently reminded of the importance of simple friendliness, such as inviting a newcomer at church to lunch, for instance.

    1. Thanks, Lizzie! You're so right - we once started chatting with a family at church and it turned out they were visiting from out of town but we're still friends with them today!

  2. Laurie, this encouraging post was absolutely lovely. Thank you for sharing what you learned -- I'm glad God touched your heart.

  3. Laurie, it was a total "God thing" to have read your post this morning! I had never thought about Peter feeling the way he did in that story, but how relatable he is! Such an encouraging post. <3

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Laura! I'm so glad you found the post encouraging :)

  4. Thank you for this inspiring post, Laurie, and for sharing about your experience at the conference! It sounds like you were in exactly the right place to be ready to receive these messages. I love when things work out like that. They always seem to, somehow. Life comes back around to these moments and everything aligns.

    1. Thanks, Laura! It definitely did feel like I was at the right place at the right time, which is so reassuring :) I'm glad you found it inspiring!


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