Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The ACFW Conference

I'll admit it. I didn't want to go. It was a wee bit expensive for my current budget, and as far as I was concerned, I didn't need to go. I had an agent, and books coming out of my yin yang all the way until 2009! In my mind if I went it'd be for like, vacation, and everybody knows I've NEVER gone on vacation. When Heather Diane Tipton said, "God shows up at conference," it was ME who said, "Oh yeah? He shows up here everyday for FREE!" Yeah. I was like that.

So I have to beat the bushes for a ride because the engine fell out of old blue. It's something about your engine falling out that makes you NOT want to travel. I get a ride to the airport, and I have to lug a box of books with me. I'm praying desperately for a few kind, sympathetic souls to buy those books because God knows I don't want to take them back home. I mean it. I would have passed out books at the airport to keep from taking them with me.

On the plane I have a "nervous breakdown." Yeah. I know "nervous breakdown" isn't a clinical term and nobody really knows what it is. By that I means it's a very subjective experience. Let's just say mine involved crying incessantly and wanting to run away. And this was on the plane. Thank God it was Camy, Ronie, Dineen and Heather (pretty much in that order) meeting me at the airport. These ladies love me, and laughed when I said, seriously, that I had a ghetto credit card and didn't know if it would work at the hotel. They said it would and pronouced a few blessings on me. And isn't that cool, to have blessings proclaimed on your life.

I get to the hotel and people start loving on me immediately! I have to call out Katy McKenna because she is VERY guilty of pouring out love. She was speaking with someone, spotted me, stop in the middle of her discourse and shot over to me like a bullet out of a gun. The woman made me want to go live with her. And it only got worse after that.

Marilynn Griffith gets to our room and she starts talking like she sees me every day. Right away it's like, "Girl, I'm so glad you're here." And she proceeds to tell me about her own nervous break down. So it's my turn to love and exhort and then there are meetings for Mary and a walk for me, another mini pow wow after my walk and Mary warned me not to sit on the bed because there's like some kind of narcotic in the duvet and you get sucked in. But I sat on the bed, thinking it was safe, and the next thing you know the laptop is on top of me and I'm twisted around with my butt in the air in some kind of coma. That was one comfortable bed.

The next day I attended the editors panel. It didn't matter that I have a book out that's doing well. I left that panel convinced NOBODY would EVER want ANYTHING I write EVER AGAIN. I got depressed. Morose. Then I went to Mindy's Mystery writing chat and left CERTAIN that I could NOT, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES write a mystery. I did EVERYTHING wrong and now EVERYONE would know. Then I went to my room and cried incessantly hating myself for going to that God awful conference.

This prompted me to take a walk and Heather spent a good deal of time speaking to me in soothing tones and telling me Jesus loves me and I could write. When she'd convinced me (nearly) I went back up stairs and cried incessantly because obviously my medication needs adjusting. I felt like I would DIE (@#$% conference!!!!) and started doing what I always do when I think I'm going to die. I prayed the Psalms. Again and again until the wind of the Holy Spirit breezes through the room and tells me to go outside again.

I go, risking Heather thinking I'm psychotic, and she comes to me, and tells me that another poor dear is so depressed she didn't want to come. I stop crying long enough to go help that person, even though I'm completely jacked up. I wouldn't want someone else to feel like I do. So for the next hour or so we break the bread of sorrows together, and love each other just like Jesus would.

Thursday I exhuasted my "episodes" and I felt pretty good after that. I decided to talk to important people since big, weird things were happening with the agency I was with and my publishing house. Those people were a bit of a coup because I didn't have an appointment (Ms. I don't need anything). God was good. He knew I needed to talk with all of those people. So I networked like a fiend!

Ended up Saturday at Lisa Samson's Published Not Popular workshop, and I admit, once again, I started trouble. I joked that I was sitting in the Holy Ghost row (the front) and Marilynn made the mistake of sitting with me. Before Lisa is done I'm crying incessantly, but out of some kind of grateful JOY and then Mary breaks down, and then Lisa and Liz Curtis Higgs and practically everybody and we get a magnificent visitation that makes that little conference room HOLY GROUND. Lisa reminded us that we write out of love and obedience. It's the kind of word from God that strips you of ambition and makes you say, "Yes, Lord." Even if I never earn out my advance. Even if I never get off of food stamps. Even if I never get to buy my husband a new car, or have real medical insurance. I say YES, because I love you, and want to obey you."

Heady stuff.

Next was the book signing. Lisa, Mary, and I were still a little drunk from the big Holy Spirit move and kind of delirious. The three of us made the mistake of sitting together and we acted a pure fool. Everything was hilarious. Please don't sit by Lisa Samson or Marilynn Griffith if you need to be serious. It won't work.

From there was the Gala and we all got "Fly" in our finest finery. I got to take a picture with Liz Curtis Higgs and she told me not to go to Tattoo school (you had to have been there to understand). I took lots of pictures with women I adore. And the love flowed like wine pouring off the mountains. I know that metaphor doesn't make sense, but it's in Amos(I think), and it's beautiful!

I'm so glad I went. I got so many Jesus kisses that I started thinking He was sweet on me. And thanks to everybody who made it such a wonderful experience for me.

You know who you are.


Deborah said...

So glad I got a chance to meet you, Mair, and take "Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man" home with me.

Been an enjoyable read, funny, serious, great sense of voice. But hey, after reading Ragamuffin Diva, I expected that.

Those beds were something else, no? or eh? as they say in Canada.

shanna said...

Didn't I tell you? Didn't I tell you?!

Now if I could only believe it for myself. THAT would be something. (Send a little of that Lovin' Stuff my way, girl!)

Guess my turn is coming soon. I'm expecting big things in the KY state!

Joni said...

Dear sweet, sweet Mair,
I'm so thankful God sent all those wonderful ladies your way. So glad you got to go to the conference. See how much God LOVES YOU!!!???

Looking forward to the day I get to meet you and give you some sisterly love, too!

Cathy West said...

Mair. Your words are beautiful.
Makes me wish today was last Wednesday ane we were starting conference all over again.
It was such a joy to meet you in person - you are so cool and I can't wait to read your book!
I'll be praying for those changes in the publishing business, but never forget that God goes before you. This is no surprise to Him. He's got a plan for you!
Keep smiling!

Bek said...

the heady stuff sounds like heart-y stuff too :) and i would say that He IS sweet on YOU! :) thx for the always, entertaining....:)

Heather Diane Tipton said...

Girl, how could I ever think you were psychotic?? You forget, God sent me down there twice too. He knew what He was doing.

I LOVE seeing the conference through your eyes. I love this conference like crazy gone wild. And you just improved it even more. Thank you for that tribute, Claudia it meant the world to me.

Love you!

Suzan Robertson said...

I really didn't get a chance to talk to you at the conf, but your presence blessed me. I wish you God-filled moments in your writing. Come back next year. We need you.


:-)Ronie said...

**I** am so glad you came, Mair! You are such a beautiful person, and it's such a honor to be called your friend. I wish we'd had more time to chat this weekend. You are so precious--I'm sad I missed out on getting to know you better!

Mirtika said...

Jesus is sweet on you. :D And why wouldn't he be. You rock!

And I love that blue outfit!!!


Kristine said...

You are so cute! I love your glasses! Oh course we all know how brillant and special you are! I am glad you went and blessed by the story you shared here. One day we will meet...

Amy Wallace said...

I wasn't too sure why I was at ACFW either. And there were plenty of moments I wanted to tuck tail and run home.

But I stayed. And because I did, I got to meet you in person. Got to tell you that my daughters have been challenged to think by the posts I've read of yours. With all the words... sometimes truth requires stuff to sound as bad as it is.

Thank you for making the end of my conference so worth what it cost to stand firm and stay where I was.

You are a gift!


Robin Caroll said...

Oh girl, I feel so BLESSED to have gotten to know you! You are such a wonderful and beautiful person! I enjoyed spending time with you! I'm already looking forward to seeing you next year in Dallas! :)

Dineen A. Miller said...

Loved meeting you, Mair. You are one inspirational lady. God is so amazing, isn't he? He moved big circles that week.

Shannon said...

Omigosh! MAIR!! This was just wonderful! I cried incessantly too. I told everyone when I came home that when I wasn't talking or making a nuisance of myself, I was huddled in some corner weeping over the nuggets of reassurance and LOVE that God was lavishing on me. Mmmm, mmmm ... love those Jesus kisses!

And I loved your tribute. You ARE beautiful, girl. You are! That blue dress was just--fantastic--but especially because YOU wore it!

Anonymous said...

You're pretty good at passing out the Jesus love yourself, girl. It's 6 am on a Saturday, and I'm up and reading my favorites. I WOKE my poor hubby up to read him your post!! (He loves you, too, from a distance, and WANTED me to read it to him!)

How I missed you Saturday night in your blues, I do not know. You look magnificent in those pics.

SO glad you hung with us. And that whole breakdown thing? Um....yeah. It's like that.

Katy McKenna

Gina Holmes said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gina Holmes said...

You were a delight, Mair. Truly. I'm SO very glad you went & I got to spend time with you. I just knew I'd love you and I was right! You're my kind of people. I didn't suspect for a second you were cursing the conference. God bless you.

Ps. the 1st comment I posted was gobbledy gook. Made little sense, that's why I deleted it.

R.G. said...

Mair, I'm so glad your time at ACFW was so blessed. You deserved every one of those Jesus kisses. Love ya girl.

upwords said...

It's like two weeks later and I think I've calmed down enough to come over here, right?


I'm about to totally start blubbering again and I'll wake the house. Girl, I love you, love you, love you and I'm so glad you came. Lisa said some things that I'm still trying to wrap my mind and my heart around though today it all finally hit me full force and I just let it run down my face, my legs and through my fingers.

Thank you for being you. All the time. It's such a precious thing. And God bless that Heather. She's always on duty. What would we do without her?

love you sis,

CHickey said...

Wonderful to meet you! HOpe I didn't embarass you by holding up your book and screaming for everyone to buy one! Girl, you are the best!

Deborah said...

Great pictures, Mair.

You look radiant.

Thanks for uploading them.

LaShaunda said...


Thanks for sharing your trip. I'm glad you had a Holy Ghost good time.

The Lord knows what's best. Every person he sent your way was a blessing to you to make the conference memorable.

Now when you slow down, hit me off line, so I can interview for the magazine.

Anonymous said...

What beautiful pictures. I had already heard about the conference but I didn't get to "see" it. You are beautiful and I am sitting here in tears happy and so proud of you. I love you with all my heart. Bestest.

Connie said...

How amazingly beautiful you are.

Paula said...

Oh man. I don't think I've ever slept on such a comfortable bed. I hear ya!

I'm so glad our Heather loved on you like that--and then you loved on me on Sunday. I keep replaying your words to me. Hearing the Father's voice and hanging onto the promises.

I love you like crazy, Mair.