I didn’t expect to come away with so much.
I went on that adventure knowing that I was pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I was doing something–going somewhere–that I had never ventured before. I expected to see a new state that I’d never visited. I expected to learn a few new things on writing. I expected to meet my writing mentor. I expected that, without my posse who inspire me to confidence and an outgoing nature, I would hide inside my shell and come home empty-handed on the new acquaintances and contacts front. I expected that I would carry on in my writing just as I had before.
I was met with a multitude of people who “got me”. I encountered a spiritual retreat. I found the natural beauty of North Carolina a balm to my soul.
I didn’t expect to be so changed by it all.
These people, many of whom I knew next to nothing about, impacted my life in huge ways.
One woman I referred to in my head as “worshiper” all week-long. It wasn’t until the last day that I found out her name was Janelle. Her enthusiasm and worshipful spirit ushered me into the presence of God…every single time I came across her.
My neighbor for the week turned out to be a father of three–just like my own brother. Kyle had a sweet wife, and his kids were energetic and well-mannered–a rare phenomenon these days. He turned out to be a multiple-award winning writer; extremely talented and driven. We both write in similar genres and the potential for a writing friendship is something I look forward to. Even though he and my brother look nothing alike, he reminded me so much of him.
On that first morning, I shyly asked to sit at a table with two women who became my dearest acquaintances of the week.
Beckie is the sort of woman I want to be. The embodiment of grace and confidence; driven and committed, passionately following Christ.
And Molly Jo is my soul-sister; the woman who intimidates and inspires me. Who loves me in spite of myself. A friendship that I hope will last a lifetime. I have a feeling it will–she wouldn’t let me give up on it. And I absolutely love that about her–among many other things.
I sat at a table full of men who talked science-fiction and philosophy, theology and fantasy. And I was completely at home, more myself than ever (normally, I would have been extremely uncomfortable sitting with only men). I was thrilled to find that I actually knew what they were talking about, unlike the many tables of women who talked blogging and devotional writing–two things I enjoy greatly but know next to nothing about.
The woman I went to see, my dear writing mentor, Yvonne Lehman, was full of spunk and humor. She was wise and insightful. My heart sang for joy when I saw her for the first time–this woman who had impacted my writing for so long. I owe so much to her, and always will.
This trip brought me so far. And ultimately sent me back home to put into practice the things I had learned (this summer had entirely different plans, but that’s another story). I wish I could be back at Ridgecrest right now, with the people I have grown to admire and love. My spirit longs for change and adventure. But my soul yearns to be home.
I can hear the music of the tree frogs and cicada’s outside my door. It’s the sound of home. I will always love coming back to the music…but in order to come home, one must first leave.