Today you get to hear from me, LACY WILLIAMS. Aren’t you lucky?
I’ve been to the ACFW national conference twice, 2007 (Dallas) and 2009 (Denver). I’ve already registered for the 2010 conference in Indianapolis. Both times I’ve gone, I’ve experienced a palpable sense of affirmation that God is calling me to write, because of the people and things He’s put in my path.
In 2007, I roomed with a dear lady (hi, Jeneal!) from my “local” chapter – the only chapter in my state at that time. I didn’t know her well at all, but over the weekend we talked a lot, and she really touched me by staying in our room and praying for me during both of my appointments. That year, in addition to the wonderful classes I took, my editor appointment resulted in an invitation to send a full manuscript. My agent appointment was more of a learning experience – I learned that that person just wasn’t a good fit for me. I came away from conference so FULL.
In 2009, I attended as a finalist in the Genesis contest – which added a crazy sense of anticipation and humbleness (I couldn’t believe the quality of the writers I was up against!) to my experience. I loved getting to see people I’d met in 2007, attending the workshops, rooming with my critique partner (hi, Denice!). I had a great time meeting an agent and editor and making those connections. And somehow I won my category in the Genesis, which was a total surprise!
Things that really shaped my ACFW conference experiences:
WORSHIP: There’s so much going on at conference that sometimes you just need a break, and I’m all for sneaking in a nap when you can. But one thing that meant SO MUCH to me at both conferences was the worship, led by Rachel Hauck. It is so awesome to worship with writers from all over the world – this is one thing I advise against skipping! Also, visiting the prayer room when you need a quiet moment of reflection in between sessions or before an appointment – that ACFW offers this to its attendees is wonderful.
VOLUNTEERING: One of the things that pushed me out of my comfort zone but helped me meet people was helping out. Between both conferences, I’ve worked in the bookstore, taken meal tickets, been a workshop hostess, set up the SW Zone table, and done conference reporting for Afictionado. Not only do you get cool ribbons for your nametag, but you get to meet people. Even if you just give someone a smile, it can make a difference in their day (and sometimes their whole conference).
ASKING GOD TO GIVE ME WHAT HE WANTED: Both conferences, I spent time in prayer in the week leading up to conference, on the way to conference, and during the conference. Specifically for His blessings: people I needed to meet, places I needed to be, what I needed to do. I asked Him to help me be open so that I would be ready for what He wanted me to see, do, who He wanted me to talk to. Both times, He blessed me by letting me meet people I never expected, touch those who needed it (and be touched in return), and experience His presence in a whole new way.
If you are on the fence about going to conference, I hope you’ll pray about it and serious consider it. Yes, it is a big monetary investment, but for me, both conferences have been PRICELESS.
Register for the conference at: http://www.acfw.com/conference