Rethinking Writer’s Conferences, Accompanied by Angels

 Sometimes a big idea starts as a small nudge, a whisper you might ignore for the wildness of it all. You carry the dream of an idea around and wonder if someone else is hearing it, too. Then one day you jump in and ask, “Do you have a moment or two to talk about well, Something?”      
     And you make a date at the park, the one where the air show is practicing (’cause you forget when you pick the location the Blue Angels are in town) and you picnic anyway.
     And over tuna and chips you blurt out your “what would you think about????” to your bosom friend and she practically shouts (because of all that noise–remember the jets?), “Yes. I’ve been thinking that, too.!!”
      And you spill out your thoughts, scribbling fast on paper (because she has four children to manage–all you had to remember was your lunch and your journal) and the dream starts to take shape.What if we did something different? Not to go against the stream, but create our own current?
     What if we found a quiet place for writing and retreating and relationships where women of faith could be encouraged to live into their gifts as Jesus grows in them?
     What if, instead of all the ‘how-to’s we gave away what we know–and Who we know–and wove that into 3 days of writing and listening and practice–and REST?                                
     What would that look like?  What would we call it?  You dub it ‘Abide’ and now that it’s named, it’s really happening….and oh….Jesus, we expect you to show up, big time.

     You find the Holy Spirit had been speaking to you both—for many, many months–about the same word–Abide. Through the same Scripture passages–John 15.  And you talk about what that might look like–a session on Lectio Divina (a phrase you’ve never heard but want to know more about) and maybe practicing poetry–even pantoums.
     And you share your passion about Writing as a Spiritual Practice–just listening to Jesus in the woods with your journal and pen and some questions.
     Then you plan and you pay and pray and you meet and over many more lunches (noisy ones, there’s all these kids…) and you cry for the connection and the peace that God is bringing with the little band of 12 women God has put together.

     Then you ask for someone to help you lead the worship and one of the attendees is a stellar guitar player and you practice (more than once) and the glory comes down like a kiss from Heaven that says, “Yes!” again.

And you know Jesus is up to something. 
Something big. As big as the sky with the angels above the trees in the blue you can’t see the end of.

And you thank God for your friend Kimberlee.
And you tremble in your boots at the big God that whispered the nudge
in all it’s wild goodness.
And you fly.
After eighteen months of prayer and planning, 
my friend Kimberlee Conway Ireton and I are heading over to the 
Cascade Mountains in Washington this weekend for ABIDE.
This is our first writer’s retreat for women of faith,
a place of rest and relationship,
borne of a little dream from our big God.
You’ll come? Maybe next year?

14 thoughts on “Rethinking Writer’s Conferences, Accompanied by Angels

  1. These are beautiful words from a beautiful heart!I am so glad you and Kimberlee have been faithful to do this, Jody. And also, so bummed I was unable to attend. I've been thinking and praying for you ladies this weekend as we volleyball and football and birthday (verbs, you know?!), and expecting much for you all, straight from the same voice that prompted you to organize this.

  2. stuck to my desk with gluey blue stuff:
    “Confidence in the message God gives you to communicate makes you a person of influence.
    People pleasing, polling for opinions and comparison leads to a hurried up, distracted mind that communicates insecurity.”
    Shelly Miller blog post 6 23 15
    Your words have been part of the catalyst, my friend. So appreciate your prayers.

  3. I've been thinking about this retreat lately, as we prepare to attend the high school reunion that kept me from attending! My heart jumped for joy when I saw the phrase, “next year” … I am SO in for next year!
    Praying for you all. Much love!

  4. Jodi- Beautifully written friend and I so excited for this journey and it's been fun walking alongside you as this seed has sprouted, from the initial nudge you mentioned to me to the upcoming event. I love how you followed through with this dream because it is all about the dream from God. So glad God brought us together via Faith & Culture Writers. It's wonderful to share this life's journey, dreaming about faith and culture and art and writing and gathering folks into community.

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