A Year of Firsts

This has been a year of firsts for me.

I began my first blog.
I was a keynote speaker for the first time.
I saw my first client as a marriage & family therapist.
I attended my first writer’s conference.

In July, I had the opportunity to attend the She Speaks conference in Concord, NC.
As a new writer/blogger, I was intimidated to go to this conference, realizing that I don’t know what I don’t know about writing.

She Speaks is part of Proverbs 31 Ministries and exists to teach and equip women to step into their calling and giftedness in the areas of writing, speaking and women’s ministry.

All of my life I have been consistent in one facet of my life; I tend to end up in situations by unconventional methods.

My experience in how I ended up going to She Speaks was no different.

I only began blogging in January of this year. I was completely unfamiliar with Proverbs 31 Ministries until a month prior to hearing about the conference and I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but knew that my heart skipped a beat or two the first time I stumbled across the conference website for She Speaks.

There were many obstacles to overcome before I could go to She Speaks. The first of many was my husband. I sheepishly told him of my desire to attend and waited for him to scoff. That didn’t happen; instead he was very supportive of the idea, but ultimately he became the bearer of bad news.

Going to She Speaks was not in our budget.

Until this moment, I did not realize how important writing had become to me.

Initially I felt defeated. I tried to prepare myself to let the opportunity pass by. As I prayed and asked God to help me be okay with not going, my heart was not ready to let it go.

I prayed and asked the Lord to provide a way for me be able to attend. I learned of some scholarship and fundraising opportunities through the She Speaks website and hope was rekindled.

It became clear to me that God was stirring my heart. Recognizing the window of opportunity remained open; I sent out a fundraising letter to some of my close friends and ministry partners, asking if they would support me in pursuing my calling as a writer and speaker.

The response was overwhelming and incredibly affirming.

In 10 days time my conference fees were fully funded AND someone had donated airline miles for my ticket.

So with little more than a few months of blogging under my belt, I flew 3,000 miles to attend She Speaks.

I arrived ready to learn the nuts and bolts of writing for publication, grammar do’s and don’ts and helpful tips from seasoned authors.
What I did not expect was the careful attention to matters of the heart.

Throughout the course of the conference the emphasis was not on creating a highly marketable platform or collecting followers on facebook, twitter and Google+.Rather the focus revolved around knowing the Lord God, listening to His heart, following His unique call and using the gifts He has imparted to each one.

This was a long, slow, deep breath for my soul. I did not need to have the perfect book proposal, I did not need to have an amazing social media following, I simply needed to follow the One who called me and offer Him my heart.

Exhale.

She Speaks may have been my first writer’s conference, but I doubt it will be my last.

I began the conference as a reluctant blogger, but returned as a courageous writer.

I discovered a few things about myself at She Speaks.

I write because I love the written word.
I write because it is where I am able to fully express the depth and breadth of my thoughts and emotions.
I write because the Lord has called me and I want to be responsible with the gift He has given me.

What about you, why do you write?

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9 thoughts on “A Year of Firsts

  1. Sherry says:

    I write…because…I could say because I’m opinionated. And that’s true.  Or I want to inform others or jostle their cages. And that would be true too. But more so than anything – it’s because one day God woke me up with a desire to write on His behalf. And it’s been my fuel. And so the real truth is: because I simply can’t not write.

    • KAREN COOK says:

      I love that Sherry – so true. When God stirs in us a gift & a desire, our only response is to use for His glory. Thanks friend…I appreciate your gift & your friendship. (insert cute object here…)

  2. Heathersfaith says:

    Even as a small child, I wrote.  I wrote song lyrics and poetry, mostly stuff I never shared with anyone. It was a way to escape my reality.  I always dreamed someday I would write something that would change the world, inspire positive change.  As I became an adult, writing took a backseat in my life, but the aching desire still burned.  

    When I became a Christian, God ignited that fire and, like Sherry said, I can’t NOT write!  I write because my joy for the Lord spills onto the paper.  I write for the lost…I write to reach out to the lost with God’s hope and truth.

    I’m so blessed to have connected with you and Sherry, two of my very favorite writers!

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Thank you Heather…I am so thankful that we have been able to meet & share our love for writing and for the Lord. Keep letting those words spill onto paper – God is and will continue to use them in your life and in the lives of others. Grace & Peace friend!

  3. Rebeccadowden says:

    New things…

    voted in a mid-term election.  I know that is sad, but I’m working on not being an apathetic citizen anymore 🙂

    got a tweeter account & a ministry page on FB!

    I had done a radio show before but never a 25 minute show!!! 

    That is all that comes to mind at the moment, but this is a good reminder to do NEW things…Thanks, Karen!

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Thanks Rebecca…voting is a great example – especially mid term elections, we tend to take that process for granted and then complain when we don’t like who is in office. Thanks for challenging me in this!

  4. Liane says:

    I write… because… I believe that God has given me something to say. I’m having to learn to believe in myself more, so in writing I deliberately challenge myself to step up to the plate. I don’t know exactly what I’m doing but I desire God’s plan for my life; I desire to live that which I see myself do when I close my eyes and anything is possible. I want to make a difference; I want to help people. I believe that desire was placed there by Him.

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