At this stage of my life, justifying time away from my family is always a battle. There’s the money battle (“Can we afford this?) and the logistics battle (“Who will watch the kids on Friday?”) but, the worst battle of all is the one in my soul. Do I really deserve time away?
I’m writing from a hotel near Chicago O’Hare Airport, killing time before my flight back to California. My body is tired from staying up too late and a mysterious 1:00am fire drill, but my soul is more than overflowing. Did I deserve the time away? That’s a silly question. Did I need this time away? YES.
I joined the Redbud Writer’s Guild about two years ago, but this weekend was the first time I met many of the women in person. For years I’ve read their books and watched their words pop up on websites like Christianity Today, Relevant, The Gospel Coalition, and Sojourners. These women are shaping Christian culture, advocating for the marginalized and oppressed, filling the world with beautiful poetry and songs, and pointing myself and so many others back to the Gospel through brave, authentic storytelling. They represent many political backgrounds, denominations and races. They range in age from young to old. There are attorneys and seminary grads in the mix, moms and grandmothers, marketers, teachers, a judge, songwriters, pastors and preachers and teachers (or whatever you feel comfortable calling women on the pulpit, wink wink.) But, the thing that unites us is a faith in Christ, and our passion and gifting for the written word.
To be honest, while the weekend was packed with devotions, worship, seminars and panel discussions, the casual conversations were my favorite part. I tried to sit with someone new at every meal and meeting so I could hear about each person’s passions and projects. We talked about everything from how to find a good agent to how to find a good babysitter (the latter is still fuzzy for most of us) and we found encouragement in each other’s successes.
During lunch today I listened to Jenny Rae Armstrong and Amy Buckley discuss how they’re each working on biblical equality education in Africa. (I added nothing to this conversation, just in case you were impressed or wondering.) Not only was I humbled by their minds and hearts for God, but I also loved seeing how He was bringing together women with similar passions and gifting to do crucial KINGDOM work on the other side of the word. (On a related note, check out Amy’s recent article on Relevant called What Does It Look Like to be a Christian Feminist.)
I came into the weekend not knowing what to expect, and I left with clarity and goals for my writing, new friendships and a huge admiration for the work of the Holy Spirit.
If you’re a female, Christian writer please ask me about Redbud. There’s a place for you in our community, and we’d gladly welcome your voice. Thank you Buds, for being a community who shares the same trunk, and blooms together for the same purpose.
And, speaking of thank you, my husband deserve a big one. Jonathan, thanks for brushing Anna’s hair, taking the kids to donuts, and being a generally amazing dad. I needed this time, and you made it happen for me. xoxo