Continuing from the last blog post….
So, after the whole emotional experience of holding my book for the first time, it was time to buckle down and prepare to run the booth. After some crazy things – like trying to find keys to boxes and finding out that the credit card machine battery had died – we were ready for business when the book fair opened. It felt like only a couple of minutes and then I had to go get ready for my talk.
I stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom, adjusting my necklace and taking deep, slow breaths. I wasn’t too nervous now, but I wanted so badly to say what God wanted me to say and make sure the talk was for His glory that I couldn’t help but be a little worried. I grabbed my water bottle, feeling suddenly thirsty, and then headed with my family to the room where I would be speaking.
The room I was speaking in was a beautiful ballroom. It was very long and had a low ceiling, which made me feel a bit claustrophobic for a few minutes. We got everything set up and people began to trickle in. Then came the worst part – the waiting. I had to sit on the stage and wait for the session to start. Since this was the first session of the entire conference, not many people were there until the last five minutes. So there wasn’t really anyone to talk to. I just had to sit there, smile, and wait. My room monitor and sound person came and talked to me to get everything set up. Two sign language interpreters came up to me and asked me about the message and theme of my talk. It was so cool to know that there were going to be people sharing my talk with a deaf person! Even during the talk, I stole little glances over at them to see what they were doing.
After that, I was just sitting, waiting, and praying. But then I even ran out of things to pray. I had been praying so much for so long that I knew God had heard me and His will would be done and I just had to leave everything up to Him. Finally, it was time to start.
I walked up onto the stage, all confident, and started speaking. To my horror, I realized that my mic wasn’t on. Thankfully I discovered this in the first few words I said and the sound person came up immediately to fix everything. It only took a few seconds, and I tried so hard to not let it get to me, but my nerves definitely flared up a little bit then. One of my best friends told me, “I was probably one of the only people who could tell, but you were a little nervous for those first few slides, and then after that you were fine.” And I was! At least, I felt fine. Once I started talking I knew God would help me and I could see the people in the audience listening intently.
Everything seemed to go by so fast, but in a good way. I actually ended before the allotted time and was able to have some time for some Q&A, which is what I had hoped would happen. After the talk I had a few people come up to me and either tell me I did a good job or ask me some questions about their story. I got to talk to a young man, around twelve years old, who had started a book club for underprivileged youth in Winston-Salem.
I didn’t get back to the booth right away. All of my friends working the booth were so excited to see me. They said that right after my talk ended people filled the booth. There was a line when I got there and I started signing books and talking to people. It was a little overwhelming trying to sign books, talk to people, and make sure what I was saying was bringing glory to God and pointing people towards Him.
The most exciting part of the experience was talking to other young writers. Several young people talked about how much they were encouraged by my talk. I talked to people and heard so many amazing book ideas! There were ideas for mysteries, fiction, and sci-fi! I’ve been able to see some of those story ideas written out since then. But what touched me most was people telling me, “Yeah, I’m going to make sure that I add a spiritual journey to my story, or make sure my plot and characters brings glory to God let you said.”
One girl came up to talk to me. She was very quiet and shy. I could tell she really wanted to talk to me but was also kind of scared. I smiled really big and tried to be extra warm and welcoming because I could tell that this girl had something on her heart. I asked her about her story idea. She smiled a little and seemed to relax a bit as she told me the general idea. It was a ghost story. I felt the smile get tight on my face. Please Lord, I prayed, help me know how to encourage this girl to write for God’s glory but not crush her spirit or her hopes and dreams.
The girl finished telling me her idea and before I could say anything she hastened to say, “But in your talk, I realized that my story didn’t bring glory to God at all. So… I actually came up with a new idea in your talk that I wanted to talk to you about.”
A practically sighed in relief but was also so happy that this girl was willing to start something completely different just because she was convicted by scripture! Really, that’s all I had done was quote scripture in my talk. The scriptures I used are below:
Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (emphasis mine)
1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.” (emphasis mine)
1 John 2:15-16, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”
Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
People are so hungry for the Word of God. The Word of God is often watered down or simply not taught in churches today. And we know that in the world they try to leave out God and His truths whenever possible. When people are presented with the Word of God, it is truly as powerful and as sharp as a two-edged sword, piercing to the heart and convicting in ways that we can’t even imagine.
Recently, as I’ve been talking with family, friends, or aspiring writers, I’ve been trying even harder to incorporate pure scripture or spiritual truths in my emails of encouragement, knowing that the Word of God is more challenging and convicting then my words alone could ever be. The world and the people in the world are so lost and so in need of God’s love and forgiveness. I pray that through my books that it will give people a hunger for God’s Word and a desire for the truth.