Hello, Ian from Down Under here. I was fascinated to read Ann's Monday post about the history of SUM. And it brought back so many memories for me that I thought I'd go back in time and share my SUM beginnings.
It was September 2012. I had always wanted to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference and having a publisher for Angelguard I thought it a useful way of building some momentum for its release a few months later.
My wife and I combined it with a holiday to the US with the plan to attend the conference in DFW on our final leg before heading home. The conference had started and I was having a ball meeting lots of fascinating authors including some of my heroes plus gaining a lot of useful information. There was one particular workshop titled “How to Market Your Fiction Like a non-Fiction Pro” that featured four presenters: an agent who I knew of, an author who I was a fan of and two other authors who I didn’t know.
It was an excellent workshop spread over two sessions. One of the non-fiction authors shared a little of their journey on writing a non-fiction book about being married to a pre-believer. All of a sudden this workshop now had added meaning.
Yes, you guessed it that author was none other than our own, Dineen. Dineen, of course, is a rarity in publishing, being both an author of non-fiction and fiction. Her award-winning novel, The Soul Saver, is tremendous.
On the workshop ending, I was on my way to an appointment with an editor when I happened to notice Dineen waiting in the same area. She was by herself so I introduced myself and shared how I too was married to a pre-believer. We chatted very briefly, Dineen mentioned the SUM community and to my delight gave me a copy of “Winning Him Without Words”. She only brought two to the conference and I was the fortunate one to receive the second one. Talk about a blessing.
The Lies of the Enemy
Up to that time, one of my struggles in church life and faith was a belief that any ministry I undertook including through my writing would not be blessed because I was in a spiritually mismatched marriage.
As I sat in the workshop listening to Dineen, I was struck by the revelation that what I’d believed for so long was a lie. The scales of deceit shattered on reading the first few chapters of Lynn and Dineen’s book.
A few weeks later having read both books and explored this community’s blog, I genuinely felt a changed man. Have you ever experienced that? Having a lie that you convinced yourself for years being zapped.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Prov 3:5-6 NKJV)
The above verse took on new meaning and continues to. Our perceptions can be so misleading. Hey, I’d carried that chestnut around for many years. In some ways I had come to believe my marriage, and I, didn’t deserve to be blessed.
God is good. Meeting Dineen and the Lord using her in that workshop and enabling us to bump into each other so soon afterwards was one of those moments I so cherish.
He certainly is mysterious. I was struck reading Ann's post that it was only a few weeks after my meeting with Dineen that both she and Lynn had special revelations about SUM.
Look Up for those Divine Appointments
Interestingly, I've now attended that conference four times and each time I experience some sort of divine appointment with another person that I wasn't anticipating. It's one of the reasons I continue to want to go back each year. Besides the entire event being bathed in prayer, the Holy Spirit is always moving and I get excited seeking to participate in some small way in whatever He's doing.
“Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God, But only he who sees takes off his shoes; The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.” - Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I heard this quote the other day and it made with reflect on the fact that, like Moses (I presume that's the inspiration behind the burning bush reference) we all need to 'look up' (or 'take off our shoes') because God is continually at work all around us. When you get a little nudge that might or might not be from the Holy Spirit, may I encourage you to 'look up' because it's a good chance the Lord is inviting you to participate in something He's doing. I'm continually amazed how often when I pray the Lord puts specific people on my heart, so I pray for them and then usually text or call them, even if it's a simple word of encouragement.
May I encourage us to share in the comments any divine appointments or moments you've experienced (especially if they're SUM-related) by listening to the nudge and choosing to 'look up'.
Grace and peace, dear SUMite friends