by Jennifer AlLee
Try not to be jealous. I had the great honor of reading Impressed by Love when it was brand spankin' new... before it had even been sent to the publisher. Of course, I was impressed by the story, by Lisa's skill as a writer, and how she wove a deep, spiritual thread through a tale of adventure. I wouldn't presume to tell you what Lisa intended as the spiritual takeaway for this novella. But I can tell you what resonated with me.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation similar to Alden's? Not so perilous, to be sure. I pray none of you have ever been conked on the head and forced to serve upon a French ship of the line. But surely you've found yourself in situations you never expected. Perhaps you volunteered to serve on a committee, only to find yourself sitting next to someone who constantly rubbed you the wrong way. Or you rather than land your dream job, you took the only one available, one that was more like a nightmare job.
Look back about 5 years with me. The location is a hotel in Dallas, where I was attending my first ever writer's conference. I had stumbled across ACFW, stumbled across the conference... I did a lot of stumbling in those days. But I felt positive that I needed to attend that conference. There wasn't a doubt in my mind. Not only that, but I felt the need to volunteer in some capacity.
In order to understand the enormity of this, you need to know something about me: I'm an introvert. Being surrounded by hundreds of people I don't know and needing to make small talk is akin to having bamboo shoved under my fingernails. Without thinking it through, I had thrown myself into the biggest basket of bamboo I could find.
By the end of the second day, I was a mess. I'd chatted and smiled for hours, certain that I looked and sounded like a blithering idiot the whole time. Between the time change and stress, I'd had very little sleep. And to really round out my conference experience, I'd had a traumatic meeting with an editor that ended with me sobbing in my room, sure I'd made the biggest mistake of my life. It's no surprise I had the headache from hell at that point. I wanted nothing more than to burrow under my bed covers that night. And I would have, too. If not for one thing...
I'd volunteered to work in the bookstore.
The last thing I wanted to do was go down to that bookstore. I was this close to blowing it off. But I couldn't. You might say, God impressed upon me the importance of keeping my word and showing up. So down I went, prepared to have the worst night ever.
By now, you've figured out that God had something amazing waiting for me in the last place I wanted to be. Yep, there was another gal scheduled to work in the store that night... Lisa Richardson. We talked. We laughed. We commiserated. Then when our shift was over, we took a shuttle to the mall and grabbed some dinner. It was, as they say, the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
|New friends Jen & Lisa at the ACFW banquet.|
Gee... I was thinner then...
In Impressed by Love, Alden and Phoebe find themselves in terrible places and situations. All they want to do is to escape. But God uses those awful places, those untenable situations, to create something amazing. Of course, that's what God does every second of the day.
Lisa's my best bud, the sister of my heart, my writing partner... we even share the same birthday (although she is considerably younger than I am). And I would have missed all that if I hadn't let God take me, in all my discomfort, to a place I didn't want to be.
How about you? Have you been blown away by how God took an undesirable situation and turned it into a blessing?
JENNIFER ALLEE believes the most important thing a woman can do is find her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her novels. A professional writer for over twenty years, she's done extensive freelance work for Concordia Publishing House, including skits, Bible activity pages, and over 100 contributions to their popular My Devotions series. Her novels include The Love of His Brother (Five Star, 11/07), The Pastor’s Wife (Abingdon Press, 2/10), The Mother Road (Abingdon Press, 4/12) and the upcoming A Wild Goose Chase Christmas (Abingdon Press, 11/12). She's thrilled to be working on her first historical series with the amazing Lisa Karon Richardson. Eureka! is the first book in the Amazing Love series, to be released in 2013 by Whitaker House. And... as if that's not enough, her novella Comfort & Joy will appear in the Christmas anthology, Mistletoe Memories (Barbour, 9/13)She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.
Wow, Jen. Your story gave me goose bumps. I love it. And I love the picture of you and Lisa, too!ReplyDelete
Yes, I've had those God moments, too. Enough times to know I'd better listen when it happens. ;-)
Wow! who are those young girls? God certainly did bless me when he pushed us together.ReplyDelete
I think part of the message is to stop striving. To Be still and know that He is God. Sometimes we are so busy trying to fix the problem as we see it, that we miss out on the chance for a blessing. I think it's important to stay curious and to be open to learning what God might be trying to teach us through a set of circumstances.
And let me just say that Jen is amazing and I'm SO glad she came down to work in the Bookstore!
Awww, great story!ReplyDelete
That Dallas ACFW was my first ACFW conference. And I got to meet Lisa then! Woot!!
And I'm also one of those "crowds wear me out" people. Thank goodness all you sweet Inkies let me hang out with you this time so I had fun and didn't get overwhelmed. :D
Lovely story, ladies! I'm trying to think of all the times I did something that I didn't want to do and was blessed. That list is too long.ReplyDelete
Congratulations Jen and Lisa - How wonderful to have such a friendship and hey, to me, you look just as beautiful now as you did then!
I'm stuck thinking about small talk. I had just been having a conversation with myself about how much I hate small talk :) I tend to look at people making small talk as if they're crazy.ReplyDelete
Anyway, great story! Love the picture!
Good morning, Ladies! It thundered and lightninged most of the night, so I'm just crawling out of bed now.ReplyDelete
God is truly good. More than that... super-good! Back at that conference he gave me Lisa, and a few years later, he gave me all you Inkies. Now I've got a bunch of sisters, and I love each and every one of you!
What a lovely story--how incredibly blessed! I'm glad you shared it.ReplyDelete
Cute pic. My my.
I tend to feel like a dweeb when I walk into a room full of new people. Conference is super intimidating that way!
DeAnna, I totally get the whole people wear me out thing. I hate crowds. Don't even like being in busy stores because I find it exhausting! But it is easier when I'm not alone.ReplyDelete
Deb, your check is in the mail.ReplyDelete
Dina, I'm really awkward at small talk. And I never know when it's ok to leave a conversation at a party. Do I just drift away, do I continue to stand here awkwardly. Should I interrupt someone to excuse me. Will they all assume I think there's someone more important I want to talk to. Ugh! So agonizing.ReplyDelete
Glad the storm is over now, Jen!ReplyDelete
Susie, you are not in the least bit a dweeb. It's so easy to feel inadequate when we're in big groups of polished professionals who seem to have it all together. But I guarantee we're all wearing a mask. They may not all share the same insecurities, but we all have our individual neuroses.ReplyDelete