Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Post Conference Perspective

8 Alley Cats in this picture, 10 in spirit.
Where do I even begin to post about the American Christian Fiction Writers conference (ACFW) in Dallas I returned from about a week ago?

To be honest, I don't think I've even begun to process all that I've learned.

The session about dialogue with Rene Gutteridge where I madly took notes as God showed me areas I needed to apply to strengthen my own writing skills.

A late Friday night chatting with my beloved Alley Cat friends, this was definitely a HUGE highlight of the conference for me.

An amazing critique session with Deb Raney. Getting tips on upping my conflict from one of my favorite suspense writers, Ronie Kendig. Meeting favorite authors. Giving a hug to those who have made a difference in my life.

But if there is ONE truth I took home and will carry with me from the conference it is the power of prayer in action.

It may sound cliche but the best thing you can do to help other writers is to keep them in prayer. There is a writer I know who sets aside one day per week for prayer and fasting about writing related things. I love that idea!

Michelle Lim...what an encourager!
The most transformational experiences I had at conference were times in prayer. Time alone in my room before an appointment that went differently than I had anticipated. Time praying with others about writing concerns and so much more. These were times I will always remember because it is so powerful when believers can connect over a shared love of writing. But even more than that because we shared a love for Jesus. That was what held us together.

Then there was the moment one dear lady caught me in the hall and recognized I needed prayer before I even recognized it myself. The Holy Spirit was at work as she prayed not only for my writing life, but the Spirit had showed her the struggle with guilt I had in being a writer and a mom. It was something she had no way of knowing, but she prayed powerfully for me and shared her experience. Something she had prayed only came to light for me later in the conference, at the time I was puzzled but I thank the Lord for the God who knows all and how he leads others to intercede for us.

God met me in my need, in my brokeness and that's where He wants to meet us daily.

I notice as my prayer life goes, so my writing goes. I think sometimes conferences can be mountain top experiences and I know for me I was spending a lot of time praying while away because I was so anxious about the conference. Since coming home, I've needed God to work on my heart in the area of prayer.
With Cheryl Wyatt, beautiful servant hearted lady I was so blessed to meet.

Today I was listening to a Focus on the Family broadcast with Ferni Nichols. She founded an organization called Moms in Prayer International dedicated to interceding for our children and for their schools. I am learning more about them as I am helping to lead a Moms in Prayer group for homeschool moms in my area.

It struck me today how we talk about books as being "our babies." I thought about how the mission of Moms in Prayer and its step approach to prayer might benefit writers.

We start out each meeting with praise focused on a specific attribute of God. Now, I have spiritual themes to my stories, but today I began thinking about specific attributes of God. I really want my stories to show who God is.

Examples would be:

God is merciful.
God is holy.
God is righteous.

How did this apply to my writing?

I believe God is Truth is the central attribute of my story. My main character from my first novel is escaping from a world of lies and looking for the truth that can only be found in Christ.

How about your main character? What does your novel show about who God is?

If you have a prayer request, writing-related or not, please feel free to post it here today or send it through email. My passion is to pray for others and I pray that God would increase my passion and yours for prayer.

Julia enjoys writing women's fiction whenever she can find a chair free of smushed peanut butter sandwiches and lego blocks. She is a wife and homeschooling mama of two littles. She also is a reviewer for Library Journal, Title Trakk and Christian Library Journal.


Julie Jarnagin said...

It was so good to meet you, Julia!

Jeanne T said...

Great post, Julia. I loved the aspects of prayer that surrounded us at ACFW too. And I was so happy to meet you!

My MC learns that God is trustworthy--He wants her heart, not her hands. :)

Krista Phillips said...

Excellent post, Julia!!! Prayer is HUGE and I'm learning to do it more intentionally rather than the quick 2 second prayers I offer throughout the day (although I don't discount their value either, ha!)

Anonymous said...

That is so true! Prayer is the power behind anything, writing, mothering...any of it.

Great reminder! Thank you.

Rhonda Schrock

Anonymous said...

It is so inspiring to hear how important prayer is at the conferences and to you writers.
I am just a reader....requesting prayer for health issues and relationship issues. Thanks
Blessed day to all!
Jackie S.

Keli Gwyn said...

I'm glad you had such a wonderful time at the conference, Julia, and love how the Lord used the power of prayer to minister to you in a special way.

Lindsay Harrel said...

So cool how God met you there and gave you relief where you'd felt guilt before.

And it was sooooo good to meet you. I'm bummed we didn't get a picture just the two of us. Grr.

One of my MCs learns she's enough for God, just as she is. The other learns that He sees her. She doesn't have to be the best at something for Him to see her and love her.

Angie Dicken said...

It was so fabulous to have prayer warriors all around me! It is so unique to be in that environment now-a-days, what a blessing!!

Julia M. Reffner said...


Great to meet you, too :) Hope to meet you again in future at a conference.


Wasn't it so beautiful?! I was so blessed by meeting you.

AND I love what you shared about God wanting your MC's heart and not her hands. A lesson that I know I need to learn.


Yes, so true. I've been guilty of the same thing lately and am trying to be more intentional about my prayer time.

Julia M. Reffner said...


Thanks for sharing your perspective. So glad you stopped by today. So true that we can't do it in our own power, why do I learn that the hard way so often?


Going to spend some prayer time. Thank you so much for stopping by and for sharing your request. I will absolutely pray this afternoon.


It was so awesome! So glad I met you, too.

Julia M. Reffner said...


Yes, he is so good that way. I LOVED meeting you. Next year we'll have to make it a point to take a picture. Unfortunately a lot of times I forgot to bring my camera so didn't get the pictures with all I wanted to.

Oh, I love your MC's lessons. Thanks for sharing!


Absolutely wonderful! You were such an encouragement to me at ACFW!

Sarah Forgrave said...

I was overwhelmed by the spirit of prayer too, Julia. And it was lovely to meet you in person! My one regret is that I didn't get a picture with all the Alley Cats. Still smacking my forehead over that one.

I love your new profile photo, btw!

Casey said...

This conference was a gift in so many ways. I'm still in awe of everything God did through those four days. Love that pic with you and Michelle-- love her!

Julia M. Reffner said...


I thought about that when I left, I wish I had taken your picture. I loved meeting you, too. Thanks on the photo, its from a homeschooling mama friend who has a passion for photography like ours for writing.


I know, its going to take me forever to digest it all. Michelle is so sweet!

Beth K. Vogt said...

I so appreciated how you highlighted one of the most beautiful aspects of the ACFW conference: the sweet spirit of prayer that pervaded the entire conference.

I also admire your heart for prayer too.

Thank you for such an encouraging -- and challenging -- post.

Jeanne T said...

PS--I forgot to tell you, Julia, that I love your pic on your bio. :)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Ooooo, Julia, I love your new bio pic! Beautiful, girl!

And thank you for your heart-felt post. I love surrounding every aspect of our lives in prayer. It is so needed and definitely soooo beneficial!