We moved into my childhood home when I was three years old. I grew up in the country with only a handful of neighbor kids who lived close enough for impromptu play dates. Actually a few of those neighbors were closer in age to my brother and every now and then Mom made them include me. But I had a few girlfriends my age too.
My school career was spent in one school system. I had a large group of friends I knew from my early days in Mrs. Zelmer’s kindergarten class and we graduated together. Every holiday and often on the weekends as well, I’d get together with my cousins. Because everyone knows cousins make the best friends.
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Looking back, I adored my comfortable world. For the most part, I grew up self confident and secure. Other than the occasional new kid, I never had to get to know anyone. I was already known.
Which was a very good thing because starting in my college years, God moved me all over the place. From a private college to a junior college to a state school. A few seminary classes. Dorms and apartments and houses in five different communities.
Remember the Prayer of Jabez we all prayed a few years back? There were posters, books and bookmarks. Probably a t-shirt or two.
Oh that you would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory! (1 Chronicles 4:10)
God has done that in my life, through the many people I have met. About three years ago I started blogging and now I've met people from all over the country, the world even, although we’ve never actually met in person.
Some of these online acquaintances are heroes of mine. I read their words on my computer, my Kindle and in book form. Bloggers.
I’ve always loved all the words.
However, these words they write mean even more to me. They show me there are other people who never got a seminary degree but are serious theological scholars nonetheless. They love Jesus a bunch.
These people live crazy busy lives with many responsibilities, yet they make time to create art with words.
My kind of people who eat, sleep and breathe books.
They don’t have life all figured out and frankly, they’re sick and tired of trying to pretend they do. They’re fed up with people claiming to have it all together. In one collective online voice, they scream,
"Just stop! Love Jesus. Love One Another. The End."
Now I’ve got an opportunity to meet some of them in person at the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids. I’ve been invited to participate in a workshop with a group of these writers the day before the conference actually begins. I attended this conference two years ago but had just started blogging and didn’t even know the names of any people to meet. Except Rachel Held Evans. We had our 15 seconds together and I wrote about that here. Meeting new people has gotten easier for me over the years but I still wouldn't say I'm good at it. I prefer skipping over the formalities and getting right to being known. Like I was as a kid. Also, these people are my heroes. Heroes of the faith. It’s not very often you get to meet your heroes. And I’m looking to make them my peers.
I know God has prepared me for this. These people are going to be normal. Well, as normal as introverted, soulful writers can be. I’ll do just fine but admittedly, I’m still a little nervous. I just wish we could skip the introductions and go right into the deep waters. Make ourselves really known. That's where I'm most comfortable.