This will be an outstanding week. I hope I’m equal to it. I’m writing this in the middle of a Friday-to-Wednesday span from which I will emerge enlightened, encouraged, inspired, blessed and dog-tired.
Friday and Saturday just past I attended the Arkansas Writers Conference in Little Rock. The speakers seemed especially interesting this year, each giving me something to use and making me eager to come home and get on the computer. I had a very valuable critique session with the keynote speaker, Roland Mann (www.rolandmann.wordpress.com). I was one of ten authors who had an opportunity to send him 12 pages for critique before the conference, with a face-to-face meeting with him while we were in Little Rock. He was encouraging and helpful with some changes I need to make on my novel-in-progress. He’s my new best friend. He LIKES my VOICE! He spoke to us on several issues, “Putting Some Super in our Heroes” and “Dangers of the Internet for Writers” to name a couple. The danger? Wasting time on Facebook, Twitter and Google instead of writing. He did mention spending too much time blogging but as far as I’m concerned he was meddling when he said that.
No winnings for me this year. AWC sponsors thirty-something contests with over 1,000 entries, so the competition is great. My BIL won a second place in an essay contest, which I had nothing to do with, but I’m very proud of him.
Today, during our 11:00 service we burned the note. This is a rather loose tradition in the United Methodist Church when a congregation gets the building paid off. What is incorporated into the celebration differs according to the congregation. Our church of 300-400 members recently paid off a debt of $1,400,000 (one million four hundred thousand dollars) in less than ten years. The service was one of remembering the 1999 tornado that damaged the sanctuary and destroyed the parsonage and youth building, memories of those (some gone now) who courageously stepped out on faith and pulled together to make this happen, and a celebration of God’s goodness and faithfulness that enabled us to do this. As Chair of the Church Council, I took part in the actual burning. While the pastor held the container that was to catch fire and ashes, the Trustees Chairman lit the pages I held (a copy of the original note, by the way). After the papers were blazing nicely, I dropped them into the bowl the pastor held. I was a little nervous and had practiced at home. The irony of catching the church on fire during the note-burning ceremony was not lost on me. But all went well. It was a wonderful and uplifting service.
Now, for the next three days, I am off to Hot Springs for the Arkansas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church – along with a few thousand other Methodists from Arkansas. There will be singing, praying, worship and business meetings. I’m a delegate and, as I said, I hope I’m equal to the task.