Bloom Where You’re Planted

In watching the Winter Olympics over the past few weeks, it struck me that many of these athletes more than likely became athletes because of where they were born or living at the time they became passionate about their sport.

I know that’s not always true — examples like the Jamaican bobsled team, the lone athlete from the Philippines, who was a figure skater, and even a skier or snowboarder who was from Indiana. Hmmm…. I don’t recall many mountains in Indiana.

But how much does geographic location influence our life choices?  I’m a military brat, so we moved frequently.  In elementary school, we lived in Virginia.

I loved Virginia! The beaches were great. I loved learning about colonial history.  I loved the field trips to Jamestown and visiting Williamsburg. I could see myself attending the College of William and Mary and hanging out in Williamsburg or at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. for the rest of my days.

Alas, the military moved us again — to New Mexico.  New Mexico couldn’t have been much different from Virginia!  As our location shifted, so did my dreams. Throughout middle school and the beginning of high school, I knew I was going to California.  I was going to attend UCLA and work in the entertainment industry. That was my plan. I was going to make it big in Hollywood.

But plans change. In the middle of high school, we were transferred again. This time to Austin, Texas.  Yep, it’s true. Texas is like a whole other country.  And Austin had a great university right there, so I ended up close to home, going to the University of Texas (Hook ‘Em Horns). My entertainment dreams were still around, because I studied studied Radio, Television and Film.

Geography did have an influence on my life. I haven’t been to Virginia since I was a little girl.  I have never lived in California.  Now, I did work for 15 years in Radio and Television — in New Mexico, so that dream never died. It just moved with me to where I was living at the time.

Six and a half years ago, my husband got a job in the Dallas area.  Dallas?  No, if I was living in Texas, it should be Austin or San Antonio.  Dallas wasn’t even on my radar.

But guess what?  We love it here.  Like any good military brat, I know how to make wherever I’m living be “home.”  And this truly does feel like home to me.

While there are some who will leave home to pursue their dreams — the Olympic athletes who go to where the best training facilities are, who learn the love of their sport from growing up surrounded by that sport — most of us will bloom where we’re planted.  It may be a different place than our childhood home or it may be the place where we’re born and raised and “everybody knows your name.”

In all my dreams of Williamsburg and Hollywood, even Austin, I never thought about Dallas. It’s a good thing God knows best.

I believe that God has me right where he wants me — and I need to bloom right here.

I wouldn’t change a thing.

Just Show Up

I’ve just returned from the wonderful American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference in Indianapolis.  For full disclosure, I work for ACFW, but there’s a reason I work for them, and ran for and served on the operating board.  I love this organization!  Their goal is to train writers in their craft, teach them about the industry and more.  But the things I love about conference go beyond the great workshops and opportunities to speak with editors and agents. I love the fellowship and our worship times. 

The fellowship with other writers provides the encouragement and support we all need in what is usually a very lonely job.  But these fellow writers are cheerleaders.  We all want to see each other succeed! I love that spirit.

And our conference also has worship times, where we pause and praise with our great worship band (Rachel Hauck and company are awesome!).  So, in the midst of learning, pitching, and enjoying fellowship, we keep our focus on God and send our thankfulness and praise to Him, who makes all things possible.

We even have a prayer room on site. Sometimes dreams are dashed at conference, and some dreams come true. ACFW provides a place to be with God and have him minister to your heart.

Our keynote speaker this year was Robin Jones Gunn.  What a wonderful woman of faith and light, and a good writer to boot!  She was a marvelous storyteller and gave keynote addresses that spoke straight to the heart. 

I could go on and on about the ACFW conference, but there’s more on my heart today. Often in our Christian walk (and Robin brought this up during her keynote address as well), we talk about “God showed up.”

I use that expression myself, even texting a friend from the conference, that “God had already showed up.”

But we need to remember that God’s already there. He didn’t “just show up.”  It’s up to us to show up…every day…with God, with our prayers, with our quiet time, and in our work.  Whether we write, have an office job, are parents, or whatever we’re doing.  We need to show up with a full heart, trusting that God has placed us there and knowing that God had already showed up long before we began our day.

Things had changed with my own writing direction, and I didn’t want to go to ACFW this year. A change away from novel writing meant that most of the classes wouldn’t be beneficial and pitching to an editor or agent wasn’t in the cards. But as I love the conference, and had my plane ticket, and oh yeah, I work for them (happily), well, I showed up at conference.  I showed up feeling a bit lost about my own direction in my career and what God had in store for me.

And guess what?  Because I showed up, wow, did God ever bless that!! He didn’t show up — he was already there. He knew what I needed, knew what I was praying about, and knew that I was struggling when I arrived. I obeyed him and showed up where he wanted me to be and filled my heart to overflowing.

He placed people in my path that blessed me, and hopefully used me to bless and encourage others.  And it was an amazing and wonderful weekend.

But guess what? I had to show up. I did, and God was there.  I’m home now (a little bleary eyed and on brain overload), and God is here.

I need to show up with my prayers and faithfulness to him, and through any upcoming frustrations, bad days, and awesome times and good days — God is there.

We need to do our best and trust Him with our direction in life. It’s up to us to show up…every day.