In Which His Ways Are Not My Ways


This Photo From the Highland Games is More Interesting Than Any Shot I Could Have Captured At the Conference: Men, Kilts, and Really Heavy Stuff. 

All Things For Our Good

Last Saturday I planned to attend a local conference for Christian writers. I had registered in January,  requesting a faculty consultation and choosing the sessions that would most help me better glorify God through my writing.

Now, you know my spreadsheet-loving soul adores advance planning. I had the day carefully mapped out in my head, like this:

1. Arrive in the middle of the registration period. (Not at the beginning, when it would be too easy to sit at an empty table and wonder who might join me, no. I resolved to arrive late enough to force myself to actually approach people who might be strangers and ask to join them.)

2. Find Kathi Macias and Kathy Ide and express, face-to-face, my gratitude to these two gracious women who’ve encouraged me, mentored me, and offered me opportunities.

3.  At lunch time, sit at the table of a legendary faculty member with whom I would not otherwise speak (as he was not my consultation faculty member, nor one of my session-leading faculty members).

4.  Attend my one-on-one consultation and engage professionally and transparently, while not making an idiot of myself.

One truth of detailed  planning: The day will not go as imagined. 

That axiom held true last Saturday. Nothing went as planned.

Everything went better. Much, much better.  Since I value your time, let me limit myself to a single example: Lunch.

(You’re welcome. )

In the midst of my second breakout session of the morning, I just happened to hear my phone’s text message indicator chime, even though I had turned it down.  I just happened not to ignore it, as I had promised myself I would. It was my husband, texting that he’d locked his keys in the truck. And since he had recently lost his wallet, he was lacking his Auto Club membership card and therefore could not call the Auto Club. And it just happened that I was sitting next to my good friend Lynne, who, when I showed her the distress message, said, “Oh. Do you have to go?”

(Searing honesty: It had not yet sunk in that since I had taken a vow to love and honor this man, I really was obligated to put his needs above my spreadsheet-perfect vision of the day. Yes, I’m ashamed.)

BUT: he was stranded at a lumber yard fewer than three miles from the conference site, rather than someplace near our home, over twenty miles away.

RESULT: I did not spend the lunch hour chatting with Legendary Faculty Member over our Panera sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies; seats at his table were claimed when I returned from rescuing Rich. Instead I sat with a woman from Alabama and had a chance to help her choose a church to attend the following morning. I also had the opportunity to introduce her to Kathy Ide, who I believed had information that could help her.

RESULT TWO: when I approached Legendary Faculty Member,  and admitted babbled that I had hoped to dine in his company, he invited me to sit and consult privately with him. Immediately.

In other words, it was all better-than-fine. Now. I know I promised not to drag you through the tedium of every not-as-planned moment of grace. And I am (usually) a woman of my word.

But this other bit is so covered with God’s fingerprints I must share it. A few years ago, a man at this conference had indulged my offer plea to show him photos of my grandlittles. When he looked at one of the photos, he said to my husband and me:

I see him preaching the gospel. 

Last Saturday morning, I  updated him on that child’s amazing growth in Christ. (Hint: said child’s plan includes reading Bible stories to his baby sister’s children. Said baby sister is not yet two years old.) It brought him to tears. He motioned his wife  over and asked me to retell the tale to her. By the time I finished the retelling, all three of us were moved by God’s goodness.

And as I think on it, why does this ridiculous extravagantly excellent day surprise me? rabbit conga

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 

Romans 8:28 (NASB)


  1. Sounds like a great day!

  2. Lovely, Sheila. Thank you.

  3. Sheila, since I attended my first Christian Writer’s Conference–Faith and Culture at George Fox College in Newberg OR–I know how exciting and kinda crazy with happiness we people who write can be. It’s just plain mind boggling (almost wrote ‘blogging’!) to me that the kindness of this community is so authentic and unassuming.
    So glad you could go….and oh, how our Father’s love shows through it all. Wonderful–I want to hear more!

  4. Wonderful!!!! Love this so much.

  5. Disappointment —> God’s appointment. His plans trump ours.

    Loved this.

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