Every day, without fail, Sandhill Cranes fly over our house. Even (especially) when I’m half-asleep, smacking the alarm clock again, their honking, distinctive cry overhead is easily recognizable.
Sunrise and sunset, pairs and sometimes trios faithfully make their way from the place where they roost overnight, to nearby neighborhoods, where they walk in their high-stepping, elegant way down roads and sidewalks.
When we take our family walks in the evening, the cranes often fly back over, honking goodnight and soaring overhead with wide gray wings and awkward flight.
Where did they go at night? Where was this elusive place they returned to day in and day out?
I finally discovered the Sandhill Crane camp one evening.
On the way to the grocery store, I took a back road out of our neighborhood, and the golden setting sun pierced the clouds draping over the Gulf of Mexico.
A pair of Sandhill Cranes glided on the evening breeze, circling above a large, marshy field to my left. Ah ha. Three football fields long, the field backed up to woods and was untouched by the construction crews building new houses a mile down the road.
As I drove down past, clusters of red-capped Sandhill Cranes gathered together, greeting each other with loud honks and funny dances. Three or four dozen cranes dotted the marshy field, the sun painting scarecrow bird shadows over the mud and grass.
Together for safety. For companionship. For a reminder of who they are, of who God made them to be.
Two weeks have passed since the Florida Christian Writers Conference, held at picturesque Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg.
Where we writers gathered for safety. For companionship. For a reminder of who we are, of Whose we are, of who God made us to be.
It was my second big writing conference. I attended the intimate Florida Inspirational Writers Retreat last October, and the *ginormous* ACFW conference last September, and in many ways the FCWC helped break through the intimidating fears and concerns I had about larger conferences.
FCWC provided a friendly, laid-back atmosphere where jeans or slacks or skirts were welcome. Where hugs were given and writing craft advice echoed down the halls as often as peals of laughter.
And the keynote speaker? Robert Benson’s gentle, heartfelt words reminded us of the safety, companionship, and security we would find in being who God made us to be and why gathering together was necessary.
Why we must let words live and breathe through us every day.
My absolute favorite part of the Florida Christian Writers Conference?
Praying together with other writers.
Strangers-made-friends through a love of Jesus, writing craft, stories, and dreams of publication.
Heads bent and hands held, praying for peace and God’s will and praising Him who gave us these words before walking into a pitch room lined with all the industry professionals.
“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18: 19&20)
Oh, and there was beautiful Gabby, with her lovely, shy smile and powerful sign language song that made the conference and surely made the Father in Heaven smile.
God blessed me with a huge encouragement, one I still can’t quite believe. My name, called twice for the FCWC contest. For Middle Grade and for romance.
I’m so thankful, grateful, full. Filled with God’s mercy on this tedious, amazing, difficult, so-not-solo writing journey.
And I’m learning, from the writers that have come before me and even from the Sandhill Cranes honking overhead, to make sure I’m gathering together with others who love words and love Jesus.
Thank You God, that You give us others to share the burdens and joys in writing and in life. In trials and in accomplishments. May we always give You the glory in our success and reaffirm our trust and faith in You in our failures. Teach us to never give up on this longing You wove into our being when You made us.