I've just finished my favorite time of year. As I've mentioned before, I love attending the annual LDStorymakers’ conference. Though I live many miles from where it is held, I wouldn't miss it for all the world. It wasn't easy this year. I had promised my daughters the Book of Mormon cruise we had just been on the week before. It was much more expensive than I would have liked. Then, I turned right around and came out west for the conference. I tried to spend as little as possible, but as you know any trip will most likely end up costing you more than you would like. I blew my budget for new books by over $20 and had several other unexpected expenses along the way. By the end of the week I was silently calculating exactly how many writing assignments it would take me to pay off my nearly 3 weeks of vacation. It wasn't pretty.
Still, I wouldn't trade the experiences I gained.
When I come to the Storymakers’ conference, it's like coming to a great big family reunion. The only difference is we have closely followed each other's careers and lives since the last conference and do not spend our time comparing notes and trying to "one-up" each other. We are truly happy for each others successes, even if it means our own dreams haven't been realized. Sometimes that one takes a moment, but it's still there.
There are times when in the midst of things I'll have a feeling of being the distant cousin who will always be on the outskirts. I miss so much by not being closer to the central areas and people for the type of writing I love most. My friends are truly amazing people and little worries that I will never be able to live up to the example they show me will sneak in. But, those times are brief. Mostly, I feel loved. Both by those around me, and my Heavenly Father.
This year I came already very tired. The conference is also very exhausting. So, I'm sure many of my friends who sat near me in different events wondered about the extreme amount of eye problems I was experiencing. Being tired meant my emotions were not as guarded as I like to keep them. A simple brush with the spirit present at the conference, my love for those around me, a tiny witness from the spirit that the message I was hearing was meant for me, if I would have the courage to heed it; these were all it took to start the waterworks again. How embarrassing. Even so, those are the best parts of the experience.
I love witnessing that God is aware of our group and the good we hope to do. Every year the experience gets better and better because those who lead the event are led by His hand. I love even more that He is aware of me and once a year allows me to come to a place where I can easily feel His loving support for my personal dreams and goals. The experience, as always, has renewed my spirit and allowed me to refocus on what really matters to me as I develop myself as a writer.
Oh, and I get to leave the kids behind for this one.
Yes, the Storymakers’ conference is my favorite time of year. See you next spring!