Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Called to Suffer. Called to Write. Reflections From the Advanced Writers and Speakers Conference

Glancing at the books on the author's table at the Advanced Writers and Speakers Conference (AWSA), I sensed the presence of God as I realized I was standing on Holy Ground and sharing life with women whose names could have been included in Hebrews 11.

Each called to suffer. Each called to write. Their books all bring glory to God and hope to those who hurt.

These dear AWSA sisters know human pain and they know God's healing. One has her only son in prison with a life sentence without parole. Another lives daily with her brain damaged daughter hurt in a car crash as a baby. Quite a few cancer survivors filled the room. Too many women damaged by abusive marriages, but, thankful to be loved by God. Several bear the scars of childhood sexual abuse. All have a story. All give glory to God for His tender comfort when life hurts.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion
 and the God of all comfort, 
who comforts us in all our troubles,
so that we can comfort those in any trouble
 with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."
2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 (NIV)

I could highlight each author and sing praises to God for His work in her life. But today, I think of one of the many who left laughter in my heart.

 Funny. You know you are at a writer's conference when two strangers meet and within minutes this is happening:

Two authors eating the marigolds decorating our dinner plates. Sort of a dare, which left us both hysterical.

 "I'll eat a petal if you eat a petal."

"I'm going to eat the whole marigold! It won't hurt me!"

"Except for the insecticide!"

We laughed. We ate marigolds.

Perhaps those who know suffering not only take time to smell the roses, but also to eat the marigolds

Susan VandePol knows pain. As we laughed and ate flowers together. I asked what every author asks another, "What's the title of your book?"

"Life After Breath.  

My husband was a firefighter killed on duty. I started a ministry called   'Families of the Fallen' to help grieving widows and families." (May not be a direct quote, but said to the best of my recollection.)

And so I sat in the presence of another who loved  and trusted God enough to revisit the pain and put her story into a book for others to know the comfort Susan herself received from God.

To learn more about Susan VanderPol  please see her website at

Susan, forgive me for posting that silly pic of us, but we did have a great laugh and laughter is healing.

Do you have a story God wants you to  share?  In so many ways, it is easier to shut the door and move on. Forgive and forget and pretend all is well.

 But God, called some to suffer and some to write. Has He called you?

Be a splash of serenity to someone hurting today! At the very least, go buy them marigolds and share a meal.



  1. Elaine,

    I look forward to attending another writers' conference some time, I learned so much and came home with organized plans, direction, and inspiration. The friendships are blessings I still count and never expected. Thank you for sharing only a small portion of your amazing conference experience.

    Lisa M Buske

  2. Thank you for being obedient to God and writing your story of suffering and faith. God is using your pain to comfort and encourage others. Love you. Love your book "Where's Heidi. "


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