It was in the middle of the Wheaton campus during a writers conference that I sat on a park bench and gave God permission to end my writing career. While I had enjoyed some success with published articles and essays in the past, rejection had become more of the norm and I felt wrung out, depleted, useless as a writer.
Later that day, in the evening session of the conference, our leader introduced us to an online writers forum called The Writers’ View. It was new. Something she felt worthwhile. For some reason, I wrote the URL in my notes and when I returned home, I joined and began to read the responses other writers gave to the posted discussion questions.
One writer, Trish Berg, grabbed my attention by mentioning that she was from Ohio, my home state. I responded to her personally and we struck up an online conversation. She mentioned a group that had formed from the forum whose purpose it was to encourage each other in the writing journey. Would I like to join?
I thought back to that park bench in Wheaton. I wasn’t sure I was a writer any more but I did know how to encourage others. I shared that with Trish and joined the group. Our group of six encouragers began uplifting each other in prayer and in exchanged emails on almost a daily basis. When rejection came, others responded with words of empathy and encouragement. It was just what I needed—just what God knew to supply.
After a few years together, we became close friends and when Cathy Messecar asked the group to brainstorm a Christmas book one year, the response was so overwhelming that she said we needed to write it together. From all of our input came A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts (Leafwood, 2008). We assembled stories, tips, Christmas traditions and history all over the internet by email. The six of us, now known as the Word Quilters, have never all been together in the same place. Two are from Texas (Cathy, Leslie Wilson), three Ohio (Trish, myself, Brenda Nixon) and one in California (Terra Hangen). I’m the only one who has met all of the other six in person.
We continue to keep each other encouraged. Others in the group have since published several of their own books. I’m still waiting for my very own book but in the meantime, I continue to press on. God still has my permission to take my writing where He will. It’s just that now I know that my Barnabas friends will walk the road with me.
Let me encourage you to find encouragers in your life no matter what your goals and to be an encourager. Encouragement has the power to change lives. No wonder that God prompted us in Hebrews to encourage one another daily.