by Leigh Clary Abdou
In January of 2011, I heard a still, small voice. While the world around me continued to shift up and down like a roller coaster blasting at unknown speeds, I heard a message and I heard it clearly.
I was to attend a writer’s conference.
With this being the sole extent of the message, I felt confused. “In which direction do I go, Lord?” and “Which one do I attend?” In much the same way God told Abraham to go to the land of his Fathers, I felt the Lord leading me.
I just didn’t know where to find the starting line.
I began researching writer’s conferences in my area and found several that were available. I spent hours online looking at each website to determine the best fit. And after being a faithful steward of research, I decided to attend the BRMCWC. I was pumped and all ready to go. The Lord had revealed himself to me and I couldn’t wait to register and get started on this journey.
But, as what usually happens to our plans, mine were disrupted.
And they were disrupted my none other than the still, small voice. I knew in my heart I wasn’t to attend the 2011 conference. The still, small voice said the next year, in 2012.
I pouted and cried. Surely the Lord was wrong! He had just told me to go. Why on earth would he make me wait an entire year? I debated and debated, lingering back and forth with my finger hovering over the mouse.
I was only one click away from achieving my dreams.
I was only one click away from progressing in my journey of writing.
I had the money, the time off work, and the babysitter available to watch my child. I had everything lined up and set to go. All I had to do was register.
But no matter how much I hovered, I knew the timing wasn’t right. While everything else had lined up perfectly, the simple click of registering hadn’t aligned itself. It’s hard to go against what you know in your heart isn’t meant to be. It wasn’t that attending in 2011 was the wrong choice to make. It probably would have been a good choice. But I knew that attending that year was not my best choice.
And after fighting back and forth with God for several weeks, I sadly watched as the registration for the BRMCWC closed and the conference came and went.
Several months passed and I began receiving the emails for the 2012 conference. I became excited again, and this time I knew it was my year! Months out, I started explaining to my husband that I would be absent a week in May. Months out, I started lining up childcare. I was ready to go this year and nothing was going to stop me.
That is, until my responsibilities at work were cut, thereby causing my pay to take a direct hit. I remember sitting at my desk six months out from the conference and crunching the numbers. I knew all I had to do was save X amount of money over the next six months to be able to pay for the conference. The only problem was, at this point, I didn’t have X amount of money to save each month. We needed every penny I was making to make ends meet.
I started doubting the still, small voice. I must have heard wrong. I should have attended in 2011 because 2012 was definitely NOT my year. In one last attempt to attend, I applied for a scholarship. At this point, a scholarship was my only option.
I waited and waited to be notified of the scholarship winners, as each passing day, doubt surrounded me like a cloud. I felt foolish for not attending when I had the chance.
Almost three weeks before the 2012 conference, I received the dreaded email. All the scholarships had been awarded…and I was not one of them.
I remember staring blankly at the computer screen wondering where I had made the wrong turn. Now I was certain I had heard the still, small voice incorrectly. But in that moment something strange took place. Instead of becoming upset or wanting to dissect my path and choices over the last year, I felt something different.
I felt peace.
A choice lay before me. I could take this as a lesson learned and move onward, or wallow in self-pity. Embarrassingly, part of me wanted to wallow, but the other part wanted to persevere. I took a deep breath and did something very simple. I e-mailed Alton back and thanked him for the opportunity. I don’t usually respond back to mass emails, but I felt I needed closure to this yearlong journey.
I needed to focus on what was ahead and discover another direction. I needed to shove away the disappointment and the feelings of inadequacy. I clicked off my computer and went about my day, knowing the Lord would show me the direction I needed to take in his timing.
One day passed.
Two days passed.
Three days passed.
Four days later, and I had accepted my fate. By making the decision to persevere, I decided to wait and see where the Lord would lead next. Imagine my surprise when I received an email from Alton. I remember looking at my inbox with confusion while I opened my mail. His message was simple. There had been one more scholarship opportunity open up. Would I like to accept?
My mind was speechless and my body frozen. Had this really happened? Was this email real? I gazed at the computer screen in shock before making one of the greatest decisions. I hit reply and typed one word.
Now I felt foolish for not having faith in the still, small voice. I knew in my heart that the Lord had provided. He always does . . . even in the eleventh hour.
I attended the conference, learning and absorbing every bit of information offered. I was like a sponge, growing larger and fuller at each passing day. I felt honored to be attending BRMCWC. I made life-long friends, and I networked with people I would have never had the opportunity to meet.
Over a year has passed and I still consider myself honored. The year before and time since have been part of a pathway called journey.
A journey in listening to the still, small voice.
Leigh Clary Abdou is a graduate from the University of Georgia and wrote her first book in the third grade. That story, along with a collection of poems and other books, can still be found in their original location - a purple Trapper Keeper. When Leigh isn’t writing, she’s reading or watching reruns of FRIENDS. She considers being a wife and mother her life’s greatest accomplishment.