I've recently returned from the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference (GPCWC) held earlier this month in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. My thoughts in the aftermath swirl while thumbing through pages of notes and photos. I review new friendships forged and link with each on social media. Reconnecting with kindred writing peers I see once a year requires follow-up. My to-do list priorities in the wake of conference fills a spreadsheet. Where do I begin . . .
Conferences overwhelm a writer’s brain cells and sap valuable energy. Spending fourteen packed hours for three days or more moving from learning labs to continuing sessions to workshops to panels to keynote addresses, with worship, meals, and one-on-one appointments squeezed in between, I need a few days recovery to reorder my writing life with all I’ve absorbed.
Retreat to Advance
The best place I know for retreating is the presence of God.
Snuggling into my Secret Place corner, I breathe deep and relax into God’s Word to inform the many words poured into me at the conference. I ought not take in anything I learned unless it be infused with the fragrance of the Holy Spirit. I’m thankful for the professionals and mentors who served a feast for all the writers gathered at the conference, but I have learned that such a banquet must be sweetened by the Lord’s direction, or all my efforts to follow through will be bitter.
The central theme of the GPCWC stems from director Marlene Bagnull’s original vision for it—to equip and encourage Christian writers and communicators to Write His Answer. Habakkuk 2:2, the inspiration for the conference for over thirty years, acts as a compass to keep writers focused on the main thing: Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. (NLT)
I’ve attended this conference for many years and always come away sensing a greater need to make my words healing words—correct words—in whatever genre I choose to work. Writing has long been considered a solo profession featuring an author and keyboard, alone. The task before them is to extract brilliance from the mind and distill it down into words that persuade, entertain, correct, and heal.
This reminds me of a fascinating ancient herb, linked to the ministry of the Holy Spirit and prized for its sweet, healing constituents that once protected against the plague.
ANGELICA's large, green, glossy leaves extending from hollow stalks and flower in green and yellow clusters on or near May 8, the historic feast day of Michael the archangel.
Originally sourced by medieval herbalists and Renaissance doctors, Angelica continues to enjoy a hallowed reputation in healing aromatherapy. Referred to as “root of the Holy Ghost,” its precious essential oils infuse perfumes and colognes with a sweet fragrance to lift the heart. Its seed flavors Chartreuse liqueur. Pastry chefs candy its stalk and leaves for elegant cake decoration.
All these uses elevate Angelica as a pampering herb useful to refresh and renew mind, body, and spirit. Just the thing when one needs a retreat.
The Angelica plant reminds us to retreat to advance: in the same way a writers conference bathes one in the sweetness of inspiration, instruction, and kindred spirits; in the same way seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the aftermath of a conference brings focus and correction to one’s writing ministry.
When our writing is rooted in the Holy Ghost, we grow our words from the leading of Christ. In so doing, the scent of the goodness of God permeates our message like the sweetness of perfume fills a room.
But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 2 Corinthians 2:14 NLT
Whether you’ve had the opportunity to retreat for a few days at a writers conference or just need a bring holy order to your homeschool day, breathe in the revitalizing effects of Angelica through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Let Him inform your words and actions to heal like a sweet perfume and correct that which plagues you in meeting your goals.
Though I have grown through years of attending conferences and the ministry of mentors and training found there, apart from that growth being rooted in the Holy Ghost—Angelica—I cannot hope to pen words that heal and spread the knowledge of Christ.
Make time for an Angelica encounter with God to sweeten the scent of your words and actions every day.
I'm a writer, speaker, and dramatist who loves treasure hunts in thrift stores, antique shops, vintage books, and God's Word ~ not necessarily in that order!
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