when i was a child i read books

"You're having coffee with someone you meet on the internet?"  Jim's father was incredulous.

His mom defended my strange online community (It's like pen-pals!), but my father-in-law--and his eyebrows--remained unconvinced.

So yes, I met Leigh at a coffee shop outside of Nashville just before Easter.  Sitting there at the sidewalk table was like catching up with an old friend and not remotely like a creeper or serial killer.  We talked about the important stuff--family, church, writing, Jordan Catalano--over drinks and matching giant sunglasses.

I hesitate to post the photo because my wind tunnel bangs are truly abhorrent, but we're all friends here, right?

They say when it rains, it pours, and April has been a shower of these sorts of connections.  Last week, I was able to attend the Festival of Faith and Writing, a biennial literary conference hosted by Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI.  It was three full days of writerly goodness and two more of travel, and I cannot express how grateful I am to Jim who encouraged me to go and sorted out family life without me.

The FFW challenged and encouraged me, spiritually, intellectually, and professionally.  Being among writers, creators, and other lovers of words refreshed my spirit in a way I wasn't even conscious of needing.

I rode out with a generous local-ish friend without whom I would have never ventured all the way to Michigan.  I shared a room with Kristin and relished time together.  I looked forward to meeting Steph, Micha, Ed, and Addie, too, and conversations over drinks were a great highlight.  I connected with a number of new-to-me writers and authors and left feeling inspired in this craft of writing and storytelling.

I'm still processing the threads and themes, and I'm thankful.  Attending the conference was a gift.  I feel energized by time among artists and friends.

It's good now to be home sharing space and words with these little monkeys:

And this handsome man:

Happy weekend, friends.

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