I was drawn to the stranger who sat at the table waiting for her appointment list to be filled. Ms. Penwell is an acquisitions editor looking for something I could not provide, but I had a strong feeling that I should sign up for an appointment to talk with her, to "pick her brain."
The Florida Christian Writers Conference (FWCW) is a place to learn from those who know best what an author needs to know. I determined I would make the most of my time, and sitting down with Ms. Penwell was what I needed to do since I had the opportunity. I didn't realize how important that talk would be for me at the time, but looking back I can only say that God gave me a divine appointment.
In order to "Pick her brain," I needed to have some questions ready, but I seemed to be in a fog as to what to ask. Even as I walked toward her table for the consultation, I had no idea what I would talk to her about. I sat down and immediately I began to tear up. Before she could say anything I poured out my story to her. She was a good listener without prejudice for my actions.
This past December I lost a dear friend. Carol had been instrumental in getting my book published, but it was her insistence for me to attend FWCW and CLASS (Christian Leaders Authors and Speakers Seminar) years ago that made this encounter special. Ms. Penwell was a CLASS alumni, and of course, she was at the FWCW. She brought back memories of my dear friend and I needed to talk about Carol's influence on me and how she would be so proud of me being there. This wonderful open-hearted woman heard me. She heard my grief. She heard my longing for a friend.
We closed our meeting with prayer, and she challenged me to turn my poems for Carol into devotions that could help others. I have accepted the challenge.
I came away from this encounter knowing God had directed me. It was not my plan but His. It was His Holy Spirit who emboldened me to set the appointed time and follow through. Without God, I would have lost an opportunity to make a friend and have my grief find just a little more healing.
Proverbs 27:9 "Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel."ESV
Father in Heaven, I am amazed that You think of everything we need before we even know we need it! You knew we would need Your Holy Spirit to guide us and show us how wonderful living daily with You can be. However, we do not always live with Your presence so visible. Forgive us for putting You behind ourselves. You deserve to be first and last and always. Thank You for sending us friends at the right time. Thank You for the old and new friends. I've always liked the song we sang at Scouts. "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold." I can see that You are the One who makes those friends treasures. Help me to be a friend who listens without prejudice. Open my heart to those You would have me befriend. Amen!