I just returned from a trip to Ft. Myers, Florida for a huge Reading Festival sponsored by the Public Library. They had 15,000 people attend. The quick trip started out with delayed flights, lost lugggage and hotel room challenges. But God did some wonderful things.
First, I had a book signing at a Christian bookstore on Friday morning and a woman came all the way from Ohio! She said she saw in my newsletter that I was going to Ft. Myers so she talked her husband into coming for the week with 8 of their 10 children and having a spring break at her sister’s vacation home! She started crying as she told me how God has used my books in her life and in the life of her daughters over the years. Suddenly my cute shoes and all the delayed bookmarks and publicity material didn’t matter. I had everything I needed – two open arms and a big smile.
Then I had lunch with my dear, dear Uncle Harry and Aunt Marlyd. They were celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary that week! I loved being able to hug them and hug them some more. What a gift to be able to talk and laugh and make up for years of not being close.
That evening I went to the Ft. Myers yacht club for the opening reception. It was located on the waterfront next to the home of Thomas Edison. Gorgeous sunset! The dress I’d packed in my still delayed luggage would have been way too thin for the strongly airconditioned building. I met some delightful new friends and the five of us ended up going to dinner after the reception. We all piled into a rented red Mustang convertible, put the top down and off we went! Sisterchicks forever! Our dinner conversation was fantastic. All of us clicked and soon discovered we were all Believers. Excellent time. So sweet! The connection we have in Christ is amazing, isn’t it? In a room full of people, the five of us were drawn together.
When we arrived back at the hotel at 11:00, my luggage had arrived!
Saturday morning the Reading Festival kicked off with a booksigning at one of the outdoor tents followed by an interview by the local newspaper. At 1:00 I was on a panel with two other novelists. We were all coming from different points of view but each of us was given the freedom to talk about why we write what we write. I felt complete freedom and spoke openly. Afterwards one of the event organizers came to me and said that after the panel they had decided they will invite Christian authors from now on. She said she was one of the ones pushing for me to come and since it went so well, the door was open for other Christian authors in the future. Awesome!
I was on a second panel and then did a second booksigning. Full day. Rich in unseen ways. I left for the airport at six the next morning and after three flights and two missed flights, I am happy to report that my luggage and I made it home at 7:30 Sunday night.
The whole weekend – well, from when you started praying on – I felt such a sweet peace and sense of purpose. I felt strong and courageous and knew the Lord was with me. On the way home I was upgraded to first class from Chicago to Seattle. I was so comfy, I wrote a children’s book I have due on April 1st as well as the article I had due for the travel column I write for More to Life magazine. The subject for this month? Lost Luggage, of course. Nothing is wasted in the Kingdom, is it?
Love to all of you!