Attended a writer's conference over the weekend that was hosted by the Heart of America Christian Writer's Network (HACWN). I learned I have maybe 60 seconds to convey my message right now so I'll make it brief. This was my biggest "aha!" moment:

A Christian writer who blogs is a missionary all over the world." - RJ Thesman

Writing as Calling

If you know my story, you know I felt called to international missions as a little kid. Colon cancer at age 17 years old changed my plans. Talk about a total bummer and inconvenience.

For years I've wrestled with this aspect of my calling.

God used a blogging class by RJ Thesman to connect the dots and restore my vision for missions. I can be a missionary - a global one! It doesn't require travel or health risks. I just need a keyboard, internet access and divinely inspired words. Blogging is missions. Writing is missions. (Um, and I happen to LOVE doing that.)

Talk about a game changer for me.

What else did I learn at HACWN?

If you're still reading you're one of the few who stick with a blog post longer than a few seconds. So HIGH FIVE. While I still have you, here's a few other nuggets I'm bringing home after a great weekend thanks to HACWN.

Follow God's lead when he says "Go to the writer's conference."
All year I felt led to attend this conference. The hubby's job loss came right before I registered. I debated spending the money, but knew I needed to go. I'm walking out of this conference with new goals and vision. Blog ideas and excitement. Clarity of calling and dreams. Contacts and immediate opportunities to submit articles and devotionals for print. I'm glad I went - it was worth every penny.

The millennial generation needs something new.
A class about the history of Christian publishing showed a breakdown of generational viewpoints on Scripture. The millennials' views (I'm one of the oldest born in 1983) broke my heart yet inspired me at the same time. Something's got to change in how we approach millennials about God, faith, the Bible and beliefs. I'm a leader in this generation and I'm leaving the conference encouraged that I can help.

Recognize concrete vs abstract words.
For a few months in college I declared English education as my major. I still get oddly jazzed about a grammar lesson. A class on devotional writing gave me the single-biggest tip that will influence my writing from now until I hit the grave:  abstract vs. concrete writing.

Huh? You say. Here you go:

Abstract vs. Concrete writing

Abstract: The class inspired me to be a better devotional writer and achieve the big dreams written on my heart.

Concrete: The class was like getting a new eyeglass prescription. I learned that visual examples, not using the word "you," and removing "churchy" words will help my readers better understand me and clearly understand what to do after reading my devotional.

Called to write.

Themes follow me around. The women's retreat at our church a few weeks ago? "Called." The writer's conference theme - "Embrace the Call."

I get it - I'm called to write. I'm called to a few other things too which I'll be writing about in the future.

So many readers over the years affirmed my writing gift. If you're one of them - THANK YOU. You helped me have confidence to attend a writer's conference and talk to professional editors and agents.  I'm excited for the year ahead.

Big thanks to the organizers of the Heart of America Christian Writer's Network Conference for hosting this yearly event each fall!