Last week, I went to a Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park, Colorado. It was more than just a trip. It turned out to be quite an adventure in so many ways. In case you don’t know, Estes Park is between 7,500 to 8,000 feet above sea level compared to where I live in the Thumb of Michigan which is around 450 feet above sea level. What a very big difference! Because of the altitude, the air is “thinner”, meaning there is less oxygen. my heart was pumping harder to get more oxygen through my body. I arrived two days before conference events so I could acclimate. You can read more about altitude in last week’s post, “Exercise in Higher Altitudes”. It has only been two months since my coronary artery spasm/attack, so it really challenged me the first couple of days. I took the time to sight see and visit family while I was in the area before the conference began.
A Blessed Rejection
The adventure began with a rejection before I even left airport property. A car rental agency turned me down to rent a compact car I reserved a month before my trip. My hubby and I use debit cards, instead of credit cards. Not everyone is honest, evidently, so rental cars are becoming more expensive with tighter restrictions. Since I don't carry my utility bills in my purse, have a credit card, nor another picture ID, they wouldn't rent the car to me. After several texts with my hubby, I decided to see if the agency who rented a car to me two weeks prior would rent a car to me again. Not only did they say, "Yes," they came to pick me up. I waved goodbye to them in the competitor's shuttle van. Guess what? I drove away in an SUV for the price of a compact car.
God used that situation to provide transportation for a family member with children. She couldn't afford a cab, so she thought she would have to take the bus. I drove her and her three precious little ones buckled into their car seats in the back seat of that SUV to their appointment on a nice warm sunny day. By the end of her appointment we discovered a crazy downpour with temps in the 40's! If she took the bus, They would have walked several blocks to and from bus stops including a bus change.They would have been caught in that horrible, cold deluge! There is no way you can put three car seats in the backseat of a compact car. God provided for them through me and that SUV.
Snow Storm in May
While at the conference, we got a report of a severe snow storm coming our way. That wasn’t in the weather reports when I packed my bags on the Sunday before! I did remember to pack clothing for varied temperatures, but was totally unprepared for 40, yes, 40 inches of snow in the middle of May! Thankfully, I bought a nice thick, warm souvenir hoodie, but it was not waterproof. I had no gloves, boots, or a winter coat with me. Roads in the area were closed. We were snowed in. Most conferees were unable to dig their vehicles out from under the heavy, wet snow anyway.
When the storm hit, I realized my food and meds were back at the hotel a few miles away.The SUV drove great in the snow, but it was buried deep under a thick glistening white blanket. Another woman who stayed at a hotel near mine took me to get my stuff while she got hers. She had a snow brush to clear off her vehicle, I did not. Then we headed back up to the YMCA camp. We admired the elk wandering around at the side of the road as we crept along in near white-out conditions. (There are two elk in picture on right). I prayed someone would let me room with them that night. God blessed me by a woman and her daughter who were willing to share their room in the lodge with me. That meant digging my stuff out of the back of my vehicle with the cuffs of my hoodie over my hands. I trudging up the walk to the lodge after the day's sessions with soggy, cold socks and shoes. My hands were frozen and numb. I learned quickly to never hurry uphill in the snow loaded down with baggage. My heart pounded in my chest! I found myself racing a mouse bouncing up the walk who suddenly dashed into a hole in a snow mound. So unfair, Mouse!
God's Adventures are Better than Our Own Plans
I would say, the greatest adventure of all was seeing God at work in the hearts and lives of writers like me. Some were published authors, some bloggers, some sort-of published, and several newbies called to write for the Lord’s Kingdom. All of us were family- Christ's family. If we had never been snowed in, we wouldn’t have met some of the people we met. Some of the valuable conversations would have never taken place apart from the snow storm keeping us there. The prayer, encouragement, and sharing of experiences were awesome!
Another part of that adventure happened when God took advantage of my clutsiness. He used my spilled coffee in the hall then accidentally sitting down in the wrong workshop for His purpose. It turned out to be the right workshop. God placed me beside a newer writer who came in a couple of minutes after the class started. As the instructor shared about strategic prayer in our writing ministries, the woman reached over to touch my arm asking, “Do you relate to any of this?” I nodded yes. I could seriously see many events in my life God used to bring me to this place in ministry. I could also see the fiery darts in the midst of those moments, in my mind's eye. Yes, I certainly could relate! She also began to connect with the instructor's message about strategic prayer. I found out she was Baptist, and I assured her I was, too. Not all Christians understand these experiences until they serve in ministry. I found myself led to get her writer's card and commit to pray for her this year. After class was over, our instructor joined us in on our conversation. He prayed with us and over us. How awesome is our God!
From the Mountaintop to the Valley
If you have never experienced an adventure with God, our Heavenly Father, you are missing out. Not all adventures are fun, but they are worthwhile. God shows up in the most interesting ways. I had to literally and spiritually come off the mountaintop experience leaving for the Denver airport. As I drove along the highway, I looked over awestruck at the majestic mountains still covered with snow. How amazing it is to see where I had been. It was time to get back into the day-to-day happenings of life with a hubby anxiously waiting for me to come home.
Christian writers conferences are about learning the craft and business of writing for different venues, but everything we write is meant to draw readers into a greater relationship with God, to help them find answers to some of life's perplexing questions, and to bask in the glow of our Heavenly Father's presence with them. When we gathered together this past week, we met God on the Rocky Mountains for a wonderful, crazy mountaintop experience. It was sad to have to come down from the mountain into the mundane-ness of life, but it is in the midst of our daily grind we are called to serve Him. When we experience God on the mountaintop, may we never forget what He has done in our hearts and the relationships we've made.
What about you? What is one “mountaintop experience” God used to change your life? I would love to hear it. Feel free to share in the comments below or email me at email@example.com. May God bless you!
Note: All photos are my own.