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Blessed in Blessing

July 24, 2013

I have four email accounts (don’t ask) for different purposes.  To say I get a large volume of emails each day is an understatement.  Today I am thankful for one such message received a few weeks ago.  It was a “mass mailing” list to which I subscribe from one of my favorite authors.  It arrived at one of my busiest times (packing a truck and camper for a weeklong vacation/family reunion for 2 parents, 3 kids, and one supersized dog.)  I plopped on the couch in exhaustion that evening as I decided to “catch up” on my correspondence.

There it was – an e-mail from Lauraine Snelling.  As far as favorite authors go, she is right up there in my top four.  Her Red River of the North series transports me back in time to the homes of my favorite Norwegian immigrants.  My wearied eyeballs came alive when they saw, “Mail from Lauraine Snelling”. (Okay, I know it is probably from an assistant, but Hey! It seemed pretty personal to me.)

I was hoping for an announcement that would proclaim the stage play based on her books set in North Dakota would be upcoming, hoping,  I could get my hands on some tickets.  What I saw instead almost made me drop the computer because I wanted to jump and dance around the living room.  (Did I mention earlier that I was exhausted? That didn’t really happen.)  The jewels of the email were two-fold. Number 1 – a writer’s workshop where she would help writers to hone their art AND Number 2 – Coffee with Ingeborg (more on that in a later post) to which I squealed with glee.  (THAT really did happen.)

Immediately, I contacted the number listed, sent a message to my sisters-in-law (who are also huge fans), and crossed my fingers that I wasn’t too late on either opportunity.

I wasn’t.

I had the most wonderful day last Thursday once again back in North Dakota, transported to the fictional town of Blessing which has been adopted by the very real Drayton.  I spent a day with Lauraine and eight new friends (I seem to have a way of collecting them) learning more about what I didn’t know that I didn’t know about writing and gaining some valuable insight.

Upon arrival, my thoughts were centered around Lauraine Snelling – I mean, THE Lauraine Snelling – such that I was giddy with excitement.

Among my favorites, I have to admit that she is no Dr. Seuss (of course, I have to wait to heaven now to meet him), but after spending the day with her, her ranking in my favorites moved right on up. Look out Beverly Cleary!  In a one-day workshop, she answered many of my questions and self-doubts, but she also affirmed I am doing some things well.  I learned that she has many of the same struggles that I do (losing a child, life getting in the way, the need to take breaks, her love of God, and the most important one – she is a HUGGER!)

It was the latter two that stole my heart.  Very early in her instruction, she spoke about her “conversations with God” which often were when she told God what she wasn’t going to write about something such as historical fiction  (the very thing for which she is most famous).  As she spoke, I could feel the joy in my heart dance.  It was the first time I had been at writer’s event where God was so openly shared.  It felt like a homecoming because, she, all my new friends, and her book characters were God’s friends too.  What a game changer!

The second shared character trait was discovered at our first real break of the day  – LUNCH!  After a visit to the salad bar, Lauraine walked around the room and “had to lay her hands” on each of us.  Just a quick squeeze of encouragement and thanks!  She wanted to personally tell each one of us that she was so thankful and happy we attended.

Later when she spoke on grief and how it changes everything.  I sat with tears in my eyes across the table from her.  She was no longer – TEACHER, but became the friend who walks in the shoes I walk – GRIEVING MOTHER.

At that moment, I knew that God had brought me to the point of exhaustion the day I received that email; so that I would have this very encounter with her.  His message (through her words that day) was loud and clear.  Do not be discouraged when you feel you aren’t getting enough writing done.  Do not be despondent when you feel that you should accomplished more.   Press on knowing your story is touching the lives of others. 

Lauraine Snelling

So to my husband who said it was okay to drop everything and go off for four days, thank you for that gift.  To our cousins, aunt and uncle who embodied the gift of hospitality in the Blessing books, thank you for taking in this little traveler.  To the people of Drayton, thank you for adopting Blessing as your own.  To my new friends, you are treasured.  To Lauraine – well, actually to God – THANK YOU for bringing this blessing of a woman into my life.

I couldn’t be more BLESSED, and hoping that last hug we shared won’t be the last!

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