MEMORIES — Part 1

Photo by Meagan Briggs

The other day Facebook reminded me that I’ve been friends with Author Justina Luther for six years. She went on to do a blog post about our Christian Writer’s Guild Craftsman residency in Colorado. @donnalhsmith @justinaluther #memories #goodfriends #amwriting #craftsmanxi

It’s interesting what details we remember about a particular event.

Justina wrote this on her blog: “Like my bursting into tears in a room full of people because of all my trying to pretend I wasn’t overwhelmed by a ton of information and new experiences. But, you know what that taught me? People care. I’ve never been swarmed so quickly by people I didn’t really know wanting to be sure I was okay.”

I remember Justina bursting into tears right after breakfast that last morning, and all the mercy-motivated women surrounded her quickly to comfort her. This was the last breakfast we were having together as the residency was ending that morning. We were all going home.

I remember the cause of Justina’s tears, because it was something I said. And the angry looks I got from those mercy-motivated women is not something I’ll forget. But they misread the situation. I was trying to help my new friend break off a lie she’d believed about herself and a situation at home.

I was finally able to deliver the devotion I’d written that week, and one of the faculty members took me aside and really encouraged me about it saying, “It was the best devotional they’d ever had at the residency—but you can’t tell anyone!” Only a few people know about that.

I loved that weekend because it gave me hope that I could get published someday. I’d recently made the decision to “go for it” and give writing all my energy. It would be four years before my first book would come out.

Photo by Meagan Briggs

I also loved making new friends that weekend. Friends like Justina, and Meagan Briggs, and Sinmi Ogunyinka, Charlotte (now) Chaney, and Natalie Walters. Others include Martha, Marsha, Jen, Amy, and Christina. We had two fellas in our class, but one’s brother died, and he had to leave early.

We were assigned into small groups. Mine consisted of Justina, Amy, Charlotte, and me.

The trip was the worst traveling experience I’d ever had. I was late getting there when I should have been several hours early. I was late the first night. I was to have given the opening devotions, but I didn’t get to the hotel until the evening was over. It took me basically two days to get home. Mechanical issues with the airplane caused a cancelled flight, which caused a reroute, which made me late for another plane, which caused another reroute, which I finally made, and it got me to Charlotte, North Carolina. Then, another flight was cancelled. I was practically beside myself. I’d never had such trouble before — or since, I might add, thankfully. I’d started out on a Sunday morning for Pennsylvania and didn’t make it until late afternoon on Monday.

There were two upsides though. One—I was in Denver and three classmates hailed me. I didn’t have to spend too many hours alone. I wasn’t supposed to be in Denver, but that’s where I ended up while waiting for another plane to take me East. The other upside: I got bumped to First Class because I’d missed a plane and I was so upset; the ticket agent was sympathetic and put me on an overnight flight from Denver to Charlotte. And I sat in First Class. But my legs were so restless, I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I’d have liked to.

What I remember most about that time were the women I had barely begun to get to know. Great ladies like Justina, Meagan, Charlotte, Natalie, and Sinmi and Amy. I got to see Marsha for the first time since 2013 just in May of this year. I still think of Martha, Meagan, and Jen at the Denver airport. I had a picture of those three at one time, but I can’t find it now. This one Meagan took will have to suffice.

Good friendships age well and are enriched over time. I can say that about these ladies. I love them all. Who do you need to remember today? @donnalhsmith @justinaluther #memories #goodfriends #amwriting #craftsmanxi

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