Make Time for Joy

This past weekend I went to another writer’s conference…this time, The Well Conference for Creatives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Trying to get the best-priced flight, I opted to go a day early, and was I glad I did! Usually writers conferences are jam-packed with keynotes, workshops, one-on-one meetings, photo shoots, etc. and there’s little time to do much else while you’re there. This one was no exception as it was a conference for creatives…not only writers but artists, musicians, theater and movie people, comedians and more. It was full of opportunities for which I was grateful. But first, before the craziness began…

Time to See the Sights
My roommate and new friend Gail asked if I wanted to visit the Tulip Time festival in Holland, MI, one of the top ten flower festivals in America, since the conference wasn’t starting until the next day. Holland is a quaint town settled by the Dutch who came over from the country with the same name. Each spring, millions of new tulips in every color in the rainbow are planted. It was literally a breathtaking sight to see. And the feeling of pure joy it gave me was a great way to go into a time of networking, learning and seeking opportunities…

Time to Celebrate
The conference ended with an awards ceremony. I was hopeful and then thrilled to win the CAN (Christian Authors Network) Marketing Award and CIPA (Christian Indie Publishers Assn.) Christian Indie Award for my novel, The Wise Man. Now, I’ve won awards before but then it’s usually off to the next conference/project/awards contest/etc. This time, though, perhaps because I was feeling joyful and this was a very spiritual conference, I took time to soak in that these awards were for a novel that was not my work alone but the “fruit of the vine” in that same passage from John 15: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” And this was not for my glory, but for God’s.

Time to Reflect
Just like taking time to truly celebrate a reward, I usually don’t take time to reflect, or soak in the joy I have experienced. Mary took time to ponder the birth of Jesus. John’s whole Gospel is a reflection on his time with Jesus. I’m beginning to realize, the older I get, that we have to make time and room in our hearts for joy, or it will be fleeting or maybe not felt at all. Jesus gives us love, peace and joy all in this passage from John. And if we revisit the words in the Bible, meditate on them, and truly take time to embrace them in our hearts and minds, we can call them forth, even in the storms of life. When the skies and our situation may be gray, we can remember and celebrate the colors of spring and feel the joy of the Easter season once again.

Dear Jesus, thank you for all of the wonders of spring! May we soak in your joy, peace and love and revel in these final days of this Easter season.

Michele Chynoweth

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