Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Out of the Zone

I took a step outside my comfort zone. Thursday through Sunday, I attended a writer's retreat in North Carolina. The plan? To get away and spend some quality time writing. The intimidating part? I didn't know anyone who was attending - but from start to finish, God's hand was on the entire adventure.

A new member of our local writer's critique group shared the four hour trip to Buladean with me. Our conversation touched on everything from writing to family. As we chatted about the upcoming weekend, we discussed the room arrangements. We were fairly certain two ladies would be assigned to a room.  I struggled to remember the last time I had shared a room with someone other than my husband.

The drive was scenic and wound through beautiful countryside. Stately mountains, a rushing stream, and beautiful wildflowers greeted us as we reached our destination. Within minutes, our hostess was there to greet us and we were escorted to the lodge.

Scripture verses were tastefully stenciled on the walls of many of the rooms and I noticed bookshelves lined with volumes of inspirational literature. A smile spread across my face - I liked this place!

Armed with our luggage, we were shown to our rooms. A gift basket, filled with everything a writer might need, had thoughtfully been placed on one of the beds in each room. What I heard next was music to my ears - we each had our own room! We wouldn't be sharing rooms after all.

From the first gathering at dinnertime, I could tell this would be a memorable weekend. A common bond greater than writing knit this group together - we were sisters in Christ. Our writing styles and genres were as different as our backgrounds, but each of us shared a common desire: to magnify the Lord with our talent.

Generous blocks of writing time were punctuated with fellowship around meals and times of prayer and Bible study. I was challenged and encouraged by this diverse group of women who wanted to point others to Christ with their writing. I was reminded of the wisdom Solomon shared in the book of Proverbs, "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend," (Proverbs 27:17; KJV).

I made good headway on my writing project. But what had originally intimidated me - reaching out to women I didn't know - became the most valuable reward of the weekend. Each woman had life experiences that led her into a deeper walk with her Savior. I reflected on God's goodness in my own life, refocused on His presence, and drew closer to the One who had orchestrated this getaway in the first place.

I thank God for the new friendships formed and can say with the psalmist David, "Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord," (Psalm 150:1-2,6).

Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone?
Prayer: Gracious Heavenly Father, Thank You for challenging me to step out of my comfort zone. Help me to use the talents and abilities You've given me to magnify You. Thank You for friendships that develop because of the common bond we share in You. I praise You today for Your incredible goodness. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

*I'm hosting over at Living by Grace today. Come join in the discussion!


  1. Oh wow--you sound like me. I hate to share a room with anyone else and would have struggled with that one. So glad you didn't have to. The place looks beautiful! I would have enjoyed meeting so many new people. Happy your time was good!

    1. So good to see you Terri! Glad I'm not the only one who's a little uncomfortable when it comes to sharing sleeping space. I'd highly recommend a trip to the Barn at Buladean - did I mention the accommodations and food were provided free-of-charge by the owners? It's a wonderful ministry that they began 11 years ago.

      So glad to hear your move went well and that you're working some writing/blogging into your schedule! God bless you, Terri! Hugs! :)

  2. I love the idea of stepping out of my comfort zone. Of course it's another thing to actually do it!! I'm so glad you did--and shared your wonderful adventure.

    Bless you!

    1. Wonderful to see you Cheryl! I know exactly what you mean. Hope the Lord can use this adventure to encourage one of your own. Have a fantastic week! Hugs & Blessings! :)

  3. I do step out of my comfort zone...

    That place looks beautiful. What an awesome writer's retreat.

    1. Great to see you Loree! Wonderful that you are brave and obedient to step out into potentially uncomfortable situations.

      I must say the Barn @ Buladean WAS an oasis - beautifully built and decorated. Lots of room for each of us to spread out and write. A great spot to draw close to the Lord and be inspired! Blessings to you my friend!

  4. Looks like a gorgeous place, Maria! Glad you had such a great time and enjoyed the other writers!

    I think all that we have to do to market our books is a real step out of our comfort zone--I know I've been challenged for sure!

  5. Sounds amazing! What a blessing to be able to take time out to write and fellowship like that! Makes me a little 'sooky' (Australian for crybaby) to think I will miss out on the ACFW conference this year. Your photos made me remember all the fun I had with my roomie back in 2010 when I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone. Keeping the hopes alive for 2013.. God willing. xx

  6. Good for you, Maria! I'm in the same boat as you - and would have breathed a sigh of relief with the room arrangements too:) Even just to have that quiet time and security of moments alone as you step out in a HUGE way. Love how God met you and blessed you through your obedience.

  7. Hi Maria,
    Wonderful to be able to take time out to write, make new friends and to fellowship.Loved the photos too!
    I would not have liked to share a room I must say and a blessing the room arrangements worked out!
    Blessings and hugs,

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