ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award

I was delighted to receive the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award at the September gala. Surrounded by so many wonderful friends, I was pleased to give the following speech:

This honor means a great deal to me. I know I’m not the best writer, or the most best-selling writer, nor am I the flashiest or funniest.  I’m not the most profound or prolific.

But I may be among the most grateful.

So I’d like to thank the Lord, who has taught me to relax and let him lead in all areas of life.

I’d like to thank the ACFW board members, whom I am honored to call friends and co-laborers, and for whom I have the deepest love and respect.

I have to thank my family for their support and for putting up with all my quirky fascinations through the years—especially my husband, who is still learning to love my chickens.

A huge thanks to my agent, Danielle Egan-Miller for being an incredible partner for many years.

And I would especially like to thank Sarah Blakely, the brilliant woman who invented Spanx.

And for you, my fellow writers, I’d like to share the secret about how to keep a steady head in the world of Christian publishing.

When I began to seriously study theology a few years ago, I realized I had a completely upside down view of the Way Things Were.

I had always been secretly proud that I had the good sense to choose God.

But from studying the Bible, I saw that I didn’t choose God—HE chose me—and not because of anything I was,  but because he is the author of miracles, and He redeems those who do not deserve it.

I realized He has a preordained plan for my life, every detail of it:

The psalmist wrote: Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.   (Ps. 139:16)

I learned that even my mistakes—and I’ve made a lot of them—are part of His plan for me, because that’s how I learn:

In Deuteronomy, the Lord says:

See now that I, I am He!
There are no other gods beside Me.
I bring death and give life,
I have wounded but I will heal . . .

This means all those rejection letters are healing wounds.

Over the years I’ve received other wounds–some were self-inflicted–but I no longer stress over them.  I do my best to do my part, and let God do the rest.

In II Samuel 24, we read the story of David, who wanted to offer a sacrifice to the Lord.  God sent him to Arunah the Jebusite, who owned a threshing-floor on what would later be known as the Temple Mount.

Arunah said, “Here—take anything you want, my bulls, my wood, anything at all.” And David said, “I will not offer to the Lord that which costs me nothing.”

God will take care of your life and your career.  You need not fret over anything.  Weep when you need to, then use your God-given brain and your God-given gifts to do the thing He is calling you to do—write, live, love, parent, or raise chickens.

But realize these things will cost you something—your life.  God has given each of us a finite number of minutes, a certain number of heartbeats, and when we spend time on a task we are literally giving our lives to it.  God’s plan is that we invest our life-minutes in eternal investments: people and things that will last.

Among those things are our words, because they can live and resonate and influence long after we have checked into heaven.

Each of us is an hourglass in which the sand of our earthly lives is draining, minute by minute.  So invest your minutes well.  Study the craft.  Study the Bible. Sit and think.  Love your family.  Feed your soul.  Foster writing friendships, because no one understands like a fellow writer.  And offer your writing as an excellent offering to the Lord.

Because that is exactly what it is.

Thank you.

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