The Power of Prayer and Shoes

Cross & Quill Magazine

I was so excited!  It was my first writers’ conference and it was combined with the International Christian Retail Show in Orlando, FL, just three hours from my home.

The conference organization had prepared me for everything.  Their registration packet had articles and guidelines.  I could talk with agents and editors.  This was it!

I looked over the list of representatives scheduled and investigated the ones that would be a good fit for my book idea.

My guidelines said I should have disks and hard copies of my book proposal.  Check.  I should have a 30-second pitch ready – check.  Business cards – check.

Now for my wardrobe.  “First impressions count” said the guidelines.  “Wear matching hose and shoes for a look of professionalism”.

I packed my new silk skirt, gray sweater, grey hose and fashionable grey shoes.  Check, oh my gosh CHECK!  I was stylin’!

Hotel reservations made, I mapped out my days.  Sunday featured a service at the convention center.  Since it was on International Drive, I decided to take the “I-Ride” – a trolley that traveled “I-Drive”.  Transportation – check

Armed with cover letters, a complete proposal AND accompanying disk for everyone I thought would be interested in my book, my new messenger bag hung heavy with nearly two reams of paper.  I was ready to go!  I kissed my husband good-bye and off I drove to Orlando.

Sunday morning I rode the trolley to the convention center hotel.  It was a beautiful morning so I walked to the convention center next door for the Sunday morning service.  It was much farther than I thought and my bag of proposals felt more like small trees by now.  My feet were bleeding from my cute shoes by the time I arrived.

The service was inspiring and the music angelic.

“Ignore your feet; this is going to be a good day!”  Staying positive, I hobbled back for the writers’ conference. 

We were greeted and the instructions began.  “Do NOT approach publishers while you are at the convention!  This is for bookstore owners; it is NOT about you!”

“That’s alright,” I thought.  “I’m going to get to talk to them individually!” 

“Do NOT give the representatives your book proposal; they have no room for extra papers!”

“No problem; I have disks!”

“Do NOT give them your proposals on disks unless they ask for them; they have more important things on their minds than you and your projects!”

“How many trees died for this ton of papers I’m carrying?” 

“You will NOT be able to see every publisher or agent you may want to see!”

“Why am I here?”

My confidence waned as the instructions spoken were opposite the instructions they had sent to me. 

After the morning events were over, I returned to the convention center.  Soon my feet were bleeding again.

Once there, I was overwhelmed with the crowds, lines and displays.  I suddenly realized how foolish I looked.  Wearing pantyhose is a rarity in Florida; pantyhose in the summer is unheard of; grey pantyhose was just stupid! 

By now my confidence was gone.  Totally unprepared for what I was facing, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  Crying, I called my husband. 

“I have no business being here,” I wailed. 

“We’ve spent so much money getting you there,” he calmly said. 

Can you give it another day?  Can you just go tomorrow and see what happens?”  Reluctantly, I agreed.  He spent the night praying.

I missed the trolley back to my hotel and fell running for a bus.  I could hear the people laughing.  As I got on I tried to put my crumpled dollar in a slot made for tickets.  The patient driver guided my money into the correct container.  I stumbled and fell into a seat.  An elderly woman asked if I was new in town.  I guess it was pretty obvious that I was a rube! 

Missing my stop, I got off and walked back to my hotel. 

It began to rain and then pour.  Carrying my three-ton bag, purse and umbrella, I tried to keep my silk skirt dry.  Reaching the hotel, exhausted I shoved through the wet, wiry shrubbery.  “Skirt be darned!”

I wasn’t leaving again.  I looked at the mixture of unsalted peanuts and dark chocolate chips, the beef jerky and bottles of water.  “Looks like dinner to me,” I sighed. 

Sitting on the edge of the tub soaking my torn-up feet, I talked to God.  “God, I’m a middle-aged, middle-class suburban housewife; what am I doing here?”  I pictured myself falling by the bus.  “I’m so humiliated, Lord” I whispered. 

“You mean like the humiliation that causes humility?”  I knew it was my Lord speaking.  Somewhere I must have passed over that fine line between self-confidence and pride. 

The next day I drove to the conference and my husband’s prayers were being answered. 

At lunch I met Suzanne, who I learned was from my town.  We discussed our book projects, but I didn’t tell her how defeated and misplaced I felt. 

She told me about her first year at this function.  She’d come as “prepared” as I was.  She had called her husband crying, saying that she felt like she was in over her head.  Her feet bled from her shoes.  He reminded her that they’d spent a lot of money to get her there and asked if she would give it another day.  (I had goosebumps now!) 

She said that on her second day she visited the convention floor where all the publishing house booths were, wearing her bedroom slippers which were plush old ladies with cigars hanging out of their mouths.  That had ignited great conversations for her. 

She then told me that this year she’d called ahead and made appointments with publishers.  “I’m a big girl; I can do it myself.”  She had three appointments that day.

I learned great lessons that year.  First, I learned to do my homework and not depend on the information given to me.  I learned to start with a good pair of shoes and build outfits from there! 

I learned I should never take anything for granted.  I fantasized that I’d come looking sharp, put my proposal into the hands of publishers and agents, and have a book deal by the end of the week.  Such scenarios are exceptions to the rule. 

I also learned that even though I may not feel arrogant, if I don’t keep my attitude in check, God will humble me!  I’d left the hotel room that morning feeling on top of the world but returned with bloodied feet firmly grounded and the weight of the situation literally making me stumble. 

Most importantly, I learned to never discount the power of prayer.  I was put together with my wardrobe, proposals and 30-second pitch, but I hadn’t prayed!  I had totally disregarded the spiritual influence of such events.  Prayer is every bit as important as packing the right pair of shoes!  

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