Celebrating Story by Jenna Deckert
Today we hear from Breathe veteran Jenna Deckert. She is just one of the faithful attendees who sets aside the two days every October to join us for Breathe Writers Conference. We cannot express how thankful we are for Jenna and those like her.
How about you? Will you join Jenna at Breathe this coming October 6 and 7? Holiday Registration is open until January 2, 2017 and is at the discounted price of $120. Give yourself the gift of taking your writing life to the next level. Register today.
I have attended the Breathe Conference since the very beginning, only missing the two years that my babies were born. My mom was part of the original writer’s group that first dreamed up the possibility of an annual writers’ conference. I considered myself a writer and looked forward to the conference every year, but was also comfortable tagging along with my mom and hiding behind her writing. There was nothing required of me. I didn’t have to stand on my own two feet.
Each year I showed up with my mom, until eventually, I began to take my own notes and go to separate workshops and meet one on one with professionals to discuss my writing. Going to the conference became less about going for my mom and more about taking myself seriously as a writer. I was becoming more able to stand up (on shaky legs) on behalf of myself and before my God. I began to dream – what does He want for my writing? And became convicted that I was not being obedient to His call on my life as a writer.
I’ve been to two conferences now without my mom. She died the summer of 2015. I wore her penny loafers to my first conference without her. We have the same high arches and the same shoe size. It was a comfort to have her with me. I was needing to walk in her shoes again.
This year I arrived in my own black strappy sandals. Without her again, but not alone. Throughout the years, the people I met and connected with have become my writing family. We are on individual and often solitary writing journeys but related by our gift and passion and calling to write. Where I once had my mom for encouragement and accountability, I now have a whole community of fellow writers.
Breathe 2016 was a ten year anniversary celebration. I find myself most comfortable on the outskirts looking in. I kept being drawn outside to the beauty of the campus grounds, to the pine trees and weeping willows lining the sun-sparkling pond. I could feel my mom with me. We have always loved weeping willows, their branches so heavy they’re bent over; their sheltering arms, like the very arms of God, sweeping us off our feet. The weeping willows in my childhood neighborhood were our favorite trees. It felt like home after attending this conference all these years. Home with God. Home with my mom. Home with my writing family. And I realized, it’s not just about standing on my own two feet. It’s about the dance. Not just showing up to the party but getting out on the dance floor and being swept off my feet.
Jenna Deckert is a licensed professional counselor, amateur photographer, wife to a very kind man and mother to two wildhearts. You can find her writing her heart out on her blog at divinginbluewaters.blogspot.com.