Confidence, Friendship, God, Identity, Relationship, Uncategorized

7 Heart Lessons From ACFW 2014

ACFW Collage 1

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

It always amazes me how much my inward thoughts shape the way I see events in my life. Attending ACFW this year was a very different experience than the previous two years. I believe this is due, in part, to the fact that I am more confident in who I am as God’s girl, and as a writer. I know more how things work, what’s expected (though pitching my books still makes me tremble), and I’m getting to know more people.

Meeting up with people I know before the conference began helped set my mind and heart in a good place. That sense of belonging—knowing I’m accepted—gave me peace and a quiet confidence that I was supposed to be at ACFW. For those who don’t deal with insecurity and rejection, this may not make sense.

Some of my highlights for conference this year included meeting new people—in the industry as well as on my end of the writing journey: pre-agented and pre-published. Friendships began and were deepened as I spent time talking with others.

The classes I sat in on opened my eyes on how to make my stories stronger and more meaningful.

I also loved serving at the registration desk. Meeting new faces and hugging those I knew filled me with joy. Giving up a couple hours at the conference to serve a time keeper for the appointments was a blast. As people sat in the waiting area preparing to go in for appointments with industry professionals, I watched faces. Privately, I prayed for those who looked scared. I remember the first time I walked in for appointments. I was scared!

We want so badly to make a good first impression that we sometimes forget, it’s more about networking than about landing an agent or an editor. I’m finally understanding this truth.

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Following are a few lessons I learned (or re-learned) at ACFW 2014:

  1. There is joy in serving. Both in formal and informal capacities, the opportunities to serve ministered to my own spirit. Praying for others offered the greatest joy in serving this year.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for prayer. I had a mind battle shortly before an appointment where I wanted to make a good impression. I asked a friend to pray with me. She did, and her words of encouragement bolstered me.
  3. Remember it’s not all about you. Keeping our eyes focused on how we can serve and encourage others enables us to walk in joy, even when we feel nervous.
  4. Things don’t usually go the way you expect, but that’s okay. God’s plans are often different than ours.  Will we be okay with this, or will choose to garb ourselves in a mantle of frustration?
  5. Look for ways to encourage others. Speaking words of life not only lifts another’s spirit, it also lifts our own. I want my words to edify those who hear them, to point them to Jesus.
  6. Don’t let insecurities speak louder than the truth. For anyone who walks in skin like mine, it sometimes feels like I’ll never truly fit in. When kind words are spoken, I’m learning (slowly) to take them at face value, rather than to question if the speaker said them with an ulterior motive or with insincerity.
  7. Know your identity. And it isn’t in how many books you’ve published, if you’re agented, or if you won the latest contest. I was humbled to win the My Book Therapy’s 2014 Frasier award. As wonderful as it is to win an award like that, my identity is not Jeanne Takenaka—2014 Frasier winner, or writer, or any other label. Ultimately, I am Jeanne Takenaka—child of the Lord, beloved and cherished by Him. God’s girl.

Any talent or identifier beyond this is what He uses to continue to mold me into the woman He designed me to be. It’s meant to be His vehicle to touch those in my world.

The biggest lesson I learned is that God’s got this whole writing thing. He’s leading and guiding me. My prayer is for the ability to view the people He leads into my life and the circumstances He allows me to walk through with His perspective.

What about you? If you attended ACFW, what were your highlights or lessons learned? If you didn’t, what heart lessons have you learned lately?

22 thoughts on “7 Heart Lessons From ACFW 2014”

  1. Beautiful post, Jeanne. I wish I had been there! But I have a kind of maybe dumb question…were there any guys there at all? In all of the pictures I’ve seen there have only been women.

    Not a problem for me, but it would be good to know for 2015, if I make it.

    And speaking of heart lessons…ummm….yeah.

    My heart…the one in my chest…has been doing weird things of late. Like it stops beating for a bit. Thump, thump, thump……………thump, thump,thump. It does get my attention. I was once a runner, and my resting pulse is still around fifty, but when it gets that irregular it starts to feel like I’m about to shake hands with Jesus.

    Thus the heart lesson. Am I ready?


    But is He?


    1. Not to worry, Andrew. There were definitely guys there. 🙂 Not nearly as many as there were of women, but there were a number of men in attendance. So when you come, you won’t be alone. I kept remembering how you were going to try to come to this one. Sigh. Hopefully next year. It would be great to meet you in person.

      And wow, your heart. I’ll be praying on that one. With a low resting pulse, to have it go irregular? I can see why it gets your attention.

      And, I’ll bet Jesus is ready for the day you shake His hand. 🙂


  2. Hi Jeanne,
    I loved spending time with you and many other friends. I made some great connections this year with other writers.

    Andrew, I thought there were more men this year than ever before. One morning at breakfast, a man sat at our table and said, “Great. Another table full of women. What are we going to talk about?”
    Now I have two sons and a husband who love sports. I can talk a little about almost any sport. So I said, “I’ll talk sports with you.” And we did.
    Yes, women outnumbered the men, but there are quite a few men.

    Great post today, Jeanne. Thanks for sharing. Your love for others showed throughout the conference. And congratulations on winning the Frasier!!!


    1. Jackie, I loved the snippets of time we caught together too. 🙂 It’s always great to connect with other writers. I loved meeting new people also. I love that you found a way to make conversation with the “lone man” at your table. 🙂 Great way to reach out.


  3. Totally what I needed to hear today- Thank you for sharing such encouraging wisdom and truth! I can completely relate to your words of feeling insecure and fearing rejection- I’d have to add for myself ‘questioning if I can do this’ – I struggle with things most people take for granted- and am often feeling inadequate and nervous. God has grown me bunches through the years and has faithfully carried me, stretching me into areas I didn’t want to go- but now am so thankful he did! So I need to keep looking over my shoulder at his constant hand of grace and guidance, and keep moving ahead into these new areas he wants to grow me in. Thanks for the heartwarming post— so good to know there are others out there who feel the same! Blessings to you!


    1. Sarah, I am so glad you stopped by. I sometimes think rejection is imprinted on my heart. It’s the “thorn” God allows me to keep dealing with because it keeps me drawing close to Him. Which is where I need to be. He’s working healing, but it’s probably going to take me a lot longer before I feel like I’ve completely moved beyond it.

      I love how you described yourself looking behind you to see His hand of grace and guidance pressing you gently forward. Good for you continuing to step into His plans for you!


    1. Meghan, I loved finally meeting you! You have such a sweet presence about you. Now, we can encourage each other on in our writing journeys and have more than a picture to relate to. 🙂


  4. I’m glad you’re starting to see Jeanne the way we do. And girl, you are LOVED!!!

    One thing I learned last year? Be ready, because yes, God’s plans will look nothing like ours!


    CONGRATULATIONS on the Frasier!!!


    1. Thanks, Jennifer! And, yes, I almost mentioned your wonderful story in the blog post. 😉 Be ready is another good lesson. Be ready for anything. 🙂 I appreciate you, friend!


  5. As a first timer at the ACFW Conference this year, I was one of those “new faces” you met, and a guy to boot. Listening Andrew?

    Every one of your seven lessons proved true for me at the Conference. Yes, I had some expectations (or hopes). No, they didn’t all come true. But yes, it was all right anyway.

    As you said in Lesson Four, God’s ways are different than our ways–and always better.


    1. Joe, I was so glad to put a face to your name at ACFW. Those expectations. . . it sounds like you were able to hold them with a loose hand. Always a good thing to do. I hope your conference was a great first for you, Joe!
      Thanks for chiming in here.


  6. I worked at the registration desk for the third time this year, and I’ve always enjoyed the opportunity to see old friends again, match faces to names I’ve learned over the years, and help first-time attendees figure out what to do.
    One appointment left me feeling down and misled, but I have to look at it as, this is not someone God wants me to work with. There’s someone else.


    1. Isn’t working at the registration desk fun, Terri? 🙂 I’m sorry about the one appointment, but I also love your perspective about it. One other lesson this writing road teaches is perseverance, isn’t it? I’m so glad I finally got to meet you in person. 🙂


  7. Congratulations on the award, Jeanne. By the way, what is the story behind the Frasier trophy? I’m not familiar with it. I love how you secretly prayed for others who were nervous. You looked radiant and relaxed in the pictures.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀


    1. Thanks, Wendy! I’m not sure the entire story behind the Frasier. Susan May Warren and My Book Therapy began this writing contest about five (maybe six?) years ago. It’s designed to help writers map out the first scene of their book. Genre doesn’t matter. She designed the contest to provide pure writing feedback for writers. Then, each year at ACFW, My Book Therapy hosts a pizza party one night, and it’s there, among other fun activities, that the winner is announced. I was thrilled and surprised to win this year. 🙂

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