I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, September 19, 2011

Precious Moments

Last year I didn’t go to ACFW. As the conference approached, people kept telling me God’s timing is perfect. He has a plan. This just isn’t the year for you.

Yeah, tell that to my heart. It ached. I wanted to go.

With everything going on in our family, I needed something more than a familiar cyber-hug from my Ponderers. You see, last August my father-in-law was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. There was nothing they could do. He had a year to live, at most. Our family was devastated. We decided to get a second opinion at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. And there, we got a miracle. Mayo was willing to operate and on September 13, 2010, my father-in-law had surgery that they predicted would give him twenty more good years if he completed his radiation treatment. The only residual damage—an injured vocal cord that made Denny reluctant to speak in the weeks following his surgery.

Hope swelled. After the emotionally draining month, selfishly, perhaps, I longed to recharge at ACFW with the Ponderers who had walked this road with me. They even offered to fly me out for the weekend, just for a real hug.

Giddy with excitement, I told my husband I could make it work. His lack of enthusiasm surprised me. Not only that, he asked me to stay home. Even though I was crushed, I’ve learned to trust his discernment.

I’m ashamed to say my heart pouted a little that weekend, even as I tried to hide it. We did what we usually do with my husband’s parents, hang out, watch football. Nothing special, really. But during one of those average moments, when it was just my father-in-law and I alone, he rasped, “I know you wanted to be at your conference. I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you’re here instead.”

That moment is forever etched in my memory. Denny came down with what we thought was pneumonia, but turned out to be more cancer. He died exactly two months from the date of his surgery on November 13, 2010.

I needed to be home that weekend. And God knew that.

This year I won’t be at ACFW, again. I won’t be getting Ponderer hugs, but I will be having an ultrasound with my hubby, finding out if we are having our first little girl or boy in February.

If you are staying home from the conference this year, I challenge you to be looking for why God has you where you are. Appreciate each moment, because each moment, wherever we are, is precious.



Cross photo


  1. Oh, Amy.
    Your post brought tears to my eyes.
    Here we are a year later. As I've packed for ACFW this year, I've thought back to what this year has held: Teri's aneurysm--and miracle survival. Your family's loss of Denny--and now your celebration of your first child.
    Your post is threaded through and through with hard-won wisdom, my friend.

  2. Like Beth, I finished your post with blurry eyes. It's so hard sometimes to be obedient to that small, still voice in our heart, but when we are, amazing things can happen. Like Denny's words to you.

    Beautiful post and testimony to your walk with God, Amy. Hope you can send us a snapshot of your new Sprout!

  3. Amy, I'm relieved for you that this year's absence from the conference is because of a baby on the way. What a blessing. There are pluses and minuses attached to everything we do in life, but you're so right--God is with us no matter what.

  4. I know, crazy year, TEE. So much has happened, I am so thankful for Teri's miraculous recovery and the minutes I spent with Denny. Life is good and worth every minute.

  5. I can't WAIT to send you a snapshot of Sprout, I'm partial, but I already think he/she is pretty cute!

  6. Thanks for putting it so well, Elaine, God is with us, no matter what. I couldn't have done the past year without him. Even when I didn't understand, and was hurting, he was there to comfort me.

  7. Wow, Amy, beautiful & poignant, especially since I knew and valued Denny, too. He always basked in the radiance of what his family meant to him, your pictures on office walls, and (suitably) bragged much about you in particular. What an important reason not to be at ACFW and another year--maybe a papoose board. Thanks & blessings.

  8. Amy, my kids just asked why there are tears in my eyes. You HAVE had a year. It was beautiful to read of Denny's words to you. Those moments fill in our gaps, don't they?
    Soooo excited about your Sprout! I won't be there this year either, but I will be looking for the moments God wants me to LIVE while with my family.

  9. Beautiful post, Ames. Thank you for sharing your heart. What you gave Denny is more precious than what you would have gotten at ACFW. I'm so glad God spoke to your heart and gave you validation about being at home where you were needed. Your time will come, friend. Now I have to go and wipe my eyes.

  10. Tears...truly a beautiful post, Amy. My heart still hurts thinking about your family's loss last year...and at the same time, it rejoices at the thought of new life! You will be a wonderful mommy...and you are a wonderful writer, too...can't wait to see you at a future writing conference when it's God's timing...hugs!

  11. Amy, I am going to miss you. I so wanted to hug your neck! But I am so excited for the baby you're carrying. You are going to be a wonderful mother!

    BTW, no pressure, but my birthday is February 3rd. ;-)

  12. Hey, Roxanne, that's my dad's birthday too!

  13. Amster!
    Spoken from the heart. So with you on this. I miss my Grandma and wish I'd spent more time with her. So I'm glad you made the right decision.

    Now I can't wait to play with baby sprout!


  14. I will miss too, Amy, and wonder if I'll still be able to write at all, but the Lord has His purposes for us, and if we trust Him for our souls, then we can surely trust Him for a yes or no about ACFW. Still, I do rejoice for those who can go, and we want full reports!

  15. Dee, it's so nice that one of the Ps got to meet and value Denny. He was a great guy, and sometimes I sad he won't get to meet Sprout.

    Thanks, Jeanne, I'm glad you will be with your family, but can't wait until we can make it to ACFW together!

    LJ, you're right, validation from God is really a very cool thing. So often we just have to trust he is leading us down the best path. I was truly blessed to SEE that is was the right path in this case.

  16. MTagg, thanks. I really miss my conference roomie! I'll be praying God opens doors wide for you this year, my friend. And for all the Ps and fellow writers going. I will pray my heart out for you ladies this weekend!

    Roxanne, I will very much miss a hug from Mrs. Gray! You've had a busy year too! I would have to be pretty early to hit 2/3, and secretly I'm aiming for 2/21/12, because I think that makes a very pretty birthday!

    AT, you've had a crazy year too, I don't know how you juggle all you do! Glad you are able to keep it all in perspective, have a wonderful conference, my friend!

    Teri, you are a walking miracle, and I don't believe for a second God has brought you all this way for your dreams of writing and publication not to come to fruition. Your time will come, and I'll be praying for you this weekend, too! I second Teri's request for full reports!

  17. Amy~ Darn those discerning husbands!! Missing last year was so obvious to me, but I was absolutely sure I was going this year. So I was unprepared for my husband to ask me to wait on registering back in April. Somehow I knew his request meant I wouldn't be attending, but I held out hope. Alas, he was right.

    Thank you so much for every part of this post. Every sentence spoke to my aching heart. And your challenge at the end seriously changed my perspective. I remember how bummed I was to miss DT, but then it turned out my mom was having surgery the same weekend. So I guess God knows what He's doing. I will definitely be looking for His plan the rest of this week and through the weekend.

    And I can hardly wait for Sprout to make his/her debut. That baby will have enough Aunties for a lifetime!! Love you, my friend!!

  18. Thanks, Heidi. You and I should sit on the phone some this weekend. It's so hard when everyone is "leaving on a jet plane" without us! Remember God DOES have good plans for you this weekend.

    Thanks for being excited for Sprout, that kiddo is going to have alot of love!