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One Piece at a Time: A reflection on attending She Speaks writing conference

I'm not a huge fan of puzzles. Especially not the ones boasting hundreds or thousands of pieces. (Really. No one likes a braggart.) 

Not even a beautiful end result gives me enough motivation to say, "YES, LET'S DO A PUZZLE!" I don't have the patience. Or maybe it's just because I can't complete it in one sitting and that gives me the jitters. Maybe it's the rules...sort, edge pieces first, image last...it kills innovation. I'm just not sure where the disillusionment comes from.

And really, I don't need to know. All I need to know is that kid puzzles are more my speed. Big, beefy pieces. Quantity that can be completed in one sitting. Not as overwhelming. Except when it takes a hundred turns to get a pegged frog into the hole. Yeah. Not that. That also makes me jittery.

But as I was doing a puzzle with one of my kids awhile back, I realized something. Individually and corporately, I hold a bunch of puzzle pieces. And no matter what image I'm working toward completing, there's legwork to do. There's sorting to do. There's matching to do.

If I tight-fist a piece and refuse to lay it down, the image won't be complete. Each piece builds on another. 

If I'm holding a center piece, but there's nothing to connect it to, what do I gain?

In July, I connected a piece in my puzzle. In the spring of 2015, I heard about a writing conference called She Speaks, organized and executed by Proverbs 31 Ministries in Concord, NC. And I wanted to go. I prayed about it. I was serious about attending. But instead of a green light, I heard a wait. Until NEXT year. 

So I did.

I didn't know why I needed to wait. But I chose to obey. 

I looked forward to it for a year. But by the time I signed up, there was already a waiting list for publishing appointments...something I didn't think would be for me anyway, so I didn't worry about it. On a whim, though, I put myself on the waiting list. And a month before the conference, I got off.

I got an appointment with a publisher from Harvest House!

Talk about a mad dash to the finish line. But God was good. (And my mother-in-law, my parents, and some friends helped me a ton with the kids!) 

In a short amount of time, my book proposal came together. My working title is Beautiful Walls: Working with the Master Builder to Restore and Rebuild after Childhood Trauma. It's a place where my heart is tender. I have a passion to raise awareness for the lasting effects of childhood trauma. I've lived in those ruins. But God is building something new right there in the middle of it all! And I long to see fellow brothers and sisters break down their own beautiful walls and move into something fresh and new.  

I still don't know if I will get chosen. It's such a long shot!

But do you know what it did? That piece I laid down ended up being a huge part of an image I never would have acknowledged if not for preparing for this conference.

As I worked on writing a proposal, a few chapters, a summary, a summarized chapter outline and even bio information, something beautiful happened. My passion for writing exploded...more than I could have imagined. I've always loved writing. Words. Books. Be still my heart! But the experience of sitting down and creating a book? It lit a fire.

Even when I worked long hours and full days, writing energized my soul. It engaged me. It made me lose track of time. It encouraged me to dream big dreams. To dare. To create. To be bold. And as I have reflected over my time at She Speaks, I've decided that was my favorite part--discovering a part of myself that I would have never dared to imagine.

I have always thought I'd like to "maybe, someday, far away in the future, I might, but probably won't" write a book. But in the last week and a half, I have decided that even if I don't end up being a one-shot wonder, I'm going to keep writing Beautiful Walls.

I'm going to keep working on this puzzle, one piece at a time. Because, really, that's the only way a puzzle ever gets done...

...and even I can get on board with that. 



  1. Beautiful words, Malinda. I love the puzzle analogy...and what a lovely thought to consider what images might appear on our finished puzzle when God has completed His work in us! I'm so thankful to have met you at She Speaks and I know that your story will bring much hope to many people. Blessings to you!

  2. I'm so excited to watch your puzzle come together! And I still love that analogy so much.


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