Editors and wallflowers – Publishing conference

THE STORY: Today I’m at a publishing conference. It’s a space for snagging business cards as fast as you can, meeting lots of people, and getting your name out there. Generally a “me” centered event.

But not for everyone.

One woman at the conference stood out to me. Not to anyone else probably, because she did not make herself obvious. Her acts of kindness were simply genuine love acts, not self-promotion.

We had these “networking” opportunities between each class – about a half hour. And it seems that in every break, there was some loner, standing in the corner under the fake tree, nibbling his or her brownie alone. Thanks to this wonderful woman, who shall remain nameless, no loner remained a loner for long. Every time I saw her, she was off in that corner, drawing the quiet person into conversation. When I walked by, she had gotten one girl lit up and talking about her side project – starting a magazine. From what I could tell, the little bits I overheard, every conversation was different. That means she dove into whatever topic the other person had a passion for. It takes a special type to root out that “passion” in every single person, and to get them excited and opened up.


It also takes a special person to become a famous and well-respected editor. This woman who was reaching out to the quiet wallflowers had every reason to be proud of herself, tout her accomplishments. But I didn’t hear her do it once. And I saw her a LOT at this conference. There are people who accomplish amazing things, and then there are people who accomplish amazing things and use their life to bless others.

Those are the cool people.

I admired this woman for the mark she’s made in the industry, and the big-name authors she’s acquired and edited. Now, I just flat out admire her.


True Stories: Shara’s Generosity

I post these blogs whenever I happen upon an act of kindness–especially if it has some unique twist. Sometimes they’re people I know, and sometimes just strangers whose kindness I witness. These are the people that represent Jesus to the rest of us, and they think no one’s looking.


Seeing beggars downtown is certainly nothing new. But Shara believed in giving when asked, so she plunked a wad of money in the hand of the first person who asked. We walked for several blocks, and as we neared the loop, we saw saxophone players with open cases, handicapped veterans holding out McDonald’s cups, and homeless old women who grabbed your arm as you passed. She dropped money into each outstretched container and smiled as if they were the only one asking her for anything that day. By the time we boarded the train, she spent her last two dollars to buy the pass.


The reason Shara and I wandered around downtown in the middle of the day is that she had just lost her job. As a freelancer, I had time to roam around, but Shara had time because she no longer had a job.

What she did have, however, was medical bills. Cancer had wiped her out, and still required therapy, costing money she no longer had. Working as a writer, like me, she had never been rich, and had very little – if anything – to fall back on.

“Why are you giving away all this money?” It took me many blocks to get up the courage to ask. I figured I already knew the answer, knowing Shara, but it just didn’t compute with me. If I were in her position, I’d probably go into crisis mode. Batten down the hatches, close all the doors, nail the wallet shut. But here she was doing the opposite, and not worrying about it.

“I may not have a lot, but I have more than they do. If they’re asking for it, they must need it.”

A firm believer in giving when asked, Shara was known for her generosity. She was generous with her time, generous with her money, generous with her compassion. But it went beyond that. She also had faith. Without Shara saying a word, I learned about giving sacrificially, and I learned about trusting God to do what He said He would.

In the following weeks, I watched the people of our church come around her, without her asking. Family after family came forward, telling their own Shara stories.

“She always babysat when I was in a pinch. She was there for my family.”

“She was my only visitor in the hospital, and then she cooked for my family.”

I guess when you’re generous, you’re right not to worry about running out. Because you have tons of grateful people just waiting for God to prompt them to give back.

That day in Chicago, though, I treated her to sandwiches for dinner. How could I do any less, with an example like that?

True Stories – Sharon, my unplanned wedding planner

I post these blogs whenever I happen upon an act of kindness–especially if it has some unique twist. Sometimes they’re people I know, and sometimes just strangers whose kindness I witness. These are the people that represent Jesus to the rest of us, and they think no one’s looking.


Sharon helped me plan my entire wedding from out of state. She helped me pick a veil and jewelry, narrowed down the dress decision, took care of more details than I even realized should be taken care of.

Sharon has been a good friend since about high school. We always pick up where we left off, and we seem to share each other’s trials. We pop in and out of each other’s lives, always knowing the other will be there if we need her. We’ve had weekend getaways, shopping trips, and long talks on the phone.

This time, it was my wedding. I’m a horrible organizer. I mean… horrible. Sharon came alongside me, even from across state lines, and “handled” everything. She made my bouquets, curled my hair, and helped with a million little things I’d never remember to do. And then, when a number of non-wedding catastrophes hit a few days before, she was there to drill some sense into me and hug me. She was like my wedding planner and support system all rolled into one fun person.


While helping me plan my wedding, Sharon had a lot happening in her own life. She truly was experiencing a difficult season. But how did she deal with all that? She leaped right in to help her old friend. Instead of focusing on herself, she worked through her own stress by taking on some of mine, and serving me. She stepped outside of her own problems to help this disorganized bride organize her life and keep up with the demands of preparing for a wedding. She set aside her own struggles to be the friend I needed.

All friends should be like that. Just my opinion.