I took a deep breath and nervously straightened my dress as I entered the ballroom of the hotel. I did my best to look nonchalant as I awkwardly wove through the banquet tables toward the front.  As I sat down next to the friend I’d made at the airport my stomach churned.

What am I doing here? I don’t belong here.

I looked around at the 800 or so Christian women writers, speakers, and ministers with perfectly curled hair and glowing skin.  They probably all knew the Bible cover to cover. Most of them were at the conference to meet with publishers and agents.  They had book proposals, and something called “one sheets”.  Most of them had been writing for years. Some of them were already published, or starting podcasts, new ministries and non-profits.  And me? All I had was a couple of blog posts, a few pages of something I believe will turn into a book one day, and an old dream to be a writer.

What am I doing here?

My mind flashed back to the February afternoon mindlessly scrolling through Instagram when I saw the ad. “When a woman hears God’s call to write, speak or lead, the path isn’t always clear. She Speaks can help!”.   It was one of those moments in life when you just KNOW you HAVE to do THIS! Before I could talk myself out of it, I bought a ticket and booked a room.  This was not at all the typical response, usually I would start making excuses why it would be nice to do something like that one day…. Not this time. I was going!

But now that I was actually there, all my certainty was giving way to crushing self-doubt.  What made me think I belonged here? Which is just another way of asking the question that has plagued me all my life: Do I belong- anywhere?

As an adopted child, I have always carried a deep wound of rejection. This is the subconscious belief that I was given away because I was unwanted and unloved and so there must be something inherently wrong with me.  This fear has been the great driver of all the hard lessons of my life: alcoholism, grief, divorce, obesity, anxiety- you name it.  But through God’s relentless love – I found healing, and in doing so have felt God call me to share my story in the hope it may help someone else find her way out of the dark.  Even so – those old fears love to creep back in.

It was almost time for the first speaker to take the stage, the lights in the ballroom grew dim.  Suddenly, I noticed my cellphone illuminate from the table.  I looked down to see a text message- from- of all people – my birth mother, Dede.  It read:

“Hello. I just wanted you to know that meeting you on this day one year ago was one of the best days of my life.  Much love and success being sent your way.”

My mouth fell open, I had not put the two together! I had no idea that the conference happened to fall on the 1 year anniversary of meeting my biological mother for the first time! Goose bumps ran across my arms and tears slipped down my cheeks as I closed my eyes and thanked God for His perfectly timed confirmation.

I could still see Dede sitting on the bench outside the restaurant that day, fidgeting with her clothes just like I do when I’m nervous. As we sat and talked she told me that giving me up was the hardest thing she ever had to do, but living in such extreme poverty at the time, it was my only chance for a better life. She had never stopped loving me.  It was a day of great healing, and the fact that I would be taking such a pivotal step into God’s calling on my life that same day a year later was all I needed to know I belonged there.

Over the next 2 days my old dream to write a book took root and grew new life. At first scared I didn’t measure up to rest of the extraordinary women there, I quickly found myself making new friends and mentors.  Not only did I leave that conference feeling like I belonged, but now I can’t wait to go back next year with my book proposal ready to go!

Is there an old dream in your heart that needs revival? I pray that you will push past the insecurities that plague us all and let God to breathe new life into it.  I know it can be scary. But I also know that when we listen to God’s call and follow where he leads us, he will always give us the confirmation and validation we need to keep going.  One thing I have come to learn is this: where God guides, he always provides.