Tuesday, October 4, 2016

It's All About Love and Grace


2 Corinthians 13:14
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

It's been almost a year since I've attended any festival/event where I sign and sell my books.  I find out about Oktoberfest, held annually at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, from someone in our neighborhood on-line chat group.  As it is a venue I've never been to, I have no idea what to expect, but I fill out the application and send in my vendor fee, hoping for the best.

In the week before Oktoberfest, my nerves start to fray and my mind begins to race with anxious thoughts.  Will the space they assign me be in a heavily traveled area of the building?  What if I don't sell enough books to even make up for the fee I am charged?  What if >gasp< I don't sell a single book?  (Don't laugh.  That actually happened at an all-day event I attended two years ago.)

So I pray the prayer I've learned to pray before attending an event:  "Lord, if it is Your will, let me sell lots of books."  I ask for the peace of His presence if and when too many seemingly interested buyers depart my table empty-handed.  And I pray not to take what can  seem like outright rejection personally.

The day of Oktoberfest arrives with the promise of lots of sunshine and a healthy dose of cool, crisp fall air - a welcome respite from our unpleasantly hot summer here in the South.  I can't say I'm still not apprehensive, but praying throughout the week has worked wonders within me.  I put on my extrovert face, ready to take on whatever happens as the long day unfolds.



God is so good!

Within the first thirty minutes, I sell eight books!  One gem of a woman buys all six books in the two series, just based on my description of the stories and characters.  Now there's a stellar example of faith!

And yes, the event turns out to be one of my most successful ones, financially, to date.

But better than that, and far more meaningful in the grand scheme of things, is the incomparable and grace-filled kindness shown to me not only by those organizing Oktoberfest, but also by fellow vendors and the shoppers themselves.  I can't begin to tell you how many engaging conversation I have with such interesting individuals, who all have their own stories to tell.  I am absolutely overwhelmed by this outpouring of authenticity and caring.

As if this weren't enough, I am reunited with a former student, a wonderful young man named Garrison, whom I taught when he was in seventh grade!  We have been friends on Facebook for quite a while, so though he is now twenty-one, I recognize him right away.  It turns out Garrison and his family are long time members of Holy Trinity, and he is eager to catch me up on all that's been happening in his life.  Having Garrison around certainly made the day fly by in a cheerful and blessed way!



Will I be returning to Oktoberfest next year?  You can bet on it!

Because of all the events I've done, this one shines God's presence the brightest, reminding me of what Racer tells the elderly preacher in Children in the Garden:  "It's all about love and grace."

And truly, it is.

Amen.

18 comments:

  1. Congrats, Martha! It is really only about love and grace. Sounds as if the highlight, or one of them, as hearing stories and meeting people. I am so glad it turned out well.

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    1. Thank you, Brenda! Yes, I met some very intriguing people and, being a writer, of course, I love a good story. Heard plenty!
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  2. Hi Martha! Congratulations on the sale of so many books! What a joy that must have been, and such a confirmation of your time and talent.
    Your ex-student looks very pleased to see you again. What a sweet guy to want to catch you up on his life. You made a great impression on him. We often don't know how we influence others, but you got to find out through Garrison. What a blessing!
    Ceil

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    1. Thank you, Ceil! It was such a blessed day in so many, many ways.
      Garrison was always one of my favorites; I'm so glad we reconnected in person after all this time. And as a teacher, my prayer was always to have a positive impact on my students. I guess I got my confirmation in Garrison!
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  3. Martha, how exciting that Oktoberfest went so well for you. Love and grace--what God demonstrates towards the people He created--something that we don't deserve, yet He gives it so freely to us.

    Love and blessings!

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    1. Yes, Kim, love and grace . . . God's indescribable gifts to us, freely given. Aren't we blessed?
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  4. I was praying, Martha ... and how delightful to see how God answered our prayers!

    Your smile, your display, your enthusiasm sure lit up that beautiful windowed room.

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    1. Thank you, Linda, for your kind words and your prayers. So very much appreciated! So glad, too, that you are on the mend.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  5. I did my first craft fair at an elementary school last weekend, so I can definitely relate to this! There were periods where no one approached, but there were MANY periods where someone walked up, bought a book or two, and talked to me. At one point there was even a LINE! I've never had a line to buy my books before. I think you're SO smart to go to church-oriented events, but don't rule out secular ones. There are tons of people looking for books by writers of faith. And Christmas fairs are coming up, so lots of opportunity!

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    1. Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing your experience and giving me encouragement. I won't, and haven't, ruled out secular events, although the response is, unfortunately, less enthusiastic.
      Are your books on Amazon? I will definitely check you out!
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  6. Love it! So glad it worked out well for you. When I sell product too, I love engaging with people. It's just a great way to start a conversation and meet some interesting, lovely people. Thanks Martha! Great testimony. :)

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    1. Thank you, Jason, for your encouragement and sharing your personal experiences. These events are great opportunities to witness to our Christian faith, and to simply listen quietly and attentively to the stories of others. Just the fact that some folks find an empathetic ear can make all the difference in their day, and maybe even, their life.
      Love and blessings!

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  7. That's great! Congrats.
    God is so good.

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    1. Thank you, TC!
      Yes, God is SO good, all the time.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  8. Congrats, Martha! I've finished reading your book. Now I'll be getting the next.

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    1. Excellent, Beckie! So glad you are enjoying them.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete

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