When I found out a few months ago that Ann Voskamp was going to be in Nashville, OF COURSE I was going to be there. Duh. Even better: my beloved mentor came to attend with me...and my amazing husband kept the boys overnight and into the next day so that I had a wonderful getaway with her!
The event, called "Broken: An Evening with Ann Voskamp, Christa Wells, and Nicole Witt," began with music from Christa and Nicole. They led us in singing a couple of songs and then performed several of their own songs. I was only just a little bit familiar with Christa's music, so most of the songs were new to me. I especially appreciated "How Emptiness Sings." Christa explained that it was inspired by an old blog post of Ann's, in which Ann pondered the music a guitar makes:
The curves of a guitar holds emptiness, and in patient arms, emptiness can sing.
I watch how her fingers gracefully play up the long, slender neck. How she cradles the wood. How she embraces the void within it and listens to it.
The black space under the willing strings amplify sounds and a chamber of dark is a holy hollowness holding songs. This is profound. This is grace.
Scripture is the steel threads, holding the world together, and when we let the fingers pluck along these sacred strings, the lines of red letters, Christ plays in one thousand places and even our hollow emptiness is a beauty that reverberates with the refrain of Love.When Christa read that, inspiration came:
...Her bow is on the strings,After the music, Ann came out to speak. Most of what she said was familiar stories and thoughts from her blog and book, but she also showed pictures of and talked a bit about this striking sculpture in Philadelphia called "Freedom." You know it's going to be good when you grab your pen to capture a line from someone's *prayer*: Ann addressed God as "The God who appoints those who disappoint, in order that we may point to You who never disappoint."
And the tune resonates in the open space
To show us how emptiness sings:
Glory to God, Glory to God!
In fullness of wisdom,
He writes my story into his song,
My life for the glory of God.
As Ann talked about brokenness and how God uses it to bring beauty and show His grace, I scribbled down several more poignant quotes (these are as close as I could get them, but probably not exact):
"Do I really break my joy because I believe that anger achieves more than love? ...The way of satan is more effective, more expedient?"
"Thy will be done" is the secret to joy.
To really get "receive," the "I" cannot come first.
"God renovates this fallen world with nails driven through His hands."
The sky breaks and waters the earth. Kernels break and feed our bodies. The earth breaks and seeds sprout up. "Why be afraid of being a broken thing?" "Maybe the love gets in more at the broken places."
"He is using all your brokenness to name you, shape you, give you a face and a form as glorious as His."
"This place is only part of the story--one of the stages of breaking free."
I'm pretty sure I speak for about 99% of the women there when I say we all would have liked to hear more from her--it was just over too soon!
We waited in line for a little while afterward to meet Ann, and instead of having her sign my copy of her book (which I'd lent to a friend and didn't have anyway), I had her sign MY book, since she was the one who inspired my visual journaling! So fun.
After that lovely evening, I then got to spend the next 16ish hours with Diane. She drove over to go to the event with me, and we decided to get a hotel in Brentwood (a blissful night of uninterrupted sleep! waking up when my body decided it was done sleeping and not at the sounds of crying or an alarm! cranked a/c I did not have to pay the utility bill for! a hot tub! a maid to come in and clean up after me!).
You would think that between staying up until 1:00 AM and then talking nonstop from about 10-2 the following day, we'd have covered every imaginable topic and would be all caught up on everything. Oh, you would be so very wrong. How the hours passed so quickly, I do not know. But I am so thankful for this dear woman and the fact that I can be my realest, most broken self with her, and that she is willing to let me see her broken places. And I am thankful for the ways that both Ann (from a distance) and Diane (knowing and loving me up close) point me to Jesus, the Savior who loves and redeems messy, broken people.