Love: 1. Fear: 0.

If you had told me last November when I wrote Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Sign I would meet Donald Miller in person, I wouldn’t have believed you. Donald Miller is the author of several critically acclaimed books and I’ve been a fan ever since I read his New York Times Bestseller, Blue Like Jazz over a decade ago.

Don is also the founder of Storyline, an organization that helps people live better stories.  You can work through the modules in the workbook, on online, or attend his yearly conference in the States. I’ve always wanted to attend in person, but the two Fs (fear and finances) have prevented me from taking the plunge. However, this year a small voice within me convinced me to go, and I’m sooooooooo glad I listened, as Don announced this year’s conference would be his last.

The conference was held in Chicago, and before the plane touched down in the Windy City, I knew God’s blessing was all over this venture. The fear dissipated when I saw the city reach above the clouds to greet me – a heavenly sign, indeed!

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Over 2,000 people came to hear Don and his lineup of amazing guest speakers take the stage. Their messages were uplifting and they each planted seeds that have taken root in my spirit. I also met some lovely people who were seeking to live a meaningful life as well, and for a few days our stories intersected making the experience all the more memorable.

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Marty, Kristin C, Me, Kristen F, and Destiny : )

Next to meeting Don, I was excited to hear Bob Goff, a lawyer, philanthropist, Hon. Consul for the Republic of Uganda, and author of Love Does, speak. Boy, is he an original! The only thing bigger than his larger-than-life personality is his generosity! Case in point – 100% of the proceeds from his bestselling book goes to Restore International and The Mentoring Project!  Bob’s message is simple, live a lifestyle that fiercely seeks out ways of showing love and he promises, “when Love Does, life gets interesting!”

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How timely I attend a conference anchored in love, when I’m smack dab in the middle of testing a plan whose “purpose is to root our fear and replace it with inestimable love.” Coincidence? I think not!

Over the three-day conference, I had the opportunity to chat with Don on three separate occasions. The first was when I went all fan-girl and asked to take a photo with him. The second, when I asked him a scriptwriting question during the Q&A. And lastly, when I bumped into him on the final day of the conference.

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The last encounter shouldn’t have happened, we literally bumped into each other during the lunch break. He was hurrying back to the auditorium, but slowed down enough to walk alongside me to say, hello.  I smiled, and he asked if I was enjoying the conference. I told him it was the best investment I ever made. Then that small voice that convinced me to go to the conference urged me to ask him that burning question that none of his books addressed.

“I know you’re in a hurry, but can I ask you a question? It has nothing to do with writing.” I asked.

“Sure,” he replied, still walking toward the auditorium.

“How did you lose your weight?”

He stopped dead in his tracks. I worried I offended him, so I tried to recover, “I mean, as a plus-sized person, I admire that you have been able to reach and maintain a healthy body weight.”

He smiled and faced me, “Good question. Cycling across America helped.”

“Okay, other than riding across the country, do you have any tips or suggestions? I’ve been fighting this battle my entire adult life.”

Don was so kind and sympathetic – he knew exactly what I meant, as he too carried more than half his body weight for many years. He explained he works out three times a week, cut out sugar, and starts his day with a healthy shake. I gave him a brief overview of 12 in 12, and he seemed genuinely interested. I asked if I could feature him on the blog, and get this… he gave me his email address, so we can chat about this sometime!

To think, had I given into my fear, I would have missed out on the remarkable experience of attending a life changing conference, exploring a beautiful city, and meeting wonderful people.  Fear is loud and tries to intimidate. Love whispers and encourages. Fear paralyzes, but love does.

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To view my Week 51 Food Journal, click here.

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