Feedback is the breakfast of champions. ~ Ken Blanchard (But waffles taste better)

I spent the weekend introducing myself to pastors, leaders, and volunteers in the denomination for which I’ve written this past year (including my life story on the last editorial page), most of whom had never heard of me (and one who thought I was my younger, better-looking coworker).

I should refrain from getting my shorts in a knot though, because I’m bad at names/faces/titles myself: I walked up to one of the Grand Pooh-Bahs of the Mennonite world and said, “Hi, I’ve wanted to meet you. You’re on the (insert name of wrong board here), right?” I had googled pictures of these guys ahead of time, but I plead lack of sleep and the lag of my brain in another timezone. I made up for my lack of people-placing skills by asking good questions, and the “lost innocent” look may have earned me better answers. (I swear until a few years ago I remembered every name, face, and conversation, but now, just when my encounters are beginning to take on vocational and theological significance, I find the “John,” “Dave,” and “Ron” partitions in my head are sending me “Error:full” messages.)

So upon returning from a weekend of paparazzi-izing, feigned extroversion, and relative anonymity (but tremendous hospitality, stories, and waffles from my new B.C. friends), it was rewarding to receive this message:

“You won!”

I won! I won!

Okay, 2nd place, but I’m Canadian, so third is our sweet spot on the podium. Anything above that is gravy.

The award is from Canadian Church Press, and comes with absolutely no money or fame, just a really pretty printout with my name on it (which could prove handy should I ever forget that one too). I already have a couple such printouts on my bookshelf: I received a third in 2007, honourable mention in 2008, and “a close call for third” in 2009 for pieces in the MB Herald; I’m moving up in the world.

This time it wasn’t for freelance reflections in the Herald, but for my Health and Heart column, which I’ve lovingly written for Christian Week for 5 years. The 2010 H & H columns Christian Week submitted for adjudication were about supporting loved ones through cancer treatment (January), helping my daughter overcome anxiety (July), and seniors mentoring inner-city youth (September).

Even nicer than the wall-paper are the judges’ comments: The writer chooses to take on some brutally personal stories, including the cancer journey of the Wiebe family, and her own daughter’s struggles with anxiety. What comes through in everything she writes isn’t a storyline of despair. Rather, she manages to exhibit the hope, to find the positive, to give readers something to hold on to as they come along on a unpredictable, all too human ride. It’s editorial writing that matters, and it’s done with care and grace that never intrudes, always seems to educate and enlighten.

“Care and grace” that “educate and enlighten” – sweet. Always nice to be noticed!

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