dishes of salsa

Meet Keynote Speaker Allen Arnold

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Allen Arnold is the author of The Story of With, an allegory about creativity that fuses together elements of identity, imagination, intimacy as we pursueAllen Arnold photo creative fellowship with God and fellow bohemians. He knows first-hand how common it is for writers to become disheartened, isolated, and overwhelmed—as well as the freedom that comes by making the “shift to with” into truer identity and calling. Allen reveals how creative interests and desires actually serve as a supernatural homing device, drawing us closer to God as we pursue what we are most passionate about from an awakened heart.

As the founding Fiction Publisher for Thomas Nelson, Allen oversaw the development of more than five hundred novels with a wide range of writers from NY Times bestselling authors to debut novelists. He now oversees content at Ransomed Heart, a ministry in the mountains of Colorado founded by John Eldredge, the New York Times best-selling author of Wild at Heart.

Allen’s favorite way to spend the day is with his family—in whatever that day’s adventure may hold. He loves blue oceans, black coffee, hot salsa, and big ideas. Kathy Ide had Allen fill out a fun questionnaire to get to know him a little better for her blog. Enjoy!

Allen’s fun facts:
In college, I had a secret identity. I made appearances dressed in the official Captain Crunch uniform to promote the cereal.

Favorite pastime:
Coaching basketball for my kids.

Something most people would be surprised to find out about you:
I drink salsa by the glass … the hotter, the better.

Besides the Bible, what’s one of your favorite books and why?
The Song of Albion trilogy by Stephen Lawheadbecause he does a masterful job of taking readers to a mystical thin place where realities bleed together in ways that leave the reader as transformed as the characters.

One person you would love to meet and why:
Damon Lindelofhe’s the co-creator of the television series Lost, which blew my mind and remains, to me, the best television series to air. I’d love to discuss story and creativity with this brilliant artist. Okay, him and Daniel (I’ve got some questions about his time in the Lion’s Den).

Learn more about Allen at withAllen.com.

Allen joins LIz Curtis Higgs as keynote speakers at Mount Hermon Writers Conference, March 23-27, 2018. Register today.


Testimony

Posted by & filed under General, Kidder Creek, Stories of Ministry.

For a handful of years I taught Outdoor Education at Mount Hermon in Santa Cruz. We would hike kids around outside, and stop to learn about nature. The great thing about using an outdoor setting to teach is that it readily lends itself to turning those nature lessons into life lessons. Jesus understood this: seeds on different soils was really about the condition of our hearts.

As part of our week with students, we would do a night hike. The redwood forest is shaded and dark during the day due to the thick canopy, but at night, it is near pitch black. For many students that came to us from larger cities, this was usually the deepest dark they have ever seen. That plus being in the woods often made these hikes an exercise in trust (in me) and perseverance.

At one point in our night hike I would gather the kids into a circle and stand in the middle. Then I would light a small candle and hold it above my head. Every time (and still to this day) it would blow my mind just how much light that little candle would emit. That tiny flame, barely an inch high, would cast a net of light 40 ft across! After a half an hour of stumbling through the dark, you could feel the warmth and comfort that little light brought to our circle.

This summer at Kidder Creek we will be looking at the power of Jesus working through us to “Illuminate” the darkness around us. The light of Jesus changes everything in our own lives, in our communities and in our world!


woman waiting

Why Is This Taking So Long?

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Janet Hanscome

I knew I should be happy for my roommate, but when she shared her exciting news—“I have an agent”—tears came almost immediately. I’d been attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference for seventeen years and still didn’t have an agent, despite writing three work-for-hire books with Focus on the Family. Eight years had passed since the last one hit the shelves. I’d followed through on invitations to submit book proposals and a request for a complete novel manuscript, only to have every one of them turned down. Now I was going through a divorce and trying to survive as a single mom on a freelance writer/editor’s income. If ever I needed doors to open it was now. Instead, they were opening for my friends.

Two and a half years later, my dream of finding an agent—my dream agent, in fact—had finally come true. But the book proposal that she loved so much—a devotional for single moms—still hadn’t found a home.

For the first time since attending my first writers’ conference in 1995, I considered setting writing aside.

I was tired of arriving at conferences with nothing to show for my efforts while my friends arrived with new releases.

Tired of writing proposals for books that nobody wanted.

Tired of wanting what I couldn’t have.

Two thoughts kept me from quitting:

  • The reality that I would be miserable if I did.
  • If this was a test of my commitment to writing (How badly do you really want this?), I didn’t want to fail.

I’m so glad I didn’t quit! A few months later, my agent found a publisher for my devotional, and in March 2016, it released on the last day of the Mount Hermon conference.

This might sound shocking, but I am now grateful for the frustrating timing.

  • If the first agent I connected with at Mount Hermon had signed me, or the second, I wouldn’t have the wonderful agent who represents me now.
  • When I think back on my early book proposals and that completed novel, I still had so much to learn about the craft, marketing, and which genre suited me best. Most of my ideas flowed from personal struggles that were still unresolved. Now that I was in a more professionally and emotionally mature place, I saw what a disaster those other projects might have been if accepted.
  • By the time I signed the book contract, I had twenty-year’s-worth of relationships to draw on for endorsements, reviews, guest blog posts, and influencers.
  • The book flowed from my experience as a newly-single mom—so while exciting things happened for my friends, God had been at work in me as I lived my future material and developed a heart for hurting women.
  • I had six months to complete my first draft. By the time I sat down to write it, my post-divorce life had settled down, and I’d done enough healing to revisit some painful memories.
  • God timed my release date so it fell during the conference where I first sensed His call to write, and where I would be surrounded by friends who’d been part of my very long journey, including my healing journey. It was like a five-day launch party!

Perhaps you are feeling like I did a few years ago—like no matter how hard you work, and no matter how long you study the craft, exciting things always seem to happen for your roommate instead of you. Maybe you enjoyed some success only to have your writing life get stalled.

Maybe, like me, you have considered quitting. As you consider attending Mount Hermon in 2018, I encourage you to draw on the valuable lessons that I learned from this long period of waiting.

  • Waiting often tests how badly we want something. How happy would you be if you stopped writing? If you know you would be miserable, ask God for renewed patience, trust, and wisdom as you seek His direction.
  • You probably get sick of hearing this, but we really can trust His timing. He not only knows when we are ready craft-wise, but also which agent we need, when we are emotionally ready to take on a daunting task like a book, and when we will have time to write it well. He knows who our audience really is, and what we need to experience in order to minister to them through our stories.
  • This is not wasted time. Consider what you are learning while you wait for that long-awaited yes. Take advantage of this opportunity to hone your craft, find your voice and niche, build relationships within the publishing community, and grow your platform. If you are going through something difficult, pay attention to what God is teaching you, and what you will have to offer others later.

In those moments when you find yourself crying, Why is this taking so long? take time to record the benefits that you discover in waiting for your dream to become reality.

Have you been waiting for your writing career to take off? This may be the year. Be BOLD, register now for Mount Hermon Writers Conference.

Jeanette Hanscome is an author, speaker, freelance editor, and busy single mom. Her book Suddenly Single Mom: 52 Messages of Hope, Grace, and Promise was published by Worthy Inspired in March 2016. She has written four other books, hundreds of articles, devotions and stories, and contributed to Kathy Ide’s Fiction Lover’s Devotionals 21 Days of Grace and 21 Days of Love, as well as Ellie Claire’s Just Breathe. In 2012, she coauthored Running with Roselle with blind 9/11 survivor Michael Hingson. Visit Jeanette’s website https://jeanettehanscome.com/


Lakeside Project

Posted by & filed under Building Projects, General, Stories of Ministry.

As an Associate, Tommy Beadel invests in the ministry of Mount Hermon. Attending Mount Hermon since he was four, what God has done in his life has had significant impact on him, his family, and now his company.

As the owner of Thomas James Capital, the largest homebuilding company on the west side of Los Angeles, Tommy felt the call to do something more for a place that has meant so much to him. “I have a passion for Mount Hermon, and I saw a need here with the housing and the accommodations and their need for updating.”

Four years ago, he began conversations with Mount Hermon about how, with his skill set and resources, he could help improve a significant area of the experience—the lodging. For six years, Mount Hermon had been slowly renovating Gwinn Lodge, room by room. “We were able to do our first project in Gwinn Lodge last year,” said Tommy. “What took them 6 years to do—ten rooms, we did the last 10 rooms in 6 days.”

That got the wheels moving.

If you have ever stayed in a Lakeside Lodge room, you know that, well, they needed quite a bit of attention. When Lakeside Lodge was built in the 1980s, it was revolutionary. A hotel style accommodation that allowed families to room together in the middle of a gorgeous property without having to worry about cooking or cleaning for the week they were at camp. Over the years, as the needs changed and the people changed, the rooms did not. Fast forward to the next century, and the rooms began to show their wear and tear and just how dated Lakeside Lodge actually was.

Tommy knew that he could bring the skills to Mount Hermon to improve Lakeside. He could provide the crew, but we needed to provide the resources and the materials so that his guys could do what they do best. We sent out a call in the spring sharing the vision with those who love Mount Hermon (and have probably at one time or another, stayed in Lakeside) and you answered. Having the resources and materials in place, Tommy and his crew showed up, and the transformation of the rooms began.

“What we’ve been honored to do is be allowed to come up here and bring our expertise, and bring our guys and our crew up here to remodel the accommodations in an extreme home makeover kind of way. We’re doing all 20 rooms and all of the concrete work and fire pits.”

The transformation of the Lakeside rooms was just the beginning. “The thing that I get is to give my boys this experience and to show them it’s not just about them, it’s about serving others. So for me, I can make this impact on my boys and show them what hard work is and what it is to put in a long day and make a difference.”


Summer Staff Testimony: Amy Kral

Posted by & filed under General, Staff News, Stories of Ministry.

I learned so much this summer about what it means to walk daily with God…

As I spent time with Him I realized I could get everything I needed and more from Him, and that freed up my hands to be able to GIVE to people. To serve them and see them the way He does.

Camp wears you out, and you still experience hurt and grief and insecurity, but the Lord works best when we are at our weakest. The thing He told me over and over again was that I could boast in my weakness. I don’t have to have it all together! I don’t have to feel like it. But I get to call on Him.

He blessed me with a 4-year-old telling me she loved me or listening to a group of 30-something preschoolers shout, “MY HOPE IS IN JESUS.” Thank God that I don’t have to rely on my own strength to bring Him glory. My first summer in 2016 was just the beginning of discovering these beautiful truths about my Jesus, and this past summer was incredible. But He is not finished with me– and praise God for that.

Summer Staff 2018 Positions


Summer Staff Testimony: Justin Whelpley

Posted by & filed under General, Staff News, Stories of Ministry.

  

Hi my name is Justin Whelpley and this summer I had the amazing privilege of working at Mount Hermon Kidder Creek as a Timberline Counselor/River Guide.

This summer was by far the best I have had in years. With the many adventures I embarked on with my campers and staff and just how God was able to show himself to me every single day and week was phenomenal. It was truly something special and it was every prayer I had for this summer answered and then some.

Now this summer wasn’t always perfect. Like any summer position you feel drained and feel like you are not doing enough. You sometimes feel and begin to question your purpose at camp and why you are in the position in you are in. I remember I found myself in these shoes towards the middle end of summer. It was a classic week at Kidder, meaning we had younger kids in our cabins ranging from 9-11. So as you can imagine it is a lot of work tangling 8 kids on your own who all come from different places and have an extreme amount of energy. You gotta be on your A game on those weeks. Now it was about on a Wednesday on this week and I had just about it with my kids. They refused to listen to me and I was always having to tell them to come back to me or to listen up or there will be consequences, Usually resulting  in limited pond time. However they ended up listening and getting the lost time back. However I was just exhausted and I personally felt as if I was not teaching them anything about God or that they even liked me. I was just so negative and very hard on myself and I remember asking God: Why me? Why am I here this summer and am I even fit for this position?

So on this Wednesday during my one hour break I went into the staff house where we hang out, eat, etc. I decided to check my mail box and see if I got mail, in my mind I had doubts of receiving anything but still it wouldn’t hurt. So as I looked I had three letters and they were from previous campers I had that summer earlier in the weeks. Shocked I opened up the letters and they were filled with encouragement and words of gratitude. They wrote about how first amazing Kidder was and how much it was missed and also how I was a great counselor and taught them so much that they wanted to come back in the summer of 2018. These letters changed my entire view of myself but not only that God was showing me that I am at Kidder for a reason and that I am doing a great job and he has me there because he wants me to be there. It was the most humbling experience but also the most meaningful all summer because everyday from then on I knew no matter what I did or said was because God placed me at Kidder in that position for a reason.

That moment this summer taught me that when you are at camp or anywhere just remember God has blessed you to be there so be present in those moments and do not doubt what you are doing or saying because regardless God is at work. I will always carry that moment with me forever.

Summer Staff 2018 Positions


Summer Staff Testimony: Abi Auer

Posted by & filed under General, Staff News, Stories of Ministry.

JOY. That is what God showed me this summer at Mount Hermon’s Kidder Creek.

I grew up in the church and knew who God was but nothing compared to how I know him now. Kidder brought me close to God in ways I didn’t even know were possible! Getting to connect with campers and other staff members and have real meaningful conversations about life and how we see God moving is something I had always craved but never knew.

Through those conversations and prayers, I soon realized camp ministry was something I wanted to pursue. The only thing standing in my way was the fact that I was already going to school and studying something else. With the help and prayer from mentors and friends at camp I decided to take some time off of school and move out to Bend Oregon where I am now a part of an amazing church and work community. God is even opening doors for me to go study outdoor leadership at a school in Colorado. So who knows, maybe my adventure will continue!

I left something so normal and comfortable back at home and my old school. It hasn’t been the easiest transition but knowing that God is with me everywhere I go makes anything worth it! I have given my life to him and I cannot wait to see where he takes me!

Summer Staff 2018 Positions


Summer Staff Testimony: Sydney Sheppard

Posted by & filed under General, Staff News, Stories of Ministry.

Week 7 at Redwood Camp this last summer, I had my first cabin of 6th graders.

I was excited to see how the Lord would work through them since they were at a more mature age than the 4th graders that I normally had. I couldn’t wait to have my one-on-ones and hear more in depth about their lives and their relationships with Jesus.

I had one camper named Alexa, and she was so smart and mature for only being 11 years old. During our one-on-one, she told me about how her and her family had been searching for a new church for the past few years, and because they didn’t have a home church, it caused her to fall away from the Lord. She told me that during this week at camp, she wanted to work her way back to God’s side. She asked me countless questions about what it meant and what it looked like to follow Jesus, and how to pray to Him. She told me that she loved Huddles (our cabin Bible study time), and that they just got better and better each day. Hearing her say that lifted my spirits, because I knew God was at work inside of her.

On Friday night, the last night of camp, we have something called Luminaria, where we all worship together, and then break out into our cabins across the meadow with just a candle in a jar in the middle of our circle. Alexa and a few of my other girls were crying. I could tell it was a good cry, but I wanted to hear from them what this night and week meant to them, so I asked them. Alexa couldn’t stop smiling through the midst of her tears as she explained how God had truly revealed Himself to her throughout the week. She said again how she came to camp to get closer to the Lord, and said how that happened. [She] and my other girls couldn’t stop smiling and crying and saying how God blessed them with each other as friends, as well as showed them how much He loves them each that week.

Week 7 was a special week to me. The Lord clearly showed me that He was at work in my campers this summer. Sometimes it’s can be hard to truly know how much of an impact you had on them, but this week, God reminded me that I was doing His work and that there was an impact being made. The day after they left, the mother of another girl in my cabin, Colette, contacted me to tell me how much of an impact the week of Redwood Camp had on her daughter. While God worked through these sweet girls, He also was reminding me that He was working through me to help lead them to Him, and that it was in fact working.

Summer Staff 2018 Positions


“I Don’t Know Much About Jesus”

Posted by & filed under General, Kidder Creek, Stories of Ministry.

In 2014, Mount Hermon had a unique opportunity to partner with Camp Hope. Camp Hope’s core is to minister and love on kids who are victims and witnesses to domestic violence. “Partnering” with Camp Hope is the key word here. Did you know that Mount Hermon writes the curriculum that Camp Hope uses for their nationwide camps? When Camp Hope comes to Kidder Creek, did you know that it is our staff that leads the cabins and their small group discussions? This partnership is more than a group renting out a facility. This is a true partnership with the goal of seeing Lives Transformed. This summer we were witness to just one of the fruits of this partnership.

Hector came to Kidder Creek with Camp Hope – San Diego. Right before he left home, his mom said to him, “Just because you go to this camp doesn’t mean you are going to change, you are just like us, and you will never amount to anything.”

Indeed, Hector had an amazing week at camp and became upset and teary as the buses were loading to go back to San Diego. Casey Gwinn (Founder of Camp Hope America and son of former Mount Hermon Executive Director, Bill Gwinn) saw Hector’s reaction and approached him.

“I don’t want to go home,” cried Hector. “I want to live here. I want to work here.”

“Hector, what do you believe about God?”

“I believe in God.”

“What do you believe about Jesus?”

“I don’t know much about Jesus.”

“Would you like to go to a wilderness camp this summer where you can learn more about Jesus?”

“YES!”

In Mount Hermon’s partnership with Camp Hope, our counselors get to “be” Jesus to kids whose world doesn’t contain unconditional love, peace, or hope. Once trust is carefully built, we invite them back to a Kidder Creek experience where we can dive even deeper exploring the love of the Father for His children, regardless of how bad or good they are, whether or not they think they are worthy of love, or regardless of their home life.

Hector got it.

“This week I learned that Jesus is good. I asked Him into my life to keep me going on the right path. He loves me the way I am.”

Hector’s experience gave him an eternal hope that cannot be taken away from him no matter what. He learned that God loves him for who he is. Hector plans to return to camp each year and hopes to one day be on staff at Kidder Creek. He can’t wait to help spread the Hope that he now has with others.


encouragement is optimism in action

Say Something Nice

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Large writers’ conferences can be encouraging and discouraging at the same time. For some writers, disappointment comes during a much-anticipated appointment or not getting the most desired appointment or a manuscript critique. Keynote speaker, Liz Curtis Higgs, gives us advice to encourage others from her book It’s Good to Be Queen: Becoming as Bold, Gracious, and Wise as the Queen of Sheba.

It’s Good to Encourage Others

When I’m asked, “What do you like to do for fun?” my standard answer is read long novels, travel to new places, and watch old movies. But my favorite thing to do is encourage people. Just the best.

It’s as easy as 1-2-3 (and free).

  1. Keep an eye out for people who need a little boost (we all do).
  2. Ask the Lord for the right thing to say that will lift their spirits.
  3. Share that encouraging thought for His glory and their pleasure.

Ta-da!

So simple, yet what a profound difference a few kind words can make.

  • For a young mother who’s fretful about her energetic kids giggling and wriggling in their seats at church, in a restaurant, at the movies:
    “Your children are so happy. You must be a terrific mom!”
  • For a woman whose downcast expression says she’s having a hard day at work:
    In case no one has mentioned this, you’re doing a great job.”
  • For a teenager who has that “I’m so ugly” look on her face:
    “Cute top! And the color matches your eyes perfectly.”

Look, this isn’t rocket science. Just say something nice. It costs nothing, yet might be worth everything to the other person, whether friend or stranger.

Check out the queen of Sheba—a true encourager in action.

How happy your people must be!
How happy your officials,
who continually stand before you
and hear your wisdom!
1 Kings 10:8

Love all the exclamation points! This is one enthusiastic woman here. “O the happiness of thy men” (YLT) and “How blessed are your staff!” (ISV).

She could have praised Solomon directly, privately. By praising him and his followers openly, she made lots of people happy, rather than just one. Smart.

For two months or more, Sheba had listened to Solomon’s powerful, God-soaked wisdom. We’re seeing the fruit of it in this verse: honest praise, genuine encouragement.

The Lord calls, equips, and empowers us to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Though it might be easier to say nothing, how much better to say something. To get our focus off ourselves and on others. To look for ways to lift up rather than tear down. To whisper words from God and bring refreshment to a parched soul.

I see you, nodding your head. You get this. You do this. God bless you for sharing your gift!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for pouring out words of encouragement through Your children to bless others. Help us never hold back, worrying about what people will think or how they’ll react. Give us the courage to take the risk and speak up. May it never be about making us look good, but about making Your goodness shine in a world full of darkness and discouragement. Remind us everywhere we go, everyone needs a word from You.

Liz Curtis Higgs

Keynote speaker Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of 37 books with 4.6 million copies in print, including her nonfiction bestsellers, Bad Girls of the Bible, The Girl’s Still Got It, and The Women of Christmas, and her Scottish historical novels, Here Burns My Candle and Mine Is the Night, a New York Times bestseller. Liz has also spoken at more than 1,700 Christian conferences in all 50 United States and 15 foreign countries. Follow her monthly Bible study at LizCurtisHiggs.com/blog.