the text of psalm 23

The Psalmist Had a Day Job

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Cynthia Ruchti

For every writer who slogged through a day where interruptions outnumbered hours spent writing…

For every novelist who left a hero in deep distress because the family car needed its oil changed or the substitute teacher position turned into a financially helpful but creatively draining three-month maternity leave sub…

For every memoirist at the edge of a breakthrough in a gripping opening line, called away by a spreadsheet due on a client’s desk…

I offer hope.

King David managed roles as writer, worshiper, and warrior, among other things. He had a day job—king. But what he wrote in pensive, reflective, or desperate hours while listening to, praising, or arguing with God formed among the most frequently visited pages of history’s all-time best seller: the Bible. King and lyricist. King and musician. King and warrior and worshiper and writer.

Aspiring writers might be surprised at the number of veteran authors who—despite multiple books to their credit—have day jobs in addition to their writing careers. They teach fitness classes, work for non-profit ministries, hold down part-time jobs at coffee shops or dental clinics. Among many prolific authors are those who offer home daycare, run ranches, sit in uninspiring cubicles working on uninspiring projects until the end of the workday when their paycheck will provide more printer ink for their heart’s true passion: writing.

You mean I can have it all? I can have a prolific writing career while single-handedly managing a national or international ministry and teaching weekly cooking classes and traveling more than I’m home at my desk and raising organic goats and getting my doctorate in advanced nuclear physics and refinishing museum-quality fifteenth-century furniture and caring for my elderly parents?

No. Key words from that paragraph tell the story:

  • All. The only “alls” we can successfully handle are all God has for us and all God wants us to be.
  • Single-handedly. If the “all” God is asking of us can’t be listed in one breath, we’ll need help: His, obviously, and the help of others who can assist or, better yet, take over responsibilities we thought were ours to manage.
  • Weekly. The writer who is serious about using the gift of words, story, and language for holy, God-directed purposes will have few additional weekly, regular, time-consuming commitments. We’re not told that King David had time for a golf league or that he played the lyre in nursing homes every weekend.
  • Goats. David may have insisted on organic goat’s milk on his breakfast table, but he left his animal-herding days behind when God called him away from tending livestock. The committed writer soon learns that some activities become archives and memories in order to create time for writing.
  • Caring. God too may have glanced over all the other words in that paragraph of piled on responsibilities and landed on this one. Caring is dear to His heart. If what we abandon in our pursuit of a writing career is the caring part—caring for our families, about our relationship with the God for whom we write, about our readers, caring for those entrusted to us—the words we write will ring hollow in His ears and hollow to those who know and love us.

King David was writer, worshiper, and warrior. How did he juggle those interconnected but distinct roles? And what core principles guided all three careers?

Ah! That’s the stuff of which workshops are made.

Cynthia will be mentoring nonfiction writers in inspirational and personal-experience stories at the 2017 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

Cynthia Ruchti headshotAuthor and speaker Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-hope. Her novels, novellas, devotions, and nonfiction have been recognized by a number of significant industry awards. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren. Her prayer is that those who finish reading one of her books or attending an event where she’s speaking will gain the confidence to say, “I can’t unravel. I’m hemmed in hope.”


historical book, glasses, clock

17 Questions to Ask When Researching for Your Novel

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Sarah Sundin

When I started writing my first World War II novel, I thought I just needed to read a history book, find some cute outfits for my heroine, and have her hum a popular tune.

You may now stop laughing.

Those initial research questions ended up raising more questions. I fell in love with the era and longed to bring it alive with thorough research.

Here are seventeen questions to ask when conducting research for historical fiction. Many are also useful for contemporary novels and when building a story world for fantasy or science fiction. You will not need deep research in every area, but you should be aware of them.

  1. Historical events
    You need to know the events occurring in your era. Even if your character isn’t directly involved, she will be affected by them. Be familiar with the preceding era too.
  2. Setting in historical context
    You may know your setting now—but what was it like then? Towns grow and shrink, businesses and streets change, ethnic groups come and go.
  3. Schooling
    What was the literacy level? Who went to school and for how long? What did they study? If your character breaks the mold (the peasant who reads), how did this happen?
  4. Occupation
    Although I’m a pharmacist, writing about a pharmacist in WWII required research. How much training was required? What were the daily routines, tools, and terminology used, outfits worn? How was the occupation perceived by others?
  5. Community Life
    What clubs and volunteer organizations were popular? What were race relations like? Class relations?
  6. Religious Life
    How did religion affect personal lives and the community? What denominations were in the region? What was the culture in the church—dress, order of service, behavior? Watch out for modern views here.
  7. Names
    Research common names in that era and region. If you must use something uncommon, justify it—and have other characters react appropriately. Also research customs of address (“Mrs. Smith” or “Mary”). In many cultures, only intimate friends used your first name.
  8. Housing
    What were homes like? Floor plans, heating, lighting, plumbing? What were the standards of cleanliness? What about wall coverings and furniture? What colors, prints, and styles were popular?
  9. Home Life
    What were the roles of men, women, and children? What were the rites of courtship and marriage? Views on child rearing? How about routines for cleaning and laundry?
  10. Food
    What recipes and ingredients were used? How was food prepared? Where and when were meals eaten and how (manners, dishes)?
  11. Transportation
    How did people travel? Look into the specifics on wagons, carriages, trains, automobiles, planes. What was the route, how long did it take, and what was the travel experience like?
  12. Fashion
    Most historical writers adore this area. What were the distinctions between day and evening clothing, formal and informal? How about shoes, hats, gloves, jewelry, hairstyles, makeup? Don’t forget to clothe the men and children too!
  13. Communication
    How did people communicate over long distances? How long did letters take and how were they delivered? Did they have telegrams or telephones—if so, how were they used?
  14. Media
    How was news received? By couriers, newspapers, radio, movie newsreels, TV? How long did it take for people to learn about an event?
  15. Entertainment
    How did they spend free time? Music, books, magazines, plays, sports, dancing, games? Did people enjoy certain forms of entertainment—or shun others?
  16. Health Care
    Your characters get sick and injured, don’t they? Good. How will you treat them? Who will treat them and where? What were common diseases? Did they understand the relationship between germs and disease?
  17. Justice
    Laws change, so be familiar with laws concerning crimes committed by or against your characters. Also understand the law enforcement, court, and prison systems.

Don’t get overwhelmed or buried in research. Remember, story rules. Let the story guide your research, and let research enrich your story. Your readers will love it.

Originally published by FaithWriters, October 8, 2012, http://faithwriters.com/blog/2012/10/08/historical-research-seventeen-questions/.

photo of sarah sundlinSarah Sundin will be teaching a Fiction Morning Mentoring Clinic and a workshop on “Historical Research without the Headaches.” She is the author of nine historical novels, including Anchor in the Storm and When Tides Turn (March 2017). Her novel Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Award, won the INSPY Award, and was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” A mother of three, Sarah lives in California. www.sarahsundin.com.

Click here for more information about the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.


Harnessing the Magic of “After-Writing”

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by Joseph Bentz

I would like to declare a new stage of the writing process. I call it “after-writing.” Even though I never see it discussed in books or articles about writing, for me it has been a crucial stage in the writing of my books.

I teach writing in a variety of venues, from freshman courses at Azusa Pacific University to professional conferences like the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, where I will be leading a Morning Mentoring Clinic on writing nonfiction books this year. In textbooks, writing experts often identify and describe the various stages of the writing process as pre-writing, drafting, revision, editing, and proofreading. The “after-writing” stage that I am proposing is not represented by any of those steps. By overlooking it, writers may be losing an opportunity to harness much more of their creative energy.

creative child in afterglow of sunset Here is how after-writing works for me. I sit down for my scheduled daily writing session on the book I am working on. Let’s say I have three hours for that session. At the end of that time, I will have to set the book aside, move on to other things, and come back the next day to pick up where I left off. By the time the writing session is over, my ideas are usually flowing pretty well, I have an idea where I am headed next, and I look forward to getting back to it the following session.

As you may have experienced, what often happens the next day is that as I glance over what I wrote the day before, my sense of momentum that had felt so strong the previous day has now shut down. I often think, Now, where was I headed with this? What was I planning to write next? I can spend much of the current day’s writing time trying to reconstruct that mind-set of the previous day and re-enter that creative flow.

“After-writing” helps prevent that dilemma. Now, instead of merely stopping at the end of a writing session, I make sure to leave a little time—maybe ten or fifteen minutes—at the end of a session to jot down a note to myself about what I would have written next if I had been able to continue. This “after-writing” note is usually rough. I don’t worry about getting the wording just right or tracking down the documentation of a source or even writing in complete thoughts. What I’m after is a road map for the next day. I need notes that capture my thinking of that moment so that when I read them the next day, those thoughts will come alive inside me again, and I won’t have to waste time recreating my earlier mind-set. The notes might be so rough that they would make sense to no one but me, but I am the only one who will read them anyway.

“After-writing” has another benefit. I have noticed that when I am in my more formal writing stage, I am sometimes a little tense as I try to get the sentences and paragraphs just right. But once I enter the “after-writing” stage and the pressure is off, sometimes that unleashes a whole new burst of creativity. Even though I might have felt worn out from writing, I suddenly have a new gush of words that I can barely type fast enough to get on the screen. That second wind sometimes leads me to postpone my stopping time and keep going awhile longer.

I have discovered one final advantage of the after-writing stage. After many years as a writer, I noticed that once I have stopped writing for the day and my mind has let go of that disciplined way of thinking, I often have another rush of ideas about an hour later. I used to ignore that or even squelch it, thinking that I had already done my work for the day and should relax and return to it tomorrow. But now I prepare myself for that little “brainstorm” and take advantage of it by jotting down whatever comes during that time. Then I can go back to whatever else I was doing.

For me, writing a book includes many moments of joy, insight, and satisfaction, but it is also a long, hard slog. Good ideas are precious commodities in that process, and I want to do everything I can to capture the ones that show up. “After-writing” is one of the best techniques I have found to accomplish that.

Joseph Bentz has published four novels and five nonfiction books. His most recent book, Nothing Is Wasted, was published in 2016 by Beacon Hill Press. He is a blogger and currently at work on a book about passages of Scripture that have changed the world. He is a professor of English at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California, where he teaches courses in writing and American literature.

Joseph will be a nonfiction mentor and also presenting workshops at the Mount Hermon Writers Conference. Click here for more information.


Update from the Advancement Team!

Posted by & filed under Kindling.

Karen CristWe’d like you to meet Karen Crist, the newest member of the Mount Hermon Advancement Team.

Karen officially joined the team on December 13, filling a key position previously held for a decade by Debbie Franck, whose last day
was October 29.

Karen has an energetic, joyful personality and a deep love for the Lord, with the critical skills needed to step into her new position.

“The profound sense of gratitude came over me the first time I came on site to meet J.R.  God’s power was instantly felt as I pulled onto the property. I don’t even know how to describe the level of excitement I have meeting the valuable individuals who collectively work towards the mission of Lives Transformed at Mount Hermon.”
Next time you’re at Mount Hermon make sure to stop by and meet Karen, introduce yourself and welcome her to the team. We know you’re going to enjoy her!


One-One-One: 2016 was quite a year.

Posted by & filed under Kindling.

By Mike Romberger, CEO/President Mount Hermon

It was a Leap Year, Pokemon Go entered our existence, the Rio Olympics were a surprise success, and the Cubs won the World Series. No really, they did!

You never know what a year is  going to bring, and as we have now entered 2017 we aren’t sure of what all is ahead for us, but we are confident of Who goes before us, which gives us great hope as we forge ahead.

In the midst of all the craziness in our world that surrounds us we are enjoying year 111  (One-One-One) of Mount Hermon’s faithful existence— faithful to a faithful God, faithful to His Word, and faithful to depend upon His  transforming work in people’s lives.

One-One-One (111).  That’s a lot of years of God’s faithfulness in one place!

You are a key reason why God continues to place His faithful hand of blessing upon Mount Hermon. Your prayers, your encouragement, your generosity, your involvement are all used by God as He works in this place. Lives continue to be refreshed, renewed and transformed by the various ministries and locations under the umbrella known as Mount Hermon. This is God’s place, and He continues to work.

Thank you for your partnership. We are a team, and we couldn’t do this without you. 

 


Volunteers: Paul Schneider Redirected, not Retired

Posted by & filed under Kindling.

By Kerry Phibbs, Associate Director of Advancement

One of our many joys is introducing you to some of the gracious volunteers who make such an impact in the ministry of Mount Hermon. They are unsung heroes that bless us beyond imagination. One such volunteer is Paul Schneider.

Paul and his wife Virginia’s connection with Mount Hermon began in 1972. A family from their church invited them to Family Camp. So they came with their three small children, and now, forty-four years later Mount Hermon is still an important part of their lives, three generations deep. They’ve experienced many years of family camps and conferences, concerts, and eventually giving back through volunteering.

At the end of 2005, Paul retired from the electrical construction industry in the Santa Clara Valley.  In 2006, he and Virginia began volunteering at Mount Hermon. They also volunteered on trips with Mobile Missionary Assistance Program (MMAP), but in 2008 they made the decision to stay closer to home and volunteer at Mount Hermon.  Eventually, they met Bob and Barbara Parmenter at church.  Bob was also a retired electrician and needed a place to use his experience and expertise, so they have been coming to Mount Hermon together since August 2011. Paul and Bob are a regular duo around here serving across the Santa Cruz property.

What Paul and Bob share is invaluable to this ministry as voiced by our facilities engineer, Dale Pollock. “Paul and Bob are a tremendous help to the maintenance crew. Mount Hermon has been without a certified electrician for many years now, and since then, these two have filled a big hole.  From rewiring cabins during a remodel, to troubleshooting electrical fixtures and fixing outdoor lighting, they continue to keep Mount Hermon energized.”

Volunteering isn’t their only gift. The Schneider’s bless us generously as long-time Mount Hermon Associates.

“Our support of Mount Hermon’s ministry is just a natural outgrowth of what we have received; support for us as a couple, a family, and individuals. As well as for our children and grandchildren. As we partner with Mount Hermon, we get to be a part of a greater ministry than we could do alone. For forty-four years we have seen this ministry grow and remain faithful to the ministry and mission of Jesus Christ, and we are so greatly blessed with our association with Mount Hermon.”

Paul continued, “As ‘redirected not retired,’ older folks, we know God is not through with us yet. For me, Mount Hermon has become an opportunity to give back from the experience I gained through all the years working in the electrical industry. It is a special blessing to be able to give my time and talent to a ministry that has blessed so many people, including our family, for so many decades.”

If you too would like to give to Mount Hermon through your time and talent, there are many areas of need and many ways to serve. To find out how, simply contact Michelle Marty at 831.430.1375 or volunteers@mounthermon.org and we thank you in advance.


Gwinn Lodge is Finished!

Posted by & filed under Kindling.

By J.R. Loofbourrow, Vice President of Advancement

It is finished! After months of praying, weeks of careful preparation, and six days of non-stop work, we can now say that every room in Gwinn Lodge has been completely remodeled and is ready for your next visit!

Many of you have heard about our efforts to finish the remodel of Gwinn Lodge, a project we have been working on for several years. That dream became a reality the week after Thanksgiving when a crew of twenty workers came up from Southern California and made VERY quick work of the remaining eight rooms.

All week long we marveled at Mount Hermon’s version of an “extreme makeover,” one staff member even started crying! A crew member asked, “Why is that woman crying, is everything ok?” We explained, “Yes, she’s ok, she’s just really happy!”

Perhaps the best part of the whole project was watching the construction crew’s joy while working together. After long work days, the crew spent time playing basketball in the McAfee Fieldhouse, playing soccer, and eating ice cream together in the fountain—just as many of you have done while at Mount Hermon. Most of the crew spoke Spanish, which gave Andrew Summers the opportunity to be a communication lead and share with them in Spanish about the ministry of Mount Hermon and why the work they were doing was so important. You should have seen the smiles on their faces as they came to realize that this wasn’t just any construction job, they were a part of something much bigger!

The best part of all?  The entire crew that was here will be coming back to Mount Hermon in August to attend Hispanic Family Camp with their families! Just imagine what God will do through that! We are so grateful for their hard work and are already dreaming about the
next big project.

We want to extend a special THANK YOU to each of you who’ve prayed and given financially to this project. We could not have done it without you!

As we plan the next renovation project, we need your help and ask you to prayerfully consider joining us as a ministry partner through a financial gift. This is a unique opportunity where your gift will be leveraged for incredible impact restoring vital Mount Hermon lodge rooms while also sowing seeds of love, hope, and salvation to the crew who will do the work! Thank you so very much for your consideration.

If you have any questions about the project or would like to make a gift, please feel free to contact J.R., Kerry, or Andrew at 831.430.1244


The Williams: A Mount Hermon Couple

Posted by & filed under Kindling.

By Kerry Phibbs, Associate Director of Advancement

Dan and Linda Williams have blessed and impacted this ministry and our guests, day-in and day-out, since 1990.

Shortly after getting married in 1981, they joined Campus Crusade for Christ in San Bernardino. Dan served in the tech services department as the manager of the carpenters and painters. Linda worked in various departments until their first child was born in 1986.  After their second child was born, Linda was getting used to the idea of staying, but Dan sensed that they needed to seek God’s guidance for another direction, so they did.

They visited Mount Hermon for the first time, just after the 1989 earthquake. There were no jobs at the time, but five months later, the phone rang, and the rest is history.

Dan and Linda both serve in their sweet spots. They are so good at what they do! Dan is our maintenance manager, overseeing the maintenance team and keeping roads, water, and over 100 buildings up and running.

Dan was given some godly counsel from a Campus Crusade mentor many years ago, to learn from the most experienced men on the crew. He’s combined that advice, along with his natural ability, to build and develop and lead his team. He enjoys bringing together the different personalities, skills, and passions of the men on the maintenance crew to serve the Lord, the guests, and fellow staff here at Mount Hermon.

Linda’s love of the outdoors and her heart for inviting others into God’s creation led her to Mount Hermon’s Adventure/Recreation ministry. Whether it’s leading a canopy tour, doing team building, or being a guide on mountain bike rides, she enjoys the opportunity to see others challenged and overcome obstacles that open them up to see God in different ways. Her gift for coordinating projects involving multiple departments creates a win-win for everyone.

Outside of Mount Hermon, Linda loves adventuring on her bike and gardening. She enjoys feeding
and identifying birds—she’s a bit
of an ornithologist!

Dan enjoys remodeling their Mount Hermon home and also volunteers
with Santa Cruz County Search
and Rescue team.

They have four adult children: Rachel 30, Eric 28, Annie 26, and Jordan 18. All of the Williams’ kids have served on staff in some capacity. God has blessed Dan and Linda with two beautiful grandchildren, whom they love to visit.

What’s new on the horizon for Dan and Linda?

Linda is being trained as a bike mechanic so she can help maintain the bike fleet for our Adventure/Recreation program. She’s continuing to develop her coaching skills as a Redwood Canopy Tour trainer and mountain bike coach.

Dan is in the process of rebuilding parts of the maintenance crew, as several positions are available for hire.  They would appreciate your prayers for each of them in their professional roles, plus insight as they continue to learn the “art of parenting adult children.”

We are truly blessed to have Dan and Linda as a part of our Mount Hermon staff. They have generous hearts for this ministry and are also a long-time part of our Associates family!


My Favorite Place in the World!

Posted by & filed under Kindling.

By Tyler Kovacs, Guest Contributor

My Aunt and Uncle work full time at Mount Hermon and were always trying to get me and the rest of the Texas cousins to fly out for camp. The summer of 2005, my 8th-grade year, my parents relented and I went to Redwood camp with my brother and cousin.

I went to Ponderosa each of the next five summers and began to slowly get to know Jesus one week at a time over several years. Camp was my favorite place in the world as a student. The week I spent at Pondy was my Disneyland, Super Bowl, and Christmas all rolled together, only better! The campers and counselors were more genuine, loving, and free than anyone I had ever met. God used seemingly normal interactions with these people to bring me to Himself.

Andrew, my counselor for three summers, had the greatest influence on me. He saw me differently, he spoke to me differently, and I genuinely wanted to see the world the way he did. Through Andrew and other staff members, I experienced the love that the speakers at camp were always talking about. The summer before my sophomore year of high school a gospel message delivered in the forum cut me to the core, and I gave my life to Christ later that night on the rec field looking up at the stars.

I met Jesus as a camper, but it was as a summer staffer that I got to know Him deeply, wrestle with Him, rely on Him, and see Him change my heart week after week. Those years I needed my fellow counselors to sustain me more than I needed anyone ever in my life. There I met many of my closest friends and learned what having true brothers and sisters in Christ could do for my faith.

After camp, I never settled for shallow friendships ever again. Throughout my summer staff experience, God taught me about the power of vulnerability, humility, trust, love, and freedom.

My experiences at camp propelled me into youth ministry throughout college and helped me realize my passion and desire to work in full-time youth ministry. In the summer of 2015, my staff counselor from my first two summers at Redwood offered me my first full-time job at Canyon Creek Church. I accepted knowing that I wanted to spend my life providing support and direction to students while pointing them to Jesus.

Now that I am a full-time youth pastor; I love bringing my students to Ponderosa Lodge for summer camp and Fall Frenzies. Bringing students to camp is a surreal experience for me. Every tree and trail I see when I am at Mount Hermon ties to a memory of Jesus revealing Himself to me. Offering the same opportunity to the students I love, gives me chills. My camp experience has come full circle, and I am so thankful that God has woven my faith journey with the roots of those redwoods.


Meet Bruni Wald

Posted by & filed under Kindling.

Pictured left to right: Vera Neumann, Bruni Wald, Wolf Neumann

By Kerry Phibbs, Associate Director of Advancement

Sharing the gift of Mount Hermon with family and friends is a natural occurrence among those of us whose lives have been impacted here. Well, that is exactly how Brunhilda “Bruni” Wald learned of this safe-haven in the redwoods, from her friends, Wolf and Vera Neumann, long-time Associates, Redwood Society members and Mount Hermon champions.

Wolf shares how it came about–

“We met Bruni and her husband, Helmut at our church. When Helmut fell ill, she took care of his needs but eventually admitted him to a home where she visited him daily. We prayed with both of them and visited several times, which formed the friendship.

After his passing, we wondered how Bruni would manage all by herself. But God gave her the strength and necessary health. We simply include her into our ‘outings to Mount Hermon,’ – something all three of us look forward to and enjoy! For us Bruni is family! Seeing how much she enjoys the concerts and various activities has been a tremendous blessing to us. You just can’t out-give the Lord.”

Bruni first came to Mount Hermon in 2012 and soon after became an Associate, then part of the Redwood Society, and now she is a regular in these redwoods. She sent a note to me recently and I asked for permission to share a little with you.

“…My special love is Mount Hermon and I’m so thankful to Wolf and Vera for taking me along. The Lord is in Mount Hermon. For me, it’s a special place. I am thinking of you and praying for you. Love, B”

It’s people like Bruni, Wolf, Vera and you that make our Associates family so special. Thank You for standing alongside us on this journey as we see lives transformed at Mount Hermon.

Learn more about the Mount Hermon Associates! Contact:
Kerry Phibbs at 831.430.1237 or kerry.phibbs@mounthermon.org


Conference Connections

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

people connectionAre you attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference for the first time? Returning after a long break? Perhaps you’ve attended before but are submitting to editors and agents for the first time. Conference Connections is for you!

Before the Conference

Download the First-Timer’s Packet, which is filled with helpful tips and information.

Look for our weekly Pre-Conference Preparation Tips on Facebook, starting the first week in February.

At the Conference

On Friday after lunch, be sure to attend the First-Timer’s Orientation, where you will receive valuable information on how to get the most out of this wonderful conference.

Keep an eye out for people who have hearts on their name tags. These conference veterans enjoy connecting with first-timers and those who feel like newbies. If you have a question, can’t decide which workshop to take, need help finding a room, are having a difficult day, or want to share exciting news, flag down one of these kind, encouraging registrants or faculty members. They will be happy to help, listen, or pray with you. Be sure to introduce yourself to at least one of them so they get a chance to meet you.

If you walk into lunch or dinner feeling tired, discouraged, or like you need a break from trying to impress editors, join us at the table designated as a No-Pressure Zone. There you can relax, connect with others, and get the lift you need to go into the rest of your day.

Still have questions? Contact Jeanette Hanscome and she will be happy to help you.

See you in April!


shelves with children's books

The Challenge of Writing for Children

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Crystal Bowman

When people find out I write books for children, their response goes something like this: “Oh, how fun! I have always wanted to write a children’s book.” Writing for children is fun, but fun does not mean easy. That’s why I love teaching classes on writing for children. I enjoy helping writers learn the craft of this genre. But the more you learn, the harder it gets! Here are a few basic tips on how to get started:

  • Learn the genre and the sub-genres. The genre of children’s literature is very specific and writers need to learn how to write for children. Writing an engaging story with limited word count and limited vocabulary is difficult—even for seasoned writers. Then there are the sub-genres. From board books to early chapter books and everything in between, each sub-genre has its own specific requirements that writers need to know.
  • Understand the market. Before you invest your time and energy in writing a children’s book, research the market to find out what is already out there. If what you write is not better than or different from what is already being sold, your book stands little chance of being published.
  • Master writing techniques. Rhythm, rhyme, repetition, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and other forms of wordplay are effective tools for children’s stories. However, these writing techniques must be mastered if you want to add creative elements to your story. Misusing these techniques will send your manuscript on a fast track to the slush pile.
  • Have your story edited. Once you have learned the basics and begin writing your story, be sure to work with a children’s editor or writing coach. Your story needs to be professionally polished to catch the attention of a publisher. You must be willing to accept constructive criticism and revise your manuscript multiple times.
  • Don’t give up. There are no shortcuts or quick paths to the world of publishing. Writing for publication can take many years, and some writers give up along the way. If writing for children is truly your passion, learn everything you can about the process. Be persistent, patient, and prayerful. Learn. Learn. Learn. Revise. Revise. Revise.

 

I was thrilled to be invited back for a second year to lead sessions at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. I will be teaching a Pre-Conference Next Level class and look forward to working with some talented writers. If your passion is writing for children, please sign up for this session. I can’t wait to meet you!

Crystal is the Children’s Books and Magazines mentor for the Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic, April 5-7.

Click here for more information about the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, April 7-11.

Crystal Bowman

Crystal Bowman is a best-selling, award-winning author of more than 100 books for children, including The One Year Book of Devotions for Preschoolers, Our Daily Bread for Kids, and My Mama and Me. She has written many I Can Read! books, as well as stories for Clubhouse Jr. magazine and lyrics for children’s piano music.

 


Just Plain Obvious

Posted by & filed under Kindling.

My mother Tilli had a long history at Mount Hermon. My father Jack met his Savior down at Victory Circle. This soon led to his meeting and marrying Tilli in 1957. Mount Hermon was a favorite place for them as a couple, to come with their church family, and then eventually with their own family.

We attended Mount Hermon family camps for decades. Mom and Dad bought a cabin on Pine Ave. which allowed our family to stay for multiple weeks in the summer, enjoying the variety of summer conferences and concerts. All of their children, myself included, served on Summer Staff after graduating high school.

Mount Hermon was a lifetime place of refuge and renewal and was the spiritual foundation for my mother and her entire family. We all loved the walks in the woods, worship through hymns, and Biblical life-giving teaching. Mount Hermon gave us a firm love and vigorous passion for God’s word, to be studied and lived out in our lives every day. Mount Hermon was central to our family’s spiritual life.

It was just plain obvious for my mom to give a lifetime gift through the Redwood Society, to give back to a new set of generations the treasured gift mom had received for her family.

There are very few things worth spending resources on with a greater value than Mount Hermon.

We are grateful and humbled to have been included in Tilli’s estate plans. If your family has been impacted by the ministry of Mount Hermon and you’re thinking about leaving an estate gift, please contact: Dave Talbott at 831.430.1241 or dave.talbott@mounthermon.org


mason jar

The Power of a Mason Jar

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Marci Seither

“Are you going to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers conference this spring?” I asked Susan Gregory one day. I had volunteered to give her a ride to an event, and as we rode together we found out we shared a love of writing.

She told me it wasn’t in her budget but she hoped to attend one year. Despite having a book that she would love to see published, it seemed like her dream was beyond her reach.

I knew the feeling of having something you dream of doing, and even feel called to do, yet not seeing any way it could happen.

The first year I decided to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference I taught swim lessons and worked as a lifeguard all summer, putting the money I made into a mason jar designated for conference tuition. I knew it would take a lot of planning and sunscreen to pull it off.

My husband gave me money toward tuition in lieu of Christmas and birthday gifts, adding to my mason jar. I did a photo shoot for a friend, and in return, she surprised me by putting cash into my Mount Hermon fund. I managed to collect enough to attend the conference. I did the same thing for a few more years after that.

“Let your family and friends know you have a big dream,” I told Susan. “And start a conference fund for yourself.”

When we got to our destination, she handed me money for gas. I gave it back to her. “This is the first deposit in your conference fund.”

Eighteen months later, Susan’s face beamed as she walked down the redwood-lined path at Mount Hermon. “I made it!” she exclaimed. “I’m here because of the Conference Fund! It took a while, but the money you gave me became something that grew.”

cover of the book slender reedsI recently saw Susan’s newly published book, Slender Reeds, being shared on Facebook. It is beautiful. And it really was a dream come true.

I later heard about a young mom named Jenni who felt led to write but didn’t know where to start. Her friend encouraged her to set up a GoFundMe account in order to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A GoFundMe account is a way for people to tell others what they need funds for and why. Instead of giving gifts or stocking stuffers, people can add funds to that person’s project. Many of Jenni’s friends helped support her and her dream of reaching others through her writing.

I’m not saying that if you just set a mason jar on the counter all your dreams will come true. That’s not realistic. But sharing your goals with others allows them the opportunity to partner with you in something worthwhile.

Pride can make us dream hoarders. Humility allows us to be vulnerable and share our dreams with others.

Do you have a big dream? Are you among the 81 percent of Americans who would love to write a book but just need the courage, and maybe a nudge, to put action to that dream?

Why not set up a mason jar conference fund and see what happens?

For more information about the Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference, click here.

Marci SeitherMarci Seither has written hundreds of feature stories, op/editorials, and human-interest articles for local papers as well as contributing to national publications. She has been married to her husband almost 30 years and is mom to six amazingly rowdy kiddos who have provided her with volumes of great material, loads of laundry and symphonies of laughter. Marci encourages others with humor that packs a punch and entertains other moms with her Urban Retro style. She recently had two books published and knows how to make marshmallows from scratch. Marci is an airport shuttle assistant for Mount Hermon Writers Conference.


winners

First-Timers Contest: Winners Announced

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

We are excited to announce the winners of The First-Timers Contest. Congratulations to:

Ann Neumann

Erica Hale

Erin Kincaid

Karen DeBlieck

Karl Haffner

Laurel Burlew

Leah Hinton

Lisa Gefrides

Margery Warder

Robin Phillips

If you entered and were not one of the ten winners, we hope you will still consider spending an amazing and life-changing week in the California redwoods to experience this one-of-a-kind event. Find all the conference details at http://writers.mounthermon.org/.


First-Timers Contest For MH Writers Conference

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

pen, notebook, and coffee for writersWhen I attended my first writers’ conference years ago, I didn’t realize how dramatically it would change my life. I met so many professionals in the publishing industry and authors I admired (and came to admire later). And it really kicked off my own writing career!

Major writers’ conferences can be expensive. But they can be valuable investments in our future.

If you’ve always wanted to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, but never been able to afford it, I have exciting news for you.

Mount Hermon is running a First-Timers Contest for the 2017 conference. Ten winners will each receive a full scholarship, including economy lodging and conference meals.

There is NO FEE to enter this contest. It is open to both published and unpublished writers.

Just send a five-page writing sample (fiction or nonfiction). In addition to writing quality, winners will be determined based on the answers to these questions:

  1. Why do you want to attend the Mount Hermon Writers Conference?
  2. Why have you never attended before?
  3. What do you hope to get out of attending in 2017?

Once submissions are narrowed down based on those factors, the final decision will be made based on prayerfully asking for the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Deadline to enter is December 30 at midnight Pacific Standard Time.

Go to http://writers.mounthermon.org/resources/first-timers-contest for details, guidelines, and submission instructions.

Please spread the word to anyone you know who might benefit from this amazing conference.

Kathy Ide, Director
Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference


Kidder Creek Summer Review

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

Rafting Photo

Summer 2016 was an incredible one at Kidder Creek because we got to serve over 1,600 campers (an almost 20% increase over 2015!) through outdoor adventures. We saw campers take one step closer to Jesus and have their lives forever transformed as they give their lives to Him. What an incredible opportunity!

Glory to God for the work that He is doing in the lives of campers that join us each summer at Kidder Creek, as they enjoy rafting, horseback riding, and daily adventures, they discover who God made them to be and learn how they fit in His plan to serve Him and others as they grow closer to Him.

  • Rock Climbing
  • Kidder Ride
  • Little Girl

Another highlight of this summer was adding Kidder Creek’s first-ever Mountain Bike Camp to the schedule. We filled the camp quickly and had a waiting list for this fun new camp. One camper said, “It was the best week of my life!”

Daily rides were the essence of the camp with rides at camp, the base of Mt. Shasta and Mt. Ashland. Summer 2017 will see a return of Mountain Bike Camp, with this upcoming year separating our Jr. High and High School Campers so that we can offer an even better experience. Many thanks to our volunteers who helped build trails, lead rides, drive the shuttle and do bike maintenance, we could not have done this camp without them.


“I found how God is showing us His love in great ways. I found myself doubting His existence but that completely changed. I am so non-doubting about my faith, and I am willing to give my life fully to Him and go serve the Lord in any way possible.”

BRANDEN, WILDERNESS ASCENT CAMPER


“If we marvel at creation we should marvel even more at the Creator.”

NICHOLAS, TIMBERLINE CAMPER

“I want to decide for myself that I believe in God.”

KELLY, TIMBERLINE CAMPER


“It has changed and probably saved my life.”

SAM, WIT CAMPER



The Samuelson Pavilion

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

Samuelson Pavilion Photo

On July 30, over 300 Redwood campers from past and present, staff, friends, and family all gathered under the Samuelson Pavilion to dedicate it to God’s glory and service. The Samuelson Pavilion has been a project of dreams for years, and this last summer came to fruition.

Dick Dosker, former Redwood Camp Director (1956–1989) captured the significance of the Pavilion during the dedication by saying, “Thank you all for the service in which you have given to this particular place of real estate which is hallowed ground. This new piece of equipment will help us move into the future of year-round ministry.”

“I love having the pavilion,” said current Redwood Camper D.J. Renwick. “When it’s foggy, or it’s raining or really sunny, we can play under here and it’s really nice.”

The Samuelson Pavilion sits nestled on the end of the meadow where redwoods provide the backdrop, the sound of the Ferndale Falls heard, the cabins seen, and relief from sun and rain felt. It provides a space for basketball, foosball, dodgeball and more. It also provides a great place to gather and meet with an open air feel.

  • Samuelson Pavilion
  • Samuelson Pavilion

“In many ways—Play is the gateway to a child’s heart,” said current Redwood Camp Director, Chafer Cox. “We close the week with our Luminaria. Campers spread out all over the field and under the pavilion. This is where many kids accept Christ for the first time and discover God’s unconditional love for them, (as they look back over the week and make some incredible decisions and take part in life-changing conversations). Last night, one cabin of seven girls all accepted Christ right here under the pavilion.”


“I love to build. I love taking the plans and making them come to life. We listen to the Master Builder. He leads us to build places and spots to worship.”


The Samuelson Family and staff also attended the dedication. “I love to build. I love taking the plans and making them come to life,” said Jack Samuelson. “We listen to the Master Builder. He leads us to build places and spots to worship.”

Jack has a long history with Mount Hermon having been on the board of directors and attending Mount Hermon events. “He [Jack] feels loved here,” said Jack’s son Reid Samuelson. “We feel loved here, and I’m sure that everyone who passes through here gets the same feeling. So we’re very proud, very honored to be a part of this project.”

“We want our grandchildren and all young people to understand that living is about giving and not getting,” said Jack. “It is about concern for others and living in the warm glow of God’s eternal, loving care.”

There was also no better weekend to dedicate the pavilion than the same weekend as the Redwood Staff Reunion. Over 140 former Redwood Staff from the 40’s to the present came from far and wide to revisit and reconnect with such a unique and meaningful time in their lives.

Bill (Llama) Vezey reflects back on his experience as a summer staffer at Redwood in the 80’s. “Redwood Camp, in particular, was, no exaggeration, my salvation. I was headed down a dark and self-absorbed road. Living in a community, summer after summer, that required mutual reliance in a place of such explicit prayer and service turned my ship around. I am forever grateful to Dick and Barb Dosker who took a chance on me and let me come back a second summer. And a third. And so on.”

“We’ve all been part of this,” said Ron Taylor, former Redwood Camp Director (1998–2009) during the ceremony. “I believe that this building is in good hands because the people who are serving at Mount Hermon love God and dream big.”


The Transformed Lives of Three Marine Wives

Posted by & filed under General, LOG, Stories of Ministry.

Military Camperships have become one of the most heartfelt parts of our campership program. Giving the gift of a week at family camp for a military family is a joy we can’t measure. Families arrive in a variety of shapes and sizes usually excited, having different needs and hopes of their week at camp. This summer we had a unique, first-time “family” arrive.

Three young Marine wives whose husbands are all deployed heard about the campership opportunity at church then called to see if the three of them might come as a “family” to Family Camp. We were thrilled to extend the invitation!

Haley, Jaclyn, and Laura had no idea what family camp would look like for them or how Mount Hermon would transform their lives, but God certainly did.

marine-wives

JACLYN
“Our experience at Mount Hermon was truly incredible. As military spouses with deployed husbands, we weren’t sure what the week would hold, but through the sessions, encouragement, and support of both staff and other campers, the week really did strengthen our family, even though they couldn’t be physically present. As unconventional as it may have been for us, it was family camp in the truest sense. I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity we had, everything we learned, and the lifelong friends we made. I can’t imagine life without Mount Hermon!”


LAURA
“I was so blessed to be able to come to family camp on a military campership. Something that many people don’t know about military life is that the homecoming joy and excitement is often a short-lived calm before an ugly storm season. There are living arrangements, family dynamics, financial situations, and life experiences that have all been flipped upside down, then adapted to, and must now be flipped back over.

The week before family camp, I was considering backing out to try and make sense of it all and begin batting down the hatches. My week at Mount Hermon was a life changer—more a heart/soul changer that has allowed me to live a changed life. I can now see life from God’s perspective. I am able to find true God intended joy in the chaos.

I am able to breathe peacefully in hope for the future rather than fear. I really hope I someday get a chance to thank the person who made it possible.”


HALEY

“The main impression God left on me during my stay at Mount Hermon was how significantly God wants us to experience joy and to delight in His creation of the earth daily. No matter how long a military spouse has to endure their significant other’s absence, whether that be a weekend training, month-long field exercise, or 6 to 12-month deployment, they are more than likely going to feel a separation that is deeper than they want to acknowledge. The spouse can have all the goals and aspirations that she wants to strive for while her man is away in order to mask the loneliness, but it ends up being impossible to ignore.

Every family and staff member that Laura, Jacyln, and I met not only made all three of us feel at home again by filling that hole our husbands have left, but they honestly expressed the love of God and the compassion of Christ in a way I have not been blessed by in a long time. Mount Hermon reminded me how God wants us to live in right relationship with Him, His children, and the world. He has renewed my sense of purpose and spirit using the compassionate staff at Mount Hermon and the beautiful land they take care of. It was a true joy to be reminded of the life God wants us to live again and be able to have some fun at camp!”


Three women who were touched and transformed by a beautiful God ordained place, by loving Christ filled people, and by the mighty power of the Trinity.

For those of you who have had a part in sending a military “family” to Mount Hermon, thank you! Laura, Jaclyn, and Haley are just one example of many lives that have been changed because of you generously gave to send them to camp.


Jeremy Bentley: Our new VP of Programs!

Posted by & filed under Alumni, General, Staff News.

It is my joy to introduce Jeremy Bentley, our new VP of Programs. Jeremy is no stranger to Mount Hermon. He attended Mount Hermon as a camper, served as the Associate Director of Adult Ministries, and is married to Sara Williams, the daughter of Roger and Rachel Williams (Roger served as our President/CEO from 1993-2014).

Jeremy came to know Jesus as a young boy, and at the age of 16 felt a call from God to the ministry. In the summer of 1997 he became a counselor at Redwood Camp where prayer and the Scriptures became truly important to him.

mark-bentley-family Jeremy is a graduate of Point Loma Nazarene University and Fuller Theological Seminary. He has served in key staff roles in various ministries, including as Director of Live Events for the Don Moen Company, Assistant Director of Promotions with Samaritan’s Purse/Operation Christmas Child, and Generations Pastor at Mission Hills Church.

Jeremy is an experienced leader, team-oriented, a strategic thinker, learner, listener, and highly relational. He believes that he has been called by the Lord to create settings, environments, and opportunities for people to encounter God.

“Mount Hermon has always been one of the most special places in the world to me and my family. From growing up coming as a camper, working on summer staff, meeting my spouse here and even getting married in the auditorium, many of our family’s most significant events have revolved around Mount Hermon.  And now, having the opportunity to come back and invest in a ministry I deeply believe in, as well as to raise my family here, it truly is a dream come true! Our prayer is that the Lord would use our family at Mount Hermon to continue to see “Lives Transformed” for many years to come.”  

Please join us in welcoming Jeremy back to Mount Hermon!


A Dream Comes to Fruition: Redwood Pavilion

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

pavilion-grass

On July 30th, over 300 Redwood campers from past and present, staff, friends, and family all gathered under the Samuelson Pavilion to dedicate it to God’s glory and service. The Samuelson Pavilion has been a project of dreams for years, and this last summer came to fruition.

Dick Dosker, former Redwood Camp Director (1956-1989) captured the significance of the Pavilion during the dedication by saying, “Thank you all for the service in which you have given to this particular place of real estate which is hallowed ground. This new piece of equipment will help us move into the future of year-round ministry.

“I love having the pavilion,” said current Redwood Camper D.J. Renwick. “When it’s foggy, or it’s raining or really sunny, we can play under here and it’s really nice.”

pavilion-kids
pavilion-basketball

 

The Samuelson Pavilion sits nestled on the end of the meadow where redwoods provide the backdrop, the sound of the Ferndale Falls heard, the cabins seen, and relief from sun and rain felt. It provides a space for basketball, foosball, dodgeball and more. It also provides a great place to gather and meet with an open air feel.

In many ways—Play is the gateway to a child’s heart,” said current Redwood Camp Director, Chafer Cox. “We close the week with our Luminaria. Campers spread out all over the field and under the pavilion, and this is where many kids accept Christ for the first time and discover God’s unconditional love for them as they look back over the week and make some incredible decisions and take part in life-changing conversations. Last night, one cabin of seven girls all accepted Christ right here under the pavilion.”

We are so grateful for the Samuelson family and for the hundreds of others who helped make this project possible!
pavilion-interior-campers2


Lisa Olson: A New Journey

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

In spring of 2006 Mount Hermon welcomed a new staff member, Lisa Olson. Little did I realize how my life would be impacted as a result of knowing Lisa. I didn’t know she would become one of my dearest friends and be a catalyst in helping advance my faith and spiritual growth into a new place.

I’m not the only one impacted by Lisa. In fact, you may be one of them. Her vast knowledge of the world of Christian camping along with her decades of experience has changed the face of Mount Hermon programming and marketing in many ways—great ways.

aim-lisa

Lisa’s is uniquely wired. She can’t help herself from thinking of the most powerful ways to impact campers with the reality of Jesus’ love. Lisa is constantly evaluating how Mount Hermon can be relevant and in tune with our culture—how do we reach the world with the truth of God’s word? She is definitely not “camp as usual,” and Mount Hermon is a better place because of it.

We have been blessed to have had Lisa at the helm of programming and marketing for over a decade, but sadly, we’ve had to say “Happy Trails” to her. She is now headed into a new adventure in Christian camping in Texas.

Carolina Creek Christian Camp is blessed to have Lisa as their new Executive Director. Carolina Creek was founded in 2002 and is situated on 440 acres of waterfront property, 90 miles northwest of Houston. There are three camps on the property, serving all ages. With over two miles of water frontage, water sports are very popular at camp. They are enjoying their fifteenth summer of ministry this year.

Lisa loaded up and headed out on Sunday, June 19, and she arrived right in the throes of summer camp. For those of us who know Lisa, she stepped right into her element. There is no doubt that Lisa will bless the campers and impact the ministry under her new watch, the very way she blessed and impacted us at Mount Hermon.

lisa-photo

As Lisa began her transitions, true to her nature she did an exceptional job setting up and preparing her team for her departure, for the summer, and for their futures as strong contributors to Mount Hermon. Members of the Program Team are primed and ready to uphold and develop Mount Hermon’s outstanding program to impact campers with the reality of Jesus’s love and encouraging all to take one step closer to being more like Jesus. Jeremy Bentley, who joined our staff in July as the new Vice President of Program, now leads this amazing group of talented professionals into the future.

Although Lisa is dearly missed here, we know without a doubt the Lord is and will use her in a powerful way at Carolina Creek. Her fingerprints are all over Mount Hermon and she has been a significant contributor to our passion for “lives transformed” over the past decade. Thank you Lisa. We send you with love!

Please pray for Lisa and her family as they adjust to this era in their lives and specifically for Lisa as she leads this camp and acclimates to very new surroundings!

If you’d like to know more about Carolina Creek Christian Camp, go to carolinacreek.org


Mount Hermon Annual Fund & The Difference

Posted by & filed under Associates, General, Giving, Kindling.

aim-jr-1200x800

Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different.
C.S. Lewis.

No truer words than these describe Mount Hermon and the impact Mount Hermon Associates have had over the last twenty-plus years.

God has grown Mount Hermon’s reach in amazing ways. When I arrived in 1998, we ministered to less than 50,000 people per year; today it exceeds 70,000.  Our year-round staff of 123 in 1998 has grown to 295 today.  In 1995 we launched our Outdoor Science School, which now ministers to over 4,000 children each year, and includes a strategic ministry partnership in mainland China.  In 2003 and 2004 the Lord gave us Whisper Canyon and Kidder Creek Camps.

In 2006 our McAfee Fieldhouse opened, which changed everything in terms of year-round ministry options.  In a similar way, our reach and program options grew exponentially in 2008 when the Redwood Canopy Tour and Sequoia Adventure Course opened.  We had sixty cabins in 1996 and today the Lord has blessed us with eighty cabins.

In 2012 we purchased the Felton Meadow.  As we wait on God’s timing regarding the development of this new property, we’re creating unique new programs for this zone that will minister to tens of thousands more in the years to come!

aim-audience-1200x800

In 1998 our young Associates program had 98 members.  Today (as of 2015) Mount Hermon Associates number over 900—PTL!  Our Associates are not only part of our culture they’re woven into the fabric of our lives.  God has blessed this ministry in unimaginable ways and we can’t imagine life without you, our faithful, loving and supportive Associates—THANK YOU!

Yet, through it all, the Associates program has remained the same while everything else dramatically changed: staff growth, facility growth, program growth and the constantly increasing expenses to operate this ministry with excellence.  Twenty years ago, a dozen eggs could be purchased for around a dollar; today it’s not unusual to pay four.  Today a gallon of milk pushes five dollars, while twenty years ago it cost around three.  This one really impacts us:  the minimum wage was four dollars and change twenty years ago; today its ten dollars per hour, and soon it will increase to fifteen, which will have enormous financial impact.

So after much prayer and processing, along with input from many of you encouraging us to reconsider the financial threshold for Associates, we are announcing an update.  With the approval or our Board of Directors, the financial threshold for NEW Associates will now be $1,000 per year.  We want to provide plenty of lead time, so this change will not take effect until January 2017.

Praise The Lord that today over half of our Associates are already giving $1,000 or more each year.  We’re also aware that many others give quite sacrificially to reach the $500 level.  Please know that we are deeply grateful for every dollar given!  Nothing is changing for you unless you want it to.  Only NEW Associates will be tied to the $1,000/year giving threshold. Associates as of December 31, 2016 will remain at the current $500 per year.

Each and every Associate is a blessing!  We literally could not operate Mount Hermon without you—Thank You!  As we all move towards the future reaching even more people with the Good News of Jesus Christ, we want you to be crystal clear regarding this change.  Please don’t hesitate to contact Kerry Phibbs or me if you have any questions.


Learning Lessons the Hard Way

Posted by & filed under General, Kindling, Stories of Ministry.

ShannonPhibbs

As life-long Christians, we knew the answer to the ultimate eternal question: “What happens after death?” But we didn’t know about the temporal, financial, and family trauma questions when it came to our adult daughter with cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening and rare genetic disease of the lungs and digestive systems.

Shannon had been in and out of hospitals for years, usually for 30 days at a time, and although treatments were successful, we knew sudden death was possible. At 36 years of age, she was on a list for a lung transplant. We were in Southern California when friends called who had arranged a MediVac flight for Shannon’s transport again to Stanford University Hospital. This time, however, we had 36 hours’ notice that her conditions appeared irreversible.

A friend asked if Shannon had a will, and knowing of none, we had a power of attorney prepared, but too late. Shannon was unable to sign the document, and she died without a valid will or power of attorney.

After the funeral, we discovered that with no co-signers, her bank accounts were frozen, and she had nobody involved with her financial savings or other assets. Armed with a sufficient number of death certificates, and with a significant amount of worry and effort, we finally were able to close the estate and have the assets transferred to us.

Learning of Shannon’s lack of preparation was a painful lesson for us, as well. We should have been prepared with safeguards for our own estate. It led us to establish our own trust document that identifies our assets, names the trustees and successor trustees, designates the distribution of assets upon death, and provides for updating as time and life changes occur. This has given us a great peace of mind that upon our decease, our estate will go where we want it to go, rather than leaving it to the hands of a lengthy state probate system.

This is valuable to us as senior citizens, but we are concerned for the younger generation coming along, who need to protect issues of what would happen to their children, should they be suddenly orphaned, as well as the distribution of financial assets. It’s alarming that over 55% of Americans do not have a proper will or trust agreement. They are relatively easy to set up, and they assure that your wishes will be followed. We heartily recommend it as an obvious exercise of Christian stewardship.
Phibbs600

We’re grateful Mount Hermon has encouraged proper planning, and can refer anyone to a qualified attorney who can help with the process.

Shannon has now been gone for 20 years. The hard lessons learned from her untimely death have been God’s gracious gift to us.

Paul and Jo Ann Phibbs are long-time friends and supporters of Mount Hermon. They live in Oklahoma, and are also the parents of Kerry Phibbs, Mount Hermon’s Associate Director of Advancement.


The Claussens—Volunteering is a Family Affair

Posted by & filed under General, Kindling, Stories of Ministry, Volunteer.

kidder-volunteers-1200x726

Volunteers—what would we do without them? At Mount Hermon our volunteers make an extraordinary difference in the day-to-day, season-to-season rhythm of life here. The gift from a financial viewpoint is beyond measure. Their service creates not only financial blessing, but the manpower needed to complete so many jobs at Mount Hermon.

One of the unexpected benefits of serving is when the servers experience abundant blessing in return—that is priceless. They know they are making a difference, but most importantly they are modeling the qualities of Jesus—our Savior.Such is the case with the Claussen family. Mark and Angel, along with four of their kids, Katie (17), Ruthie (14), John (11), Lorelei (7)

I asked Angel to share some of their story with me.

What started the Mount Hermon story for the Claussen family?

When Mark was 12 years old he came to Redwood Camp at Mount Hermon for the first time. He had attended another camp the previous year which had not been a good experience. His mother convinced him that he only had to go to Redwood Camp one time, and if he did not like it, he never had to go to another Christian camp again. Well, his counselor was Ken Harrower, and Mark can tell you something from every day that week. He loved it!

Now our kids have grown up attending Mount Hermon Family camps. We look forward to it all year long.

So what took you to Kidder Creek?

Our oldest son Markey, went to Kidder Creek horse camp in 1990. Katie and Ruthie started going in 2009 and they all loved it! When we came to see the “Showdeo,” we met a family that was volunteering at Kidder and so the idea began to grow.

In 2014, Mark retired and we all could spend a large part of the summer together at Kidder Creek, serving as a family.

What do you do when you are at camp?

We help wherever we are needed, mostly with the horse camp. Maintenance, repairs, cleaning, kitchen help, rounding up horses, helping the wranglers, helping Amy with the horses, and trail rides, teaching horse science when needed, making kids feel welcome, lifeguarding—a little bit of everything.

Often we help the kids from Camp Hope (a camp for children who come from domestic violence). Even Lorelei, our youngest, was able to just be with them and help them feel safe and loved.

What’s been the impact on your family?

We love the relationships we have formed with the year-round and summer staffs. What a blessing for us!

We came to Kidder Creek to help, support, and bless the campers and staff, but in reality we are the ones that have been blessed by the wonderful people we have met and served.

Kidder Creek is a place to meet Jesus and where He shows what He is capable of….

We asked the kids what they like most about Kidder Creek and they said, “But Mom, it is our second home! God is sooo present there and we love all the people!”

The Claussens are a special part of our Mount Hermon Volunteer Partners, along with many others. If you’d like to share the gift of service, please contact Don Broesamle at don.broesamle@mounthermon.org.