Meeting God Amongst the Redwood Trees- My Week at Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference

My head hurts from all the talking and conversation.  I look up at the tall Redwood trees and take a deep breath.  Do I have the courage to approach one more editor or agent and have my manuscript edited or rejected again?  Can I eat one more bit of chocolate without exploding?  Should I self publish or go for a traditional publishing house?  Is my writing good enough for publication?  All these thoughts rolled around in my mind this past week at Mt. Hermon’s Christian Writers Conference in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.

My critique partner Jenni Brummett and I arrived early Friday morning and checked into our cute cabin like rooms just up a little hill from the main conference center.  We were excited to see what divine appointments the Lord had waiting for us.

my roommate Laura at our room

We met up with my roommate Laura Bennet  and we quickly became the three musketeers. We would gather each evening in our room, and compare notes in our PJ’s, while eating the sugar confections they served us right before bed.  Did you hear how that one man used the phrase “watch out or you will go to hell” in the learning to write greeting cards class? I asked, as shock registered on all three of our faces. We burst into giggles, not believing a writer would write that!

The week flew by as I went from appointment, to workshop, to critique, to picking up my manuscript with its comments from editors.  One kind editor met with me and showed me that my life story had many books within it and I should break it up into three or four books.  WOW, that was an unexpected suggestion.  But as I met with my author friends such as Kay Marshall Strom and Joseph Bentz, I realized she was right.

Add more characters to your story, Miriam, and weave a universal theme throughout, Kay suggested.  Rewrite your first chapter starting with your time as a missionary in Israel and include the bombing story, to catch your readers attention, Joseph told me.  Your writing is publishing quality and you write better than some of our current authors we are publishing, one editor told me. Music to my ears, I broke out into a big smile at this news.  However, Miriam, a non fiction narrative like you are writing needs fiction techniques such as showing, suspense, characterization and dialogue, Liz told me.  I can do that, I thought to myself.  My head swam with suggestions and ideas.

But what to do with my original manuscript of my life story that I believe the Lord told me to write, that would help many people, especially woman, all over the world?  I couldn’t let go of my story, it was my baby. The Lord spoke through my roommate Laura.  Have you heard of Create Space, the self publishing arm of Amazon the popular online bookstore?  You can basically design and publish you book for free, it was started to help authors like us publish our own books, she shared.

Immediately, I felt a peace flood my heart and knew this was the answer to my prayer.  Unlike other self publishing companies where you are left with a garage full of books, Create Space allows books to be printed on demand and even have an ebook feature for their Kindle readers.  I felt a release to self publish the book and go on to write other books for the Lord through traditional publishing houses in the future.

Jenni and I networking at the dinner table

The Lord was faithful to answer each and every one of my prayers, from getting free head shots to meeting and inviting other non fiction writers to the writers group Jenni and I have started after last years conference.  Big smiles of happiness met my invitation to the group by fellow writers who would find encouragement and free critiques of their manuscripts there.

After our talented and funny speaker McNair Wilson spoke for the last time on

me amongst the redwoods

Tuesday morning, the leaders asked us to stand,  They prayed over us and commissioned us to go forth as writers for the Lord, bringing Him glory.  My heart beamed with joy realizing I have the privilege to minister to others through my writing, to express His love in our fallen world.

May you find His love for you this Holy week as we celebrate the redemption of the Lord through Passover,  Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  He came to save us from our sins on the cross.  Three days later He Resurrected so we too could have eternal life.

Resurrection Sunrise Cross Painting I Corinthians 1:18 www.giftsofhisglory.com

All it takes to receive His free gift of grace is to ask Him to forgive your sins and place your faith in Him.  You can pray the salvation prayer below to ask Him into your heart as your Lord and Savior right now.  Won’t you come join the family of God and have the promise and hope of eternal life this Easter week?

Pray with me:  Dear Jesus.  I ask that you take the darkness of my sin and replace it with your light to shine deep within my heart.  I believe you died on the cross for my sin and rose from the dead, with the promise of eternal life with you in Heaven.  I ask you to be my Savior and Lord over my life today. Thank you for loving me with an everlasting love and giving me peace with God through you. Amen.

Angels are rejoicing over you as you step into the family of God.  Welcome!

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To see all of my biblical Scripture art click on ‘my art‘ above or at www.giftsofhisglory.com.

 

 


Spring is in the air….Here’s my latest paintings…

Orange Daffodils Revelation 21:5 Behold I Make All Things New

I love springtime.  It is my favorite time of year, when all the daffodils bloom bright yellow and the magnolia trees blossom, with their heavenly scent.  I happily shed that winter heaviness and the cold of the air to welcome the early California warm weather.  It is also biking time again, when I can get out and ride without the drizzle of rain.  But mostly for me, springtime is about painting.

I recently returned from a trip to Palm Springs (see Marilyn, Elvis and God post) where I was able to snap some beautiful plants in the desert.  I paint all my biblical Scripture art from original photography I take, often at Filoli Gardens near my home.  Right now I am working on an orange bougainvillea bush, a color I rarely get to paint in, so this excites me!

Spring means new beginnings as well.  Easter with its brightly colored eggs and deviled

Resurrection Cross Ephesians 2:8-9

eggs, celebrating Jesus’ Resurrection and promise of eternal life to all who believe. Passover with the Seder plate and story of God’s redemption for the Jewish people from slavery.

It’s also a new beginning for me as I search for work outside of ministry, wanting to work in an art environment using my artist background and somehow have children involved (I am a former elementary school teacher and have taught a lot of bible camps here and abroad)  It is exciting to send in my resume, praying God will open the right door for me for this new career.

It is also an exciting time as I prepare for a new beginning of hopefully selling my book and finding an agent at Mt. Hermon’s Christian Writer’s Conference in one’s weeks time.  I am happy to be rooming with my writer friend from last year, Laura Bennett and can’t wait to meet up for coffee in the ice cream parlor or amongst the redwood trees with my Facebook writer friends whom I haven’t seen since last year’s conference.

I am believing the Lord for divine appointments as only He can bring.  I anticipate learning a whole lot about publishing while I sit in workshops that range from how to become a freelance speaker, to how to write greeting cards and what really happens to your non fiction book behind closed publishing doors!

Mostly, I look forward to what the Lord is going to do with my heart while there. I plan on taking quiet hikes along the creek bed, listening to what is on His heart for me.

Off course, I hope the book sells, and I get a nice big fat advance (oh, the new car I can now buy and that trip to Israel my soul wants to take). But if it doesn’t, I know the Lord will bring a new beginning as I start to rewrite my manuscript, having the knowledge from my classes to now do so.

Open Tulips Jeremiah 31:3 I have loved you with an everlasting love...

Recently the Lord has been putting a Scripture on my heart from Jeremiah 31:3 I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with loving kindness.  Yes, I sense His love and kindness in my life as I step out in faith to the promise of new beginnings and hope.  So much so that I included this Scripture in one of my latest paintings for your enjoyment.  It is titled Open Tulips Jeremiah 31:3 and sells for $100 at my art website www.giftsofhisglory.com. (or click on ‘my art‘ above)

Come see all my new artwork for sale and bless yourself or a friend with the gift that keeps on giving:  an original piece of art with biblical Scripture embossed within it. For the Lord said: It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. Isaiah 51:11. New Living Translation.

Happy Spring!

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What is your favorite part of Springtime?  Leave me a reply…

 

 

 

 


Marilyn, Elvis and God…My Escape into the Desert

Palm Springs

I fell in love this week.  With Palm Springs.  I flew down on a four day vacation as a guest of my high school friend, Lisa, who owns a home in La Quinta, one of the desert towns outside Palm Springs. Palm Springs is in southern California about 2 hours east of Los Angeles.  It is in the desert, surrounded by the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains, creating a valley filled with date palm trees, golf courses and hidden oasis’ with natural mineral springs. It was first  inhabited by the Cahuilla Indians who still reside there and own most of the land.

Today Palm Springs is a haven for wealthy snow birds, elderly people who come for the dry desert heat and sun good for their arthritis.  It was once the playground for the rich and famous celebrities from old Hollywood, such as Frank Sinatra, Vivian Leigh and Kathryn Hepburn. Back in the old studio contract days, movies stars had to stay within an hour and a half distance from the studio and Palm Springs fit the bill.

Fascinated with Hollywood since childhood, I once dreamed of being Marilyn Monroe and

Marilyn Monroe's home

followed Elvis’s life with a passion. Lisa surprised me with a tour of the celebrity homes and one afternoon we met up with the tour in downtown Palm Springs after having the most divine corned beef Rueben sandwich from Shermans, the famous old time Jewish deli.

The eight passenger van of 5 Star Adventures whisked us away as they related the early history of Palm Springs.  The movie stars first came and stayed in tents, later bringing their own trailers and finally building small desert homes to come play and stay in during the winter and spring months.

We entered the Las Palmas area and I was surprised how small the houses were.  I was told they were built without heat or air conditioning, most were 900 to 1600 square feet.  We slowly drove past each home, with the tour guide announcing titbits of who lived there.

Me in front of Elvis' home

We we lucky to peak inside the open gates of some houses including Lucy and Desi Arnaz’s home. I jumped out of the van to take a picture in front of Elvis’ home that he owned in the 1970s up until his death. His house was later sold to finance Graceland, his main residence in Nashville, Tennessee.

The most memorable moment was when we stopped in front of Robert Stacks home.  With a wooden door surrounded by bright purple bougainvillea, we silently crept into the garden.  Small casitas or bungalows were placed

Lisa sitting at Rat Pack bar hangout

throughout the small property around the main house.  The Rat Pack used to hang out at the outdoor bar and Lisa and I took pictures of each other, thrilled to be sitting in the same seats that Frank, Dean, Sammy and Peter once sat in and drank their famous martini’s.

The small kidney shaped pool sparkled azure blue in the sunlight as I glanced at the orange and lemon trees, taking in the beauty of the garden and blue skies.  I instantly new this was where I wanted to get married.  The tour guide told me it rents for $495 a night and

Me at my future wedding place at Robert Stacks home

weddings frequently took place there. She shared the movie Liberace with Kirk Douglas and Matt Damon had just been filmed prior to us visiting.  What better place to celebrate my new life with my husband than in the ridiculously inexpensive playground of such history?

Once the tour was over, Lisa and I strolled down the main street, Palm Canyon Drive, looking at all the fun shops and stopping in for a refreshing soda from the 80 degree heat. We sat at tables that swung like a swing, the type you would only find in Palm Springs.  Once done we hurried over to the huge 26 feet tall statue of Marilyn Monroe that was on exhibit.  Created by artist Steward Johnston, it features her famous skirt blowing up from the subway grate scene, from her movie The Seven Year Itch.  It is a traveling exhibit and one Lisa and I both felt should stay in Palm Springs as Marilyn was discovered at the Racquet Club here many years ago.

Every evening I sat on Lisa’s patio under the palm trees looking up at the dark starlit sky with the warm desert breeze blowing through my hair.  The Lord whispered to me that He was bringing a new season into my life, a time of refreshment and personal fulfillment, a time to retire from full time ministry and pursue my hopes and dreams.

What did this look like? A job working in a field of my choosing.  A time of marriage and motherhood.  An opportunity to travel all those places I have dreamed about.  A Greece cruise.  A  footsteps of Apostle Paul tour in Turkey.  Training through Europe.  Painting the light in Venice.  Sitting at a cafe in Paris and writing my next book.  Or rewriting my current one!  Moving to Lancaster, PA, where the Amish reside, to live a life based around God and family.  Canning my own vegetables and learning to make my own soap.  Sewing my child’s clothes and homeschooling them.  All the dreams that life took from me and a life serving God called me to sacrifice.

For now I drank in the beauty of the desert mountains surrounding me, reminded of the Scripture:  As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore. Psalm 125:2. I found Him here in the quiet of the desert, the peacefulness of the air and sunshine.  In the laughter of Lisa and I as we told stories of our lives in the years we were apart.

I left behind all the stress and tiredness of my life in the Bay Area.  The insanity of a life detached and lived through social media, texts and email. The frustration and difficulty of being in full time ministry. The Lord knew what I needed. He met me here and refreshed me body, soul, mind and spirit.

The trip highlights? I found luscious date shakes.  Slow meandering walks gazing on the colorful red, orange and purple bougainvillea.  Hiking up the mountain side surrounded by large boulders in shades of brown and gray and prickly cacti with small buds of yellow

Me at La Quinta Inn and Spa built in 1927

flowers peeking through. Eating dinner under a night sky at Morton’s at the old Quinta Inn where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard once ate and stayed to escape the fame of celebrity.

And now it is time to leave. As I sit at the airport gazing out at the mountain ranges turning different shades of rose and purple, I have mixed emotions.  I am grateful to the Lord for this new season. Yet I feel a sadness at leaving the desert.

For it is here the Lord brings me to refresh me, whether it be in Israel as I float in the dead sea, surrounded my the huge Judean mountains, or as I hike in the Mohave Desert in Nevada on a spring time retreat.  He is famous for calling His servants to the desert to have a time of intimacy with Him and to hear His voice.  Abraham, Moses, Elijiah John the Baptist and even Jesus went regularly to the desert.

This trip was particularly special for me as the Lord combined my old time love of Hollywood with the fun and fellowship of my friend, delicious gourmet meals and spectacular sunsets.

I think Psalm 116:7 says it best:  Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.  Thank you Lord for this time.  I hope I can return time again and again.