Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Writer's Conference and Confirmation

Now it came to pass that on the tenth day of the third month in the final year of an ancient calendar, an unmarked envelope was placed in the hands of a young woman. Inside, she found a cryptic note that would send her on a journey through the air and over land and sea to a place both beautiful to behold and dreadful to face when viewed through the eyes of a dreamer.

Surprise! You're going to Mount Hermon!

Crisis and Retreat

I first heard about the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference a year ago after my dear friend Xochi attended. She spent the next several months trying to convince me I needed to be there this year but there was a problem, my job was anything but secure and my life was anything but stable. In the subsequent months I watched as my world crumbled around me. I had no clue that each quake shaking up my life was in reality the result of a divine hand preparing me for something amazing.

To make a long story short, I had resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be able to attend any conferences this year. My sister had other plans in mind. At a surprise party celebrating my 30th birthday, she presented me with two envelopes. In the first was a travel itinerary to San Jose, CA. In the second, was the confirmation receipt for the conference. And so I spent the next couple of weeks frantically preparing for my trip, alternating between bouts of excitement and paralyzing fear.

No Coincidences, only Divine Appointments 

Goofing off and having a ball with Xochi!
This year’s keynote speaker was Liz Curtis Higgs, author of books such as Bad Girls of the Bible. She spent the week walking us through Ruth’s love story — an alien woman who had absolutely nothing and who was ultimately was blessed beyond measure. The theme of Ruth’s story: there are no coincidences, only divine appointments ordained in advance.

Her theme quickly became my theme.

I stepped onto Mount Hermon’s campus terrified, I left blessed beyond measure. The first night there I met a woman who not only helped me get around campus in the dark and moved to a room closer to the main campus the next day, but who also encouraged me to talk to an editor about my book. I somehow snagged his first appointment, got 30 minutes with him instead of 15, and he requested a full proposal.

Me with fellow nerd and web guru Thomas Umstattd of Author Media.
My new roommate came to the conference prepared to take the social media classes and I intended to take article writing. Once we got there we realized we were taking the wrong classes and switched folders right then and there. As a result I not only learned some new things, I made a new friend close to my age with similar interests (and who was also the presenter for the social media track).

When Life Mirrors Fiction

Returning to the place I've never been before.
One of the coolest things about fiction is as readers we get to see how events at the beginnings of the character’s life lays the foundations for the climax and resolution. We don’t get to see that very often in real life.

For a brief moment, I did.

Unknown to me, my mom attended a conference at Mount Hermon when she was in the early stages of her pregnancy with me. I was such a pill she couldn’t hold down a single bite. So, a group of women gathered around her in a little chapel in front of the fireplace and laid their hands on her stomach to pray. They asked that God would make himself known to the child at an early age and use his or her life greatly.

That little chapel was the very place I spent each morning setting my agenda aside to seek God’s direction for the day. I didn’t learn that until I called home at the end of the conference.

When I set out last week, I was questioning once again if I was on the right track or if I was merely chasing a foolish dream. I walked away encouraged and excited to see what is in store for me next. I have a ton to do, and I expect I’ll have plenty of potholes in the road ahead, but I have a new reason to move forward.

Perhaps you find yourself in the same place. Our world is currently chaotic at best. Our futures seem more uncertain than ever. But maybe, just maybe, the setbacks you’re experiencing right now are just the beginning. Who knows, the news you receive today may serve as the inciting event that sets your feet on a path that takes you to a destination more incredible than any ending you could think to write.


  1. Oh, Jen, this is so amazing! I'm glad you had a good time and so happy that you experienced so many...revelations? Divine moments? Rad experiences? Whatever you call it, I'm so happy for you.

    1. Thank you, Jess. I am too. I now possess several amazing memories I'll cherish for a long, long time!

  2. I love the way God works at Mount Hermon--always bringing us along with gentle nugdges and smiles. My first year I told someone before lunch one day that I had no interest in writing articles. At lunch I met a Guideposts writer and she changed my mind. By the following February I had an article printed. He is SO awesome. And the fireplace story is just like Him! Love it.

    1. That is so cool, Karen! And yes, that is exactly like Him. Can't wait to see what you have published next!

  3. Aw, what a sweet story! I'm so glad you were able to attend (let's hear it for us Mount Hermon newbies!). It was lovely to meet you! Best wishes on your full ms!!!

    Mary Weber (

    1. Thanks, Mary! I'm glad I got to meet you, too. Hope to see you again next year!