A Few Thoughts on Mount Hermon
For the past three years, I have held a Promising Beginnings contest, in which the prize was a full scholarship to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Last year, there were two winners. Sheila Seiler Lagrand was one of them. Enjoy her guest post today, and see why I love offering this contest! If you want to have an experience like this yourself, enter this year’s contest for the 2016 conference!
“I don’t think I belong there,” I confessed to my dear group of prayer sisters. They offered encouragement and shared their own stories. Then one of them, Michelle, cut right through my hand-wringing. “You won a contest to go there, right? Of course you belong there.”
Everyone should have such practical prayer sisters.
I had entered Kathy Ide’s Promising Beginnings contest. She sent me the most encouraging note, telling me that I was such a close second, she was really sorry she couldn’t award two prizes. Then, miraculously, unanticipated funds appeared in her account and she offered me a 50% scholarship to the conference for Christian writers: Mount Hermon.
I had just over two months to think about the conference and prepare. During that time, Kathy graciously fielded my questions and shared her expertise. I felt in my spirit that I was in capable hands and truly blessed by her generous spirit.
Beginning with my arrival at the airport, the first twenty-four hours were marked by one trial after another. Nothing life-threatening or dramatic, mind you. Just an endless parade of inconveniences, minor hardships, and misunderstandings. To this day I’m not sure whether it was the enemy trying to discourage me or God reminding me that this writing for Him stuff is hard, hard work, not something for sissies.
And then the challenges melted away and I began to connect with people, move with the rhythm of the conference, and find my spot in this place. I met editors and agents and other people just like me, earnest souls called to glorify God by telling His story in the infinite number of ways that His story can be told. We learned together. We ate together. We gathered late at night and laughed together. We conferred. We worshipped together. Fellowship happened.
And then, all in a blink, it was time to go home. Nobody had bought the novels I left on consignment in the conference bookstore, so I gave them away before I left. I came home with a stack of business cards and Facebook friend requests … and a heart filled with faces and names and prayer requests to add to my list, because aren’t we all fumbling our way through this broken world?
I came home with an acquisitions editor’s suggestions for reworking my book proposal, and an invitation to send it to her once it’s revised so she can present it to her publications board. I came home tired and tested, refreshed and revitalized, loved and validated. I came home with a renewed sense of my place in God’s kingdom.
I came home blessed.
Sheila Seiler Lagrand lives with her husband, Rich, and their dogs, JD, Doc, and Poppy, in beautiful Trabuco Canyon, California. She enjoys doodling, cooking, and most of all, spending time with her children and grandchildren. She has lived her entire life in Southern California, except for a year she spent in French Polynesia conducting dissertation research.
Recently her work has appeared in Wounded Women of the Bible: Finding Hope When Life Hurts, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, and a few volumes of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her novel Remembering for Ruth was released in October 2014. She contributed to the collaborative novel The San Francisco Wedding Planner. Her current projects include a lighthearted look at recess for grown-ups and a volume devoted to grandparenting. Find Sheila at http://sheilalagrand.com.