A Powerful and Peaceful Experience
For the past several months, I’ve been preparing for the very first SoCal Christian Writers Retreat at Palomar Mountain near San Diego. After the incredible first Mount Hermon Christian Writers Retreat last November, I was really excited about this one.
There were some unexpected obstacles along the way, including a personal situation a few weeks ago that resulted in the worst spiritual oppression I have ever experienced in my life. For a brief period of time, I wondered if we might need to cancel or at least postpone the retreat. But God got us through … and wow, am I glad He did!
I have taught at numerous writers conferences over the years and directed three of them. My focus is always on blessing attendees in any way I can. But God inevitably makes sure I get a blessing as well. This SoCal retreat was no exception. Matter of fact, I was abundantly blessed beyond anything I could have anticipated!
My wonderful codirector and emcee, Kelly Harrel, delivered some powerful spiritual sessions every morning and evening of the retreat, all on the theme of Surrender. When she got to the one on Surrendering Your Fears, I knew that one would be important for me since the spiritual oppression experience I had was saturated with fears. And some were still lingering.
I wrote only one note during Kelly’s talk: “Let go of negative truths.” But I planned on spending time the next day journaling my answers to the questions in her outline. I went to bed thinking about the nuggets she’d shared. And I woke up the next morning hearing God speak powerfully to my soul in a way that completely transformed my perspective.
I had been praying for protection of a dear loved one from the cesspool of horrific abuse and demonic influence she’s been drowning in for years. In that moment, God told me that if I truly surrender my fears related to her, I can be free to pray positive things for her instead of just praying against the “negative truths” and focusing on them. I can pray for a godly Christian woman to come along and mentor her (since I currently cannot). I can pray for the Lord to connect her with good Christian peer friends. I can pray that she will attend a Christian summer camp or VBS or mission trip where the Holy Spirit will speak powerfully to her heart and transform her life. I can pray that she will have a dramatic connection with God that will be a major turning point for her … even if she doesn’t get rescued physically from her horrible circumstances.
This may sound simple and obvious. But it brought back the full and complete joy of the Lord that has been missing from my life for months as I’ve wept with a broken heart over this sweet loved one.
As if that weren’t a huge enough blessing, I got a practical one as well! I had brought to the retreat the printout for a novel manuscript that’s been on my back burner for more than twenty years, as I’ve been spending time on my editing, my Christian Editor Network, my writers conferences, my family, and this special loved one. During my free time at the retreat, I managed to read through almost half of it and discovered it’s not far from being ready to publish!
In our final retreat session, Kelly challenged all of us to write down specific attainable goals for something in our writing journey. As I considered the tasks I still need to accomplish with my novel, I was shocked to realize that—depending on how long it takes to complete the things that rely on other people to do—there’s a possibility that book could be in my hands in time for the Mount Hermon retreat in November! After twenty-plus years, it feels great to think that I might actually be in the final stretch.
I even learned a lot in Joanne Bischof’s workshop on Marketing Your Way that I might soon be able to implement. Woo-hoo!
In our sharing session at the end of the retreat, I rejoiced in hearing how the Lord had worked in the hearts and lives of the other attendees. (Once the evaluations start coming in, I’ll happily share some of them with you.) I especially loved hearing that it was even a time of refreshment for our industry-professional presenters.
I am so grateful for the SoCal Christian Writers Retreat last weekend. God knew I needed that time of spiritual renewal, emotional refreshment, and hearing His voice clearly in order to take my parched soul to an oasis, exchanging my discouraged spirit over a heartbreaking personal situation into one of not just hope but joyful assurance.
Yes, the SoCal retreat was exactly what I needed … and more! I can’t wait to read the evaluations from attendees. And I’m super excited to turn my focus now on preparations for the second Mount Hermon Christian Writers Retreat this November. Hope to see you there! I know you will be blessed.
(And hey, if you’re thinking about signing up for Mount Hermon this year, register soon! The 10% early-bird discount deadline is tomorrow, June 15, at midnight Pacific time. Use discount code earlyMH22.)