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Memorial Day

 Memorial day

Father, there are so many grieving this weekend for loved ones who gave their lives for our country. Others are struggling with “what if” fears as their loved one serves in a country far from home. And still others daily face the pain of seeing a son or daughter, husband or wife, father or mother cope with a physical disability or PTSD.

Thank You, Father, for the assurance that You will not forget them or their families – or us.

 I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

Isaiah 49:15-16 (NIV)

 

This morning the Bible program that is always open on my computer crashed. I could have gone inside to get a Bible, but what if they had all been confiscated by the government because of the “hate language” they contained? What if it was a crime, punishable by death, to share my faith in Jesus Christ?

 

ostrich 2
Sounds far-fetched? Not really unless we’ve buried our head in the sand and refused to recognize the growing hostility toward Christians in our nation. Not unless we’ve chosen to ignore how our brothers and sisters around the world are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.

 

I got home at 1:00 am Wednesday morning from directing the Colorado Christian Writers Conference for the 22nd year. As I left the YMCA of the Rockies, I couldn’t help but wonder if this would be the last year for the conference even though I’ve already paid the deposit for 2019 and 2020.

 

I’m NOT quitting and I’m NOT retiring even though I am 73. But I can’t assume that next year Christians will be free to gather or that our nation will even exist. When, not if, our economy collapses, we’ll have anarchy on our streets. If an EMT destroys our electrical grid, we’ll be back in the middle ages. Or if enemies intent on destroying America and Israel unleash another 911 . . . But as my friend Michael Gantt says, it is Almighty God we need to fear.

 

The sad fact for America is that
our sin has made God our enemy.
Because of the rejection of God and His Word
and because we have exchanged
the God of Life for the gods of death
and perversion,
America is already under
the Hand of God’s judgment.

If there is no national confession of sin
and if we cannot find a heart of repentance,
a Holy God will complete his judgment;
either by the complete annihilation
or subjugation of what was once a great
and godly people or by rendering it
completely irrelevant on the world stage.

 

And so with a growing urgency each year the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference strives to “encourage and equip Christians to write about a God who is real, who is reachable, and who changes lives.” Whether through fiction or nonfiction, articles, poetry, or screenplays, we must “Write His Answer.”

 

Yes, I trust You have heard that the Philly conference is continuing in a new location (Dock Mennonite Academy in Lansdale,PA) and a slightly different format. GPCWC is now 2.5 days instead of 3.5 making it more affordable and not as challenging to get time off work or find needed childcare. We still have a faculty of more than 40 agents, editors, authors, and other professionals. You can find out who is coming at http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com.

 

Online registration is open and I’m working this holiday weekend to finish our 16-page brochure. Serious issues with my new laptop computer made it impossible to complete it before I left May 14 to direct the Colorado conference.

 

Outlook crashed ten days before I left for Colorado. Seven hours on the phone with Microsoft technical support intensified the problems rather than resolved them. My nephew, Peter Burek, who is a brilliant computer consultant, worked two days to try and recover thousands of critical emails that were lost including the itineraries for 29 faculty members flying into Colorado and over 150 emails in “must answer” folders. He said he’s worked on a lot of bad computer problems, but mine was one of the worst he has seen.

 

As you probably know, the stress landed me in the hospital overnight with symptoms of a heart attack. It’s the first time I’ve been hospitalized except to deliver my three babies. I’m so grateful that all the tests confirmed it was stress and not a heart attack, but I’m appalled that the cost was over $17,000! I’m not yet certain how much our insurance will cover.

 

I’m sorry this blog has gotten so long. To recap:

 

  • If you emailed me and I have not responded, please resend. Your email may be among those that were deleted when Outlook crashed or it may be buried in the more than 2,400 emails presently in my inbox. Please put CCWC or GPCWC in your subject line to catch my attention.

 

 

  • Please pray for me as I work this weekend to finish the 16-page brochure and to somehow get the faculty and bills paid for the Colorado conference. Please pray for His provision financially since the conference checking account is almost $20,000 lower than last year at this time. (Please, Father, help me not to be discouraged or to panic. I know there has got to be more money somewhere.)

 

  • And please pray for the staff of the Colorado conference who worked so hard. Barb Haley, Laura Shaffer, Eric Sprinkle, Tabatha Scheffler, and Roy and Chris Richards will also be at the Philly conference. Thank You, Father, for the great team You have provided and for Darcie Gudger, David Shaffer, and Marti & Tom Pieper who were also on staff in Colorado.

 

  • Since I’m over a month late finishing the Philly brochure, please help spread the word about the conference. Here’s a logo you can post on social media.

2018 GP Banner

As for my Bible program that crashed, here’s the Scripture Father reminded me of this morning:

Not by might, not by power, but by Spirit

somewhere in Zechariah

 

to register for the May 16-19 Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

The price automatically increases tomorrow (May 10), BUT if you register online instead of just walking in (although we’d still welcome you), we’ll give you a bookstore credit for the $10 – $15 price increase. (I call it the “procrastinator’s fee.”)

I know some of you are not procrastinators. You’re just now hearing about the conference, and I want to do everything possible so you do not miss what I know will be a life-changing and ministry-enabling conference.

Time payments can be arranged if needed. And partial scholarships are even a possibility if there is no other way. Our Father is always able to make a way.

Lodging is still available although we’re filling up quickly. Click here for info and call Brenda at the YMCA (970-586-3341 ext 1349). I think we’re about out of single rooms, but I know she’s still got some conferees looking for a roommate. Not only will that reduce your cost, you’ll make a new writing friend or friends. Alpen Lodge has two queen beds and a sofabed to house 3 people comfortably. The cost, including dinner from the day of your arrival through lunch the day of your departure, is only $68 a night, and you’ll save the $15 YMCA daily fee.

Please pray about joining the 60 faculty and 200 plus beginning and professional writers on the mountain next week.

God bless you and your writing ministry!

Lodge at nt

YMCA Lodges at Night

 

“Do you believe, do you really believe God can use you?”

When Michael Gantt spoke those words about ten years ago in a keynote at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, the presence of the Lord was so powerful. I know lives were changed in that moment. Mine certainly was.

Even though I’d been directing the Colorado conference for about 12 years and the Philly conference (that I founded) for about 25 years (it’s now 35 years), the “deadly Ds” were a frequent companion.

If God has called you to “write His answer,” then if you’ve not yet encountered the deadly Ds of Disappointments, Doubts, Discouragement, and even Despair, the good news is that you will.

This is good news? Yes! First, it’s evidence that you are a threat to the evil one. And second, it will cause you to draw more and more close to the Lord and to depend on Him.

The journey to publication is not easy. Sadly, many give up.

For 22 years the Colorado Christian Writers Conferences has “encouraged and equipped Christians to write about a God who is real, who is reachable, and who changes lives.”

Every year He meets us on the mountain. He gives hope, courage, direction . . . He draws us into CCWC’s family of writers where deep, forever friendships are formed.

He may open the door to publication if you and your writing are ready. If not, you can be certain you’ll receive the instruction you need to keep growing your writing skills. In addition, you’ll receive valuable feedback in one-on-one appointments (more than at any other conference) with our faculty of 59 agents, editors, and authors.

Do you believe God can use you?

It’s not too late to register for the May 16-19 CCWC. Time payments can be arranged if needed. God will make a way. Trust Him!

 

Debbie Hardy for GP

Debbie Hardy

How would you like a chance to get 50% off the cost of registration for the Colorado Christian Writers Conference  Believe it or not, it’s simple.
Copy of Learn more!I learned this the hard way. I had heard that there was a contest I could enter and possibly win half off the next year’s conference. So, my first time at the CCWC, I entered. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow the contest rules and I wrote on the wrong topic. Needless to say, I didn’t win.

 

The next time, I did exactly as the rules said and was shocked when I heard my name called as the winner for previously unpublished prose! That meant that I had not been published before – ever – but my writing was now award-winning.

You can do the same.

There are 4 contest categories: 2 for prose and 2 for poetry. Each genre has a separate contest for writers and poets who have been published and for those who have not. So you’re on even ground with others of the same experience level.

Be sure to follow the rules:

*       Write 500-800 words or a 12-30 line poem.

*       Consider the conference theme, “Write His Answer,” and share about the writing life or how you’re writing His answer.

*       Put your name and address in the body of your email, not on the manuscript.

*       Indicate on your MS which contest you are entering and if you’re a published or not-yet-published writer.

*       Include your MS as an attachment. (It’s easier to print up for the judges.)

*       There is a $10 fee for each entry.

*       Contest is for registered conferees only. And there’s still time to register, although after May 9 the $15 “procrastinator’s fee” will kick in unless you give us a really good excuse for being late. 🙂 Click here to register.

In submitting your entry you are offering the conference one-time rights to possibly publish your entry in a future (no date yet determined) devotional book. If your work is accepted for publication, you will receive one free copy and a discount on purchasing additional copies. Profits will go to the scholarship fund. Please note: You may submit your manuscript elsewhere before or after the conference. You own the rights!

The deadline for this year’s conference is May 14, the Monday before the conference starts. That will give me time to get your entry and print it to give to the appropriate judge on the first night.

You too could sit in the auditorium and hear your name called, giving you a 50% discount off next year’s conference. (BTW, you can enter more than once, to increase your chances!)

Please send your entry (or entries) to me at bdhardy@msn.com by May 14.

Debbie Hardy
CCWC Contest Coordinator

Sherri Langton Jan 2017Guest post
Sherri LangtonAction price incr
Associate Editor
Bible Advocate and Now What?

I consider myself the fossil of the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, having attended since January 1987. Back then, it was a one-day conference at my local church, Denver First Church of the Nazarene. Betty Robertson, a writer and Nazarene pastor’s wife, was the director.

In 1987, I wasn’t thinking about writing. I worked in the purchasing department of a large downtown bank — and hated it. I begged God to get me out of that stress-filled office, but He remained silent. I now think He was waiting for me to attend my first CCWC to discover what He would do.

The keynote speaker at the conference was Ruth Vaughn, a prolific writer. One thing she said that January day set the course of my writing: “God can make creative use out of your misery.” Ruth sparked an idea to write my own greeting cards. I called the line Godsend, and for several years sent cards to friends and church members who were hurting.

God didn’t stop at greeting cards. When I was laid off at the bank (mercifully), I wrote about my frustrations of job hunting, and my stories were accepted by Standard. Over the years, I’ve seen God make creative use out of depression, death, grief, cancer, and many other miseries. The stories and articles I wrote on these subjects were published in major and smaller Christian publications. I met many of those editors at CCWC.

Now as a magazine editor and faculty member, I “count it all joy” to give back to a conference that has given so much to me. What message will God give you at this year’s CCWC? He can set you on a new path, too!

 

mtns turkey-3048299_640 pixabay

“If you had faith even as small as a tiny mustard seed
you could say to this mountain, ‘Move!’
and it would go far away.
Nothing would be impossible.”
Matthew 17:20 (TLB)

The 16-page brochure for the July 26-28 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference is a long way from being finished. And the website still needs a lot of work, BUT I’m praising the Lord that the faculty and program are in place and enough info is available online to make it possible to open registration tomorrow, May 1. It may not be until late evening, but what seemed impossible is going to happen. Thank You, Father!

Meanwhile, to hopefully get you as excited as I am, here’s a page from the brochure with four of our seven continuing sessions. You’ll find the other three online at http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/continuingsessions2018. There’s a link on the website to view it as a PDF as this is too small even for young eyes. 🙂

Page 4 continuing sessions

Also online you’ll find a list of our 40 faculty members, the schedule for the two and a half days of the conference, titles and descriptions of 35 workshops, the cost, and info about scholarship help.

There’s lots more to come – faculty bios, photos, editorial needs, appointment info, and our new Thursday afternoon learning labs and early bird workshops. Oh, and I must not forget our keynotes.

Father, thank You for how Your hand has been on the GPCWC for the past 34 years – for all You have done, are doing, and will do.

oak tree pixabay tree-893273_640 (1)

Two immense maple trees in the front yard sheltered the house I lived in until I was fourteen years old. They were my special friends.

When my mother threatened to call the police to come and take me away because I was a “naughty little girl,” I’d run outside and lean against one of my trees. Its branches seemed to embrace me with a love that I never knew from either of my parents.

My father was constantly in and out of the hospital. He seldom talked to me. When he did, his words were like hammer blows to my already fragile self-esteem. The beatings from his large fists often sent me flying. Even more painful than the welts his hand left on my face, was the way Mother (she didn’t like me to call her Mom) never intervened. “It’s all your fault,” she’d say. “If you’d be good, this wouldn’t have to happen.”  But it kept happening, again and again.

When my father got a blood clot in his leg, I remember Mother’s warning: “You’d better be good!  If you’re not, if you get your father upset, the blood clot can go to his heart and kill him.”

For weeks I tried to be very good, but I was gripped by the fear that I wasn’t good enough. I often mounted my bicycle, hoping to ride to the far end of the world. Instead, I’d end up at the forest preserve nearby where I’d walk deep into the woods. I never worried about getting lost. The trees of the forest were also my friends. When I heard that girls had been raped and murdered not far from my woods, I was frightened. But Mother knew where I was going and never stopped me. Doesn’t she care if something happens to me? I wondered.

My father died of a heart attack when I was ten. “You can be glad you were a good girl the last few days, so you don’t have to feel guilty,” Mother said. But I knew I hadn’t been a good girl, and now it was too late. Perhaps she sensed my remorse.

“Give him a kiss and tell him you loved him,” she urged me as we stood before the open coffin.

I was terrified. “I can’t.”

“You can’t!  What’s the matter with you?”  Her eyes were accusing. “People will think you weren’t much of a daughter.”

“Mother, please. Please don’t make me,” I pleaded.

For the next year I had horrible nightmares. I begged Mother to let me sleep with her. Sometimes she gave in, but it didn’t help. I needed her to hold me and comfort me, but she always turned her back to me. I laid beside her wide awake, listening to her breathing and worrying every time its rhythm changed. Suppose she died too!

Mother remarried when I was fourteen. But life with my stepfather, Harry, was even worse. Why didn’t Mother tell him to leave me alone? But she didn’t, blaming me for the beatings and other abuse. I remember sitting under one of my trees all night, afraid to be alone on the streets and afraid to stay in the house.

On my wedding I had no regrets about moving a thousand miles away. When I became pregnant, I missed Mother. I was sure she’d come when my baby was born, but she didn’t.

A year later Mother was diagnosed with a mental illness, but I continued to be hurt by the things she did.

When my thirteen-year-old half-sister came to live with us because Harry was sexually abusing her, Mother was angry at me for taking her “baby” away from her. She continued to turn her back on me.

When Harry died, on the verge of another breakdown, Mother needed someone to take care of her. I tried to help, but much of what I did only made her angry. Finally, I convinced Mother to come east and enter a mental hospital. Tests revealed an illness similar to Alzheimer’s. Doctors urged me to put her in a personal care home. But I knew Mother could still function, with support, in an apartment. A geriatric counselor agreed and helped me to see what tasks could be done by others so I wouldn’t become consumed by Mother’s care.

Now the roles were reversed. I had to give Mother the things she failed to give me—attention, affection, love.

Mother, who signed my birthday card, “From Mabel,” complained about me to anyone who would listen. Unappreciative, mistrustful, she continued to reject me. Some days I wondered why I didn’t take the “easy” way out and put her in a home. Was I being a martyr? No, I concluded, I’m doing what I must do for my mother.

On Mother’s Day I didn’t want to be with her, but I couldn’t leave her alone in her apartment, so I took her out to dinner. Mother complained about her potatoes. They were too cold. Her chicken was too done. She didn’t like the salad dressing. Nothing pleased her!

I remembered how Mother’s psychiatrist had recommended that I think of her simply as an old woman who needed my help. “Don’t think of her as your mother; call her Mabel.” His words didn’t make me feel better.

Once I visited a friend whose mother has Alzheimer’s. I watched Jennifer comb her mother’s hair and give her a hug. Her mother smiled and kissed her cheek. Why can’t it be that way between me and my mother? I wondered.

“It hurts so much,” I told God one evening as I sat on my porch. I looked up at the tree in my backyard and wished I could draw comfort and strength from it as I did when I was a child. I remembered a fragment of a poem I memorized in school—something about only God being able to make a tree.

I thought of Jesus—how His hands and feet were nailed to a tree in order that my sins might be forgiven. He kept reaching for me when I kept rejecting Him, loving me when I was unlovable.

Suddenly I knew that because He first loved me, I could love Mother no matter how she treated me. “Love,” He reminded me “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (l Corinthians 13:7, RSV).

A gentle breeze stirred the beginnings of forgiveness within my spirit. “I want to forgive you, Mother,” I whispered. “I still love you.”


Eight and a half years ago the Lord moved us to a new home in Lansdale. At first sight of the seven oak trees that lined the sidewalk, I knew this was the home He had chosen for us. The fact that our three grandkids live in walking distance caused us to immediately put in a bid.

Today, five of our oak trees are battling bacterial leaf scorch. I’m heartsick for as you now understand, trees mean a lot to me. They are due for their second $1,600 treatment that will not cure them but will hopefully give them the strength to survive. One of the five trees is not leafing out as the others.

Don’t worry about anything;
instead, pray about everything;
tell God your needs,
and don’t forget to thank him for his answers.

Philippians 4:6 (TLB)

Will you join me in praying for my trees?

beth-patch-900x750 2018

Guest post
Beth Patch
Senior Producer
Internet Acquisitions Editor
CBN.com

In my daily content production for CBN.com, I am grateful for writers who take their craft seriously enough to go to a writers conference. Usually, their approach to getting published and the submissions I receive from them have an edge of professionalism. They get plugged in to good writing practices and with other writers whose shared experiences help them. It’s a win-win situation and worth every penny.

I particularly enjoy it when a writer brings an example or two of their writing for me to read while we meet in a 15-minute editor appointment. I love being able to give feedback and encouragement. I’m only allowed to choose “accept” or “reject” when I receive submissions at the office, so it’s nice to have the opportunity to elaborate.

No academic track will expose a person to the heart of the writing industry like a writer’s conference. Not only do you get educational workshops to help you become a better writer, you get a chance to meet editors, agents, and publishers who you’d only meet through an impersonal email exchange at best. These professionals come to the conference with the same goal as the conferees: publish quality writing.


Beth is on faculty at the May 16-19 Colorado Christian Writers Conference and available for one-on-one appointments.

She is teaching a Wednesday early bird workshop, “Devoted to You.” In this entry-level devotion-writing workshop you’ll learn the four basic elements needed for writing an inspirational devotion and tips on self-editing, story development, focus, and following guidelines.

On Saturday afternoon Beth is teaching a workshop on “Writing for CBN.com.” Each week over 2 million pages are opened on the site. Learn what types of content CBN.com accepts for each section of the online magazine and your rights regarding content shared with CBN. For info on their editorial needs, visit Beth’s bio by clicking here. You’ll need to scroll down to the “Periodicals and Online Markets.”

Whether you’re going to the Colorado Christian Writers Conference May 16-19, the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference July 26-28 (I’m beginning to update the website in preparation for opening online registration May 1), or another conference, if you’re nervous about meeting with an editor you’re in good company. Most writers find that their hands get sweaty and their hearts begin to pound at the thought of meeting an editor face to face. But as with anything else, it gets easier through the doing—and through going into the experience prepared to “put your best foot forward.” How?

The Colorado website offers encouragement and practical help under the Appointments tab in the menu. You’ll find info on:

Appointment Procedures
Making the Best Appointment Choices
Preparing for Your Appointments

Trust in the LORD with all your heart.
Never rely on what you think you know.
Remember the LORD in everything you do,
and he will show you the right way.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (TEV)

Let’s be real. Have the pressures of life ever made you feel like running away?

Maybe non-stop problems have worn you to a frazzle. And the thing with problems is that they are groupies. Seriously, have you ever had to cope with just one problem at a time?

My writing mentor used to tell me that problems were great grist for my writing  mill. Right! Maybe if I’d get a break long enough to see the Lord in them so I could write about them and give hope to my readers; it certainly won’t help them or me to whine!

I confess this has been one of those weeks when I would have liked to run away. It’s hard enough to be on deadlines for both the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference when my laptop is working. But when I’m forced to spend hours on the phone with technicians who don’t speak clear English and who end up making things worse rather than better, running away is a tempting option. But . . .

He who believes need never run away again.
Isaiah 28:16 TLB

Father knows I do believe and that I desperately need him to help my unbelief.

Despite seemingly impossible obstacles, I am making progress on the July 26-28 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

Lest I get knocked off the Internet again, here’s the link for the 35 workshops I’ve packed into Friday and Saturday – http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/workshops2018. The page has not yet been proofread and is, therefore, not accessible from the menu. Trusting that somehow I’ll be able to open online registration May 1, I’m eager for you to see some of what we’re offering.

We also have an exciting line-up of 3 Learning Labs on Thursday afternoon along with early bird workshops, 7 continuing sessions, keynotes, panels, and an outstanding faculty of 38 agents, editors, and authors.

So . . . the bottom line is I’m NOT going to run away. Instead, will you commit along with me to:

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.
When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through.
That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
Hebrews 12:2-3 MSG