Category Archives: Travel

Hike to the Cross

Last week, I attended my third Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. I usually write a recap post telling you about attending writing classes, talking to publishers, meeting new friends, and so on. I had all of those experiences again this year, but I wanted to share another story from the conference with you this year:

Hike to the Cross

The Cross at Mount Hermon

My alarm blares at 5:30 a.m. on Palm Sunday morning. Warm and cozy in the little cabin, I can’t imagine why I would get up so early when breakfast isn’t served until 8 a.m. Before I pull the covers back over my head, I glimpse my hiking clothes stacked neatly on the other bed. I recall the annual hike to the cross that I have managed to skip every year at the conference. For a non-morning person, a 6 a.m. hike sounds great the night before but feels like torture when actually getting out of bed. It’s dark and 42 degrees outside. Perfect. While getting dressed, I change my mind three different times about going. Finally, I stumble out the door to meet the group. Still grumpy, I avoid eye contact with anyone who might strike up conversation. I hike up the paved trail, staying in the middle of the pack and slowly losing my bad attitude as the exercise warms up my body.

The hike gets more intense as we get closer to the top. We are hiking to the summit of Mount Hermon where a wooden cross sits atop the Santa Cruz Sandhills. Our guide tells us these sandhills in California are unique, the only ones in the world. The temperature drops as we climb higher. At sunrise, we reach the summit and the large cross, which is as impressive as the view.

After looking around at the sights, I notice a bag that looks like a heavy computer briefcase sitting at the foot of the cross. I wonder who hiked up here carrying it. How ridiculous, I think. What could possibly be so important that it couldn’t be left in the room during a short hike? As our guide gathers us for prayer, a lovely woman with an accent tells the group she carried the heavy briefcase up the mountain. It represents the burden she’s been carrying regarding her dreams of writing and having a book published. She realizes she’s been carrying this heavy load on her own and needs to turn her dreams over to God. So, she packed this bag and hiked up the mountain to set it at the foot of the cross.

She’s not overly emotional, yet the impact of her words is staggering. I recall my cynicism when first seeing the bag. I hadn’t even noticed this woman lugging a heavy case up the mountain. I grumpily hiked up that trail thinking about the critiques of my writing, publishing contracts, and my scheduled meeting with an agent later that day. In a single act of obedience, she gave each of us a beautiful picture of surrender, more meaningful than any sermon on the topic.

Early on that Palm Sunday morning, a time I would normally be sleeping soundly, I hiked back down the trail a little lighter. My new friend wasn’t the only one who left behind a few things at the foot of the cross.

Content and Photograph Copyright 2012. Allison @ Anointed With Grace.


Filed under Change, Faith, Travel, Writing

In the Midst of Fear – A God Story

For years, one of my very close friends was terrified of flying in an airplane. He had panic attacks on planes—or even just sitting in an airport. Although he owns a very successful business and travel is part of the job, he scheduled his life so he wouldn’t have to fly on an airplane. It was inconvenient but necessary for him. He would drive all the way across the country to avoid getting on a plane. Actually, it was hard for me to understand. As a business traveler, I have flown hundreds of times over the years, and I jump onto a plane just like I’m getting in my car. I’m usually asleep before takeoff.

But we all have fears. We all have areas our enemy uses to make us panic and take our eyes from God. Mine is not flying, but I’m certainly crippled by fear in many other areas.

The real story here comes with one word in the first sentence of this post—“was.” Past tense. A few days ago, my friend told me he gets excited when driving past an airport—so much that he can’t wait to fly again. This is the same person that had trouble breathing normally while driving past an airport two years ago. So, what changed?

With his permission, I want to share an excerpt from a recent email he sent:

2 years ago, I would have cut off one of my fingers before getting on an airplane. [Some close friends] prayed over me about this fear. Through their love and God’s healing power, I have now been on, I believe, 19 flights in the past 2 years. On those flights, I have some of my closest experiences with Jesus. Where else do I get to just talk to a stranger for hours without any interruptions—and where else can I do it knowing only the power of CHRIST even enables me to be on the plane to begin with? I am so cocky, so unaware, so selfish, so nasty most of the time, but that gets stripped away on the airplane as I realize how broken and how desperate I am for Jesus. And when I find him there waiting on me, he fills me with his spirit, and it is amazing what a changed person I become. I am praying that I would realize everyday how desperate I am for Christ, and not just on the days that I am flying.

I wanted to share my friend’s testimony with you because I believe this is where we need to be living—right in the middle of our fears. If we stay in our comfort zones, I believe God has little room to show us the impossible. When we step out into those areas where we don’t think we can survive alone, then God can step in, show us his power, and use us in mighty ways.

In closing, I want to share one more story from my friend. This is from his most recent plane flight:

I was seated next to a guy about my age, who was larger than I am, and tougher.  Much tougher. But he took a liking to me, and we began to share our life stories.  He told me he used drugs daily for 10 years and 2 years ago attempted suicide.  He said he took more than enough to die, and somehow didn’t, and it made him believe God was real and had a plan for his life. He entered rehab. He said he is much better now, still using drugs, but not nearly as much. He has had a job for almost two years now and is relying on God to help him battle his addiction. We shared a ton of scripture with each other, encouraged each other, and prayed together on the plane. It would take a long time to tell you everything he and I talked about in 2 hours, but it was unbelievable. Among the more noteworthy, he said his plan was to use drugs when he got home, but he felt God speaking to him through our time together and he was going to lean on God and not use yesterday. There was so much more amazing conversation and God was at work in both of our lives. I shared with him my fears and anxieties and how I have been captive to those for so long and we both received so much encouragement from God, through each other. It was so incredible.

Giving our fears to Jesus puts us in a place where we’re truly dependent on him. When incredible stories happen, we know it’s a God story and nothing we’ve done by our own power. My friend’s story has taught me to truly believe 2 Corinthians 12:9. Live in those areas of weakness, for that is where God’s power can truly be displayed…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

What fears can you turn over to Jesus today?


Content Copyright 2011. Allison @ Anointed With Grace.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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Filed under Faith, Fear, Friendship, God, Travel

My Mount Hermon Experience – Part 2

Earlier this week, I posted the first two things I enjoyed about the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference I attended in April. Today, I am sharing the third part of my experience.

  • God Moments

God meets me at Mount Hermon—in many ways that have little to do with writing. I met so many new friends this year at the conference and saw many familiar faces from two years ago. God specifically placed people in my path to encourage me. There is no other explanation. For example, every time I turned around, Carrie or Judy gave me a hug and built me up with their encouraging words. Why? I had never met either of them before the conference—yet they became my biggest cheerleaders. God knew I needed that lift because I can be so hard on myself. This type of conference brings out my insecurities and my need to prove my value. But God protected me from myself. And reminded me that my worth is found in him, not my publishing credits.

**Thanks to Carrie and Judy and so many others for loving on me and letting God use you.

Also, today is an anniversary of sorts for me. Ten years ago today on May 13, 2001, I was involved in a terrible car accident. Although it’s not an event I particularly like to remember, I still think about it every May. It happened on a Sunday evening here in Nashville as I returned from spending Mother’s Day with my family. I was the only one injured in the accident. Most people who saw the wreckage of the car couldn’t believe I walked away relatively unharmed. I spent a night in the ER and had a lot of stitches in my arm and head, but nothing that wouldn’t heal with time. Since that day, I have never doubted that God has a purpose for my life. I know that he’s keeping me here for a reason.

At Mount Hermon this year, our keynote speaker was Bill Myers. During his nightly messages, Bill talked about saying yes to God. Bill said, “You only have one life—why waste it doing it your way?” And I completely agree. He went on to say that you don’t have to be smart or creative or even a “good Christian.” You just have to be willing to say yes to God.

I could have walked away from that accident ten years ago and thought, “Whew, what a lucky break that I’m okay.” But I know luck had nothing to do with it. God is in control. He holds all our moments and knows the number of our days here on earth. Since that accident, I have made a conscious effort to say yes to God. Every day, I have a choice. I can choose my plan or his. Ten years later, I’m still thankful for every moment God gives me. And I’m still learning how to say yes to him every day.

What does this look like for you? How are you saying yes to God today?

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Filed under Friendship, God, Travel, Writing

My Mount Hermon Experience – Part 1

Last month, I attended the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in northern California. Mount Hermon is a special place for me. Both times I’ve attended this writer’s conference, I strongly felt God’s presence. It’s hard for me to describe what Mount Hermon means to me. There are so many good things wrapped into 5 days. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish what I learn about writing from what I learn about life.

During my business career, I attended so many corporate conferences and conventions. I spoke at many of them. Looking back, these events drained me. I poured energy into them and got nothing in return. Sure, I was satisfied because I fulfilled my commitment, but that was it. I think that’s why the experience at Mount Hermon is so special to me. Yes, it is exhausting. I have to put on my extrovert hat for 12-14 hours per day for 5 days. It’s a roller coaster of emotions with ups and downs. But it energizes me. The experience gives me back as much as I give to it. I think that’s how you know when you’ve found your passion.

The conference this year was meaningful to me in many ways, but I’ve managed to summarize my experience into three main areas. Since this post keeps getting longer and longer, I’m only going to share the first two with you today (you’re welcome!):

  • The Business of Writing

Although the dress code is casual and the atmosphere is spiritual, business takes place at Mount Hermon. I enjoy learning about the business side of writing. I had the opportunity to meet editors from publishing houses, agents, and other freelance writers. As a newbie my first year at Mount Hermon, this aspect of the conference overwhelmed me. I was better prepared this year, and I used the opportunity to learn as much as possible and meet as many people as possible. I enjoyed getting feedback on my current book project. I came away from these discussions with a better idea of where I need to take the project and my ministry.

  • Learning about Writing

I learn in leaps and bounds at Mount Hermon. The classes and workshops are amazing and full of advice and tips for better writing. Learning about the craft of writing is a continual process. I always come away from this conference as a better and more knowledgeable writer. I can see the growth in my writing skills and knowledge of the industry that’s directly related to attending classes at Mount Hermon.

What’s the third thing I love about Mount Hermon? It deserves a post all its own. Check back on Friday for Part 2 of My Mount Hermon Experience.

Also, did you notice the bloggy makeover? Let me know what you think about the new blog design. (If you’re using a Reader, click over to see the new layout.) Do you like it better? I think it’s cleaner and easier to read, but I would love to hear your feedback! Leave a comment and let me know…


Filed under Travel, Writing