Flourish and Thrive Retreat, April 14-16, 2024

Well, I guess it’s been too long since I updated my pages–three years and seven retreats ago to be exact! Here are a few photos from the spring retreat at Black Butte Ranch.

View from the meadow
Cold walk to the meadow
Flourish and Thrive group
Meeting with prayer partners
Acrylic resin coaster craft
Ready for the next session
More crafting!
Aspen Lake walk
On the boardwalk

Even though it was cold and rainy, we all had a fantastic time! The ladies were so eager to learn and share that we hardly had much free time, but when we did, they got out for walks and had fun in the hot tub and around the house.

You are Invited to a Writer’s Retreat: September 24-26, 2021

https://www.blackbutteranch.com/south-meadow-072/

Get away to beautiful Black Butte Ranch where you can work on your current project, connect with other writers, critique, brainstorm, and be refreshed at this beautiful house in Black Butte Ranch near Sisters, Oregon. There will be minimal scheduled events so you have enough time for both work and play.

Price varies from $100-$200 for the weekend, and includes lodging and five meals. Rooms are shared, with bunks, shared King, or a King or Queen of your own.

Contact me for more information or to sign up: jer3113@hotmail.com

Book Cover Shoot

Tara Newman with Sela Photography

It was beautiful and cool Sunday night, perfect for the cover shoot we had scheduled for my upcoming divorce recovery book. The weather had been foggy and cool in Tillamook all week, which we agreed might be a cool effect for the pictures, as long as it didn’t rain. I prayed all week it wouldn’t rain.

And it didn’t!

Instead the sun came out mid-morning and it turned out to be a beautiful day. My models, Bob and Heidi Johnson arrived at 5:00, shortly after my daughter and photographer, Tara Newman. Bob tried on his jacket and we agreed it needed a little tailoring for a more fitted look . So I went to work on it, then ironed his white pants to get a crisp crease. He looked like a handsome prince, and was ready to go.

Bob and my husband Kelly munched on dinner and chatted while Tara worked on Heidi’s makeup and hair. She already looked stunning in the blue gown and “glass slippers,” but after Tara curled her hair, applied “stage” makeup, and a little jewelry, Heidi was radiant.

Excited, and full of nervous anticipation, we drove to Debbie Bailey’s lovely property, arriving a couple hours before sunset. She had her horse Disney beautifully groomed and ready for the shoot. Disney stood patiently tethered to a tree with a pool of bubbles at her feet from her bath, her tail a glossy stream of waves from Debbie’s ministrations.

Disney ready to go
Disney and Debbie

The six of us, plus Disney, trooped around the grounds to scout out the best locations. We started in a field of tansy, which Debbie had agreed to leave until after the shoot after I commented on my earlier visit to her property that I liked the color they would add to the photos. (Since tansy, or ragwort, and horses don’t mix, I’d be willing to bet she cleared the area the very next day.)

Kelly assisting with light reflector
Bob and Heidi

Our second location was in a field of dung. Not what you or I would pick as lovely surroundings, but Tara knows her stuff. The lighting was perfect, she said. The sun was beginning to dip behind the trees. The sky overhead was baby blue, streaked with fluffy white clouds. And I know Tara will be able to work her magic with the other stuff so it won’t show.

An unlikely setting

Debbie and I walked all over her property on my first trip out, and I had fallen in love with the wooded areas . They looked story-book perfect. So for our last location, Tara shot inside the forest near the “grandmother” tree. In the semi-dark of the wood, surrounded by every shade of green, Heidi’s dress and Disney’s white coat seemed to glow. Bob’s dark hair and jacket contrasted beautifully. I know all the pictures will be amazing and it will be hard to pick which photo to use for the cover!

In the woods

Since this is a divorce recovery book, I had not wanted a married couple to model for it. But since Bob and Heidi were exactly the “look” I wanted, I decided to ask them both to participate in the shoot. They were willing, even excited, to help. As it turned out, the date Tara had available fell on Bob and Heidi’s anniversary weekend. So Tara took extra pictures of the two, who looked like a prince and princess ready for the ball.

The whole experience was amazing. I’m thankful to all who participated, and to God for blessing us with good weather. (We could have done without the biting no-see-ums as the sun went down though!) I can’t wait to see the edited photos and decide which to use for the front and back covers.

This book has taken me years to write. God has used every moment of that time to do His work in me, taking me deeper into His Word, and holding me through many trials. I am anxious for it to go out into the world to help women suffering the anguish of divorce. God put me back together after my experience. I know He is the only One who can heal a shattered heart and make life new and wonderful again.

Please be praying for those whose hearts are broken and need God’s healing touch, and who you can give a copy of my book to when it is published. They will need your support of love and encouragement. And recommend it to pastors or counselors who might want this book in their library for the women to whom they minister.

Hopefully, my book will be out sometime in September. Until then, I will be hard at work on the final edits and design process. Thanks for coming along for the photo shoot; I hope you had fun seeing behind the scenes.

Retreat Opportunities Coming Up!

Needing to be refreshed this fall?

Check out the retreat for writers on September 24-26, 2021 on my Writer’s Life page. And watch for news soon about the women’s retreat on October 29-31, 2021 , here or on my facebook page. Both will be held at our vacation rental in Black Butte Ranch near Sisters, Oregon.

Contact me if you are interested in learning more or attending either retreat.

“Broken, Made Whole” Retreat Huge Success

Eleven women gathered at our Black Butte home for a time of spiritual and physical refreshment. In between sessions the ladies were able to bike, hot tub, walk, and shop. Sometimes in snow, sometimes in sunshine. Crazy spring weather!

The three sessions were: Broken By Choice, Broken Made Whole, and Broken and Poured Out. They represent the progression we make spiritually when we turn to Christ for “fixing.” First, we must choose to let our need for Him “break” us. Secondly, when the effects of this world, or others, or we ourselves cause brokenness in us, we can come to Jesus to make us whole. And even better and stronger than before. And finally, once we are mended by our Lord and Savior, He can work through us to help others heal and rebuild their lives.

I got word from a reader today who mentioned how timely the third message is in light of the fear and brokenness is being caused by the Corona Virus. So I want to share some of that message with you here, in hopes that it will encourage you today.

Broken and Poured Out

We are currently in the season of Lent (the forty days before Easter), a time when many fast from various pleasures in order to focus their hearts and minds on Christ. Believers everywhere celebrate Jesus for the sacrifice He made for us—so we might be spiritually whole. 

“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6).

We don’t like to think of our Lord and Savior as broken, but His physical body was torn and mangled beyond recognition so He could complete His mission as the Lamb of God. No one would abuse or mistreat a lamb intended as a sacrifice. They were nurtured and gently handled so they were not marred in any way—they had to be perfect in order to be acceptable. But Jesus, the perfect Son of God, was abused and tortured before His death on the cross.

Somehow, Jesus’ disciple Mary (Lazarus’ sister) understood His need for comfort and honor before the horror to come. She was moved by the Holy Spirit to perform a service of extreme devotion. Mary took her expensive alabaster jar filled with perfume and broke it to anoint Jesus’ body. Others tried to rebuke her, but Jesus praised her loving sacrifice.

“While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Mark 14:3-9).

Thankfully, God’s doesn’t put us back together only to sit us on a shelf. He wants to make us useful vessels. We will be talking in this last session about how to move from art on display into active servants for the kingdom.

1: Jesus’ Example

Read Psalm 22 aloud. What prophesies did Jesus fulfill in His death?

2: Broken AND Poured

How are we different when we’re merely broken than when we’re broken and poured out for God?

3: Sacrifice

What inspires you most about Mary’s complete surrender?

4: Made Whole to Restore Others

The most wonderful thing happens when the Lord heals our brokenness. We are not only beautiful and whole, but we join in His work!

“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. YOUR PEOPLE WILL REBUILD the ancient ruins and will RAISE UP the age-old foundations; you will be called REPAIRER of Broken Walls, RESTORER of Streets with Dwellings” (Isaiah 58:11-12).

Who is the Lord calling you to rebuild, raise up, repair, or restore by the power of His Holy Spirit? What are some practical steps you can take?

  • Acts of service
  • Words of encouragement
  • Helping left their burden
  • Teaching them God’s truths
  • Invited them ____________
  • Give ________________

#BethViceretreats

What’s New in 2020

Why did I think that after Christmas life would slow down and I would have time to catch my breath? Are you feeling the same way?

Each day of this New Year has come with it’s own delights and challenges. I have struggled through months of pain in my ankles which hindered my activities, including writing (who knew screaming ankles could make it hard to sit at a desk and produce sensible prose?). God, however, in His infinite wisdom, used my sprained right ankle to get me to the doctor where I received the number for a podiatrist. He knew my left ankle would then get much worse because of the added strain, forcing me to finally make an appointment and get a diagnosis and help for both.

Blessed relief! This is definitely an example of Romans 8:28. I am thankful for His healing and being able to walk and be more active again.

Just in time too, because lots of things are going on!

  • January 15-20: I am going to our Black Butte house a couple of days for a mini personal writing retreat, before I welcome four dear college roommates for our second Roomie Rendezvous since graduation. We are all pretty pumped!
  • February 22: Oregon Christian Writers one day conference in Salem. Heidi Gaul and I will be co-leading a critique session and workshop, “Incentives for Writing Disciplines.”
  • March 6-8: I will be hosting a Salem women’s retreat at Black Butte, “Broken, Made Whole.” This will include short teaching sessions followed by table talk discussion times.
  • March 27-29: I will be hosting a Writer’s Retreat at our Black Butte house. This should be a great time for writers to connect, work, relax, critique, and encourage one another.
  • April 4: I will be speaking at a Literary Tea at La Tea Da teahouse in Tillamook, OR on my book “Forty Days of Lint.” It is one of my favorite books–an Easter devotional with a humorous twist between lint and Lent. The five sections of the book are: Dryer lint–for times when we are spiritually dry and thirsty for the living water, Belly button lint–when we examine and evaluate what is central in our lives, Pocket lint–searching for attitudes and behavior we tend to hide, Clothing lint–about the importance of appearances, and finally Dust bunnies–those nasty little critters that hide in the hardest to get to places and require some deep cleaning.

This year, I am also one of the featured writers for Anchored Voices, written by an amazing group of women. They are full of wit and wisdom on life and God and family. If you’re not already a follower, check it out, and read my first post “Making Room for the New” on January 6. I think you might get hooked! anchoredvoices.com

That’s all for now. I will continue posting on my own blog here at Epiphany, and working to complete my divorce recovery book this year. Then hopefully my Revelation Bible study will soon follow.

It’s going to be a great year!

Upcoming Schedule

A recent getaway for two on my birthday

I am excited about my schedule in the coming months! Here is what is currently on my calendar. If you have an event (or would LIKE to have an event) you want to talk to me about, please send me a note on my contact link.

I’m especially excited after ten months of traveling back and forth, working long hours on the weekends, and spending lots of money, Kelly and I (plus crew and family) have finished renovating our vacation home in Central Oregon. It started out as a three bedroom 1,160 sq. ft. home to a six bedroom 4,400 sq. ft. home. We’ve been renting it this summer and will soon host friends, family, writers, church groups and others who need a beautiful place to get away and fill up on God’s Word and joyful fellowship.

  • October 12, 2019: Co-leading critique workshop “Critical Spirit or Help from Friends?” with Heidi Gaul at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference @ Rolling Hills Community Church, Tualatin, OR.
  • October 24-26, 2019: Hosting “Table Talk” women’s retreat at our vacation home @ Black Butte Ranch, OR.
  • February, March, or April: Hosting women’s retreat for women’s group from Salem, OR, details TBD.
  • March 27-29, 2020: Hosting Writer’s Retreat @ Black Butte.
  • April 4, 2020: Literary Event at La Tea Da in Tillamook, OR.

I hope to be adding new teaching opportunities over the winter months. In the meantime, I’ll be writing and sharing the JOY of the Lord.

#BethVicewriter #Christianretreats #writersretreat #authorspeaker

In the Valley of Need

I had to stop reading after the first line: “We move from the mountain of glory to the valley of need” (Wiersbe Bible Commentary on Matthew 17:14-21). What a concise description of life! Our mountaintop experiences don’t last forever—we have to go home from summer camp, the mission trip, retreat, conference, or exhilarating moment with God, and go back to everyday life. And we go because that’s where people are who need Jesus.

But I’m like Peter, once I get a glimpse of God’s glory on the Mountain I want to build shelters for everyone and camp out. Why leave?

When Jesus, Peter, James, and John came down the mountain they met a troubled crowd, the other nine disciples, and a distraught father. The disciples had failed to heal this man’s demon possessed son—writhing, foaming, screaming, suicidal. They huddled around their Master embarrassed and confused.

Jesus healed the boy and after the crowd left the disciples asked, “Why couldn’t we drive the demon out?” He had given them authority to drive out evil spirits and heal all kinds of sickness and they had returned from their first mission giddy with success. They were really going places! But this time they were powerless and the demon flaunted their inadequacy by tormenting this boy in front of everyone.

Jesus gave them three reasons why they had failed: they lacked faith (Matthew 17:20); they lacked prayer (Mark 9:29); and they lacked discipline (Matthew 17:21). Had they slacked off when Jesus took the other disciples up the mountain leaving them to minister to the crowd below?

The Bible doesn’t say why their faith waned, but I know how jealousy and comparisons can distract us from focusing on Christ and our mission. We see others getting blessings we wish we could enjoy. Our work suddenly seems like thankless toil. Then it happens, Satan attacks and we find ourselves helpless against the darkness.

This lesson came at just the right time for me, because next week I’ll be heading to the Oregon Christian Writers summer conference. It will be incredible! Keynote speakers, coaching classes, workshops, worship, building friendships with other writers, and hobnobbing with top editors and agents. I look forward to the encouraging Spirit-filled atmosphere. However, it can also be an opportunity for the enemy to drag me and others into jealousy and comparisons. Those of us not currently on the mountaintop with newly published books or articles, could begin to feel jealous.

Yet Jesus’ disciples who work in the valley are no less loved or important than His disciples with Him on the mountain. We all have mountaintop moments as well as valley days, and God is with us in them all. Our mission is not always glorious and inspiring; sometimes it’s just hard work. The important thing, I’m reminded, is to put our faith in God (not our own efforts), and keep on praying and living a life of discipline, so His authority can flow through us.  

There is so much need around us every day. I don’t want to stop the flow of the Spirit because I think I need to be someone else, or somewhere else. Wherever Jesus puts me is right where I’m supposed to be; I just need to be faithful to love those He brings my way and trust His authority to push back the darkness.

#comparisons #jealousyinministry #writinglife #faithprayerandfasting #discouragement

Welcome to my new website!

I’m so excited about this new website. It combines everything from my two blogspot blogs Epiphany and Finding Strength in God in one handy site. Plus it has many added features. The first is the Follow button, which will send you a FREE download not available on my website once you’ve signed up. And it will automatically send a notification to your email whenever I post a new blog, so you won’t have to constantly check to see if I’ve posted anything new.

Here you will be able to read my latest posts about the daily walk of faith and continue growing in your relationship with Jesus Christ. Or, find out more about God and decide whether you’re ready to begin your walk of faith with Him. (Please let me know if you do; I would love to celebrate with and encourage you!)

You will also be able to learn more about my books and click on links that will take you directly to the order pages on Amazon. (How ingenious!)

Also, on the menu bar under About Me, you can hear what I’m up to in the Writing Life, as I post teasers about current projects and my speaking schedule. Hopefully you will pray for me as I strive to honor God in all I do and help others find strength in Him.

Another great feature I’m so excited about is the FREE downloads. I want to help you grow in your knowledge of God and keep growing in every aspect of life–from prayer, to how you speak to others, to practicing a healthy lifestyle.

Thank you for checking in. I hope you will comment on my posts and let me know how you’re doing on this faith journey and what you’re struggling with. We need each other for support and encouragement along the way. So don’t hesitate to speak out.

Retreat Ministry

Since Kelly and I finished increasing the size of our rental home at Black Butte Ranch, Oregon, God has planted a new dream in my heart for retreat ministry. October 24-26 was the first women’s retreat at our house and God filled the place with laughter, tears, and deep heart-sharing. Thirteen women gathered from three different churches and two states and came together as one in the Lord. It was beautiful!

Our theme topics were: The Proverbs 31 Woman, Forgiveness, Grace, and Surrender. Each of the four Table Talk sessions were rich in discussion and encouragement from God’s Word.

In between sessions we ate delicious food and enjoyed free time walking or biking at the Ranch or shopping in nearby Sisters. They all agreed it was a perfect balance of deep introspection and time to visit, reflect, and get out in the sunshine. They also enjoyed the balance of healthy meals and yummy desserts!

God blessed our time with unusually warm weather and spectacular fall colors. We all left feeling like we had connected with God, each other, and the beauty of His creation. I’m very excited for the two retreats coming this spring and for whatever God might bring about in the future.