December 26 Newsletter
12/26/2020 10:57:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles

Christmas has come and gone...

Can you believe, Christmas has come and gone? Sheesh. I know many are praying for 2020 to be over but I hope you are looking at the joys and not the hardships of the year. Looking at the joys will launch you into 2021 with a brighter attitude.

SOOOO! We are coming down to the wire. January will begin your weekly newsletters and additional assignments. The assignments are set to start the second week of Jan. These are just additional learning opportunities. You don't need to return them because they are purely for you to use at home. Since we are only a weekend conference, we try to give you a bit more to keep in your toolbox.

Since our meeting at the Cove with their staff, we are looking at exactly how to send our virtual conference out the best way. We had hoped for over 100 to sign up for the virtual conference but that has not happened. So we are looking at the most cost effective way to get the conference to those who have signed up. You'll be getting information on that later in January and just how you will connect. So until end of January, don't sweat it. We're working to get everything in place. We'll contact you via email and let you know exactly how to watch live. REMEMBER, when you get the email with the information, HOLD ON TO IT. IT WILL ONLY GO OUT ONCE. So hold on to it so you are able to connect.

Our bookstore will be open with social distancing in place. Please plan to visit our bookstore and purchase a few books by our faculty. This is one of the ways we thank them for accepting peanuts for payment to teach. :) CONTESTS ARE STILL GOING ON. AND our virtual folks are able to enter. If you are virtual please visit the contests page and contact Terri if you wish to participate. She is having to coordinate appointments for you as well. Know that your appointment may come after the conference or maybe before. You will be contacted by the person you are wanting to meet with. If you want to enter the Sparrow Award Book contest, send in an entry. This is for unpublished manuscripts. ENTER THE CONTESTS. It's good practice and a nice pat on the back for your hard work.

Mentoring - We will be doing mentoring in a very safe environment. And to our virtual folks...we will set up mentoring appointments with you via phone or zoom. So if you want to participate - register and contact Terri for these things. Just because you are virtual does not prevent you from being a part of the full conference.  

Classes - Our classes are updated and now showing on the site. There is a schedule of the times as well. Our main track will run Friday afternoon, all day Saturday, and Saturday night. When you look at our schedule online, know that you will have a full plate of classes. Covid makes things a bit testy but we are working through it. 

Classes will stream live and then be posted for you to access for two months after the conference. After that, they go away. Please know that the expense of live streaming and storage is HUGE. We are walking in faith that God will provide (Are you ready for this? $6K) That is the cost for the live streaming. This is why we need you to encourage others to register. We always want to be good stewards of our money that God provides and we do trust that He will not leave us in debt. Our promise to this ministry was to never go into debt but to trust in the Lord our God for He is the provider of all things. Help us out and encourage your writer friends to join us live streaming or even in person. 

Check out the website for updates. Bear with us as we move through the Covid changes and hiccups. Please note, there are still references to last year's conference at Ridgecrest. I honestly thought I caught them all. But guess not.  THIS YEAR'S CONFERENCE IS AT THE COVE. Regardless of what your receipt says, we are meeting at the Cove, the Billy Graham Training Center and we can wait for you to experience this venue. Last year we were unable to attend at the Cove due to a fire, but this year - we are back up and running alongside our friends at the Cove. You will love it. Get your friends to register and sign up for the book contest and mentoring and critiques. We will make this happen with your help and prayer. God never lets us down. This conference sells out every year and we are trusting that it will sell out again.
Keep checking the conference newsletters. You should get them in your email but if you are not, check the site. We make it available so you are up-to-date.

Please keep those in our conference in prayer. Dee Dee Parker lost her sweet Mr. Jim yesterday. Edie Melson's family continues to mourn the loss of her daughter-in-love. Sherry Sharp's sister, Dianne is very ill with Covid. She was slated to attend our conference in February. Beth Fortune has been very ill and is managing to care for elderly parents. There is more as well. Please just pray for these folks and pray for our conference. We stand in the gap as intercessors of prayer.
Hope to Hold Out
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:28-32 NIV

My friend, Robin, bagged peanut butter fudge and a New Year's ornament that read, "HOPE," and placed it in my hand. "We have hope! Remember that." She hugged me and swiped my tears away. We were on our way to Vanderbilt for Tim's cancer surgery. I needed hope. I needed it more than ever knowing that once they wheeled him into surgery, I may never have his sweet kisses again. Little did we know that a couple of months later, Robin's husband would have cancer on his arm and that a few months past that, she herself would be struck with the evil touch of cancer. HOPE. We needed hope.

It's easy to lose sight of the possibilities found in hope. Life tends to bury our joys with hardships so heavy, so deep that the light we need to hold to, almost is squelched. Whether it's an illness, pandemic, job loss, death, depression - it doesn't matter. Hope can easily be snuffed out of sight. The only one who holds it firm is God. We have to keep grasping for the rope, snagging hold, and then hanging on tight.

I know 2020 has been dubbed the worst year ever. Folks joke about being anxious for it to be over, but it's not the year that is at fault. It's been a pandemic. It's been riots. Political upheaval. Hate. So, STOP! Just stop! You have to reach for the hope. It's there. REACH.

As I skimmed through Facebook, I saw the pain of a hard year. Many have lost loved ones to Covid, but not all. Others have lost loved ones through accidents, other illness, depression. That was when I decided to list my blessings. Could I even find ten? 
1) Tim is cancer-free
2)  My 93 yr. old momma turned 94
3)  I retired in the middle of a pandemic
4)  My agent landed me a book contract during a time when publishers are slowing down saying yes
5)  The Revell Team and I launched my third novel in June
6)  My Bible study groups worked through 4 full bible studies during a pandemic
7)  The church I attend was able to begin services in person again and manage it safely
8)  Our finances stretched further than we could have ever imagined
9)  We were gifted a vacation trip to the beach
10) My family, though some have experienced the toll of Covid, have weathered the virus
BONUS - my family was together for Christmas. 

There's more but I figured you'd get the hint with 10. My point is, I realize this has been a tough year for us all. The good news is...the GOOD NEWS. We still have Christ at the forefront. I set my sights on my writing. Getting back into the swing of daily writing, after all, I have a contract to fulfill. Maybe you don't have a contract, YET. But unless you write, you'll never have one. Remember, in the midst of all this rhetoric, we still have hope. Simeon held tight to the hope that he would see the Messiah. Every day, he tightened the rope around his wrist in anticipation and when he finally saw the Christ child, he praised God, now willing to succumb to his life's end.

We have hope for tomorrow. Hope for our dreams and goals. Hope for our families, our health, our lives. We have hope because God never fails us. Now, is the time to step up. Don't allow yourself to be buried in the muck of sadness. Step up and stretch toward hope.

My friend Robin - she's currently cancer-free. Her husband too. My husband three. It's been a long battle for all three of them but we held to the hope of a Christ who loves us more than life itself. 

Now set your goals. Shake off your boots and grab hold of the rope. The past is just that. The past. Look to the joy of a new future.
We will see you in February. Pens high in the air.

Much love,
Cindy Sproles
Director, Asheville Christian Writers Conference 


Kristy Sheridan From Dallas area At 12/28/2020 4:24:46 PM

Cindy, your post was a breath of fresh air and hope. Thank you for your take on blessings, it gave me needed inspiration. I will continue to lift you, your husband, the staff, and faculty, as well as the conference in prayer. I look forward to meeting you. Blessings, Kristy Sheridan

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