The Writer's Journey: Crossing the Threshold
In the shower, I asked the Lord what writer's conference I should go to. I heard, "Colorado." Sure enough, google said there'd be one in less than a month, registration was still open, and one of the women God's been highlighting to me would be there as well! So, mountains...here we come!
As time drew near, my spirit started to realize that this was going to be a pivotal week for my writing career. I kept telling my husband, "Honey, I feel like I'm about to walk through a threshold. I feel like the ocean is before me, and I'm about to start walking across it. I feel like things are about to change." I kept seeing a vision of an open door and how I would have to choose if I was going to walk across it... or not. Over and over, I told my husband, "I feel like I'm about to cross a threshold."
Ever taken a class that kind of exploded the whole way you see the world??
When I took my first poetry writing class in college, that happened! I realized I'd processed my whole life through poetry and never knew it til that class. I even read my thick history textbooks the way a person reads poetry... and you just can't do that. All I learned in history was how to edit fussy writing, rewriting the first few paragraphs of each chapter. Sadly, I didn't learn history. Poetry class was the beginning of walking out the way God made me, and my whole world came into focus.
That also happened last year when I took a Prophetic Training class. They used vocabulary I'd never heard of, but I realized that's how I have always operated in my time with the Lord. I just didn't know what it was called. And I didn't know anyone else operated in those ways either! No one had ever taught me before! Everything got clearer!
At the conference, I took a Screenplay Writing class taught by Brian Bird that likewise blew up the way I read the Bible and the way I understand my own journey as a writer.
(Mr. Bird writes and produces When Calls the Heart... the smartest writing for a show I've ever seen! My husband and I are hilarious watching that show. If we miss one word, we rewind it. It's THAT good! I will kick my legs and squeal or jump up and down or yell. Imagine a guy watching a killer football game... that's me, watching When Calls the Heart! We just recently heard about it and only have time for TV like once or twice a month. So we're only in the second season of the show. It's on Netflix, people! Join me and watch it!)
Before the writer's conference, I prayed through which classes to take. I questioned the Lord as He highlighted this class... Lord, you do know that I'm a poetry girl? And yet you have me writing a non-fiction book? And you want me in the Screenplay Writing Class? Don't you think the Book-Launch class makes more sense? I LOVE that His ways are not our ways! And I'm so glad I trusted His lead!
Mr. Bird introduced us to the 12 stages of a hero's journey. These come from Vogler, a man who studied all the epic poems and stories for common milestones of the hero and shared his findings in a mysteriously called "The Writer's Journey."
As Mr. Bird spoke about the first few stages, my heart swelled. I ended up having tears fall down my face in the middle of class!
Stage 1.) The Ordinary World: the normal place a hero lives before he's pulled into another world.
Stage 2.) The Call to Adventure.
I thought of David-his normal world watching sheep before he's called into the adventure of becoming king. As Mr. Bird continued teaching Vogler, the Bible leapt out at me. With even fresher wonder, I marveled at the Author of our Faith and his epic story writing. He is who I model my poetry after. He is who I model my parable writing after. And now I see, He is who I will model my story-telling after.
Stage 3.) Refusing the Call: the hero is often reluctant to get involved until something forces them into battle.
As I listened, the Holy Spirit moved from highlighting God's stories in the Bible to highlighting the story He is writing in my life. He reminded me of my recent struggles with accepting the Call. I realized God is kindly letting me be a faulty "hero" of sorts in my own story. And I grieved at the very recent raw moment I had with the Lord, telling Him I'm not sure I want this job. At the bottom, I'll link to my own wrestle with the thought of public ministry and any small bit of fame that may come with it.
Mr. Bird said that the hero is sometimes forced into committing to the Call due to what's at stake. That's when I remembered a powerful conversation with the Lord that went like this:
"Lord, I hate the thought of being in the public eye! I hate the way media treats those in the lime light. I want nothing to do with it!"
"What do you hate more? Losing your life to the public eye or eternally losing those who won't hear the Good News in any other way than through this book?"
Sheesh. Talk about stakes being high. That conversation compelled me to take this call to write.
Stage 3.) Meeting with the Mentor: when an older, wiser teach or coach helps the hero decide.
Stage 4.) Crossing the Threshold: when the hero finally commits to the adventure and enters the special world for the first time.
WHAT?!?!? That's when the tears began to dribble down my cheeks. God was not only inviting me into an adventure, but beautifully showing me the process right here in class. My conversations with my husband about crossing the threshold flooded back to me. My conversations about how publishing feels like a foreign world with cultural norms that I just can't figure out yet came flooding back to me. Public ministry and publishing are both foreign worlds that I'm called into. Now, here I am. Deciding if I will walk over that threshold.
After class, I was overwhelmed with all the Holy Spirit was speaking while Mr. Bird taught class. I just laid my head in the crook of my arm, right there on the table and cried. I began seeing the way I interact with my world and journey in a whole new light. This felt big. A kind woman, Linda Evans Shepherd, saw me crying and prayed for me. That prayer was one of my first steps toward the threshold. In hindsight, it was my first "meeting with a mentor," someone older and wiser who could speak and pray into this journey ahead.
I was thankful I didn't wear make-up that day or I'd have looked like a racoon. I dried my eyes and headed toward the cafeteria. On my way, the Holy Spirit nudged me to take a detour through the auditorium, where the walls were lined with tables of books for sale. I felt the Lord lead me past hundreds of books and back around to a back table. I stopped and looked down. The first book my eyes fell on was the last copy of "The Writer's Journey." (Now in my family, we just don't take the last bite of the brownies or the last package of chicken on sale. So I wasn't about to snatch up this last copy of the book that the whole class was now sold on. But I did pick it up and curiously flip it open.
Page 127: Crossing The Threshold!
My jaw dropped and I took this photo for evidence!
So, yes. I went ahead and ate the last bite of the brownies that day. (So sorry, classmates. But how could I not?!)
Well, the story gets even better! That week, I met with agents and publishers. All I can say is that God gave me ridiculously undeserved favor. But as a career and a ministry in writing began to feel real, I had one more trial where fears rose up and threatened me again. "Don't cross the line!" The fear grew loud. All I could think of was a woman I just met. She was older and wiser and I needed to find her. The Holy Spirit asked me to leave the last main session and go to "the prayer room." And there she was! Right across from where I read page 127! The Lord sent this humble, kind woman to pray with me. She hugged me and prayed the armor of God on this reluctant, faulty "hero." We attacked the enemy of fear on our knees in a back room. I determined that fear wouldn't stop me from God's call on me.
After a whirlwind of a trip, we stopped at our favorite breakfast place in Longmont to meet my sweet baby brother. Lucille's always has a big wait for tables because their Cajun brunches are just that good. The cinnamon tea, the huge fluffy biscuits, the orange marmalade... all worth the wait. When we finally got a table in the back room, our waitress greeted us warmly:
"Well, I see you have made it passed the threshold!"
Now, who says things like that!?!? My husband and I looked at each other with our eyes bugged out and our jaws in the marmalade. Of course, I had to tell her the whole story--about feeling like I'm crossing a threshold before the conference, about the class with Brian Bird, page 127, the women who prayed for me, and now her! I told her she prophesied out of her very mouth when she said, "It looks like you crossed the threshold!" God used her words to confirm my steps and ability to work and pray through the fears holding me back. And I thanked her for being part of my story!
"That's some crazy synchronicity!" remarked our sweet waitress, Carolina.
Well dears. God sure writes a good story in our lives. As I invite you into my story today, I want to encourage you to see your own...
He has a call and promises and good things laid up for you in advance for you to fulfill.
I pray for you today, that God opens up your world and your eyes, to see the call and the steps ahead of you. May He bless you and keep you and make your face to shine upon you and give you peace. I send you lots of love today.
And I'm so grateful for the chance to share a little bit of my journey with you. Thank you for your prayers and for walking along on this road with me!
Need encouragement as you write your own screenplays, stories, or do whatever thing God is calling you to? Then read: Screenplays, Ballet, & All Things .
I mentioned this in "Stage 3. Refusing the Call." Here's the link for an insightful post on fear of fame, the cost of ministry, and the call to write.