I had come to the point of exhaustion. I'd worked diligently to write, submit and connect. But nothing was moving. Was I truly meant to be a writer, or did I imagine it? I needed to get my head together — a clear vision for the road ahead. Was I only spinning my wheels?
Then, the opportunity to join the team for the first ever writer’s retreat at Mount Hermon Conference Center near San Jose, CA, presented itself. For years a stellar writing conference was held at that lovely wooded venue, but it was time to forge another path. Writers attend conferences often. It's a place to learn new skills, be inspired, practice the craft, create new connections and meet with publishers and agents. But a retreat is none of that. No busyness. No running to the next workshop, feverishly writing down notes that will be sure to translate into a published book. No feeling of panic as we meet with an industry professional.
A Retreat means Rest and Refreshment
So what is a retreat? It's rest, refreshment, and time alone with God, finding your next right step in this sometimes frustrating journey towards authorship. And yes, it can be about connections—with fellow writers on the same path. But the main focus is to listen. What is God telling me about my next step? Your life? My relationship with Him? The great thing about the Mount Hermon Retreat was the freedom to choose where my focus would be. No pressure to attend any of the soul-care and craft sessions or gather with other like-minded writers. I could spend the entire weekend communing with my Creator on the many paths through the towering redwoods or pray along the labyrinth.
Listening to God’s Voice
So, I listened. In the labyrinth. In the chapel. On the forest path among the towering redwoods, feeling quite small. And I found answers to three questions:
In the mix was an Instagram Makover class, Author Accelerator Book Coaching Certification course, and my newly joined Hope*Writers community. I assumed, since I purchase them, I needed to continue with the instruction and connection.
These are the answers I received:
I also had a pull (not totally surprising, since this is why I entered the writing field) towards memoir. I have lived an adventurous life, with ups and downs, challenges and disappointments. But God used those times to draw me to Himself.
He also made it clear as I contemplated my career in the chapel, that my words are like seeds sown in the world. Someday, they will grow to touch hearts with the truths of God's Word and eventually change lives. I can't do it, but He can—through me!
Have you taken time away for any reason to get your priorities in order? Or maybe you just needed a rest. Either way, we all need the opportunity to pull away from the busyness and listen. You'll be surprised what God will whisper in your ear.
This year, I’m going to be grateful for all the things I didn’t get or didn’t happen as I wished. And for the prayers God answered in the negative. I’m going to thank the Lord for the hard times — the low times — that knocked the wind out of me or caused me to slip and slide. I'll be grateful for those times I would categorize as disappointments or dead ends, and for people God surrounds me with who keep me humble — those who withhold praise, give criticism, or are uncomfortable to be around.
Why, you ask? Isn’t that a bit unorthodox? Or unconventional?
Yes. Well . . . No.
I am so honored once again to be a part of Tessa Afshar’s book launch team for The Way Home released by Moody Publishers. This time, instead of a Biblical fiction novel, Tessa has written a 6-week Bible study on a topic dear to her heart: women in Scripture who have found a new beginning and a deep faith. Although I have never met Tessa Afshar in person, I feel she is a kindred spirit in so many ways, and is dear to me!
When I discovered she was drawn to Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, I had part of the reason. The other part you will find in the videos and interview below. Enjoy and be blessed!
The Inspiration to Write
My MG Biblical fiction "The Heart Changer" debuted in 2019 with Ambassador International.