We stood in a meadow just before sunset. After months of prep and planning, it was about to happen. My lovely friend and cover model was transformed into a young heroine from 1890, the photographer was driving up in her car, and it was showtime. 

I was a blissful kind of happy.

It was a moment, heaven sent. May I tell you the story? Kind of like the circus itself, there’s a little more to it than what meets the eye…

Lionheart 10 - www.joannebischof

March 8th!

Jotted down on a calendar with a star. The big day.

I was like a little kid, waiting for those wagons to come ambling down the road, giraffes and elephants coming slowly into sight. But then snow flurries began to glisten in the air and the land became foggier and whiter and the word canceled was stamped across everything.

March 8th became April 5th.

Four whole weeks of waiting and hoping and watching the skies. Not easy for an eager little girl.

April 5th was only a few days away and then Rain. Rain. Rain. And April 5th was cancelled and moved.

My cotton candy was getting a little limp and soggy by now. My ticket in hand no longer valid. To dream of an outdoor cover shoot suddenly seemed crazy. No wonder publishers use green screens and Photoshop. Why oh why had I thought this plan was a good idea? I asked myself this over and over as we crossed days out on calendars and stared at weather reports in a state where it rarely perspires.

The model, the photographer, and my hubby (who was the worlds most awesome prop man) were all hanging tight for the newest “big day”. We quadruple checked weather reports and with clear skies ahead, settled in for go-time. That’s when the model texted me that she was under the weather. Heading to the doctor for pink eye.

You know those times in life when you sit there and all you can think of is “okay”? Okay. We’re going to put one small step in front of the other and we’re going to stand up. Then we’re going to walk across the room. Okay. we’re going to open our laptop and take a breath and somewhere in the midst of all the okays it begins to seep into you. That remembrance that we serve a big, big God and that it’s not only going to be okay but that it’s going to be a million times more than just okay. That it’s those four small letters that you hold onto as He steers you onward.

With two days to go until the shoot, I shot a quick note off to my insider team who immediately set to praying for the model, her little one who was also sick, and for me as I settled in again to a new set of plans that was quickly fading from God, can we make this happen? to God, what would you have me do? Nearly 40 women set to praying and I think that might have been the lesson. To simply stop everything and take a knee.

A quick round of antibiotics was in the works while we crossed off the date for photo shoot #3 and set a new one for #4. Fourth time’s a charm? Pretty sure we already missed the boat on charms but we were going for it…

Once our model was on the mend, we realized that rain was on it’s way for the new day chosen. Scribble-cross. Onto #5. Which only left us one final option and that option meant that the sun shining and the model’s college class schedule didn’t coincide. Let’s just say that I will forever be grateful for a girl who played hooky for an evening at the circus. 😉 

Lionheart 9 - www.joannebischof

As you know, this story has a happy ending. But let me back up a tiny bit because this behind-the-cover story isn’t quite complete unless I tell you this…

In the midst of those uncertain days when we were quickly running out of time to shoot this cover, and our meadow was being rained upon and even snowed upon and I was beginning to wonder why everything about this book had to be so darn hard, I called out to a friend with those horrible words that no one ever wants to hear themselves say – I give up.

I sank down to the ground and wondered why this book ever seemed like a good idea or why I thought this would be possible and as rain pounded against the windows, my friend became the strong when I had plum run out of strong. Because I told her that if Satan wanted this story, that he was about to take the trophy.

After two years of fighting for it to be published, two years of publishers saying thanks but no thanks, I was starting to catch the hint.

So while I stared down that thought, this dear friend sat me down and reminded me that this was the darkest hour. That just like with the stories we write, this was the black moment. She reminded me to hold on because…did I see it? The sun, it’s right around the bend.

“As I read what you wrote, maybe this is silly of me, but I got this picture in my head of Charlie’s wall inside of his wagon by his bed. The place where he’s notching the wall to count the days. The way each day gets harder and harder, but he keeps carving those lines because he knows– impossible as it seems, at the end of the day he still gets to carve that notch. And he’s that much closer to freedom, for Holland and for himself. Sometimes when we’re so deep in the mire of difficulty, all we have to hang onto is the promise of the notches. That even when every single thing around us is telling us it’s impossible and hopeless, there is still a single line, carved in a panel of wood, telling us that something is still happening. Telling us to press forward.

Can I be that little line in the wood for you today? To say– (oh, gosh, now I’m teary-eyed)–

This is worth it. Every single day matters, even when everything around you seems to be telling you otherwise. Every day brings Charlie and Ella and Holland closer to being set free into the world… and every day brings this story closer to setting others’ hearts free, too. Press on, my brave friend. Your words are precious and cherished and brave and true, and we need them. We need them because they’re His, and He’s entrusted them to you, and He knows just the moment that camera shutter is going to click and it will be *the one*– the very image to capture hearts and usher them into this book.”

I stood in a field, blissfully happy. Not because there was a pretty girl in a pretty dress for a pretty love story. But because God’s promises never fail. His mercies are new every morning. Because His timing is perfect.

I was so caught up in the delight of this happy evening that I only took three pictures of the shoot. The photo just below? That joyous moment when I clicked the shutter the same instant the photographer did. That moment that it was the one.

Lionheart 7 - www.joannebischof
Lionheart 6 - www.joannebischof
The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof