when i don’t know my heart…

i rest in the God who created, understands, and protects it.

the God who directs like the rivers of water

the heart of the king

is the God with me

before me

behind me

above me

beneath me

within me

loving me

chasing me

holding me

bracing me

saving me

from my fears

from the flood

from the fires

from sin

from myself

from all that is seeking to

kill and destroy

from the terror of night and the

heat of the day

oh, God! how? how is it that You

choose to defend such a

frightened, messed-up soul?

how do You keep on loving me

through it all?

someway…

somehow…

You do.

for that’s who You are.

my Lover.

my Defender.

my Father.

my Savior.

my Peace.

my Deliverer.

my Rock.

my Refuge.

my Joy.

my Love.

my Passion.

my Purpose.

my Beautiful One.

Let’s do a music swap!

Let’s do a music swap!

Who doesn’t like a good song or two or ten? Here are some of my recent favorites…

  • God is Good – Francesca Battistelli (This one just came out the other day… and I love it so much.)
  • Burn the Ships – for KING & COUNTRY
  • Speechless – Naomi Scott
  • Carry You – Ruelle
  • Help is on the Way – TobyMac
  • Overcomer – Mandisa
  • A Thousand Years – The Piano Guys
  • Prodigal – Sidewalk Prophets
  • Write Your Story – Francesca Battistelli
  • You Are Good – Point of Grace

What’s been playing on your life’s soundtrack lately? Let me know in the comments!!

-Laurel

Photo by rupixen.com on Unsplash

I’m getting published!!!

I’m getting published!!!

Guys… one of my poems is going to be published in this gorgeous book!!!

Am I bouncing off the walls? Maybe.

What Darkness Fears is releasing on October 13th… but preorders are now live! Preorder your copy here… and get some bonus preorder goodies!

Here’s the blurb:

Light Dawns in Darkness

Even in the darkest night, there is hope. This collection of stories and poems portray light in the darkness. Multiple authors in various genres take you on a journey from dark to light, from despair to hope.

Within these pages, you’ll discover teens locked in a hotel with a mind of its own, a young man on an adventure choosing the worst sort of companion, an author facing her own deadly characters, an arguing couple picking up a hitchhiker in the middle of the desert, a woman fighting an ominous monster on the high seas, a Headless Henwoman carrying souls to their afterlife, the god of mischief visiting the underworld, and other spooky stories.

I’m excited to read it when it comes out next month… and to see my own poem in print!😊

Highlights, Recent Reads, and Journal Snippets – August 2021

Highlights, Recent Reads, and Journal Snippets – August 2021

Without any ado…

*realizes that may be rather rude and abrupt and runs back to apologize*

*awkwardly explains that every. single. month. goes by so fast and is full of amazing things, but saying that in every. single. one. of these posts gets repetitive, and isn’t saying nothing better than being boring?*

*smiles and waves and runs off again*

Highlights

  • enjoying garden veggies
  • being at my church’s youth retreat!!!
  • writing more poetry
  • making a “volcano” in the sandbox with my youngest sister
  • making music videos with another sister
  • getting some exciting news (coming to you soon!!) about my writing
  • making pickles with sisters + my grandma
  • eating aforementioned pickles
  • chatting with friends
  • canoeing for the first time

What I’ve been reading

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

“… he shall never know how I love him; and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same…”

This book is so well written, but incredibly devastating. Don’t read it if you don’t want to hurt.

Beholding and Becoming – Ruth Chou Simons

“In the everyday mistakes or in the failures of a lifetime, God calls us out of hiding and pays the price for our freedom. We can stop fearing failure. Our regrets, mishaps, and mess-ups are no longer the final word over our lives. Jesus victory on the cross is.”

I love this book! Both the words and the artwork are so beautiful.

Devotedly – Valerie Elliot Shepard

“It is lost, I said to myself this morning. ‘Lost?’ said the Father. ‘Yes, lost,’ said I. ‘But I thought you had given Me those years?’ ‘Yes, Lord, I did. They were Thine.’ ‘Then they are not lost. They are kept in the heavenly storehouse. Someday thou shalt see the glory. Thou canst not see it now – thou seest only the appartent loss on earth. Thine eyes are blinded with fruitless longing. Look away to My eternal purposes.’ “ – Elisabeth Elliot

One of these days I’ll finish reading this… XD

Journal Snippets

Oh, God, let me be like that, a living challenge to others to become better for You.

Oh, Lord, let me marvel at the works of Your hands, but let me not desire them above You.

The excellency of the power is of God, not us. He will shine through my brokenness to point others to the light of His glory. Oh, God, thank you for using broken souls. Help me shed the shackles of yesterday’s self and walk in freedom.

Your turn! What were you reading/thinking/doing this August?

– Laurel

I’ll Hold Him – Flash Fiction

I’ll Hold Him – Flash Fiction

Everyone says he’s too big for me to carry now.

It’s probably true. His legs in his favorite Superman pajama pants (the ones that are way too short and ragged) dangle past my knees when I carry him piggyback, and I can’t run with him like I used to.

But I’ll carry him until he stops asking…

‘Cause I know that one of these days he’ll stop begging to be close to me. One of these days he’ll stop giving me butterfly kisses, chubby arms tangled around my neck, almost choking me. One of these days my shoulder won’t be the one he clings to and bawls on when his little heart gets broken.

One of these days he’ll think he’s stopped needing me.

I’ll hold him while I can.

Photo by Bethany Beck on Unsplash

1 year blogiversary + a few post roundups

1 year blogiversary + a few post roundups

It’s been over a year now since I started this blog! I thought it might be fun to celebrate by rounding up a few posts from the past year… so let’s do this!

Ranking is based on the number of times each post was viewed.:)

Top 5 posts

Top 5 poetry/flash fiction posts

5 of my favorite posts

5 of my favorite poetry/flash fiction posts

Thank you so much for sticking with me and reading my thoughts throughout this past year! It blesses me so much.:) I’m excited to see what this next year holds for this blog and my writing!

Collab with Last Year’s Self

I just found a blog post I wrote last fall and never published. A snippet of it really resonated with me today… so here it is in italics, with today’s thoughts following:

I don’t want to be the person I’ve been lately. I don’t want to be the sister who is so disorganized about her work/learning schedule that it somehow sucks up her life. I don’t want to be the friend who is so scatterbrained that she doesn’t respond to letters and texts or check in just to see if you’re doing okay. I don’t want to be the daughter who lives like home is just a landing field and runway.

Most of all, I don’t want to be the Christian of whom her God is ashamed.

I want to keep my priorities in the right place. My writing will one day be forgotten; the lives I have either strengthened or crushed will not. Work is so important… God loves diligence… but it cannot consume me. It cannot become an idol.

God needs to be first. I show my love for Him in the way that I love people…

…not necessarily in the way that I write… or in how well I mix feed for the cows… or in how many poems I churn out… or how successful I become in the world’s eyes…

But in the way I drop what I’m doing to truly listen when someone needs to talk. In the way that I shove aside my own plans to bless someone else. In the way I hold my tongue when harsh words are burning on my lips. In the way I choose to stay and love when everything in me screams to run.

In the daily, conscious choices to pick up my cross, die to myself, and choose to love.

God needs to come first in my heart… above everything. How I love God is proven in the way I love others.

It’s that simple… and that hard.

Edits and Life

Edits and Life

When I began edits on my novel a couple months ago, I started at chapter one, pen in hand, ready to take notes about what needed to be changed/eliminated/polished.

Not even halfway through the book I was nauseated, with pages and pages of my failures spread before me. I saw my story as worthless. Unredeemable. Messed up. Embarrassing.

I gave up.

Thankfully my family and friends wouldn’t stop asking me about it… so I slightly grudgingly promised to clean it up enough so I could let them read it without me cringing and regretting my existence for every second afterwards. (Dramatic? Perhaps.)

I started edits again last week, this time with a different approach. Before coming in with the dynamite, I decided to first look through my story and note all the things I loved about it…

And suddenly I remembered how much I love the characters in my story. How certain scenes make me so happy that I come back over and over to read them again. How the dialogue makes me laugh.. How little details like descriptions, random sentences, and tiny references to things in my own life bring a smile to my face.

Somehow, I’m now excited to keep working on this book.

It’s the same story. Just a different outlook.

Sometimes life is overwhelming, and I see my life story as worthless. Unredeemable. Messed up. Embarrassing.

I want to give up.

But when I look at my life story and look for bits of beauty and purpose…

I remember how much I love the people in my life. How certain moments of my life make me so happy that I come back over and over to think about them again. How conversations make me laugh or stop to think. How little details like sunrises, cozy hugs, and reminders of God’s purpose and love for me bring a smile to my face.

Then somehow, I become excited to keep living this life.

It’s the same story. Just a different outlook.

It’s my choice. I can look for the trials, the pain, the flaws in my life and become nauseated. Or I can look for the beauty that laces each day of this life and keep walking with purpose.

I choose the latter.

July 2021 Review

July 2021 Review

Hello, friends!

This July was incredible! It wasn’t all sunshine and roses… but I feel like it was so full of raw, beautiful life. I’ve really enjoyed looking back over the month, reviewing all the excitement that made it so beautifully messy and memorable. Here’s some of it!

Highlights of the month

  • Working in the malt wagon at the county fair for the first time
  • Trying to master the art of making waffle bowls
  • Turning 19
  • Running errands with sisters
  • Playing several competitive games of cornhole with my siblings
  • Singing a cappella with my family in an empty gym
  • Meeting my goal of writing 20k words for my current WIP (work in progress)
  • Chasing fireflies
  • Having a super fun and helpful interview with Victoria from Glory Writers
  • Listening to Sidewalk Prophets’ latest CD over… and over… and over…
  • Raking hay
  • Being reminded of the fact that I’m crazy blessed in the friend department
  • Processing… lots… of sweet corn

What I’ve been reading

Before We Were Yours – Lisa Wingate

I shush my mind, because your mind can ruin you if you let it.”

This book was sweet and enjoyable… in a heart-wrenching sort of way. I loved watching the two plot lines pull together… sometimes I can predict the ending of a book, but I really enjoyed how this one surprised me!

Why Memorable Writers Need to Experience Real Adventures – Christopher Babcock

“Adventure is a muscle you exercise whenever you embrace the unfamiliar over the mundane. The point is to avoid slipping into complacency and letting it become flabby. That requires commitment.”

Oof, this article was so good. It reminded me that I need to just get out and live! This would be a good read, even if you aren’t a writer.

Devotedly – Valerie Elliot Shepard

“I want to walk humbly and quietly with my Master, sensitive only to His wishes, not fluttering and eager with my own.” – Elisabeth Elliot

Yes, I’m still reading this one. I’ll finish it one of these days…:) It’s still so good!

Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle

“Life itself… is always far more daring than any effort of the imagination.”

Aagh, these are so much fun!

Journal Snippets

Odd how when there’s so much flowing through your heart and life that begs recording, the journal entries wane.

John 11:5-6… this fascinates me. Jesus loved them, so… He tarried. (Take that, oh anxious soul.) The beautiful, heart-wrenching drama of the story of Lazarus sinks into deep tragedy, then suddenly at the end swells into victory, leaving the audience in awe of this homeless man – Son of God. Jesus waited. He let hearts be broken so that His power might shine through in greater intensity. He took decaying hopes and brought them back to life, and life more abundant.

Let me rejoice at the beauty… but let me not cling to it.

Cleanse my heart, Lord… draw me nearer and nearer to You until You truly are enough for me. Let me rest peacefully in Your will while working hard.

Acts 3 – I never cease to wonder at how “they lifted him… and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.” The strength was given after the start of what was humanly impossible.

What made this July stand out to you? I’d love to hear in the comments!

In which I share my new favorite poem and ask for poetry recommendations

That moment when you’re reading a piece of poetry… and your heart starts crying in the weirdest mixture of joy and sadness and your mind screams, “Yes… yes… yes!!! That’s right!

That’s the moment I had earlier this afternoon when I read…

goodbyes.

Please, guys, go check it out. It’s beautiful. It’s difficult (for me personally, at least) to find poetry that so perfectly blends the experience of pain and joy in life with a right relationship with God, but this piece hits the mark dead on.

*whispers* Go read it.:)

Also… I’m trying to read more poetry, and would love some recommendations! Do you have any favorite poets/poems? Let me know in the comments… I’d love to check them out.:)

-Laurel