Stolen words – a few poems and the thoughts that inspired them

Hello, friends!

I haven’t shared much poetry on the blog lately, so I thought I’d share a few smaller poems here with you today, along with their backstories. Something about knowing the history of a poem just makes reading the poem itself so much more fun…at least in my book!

(I do share one poem a week over on Instagram, so if you aren’t following along there, click here to follow so you don’t miss a poem!)


voice in ink

I wrote this poem after reading a passage in Isaiah and wondering if I take God’s written Word as seriously as I would take a voice from heaven.

oh, soften my heart

to hear Your silent voice

and heed the ink

as though it were Your hand


bound

Oh, goodness, I love this poem so much.😅 This one was inspired by the song “Homeward Bound”, which (fun fact) my ten-year-old self sang as my audition for a part in a stage production of “The Sound of Music”! I didn’t get a part, but the song has a special place in my heart because of that memory, and also because it really does apply to my own story so well.

(I recommend listening to the song before you read.:))

you didn’t bind me to the pasture

never chained me to the plow

you set me free to find my calling…

I returned – for I bleed rain

the wind is in my heart and soul,

and I am restless

till I’m working, my feet rooted in this ground –

you set me free to find my calling…

I returned to you somehow.


mortality

This one I wrote after reading Francis Beaumont’s incredible poem “On the Tombs in Westminster Abbey”. This is one of my rare truly structured poems, and something about it makes me feel like it belongs in an old, faded hardcover!

the silence of the grave is roaring,

catching the ear of flailing man.

in the chaos of a crowd,

no voice e’er can speak as loud

and clear as death,

whose gasping song

alone can cause a man to see

the mist of his mortality.


Do you have a favorite type/style of poetry?

❤ Laurel

August Memories – 2022

August Memories – 2022

You know the routine…let’s cut to the chase!

Things worth remembering

  • The smell of new twine and hay
  • “Getting” to hear what it sounds like when a tire blows
  • All of the music, dance, and stories shared at my grandma’s memorial service
  • Singing around the bonfire with family and hearing my grandpa play the guitar
  • Getting to see and help set up my brother’s new apartment
  • The guys and girls singing together in the hallway on the youth retreat…the closed door in between the two groups only made for more giggles and louder scream-singing!
  • Misty mornings
  • Baseball and wading in the crik with friends
  • Baby Cchini (If you know, you know)
  • Hauling silage
  • Watching the goldenrod start blooming in the road ditches
  • my brother coming home a day earlier than he said he would
  • a road trip with my grandma, aunt, and friend
  • escaping the sketchy antique store and enjoying the beauty of a much better one

A gracious woman retains honor.

Proverbs 11:16a

What I’ve been reading

The Scarlet Pimpernel – Baroness Orczy

“Mr. Hempseed shook his head with an infinity of wisdom, tempered by deeply-rooted mistrust of the British climate and the British Government.”

I’ve been meaning to read this one for years, and I finally dug it out of the darkest corner of my bookshelf and started. I’m so enjoying the humor and the eloquent writing style!

(At this present moment, I have misplaced the book. Pray that it has the courage to once more show its face.)

The Best Yes – Lysa Terkeurst

We have to put our hearts and our minds in places where wisdom gathers, not scatters.

There are some real nuggets of wisdom in this book!

Today’s choices become tomorrow’s circumstances.

Lysa Terkeurst

From the journal…

With the privilege of being a partaker of the divine nature comes a grave responsibility: to live as the royalty I am.

Keep prying my fingers away from what is good and let me raise willing hands to receive what is best.

Love speaks the truth for the good of the loved, even when it hurts like crazy for both parties.

I want to work to build a legacy of souls, whether they remember my name or not.

Love produces a formidable strength in the lover…oh, Lord, may I love You with this passion that overcomes all obstacles!

Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, you people in whose heart is my law: do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their insults.

Isaiah 51:7

Question of the day: What book/poem/movie/show (barring the Bible) has influenced you the most, and why?

❤ Laurel

What is your gift?

What is your gift?

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:11)

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the gift of writing.

It really brings me so much joy. Being able to write poetry, blog posts, and pieces of flash fiction that encourage and bless others…man, it’s honestly such a fun blessing! But a while ago I caught myself talking about it with the Lord…

There were some other things I wanted, and I was bringing my requests to Him, just like He’s asked me to. In the middle of it all I caught myself saying, with vehement passion, “God, I would give up writing for that!”

It wasn’t until a few days later that the rudeness of that statement slapped me in the face like a putrid, rotting fish.

I seriously just told the God of the universe I didn’t want the gift He hand-picked for me.

Instead of marveling at the treasure and the weight of the commission He’d given me, I held it back to Him with the wrapping paper barely touched, tears filling my eyes, begging for a different gift in exchange.

Rude. Inexplicably, so despicably rude.


Why do you say, O Jacob,

And speak, O Israel:

“My way is hidden from the LORD,

And my just claim is passed over by my God”?

Have you not known?

Have you not heard?

The everlasting God, the LORD,

The Creator of the ends of the earth,

Neither faints nor is weary.

His understanding is unsearchable.

Isaiah 40:27+28


God, in His unsearchable wisdom, set me on the path of writing. He may not choose to keep me here forever, but it’s the gift and the task that He’s set before me in this season, and I’m blessed to be able to embrace it with joy and gratefulness, choosing to set my eyes on Him and not merely on the gifts He gives.

Will I place my identity in His gifts? No. Will I choose to use them for His glory to the best of my abilities? Absolutely! And I pray that you will do the same. ❤

What are some gifts/opportunities that God has given you in this season? How are you/can you be using them for His praise today?

❤ Laurel

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

A fall in the park – some pieces of flash fiction

A fall in the park – some pieces of flash fiction

Hello, friends!

This month I’ve been going through Jonathan Babcock‘s 1 Month of Creative Writing Exercises, and I’ve really been enjoying them!

The other day I was supposed to write three completely different scenes, where someone trips and falls in a park, then rolls over to find someone smiling at them. I got a kick out of writing these, and I hope you enjoy reading them, as well!


#1

“Sully! Is that you?”

Oh, no. That voice is all too familiar. I roll over on the sidewalk and see the suave smile I’d hoped never to see again after the day I walked out of Century High with no honors.

“Jared!”

Good heavens, he doesn’t even have the compassion to extend a hand to help his old high school rival. His carefully-arranged facial features never shift as I grunt and heave and shove myself into an upright position. I brush the dead leaves from my hair and shirt, wishing I was one of them. “I haven’t seen you in forever.”

“Evidently not much has changed.” Jared brushes an imaginary leaf from his own immaculate shirt sleeve.

#2

The little girl rolled over, tears starting in her eyes. Her knee was burning, and no doubt bleeding from the sudden contact it had with the walking trail.

“Hey, are you okay?”

The boy standing over her couldn’t be more than six years old. Orange hair poked out at random from his hastily-donned cap, and his green eyes expressed concern.

“Uh, I think so…my knee really hurts.”

“Gee, it really hurts when you skin your knee. I did that the other day, and I couldn’t run right for a while.” The boy got down next to her and looked at the wound. “Hey, it’s not that bad! My mom’s right over there; she’s got some bandaids.”

#3

“Hey, do I know you?”

Dave sure hoped the girl didn’t. He hastily scrambled to his feet, wincing a bit as his scraped knees protested the movement. He took a closer look at her. “Uh…”

“Youth group!” She pointed in sudden realization. “You’re the new kid! David, was it?”

“Uh, yeah!” He squinted, and she grinned. 

“Kathy.” She shifted the backpack she had slung over one shoulder and stuck out a hand. “Nice to meet you again! Are you okay?”

“Just scratched.” David took a closer look at the girl and decided he better not play up his injuries. She looked like she could fight a bear and come out victorious.

Which story was your favorite? Do you enjoy writing exercises? If you’d like to access the resource 1 Month of Creative Writing Exercises, click here to subscribe to Jonathan’s newsletter!

❤ Laurel

Photo by Lynn Danielson on Unsplash

July Memories – 2022

July Memories – 2022

Goodness sakes…this was most definitely a month to remember.

You know the writing challenge I told you I was doing this July? Well, I got about 5k words written of the 20k I wanted. But I’m going to let myself be okay with falling flat on my writer’s face, because this month took the cake in terms of real-life plot twists and adventures. So much of it made me laugh. A lot of it made me cry. But I saw God’s hand and knew His presence so clearly this month, and we’ll close it out in His praise. ❤

One life. Just one. Why aren’t we running like we are on fire towards our wildest dreams?

Unknown

Things worth remembering…

  • Sitting by the lake and just drinking in the beauty of all of the sights and sounds and smells.
  • Taking goofy photos with my sisters.
  • Fresh veggies from the garden!!
  • Holding my brand-new cousin in the hospital…my heart! *happy sigh*
  • Being there with my family when my Grandpa left his earthly home to see the Lord face to face. I had never experienced anything like that, and the raw pain and beauty of that evening was beyond belief.
  • Lots and lots of hugs. ❤
  • Completing 20 revolutions around the sun.
  • Gifts and a handmade birthday card from some guys in my youth group…they have no idea how much that made my week. ❤
  • Bingeing Doctor Thorne with my Grandma into the wee hours. 11/10 recommend.
  • Wildflower bouquets.
  • French fries.
  • A weekend with cousins…the sweetest and weirdest memories made with the sweetest and weirdest souls. May Morgan, the Jensens, the fruit kabobs, and the couch (was it really free?) live forever in our hearts.
  • Getting my brothers graduated!!!! Another weekend with cousins and the dearest friends.

Soon shall end this earthly story, swift shall pass the pilgrim days, hope soon change to heavenly glory, faith to sight and prayer to praise.

Henry Francis Lyte

What I’ve been reading

Behind the Act – Abigayle Claire

“I should hope not,” the red-headed teenager replied, bouncing on his toes. “Welcome to The Magnificent.” He gave a dramatic sweep of his arm to the cramped lobby.

I’m not very far in this one yet, but I’m excited to see where this story leads! I love Abi’s descriptions…they make me feel as if I’m right there in the book!

The Story Jar – Robin Lee Hatcher & Deborah Bedford

“I knew all about Jesus from Sunday school and knew all the right things to say and what I was supposed to believe. But I never knew Him.

I wasn’t sure if I would like this book, but it pleasantly surprised me! The stories were heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time, and the perfect read for a road trip.:)

The McWilliamses and the Burglar Alarm – Mark Twain

He looked confused and ashamed, and said, with embarrassment, “I beg a thousand pardons. I did not know you had a burglar alarm, else I would have rung it.”

Oh, this short story gave me a good laugh!

say goodbye to where you’ve been // and tell your heart to beat again // let every heartbreak and every scar // be a picture that reminds you // Who has carried you this far

“Tell Your Heart to Beat again” (Performed by Danny Gokey)

From the journal

A new month = new mercies.

My mood is very fragile…I woke up and the fact that everyone had polished off the bagels before I’d had one nearly ruined my day. (I have to laugh at myself sometimes…XD)

I was getting a headache, borderline snapped at people, and morphed into a silent, weary, glowering, ham-gobbling state of torpid existence. (…) Oh, Lord, let me bow only to Your heart, not the selfish dictates of my own.

It’s one thing to grapple with death. It’s another to realize that someone will never again be in your life, making new memories with you.

The Spirit in me is the one that gave Samson his strength; give me the strength, Lord, to love fully and abundantly, and to live this day to the hilt.


How was your July? What were the highlights? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

What is that to you? – a hard look at comparison

What is that to you? – a hard look at comparison

Whether we like it or not, comparison seems to be ingrained into our very souls…or at least, the very soul of our culture. I never thought I had a significant problem with comparison because I truly love my life and don’t obsess over what people think of me…

But the whispers still come…

I’m not doing what she’s doing. Does that mean I’m not doing enough? She’s writing so many more words than I am…and is doing it better than I am? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I seem to keep up?


There are so many people in the Bible that fascinate me, but Simon Peter takes the cake. My soul has a good laugh (or sometimes a good cry) whenever I read about him because he’s just. so. relatable. I’m glad I’m not the only Jesus-adoring soul who talks too soon, too much, and too thoughtlessly. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has had to work through my own unfaithfulness to realize Christ’s faithfulness is unfathomable.

And I’m glad I’m not the only disciple Jesus had to call out of the comparison game.

In the last chapter of John’s account of the gospel, Jesus has just told Peter, “Follow me.” And what does Peter do?

What most of us do, honestly.

He turns around and looks at someone else.

John. The beloved disciple. The favorite. The one who didn’t deny his Lord three times after vowing to die for Him. The one whose seeming perfection likely made Peter feel more ashamed than he already was.

“But what about him, Jesus?”

I can just see Jesus turning to Peter, looking him straight in the eyes, and replying,

“What is that to you? You follow Me.”


Jesus doesn’t ask us to look to those around us for condemnation or validation. He simply calls, simply and clearly, for us to walk after Him.

What is it to me if my journey looks vastly different than the lives of those around me?

I’m to follow Him, and that is all that matters.


Let’s jump out of the comparison game, friends. Let’s take a hard look at ourselves in the light of God’s word and leave the clamor of the world behind. There’s only one Voice whose approval truly counts.

❤ Laurel

Once I Knew – Book Review

Once I Knew – Book Review

Welcome to my review of one of my new favorite books!!!!! I don’t habitually binge-read anymore, but I tore through this one in about a week. (For other more voracious readers I know this is nothing, but check my Good Reads to see how often it is I actually finish a book. XD)

First, we need to talk about the cover. The cover. Isn’t it gorgeous??? The golden light, the font, the cloak, the everything. This cover makes me so very happy. *smiles dreamily*

Second…

The blurb

Violet lives her quiet life in her sleepy village, trying to remain as dead to the politics that are threatening their world as possible. She follows the rules, stays out of trouble and does her best to remain out of sight from the dreaded and overbearing Kingsmen.

With the new regent on the throne till the prince comes of age, the country has been thrown into a turmoil. Unlike the kindly king before him, the new ruler is overbearing, frightening and tyrannical in his rule. Taxes are bleeding the people dry and without the money or goods to pay, they have been forced into penal servitude and imprisonment by the Kingsmen, who show no mercy. The despair and fear that has taken over their lives has ruled out any level of hope.

When Violet stumbles upon an unconscious and injured Kingsman in the woods, despite the consequences, she is compelled to take care of the injured man. When he wakes and has no memory of his identity or past, she takes the only precaution that will keep her and her grandmother safe; she destroys the evidence of his past life.

If Violet’s lowly Kingsman regains his memory, will she survive the consequences? And will the Kingsman be able to live with his past life? Who will fight to free Elira?

Loyalty cannot be bought, and integrity should not be sacrificed at the hand of tyranny.

Violet Frell (Once I knew)

My thoughts

Not many books literally change the way I live and see the world…Once I Knew did. The part of the blurb that originally caught my attention was the forgotten identity and the political turmoil…and while I do love that aspect of the story, the themes of redemption, forgiveness, and courage, plus the way Victoria didn’t shy away from including God in this non-magical fantasy in a powerful way are what made this story stand out to me.

More things I love about Once I Knew

The multiple POVs.

I really enjoyed getting to see the story from one character’s point of view, and then see that same character from another character’s perspective! It gave me such a good sense of each character’s strengths and weaknesses.

The characters.

I have a huge soft spot for the strong, fatherly figures, the grandmothers, the sweet, tenderhearted-yet-manly side characters…this book delivered. Also, the character development in the main characters (and their friendship) was so inspiring.

The inclusion of God, prayer, and righteousness.

I’ve noticed that books in the fantasy genre tend to simply have a “God figure” or good morals – know I’m not bashing this at all; I really enjoy books like this! – and so I was delighted to find that the characters in Once I Knew have real, believable, life-changing relationships with the true God. This truly made the book so powerful and life-changing, and there were some scenes with spiritual breakthroughs that had my heart in a puddle.

The romance.

Victoria handled the romance so. well. There were no uncomfortable kissing scenes (well, there was a kiss, but it wasn’t gross or way too soon XD) or cringey emotional things. Just a sweet romance between two friends who had solid character and a deep love and respect for one another.

The forest setting and all of the references to light.

I love the great outdoors, and so all of the references to trees, fields, and golden light were the best!

You have only ever pushed me to discover the purpose for which God made me, shown me a hope that has made me serve a higher calling, and propelled me to pick up the destiny for which I was created.

*someone* (Once I knew)

The above quote…*sobs*

All the fun links

Purchase your signed copy of Once I Knew here!

Or snag a copy on Amazon here.

A custom playlist for Once I Knew?? Yes, please!

Check out Once I Knew‘s Pinterest board!

About the author

Victoria Lynn has an insatiable desire for truth, light and beauty.

Traveling to destinations of beauty created by our Heavenly Father, reveling in creative pursuits that fill her with joy, or pouring her heart into words of life are some of her favorite things to do.

She seeks to bring the life giving words of the Savior to a dark and broken world that desperately needs to know of His sacrifice.

A writing and publishing coach, author, journalist, seamstress and creator, she loves spending time with any of her 8 siblings, exploring her native state of Michigan, and sewing gowns fit for a princess.


Be sure to check out Victoria’s website, subscribe to her newsletter, and give her a follow on all the socials!


(Also, quick note: I got to meet and spend some time with Victoria this spring on the Glory Writers retreat. She is the sweetest, and I so admire her courage, talent, and fiery heart for the Lord! Her Instagram account is also one of my favorites, so be sure to check it out.:)

Have you read Once I Knew or any of Victoria’s other books?

June Memories – 2022 (+ writing update and prayer request)

June Memories – 2022 (+ writing update and prayer request)

Hello, friends…and happy Independence Day!

Also…we are half-way through 2022, so…there’s that.

Things worth remembering

  • The first cutting of hay this season (!!!)
  • Late night conversations with siblings
  • Working on a book of children’s poetry for my little sister
  • Researching cocaine and ramen noodles
  • Realizing that it’s a good idea to bring bug spray if you want to enjoy a summer hike without being eaten alive
  • Finding all the weird selfies my sister leaves on my phone…(does she realize I can one day use them as blackmail?)
  • putting together aesthetic collages for the main characters in my WIP (work in progress)
  • checking my poetry book out of the library I grew up visiting! Probably the most surreal piece of being a writer thus far.🥺

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day; for surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off.

Proverbs 23:17-18

What I’ve been reading

God is My Co-Pilot – Robert L. Scott Jr.

I’ve been reading this one for some research I’m doing…it’s the autobiography of a WWII fighter pilot, and goodness, was he ever a naughty little boy!XD It’s been pretty enjoyable, although I get a bit lost in all of the pilot jargon sometimes.

The Scourge – Jennifer A. Nielsen

The total time I had been able to stay out of trouble: one hour.

Almost a record for me.

Weevil and Ani’s friendship and banter…*swoons* I’m so enjoying this book.

Once I Knew – Victoria Lynn

He had seen the pain, the evil, and the sin within him, had lifted his face in gentle hands, caressed it as a father does a child with a nightmare whose tears streak their cheeks, looked him in the eye and said:

“I love you. All of you.”

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This book. I can’t even tell you how much I needed to read this one. Not only is the theme incredible, but the plot is so tight, the pacing incredible, the characters endearing…

And can we talk about the romance?? The romance is beautiful…and you have to understand that this is coming from the girl who cringes through most bits of romance in books and runs for popcorn during sappy parts in movies.XD The true love and restraint shown by the characters…I wanted to cheer and shout for joy. Please can we fight for such reform in the romance genre?

*tumbles off soapbox*

Anyway…I have an official review of the book coming up soon…plus an interview with the author! Stay tuned!

We must determine to be limited and concentrate our affinities.

Oswald Chambers

From the journal…

Oh, Lord, I only conquer in Your strength. Be my mighty defense…let me love what You love and hate what You hate.

I was so cranky today. …finally ate lunch. I hadn’t eaten anything and was so hungry and cranky. (Just keeping it real…)

Let ours be a story that makes people shake their heads and murmur in awe, “Only God could have worked such wonders.”

Whatever the future holds, Father, keep my heart soft and obedient.

The church must set aside what is good so that we may be about the business of what is best. And so must I…soul, defend yourself against distraction from what is highest and holiest.

Because of Christ’s blood shed to atone for my sins, God no longer sees any of my blemishes, and rejoices over me like a man head-over-heels in love with his bride. He delights in me. He wants me. The Master of the universe is enraptured by what He sees in me. Oh, Jesus, it is all because of You!

Oh, Father, make me like Abel, who, though he is dead, still speaks through the story he left behind. Let my life echo Your goodness and grace long after my voice is silenced.

Comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.

David Foster wallace

Writing update + prayer request

Disclaimer: I’m okay. Don’t freak out about the prayer request part.XD

About the writing…

I haven’t worked seriously at drafting a novel since last November, when I attempted NaNoWriMo and got 11k words in before I became an emotional dumpster fire. (A translation for the sane people in the world: NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it’s a time in November when maniacs armed with laptops decide to quit life for a month to write a novel, or 50,000 words, in November.)

After that experience, novel writing got shoved to the back burner as I scribbled poetry, published a poetry book, lived normal life, and scribbled more poetry.

Honestly, I was scared of attempting a novel again.

But a story idea kept haunting me. And haunting me. And haunting me.

I started sharing the concept with some friends, and the responses I got poured fuel on the fire of my desire to see this book through to publication.

So here I am again…committing to the goal of writing 20k words on this new heart project this July. And praying. A lot.

I’d love it if you would join me in prayer for this project. To me, this concept is more than just another story. Bits of it have been brewing in my mind since I was eleven or twelve…and so many topics that are near and dear to my heart have found their way into this book. It’s amazing to see how God has helped me to pull so many different elements of my experiences and passions into one story!

Last July I wrote 20k words for a story full of heartache and confusion. This July, I want to pour out 20k words of healing and redemption. Eeek! I only have a few thousand words written so far, but already I can’t wait to share this story with you all. ❤

When I hit 30k words on this project – which I’m currently terming Project Redemption – , I’m going to start sharing more details about it on Instagram…so if you aren’t following along there, click here so you can join the tribe and be among the first to hear updates!


What were the memorable pieces of your June? Writers, what’s been flowing from your pens/keyboards of late? Readers, what books have captured your imagination lately? I’d love to hear in the comments!

❤ Laurel

when You veil the way – a poem

when You veil the way – a poem

Hello, friends!

I recently found this poem unfinished in my drafts from 2020…finished writing it and decided to share it with you.:)


walking by faith

in the midst of the storm

in the dark of the night

when the veil isn’t torn

when the answers You give

aren’t revealed to me yet,

still I’ll trust

(trust Him, my soul)

songs in the night

are the comfort You give

and the peace You hold out

every day that I live

is the strength of my heart

when my courage has died…

still I’ll trust

(trust Him, my soul)


Trust isn’t a feeling. Sometimes trust is a dogged clinging to God’s promises when everything within us is screaming to forsake the vision of the promised land and return to what we can see.

Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.

Job 13:15b

He is faithful Who promised!

❤ Laurel

Photo by Rebecca Prest on Unsplash

Maranatha – a poem

Maranatha – a poem

The more brokenness I see in the world, the more I long for the beauty of eternity with the perfect Creator.

do you ever fear that

the beauty of those days –

so sweet

so innocent

so unbelievably right –

may never come again?

because I do.

I stand here, staring at brokenness,

and I weep.

I weep because all of this used to be

so sweet

so innocent

so unbelievably right…

but now?

now it’s ugly.

not even ugly…

it’s commonplace, and that’s what I fear.

I fear the current of the commonplace.

I ache for the thrill of

unthrottled beauty

innocence

sweetness…

righteousness.

each piece of my soul aches for all of this to be

right.

for all of the broken farewells –

the goodbyes that weren’t good –

to be made right.

for all of the loneliness to be

washed away in the

waters of unity.

for all of the hatred to

dissolve in forgiveness.

for all of this –

all of us –

to be healed.

oh, my soul screams,

maranatha!

Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash