No Condemnation – Repost

No Condemnation – Repost

Hey, friends!

I originally shared this post last autumn… but it came to mind this morning.

I needed to read it again today. Who knows… maybe you do, too! If that’s the case, then here it is.:)

To be honest…

Some days I get so frustrated with myself for not being the person I want to be. Being me, I mess up, then start throwing accusing questions at myself.

Why can’t I get my life figured out?

Why did I do such an awful job at work today?

Why can’t I live up to everyone’s expectations?

Why can’t I live up to my own expectations?

I can so relate to the Apostle Paul when he writes in Romans 7:15, “…what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”

Cue the sickening feelings of guilt, insufficiency, and sinfulness. Right?

Wrong.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” – Romans 8:1

This is one of my favorite Bible verses ever. Are you serious? No condemnation???

I’m floored by the fact that the God who looks into my heart and knows my sins even better than I do is the One who loves me with such passion and faithfulness. This incredible love compelled Him to take on Himself the full punishment for my sins. He received all of my condemnation on the cross.

God isn’t calling me to beat myself up over my failures… He’s already been beaten for me.

I can’t let my shortcomings define me. Christ defines me. Yes, I will sin… but I’ll take that sin to God, repent, and walk away from it, travelling on in the amazing grace He gives.

Praise God, I can walk in freedom!

Will you do the same?

Also…

I wanted to thank you for sticking around here and reading my writing. You have no idea what a blessing that is to me! I love hearing from you and being able to share what’s on my heart and mind. So, thank you. You are so appreciated. ❤

P.S. Keep an eye out for a Christmas short story/flash fiction coming up here soon!!!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

October Memories – 2021

October Memories – 2021

Ah! Finally an October recap!

My blogging schedule has slipped a little bit recently… but I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things here again!

Things worth remembering…

  • Delicious and ginormous tomatoes from the garden
  • Walks with my sister
  • Putting together an aesthetic collage for the novel I worked on this summer
  • Making mini watercolor paintings
  • Seeing one of my poems actually PRINTED IN A BOOK for the very first time!!!
  • Deciding to tackle NaNoWriMo for the first (and perhaps only) time in my life (translation for non-writers: deciding to write 50,000 words on a novel in the month of November)
  • Bible studies and banter with friends
  • How gorgeous a sunrise on the farm can be

Notes on life…

Getting the salt and vinegar kettle chips instead of the original ones ensures that you get nearly the entire bag to yourself.

***

One does not *necessarily* die after finishing a stranger’s pint of gelato.

***

Alan Gogoll has some stellar music.

Recent reads…

Papa’s Wife – Thyra Ferré Björn

This is a good read for those moments when you want a good laugh without exhausting your brain.:)

How to Stay Motivated {Energize, Recharge, Relax} – Allison

All the motivational posts and energetic music in the world won’t get your work done. You have to do that.

Oh, man, did this post ever pop up in my feed at the right time!! So, so many good ideas in here.

What Darkness Fears: An Anthology

You are the observer, being observed. The people watcher, being watched. You are a rat that doesn’t know it’s trapped in a maze. – from “People Watchers” by Lara E. Madden

If you’re looking for a smattering of short stories and poetry that portray light contrasted with darkness, here ya go! To be completely honest, I don’t care for all of the content… but there are some stellar pieces in here!

Oh, and yours truly may have a poem in this one…:)

From the journal…

Maybe changing the world isn’t suddenly changing the tide. Maybe it’s doing justice. Loving mercy. Walking humbly with our God.

Lord, give me an insatiable hunger for You. Give me the strength to live my life in a way that nurtures that hunger.

God, give me focus… vision… sense of a mission.

Thank You, Lord… that even in my weakest moments, I still have the strength to make decisions and carry them out for your glory.

Scripture gives us intellectual understanding, which then shows us our failures… then it points out how we can correct them, and then live out a righteous life.

I wasn’t born to change the world. I was born to glorify You.

Words of Wisdom

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” – C.S. Lewis

***

“If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?” – Stephen Levine

***

“If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.” – Mother Teresa

***

“He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” – 2 Corinthians 5:15

What made your October momentous?

He is good.

He is good.

My life.

My hopes.

My plans.

My dreams.

When they fall apart, I fall apart.

Why?

Because they’re failing me. They’re discouraging me. They aren’t giving me a sense of achievement, fulfillment, satisfaction.

Somewhere along the way I forgot why I have this life, anyway… why I hold these hopes, scribble these plans, fight for these dreams.

Do I live to make me happy?

No.

Not in essence.

I live for the praise of the glory of my Lord…

The only One worthy of the throne of heaven and the throne of my heart.

The Lover of my soul.

The One who died for me.

The One who lives for me.

The One who set me on this course to run it with joy…

Joy that comes only from Him.

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”

Plans fall apart. Life hurts. The world is cruel. Life doesn’t make sense.

But He is good.

Oh, He is good.

And how can I look back on a past of mountains moved, seas parted, ashes exchanged for beauty and still doubt in the midst of these storms?

He always came through for me.

He always will.

But if not…

If His way of coming through looks much different than I’d hoped…

He is still good.

So good.

He is worthy of my praise.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

This Is Over – Flash Fiction

This Is Over – Flash Fiction

Gulping in desperate breaths of air, she slowed her pace, eyes darting across the shadowed forest that hunched along either side of the crooked path.

No moving shadows.

And there was the stump – standing weary guard over long-kept secrets.

Secrets that must be no more.

Her muddied boot slipped on the edge of the spade she’d brought, but finally forced it to bite the earth and turn the mouthful over, damp and clumped.

She dug until she hit metal.

She swiped the back of her hand across her forehead, smearing dirt and sweat into mud. She stumbled to her knees, seemingly careless of her best skirt. She clawed at and broke the fragile chain around her neck, letting its pendant land in her gloved hand.

The key ground in the lock, but it turned.

She pulled out the letters one by one, scrambling them all into one jumbled heap pressed against her heaving chest. As she opened each one, she resisted the urge to let her gaze sweep the graceful handwriting that curled across each page.

This is over.

She threw each one into the mud at the side of the path, coating it with a thin dusting of paper snow.

Her boots worked across the muck, grinding her past into the earth until its filth had become one with the rotting leaves and bloated earth.

She marched back the way she had come.

She never returned.

Photo by Lanju Fotografie on Unsplash

The Bookworm’s Tag

The Bookworm’s Tag

Recently JadeSky from Stepping Stones Book Reviews tagged me for the Bookworms Tag… thank you, friend!

JadeSky asked some pretty awesome questions, so let’s dive right in!

What book would you recommend to a random stranger (just because you love it so much)? Why?

The Bible!! Definitely the best book I’ve ever read.:) I have no idea how anyone can keep their life together without having that access to the heart of God.

What makes you want to keep reading a book?

Suspense and plot twists, definitely! Also being able to relate to the struggles/mindset of a character will almost always keep me turning pages.

Also… tragedy. If there’s any kind of heartbreak, I typically have to keep reading to see how it all ends.

Do you have a favorite line from a book? If so, what is it and where is it from?

Oof, this is the hardest question… Can I pick a few?

“Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. I don’t think He wants us to keep asking and dwelling on His specific plan or will. He wants us to dwell on and seek Him. Then our decisions will be made from our love for and relationship with Him. We are free to take action in whatever means we want as long as we seek Him and allow Him to guide us.” – Solomon Hawke in Nadine Brandes’ A Time to Speak

“I may have lost my heart, but not my self control.” – Emma Woodhouse in Jane Austen’s Emma

“I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.” – Estella in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations

What’s your LEAST favorite genre? Why?

Of the genres I’ve read, I can’t say I have a least favorite… but I really, really dislike romance unless it’s written well. Sappy romance novels are simply hard for me to enjoy through all of the eye-rolling… and I believe they can give readers a warped view of true love and romance.

Do you read the acknowledgements in books?

Only if they’re interesting/humorous.:)

How much do you know about your favorite authors?

Quite a bit, now that I think of it! I know that L.M. Montgomery verbalized dialogue from her WIPs as she walked around town running errands, Harper Lee’s dad gave out autographs signing his name as Atticus Finch, and Nadine Brandes watches Fiddler on the Roof every year.

It’s all about the important details, am I right? XD

What makes you admire a character?

I love it when characters come alive to me without me even trying hard to picture them. I mean, if we’re talking about actual admiration, I’d say solid character is important to me… but some of the characters I most enjoy are flawed and clumsy. I think they’re awesome, anyway, simply because they’re real.

Some such characters… Jo March (Little Women), Dobro Turtlebane (The Bark of the Bog Owl), Solomon Hawke (the Out of Time series), Daniel bar Jamin (The Bronze Bow), and… dare I say… Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights)?

What’s the most life-changing thing you’ve learned from a book?

I love this question!

Most books I read, enjoy, and then just keep in my memory as an enjoyable experience… but the Out of Time series by Nadine Brandes definitely changed my life. Parvin’s courage and confidence in God helped encourage me to be less fearful and more courageous… whether that was in facing my biggest fears or simply taking on more responsibilities/going new places/meeting new people/climbing higher in my favorite tree. I don’t regret a single moment I spent reading those books!

What’s one GOOD thing about movies based off of books?

I love how it helps me to visualize the characters and bring them to life! Reading Pride and Prejudice after having watched the movie was so much more fun because I could actually see the characters, instead of having them be faint shadows in my mind.

Are there any books you wish you hadn’t read?

Not many… but there was at least one. I can’t remember what it was called. The subject matter was just too heavy for me at the time.

And I am going to nominate…

  • Daniel Amador
  • Any other blogging bookworms who’d love to participate!

Alright… my questions for my nominees!

  1. In your opinion, what makes a good book?
  2. Which book characters remind you most of yourself?
  3. If you could change the ending of a book, which book would it be and how would you change the way it ended?
  4. How did you become a bookworm?
  5. What do you do when a character has a name you don’t know how to pronounce?
  6. Do you prefer books written in past tense or present tense?
  7. What’s the most random thing a book has inspired you to do?
  8. Do you underline sentences in your books?
  9. What is the biggest question a book forced you to ask yourself?
  10. Do you ever read aloud to yourself?

Okay, so here’s how to participate in the tag:

  • Thank and link to the blogger who nominated you
  • Include the tag graphic in your post (pictured above)
  • Answer the ten questions the blogger asked
  • Nominate between five and ten bloggers
  • Ask your nominees ten book-related questions!
  • Don’t feel bound to these rules
  • (Most importantly) Have fun!

Please feel free to answer any of the questions asked in this post in the comment section! I’d love to read your answers.:)

Highlights, Recent Reads, and Journal Snippets – September 2021

Highlights, Recent Reads, and Journal Snippets – September 2021

Yet another epic month in the books…

Highlights

  • Random thoughtful notes from family + friends
  • Not overturning a canoe
  • Working on the farm
  • Discovering an affection for the word hobnob
  • Learning that eight pots of mums fit quite nicely in a Walmart shopping cart
  • Creating bookmarks
  • Finally coming to terms with the arrival of autumn
  • Baking yummy desserts
  • Realizing that it’s a good idea to make sure face paint is easily washable before you slather it on your face
  • Going to a high school football game
  • Being reminded that I never want to live in a big city

What I’ve been reading

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

“I have not broken your heart – you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine.”

I’m not sure if I’d ever read completely through this book again… but the raw emotion was stellar! And rather depressing…

Spiritual Bootcamp – John MacArthur

An idol… is anything that dominates your life and diverts you from worshiping and obeying God.

This book has been amazing!

Papa’s Wife – Thyra Ferré Björn

Papa stared after her… His feet did not move, but his cold, hardened bachelor’s heart broke its shell and tumbled down the street after Mama.

This book cracks me up, and has been a nice change of pace after the emotional heaviness of Wuthering Heights!

Imagine: a collection of short stories and poems from the Teen Writers’ Nook Family

Elise knew she was numb, and she was glad of it. It cleared her mind, helped her think about what she had done without the full weight of shame. But with one question answered, another still pervaded her thoughts: “Am I going to prison?”

One of my friends had a short story and poem published in this book!!

Journal Snippets

Lord, I accept Your design for my life with joy. The people, the opportunities, the closed doors, the rugged paths yet to be charted… I accept it all. I accept You. As my Love, my Redeemer, my closest friend, my defense… I rest in You and Your ways.

Oh, God, thank You for being bigger than my mistakes and my clumsiness.

Turmoil + peace rolled into one.

Words that have been blessing me

“Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forever.” – Psalm 131

“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it,’ when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” – Isaiah 30:21

“In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.” – Psalm 138:3

“Dreams are tawdry when compared with the leading of God, and not worthy of the aura of wonder we usually surround them with. God only doeth wonders. He does nothing else.” – Jim Elliot

“It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.” – A.W. Tozer

What made your September stand out? ❤

Scripture (except for Isaiah 30:21) taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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!😊