I’m Thankful for 2020

I’m Thankful for 2020

My writing community is doing a Thanksgiving Shower today – any members of the community who would like to participate are posting about one thing they’re thankful for.

I was thinking about what I wanted to share…

And I decided that I’m thankful for 2020.

2020 has been one of the craziest years of my life. In 2020 I’ve gone through valleys I never saw coming. I’ve growled and made faces at current events. I’ve come sobbing to God with the weight of… life. I’ve faced the raw, unfiltered depths of my heart and winced at what I’ve found.

But I’m thankful for 2020.

Consistent with what I’ve found before, God has used the hardest times of my life to draw me closer to Him. To show me that I am truly nothing, and that He is truly everything.

I’ve learned that my life is not mine. It’s His.

I’ve learned that my future is not in my hands. It’s in His.

I’ve learned that I don’t know it all. He does.

I’ve learned that I’m not at all worthy of praise. He is.

Sometimes I’ve doubted my purpose. I’ve wondered how God could use someone so seriously flawed as myself for His glory. And He’s showed me that He can – that He’ll use even my brokenness for His glory.

What I’ve written so far makes it seem like 2020 has been a miserable year for me. Quite the contrary! God simply flooded my life with amazingness this year… I don’t even know where to start.

I’ve had the opportunity to build so many new and incredible relationships. And develop and further build old ones.

I’ve been able to move on from home education and push myself into taking my writing seriously.

I’ve journaled like crazy.

I’ve gained many new experiences (and therefore tons of new story material).

I’ve grown closer to God, worked through the rubble of my heart, and been able to keep coming back to focus on Him.

2020 has been amazing.

I’m so grateful God’s given me 2020.

Gift Ideas for Your Reading and/or Writing Friends

Gift Ideas for Your Reading and/or Writing Friends

Happy happy Monday, all!

Gift idea posts are flooding the blogosphere right now, but for once I’m not gonna go against the flow. Because I love gift idea posts. And giving gifts. There’s just something about thoughtfully choosing the perfect gifts for people you love. It’s amazing.

I’ve developed this particular list with readers and writers in mind. If you’re having trouble coming up with gift ideas for an avid reader or writer, hopefully this post can give you some inspiration.:)

Shout-out to the amazing members of my writing community who flooded me with gift ideas for this post. You’re awesome… thank you.

For the readers

Shadow of the Almighty

Gifting books can be difficult sometimes as people have vastly different tastes… but you can’t go wrong giving this biography as a gift. It’s my absolute favorite books besides the Bible… click/tap here if you want to hear me rave about it even more.:)

Book Nerd – Women’s Shirt

This one looks so cute and cozy!

I Don’t Have a Bedtime Keychain

So true some nights… sadly.

Jane Austen Tote Bag

This would work well for lugging library books home.:)

Cozy Blankets

There’s nothing like snuggling up for a good read in a cozy blanket and

Fuzzy Socks

with a steaming mug of

Tea

or

Coffee.

And

Chocolate.:)

For the writers

G2 Gel Pens

These pens are the best I’ve used so far… and I’m a pen snob.

Novel Journal

This idea is so cool: a journal where the lines on which you write are actually the words of a classic. I just ordered this Great Expectations journal for a Dickens-loving journaling friend, but they have many other classics available in this form, as well.

Vintage Typewriter Pencil Holder

This is soooo cute (okay, handsome if you wanna get it for a guy) and useful! Every writer needs a place for pens, pencils, and chocolate wrappers to stay. Besides, anything vintage typewriter is always a good idea.

Writer Keychain

Yes, we writers do have the privilege and heavy responsibility of creating universes.:)

Blank Books

This would be an amazing gift for a little writer-in-the-making. When I was younger, writing a story in an actual book was so much more exciting than writing in a notebook.

Notebooks

That being said, notebooks are pretty awesome, too.:)

Just a Girl Who Loves Writing – Shirt

This is My Writing Shirt

This one would be great for both guys and girls!

What did I leave out? What are some of your favorite gifts to give to reading and writing fanatics?

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase something through one of the links I share in this post, I receive a small commission… at no extra cost to you.:)

Photo by Monika Stawowy on Unsplash

What an Apple-Murderer Taught Me About God

What an Apple-Murderer Taught Me About God

Sometime this past summer, my youngest sister brought me an apple she had pulled from one of our trees. A tiny, misshapen, worm-eaten thing. She held it like a treasure.

“Can you get me some water so I can put this in it, so it can grow?”

Oh, girl.

In trying to help the apple, the well-meaning squirt had killed it. She didn’t realize that removing it from the tree would destroy all its hopes of further growth. Now it was destined to be nothing more than what it was – a less-than-appetizing apple.

This made me think…

Am I tearing myself from my source of life?

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

I look in the mirror and see a mess. And I’m not talking about the chronically crazy hair or the breakouts on my face. It’s a mess that’s deep inside, rooted, and complicated. I look in the mirror and see a weary, misshapen, sin-eaten soul.

But God sees me as a treasure.

If I abide in Him, He will give me the grace to keep growing in Him. If I stay close to Him, He will nourish me, develop me, make me more like Him, and give me the ability to bear fruit for Him.

But that won’t happen unless I’m connected to Him.

Unlike my sister’s poor little victim, I can choose to stay connected to my source of life… but it won’t be easy. The world is against me, trying to pull me away from Christ, because it knows that my life and strength come only through Him.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” – Ephesians 6:10

We can fight – and win – this battle against sin only if we abide in Christ.

Are we doing that?

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

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

The Pen in Your Hand – a Poem

The Pen in Your Hand – a Poem

I know… poetry ranked lowest on the poll I posted a couple of weeks ago (a huge thank you to everyone who answered that!). But my mind has felt like Jell-O recently, so I’m drawing from the reserves today.:) Hopefully my brains will be back soon, and I’ll have a little more to offer you guys!

Anyway…

This is a poem written by my fifteen-year-old self. It came into being one night when I was really struggling to accept what God was doing with a situation in my life. Now, in volatile 2020, it’s a blessing to come back to this poem again and be reminded of where God wants my heart to be.

This is one of the first freestyle poems I wrote… and though it’s not quite as fantastic as I used to think it was :), I hope it’s a blessing to you today.

I don’t understand.

I don’t.

There are times, Lord,

When I,

The pen in Your hand,

Long to

Spring from Your mighty

All-knowing

Grasp, with a cry of

“No, no!

That isn’t the way!

Here!

Let me show You how!”

But that

Is as silly as a ditch-digger

Grasping

The brush of a masterful artist.

A clock

Does no good without clockwork

And so

I do no good without You.

With no

Master I lie here, my ink pouring

Out

A miserable, meaningless

Blot.

But in Your loving hand

My life

Is a song – a beautiful witness

To You.

So here – take my tears, though many

There be

And do what you will with them.

And here –

Take my years, though few they may

Be

And use them to glorify

You.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

10 Songs You Need in Your Life

10 Songs You Need in Your Life

Happy Thursday, friends!

Today I’m sharing 10 of my top 100 favorite songs with you all.:) They’re a blessing to both the ears and the soul. Enjoy!

This is What We Live For – Big Daddy Weave

I love this song! It’s just so packed with truth… I really appreciate being reminded of my true purpose and motivation when I listen to this song.

Amen – I Am They

This one is a good reminder to me to surrender everything to God and trust Him… even when I’m hurting and exhausted and confused about what’s going on. He’s got a perfect plan!

Be Thou My Vision

A beautiful old hymn that helps me to refocus on God. This is probably my all-time favorite song.

First – Lauren Daigle

Are we truly seeking God first?

Scars – I Am They

God uses our pain to draw us near to Him… He knows what He’s doing!

He Knows My Name – Francesca Battistelli

I’m living for Jesus and His praise. That fact is so freeing!

Keep Making Me – Sidewalk Prophets

I love this one so much I learned it on the guitar. I want this song to be the cry of my heart… always.

Love God Love People – Danny Gokey

Honestly, it really is this simple! This song is a great reminder when we’re feeling overwhelmed by our expectations of ourselves.

I Know – Big Daddy Weave

This one is just so good.

Make a Way – I Am They

God has been faithful… He is faithful… He always will be faithful. We can trust Him with our lives.

What are some of your favorite songs?

Photo by Yarenci Hdz on Unsplash

Why I Read God’s Word on a Daily Basis

Why I Read God’s Word on a Daily Basis

I’ve been in the habit of reading the Bible daily for years… and thought I’d share with you all just why I do this.

I don’t do it because it’s expected of me by my family, church, and youth group.

I don’t do it because I want to look like a better Christian than everyone else.

I don’t do it to earn “points” with God.

I don’t do it with a legalistic mindset.

I read the Bible daily because it is my lifeblood.

I read it because it’s like a breath of fresh air. When I slam the door of social media, snap off the disturbing news the radio is feeding me, and take time to just soak in the truth of God’s word, I am refreshed. I am reminded that there is still beauty and purpose in the world.

And I am enabled to head back into the wilds of the world and fight for it.

For Scripture is not just my refuge. It is my weapon.

“…take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:17

We live in turbulent times – times in which evil is trying to prevail. Times that demand courage. Surrounding myself with God’s word is the best way I can arm myself with truth and courage.

When I read about flawed men and women – like my own flawed little self – who gave themselves to God and did incredibly brave things for Him, I am inspired to do the same. When I read God’s promises to be faithful and work all things together for good for me, I am encouraged to trust Him more.

Not only is Scripture my refuge and weapon; it also draws me closer to God.

When I read God’s word, I see more of Who He is. I see more of who I am… and more of who I ought to be. I see the way I need to live, the things I need to do, the habits I need to change.

I see that God is weaving together the threads of history in a beautiful and intricate way – a way that I could not see if I looked simply at the world around me.

So that, my friends, is why Scripture is on my daily to-do list.:)

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

Some Honest Ponderings + A Poll

Some Honest Ponderings + A Poll

Hey, friends!

I don’t have a lot for you today… just a smattering of thoughts and a poll for you to answer. If you don’t want to hear from me today, please at least zip to the end of the post and answer the poll for me… it won’t take more than 17 seconds! I’d love to hear from you so I can have a better idea of how I can serve you here.:)

But in case you do want to stick around and listen to me…

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about discipline, self control, prioritizing… all that good stuff.

And I feel like I’ve really lost it in these areas lately.

I don’t like it.

I used to be the girl who was so motivated and diligent with many things in her life. I had goals, and I fought for them. I knew where I was going. I was focused and fierce in pursuing what I knew God wanted me to do.

But then this summer I started spiraling out of control. So many things happened and changed, and I lost my foothold. I flew out away from the firm ground of order and left myself dangling on the end of a rope I couldn’t seem to climb – perpetually swinging in the winds of life.

I told myself, This is life now. Embrace the crazy.

But this doesn’t have to be life. I don’t have to be disorganized and scrambling. Of course, there will be plot twists that pop up throughout my days, weeks, and months, but what would happen if I tackle them with a disciplined mindset?

How much of the craziness in my life is self-inflicted?

I want to stop being all willy-nilly in the way I approach my life. Yes, I need to be flexible, but I don’t need to be floppy. God is a God of order, and I’m not convinced that I’m being the best image-bearer I can be when I’m not living my life in an order of some sort. I want to reflect God’s character as best I can.

So in conclusion…

I want to work on being disciplined and focused this month. I want to be seeking God whole-heartedly, and I want my life and habits to reflect it.

That’s all.:)

Have a lovely evening, friends.

-Laurel

Thousands of Words – Life of Late in Photos

Thousands of Words – Life of Late in Photos

Happy Monday, all!

Quite honestly… I’m doing a photo post today because my brain feels completely shot at present and I don’t have much to give you guys… unless you want to hear me ramble incoherently about a zillion things all jumbled together into one big mess that just happens to be my train of thought.

Oof.

I doubt you want to hear that, so…

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are a few thousand words in the form of pics.:)

Ooh, yes… do let us begin with a lovely sunrise.:)

One of my favorite reads lately!

Coffee helps with… life.:)

We got a nice snow cover last month… thankfully it’s melted away now, but it sure made for a lovely walk. I love the stillness of snowy rambles.

I love C.S. Lewis quotes.

I snuck off to the pasture last weekend for a little undistracted planning time… in one of my scrappy and beloved sweatshirts, of course.:) Being purposed and intentional about the way that I live is something I want to get better about, and here I listed out some goals for a few different areas of my life… writing included.

Along the lines of intentional living, I ran across this song recently. Do check it out if you don’t already know it! It’s been a wonderful reminder to me… I truly want to live my life to hear Him say, “Well done.”

Am I living like that?

Are you?

Let’s.:)

❤ Laurel

What I’ve Been Reading (+ Journal Snippets!)… October 2020 Edition

What I’ve Been Reading (+ Journal Snippets!)… October 2020 Edition

Good morning, all! Unbelievably, October is nearly over… which means it’s time for a review of my literary diet this month.

Quite honestly, I’m not very proud of the amount of reading I did this month. For writers, reading is like fueling up… so I guess I’ve been running close to empty for basically the whole month. Ah, well. Next month is fresh… with no mistakes in it! Yet.:)

Anyway… without further ado, here are my October reads!

Desiree’s Baby

Oh, man… if you want to read something short and extremely moving, here you go. This story is heartbreaking.

The Romance of a Busy Broker

Since O. Henry wrote The Gift of the Magi – one of my very favorite stories ever – I jumped at the chance to read another one of his works. The way this short story ended cracked me up!

Great Expectations

After hearing one of my brothers raving to me about it night and day, and even after being utterly traumatized and confused by the BBC film adaptation, I decided to give this book a try… and, oh, am I glad I did!

Dickens’ descriptions are incredible, and inspire me to be more creative in the way that I write my own descriptions. And his plots – oh, his plots!!! I don’t think I will ever be able to plot so masterfully as Dickens did.

Footprints of a Pilgrim: the Life and Loves of Ruth Bell Graham

My mother gave me this book a few years ago when I was researching Ruth Bell Graham for a school project, and I dug it out again recently after one of my sisters gave me one of Ruth Bell Graham’s poems.

This book is so beautiful… a fun mashup of an autobiography and anecdotes. I think what I loved the most, though, is the poetry scattered throughout. Her poetry is just so lovely and effortless… and it has inspired and influenced my own way of writing poetry.

Journal Snippets

I thought it might be fun to include some glimpses into my October 2020 journaling here…

“Seeking You (God) is all that will truly satisfy… all that will truly last.”

“Oh, God! I want You to be far more dear to me than that which I stubbornly clench in my fist. In all my desires… all my hopes… all my ambitions… may YOU – only You – be the One I seek.”

“Acts 20 – Paul may have been seen as something of a babbler… keeping back ‘nothing that was helpful’. But he served the Lord ‘with all humility’… and that makes all the difference.”

More journal snippets… yea or nay? Let me know in the comments below.:)

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase something through one of the links I share in this post, I receive a small commission… at no extra cost to you.😊

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

You May be a Writer If… (2nd Edition)

You May be a Writer If… (2nd Edition)

The last post I did on this topic was so much fun… I wanted to do it again! Hopefully you don’t mind.:)

You may be a writer if…

…you’re an avid people watcher, and are shocked out of your skin when someone tells you they don’t even know what people watching is. “Wait, what??? You poor guy…”

…you have to check your face for ink stains before leaving the house.

…something mentioned in a sermon gives you an idea for further development in your novel, and you have to covertly scribble it in your bulletin before you forget about it.

…grammatical errors drive you crazy.

…you whisper one phrase to yourself over and over again because those words together in that order just. sound. so. good.

…you fervently hope that so-and-so won’t figure out that you’ve put them in your book. In disguise, of course.

…you jump up to go look for a pen and later discover that you already had one behind each ear.

…you have to check each piece of scrap paper you throw out to make sure it doesn’t contain any valuable information… because you probably took notes on it.

…you read books like you’ve been hired to edit them. “This description needs to be condensed.” “The dialogue here is amazing.” “I wonder if this is foreshadowing something…”

…three-fourths of the time you spend “cleaning your room” is actually spent reading old books/journals/notes you just unearthed.

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash