a breakable heart – a poem + some thoughts

a breakable heart – a poem + some thoughts

a deluded world

applauds

the ghosts unshaken by its filth.

all hail

the strength of the tender heart

that ceases not to

weep at sin.

Lately I’ve been reading A Tale of Two Cities – a novel by Charles Dickens that takes place before and during the French Revolution. I love the book…

But I was horrified as I read one of the mob scenes. The scene was tactfully written, but still… what was going on was horrific. How could human beings do this to one another? This is disgusting.

That experience, paired with this poem I wrote the other day, got me thinking.

I realized that I want to be horrified and broken-hearted because of the world.

If I’m not, there’s a big problem. Because I’m the daughter of a holy God. A God who cannot come near to sin.

As I grow closer and closer to Him, sin should disgust me more and more. I shouldn’t develop a thick skin. I shouldn’t stare at sin unblinking. I shouldn’t sigh and say, “This is just the way the world is.”

I should weep. I should be revolted. I should cry for righteousness.

Because I was never meant to feel at home in a sin-smeared world.

My citizenship is in a sinless kingdom with a holy King. I can’t forget that.

So I will cultivate a breakable heart.

I will shudder at the exaltation of sin.

I will unashamedly yearn for holiness…

And I beg you to do the same.

❤ Laurel

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Beyond a Shattered Past – Flash Fiction and Raw Thoughts

Beyond a Shattered Past – Flash Fiction and Raw Thoughts

She stared at the bloody shards in her hands.

Pieces of a life shattered by selfish choices. Foolish choices. The weight of a broken world was hard enough to bear when it was thrown by the choices of others, but this…this guilt…

It crippled. It crushed.

It condemned.

She clenched her fists in agony, the shards digging deep into her palms.

“Let them go.”

Her head turned slowly towards the voice, the ghost of her soul peering through tangled hair and teary eyes. “Let them go? But I…I can’t. I can’t…”

Didn’t He know what it was to bear such guilt? She’d brought this on herself…she had to bear it now.

“Let them go.”

Eyes still warily searching His face, she let her fingers uncurl, and the shards shattered at her feet. A few had lodged themselves deep in her palm. Her gaze questioned, and He nodded.

“Yes, even those.”

Her face knotted and tears flowed as she picked out the last of the shards and let them go. They glinted sanguine light, but she turned her face from their allure and saw His smile.

He offered His arm. “The wounds will heal in time. Now we walk.”

Tears sprang afresh as she eyed the broken road ahead of her.

“I did this, too,” she choked, and buried her face in His shoulder.

He held her close and let her weep. Stroking her hair, He whispered,

“What glory will rise from walking an easy road?”

Scripture and history are ripe with the stories of legendary sinners who shook the world for God.

After letting his life be defined by cowardice, a tongue-tied murderer stood up to his country’s most powerful ruler, led his people for decades in the wilderness, and spoke face to face with the Lord as a friend.

A track record of selfishness, disobedience, and a disastrous love life left a hero blinded and in chains. God still chose to use him to bring vengeance on His enemies.

One of the worst examples of a righteous woman you could find, she opened her home and protected the lives of complete strangers on a mission to destroy her city. Forsaking all she’d ever known, she chose to follow God and joined the lineage of the Messiah.

God chose Moses. God chose Samson. God chose Rahab.

God chose you.

Your broken story may not bring you glory. It may bring you shame. Guilt. Feelings of worthlessness.

Fight them.

You aren’t defined by your past. You’re defined by the One who humiliated Himself and gave everything to love you, pursue you, and win you for eternity.

That. That is your worth.

You’ve been freed to serve in victory and live like a treasure.

He will use your brokenness to glorify Him to the utmost. ❤

“…one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13b-14

Photo by veeterzy on Unsplash

TITLE REVEAL!!!

TITLE REVEAL!!!

Please excuse me for a moment while I bounce off the walls…

Friends, I’m so excited to finally introduce to you my new book-baby:

This Will Not Last

Raw and achingly honest, This Will Not Last is a collection of poetry that captures the fluctuating emotions that lace life’s pathway. 

Wonder, grief, happiness, and heartache all have their turn to shine in this collection, ultimately bowing to the truth of their transience…and the sturdy realization of God’s unshakeable goodness.  

this death 

this shedding 

of all I’ve known 

must come before the rays of sun 

burst bright upon my soul 

to wake 

a seed of what’s to come. 

this death 

this dying will not last 

this, too 

this, too 

this, too, shall pass. 

Aagh, I’m just so excited about this book. It’s chock full of poems that are near and dear to my heart… and it’s already been a blessing to see them touching other hearts, as well! I can’t wait to share the whole collection with you come April.😊

❤ Laurel

I’m rallying a street team!

I’m rallying a street team!

Hello friends!

If you’d love to play a part in sharing my poetry with the world, this post is for you!

(If you wouldn’t love to play a part in sharing my poetry with the world, this post attempts to convince you into loving that idea.:) )

If you decide to join my street team, here’s what you can expect:

  • an email with more details, soon!
  • a role in helping me launch my book into the world by sharing graphics + posts I’ve already prepared (unless you’d like to write your own posts, which is definitely encouraged!!!)
  • updates on my little book’s progress
  • fun bookish freebies

Sound like fun? Fill out this form to join the team!

I’d so love to have you on board! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Also… the title of my poetry book will be announced on Monday, January 17th. Provided the hostile winter has not frozen my fingers off, thus leaving me incapable of typing up the announcement.

One can only hope and dress warmly.

Freeze not!

❤ Laurel

December Memories – 2021

December Memories – 2021

Happy 2022, friends!

Let’s be extremely cliche and mention how it’s so hard to believe it’s a new year already… and then resist the urge to recap the whole year and just give you a recap of December.:)

Things worth remembering…

  • cousin time complete with late night chatting, so much laughter, wigs, and a bonfire.
  • being listed on Goodreads as an author!!! You can follow me here.:)
  • the beauty of the sun rising and setting in the winter. It almost makes the negative temps worth it.
  • surviving the Carolina Reaper cheese that our co-op makes. It’s brutal, guys. I hadn’t downed milk that desperately in a while. 😅
  • The Christmas Cookie Baking Day with siblings and friends! I will never read about John the Baptist the same way again…
  • running around in the wind and dark with siblings and flashlights, trying to round up the calves that decided to tour the farmyard when a storm blew away their little homes.
  • bowling for the first time and only falling down once.
  • making runzas (basically rolls stuffed with ground beef and cabbage and onion) with my sisters.
  • announcing that I’m releasing a poetry book in 2022!!

What I’ve been reading…

London in the Dark – Victoria Lynn

“Don’t be an island, Cy. When you push us away, the only person you hurt is yourself.”

The Sherlock Holmes vibes in this novel were stellar. The plot made me want to keep turning pages after getting home from a trip at two in the morning, so there’s that… 😂 The book definitely could have used some more editing, but overall, it was sweet and engaging with the perfect amount of mystery!

Dearest Friend: a life of Abigail Adams – Lynne Withey

To Isaac she [Abigail] expressed her conviction of the importance of education. “In youth the mind is like a tender twig,” she observed, “which you may bend as you please, but in age like a sturdy oak and hard to move.”

I’m previewing this one for a sister. It’s been fun reading a bit more about this spunky little lady!

Bartholomew’s Passage – Arnold Ytreeide

My family’s read this book during Advent for a while now! It’s such a fun story, and I love how all the little threads woven throughout the story are tied up at the end.

What I’ve been listening to…

Christmas in Velvet (Album)

RELATE – for KING & COUNTRY

’cause I’ve been real, I’ve been fake // been a sinner, been a saint // I’ve been right, I’ve been so, so wrong // yeah, I’ve made my mistakes

Speak Life – TobyMac

though it’s crazy, amazing // we can turn a heart through the words we say // mountains crumble with every syllable // hope can live or die

Me Without You – TobyMac

I’d be packin’ my bags when I need to stay // I’d be chasin’ every breeze that blows my way // I’d be building my kingdom just to watch it fade away // It’s true // that’s me without You

Lights Shine Bright – TobyMac

lights shine bright everywhere we go // music for the people to illuminate the soul

(Yes, I’ve been on a TobyMac kick.:))

From the journal…

You give me Your love – fill me up to overflowing – so that I can pour it out to others. Oh, strengthen me to do that when all I want is to see my own desires fulfilled.

I can take my strength and nourishment from the faithfulness of my Beloved. (Psalm 37:3)

If You need to keep on breaking me to get me to the place You need me to be, so be it… but Lord, I pray that I would cultivate a heart that is always tuned to Yours. That when You say “turn here” or “let your eyes look straight ahead”, I would obey instantly. Let my mind be transformed so I may know Your will. I love You, Jesus.

Lord, thank You for letting me know You. Don’t let this journal be empty words… let me live out all of my declarations of love to You daily, so that people don’t have to read my journal to see Who holds my heart.

Oh, but this aches sometimes… So I cry and wait and pray in the dripping darkness for the day when I can see why. Why all of this must be so painful and twisted and broken. But I trust You. I do.

Righteousness is right standing with God. So if I look pious and holy to the world, but have unseen sin swarming beneath the mask, I have no righteousness.

Actual holiness > everyone thinking you’re holy when you’re not

Words of wisdom…

“None but the man “void of wisdom” will show contempt for those about him. The wise man, if he cannot admire or praise, will at least know how to be silent.” – Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

“…who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” – Titus 2:14

What made your December special or memorable?

❤ Laurel

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.:)

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

Of Dreams and Dying (+ a slightly important announcement)

Of Dreams and Dying (+ a slightly important announcement)

Today I’m sending my first poetry manuscript off for edits.

It’s… pretty surreal. I know that in the grand scheme of things it’s just another piece in my life… but it feels huge! And honestly, it’s a bit frightening. A sizeable chunk of my soul’s monologue is on its way to greet the world. *grins nervously*

A little testimony

Anne Shirley and Jo March were my writing heroines when I was younger. I blame them entirely for my twelve-year-old self’s warped view of how publication works… they just sent off their manuscripts and got a check or a book with their name on the cover in exchange.

Easy peasy.

Then I heard wild success stories about writers who wrote and published books in their teens. Popular books.

I decided that I was going to get published in my teens… or live the rest of my life in regret.

For some reason, having the prestige of being a published teen author was really, really important to me. I felt like I needed to prove myself to the world by being yet another one of those homeschool graduates who knocks the intellectual socks off of the general population.😂

As I plugged away at my novel and got a strong, shockingly bitter taste of what being a writer actually looks like, my “get published by the age of twenty” goal shoved me up against a wall and stared me in the eyes, forcing me to come up with one good reason why getting published while I was still in my teens was such a good idea.

The only one I could think of was bragging rights…

And even that wasn’t a good idea.

Somewhere along the way, my goal to glorify God with my writing had surrendered to the goal to glorify myself.

That fact saddened me… so I gave up my dream.

I let go of the vision of being published by twenty to focus instead on letting my writing goals be driven by quality and depth, not deadlines. I hoped that someday I’d be able to come up with something that was worthy of being published because it was actually good and able to impact lives, not because I needed it to boost my ego.

That decision was so freeing. I wasn’t a slave to my writing ego anymore.

Months went by, my poems piled up, and I realized that maybe it was time to start prepping a poetry manuscript. I started compiling my favorite poems, writing more, working on a timeline for publishing…

And realized that – providing all goes as planned – I’ll be published by my twentieth birthday.

I’m blown away by the way God asks us to hand over our dreams. Bury them, burn them, shred them, scrub them from our hearts…

Only to tap us on the shoulder at the most unexpected moment, hand the dreams back with a knowing smile and whisper, “Didn’t I know best all along?”

Yes, Father. Yes, You did.

❤ Laurel

P.S. Look out for a title reveal soon… and expect my first book-baby in the spring of 2022.😉

Reluctant Hero – Christmas Edition

Reluctant Hero – Christmas Edition

Hello friends!

As promised, here is a Christmas story for you all, starring Ryan. If you haven’t met him before, go check out his previous adventures here for a little background on this story. (Although it should still make sense even if you haven’t read the previous stories.:))

This is just a goofy little piece, and I hope it’ll bring a smile to your face!😊

“Ryan! We’re going to build a gingerbread house with graham crackers and frosting and stuff!”

Cameron grabs my left hand and drags me through the doorway into the living room. “Come on! Mommy has everything ready in the kitchen!” He stares up at me, cocking his head. “Oh, yeah, Mommy told me to take your coat.”

I shrug it off and hand it to the five-year-old. He throws it over his shoulders like a cape and swoops into the kitchen screaming the Batman theme song. I shiver and take a deep breath, squeezing sweaty palms into fists.

I can do this.

After all, last time wasn’t that bad. The two and a half hours of babysitting I did for the Winters’ ended in three sleeping children, only one broken dish, and minimal scratches. I’m getting this babysitting thing down.

It’s the gingerbread house that scares me.

After waving goodbye to Mrs. Winters (once I confirm with her three times that she’ll be gone for only two hours), Cameron and Holly spin away from the front window and race for the kitchen table. I charge after them, socks skidding on the hardwood, remembering the multiple bowls of candy sitting within perfect toddler reach.

“Hey, hold up!”

Cameron bounces up and down, gripping the edge of the table. “Let’s make the best. Gingerbread house. EVER!” His scream turns into a roar, and I grimace.

“I want mine to have lots of gumdrops,” Holly mumbles, pulling her thumb out of her mouth long enough to grab a gumdrop from the nearest bowl.

“Hey, wait, first we have to build the house!” I shove the bowl out of reach and grab the box of graham crackers.

Miraculously I manage to construct one small house out of the graham crackers without their curious fingers poking it into a heap… although by the time we’re ready to decorate it, a few of our ornaments have disappeared behind two little pairs of red-stained lips.

“Dude, I’m serious, you have to stop eating the candy. You won’t be hungry for supper.” I wrestle a peppermint candy from Cameron’s sticky palm.

He shrugs. “I don’t care. We’re having chicken noodle soup for supper.” The gag that follows tells me that the aforementioned soup is not a favorite.

“Well, anyway, if you keep eating everything, we won’t have anything to decorate the house with.” I squirt a bunch of icing onto the roof of the house. “Okay, what do you guys want to put on the roof?”

“Gumdrops!” Holly yells.

“No, peppermints!” Cameron roars in her face, and I cover my ears.

“Hey, how about both?” I pull them away from each other and hand each one a bowl of their preferred candy.

“Jake’s screaming,” Holly says, poking her first gumdrop onto the roof.

“I’ll get him,” I say, jumping up from the table. “Don’t eat any more candy while I’m gone.”

It takes me thirty seconds to dash to the nursery, scoop up the butterball, and lug him back to the kitchen.

It took Cameron and Holly thirty seconds to topple our graham cracker structure and start a highly-competitive screaming competition.

I glance at my watch.

One hour and forty-five minutes to go.

Photo by Randalyn Hill on Unsplash

God with us.

God with us.

Every year we talk about how the Christmas season is so hard for many people.

It’s always acknowledged, but all the acknowledgements in the world won’t change the fact that many of us will be crying inside at times this Christmas, even as we’re surrounded by family and friends who love us more than we know.

But don’t you know that this ache, this emptiness, this longing loneliness is the very reason Christmas even exists?

This world is broken. People fail. Hearts shatter. People hurt. People die.

So God wrapped himself in trembling flesh to heal that brokenness for eternity.

God with us.

Not God peering down on us from the heights of His holiness. Not God ruling over us. Not God commanding us from a distant galaxy.

No.

God with us.

God wailing with hunger and cold.

God being carried from His home country to safety.

God playing in the very dirt His fingers once molded to form the first of his people.

God trying to escape the exhausting press of a crowd.

God sleeping in a boat in the middle of a churning sea.

God weeping.

God making a meal for his best friends.

God sweating our blood, pleading with His Father for an easier path.

God dying.

God hurling away our sin and drawing us near to Himself.

God with us.

In our pain, in our sorrow, in our heartbreak, in our loneliness, in our brokenness, in our despair…

God with us.

God promising that the brokenness of this world is not the end. The end of the brokenness will come and seep into eternity…

Us with God.

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

Cathedral releases TODAY!!!

Cathedral releases TODAY!!!

Guys!!! I am so excited to announce that my writing friend Maya Joelle is releasing her gorgeous collection TODAY!!!

This girl is seriously so talented. I’ll be the first to confess my extreme pickiness in the area of poetry… and Maya has nailed it in this incredible collection. Here’s the review I shared on Goodreads:

This is a collection of poetry I will read and quote and remember over and over and over again.

It makes me feel known. Understood. Like I’m not the only one who hurts and feels and dreams so fiercely. It portrays darkness poignantly, letting the light shine through in such a brilliant and hopeful way.

I can’t recommend it enough!

About the book

Cathedral is a collection of poetry and creative prose about beauty in the midst of grief and joy in the face of great sorrow.

oh brave one,

oh broken, beautifully brave one,

remember.

remember that no matter how tiny the fragments this time,

how far apart they are scattered,

how long you must search,

he will help you find the pieces of the person you once were

and the image you once bore.

// to the broken ones

About the author

Maya Joelle is a wordsmith, bookdragon, and avid forest enthusiast from Michigan. In addition to poetry, she writes high fantasy novels and short stories that turn into novels. When she’s not writing or studying, she is often found marveling at the beauty of creation through the wonders of nature, music, and friendship. She writes poems to remind herself and others of God’s goodness amidst pain and sorrow, for the glory of the Author who knows the ending of her story.

Purchase Cathedral on Amazon here

Add Cathedral on Goodreads here

Find Cathedral‘s Pinterest board here

Do you have any favorite poems or poets?

❤ Laurel

I did receive a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.:)

in the waiting – a poem

in the waiting – a poem

Hello, friends!

I recently ran across this poem I wrote nearly a year ago now… it’s definitely a reminder I still need! I hope it can be a blessing to you, as well. ❤

here I am, Lord…

stumbling through the darkness and

obscurity of life

trusting You for every step…

I know You guide the way

but

sparks have flown

blown on my path and

given me

a taste

of what’s to come

perhaps

in roaring fullness and

I can’t forget the sparks.

each one by little one

they’re dancing

swirling in my head.

all put together they are

much too much

to be put out and so they

gleam and

steal my vision.

Help, Lord!

save me from

the longing for what’s mine

but not mine yet.

grant patience for the waiting…

let me wait with busy hands

Photo by William Moreland on Unsplash