Favorite Songs of 2021 – 1st Edition

Favorite Songs of 2021 – 1st Edition

Earlier this year I shared some of the songs I enjoyed in 2020… so I thought I’d do that for 2021, as well. Instead of doing a big ginormous post at the end of the year, though, I thought I would spread out the joy a bit and share some of the songs now.

Also, I’ve linked the songs here in the titles so you can go ahead and check them out on YouTube right away! If ya want to.:)

Stay – Big Daddy Weave

Break my heart with what breaks Yours

Until You’re all I’m living for

Show me what it means not just to believe but to remain

I’m noticing that several Big Daddy Weave songs make my list of favorites! This is one of them – the reminder to stop living for myself and my own desires and instead remain faithful to God is one I need often.

Less Like Me – Zach Williams

Somebody with a hurt that I could have helped

Somebody with a hand that I could have held

When I just can’t see past myself

Lord help me be…

A little more like Jesus, a little less like me

Another one about looking past oneself…

One Day Too Late – Skillet

Today I’m gonna love my enemies

Reach out to somebody who needs me

Make a change, make the world a better place

Cause tomorrow could be one day too late

The lyrics in this one… totally amazing and convicting.

Dream Small – Josh Wilson

Dream small

Don’t buy the lie you’ve gotta do it all

Just let Jesus use you where you are

One day at a time

Live well

Loving God and others as yourself

Find little ways where only you can help

With His great love

A tiny rock can make a giant fall

So dream small

‘Nuff said.:)

Help Me Find It – Sidewalk Prophets

Even when it hurts You’ll have Your way

Even in the valley I will say

With every breath

You’ve never let me go

I will wait for You

You’ve never failed before

I will wait for You

This song is one that blessed me greatly last year as I stared at graduation and all of the unknowns that lay beyond it. It’s a blessing to me again this year as unknowns continue to be an integral part of life.:)

I Lived – OneRepublic

I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived

I don’t listen to a great variety of secular music simply because I’m pretty picky about lyrics, but this one I want to play on repeat! I love both the sound and everything the lyrics make me think of.

Lead, Kindly Light – BYU Vocal Point

I do not ask to see the distant scene

One step enough for me

Another beautiful song for seasons of uncertainty. Also… this arrangement is just incredible. It’s hard to beat well-done a capella music!

What are some of the songs you’ve enjoyed in 2021 so far?

Photo by Blaz Photo on Unsplash

Three-Year-Old Poem

Three-Year-Old Poem

First of all, the photo has absolutely nothing to do with this poem. But who doesn’t like knotholes on old doors?:)

As the title says, I wrote this poem three years ago this spring. At the time, it was my pride and joy. While I can now see many of its flaws, it still holds a special place in my heart. One of the reasons I love it is because it points me back to simple truth. I hope it can be a blessing to you, as well.

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 toddler

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.

Eternity – A Guest Post by Last Year’s Self

Eternity – A Guest Post by Last Year’s Self

Happiest of Mondays, all!

Last week I was working to eliminate the unnecessary blog post drafts I had on my computer (think around 70!?!) and stumbled upon this piece I wrote last May. I published it on my other blog last year, but thought that – with an edit or two – it could stand to make an appearance here, as well.

Here it is.:)

Something I’ve been pondering lately is the reality of eternity, and how that reality needs to be shaping the way that I think and live. Here’s a question for all of us today:

How is the way we are living today impacting eternity?

It is so easy to get caught up in the lies the world feeds us: we deserve happiness and gratification now. We can do whatever we want with our minds, bodies, and lives and it doesn’t matter.

I’m telling you – and most of all, myself – that the way we live totally matters.

Totally.

It’s easy for me as a young person to think that I have a lot of time left to impact this world. This is possibly another lie. As I look at the lives of some of the people who have impacted me in the way that they lived or through the words that they spoke, sang, or wrote, I realize that these people were not given many years on this earth.

Jim Elliot was killed by men he was trying to save… at age 28.

Oswald Chambers died unexpectedly… at age 43.

Keith Green died in a plane crash… at age 28.

Rachel Scott was murdered at Columbine High School… at age 17.

Jesus Christ was crucified… at age 33. (He rose from the dead, by the way!!!)

Most of these people died unexpectedly, and the world would say tragically. But all of these people strove to use their time wisely and changed lives for the better. Is that a tragedy? I’ll tell you what is certainly a tragedy.

The death of someone who has failed to live with eternity in mind is undeniably a tragedy.

Will my death be a tragedy? Will yours?

Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last. – C.T. Studd

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, + Highlights of March 2021

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, + Highlights of March 2021

April… it’s here.

Hooowwwww???

March 2021 was an epic month for me. Some pretty exciting and awesome stuff happened… plus some not so awesome but still exciting stuff. Here ’tis.

Highlights of the Month

  • Watching medieval sword fights in the name of research
  • Reading and writing outside!
  • Trying to contain ridiculous amounts of laughter while alpha reading a slice of life/comedy/romance story
  • Reading with my little sisters
  • Going on a date with my dad
  • Trying my hand at blackout poetry
  • Discovering an artichoke painting at Hobby Lobby… if you’re a YDubber, you might understand.:)
  • Gaining firsthand experience for future writing projects by smashing my toe against a bed frame. On accident.
  • Finding a brutal editor in my youngest sister. Case in point: “Yuck. Why rosy face? … you should delete his third biscuit. … how does that help? Delete that.” Ooookay???
  • In spite of aforementioned editor, completing the first draft of a novel for the very first time!!!
  • Thoroughly enjoying a weekend brimming with cousin craziness

What I’ve Been Reading

Frindle – Andrew Clements

“Who says dog means dog? You do, Nicholas.”

I’m rediscovering my appreciation of good MG fiction with this book. I hadn’t read Frindle in years, so it’s been super fun to read it to my youngest sisters this month!

From the Grave – A.W. Tozer

“Whatever a man wants badly and persistently enough will determine the man’s character.”

I shared about this book in last month’s post, but it’s definitely worth recommending again. It’s written as a devotional for Lent, but honestly it would be amazing to read at any time of the year. I’m really appreciating A.W. Tozer’s no-nonsense way of writing about the hard truth. It’s very easy to understand, and very convicting, as well.

The Bear That Heard Crying – Natalie Kinsey-Warnock and Helen Kinsey

I enjoy reading books that I really enjoyed as a child to my little sisters! This is based on a true story, and I really enjoy the illustrations, too.

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear – Audrey Wood

I loved this book as a little kid, and so it was really fun to read it again to my sister the other day. The illustrations are so adorable!

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch – Jean Lee Latham

Elizabeth rolled her eyes gravely from one to the other. “It’s his brain, don’t you think? I mean – it’s awfully restless. He probably reads Latin to keep it quiet. The way girls stitch samplers, you know.”

I remembered really enjoying this book several years ago when I was assigned to read it for school… and when I dug it out of the bookshelf again the other day, I had a hard time putting it down! It’s extremely well-written, and following Nat Bowditch and his ever-present troubles and love of arithmetic is fascinating and enjoyable.

Journal Snippets

Convicted on Sunday that oftentimes when I feel super “Christian” when I’m drawing near to God, I don’t deserve the title. I’m just doing what anyone else in my circumstance would do. But when I seek God when my flesh doesn’t feel needy… that’s truly seeking God.

Christianity has been twisted and melted into this safe, feel-good cure-all. That’s not what it is. It’s a radical, life-defining commitment to God and God alone, and if we don’t treat it as such, we can’t call it Christianity.

What were some of the highlights of your March?

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.:)

Reflections Blog Tag

Reflections Blog Tag

Last week I was tagged by JadeSky over at Stepping Stones Book Reviews for the Reflections Blog Tag!

The rules:

  • Thank the person who tagged you (Thank you so much, JadeSky! I’m excited to do this.:) )
  • Share 8 things that God has blessed and/or taught you in 2020
  • Tag 5+ bloggers

Let’s get started, then! Here are 8 of the things God taught me and/or used to bless me in 2020.

1. I graduated!!!

photo credit: @thru.t.h.e.lens

Yep. Definitely a big one. That was pretty awesome.:)

2. My thirst for living an unordinary life was finally (partially) slaked.

Oh, so you think your life is boring? You think nothing exciting ever happens in life? Here ya go. *2020 hits me in the face*

3. I was reminded of God’s role as the ultimate plotter/storyteller.

As I studied the ins and outs of developing plot and characters last year, all while watching many Dickens and Austen-esque plot twists/complexities play out in my own life, I was reminded of God’s amazing planning abilities.

Honestly, growing as a writer has helped me to grow as a Christian. As I seek to develop complex plots, I’m able to understand how God works just a little bit more. When He allows my life to get out of control, I remember that a good author makes no mistakes in his plot. “Problems” and seemingly impossible situations are there to be resolved… and so bring glory to the author.

I know God will be glorified through the craziness that I fail to understand in my own life.

4. I gained some quality blogging experience.

I started my blog The Farmer’s Daughter in April of last year and began posting three times a week until late July, when my blogging self crashed a bit for graduation. After that I hopped back up, got this blog rolling, and started posting consistently here in mid-August. The self-imposed deadlines have been really good for me, pushing me to write even when I don’t feel very inspired.

Also, blogging is just plain fun. Most of the time.:)

5. I was thrown out of my comfort zone multiple times.

Being interviewed and judged for a contest, writing and delivering a couple of speeches, initiating conversations and/or keeping them going… yes. It was terrifying, difficult, and so good for me.

6. I came to realize that I really love working on the farm.

This was definitely a surprise for me!

I almost always enjoyed being a farm kid, but never really wanted to keep working on the farm after high school graduation. Enter a fun plot twist in June of 2020, and I land the job of feeding cows several mornings a week… and find that I actually like it. Now I’m enjoying my role on the farm and anxiously awaiting the days when I can once again get scorched on an open station tractor during harvest. XD

Aren’t God’s plans so much better than ours?

7. I learned that, in the long run, it’s easier to remain faithful in the difficult and the mundane than it is to regain lost footing.

With all of the craziness in life last year, I let some of the daily disciplines I’d maintained for years slide. Not a good idea. But… live and learn.

8. God gave me some amazing friendships.

Last year I was able to meet so many new people and forge new friendships. That was pretty amazing.

And I would like to tag…

Makayla

Keziah

Daniel L. Amador

Maya Joelle

Grace

As always, thank you for reading! What were some of the ways God blessed/taught you in 2020?

(Very!!!) Exciting News + Another Poll

(Very!!!) Exciting News + Another Poll

Yo!

Yesterday, for the very first time in the history of ever, I finished the first draft of a novel!!!

I may be slightly excited.:)

I started working seriously on this project in August of 2020. I had no idea of what lay ahead! The process was much more challenging than I had anticipated it would be. It took longer to write than I thought it would take. It pushed me so much more than I thought it would…

But I’ve learned so much.

I’ve been able to see firsthand what I can accomplish if I set a (reasonable) goal for myself and hold myself to it, which means…

I want to continue to push myself to the limit and see how far I can go, how much I can accomplish. Not just in writing, but in all areas of life. I’m a bit scared… but terribly excited.

Right here I want to be very cliché and say that I never could have done this on my own. Ever. I’m amazed at how God filled my life with just the right people at just the right times to inspire and build me up, to critique and offer advice, to brainstorm and help to develop my characters/world/plot, to motivate and cheer me on, and even to just say, “Hey! I loved that part!”

If you’re one of those people… thank you. You bless me so much. You helped me get to the place where I can say, “Yes! I wrote a book!”

Yes, it’s a small book. Yes, I cringe at the clunky, awkward parts. Yes, it needs major editing. Yes, there are pieces of the plot that are hanging loose.

But it’s a book. And I wrote it.

In my soul, I am bouncing off the walls. XD

But anyway…

I said something about a poll!

I was wondering if you would be willing to give me some feedback on a few ideas. I’d like to keep writing novels, but am not planning to start publishing them in the very near future. What I would like to do in the near future is publish something that is not a novel. I’ve got a few ideas… and if you would vote for your favorite one, I would be super thankful!:)

For Being Scared – Flash/Fan Fiction

For Being Scared – Flash/Fan Fiction

Happy Monday, all!

So today’s piece of fiction is half flash fiction, half fan fiction. Flash fiction because… it’s short. Fan fiction because the two characters featured in this scene are from the novel I’m writing! (Can you write fan fiction for your own characters? I don’t know, but today we’ll pretend you can.:) )

Look at the ceiling… out the windows… at the cold stone of the floor… at anything but what’s right in front of you. Look at anything that could make you forget the pain.

Myghell gritted his teeth and turned his head to the side, staring at the dirt ground into the shoulder of his shirt. He looked at the stone blocks of the castle wall against which he leaned. He stared at his left arm resting on his knees, determined not to see his right arm where he cradled it against his chest.

“Myghell!”

He groaned and smiled all at once. The little girl was barreling towards him with brow furrowed and arms pumping. He moved his left arm in an attempt to cover the bloodied cloak that he’d crudely used to bandage his wounded arm. Too late. “You’re bleeding!”

“A little.” “You need someone to take care of you.” She looked around the great room full of groaning men and scurrying medics, and Myghell shrugged the shoulder of his good arm. “No one’s available right now, but it’s alright. It’s just a scratch.”

She frowned, crossing her arms. “Scratches don’t dump blood all over your cloak. Lemme see.”

“I’m fine, Kahtcha.”

“But I want to take care of you!” She got down on her knees and poked at his bloodied cloak, pouting when he brushed her hands away.

“You’re not even supposed to be in here.”

“Blood doesn’t scare me.” Her brown eyes glowed defiantly. “How was the battle?”

Myghell smiled wryly. She asked the question as though she were asking about a peaceful flight across the Shire. “Bad.”

“You lost?”

“We did. But the war isn’t over.” Myghell bowed his head. “It won’t be over ’til we win.”

“What was it like?”

Myghell hesitated, remembering the frustration of times past when he’d been shut out from conversations and retellings that were deemed to be unsuitable for his young ears. “It was loud… and bloody… and… frightening.”

“But you weren’t scared.” Kahtcha sat on the floor next to him and hugged his good arm, proud of her mighty warrior.

“I was.”

“But you aren’t scared of anything!” “Everyone’s scared of something.” “I didn’t think you were,” Kahtcha murmured, scooting closer to him.

Myghell grinned. “Guess for the first time, you’re wrong about something.”

Kahtcha giggled and leaned her head on his arm. His eyes scanned the room, then he glanced down at her. “Close your eyes, sweetie. I don’t want you to see all this.” She obeyed so fiercely that her nose wrinkled up. “But I can stay?” “For now.”

They sat in silence. When she finally spoke again, her words startled him.

“Thank you.”

He turned and saw that her eyes were still closed tightly. “For what?”

“For being scared so I don’t have to be.”

Intentionality.

Intentionality.

It’s a word that popped into my mind when I wanted to choose a few theme words for this year, and it’s a word that’s continued to force itself upon my consciousness throughout these months.

Intentionality.

I want it in my life as a Christian. I want it in my life as a daughter. I want it in my life as a sister. I want it in my life as a friend. I want it in my life as an employee, a writer, a student…

I want it to define my life, because my days are short and few. A moment slips by without notice or effort, and then it’s gone forever.

So I want to be intentional.

To intentionally put God first in my heart, my mind, and my days.

To intentionally battle procrastination so I don’t have to push people away when I’m scrambling for a deadline.

To intentionally do my best work on the smallest of tasks, whether at the farm, at the keyboard, or in the home.

To intentionally send a text or letter just to let someone know they matter.

To intentionally put down my phone or close my laptop or book to be all there when someone calls my name.

To intentionally drink in the beauty of life.

To intentionally battle introverted tendencies and strike up conversations with people I don’t know well.

To intentionally be transparent, tearing down any false fronts I’ve set up in my life.

To intentionally thirst for wisdom… and then intentionally seek it.

To intentionally take up my cross and follow Jesus, every single day.

To intentionally live for God.

Reluctant Hero – Installment #3

Reluctant Hero – Installment #3

If you’ve enjoyed the previous Reluctant Hero stories… here’s the next one!

Before dinner I was charged with the care of three hungry and clamorous little hooligans. Now after dinner I am charged with the care of three jelly-smeared and butter-bedecked clamorous little hooligans.

Prospects are bleak. I have two hours to go.

I s’pose I should start by cleaning them up. I grab some paper napkins and go to work. Only it doesn’t work. Holly giggles and Cameron yells as I smear the jelly in larger and bleaker circles on their faces. “Mommy gets it wet first!”

For good reason. That works much better. Now that the little tyrants are clean enough, I lean my elbows on the table. “So… what do you guys usually do after supper?”

“Mommy reads us books –”

Cameron rudely shoves his words on top of Holly’s. “We sing songs, too! Old MacDonald had a farm, e-i-e-i-o!” He bobs his whole body along to the song as I cover my ears and Holly tugs on my sleeve. “I want more water.”

“Okay, I’ll get you some.”

“Me, too! I want some water!”

Nothing like being followed by bouncing children wherever you go.

Two soaked t-shirts, a shattered glass and a few tears later, I set the dirty dishes in the sink, put the applesauce in the fridge, and pull the kids onto the couch with me. They’ve filled their little fists with all the books they can hold, and I feel a sudden wave of fatigue.

Oh, help.

“This one’s my favorite; read it first!” Cameron shoves a tattered paperback three inches from my nose. “Whoa, buddy; hold on a sec.” Holding the book at a more comfortable distance, I read the title. “Caps for Sale.”

“Read it, read it!” The couch is shaking with their maniacal bouncing, and even Jake’s tear-streaked face mellows a bit. “Okay…”

When I open the book, something magical happens. I can hardly believe my ears and eyes. Are they actually… calming down? I start reading, slowly. They stare, eyes wide and hands still. Page after page after page, until I close the book and they throw another one at me. And another. And another…

Somehow, being suffocated by a pile of children isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. Even when Jake falls asleep with his face squished up against my chest, drooling all over my shirt, I don’t really mind…

What’s happening to me?

Thinking in the Tractor

Thinking in the Tractor

Each week I’m blessed to have several hours of time alone on the farm while I’m mixing feed. Most of that time I spend creating stories I’ll never finish, giving inspirational speeches, or belting musical numbers at the top of my lungs.

But sometimes I just think, and in the tractor today, a flood of thoughts started pouring in…

You need to stop looking forward all the time. You need to stop living for the future. In your relentless pursuit of what lies ahead, you’re going to plow through all of the opportunities, blessings, and joys that are crowding your life right now. You think that if you can only get to the end of this project, the start of the next season, the end of this trial, you’ll be on top of things, have your life all together, and truly be able to start pouring yourself out for God.

You’re wrong.

At the end of this project lies the beginning of a new one. With the start of the next season come new complications and the end of several things you love about this season. At the end of this trial awaits the arrival of a new one. It’s a vicious cycle you won’t escape… and if you keep living for tomorrow, you’ll someday reach a point where all your tomorrows are spent… and you’ll be left with a string of half-lived yesterdays.

So will you stop living in the shadows of your shredded plans and start living for God’s ultimate plan? Will you stop making your choices based on what you think is best and start making your choices based on what God says is best? Will you stop frittering away your precious days and start investing them in eternity?

You have this moment for just that – a moment.

Make it count.