Break of Dawn – Flash Fiction

Break of Dawn – Flash Fiction

The cliff soared high above the churning lake below, its face rugged. The jutting rocks were perfect for giving fallen explorers a false sense of hope in their dire situation.

Without help, they had all lost their hold.

The young woman clung with her fingers and feet to the most prominent holds she could reach, sweat trickling down her spine in the cool of the evening. She clenched her jaw and adjusted her grip.

“Daddy…please…”

Of course, it was her fault that she’d fallen. He’d told her not to go anywhere near the edge of this cliff. But he loved her; she knew that. He loved her like no one else would ever love her.

He would come.

She knew he would.

Fingers aching, she glanced down. The moonlight shattered and glinted on the face of the roiling water, mocking. Boasting. Beckoning.

Don’t look down.

Her father’s voice echoed in her ears, and she tilted her face to the sky. Studded with stars, it brought memories rushing back.

“Can you count the stars, sweetie?”

“No, Daddy. I keep trying, but there are too many. They keep going on forever and ever!”

“They do, don’t they? Just like the way I love you.”

She had giggled and snuggled close to him. His beard had been rough and comforting against her cheek, his arms strong and safe around her. “I love you, too, Daddy.”

“I know, sweetheart.”

Tears glistened with the sweat on her face now. Did he still know she loved him? Even as she clung here, fallen from the precipice he’d marked off-limits? What would he think if they found her body in the lake far below? Did he have the same confidence in her love as she had in his?

“Daddy…” she whimpered, burying her face in her shoulder. Her muscles screamed. Her fingers ached. “I can’t hold on much longer…Daddy, please…”

The lapping of the waves on the shore far below was a taunt, loud in the silent night. The waves had closed over many wayward souls. She had shaken her head with her father as the rebels had neared the cliff’s edge, dancing closer and closer to destruction. She had cried and prayed with him for wisdom for the prodigals…

And now she, too, had fallen.

She tried to close her mind to what had led her to this place, but her memory dragged each image before her eyes, refusing to let her drown the past in obscurity.

There had been dancers on the cliffs. Beautiful, skilled, other-worldly. They had caught her up in their dance and drawn her nearer and nearer until she’d forgotten where she was. Finally, she’d gotten close enough to grasp one of them…

Her fingers passed through him like he was a mist.

Ghosts. She’d been chasing phantoms.

By then, it was too late. Her toes were already clinging to the cliff’s edge, and the horror of her discovery sent her reeling. She fell, screaming, over the edge, and mercifully found a hold on its face.

Or perhaps it wasn’t mercy. Perhaps it was judgement, giving her ample time to reflect upon her misdeeds before falling to her death – like so many other fools – into the lake below.

“Forgive me.” Her words were a gasp. “Daddy…”

The world blackened, and the stars burned like beacons. Streams of sweat ran into her eyes…or perhaps they were tears? She couldn’t tell anymore. She couldn’t hold on anymore.

“Daddy…please…”

He would come. She knew he would come. She just had to hold on…hold on just a little longer…

Minutes felt like hours. Hours felt like decades. Her muscles felt like fire.

The night crawled on, agony in its essence. She clung to the rock face, her lips moving in silence.

He loves me. He will save me. He loves me. He will come.

As dawn broke in the east, his voice boomed from the top of the cliff. “I’m coming, love.”

What happened next, she could never remember. All she knew was that she awoke in her father’s arms, in the safety of their castle, with love smiling at her from his eyes.

“It’s all right my daughter.

“It’s all right.”

“God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.”

Psalm 46:5b

Photo by Billy Pasco on Unsplash

May Review – 2022

May Review – 2022

May is…over?

Right now my computer is slower than a lame tortoise and my brain feels like a mashed potato in a tornado, so I’m grateful I wrote this post as I lived through May so I don’t have to remember everything on my own! I hope you enjoy my glance back on this month with me.:)

When David faced Goliath he didn’t talk about how dangerous Goliath was – he talked about how great God is. Don’t talk fear. Talk faith.

Breny (someone I follow on IG)

Things worth remembering

  • wandering through some war memorials
  • sneaking over to my grandma’s house with my siblings in the early morning to fill her yard with pinwheels as a birthday surprise
  • pizza, ice cream, and good talks with a study group
  • a long sibling walk that ended in a rainstorm and sprinting…too bad we weren’t headed to Netherfield, huh?
  • exploring old farm buildings and finding bones
  • scaling fish for the first time and immensely enjoying it
  • seeing This Will Not Last on my library’s online catalog!!
  • finally wearing tank tops to work again
  • leading worship with friends on a women’s retreat
  • fighting the urge to start a fund for purchasing WWII uniforms
  • spending time with family for my grandma’s birthday
  • watching the talent show put on by my younger cousins
  • senior testimony night at my church’s youth group…I love hearing what God has done in each of their lives. ❤

what if…everything you are going through is preparing you for what you asked for?

unknown

What I’ve been reading

Blog posts

Seasons – Winter And Spring, Both Of Them Beautiful! – Makayla Jesalyn

The way I feel isn’t a good excuse to be unproductive, and neither is a lingering winter. I am completely responsible for myself, and my actions do not hinge on the whether the weather outside is frightful or delightful. What’s inside me is what ought to drive me.

The spiritual parallels of the physical seasons are my favorite, and Makayla has some wonderful thoughts in this post!

Consorting with Wild Youth//How Sarah Became Friends with the Local Delinquents – Sarah Baran

I’ve opted for a new and much more effective approach; manipulating them using the unconquerable force of peer-pressure. I can do this because I’m college-age and therefore a god. At least, in their opinion.

Sarah’s posts always leave me laughing and in awe of her ability to use my beloved snark so beautifully, and this one was no exception…except this one wrung my heart a bit at the end. Do yourself a favor and give this one a read.

Books

BoundVictoria Lynn

Death had a habit of being permanent.

Oh, my goodness…this book was heart-wrenching and the sweetest all at the same time. I loved everything about this story. It was also super fun to read it after spending time with the author!:)

Cathedral Maya Joelle

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.

I’ve been digging into this one again. It’s one of my absolute favorites.

Rescue – Jennifer A. Nielsen

“Enough of your questions about who I am. Maybe I should ask who you really are. Am I safer taking my chances out there with the Germans?”

I stole this one from a sister on a road trip and was instantly hooked. Talk about suspense!

Devotedly – Valerie Elliot Shepard

Guys.

I FINISHED IT!!!!

(If you’ve been here for a good amount of time, you’ll know how wonderful this is.XD) I loved it so much!! You can read my brief review on my Goodreads account.:)

“Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us.”

Isaiah 25:9

From the Journal

Oh, Lord, may I ever remain set apart for Your purpose so that You may do wonders in my tomorrows.

All will be made whole…

Achan took the spoil because it was tempting…but God was going to allow the spoils to be taken lawfully in the next battle. Oh, Lord, help me to trust that You will satisfy my longings in due time.

Oh, Lord, clear my mind and give me the wisdom to discern between roadblocks You have set before me to turn my heart to greater things, and the rugged territory of fallen trees I must naturally clamber over on my way in Your will for me.

Lord, grant repentance. We cannot even come to the realization and regret of our sins if You don’t give us the grace to do so.

I can laugh without fear of the future, not because I am well-prepared and invincible, but because my Father laughs in the face of my greatest fears, and I trust Him completely.

How was your May? What stood out to you in this past month? Have you been reading/watching/listening to anything good lately?

Blessings,

Laurel

13 haikus

Hello, friends!

Last week I asked in my Instagram stories for some fun/lovely/unique words to use as poetry prompts. I was given some pretty awesome words! I turned most of them into haikus…and here they are! I hope you enjoy reading through them.:)

illustrious

illustrious soul

please don’t let go your wonder

hold fast to your song

set-apart

my dear, don’t you know

you aren’t meant to blend in here…

He set you apart

windblown

windblown and wild

a soul bent on so much more

fights onward for truth

crepuscular

crepuscular light

shoving hard against darkness

the essence of hope

surrender

surrender, my love…

bitterness only poisons

the heart holding it

raxeira

here in Your glory

Lord, let me be nothing more

than a raxeira

introspect

introspectional

sometimes I neglect seeing

the wounds around me

ubiquitous

one day – someday soon –

we will live in a land of

ubiquitous joy

shalom

spill shalom freely

let it drip down from your words

and your legacy

candle

candle in the wind,

fight for your faltering light…

the world needs your song

glimmer

see, even teardrops

glimmer in the face of light,

defying darkness

dolphin

a dolphin rises,

slips through the ocean’s crust,

smiles, vanishes

periwinkle

take me to a place

where city lights don’t battle

periwinkle skies

Which haiku is your favorite? Have you ever tried writing haikus?

Glory Writers Retreat Recap

Glory Writers Retreat Recap

(Don’t you just love how the lights are photobombing the mountains?)

The last week of April I got to attend my first writer’s retreat…goodness sakes, was it ever just what I needed! Here’s a little recap of the trip.:)

Highlights of the trip

The answered prayers.

I can’t tell you enough how much of a God thing this whole experience was. This retreat and my travels were bathed in prayer, and it was evident. I refused to let myself spend much time worrying about any aspect of the trip, but homesickness is a real thing for this homebody! The last time I spent a week away from my family, I was in bed crying and wondering how feasible it would be for my parents to drive twenty-four hours one way to come pick me up. Seriously. But this time? Not a bit of homesickness. I was so grateful!

I also wasn’t mentally exhausted by almost zero time by myself for several days. The more I think about it, the more I realize how much of a miracle that truly was. XD

It was also as if during this trip so many of my fears melted away. Fears of traveling alone. Fears of stepping out and doing new things spontaneously. Fears of living outside of my comfort zone. I can’t praise God enough for what He did on this retreat!

The whole flying thing.

I love airports, but I’d never flown alone before…or had to handle layovers. Layovers in huge airports, no less. Thankfully everything went very smoothly, and the trip was very educational. I learned how much a four-ounce carton of white fish salad costs in Philadelphia (it’s a rip-off), that Minnesota is a lucrative destination for jilted lovers (or, perhaps, the jilters), and that there’s nothing like watching someone being welcomed home to warm the cockles of one’s heart.

While in the airport, I also saw an Albert Einstein lookalike and someone who looked almost exactly like one of the main characters in a book I’m writing! Will wonders never cease?

The people.

Goodness sakes, did I ever meet some amazing ladies! It was so, so beautiful to come together with ladies I’d never met in person and have this instant soul connection, simply because of our shared love for Jesus and lifting Him high through our words. It was like discovering long-lost sisters!

The adventures.

Thinking we were witnessing an arrest. Seeing baby bears near our picnic spot. Spontaneous ice cream runs. Wandering through a cemetery after a photoshoot. Scrambling over rocks near a stream. Watching a potter shape a vase. Desperate phone calls to wise fathers when the brakes started smoking in the mountains. Movie nights. Laughter around the pool table. An impromptu dance party on our last night together.

Memories I wouldn’t trade for a million books.

The conversations.

Seriously, guys. The number of times I got goosebumps during conversations at the cabin, realizing the amazing things God is doing with and through these young writers…it was almost surreal. He is using these ladies and their stories – both the ones they’re living and the ones they’re writing – to shake the world and strengthen His kingdom. It’s beautiful.


How has God been working in your life lately? Where has He been stretching you and showing His powerful sovereignty?

Reposting “Beyond a Shattered Past – Flash Fiction and Raw Thoughts”

Reposting “Beyond a Shattered Past – Flash Fiction and Raw Thoughts”

Hello, friends!

In last Monday’s post, I said I would be sharing a recap of the writing retreat I attended last month, but, alas, the week was full of other adventures (such as writing a prologue for my new WIP [!!!] and having my guitar accidentally stolen by a band) and I didn’t cut out enough time to write the post.

So here is a post that I shared in January. I still get goosebumps reading it. If the weight of guilt and desperation is weighing heavy on you, this piece is especially for you. It’s my prayer that it gives you hope and a glimpse of God’s redeeming light. ❤

Beyond a Shattered Past – Flash Fiction and Raw Thoughts

What adventures did this week hold for you? I always love hearing from you in the comments!

-Laurel

observe – a poem

observe – a poem

Hello, friends!

Today I’m sharing a poem that I wrote while on the Glory Writers retreat…next Monday, keep your eyes peeled for a recap of that trip.:)

observe, My child,

the ways that I walk,

and tread these paths beside Me.

the world dances to a different tune,

so press your ear close to My song and

obey

these words that I sing to you,

lest you forget in the valley

the songs that we sang on the mountaintop,

for My words still ring true in the storm.

take My hand, little one,

for I long to be near you,

and shield you from fear

and the terror of night.

observe, My child,

the ways that I walk,

and tread these paths beside Me.

How do you keep your eyes on the ways of the Lord? What are some of your favorite Scriptures or quotes to bring to mind when you’re needing to refocus on God?

Photo by Zack Silver on Unsplash

April Review – 2022

April Review – 2022

Goodness gracious, this may have been one of the most exciting months of my life! I know it’s been pretty quiet on the blog front, but it’s been jam-packed with raw living…and it’s been incredible.

Let’s take a peek.:)

Things worth remembering

  • Releasing my first poetry book!
  • going on a quest to pick up furniture with my brother
  • packaging and mailing out preorders of aforementioned poetry book – I so enjoyed getting to think about all of the people who would be receiving a copy of This Will Not Last!
  • making toast at the first sibling bonfire of the year
  • Sharing a Christian Seder meal with family and dear friends
  • Not blowing away in some pretty high winds
  • Navigating airports and lengthy layovers on my own and realizing it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be
  • Spending a week talking and adventuring and building relationships with like-minded writers on the Glory Writers retreat! I want to do a full post dedicated to covering this event, so stay tuned!

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” – Aristotle

What I’ve been reading

Love Comes Softly – Janette Oke

I know, I am a fierce critic of the romance genre, but I devoured this book in two days! There was so much solid character development, and of course a bit of heartache. I’m not the biggest fan of Janette Oke’s writing style, but after I got over that I couldn’t put the book down. I definitely recommend it!

White Stallion of Lipizza – Marguerite Henry

I love Marguerite Henry’s books! I hadn’t read one in the longest time, so it’s been fun to pick this one up again.

“There are far, far greater things ahead than any we leave behind.” – C.S. Lewis

From the journal

Today is not your day. It’s God’s. Use it accordingly.

And yet I praise You, Father, because You know best, and even in the broken valley You are the restorer of my soul.

What made your April memorable? I’d love to hear in the comments!

If I Were Him – Flash Fiction (written by my sister!)

Hello, friends!

I’m really excited to share today’s post with you all…because I really love it, and because my sister Abby wrote it! I think it’s the perfect piece for Holy Week.

I enter the room. I’m a servant, so I’m allowed in here.

The men at the front draw my attention. There is Caiaphas, the high priest, tall and regal, with a stern face, his hands clenched into fists at his side. Near him are the scribes and elders, and the whole council, all talking in excited voices. But the One I am most focused on is the One who is bound. The One at whom the others cast spiteful looks. There is something in His face…a calmness that I cannot place. They are trying to accuse Him, and I know why. They want to put Him to death because He claims to be the Son of God. They are afraid He will turn the people away from obeying their rules. This is why I wonder at His look. He should be upset, fighting for His life. But He’s not.

They start to bring in false witnesses and I watch with wide eyes as they all try to accuse Him. The Man, whom I’ve heard them call Jesus, does not speak. Then they ask Him a question, and He lifts His head. Could that be? A smile on His face? No, it must be the light. He begins to speak, and I strain to hear, but all of a sudden there is scuffling near the door, blocking out His voice. I turn, irritated. A man enters, breathing hard, and he tries his best to silently move to the fire at the far end of the wall where several servants are gathered. His eyes keep flitting to the arguing group in the front, and as he turns his head, something dawns on me. He seems familiar, like I’ve seen him before…but where?

Oh, yes! I’ve seen him with Jesus in the streets. He is the one that would be pushing the crowds away so there would always be a clear path for his teacher. I’m curious about how much he would know about Jesus, and I edge my way closer. He turns when I tap his shoulder. His eyes are wild, but they calm when he sees I’m only a servant.

“You were with Jesus,” I blurt, motioning at the bound Man.

He glares at me. “No, of course not. I have nothing to do with Him.” Other servants crowd around, but he fights them off, insisting he knows nothing about Jesus. He leaves as quickly as possible, and I wonder about that.

If I were a follower of Jesus and were able to follow Him freely through the streets like I’d seen others do, I wouldn’t have denied Him. I glanced at the front again. No, a Man that speaks such wonderful words and performs such amazing miracles I would surely give my life for.

Little did I know that that very day, He would give His life for me.

Question of the day: What would you have done if you were a follower of Jesus on the day He was crucified?

March 2022 Review

This March was so full of adventure and soul-searching. Here’s my review!

Things worth remembering…

  • a tramp through the woods with my brother and a couple of sisters
  • listening to Flight of Valor live. It was written to honor the heroes on United Flight 93…I still can’t listen to it without getting goosebumps.
  • a weekend trip to Nebraska with my brother and grandparents
  • a crisp morning walk through a cemetery I was delighted to find lay across the road from the motel on said trip
  • star-gazing on the side of the road with my grandma while everyone else was in the vehicle skunk-gazing the smelly little family crossing the road in front of us
  • making Shamrock shakes without a blender
  • setting up my Etsy shop! Currently I don’t have any listings (Preorders for This Will Not Last have closed), but I am hoping to have some poetry-themed products out soon.:) What would you like to see? Greeting cards? Post cards? Notebooks? Anything else? Let me know in the comments!
  • trying a new method of curling my hair and accidently making it look like I just stepped out of the eighties
  • giving dried seaweed a hearty 0/10 rating
  • reading and discussing Crazy Love (by Francis Chan) with friends
  • a family shopping trip and supper out

“I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

I’ve been reading…

Reflection – Laurel Burgess

Technically I read this short story in February…but, man. It’s too good not to share. I definitely recommend it!

Also…definitely check out Laurel’s website. Her short story, Attack of the Gummy Worms, had me laughing so hard!

The Best Yes – Lysa Terkeurst

How you live your life determines how you spend your soul.

Man, has this book been a wake-up call. Or rather, a megaphone for the wake-up call that has been trying to grab my attention for a while now. Time is a precious gift. It is limited, and once we spend it, it’s gone. Forever. Making wise decisions is key to stewarding our time in the best way possible…and I’m preaching to myself here.

This Will Not Last – Laurel Jean

when my shell of defense crashes down all around and the world as I know it is gone // You’re still here… You are mine… I am Yours.

Hehehe, watch me shamelessly plug my writing. XD

Seriously, though…I have so been enjoying reading through this again…and again. I think you might like it, too.:) You can order your very own copy here!

Crazy Love – Francis Chan

Could it be your arrogance that makes you think God owes you an explanation? …to put it bluntly, when you get your own universe, you can make your own standards.

I’ve been reading and talking through this book with some sweet friends…another megaphone for God’s wake-up call. Wow. It’s been amazing.

“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

I’ve been listening to…

Lots of Alan Gogoll’s music! I love to listen to it when I’m working in the kitchen, drawing, or painting. So relaxing!

for KING & COUNTRY’s newest album, What Are We Waiting For? Over. And over. And over again. I think my sisters might like it. XD

Instrumental with Dave and JJ Heller. This podcast is absolutely incredible! I love hearing about how God uses the tiniest twists and turns in a person’s life to direct it in a beautiful and redeeming way.

Do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill the love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies too. Or, we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel. Whenever we cannot love in the old human way, God can give us the perfect way.”

Casper ten Boom

From the journal…

Always, choosing God’s way in a broken world has made His people different from the world. I will stick out. I will walk a road less traveled…and that is beautiful. Oh, steel my heart with courage, Lord!

The way is raw and broken and painful even now…I don’t want it to be this way. But You will make this beautiful. You will heal us. I pray that happens on earth, but even if it doesn’t…Your way is best. I will rest in this even while I ache.

Lord, I want to desire You. Not just the hope of brighter days, but You…for Yourself. For Your justice. For Your mercy. For Your goodness. For Your love. For Your wisdom.

We urge people to “accept Jesus as Savior” (a phrase never found in the Bible), but do we urge them to confess Him as Lord? He is just as much a Lord as He is a Savior, but we’re so attached to our liberty that we don’t want to see Him as anything more than gentle. Oh, Lord, may I treat You as Lord!

Never revert to the safety of the known when God has snatched you from it for the unknown. (Numbers 14)

Yes, I may pray that You show me the way in which I should walk, but I must actively seek…put in the grunt work. Oh, give me courage and determination!

What memories/lessons are you carrying away from this month?

It’s Release Day!!! Here are my thoughts.

It’s Release Day!!! Here are my thoughts.

Guys, the big day is FINALLY HERE!!!!!!!

The day I never thought I’d reach.

Aaagh, I can’t really put it all in words. I’m kind of excited. I think I might have a little celebration.

Here’s the link to purchase it on Amazon! (Or just look at it and be happy that it’s on Amazon for the world to see, like I’ve been doing. Or write a review and rate it once you read it. That would be totally awesome.)

If you have read my writing, encouraged me, given me feedback, helped me along this crazy road to publishing…thank you. Thank you for being here and letting me share my thoughts with you. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be doing this!

I wrote the following piece a few days ago…and decided to share it here.

Honest thoughts here…

As I’m writing this, it’s four days from the day my first book will be released.

My first book. In print.

It’s crazy to think about because I’ve wanted this day so badly for years. I can remember when I would scribble in the notebooks I’d stockpiled from the back-to-school sale at Shopko and dream about when the world would read my words…and as I see orders coming in across the country from people I’ve never even met, it all feels surreal.

I’m the writer I dreamed of being…

And yet I’m not.

I wanted to be a novelist. A nice solid novel was always what I envisioned when I pictured my first book. Probably historical fiction…and definitely published by the time I was eighteen. (Thank you, Jo March and Anne Shirley for warping my view of the publishing process.) Oh, and the world was going to love it. I was going to be famous.

I think that was the most important part to me. Writing so the world would remember my name.

That’s really, really sad.

Even now I keep checking myself against valuing my work in writing against how many people follow me. How many interact in the comment section or in messages. How many order my book.

How many approve of me.

But that was never the point of it, anyway.

“All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”  – Colossians 1:17-18

That in all things Christ may have the preeminence, not me.

All things were created for Him, not me.

And the fact that He’s given me the grace and ability to pull words together and hand them to the world in a way that is relatable and healing…

That’s worth more than all of the book sales, likes, and followers in the world.

Over and over again as I keep writing and He keeps helping me forward, one thought keeps coming to my mind.

Even if only one life is touched by this book/by my writing, it’ll all be worth it.

God’s completely changed my mind about how I want to view my writing. Less than two years ago I was fighting towards the goal of becoming a full-time writer. Now I’ve realized all I want is to keep writing as a side gig…and yet I’ve never felt as much purpose in my writing as I do now.

Because it’s become a ministry for me. A way that I can reach people across the world with words and build a bridge of hope and relatability.

It’s a way that I can show people they’re not alone.

It’s a way that I can point people to God and scream out how great He is.

I love my God, and I want you to love Him, too.

❤ Laurel