(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.

Love Song – A Poem

Love Song – A Poem

Happy Monday, all!

(It really is a happy Monday… the weather is amazing here right now.)

So… I procrastinated this past weekend. Imagine that. So today scampers around and fills up with a few time-consuming surprises. Thus, we ditch all plans for a thought-provoking article (because it remains half-written at present) and default to…

A poem.

I wrote this one last month, I think, and I really love it. I hope you do, too.:)

can’t remember

a time

I didn’t know

You loved me.

always

each day

You sang a song of love

to me

so freely

it didn’t matter how

I’d hurt You with

the words I’d said

the thoughts I’d

cherished

You

were always there

chasing

my heart

You were

relentless

in Your love

still are

I wonder what I did

with these dirty hands

to earn

Your faithfulness

how could I be so

vile

and yet so

loved

by the God of

holiness?

blood

drips

down

love

gave

all

for me

I’m free

free to love You

delight in You

serve You

give all for You

some call it

mad –

is it

mad

to give all

for the

One

you

love?

who gave

all

for

you?

friend, meet love.

Reluctant Hero – Installment #2

Reluctant Hero – Installment #2

Last Thursday I shared a little piece of flash fiction (you can read it here). I got a couple of suggestions that it could be a series… and since I enjoyed writing the story so much, I decided to write a second installment!

If you’d like to hear more about poor Ryan and his trials and tribulations, let me know, and maybe you will.:)

***

“Guys, this is Ryan. He’s gonna babysit you while Mommy is gone. Ryan, this is Holly, Cameron, and Jake.”

I try not to show my terror as I sweep a brief glance across the three little faces. “Hey, guys.”

“Hi, Ryan! Wanna wrestle?” Cameron screams. Holly stares at me blankly. Jake takes one look at me and bursts into tears. Oh, to be young enough to show my true feelings.

“I’ll be gone for about two and a half hours… that’ll work with your schedule?” The mother of the little brutes speaks in the tone of voice I imagine a prison guard uses when pleading for time off. I decide against asking if two and a half hours will work with my mental health, and instead say, “Uh… yeah.”

“Perfect.” Her sigh of relief is enormous. “Thanks so much for doing this. Bye, guys! You be good for Ryan. Oh,” she says, turning back with her hand on the front door knob, “Supper’s on the table. Have fun!”

Because that’s what you say to a kamikaze pilot.

The door slams behind her with a dismal finality. I turn slowly, muttering prayers for deliverance under my breath, and force myself to make eye contact with my charges. “So… you guys hungry?”

“I don’t like the crusts,” Cameron yells, racing Holly to the table. Jake stares up at me from where he sits on a blanket on the floor, eyes teary and lower lip trembling. Seeing that he isn’t seeking food with the vicious enthusiasm his siblings express, I guess he’s not old enough to walk yet. Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to walk if my legs were that chubby, either.

So how does one go about picking up a baby? I stare quizzically at the mini monster. I consider calling my sister, but laugh at myself after a few minutes of consideration. What am I thinking? I can do this! You probably just… grab him. Under the armpits, maybe?

Holding him at arm’s length, I begin to question the wisdom of this method. He’s starting to cry again. Food will help. I rush him to the table and plunk him in the small chair that sits up higher than the others. I assume it’s some sort of baby container – it has restraining straps and everything. Oh, thank goodness. I don’t have to hold the thing on my lap and have him dribble applesauce and drool all over my arms.

 However, the kid lets out a primal yell when his chubby leg gets pinched in one of the buckles.

“Quiet, Jake! QUIET!” his siblings scream in unison, banging their spoons on the table. I try to take deep breaths. It’s gonna be a long night.

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, + Highlights of February 2021

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, + Highlights of February 2021

Happy March, all!!!

I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited to see March before… I’m so ready for spring. But we saw what happened last March, so… do I dare get my hopes up?

I do. I most certainly do.

Before we plunge into this new month, however, I’d like to conduct a review of February, and you’re certainly welcome to join me.:)

Highlights of the month

  • Participating in a heated debate about soda during a family game night
  • Suddenly landing in a sitting position on the gym floor after a failed attempt at a throw in dodgeball
  • Having my patience tried during a freezing and eventful excursion with the youngest sisters
  • Appreciating my incredible friends
  • Finding that watching mysteries past midnight might not be the best idea… especially if you’re babysitting
  • Feeding cows without wearing a stocking cap!!!
  • Driving with the windows down
  • Falling in love with this version of The Greatest Showman soundtrack because… a cappella. And the songs.:)
  • Enjoying spiteful and malicious games of Spite and Malice

What I’ve been reading

The Resolution for Women – Priscilla Shirer

“Right now – whether you realize it or not – you’re choosing to treat people a certain way, to stay committed to certain activities, to live a certain life, to be a certain kind of person. You’re already a woman of resolutions.

I snagged this at a thrift store earlier this month, and while I haven’t been reading it voraciously, it’s been really good. I love Priscilla Shirer’s way of drawing spiritual parallels from ordinary stories!

From the Grave – A.W. Tozer

“People must be told that the Christian religion is not something they can trifle with. The faith of Christ will command or it will have nothing to do with a man.”

This book has a devotion for each day of Lent. I haven’t been reading it consistently (that’s hard to do when you misplace the book!), but everything I’ve read so far has been so thought-provoking and convicting.

Time Management Isn’t Enough to Build a Powerful Writing Habit – Josiah DeGraaf

“When you combine time management with mental energy management, you create a dynamic that will supercharge your career.”

Even if you aren’t a writer, I would highly recommend giving this a read! It’s a great resource for anyone who wants to take control of their mental energy and boost their productivity.

The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien

” ‘Drownded?’ said several voices. They had heard this and other darker rumors before, of course; but hobbits have a passion for family history, and they were ready to hear it again.”

The serious tone with which Tolkien treats his hilarious characters is the best. And his descriptions… perfection.

Stuart Little – E.B. White

” ‘Bother arithmetic!’ snapped Stuart. ‘Let’s skip it.’ “

I love how E.B. White’s stories have such a humorous tone, yet touch on deeper issues in a way that leaves you thinking.

Journal snippets

If, in trying to protect myself I disobey God, I will end up having to face the very fears I fled. Oh, God, let me always choose obedience, no matter the cost… my pride, my comfort, my safety. Help me to get out there and follow You in dogged obedience.

Don’t let me waste or misuse my sphere of influence. Help me to be surrendered, Lord… even if I can’t see the fruit of what You’re doing, help me to be faithful.

…help me to love, to seek counsel, to serve, to lose myself in Your love.

“Count my life dear to myself” – I always thought this meant being unwilling to die for Jesus. I think it means more. If I’m counting my life dear to myself, I’m clinging to my own pithy dreams for my life and refusing to live out God’s.

***

What did you get to read/do/consider last month?

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.:)

Reluctant Hero – Flash Fiction

Reluctant Hero – Flash Fiction

Just another little flash fic piece… I hope you like it!

“No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. You cannot make me do that.”

“Ryan, I need you to do this for me. Please.”

“Uh-uh. No way am I gonna spend my Saturday night in torture. I hate noise. And sharp things. And being scratched and spit on and crowded and laughed at. No way.”

“Ryan, it’s not as bad as it seems. Really. You’ll survive… besides, it’ll be good experience. Just think of all the content you’ll have for your stories after this!”

“If I live to write them.”

“Look, you’ve gotta be there at seven o’clock sharp. Got it?”

“Lillie, they’re going to kill me. Kill me.”

“You’re a good man, Ryan.”

***

My knuckles are white on the steering wheel. How in the world did I let my kid sister talk me into doing this? Sometimes I wonder if she lives to put me in terrible situations. When we were little it was the thing with the dog and the airhorn… then the thing with the sled and the watermelons and the nursing home. And now it’s… this.

Is she trying to get rid of me or something?

I check my watch. 6:54. Plenty of time. At least I’ll die knowing that I held up my end of the bargain. I’ll die for my sister’s sake – like a hero. Will they mention something about that at my funeral? I turn onto Galloway Avenue, wondering what my funeral will be like. Yuck… I hope they don’t put flowers all over the place. Maybe I should leave a note: Nix the flowers.

Here it is – 666 Galloway Avenue. The 666 unnerves me, and the driveway is lined with the bony fingers of dead maples reaching to seize me as soon as I leave the safety of my car. Honestly, I’d rather die here in the darkness at the hands of the trees than at the clawing hands of the monsters that await me inside.

The ancient porch creaks and groans as I step onto it, and my fist reaches out to make a confident-sounding assault on the door. Shrieks and screams leak through the windows, and the edge of a curtain is pulled furtively from the window. I quickly turn my eyes to study the doorbell I neglected to see before.

The door swings open. I straighten my shoulders and smile weakly.

“You’re Lillie’s brother? Thanks so much for watching the kids tonight.”

They’re Watching – A Poem

They’re Watching – A Poem

It’s poetry time again, friends! Don’t tell me you aren’t excited.:)

Most of my poems are just the overflow of my emotions and reflections. However, on rare occasion I’ll be inspired to write a poem based on something I’ve seen or experienced. This piece is the product of just such a rare occasion.

A few nights ago I was with my youngest sisters, telling them a bedtime story. I noticed that when I would pause for dramatic effect (and let’s admit it, a few extra seconds to come up with my next words:) ), they were leaning over me, eyes big, hands grabbing my arm, every part of their being poured into waiting and watching for what I would say next. It got me thinking…

their eyes are wide

gaze into mine

as I twist the words into

stories.

I’ve captured their minds

and the rhythm of time

grinds now to a stop as they

listen.

little eyes

little ears

always there

always here

on my words

on my deeds

every act

is a seed

falling soft on the

ground of their

hearts –

fertile ground –

precious hearts

of the leaders

to come.

little words

little deeds

I will watch you –

no weeds

can survive

in this life of mine

rest in the dust of times

hated, you beasts

may you never find feasts

in my heart to fulfil

the base lusts of your will

for

their eyes and

their ears are upon me

I need

to remember

remember

I’m leading

the leaders

the world-shaking leaders

to come.