Empty Reflection – Flash Fiction

Empty Reflection – Flash Fiction

It was the kind of forest to which one fled when one’s soul was full of pain, fear, or secrets. His bore all three.

The wild crashing of his boots through the underbrush calmed as his strength waned. He was not a weak man; muscles strained beneath the sleeves that the saplings’ fingers had shredded, but even the simplest of village doctors knew that losing too much blood could kill the strongest man.

Especially a man who had lost his will to live.

He slumped against the nearest tree and slid to the ground. Twigs and dead leaves crackled beneath him. He closed his eyes and groaned, gasping for the breath that drove daggers through his lungs.

His hair – not trimmed in months – fell across his face in a matted mess. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d combed it. Since…that day…he’d seen no reason for caring for himself.

No reason for living.

He groaned again, almost a scream this time, as the pain intensified and blurred his vision. The trees that filtered dying sunlight gave way to smeared browns and greens, swirling in a dizzying dance. He blinked and the blur cleared into a face.

Her face.

He gasped with pain again, and something in him kept him from shaking her image from his mind.

“Gable.” The memory of her voice was gentle, quiet…urgent. Her eyes held onto his, and once again he saw in them their pleading.

Her pleading.

“Gable…you are more than this.”

He clawed for his leather knapsack and dug in the front pocket. His blood-crusted fingers closed around something, and he yanked it up before his eyes, staring. Staring at the piece of himself reflected in the tiny mirror.

He forced himself not to wince. He made himself take in the dirty hair, the beard full of leaves, the young scars, the bloodshot eyes.

He met them with bold recklessness, staring deep into the eyes as though searching for a treasure he’d buried there long ago. Desperate for some affirmation that her words were true…that he hadn’t lost the last hope of being the man she’d believed he could be.

He searched in agony.

He couldn’t find it.

This time the groan was a roar, and he flung the mirror away. It shattered against the rock face that rose before him, and he turned his face away, gritting his teeth.

“You know I was right, Fern. You know I was right.”

Delirium carried his mind away, taking it on a wearying journey through pieces of his past. He saw again his mother, laughing and applauding as she watched him fight off imaginary enemies with his wooden sword. His father teaching him how to adjust his hold on the sword, how to lunge, how to thrust, how to twist the blade just so.

And Fern. Ever Fern.

Laughing with and at him. Listening to his wild stories, his clumsy jokes, his deepest fears. Calming his soul. In the reflection he’d caught in her eyes, he’d seen a hero. A bold warrior. A worthy man.

“This is not who you are, Gable!”

He remembered the flash he’d rarely seen in her eyes. Anger. Righteous anger. It had snapped in her eyes and lit a kindred fire in his heart.

“You tell me who I’m going to be?”

He’d stormed off without her…but a piece of him hoped she was right.

Even in his delirium he tried to shove away the memory that came next. His groaning rose, and he gasped her name.

“I never meant…I never meant to leave you for life…”

The trees swirled into darkness, and miles away, even more years away, he saw two teenagers: young, clueless, blinded by hope.

“I will always, always be there for you, Fern. Always.”

He had never seen eyes so trusting. “I know you will, Gable.” The breeze carried her voice now from years ago… “And I’ll be here for you.”

“Where are you now?” His scream bounced off of the rock face. “Where are you now?”

Screaming at her ghost felt better than acknowledging his own broken promise…for a moment. But silence – as always, now – met his question, and he sobbed.

“But I couldn’t…I couldn’t have protected you. I couldn’t have saved you, Fern…”

Some enemies, he’d learned, could not be fought off with a sword.

I wrote this one from the prompt words mirror, iliad, empathy, blood, toss, and crack. This was meant to be a stand-alone flash fiction piece, but now I want to know more about this story! XD

Photo by Tom Morel on Unsplash

Memories… and I’m starting a newsletter!! – February 2022

Memories… and I’m starting a newsletter!! – February 2022

The last day of February means another post sharing the ups and downs and the oddities of the month, but first…

Newsletter info!!!

Over and over in the writing world they tell you, “Start a newsletter. Start a newsletter. Start a newsletter. START A NEWSLETTER.

And I, being the stubborn creature I am, retorted that it wasn’t for me and minded my own blogging and poetic business.

So sign up for my newsletter, won’t you?😂

As I started reading the newsletters other writing friends were putting out there, I realized how much fun newsletters could be. I always love hearing random details and interesting stories about what’s going on behind the scenes in others’ lives. If you’re as nosy as I am, maybe I can indulge you in the newsletter I’ll be starting this month!

It will definitely contain some behind-the-scenes stories and info, and also a section about what I’ve been learning from God as I live out this crazy adventure they call life. If there’s anything else you’d love to see in my newsletter, please let me know in the comments!

You can sign up for the newsletter here:

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Alright. Now that you’ve signed up to let me show up in your inbox every month (you did sign up, right??), let’s get on to the February review.:)

Things worth remembering…

  • a really great talk over lunch with a kindred spirit
  • singing the national anthem a cappella with my family for an annual meeting of our farm’s co-op!! We hadn’t sung together in public for so long… and the whole experience was just so special.
  • revealing the cover of This Will Not Last
  • talking history with my Grandma
  • completely messing up my order for the proof copies of This Will Not Last
  • enjoying reading it, anyway:)
  • playing Phase 10 with siblings and friends
  • a Valentine-themed game of Jeopardy… (I would never have guessed how many couples get engaged on Valentine’s Day…)
  • winter walks
  • reading headlines that I’ll read someday in history books

I’ve been reading…

Johnny Tremain – Esther Forbes

When I heard my mom reading this book to some of my younger sisters, I remembered how much I’d loved it and had to pick it up again.:) It definitely deserves to be a classic!

Macbeth – William Shakespeare

Things without all remedy should be without regard: what’s done is done.

Shakespeare is so enjoyable (and hilarious!) when you give yourself enough time to get immersed in the story! The copy I read also had notes and vocabulary explanations on the side… which was very helpful! Otherwise, I could have been completely lost.

The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson

Read, sweet, how others strove // Till we are stouter; // What they renounced, //Till we are less afraid;

My poetry-loving grandma really enjoys Emily Dickinson, and she graciously lent me this book. I’ve really been enjoying it!

Bruchko – Bruce Olson

This missionary autobiography is incredible, if kind of disgusting at times if bugs and blood and sickness make you uncomfortable. I’m okay with it, but I know that some people aren’t.:)

I’ve been listening to…

A playlist I created for This Will Not Last!

If you’d like to get a sense of the vibe/themes you’ll find in This Will Not Last, go ahead and give this playlist a listen.:)

Yiruma

The Greatest Showman Soundtrack

A top-secret playlist I created for my current WIP.:)

From the journal…

Oh, Father, don’t let my feelings drive me. Let me be driven by the truth that I am holy, blameless, and above reproach in Your eyes. {Colossians 1} Forever. Thank You, Jesus.

I can let go of {these} worries through prayer. I just need to love, accept, and forgive, Father. So simple, yet so hard. Steel my heart to crucify my flesh.

Oh, this crucifixion of the flesh is slow and painful. Over and over, though, I am reminded that You are the only one who will truly be faithful and meet all my needs. Keep me on guard against bitterness and envy, my Love. You are enough for me. No one will ever take You away. As the world crumbles and disappoints, Your love grows sweeter.

Lord, thank You for the grace to move on from a shattered past and days that bring me shame to walk in Your glorious freedom.

How was your February? What did you learn/experience/read/hear/etc.? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

P.S. Don’t forget to share your ideas for newsletter content!!

What is success?

What is success?

We work and we strive and we ache and we strain and we long…

For what?

What do we think we need to call ourselves successful?

What do our lives say?

How does the way we spend our energy, our time, our money, our words, our thoughts, scream to the world what we truly call success? Not what we think we call success, not what we want to call success, but what we truly call success.

Earthly glory? The approval of others? Popularity? An easy life?

Is that what we really want to see as success?

Strong relationships. Loving people well. Approval in the eyes of God. Serving and nourishing the body of Christ. Collapsing on the finish line at the feet of my Savior, gasping, “I gave it all I had.”

That’s what I want to see as success.

That’s what I want to scream to the world through my life that I see as success.

It’s not a lifestyle into which I can fall with no effort. It’s an intentional, daily battle for the highest and holiest…

For the way I was created to live.

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

Photo by Tim Bogdanov on Unsplash

This is not a Valentine’s Day poem.

This is not a Valentine’s Day poem.

(I told you I don’t like writing titles…)

Happy Valentine’s Day!! If you’d like to read something somewhat Valentine-y, go check out this post I shared last February. It’s all about true love… the real stuff that you might be able to find under all of the glitter (the GLITTER… *cringes*) and paper hearts. It’s honestly one of my favorites.

But…

If you happen to be a Valentine’s Day Scrooge and would rather read something bittersweet and smacking of courage… I’ve got ya covered! Read on, my friend.:)

turn the page.

yes, the ink gushed and flowed and

spilled in a way

never to be forgotten

for better or for worse, but

turn the page.

this chapter’s over…

a new one waits with

fears to be faced and

giants to be slayed and

new hurts to heal.

turn the page.

I’d love to hear… do you like to do anything special to celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

Cover Reveal for This Will Not Last!!!

Cover Reveal for This Will Not Last!!!

Yesssss!!! I’ve been so excited to share this cover with you all.:)

This Will Not Last – releasing April 4th, 2022

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. 

January Memories – 2022

January Memories – 2022

And so the first month of the new year slips into the past…

Things worth remembering…

  • reading the book of Job. It used to bore me, but now I think it may be one of my favorites.
  • watching The Village for the first time! I was mulling over the plot and themes for days after watching it… it may be a new favorite.:)
  • a Zoom chat with some wonderful writers I’ll get to meet this spring!
  • starting up my street team (It’s not too late to sign up!!)
  • revealing the title of my poetry book in this post.:)
  • sledding with sisters and friends
  • making reading a part of my daily routine. I’m amazed at how much it’s changed my life for the better!
  • designing a cover for the aforementioned poetry book
  • the golden glow the morning sunlight made in one of the cattle barns on a very, very cold morning
  • amusedly (and rather concernedly) wondering how heated the c*vid discussion in Cost Cutters was going to get
  • starting another writing project… some more info will be revealed once it proves itself worthy of existence.:)

What I’ve been reading…

Unseduced and Unshaken – Rosalie de Rosset

“You can’t afford to be casual about any part of your life. The misplacement of longing, the mistaking of the temporal for the eternal will always turn you into a ghost.”

Aagh, this book was just so good. It touched on so many topics that don’t seem to be taken very seriously in popular Christian culture… namely the topic of taking oneself and each aspect of one’s life seriously.

A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

“I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul. Since I knew you…I have had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.”

My goodness. This is a book I will definitely read again. Dickens is a master! The themes of love, purpose, and sacrifice were so beautifully wrought in this novel.

The Pursuit of God – A.W. Tozer

The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One.

One of those great Christian classics I’d always heard about and never read… until it now.:) I love A.W. Tozer’s unashamed and hungry desire for God. This book is so relatable! It’s full of truth and written in such a lovely style.

A Victorian Posy – Shiela Pickles

Here or there a sunbeam found its way through a little window or skylight in the thick leafage overhead and singling out one bluebell amongst the crowd tipped the rich and heavily hanging cluster of bells with a brilliant azure gleam and blue glory.” – Francis Kilvert

This is a lovely little collection of Victorian poetry and prose… all about flowers! Not my typical read, but it’s been a fun change of pace.

I’ve been listening to…

The Village soundtrack

It’s incredible. It’s been my writing soundtrack most days of late.:)

From the journal…

Oh, God, ground me in Your truth. Help me to truly live only for You…to not care if I look weird to the world, if only I look good to You.

All of history has been the beautiful, heartbreaking story of unity between God and man being broken, and God giving everything to restore that unity. It’s epic.

Lord, thank You for assigning me a worth that is not defined by what I do, but by Whose I am.

How beautiful to know that when God was hardening Pharaoh’s heart, He was only paving the way for a massive victory. Hold fast through the trials. Victory always prevails with YHWH.

Words worth remembering…

“You cannot separate your spiritual life from the life of the mind.” – Rosalie de Rosset

“Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him!” – Job 26:14a

“My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go.” – Job 27:6

“If my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame.” – A.W. Tozer

“Tell wind and fire where to stop, but don’t tell me.” – Madame Defarge in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities

What are you taking away from January 2022? Thoughts? Music? Memories? Books? Feel free to share in the comments!

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