July Memories – 2022

July Memories – 2022

Goodness sakes…this was most definitely a month to remember.

You know the writing challenge I told you I was doing this July? Well, I got about 5k words written of the 20k I wanted. But I’m going to let myself be okay with falling flat on my writer’s face, because this month took the cake in terms of real-life plot twists and adventures. So much of it made me laugh. A lot of it made me cry. But I saw God’s hand and knew His presence so clearly this month, and we’ll close it out in His praise. ❤

One life. Just one. Why aren’t we running like we are on fire towards our wildest dreams?

Unknown

Things worth remembering…

  • Sitting by the lake and just drinking in the beauty of all of the sights and sounds and smells.
  • Taking goofy photos with my sisters.
  • Fresh veggies from the garden!!
  • Holding my brand-new cousin in the hospital…my heart! *happy sigh*
  • Being there with my family when my Grandpa left his earthly home to see the Lord face to face. I had never experienced anything like that, and the raw pain and beauty of that evening was beyond belief.
  • Lots and lots of hugs. ❤
  • Completing 20 revolutions around the sun.
  • Gifts and a handmade birthday card from some guys in my youth group…they have no idea how much that made my week. ❤
  • Bingeing Doctor Thorne with my Grandma into the wee hours. 11/10 recommend.
  • Wildflower bouquets.
  • French fries.
  • A weekend with cousins…the sweetest and weirdest memories made with the sweetest and weirdest souls. May Morgan, the Jensens, the fruit kabobs, and the couch (was it really free?) live forever in our hearts.
  • Getting my brothers graduated!!!! Another weekend with cousins and the dearest friends.

Soon shall end this earthly story, swift shall pass the pilgrim days, hope soon change to heavenly glory, faith to sight and prayer to praise.

Henry Francis Lyte

What I’ve been reading

Behind the Act – Abigayle Claire

“I should hope not,” the red-headed teenager replied, bouncing on his toes. “Welcome to The Magnificent.” He gave a dramatic sweep of his arm to the cramped lobby.

I’m not very far in this one yet, but I’m excited to see where this story leads! I love Abi’s descriptions…they make me feel as if I’m right there in the book!

The Story Jar – Robin Lee Hatcher & Deborah Bedford

“I knew all about Jesus from Sunday school and knew all the right things to say and what I was supposed to believe. But I never knew Him.

I wasn’t sure if I would like this book, but it pleasantly surprised me! The stories were heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time, and the perfect read for a road trip.:)

The McWilliamses and the Burglar Alarm – Mark Twain

He looked confused and ashamed, and said, with embarrassment, “I beg a thousand pardons. I did not know you had a burglar alarm, else I would have rung it.”

Oh, this short story gave me a good laugh!

say goodbye to where you’ve been // and tell your heart to beat again // let every heartbreak and every scar // be a picture that reminds you // Who has carried you this far

“Tell Your Heart to Beat again” (Performed by Danny Gokey)

From the journal

A new month = new mercies.

My mood is very fragile…I woke up and the fact that everyone had polished off the bagels before I’d had one nearly ruined my day. (I have to laugh at myself sometimes…XD)

I was getting a headache, borderline snapped at people, and morphed into a silent, weary, glowering, ham-gobbling state of torpid existence. (…) Oh, Lord, let me bow only to Your heart, not the selfish dictates of my own.

It’s one thing to grapple with death. It’s another to realize that someone will never again be in your life, making new memories with you.

The Spirit in me is the one that gave Samson his strength; give me the strength, Lord, to love fully and abundantly, and to live this day to the hilt.


How was your July? What were the highlights? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

June Memories – 2022 (+ writing update and prayer request)

June Memories – 2022 (+ writing update and prayer request)

Hello, friends…and happy Independence Day!

Also…we are half-way through 2022, so…there’s that.

Things worth remembering

  • The first cutting of hay this season (!!!)
  • Late night conversations with siblings
  • Working on a book of children’s poetry for my little sister
  • Researching cocaine and ramen noodles
  • Realizing that it’s a good idea to bring bug spray if you want to enjoy a summer hike without being eaten alive
  • Finding all the weird selfies my sister leaves on my phone…(does she realize I can one day use them as blackmail?)
  • putting together aesthetic collages for the main characters in my WIP (work in progress)
  • checking my poetry book out of the library I grew up visiting! Probably the most surreal piece of being a writer thus far.🥺

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

What I’ve been reading

God is My Co-Pilot – Robert L. Scott Jr.

I’ve been reading this one for some research I’m doing…it’s the autobiography of a WWII fighter pilot, and goodness, was he ever a naughty little boy!XD It’s been pretty enjoyable, although I get a bit lost in all of the pilot jargon sometimes.

The Scourge – Jennifer A. Nielsen

The total time I had been able to stay out of trouble: one hour.

Almost a record for me.

Weevil and Ani’s friendship and banter…*swoons* I’m so enjoying this book.

Once I Knew – Victoria Lynn

He had seen the pain, the evil, and the sin within him, had lifted his face in gentle hands, caressed it as a father does a child with a nightmare whose tears streak their cheeks, looked him in the eye and said:

“I love you. All of you.”

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This book. I can’t even tell you how much I needed to read this one. Not only is the theme incredible, but the plot is so tight, the pacing incredible, the characters endearing…

And can we talk about the romance?? The romance is beautiful…and you have to understand that this is coming from the girl who cringes through most bits of romance in books and runs for popcorn during sappy parts in movies.XD The true love and restraint shown by the characters…I wanted to cheer and shout for joy. Please can we fight for such reform in the romance genre?

*tumbles off soapbox*

Anyway…I have an official review of the book coming up soon…plus an interview with the author! Stay tuned!

We must determine to be limited and concentrate our affinities.

Oswald Chambers

From the journal…

Oh, Lord, I only conquer in Your strength. Be my mighty defense…let me love what You love and hate what You hate.

I was so cranky today. …finally ate lunch. I hadn’t eaten anything and was so hungry and cranky. (Just keeping it real…)

Let ours be a story that makes people shake their heads and murmur in awe, “Only God could have worked such wonders.”

Whatever the future holds, Father, keep my heart soft and obedient.

The church must set aside what is good so that we may be about the business of what is best. And so must I…soul, defend yourself against distraction from what is highest and holiest.

Because of Christ’s blood shed to atone for my sins, God no longer sees any of my blemishes, and rejoices over me like a man head-over-heels in love with his bride. He delights in me. He wants me. The Master of the universe is enraptured by what He sees in me. Oh, Jesus, it is all because of You!

Oh, Father, make me like Abel, who, though he is dead, still speaks through the story he left behind. Let my life echo Your goodness and grace long after my voice is silenced.

Comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.

David Foster wallace

Writing update + prayer request

Disclaimer: I’m okay. Don’t freak out about the prayer request part.XD

About the writing…

I haven’t worked seriously at drafting a novel since last November, when I attempted NaNoWriMo and got 11k words in before I became an emotional dumpster fire. (A translation for the sane people in the world: NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it’s a time in November when maniacs armed with laptops decide to quit life for a month to write a novel, or 50,000 words, in November.)

After that experience, novel writing got shoved to the back burner as I scribbled poetry, published a poetry book, lived normal life, and scribbled more poetry.

Honestly, I was scared of attempting a novel again.

But a story idea kept haunting me. And haunting me. And haunting me.

I started sharing the concept with some friends, and the responses I got poured fuel on the fire of my desire to see this book through to publication.

So here I am again…committing to the goal of writing 20k words on this new heart project this July. And praying. A lot.

I’d love it if you would join me in prayer for this project. To me, this concept is more than just another story. Bits of it have been brewing in my mind since I was eleven or twelve…and so many topics that are near and dear to my heart have found their way into this book. It’s amazing to see how God has helped me to pull so many different elements of my experiences and passions into one story!

Last July I wrote 20k words for a story full of heartache and confusion. This July, I want to pour out 20k words of healing and redemption. Eeek! I only have a few thousand words written so far, but already I can’t wait to share this story with you all. ❤

When I hit 30k words on this project – which I’m currently terming Project Redemption – , I’m going to start sharing more details about it on Instagram…so if you aren’t following along there, click here so you can join the tribe and be among the first to hear updates!


What were the memorable pieces of your June? Writers, what’s been flowing from your pens/keyboards of late? Readers, what books have captured your imagination lately? I’d love to hear in the comments!

❤ Laurel

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

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?

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!

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?

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

December Memories – 2021

December Memories – 2021

Happy 2022, friends!

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

Things worth remembering…

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

What I’ve been reading…

London in the Dark – Victoria Lynn

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

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

Dearest Friend: a life of Abigail Adams – Lynne Withey

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

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

Bartholomew’s Passage – Arnold Ytreeide

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

What I’ve been listening to…

Christmas in Velvet (Album)

RELATE – for KING & COUNTRY

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

Speak Life – TobyMac

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

Me Without You – TobyMac

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

Lights Shine Bright – TobyMac

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

(Yes, I’ve been on a TobyMac kick.:))

From the journal…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Words of wisdom…

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

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

What made your December special or memorable?

❤ Laurel

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase something through one of the links I share in this post, I receive a small commission… at no extra cost to you.:)

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

Of Dreams and Dying (+ a slightly important announcement)

Of Dreams and Dying (+ a slightly important announcement)

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

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

A little testimony

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

Easy peasy.

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

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

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

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

The only one I could think of was bragging rights…

And even that wasn’t a good idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, Father. Yes, You did.

❤ Laurel

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