Let’s do a music swap!

Let’s do a music swap!

Who doesn’t like a good song or two or ten? Here are some of my recent favorites…

  • God is Good – Francesca Battistelli (This one just came out the other day… and I love it so much.)
  • Burn the Ships – for KING & COUNTRY
  • Speechless – Naomi Scott
  • Carry You – Ruelle
  • Help is on the Way – TobyMac
  • Overcomer – Mandisa
  • A Thousand Years – The Piano Guys
  • Prodigal – Sidewalk Prophets
  • Write Your Story – Francesca Battistelli
  • You Are Good – Point of Grace

What’s been playing on your life’s soundtrack lately? Let me know in the comments!!

-Laurel

Photo by rupixen.com on Unsplash

Highlights, Recent Reads, and Journal Snippets – August 2021

Highlights, Recent Reads, and Journal Snippets – August 2021

Without any ado…

*realizes that may be rather rude and abrupt and runs back to apologize*

*awkwardly explains that every. single. month. goes by so fast and is full of amazing things, but saying that in every. single. one. of these posts gets repetitive, and isn’t saying nothing better than being boring?*

*smiles and waves and runs off again*

Highlights

  • enjoying garden veggies
  • being at my church’s youth retreat!!!
  • writing more poetry
  • making a “volcano” in the sandbox with my youngest sister
  • making music videos with another sister
  • getting some exciting news (coming to you soon!!) about my writing
  • making pickles with sisters + my grandma
  • eating aforementioned pickles
  • chatting with friends
  • canoeing for the first time

What I’ve been reading

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

“… he shall never know how I love him; and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same…”

This book is so well written, but incredibly devastating. Don’t read it if you don’t want to hurt.

Beholding and Becoming – Ruth Chou Simons

“In the everyday mistakes or in the failures of a lifetime, God calls us out of hiding and pays the price for our freedom. We can stop fearing failure. Our regrets, mishaps, and mess-ups are no longer the final word over our lives. Jesus victory on the cross is.”

I love this book! Both the words and the artwork are so beautiful.

Devotedly – Valerie Elliot Shepard

“It is lost, I said to myself this morning. ‘Lost?’ said the Father. ‘Yes, lost,’ said I. ‘But I thought you had given Me those years?’ ‘Yes, Lord, I did. They were Thine.’ ‘Then they are not lost. They are kept in the heavenly storehouse. Someday thou shalt see the glory. Thou canst not see it now – thou seest only the appartent loss on earth. Thine eyes are blinded with fruitless longing. Look away to My eternal purposes.’ “ – Elisabeth Elliot

One of these days I’ll finish reading this… XD

Journal Snippets

Oh, God, let me be like that, a living challenge to others to become better for You.

Oh, Lord, let me marvel at the works of Your hands, but let me not desire them above You.

The excellency of the power is of God, not us. He will shine through my brokenness to point others to the light of His glory. Oh, God, thank you for using broken souls. Help me shed the shackles of yesterday’s self and walk in freedom.

Your turn! What were you reading/thinking/doing this August?

– Laurel

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, + Highlights of June 2021

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, + Highlights of June 2021

And here it is… the monthly recap.:)

Highlights

  • Helping with fieldwork and learning what not to do when merging hay
  • Riding with my dad in the chopper
  • Finishing the Out of Time series
  • Park time with some cousins
  • Making strawberry shortcake for the first time
  • Taking Pride and Prejudice selfies with a sister
  • Compiling all of my poetry into one place
  • Singing with my family
  • Letting the craziness of life push me closer to God
  • Studying the Bible with friends
  • Coming up with these flash fiction prompts

What I’ve Been Reading

A Time to Speak – Nadine Brandes

The second book in the Out of Time Series… I give it six stars out of five.

A Time to Rise – Nadine Brandes

This one convinced me that the Out of Time Series is my new favorite set of books. An epic storyline, page-turning suspense, sweet romance, engaging writing, and questions posed that challenge the way I live and think… this series covers all the bases, in my book! (Pun intended.:) )

Flags of Our Fathers – James Bradley and Ron Powers

I love the way the historical quality of this book is meshed so beautifully with engaging writing. I’ve been enjoying this glimpse of the lives of the flag raisers on Iwo Jima.

Before We Were Yours – Lisa Wingate

Sometimes books with two storylines bore me. Not this one! I’m excited to finish it and see how everything pulls together.

Journal Snippets

Fill me so I can fill others.

If others pointed people to my life as an example of what a true Christian is, would they get an accurate description?

I love Habakkuk’s heart of humility here in Habakkuk 2:1 – “I will watch to see… what I will answer when I am corrected.” He’s asking God why… but isn’t looking to justify his own indignation. He’s seeking to know and accept the heart of God.

“You did awesome things for which we did not look…” You directed the hearts of men like the rivers of water… and I am full of confidence that You can do it again to accomplish Your will.

Oh, God, give me purity of heart and grace on my lips.

Reading in Ezekiel today about how God defended the Israelites He had disciplined was encouraging. Even though I’ve messed up big-time, Jesus, Your love fights for me. Thank You.

God, I want to be seeking You more. Finding my fulfillment in You – my strength and courage and purpose and driving force in You. God, I never regret time taken to spend in Your word… so why do I have to force myself into it at times? Whet my appetite, Lord.

What blessed/challenged you most this June?

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, and Highlights of May 2021

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, and Highlights of May 2021

The end of another month… and so we continue with not-long-standing tradition!

Highlights

  • running lunches to the fieldwork people – bonus when I got to take the four wheeler!
  • chopping off… a lot… of my hair
  • trying to write 1,000 words of my novel each weekday (it didn’t happen every day, but it definitely boosted my progress!)
  • running errands with my youngest sisters
  • doing more a capella singing with my family
  • discovering this playlist
  • enjoying crazy-fun times with friends+siblings
  • studying the Bible with aforementioned friends+siblings
  • surviving (and thoroughly enjoying:) ) a competitive game of Ultimate Frisbee
  • working on a writing project that is (hopefully!) soon to be disclosed to the general public…

What I’ve Been Reading

A Time to Die – Nadine Brandes

This is my new favorite book! Not many books keep me reading way too late into the night anymore, but this one did! Every time the excitement began to die down, something new/horrible/exciting happened. I loved it, and can’t wait to finish the trilogy! I can’t recommend it enough.

A Time to Speak – Nadine Brandes

The second book in the Out of Time series… so far, it’s just as amazing as the first!

The Ascent of Rum Doodle – W.E. Bowman

I’ve had this one on my shelf for so long, and finally determined to finish reading it. It’s absolutely hilarious… thanks for recommending + lending it, Grandma! Don’t worry… I’ll return it soon.:)

To Build a Fire – Jack London

Another one recommended by my grandma… so, so good. And devastating. And good.:)

Journal Snippets

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, not of my circumstances. So… onwards!

God, help me to lose myself and take on the identity You give me – joyfully and with grace. Don’t let me waste my time on worthless pursuits.

Am I willing to offer every aspect of my life to God as a living sacrifice? Will I let You completely mangle my dreams for my life so I can live out Yours? Yes, Lord. Only by Your grace. All I want is Your plan.

Help me to live fully. To have a zest for life. To love fully and extravagantly. To realize the brevity of life and throw myself into making each second count. For good.

Oh, man, life was so much simpler when I was eight. (hehehe…)

God is helping me to see my life the way He sees it – brimming with beauty and opportunity. I see each day as an opportunity to serve God fully and freely, to nurture my relationship with Him, to press into Him and see that He is indeed good, and more than enough for me.

How was your May? What made it stand out to you?

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, + Highlights of April 2021

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, + Highlights of April 2021

Another April has come and gone… “and what will be the proof that it was here?”

Fields greening under the joint effort of thunderstorms and sunlight. Planters and soil finishers emerging from the sheds to work in the fields. Bugs… because… there must be bugs.

Also…

these are the days

we will long for.

live wide-eyed;

live wide-eyed.

a.m.b.

Aagh, the beauty and truth in that. I feel like this month has reminded me to do this. To stare at the world in child-like wonder, while recognizing the responsibility that comes with living life on this spinning mudball. To face down the evil while delighting in the good. To treasure the moments that can slip by unnoticed. To keep my eyes on what matters, and let the rest fade away.

To live wide-eyed.

I guess that’s my little ramble for today.:) On to the rest of the post…

Highlights of the Month

  • holding and binge-reading the proof copy of my novel
  • shoving myself outside of my comfort zone
  • creating a character collage for the first time
  • brainstorming with siblings
  • attending Story Embers‘ Engaging Plots Summit
  • starting work on another novel… more on that in the future!
  • discovering Alan Gogoll’s music
  • listening to Nadine Brandes speak at the aforementioned summit… I love her heart in writing.
  • a trip to the library (this one seriously deserves more than a quick mention on a list. I hadn’t been inside a library for over a year… and the amount of emotion that overcame me as I stared at all the books was very weird. Very. Weird. I now long to haunt the library frequently.)

What I’ve Been Reading

Devotedly: the personal letters and love story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot – Valerie Elliot Shepard

I became interested in the Elliots’ story while reading Shadow of the Almighty, so getting to read more about them in this book is really awesome. I love the humor, genuine love, and passion for Christ that’s infused in their letters. Also, the author’s commentary and perspective on her parents’ story is so sweet.

Courageous – Randy Alcorn

Courageous is one of my favorite movies, so when my sister laid hands on this novelization of the movie, of course I had to borrow it.:) I haven’t finished it yet, but already it’s gone far above and beyond my expectations. The way Randy Alcorn weaves so many more elements into the original plot… i.n.c.r.e.d.i.b.l.e. For mature readers, I can’t recommend it enough.

You Need to Define Your Writing Voice Before You Can Refine It – Daeus Lamb

“Self-discovery is nebulous, so approach it carefully. Don’t allow your culture or subculture to influence you. That may sound as clichéd as Disney’s “follow your heart” gospel, but rather than a call to indulge in your sinful instincts without regard to others, it’s a call to embrace the fragment of God’s image that you most represent.”

I highly recommend this article to any writer who is trying to find their voice! Or to anyone who’s just trying to get comfortable in their skin.:)

Systematic Theology – Wayne Grudem

I’ve been wanting to study theology for awhile and finally started taking it seriously. This book has been so helpful!

Journal Snippets

God, I want to want You desperately. I don’t want to be satisfied with my life and human relationships, though I thank You for making them so sweet. I want to crave You desperately. I want to pursue You relentlessly. I want You to be first in my heart and mind, always. Let me desire to know and love Your ways, and to walk in them faithfully.

Oh, God, it truly is all about You! Not about how I look to the world or what I do for the world… help me to take the focus from me to You and keep it there for eternity.

“Lead, kindly Light amid th’encircling gloom. Lead Thou me on.” Let me bounce that Light into this dark world. Make me patient and faithful in the dark.

God, bare my heart to Your instruction and correction, no matter the cost, no matter the pain. I want to be but a channel in Your hand. Make my life soft clay between your fingers; shape, twist, smash, and form it into proper shape, then hold it to the flame. Remove the dross, O Lord. I say so a bit tremblingly, but know this is what I want… what You want.

Help me to love others extravagantly – to live intentionally and boldly so I may do so to the fullest.


What made this April stand out to you?

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.:)

Writing/Life Update

Writing/Life Update

Hello, peoples!

I have no idea if anyone’s noticed, but I’ve been consistently posting on the blog here every Monday and Thursday since last August. Until this past Monday.

Most of the years I’ve spent writing have been driven more by random bursts of inspiration rather than me sitting myself down and forcing myself to write… so having the “2 posts a week” rule for myself for several months here has been incredibly good for me.

Yes, your sense of the impending “however” is correct…

I’ve been doing a lot of self-evaluation lately… evaluation of my writing life included. One piece of wisdom I’ve kept in mind while doing so is this:

“We must determine to be limited and concentrate our affinities.” – Oswald Chambers

This is a challenge for me.

I’m realizing that I’m moving out of the phase where posting twice a week is beneficial and even healthy for me, because I’ve come to grips with the fact that it isn’t exactly my goal to be a successful blogger. My goal is to write quality books, and to use this blog as a place to connect with you, update you on my writing journey, and share encouraging, amusing, and thought-provoking bits I find glinting light on life’s road. In scaling back here I hope to be able to better pursue both of these goals.

So… if you happen to look forward to reading my posts, then you’ll (hopefully) look forward to a weekly post all the more! And if notifications for my new posts make you cringe or groan… well… I’m cutting your suffering in half. You’re welcome.

Also…

I just want to thank you guys for sticking with me as I try to get this writing show on the road. Your encouragement and support blesses me so much!

If there’s anything you’d like to see me share more often on the blog, please let me know. I’m here for you guys, and your feedback is much appreciated.:)

Let’s go live this lovely day to the hilt!

– Laurel

Favorite Songs of 2021 – 1st Edition

Favorite Songs of 2021 – 1st Edition

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

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

Stay – Big Daddy Weave

Break my heart with what breaks Yours

Until You’re all I’m living for

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

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

Less Like Me – Zach Williams

Somebody with a hurt that I could have helped

Somebody with a hand that I could have held

When I just can’t see past myself

Lord help me be…

A little more like Jesus, a little less like me

Another one about looking past oneself…

One Day Too Late – Skillet

Today I’m gonna love my enemies

Reach out to somebody who needs me

Make a change, make the world a better place

Cause tomorrow could be one day too late

The lyrics in this one… totally amazing and convicting.

Dream Small – Josh Wilson

Dream small

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

Just let Jesus use you where you are

One day at a time

Live well

Loving God and others as yourself

Find little ways where only you can help

With His great love

A tiny rock can make a giant fall

So dream small

‘Nuff said.:)

Help Me Find It – Sidewalk Prophets

Even when it hurts You’ll have Your way

Even in the valley I will say

With every breath

You’ve never let me go

I will wait for You

You’ve never failed before

I will wait for You

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

I Lived – OneRepublic

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

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

Lead, Kindly Light – BYU Vocal Point

I do not ask to see the distant scene

One step enough for me

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

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

Photo by Blaz Photo on Unsplash

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, + Highlights of March 2021

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, + Highlights of March 2021

April… it’s here.

Hooowwwww???

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

Highlights of the Month

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

What I’ve Been Reading

Frindle – Andrew Clements

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

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

From the Grave – A.W. Tozer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch – Jean Lee Latham

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

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

Journal Snippets

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

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

What were some of the highlights of your March?

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

Reflections Blog Tag

Reflections Blog Tag

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

The rules:

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

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

1. I graduated!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. I gained some quality blogging experience.

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

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

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

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

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

This was definitely a surprise for me!

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

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

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

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

8. God gave me some amazing friendships.

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

And I would like to tag…

Makayla

Keziah

Daniel L. Amador

Maya Joelle

Grace

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

(Very!!!) Exciting News + Another Poll

(Very!!!) Exciting News + Another Poll

Yo!

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

I may be slightly excited.:)

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

But I’ve learned so much.

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

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

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

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

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

But it’s a book. And I wrote it.

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

But anyway…

I said something about a poll!

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