The Bookworm’s Tag

The Bookworm’s Tag

Recently JadeSky from Stepping Stones Book Reviews tagged me for the Bookworms Tag… thank you, friend!

JadeSky asked some pretty awesome questions, so let’s dive right in!

What book would you recommend to a random stranger (just because you love it so much)? Why?

The Bible!! Definitely the best book I’ve ever read.:) I have no idea how anyone can keep their life together without having that access to the heart of God.

What makes you want to keep reading a book?

Suspense and plot twists, definitely! Also being able to relate to the struggles/mindset of a character will almost always keep me turning pages.

Also… tragedy. If there’s any kind of heartbreak, I typically have to keep reading to see how it all ends.

Do you have a favorite line from a book? If so, what is it and where is it from?

Oof, this is the hardest question… Can I pick a few?

“Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. I don’t think He wants us to keep asking and dwelling on His specific plan or will. He wants us to dwell on and seek Him. Then our decisions will be made from our love for and relationship with Him. We are free to take action in whatever means we want as long as we seek Him and allow Him to guide us.” – Solomon Hawke in Nadine Brandes’ A Time to Speak

“I may have lost my heart, but not my self control.” – Emma Woodhouse in Jane Austen’s Emma

“I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.” – Estella in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations

What’s your LEAST favorite genre? Why?

Of the genres I’ve read, I can’t say I have a least favorite… but I really, really dislike romance unless it’s written well. Sappy romance novels are simply hard for me to enjoy through all of the eye-rolling… and I believe they can give readers a warped view of true love and romance.

Do you read the acknowledgements in books?

Only if they’re interesting/humorous.:)

How much do you know about your favorite authors?

Quite a bit, now that I think of it! I know that L.M. Montgomery verbalized dialogue from her WIPs as she walked around town running errands, Harper Lee’s dad gave out autographs signing his name as Atticus Finch, and Nadine Brandes watches Fiddler on the Roof every year.

It’s all about the important details, am I right? XD

What makes you admire a character?

I love it when characters come alive to me without me even trying hard to picture them. I mean, if we’re talking about actual admiration, I’d say solid character is important to me… but some of the characters I most enjoy are flawed and clumsy. I think they’re awesome, anyway, simply because they’re real.

Some such characters… Jo March (Little Women), Dobro Turtlebane (The Bark of the Bog Owl), Solomon Hawke (the Out of Time series), Daniel bar Jamin (The Bronze Bow), and… dare I say… Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights)?

What’s the most life-changing thing you’ve learned from a book?

I love this question!

Most books I read, enjoy, and then just keep in my memory as an enjoyable experience… but the Out of Time series by Nadine Brandes definitely changed my life. Parvin’s courage and confidence in God helped encourage me to be less fearful and more courageous… whether that was in facing my biggest fears or simply taking on more responsibilities/going new places/meeting new people/climbing higher in my favorite tree. I don’t regret a single moment I spent reading those books!

What’s one GOOD thing about movies based off of books?

I love how it helps me to visualize the characters and bring them to life! Reading Pride and Prejudice after having watched the movie was so much more fun because I could actually see the characters, instead of having them be faint shadows in my mind.

Are there any books you wish you hadn’t read?

Not many… but there was at least one. I can’t remember what it was called. The subject matter was just too heavy for me at the time.

And I am going to nominate…

  • Daniel Amador
  • Any other blogging bookworms who’d love to participate!

Alright… my questions for my nominees!

  1. In your opinion, what makes a good book?
  2. Which book characters remind you most of yourself?
  3. If you could change the ending of a book, which book would it be and how would you change the way it ended?
  4. How did you become a bookworm?
  5. What do you do when a character has a name you don’t know how to pronounce?
  6. Do you prefer books written in past tense or present tense?
  7. What’s the most random thing a book has inspired you to do?
  8. Do you underline sentences in your books?
  9. What is the biggest question a book forced you to ask yourself?
  10. Do you ever read aloud to yourself?

Okay, so here’s how to participate in the tag:

  • Thank and link to the blogger who nominated you
  • Include the tag graphic in your post (pictured above)
  • Answer the ten questions the blogger asked
  • Nominate between five and ten bloggers
  • Ask your nominees ten book-related questions!
  • Don’t feel bound to these rules
  • (Most importantly) Have fun!

Please feel free to answer any of the questions asked in this post in the comment section! I’d love to read your answers.:)

Highlights, Recent Reads, and Journal Snippets – September 2021

Highlights, Recent Reads, and Journal Snippets – September 2021

Yet another epic month in the books…

Highlights

  • Random thoughtful notes from family + friends
  • Not overturning a canoe
  • Working on the farm
  • Discovering an affection for the word hobnob
  • Learning that eight pots of mums fit quite nicely in a Walmart shopping cart
  • Creating bookmarks
  • Finally coming to terms with the arrival of autumn
  • Baking yummy desserts
  • Realizing that it’s a good idea to make sure face paint is easily washable before you slather it on your face
  • Going to a high school football game
  • Being reminded that I never want to live in a big city

What I’ve been reading

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

“I have not broken your heart – you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine.”

I’m not sure if I’d ever read completely through this book again… but the raw emotion was stellar! And rather depressing…

Spiritual Bootcamp – John MacArthur

An idol… is anything that dominates your life and diverts you from worshiping and obeying God.

This book has been amazing!

Papa’s Wife – Thyra Ferré Björn

Papa stared after her… His feet did not move, but his cold, hardened bachelor’s heart broke its shell and tumbled down the street after Mama.

This book cracks me up, and has been a nice change of pace after the emotional heaviness of Wuthering Heights!

Imagine: a collection of short stories and poems from the Teen Writers’ Nook Family

Elise knew she was numb, and she was glad of it. It cleared her mind, helped her think about what she had done without the full weight of shame. But with one question answered, another still pervaded her thoughts: “Am I going to prison?”

One of my friends had a short story and poem published in this book!!

Journal Snippets

Lord, I accept Your design for my life with joy. The people, the opportunities, the closed doors, the rugged paths yet to be charted… I accept it all. I accept You. As my Love, my Redeemer, my closest friend, my defense… I rest in You and Your ways.

Oh, God, thank You for being bigger than my mistakes and my clumsiness.

Turmoil + peace rolled into one.

Words that have been blessing me

“Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forever.” – Psalm 131

“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it,’ when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” – Isaiah 30:21

“In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.” – Psalm 138:3

“Dreams are tawdry when compared with the leading of God, and not worthy of the aura of wonder we usually surround them with. God only doeth wonders. He does nothing else.” – Jim Elliot

“It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.” – A.W. Tozer

What made your September stand out? ❤

Scripture (except for Isaiah 30:21) taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

when i don’t know my heart…

i rest in the God who created, understands, and protects it.

the God who directs like the rivers of water

the heart of the king

is the God with me

before me

behind me

above me

beneath me

within me

loving me

chasing me

holding me

bracing me

saving me

from my fears

from the flood

from the fires

from sin

from myself

from all that is seeking to

kill and destroy

from the terror of night and the

heat of the day

oh, God! how? how is it that You

choose to defend such a

frightened, messed-up soul?

how do You keep on loving me

through it all?

someway…

somehow…

You do.

for that’s who You are.

my Lover.

my Defender.

my Father.

my Savior.

my Peace.

my Deliverer.

my Rock.

my Refuge.

my Joy.

my Love.

my Passion.

my Purpose.

my Beautiful One.

1 year blogiversary + a few post roundups

1 year blogiversary + a few post roundups

It’s been over a year now since I started this blog! I thought it might be fun to celebrate by rounding up a few posts from the past year… so let’s do this!

Ranking is based on the number of times each post was viewed.:)

Top 5 posts

Top 5 poetry/flash fiction posts

5 of my favorite posts

5 of my favorite poetry/flash fiction posts

Thank you so much for sticking with me and reading my thoughts throughout this past year! It blesses me so much.:) I’m excited to see what this next year holds for this blog and my writing!

Collab with Last Year’s Self

I just found a blog post I wrote last fall and never published. A snippet of it really resonated with me today… so here it is in italics, with today’s thoughts following:

I don’t want to be the person I’ve been lately. I don’t want to be the sister who is so disorganized about her work/learning schedule that it somehow sucks up her life. I don’t want to be the friend who is so scatterbrained that she doesn’t respond to letters and texts or check in just to see if you’re doing okay. I don’t want to be the daughter who lives like home is just a landing field and runway.

Most of all, I don’t want to be the Christian of whom her God is ashamed.

I want to keep my priorities in the right place. My writing will one day be forgotten; the lives I have either strengthened or crushed will not. Work is so important… God loves diligence… but it cannot consume me. It cannot become an idol.

God needs to be first. I show my love for Him in the way that I love people…

…not necessarily in the way that I write… or in how well I mix feed for the cows… or in how many poems I churn out… or how successful I become in the world’s eyes…

But in the way I drop what I’m doing to truly listen when someone needs to talk. In the way that I shove aside my own plans to bless someone else. In the way I hold my tongue when harsh words are burning on my lips. In the way I choose to stay and love when everything in me screams to run.

In the daily, conscious choices to pick up my cross, die to myself, and choose to love.

God needs to come first in my heart… above everything. How I love God is proven in the way I love others.

It’s that simple… and that hard.

Edits and Life

Edits and Life

When I began edits on my novel a couple months ago, I started at chapter one, pen in hand, ready to take notes about what needed to be changed/eliminated/polished.

Not even halfway through the book I was nauseated, with pages and pages of my failures spread before me. I saw my story as worthless. Unredeemable. Messed up. Embarrassing.

I gave up.

Thankfully my family and friends wouldn’t stop asking me about it… so I slightly grudgingly promised to clean it up enough so I could let them read it without me cringing and regretting my existence for every second afterwards. (Dramatic? Perhaps.)

I started edits again last week, this time with a different approach. Before coming in with the dynamite, I decided to first look through my story and note all the things I loved about it…

And suddenly I remembered how much I love the characters in my story. How certain scenes make me so happy that I come back over and over to read them again. How the dialogue makes me laugh.. How little details like descriptions, random sentences, and tiny references to things in my own life bring a smile to my face.

Somehow, I’m now excited to keep working on this book.

It’s the same story. Just a different outlook.

Sometimes life is overwhelming, and I see my life story as worthless. Unredeemable. Messed up. Embarrassing.

I want to give up.

But when I look at my life story and look for bits of beauty and purpose…

I remember how much I love the people in my life. How certain moments of my life make me so happy that I come back over and over to think about them again. How conversations make me laugh or stop to think. How little details like sunrises, cozy hugs, and reminders of God’s purpose and love for me bring a smile to my face.

Then somehow, I become excited to keep living this life.

It’s the same story. Just a different outlook.

It’s my choice. I can look for the trials, the pain, the flaws in my life and become nauseated. Or I can look for the beauty that laces each day of this life and keep walking with purpose.

I choose the latter.

July 2021 Review

July 2021 Review

Hello, friends!

This July was incredible! It wasn’t all sunshine and roses… but I feel like it was so full of raw, beautiful life. I’ve really enjoyed looking back over the month, reviewing all the excitement that made it so beautifully messy and memorable. Here’s some of it!

Highlights of the month

  • Working in the malt wagon at the county fair for the first time
  • Trying to master the art of making waffle bowls
  • Turning 19
  • Running errands with sisters
  • Playing several competitive games of cornhole with my siblings
  • Singing a cappella with my family in an empty gym
  • Meeting my goal of writing 20k words for my current WIP (work in progress)
  • Chasing fireflies
  • Having a super fun and helpful interview with Victoria from Glory Writers
  • Listening to Sidewalk Prophets’ latest CD over… and over… and over…
  • Raking hay
  • Being reminded of the fact that I’m crazy blessed in the friend department
  • Processing… lots… of sweet corn

What I’ve been reading

Before We Were Yours – Lisa Wingate

I shush my mind, because your mind can ruin you if you let it.”

This book was sweet and enjoyable… in a heart-wrenching sort of way. I loved watching the two plot lines pull together… sometimes I can predict the ending of a book, but I really enjoyed how this one surprised me!

Why Memorable Writers Need to Experience Real Adventures – Christopher Babcock

“Adventure is a muscle you exercise whenever you embrace the unfamiliar over the mundane. The point is to avoid slipping into complacency and letting it become flabby. That requires commitment.”

Oof, this article was so good. It reminded me that I need to just get out and live! This would be a good read, even if you aren’t a writer.

Devotedly – Valerie Elliot Shepard

“I want to walk humbly and quietly with my Master, sensitive only to His wishes, not fluttering and eager with my own.” – Elisabeth Elliot

Yes, I’m still reading this one. I’ll finish it one of these days…:) It’s still so good!

Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle

“Life itself… is always far more daring than any effort of the imagination.”

Aagh, these are so much fun!

Journal Snippets

Odd how when there’s so much flowing through your heart and life that begs recording, the journal entries wane.

John 11:5-6… this fascinates me. Jesus loved them, so… He tarried. (Take that, oh anxious soul.) The beautiful, heart-wrenching drama of the story of Lazarus sinks into deep tragedy, then suddenly at the end swells into victory, leaving the audience in awe of this homeless man – Son of God. Jesus waited. He let hearts be broken so that His power might shine through in greater intensity. He took decaying hopes and brought them back to life, and life more abundant.

Let me rejoice at the beauty… but let me not cling to it.

Cleanse my heart, Lord… draw me nearer and nearer to You until You truly are enough for me. Let me rest peacefully in Your will while working hard.

Acts 3 – I never cease to wonder at how “they lifted him… and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.” The strength was given after the start of what was humanly impossible.

What made this July stand out to you? I’d love to hear in the comments!

In which I share my new favorite poem and ask for poetry recommendations

That moment when you’re reading a piece of poetry… and your heart starts crying in the weirdest mixture of joy and sadness and your mind screams, “Yes… yes… yes!!! That’s right!

That’s the moment I had earlier this afternoon when I read…

goodbyes.

Please, guys, go check it out. It’s beautiful. It’s difficult (for me personally, at least) to find poetry that so perfectly blends the experience of pain and joy in life with a right relationship with God, but this piece hits the mark dead on.

*whispers* Go read it.:)

Also… I’m trying to read more poetry, and would love some recommendations! Do you have any favorite poets/poems? Let me know in the comments… I’d love to check them out.:)

-Laurel

July Flash Fiction Writing Challenge!!!

July Flash Fiction Writing Challenge!!!

Surprise! A Thursday blog post again.:)

I want to be writing more flash fiction. So… I put together a list of one word prompts – one for each day of July – to use to get my creative juices flowing into some flash fiction pieces. I’ll be writing one piece of flash fiction for each prompt. I thought I’d share the prompts here so you guys can be writing along with me this month if you’d like!

  1. firefly
  2. anthem
  3. scratch
  4. sacrifice
  5. melody
  6. ice cream
  7. belonging
  8. shred
  9. balance
  10. thunderstorm
  11. jar
  12. awake
  13. daisy
  14. disintegrate
  15. hoop
  16. soar
  17. sliver
  18. classic
  19. pungent
  20. muddy
  21. euphoria
  22. glass
  23. dwindle
  24. highway
  25. firecracker
  26. unrest
  27. sandals
  28. serendipity
  29. twig
  30. wary
  31. shuffle

Let me know in the comments if you plan to take the challenge so I can be cheering you on!! I’m super excited to do this… and arrive at the end of July with 31 whole new pieces of flash fiction!

For Once… A Happy Poem!

For Once… A Happy Poem!

*peels you off of the floor*

Yes. It’s true. I actually wrote a happy poem… and it’s honestly one of my favorites now! I hope you like it, too.:)

sunshine

it’ll come again – someday –

and you’ll skip through the puddles with its

rays on your face

and you’ll

smile again

but not like before

‘cause the raindrops have

pummeled your skin and they’ve rinsed off the

dust that hid

beauty within

oh, you’ll smile again

more beautifully

fully

again.

Photo by Michael Held on Unsplash