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

Seek Out the Light

Seek Out the Light

“God, I have no idea what I’m doing. I feel like I’m trying to walk in the dark.”

Thankfully I’ve learned to habitually look at life’s uncertainties with excitement and wonder, viewing them as opportunities to see God’s matchless skills as a storyteller break through my confusion someday and amaze me. But the other day, using some quiet time on the road to think about life, I’d finally had it. I’d become so frustrated with the veil of uncertainty that lies over the future. I was tired of the doubts, the unknowns, my weaknesses…

I’d gotten sick of being in the dark, and I told God so.

The words were barely out of my mouth when a portion of Scripture that’s been ingrained in my mind for as long as I can remember came slowly into focus.

Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

Your word. A light to my path.

The exasperated complaints died on my lips as I considered this, wondering how much of my confusion was my own fault.

I make sure I have God’s word in front of me in some form every single day… whether that’s through reading, studying, or running memorized Scripture through my head – preferably all three. I’ve made that a habit because I know that God’s word is essential for me. But am I seeking it out with passion… truly seeking it out?

If I’m walking in a dark room I don’t know very well, I look for a good light source… unless I’m trying to let myself get creeped out, which isn’t often.:) I don’t just content myself with the moonlight slipping through the blinds, or the shreds of light filtering in from a distant room. I don’t just grope around my surroundings, stumping blindly around and hoping I don’t tear off a toe on a piece of furniture.

I seek out the light.

If that’s the case, then why do I grope my way through the shadows of life, bumping against obstacles in my path, crying inside with frustration when I hurt myself and can’t seem to find the right path?

I’ve got to seek out the light.

I’ve got to immerse myself in the truth of Scripture. Tuck it away in my memory. Blast it through my earbuds. Sing it. Pray it. Stop pitying myself because I can’t seem to find my way in a self-inflicted darkness. Instead, I need to open the floodgates of my soul to the light of God’s word.

I’ve got to seek out the light.

With passion.

Photo by Cathy Mü on Unsplash

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

Eternity – A Guest Post by Last Year’s Self

Eternity – A Guest Post by Last Year’s Self

Happiest of Mondays, all!

Last week I was working to eliminate the unnecessary blog post drafts I had on my computer (think around 70!?!) and stumbled upon this piece I wrote last May. I published it on my other blog last year, but thought that – with an edit or two – it could stand to make an appearance here, as well.

Here it is.:)

Something I’ve been pondering lately is the reality of eternity, and how that reality needs to be shaping the way that I think and live. Here’s a question for all of us today:

How is the way we are living today impacting eternity?

It is so easy to get caught up in the lies the world feeds us: we deserve happiness and gratification now. We can do whatever we want with our minds, bodies, and lives and it doesn’t matter.

I’m telling you – and most of all, myself – that the way we live totally matters.

Totally.

It’s easy for me as a young person to think that I have a lot of time left to impact this world. This is possibly another lie. As I look at the lives of some of the people who have impacted me in the way that they lived or through the words that they spoke, sang, or wrote, I realize that these people were not given many years on this earth.

Jim Elliot was killed by men he was trying to save… at age 28.

Oswald Chambers died unexpectedly… at age 43.

Keith Green died in a plane crash… at age 28.

Rachel Scott was murdered at Columbine High School… at age 17.

Jesus Christ was crucified… at age 33. (He rose from the dead, by the way!!!)

Most of these people died unexpectedly, and the world would say tragically. But all of these people strove to use their time wisely and changed lives for the better. Is that a tragedy? I’ll tell you what is certainly a tragedy.

The death of someone who has failed to live with eternity in mind is undeniably a tragedy.

Will my death be a tragedy? Will yours?

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