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?

It’s Release Day!!! Here are my thoughts.

It’s Release Day!!! Here are my thoughts.

Guys, the big day is FINALLY HERE!!!!!!!

The day I never thought I’d reach.

Aaagh, I can’t really put it all in words. I’m kind of excited. I think I might have a little celebration.

Here’s the link to purchase it on Amazon! (Or just look at it and be happy that it’s on Amazon for the world to see, like I’ve been doing. Or write a review and rate it once you read it. That would be totally awesome.)

If you have read my writing, encouraged me, given me feedback, helped me along this crazy road to publishing…thank you. Thank you for being here and letting me share my thoughts with you. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be doing this!

I wrote the following piece a few days ago…and decided to share it here.

Honest thoughts here…

As I’m writing this, it’s four days from the day my first book will be released.

My first book. In print.

It’s crazy to think about because I’ve wanted this day so badly for years. I can remember when I would scribble in the notebooks I’d stockpiled from the back-to-school sale at Shopko and dream about when the world would read my words…and as I see orders coming in across the country from people I’ve never even met, it all feels surreal.

I’m the writer I dreamed of being…

And yet I’m not.

I wanted to be a novelist. A nice solid novel was always what I envisioned when I pictured my first book. Probably historical fiction…and definitely published by the time I was eighteen. (Thank you, Jo March and Anne Shirley for warping my view of the publishing process.) Oh, and the world was going to love it. I was going to be famous.

I think that was the most important part to me. Writing so the world would remember my name.

That’s really, really sad.

Even now I keep checking myself against valuing my work in writing against how many people follow me. How many interact in the comment section or in messages. How many order my book.

How many approve of me.

But that was never the point of it, anyway.

“All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”  – Colossians 1:17-18

That in all things Christ may have the preeminence, not me.

All things were created for Him, not me.

And the fact that He’s given me the grace and ability to pull words together and hand them to the world in a way that is relatable and healing…

That’s worth more than all of the book sales, likes, and followers in the world.

Over and over again as I keep writing and He keeps helping me forward, one thought keeps coming to my mind.

Even if only one life is touched by this book/by my writing, it’ll all be worth it.

God’s completely changed my mind about how I want to view my writing. Less than two years ago I was fighting towards the goal of becoming a full-time writer. Now I’ve realized all I want is to keep writing as a side gig…and yet I’ve never felt as much purpose in my writing as I do now.

Because it’s become a ministry for me. A way that I can reach people across the world with words and build a bridge of hope and relatability.

It’s a way that I can show people they’re not alone.

It’s a way that I can point people to God and scream out how great He is.

I love my God, and I want you to love Him, too.

❤ Laurel

And the winner is…

Hello, friends!

Thank you so much to everyone who chatted in the comments and entered the giveaway earlier this week! It was so much fun getting to know you a little better and hearing your stories.:)

The winner of the giveaway has been randomly selected, and the winner is…

*dramatic drumroll*

Elle!!!

Congratulations, Elle! Keep an eye out for your copy of This Will Not Last! I’m so excited to be able to share it with you.:)

If you did not win the giveaway but would still like to have a signed copy of This Will Not Last, you can order yours here...but only through Sunday, April 3rd! The signed copies will no longer be for sale when the book releases on April 4th, so grab yours while they’re still available!

Question of the day…what is the best gift (giveaway or otherwise:) ) you’ve ever been given?

‘Til next time,

❤ Laurel

Your turn to talk…and it’s a giveaway!!!

Your turn to talk…and it’s a giveaway!!!

Hey, friends!

I was thinking about today’s post and realized that I’d love two things.

1.) To hear from you!! I seem to do most of the talking here on the blog (hmm, I wonder why…), but I love good conversations in the comment section. Seriously…interacting with you all is my favorite part about sharing what I write.

2.) To give a blog friend a copy of This Will Not Last! (It releases in seven days, guys!!!)

So we’re going to combine those two things today.:)

If you’d love to have your very own signed copy of This Will Not Last sent to your door, hop into the comment section and share your answer to one (or some or all!) of the following questions. Each answered question is an entry!

  • What is one of the best things that ever happened to you?
  • When you were a child, what was your dream job?
  • What advice would you give to your fifteen-year-old self?
  • What is one thing on your bucket list?
  • What is your favorite part about this blog?

I’ll randomly select a winner on Friday, April 1st and announce the winner then.

I can’t wait to hear your answers…and send one of you a copy of This Will Not Last!

❤ Laurel

Preorder a signed copy of This Will Not Last!!!

Preorder a signed copy of This Will Not Last!!!

It’s true…we’re two weeks away from release day and you can now place your preorder for a signed copy of This Will Not Last!

Click here to preorder.:)

What the preorder special includes:

  • a signed copy of This Will Not Last
  • a poem from the collection hand-lettered on a greeting card so you can share the gift of poetry with a friend
  • free shipping!!!

Preorder your copy now!

Raw and achingly honest, This Will Not Last is a collection of poetry that captures the fluctuating emotions that lace life’s pathway. 

Wonder, grief, happiness, and heartache all have their turn to shine in this collection, ultimately bowing to the truth of their transience…and the sturdy realization of God’s unshakeable goodness.  

this death 

this shedding 

of all I’ve known 

must come before the rays of sun 

burst bright upon my soul 

to wake 

a seed of what’s to come. 

this death 

this dying will not last 

this, too 

this, too 

this, too, shall pass. 

I’m so, so excited to finally be able to get this book out to you all next month!!!

– Laurel

First Love – a poem

First Love – a poem

Hello, friends!

I wrote this poem the other morning…aren’t you so grateful for a God who makes all things new?

Sidenote: I cannot wait to smell the white clover again this summer.

when I stop to think about it…

I miss the days when

I first fell in love with You.

when all of life shone because of

the beauty You sparked in my heart…

when everything reminded me of You –

a frosted oak leaf

the scent of white clover

a baby’s giggle –

and nothing seemed

too daunting to face

with You.

You haven’t changed…

my heart has calloused.

oh, may I be

tender again to

Your whisper

Your smile

Your thoughtfulness

in choosing my heart as

Your treasure.

You make all things new…

God bring me back to

the passion of my first love.

P.S. If you’d like to get a signed copy of This Will Not Last, stay tuned for preorders opening up next Monday!!! *bounces off walls*

Photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash

Empty Reflection – Flash Fiction

Empty Reflection – Flash Fiction

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

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

Especially a man who had lost his will to live.

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

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

No reason for living.

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

Her face.

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

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

Her pleading.

“Gable…you are more than this.”

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

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

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

He searched in agony.

He couldn’t find it.

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

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

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

And Fern. Ever Fern.

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

“This is not who you are, Gable!”

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

“You tell me who I’m going to be?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Tom Morel on Unsplash

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

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

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

Newsletter info!!!

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

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

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

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

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

You can sign up for the newsletter here:

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

Things worth remembering…

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

I’ve been reading…

Johnny Tremain – Esther Forbes

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

Macbeth – William Shakespeare

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

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

The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson

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

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

Bruchko – Bruce Olson

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

I’ve been listening to…

A playlist I created for This Will Not Last!

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

Yiruma

The Greatest Showman Soundtrack

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

From the journal…

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is success?

What is success?

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

For what?

What do we think we need to call ourselves successful?

What do our lives say?

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

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

Is that what we really want to see as success?

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

That’s what I want to see as success.

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

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

For the way I was created to live.

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

Photo by Tim Bogdanov on Unsplash

This is not a Valentine’s Day poem.

This is not a Valentine’s Day poem.

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

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

But…

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

turn the page.

yes, the ink gushed and flowed and

spilled in a way

never to be forgotten

for better or for worse, but

turn the page.

this chapter’s over…

a new one waits with

fears to be faced and

giants to be slayed and

new hurts to heal.

turn the page.

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

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash