05 September 2016

In Which I Finish Up With (Hopefully?) a Bang

Mmm yass my yummy bookshelf.
Okay folks. This is it. The final trek into the depths of my writer's brain before all goes silent on the western front. Or something like that.

I'm squashing these two, days 12 and 13 into one big post so that this week I can ideally get my life back in order. We'll see how it goes.

But before I dive in--thanks all for reading all these, thanks for keeping up with my blog (even though I know I can be dull and boring and can also go weeks without posting...oops...), and thanks a million for the lovely comments. I adore comments and so I always get excited to get one. And a big, big thank you to Bella DeLallo for hosting, creating, and being generally awesome.

Okay. Diving in.

First of all, we have CONQUERING WRITER'S BLOCK.


Oh that villain.

Writer's Block, for those of you who don't know (*everyone laughs*), is when you open up your Word Doc. or your notebook and you...

Sit there staring at the cursor blinking at you and suddenly don't remember words.

Also sometimes has the side effect of actually writing but all of it is rubbish and you delete it all before five minutes is up.

It is a naturally occurring disease in all writers and it can be fatal. It has brought whole stories to ruin, many tears, and many, many cups of tea.

So, how to deal?

Ultimately, I'm not going to lie, I don't really know. There are just some days that writing is....not happening. I get that. It's a thing. There's no easy cure for Writer's Block. There's no slice of pizza you can eat that will suddenly give you words abundant.

But I think what I've discovered is that writing is a lot like faith. There are some days where it is easy to believe. You feel God in the smell of changing seasons, taste Him on the curves of the sun as it dips into the western horizon, and His Word is rich food to a hungry soul. In the case of writing, there are some days where it is easy to write. Words are tumbling around in perfectly poetic sentences, not too slow and not too fast, and they are not getting lost between your brain and your fingers. Ideas are delicious morsels, characters are growing and developing quite wonderfully, and your story is actually meaning something--to you and in general. And.... then there are the other days. The days where you're ridden with doubt, you're hollow and empty of trust because you feel betrayed (for whatever reason), you can't seem to make heads or tails of the Bible, and you don't remember how to pray. And in writing, those are the days where you sit and stare at the screen of your laptop and consider deleting everything you've ever written because it all seems terrible.

Two choices: you either doubt God or you doubt your doubts.

You either quit out on writing or you plug through and write anyway, even and especially when you don't feel it.

Faith is not a feeling that you ride on because it's nice to believe in God. Faith is gripping onto that hope, that joy, that peace, that love, that God that is so vividly there, yet seems so faded by the cares of the world. It's doing it when you don't feel it. It's saying, "I believe, Lord help my unbelief!" It's acting upon the things that you know in your head even when they haven't yet dropped into your heart yet. It is saying, "God, I know you're there even though it doesn't feel like it. I know you exist and therefore I am going to act in that reality instead of the false reality that seems realer today." This is why faith takes guts, takes vulnerability. Because it's staking all you've got on this one thing--even at the risk of losing everything.

And writing takes guts and vulnerability too. It takes digging down into the depths of your fear and pulling it out and spreading it before your eyes and before everyone else's eyes. It's looking Writer's Block in the eye and saying, "You don't own me. I will write and I will write and I will write even when I forget all the right words and can't seem to make a story that makes sense."

So that's I think the ultimate "cure" to writer's block. To write. To write through it. Make a goal. I don't care if it's 1000 words or 100. Do it. Every day. I don't care if you end up deleting that part. Do it. Every day.

Inspiration and writer's block both come in waves, but what shouldn't come in waves is how much you write. (Preaching to myself here. I need to write so badly.)

Which brings us to inspiration.

Oh the age-old question I wish everyone would ask me so that I could dump everything on them with a grin. I'd probably talk way too fast and you wouldn't understand me, but I would be excited and I would hope to make you excited too.

God inspires me. I betcha didn't see that coming, eh? ;-) God's Word inspires me, because it's the Greatest Story Ever Told (with the Greatest Plot Twist Ever Imagined). Because it is the ultimate story of beautiful things lost and gripped by darkness, fear, coldness, monsters and villains...and that thudding heartbeat of hope--look forward, this is not the end.... And redemption and loyalty and love that bursts apart chains and grace and forgiveness and a striving for something greater. Heroes battling all the forces of evil. Character development. Something far beyond the pointlessness of life. Yep. That's inspiring, yo.

And then the way God infiltrates everything else. The way the sun filters through pine needles, the way that some trees smell like butterscotch and some smell like vanilla and some just smell bad. The way that the mountains are towering over us in such a way that just cries out for them to be climbed. The way that the grass goes gold before it dies. People. People in general--images of the living God, and every aspect about them--their hurt, their healing, their brokenness, their need for a Savior, their hope unwavering, their hearts so fragile...

Music. Music also inspires me. I have playlists for many of my books and I constantly am adding songs. Most of my characters have a theme song (or multiple). Sometimes I hear a song and just cry and I just know that it has hit that one place in my heart that will in turn produce words and stories and characters.

Other writers inspire me. Because dude, there are people that are battling the darkness with words out there. Sometimes they're hard to find, but they're there and I sometimes just have to jump around with the excitement of knowing that we create in the image of a Creator God. We speak words that we pray are not going to return void, but are going to return wrought with hope that it brought someone--even if it's just one person. That's cool. Seriously cool.

Artists and art inspire me too. I'm an extreme art enthusiast. I adore illustrations, paintings, drawings, realistic, less realistic....I just love art. It makes me want to write and draw and play music and write, write, write some more. It's again that creator spirit. Art begets art. Same goes for photography, poetry, pottery, wordsmithery, glass etching, jewelry, letter-writery, whatever it is. Good art. A craft done well.

And lastly but not leastly, doing things inspires me. First time I shot a gun: immediate book inspiration. Rode a mule: book inspiration. Flew on an airplane, gulp, alone: book inspiration. Got lost while driving: oh, book inspiration. Accidentally went to a creepy venue for a concert: book inspiration. Caught out in a hailstorm: book inspiration. Been sick for a long time: book inspiration. Fainted while getting blood drawn: total book inspiration, dude.

Alrighty, thanks for reading! I'll respond to comments today and tomorrow, and then I'm off for a while. I'm ready to sort things out. :-)

04 September 2016

In Which I Quiz Some Characters

If you look really really really really hard you'll see the top of Cally's head.
So I'm a cheater. Not really but sort of. Because on this fabulous day 11 of Writer's Camp with Bella DeLallo, you are supposed to choose a character and do this awesome Would You Rather/What Now? quiz thingamabob.

I'm only bending the rules.

And slipping a few extra characters in there so that I can listen to them banter.

So without further ado, here's the crew from Beyond the Burning Sky.

1. Would you rather be hot or cold?
Amber: Oh, much rather be cold. It's wretchedly hot here.
Vi: You should get out more at night. It's not always hot.
Amber: In the factory it is.
Vi: True, that. That's why you traipse the rooftops after curfew. And for the record, I'd rather be cold, too.
Elliot: The maiden speaks sooth.
Vi: You're not going to do the whole interview like that, are you?
Elliot: It's not an interview, it's a game. And it's the truth! Why in the blessed earth would you rather be hot? You can actually cure coldness. You get a coat on. But when you're hot, there's only so much you can do.
Riley: You know, I don't much notice heat. But when it's cold I can't move my fingers enough to mess with wires and bolts. So I'll say hot.
Cobb: Cold.
Bones: *rolls eyes* Cold, I suppose.

2. Would you rather work at night or during the day?
Amber: What with the curfew, you can't work at night. What kind of question is that?
Vi: *laughs* The nighttime is glorious. All you've got to do is bend a few rules and break a few others.
Elliot: What foolhardy person would even make a curfew anyways? However, at the risk of disagreeing, I'm actually going to say in the day. Because...well, people are around and...
Vi: And you rob them blind.
Elliot: No....
Vi: *raises eyebrow in amusement*
Riley: Day, night, makes no difference to me. I work holed up in a workshop underground. *laughs*
Cobb: ...Nighttime inspires me.
Bones: *grunts* Depends.

3. Someone knocks on your door. What now?
Amber: Probably the landlady wanting some rent. It's never anyone else. So I suppose I raid my jar for money.
Vi: You know, we don't often get people knocking at the Hall. I guess it depends on what time of day or night it was. We'd check the whatever-it-is that Riley made and make sure it's not the cops. If it is the cops, ring that alarm bell like nothing else and then get out by the fire escape.
Elliot: And if it wasn't the cops, I suppose we'd just invite them in for tea.
Vi: ...Sure.
Riley: I'm deaf in one ear...probably wouldn't hear it. *laughs*
Cobb: Why do you ask such questions? I suppose I'd...answer it.
Bones: Let 'em knock.

4. Would you rather go without food or water for a day?
Amber: I've gone without food many times, so I'm used to that.
Vi: It seems pretty logical to answer that one... *scratches head* Why would anyone choose going without water?
Elliot: Either sounds painful to me.
Riley: Pfft, What's it to skip out on food? I forget to eat about seventy percent of the time. I guess I forget to drink too...until I get a blazing headache.
Cobb: Food.
Bones: Ridiculous question.
Vi: Bones, quit being you. Just be pleasant for once in your life.
Bones: *rolls eyes*

5. Someone tells you your life is a lie. What now?
Amber: Ugh, I wish...
Vi: How on earth could someone know that? What does it mean? I mean....does it mean that I'm not really Vi, I'm the queen of Bry?
Elliot: Bravo, you rhymed. And I think that if that happened... I would sit down, scratch my head, rub my eyes, and then begin to ask this random fellow what he's talking about. If he's got information I don't know on my life, it's be interesting to note.
Riley: I'd probably think I heard them wrong. What's there to lie about?
Cobb: Eh. I'd probably believe them.
Bones: How do they know my life?
Elliot: Maybe you got brainwashed.
Vi: Would explain some things.
Bones: I wasn't.

6. Would you rather be settled or have the open road?
Amber: I wish I knew what settled looked like. If it's like what it is in my mind, then that one.
Vi: Open road. Don't chain me up here.
Elliot: The open road is the one full of possibility, full of adventure, full of truth-seeking and soul-searching...yes. I like that option.
Riley: Settle me down with some metal and some tools and I'll be a happy camper.
Cobb: Oh, settled for sure.
Bones: Give me something other than what I have.

7. Would you rather lose sight or hearing?
Amber: I don't care. Really, I don't.
Vi: No hearing, I can't play music, I can't hear music...life doesn't mean anything anymore. I'd rather be blind.
Elliot: Oh, rubbish. I hate questions of the sort. I guess I'd rather go deaf but no one plan anything.
Riley: I'm already halfway there, so hearing.
Cobb: Hearing, for sure.
Bones: Hearing.

8. Would you rather have a dog or a cat?
Amber: Dog, I suppose.
Vi: Dog. Cats are far too full of themselves. A big black guard dog.
Elliot: I like dogs, too.
Riley: Cats are self-sufficient. I'd go that route.
Cobb: Oh...cat?
Bones: I hate animals.
Amber: You hate everything, don't you?

9. How do you respond to betrayal, pain, loss?
Amber: At this point, it doesn't even surprise me anymore. I feel...numb. All dead inside.
Vi: Anger. I get mad.
Elliot: In the end, write a poem, get it out.
Riley: *shakes head* Immerse myself in work. Or maybe break a few things. Something will eventually help.
Cobb: I make things right.
Bones: Fight. Break things. Punch walls. And when all else fails, I paint.

10. Do you like music?
Amber: Yes. I never knew it before, but yes. Yes, yes.
Vi: Is that even a question? Music is my life.
Elliot: I adore music.
Riley: It's alright. Can't sing in tune myself, but I can appreciate it.
Cobb: I suppose so. Who doesn't, really?
Bones: I like good music.

11. Do you like reading?
Amber: I used to.
Vi: Not...not particularly. It's just the sitting down and doing it.
Elliot: Oh yes. Oh yes, yes. Reading... reading is the bliss of life.
Riley: Not much. Haven't done it in a while.
Cobb: I don't mind it.
Bones: *scowls* No. Can't.

12. Would you rather face a lion or a bear?
Amber: It seems that either way I wouldn't make it. So...I'd rather see a lion before I die.
Vi: Bear.
Elliot: Oh, dilemma, dilemma. Neither responds to good poetry or shiny things. I suppose a....a...lion?
Riley: Lion.
Cobb: Bear.
Bones: Give me either.
Cobb: I suppose you think you could defeat either, then?
Bones: *shrugs* Let me try.

13. What is something that scares you?
Amber: The prison. The Inventor. Scavengers. Cops.
Vi: Dying, I think.
Elliot: Large rodents, things floating in my water, and bad writing.
Riley: Fires. Nightmares. Being alone forever.
Cobb: Not getting things right. It's not really a fear. Maybe it is.
Bones: God.

14. Would you rather be in a crowd or alone?
Amber: Alone.
Vi: Depends on the crowd. In the audience of an orchestra, yes.
Elliot: Crowd. I love people.
Vi: And their wallets.
Riley: Crowd. Not alone for a long time.
Cobb: Alone.
Bones: What do you think?

15. Your family is threatened. What now?
Amber: What family?
Vi: If you mean my band here, I'm about to blow seventeen holes in whoever it is' brains.
Elliot: Yes, if you mean the band, I can unleash the fighter.
Riley: I hope I'd be brave enough.
Cobb: I'd think up a scheme to...bring down the villain.
Bones: Bust up some faces I guess. Not that I have anyone.
Vi: You have us.
Bones: ..... it's true.

16. Do you put a lot of importance on family (answer honestly)?
Amber: I did, once. I would now.
Vi: Absolutely. Though family's not always what you think it looks like.
Elliot: She said it.
Riley: Yes, yes I do.
Cobb: I thought I did.
Bones: Not really. My family didn't put lots of importance on it.

17. Do you believe in God/angels/heaven or the like?
Amber: ....I don't know.
Vi: Yes. Yes.
Elliot: I've got to.
Riley: Yeah, I do.
Cobb: No.
Bones: I believe in Him. I just don't know who He is.

18. Would you rather have coffee or tea?
Amber: Coffee.
Vi: Coffee, yep. Rich coffee with cream and lots of sugar.
Elliot: Tea, actually.
Riley: Coffee. But I like mine black as dirty oil.
Cobb: Coffee, tea, both the same.
Bones: Coffee.

19. Would you rather take a long walk in the forest or a bike ride down a parkway?
Amber: Bike ride takes less out of my lungs. As long as it's downhill both ways.
Vi: Long walk, I think. But bikes are loads of fun.
Elliot: Long walk, for sure. Gives you time to think.
Riley: Bike ride, yokel. Who wouldn't? The wind in your hair, the feeling of almost, almost flying....
Cobb: Long walk.
Bones: Walk. A bike ride sounds fun, though.

20. Do you like snow?
Amber: It makes things cold. Difficult. And it's dirty.
Vi: But not before it hits the ground. I love the idea of snow, if not the effects.
Elliot: Snow's got its perks.
Riley: No, no. Nope. Makes pipes freeze and fingers cold and....yeah no.
Cobb: Not really.
Bones: I don't really care.

21. Do you like rain?
Amber: Yeah.
Vi: Yes. Most of the time.
Elliot: Always, always. I wish it would always rain. Rain is inspiration.
Riley: I don't mind rain.
Cobb: No.
Bones: Not really.

22. What is your favorite thing to do?
Amber: Find answers.
Vi: Play violin.
Elliot: Write poetry, of course.
Riley: INVENT. Make something new. Work with machines...oh the glory.
Cobb: I guess sew...
Bones: Paint.
Vi: I thought you were going to say complain.
Bones: That too.

23. Would you rather spend the day indoors or outdoors?
Amber: Indoors.
Vi: Outdoors, of course.
Elliot: Eh, depends on the day. Depends on the muse.
Riley: In my workshop.
Cobb. Indoors.
Bones: I think I would go insane if I was indoors all day.

24. Do you like summer days?
Amber: Ugh, the heat.
Vi: I don't mind them. They're not my favorites, but not my least favorites.
Elliot: Sure.
Riley: Seasons pass without me even noticing, I'll admit.
Cobb: Yes.
Bones: Sure.

25. If there was one person you would drop everything for in their time of need, who would it be?
Amber: I don't have anyone left.
Vi: *counts on fingers* Elliot, Riley, Cobb, and you too, Bones.
Elliot: Oh, be still my heart!
Vi: Shut it.
Elliot: Well I'd count the same in there and only add Lenny.
Vi: Lenny is a robot.
Elliot: He's a parrot.
Vi: .....A robot.
Riley: Yep, yep, all of the above. Even Lenny because he's a wonder of science and robotics.
Cobb: Um, well, I suppose everyone here.
Bones: No one chose just one.
Vi: Don't be bashful, Bones. Just say it. For once.
Bones: I don't need to. *crosses arms*
Vi: That's close enough.

Welp, thank you all for reading! A couple more posts and then I'll be off off and away. :-)

03 September 2016

In Which I Do the Terrifying Thing

The red threads are non-threatening. They link to pictures of all of my pen-pals from the different countries.
So, Day 10 of 13! This day quite honestly terrifies me because it is all about *gulp* sharing snippets. I JUST GET SCARED OF SHARING MY WRITING. BECAUSE IT'S NOT VERY GOOD. So be gentle.


okay just get it over with

From Luthar:

When he had finished his meal, he sat back and took in a deep breath. The country air had a comfortable aspect about it, though it smelled mostly like sheep. The pasture, which he knew every inch of from years of exploration as a child, was bright green with the brilliance that summer brought, which contrasted beautifully with the bright blue sky and sea. The cottage, though, was almost exotic in its familiarity, for it was home. It had just received a fresh coat of paint, green with white trim. His mother’s garden complemented it with vibrant colors, lush and lovely. When Martin van Daan, Marcus’s father, had married the beauty from the far off country, she had brought back the fervent color of Avè and planted it in the lovely constancy of Moses Island, just as she had planted herself in the life of a shepherd boy.
He saw all these things and he knew in his heart that they were good, very good, but yet something in the depths of his soul ate at him, a feeling of not belonging, whether he be in the fields, surrounded by a crowd of sheep, or in the city, surrounded by a crowd of people. And he was afraid that he would forever be the shepherd boy who wanted desperately to be the hero. Because deep down there was a small, unanswered longing that he was constantly having to shut out. A certain degree of loneliness, of unfulfilled potential, a burning passion that he had to stomp out but that continued to burn, sometimes growing into an uncontrollable, consuming fire. One could see that fire in his eyes as he looked out over the ocean, trying to look to the world beyond his little island, or when he climbed the tallest tree just to get caught by the wind.
Marcus grunted in irritation against his thoughts, dug his hands into the soft soil, then brought them back up, full of the black earth. He set the dirt down in one small mound, flattening it with his palm.
“I need to realize,” he said, as if to the dirt, “that I belong here. Right? Is that what you’re saying?”
Marcus turned his face upward, to the sky, and waited for a breathless moment for the answer that he didn’t want.
When he heard nothing, he dropped his eyes down to his dirty hands.
Importance, it seemed, was something that one was born to. Marcus could no more will himself to become a hero than he could will the sky to rain.
God was probably better at choosing heroes than he was, though.  

Andddddd from Beyond the Burning Sky:

Two streams of yellow light suddenly lit the street ahead of her. Amber caught in her breath. A cop. She carefully but quickly rolled over into the shadow left by the flickering light. She hugged close up to the wall, hoping that it would be enough, that the searching gaze of the cop would not turn this way. It seemed a vain hope. She held her breath, and wondered, not for the first time, what did happen to those taken to the prison. She fought the urge to shudder.
And then a sound broke the silence. It was so beautiful that Amber felt all broken up into pieces and then put back together. It reached through every corner of her being, grasping the tips of her strawberry-blonde hair, sending chills down her spine, making her fingertips hurt with expectation. It was the threads of a song, echoing through the streets, bouncing off the metal scraps beneath her and back up into the smoggy sky, as if urging the smoke back. It was a sad song, giving the feeling of a broken window, a torn book, a small blanket left abandoned on a street corner. It pulsed through Amber’s veins hot and cold all at once, memories knocking on the door of her mind, opening it, coming in.
The cop stopped and the yellow lights turned away. A siren began to ring, underlining the song with its clamorous cry, making the tune even more haunting.
“What idiot would play violin this time of night?” Amber muttered under her breath, wiping the wetness from her eyes. 

And dass all you get and I am going to post this before I lose my nerve SO BAI SEE YOU TOMORROW.

02 September 2016

In Which I Make an Announcement

You totally are seeing a snatch of a Treskie drawing of my book. muahahaha
Oh hey! It's me again. So, I have an announcement to make. *trumpet sounds* Basically, my life is crazy right now and I need some time to sort things out. SO. I am going to plow through the last few days of Writer's Camp, posting one a day until they're done, and thennnnn I am going to take a hiatus from blogging. Chop chop?

Alright, I realize that probably makes no sense. But just plan to see all of the Writer's Camp posts come in a whirl and then.........nothing. For I don't know how long. We'll see. I need to figure things out. But I can't help but finish Writer's Camp because it's epic.

So, after that announcement, on ho to Day 9 of Writer's Camp which is.... *drumroll*

What in the World am I Writing?

Ha, good question! Basically, nothing. I mean, that's not entirely true, but with how busy I have been, I have not gotten much writing done at all which makes me very sad. Which is another reason for the above announcement. I need to write. Non-blog posts. I need to write in my book.

Which brings me to....

My book(s).

(I'm terrible at synopses...forgive me)

Beyond the Burning Sky

Steampunk. A girl named Amber with weak lungs. A mysterious Inventor who rules Avion. A little robot detective. A mystery to solve. A violinist on the rooftops. A kleptomaniac poet. An artist with a broken nose. A tailor with a covered up past. A girl with a knack for robotics. A cry for hope in the midst of darkness. A cry for peace to win out on chaos. A search for a God who seems nonexistent. A need for color to bring life again. And a robotic parrot. 


An island about to be swallowed up by darkness. A shepherd boy thrown into a prophecy. A legendary hero. Friendship. Loyalty. Love. Hope. Courage. Monsters, or are they demons? A lost prince. A paranoid king. A crazy prophet. A lonely girl who weaves. A strong gardener. A girl with too many books and too much hair. A boy who worries and tends to doubt. A palace guard with more to him than meets the eye. A time limit. 

Those are the two that I'm serious about right now. If you want a glimpse into my waiting list, think things like two street urchins roped into being spies, an immortal guardian and his charge, a clumsy but lucky half-fairy half-elf who has a half brother who is an assassin, a bell hop in a whimsical old hotel, a soldier girl who falls in love with a king but is exiled for suspected espionage, and probably some others I'm forgetting. I have too many stories. :-P 

Alright, I'll see you tomorrow for Day 10! 

31 August 2016

In Which I Do a Triple Feature

Sneak peak at my crazy bulletin board...
So.......... I got a little bit behind on Writer's Camp due to many reasons but mostly busyness. AND I got tagged by the lovely Michaila over at Mic's Room. I didn't know if I'd be able to get to it but then I was like, hey, this is a writer's camp, I can do a writer's tag. So this is the TRIPLE FEATURE of writer's camp days 7 and 8 plus the Wisteria Writer's tag. So yup. Enjoy, yo.

Fortunately for me, days 7 and 8 of writer's camp fit so perfectly together. Because they're both about loooooove. First, I'm gonna talk about love stories that are not love stories. Friendship stories. Sister stories. Brother stories. And then I'm gonna jump into love stories that are love stories. This shall be funnn. muahahaha.

So. Friendship. I love how Bella put this into the Camp because she is so passionate about it. Seriously, go read her post. And I completely agree. I love stories about friendship and I hate (HATE) when people mess that up. Like fan fictions that make things all wrong. Friends are friends and it's good to be friends.

I think one of the reasons that this is something I'm so passionate about is because...well, I've never been in a relationship, but I have so many rich and beautiful friendships. Me and my siblings are really close, and I've got some amazing sisters in Christ that are basically siblings. I connect to this.

Me and my older sister (by 18 months) are probably my best example of this in real life. Everyone always used to think we were twins because we hung out soooo much together that we would finish each others sentences, we could tell what the other one was thinking with just a look, and we had the exact same sense of humor (mostly because it was interwebbed with thousands of inside jokes). And we would die for each other...without even a second thought. She's the Fili to my Kili, the Pippin to my Merry, the Hornblower to my Kennedy, the Robin to my Much, the Arthur to my Merlin...etc. etc. etc.

I think that Bella really hit it in her post--we especially need more sister stories. We have loads of romances, and actually a lot of brother stories, but even looking at my list up there, they're all guys. We desperately need some more rich sister stories.

Okay, I blew over that one kind of quick, but unless you want to be here for hours, I better jump onto the next half of love.

Love love.

Okay, so this one I'm actually surprisingly really passionate about. Not because I'm like WE NEED MORE ROMANCE but because I'm like...

Okay, guys, seriously. Marriage is the reflection of Christ as the Bridegroom and His church, the bride. Ephesians 5:25-33, yo:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself an glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Mind = blown. Every. Single. Time. This is marriage. This is love. Why is this not in stories more? We are so ridden with a perverted form of love these days. So much of the exact opposite of all of this (and yet we are told that it...works out? somehow?). I think that it starts with strong male characters paired by equally strong (but not in the way the world would think of strong) female characters. Characters that complement each other. Husbands that adore their brides and give their lives for them, that protect and cherish and love, love, love, just like Christ loves, loves, loves us. (Humans are flawed. I get this. These guys are gonna make mistakes. But there are godly men out there who are desiring to reflect Christ. Not just a bunch of jerks.) Wives that think their husbands are just...the greatest thing, that run to them with their everything, that uphold them, that cherish them, that get all starry-eyed when they think of them, but are also willing to put in the hard work to uphold the relationship.

Our generation is plagued by the fact that the only "role models" we have (at least in the media) are Lovers. We need more husbands, more wives, more mothers and fathers, digging further into this concept of marriage and family and what a glorious and beautiful thing it is--a thing to be protected and guarded and kept sacred.

We have a King who adores us--His bride. Let's reflect that in our writing.

(I could go on. I shouldn't. It's late. And I still have the tag to do.)

SO! The tag. Sorry to blow through those pretty quickly. They were awesomesaucetastic topics!

But on ho. These are the questions that I am to answer (Thanks again, Michaila!):

What is the name and what does he/she look like of your favored character?

Okay, I'm assuming that all of these are about my writing. Eep! That means.....revealing stuff..... XD So I love all of my characters and choosing one is like choosing a favorite child. But, I shall choose ONE to tell you all about.

Her name is Aelis (pronounced AY-Lish) and she is from my fantasy trilogy. She's 5'8" and has long, curly, auburn hair that she mostly wears up in like a french twist or bun or something. She is very elegant in form and personality, and so she's just....full of grace. And she wears awesome clothes.

What would you describe your writing style as?

Oh goodness. I don't know. I guess.... a humble take on the epic forms, laced with humor and fun dialogue, with characters that are relatable and believable, but also are heroes. If that makes any sense.....

How much writing do you complete in a week?

HA. Don't ask me that. It's tragic, really. I've gotten about......1000 (MAYBE, probably less) words in the past 7 months. Not including poetry, but still. *cries*

Plotting...on a note card, in a notebook, or in your brain?

Mostly in my brain. And in scattered notebooks and pieces of paper that happened to be closest to my bed when I got an idea I didn't want to forget at night.

What does your book couple's wedding look like?

I love this question after what we talked about earlier. Welllll it obviously depends on which couple. But I'll go with that one. Yes. And I won't tell you who it is either but I love them.

Their wedding would be in early spring, when the flowers are just starting to come out, and the colors are still gentle (the leaves are a little paler and the sky is a little lighter, you know?). Her bouquet would be purple lilies and baby's breath. Her hair would be in one of those tucked up styles with a pretty barrette and some wisps of hair framing her face. Her dress would be elegant and not too blingy or poofy. I think it would be quarter-length lace sleeves with a square neckline. She'd wear a necklace matching her barrette and earrings and a simple bracelet. Her bridesmaids would be in sage green with white sashes. He would be wearing a white shirt and a green vest with brown or grey pants. His groomsmen would probably be wearing grey vests instead. Oh and it would be outdoors, obviously, with minimal added decorations (because the location would be perfection....aspen trees and the ocean in the background and green grass). And it would be fabulous and I would cry. (I think he will too.)

Ever sketch your characters? Care to share?

I do, actually. I'm not really a good artist by any right, but I will......I guess I'll share ONE. This is my MC from my steampunk book, Amber Brighton.

When did you start to write?

When I was 13ish. So probably about 6 years ago.

What inspired you?

My sister. Our old doll games. Tolkien and countless other books.

What still inspires you?

My sister. Our old Lego games (hehe). Tolkien and countless other books. God, mostly. The Bible. Music. My friends.

What would your published book look like, inside and out?

Oooh. Well I want my Steampunk book to have an epic cover. I have it pictured in my mind....like the title, and right under the title, a pair of goggles, with one lens reflecting a smoggy, dirty city, and the other lens reflecting a single star. And I'm sure there'd be other stuff but I'd have to see it to make it perfect. And on the inside....well, I want it to look clean and nice and just a bit whimsical. If that makes sense. And have illustrations because I looooove illustrations. :-D

Thanks for the tag, Michaila! And thanks for everything, Bella! And thanks for reading, all!

Now I gotta get to bed.

25 August 2016

In Which I Maybe Break the Mold

This little piggy had roast beef, this little piggy had none...
So. Day six of Bella DeLallo's fabulous Writer's Camp is all about breaking the mold. We're talking about fresh ideas, new stories, and basically not being your typical writer. Be sure to check out Bella's fabulous post on her blog. She covered some really great points.

So... I maybe might just break out of the mold of the breaking out of the mold posts and go all Hannah Joy on you. *shrugs* It would be really easy to take some time to rant about my very LEAST favorite cliches that get all the screen/page time these days, but let's take on a different route.

C.S. Lewis said something that really has stuck out to me for several years now in regards to writing original fiction:

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.

I love this quote for so many reasons (including but not limited to how it sounds when you say it in a lovely British accent) and it always rattles around in my head when I bemoan the fact that my stories seem to be the same as everyone's.

But here's the deal: Originality is simply not the key to a good story. It's just not. Stop thinking that if you find the ONE thread of undiscovered plotline that you will finally have the key to a great novel.

The question we as writers should be asking ourselves is not, How can I make this more unpredictable and original? it's, Why do I write? Seriously. Why do you write? Do you write because you like manipulating readers' emotions (I seriously think some authors do this)? Do you write because you relish the way you can bend characters to do your will (does this happen to anyone? Not me. My characters do whatever they want.)? Do you write because you like twisty plots and are tired of rewriting other books with what you think would be a better ending?

Or do you write because you've been gifted with a story?

See, that's me. At least.... I finally realized that some time ago. Because every single time I try to write a story to fulfill my desire for a thrill or because I just want a story that is like ________, it turns out to be all rubbish. I don't want to write a story that thrills me, I want to write a story that compels me. That inspires me. That turns my life on its head. That brings me to my knees in repentance--dude, why aren't there more stories like that? That would be breaking the mold.

C.S. Lewis calls it telling the truth. And that is what we all must do. Tell the truth--as best and beautifully as you know how to. Tell the story that thumps in your veins, that pounces on your own fears and forces you to face them, that takes the things that you love most and brings painful growth in them that makes them more beautiful in the end. Tell the story that chases your doubt into a corner and finds it empty, that sees if your passions stand the test of fire, that grasps your deepest convictions and makes them stand firm against adversity. Tell the story of all the laughter lines that paint your face, of all the tears that no one could really understand, not even you, of the fierceness of the way you cheer for that hockey team (and why would you even do that?), of the taste of that casserole (you know, like autumn and schooltime and frazzled mom and full table). We've all been given a story, one that is told every single day of our lives in a new and glorious way--the Gospel as we behold it. Tell that story. And don't care twopence about originality. That is when you'll finally break the mold.

For some epic mold-breakers (or should we call them truth-tellers?) when it comes to writing, see: N.D. Wilson, Andrew Peterson, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, Trenton Lee Stewart, Jonathon Rogers, Jennifer Trafton, S.D. Smith, Michael D. O'Brien, Elizabeth Goudge, and probably a lot more that I can't think of at the moment.

22 August 2016

In Which the Books that Shaped Me Finally Get Credit

Ooooh what's that in the background??? Could it be a Space Pirate and a Lava Viking? YOU WILL NEVER KNOW.
So this day of Writer's Camp is basically where I get to share what books have most shaped and inspired me as a writer (and who am I kidding, just as a person in general).

Something you may know about me is that I am an avid fiction reader. I love me some good books. Something you may NOT know about me is that many books have affected me deeply--on even a spiritual level. This is why I keep writing, through all the days where I feel like it doesn't matter and makes no difference in the world. Because stories helped me to see God. And that is what I want to do as a writer. I don't care about being a bestselling author, I don't need to make a living off of it, I am not particularly interested in writing a story that makes a really great movie....I just want my readers (no matter how few of them there are) to see God.

So. On ho to the writers that did that for me.

J.R.R. Tolkien

 Who doesn't have Tolkien on the list?? I read The Lord of the Rings during an integral time of my life--namely, around the time that I really accepted Christ as my Savior. I had before, but this was the time when I really decided that I wanted to give Jesus my all. LOTR really highlighted one of the things that still shapes me as a Christian today--the fact that there is a battle. There is good and evil. There is dark and there is light that is unquenchable. There is despair and there is hope. Tolkien really writes a beautiful story of redemption, fighting hard, and the way that it is a struggle, but good always overcomes.

There is one part in The Return of the King that really sticks with me, and has stuck with a lot of people that I know who have read this book, and I think that part really sums up what LOTR means to me. Sam is with Frodo in the heart of Mordor, out of food and water and quickly running out of hope, and he looks up. The clouds have parted for a brief moment, and he sees one singular star. And that star makes all of the difference--

"The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the though pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach." --From The Return of the King

C.S. Lewis

I grew up on the Narnia books. My mom read them aloud to us kids from a very young age (can't remember when) and ever since, my stories and ideas have been shaped by Lewis's taste for epic adventure, deep themes, and lovable characters. One thing that really didn't kick in until pretty recently is the fact that Lewis does not shy away from writing about the Gospel. He doesn't balk at having a God figure very predominantly part of these stories. Why? Because why not? If God has radically changed your life, why on earth would He not radically change your characters' lives? Lewis helped me to question my own hesitation to write boldly about God in my stories, which has been one of the greatest growing moments for me as a writer. Puddleglum says it best--

"Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things--trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't an Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't a Narnia." --From The Silver Chair 

Andrew Peterson

Ho baby. I could gush about Andrew Peterson's Wingfeather Saga for years. I think that he wrote everything that I needed to hear.... and God brought it to me right when I needed to hear it. Whether through extremely relatable characters, extremely difficult situations, extremely hilarious parts, or extreme moments of seeing the nature of our God just when everything seems the bleakest it can ever be, Peterson weaves the tales that people need to read. He writes stories with soul. Stories with fierce fire, black darkness, bright light, deep heartache and redemption that shatters all of the cages of fear. He reminds me that stories have power--they can either break down or, in the case of Peterson's books, raise toward Christ and His powerful grace. We all need it. And we all need that reminder. And those are the sorts of stories that I want to write. Take a peek at this interaction between the main character and the Maker--

"Be still.
'Yes sir," Janner repeated, and now he was crying. He felt in his heart a braid of pain and delight and longing that made his bones burn and his heart quake. All his attention turned from himself and he yearned for the speaker of those words so desperately that he wished he could die and be born again as a single spoken syllable from his mouth, just to know the pleasure of his presence." --From The Warden and the Wolf King

There are many, many others that I could mention, including N.D. Wilson (a master of plot and dialogue and realisticness despite awesome fantasy and deep thoughts woven into hilarious normalness and non-normalness), Trenton Lee Stewart (because seriously, The Mysterious Benedict Society), A.S. Peterson (aakndknwonewonaonw no words), Michael D. O'Brien (ARE YOU KIDDING ME), Lloyd Alexander (I love Fflewddur Fflam so much), and many more. I seriously don't even remember all of the writers who have shaped me, but they all deserve credit and money and chocolate and kudos and fans and stuff. XD  

So yeah. Those are my peoples. Who are yours?

17 August 2016

In Which Random Characters I've Never Met Appear

 I hope you like my mutant bunny 
Today is Day 4 of the Writer's Camp with Bella DeLallo! A few days ago, we chose plot bunnies to write little pieces on. There was the option to use it in the book I was writing....but I got carried away and started something random. So you get to enjoy this very random, out of the blue plot. *shrugs*

My Bunny was: The dust caught dancing in the sun rays isn't dust at all. The dust only encases something much, much different. 

So here goes:

Dawn broke gently, filtering through the softly flapping curtain. Stephen Kerr relished waking up slowly. He stretched each limb in turn, then reached over to the bedside table and grabbed his glasses, pushing them up his nose. He scooted up on his pillow to watch the dust motes catch the light. It had been a long time since he had had the luxury of not having to get up and go at all hours of the night, so he planned to milk it fully.

His watch beeped and he sighed. Pressing the side button, he said into it, “Yeah?”

“You up?” said a voice from his watch.

“Sure am.”

“You are still in your pajamas.”

“Is it really necessary to have a security cam in here?”

“I believe so. You know policy.”

Stephen swung his legs out from under the blankets and as he stood up, said under his breath, “Yes I do.”

“Are you muttering about me again?” his watch buzzed.

“Sure am.”

“Attitude, Kerrzy. Attitude.”

“You can come in here and talk to me if you want to have a conversation. You know all of this is recorded.”

“I am currently enjoying a piece of your sister’s pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream. I think I’ll let you come and find me.”

Stephen rolled his eyes. “Glad you’re enjoying this, Bradley.”

“Yes I am. It’s nice to eat breakfast for once.”

Stephen pulled on a t-shirt and sighed. It was going to be nice to have breakfast. And to just take a day to rest where nobody would be looking for him.

“I’m surprised I’m asking this,” Bradley said, obviously with his mouth full. “But there’s only one piece of pie left. You want some?”

Stephen chuckled and was about to answer when he suddenly felt lightheaded. He grabbed onto the dresser to steady himself. He expected it to quickly pass, but when it did not he got a little concerned. So, obviously, did Bradley, as he said, “Hey, you okay man?”

Stephen quickly went over his morning. He had not eaten anything and had not drank anything either. So what in the world…. He swung around. The curtain had been flapping. He had made sure that the window was closed last night, hadn’t he? Of course he had. Battling his quickly blurring vision, he stepped forward and pulled the curtain open, ignoring Bradley’s voice. His stomach churned as he immediately caught sight of a little tube inserted through the barely cracked window. A dust mote drifted out of the tube—dust mote?

“I’m an idiot,” Stephen said, just as the blackness overtook his vision and he toppled to the ground.   

15 August 2016

In Which I Answer Writerish Questions While Listening to Music

And now you get to see my dino-laptop named Spike that has a broken backspace button!
Today is Day 3 of the Writer's Camp, and I get to answer questions about myself as a writer! Sooooo, here goes... *cracks knuckles*

1.) How long have you been writing? 

I started writing when I was about thirteen, so six years ago (woah, that long???). Ish. 

2.) Why do you write?

Because God has instilled words in this old heart that make noise until they come bursting forth from my fingertips. Seriously.... it's all God. Without Him, I would have zero words at all. 

3.) What are your favorite type of books to write?

Books that have deep themes reflected in deep and personable characters that are fleshed out through intricately woven plots (ideally full of twists and turns that keep you guessing). Stories of redemption, because everyone needs that--and everyone wants that. Stories where darkness is told of so that light can shine all the brighter. Stories that proclaim the Gospel just like it was proclaimed to me. Stories that make you want to be legendary. Stories that make you realize how broken you are and how much you need a Savior. Stories that are heavy with friendship, sibling relationships, and relationships with God. Stories that talk about beauty because beauty is worth talking about. Stories in which all of the stuff that God has taught me is respoken again, raw and oftentimes ugly, but full of redemption and grace. Those kind of books. 

4.) How many books have you successfully completed as of now?

Successful is a deceptive word. I have successfully written The End at the end of three books, but do not ask to read them. ;-)

5.) What are three things you hate about writing?

The fact that sometimes you have a story that is thumping through your veins and you just can't seem to get it out (also known as Writer's Block). Also that it takes so long. Sometimes I wish that I could just plug a wire into my brain and it would just instantly put the story onto the page. Because I HAVE LIMITED TIME. Also that it can easily be misunderstood. 

6.) What are three things you love about writing?

The fact that stories (and poetry) are powerful and hold so much weight to so many people. Also, getting to know characters is just the best. They become like children. And I also love the satisfaction of a story/scene/bit of prose/dialogue/poem turning out well.

7.) What story are you working on Right Now?

A Steampunk novel is the one I'm currently actually writing (when I get the chance), but I am also working through plotholes in my head for my fantasy trilogy. And I'm busy quelling all the new story ideas that come into my brain daily. XD

8.) When is your favorite time to write?

When inspiration hits at its hardest. Unfortunately that usually seems to be at work or on a hike or something where I don't have access to a computer and didn't think to bring a notebook. XD But occasionally there is that beautiful day off that inspiration hits and I sit down at my laptop and just...write.

9.) Do you write short stories, children's books, novels? 

I am really bad at short stories...... I would REALLY like to write children's books (like picture books) but haven't yet. So yeah, novels.

10.) Do you draw inspiration/is your writing style influenced from any particular author?

I am heavily influenced by my sister, who is an AMAZING writer. I also am very inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien, Andrew Peterson, Lloyd Alexander, C.S. Lewis, N.D. Wilson, A.S. Peterson, Michael D. O'Brien, and many others. I don't know how much of their style particularly I have taken on, but I definitely get so inspired reading their books.

11.) Do you write trilogies/series?

Yasssss. I currently have a trilogy in my head....but if it continues to get bigger, it might become a four book series.

12.) Have you experienced Writer's Block?

Uh, yeah, who hasn't???

13.) What was the fastest you ever wrote a book? 

30 days....for NaNoWriMo! Twice!

14.) Do you hope to be published one day?

I would loooooooove that so much.

15.) What are some things you hope to share through your books?

Passion for Jesus is definitely a huge one. Just the Gospel in general. Also a love for beauty, a disgust at darkness (versus the common theme in a lot of books lately, which is the glorification of darkness and evil), a desire for something more, a love for true heroes, and themes like true love, loyalty, truth, redemption, courage, and all that good stuff. 

Hope you enjoyed! If you're just catching up with this Writer's Camp, check out Bella's blog for more!   

10 August 2016

In Which I Participate in Something Awesome

What better way to start off the Writer's Camp than with a picture of my messy desk? ;-P
Sooooo! I am participating in a lovely Writer's Camp with the even lovelier Bella! Go check her blog out because she's awesome and also if you want to join up with this epic writer's camp to spike your creative juices, you can find out how on her blog (and also bonus: see all of the other participants!). I know I need some help with mine. :-) Though I wish that Writer's Camp magically gave me more time to write, because that's what I really need.... ah well.

Day 1 of said Writer's Camp is introducing....me!


So I am a writer. Sort of. I try. I mean, I like writing. I write books. But sometimes it's just like I totally thought I was a writer why do I never write????? I love to write all sorts of books, but I mainly write I guess what you'd call Realistic Fantasy....like, it's set in my fabulous made up world (which has all these countries so the possibilities for plots are endlessssss), but I generally don't do much magic or mythical creatures, which I guess is what most people think of when they think fantasy. Not that I don't like those things. I just don't ever think up stories with them. So yeah. Realistic Fantasy is my general genre, with lots of adventure, hopefully some intrigue, and hopefully some other awesome stuff involved. 

And I'm writing a Steampunk one. Don't ask me how that happened, I still don't know. 

So those are my genres. But I feel like that doesn't really describe my books very much. Because dude my real passion is writing books that shamelessly proclaim God and the gospel in any way possible. I have learned, through much writing and much growing in my non-writing life that there is one important thing in my life and that is my Lord and Savior. Now--I'm not perfect at this. It's still something I'm growing in. When I first started writing, I was like, I can't write about God. Two reasons: first of all, it would be preachy and second of all, how can I ever describe, well, God??? So I didn't. I just wrote books with good themes and hoped that would be enough. 

And then basically God happened. In my life. And so all the sudden I couldn't write without writing about God anymore. It just comes. I think that's what happens when you run after Jesus--everything you do starts to reflect that. So. I have a huge passion for bringing stories that proclaim Christ with boldness back into the world. 

So yeah. That's enough about me. Hope you are as excited as I am for this Writer's Camp stuff. It's gonna be a blast.   :-D 

08 August 2016

Something New

Two tears spilled over.
I meant to keep them hidden,
I meant to keep the walls up around my war-torn heart.
But they dropped and I blushed and I ducked my head
And I clasped my hands together between my knees and prayed that
You wouldn’t notice them.
I am starting something new, He said.
I swallowed hard a few times as countless memories flashed before my eyes—
Pictures I had blocked out, had tried to touch up differently,
Had tried to let go of.
I liked it how it was, I said. Before it hurt so much.
Your voice echoed in my head with all the things we used to say—
All the times we used to laugh without thought to what it might cost someday—
And all the words I—
I didn’t say.
I am starting something new, He said again, like He wanted me to listen,
But I plugged up my ears and let another tear slip down my face, then cursed it.
My heartbeat began to thud in my ears and finally I said, No!
No, God! Bring it back to how it was! I hate this!
My loneliness hurt like a thousand bullet wounds in my chest.
With my selfishness the gun and my pride the hand that wielded it,
I shot and I shot and I shot and I shot and I wanted to forget what it meant to live,
Because the life I have lived has been too good, so it hurts to grow up,
It has always hurt to grow up.
I am starting something new.
I had to listen now, for all around me was silence, empty air,
And those words, once whispered, seemed thunderous, bouncing off the sides of the valley.
I sucked in a breath to fill my empty lungs and felt the pressure,
Not of death, but of practiced hands, gently but firmly tying bandages,
Applying stinging salve,
Undoing the crude measures I had taken to try to preserve myself—
Pierced hands, covered in blood, covered in every ounce of love I never had.
I am starting something new, He said. Are you ready?
I shook my head no and He smiled tenderly, feeling every ache more keenly than even I did.
The tears fell freely then, and He caught them and cherished them.
Do not cry, my beloved, He said as He lifted me up and stood me on my feet,
The altar is not about death,
It’s about life.
I am starting something new,
And behold, it will be more marvelous than anything your eyes have seen,
Because when a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies,
It brings forth life abundant.

14 July 2016

The White Jeep

I saw you
In the car behind me.
I didn’t notice you in the passenger seat at first—
Were you bending down?
But when I saw you my heart leaped with a joy I cannot express,
Simply in the fact that
You did not look like your mother.
Her hair was graying blonde, yours was glossy black,
Her eyes were tired and patient and content,
Yours were the kind that disappear in your smile, full of wonder, full of life.
Now don’t get me wrong,
My heart breaks under the weight of the fact that your birth mother,
On the other side of the world,
Left you.
Yet I cannot help but revel in the fact that your mother
Here, driving you home,
Loves you.
I took the right turn and pressed on the gas to get up to speed,
Then glanced in my mirror
And panicked a little when I saw you didn’t follow…yet.
The white jeep you were riding in took the curve a little slower
And without thinking I eased off of the acceleration to let you catch up—
Then changed my mind because I didn’t want to be that person
Who can’t drive the speed limit.
So I just prayed
For the light
To turn red.
Is it because I wanted you to notice me?
I wanted to do something to make you laugh, like make hand puppets out the window—
You weren’t watching…
That’s okay.
Is it because I wanted to somehow convey, from my car to yours,
The love that I feel for you, for your family?
The light flicked to red and I let out a breath and gently rolled to a stop,
Then watched as your car approached the light and stopped and I—
Oh my heart.
It is because in you I saw my story, weaved in your expression,
Painted between the lines of your life,
Thumping out from your chest to mine—
Redemption, redemption, redemption.
I don’t know if you understand yet, but I was an orphan too.
I wandered in the throes of the dungeon of the captor that did not, could not, love me,
Broken underneath the weight of darkness with no light,
Crying on a street corner in a cardboard box, struggling to live,
Fighting for breath,
Beginning to die—
Yet I was already dead.
God’s hands were gentle,
Father’s hands.
His eyes were loving,
Father’s eyes.
His voice was soft,
Father’s voice.
And His love was fierce, pounding through the alleyways,
Echoing through the corners of my world,
Piercing the very hardness of my abandoned heart with one word,
You see, you and I—
We are more alike than you would think.
The light turned green and we moved forward again—
I fought the tears, you cocked your head as though you heard something.
Your mother drove slow.
I went five under, slowed for the speed limit change early,
Coasted to thirty,
Checked my mirror—
The blinker was on.
You were turning left.
I whispered,
And you disappeared.
And I was silent the rest of the way home,
But my heart, my soul, my strength cried out—
Abba! Father!


Romans 8:14-17

25 June 2016


It’s late and the city looks different.
Of course it does—our neon signs and traffic lights
Are nothing compared to the ball of fire in the sky.
Still, the brake lights spill like blood over the highway,
And it gets me thinking about grace,
About all the dreams that died on the way,
About all the stupid mistakes and mess ups—
I should focus on my driving.
I want to feel sad. I want to mourn again.
Or something, God, let something break through the hollow echo of my heartbeat
Thudding at a steady pace,
A dull rhythm to life
Everything’s changing—
Does it ever stay steady?
Is it just when I look up that I realize with what speed I am hurtling through time
And the dizziness makes me sick and I—
I pull the wheel to stay in my lane.
I always dream that the light turns red
And I slam on my brakes, but feel no pressure under my foot,
And I lean back, as if I could pull a semi with my mortal strength,
And I hurtle into the intersection.
You can’t actually stop.
Every minute ticking by is me getting older,
Each motion is another step forward,
And each breath is another intake of grace.
So I stop fighting, and take a moment to let the wind rush through my hair,
And let the spatter of rain on my windshield be the only noise.
It’s as if, I think to myself in defeat,
It’s as if I’d forgotten how to pray.


I grip the wheel, I dig my nails into the rubber,
“God!” I say, and the Spirit groans the rest:
I want to cry, but I don’t need to—
I don’t need to feel it because I already know it.
I know it.
For let me tell you about my God.
When He hung on the cross, I don’t know what His emotions were doing,
But I know what He felt—
He felt a torn back, pierced hands and feet,
Thorns slicing into His forehead.
He felt the mockery, the jeers, the life slowly ebbing from His lungs
While every pore was screaming, “I love you, I love you, I love you!”
Soul, love Him back.
The best way to defeat darkness is turning on the light. 

22 June 2016

June Twenty-Second

Dear You,

It took you all day, but maybe you're ready to say it now. Maybe you're ready to hold out your hands, wherein there lies the broken pieces you caught when they fell. 

They sparkle a little in the light now. 

You broke open a little, didn't you? Maybe a lot? You staggered backward and you tried to grasp at the threads of something steady, but you fell to your knees--and believe me, girl, that was a good thing. Because you needed to feel the ground like that again. You needed to scrub carpet with your palms and then raise unsteady hands to the One who knows your hurt all too well. 

And then...her words raged like a wildfire, yet it was a blessed heat. She was always afraid that she didn't have the words or couldn't say them right--just like you. How blessed you are to have another one who stammers, another one who grapples with that same fear of failure every time she opens her mouth--she knows. 

She was brave enough to say it when you weren't.

Don't lose heart.
You are not alone.

Because in the depths of the night, when you were too afraid to speak it, she spoke it for you--

You're still loved.

You're still loved.

Oh, kid, you're still loved.

She didn't know you needed it--

But He did.

Admit it, you're weak. You can't do it. You're afraid. You make a lot of stupid mistakes and you beat yourself up about it until you're lying on your bed in a mess of bruises and tears and shredded knees and trembling hands and He comes and He says, "Who did this to you?" and you're afraid to answer because you're afraid that He'll be disappointed, that He'll get fed up with you, that He'll turn His back and walk away, that He'll--

You're still loved.

Shut out those voices in your head--they have no place. They're a cluster of well-aimed lies, but you've got the armor of God and He's impenetrable. 

You're still loved, even when you feel like... even when you feel like...

Even when you feel like the most miserable wretch that ever walked the earth. 

It is finished.
And it was signed in His blood.




He knows who you are.

06 June 2016


The other day, I grabbed my camera and set out to wrestle God in prayer and to see if I could scrape some pictures together. I don't know. The camera was my afterthought--though I don't think it was God's afterthought. For as I stepped out the door and trudged down the street, gravel crackling like a radio with static, I was heavy with the weight of hefty decisions, life as an adult, and feeling like a thorough failure. 

I began, as I do so often lately, it seems, with not knowing what to say, yet feeling the Holy Spirit's groaning within me, longing to pour out in words, yet unable to form them--whether because they hurt to speak or maybe even because they didn't hurt--and I wanted them to. 

It was about halfway down the street that I saw my first lilacs. 

They lined the white picket fence, and I breathed their scent in deeply (is there anything that smells better than lilacs? I don't think so), letting all of the broken attempts at words fall out of my mind.

After I had taken my fill of these particular lilacs, I continued to the edge of the street, looked left and right, and turned left, because the road was lined with more lilacs. Follow the lilacs, I whispered to myself.

Because I was drowning, man. And I was scared. I was scared that if I prayed, God would answer with another no, a trial, a test to see how much I trusted Him. Oh, weary heart. How you deceive yourself.

When did I forget that God gives good gifts, in abundance? Just as He plants a thousand lilac bushes to line my way back to Him--it's almost as if I can see Him laughing and beckoning me to follow as purple and white and pink flowers burst into bloom behind Him.

The love of God is so overwhelming, so fathomless, so beautiful--I can't wrap my mind around it. My heart aches with the fullness of it. Because I had been trying to bear all of it myself--trying to be somehow good enough, to somehow fit everything I deemed spiritual into one day, trying to fabricate piety in my own strength.

Come, and let us flee to Jesus and hide ourselves in Him until we are clothed with His humility. That alone is our holiness. --Andrew Murray

It's not about what we do. It's about who He is. Always, always, always. Let not my mind be corrupted from this simplicity! For every good thing flows from Him--it cannot be formed within myself. Every good work, every good word, every good thought flows from a heart that is so obsessed with Jesus that it cannot beat for anything else.

Flee to Jesus. Hide in Him. He is enough. He is always enough.

(I literally took like 100 pictures of lilacs. And then I accidentally deleted like half of them. But I figured that I probably had enough anyway.)