And so another month sinks beneath the dust of time…
Before we carry on with my typical format for this post, I want to give you some bad news, and then some good news.
The bad news: a few months ago I lost all of my contacts for my email list. (That’s why I haven’t been sending newsletters.)
The good news: You can sign up again for emails now (follow this link!)…and you’ll want to, because tomorrow I’m sending an email with some pretty exciting news that you won’t want to miss! So go ahead and sign up…as long as you don’t mind me saying hello in your inbox every month.:)
Things worth remembering
participating in a fun Instagram challenge hosted by my friend Victoria
frying up lots of apple fritters
jam sessions made even better with a cajon
an apple orchard adventure
raking corn stalks on a beautiful (and very dry and dusty) day
dozens and dozens of runzas
hauling silage for the last time this year
several deep (and some very strange) conversations
hikes with breathtaking views
a slumber party with Grandma, complete with hot chocolate and an old movie
pizza, more apple fritters, and Ole and Lena jokes with family
What I’ve been reading
Adorning the Dark – Andrew Peterson
…my expression, even if it is of the most intimate chambers of my heart, can lead the audience beyond me and to the Ultimate Self, the Word that made the world. In that grand chamber alone will art find its best end, as an avenue to lead the audience home.
Nothing to say but that several times during this book my soul has been screaming, “Yes! I’m not the only one?? Yes. Yes. Yes!!!” The truth. The beauty. Words can’t describe it.
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
His house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or storytelling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Evil things did not come into that valley.
So begins my foray into the wild and wonderful world of Tolkien. Not only is this making me laugh with its humor and smile over Tolkien’s golden descriptions, it’s convincing me that I, like Bilbo, am most likely a descendent of both the proper hobbits and the wilder Tooks. And now I’m absolutely sure I want to create a home like The Last Homely House.
If I give my best efforts only when I feel like it, or when it blesses me, then what will this accomplish? If I share my possessions with the needy, but am impatient about it, this counts for nothing.
This post was so convicting to me. Give it a read if you can.
From the journal
John 16:29-30 – The moment of the disciples’ strongest confidence in their Savior was followed by the greatest test of their faith. Lord, help Thou my unbelief! Make me unwavering in my trust and help me to remain humble and ever aware of my need for grace.
Oh, Lord, You knew all that was to come upon You and You walked forward to meet it anyway. What greater courage is there than this? Thank You for paving the way for me to walk in the most selfless of loves.
…inconsistency taints the picture I’m painting for others of You.
Oh, let me not stray from the path You have laid for me, whether that leads through meadows or minefields. The world roars so loudly, Lord…may I keep my ear close to Your song.
I was going to apologize for my lack of posting for the last couple of weeks, but then thought maybe I shouldn’t…because I’m not sorry for sparing you hastily pulled-together words just for the sake of saying I posted. So…sorry, not sorry.🙃
Just because I haven’t posted, though, doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. I’ve been working again on the project I started this summer and *cough cough* another project that I will likely be announcing sometime within the next few months. There’s a lot happening behind the scenes right now, and I am so excited to be able to share it with you!
Anyway, here’s September’s review…
Things worth remembering
Fresh zinnias and snapdragons from our little flower garden
Charring an apple over a bonfire…it did not live up to my expectations. Its tumble into the ashes didn’t improve the taste. At all.
The lovely photos of the moon I captured
Learning what to do (and what not to do) when a faulty latch locks you in the tractor
Walks by the lake
Dancing the polka with my dad
Gorgeous road trip weather
Harvesting corn silage
Visiting a writer friend at Bible college
Worship in the stairwell, late night talks and laughter, and dancing in the rain on aforementioned trip
Wandering a huge cemetery with a friend
What I’ve been reading
The Westing Game – Ellen Raskin
A most uncommon-looking delivery boy rode around town slipping letters under the doors of the chosen tenants-to-be. The letters were signed Barney Northrup. The delivery boy was sixty-two years old, and there was no such person as Barney Northrup.
This mystery both cracked me up and blew my mind. It’s the perfect autumn read!
The White Cliffs – Alice Duerr Miller
Ah, they forget they cannot write their parts; the bell has rung, the curtain rises, and the stage is set for tragedy – they were in love and young.
I read this novel-in-verse last fall, and enjoyed it so much I decided to read it again.
The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip – Sara Brunsvold
As if sensing the widening gap, Admin Gal looked over her shoulder and came to a stop. “I can get you a wheelchair if you’d like, Mrs. Kip.”
“I think a race car would serve me better, honey.”
I’m halfway through this one and am loving it so much! The dual timeline, the different perspectives in the same scenarios, Clara Kip in general…it’s just so good. The descriptions are fresh and poignant. It’s perfection.:)
From the journal
Oh, Father, may I not mourn the death of this season. May I rejoice in You, gladly giving You all of me. Regardless of where it leads me.
I’m afraid to hand my plans to You. I’m afraid to let go of hopes I’ve held for so long. It’s ridiculous because I know You. I know You always handle things so much better than I do. Lord, I choose surrender. I choose to let go. I choose to raise open palms to You, waiting blindly in the darkness…
The devil tempted Jesus with that which belonged to Him, but it was not yet time for Him to take hold of it.
Let me carve my legacy in souls, Father!
“Whoever of you does not give up all claims to personal rights, ambitions, and dreams for My sake cannot be My disciple.” (paraphrase of Luke 14:33)
What were the highlights of your September? Have you been reading anything lately?
Goodness sakes…this was most definitely a month to remember.
You know the writing challenge I told you I was doing this July? Well, I got about 5k words written of the 20k I wanted. But I’m going to let myself be okay with falling flat on my writer’s face, because this month took the cake in terms of real-life plot twists and adventures. So much of it made me laugh. A lot of it made me cry. But I saw God’s hand and knew His presence so clearly this month, and we’ll close it out in His praise. ❤
Things worth remembering…
Sitting by the lake and just drinking in the beauty of all of the sights and sounds and smells.
Taking goofy photos with my sisters.
Fresh veggies from the garden!!
Holding my brand-new cousin in the hospital…my heart! *happy sigh*
Being there with my family when my Grandpa left his earthly home to see the Lord face to face. I had never experienced anything like that, and the raw pain and beauty of that evening was beyond belief.
Lots and lots of hugs. ❤
Completing 20 revolutions around the sun.
Gifts and a handmade birthday card from some guys in my youth group…they have no idea how much that made my week. ❤
Bingeing Doctor Thorne with my Grandma into the wee hours. 11/10 recommend.
A weekend with cousins…the sweetest and weirdest memories made with the sweetest and weirdest souls. May Morgan, the Jensens, the fruit kabobs, and the couch (was it really free?) live forever in our hearts.
Getting my brothers graduated!!!! Another weekend with cousins and the dearest friends.
He looked confused and ashamed, and said, with embarrassment, “I beg a thousand pardons. I did not know you had a burglar alarm, else I would have rung it.”
Oh, this short story gave me a good laugh!
From the journal
A new month = new mercies.
My mood is very fragile…I woke up and the fact that everyone had polished off the bagels before I’d had one nearly ruined my day. (I have to laugh at myself sometimes…XD)
I was getting a headache, borderline snapped at people, and morphed into a silent, weary, glowering, ham-gobbling state of torpid existence. (…) Oh, Lord, let me bow only to Your heart, not the selfish dictates of my own.
It’s one thing to grapple with death. It’s another to realize that someone will never again be in your life, making new memories with you.
The Spirit in me is the one that gave Samson his strength; give me the strength, Lord, to love fully and abundantly, and to live this day to the hilt.
How was your July? What were the highlights? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Welcome to my review of one of my new favorite books!!!!! I don’t habitually binge-read anymore, but I tore through this one in about a week. (For other more voracious readers I know this is nothing, but check my Good Reads to see how often it is I actually finish a book. XD)
First, we need to talk about the cover. The cover. Isn’t it gorgeous??? The golden light, the font, the cloak, the everything. This cover makes me so very happy. *smiles dreamily*
Violet lives her quiet life in her sleepy village, trying to remain as dead to the politics that are threatening their world as possible. She follows the rules, stays out of trouble and does her best to remain out of sight from the dreaded and overbearing Kingsmen.
With the new regent on the throne till the prince comes of age, the country has been thrown into a turmoil. Unlike the kindly king before him, the new ruler is overbearing, frightening and tyrannical in his rule. Taxes are bleeding the people dry and without the money or goods to pay, they have been forced into penal servitude and imprisonment by the Kingsmen, who show no mercy. The despair and fear that has taken over their lives has ruled out any level of hope.
When Violet stumbles upon an unconscious and injured Kingsman in the woods, despite the consequences, she is compelled to take care of the injured man. When he wakes and has no memory of his identity or past, she takes the only precaution that will keep her and her grandmother safe; she destroys the evidence of his past life.
If Violet’s lowly Kingsman regains his memory, will she survive the consequences? And will the Kingsman be able to live with his past life? Who will fight to free Elira?
Not many books literally change the way I live and see the world…Once I Knew did. The part of the blurb that originally caught my attention was the forgotten identity and the political turmoil…and while I do love that aspect of the story, the themes of redemption, forgiveness, and courage, plus the way Victoria didn’t shy away from including God in this non-magical fantasy in a powerful way are what made this story stand out to me.
More things I love about Once I Knew
The multiple POVs.
I really enjoyed getting to see the story from one character’s point of view, and then see that same character from another character’s perspective! It gave me such a good sense of each character’s strengths and weaknesses.
I have a huge soft spot for the strong, fatherly figures, the grandmothers, the sweet, tenderhearted-yet-manly side characters…this book delivered. Also, the character development in the main characters (and their friendship) was so inspiring.
The inclusion of God, prayer, and righteousness.
I’ve noticed that books in the fantasy genre tend to simply have a “God figure” or good morals – know I’m not bashing this at all; I really enjoy books like this! – and so I was delighted to find that the characters in Once I Knew have real, believable, life-changing relationships with the true God. This truly made the book so powerful and life-changing, and there were some scenes with spiritual breakthroughs that had my heart in a puddle.
Victoria handled the romance so. well. There were no uncomfortable kissing scenes (well, there was a kiss, but it wasn’t gross or way too soon XD) or cringey emotional things. Just a sweet romance between two friends who had solid character and a deep love and respect for one another.
The forest setting and all of the references to light.
I love the great outdoors, and so all of the references to trees, fields, and golden light were the best!
Victoria Lynn has an insatiable desire for truth, light and beauty.
Traveling to destinations of beauty created by our Heavenly Father, reveling in creative pursuits that fill her with joy, or pouring her heart into words of life are some of her favorite things to do.
She seeks to bring the life giving words of the Savior to a dark and broken world that desperately needs to know of His sacrifice.
A writing and publishing coach, author, journalist, seamstress and creator, she loves spending time with any of her 8 siblings, exploring her native state of Michigan, and sewing gowns fit for a princess.
(Also, quick note: I got to meet and spend some time with Victoria this spring on the Glory Writers retreat. She is the sweetest, and I so admire her courage, talent, and fiery heart for the Lord! Her Instagram account is also one of my favorites, so be sure to check it out.:)
Have you read Once I Knew or any of Victoria’s other books?
I’ve been reading this one for some research I’m doing…it’s the autobiography of a WWII fighter pilot, and goodness, was he ever a naughty little boy!XD It’s been pretty enjoyable, although I get a bit lost in all of the pilot jargon sometimes.
He had seen the pain, the evil, and the sin within him, had lifted his face in gentle hands, caressed it as a father does a child with a nightmare whose tears streak their cheeks, looked him in the eye and said:
“I love you. All of you.”
This book. I can’t even tell you how much I needed to read this one. Not only is the theme incredible, but the plot is so tight, the pacing incredible, the characters endearing…
And can we talk about the romance?? The romance is beautiful…and you have to understand that this is coming from the girl who cringes through most bits of romance in books and runs for popcorn during sappy parts in movies.XD The true love and restraint shown by the characters…I wanted to cheer and shout for joy. Please can we fight for such reform in the romance genre?
*tumbles off soapbox*
Anyway…I have an official review of the book coming up soon…plus an interview with the author! Stay tuned!
From the journal…
Oh, Lord, I only conquer in Your strength. Be my mighty defense…let me love what You love and hate what You hate.
I was so cranky today. …finally ate lunch. I hadn’t eaten anything and was so hungry and cranky. (Just keeping it real…)
Let ours be a story that makes people shake their heads and murmur in awe, “Only God could have worked such wonders.”
Whatever the future holds, Father, keep my heart soft and obedient.
The church must set aside what is good so that we may be about the business of what is best. And so must I…soul, defend yourself against distraction from what is highest and holiest.
Because of Christ’s blood shed to atone for my sins, God no longer sees any of my blemishes, and rejoices over me like a man head-over-heels in love with his bride. He delights in me. He wants me. The Master of the universe is enraptured by what He sees in me. Oh, Jesus, it is all because of You!
Oh, Father, make me like Abel, who, though he is dead, still speaks through the story he left behind. Let my life echo Your goodness and grace long after my voice is silenced.
Writing update + prayer request
Disclaimer: I’m okay. Don’t freak out about the prayer request part.XD
About the writing…
I haven’t worked seriously at drafting a novel since last November, when I attempted NaNoWriMo and got 11k words in before I became an emotional dumpster fire. (A translation for the sane people in the world: NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it’s a time in November when maniacs armed with laptops decide to quit life for a month to write a novel, or 50,000 words, in November.)
After that experience, novel writing got shoved to the back burner as I scribbled poetry, published a poetry book, lived normal life, and scribbled more poetry.
Honestly, I was scared of attempting a novel again.
But a story idea kept haunting me. And haunting me. And haunting me.
I started sharing the concept with some friends, and the responses I got poured fuel on the fire of my desire to see this book through to publication.
So here I am again…committing to the goal of writing 20k words on this new heart project this July. And praying. A lot.
I’d love it if you would join me in prayer for this project. To me, this concept is more than just another story. Bits of it have been brewing in my mind since I was eleven or twelve…and so many topics that are near and dear to my heart have found their way into this book. It’s amazing to see how God has helped me to pull so many different elements of my experiences and passions into one story!
Last July I wrote 20k words for a story full of heartache and confusion. This July, I want to pour out 20k words of healing and redemption. Eeek! I only have a few thousand words written so far, but already I can’t wait to share this story with you all. ❤
When I hit 30k words on this project – which I’m currently terming Project Redemption – , I’m going to start sharing more details about it on Instagram…so if you aren’t following along there, click here so you can join the tribe and be among the first to hear updates!
What were the memorable pieces of your June? Writers, what’s been flowing from your pens/keyboards of late? Readers, what books have captured your imagination lately? I’d love to hear in the comments!
Right now my computer is slower than a lame tortoise and my brain feels like a mashed potato in a tornado, so I’m grateful I wrote this post as I lived through May so I don’t have to remember everything on my own! I hope you enjoy my glance back on this month with me.:)
Things worth remembering
wandering through some war memorials
sneaking over to my grandma’s house with my siblings in the early morning to fill her yard with pinwheels as a birthday surprise
pizza, ice cream, and good talks with a study group
a long sibling walk that ended in a rainstorm and sprinting…too bad we weren’t headed to Netherfield, huh?
exploring old farm buildings and finding bones
scaling fish for the first time and immensely enjoying it
The way I feel isn’t a good excuse to be unproductive, and neither is a lingering winter. I am completely responsible for myself, and my actions do not hinge on the whether the weather outside is frightful or delightful. What’s inside me is what ought to drive me.
The spiritual parallels of the physical seasons are my favorite, and Makayla has some wonderful thoughts in this post!
I’ve opted for a new and much more effective approach; manipulating them using the unconquerable force of peer-pressure. I can do this because I’m college-age and therefore a god. At least, in their opinion.
Sarah’s posts always leave me laughing and in awe of her ability to use my beloved snark so beautifully, and this one was no exception…except this one wrung my heart a bit at the end. Do yourself a favor and give this one a read.
remember that no matter how tiny the fragments this time, how far apart they are scattered, how long you must search, he will help you find the pieces of the person you once were and the image you once bore.
I’ve been digging into this one again. It’s one of my absolute favorites.
(If you’ve been here for a good amount of time, you’ll know how wonderful this is.XD) I loved it so much!! You can read my brief review on my Goodreads account.:)
From the Journal
Oh, Lord, may I ever remain set apart for Your purpose so that You may do wonders in my tomorrows.
All will be made whole…
Achan took the spoil because it was tempting…but God was going to allow the spoils to be taken lawfully in the next battle. Oh, Lord, help me to trust that You will satisfy my longings in due time.
Oh, Lord, clear my mind and give me the wisdom to discern between roadblocks You have set before me to turn my heart to greater things, and the rugged territory of fallen trees I must naturally clamber over on my way in Your will for me.
Lord, grant repentance. We cannot even come to the realization and regret of our sins if You don’t give us the grace to do so.
I can laugh without fear of the future, not because I am well-prepared and invincible, but because my Father laughs in the face of my greatest fears, and I trust Him completely.
How was your May? What stood out to you in this past month? Have you been reading/watching/listening to anything good lately?
going on a quest to pick up furniture with my brother
packaging and mailing out preorders of aforementioned poetry book – I so enjoyed getting to think about all of the people who would be receiving a copy of This Will Not Last!
making toast at the first sibling bonfire of the year
Sharing a Christian Seder meal with family and dear friends
Not blowing away in some pretty high winds
Navigating airports and lengthy layovers on my own and realizing it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be
Spending a week talking and adventuring and building relationships with like-minded writers on the Glory Writers retreat! I want to do a full post dedicated to covering this event, so stay tuned!
“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” – Aristotle
What I’ve been reading
Love Comes Softly – Janette Oke
I know, I am a fierce critic of the romance genre, but I devoured this book in two days! There was so much solid character development, and of course a bit of heartache. I’m not the biggest fan of Janette Oke’s writing style, but after I got over that I couldn’t put the book down. I definitely recommend it!
White Stallion of Lipizza – Marguerite Henry
I love Marguerite Henry’s books! I hadn’t read one in the longest time, so it’s been fun to pick this one up again.
“There are far, far greater things ahead than any we leave behind.” – C.S. Lewis
From the journal
Today is not your day. It’s God’s. Use it accordingly.
And yet I praise You, Father, because You know best, and even in the broken valley You are the restorer of my soul.
What made your April memorable? I’d love to hear in the comments!
And so the first month of the new year slips into the past…
Things worth remembering…
reading the book of Job. It used to bore me, but now I think it may be one of my favorites.
watching The Village for the first time! I was mulling over the plot and themes for days after watching it… it may be a new favorite.:)
a Zoom chat with some wonderful writers I’ll get to meet this spring!
starting up my street team (It’s not too late to sign up!!)
revealing the title of my poetry book in this post.:)
sledding with sisters and friends
making reading a part of my daily routine. I’m amazed at how much it’s changed my life for the better!
designing a cover for the aforementioned poetry book
the golden glow the morning sunlight made in one of the cattle barns on a very, very cold morning
amusedly (and rather concernedly) wondering how heated the c*vid discussion in Cost Cutters was going to get
starting another writing project… some more info will be revealed once it proves itself worthy of existence.:)
What I’ve been reading…
Unseduced and Unshaken – Rosalie de Rosset
“You can’t afford to be casual about any part of your life. The misplacement of longing, the mistaking of the temporal for the eternal will always turn you into a ghost.”
Aagh, this book was just so good. It touched on so many topics that don’t seem to be taken very seriously in popular Christian culture… namely the topic of taking oneself and each aspect of one’s life seriously.
A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
“I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul. Since I knew you…I have had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.”
My goodness. This is a book I will definitely read again. Dickens is a master! The themes of love, purpose, and sacrifice were so beautifully wrought in this novel.
The Pursuit of God – A.W. Tozer
The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One.
One of those great Christian classics I’d always heard about and never read… until it now.:) I love A.W. Tozer’s unashamed and hungry desire for God. This book is so relatable! It’s full of truth and written in such a lovely style.
A Victorian Posy – Shiela Pickles
Here or there a sunbeam found its way through a little window or skylight in the thick leafage overhead and singling out one bluebell amongst the crowd tipped the rich and heavily hanging cluster of bells with a brilliant azure gleam and blue glory.” – Francis Kilvert
This is a lovely little collection of Victorian poetry and prose… all about flowers! Not my typical read, but it’s been a fun change of pace.
I’ve been listening to…
The Village soundtrack
It’s incredible. It’s been my writing soundtrack most days of late.:)
From the journal…
Oh, God, ground me in Your truth. Help me to truly live only for You…to not care if I look weird to the world, if only I look good to You.
All of history has been the beautiful, heartbreaking story of unity between God and man being broken, and God giving everything to restore that unity. It’s epic.
Lord, thank You for assigning me a worth that is not defined by what I do, but by Whose I am.
How beautiful to know that when God was hardening Pharaoh’s heart, He was only paving the way for a massive victory. Hold fast through the trials. Victory always prevails with YHWH.
Words worth remembering…
“You cannot separate your spiritual life from the life of the mind.” – Rosalie de Rosset
“Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him!” – Job 26:14a
“My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go.” – Job 27:6
“If my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame.” – A.W. Tozer
“Tell wind and fire where to stop, but don’t tell me.” – Madame Defarge in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities
What are you taking away from January 2022? Thoughts? Music? Memories? Books? Feel free to share in the comments!