January review – 2023

And it’s the first review post of 2023!

Things worth remembering…

  • skits on New Years Day
  • gingerbread house creation
  • “bowling” night
  • many intense games of floor hockey
  • Clarion Hope’s cover reveal!!
  • making dragon eggs (they “smelled something sinful” and I won’t be doing it again)
  • getting yummy breakfasts delivered to the skid loader
  • not losing my eyesight
  • hiking
  • discovering that stinging nettle tea is actually delicious

God reveals Himself in rearview mirrors.

Ann voskamp

What I’ve been reading…

Romanov – Nadine Brandes

“Revenge would have shattered us both. But you’ve given us the opportunity to be strong. To mend our hearts instead of break them further.”

I’ve been fascinated by the tragic story of the Romanovs for years, and I really enjoyed this fantastical take on it. While it was a bit more gruesome than I would have liked, I loved the characters and the epic plot twists so much.

The Magician’s Nephew – C.S. Lewis

“In fact, Digory, you are now talking to the last man (possibly) who really had a fairy godmother…”

“I bet she was a bad fairy,” thought Digory…

I’m rereading this book with several of my friends from Bible study, and it’s been so much fun!

The Scarlet Pimpernel – Baroness Emmuska Orczy

The same deep, intense love was still there, on both sides, but each now seemed to have a secret orchard, into which the other dared not penetrate.

I’m really enjoying this story that takes place during the French Revolution!

Becoming Elisabeth Elliot – Ellen Vaughn

Her presupposition – that we are to die to self, and it is only in dying that we actually find real life – informed her views about life choices, time management, risk avoidance, public opinion…everything. This is why she was radical. This is why her life continues to be relevant today.

I’m really enjoying this deep look into the early years of one of my spiritual heroes!

The flesh must die though the heart may break – spare not the pain, oh, spare not the pain.

Ruth bell graham

From the journal…

Oh, God, help me to hold it all with open hands. Time and time again, you’ve set just the right people in my life at just the right times.

I find it so interesting that God asked the Israelites to go up to battle against Benjamin two times to suffer great loss. They came weeping to the Lord both times to ask His will, and still He told them to go up against them. Oh, strengthen me, Father, to fight boldly when You command and yet it ends in defeat.

“The Lord sat enthroned at the flood…” (Psalm 29:10) In the middle of mass destruction and the greatest catastrophe the world has ever known, the Lord retained His rule.

May I not let go merely because I hope to see You give back again. May I watch dreams burn to ashes, never to return, while still trusting the faithfulness of my God.

What were some things that you enjoyed this January?

❤ Laurel

Thoughts from four years ago

Thoughts from four years ago

In going through some old papers, I found this little piece I wrote almost exactly four years ago and thought it would be fun to share here.

The sun was warm on my hair, yet the wind blew its frosty breath in my face as I walked through the browned grasses. The solid feeling of the frozen earth beneath my feet was so ordinary…yet so wonderful.

Wisps of cloud scudded across an ocean of powder-blue sky, hovering over the golden stubble of a cornfield lately reaped. A solitary cornstalk or two stood defiantly at the horizon, piercing the sky.

I filled my lungs with the frigid air and released it again. The vapor dispersed in the wind. I could hear the wind rushing through the grasses, swelling and fading by turns in its song. I had never been to the sea, but I liked to think that it sounded like the wind in dry grasses.

Maybe someday I’ll know.

But today holds so much. So much to love, so much to feel. So many things for which to praise God.

More things than the sand by the sea.

❤ Laurel Luehmann, January 24th, 2019

I find it pretty neat that exactly two years after that was written, I was staying by the ocean for the first time. God’s timing is incredible.✨

Carving legacies in souls

What will I leave behind?

It’s a question that’s tugged at my attention for years. As I read the stories of eternal heroes with short lives and stared at the caskets of people I held dear, the question haunted my mind.

so small and

insignificant

one breath will

blow this life away, and

what

will be the proof that

it was here?

mangled lives

and broken hearts?

friendships

that were torn apart by

hands that now lie still and cold?

oh, no!

forbid it, Lord!

A month or so ago a friend and I were wandering through a beautiful cemetery that sprawls over several acres of hills. (You know you have loyal friends when they smilingly join you on strange expeditions.) There were so many old gravestones – some tipped and sinking deep into the soil. Several were ridiculously tall and ornate, but they were so old that wind and water and time had wiped the sentimental words right off of the marker. Their attempts to leave an echo of their greatness were in vain.

Of course I hope that I leave behind me a trail of words that can point others to Christ and to truth decades after I’m gone, but paper burns. Ink fades. Files become corrupted.

If words are all I leave, I’ve failed.

For even if my words could surpass the masterpieces of Dickens and Shakespeare,

If I sang with the voice of an angel,

If the world remembers my name until the world stops turning,

But I have not love…

I am nothing.

oh, Father, keep me

on the sidelines with a loving heart

if I can’t champion the world

with outstretched hands.

Words fade. People don’t.

Let’s live our lives accordingly.

❤ Laurel

I have found the one whom my soul loves…

I have found the one whom my soul loves…

This phrase, found in Song of Solomon, has always captured my heart with its beauty and the victory it implies.

I was excited for the day when I could finally say it to someone.


This summer, shortly after my grandma passed away, a dear friend gifted our family a mug that bears those words…

and it finally hit me.


I have found the One whom my soul loves.

He sought me out before I wanted Him, seeing the beauty that could be instead of the ugliness I was.

He could have cast me aside for something, someone far more worthy. But He didn’t.

He could have let the cup of His Father’s wrath pour out on me. But He didn’t.

He took it up in weary hands and drank its dregs, giving the last breath in His lungs to rend the veil that kept me from Him.

What love could be greater than this?


Yes, I have found the One whom my soul loves.

I won’t know the full meaning of those words until I step across the fine line of eternity and see His face for the very first time.

I’m certain I won’t be able to say it without weeping…

“I have found the One whom my soul loves.”

Stolen words – a few poems and the thoughts that inspired them

Hello, friends!

I haven’t shared much poetry on the blog lately, so I thought I’d share a few smaller poems here with you today, along with their backstories. Something about knowing the history of a poem just makes reading the poem itself so much more fun…at least in my book!

(I do share one poem a week over on Instagram, so if you aren’t following along there, click here to follow so you don’t miss a poem!)


voice in ink

I wrote this poem after reading a passage in Isaiah and wondering if I take God’s written Word as seriously as I would take a voice from heaven.

oh, soften my heart

to hear Your silent voice

and heed the ink

as though it were Your hand


bound

Oh, goodness, I love this poem so much.😅 This one was inspired by the song “Homeward Bound”, which (fun fact) my ten-year-old self sang as my audition for a part in a stage production of “The Sound of Music”! I didn’t get a part, but the song has a special place in my heart because of that memory, and also because it really does apply to my own story so well.

(I recommend listening to the song before you read.:))

you didn’t bind me to the pasture

never chained me to the plow

you set me free to find my calling…

I returned – for I bleed rain

the wind is in my heart and soul,

and I am restless

till I’m working, my feet rooted in this ground –

you set me free to find my calling…

I returned to you somehow.


mortality

This one I wrote after reading Francis Beaumont’s incredible poem “On the Tombs in Westminster Abbey”. This is one of my rare truly structured poems, and something about it makes me feel like it belongs in an old, faded hardcover!

the silence of the grave is roaring,

catching the ear of flailing man.

in the chaos of a crowd,

no voice e’er can speak as loud

and clear as death,

whose gasping song

alone can cause a man to see

the mist of his mortality.


Do you have a favorite type/style of poetry?

❤ Laurel

What is that to you? – a hard look at comparison

What is that to you? – a hard look at comparison

Whether we like it or not, comparison seems to be ingrained into our very souls…or at least, the very soul of our culture. I never thought I had a significant problem with comparison because I truly love my life and don’t obsess over what people think of me…

But the whispers still come…

I’m not doing what she’s doing. Does that mean I’m not doing enough? She’s writing so many more words than I am…and is doing it better than I am? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I seem to keep up?


There are so many people in the Bible that fascinate me, but Simon Peter takes the cake. My soul has a good laugh (or sometimes a good cry) whenever I read about him because he’s just. so. relatable. I’m glad I’m not the only Jesus-adoring soul who talks too soon, too much, and too thoughtlessly. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has had to work through my own unfaithfulness to realize Christ’s faithfulness is unfathomable.

And I’m glad I’m not the only disciple Jesus had to call out of the comparison game.

In the last chapter of John’s account of the gospel, Jesus has just told Peter, “Follow me.” And what does Peter do?

What most of us do, honestly.

He turns around and looks at someone else.

John. The beloved disciple. The favorite. The one who didn’t deny his Lord three times after vowing to die for Him. The one whose seeming perfection likely made Peter feel more ashamed than he already was.

“But what about him, Jesus?”

I can just see Jesus turning to Peter, looking him straight in the eyes, and replying,

“What is that to you? You follow Me.”


Jesus doesn’t ask us to look to those around us for condemnation or validation. He simply calls, simply and clearly, for us to walk after Him.

What is it to me if my journey looks vastly different than the lives of those around me?

I’m to follow Him, and that is all that matters.


Let’s jump out of the comparison game, friends. Let’s take a hard look at ourselves in the light of God’s word and leave the clamor of the world behind. There’s only one Voice whose approval truly counts.

❤ Laurel

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

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

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

The day I never thought I’d reach.

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

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

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

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

Honest thoughts here…

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

My first book. In print.

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

I’m the writer I dreamed of being…

And yet I’m not.

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

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

That’s really, really sad.

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

How many approve of me.

But that was never the point of it, anyway.

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

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

All things were created for Him, not me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Laurel

And the winner is…

Hello, friends!

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

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

*dramatic drumroll*

Elle!!!

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

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

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

‘Til next time,

❤ Laurel

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

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

Hey, friends!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Laurel

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

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

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

Newsletter info!!!

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

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

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

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

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

You can sign up for the newsletter here:

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

Things worth remembering…

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

I’ve been reading…

Johnny Tremain – Esther Forbes

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

Macbeth – William Shakespeare

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

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

The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson

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

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

Bruchko – Bruce Olson

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

I’ve been listening to…

A playlist I created for This Will Not Last!

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

Yiruma

The Greatest Showman Soundtrack

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

From the journal…

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

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

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

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

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

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