My Greatest Fear As a Writer

As I gear up to re-launch The Field through Vox Dei Publishing (edits, and covers, and marketing plans, oh my!), I once again face my fear of letting my writing out of the gate – this time, to a potentially broader audience. It’s not really letting other people read my work. Because I’m young(ish), and seeing how I’ve grown and changed even in the past couple of years, I worry that as I get older I’ll regret my plot decisions, or won’t like my writing that much at all.

Even though I wrote this over a year ago, I find it still rings true:

My greatest fear as a writer is not really letting the world read my work.  The person I am most intimidated about reading my work is my future self.  I am afraid that in five or ten years I will look back on my work today and think it is nothing special, that it’s not very good.  That I’ll wish I’d written things differently.

Given enough time, I become my own harshest critic.  That is the truth.

As I was really considering this several weeks ago, a story was trending about J. K. Rowling.  She mentioned that if she could go back and do it again, Ron and Hermione wouldn’t end up together, and something about personal wish fulfillment.

That’s when I realized: of course as I grow as a writer I will begin to see more of the flaws in my own writing.  The difference is that now I’m okay with it.  If J. K. Rowling can look back on a series that so many people love and talk about things she sees differently now, I can certainly do that.

The point is not perfection.  The point is to put myself out there, and grow in the process.

Must keep reminding myself of this!

Originally published on the Wilderness Adventure blog.

Sometimes Past Lydia makes a good point. 😉

What is the law? And who is my neighbor?

He who has ears to hear…

What is the law? More specifically, what is God’s law?

“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right … Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:8, 12-13).

Who is my neighbor?

 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’’ “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”  The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37).

Is there ever an instance when a change in public policy should change following God’s law in relating lovingly to our neighbors?

When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:11b-12).

How does love win?

Serve one another humbly, in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13b-14).

Let him hear.

 

 

 

Penelope

PENELOPE

a short story by

Lydia Thomas

Copyright 2015

For my grandma, Marcia Bauman Thomas, who always encouraged my imagination and writing by telling stories of when I was a young girl and would talk on my play phone. She thought it was the funniest thing because she could have sworn there was someone on the other end.

“Please,” Penelope cried, rocking back and forth on the ground in the corner of the dark room. “Something is wrong with me. I need your help.”

Arleen and Cindy exchanged a look. Penelope wasn’t talking to them, and much as they wanted to help her, there was no way of knowing what would happen if they intervened while she was in this state.

“Something is wrong with me,” Penelope insisted angrily.

Arleen scribbled a note on her legal pad: Penelope was engaging with the voices from the other side today, and it sounded like they were talking back.

“I can’t take care of myself,” Penelope sobbed. “I need help.”

Arleen stole a glance at Cindy, who rubbed one arm absentmindedly as tears crawled out of her eyes and down her cheeks, watching the scene in front of her. Arleen couldn’t blame the girl: she and Penelope had grown especially close in the past few years. It had always been hard to lose Penelope like this, but recently, it had been occurring more and more frequently. Arleen suspected it wouldn’t be long before they lost Penelope for good, though she didn’t mention this to Cindy.

“This is your fault, too,” Penelope announced from the corner. “You should have helped me a long time ago.”

Arleen relaxed. Once Penelope started throwing out accusations like that, the voices would leave. Then she’d be back. Even Cindy was wiping away her tears and putting on a brave smile in preparation.

Suddenly, she and Cindy were sitting in an ornate living room, sunlight sprinkling in through wall-to-wall windows that overlooked a wooded back yard. Arleen knew the house well – Penelope often met them here these days. Still, it took her a moment to adjust to the new surroundings.

The doorbell rang.

“That will be Penelope,” Cindy said.

“I’ll get it,” Arleen replied, and scuffled out to the entry way to answer the door.

As she walked, the house changed again, and Arleen found herself in a dim hallway. Although she recognized this house, too, it had been years since Penelope had rendezvoused with anyone here, but this was where Penelope had met them all for the first time. Arleen wondered what had prompted this change. .

Penelope stood on the porch, holding a grocery bag and beaming. She was wearing a navy and mint striped maxi dress and denim jacket, and Arleen noticed that she had styled her hair and applied some eyeliner and mascara. It was quite the contrast from when Arleen had seen her last.

“You look beautiful, Penelope,” Arleen greeted her, and stood to the side.

“Thanks, Arleen,” Penelope said, breezing in as if she didn’t have a care in the world. “I brought stuff for seafood tacos.”

“Sounds delicious,” Arleen remarked, following Penelope down the hallway to a different living room than the one from which she had come.

This living room also looked out on a wooded area, and beyond that, a small pond. The sun was just beginning to dip below the trees.

Penelope sighed happily. “My favorite place on earth.”

Cindy barreled into Penelope with a big hug. “Hey, friend,” she said, voice muffled. “How are you?”

Penelope returned the hug before setting her grocery bag on the kitchen bar beside her. “I’m good,” she returned brightly.

Penelope took off her jacket and folded it neatly on one of the bar stools before finding an apron in one of the drawers and tying it around her waist. As she scurried around the kitchen, pulling out chopping boards, knives, and pans, Arleen marveled that Penelope still knew where everything was after all these years.

“Can we get some music going?” Penelope requested. “I feel like singing and dancing. Oldies, maybe?”

Cindy frowned, but complied, pulling out her iPod and its Bluetooth speaker. Soon, Wouldn’t it be nice? by the Beach Boys was filtering into the kitchen, and Penelope was dancing and singing into spatulas.

Arleen waggled her eyebrows at Cindy and joined in, but Cindy sat down on a bar stool, still frowning.

“Come on, Cin,” Penelope said, shimmying around the kitchen. “Live a little.”

“This is insane!” Cindy exploded.

Arleen and Penelope stopped dancing, and without anybody touching the iPod, the music had stopped. Arleen knew that wasn’t a good sign.

“What’s your problem?” Penelope demanded.

“My problem?” Cindy spluttered. “My problem is that less than twenty minutes ago, you were absolutely beside yourself, crying about how you need help. You come here, and suddenly everything is okay.”

Penelope’s face fell. “Look, Cin,” she said. “I just need to relax, okay?”

“You used to be real with us,” Cindy replied. “That’s been the place where you’ve faked it, but not here. Never here.”

Penelope sunk to the floor, and Arleen saw they were losing her again. Cindy saw it, too, and relented, coming to sit on the floor next to Penelope.

“Don’t you trust us?” Cindy whispered desperately.

Penelope turned slowly to face Cindy. “Of course I trust you. Both of you,” she added, glancing at Arleen. “More than anyone. You’ve always been here. I just”-

“What?” Cindy probed.

“I don’t know if I should anymore,” Penelope admitted.

Arleen sunk down to the floor and put an arm around Penelope’s shoulder. “We understand,” she murmured.

“I don’t,” Cindy argued. “I don’t understand how you could choose them over us. All of us. We’ve made it our mission to protect you. If you had any idea”-

“That’s just it, Cindy,” Penelope said, shaking her head. “You’ve all been keeping me from things. Things that could keep me here forever.”

“Would that be such a terrible thing?” Cindy asked.

Penelope emitted a strangled sob, and looked around the now-shadowy house.

Her favorite place on earth, Arleen thought wryly.

“No,” Penelope replied eventually. “And yes. They need me there.”

“I know,” Arleen whispered.

“Can’t you please just tell me?” Penelope pleaded.

Arleen shook her head. “I’m sorry, honey,” she said. “I don’t even know myself. I’m just here to protect you until you’re ready.”

It was true. Arleen had shown up at this very house shortly after the incident to introduce Penelope to her first family. She had knocked on the door, not even sure anyone would answer, but a three-year-old, pigtailed Penelope had opened the door and invited her in, much to her parents’ chagrin. That was the only time the two worlds had overlapped; Penelope kept them separate after that. Arleen hadn’t known what happened then, and she didn’t know now, but she had instantly seen Penelope‘s sadness. She only knew that every time a family got too close to the incident, Penelope would start acting up and had to be placed with another family. Then, there were the people who had left on their own: Arleen’s own son, Eric had walked away from Penelope several years ago, tired of being used as a crutch. Soon after, Cindy had shown up. Arleen wasn’t surprised Penelope was choosing the other side, where she had only one family.

“I’m ready,” Penelope said.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Arleen cautioned.

“I know,” Penelope whispered. “But it’s time.”

Arleen and Cindy faded away, and Penelope was left by herself in the dark kitchen.

“You’re very close,” a voice whispered out of the darkness.

“What if I lose everything?” Penelope asked.

“There’s no chance I’ll let that happen,” the voice returned. “Trust me.”

No longer afraid, Penelope straightened from the fetal position she’d been in on the floor and stood up. She walked out to the living room where she’d left her parents.

“We think you should see a doctor,” her mother said.

Her father didn’t make eye contact, and Penelope knew he wished it hadn’t come to this.

She hated to disappoint him, but Penelope nodded.

“I think you’re right,” she agreed.

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When Taylor Swift Is Right

Several months ago, I wrote this post on Taylor Swift’s ‘Bad Blood’ and my heart for restoration, and how the two were at odds:

I get this song.

In the middle of one of my (many) listens, I was convicted because the message of this song is at times the anthem of my heart (even before it was written, probably).  Someone hurts me, sometimes in an already wounded place, and I distance myself so as not to give that person that opportunity again.  Even if I don’t write about it, or say anything at all, my attitude and actions will say, This. Can’t. Be. Fixed.  Just like Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood.

And that’s a problem.

You see, recently God has been teaching me about restoration – both His heart for restoration, and how He wants me to have a heart for restoration.  I petition God on a daily basis for restoration, telling Him it’s what I want.

But is it?

Is it really?

Because what is restoration but to fix something? To return it to its intended condition and purpose?

Is my heart for bad blood, or is it for restoration?

I stand by that, but as I consider the Duggar family and McKinney and now Charleston, I recognize a grain of truth in Taylor Swift’s song: “Band-Aids don’t fix bullet holes.”

Christians, if we want healing and restoration from sexual abuse and racism and any other evil we can name in this world, we must not minimize it. We must look it full in the face, call it what it is, and actively stand against it. We must dig out the shrapnel, and care for the wound until it heals. And we must remember that sometimes, if a wound is deep enough, it leaves a scar.

Because do you know what will happen if we slap a Band-Aid over it like it’s no big deal? It’s going to get infected and fester. And it’s going to destroy us.

I want to acknowledge that Jesus is where our ultimate hope for healing is found:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:3-5a NIV).

All too often, the popular Christian response to the evils we encounter is, “Come, Lord Jesus,” because we know our sorrows are not forever. Of course we long for Jesus to come back and make all things right, but have we forgotten that we are His body now? That we have the mind of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit to be agents of healing and restoration in this very moment? That when we pray for God’s Kingdom to come and His will to be done it happens through us? That we have been given every weapon needed to fight against evil?

Why do we so often act like there is nothing we can do? (Maybe because we’ve embraced an incorrect view of God, but that’s another subject for another day).

As followers of Jesus, may we all pursue restoration with the knowledge that there is hope for healing. May we understand that Band-Aids don’t – no, can’t fix bullet holes (and boy, does the human race have some bullet holes). And may we embrace our  very real calling as the body of Christ to be His hands and feet here and now.

Memory

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(Photo Credit: Lavonne Last, Realtor.com)

Memory is a funny thing, isn’t it?

Thursday night, I had a dream that the house I spent my childhood in was for sale, and my family was moving back to it. It made me nostalgic, so when I woke up, I looked it up on Google, you know, to see how the place is doing.

I was absolutely unnerved coming across the picture above, because that tree alongside the house? I don’t remember it being there. I mean, obviously, that tree has been there a long time. My two younger siblings remember it clearly.  I should remember it, too, but I don’t.

And I remember the trees – we played among them from the time I was eight until we moved to Texas when I was fifteen.

I remember the pine trees that lined the property line on either side of the driveway. Seth, Kathryn, and I would play in the treeline on the right side during the summer, creating makeshift teepees out of fallen branches, until one fell on Kathryn and gashed open her forehead, and we were prohibiting from erecting those treacherous structures ever again. We loved the treeline on the left more, anyway, because that was where the tree fort was, though we had to wait for winter to play in there because of poison ivy.

I remember the sumac trees in the treelines, not just on the 68th Street border, but also bordering Bingham. I remember the little neck of trees, which technically belonged to our neighbor, that had little trails in it that we used to explore. I remember the thin line of trees and raspberry bushes and a wire fence that bordered the back of the property. I remember the thick woods on the other side of the wheat field, where I was terrified to venture, because, although rare, black bears do roam in Newaygo County. (Probably nowhere near our farm, but still).

I remember the trees that had their tops knocked off in that big windstorm that one spring. I remember the two pine trees on either side of the woodpile (yes, we had one of those) losing at least half their height. I remember the evergreen in the driveway island near the well being reduced to about ten feet, and being cut down to a stump from there. I remember the pine tree right outside of our kitchen, that had its top fallen any other direction, it would have gone through the roof of my older sisters’ room. (I remember that tree being there, and it’s not anymore, because sometime in the past eleven years it’s been completely chopped down and uprooted). I remember our yard and driveway were covered with branches and tree tops, creating months of yard work.

I remember the other trees in the front yard, a pine tree to the right of where the driveway veered off for the wrap-around to the garage. I remember the pair of fir trees (Seth’s trees), where we buried the birds who’d fallen out of their nest. The nest was too high for us to restore them to it, so we tried nursing them ourselves (us and the Johnson kids) under the oak (my tree), keeping them out of harm’s way. (Harm mostly being our cat, Bill). We even christened them: Pete and Joe. We didn’t know what we were doing, and they died soon, anyway, just as our parents had said they would. Then, there was the evergreen (Kathryn’s tree), and down the hill from that was the mulberry tree, up which our aforementioned cat would run when the neighbor’s dogs would terrorize him.

But I don’t remember this tree.

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(Photo Credit: Lavonne Last, Realtor.com)

I don’t just mean that I’ve forgotten it, as in, “Oh yeah, there was that tree.” I mean I search my memories, and it doesn’t exist there.

I think about the times I spent on our swing set thinking, which used to sit about where those branches are hanging to the right, facing the house, and that tree isn’t there.

I think about the time my dad came home from work in the middle of the day, and I was sent outside. I just sat, staring back at the house, and that tree isn’t there.

I think about the hundreds of time I must have walked and biked past it, and I try to call it to mind, but it’s just not there. And seeing it there now is unsettling.

I should remember it, but more than that, I should have memories of it. I mean, there wasn’t a whole lot I loved about the farm, but I loved the trees, and I have so many good memories involving them.

I don’t remember it, though.

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(Photo Credit: Lavonne Last, Realtor.com)

Not even looking at it from another angle.

Maybe if I saw it in person. Who knows?

Last Child: A Review

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[BUY HERE]

About Last Child (from Amazon):

LAST CHILD is the sequel to Kings and Queens, Terry Tyler’s modern take on the story of Henry VIII and his six wives.

Harry Lanchester is gone, his legacy passed on to his children:
Thirteen year old JASPER, who views the directors of Lanchester Estates as Harry Potter characters, and finds out that teenage love affairs are no fairytale.

ISABELLA, the eldest daughter; lonely and looking for love, she returns from a holiday in Spain with more than just a suntan.

Impulsive, independent ERIN, the girl of Transport manager Rob Dudley’s dreams, whose priority is not a husband and family, but the continuation of her father’s work.

You will also meet the ambitious Jim Dudley, ex-nanny Hannah Cleveley, Rob’s long suffering wife Amy, and Raine Grey, whose nine days as PR manager for Lanchester Estates have a devastating effect on her life.

LAST CHILD takes the drama, passion and intrigue of Kings and Queens into the present day, with echoes from the past ~ and a glimpse or two into the future…

About Terry Tyler (from Amazon):

Terry lives in the north of England with her husband, and has published nine books on Amazon. Readers say she has created her own genre, which lies somewhere in the area of contemporary drama and romantic suspense, with the occasional bit of rock fiction thrown in.

A light, summer novella, ‘Round and Round’ is her latest release; ‘Kings and Queens’ is her latest of seven full length novels, and is a modern day re-telling of the story of Henry VIII and his six wives. A sequel is in progress.

When she is not writing, she practices housework avoidance, advanced Twittering, and worship at the altars of Jack Bauer, Tyrion Lannister, Deacon Claybourne and the macho blond one in ‘Vikings’.

Terry has a blog on which she writes about anything she feels like, and also writes for the UK Arts Directory on a weekly basis about self-publishing. Both blogs are widely read.

You can connect with her on her blog and Twitter.

My Review:

I give Last Child by Terry Tyler 4 out of 5 stars.

Although I’m giving Last Child the same rating as its prequel, Kings and Queens, I think I enjoyed this installment a little bit more.

I thoroughly enjoyed the various points of view.  While Kings and Queens felt a bit like a collection of short stories with Will Brandon’s narration bridging them, Last Child felt more fluid as it shifted from character to character. Additionally, where Kings and Queens stuck with history (as much as a modern reimagining can), Last Child had these departures that made the story that much more compelling.

Hannah was my favorite character from Kings and Queens, so I was overjoyed to see her in the role of narrator for this book. I thought Raine, Isabella, and Amy were fantastic characters, but I adored Erin – a woman after my own heart right there, not to mention she was a refreshing change from the “woman scorned” characters that preceded her.

I thought the story got off to a bit of a slow start with Jasper, though I thought he was compelling enough, if a little mature for his age. But once I got into it, there was no slowing down. I was eager to walk with the women of Lanchester Estates and watch their stories unfold.

I seriously hope these books become a television series!

Mid-Year Checkpoint

We are half-way through 2015 already – can you believe it?! It’s been a big year so far, and last week I was evaluating the goals and resolutions I made at the beginning of this year.  I thought I’d share how things are going.

Reading

It is my goal to read 52 books this year. I also plan to review or analyze everything I read in some shape, form, or fashion. In order to do more book-reading, I will be reading fewer blogs and internet articles.

In February, I picked up a job as a book marketing manager for Booktrope Publishing. As a result, I’ve done a lot of reading for work in addition to my personal reading, but I haven’t been able to review or analyze everything I’ve read for obvious reasons.  However, I do include the books I’ve read for work in my count towards 52 books by the end of the year.

Personal Reading (11): The Elijah Task by John and Paula Sandford, Bellefleur by Joyce Carol Oates, The Cleft by Doris Lessing, Sovereign Ground and The Heart of Petra by Hilarey Johnson, Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina, the book that shall not be mentioned, Kings and Queens by Terry Tyler, Rising Shadows and Chasing Shadows by Ashley Townsend, and Entertaining Angels by Emerald Barnes.

Professional Reading (most found in my book management portfolio – 12): Behind the Shades by Sheila Raye Charles, A Shadow in the Flames and A Memory in the Black by Michael G. Munz, Intentional Fitness by Mary Graziano Scro, Fearless in Euroclydon by Jacqueline McDougall, Awake by Melanie Surani, Our Orbit by Anesa Miller, Disenchanted by Janet Ursel, The Blackfish Prophecy by Rachel Clark, The Dolorous Adventure of Brother Banenose by Matthew Catania, Freedom’s Secret by Amy McCoy Dees, and The Undays of Aralias Lyons by K. L. Horvath.

We’re in week 24 of 2015, so at 23 books, I’m right on track.

Currently reading: The Last Child by Terry Tyler and Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster.

What’s up next? Adversaries Together and Winterfinding by Daniel Casey, Mardan’s Mark and Healer’s Curse by Kathrese McKee, The 12th Girl in Heaven by R. J. Conte, Out of Darkness Rising by Gillian Bronte Adams, Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter by Sarahbeth Caplin, and All for Anna by Nicole Deese.

Anticipated 2015 releases: A Wish Made of Glass by Ashlee Willis, A Time to Speak by Nadine Brandes, The Tethered World by Heather L. L. Fitzgerald, the third installment of Ashley Townsend’s Shadow Trilogy, A Reluctant Assassin by J. C. Morrows, A Stunning Accusation by Sarahbeth Caplin, and (fingers crossed) Twelve by Sarah Elizabeth Boucher.

To re-read: We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

I don’t think I’m going to have a problem meeting this goal, do you?

 

Writing

It is my goal to finish, edit, and publish A Year with the Baptists this year.  I also want to post here on the blog three times a week on reading, writing, and (you guessed it) matters of faith. I’m also going to be writing more letters this year.

Right now, I’m really glad to be up to speed on my reading goal, because I am definitely failing the writing portion of this evaluation.

As most of you know, I had a laptop tragedy at the beginning of April. It took a few days for everything to sink in, but once it did, I realized I lost a lot. Like the rough 90,000 word draft of A Year with the Baptists, most what I had written of the second draft (about 6,000 of 8,000 words), and all of the little snippets of scenes I had written for major plot points. Gone. Just like that. I also lost about 3,000 words of a science fiction project I’d been working on at the beginning of last year called Update, and several thousand words on an essay project I was working on.

Since then, I’ve cycled through the five stages of grief.  You might think I’m being dramatic, but losing all of those stories that I’d been pouring myself into – that was hard.  I haven’t even been able to wrap my mind around starting all over again, especially on A Year with the Baptists. Last week, I finally unplugged and sat down to write out some plot points for a fantasy that’s been coming to life in my imagination over the past year, but I still haven’t mustered up the wherewithal to begin work on A Year with the Baptists again.

Then there’s the fact that I’m still laptopless and chained to a desktop computer. When I’m doing creative writing, I need ambient noise, so I like to be out and about. I can write in solitude, but I’m more productive when there is stuff going on around me. A laptop (even a used one) is not possible right now, so I will probably write my next novel by hand and type it up afterwards (which requires less creativity), whether it’s A Year with the Baptists or this fantasy I’m whipping up. (Because not writing is not an option). I think it will be good, or at least, I’m hoping it will be.

I haven’t posted three times a week, though that’s still an aim, and I don’t think I’ve written any letters.

That’s the bad news, here’s the good: I’ve found a publishing home with Booktrope imprint Vox Dei Publishing! I have really loved being a part of the Vox Dei community, first as a book manager, and now as an author. It’s a really supportive, encouraging, and prayerful environment, and it just rocks my world. Even though I’ve had a rough time with writing, it’s being part of such a great community that makes me realize I need to get back to it, no matter how challenging it may be.

Tonight, I upload The Field to our system to begin editing. Exciting times, but not anywhere near the end of what God is doing with me as a writer. So, as a mid-year resolve, I plan to do a better job keeping up with my writing.

Matters of Faith

It is my goal to study the book of Proverbs this year, and develop a kids’ curriculum from that study at some point (may or may not start on that this year). I’m also reading the Old Testament history books, starting in 2 Samuel and going forward. I want to grow in and exercise my spiritual gifts: especially prophecy, but also exhortation and mercy-showing.  And, most of all,  I want to stop trying to be worthy of God’s love and just accept His love for me.

I just finished my fourth cycle through Proverbs.  This month, I’m taking a break to do a character study on Solomon, as he’s the author of the Proverbs, and I think it’s important to have that context.  I think by the beginning of next year I’ll be in a position to begin developing lesson plans, and hopefully, the curriculum will be available online (on a blog like this) at the beginning of 2017.  (All things being equal, and often, they are not).

I’m in Job, the last Old Testament history book. I skipped first and second Chronicles because I had just finished Samuel and Kings and it’s basically the same stories, and too much repetition makes me apathetic. I’ll go back and hit up Chronicles before the end of the year.  Once I finish Job, though, I’m going to park myself in the New Testament for a few months. Thus far, my favorite book has been Nehemiah and my least favorite was Esther. (I have some off-putting memories associated with Esther, and God made me dig into them. Not fun.) Job has been a challenge, because you really have to exercise discernment reading it: because much of it is humans doing most of the talking, you have to really consider what is from God’s heart, and what is not.

For the most part, the past year-and-a-half, I have been in a season of inactivity within the church; that is, most of my service and community has taken place with my co-workers in a part-time job.  It has had its benefits, and it has had its drawbacks, but in November, God called me to be an intercessor in a ministry plant.  I think I got to February, and I just got weary, but I’ve been feeling more and more convicted I need to keep praying this about. In the past month, God has moved me to be more involved in a church in my city, so I’m readjusting to being in a church community, serving, and giving.  Speaking the truth in love and with grace is ever a balancing act, and this blog is often where I get to exercise that the most.

On Doing Life Big

This year, I am determined to do life BIG; to take every moment, every opportunity and push it to the max.

And that’s what it’s really been about: from searching for my dream job to working for a publishing company and the projects I take on there, from not being sure what I was going to read this year to having a bursting reading list and really thinking about everything I’m reading, from losing everything to getting back up and going at it again, from a solitary Christian walk to being active in community .

Are there things that need to improve? Absolutely. But as I look back on the past six months, I can see … this is a BIG, blessed life.