September 2, 2015

The legendary Ernest Hemingway once said, "Write loud and clear about what hurts."

If you've been around here for any length of time, you know I've done this. Processed and spewed out words that, once finished, proved cathartic and necessary to get out of my head, thru my fingers into being. A lot of my words here are about fear of the near future, being overwhelmed with the present, and lack of a love to call my own.
I'm not ashamed of these words. Nor will I let past words define or shackle me. They are a part of my heart's growth and metamorphisis. The change I kicked and screamed at like a petulant child as God drew me nearer, dearer to Himself and carried me thru each and every moment He's had mapped out for me.
It's like the old hymn Amazing Grace. 
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home
I claim to be a writer who blogs. 27K words in stories this year alone prove this I suppose. Still I am hesitant to share about my stories here. It's that old people-pleasing demon, What if no one likes it? They won't like you. But in addition to being a writer who blogs about a myriad of subjects, this space is one I find safe to pour my heart into. To preach truth back to myself in devotions. To write about what's on my heart.
And I love it.
Whether it's writing about writing, American history, indie-books and authors, dreams, humdrum life, lyrics, siblings, friends, weddings, singleness.
I love all of it. I may not be the most diligent blogger or writer. But I'm never going to not write about something. Someday this space may have different content. Wedding plans, a home of my own, a special guy who's not the fictional Capt. Steve Rogers, pregnancy, babies, natural health and homemaking. But if I'm honest?
I'll always be a Northern Belle and will need this space to open my heart and let the words swirling spill from my fingers. I need somewhere to write loud and clear about what hurts, what thrills, what geeks me out, what knocks my heart over with a feather and it all makes me happy.

A Heart-Warming Road Trip of New Beginnings and Second Chances

August 31, 2015

What better way to say farewell to summer and hello to a slower pace of early autumn than with a novella that takes you on a roadtrip of romance, redemption and second chances?

I am so thrilled to take part in the release of my fellow 
indie-author and good friend Joanne Bischof's latest novella, To Get to You--a contemporary young adult romance novella with much redemption and warmth. I just finished the story, and am hesitant to say too much lest I give away spoilers.

If you're a book crier--you won't need as many tissues as with her last indie-published (historical) novella This Quiet Sky. But back to this sweet novella at hand, and some more about one of my favorite multi-faceted authors.

I so loved the sweet, young romance between Riley and Becca--the girl he had to get to. But perhaps my favorite part was the redemption factor. Of hearts. And of relationships.

This novella is heart-warming in it's romance, soul-touching in it's redemption and the second chances and hope woven through out pack a personal punch as Joanne's writing always does. She has done it yet again with this redemptive road-trip tale.
While YA, and a road trip at that--slightly reminiscent of John Green's Looking for Alaska--there is something in this story missing in his. Hope. And you'll just have to read it to find out if Riley not only gets to the girl he loves, but if he embraces the hope of second chances.

Christy Award-finalist and author of The Cadence of Grace series and This Quiet Sky, Joanne Bischof has a deep passion for heartfelt stories that shine light on God’s grace and goodness. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and their three children.

This quote though. In context of the story--wow.

To get to the girl he loves, Riley Kane must head off on a road trip with the father he never knew. Then pray for a miracle.
Most teens would love to have a pro surfer for a dad. Just not Riley. Abandoned as a kid, he hates the sound of the ocean and the man who gave himself to it.

The lovely cover!

When the eighteen-year-old learns that his best friend is stranded at a New Mexico hospital as her father fights for his life, Riley hits the highway to head east. But when his Jeep breaks down before he even leaves California, he must rely on the one man he despises to get to the girl who needs him the most. And when it comes to the surfer with the Volkswagen van and dog-eared map, a thousand miles may–or may not–be enough to heal the past.

In celebration of her second indie-novella, Joanne's put together a fun road-trip themed giveaway for the release and blog tour. Details for the giveaway are below. Be sure to "Add" the story on Goodreads.
Follow Joanne on Amazon and put To Get to You on your Amazon wishlist if you haven't gotten it already.

Dear Diamond | To the Freshmen Girls

August 28, 2015

To the whirlwind diamond: balancing a ton of plates in the air of art, church, family, classes, driver's license, friends, work and yearning to go back to where you ministered by holding little hands in a foreign country...
To the introvert diamond: moving away from home for the first time, unpacking your dorm room, getting sentimental over a photo album and defying the introvert stereotype and not staying in with Netflix, but getting out there and meeting people...
To the young diamond: another moving away from home, family, and past high school and dance and friends and already unpacked, going to swing dances and bonfires and dreaming of 1942 and your characters therein...

You all are in a sweet spot right now. I know it's scary and new and adrenaline-rushing and exhausting and a load of responsibility. This whole adulting into college is brand spankin' new, eclipsing high school, tiring you out so much to wonder if you're even supposed to be doing what you're doing. I know ya'll, so I can say this with assurance:
You are right where you are supposed to be. You have sought God's will, made your plans, pushed forward, bought books, a planner to keep organized and already you're overwhelmed.
The places you go are filled with strangers. Potential friends. Let them see the bright, multi-faceted freaking amazing girl that you are. All your idiosyncrasies and quirks and smile and your laugh! I've blessed to know you well, and I love all of them!
You are beautiful because of them. It's tough to let people in, I know--but don't be afraid. Just take it one person at a time.

Be you. Embrace grace for yourself but take the strength God offers in your normal, human weakness. That's what He's there for. That's how He loves you.
Hold tight. God's got you on a bumpy ride.
And it'll only get more beautiful from here.
Just like you.

Humble Pie | Recovering Update

August 26, 2015

The phone clicks off and Mum helps me out of the bathroom as I lean on my walker.
"That was hard for you, wasn't it Mum?"
"Yes! I feel like I should be bringing other people a meal. Not needing them myself."

The generosity and kindness of many friends and now our church family's meal ministry have meant the world to us. A dinner every so often is such a gift, no one knows how much. My amazing Mum is the most self-sacrificial, hard-working, strong and selfless to a fault woman I know. She has been my rock through all of this. But this is the woman whose one struggle may be to ask for help or assistance because she'd rather be the one giving and giving and pouring herself out for others. As she does day in and day out.

I've had my own dish of humble pie to eat these past few weeks with the loss of independence, and my awesome Mum's had hers of accepting meals and saying they'd help. She's so much stronger than me, but we both are stubborn as they come, so it's been an adjustment. This accepting God's strength through our literal weaknesses and His grace through helping hands and caring hearts.

There were two weeks post op before my infection hit and I went back into the hospital for five days, had another operation resulting in the worst pain yet and came home with two antibiotics, six times a day, for the next six weeks. To be administered intravenously thru my PICC line. 12 and 6 are my antibiotic times and that means midnight and 6am. I've slept thru most of those two infusions, and it's Mum who gets up faithfully to sanitize, flush the lines and hook me up to my antibiotics. 

Mum's the one to do things for me day in and day out that I once took for granted. It's humbling for me still, despite how things are getting easier for me. God's been so good to renew and pour grace over us every day, and we've had such amazing heart to hearts, Mum and I that we wouldn't have had if I had never had my surgery. 

But this new normal thing has been tough. On everybody. Especially Mum, the heart of our home, and Sara who has had a lot more responsibility fall to her. God is good to provide and give grace upon grace, but some days are still hard adjusting. If you think of it--pray for my amazing family through this too.

Friends Who Care

August 24, 2015

Every friendship is different.
Unique. Not less, not greater than others.
So it is with the give and take in a friendship.

Some friends you pour more into, it takes more effort to upkeep and you have to choose: is it worth it when they don't reciprocate in the ideal way you'd like them to? Or do you keep choosing to pour into them as God lays them on your heart, accepting and resting content in the fact that it's okay that you pour more into them and they care about you in different ways.
Let me just say from experience: that contentment? It took me awhile to come to and I can still struggle on occasion with certain people in/out of my life.

I am however so immensely blessed to say there are gals in my life who make it an easy give and take, back and forth pouring into one another effortlessly. Seeing, hearing and embracing one another's hearts. In widely different seasons yet scarily-alike heart-struggles.
These are strong women who sometimes don't feel strong. Who try to breathe in grace and exhale praise but find themselves on their knees wondering where on God's green earth He is taking her and why.

During this healing, recovery time let me just tell ya'll about the power of prayer. Beyond the fact that I have a surplus amount of down time and relative peace in which to pray, the prayers from all of you, my family, extended family, church family and even people I don't know have all been felt. And so appreciated. The care and love from so many people has just blown my mind and touched my heart. 

The quote at the top of the post an author shared on Facebook today and I thought it was so fitting as to where my heart is with my friends near and far. And a continual prayer for myself that I can be that type of friend to all those in my life.

This Healing Time | 15 Days

August 11, 2015

Prayers would be greatly appreciated that the apparent infection I have at incision site was caught early enough that it won't be a major setback. But I feel so wrung out, despite my temp being normal, I feel like I'm coming down with a fever. The home nurse came today, once-thought her last time, but she took one look at my incision and said, "Nope, not discharging you today, hun."
It's been fifteen days since I came home from the hospital. My biggest anxiety pre-surgery was handling the pain. God's been good. My pain's been fairly minimal. But the utter lack of independence even for the most taken-for-granted daily details has what's been throwing me the most. The first week home was rough. But my family and friends and the nurse and physical therapist have all been so, so helpful. I can't even verbalize how grateful I am to all those, most especially my family, who've just been here for me and will continue to.

This healing time's been one with a lot of heartache. A lot of tears. Not from pain--never pain, which is all God. I had no idea going into this how the recovery and healing time would literally throw me into the arms of my Savior.
I have so, so much. So many blessings to count from notecards and movies and chocolate and a comfy recliner on the first floor, to my amazing mom who's been my rock and primary caregiver and tear-wiper through it all. 
But I also have a lot that's been stripped away. Words, even, have failed beyond Facebook posts and Instagramming. My favorite mode of communication. Of cathartic heart-sorting. I've been so zapped physically, emotionally these last two weeks of being home that even my last blog post I wrote took a lot of effort.

But God. Is good. SO good. All the time. And has dropped a fresh burst of inspiration into my lap for Amongst the Roses' sequel, A Rose Long Awaited. The novel I purpose to write the majority of if not finish it during this healing time.