Everyday Blessings // 40

>> this mug I received to review for an Etsy shop (giving one away on my Instagram btw)
>> being supported in my decisions
>> getting purple highlights in my hair
>> making a new friend
>> house-sitting
>> reuniting with the band and working on the set list for our upcoming show
>> sleepovers
>> New Girl
>> frost in the morning
>> getting my first professional manicure
>> cozy beds with cozy comforters
>> everything being set for Peru (you have no idea how excited I am to leave...)
>> new boots
>> late night cheese, grapes and bread snacks
>> Bollywood movies
>> serene mornings alone
>> experimenting with new drinks at work
>> planning road trips
>> reconnecting with a best friend
>> new eyeshadow from e.l.f.
>> my sister finding a favorite lip gloss that I thought I had lost
>> running into customers outside of work
>> the Peanuts movie
>> playing violin again
>> chocolate, peanut and almond granola bars


Happy Thanksgiving, peeps!  I pray your holiday is blessed and you are surrounded by the ones you know and love.
And you can bet your whole turkey dinner that Christmas music is beginning TOMORROW.

How did you celebrate your Thanksgiving?


Staggering, Stumbling and Beauty In the Deformities

I am exhausted.

The last couple of weeks have been very emotionally trying.  One after the other, circumstances happened that threw my world in a loop.  Things I thought I had gotten over, resurfaced and hit me full on.  I continually had to fight back tears of hurt, anger, frustration and confusion.  I still am, honestly.  And I'm exhausted.  I'm really, really tired.  Of a lot of things.  Of a lot of people.  Of a lot of thoughts and feelings.

While business was slow at work, I perched myself on the counter and looked outside.  My eye caught movement at the used car lot, next door to the coffee stand I work at.  A couple was checking out a car and their young son was nearby.  His legs were crooked and misshaped.  He was walking with two canes attached to either arm.  And stumbling with each step as he forced his legs to move towards his parents.

The first thought that came to my head was 'What a beautiful little boy.'
The second was 'This is what we are like in our striving walk towards God.'

I saw myself in that little boy.  I saw my emotions represented by the way he was staggering and stumbling, trying so hard to walk with confidence, unswerving.

Yet how often is that the way we walk?  

That little boy was a beautiful picture of life itself.  And he reminded me of how deformed I am.  Maybe not outwardly, but inwardly, I am a mess.  I am a distorted, twisted, mangled mass of heart and emotions and feelings and passions.  And sometimes it's overwhelming to try to figure it all out, you know?  I'm exhausted with trying to untangle it all and push forward without constantly staggering and stumbling.

But that's when I have to remind myself that I am not supposed to be the strong one.

I can try as many times as I want to, but I will never succeed.
I'm finite.
I'm human.
I'm flawed.
But oh praise be that I serve a God whose strength is made manifest IN my weakness.  And through His strong, yet gentle hands, He is shaping me into something beautiful.

"He makes everything beautiful in His time."
- Eccelesiastes 3:11


40 Things I Should Have Said To Certain People...But Never Did

This is an open letter, addressed to the myriad of people who I should have said these things to...

Here is my apology.  My confession.  My thoughts.  My regrets.  My honesty.



1.  "I don't regret giving that gift to you.  It's a part of me that I am happy you have."

2.  "I saw your text.  I just chose not to respond."

3.  "I still have that ring you gave me."

4.  "I wish we had never stopped talking for that whole year."

5.  "You are the reason I am the writer I am today.  You are the inspiration behind so many of my poems."

6.  "Every time I hear 'You Make Me Smile', I think of you."

7.  "Singing and playing piano with you was something I looked forward to every week."

8.  "I never liked her, but I gave her a chance.  For you.  Because she made you happy and your happiness matters so much to me."

9.  "No, I don't like your dogs.  I've already kicked one when you weren't looking.  So please keep them away from me."

10.  "I expected more from you than this."

11.  "I said all those things because I knew it was what you wanted to hear.  And I was afraid to say any different because I knew you wouldn't be happy with me if I was honest."

12.  "You were drunk, okay?  Even if you don't admit it."

13.  "I have every right to ask that he not use language around me."

14.  "I freaked out when you added me on Snapchat.  I couldn't believe you would even notice me, let alone want to talk."

15.  "I know you don't like me.  And frankly, I don't give a dang."

16.  "I used to have the biggest crush on you."

17.  "To this day, I still won't admit that I'm jealous of you and your perfect little life."

18.  "I used to look up to you so much but you treated me like an inferior that one time we talked and since then, you're nothing more than a piece of dust in my past."

19.  "Honestly, you're still single because you just don't freaking try."

20.  "Stop talking about cars.  I really don't want to hear about cars anymore.  Cars aren't really my topic and I'm getting tired of you droning on and on about cars."

21.  "You two are really cute together but I honestly don't see it working out."

22.  "I will never forgive you for spraying that gecko repellent in my eyes."

23.  "You need to get out of your comfort zone, start hanging out with the right people, and maybe then you'll get ambition for real dreams and goals instead of being so lukewarm and stuck in your own little world right now."

24.  "I'm sorry I never officially introduced myself to you."

25.  "I will never regret saying 'No' when you asked to hold my hand."

26.  "I will never be able to thank you enough for letting me be that little girl who always hugged you, mimicked you, was your little shadow.  I didn't understand how that probably annoyed the heck out of you until I reached your [then] age and had to deal with the same thing.  Yet you never ever pushed me away.  Thank you."

27.  "Don't accuse me of drama.  You're the high school teenager, not me."

28.  "Why did we ever let distance get in the way?"

29.  "Yes, I deleted you on Facebook.  I just didn't like seeing how you pretended that you had a perfect little life when I know, in reality, you don't."

30.  "You are so so so beautiful."

31.  "Teach me how to write."

32.  "You're one of my heroes."

33.  "I still have the journal I wrote in about you."

34.  "My sisters asked me who I thought was the best-looking guy I've ever known.  And your face was the first one that came to mind."

35.  "You really do have a beautiful beard."

36.  "I'm sorry I was so insensitive to your situation.  I've gone through the same now, and can actually relate.  It sucks."

37.  "Oh my gosh, stop talking to me, please.  Why?  Because all you ever say is about how you're lonely and are trying to date this or that girl.  Not interested, buddy."

38.  "I really thought you'd be the type of friend to stick with me even if our mutual acquaintances drifted apart.  Guess I was wrong."

39.  "I know the person you can become.  You're just afraid of how God will wreck you in the process of getting you to that sold-out point of your life."

40.  "Thank you for your hugs."


Beautiful Books #2 | The Writing Process | #NaNoWriMo2015

1.  Is the book turning out how you thought it would, or is it defying your expectations?
Yes and no to both questions haha  A lot of it is coming along well and smoothly.  But there are certain parts that have been difficult to write…that I didn’t think would be so difficult.  It’s coming along well, though.  I’m worrying about editing much, much later….

2.  What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)? 

First few lines from the prologue:

“Remember your commitment.  To protect and serve.”
“You trying to appeal to my guilty conscience, Bowen?”
“Is it guilty?”
A heavy silence ensued between the two angry men, both in police officer uniforms.  
“Imagine all the money we can get from this, Bowen.”
“No.  We’re not in it for the cash.  We’re in it to put an end to this - to protect this city!  You’re letting greed get in the way of - ”
A fist caught Bowen in the jaw and he stumbled backwards in surprise.
“Don’t!  You may be my partner but you’re not my boss.  I can make my own decisions and if this is what I choose to do, then not you or anybody else can stop me.”

First paragraph of first chapter:

I absent-mindedly stirred the spoonful of honey into the hot tea, my eyes lingering on the new frame I had hung on the wall of my studio apartment.  I had worked hard to become a professional journalist, and now I, Fathom Brooks, was proud to display my degree.

3.  Are you a plotter or a pantser?  Have you ever tried both methods and 
how did it turn out? 
Well I’m definitely a plotter when I’m first developing my novel.  I won’t sit down and begin writing
it UNTIL I have the plot line sketched out, my characters named, etc.  But as far as day to day
writing, I TRY to think about what I’m going to write before I sit down and start typing, but that
doesn’t always work out, and I usually have to rely on my characters to communicate with me and
get me going.

4.  What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal? 
Sleep, usually.  My brain is most active at night, so I make myself write before I allow myself the
luxury of sleep.  Or chocolate.  Chocolate is good too.  
I definitely plan on rewarding myself with bigger things once November is over.  Or I hit certain
word counts throughout the month.  Such as - No Mockingjay Part 2 until I reach 25k.  (I cringed as I
wrote that.)

5.  What do you look for in a name?  Do you have themes and where do you find your names?
Honestly, my characters name themselves.  I’ll think about names and sift through them until I find
the one my character wants or likes the best and just go with it.  I definitely try not to name them after
people I know in real life.  UNLESS I am somehow basing the character off of that person.  Which I
may or may not be doing in my current WIP……

6.  What is your favorite to write: beginning, middle or end - and why?
Definitely beginning.  And end.  Middle kind of sucks, because sometimes, I feel like I’m scrambling
for things to say, merely to hit a certain amount of words.  I hate that.  So when I start feeling that
way, I refocus on my plot line and WHY I’m writing it.

7.  Who’s your current favorite character in your novel?
Honestly, probably Xaquerie.  I like writing from his point of view.  And he’s kind of a boss, and
attractive, and legit, so yeah.

8.  What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how do you go about
researching?  (What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched?!)
A lot of police-related stuff.  I love using my thesaurus too.  Is that considered researching?  
Weirdest thing so far?  Well, I searched for another word to use instead of ‘passionate’.  That was a
little interesting, I guess.

9.  Do you write better alone or with others?  Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to
Alone.  But I have noticed that when I write in my family’s living room, with activities going on
around me, people talking, laughing, and children playing, I sometimes am able to zone out and
really FOCUS on what I’m writing.  Whereas, when I’m in my room, it’s just me and, for some
reason, I can get more easily distracted.  (Usually with internet related stuff.)
Oh heck no.  Nobody is reading this until it’s finished.  And edited.  And in its fifth draft.  I kid, I kid. 
Or maybe I don’t……

10.  What are your writing habits?  Is there a specific snack you eat?  Do you listen to music? 
What time of day do you write best?
I’m ALL about snacks while writing.  Lately it’s been frozen blueberries, salty pita chips, hummus,
and lots and lots of tea.
I try to listen to music (cuz that just makes me look that much cooler - typing away on my MacBook
while my earbuds are firmly in place), but it doesn’t always help.
Like I said, evening.  Preferably 10pm.



The 777 Challenge

Go to the 7th page of your WIP.
Find the 7th line on that page.
And post the 7 sentences following it.

Any and every one is tagged in this!

       Well???  How did it go?
A smile crept to my lips.  I couldn’t wait to tell her how my morning had gone so far.
“So!” Mr. Donnell began.  
I jumped a little at his enthusiastic outburst.
“Take a seat, Miss Brooks.”  He waved a hand to a plush-looking chair in front of his huge oak desk.
I sat, my duffel bag on my lap again.
“What did you bring me?” he asked, motioning to it.  He leaned against his desk, directly in front of me.


How To Face Your Heartache

Heartache isn't something you are able to rush and get over with quickly.

Just like each of us have different levels of pain tolerance, we each heal at different paces.

And the deeper the love, the more the painful it will be.

Everything hurts right now because you felt something real.  The numbness will set in.  Don't let it overtake you, though.  Don't let the numbness of your heart and body's self-preservation mode take over your brain.  Just allow it to make the pain dull, instead of sharp.  It will still be painful...and this is because the relationship or crush or experience was something more to you than just the physically-attracted aspect of it.  You were going out on a limb to answer the call of your natural human heart to care for another person.  And that's something you should never feel guilty for or regretful of.  To love is part of being a human.  And so is pain.

'But why?' you may ask.

Ah but why not?

Sure, life may be easier to face while being closed off to love.  It might not be as dangerous.  It might not lead to as much pain.  It would certainly be less complicated and flexible.  But it would also, most definitely, be less colorful, less full, and not as...alive.  Love and pain are companions.  You can't have one without the other.  Either love ends and you feel pain, or love continues for the rest of your life and pain will happen because people are human and humans are stupid and crap happens.  So love can either be an island prison or a blessing to have the opportunity to love someone so much that it hurts.

You feel pain because you truly felt love.  I know this may be the worst possible thing to hear right now but - be thankful for it.  Be thankful that you can feel, that you did feel.  Remember how that love made you feel.  And remember that you, yes you, are capable of falling in love again.  Not right now.  Maybe not even soon.  But it is possible.  And the more suffering you experience from this heartache, the more you will cherish your next love.

You will have moments of sobbing.  You will have times of teary-eyes that are quickly blinked away. Or you will have break-downs in store aisles as memories flood you and their presence is so real and so tangible.  You will have moments of tranquil outside appearances but on the inside, your heart is crumbling like an old abandoned castle.  Memories will haunt you and their ghost will suddenly appear right before your eyes.  Don't try to ignore it.  Don't push it away.  Face it.  You don't have to forget them or erase them entirely from your memory.  You cared about them enough to love them.  The only thing that has changed is how, not why.

"Just embrace the fact that you are going to hurt for a while, that you loved someone courageously and it did not work out, that you cannot regret anything or question anything because all you did was in love and there's nothing wrong with that."

Every day you will have something new to face.  And every day you will react differently.  You will ponder on it differently.  You will be in an endless spiral, facing a problem on day #32 that you thought you already dealt with on day #8.  And that's okay.  Don't try to plan out your healing process.  Don't try to even understand it.  Let yourself feel.  Let yourself heal.  In your own time and pace.

Heartache is scary.  It's as if you had it altogether one moment and the next, everything is in ashes.  Your mind and heart are two completely different things, but they are both a wreck of emotions.  You can't think of anything or anyone else except that one person.  Your mind will tell your heart to stop thinking about them, to get over it, to move on.  But your heart won't be able to listen.  You need to separate the two from each other.  Let your heart heal on its own and decide when it is time, when it can be whole again.  And let your brain calm down and be a guide instead of a commander.  You're a wreck of emotions.  And that's okay.  It takes time to heal.  Pain doesn't dissipate overnight.  It's a process.  And the agony you go through will only succeed in making you more alive, more sensitive, more keen to life and the beauties it holds.  It will make you more real than you've ever been before, because you, as a whole, have experienced a new part of life.  People who don't experience heartache will never know the happiness that rests outside of their little bubble.  They will be happy, but they won't have anything to compare it to.  Whereas you, knowing what happiness is and isn't, will understand, once you find it again, just how powerful true love is.


You ARE Forgiven

It's rough dealing with remorse and regrets.  And sometimes, they still hang over me, like a dark cloud filled with bitter raindrops full of guilt.

But the LORD spoke to me and has shown me that He is big enough to redeem any and every wrong I have committed.  He told me to stop asking for forgiveness, because the first time I did was enough for Him.  Either Christ is enough to wash me clean or He isn't.  By me continually asking Him to forgive my sins was a sign that I didn't fully trust that He can and did.

The truth is - He has already washed me clean.  In His eyes, I am blameless, pure, and holy.  I claim that truth in my life.  I receive His forgiveness.  I choose Him and His love because He first chose me.  No one can do that for me.  I have to make the choice to believe.  Either I do or I don't.

He knows.  He understands.  He was there.  He is here.  He knew everything that was going to take place before it happened.  He saw it coming.  And He already has a plan for it in my life, in your life. He will give you strength to completely let go of memories and pain from the past when you release them into His loving hands.  He will pour out His peace and calmness over you - to the point of overflowing.  In this rough time, He will open your ears to the little love whispers that He wants you to hear.  And through this pain, He will connect you to Himself more fully.

Let Him show you the light and beauty of His hand at work in your life.
Allow Him to comfort you and give you joy.
He is your Refuge.
He loves us even in the midst of our messy, sticky lives.

And He has forgiven you.

Before the foundation of this world was laid, He knew every step you would take, every path you would choose, every mistake you would make.  And He forgave you.
Your sin was laid at the foot of His cross the moment you were saved.
And every sin is washed away by His amazing grace.


God Kept Me Awake Till 3am

When my best friend asked me why I was still awake, I texted back: 'I guess Jesus just wanted me to stay up late to worship Him.'

I've really missed Him, honestly.  I wasn't very close to Him this last year.  I thought I was.  I kept telling myself that it was just some unknown, weird phase.  But I was in denial.  And the thing that was distracting me the most was something I didn't want to let go of.  But when I did, I knew it was the right thing to do because through that process, the LORD has brought me closer to Himself.

I had meant to get in bed and fall right to sleep (I had an exhausting day), but I went on YouTube instead.  I don't even remember what I was initially looking up, but I got sidetracked and began watching worship session videos from Bethel Music.  Next thing I knew, it was 3am.  The time just flew by as I was so engrossed in worshipping my God through the worship videos I was watching.  It was so incredible!

One of the songs I was worshipping with is a favorite by Amanda Cook, sung by Steffany Gretzinger -

Pull me a little closer
Take me a little deeper
I wanna know Your heart
I wanna know Your heart
Cuz Your love is so much sweeter
Than anything I've tasted
I wanna know Your heart...

And oh how that resonates with my soul.

He has been taking me to whole new levels of knowing WHAT His heart, His peace, His love and His grace feel like in my life right now.

When I look back on all that He has brought me through, all He has protected me from, all that He's allowed me to experience to teach me certain lessons... The one thought I linger on is of how far I've come - ONLY by His careful and loving hands.  And how close to me He has stayed all this time.  He has never let me go.  Never once let me fall into something deeper than His grace.  His mercy is so powerful.  His love unrelenting.  He has pursued and pursued and pursued my heart.  My sinful human heart that He only sees as beautiful and clean by the blood of His Son.  And no matter how often I fall short, no matter how often I screw up, He still welcomes me to sit at His feet.

My soul thirsts to know Him more.  

I look ahead with such hope, knowing that whatever He has planned for me, whatever He has written for my life, will be such a beautiful and grand story because He is the perfect Author of all things - all things that work out for MY good.  And for His glory.  What a thought!

We serve such an awesome God.  He is mighty to behold.

This morning, while reading my devotions, I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and these words flowed from my heart.

Great is Thy grace
O Maker of my soul
Forever You are true.
When You are absent,
Troubles assail me.
But when You are near,
My life is overfilled with blessings.

Great is Thy mercy
Savior of my heart
You conquered death
So I may be free
To live with You forever
In the home You have made for me
In eternity.

Great is Your love
Hero of my life
In Your wounds I find forgiveness
You banish all the fear
That tries to take me captive
You make the guilt cease
That my mind can't seem to forget
In Your presence,
I find my rest.

I behold the glory of the One and only
Your goodness crashes over me in mighty waves
And I am lost in the wonder
I have never been so free...


'Behind The Scenes' Writing Tag | #NaNoWriMo2015

I came across this tag last week sometime.  I decided to participate in it (anyone can!) for the sake of my NaNoWriMo readers.

Another cover I recently made for my WIP

1)  Is there a certain snack you like to eat while writing?
Frozen blueberries.  Smoothies.  And I drink lots of water.

2)  When do you normally write? Night, afternoon, or morning?
Night.  10pm is when my brain is most active.

3)  Where do you write?
Usually my room, on my bed.  Or in the living room, with earbuds firmly placed in my ears.

4)  How often do you write a new novel?
My WIP is the first one I’ve started in about a year…  Most of what I’ve written lately has been either non-fiction, poetry, or short stories.

5)  Do you listen to music while you write?
Non-lyrical, yes.

6)  What do you write on? Laptop or paper?
Laptop.  But I make notes on paper or on my phone.

7)  Is there a special ritual you have before or after you write?
Before: Get my snacks.  After: Check the word count and reward myself.

8)  What do you do to get into the mood to write?
One way I try to get 'in touch' with my characters (after not writing them for the past few hours or so), is to imagine what they've been doing since I've been neglecting them.  It's like they're continuing life without me and I'm just catching up, following along, writing what they've already done.

9)  What is always near the place you write?
My laptop charger.  My rabbit/writing companion.  A pillow and/or blanket.  

10)  Do you have a reward system for your word count?
Yup, and it entails: whatever the heck I want.

11)  Is there anything about your writing process that others might not know about?
I basically just turn into a very studious writer, frowning at my screen as I furiously type away on my laptop.  And if someone knocks on my door, they usually get yelled at.
Anyone relate to that?  Anyone?


How's your NaNoWriMo coming along?  Ready for Week #2? 

I must confess, I didn't get anything written on Friday...but I made up for it over the weekend!  So yay for me.  
I still got this.