Resolutions of 2015 & 2016

Well, it's that time of year again.  Crazy how quickly it has flown by.  Are you ready for 2016?  What are some of your plans to celebrate?  Do you have any resolutions for this next year?

Here was my goal list for 2015:

  • learn Russian
  • try to get published
  • support a ministry outreach monthly
  • work - and hopefully complete - my non-fiction manuscript
  • do a sugar free diet one month
  • keep a consistent Blessings journal
  • read the Bible through in a year

  • And this is my status of the resolutions, as this year draws to a close:

    - I have begun taking Russian classes, but have not fully mastered the language.
    - I was asked to be the co-founder and production manager of Brave Magazine, and was also published on Thought Catalog
    - With the change of jobs (and pay check amounts), I was not able to commit to supporting a ministry outreach every month.  But I did volunteer a few times, and sort of count that as my tithe.
    - Alas, my non-fiction manuscript is still in the works...
    - I did a sugar and chocolate free diet for...ALMOST one month.
    - I was pretty consistent with my Blessings journal.  I plan to do better this coming year, though.
    - I did not read my Bible through in a year.  Instead, I took book by book and read them over and over again for one month each.

    My 2016 resolutions are as follows:

  • become more consistent in daily prayer
  • be brave and actually, legitimately, move somewhere
  • take more spontaneous road trip getaways
  • yoga (my family bought me a purple yoga mat for Christmas so I have NO excuses)
  • finish 'I Cannot Fathom'
  • try getting my poetry published
  • ---

    Happy New Year, peeps!  May this next one be filled with many incredible journeys and memories.

    P.S.  I'm in Peru, as you're reading this... :)


    And I'm Off! [Yet Again]

    As you read this, I will either be still sitting (uncomfortable) in a plane...or I will have already landed in Lima, Peru.  For the third time in two years.
    It all depends on what time zone you're in.

    Pretty crazy that I'm actually going back.  It's been exactly one year since I last saw my beautiful home in Peru.  As I write this, I'm still not even sure I fully realize that it's ACTUALLY happening.  This is actually taking place.  Again.  For the third time.  God is allowing me the privilege to get on a plane and fly 5,000 miles away to see my precious Peruvian family again.  Just...wow.

    This year has been full of many trials and errors.  This year has been full of pain and tears.  This year has had many incredible, seemingly impossible occurrences.  This year has been gloriously brutal...
    And I'm ready for God to take me into the next year.  I really am.  I need a fresh start.  I need a fresh start with life.  With Him.  I've gotten too distracted.  I've let other things take precedence when He should always be my main focus.  And I'm just...exhausted.

    While in Peru, this is my prayer.  It's one of my favorite songs by Bethel Music.  And has been extremely life-changing for me the last few months.

    'Spirit of the living God, come fall afresh on me
    Come awake me from my sleep
    Blow through the caverns of my heart
    Pour in me to overflow.'

    Please keep me and my team in your prayers.  Pray specifically for protection, strength, and unity.

    I'll see you all in a couple weeks!


    Feliz Navidad To You & Yours

    I am writing this whilst being snuggled up in one of my favorite blankets, sitting cross-legged in Mama's rocking chair.  The beautifully lit Christmas tree is to my left, and one of my little sisters is getting the Charlie Brown Christmas movie up and ready on the family TV to my right.  My Dad is on the phone with my grandparents in Peru.  My brother is on his way to the family's house to spend Christmas Eve night/Christmas Day morning with us.

    I might go to a friend's house later to watch Christmas movies late into the night.  We'll see.
    I bought The Holiday last week.  Still haven't seen the whole thing.  I'd like to though.  Maybe tonight.  Or tomorrow.

    I went to my church's Christmas service tonight.  My Pastor read the Nativity story, we had communion, then everyone in the church stood in a circle around the sanctuary.  We each had a candle and my Pastor began the lighting chain.  He lit his candle, said what he was thankful for this year, and passed the flame to the person's candle to his right.  It went all the way around the room.  When my candle was lit, I said 'I am thankful for God's forgiveness and that His love never fails.'  That was the only thing I could think to say, honestly.  This year just emits those truths.

    And I am so so very thankful for Him.

    Tomorrow morning, we'll all get up early, open gifts, make and eat homemade cinnamon rolls (with cream cheese frosting!), and just spend the day together.  Mama has a delicious clam chowder dinner planned.
    Saturday, I open at work, get off by 12 noon, then head to my aunt's for a huge family reunion/get-together.
    And Sunday...oh my gosh, Sunday, peeps, I'll be headed back to Peru.  For the third time.  I can't even begin to tell you how amazing and in shock and wonderful and exciting it is to know that I get to go back to my home there.  Which reminds me, I need to squeeze 'finish packing' into this weekend.

    Oh and did you see the full moon tonight?!  It's the first one that has happened on Christmas in 40 years.

    Well, I'm going to go make myself a cup of hot cocoa with whipped cream.  And I'll probably grab a piece of pie while I'm at it.

    Merry Christmas, lovelies.  You are wonderful and bless me tons!


    Comment what you and your family are doing for Christmas!


    8 Reasons Why To Date Someone With High Standards AND Low Maintenance

    To start things off, who wants a boyfriend or girlfriend who is constantly nagging you, asking where you're going, who you're with, what you're doing, what you're going to do, why you didn't invite them to the movie, etc.?

    Yeah, nobody.


    Who wants a boyfriend or girlfriend who made you pursue them because their standards were so high because they want to date someone they trust and because they trust you, you won't constantly be receiving nagging texts and phone calls?

    Yeah, me.  For sure.  Right here.

    So basically, individuals with high standards but who require low maintenance are the best people to date.  (Me, for example.  Just kidding.)

    Here are a few more reasons you should date one of us:

    1)  We base our relationship on the passion, not the feelings.
    Feelings can change with the wind.  Passion is life-long.  We don't care about symbols, Facebook relationship statuses, public displays of affection, or how often you say 'I love you' in front of others. We just need to see, sense, and know that the connection we have is real and genuine.

    2)  We care about what matters, and know how to get over what doesn't.
    We won't bicker over who does the dishes or cleans the toilet or vacuums the bedroom (just so long as you're carrying your weight, you know?).  But we won't let important relationship based matters slide by unnoticed.  Besides, little arguments about insignificant things usually mean that there are deeper underlying problems going on.

    3)  We don't need extravagant gifts or elaborate dates.  Just make them thoughtful.
    Honestly, I would rather be told to change into whatever I wanted to wear, be given a single rose, order my favorite take out food, and watch a favorite movie in a fort made of pillows in our living room...than dress up for a fancy dinner downtown.  Sure, there are special occasions for that.  But how much cheaper would it be to just stay home and snuggle?  It's thoughtful too, when the man remembers what I like or prefer and actually DOES it.

    4)  We are best in a relationship when we are most comfortable being around you.
    This goes hand-in-hand with the last point.  It would mean more to us if you told us how hot and gorgeous we look with shower hair, no makeup and oversized clothes, than when we make an effort to actually look attractive and that's the ONLY time you compliment us.  Quality, not quantity.  Genuine, not fake.  Often, not rare.

    5)  We don't nag.  But if we see something wrong, we will be blunt and tell you straight up.  
    If we continue doing this, it isn't considered nagging.  It's considered 'Wake the heck up and see that this is a real issue!'

    6)  We don't expect you to never make us mad, we don't expect you to always do the dirty work, we don't expect perfection.  
    We just ask that you're considerate of our feelings, fair, and act accordingly.

    7)  We are level-headed, think with our brains, know what we deserve
    ...and likewise, what you deserve too.

    8)  We are extremely loyal and trusting.
    If you gain our affection, it means we trust you.  And if we trust you, it means you've reached our high standards.
    Don't screw this up.  We don't have to tell you every single name and background of every single person in group we're going to see a movie with - even if the majority of them are guys.  And girls, he doesn't need to explain to you about the girl who commented 'Hey hottie' on his profile picture.  You're dating an attractive person!!  They are going to get noticed!  This isn't a competition.
    They're with you.
    If you truly trust them, then get over it.
    If you don't, then get out.


    Punctuation | a poem

    All sentences end
    Each with a different mark
    A punctuation
    Declaring the kind of sentence it was

    All lives end
    Each in a different way
    With pain
    With joy
    With or without a word
    But always a type of punctuation

    What sort of punctuation is at the end of my life?

    Will my last breath be one of salvation
    Or of declaration
    Or a question perhaps?
    Will I slip out of this life and into the next
    Not knowing why my first one was lived
    Or if I had lived it well?
    Will it end instead in an exclamation of joy
    Utter ecstasy?
    Will it end with a trail of unspoken thoughts
    That they had never been spoken?

    Will it end in such a way
    That people will look at that end mark and think
    'She lived her life well
    She has nothing to regret...'


    Here's The Thing About Being a Writer

    Being a writer isn't as romantic as some people may think it is.

    We're not always perched comfortably on a window seat, in a cute outfit, drinking a cup of coffee and our hair is done perfectly.  That's just not reality.

    Being a writer is about nitty gritty hours of the night, staying up late to finish something you've been working on all day.

    Being a writer is about commitment and sticking to what you've been trying to write even if your brain think tank is on empty and you're frustrated.  And there may be tears too.

    Being a writer entails erasers and the 'delete' button.  We write, we edit, we criticize our thoughts on paper.  It happens.  But don't let the editing be longer than the writing.  And don't always allow yourself to reword things.  Sometimes, the best way to say it is the first time you do.

    Being a writer means you need to accept the fact that you will get rejection and criticism.  And that's okay.  You will NEVER always have fans.  You will have haters too.  And that's actually a good thing.  Why?  Because it means that you're a unique individual with your own way of thinking and your own way of writing and some people just don't like it.  Or as Winston Churchill once said: "You have enemies?  Good.  It means you've stood up for something sometime in your life."  And in this case, it's yourself.  Your thoughts.  Your writing.  And that's a wonderful thing to stand up for.

    The thing about being a writer is that every experience in life affects you and your writer's heart.  You keep everything locked up inside until a time when you feel you need to, you must write about it.
    Every person, circumstance, place, smell, feel, taste, conversation, song... Everything is held in your thought case, your memory jar.  And someday, you'll go back and sift through them all.  And you will write.  Some will be difficult to pen, others will come easily and freely because you need closure, you need to let your voice be heard, you need to get a message across.

    Don't ever apologize for your words.  Think before you speak, ponder before you write.  But when you finally do, never say 'sorry'.  Because why are you apologizing for something your heart wants to say?  Speak and write freely.  Being a writer is about inscribing your heart onto a piece of paper and making something that was only felt in your brain, able to be read and felt by the world.

    So be warned, human souls.  For whenever you come in contact with a wielder of words, you will most likely end up being a victim or a hero in one of their proses.  And if I were you, I would choose the latter.


    15 Struggles Every Tall Girl Deals With

    1)  Finding the right pair of jeans
    Something long enough, but that fits our waist well too.

    2)  "Gosh, you're tall."  
    Really?  I didn't notice.

    3)  "Are you gonna get any taller?"
    I just don't really see the reasoning behind this question...

    4)  "Do you like being this tall?"
    Sometimes, yes.  Sometimes, no.

    5)  "Do you play basketball?"
    Just because we're tall doesn't mean we're into sports - most specifically, basketball.

    6)  Cute dresses on other girls are cute shirts on us
    It's true tho.

    7)  Getting yelled at when we wear high heels
    "You're tall enough already.  Why are you wearing heels?"  Because I freaking feel like it.

    8)  Shaving our legs takes longer... (no pun intended)
    For reals.

    9)  Needing to duck, squat, or bend over in photos so your head doesn't get cropped off
    The struggle is real.

    10)  When in public bathrooms, being careful not looking over the sides or the doors because they're usually short enough for us to see over.
    Oh my gosh, some public bathrooms are made for midgets.

    11)  Being taller than 99% of the guys we know.
    And this especially sucks if you've vowed to not date/marry a guy who's shorter than you.

    12)  Having to 'slow down' when walking with our friends
    Cuz, you know, their short legs can't keep up with our long strides.

    13)  Hugs.  Sometimes.
    Enough said.

    14)  Having to crouch in some showers just so we can get under the shower head.
    This sucks #1 - because everyone loves showers, and #2 - because everyone wants to enjoy standing under extremely hot water...but this proves a bit difficult when you're a tall girl.

    15)  Baths.
    Out of the question.


    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.


    How I Taught Myself What To Write About

    [source] This is literally me every day ^

    So I was thinking about Taylor Swift the other day.

    (Not a normal subject for me to ponder on, I assure you.)

    I realized how I used to often criticize her inspiration for her songs and how immature it seemed to me that she dated guys, broke up with them, and then wrote about her ex and their past relationship.  Now, granted, I don't agree with her lifestyle, her dating pattern or the guys she chooses to 'make mistakes' with, but I have a whole new view on her inspiration.

    Her inspiration for music is based on her experiences.  Her experiences based on people.  And the people are ones divinely put in her path.
    I think that is fascinating.

    Each of us write for different reasons.  Some of us went to school to be journalists.  Some of us write professionally, for work.  And then, there are some of us who have been writing since we were youngsters.
    I write because my heart won't beat for me unless I write the letters it taps to me in Morse code.  I write because writing is a part of living for me.  Growing up, my room, desk and bed were always occupied by papers and journals.  I would overfill notebooks with who knows what.  I wrote about everything I did, everything I saw, everyone I met.

    Each of us will have different experiences than the next person.  We will have different adventures, different heartaches, different loves lost, different occurrences and events.  And though they are different, they can be similar in some way, somehow.  Because we all feel.  We all have emotions.  And these can be similar, even if the situation they occur in is different.

    When we share our episodes of life with the world - whether through music or dance or writing (just to name a few) - we are unknowingly helping and encouraging individuals who may be needing to know that they're not alone.  That they aren't the only ones who are experiencing these emotions and feelings and frustrations.

    So I encourage YOU to share your heart.  As a writer, being able to put my thoughts to words and words on paper is one of the most rewarding things to do.  When I am frustrated about something, I write about it.  When I am feeling emotions for and about someone, I write about it.  When I wish I could visit this place or go on that adventure, I write about it.  Nothing that happens to me is fully processed by my brain until I write it down.  Read it over.  Think about it.  Sometimes I don't necessarily want to write about certain things.  But then I get in an argument with my brain and my organized, logical-thinking left side usually wins.  Because I need to write things down, even when it's hard, even when it hurts.  Because I need to record, process and accept the truth of my own words.
    I have learned to say whatever it is that I'm thinking - even if I have to use metaphors and stupid cliche phrases to just get. it. out.
    And yes, even if I have to stay up till 2 a.m. to finish writing it.

    I have learned to never bite my tongue when it comes to speaking what I feel and what I truly think.  I am not controlled by other humans.  I don't care what they think.  I care about what One God thinks of me.  I have a voice, I have an opinion, I have emotions.  And little by little, I am learning to take my own medicine and write...for others.  I want to write and share my experiences, my chapters of this crazy story called life, because I want to be able to encourage and bless and inspire.  And if something I write is important enough to me to write, then I shouldn't apologize for it.

    Just don't stop.  Write.  Wherever you are, amidst whatever you're doing.  If a thought comes to your head, write it down before you forget.  My phone is FULL of notes of random thoughts and ideas that I have throughout my day.  I've been known to write on bookmakers, receipts, scraps of paper, napkins, and even on my hands.

    Don't be afraid of your brain.  Don't be afraid of yourself and what you're thinking or feeling.  Express it through words.  Write it down.  And don't ever apologize.  Life is a crazy thing.  Sometimes it's pretty scary too.  Familiarize yourself with your heart and who you are deep down in your soul.  Make that open passage between who you are and your brain.  Be at peace with raw emotion.  Don't beat yourself up about memories.  Good and bad ones will stay with you for the rest of your life.  And that's okay.  Learn how to face them.  Writing about them is a good way to do this.

    Teach yourself what to write about.
    Find your style, your little nook, and write until your fingers ache but your brain is free.


    The 5 Steps To Ordering Your Drink [As Told By A Barista]

    A fellow barista and I decided to write this quirky post about the 5 suggested steps when ordering your drink.

    1) Always say the size first
    Either in ounces or measurements (large, medium or small).

    2) Next, if it's hot or cold
    If cold - specify iced or blended
    If hot - specify if you want a cup sleeve and/or straw

    3) Specify how many shots

    If you don't care, then don't worry about this one.  Most coffee shops do two shots.

    4)  The actual drink you're ordering

    Plus any flavors!

    5) If you want whipped cream

    This applies to hot or cold drinks.

    Altogether now:
    I'd like a 20 ounce iced, double-shot caramel macchiato with extra vanilla and whipped cream.


    Am I missing anything?  Fellow baristas, comment away!


    Beautiful Books #1 | Introducing My WIP | #NaNoWriMo2015

    So, this may be a little late (and sorry for the horrendously long title), but I came across this link-up last night.  I rarely do link-ups but I thought this one would be fun.  I get to tell you a little more about my WIP (Work In Progress) and you get to let me know if...you'd read this or not.

    1.  How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
    Well, I’ve had the idea to write a novel about a writer for a couple months now.  Nothing was coming to mind though.  The ideas I had were super cliche and not very original.  So I bounced some of them off of a writer friend of mine and she suggested something about the protagonist finding chapters to an unfinished story.  That was enough to make my brain explode into high gear imagination.  I was at work at the time, so I made tons of notes on my phone and kept coming up with new ideas and twists and turns and my writer friend just kept saying ‘I want to read this book!  WRITE IT NOW!’  So I am.  
    The idea was birthed on October 24, 2015 at 4:17 p.m.

    2. Why are you excited to write this novel?
    Because it’s super amazing and I'm kind of obsessed with it right now.  And I once read a quote that said “Write the novel you would want to read.”  And this would be JUST the story I would look for when I was craving a good thriller, suspense, mystery, romance.  You know how some people ask how it's possible to miss someone you've never met?  Well, how is it possible to freaking love a book that hasn't been written?!  It's the same exact feeling.

    3. What is your novel about, and what is the title?
    It’s about a 22-year-old journalist named Fathom Brooks.  And an unknown sender of a mysterious package.  Weekly chapters sent to her anonymously.  An attractive detective.  A best friend.  A cop turned bad.  I can’t really say much more than that without giving away too many spoilers;)

    It’s called:

    4. Sum up your characters in one word each. (Feel free to add pictures!)
    Just one word?  Oh great… That’s hard.  Well, I’m still getting to know them, but from what I think of them so far, here goes:

    Fathom Brooks - Resolute

    Xaquerie Niven - Observant

    James Bowen - Logical

    Victoria Paulsen - Trusting

    Tammy Brooks - Optimistic

    5. Which character(s) do you think will be your favorite to write? Tell us about them!
    Well, I'm writing this in first person from Fathom's point of view, so definitely her.  But I also love Xaquerie.  He's kind of like that educated, very mature, slightly condescending, super attractive dude who's a bit intimidating, ya know?  So yeah, his scenes will be fun to write for sure.

    6. What is your protagonist’s goal, and what stands in the way?
    Her goal is to solve the mystery of who is sending her the anonymously written chapters, why they are sending them to her, what they mean and how to help the sender when the last chapter contains a threatening message.

    7. Where is your novel set? (Show us pictures if you have them!)
    Modern.  In my hometown/favorite city: Portland, Oregon.

    Fathom's apartment

    Xaquerie's apartment

    8. What is the most important relationship your character has?
    With Xaquerie.  He kind of becomes her badass bodyguard, and he's super smart and left-brained and she's more of the creative, right-brained, a bit forgetful...you get the idea?  Oh and also, she and her pet rabbit have a pretty tight relationship.

    9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
    She learns the importance of being her own person, seeking the truth, and defending the ones she loves.

    10. What themes are in your book? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?
    I want them to feel as if they just took a ride on an emotional rollercoaster with twists and turns that came out of nowhere.  I want my readers to laugh and cry.  I want this book to wrap someone around its [finger].  Someone who 'doesn't like to read' or 'normally doesn't read'...and for them to not be able to put this book down.  I hope that when they read I Cannot Fathom, they will meet and fall in love with the characters, learn the importance of defending the truth - no matter the consequences, and ultimately, not giving up.

    NaNoWriMo BONUS: Tell us your 3 best pieces of advice for others trying to write a book in a month.
    Well, I’ve never done NaNoWriMo, so I’m not sure I am the best person to be giving advice.  BUT…here are the three foundational principles I’ve set down for myself.

    1)  Set a timer.
    I have one set for 10pm (cuz that’s when my brain chooses to be the most active ha-ha), and I have another timer set for 10:30pm.  I can stop writing when the second one goes off or when I’ve written the 1,667 words for that day.  OR I can keep writing to my heart’s content.  I’m giving myself a half hour window just to start things off slowly, but I think that, as the month continues, the set time will be extended...or completely forgotten haha
    2)  Keep an eye on the word count.
    To me, this is encouraging because seeing the word count change from 0 to 200 is just super exciting.  And cheers me on to write the next 100 and the next 1,000.
    3)  JUST WRITE.
    I am a perfectionist.  I have a habit of writing a couple paragraphs and then going over and editing them right away.  This is not good.  Why?  Because, as writers, we are our own worst critics.  I get discouraged pretty easily if I find two sentences unsatisfactory.  Last night, after writing my first 1,674 words, I DETERMINED not to scroll up and re-read what I had just written for fear that I would delete the whole dang thing haha  I just saved and closed the document and went to sleep.  (After spending half an hour or so, figuring out what to write for the next day heehee)  So just write.  Keep an eye on the word count.  And have fun!

    Oh and feel free to fangirl/fanboy (yes, those exist!) over this post.  I need some fans and encouragers!!  For realsies.


    P.S.  Add me on NaNoWriMo.  My username is LiteraryRaindrop.

    P.P.S. Britt made me a blog button so to all those followers who've been begging me for one, feel free to copy and paste away!