Two Life-Changing Words

Thank you


Could there be a more wonderful way to celebrate this month of crackling leaves and cocoa, silky scarves and maybe even snow?!

My dear friend, Rachel, from Young Homemakers
(she also blogs with me at Meditations of His Love)
is hosting 30 Days of Thankfulness this year from November 1st through the 30th!

The invitation is to post some things we're thankful for on our blogs or Facebook or Twitter pages. I think I'll do a little of each, keeping up with counting the gifts, too.

Would you like to join us?

Rachel will provide a Linky on her blog each day for blog posts. She also has a Facebook page for the event.

I'm looking forward to it! A whole month of Thanksgiving! Tuesday can't come quick enough.

And since I have so much to be thankful for this Saturday morning, mind if I share?


#66: friends who encourage and build up


#68: that happy sigh after reading The End (even though you didn't want it to end)

#69: a to-do list that's mostly to-done :)

#70: crisp autumn air

#71: writer buddies you can be semi-ridiculous with

#72: a three-year-old's giggle

#73: a late-night talk

#74: dreaming of December (It's almost Christmas! Yes, I am one of those people for whom it can't come quickly enough.)

#75: two life-changing words

Passion and Purpose: Part Two


Am I good enough?

As I wade through the turbulent waters of requesting transcripts, saving for tuition, and waiting to transfer to the University of my choice, the Liar whispers:

What if?

And I start to drown.

What if survival at a bursting-at-the-seams community college isn't survival at a small, private, Christian university? You're jumping in over your head.

In over my head.

The lies go on but it all boils down to, Am I good enough? Can I do this? Really do this?

I dispel the lies, dive into the Word, and dream of a long-ago weekend when it seemed like everything was perfect and I was where I was supposed to be.

I drink in the beautiful truths on my closet door from this lady...

What if I fail?
I will give you victory (2 Cor. 2:14).

I don't have enough confidence.
I will be your confidence (Prov. 3:26).

I remember how it was to look in this lady's eyes and hear her say, "You are gifted."

I recall all of the other magnificent moments like being plucked out of the crowd to meet this fellow wordsmith and this one...

The water ceases to roar in my ears.

Because I remember...


Inspiring Daring is far more than the name of my online haven here.

Daring is where I am. 'Tis is my life story right now: exchanging the doubts for the daring, the impossible for the God who makes all things possible! Why I write, why I sing, why I can breathe when the fear and the dreams collide in one big crazy swirl.

This is where Inspiring Daring comes from... the heart that gives my heart purpose: His.

He is the reason I write and the One I write for. Always. He is the One pulling my hand so I'll jump out of my comfort zone. He's the One smiling when I discover the dizzying brightness of living in His will.

He's the One waiting, arms outstretched, for when I start to drown in the fear.

It's not me doing the daring. It's Him. Every moment of every day of every year.
Defying the fear. Daring to dream. Big. Passionately. With a purpose.

I try to bring others with me, gently, with encouragement.

I want to show others that if He can give this klutzy girl gymnastics...

If He can give this non-techie girl a blog...

If He can get her shy little self to a writer's conference...

If He can get her to the university she's always wanted to go to...

If He can give her a truck she adores and the courage to drive it...

If He can give her trembling heart Truth that knocks her socks off...

well...

He can do it for you, too.

So, go ahead, dare.

{To read Part One, please click here. And to visit the YLCF's blog carnival which inspired me to write these posts, click here.}

Passion and Purpose: Part One


Writing is my passion.
Why do I do what I do? I have asked myself this before, but the answer stays the same.

Him. Only Him.


Words

How is that I seem to think most clearly in ink?

Inexplicable

What is it that made me first admit it?

Trust.

Daring.

There is video proof that by five-years-old, I was already a Disney princess at heart (singing along with Belle of Beauty and the Beast through the TV). And I'll confess that fourteen years later, nothing has changed. I still swoon for fairy-tales.



It was for fun and with a friend that I first penned a story. We soon discovered we had very different writing styles and tastes for how an ending should go (me clinging tenaciously to happily-ever-after). But I still point to that year as when I first fell head-over-sneakers in love with the idea of creating characters, planning plots, and diving into storyland (as I called it then and call it now).

Storyland.

"To write is my joy and my work. Writing is the one place I feel I actually articulate the deep, aching things in my heart that I never seem quite able to say. To write is something God has asked of me. I think I finally understood this best in the context of story. Of realizing that my writing, even the nonfiction, goes toward narrating grace into this world. I can tell stories, and I can weave story out of the seemingly disparate events of life in our world. To be a woman of story is the work to which I want to give my life."

-Sarah, from Thoroughly Alive, in words from a year ago that have stuck with me

 Is it merely that writing makes me feel closer to God, when I'm digging into His Word to craft the next devotional for MOHL or article for RadRev? Is it that I just like it?

Or is it something altogether bigger? For a higher purpose? Unto a higher calling?

May I circle all of the above?

I'm studying Communications in college even though I'd much rather be working on my next novel than a research paper. The story will wait. In fact, I choose to think that the story will be enriched for the time it has spent germinating in this brain of mine.

But I pull out that stack of novel and take notes and edit and dream of December (my favorite month because it holds Christmas and enchantment and the opportunity to edit!).

But why?

Why do I write?

Because I am learning to dream big because my God does. I'm learning to live with hands up and head tilted back, smiling at the sun and the One who loves me always. I'm happy in His will, but, best of all, I'm joyful in every opportunity He gives me to tell my story and write of my heart and His.

Inspiring Daring may be my tagline because my passion is leading others to know the God of extraordinary, but it is first and foremost the two words that describe where I am.

He is inspiring me to trust Him, the God of daring, of miracles, of radical, of impossible.

That is the soundtrack of my life, the lyrics that thread the air as I type, and the song bleeding from the pen alongside the ink.



I hear it also in the words of the one pursuing her destiny.


The melody grows as I read the purposeful words of the one whom I have smiled at over seven or so years since she introduced me to Curly Girl and the YLCF.

The song swells as I pour over the words of dear friends.

Do you hear it? The call to daring? The invitation to embrace the fairy tales?

I do.

So I pick up my pen.

With passion.

With purpose.

A Peek Into Your Passion at ylcf.org

{This post is written for the A Peek Into Your Passion with Purpose blog carnival hosted by Young Ladies Christian Fellowship. So hop on over there, browse through the passions and purposes of others, and maybe link up your own! To read Part Two, click here.}

Some Lessons In Writing I've Learned


{This blog post contains scribblings straight from the author's ink-splashed heart.}

The other day I pulled out a short story that I wrote in high school.  I flipped the title page back and started reading. The fear that this story, though maybe much beloved while writing it, would cause my nose to turn up now niggled at the back of my mind. After all, I've learned a little about writing since I was fifteen.


I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked about the story. Seems that even by high school, I had learned a little about storytelling. Probably due to the copious amounts of reading I indulged in back then.

2 Things About Writing (that I've known for a while) :

1. Make the Main Character(s) real and relatable.
{Usually accomplished by giving them a quirk of some kind.}

In the book I just finished reading, The Colonol's Lady by Laura Frantz, the heroine has an endearing limp.

In that short story I wrote while a sophomore in high school, the heroine has a terrible head for directions and gets lost. Regularly.

In my first novel, the heroine is slightly klutzy (like myself).


2. The Main Character(s) must change

I'm not saying that I did this particularly well in the short story I perused the other night or in any other manuscript I churned out during high school. However, there was an inner struggle that took place in the main character. I felt kind of proud of myself for having known that way back when.

I dare you to try to find a book in which the main character does not change or go through an inner struggle of some sort.


2 Things About Writing (that I've learned recently):

1) Use Active Voice

I've come to detest the word "was." Whenever I find it in my own writing, I cringe. Needless to say, there were many, many, many "was"'s in that story I pulled from my high school years. ( <--- That right there was a sentence in passive voice.)

It is much easier to enliven a sentence, make it leap off the page, make it stand out when, as a writer, I choose to describe how anger makes a character feel. It's lazy and boring to just write,
"Jane was angry."

2) Give your characters motives

Have you ever been reading a book when you suddenly slammed the pages shut and growled, "I don't know what it is [insert character name here] wants!"

Maybe you haven't.

I have. Once.

While reading that high school manuscript.

The heroine knew what she wanted (and didn't want). The hero knew what he wanted (though it was cliche and boring, but we won't go there). But the evil villian?

No. Motive. At. All.

Except of course to stand there and look pretty until I needed him to kidnap the princess so the handsome knight could go save her. When it was time for that, he jumped in, completely willing.

But I have no idea why.

All characters need motives for doing the silly, stupid, annoying, delightful, wonderful, story-changing, mind-numbing, scary, daring, awesome, horrible things they do.

Always.

I'm still learning that.

Someone once gave this bit of writing advice: "No one is completely evil." (They probably tacked on, "No one is completely good" also, but I think we are all well aware of that fact.) Bells went off in my head because that perfectly illustrates that even the most evil villian, hardened criminal, or dubious bad guy is going to have a soft spot for something or someone.

My personal preference in books is for the antagonist to have a soft spot for someone. It raises the tension.

Regardless, though, there's going to be at least one reason that they've become cold and hard-hearted and willing to do whatever it is in your manuscript that they're going to do.

So what lessons are you learning about writing right now?

“There are so many different kinds of writing and so many ways to work that the only rule is this: do what works. Almost everything has been tried and found to succeed for somebody. The methods, even the ideas of successful writers contradict each other in a most heartening way, and the only element I find common to all successful writers is persistence—an overwhelming determination to succeed.”


—Sophy Burnham

Lost in Dreams by Roger Bruner ~ A Book Review


Lost in Dreams, Altered Hearts Series #2   -     
        By: Roger Bruner, Kristi Rae Bruner

Grace, hope, and healing intersect in the mountains of California .

From the moment eighteen-year-old Kim Hartlinger steps off the plane from a mission trip to a remote Mexican village, her journey takes a turn for the worse. As she collides with the biggest challenge of her  life--and faith--Kim struggles with haunting questions and recurring nightmares...all while trying to hide a heart-wrenching secret.

Will Kim find the hope and healing she needs?...Or is her spirit broken beyond repair?


What I Loved


The author wastes no time in plunging me right into Kim's story, which, since I read this sequal to Found in Translation right after the first book, made it easy for me to follow along. In his customary engaging, sometimes humourous, somtimes surprisingly deep style, Roger Bruner explores heartache, grief, and guilt in this second installment of the Altered Hearts series.

Though personal tragedy and devestating loss catapult Kim into a dark season, her voice remains strong and she doesn't "go off the deep end" which I appreciated and half-expected. Instead, she is still herself, but she must deal with the pain that has changed everything around her.

What I Didn't Love As Much


Kim loved saying "that is," but since the book is in third-person it is written as "that was." Made me roll my eyes every time I read it (which was often). "Actually" would have worked just as well most of the time.

In chapter fifty-three, there's a significant shift from Kim's point-of-view to another character's. I felt like it gave me whiplash as I flipped pages trying to figure out what was going on and who was talking now. An unpleasant jolt.

Why I Recommend This Book


The author has mastered diving into unconventional situations. In the first book, Kim is in a tiny village in Mexico with a mission that is thwarted by a language barrier. In Lost in Dreams, she is in the mountains of California with a passel of strange characters, a best-friend triangle, and suffocating grief (I won't spoil it and tell you more than that). But she holds strong to her faith in God ~ not to say that she doesn't have doubts ~ and in the end confides in her father, who helps her see the truth.

About Team Novel Teen


Team Novel Teen is a group of bloggers dedicated to spreading the word about clean teen fiction. Check out other posts about Lost in Dreams by Roger Bruner by clicking on the links below, and check out www.NovelTeen.com for more information about Team Novel Teen.


The Librarian’s BookshelfRachelle ReaThe Book FaeMy Life with a MissionKatie McCurdyKaty’s ReviewsReviews by JaneJill Williamson

Read my review of the first book in Kim's story, Found in Translation.

A sincere thank you to the author for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Cascade by Lisa T. Bergren ~ A Book Review

This review has been a long time in coming. Ever since I first read Waterfall, I have been enthralled with Lisa T. Bergren's River of Time series. I am so glad that I won Waterfall in a contest because believe it or not, it probably would have been awhile before I picked it up on my own.

But I know that I would have sooner or later.

As I was telling a friend the other day, Waterfall , as well as the rest of The River of Time series, has everything that I love in a good book. One, it's part of a series. Which means that, yay, I don't have to say goodbye to these characters anytime soon! The fun continues!

Two, it has an amazing looking cover. I mean, really, who doesn't want to have that beautiful picture beckoning from their nightstand.

Third, Waterfall, Cascade, and Torrent each combine all of my favorite genres. Historical. Romance. Fantasy.

Now since this review is technically of Cascade and I've so far raved about The River of Time series as a whole, let me tell you about why I liked Cascade.

What I Loved


The first reason is that I loved Waterfall sooooo much. I had no sooner read The End in that fabulous beginning to the Bettarrini's story when I went on Amazon.com and pre-ordered Cascade and Torrent. I can honestly say I've never been that eager to know that a book was on its way before.

The second reason I loved Cascade is that it could stand on its own. Have you ever read a trilogy and been so disappointed with the second book, like it only seemed like a bridge, the author's way of getting you from Book A to Book C?

Cascade is NOT like that.

Full of roaring adventure, sweet romance, keep-you-turning-the-pages-late-into-the-night conflict, Cascade is the PERFECT sequal to Waterfall.

And I don't call a book Perfect with a capital P lightly, ya'll.

So in a nutshell, this is what happens in Cascade:

Gabi knows she’s left her heart in the fourteenth century and she persuades Lia to help her to return, even though they know doing so will risk their very lives. When they arrive, weeks have passed and all of Siena longs to celebrate the heroines who turned the tide in the battle against Florence—while the Florentines will go to great lengths to see them dead.


But Marcello patiently awaits, and Gabi must decide if she’s willing to leave her family behind for good in order to give her heart to him forever.
Now, go out and buy it. Seriously. You'll thank me later.

What I Didn't Love as Much


The only thing that I can possibly say that I didn't like about Cascade was that it ended with a fabulous, thrilling, heart-stopping, leave-me-gasping cliff-hanger. Entirely appropriate, but, oh, how tortuous! Thankfully, I knew that a copy of Torrent was already making its way to my eager hands. Unfortunately, I had to wait a couple more  months for its release (but Amazon.com was generous to send it earler than I expected. I saw the box when I came home work and squealed.
Yes, squealed.)

Why I Recommend This Book


Cascade is unlike other YA fiction I've read (though I confess, I haven't read much contemporary YA fiction. Like I said above, I'm more of a historical kind of gal.) There is a faith element threaded through this book that I would have liked to seen explored more, but I think that the author did a beautiful job of allowing us to see Gabi's inner struggle with believing, while not beating us over the head with the fact. Honestly, I'd rather a book err on the side of caution than be out-and-out preachy.
Faith comes through strongest in the rocking story as you're transported from modern-day to 14th century Italia. Bonus: you see medieval Italia through the eyes of a 21st century teenage girl. How cool does that sound?

One word of advice: don't start reading until you have all three and a long weekend. =)

Extras

The Growing Place

View Image It's in quiet moments like this that the world of imagination broadens, deepens, widens

and 
             I
                          fall
                                     in.
 Have you ever rode a dirt road with the windows rolled down
Smelling that honeysuckle vine...
Have you ever heard a song that changed your life
Coming through the radio
That's where country grows
- Ashton Shepherd "That's Where Country Grows"
It's where stories grow, too.

In the playing of music, mostly movie themes, some battle hymns, some that come through the radio and bring a smile to my face and a tear to my eye.

In the amazingly addictive act of finding pictures that capture my characters. I had never even thought to do this until blog-hopping convinced me that so many do. It's fun! {I'll share some soon!}

In the writing prompts featured here that never fail to spark a story.

In dreams.

***

I'm at the editing stage. In the dark of dusk, the moon shining bright, I climb into bed with one of the stacks that make up my manuscript, a notebook, and a pen.

Sobering, really, when you hold your creation in your hands, black letters on clean white sheets.

The quote on the notebook reads:

"The world of reality has limits; the world of imagination is boundless."
- Jean Jacques Rousseau

Yes, the world of reality has limits. Deadlines. Study sessions. Sunday school lessons to prepare. A room to clean.

So I seize those quiet moments to cultivate creativity, remember the wellspring and fall into fairy-tales. Via music. With pictures. Through prompts. In dreams.

How do you broaden the world of imagination? Tear down the walls that block the borders and invite creativity in?



#61: seven years

#62: fresh pencils and a calculator that works faster than I

#63: fellow grammarians

#64: Fridays

#65: entire weekends spent unplugged

Hall of Faith ~ What Daring People

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"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
Hebrews 11:1

So begins the Hall of Faith found in this chapter of the Scriptures. What follows is a speed-read through the miracles God has worked through the entire Old Testament as the names and feats of a myriad of unlikely people are recounted.

Daring people.

Daring deeds.

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We're talking about this Hall of Faith on Meditations of His Love this week. I've taken a bit of a trip down Memory Lane and compiled the following list of links and flashbacks for your Saturday clicking pleasure. Enjoy!

"By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings..."
Hebrews 11:4


"By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith." Hebrews 11:7


"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going."
Hebrews 11:8

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. What greater faith can a person have than to trust in God for the next step and the next, not knowing where they are going?

My article, "Get Up and Go!"

My fictional account of Sarah (or Mrs. Abraham).

"By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, 'It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.'"
Hebrews 11:17-18


"By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king's edict."
Hebrews 11:23


"By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient."
Hebrews 11:31

My parallel between Rahab and myself.

poem I wrote featuring Rahab.
My article about the importance of remembering (both the "great cloud of witnesses" and what God has done in our lives).
"The world was not worthy of them..."
Hebrews 11:38

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Year 7

Hard to believe that it has been seven years since I started doing this.


Oh, how time does fly.

From these timeless, world-tilting words:

Spend a little time with God each day. Even if it's not a lot, even if it's only five minutes, just be with Him.

- paraphrase version of a Sunday School teacher's advice


To these timeless, world-tilting words:

For many years I was bothered by the thought that I was a failure at prayer. Then one day I realized I would always be a failure at prayer; and I've gotten along much better ever since.

– Brother Lawrence

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There's been a lot of growth in these seven years. I've gone from five minutes...

...to thinking they're the good-girl thing to do...

...to sheer desperation and anytime, anywhere.



Sometimes the silence of the morning beckons me like no other time of day. Sometimes it's wrapped in the dark of dusk that I say adieu to homework in favor of a greater calling.

I talk about quiet times often, but today I want to just sit back in awe and wonder at the good God has wrought, all because I took that long-ago suggestion for "just five minutes."


{By the way, if you want, I extend the "just five minutes" dare to you.}

Eyes on Sky

#51: this little online haven, still here even after a week of mid-terms meant no blogging

#52: pink- and blue-ribboned cotton-candy sky

#53: watching him open the door for her, like a scene out of a movie

#54: beautiful truths about radiant purity and authenticity and redirections

#55: long walks, dog on leash, sneakers on gravel, eyes on sky



#57: yellow ribbons tied on oak trees with yellow leaves

#58: donning sweaters and clogs. Who knew October could creep up so fast?

#59: small smiles

#60: fresh-baked cookies


Sometimes A Good Girl

Sometimes I feel like a good girl. Sometimes I don't.

Sometimes I feel like I write well. Sometimes it is all I can do to fail at living well.

Sometimes I dance, happy, free, and delighted that He loves me. Sometimes I forget and try to do it all on my own.

Lord, I need You like peanut butter needs jelly. I'm just better when I'm with You.

Sometimes the to-do list is mostly checks at the end of the day. Sometimes it's not.

Sometimes I read what I've written and cringe.

Sometimes someone will come up to me and say, "That blessed my heart."

And all I can do is say thank you and look up in awe to the God who orchestrated all these "sometimes" from the beginning of time.


Then I remember it's not about the good times, the bad times, the in-between times, or the "sometimes."

It's not about being a good girl, a bad girl...it's not about this girl at all.

And it never was.

It is always, always, always, always about Him.

Lord, I need You like a pen needs paper. I try to make something beautiful, but it never works unless You're part of the picture.

So setting the "sometimes," aside this Sabbath morning, I'll walk into His house and worship.