What the Wind Reveals

I’ve been seeing them everywhere lately.

I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the presidents’ birthdays and holiday that passed recently. Maybe it’s the winter and the dearth of color and vividness that makes them pop out like that grand golden orb during a sunrise.

Maybe it's the wind, which has been extra active lately in the hysterical weather this town has been experiencing.

Call me patriotic, but it's a beautiful sight.

Seeing the invisible fingers of the wind pick up the lifeless stripes and transform them into fluttering freedom.

Seeing the stars emblazoned on that blanket of blue and thinking one of them stands for the state I'm in. Seeing the brilliance of the red against the white. Justice. Purity. Courage.

I've been praying for more of that last lately.

As life looms large, I leash up my puppy and tie my tennis shoes and go out. I walk the pavement, grinning at the way the leaves skitter over the blacktop as if playing hot potato. That wind again.

My hand clenches over the leash extra-tight when a bumblebee buzzes over a butter-flower in a crack. And I wonder if I'll ever get it right, wake up one morning with that dose of daring, that gut full of gumption I've been wishing for. Or will I always freeze when bees fly by? Shudder when the thought of a tarantula skids across my brain?

Then in a neighbor's yard, the stripes and the stars dance in the breeze. Out here, I breathe. Out here, I hear the flag snap as if calling me to attention. Out here, I hear the bells in the birdsong. Out here, I hear the laughter in the wind.

Do you think Jesus ever laughed? Does He laugh still? What sends the joy pulsing through His kingly heart so that it skips out as laughter?

When I trip and laugh at myself, does He laugh with me? When I see a squirrel tail-up in a patch of grass, so intent on his cache of nuts that he (or she) doesn't see my puppy straining at the leash... the wind catches my chuckle... Does He laugh with me then?

Ultimately, is that what the wind reveals? His joy, His love, His life surging through me...

Just as the wind lifts the folds of the flag, He lifts my soul.

{Even on doldrum days.}

The Wishing Pearl by Nicole O'Dell ~ A Book Review

Sixteen-year-old Olivia Mansfield dreams of a land far, far away...

A land far away from her stepfather's abuse and torment.
A land far away from her mother's blind eye.
A land far away from the haunting memories of her past.

But then reality sets in, and Olivia knows she must make the best of her dire situation--at least until her high school graduation. But when poor choices lead Olivia to the brink of a complete breakdown and she finds herself dealing with the unexpected death of her best friend, she comes to a crossroads.

Will Olivia find the path to ultimate hope and healing that her heart longs for? Or will the demons from her past prove too much to bear?

What I Loved

Olivia's story starts out rocky but riveting. I was immediately drawn into her mind and her hurting heart. The first three chapters were the hardest to read, though Nicole O'Dell deals with a hard situation with grace.

Then a series of tough choices sets Olivia into a whirlwind that takes her life from bad to worse. Rays of hope shine in when she gets the chance to make a fresh start and starts to seek God.

In one of the most intricately-woven YA novels I've ever read, right and wrong battle in the mind and heart of a pained young woman who wants only one thing: peace, love, hope. The Wishing Pearl is a beautiful story about finding the path to healing.

What I Didn't Like As Much

This book was hard to read at times. As I realized the dire straits in which Olivia lived, I found it difficult to turn the page--afraid what I would find. But the author handles the darkness very well. And lets in the light in the most subtle, startling, significant ways.

Why I Recommend This Book

The Wishing Pearl is lovingly crafted and seemed so real. Olivia's voice pierces the pages and is true to the very end. The ending is lovely and almost had me in tears as God's love and truth triumph in the most unexpected of ways. Truly a story worth reading.


View The Wishing Pearl Book Trailer.

Read my review of The Embittered Ruby.

Read my review of The Shadowed Onyx.

About the Author

Nicole O'Dell, founder of Choose NOW Ministries is a youth culture expert, who writes and speaks to preteens, teenagers, and parents about how to prepare for life's tough choices. She is the author of a bunch of YA books, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the upcoming Diamond Estates Series, the first of which is The Wishing Pearl. Her non-fiction for teens includes Girl Talk, which she wrote with her two daughters based on their popular blog column by the same name.

The host of Teen Talk Radio where "It's all about choices!", Nicole dives in on topics like peer pressure, dating, purity, drugs, alcohol, modesty, popularity, decisions about the future, and many other things that might come up along the way. Over the years, Nicole has worked as a youth director, a Bible study leader for women and teens, and a counselor at a crisis pregnancy center. She lives in Illinois with her husband, Wil and her six wonderful kids--including a set of toddler triplets.

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 The Wishing Pearl by Nicole O'Dell by clicking on the links below.

My Life with a MissionADD LibrarianAudacious ReaderThe Book FaeBook Nook 4 YouBookworm ReadingGillian AdamsJill Williamson Katie McCurdyThe Librarian's BookshelfThe Pen and ParchmentRachelle ReaVirtuous Girlhood

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

My Favorite Subject

On RadRev on Wednesday I got to elaborate a little more about why this is my favorite subject...as well as share about one of my first dreams come true! Click here to read about one of the most nerve-wracking emails I've ever sent.

#100 counting 100 gifts, of course!

#101 dreams

#102 the hard questions (thanks, Rose!)

#103 a bracing bout of the giggles

#104 one of my first dreams come true (you can read it here)

#105 nerve-wracking emails

#106 adventures in His Word

#107 hearing the music of hope

#108 finishing a book in a day

#109 the friends who walk the adventure with me

#110 daring to dream

God dreams big and He wants to teach us to do the same. He wants to make the dreams He has put in our hearts,
the dreams we’re afraid to dare to dream,
come true.

Deep in a Memory

I saw him when I was driving home from school.

Standing near that two-lane road. Across from the sparkling-sunlight pond and before the farmland that stretches golden and grand.

The white fence matched the white paint of that compact car. He stood beside it, unmoving, gazing at it as if deep in a memory.

I cocked my head and watched him as long as I could in the windshield and then in the rearview. What was he thinking of, dreaming of? I wondered at his stance. He seemed perfectly content to stand there on the side of the road, at the front of the dirt lane that marks home for a few houses and mobile homes.

His back to the wind rushing through the treetops, he stood steady and strong. Lost in reverie.

Deep in a memory.

A story started to form in my mind. Pure fiction. Just a storyteller's way of finding meaning in a picture I'll never know the true explanation for.

I didn't stop and ask him why he stood there, gazing at that little car as if it held his last hopes and dreams. I couldn't crawl into his mind and discover the secrets there.

So I did the next best thing. I imagined.

Sigh. It sounds so crazy to put it all out here, in black and white, uniform letters that can never truly capture what I felt when I saw his form against the backdrop of the white fence, the white car beside him.

But I imagined his story anyway.

Maybe it was his wife's car. He's lost her this year. To a cancer that took her away before he was ready to give her up. It represents the last of her to him. Her freedom. Her wild spirit. He imagines her in the driver's seat (because she always insisted on sitting in the driver's seat) tossing him that grin that made him fall in love with her.

He'll never forget her. There's no question of that. So he stands there, staring at the white paint and shiny handles he keeps clean and new for her. Remembering.

Deep in a memory.

The things that jog a writer's mind sometimes, right? The pictures we paint with our minds to find closure, to seek significance.

In things as big as the question shouted at the sky with all the heart-voice, "Why?"

In things as small as the image of a man, nondescript clothing, graying hair, standing still beside a white car on a dirt road.

Story. Imagination. Wonder. Beauty. Joy.

All can be found...

Deep in a memory.

This morning I drove past that white fence and white car. A sign sat in the window. "For Sale."

The March of Books is Almost Here!

March of Books 2012 at ylcf.org

I'm very excited about the month of March arriving, because with March comes the March of Books on YLCF!

Book reviews...giveaways...and a link-up to add to the fun! I've a lot of book reviews scheduled for next month and would love it if you planned to join in!


#91 that chat with friends that has me laughing and crying

#92 that sigh that comes when I'm settling into bed with a good book.

#93 that email that makes me smile

#94 that ninth round of edits

#95 that question from a preschooler that I don't know how to answer

#96 that laugh that bars breathing

#97 that stack of index cards to study

#98 that slapping tail that says my pup's happy I'm home

#99 that song that holds me captive so that even after I park and have the keys in my hand, I sit there, listening

Already There

From where I'm standing, Lord

it's so hard for me to see

Where this is going

And where You're leading me

I wish I knew how

All my fears and all my questions

Are gonna play out

In a world I can't control

When I'm lost in the mystery

To You my future is a memory

Cause You're already there

You're already there

Standing at the end of my life

Waiting on the other side

And You're already there

You're already there

From where You're standing

Lord, You see a grand design

That You imagined

When You breathed me into life

And all the chaos

Comes together in Your hands

Like a masterpiece

Of Your picture perfect plan

When I'm lost in the mystery

To You my future is a memory

Cause You're already there

You're already there

Standing at the end of my life

Waiting on the other side

And You're already there

You're already there

One day I'll stand before You

And look back on the life I've lived

I can't wait to enjoy the view

And see how all the pieces fit

One day I'll stand before You

And look back on the life I've lived

Cause You're already there

You're already there

When I'm lost in the mystery

To You my future is a memory

Cause You're already there

You're already there

Standing at the end of my life

Waiting on the other side

And You're already there

You're already there

Finding the Railroad Tracks

They lay through the heart of our town, leading in, leading out, a strong and steady line.

And, in my case, a landmark.

I don't have a head for directions. But I know how to find my way home if I can just find the railroad tracks.

Every once in a while, the tried and true path that takes me on home after school is a little too confining. It's a straight shot, unhindered, unhampered by too many turns. Unless you count the row of traffic lights.

Heaven help me if I catch one redlight, for if you catch one, you catch 'em all. Such is the nature of small town timers, I suppose.

Town hall and the tracks cradle town square. Beyond is the road I take to come to the diverging of five separate roads. One leads to the library. One leads home.

And before the tracks is the path I come ambling down, tired from classes, hungry and already thinking of what homework to tackle first after I pull into the driveway.

But sometimes instead of staying straight, I turn left before I even come to the tracks. I chuckled to myself this afternoon when that sudden urge to explore the side streets of my small town gripped me. The first turn I took led me down a gravel road. A sign greeted me. Beyond state maintenance.


A couple of rotting boards haphazardly pretended to block entrance to a field full of sunshine. And I couldn't help but think of the kids who must come down here to throw a softball around.

I backed out of that road and took another, passed the fuelin' station and the park. Down another road with a confusing street name. Ahhh. I know where I am now. This is that old highway. I know how to get home from here.

I followed it for a while, crossed the tracks, then grinned wide where I was supposed to turn into the back of a neighborhood. Nah.

I hooked a left.

Gravel gave way to dirt and some of the prettiest houses I've ever seen. I discovered a whole community I hadn't even known existed. Practically in my backyard.

Then I found myself laughing hysterically, and not just at the guy on the radio cracking jokes.

Out loud, I said to myself (and I never talk to myself out loud), "I have no clue where I am."

And I didn't fear it a bit.

Oh, how I wish that were the case when life gets that way.

Although I did laugh at the potential possibility that I'd have to call my dad and ask him to come get me. I imagined him asking, "Well, where are you?"

What would I tell him? I'm parked in front of a "road" that bears the name of the family that lives in the only house at the end of it?

I got closer to the water tower they put up several years ago than I'd ever been before. I almost ran off the dirt road (a difficult thing to do, you know) craning my neck to get a good look at it. Tall and straight, it stuck up into the sky as if in defiance of the fate of Babel.

Trees lined each side of me as my truck came to a stop sign. I looked to my left and smiled. The rickety General Store.

And the railroad tracks.

I'd made a complete circle. I crossed the tracks and took the road home.

So this afternoon I discovered a bit more about the small town I've lived in all my life. And a little about myself, too.

Sometimes, I like to toss off restraint. Take a side street. Sight-see. Feel the bump in this ole truck as country music whispers from the radio, the sun shining in my face.

And sometimes I'm oh-so-grateful for that line of rail that splits the center of this town and leads me home.

And the Award Goes to...

I was blessed with four blog awards this week! Which means I get to award four blog awards to some friends!

Sarah Elisabeth gave me the Kreative and Versatile Blogger awards (aren't they cute?). Both Katie and Book Blogger gave me the Irresistibly Sweet award (yummy!). And Book Blogger also gave me the Tell Me About Yourself award.

Thank you so much, ya'll!

Let's see. Seven random things about me:

1. I've named my laptop. A nice fairy godmother-ish name: Griselda

2. My favorite genre is historical romance. Followed by fantasy.

3. I love post-it notes. In fact, they make up about 80% of my trash can. Which I guess is a good thing, because that means the to-do lists are now to-done, right?

4. I'm laughing over the fact that I just revealed the contents of my trash can.

6. My favorite flowers are peach roses.

7. I currently have five pencils in a jar on my desk. None of which have erasers (now how's that for random?)

It is my great pleasure to pass these awards (yes, all of them) to each of these blogging friends:

1. Sarah from Destiny of One
2. Julia from Julia's Journal
3. Rachel and Jessica from Young Homemakers
5. Katie from Legacy of a Writer
6. Book Blogger from Inside and In Between
7. Sarah Elizabeth from Oh Restless Bird