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A little over 20 minutes ago I felt everything shake around me. I thought perhaps that I might have been shaking my leg...hence why the ground beneath me was shaking. I looked down at my leg, and it wasn't shaking. I stood up from where I was sitting at my desk and the shaking got even heavier. My bookshelves swayed and the view of our land outside my bedroom window shook strongly, as did I while standing. Yes, it was indeed an earthquake!

Did you feel it too? What were you doing when it hit? 

it's the little things

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Despite being the city-girl who's been grumpy about living in a small country-fied town some (okay most) days, I've decided that I'm going to do my best to see the little things in everyday country-livin' life as blessings or joys-to-be-found-in-disguise. Now, those little things may masquerade as the insignificant or the unnoticeable, but I know that if I look hard enough I can surely find them. They are there waiting for me patiently to be sought after and found. I know that the Lord is challenging me to stake His cross here in this clay-earthened town in which I've been painstakingly planted.

Now the big question I have to ask myself is: Am I willing to let God use me where I have been stationed? I want to. I need to. I am going to try my hardest to. Sincerely. I've been running from the idea lately of letting God use me here because I've just been wanting to wait until I move to where I want to live at (which is not here), but God doesn't work like that. God wants to move me. He wants for me to be moved by Him and to move where I've been planted. Am I completely blissfully happy about this whole trying to find things to be happy about right here, right now, no not all the time. Most days I'm not happy about where I've been placed, but I never would have grown as much as I have in my lifetime so far had I not moved here. These are the little things that God has been whispering to my stubborn hardened soul.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe  
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All of these reflections over the last few days made me think back to a few weeks ago when I heard Ann Voskamp (One Thousand Gifts) speak at the She Speaks Conference about a man named Maximilian Kolbe. I sat there listening to her painting the horrible circumstances of this man's life before me, and I wept. I wept because it saddened me greatly and because it brought me a strong sense of hope. A hope which ashamedly I have forgotten over the past few weeks. This hope is that all joy and love is found in Him. In the places which He has planted us. In the places He will one day re-plant us in...

Kolbe praised the Lord every day, all day long, while living in a brutal, war torn, fear filled world: the camps of Auschwitz. He had no name there. His was prisoner #16670. While others in the camp were afraid to speak out in front of the Nazi's he was not. He praised the name of the Lord and told the countless residents of Auschwitz about God's great love for them. (Please, read Kolbe's full story sometime. You won't regret it!)

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With these thoughts and whispers now driven like a spear deeper and deeper into my heart I begin to wonder how I could ever complain about where I've been planted at when Kolbe gave praise and a great sacrifice in the name of love while in one of the ugliest places on earth. Then I think on further... What about the Apostle Paul giving great thanks to God while living in a prison cell, still enthusiastic about the Message that he carried within his heart and shared with everyone he met daily? If these great men could praise and give great thanks to the Creator in the midst of their darkest times then why can I not be a woman who is so filled with Him, with the name of His praise on my lips no matter where I live at or what I am going through? I believe that I can be love here too. In this place.

Thoughts of love. Perspectives. Our perceptions. Are they not everything? Is a place not only made beautiful because of the people who dwell there? If we but chose to see beauty within each face placed before us then wouldn't we perhaps find the place in which we dwell more beautiful than ever before? So many thoughts...more whispering...

"I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am." (Philippians 4:12-13, The Message)

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{Questions for you} 
If you've been struggling with living where God has planted you at right now, how have you been dealing with it? How are you conquering it?

{Additional Reading}

{My prayer} 
Lord, use me where I've been planted, and where I will one day be planted. Help me to live a full life that is always mindful of the thanks which are to be given to you daily, Father. Thank you for your mighty love, the salvation you give and your gentle everyday whispers. Thank you for speaking into me and constantly wooing heart. May my heart always long to run after you. Amen.

Beautiful Book Covers

 I just bought this book a couple of weeks ago. As it turns out Beth Revis is a local author from my neck of the mountains. I learned about her from my writer friend Marybeth Whalen. I am anxious to sink my teeth into this novel! *Beth's next book is coming out soon*

 Cinderella meets cyborgs? I think YES. This book will be available 1/3/2012

 Young adult dystopia. I think I may just want to read this one some day.

 Honestly, I bought this book (used for $4) because 1) The cover photography was so stunning and 2) I love Hilary Duff!

 You know it's funny that I love stories and movies about the circus and all things cirque freaky, but I do not actually love going to real life circuses. I am afraid of clowns. There I said it. This book will be out sometime next year, as well. Isn't the cover art just fab? 

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I recently used this photo in my last blog post, and at the time I had NO CLUE that it was indeed a book cover until I just so happened to spot the novel listed on

'Beauty & The Beast' is my all time favorite fairy tale. And this is Melanie Dickerson's up-and-coming novel that is a retelling of B&B. I am beyond ecstatic about the release of this book! I loved Melanie's first book "The Healer's Apprentice" (which was a reimagining/retelling of Sleeping Beauty) so very much and I'm sure her next book will be just as great...if not better! This book releases in November of this year.

A retelling/imagining of Romeo & Juliet. A mythos all it's own. I must read this book...soon!

I adore this book cover. I was so happy to find that Lisa T. Bergen's novel 'Waterfall' was (AND STILL IS) FREE on Amazon for Kindle. Hurry on over to amazon and get your e-book!!

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I'm a sucker for beautiful book covers, as you might have noticed. Book covers are what I look at first when browsing for books. Usually if the cover design doesn't pique my interest I don't even bother to pick the book up (sad to say), unless of course the book is written by one of my all time favorite authors. I know, I know! "Don't judge a book by it's cover." 

How about you? Have you heard of any good reads or seen any super beautiful book covers lately? I'd love for you to feed my ever hungry book list and spark my imagination further with an image of a lovely book cover, or two or three!

Happy Saturday! Keep on reading!!

Re-painting Distracted Walls

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Oh, stress. Why are you so bothersome?

It's just been a little hectic in the life of this dotk lately! And while I know that life has it's highs and lows, sometimes I just want the forecast to be calm, cool and collected, you know? Stress seems like it wants to take a giant bite out of me and all I want is for everything to just be alright. So, what do I do to keep myself from getting all emotional or taking charge of my own stressful life? I distract myself. With t.v and books and food and etc.I let the walls of my heart become hastily covered in the paint splatted colors of doubt, insecurity, longing, stress, fear and anger.

Why do I distract myself? I choose to block out things so I don't have to deal with the Lord on the issue of this heart of mine. I distract myself so I won't have to think about how crazy this world in which we live in really is. I distract myself from lies and truths, and also from God. I self destruct by letting a dream world wreak havoc in my mind instead of letting my mind dwell on Him. being creative and dreaming about a dream-world is okay, as long as it doesn't become the inception that locks down your soul.  

Why do I choose to hide? When I could be opening my palms wide, letting go and facing the One who makes me WHOLE? Why do I settle for being distracted instead of being focused. Honestly, sometimes I'd just rather not deal than deal. It's a sad thing to say, but so very true. 

Why do I let my heart become faint? I let my weary heart faint because I am human. I faint because I choose to focus on everything else BUT my relationship with Him. Don't get me wrong. I have been reading my Bible more, but all the while I've been burying my head in the sand from facing my life as an adult. Sometimes I'd rather not think about bills, where to get gas money at, the reason I have to wait to get married to the man I love. I know that God is my providence. So why do I become faint...letting myself shrink back from my life as a child frightened by the higher ocean waves? 

I need to re-paint the walls of my heart and soul. I think I could use a good white-washing. A cleansing. A renewing of mind. I've been perfectly happy with a cerulean colored heart as of late, when my heart yearns to be a bright crisp ivory. 

This is my season of re-painting distracted walls. This is my season to fight for my dreams, for what I so desperately long for. This is my season to grow stronger and steadfast. This is my season of tempering. This is my season of becoming wiser than ever before. This is the season that waves goodbye to distracting myself and say's hello to Jesus. This is my season of claiming my rite of adulthood. This is the season...

My heart becomes white-washed by His great love for me. I've realized that I do not have to distract myself anymore. Deciding to fight for my dreams and my heart's desires, while not letting my heart faint in the process will not be easy. This I know. But what I also know and hold dear onto is that the Lord has taken His precious time this week trying to regain my focus. He had my whole focus when I was at She Speaks. It was easy then to be so focused on Him while I was living out the road He had so obviously planned and set before me. While He had placed me there with so many beautiful and wise women to learn from, to befriend and to grow right alongside them. Now I am Home and life isn't quite as simple. Life is chaotic. I am struggling to be an adult who wants to make a bright future for herself. 

Life is still full of simplicity. If you or I are willing to grasp after it. Life doesn't have to just be crazy. Life can be crazy beautiful, if we'll but let it be so. What is simple is that He is still gently whispering to my soul. Everyday. Single. Day. Whether I want to hear it or not! Right now I know that He wants me to fight for my dreams. I must do so faithfully. It will be hard, but the Lord my God will be with me wherever I go (Joshua 1:9).   

Sometimes those distracted walls that hold us are the very ones that need to be re-painted. Only then when we've re-painted those troubled walls will we be set free. This is my epiphany. One that was realized and gained yesterday morning as I walked into the kitchen and saw my momma with a bucket of paint in her hands. She said "I don't like the color of this dining room anymore. It needs to be repainted. Needs to be lighter." And so she started re-painting the dining room. And it did make things much lighter. Not only the walls in our dining room, but in mine and my momma's souls. All of the dark distractions washed away with The Light. 

I was no longer lost in the darkness of distraction, because I came to the realization that Jesus was calling me. He started speaking yesterday and I starting breaking down and most importantly listening. 

I'm letting God paint the walls of my heart, my life and my dearly held dreams. I may still have many lessons to learn. Many dreams to chase after...and boy are my dreams fast runners! ;) Adult life may suck be awesome sometimes, but I know that I don't have to distract myself anymore to learn how to cope alone. I know that God will teach me the art of learning how to deal in life. He just wants a little effort in the fighting department right now, and always. Okay, God. I can do this!

What "walls" are distracting you from your relationship with Christ? What are you distracting yourself with, instead of facing your reality? What could you "re-paint" in your life to make yourself whole again?

Bible Verses for Re-painting the Soul:

"God can do anything, you know--far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His spirit deeply and gently within us." Ephesians 3:20 {The Message} 

"Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? I fix my eyes on God and soon I'll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He's my God." Psalm 42:5 {The Message}

"But God, Who comforts and encourages and refreshes and cheers the depressed and the sinking, comforted and encouraged and refreshed and cheered me." 2 Corinthians 7:6

Conned Into Writing

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     I remember writing as a child, with such fondness. I wrote for my own amusement, and because I desperately wanted friends. My characters, even the non-humanoid ones, were my friends that I carefully crafted. I would write stories about young girls who could do the things in life that I thought I could would never do. I was each and every one of the young women in my stories, to a degree. At least I was in the sense that I was nothing like them, but desperately dreamed of being pretty and popular just like them. I wrote about Indian Princesses, Captains, cute boys, horses, many camp adventures, history and broken homes. I wrote about anything and everything that I could think of. I wrote out of my young-life experiences, and my large lack of inexperience in life. I wrote because it filled me up.

     Sadly, many of my old stories were torn into tiny bits and thrown into the trash. All my stories were cast aside because I thought they were stupid. That they would never amount to anything. I did not see myself as a true writer back then. I saw myself as a shy little girl who only dabbled into writing a bit now and again to find her voice within herself. I'd give anything to have my stories back now. I really would. Especially now that I consider myself to be a true writer. To have cast aside my old works will always pain me, but now I will remember to not just throw away endless written possibilities. Every word penned is just that, a beautiful possibility. I will hold onto every word that I have thought out and written down. I will cherish the words the Lord gives me. I will acknowledge that I am indeed a writer, and have been for quite some time.

     Just yesterday I was putting together two binders for two of my 'novel ideas' by trying to scrounge up all of my old tossed around notebooks and no-longer-sticky sticky notes with ideas scrawled scratchily across them. I was frantically searching through my drawers beside my bed for some of my old stories, the ones that had not had a bad run-in with the evil-paper-shredder-of-doom. I finally spotted my old grey notebook under a stack of other random note filled notebooks. I quickly flipped through my notebook and realized that I was holding within my hands at least 7 chapters of possibilities. As I continued to flip through it's pages I thanked God that I had not thrown it out too...and then I spotted a sentence, or dedication rather, in the back of the notebook. It said: "To my sister, Mary, who conned me into writing." After reading that line my mind was flooded with old memories. I was ready to take that stroll down memory lane...

{The Walton's}
     I remember the day when my younger sister, Mary, conned me into writing once again... (Okay, so maybe I wasn't conned into writing, but I was challenged to write, and my sister is a pretty smooth talker after all.) My family and I had just recently started watching The Walton's on dvd. A lot of our free time after schoolwork was spent watching episode after episode about life on Walton's Mountain. I was 17 years old that year, and we were going to be moving to the WNC Foothills within the next few months. Needless to say, I didn't want to move at all! I was full of angst towards my parents for making me move, and my being very shy made life that much more difficult because I just knew that if I moved I would never fit in ever again.

     It amazes me the way the threads of an old t.v. show and my moving 4.5 hours away from my Hometown wove themselves together into a beautiful tapestry. Hopefully those threads will be something that I will never forget in my lifetime. (God works in the mysterious does He not?) After having watched an episode of The Walton's one evening my sister, Mary, came into my room and said "Sarah, you know I bet you could write like John Boy writes. He writes what he feels to feel better. You could too." And that's when I started turning my anger and pain into words. I wrote poetry that flowed from my cut open veins. I bled out my anger and struggled to find my joy again in my rekindled love for word-smithing. I started finding God again in the words I wrote. I found out who I was through writing words on notebook paper. Pens and notebook paper became my weaponry against angst and misery. I found Him in His Holy Word and His words inspired me to write for Him.

     I have had this gifting all along. The gift of writing. I had cast it aside many years ago, but it has always been there lying in wait. I am happy to say that I am starting to find my voice once again. I am a writer, and my little sister conned me into it!

{{P.S.}} My sissy wasn't the only one who conned me into writing. God, Momma, Lyn-love, Jared, Nancy Rue and Marybeth Whalen (among many others!) have all inspired me to write. They have told me many times that I should write, and that I should chase after my dreams. And now I most certainly shall!

Thank You, July

 I used to not care for you too much, July. Now I see that even though you were stifling hot you held dear memories that laid in wait within your sweltering veins for me. You held many gifts. Gifts of which I will be forever grateful for. Gifts I cannot reciprocate, but ones that I can clasp tightly to my beating heart.

 You held summer-time in your palms, and frightening storms that illumined the night skies. You held new adventures and hope. You held much laughter and quarrels, but much much more laughter!

New memories and road trips were among your many days. I learned more about life, and the ways in which You would have me go. You've held the fears of which I had to face, but you held beauty as well for the world to see. July, you weren't just another month after all that I thought I would have wanted to wish away. I wanted to embrace you dearly, and so I did. Many gifts did I receive.

 You became a broad smile on my freckled pale face. You became a place that holds warm dream filled memories for the colder days that are coming. You became the knowledge giver, and the drive to carry on. You became the will to get through the rough days, and gave me the dream to hold on.

August, will you now speak to my heart? Show me how to live a life of gratitude and trust. Help me to have faith in His plans that are so much greater than I.

Will you hold my fears at bay? It's a brand new day, with no mistakes in it, yet. It's a new month to cherish. It's a new season to draw closer to The Giver.

There are many gifts to receive I am sure, but help me live a life that does not forget to give. Help me to live.