Autumn Snow

Do you handle surprises well? I sure don’t.

Well, some I don’t mind! I relish a good plot twist, and you’ll never hear me complain about a surprise chai 😉 I’m just not a fan of surprises disrupting my carefully laid plans 😅 Such as snow in November.

My first reaction to this scene was one of frustration. I had been looking forward to my annual leaf burn. The yard desperately needs it and I haven’t had a bonfire all season. Honestly, how did we go from drought to snowfall in the space of a week? Dang it, Missouri!

But then I noticed the beauty. The contrast of a white world framed by bright autumn flowers. So, I settled down on the couch with a steaming mug and watched the mosaic of snow and leaves dance in the wind. Let the first snow excitement seep in.

Turns out, I needed that surprise. Maybe disruption isn’t always a bad thing. Failed plans most often lead to something better. God knows what he’s doing. The hard part is learning to let go. I might be taking baby steps, but I’ll get there eventually! And so will you.

Go with hope, friends💛

Welcoming 2022!

Can you believe we’re already a week into 2022?! How is your year shaping up? Got all your goals set or a focus word chosen? Share one in the comments!

Only a week in, and I’m already seeing a significant amount of negativity regarding this new adventure. Memes to the effect of ‘a new year is too risky’ and the general concept that things will only get worse abound.

And I get it! Especially after the week I’ve just had. It’s been a rough couple years for everyone. And so far, the coming year looks bleak. But it doesn’t have to be…if our focus is on the right things.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite Prince of Egypt songs, ‘When You Believe’. If you don’t know it, the song starts off with how bleak the world looked for the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. Decades of praying for deliverance with no answer. Generations of yearning for a land that had been promised. Then the refrain that goes: ‘There can be miracles/When you believe/Though hope is fail/It’s hard to kill’.

What’s always stood out to me here is that prayer and belief, specifically in the fact that God remembers his people, bring hope. It might take longer than we want. We might feel trapped in the desert. But God has not forgotten us. No matter how bleak our world gets, there is still hope to be found in him.

So this year, instead of writing out my usual overwhelming list of goals, I’m doing something I’ve never tried before. I’m focusing on one word: HOPE. And yes, I do still have a few goals I’m working towards. But no matter how those play out or what new projects present themselves in the coming year, I have hope. Hope and belief that God will guide me in the correct path for my life. And that’s far better than any goal I could set myself.

Here’s my challenge for you. As you go out into this new year, go with prayer. Go with belief. And go with hope.

Just BE

When is the last time you chucked the DO list and let yourself just BE?

I have to admit, as much as I’d like to claim the hygge lifestyle, I don’t take down time nearly as often as I should. But I’ve made a concentrated effort recently! Put off chores to hang out with my brother. Ditched socials in favor of books and walks. Avoided marketing stress with cookies and cross-stitch 😉 And you know what? It’s been so refreshing!

So as we go into the bustle of this holiday season, I’m encouraging you to take time off the schedule and just be.

Also, my Scorpio Races reread has made me nostalgic for my horse girl days. Hence the stable aesthetic with Owl Crate’s super comfy wrap ☺

Redefining Success

I’ve been telling everyone who asks that my signing this past weekend was a success. And it was! But, if they were to look at my stats, I doubt they would be impressed. Why? Because I define success in terms that are harder to quantify.

Instead of looking at follower count, I look at the quality of those relationships. Instead of word count, meaningful words. Instead of attendees, true connections. And did I have fun? Instead of sales…well to be honest, as an indie author living on a budget, sales are always in the back of my mind. But I’m training myself to focus here: Has it helped anyone? Are my readers enjoying it? But my ultimate level of success is whether or not people have seen Christ in me.

I’ve found looking at the world in these terms lessens the stress levels and discontent. Because as great as a large wordcount, readership, and royalties are; when your focus is placed there, you’re in constant comparison mode. There will always be someone out there with better stats than you. And so, you are left always needing more. Just one more follow to beat the algorithm. Just one more k to hit that ‘sweet spot’. Just one more sale to move up the list. Just one more, just one more… And y’all, it’s draining!

So today, I’m challenging you to take a hard look at how you define success. And if needed, make a mental shift to focus on the things that feed your soul rather than drain it. 💛

Also, just want to give a big shout out to my mom for all the help! She made such an impression one buyer asked her to sign the book too 😂 Tip for my fellow introverts: when doing events, bring an extrovert with you!

5 Mental Health Care Tips

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day! If you’ve been around here for a while, you know mental health is very important to me. So today, I’m sharing a few of my favorite ways to care for it.

1. Naps!

It sounds cheesy, but I firmly believe naps are magic. No matter how bad the day is, it looks a little bit better once I’m well rested.

2. Quality time with friends and family.

Everyone needs a shoulder to lean on now and then. Talking your troubles out, even if you don’t reach a solution, can give you a real moral boost. This includes prayer, btw. There’s a certain kind of peace that comes from handing off your worries to the one who loves you most and is always able to handle them.

3. Fresh air.

Never underestimate the power of fresh air and sunshine! I’m partial to hiking or a bonfire, but any outdoor activity will do. Even if it’s just sitting on your porch watching the leaves fall.

4. Be Cozy.

Clichés exist for a reason. And warm cookies with a glass of milk and a fluffy blanket has never failed to put me in a better mood. Soothing music and a good candle never hurt either 😉

5. Journaling

Obviously as an author, writing helps me process things. Whether its journaling about my troubles or creating fictional worlds in which to face them. Things just seem less scary and more manageable once I’ve unloaded them from my mind to a sturdy notebook (or more often, word doc).

So, what about you, friends? How have you cared for your mental health this weekend? Got any care tips to share with me?

Managing Stress

How do you deal when the world comes crashing down?

NGL, my first impulse is to curl up on the couch and bingewatch years of tv within a couple weeks 😅 But my more helpful tactics include time outside or with friends, baking, and focusing on one small accomplishable task at a time.


It’s been a particularly brutal month for me. I’ve been cleaning up one catastrophe after another on all fronts. As soon as I get one thing resolved, another shoe drops. And though my trials may not be large in the grand scheme of things, they feel gargantuan in the moment.

But when I take a step back, I notice all the small blessing’s God’s showered me with along the hard road. Mainly in the community that’s pulled around me. Co-workers took me hiking, good friends checked in on me at just the right time, I made new friends in a ladies’ group, and Sunday School is finally back on!

It’s so easy for the treacherous mountain path to overshadow the flowers along the road or obscure the pond on the far side. So, as we close out the month, I’m challenging us to focus on the good moments, no matter how small.


Also, this month’s binge was Once Upon A Time. Any other CaptainSwan shippers here?

Tribe

I fully believe finding your tribe , sisterhood , found family is one of the biggest blessings God gives. Now, this doesn’t mean he’ll only bring you people exactly like you. We all need a bit of diversity and challenge in our lives. But he’ll always give you YOUR PEOPLE. The ones who understand you on a level no one else does.

I’ve had this kind of community several times throughout my life. Each time I thought I lost it, God was SOOO faithful to bring me a new one.

Growing up it was the other foreigners. The ex-pats. The TCKs. The ones who knew what it was to live outside your comfort zone. To always be learning a new language, a new culture, a new life. To never quite
belong. The Brit who comes to your 4th of July party. The Costa Rican who celebrates Thanksgiving with you. Because they know it doesn’t matter why you’re together, just that you are.

I largely lost that sense of community after moving back to the states at 16. I did have a great friend group in college, many of whom I still consider family, but didn’t quite find my people again ’til almost a decade later.

Four years ago, one of said college friends brought me into Realm Makers and Realmies quickly filled that gap in my heart. They come from all walks of life and all over the world, but they know what it is to write. To write for the Lord. And to do so in a genre that is often gravely misunderstood. Once again, to never quite fit in. The ones who admire your cat ears and handcrafted cloak. The ones who will skip class to talk life for hours on end. The ones who cheer their hearts out for the person who just beat them in an award.

Because this is not competition. This is the family of Christ. Laughing with those who laugh and mourning with those who mourn. Showing love and grace, not only to the outside world, but to one another. And I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it.

Now tell me, where is your tribe?

Beautiful Scars

We tend to think of scars as ugly, don’t we? They’re reminders of our stupidity, weakness, tragedy, abuse, pain. We may occasionally take pride in one with a great story behind it, but for the most part we hide them in shame.

I know that’s how I’ve often felt about mine. There’s one from disembowelment I’ve always particularly hated. (ok, it was really an ileostomy & reversal 😉). Sometimes I look on it with a sense of pride. Here is proof I can be a warrior! I fought for my life after a premature birth and overcame! But most often, I only see the imperfections. The reminder that I’ve always been small and weak. The fact that I can’t take credit for my scars. After all, I was just a newborn. What did I really do? That’s all down to God, my parents, and the doctors.

But I’m learning that’s where the beauty lies. No battle is won, no scar overcome, by a lone warrior. We need God and each other for true healing. When you can move from ‘this happened to me’ to ‘I survived this’ to ‘God and family saw me through this’ and find pride in that, your scars are no longer ugly imperfections but beautiful reminders.

So today, I’m proudly showing you my beautiful scar.
Now, tell me, brave warriors, what beauty lies behind yours?

Challenge Yourself (And an Ode to a Falcon)

For me, the most challenging form of writing is absolutely poetry. Sure, I can find words that rhyme. But making a cohesive ‘story’ out of them? Then adding in all the meter and rhythm and such? That’s a bit out of my novel-loving wheelhouse. Make it a hiaku? Still too much syllable counting. And freeform is just…weird 😅

I attended The Writer’s Sanctuary’s Ren Faire Conference a couple weeks ago. (Which was a wonderful experience by the way! If you’re a writer looking for good community and solid teachings I highly recommend them) Anyway, when they asked us to write a poem in honor of our guilds, I could have said “Sorry, that’s not my thing,” and let another Falcon take up the torch. After all, this conference was about having fun! But I didn’t.

Why? Because this conference was also about learning and growing, stepping out of your comfort zone a bit. Honing skills you don’t ‘need’ isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I still have no intention to ever become a poet. But I may want to write a story with a prophesy. What if I have kids one day and Doctor Seuss has disappeared from the shelves? Or if magic suddenly breaks through the veil and it’s all music based? I’ll need the skills then!

So I wrote this little ditty. And you know what? I enjoyed it!

Bottom line? Push yourself to look for learning opportunities in areas you’re not comfortable with. You never know when you might need the skills, or what you might end up loving.

Tell me, what challenges you?

Finding the Good in 2020

It’s Thanksgiving here in America and I recon we’re all needing it a bit more than usual this year. 2020 has been awful, and I don’t know anyone who’s come through completely unscathed, but if it’s taught me anything it’s not to take things for granted. It’s reminded me to find something every day to be grateful for, even if it’s just a cup of tea.

So, through all the chaos of a worldwide pandemic, tense election year, and personal catastrophe, here’s my short-list of thankfulness.

10 Things I’m Thankful For in 2020

In no particular order:

  1. The obvious one this year is health. I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t always deal graciously with my health issues. I’m more likely to grumble about keeping track of medicine and refills than I am to stop and thank God for the very same medicine and doctors that make my daily life livable. But this year, I’m just a little more grateful.
  2. The ability to stay in touch with family and friends. Having friends spread out all over the world, this has always been something I’m thankful for. But through the isolation of COVID, I’ve reconnected with many of my closest friends online.
  3. The number of virtual conferences and gatherings that have popped up. While I’m sure this was a blow to those organizing, the virtual nature of 2020 has enabled me to attend a lot that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to. Instead of missing out on some of my favorite things, I got to do extra!
  4. All the extra writing time. Without the work I got done during that initial shutdown, I likely wouldn’t be publishing now. Of course, launch means I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write anything new for quite a while, but I figure it’s worth it 😉
  5. My house and that I have a dad who can fix it. To be honest, buying a house was never on my bucket list. Definitely wasn’t something I planned on doing as a 20-something single girl. But my parents talked me into it when prices dropped so low. And while the process was extremely stressful for me, and repairs continue to be, I’ve been so glad I listened!
  6. That I’ve got a good job with great co-workers. Near the beginning of the year, I was informed that my position was being dissolved due to budget cuts. That was a massive blow! Not only was it my livelihood, it was my dream job. I had good friends there. And it was being taken away. Harder to swallow, it was being taken away through no fault of my own. If I had done something wrong, at least I would know that I deserved it. Then the pandemic came in full swing and I had the added stress of finding a job during work shortages. BUT GOD PROVIDES! Within a couple months, I found a great new job working alongside the wife of one of my former coworkers! It’s been a bumpy ride as COVID continues to restrict the work environment, but we’re coming through just fine.
  7. The Great British Baking Show! Yes, I realize it’s been around for ages. But I’ve just discovered this perfection and it’s become my go-to de-stressor. When I come home too exhausted and drained to get any of my own work done, I’ll curl up on the couch with an episode playing in one tab and Pinterest open in another as I search for corresponding recipes. And maybe one day, I’ll actually try them 😉
  8. Candles! I’m an avid collector of candles, but due to dorm life and other life circumstances, I haven’t been able to use them in nearly a decade. And now I can! They were one of the first things I unpacked after the necessities and I’ve had great fun arranging them in a display with my books. And, of course, burning them every chance I get.
  9. Chai and pretty bookish mugs. Y’all knew this was coming eventually! Honestly, what would life be without a good cup of Chai or Irish Breakfast in a geeky mug while you write on a rainy Saturday?
  10. My church. I don’t say it often enough, but I’m so thankful for my church body and great pastor. I’m proud of the ways we have adapted and the ingenuity put into new modes of outreach. One of my favorites is coloring missions! Since we can’t visit nursing homes like usual this holiday season, we’re sending cards with coloring pages and kind notes. Seriously, how brilliant is that?!

Ok, so that’s my thankfulness list. What are a few things on yours?