It’s March 25th, and for Tolkienites everywhere that means a day of hope fulfilled! The day Sauron was defeated. And the first day of the Gondorian New Year, as proclaimed by the returned King.
There’s no denying our world lies under Shadow. We still await the return of our King who will vanquish the Dark Lord and set all to right. Yet we are now in the thick of it. Besieged at Minas Tirith. Beleagured at the Black Gate.
It’s times like these we need story most. The best stories teach us that there’s still good to be found in a broken world. That ordinary folk can make a difference. That no matter how much bad has happened, at the end of all things good will win.
A great privilege and a heavy burden. But not one that must be born alone. As Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel had one another, surround yourself with others who understand your struggle. As Frodo had Sam, find yourself that friend who may not be able to share in your specific burden, but will carry you when you can no longer carry yourself.
But above all, no matter how many chances you have of turning back, don’t. This world needs you.
Love is in the air. Diamonds are on sale. Couples are making plans…. And the rest of us are over here cracking Singles’ Awareness jokes 😂
But this Valentines’, I’d like to take a moment to point out that singleness isn’t a curse. That love comes in many forms. And being single doesn’t have to translate as ‘Forever Alone,’ or ‘Incomplete,’ or even simply ‘Career Focused.’
I get the struggle that mindset brings! I get feeling lonely and unwanted. I get watching all your friends pair up and aching to have that too. I always thought I’d be in the stay-at-home-mom club by now.
But clearly God has another plan for my life. And I’ve been learning the past several years how to be ok with that. It really boils down to my focus. I can choose to sit on the couch binging rom-coms and feeling sorry for myself. Or I can spend my time investing in the relationships I do have. With friends. With family. And ultimately with God, the only one who can truly complete me.
And hey, if He entrusts me with a husband and kids somewhere down the road? I’ll take it and praise him! But I’m not going to wait for the blessing I expect or demand before doing so. I refuse to make my life a holding pattern while waiting for ‘something better.’
Well, it’s another new year! Full of exciting possibilities and intimidating unknowns.
I always go through this awkward caught-between period at the start of a year. NGL, I spent, like, the first two weeks of January in denial that 2022 was over. Then dove headfirst into making PLANS! Because obviously, a plan magically forces the possibilities to solidify and unknowns to materialize. Riiight?
Am I weird? Maybe. But I’m certain I’m not alone on this one. So here are my top three tips for when the possibilities and unknowns collide. (Aside from lists and color coded calendars. That’s a given for any situation 😉)
Foremost should be prayer. I say ‘should’, cause I’m honestly not great about following through on this one 😅 It’s something I absolutely need to work on. But I have found when I go to God first and ask his peace and guidance in the situation I’m less likely to spiral. The path may not clear immediately and unknowns still loom. But I’m much better prepared to handle them.
Center in the familiar. When overwhelm comes knocking, take a step back and enjoy a small comfort activity. For me that’s often cozy blankets in front of the tree (Yes, it’s still up.), tea in fancy china (What’s the point of pretty things if they hide in a cupboard forever?), or a bath (because I can have those now!)
Take baby steps. I get it, our society values multitasking and the pressure to get it all sorted now is real. But maybe you don’t need to run three races at once. There’s a lot to be said for the quality focus brings. Choose one attainable goal and take small achievable steps to reach it. Then move on the the next one. You’ll still reach those finish lines, I promise!
Bonus! Lean on others. We were not made to do life alone. Excited about something? Share it with a friend and ask to take part in their joy as well. Worried or unsure how to handle a situation. Go you a trusted mentor for help. Good crit partners are valuable for more than a manuscript 😉
What’s one thing you’re excited for and one thing that intimidates you in this coming year?
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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
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?
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?
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.