April turned out to be a very hard month. The past week in particular. Short version: my grandmother’s battle with cancer is drawing to a close and my own health took a hit.

But through it all, God has been faithful to provide blessings alongside the pain. More time spent with family. Awesome friends willing to do housework when I can’t. A tea party with a lovely group of ladies and a message that was just what I needed that day.

It’s all about perspective, really. And I find when I count my blessings, the trials don’t seem so daunting.

What blessings have you experienced through trials recently?

Go with hope, friends 💛

I Buy Myself Chocolate

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.’

For now, I buy myself chocolate. And that’s OK.

Go with hope, friends 💛

Into the Unknown

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 😉)

  1. 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.
  2. 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!)
  3. 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!
  4. 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?

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💛

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?

Real Rae

This post is going to be a bit different. It’s going to get real and gritty, but hold on. There’s light at the end!

Here you first see me on my way to visit family. I had a wonderful time and felt great. I love showing off this side of myself.

But then you see the side of me I like to hide. The side that battles chronic exhaustion due to various health issues. The side that straight up throws a tantrum (only on occasion) when her alarm goes off. The side who’s one goal is to survive work so she can go sleep the rest of the day. The side who pays for a day or two of fun with up to a week of Complete and Utter Exhaustion Mode, then comes out of it stressing over all the catching up she has to do.

But I think, that’s part of why I have enjoyed working on To Slay a Curse so much. Giselle’s quest to kill Devoron, this curse monster who lives within her mind, whom no one can see but has utter control of her life, has been so cathartic. And the best part is, she doesn’t do it alone. She has friends who stand by her, who show her she’s worth it, who remind her she is strong when she feels so weak.

So, for all my friends out there battling illness (be it physical, mental, or emotional), this is for you. On those days when you are certain you can’t do it. When you feel like your life is meaningless and all you want to do is go home and cry, remember this: you are strong, and you are worth it, and you are loved, and you are never alone. 
God’s got this. So take a breath, take a nap, eat some chocolate, and try again. Your Devoron can be beaten. He is beaten every time you refuse to give up. He is beaten every time you smile through the pain. He is beaten every time you laugh with a friend. So don’t give up: don’t let him win. And I’ll be right there with you, fighting on.