Tuesday, September 19, 2017

God's Plans

Yesterday morning, I felt God clearly place a verse on my mind that I hadn't thought of in awhile—one that I should have been clinging to, especially considering all the trials currently surrounding my family, friends, and community.


Isaiah 55:8 in the ESV reads "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord."

What an amazing verse to keep in mind in the midst of struggles. When our lives don't go according to our plans, keep this verse in mind. First of all, for Christians, "our" life isn't "ours" at all. It belongs to God. That's what it means to surrender completely to Him. To hand God the reigns and say "Okay, Lord, where do You want to go? What do You want to do?"

Secondly, there's also a problem with the other "our" in that sentence. We shouldn't be making our own plans! That's not our job; it's for God to do. I can tell you from plenty of experience that "our" plans mean NOTHING to God. He wildly shakes them up all the time.

"It's a funny thing, how much time we spend planning our lives. We so convince ourselves of what we want to do, that sometimes we don't see what we're meant to do."
-Susan Gregg Gilmore

Humans make plans and think that anything other than those plans are failure. This isn't true! Rather, whatever God leads you to do is what you should do, whether it follows your plans or not. Oftentimes, this trust is incredibly difficult to give. In fact, I myself love to plan. It helps me stay focused and have goals. I'm not saying that all planning is wrong—it just has to be aligned with God's plans for you, and if He decides to change them, then submit. Everything is harder if you don't submit to Him and His plans.

Even if it doesn't seem like it, God's plans are always far superior to our own. He knows the future; He knows what is best for us; He loves us. The God who made the universe, who made you, who made everything knows the number of hairs on your head—He can take care of you. (Luke 12:7) When our plans seem like the best way to go, remember Isaiah 55:8. God's thoughts aren't the same as ours, and we don't know His plans for us or others. No matter your circumstance, I promise you that God is with you. He'll never leave you and He does indeed have a plan for you, even when it doesn't seem clear or like the best route. Trust Him in all things, and let His plans guide you.
~
Update on my friend who was in the accident last Wednesday: Her surgery on Thursday went about as well as the doctors had hoped. Though she still has no feeling in her lower extremities, she does have feeling one inch lower than she did the previous day. She starts therapy soon and will be transferred to a hospital that specializes in spinal chord injuries. Keep praying for a miracle; it already is one that she is alive and has no apparent brain injuries! Thank you for your faithful prayers!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

URGENT: Prayer Request

 

Yesterday evening a friend of mine was in a single vehicle rollover, was ejected and pinned under the truck. She was conscious when the first responders arrived but without feeling to her legs. They flew her to the hospital and discovered that she has a broken back, and possibly some bleeding in her head and bruised lungs. As of now she is about to go into surgery. Please be praying for a miracle. She is an active, horseback riding seventeen-year-old who loves the Lord. This accident has a very real possibility to devastate her plans for life. Please join me in coming to the throne of Christ on behalf of my friend. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sunshine Blogger + Early Writings Tags

Faith Potts from one of my favorite blogs, Stories by Firefly, tagged me for these two tags. Since I hadn't done one in awhile and the questions looked fun, I decided to give them a shot. I, personally, enjoy participating in tags because through them I'm answering questions that wouldn't usually be discussed, and my readers are learning more about me, my preferences, etc. Here we go!


The Sunshine Blogger Tag
1. Do you have favorite fictional families/siblings and who are they?
I really enjoy reading about the relationship between Kyrin, Kaden, and their other siblings in the Ilyon Chronicles. I laugh at how in the midst of such great turmoil they hold to one another, and are ready to risk anything to save each other. It's refreshing to read about how they lift each others spirits.

Additionally, the contrast between Renna and Brandi's personalities (especially in the first two books of the Blades of Acktar) is extremely humorous.

2. If you could reform one villain (book or movie) who would it be?
Okay, so laugh if you will, but I'd have to say that I would have loved it if Darth Vader could have been reformed and actually live as Anakin Skywalker again, instead of just dying. It would be amazing to have him on the rebels' side.

3. If you could work with/be the apprentice of/learn from one historical figure (hero or not) who would it be?
I can think of multiple people present-day, but a historical figure? I would say Paul, but it would take a lot more courage than I have to face everything he did. Another option might be George Muller. It would be incredible to watch how God showed up every time he was in need.

4. Have you ever dreamed (when you were asleep, of course) that you were in a book or movie? If so, which ones?
I have a vague recollection of dreaming I was in Acktar, from The Blades of Acktar, but I can't recall any specifics of the dream. Such a pity . . .

5. What are you favorite kinds of book titles (e.g. one word, a reference, symbolism, with a certain word in them...)?
Short, catchy titles are my preference, but symbolism can also be appealing if it is done well. In book series, all the books should have a similar setup for the title. That's not opinion—it's fact. :)

6. If you could be the "sidekick" of one fictional character, who would it be?
Hands down Leith Torren from, once again, The Blades of Acktar. He is the coolest book character to ever exist. To tag along with him would be incredible!

7. If you were a superhero, what would be your power?
I ask this question with my friends all the time, and I think I have a different answer every time. Invisibility or flying would be amazing (or some form of stealth), but I might prefer to read minds at my discretion.

8. If you entered a fictional world, what is the worst thing that could happen to you?
Well, I suppose it would be the same as in this world—dying. Or maybe being captured and tortured and then dying. That would be worse.

9. What kinds of book covers do you like?
I tend to gravitate toward covers with a single graphic than ones with collages. Occasionally, it's fun to have something from a scene in the book on the cover, because I enjoy reaching that spot and suddenly realizing that's what's on the cover. And, like with book titles, the covers in a series should have a similar setup. Lastly, the titles should be in a fancy but still easily readable font.

10. Which fictional character would you want as your sidekick?
Considering that I would be the sidekick to most of the characters I'd want to hang out with, I can't really answer this question. Book characters are far too incredible to be the sidekick to an average girl like me. XD

11. What fictional character would you want as your arch-nemesis?
I'm going to cap off this portion of the tag with a final reference to my favorite series once again. Bet you can't guess what my answer is going to be. If you said the evil King Respen from the Blades of Acktar, that would be correct. Although I don't totally understand why I would want an enemy . . .

That was fun. :) To all you who haven't read the Blades of Acktar, I hope you were still able to enjoy my answers. To those of you who have read it, I'm sure you agree with my answers. :) (Faith, I think I have you beat with TBoA references. XD)

Now, onward with Part 2!


The Early Writings Tag
1. What horrendous book did you write as a child? 
Me?? Write something horrendous? *acts offended* Okay, okay. Truthfully, far more than I can count. While I never finished a book, I have lots of stories I could share. Three or four years back, I finally stopping writing one at about 20K. It definitely qualifies as "horrendous". *cringes* Just looking back over parts of it is sending shudders up my spine.

It is a story very typical of me back then. The main character is a young teenage girl, Amber, just going into high school. From the first page the story is filled with horses, *gasps in shock* lots of attitude, and some depression. XD No wonder I only got to 20K.

2. What did you learn from it?
Oooh, lots of things . . .
  • For instance, don't write a story that is basically about you! A good author can take a situation they've never been in and make it perfectly realistic.
  • Speaking of realistic, stories NEED a logical plot. If you don't, it won't hold the reader's attention. (And don't copy the plot of a book you've read—this story made me guilty of that.)
  • Your main character needs to be believable.
  • Don't have too many characters. Readers don't like stories when they have to work to remember who is who. Have simple names and a few key characters.
  • Reading back over what you write helps you identify areas that need work and improvement.
  • Outlining of some form is a must to keep track of plot, characters, etc.
Here's a snippet from chapter two. It's totally unedited and I chose to leave it that way so you could get an accurate picture of my writing style back then. (I can't believe I was proud of this at the time I wrote it!) Try to enjoy. :)
~


. . . Once Amber entered the barn she was greeted by a chorus of excited neighs. Her first stop was to scratch her horses, Willow and Dusty, on the forehead. “Hello, my dears.” She then grabbed several treats and put them in her other pocket and the halter and bridle. “Hmm. I think that I'll ride bareback today.”

She first haltered Dusty, then Willow. Willow she tied to the railing while she lunged Dusty. After several minutes of walk, then ever so little trot, Amber cued Dusty to stop and come to her. Palming a treat, Amber sighed as she thought over all the enjoyment that she had had with Dusty before she injured her leg. “Oh, Dusty. Why'd you have to go and bust up your leg? We had so much fun galloping through the field.”

After tying Dusty to the rail, Amber turned her attention to Willow and began their warmup routine on the ground. “Now, you had better be good today. I'm tired of being bucked off.” After only a little walk and trot, Amber signaled Willow into a canter. “Easy girl,” Amber called as Willow tossed her head. Little by little, Willow dropped into a trot again as if thinking, “If I slowly move down a gait, maybe she won't notice. It's too much work to canter.”

“No, Willow. I told you to canter. And I mean it!” Eventually the head tossing stopped and Amber slipped the bit into Willow's mouth. “That's one thing that you are good at, girl.” However, when Amber stood at Willow's left side to mount, Willow kept sidestepping and moving away. “C'mon Willow. Let me mount. You're acting just like the Arabian that you are. Well, Mom and Dad warned me about this even before I got you. Stand still, will you!”

Eventually Amber was astride Willow with Dusty's lead in her hand as the threesome walked toward the gate that led into the field. Nearly a half hour later they returned cantering to the barn were both horses were untacked, brushed down, fed, and watered. Then Amber turned out each of the other horses in the barn into two separate paddocks except for Hank, who she gave his medication to and cleaned his severe wound on his side from being kicked. She then headed into the house to take a quick shower before dinner.

After her shower, Amber darted into the dining room just in time to grab Jonathon's hand on her left and Brian's on her right. “So glad you could join us, Amber” Alex snickered from across the table.

“That's enough, children. Let's say grace.” Dad calmly interrupted the coming squabble.
 
~

I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about me, my favorite books, and my early writing. For me, this has been an encouragement to see how much my writing has improved over the last few years. Thanks for reading, and thank you once again, Faith, for the tag!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

God's Billboard

Hello, friends! I'm sure many of you have at some point or another in church, etc., thought about who you are in Christ. That could be a whole other set of posts, but do you realize the influence you have on others around you as a Christian? Christians claim to have an almighty God, have access to His throne, and have Him living inside of us. No pressure, but those are a lot of reasons for Christians to be different from the world.


When I recently spent a week at Life Camp, a speaker mentioned an analogy how Christians are God's billboard. The image stuck with me, and I immediately saw a blog post in it. If you think about it, what is the purpose of a billboard? It promotes something. It shows the best part of a product and makes it appealing. It attracts people to the restaurant, etc. It makes people want whatever is featured.

If you're driving down the highway and see a poorly done billboard for a restaurant, with maybe a grainy picture and hard-to-read lettering, the chances are that your first impressions of the place aren't going to be great. You'll likely pass it by and find some other place to eat. Now, the restaurant itself might serve amazing food at fantastic prices, but you won't know if you don't visit it.

An attractive billboard, however, is much more likely to draw your attention—followed by your business. Isn't that exactly what we as Christians are supposed to be? When people know you are a Christian, but you act just like the rest of the world, why would they look into Christianity? Now, if you are different—a light in the darkness—they will eventually want to see what makes you that way. Even if people don't know you are a Christian, when they see you cheerfully helping a grouchy neighbor, or stopping to fix a stranger's flat tire, or handing someone the money he dropped and didn't notice, or forgiving someone who hurt you, or remaining calm and trusting God in a bad situation, they will wonder what makes you so different. They will want what you have.

Christians are God's billboard. Be a good witness; you never know when someone's watching. Most of all, you know that God is always there. Do your best to be a good billboard. Are you acting like you have the only all-powerful God living inside of you?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Summer Has Come . . . and Gone

*crickets*

Well, hello everyone! You may or may not have noticed my extended and unplanned absence from the blogging world. Rest assured that I have not forgotten about all of you, my wonderful followers! I'm dropping by today to recap my summer and attempt to justify my blog hiatus. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure how much blogging I'll be able to accomplish in the coming seasons, but I truly hope that I'm able to post more frequently. I still plan on posting my blog birthday Q&A which has been mostly written for a month, just not finalized. For now, and without further ado, here is a taste of my summer months:


JUNE
Toward the beginning of the month, I was briefly reunited with my best friend from first and second grade. It was enjoyable to see her and catch up a bit. My grandparents came to visit one day, and we all were blessed to see one another.

I finished my sophomore year of high school midway through the June, and after that my family and I left on vacation to Lone Pine at the base of Mount Whitney, the same location where I attended the movie-making camp last November. I was relieved to finally have some time to relax and unwind after a hectic last month of school. We did a lot of sight-seeing, hiking in 110 degree weather, photographing, fossil hunting, and—of course—reading. :)

Horseshoe Meadows outside of Lone Pine. About 10,000 ft.
A creek near where we stayed while in Lone Pine.
The Alabama Hills where many famous westerns have been filmed.
The following week we spent focusing on cleaning the house, going through papers that have stacked up, etc. Near the end of June I had a marvelous time at my best friend's eighteenth birthday party. (Happy Birthday!!!)

JULY
The first week of July found me counseling at a Christian camp for kids aged 7-13. For five days I had a great cabin of nine and ten year old girls. I came back exhausted with lots of stories from my second time counseling. It was a fabulous week!

From there I had one day at home before I was whisked away with my sister to spend several days visiting my grandparents in Pacific Grove. The weather was lovely, (especially compared to the extreme heat back home) and we were able to participate in several fun activities. Whether playing in the sand, taking selfies, talking with my grandparents, going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, or on a whale watching boat, I enjoyed my time immensely!
Whale watching. :)

The flag off the back of the boat.

Most of July was jam-packed with many smaller activities, so that looking back now I'm seeing that I was away from the house much more than I was home all summer; this has probably been the first year I've been away from my family this much in a summer. Of course, all the activities were good ones, like finally getting to go to the beach with my best friend and that family. (I had the best time! It was the first real time I'd gone to the beach all summer.)
Panorama of the beach I went to
To cap off my month, my family and I went back to my grandparents' and hiked around Jack's Peak. Then my parents went home and my sister and I spent a few more days there finding treasures at garage sales (I got a really nice tri-pod for a dollar!) and watching fireworks (it was my sister's first time seeing real ones).
The view of Monterey from Jack's Peak
My family and I on the trail
That's me. :) Always with my camera.
This was the first time I tried the fireworks setting on my camera.

AUGUST
Day one of August brought with it a new experience for my sister and me. We rode both our horses down to a neighbor's arena and, as much as I enjoy riding in open areas, the confined space gave us so much freedom. I absolutely loved our time together and with the horses out in the middle of God's beautiful creation!
I'm riding Baylie, my sister is on Dream.
Then . . . my mom made the "dangerous" mistake of leaving to go visit her family in Los Angeles. That left my dad and his crazy awesome ideas alone with my sister and me who pretty much go along with his insane ideas. Thus was born the newest addition to my family's collection of home movies. We planned and filmed a ten-minute western complete with Indiana Jones music, horses, explosions, and chase scenes. It is truly . . . epic. And didn't have to leave our property to create it. Hours upon hours were spent with planning, filming (in trenchcoats and 100 degree weather), and editing. We had it finished by the time my mom got back and surprised her with it. She decided to never leave us home alone again. :) It was such a fun time!
Lights . . . camera . . . action!
The day after my mom returned, my sister and I left again, this time for LIFE Camp! It is always one of the top highlights of my year, and this week at camp was no exception! I was part of the high school group which did additional amazing activities and had fantastic classes that I thrived on. We studied the incarnation of Jesus Christ, in addition to how we can share our own testimonies to bring others to know God. The activities included watching The Nativity, painting Christmas sweaters, and making gingerbread houses. (Guess the theme—Christmas. :P) Non-Christmas related activities were traveling to the beach with the other high schoolers and best of all, just hanging out with my amazing friends. My sister and I recreated the Battle of Wits scene from the Princess Bride for the talent show. I was Westley and she was Vizzini. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to watch the movie! :) My cabin became the prank cabin of camp, and that was incredibly fun. I already can't wait for next year!
The Battle of Wits from the Princess Bride
Being in the high school group, I only got about five hours of sleep a night, (part of that was because the latest I got up was 5:30 and we didn't go to bed until around midnight) so I came home utterly exhausted. Two days later I began my junior year of high school. Yes, my junior year. I can't believe I started the second half of my high school years. So far, school has been going well. This semester, I'm taking Physics, PreCalculus with Trigonometry, American Literature, and studying worldviews and world religions. I am truly looking forward to the rest of this semester. I have a feeling it's going to go great!
 ~
And that brings you up to date! Now maybe you'll understand why my blog has fallen to the wayside over the last few months. I truly hope that I'll be able to get some more posted in the coming weeks. Stay tuned, and thank you for sticking with me through my crazy busy life! God bless you all!
Bethany

P.S. I updated my both my written profile as well as my profile picture. Let me know your thoughts!

I just recently made this from a picture my sister took.

I am an aspiring teen writer with enough ideas alone to fill volumes. I enjoy living in the country where I have many scenes to photograph and hardly a car passes all day. I love reading and blogging. Interacting with horses is another hobby. My newest interests include screenwriting, cinematography, and making movies as well as operating my amateur radio. I adore The Princess Bride, and if you don't that's truly INCONCEIVABLE! My imagination is one of my best qualities, and I'm definitely an introvert.

Most importantly, I seek to honor God in everything I do, say, think, and write. Thanks for stopping by and I'd love to have you join my wonderful group of followers! You all mean the world to me!

~

Another note: An idea I've been mulling over in my extended absence is possibly doing some posts regarding defending the Christian faith. It's a subject I've studied and my family is passionate about. The Bible says to be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is within us, and I would love to share some of my knowledge with you. The Bible is true—from Genesis 1:1 to the end of Revelation—and there is evidence. It's not a blind faith. Please let me know your thoughts. I'd enjoy knowing who is interested, and if you have any specific areas that you would like more information on. Thank you!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

A Question of Courage: Cover Reveal

Yes, I know. Two book related posts back to back. What in the world? I just couldn't restrain myself from supporting these rising author friends of mine. I've done several posts featuring Jesseca Wheaton's books—I recommend them all! To give you an idea, I've beta read multiple of Jesseca's books and written the back cover copy for her first two novels:
The Silent Blade
A Question of Honor


Now, she is releasing the cover for her next historical fiction World War II novel, A Question of Courage, Book Two in her series, Questions of War. I'm so excited for you, Jesseca! Congratulations!

A Question of Courage doesn't release until some time in October, but she is sharing her cover with the world today! Now, be prepared to be amazed . . .


Tada! It's lovely, Jesseca! Thank you for sharing this with us.

~Synopsis~
A man. A decision. A destiny.

Rafe Sullivan never imagined the war would come to his doorstep. But when Pearl Harbor is attacked and America's focus suddenly shifts to the pacific, he finds he can't ignore the problem anymore.
Leaving the life he loves behind, he joins up to do what he does best. Fly.
Yet, nothing could have prepared him for the horrors of war, and the struggle that is going on in his own heart. As an outstanding navy pilot, he is stationed on one of the few Pacific carriers. But could God be calling him to step out in faith, and go beyond the call of duty?

Lily Wilson gives her all to help the hurting community around her. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the war is brought home to many American families. And as a nurse, she longs to be able to relive some of the suffering. Yet, her own grief is still fresh in her heart, and though she's made the decision to get on with her life, she can't seem to leave the past behind. When healing at last comes, the guard she placed around her heart slowly begins to crumble.
But when she receives the news she hoped she would never again hear, can she trust that God’s plan is always right?

Arthur Warrington saw the Navy as an escape from the life he left behind. And it seems good for him. He is able to forge new friendships and distance himself from his past. But when his best friend makes a decision that rocks his world, he is left grappling with the question: what is true courage?

Three lives. One War. And a search for the Courage to go on.

You can add A Question of Courage on Goodreads by clicking HERE.

~About the Author~
Jesseca is a 19-year old daughter, sister, and a child of God. Her days are spent reading, cooking, spending time with siblings, or playing piano. And writing, of course! At an early age words fascinated her, and her love for the printed page has only grown. She lives with her parents and seven siblings in the sunny state of Kansas, and she’s convinced there’s no place like home. Though, being in the sky is pretty awesome, too.

You can find Jesseca on her website, blog, Amazon, GooglePlus, Pinterest, and Instagram, in addition to Goodreads. (See link above in the synopsis.)

I'm looking forward to October! Here's a toast to Miss Wheaton—for many more marvelous stories!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Dandelion Dust: Blog Tour

I'm back with another blog tour! Faith Potts, a friend of mine who has followed my blog for years and I've followed hers since the beginning, is releasing her debut novella today, Dandelion Dust! I thought that this post was good timing considering my previous post about writing clean books.


For those of you who enjoy sweet, clean Christian romances, I highly recommend this. I had the privilege of reading it previous to its release—and read it I did! I finished this delightful tale in a single day.

I'm truly amazed by the writing talent Faith possesses. For being her debut, Dandelion Dust is a work of art. Her characters are real to the point of being just as good as the best characters I've read from more experienced authors. The plot is logical, entertaining, and captivating, while also at times heartbreaking. *Warning: Spoiler Ahead*
But if you only want to spend your time on stories with happy endings, Dandelion Dust will still appeal to your fancies! For the record, I only like (and thus only recommend) books with good endings. *end spoiler*

From first to last word, I fell in love with Faith's story. I know that I say that for many books, but the way I see it, there are a multitude that I don't say that about. Faith takes her characters through trials that test their faith and help them come back stronger. As they are forced to rely on God and trust His plan, they find that He takes care of them even in the midst of seemingly hopeless situations. This modern-day novella is truly an enjoyable read as it inspires and encourages. While tugging on the emotions of any reader, Dandelion Dust expertly weaves simple threads into a well-designed masterpiece. Marvelous job, Faith!

Here is the synopsis for Dandelion Dust:
Like a speck of dandelion dust riding the tides of a prairie wind, life is fleeting. Though I never realized just how fragile it was until that day . . .
Charity always had a dream. It was simple, really. Find a guy, fall in love, and get married.
The day she met Ryder, Charity knew he was the man God had chosen for her. But she never expected their relationship to be tested and tried through the fires of a freak accident. Suddenly, her world is thrown into chaos, and the bleak, white walls and sterile smells of a city hospital fill every spare minute. And then there comes the dreaded news. It was likely Ryder would never make it out of the hospital bed.
As her carefully laid plans for the future come crashing down around her and the sun seems to set on her dreams, can Charity still find hope in the dark of night?
Like a dandelion, life is beautiful. But treasure every moment. . . for one day, the flower will be gone.
*sniff, sniff* Isn't it beautiful? It is a very accurate description of the story, so if this sounds intriguing, you will certainly enjoy it!

Here is Faith's author bio. You can find her writing blog, Stories By Firefly, by clicking on the name, and her "faith" blog, Chosen Vessels, by doing the same. She's also on Goodreads, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Faith Potts is a teenage writer, living with her family and beloved yellow labs in the southeastern US. When she's not writing stories, consuming large amounts of coffee, reading books, or creating pottery, she can be found laughing harder than is healthy, daydreaming, and – of course – blowing dandelions.
Now, to purchase your copy of Dandelion Dust, click HERE. There is also a giveaway for two paperback copies going on until tonight. You can enter below, or by clicking on THIS LINK.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for reading, my friends! Be sure to support Faith in her venture to write clean Christian fiction! You won't be disappointed with Dandelion Dust! Great work, Faith! So proud of you!

I'll be back tomorrow with a cover reveal for another author friend, Jesseca Wheaton, whose books I've featured before on here. Stay tuned! :)

Monday, June 26, 2017

#RebelliousWriting

If you are a writer, you'll love this post.
If you are a reader, you'll be ecstatic.
If you are a Christian, you'll be cheering.
If you are a friend, then I'm pretty sure you are at least one of the three above and will enjoy this. :)


No matter who you are, today I'm giving you a chance to take a stand. I'm putting before you a call to action. The background of this post goes something like this:

A few months back, I'd started thinking about all the junk in books, movies, etc. Then, a fellow blogger started the #RebelliousWriting movement. Many bloggers are joining. For writers, it's a plea to stop writing bad language, gruesome or inappropriate scenes, and to keep books clean. I'm also inviting readers to join by not supporting books with such unnecessary items, but to promote good books and warn people from the bad ones.

Who wants to sit down with the expectation of a good read and find their minds filled with unwanted things? I don't, and I'd reckon you don't either. So stand up and do your part. Whether you are an adult or teen, this applies to YOU. Don't sit back any longer and allow this.

I know that rebellion is often frowned upon, but this is one revolution that I have wholeheartedly dived into. I believe that rebellion can be used as my fundamental right for positive change in America. The United States Constitution guarantees my right to let my voice be heard.

The core of this is not against books in general; I'm personally rebelling against any and all books/movies/television/advertising/social media/news reports/cartoons/packaging/etc. that don't honor God. The Bible says in Philippians to keep your mind focused on things that are lovely, pure, praiseworthy, true, just, honorable, and of good report. That's the rebellion I'm joining. As Christians we shouldn't be allowing our minds to focus on unpleasantness. I also encourage you who have friends that engage in this sort of expression to show them another path. Let them see that they don't need this in order to enjoy themselves.

Come writers!
Come readers!
Come Christians!

Rebel with me today against entertainment and promotions that don't comply with Philippians 4:8 (above). Won't you join me?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Blogging Anniversary // Q&A


July 16 is A Great God and Good Cocoa's fourth birthday! I've thrown around multiple ideas to celebrate, and settled on doing a Q&A session. I considered making it into a vlog (a post in the form of a video), but due to limited internet I'm going to keep it all text. Maybe next time. :) Thank you everyone who gave me suggestions for celebrating four happy years!

Now, your part in this is to ask questions! In the comments you may ask up to six questions. (No more than that please.) They can be about anything from my blogging to my writing to my personal life to my thoughts on certain spiritual topics. I don't think I need to say this, but of course, all questions need to be kept “rated G”. Nothing beyond that. Thanks. Whether you know me in person or we've just recently met through our blogs, you can learn a few new things about me.

So what have you been wondering about me? Now's your chance to ask and I'll answer in a post on July 16! (Please ask all questions by July 13.) I'm looking forward to answering your queries!


Note: I reserve the right to not answer any specific question without giving a reason.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Dear God, Where Have You Been?

I was recently talking with a friend who expressed that she didn't “feel” God. I've felt that way before. I've wondered why at times I don't feel His presence or have the desire to know Him more. I've questioned everything about Him. But the truth is that even when we don't “feel” God, He's still there. Better yet, He's not just somewhere in heaven—for Christians, He's inside of us! It's a shockingly amazing reality.


So why don't we always feel Him if He truly is so close? If our best friend was standing beside us, we would be aware that s(he) was there. Even further, we would be excited that s(he) was present! Why isn't it the same with God?

If you are feeling this way, my first question is “Have you been reading your Bible lately?” God wrote each of us (Christians and non-Christians) an awesome love note. But are we taking the time to read it? The analogy I used with my friend is as follows:

If your boyfriend wrote you a letter, but you didn't read it, and he if sent you texts but you never replied, and if he left you messages on your phone but you never listened to them, and if he tried to talk to you but you didn't listen, how much of a relationship would that be?

Friendships go both ways. God has written you a letter, have you read it? He's constantly around you, are you looking for Him? In creation? In every breath you take? Every good and perfect gift is from God who never changes. (James 1:17) Even if we entirely turn our backs on Him, He still gives us breath. He blesses us with beauty around us and people who love us. He takes care of us.

He's always there. Are you looking?

I'm not saying that there aren't times when strong Christians who are looking for God and reading their Bibles don't struggle with this question. It's a daily fight to remember the reality that Immanuel—God is with us. There are times when the battle is stronger than others. Every Christian has seasons in their life. Times when everything is going well, and times when it feels the world is crashing down around us. It's easier to say “don't doubt God” than it is to live out, but it is nonetheless still true. God is still God—even in our trials. He is still with us, and that's the biggest blessing of all. Doesn't it take faith to trust this? Yes. But the Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)

I recently read a quote in Outrageous Courage: What God Can Do with Raw Obedience and Radial Faith that further explains this. After quoting Psalm 23, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me," the author writes:

Even Jesus, in his perfect obedience, cried, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?" But then you discover that it is in the dark valley that the God of the impossible shows up to protect you, break the prison chains, make you fireproof and even raise you from the dead. Nothing fuels your passion for trusting and obeying God like a walk through the dark. (Vallotton, 2013)*

Join me in remembering this. Tack up a paper on your wall that reads “Immanuel—God with us”. Take time to look at the beauty in creation and remember that He made it all. The God who created all things is living inside of you! Fill your lungs with air and thank Him. Count your blessings—there are always some. Don't forget the marvelous truth that GOD IS ALWAYS WITH US. Nothing will ever change that. And He will always walk with you through the difficulties that you are facing.


*Vallotton, Kris and J. Vallotton. 2013. Outrageous Courage: What God Can Do with Raw Obedience and Radial Faith, Bloomington, MN: Chosen Books, 61.