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!