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Putting Holes in the Darkness

I recently read the most beautiful story about Robert Louis Stevenson.

One night, when Robert Louis Stevenson was a small boy, his nanny called him to come to bed. Oblivious to her summons, he was staring at something outside his nursery window. The nanny walked over, stood at his shoulder, and inquired patiently, “Robert, what are you looking at?”

The little boy, without taking his eyes away from the window, exclaimed in wonder as he pointed to the lamplighter who was lighting the streetlamps, “Look, Nanny! That man is putting holes in the darkness!”

You and I may not be able to change the world, but surely each of us can put a hole in the darkness!

The Joy of My Heart, Anne Graham Lotz

As soon as I read this story, I started thinking back on all of the remarkable books I’ve read over the last few years by my fellow authors and how much their stories matter.

In Anelthalien and Earth Quaking, H.A. Pruitt invites us into a world that is altogether different, where the characters reflect our own struggles and strengths and unexpectedly remind us that no part of our story can erase the purpose that God has uniquely prepared for us.

Whether you’re reading The Cottonwood Chronicles, Peregrine, or Astrid and the Marble Tower, Erica Richardson’s books are full of stunning and much-needed reminders that you never go unnoticed or unseen by God, no matter how small, insignificant, or different you might feel.

Lisa Howeler’s books, like A New Beginning or The Farmer’s Daughter, remind us that grace is real and that the insecurities we feel and the mistakes we make don’t disqualify us from receiving it.

M.H. Elrich’s Daughters of Tamnarae series reassures us that our worth is set in stone and showcases the delight God takes in weaving us into His grand story of love and redemption.

The first book in the Hope on the High Seas series, Free by Careena Campbell, reminds each reader who picks it up that pure faith, though it might be scoffed at, is true strength, and that the more we walk in step with God, the more fully we’ll get to know Him and the hope He offers.

Effie Joe Stock’s books, like Child of the Dragon Prophecy or Aphotic Love, confront the most intense emotions with a courage and boldness that can’t help but inspire her readers. Each page is a reminder that, just like her characters, you are brave enough to experience anger, grief, and pain without being defeated by them.

In Starganauts, C.E. Stone takes readers on a journey through the most crushing grief and uncertainty and displays God’s faithfulness in the midst of it. The whole story is a beautiful reminder that hope is possible even in the most intense battle and that victory and joy are waiting on the other side of it.

There are so many more authors and stories that have inspired me than I have room to share in one post, but I am so grateful for the chance to experience each and every one of these stories.

With every word you type, you are all putting holes in the darkness, reminding us how fragile the night really is when it comes up against God’s radiance.

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You can check out all of these wonderful stories at the links above! If you have any book recommendations, share them below. I’m always looking for an excuse to add another bookshelf to my library 🙂

Alexandria

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Adventures in Junk Journaling!

For the past few months, I’ve been exploring the world of junk journaling, and it’s become one of my favorite creative projects! I thought it would be fun to share my progress 🙂

One of the things I love about junk journaling is the way it takes items that people might otherwise consider to be trash.

Things like torn paper, old cardboard, bits of twine or lace.

Things that people take one look at and think, “Unusable. Past the point of usefulness or worth.”

These broken things become part of a bigger piece of art, and suddenly, they’re striking and beautiful and inspiring.

The more time I’ve spent making this junk journal, the more I’ve realized how the process mirrors God’s careful fashioning of us.

He takes these broken pieces that make up our lives, unafraid of their sharper edges, and He remakes them into something radiant and new.

Suddenly, we’re beautiful. Suddenly, we’re part of a bigger, God-fashioned work of art, and we get to see how those pieces we thought were useless come together to make the artwork precisely what it was meant to be all along.

When I discovered this craft, I never anticipated the way God would use it to help me know Him better, but I am so grateful He did.

What’s something unexpected that God’s shown you lately?

I’m heading back to junk journaling and writing for now, but I’ll be back here on Friday to share a writing update and my review of Starganauts by C.E. Stone!

Alexandria

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The Narrow Road of the Writing Journey

This morning, I sat still and listened.

That probably doesn’t sound too stupendous, does it? For me, it was a major victory. Over the last few months, I have fallen into the habit of reaching for my phone first thing in the morning. I check my email, look at the news, scroll for a long time on social media, check my email again, and by the end of this cycle, I’m left feeling exhausted and depleted before I ever get out of bed.

But this unhealthy habit also had another, unexpected (except in hindsight) consequence. I’ve written before about my struggle with discontentment and comparison. Naturally, spending my time on social media first thing gave me a full dose of both of those things, but I didn’t really realize it. While I was scrolling, I wasn’t actively thinking discontent thoughts, but that exhaustion that I was feeling afterwards should have been my first clue that that’s exactly what was going on.

I would go on with my day, get my writing done, and then feel so stymied, so lacking in passion or enthusiasm. There were things to do, but the energy just wasn’t there to do them. Have you ever been in a space like this?

Slowly but surely, I was caught up in thoughts that were so defeating. Things weren’t happening in the way that I hoped and the things that were happening, weren’t playing out in the specific way I thought they would.

All of this discontent was stewing, until, eventually, it turned into doubt. I began questioning if I were really meant to write, to start a publishing company. I wondered if all of this was really going to work out, or if I hadn’t heard God right all this time.

This isn’t exactly unusual in the writing journey, though, is it?

It’s a narrow road we tread. Sometimes, that road feels like a winding, twisting one. It disappears into a dark valley where we can’t see the next step forward. We’re stumbling and nothing seems straightforward or clear.

Other times, the road feels like a small path up a mountain. It leads you along a cliff edge, but it’s exhilarating and exciting, and the view at the end makes the peril and uncertainty so worth it.

I feel like I just came out of the valley this morning.

I sat down with my coffee, my phone remained far from my hands, and I spent time listening to the voice of my Savior. He led me to Psalm 23, and He reassured my long-exhausted heart that He sees what I don’t. He sees how all of this works out, how all of this is possible. He reminded me that He created me to be a writer, and He did it for a reason.

And we need reminders like this all the time, don’t we? We need reminders that we’re not crazy. That we were hand-crafted for this narrow road, to travel it with Him, and trust Him with the outcome.

So, here’s your reminder, my fellow word-slinging friend. You were made for this writing journey. You were given words that matter, and no moment of doubt, negative review, or roadblock can take that away from you.

We’ll take the narrow road of the writing journey together and follow our Creator’s lead. The view at the end is going to be breathtaking, isn’t it? 🙂

Alexandria

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“My Heart Is Steadfast.”

Do you ever struggle to trust that God is working things out for good?

This morning, I was reading Psalms 57 and 61, and I realized that, lately, my answer to that question has been a resounding, “Yes.” Sounds bad, right? But it’s true. Logically, I know that God is trustworthy, but that knowledge hasn’t necessarily been reflected in my thoughts or actions.

I see photos of people getting married or having children, and discontentment stabs me. I wonder why it hasn’t happened for me.

I get caught up in numbers and likes, and I forget that feeling seen or unseen by people doesn’t define or determine my worth. I forget that God is more than enough.

And God knows all this about me. He knows where my thoughts tend to go. He knows how the enemy attacks me. He knows all the ins and outs of you, too.

He knows us so intimately and cares for us so carefully. I had forgotten that. He used Psalm 61 to remind me.

I call to You as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.”

Psalm 61:2-3

I’ve read those verses before, but they held my attention this morning, more than they ever have before.

They reminded me of how close God is.

Of how trustworthy He is.

Of how, even when I don’t understand His timing or why certain things are happening (or not happening), I can take a deep breath and know He is right there next to me. And that’s enough. That’s all I actually need.

Instead of drowning in doubt, discontentment, or plain, old impatience, I can echo David’s words in Psalm 57.

My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast.”

Psalm 57:7

This is a heart space worthy of staying in, a space where we stop allowing circumstances to diminish or derail us, a space where God comes so, so close, and stays.

God used these verses to light up some dark places in my heart, and I’m confident He will do the same for you. What has He been teaching you lately?

Now, I’m off to brew coffee and befriend some (fictional) dragons.

Alexandria

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No Rain, No Flowers

Can I be honest?

Sometimes, it’s hard to know how to begin posts like this. Posts written in the hopes of encouraging someone who reads it. Of offering a little light in the midst of lousy circumstances.

It’s hard because I’m still learning how to navigate discouragement and grief myself, and I don’t want to come across as having it all figured out.

Spoiler: I don’t.

Still, God’s been teaching me so much recently, and it feels wrong to keep it to myself. So, here goes.

The last several weeks have been, in a word, awful. Don’t get me wrong. Good things have still been happening in the midst of it all, but, for the most part, it’s seemed like everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. Know the feeling?

A friend recently asked me how they could be praying for me and my family. My first thought was that if she had two hours to listen, I might be able to scratch the surface. I told her that, lately, I felt like it was just one thing after another, and I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water.

I still feel like that some days.

And then two things happened, both small, but unexpectedly powerful.

I found myself sitting in Psalm 34, clinging to verse 18, in particular.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18

This verse is so familiar. I’ve read it a million times. But this time, it hit different. All of a sudden, this was a promise I could feel the weight and shape of, and it became my life preserver out at sea.

Then, on a day when I was feeling particularly exhausted, my dad bought my mom flowers, and she kindly surprised me with a few flowers from her bouquet.

I set the flowers on my windowsill, and immediately heard God whisper, “No rain, no flowers.”

Sometimes, when I hear God, I don’t immediately understand what He’s getting at, but this time, I did.

That flood of lousy circumstances? They provided fertile ground for God to show off His faithfulness. They created the opportunity for my reliance on God to grow. If anything has been apparent the last month, it’s that I’m not in control.

But every day of these recent weeks has been an invitation to rest in the One who is.

I don’t mean that this is an easy fix or that it erases the pain of heartbreaking circumstances.

It doesn’t.

I still feel the pain and exhaustion, but at the same time, I’m now confident of this:

God has been with me and my family all the while.

He never lost track of us, and He’s never going to.

God has been with me and my family all the while. He never lost track of us, and He’s never going to.

21:25 Books

Whether we’re in the midst of wonderful or awful circumstances, He’s right here with us in the middle of it, and He’s using these hard things to create something beautiful, to increase our faith, and remind us that when we can’t see a resolution or a way forward, He’s faithful to lead us and work everything out for good.

In the last month, I’ve found that nothing is steady but God.

And that when the floods threaten to engulf me and the ones I love, He’s faithful to use that driving rain to grow the most stunning flowers we’ll ever see.

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What has God been teaching you lately? I’d love for us to share and encourage each other in the comments!

A small peek at what I’ve been…

Listening To:

Flourish, Mike Donehey’s new album.

This is a new favorite of mine, especially Standing At the Edge of My World, Glory I Couldn’t See, Flourish, and Breathe In, Breathe Out (OK, I love them all. Go give it a listen!)

Reading:

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, by Maryrose Wood.

This series is whimsical and full of wit and mystery. I absolutely love and highly recommend it!

The History of the Hobbit by John D. Rateliff.

As the grad school saga continues, I am making my way through this Tome (yes, it is worthy of that title!), but I am finally over halfway through it, and I don’t think there will be another book that makes me feel so accomplished after reading it!

What have you been reading or listening to?

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Next week, a fun giveaway begins and my review for Tammy Lash’s Letters from the Dragon’s Son publishes! I can’t wait to share it!

Until then, happy reading!

Alexandria

Even When You Can’t See It

Have you ever longed to know the ending of a story a few hundred pages before The End?

Have you ever longed to see the finished painting before the first brush strokes reach the canvas?

Maybe God’s given you a calling, a dream, a drive to do something for His glory and His Kingdom.

But here you are, still at square one, with the vision so clear in your mind and seemingly invisible in the physical world.

Oh, I have been there.

I am there.

Are you?

Here is what God’s been teaching me in what I recently heard Dr. Sam Chand call “the messy middle,” that place between, where you’ve received your dream, but aren’t seeing fruit yet.

Yet.

Isn’t that the key word?

The one all our hope is hinged on?

It’s not bearing fruit yet.

On November 24th, I wrote these words:

“I’m so thankful for all You’re doing, both what I can see and what I cannot.”

Then, on Dec. 29th, I wrote this prayer in my planner: “Can’t believe how You’re moving, God. In ways I see and ways I can’t.”

God’s been weaving this lesson through my days. He weaves it through every one of yours.

I am moving, both when you can see it and when you can’t.

This is what He speaks over us, sons and daughters of the King who orchestrates everything, a perfect symphony.

He does all things well.

And this is what we can rest in, no matter how long we’ve been waiting:

We’ll always wait in good company. He never leaves.

And He is always working.

Even when we don’t understand.

Even when we can’t fathom what comes next.

Even when we can’t see it.

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I hope this encourages you, friends!

Please share below: what are you waiting on or struggling to see? How have you witnessed God at work?

I’d love for us to pray for and encourage one another!

Thank you for reading 🙂

Alexandria