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.”
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.”
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.
I’m so excited to share my interview with C.D. Hulen as we continue to celebrate the recent release of his sci-fi novel, Abort!
Read on to learn more about the inspiration for Abort, C.D. Hulen’s advice for fellow indie authors, and his thoughts on how to include a powerful, faith-based message in novels!
I really enjoyed reading your novel! What inspired the story of Abort?
Thanks so much! Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what inspired me, outside of God of course (as all things work according to His will). This particular story concept came to me almost fully formed, which wasn’t super common for me. I thought it would make a good book, so I wrote down the idea and then promptly forgot about it for about 6 months. But obviously, I found it again, and here we are.
One common pro-life argument that is used to confront abortion is that of comparing unborn children to people in a coma who are going to wake up (both are dependent on others, neither are highly responsive, and both are in their respective states for a limited amount of time, i.e., the person in a coma will wake up and the child will be born). This particular argument was definitely an inspiration. After the initial stages of writing, I drew inspiration from other sources, such as my Christian faith, my Dad’s suggestions, Ray Comfort’s videos on abortion, and Paul Washer’s articulation of the gospel, in order to add more depth to the story.
Throughout the story, Mason wrestles with divided loyalties and the distinction between right and wrong. Was he a difficult character to write? What do you think makes characters like him so compelling?
Definitely one of the most difficult things about writing Mason was keeping the reader from being completely disgusted by him. What he’s trying to do is terrible, and readers generally don’t want to root for that, so it was a struggle to balance the sympathetic aspects of his character without excusing his actions. I think his relatability and understandability help make him compelling. Although the reader hopefully won’t agree with his mission, they can understand why he’s doing it, and can relate to the many trials he faces on the HS10.
Christian sci-fi isn’t a genre that I, personally, hear much about, and it was exciting to read your novel! What about sci-fi do you believe uniquely positions the genre to share a faith-based message?
There’s definitely not much Christian sci-fi in mainstream media—none in film that I’ve seen, and not a ton in literature. But anyway, I think science fiction can be uniquely poised to tackle current issues as well as delve into compelling allegories. The concept of Abort was perfectly setup for a science fiction setting—I didn’t even consider another genre! I also believe that with science fiction you have something that Fantasy can struggle with—a real presentation of the gospel. This can be done in contemporary and historical fiction for sure, but fantasy generally relies heavily on gospel allegories if it wants to approach the Christian theme (Jesus). Science fiction has the privilege of dealing with the real thing.
What are some of the obstacles you’ve faced as a self-published author and what enabled you to overcome them? Do you have any encouragement to offer fellow writers who want to follow that same route?
I think the battle against anonymity has been the hardest. I can learn how to write good prose, design a book cover, and develop compelling characters, but as an author who started with zero platform, it’s been challenging. I think what’s to be learned is that it’s all up to God. If He wants the book to go far, it will. If not, it won’t. I have to hold my dreams loosely, trust His plan, and be faithful. If the marketing of this book has taught me anything it’s that God is in control.
A note of practical advice for writers: keep writing, keep getting feedback, and write again. It’s a long slog sometimes, but the more you do it, the better you get. And if you’re a Christian who is writing fiction, don’t tack your faith onto it. What I mean is that the gospel isn’t an afterthought, so if you’re a Christian and writing a story, don’t force the gospel into it, allow it to permeate the entire thing. Don’t sprinkle the gospel onto your story, soak your story in the gospel. All or nothing. Don’t be afraid to be preachy but tell a good story, make it real, and give it over to God.
Can you share any details with readers about your current or upcoming projects?
Well, I don’t want to share too much, but I’ve always got story ideas in my head. People who’ve followed me for a while know that I’ve wanted to write a musical, as well as refurbish and finish my historical fantasy trilogy. I also have some more Christian sci-fi stories brewing which address the current issues of the woke church and Christless conservatism. All that to say, I’m not sure what I’ll do yet, but whatever it is, I want God to be glorified.
Thank you so much to C.D. Hulen for joining me for this interview!
What more perfect way to end this wintry week than with this beautiful winter tale about young Sofia’s perfect snow day?
The Snow Dancer is the perfect book for you and your family to read together on a snowy evening. Find my full review (and links to purchase) below!
On a chilly winter’s morning, the world blanketed in snow, a young girl named Sofia wakes up with a longing.
When a snowy day comes along, most children dream of snowball fights and sledding with their friends, but Sofia can think of only one thing: venturing out in the quiet of morning to dance through the frozen landscape, through the stillness and softness of freshly fallen snow.
With illustrations by Merce Lopez that beautifully render Sofia’s love for winter and dance, Addie Boswell succeeds in perfectly capturing all that is best about the winter season and those glorious snow days that all children look forward to. Readers of all ages will be happily swept along with Sofia as she dances, like a snow fairy twirling through the wonder of new-fallen snow.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.
You can find a copy of The Snow Dancer on Bookshop, a website where you can support independent booksellers with every purchase! It is also available on Amazon.
Connect with Addie Boswell on her website. Merce Lopez can be found on Goodreads.
That’s all for this week! Next week, the first installment of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel publishes! You can subscribe here!
This week, Chip and Alfeus brave a hidden cavern that’s beautiful, but not altogether safe…
They rested for a time there, near the entrance to the cavern. Chip took a long drink of cool, clear water from the small spring that trickled down into the cavern’s depths. Feeling refreshed now, he balanced carefully on his hind legs as he sniffed the air.
It was pleasantly cool, just what you might expect from a mysterious, hidden place like this one.
There was something unusual about the smell the longer Chip sniffed, but he couldn’t quite place it. Something almost smoky.
“Whatever is your nose quivering about now?” Alfeus asked, and Chip frowned, for his friend almost sounded nervous.
“What’s wrong, Alfeus?”
The chipmunk, rubbing his snout in distracted agitation, answered briskly, “I’m not altogether fond of some of the underground residents, if you must know.”
“Why? Who lives here?”
“Fire lizards,” Alfeus said. “They’re changeable creatures, by all accounts, and were no great help when the forest stood at odds.”
“So, they’re dangerous?”
“Well, I wouldn’t exactly call them enemies,” the chipmunk offered, shifting uncertainly. “I wouldn’t exactly call them friends, either.”
“And you’re certain that the cavern is the only way to reach Abaline?” Chip asked, feeling the warning twinge of danger, which made his left ear start twitching, as he spoke.
“Yes. If you try to go past the waterfall and stay aboveground, Abaline is nowhere to be found. You go through, or you go nowhere at all.”
He knew Alfeus was right. Still, Chip felt compelled to point out, “You might have mentioned the fire lizards earlier.”
“I’m hoping they keep to themselves,” the chipmunk said, choosing to ignore the pointed comment. “They only venture out at high noon to soak up what heat they can before returning to the Obsidian Lizard.”
Chip, who had just begun to hop further into the cavern, stopped short. “Obsidian Lizard?”
“Yes, yes, that’s what I said! There’s no reason to get your fur ruffled about it. He only leaves the underground during the peak of summer, and that’s a ways off yet. Until then, his fellow lizards soak up heat to warm him. Somehow, it keeps the fire within him aflame.”
At this, Chip muttered something about the chipmunk’s words being less than reassuring.
“Better informed with a little healthy fear than ignorant and foolhardy because of it. Besides, only heat draws them out, and we won’t have any flame to attract them. I’m certain we’ll make it through without incident.”
“So, you managed it safely with Leah?”
“Well, no…” Alfeus confessed, his voice trailing off. “I only went as far as the cavern’s mouth. She insisted that it was something she must do alone. But I’ve always regretted not going with her all the way to Abaline.”
Chip offered an encouraging smile, for he could sense Alfeus’ discomfort, and he was truly grateful to have a friend along on this journey. “Well then, it’s a good thing you have another chance now.”
With that, they began to make their way through the luminous underground. Both Chip and Alfeus stared above and around them at the glittering walls, mouths agape.
Thousands upon thousands of gems and crystals were encrusted in the dark gray stone, but it seemed more than happenstance to Chip, as if someone had lovingly chosen just the spot from which each gem could best send out its own radiant glow.
He could not help but continue to stare in wonder; in fact, so enraptured was he that he nearly stumbled into the widening stream.
But can you blame him, reader?
After all, of the many things that Chip might have anticipated encountering, he had never expected to come face to face with a radiance such as this beneath the earth where no familiar rays of light might reach them.
What is this place? Chip silently pondered as they continued to follow the water’s meandering path.
“Where is the light coming from, I wonder?” said Alfeus in a whisper, which seemed only right in a place like this.
Once the question was voiced aloud, Chip naturally felt that he must investigate further. He hopped over to the wall on their left, placing a paw against the stone before jerking it back just as quickly when it proved to be quite warm.
When he mentioned this to Alfeus, the chipmunk did not look terribly surprised. “That’ll be the fire lizards. There are so many of them, they’re bound to heat the very walls themselves.”
Chip heard Alfeus, but did not reply. He had caught sight of movement in a nearby gem. Oh, how he wished Romulus were there to teach him their names, for he was sure to know them all.
There it was again!
Something darted to the right past a jewel, carnation pink in color, and Chip was sure the movement came from the other side of the wall, rather than from the reflection of the gem’s smooth surface.
“Alfeus, did you see that? I think there’s a passage on the other side of this wall!”
“Well, if there is, it’s the fire lizards who use it, and I’m not inclined to wait and see,” Alfeus said before marching resolutely forward.
Reluctantly, the young rabbit followed. Much as he might long to uncover the mysteries of the fire lizards’ dwelling, he knew Abaline was more important. They followed the flowing stream to their right, Chip admiring the way the stone shimmered beneath the perfectly clear water. He had expected to feel tense and afraid after learning of the fire lizards, but there was something altogether pure and comforting about this underground haven, and the rabbit found that he felt free to explore every crevice and nook, much to Alfeus’ consternation.
At last, they reached the back of the cavern. Before them, looking as if they had been there since time began, were three gaping tunnel entrances. The stream flowed merrily down the middle path, and Chip was tempted to simply follow it, but instead looked at Alfeus expectantly. “Which one do we take to Abaline?”
The chipmunk was silent, staring fixedly from one tunnel to the next.
“Alfeus?” Chip prompted.
He jumped a bit before replying, “Well, I can’t say that I know, Chip. I imagine that’s something that each seeker of Abaline’s treasure has to uncover for themselves.”
At the end of this lofty pronouncement, Alfeus looked away rather sheepishly, for after all, he truly did want to be useful and was bothered when he felt he was not.
“That’s all right, Alfeus,” Chip said, noticing his friend’s embarrassment. “We’ll figure it out.”
He hopped forward to the tunnel on the left and sniffed, immediately scrunching up his nose in distaste. It smelled damp and unfriendly, and something in the heavy staleness of it warned Chip against taking that path.
“Alfeus, what does the tunnel on the right smell like to you?”
Hurriedly, the chipmunk scampered over, taking a good and proper whiff before sighing with delight at the scent that greeted him. “Hazelnuts, Chip,” he breathed. “Mountains and mountains of them!”
Alfeus was several feet past the entrance before Chip managed to stop him. But then, all of a sudden, the headiest sensation swept over him, enveloping him in the scent of lilac, just as if he were back in his grandmother’s burrow beneath the grandest lilac bush that Everleaf Forest had ever seen.
Alfeus continued to mutter about hazelnuts as Chip turned to stare down the tunnel, breathing in his favorite smell. He was just about to make his way closer to it when his left ear twitched violently.
For one pivotal moment, Chip’s mind cleared, and he was struck by the pungent wave of rot rising up from the tunnel’s depths. He pushed the hazelnut-crazed chipmunk out of the tunnel until they were far back enough for the smells to fade.
Though Alfeus had, at first, been overtaken by indignant hysterics, only a few minutes passed before he returned to his own, rather persnickety self. “Confound it all! What sort of depraved mind makes false promises of hazelnuts?”
“At least you didn’t get a whiff of what was really coming from that tunnel,” Chip choked out, still nearly gagging from the unrelenting stench of it. Still, he managed a smile at Alfeus’ dramatics.
The chipmunk was yet to be appeased. “I refuse to tolerate such deceitfulness! Such foul play! One nice, wholesome adventure is all a chipmunk asks for in life, and if anyone else comes to muck it up, it’s me they’ll have to answer to!”
It was then that a roar sounded, so terrible and deep that it made the very walls around them tremble.
Chip looked at Alfeus. “You were saying?”
Any guesses on where (or who) the roar is coming from? Share your ideas using #bookofroseleaves
This week, I’m introducing you to one of new favorite authors, Kimberly Duffy! Check out my review of her debut release below!
Readers are always searching for those rarest of books that not only entertain and delight you, but also work their way deep into your spirit, finding an eternal home there. A Mosaic of Wings is one of them. The story opens with Nora, a passionate student of entomology at Cornell University, who finds beauty and wonder in all of God’s creation, but particularly in the world of insects. But society insists that she cannot add anything of value to a man’s field, and Nora soon finds herself opposed on all sides, most fiercely by her step-father, who promotes a advantageous match as the only proper path for her.
Still, some friends remain true, among them a favorite professor who longs to see her flourish in the field. Before long, Nora finds herself swept off to India, a land all warmth and spice and passion, competing for a scholarship that just might give her the freedom she’s craving to boldly pursue her dreams. It will not be long, though, before this new land and its people, along with an unexpected friend from home, begin to shape Nora into a stronger and more courageous woman of God than ever before, making her one of those rare fictional characters who are most worthy of emulating.
Without doubt, Kimberly Duffy has woven an enchanting tale that will captivate anyone with the courage to pick up this book and embrace all the ways it will challenge and change you.
And I’m back with a bite-size installment of Chip’s adventures! Enjoy!
A thousand new smells greeted Chip, and he was overwhelmed and delighted by every one of them. He felt drawn in so many directions that he could hardly decide which to explore first. A sharp, tangy smell led him to the right, but no sooner had he discovered the deep orange and raspberry colored flower that produced it than a whiff of something delicate and soft sent him bounding in the opposite direction.
Chip went from the deepest, coolest shade of impossibly large trees only to emerge into blazing sunlight that warmed him all through.
Nothing about this place was less than glorious, and he wanted to see every inch of it.
He had just come to rest beneath a hazel tree when something small and hard landed on his head. Gingerly rubbing his paw against the spot, Chip looked up only just in time to duck out of the way.
Nearly a dozen hazelnuts came tumbling to the earth, and an outraged chattering followed them. A small, furry head popped out from behind a leafy bough, and the chipmunk’s eyes went wide with suspicion.
“Don’t you think for even a moment about commandeering my hazelnuts! I worked all day for those, and I won’t have some upstart, whiskered fiend take what’s mine! I’ll have you know –.”
The chipmunk, mercifully, stopped mid-tirade to squint down at Chip.
Before Chip could decide how to respond to being called an upstart, whiskered fiend, the chipmunk was down the tree trunk and sniffing his satchel quite carefully.
The chipmunk’s ears perked up when he saw the initials, “L.T.,” on the side, and he looked up at Chip, his eyes bright with barely contained curiosity. “This here satchel used to be mine. I gave it to a fearsome badger who rescued me when I found myself at the end of a fox’s snout. And there isn’t an unfriendlier place to be.”
The chipmunk paused, catching sight of the rabbit’s chipped ear. Without any invitation, he scampered up Chip’s back as if he were just another tree to climb. “Seems as though you’ve met with some danger yourself.”
Chip tried to disguise his aggravation with only mild success. “No, I was born with it.”
“Hmm,” was all the chipmunk offered for comment before hopping down, oblivious to the annoyance he’d caused.
“Did you know her?” he asked.
“The badger!” the chipmunk said in a tone that suggested Chip really ought to have known.
“I know her nephew, Romulus Took. He gave the satchel to me.”
The chipmunk regarded Chip silently for a few moments, and then, apparently making up his mind, held out his paw. “Name’s Alfeus, and I count as friend anyone who’s on good terms with Leah’s family.”
“My name’s Chip.”
“What brings you to Almea, Chip?” Alfeus asked as he began gathering his hazelnuts once more.
Before answering, Chip opened his satchel, gesturing for Alfeus to store his hazelnuts inside. Alfeus gratefully accepted. Then, “I’m looking for Abaline,” Chip explained.
Alfeus stopped suddenly, then grinned. “Now, that’s just what Leah said. I suppose I’ll have to help you like I helped her.”
Chip smiled, grateful that his first discovery in this strange place had been a friend.
The pair were walking beneath some low-hanging boughs when Alfeus decided it was his prerogative as Chip’s traveling companion to know details of the rabbit’s business. “Why do you care to find Abaline, if I may ask? This treasure she guards must be a mighty thing to you if you’re willing to travel all this way.”
Chip hesitated to share at first. But if Alfeus was a willing friend, then why not? “Well, I asked God something a while ago now, and I haven’t heard anything back. So, I’m wondering if my prayers really matter to Him at all.”
Alfeus remained uncharacteristically silent.
Chip waited as long as he could (a whole minute, in fact), but then he could hold back no longer. “Have you ever wondered anything like that, Alfeus?”
“Yes, I have.”
Another unbearable pause.
Alfeus stubbornly looked ahead, but Chip could see the beginning of a smile. “And you’ll just have to see for yourself.”
An answer and not an answer, Chip thought to himself, and he felt rather tired of those. But just as he opened his mouth to say so, Alfeus unceremoniously clapped a paw over Chip’s whiskered muzzle.
The young rabbit heard it then, too.
A rustle in the grass.
Could it be an innocent passerby? Chip wondered hopefully.
But then dead silence fell, as if something were waiting for them to believe just that, and for a moment, before chaos erupted, the little rabbit felt the greatest longing for home.
What do you think is lying in wait for Chip and Alfeus? We’ll find out next week 🙂