"I'm diving in, I'm going deep..."

I have been challenged so much over the past week or so. It seems that everywhere I turn, someone's exhorting me to do better or dig deeper or put more time into something. I've also been challenging myself: to be diligent in my study, not to go on the computer as much, spend more time with my siblings... etc. And it is hard sometimes to follow through with all these good intentions. I backslide, fall, trip over my own feet, and get myself completely turned around. Yet I know with all this God still loves me. That keeps me going.

One challenge I received was from my best friend. She is an amazing writer (her novels grip me so strongly that I cry in most of them), and I've always... well, felt a little intimidated by that. After she heard that I was doing NaNoWriMo, she asked me what my plot was, and my characters, and all that. Then she asked me a really good question. She said, "How can you make your writing deep? How can you go beyond the norm, find something that will make your reader cry & laugh & be moved? What makes you do these things?"

I was really struck by that. In my books I never really thought about being "deep", I typically write because I'm interested in the story and want to see where it goes. Often I would rather write something in a beautiful or unique way than just what I actually feel. But this deepness to the writing... that goes so much beyond. That's what makes all of her novels so good. That's what I want to do to make my novels good.

We're writing a book together, currently called "Queens". The book is in journal format, with the journals of the two main characters side by side. When we got together and wrote the first entries, she again challenged me to write with depth - directly from my heart. It was hard to do that, knowing that she would see it and wondering if she would praise it or think my "deep" thoughts too shallow. Yet writing is all about trust.

I had to trust her enough to write what I really felt. I'm so glad, though, that I did, because once I was done, I could see my character, speaking to me from the page. She was real.

And that's what writing is all about.

I can't wait to put this challenge into action in my NaNoWriMo novel as well. It will take hard work, and trust. Yet I know God can pull me through. He knows alot about writing with depth - after all, He wrote my life story!



"Rescue My Heart"

I love rescue scenes. I love writing about them, reading about them, and seeing them in movies. So after realizing that the title "True Beauty" didn't quite fit with my NaNoWriMo novel anymore, I decided to go with "Rescue My Heart." Because that's what the story's really about. Anna's heart needs rescuing from the barrier of her stories that she's put up around herself. Anna's father's heart needs rescuing from being wrapped up in himself. The princess Cassandra's heart needs rescuing from the evil prince who has locked her up in a tower. Even the evil prince's heart needs rescuing from his pride & selfish desires. Everywhere I turned there was a rescue story right there in front of me.  

Rescue. There's so much action and meaning packed into that small word.

I think of a tiny kitten, shivering yet safe in the hands of its savior. I think of a rescue mission in wartime, where the captives are set free from their horrible prison. I think of a darkened soul, rescued from death into the beautiful light of life.

And while I was thinking about the word rescue, I realized that "redeem" and "ransom" have very similar meanings. And God does all of these things. He rescues us from sin, redeems us with His blood, and ransoms our souls from the power of death & hell. No wonder I feel such a thrill when I hear those words. God has put the longing for His rescuing, redeeming, ransoming work in my heart.



Capture the words... feelings... melodies

Recently, I've been getting back into writing and composing. I love the feel of creating something; almost like I feel closer to my Creator. I guess it's because I'm using the gifts He's given me, echoing Him in a very tiny, pale way - and I know it pleases Him.

I've had a very cool experience coming home from a Bible study I go to every Monday night. For about the past month, I've found that each night as I drive home, God gives me a new song. Instead of listening to the radio, I begin humming and trying to find new melodies. Or I say words out loud that fit with what I'm feeling, and expand on them to make them into phrases... rhymes... and finally a real song. It really is amazing how God gives these songs to me, born as they are out of the moment. :)

I also have been getting back into writing, which is something I always seem to put off. I really do like to write, but I think I put it off just because it takes so much thought and planning. So, I guess I've decided to turn my brain on (lol)! I recently finished writing a book that a friend and I have been writing since she moved away. It's really special to us, and I think it could be published eventually after we edit and polish it some.

Another really big writing thing I'm excited about is NaNoWriMo, short for National Novel Writing Month. (The website is www.nanowrimo.com) Basically, the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I'm really getting pumped for it, because when I did it last year, I had a blast! I've come up with a number of novel ideas, but finally settled on this one. It's called "True Beauty." Here's the synopsis (or the "teaser"):

Life has not been good to thirteen-year-old Anna. Her mother was the only one who understood her need to write and her love for beauty, yet she died when Anna was eleven. Anna and her father don't understand each other at all, so each of them live in their own world.
Anna lives the world of her books. She has an all-consuming passion for creating beauty in her writing, but she never can seem to grasp what makes up true beauty.
When she and her father move to a tiny house in the country, she begins to write another story, convinced that the beauty around her will absorb into her writing. The story is about a princess who is held captive by an evil prince. Anna becomes to engrossed in her story that she basically lives, breathes, and sleeps it. And one day, she begins to cry as she writes a deeply moving scene.
Instantly, she is transported into the world of her story. She is ecstatic - she had always dreamed of escaping into her own story! Yet none of her characters knows who she is... except the villain. And he wants her to write him into the hero of the story. Can she escape his schemes and save her book from going out of control? And who will save her?

So yes, I've had a lot of writing and creating on the brain. Who knows? Maybe I can capture what really makes up true beauty.


vibrant fall

Today was the first day that was a proper fall day: bright blue sky, trees ablaze, windy and crisp.  It made me feel like having a juicy honeycrisp apple while feeling the wind on my face. Fall is such a beautiful and vibrant season!

Yesterday I made an apple pie for my younger brother's birthday. It took a very long time... but I think the end result is very nice!

 I tried out the lattice weaving for the top, and surprisingly it worked out well!

I used a large assortment of apples: granny smiths, braeburns & one each of Jonagold and Honeycrisp apples.

We'll have to see how it tastes... we're celebrating his birthday tomorrow and so we haven't eaten it yet. We almost ate it last night because it smelled so good - but thankfully I rescued it from my family!

Hope you are enjoying your fall as well... take some time to go outside, eat a fresh apple, maybe even bake a pie!



"And I lay my head back down"

I've been thinking about the song "Only Hope" recently. Especially the chorus where the words are:
"And I lay my head back down,
And I lift my hands and pray
To be only Yours I pray
To be only Yours
I know now You're my only hope."

I've been pondering over how I must "lay my head back down" before I can really be submitted to Him (being "only Yours"). It's so hard for me to let go of my plans for my future, and just trust Him. Can I truly say I'm laying my head down in perfect peace and rest?

I know that hasn't been the case recently. I've really been struggling with my future - namely, whether or not to go to Cedarville University next year. Part of me wants to go, and part of me dreads it & wants to stay here. And for me, it's not just an issue of living in a new place with new people and classes (though that's pretty scary in itself!). I also have to deal with the health & food issues. Our family makes a special effort to eat healthy, and so I don't know if I could eat college food everyday and still be okay. And I don't know if that would be such a good thing to sacrifice just for an education.

I'm really praying and thinking a lot about this. I'm praying that if God wants me to stay here, that He'd open the doors for all these things I'd be missing if I didn't go to Cedarville. I'm trying to let go and let God show me the answer, instead of worrying myself to death over it. But it's so hard! I keep swaying back and forth.

If you think of it, please pray for me. And I would love to hear of any struggles or difficulties in decisions about your future that you are facing, so I can pray for you too. I believe reciprocal prayer is one of the most rewarding.



clep tests, sick students... God always cares

Today has been a very interesting day. I've really had to rely a lot on God's strength for all the challenges and worries that I've had.

I teach piano, and today I had a new kind of experience with piano teaching. My student all of a sudden started feeling sick halfway through her lesson. I really had no idea what to do except to end the lesson. Then I called her mom and let her lay down on the sofa. I prayed alot while I waited for her mom to show up. I felt really responsible, almost as if she had gotten sick because of me. I also wished that we had finished the lesson, since she only has lessons every other week and needs all the instruction she can get. But God calmed my heart, (and I pray, hers as well) and she was able to get home okay.

The other big (BIG) thing today was my Natural Sciences CLEP test. Here, too, I was met with problems. There were a lot of things about the test which made me nervous. For one thing, when the test finally started, the computer screen showed all of the words upside down! Even the mouse worked counter to the way it should be. The lady tried to fix it, but nothing would work. So finally she turned the computer screen upside down. Surprisingly, that worked okay!

So I started the test, trying not to spend too much time on each question like I've been told. But I found that almost all of the questions were asking about things that I really wasn't familiar about, or was only vaguely familiar with! I had studied long and hard for this test, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I had studied things that were more general (like the makeup of a cell), and this was asking about very specific things (like what protozoa has x amount of organelles). I had thought that the test was going to be about more general stuff since it covers so many topics (Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Physiology)! But no, they had to ask specific questions!

I started to hyperventilate because so many of the questions that I was looking at seemed like a maze of unknown words and ideas. But I pulled myself together, and closed my eyes. "Lord," I prayed, "This is Your test. I will rely on You. Help me to think clearly." I opened my eyes and took a deep breath. Then I looked back at the computer screen and determined to work the problem out. Each time I was faced with a hard question, I went through it slowly, trying to grasp the words that might give me a clue for the outcome. Unfortunately, this made it so that I only had 8 minutes at the end to go over all the questions I had marked because I wasn't sure about them. Boy, I hate racing against time. It's weird, though, my brain almost seems to work at a faster rate when I'm under pressure. But I certainly don't like it!

Finally, the time went out: 3....2......1, and there was nothing else I could do. I seriously was almost shaking. I still wasn't sure if I had made it, though I had been able to go over all of the questions I'd marked. It was with held breath that I clicked on "Continue to score". The score showed up on the screen: 62! I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Cedarville University (the college I want to go to next year) required a score of exactly 62 or higher. I had passed!

Immediately, I thanked God. He is so amazing, isn't he? To care about one insignificant CLEP test in one insignificant person's life... to care about me!


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