*Photo taken from Unsplash.com free images
Hi, friends! I have a fun challenge this lovely Friday!
Based on the image above, let's create a story together. Here's how this is going to work:
The first person to comment starts the story. The next person to comment continues the story off of what the first person wrote, and so on.
Some notes to keep things interesting:
You are not allowed to use the words cold, friends, or dark. (You may imply them but not use those specific words. Be creative.)
Please, keep your part of the story to no more than 10 sentences each.
Please respect each other and my blog. This is a Christian blog focused towards Christian teenagers. Please, do not use language that would harm our witness, please keep the actions of your characters pure and not violent. I reserve the right to remove any comments that I do not approve of or that violate these rules.
Have fun, y'all. ;) Tell me a story!
When I first started submitting guest posts online, I received rejections.
Lots of them.
In fact, it took months before I actually received my first acceptance email for an article that I had submitted online.
After my initial wallowing in self-pity (not something I recommend), I began to ask myself, "What am I doing wrong? What could I change?" It was at this point that God brought the blessing of the Young Writer's Workshop into my life and I saw a complete change in my writing. (For more details about YWW, click here.)
Although I still receive rejections, I receive more acceptance emails than I ever thought possible.
But I also learned along the way that rejection is not a bad thing.
And here's why:
Rejection taught me humility.
The truth is that accepting constructive criticism takes a lot of humility.
It's not always fun to have an editor or a friend or another writer critique your words and offer ways to make it better. After all, sometimes I can tend to think that my writing is perfect the first time and doesn't need any changes (Is this just me? Okay then...).
For a long time it was hard for me to accept constructive criticism. I did not like editors.
Rejection taught me that I needed to develop a more humble spirit with my writing and cultivate an open mind. I needed to be more open-minded to change and how I could make my writing better.
Writers are always growing.
Rejection taught me perseverance.
Nothing can sting quite like being told "no" when you worked really hard on something and for something. After about my first five writing rejections, I was ready to give up.
"Another rejection?" I would ask myself in defeat. "I'm never going to be published online."
Here's the thing: Writing is tough. Rejection is even tougher. But rejection is a part of writing. Every writer has faced rejection at some point. The best writers we know faced multiple rejections. What separated them from the rest was that they never gave up.
When you face rejection it will hurt and it will be so hard to keep getting back up, brushing yourself off, and getting back to your goal. But you must persevere.
Never give up.
Rejection taught me to re-evaluate my focus.
Sometimes we lose focus.
It's easy for us to lose focus in just about every area of life, but for me, writing is an area that is especially hard for me. I've always been a super driven person and writing professionally is my goal and dream.
So sometimes in my efforts to grow my platform and expand my writing influence, I had the tendency to shift my focus off Christ and onto just getting published.
Receiving rejection after rejection taught me that perhaps my focus was in the wrong place. Perhaps I was wanting to get published more than I was wanting to glorify Christ.
And admitting that stung worse than the rejection.
If your focus has shifted off of glorifying Christ, please re-evaluate your heart. Why are you writing? Why are you trying to get published?
Keep your focus where it should be.
Rejection taught me that I love writing.
You may be slightly confused. Haven't I always loved writing?
Of course. I grew up loving the art of writing.
But when I became serious about writing, I started writing more because I had to instead of because I wanted to. I now had readers counting on me, I had a blog schedule to keep up with, I had a platform to grow and readers to reach.
After being rejected several times, I asked myself, "If you never receive anything but rejection in writing, will you keep writing?"
The answer was always yes. Because I love what I do. I love being a writer.
Rejection reminded me that I loved writing and I would write whether I someday got published or not. Always remember why you started writing. Are you writing because you love it?
Then keep doing it, no matter what.
Rejection wasn't easy for me and I don't think it's easy for anyone. But I wouldn't trade my rejections. Rejection was a blessing in disguise for me and taught me more about writing than anything else.
Don't be afraid of rejection. Embrace the lessons.
And don't give up.
Today I am dropping in to let you know about a book I think you would really like. But I've also got an interview for you to read that I think is going to encourage you. Ready to get started? Let's go!
Bella: Thank you so much for joining me here today, Anastasya! It’s an honor to feature you and your book, and share it with my readers. Would you please start off by sharing just a little bit about yourself and how you got started writing?
Anastasya: Sure Bella, I'm so happy to be here with you today! Well I am currently enjoying small town life in Canada working at a Bible college as the director of the Worship Department. I got my official start in writing about 2 1/2 years ago when I launched my blog, In the Garden, from my website after my first EP album release. It wasn't long into blogging regularly that I noticed a pattern developing in some of my writing which centered around various aspects of the topic of identity. At the same time I felt like God was leading me into deeper study of the topic and throughout the next few years a journey unfolded for me, which led to the book.
Bella: What was the inspiration behind your new book, Servant Sons and Daughters?
Anastasya: The start of this book really came out of my own personal experience of God drawing me into deeper revelation of who I am in Him and who He really is. I began to realize how an incomplete understanding of this area negatively affects really all aspects of our lives, and particularly our christian walk. Growing up in a Christian home I knew a lot of information about God and serving Him but often felt distant from Him. A revelation of identity and who we are to God is the key to experiencing the life of fullness in God. For example, we will never confidently approach someone if we are not convinced of their welcome. This book really explores the Biblical basis for our righteousness and acceptance in Christ but also beyond that to our Father's welcome which effects many things, including worship. It's about truly being His child and learning to serve Him from that place - which is what He desires.
Bella: What is the most important thing that you hope readers will take away from your book?
Anastasya: I hope that ultimately readers will encounter the love God has for them in a deeper way which will draw them into a more intimate relationship with Him, and that they will come out with the confidence He desires us to have as His sons and daughters. I pray that truth would enter any area they are struggling with and cause them to be able to experience the freedom and life God the Father intends them to have.
Bella: As a writer, what are some ways that you keep Christ first in your writings?
Anastasya: I think one thing that is fundamental for me in writing is realizing that it is something that comes through me for a purpose not from me. Although the abilities God gives us all can be used in many ways, I try to ensure that before I start to write I yield my heart to Him and say, "Holy Spirit, You have the pen - what do You want to say?". It's always an incredible partnership based on relationship.
Bella: If you could give one piece of writing advice to a young writer, what would you share?
Anastasya: I would encourage a young writer to really become grounded in a healthy sense of identity in who they are to God and here's why; when it feels like no one is reading your work - you can be happy in the fact that God your Father loves it and is cheering for you. Or, when you get negative feedback, if your identity is not riding on your work you can receive whatever you may need to and know that you are still loved and cherished by a Father you mean the world to. This understanding in our hearts gives us the grace to grow and the patience to wait on Him to guide us to the right places.
Bella: What is your favorite Scripture verse and why?
Anastasya: Well it's super hard to pick one :) but one I especially love is:
"I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know Me more than I want burnt offerings." Hos.6:6
It really shows how relational God is!
Bella: And to end on a fun question, if you could invent any ice cream flavor you wanted, what would it be?
Anastasya: Well it's hard to think of one that hasn't already been invented, haha, but I'm a really big fan of licorice and toffee so perhaps a licorice/toffee combo with some chocolate in there would be awesome!
Bella: Thanks so much for being here today, Anastasya!
About the Book:
Are you experiencing the deep peace and joy that connection with God as your Father can bring? Are you confident in His presence? Do you feel your worth and value to God ebbs and flows according to how “good” or “bad” you are?
Working for God is hard. Trying to serve Him from a distance is even harder.
Speaking from personal experience, Anastasya Laverdiere conveys the message that the life of service and devotion to God must come from relationship with Him as His child to experience the fullness of what He offers. Servant Sons and Daughters builds a strong Biblical basis to receive life-changing revelation of our true identity and inheritance as God’s children.
If you long for deeper intimacy with God, Servant Sons and Daughters is a journey into the heart He has towards you and an invitation to receive His best for you in every area of your life.
About the Author:
Anastasya Laverdiere is a Canadian worship leader, songwriter, Christian Recording Artist and writer whose desire is to know God more and make Him known. Anastasya enjoys encouraging others from her blog called “In the Garden” which focuses on identity and relationship with God the Father.
She hopes that every form of her writings will inspire others to draw closer to the Father to receive revelation of His open arms. She loves to release faith and see passionate and genuine worship ascend to the Lord from hearts en-kindled by His love. Aside from writing and leading worship, Anastasya enjoys sipping green tea, cooking and road trips!
Connect with her on:
Follow the rest of the blog tour:
Monday, March 26th
Book Review by Heidi at www.thecaffeinatedbibliophile.com
Tuesday, March 27th
Guest Post at Savoring Single https://savoringsingleblog.wordpress.com/
+ Giveaway at http://imgoingonanadventure15.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, March 28th
Book Review, Guest Post and Giveaway at http://amongthereads.net/
Thursday, March 29th
Author Interview and Giveaway at www.purelyunorthodox.com
Friday, March 30th (today!)
Author Interview (here!)
Saturday, March 31st
Author Interview at www.rileyaline.com
Sunday, April 1st
Book Review and Giveaway at https://ladygracesite.wordpress.com/
Want to win this book??
Hello, friends! Today is the day I get to present to you the second place winner in my 2018 Beauty for Ashes Story Contest: "A Jar of Clay."
This is a beautiful story and I can't wait for you to read it...
I walk home alone in the dark the day my sister died.
Just before dawn, I step into my empty apartment. The door creaks, then slams, as I push it shut behind me. Flipping the light on, I move on into the small kitchen and collapse at the kitchen table. Today has been so long, so weary, so hopeless. And so painful.
My cold fingers trace an aimless pattern on the wood of the table as I stare into the silence. The heavy aroma of paint floats out to me from my living room. Alyssa's portrait. I'd taken a last photograph of her only this morning. It's still sitting on my phone, because, of course, I didn't leave the hospital until I had to. Not until the very end – the heartbreaking end.
Cancer – one of the ugliest words I've ever heard – has torn apart my family's life. Alyssa has suffered more than any of us, but we've all suffered – my mom and dad; my brother, married with a daughter; I with my own apartment and dividing my time between college and the hospital. We've adjusted our schedules and scraped for money and clung to each other... and now...
Setting my teeth, I force myself to stand on shaky legs and walk into my living room. I approach the easel and toss aside the protective cloth. There she is – my little sister, smiling bravely at the world. I know I can never capture the sparkle of her blue eyes. Those eyes have closed forever. The slightly-waved, glossy blonde hair falling on her shoulders has long since disappeared.
The portrait is unfinished. I'll never complete it now. She will never get to see it. I've shown her photos of its progress, and she laughed with delight over every fresh edit. But I'll never hear her laugh again. My fingers close on the cloth and thrust it sharply over the easel. I should throw it away in the morning. I'll never be able to look at it again anyway.
Swallowing tears, I retreat into the kitchen and fling my purse on the table. Running my hands through the short blonde hair I'd shaved away with Alyssa three years ago, I take a couple deep breaths. I never imagined anything could hurt this much. Sadness is a cold weight on my heart. It's as though my heart is draped in blackness, like it's wearing mourning clothes for my sister's death.
She shouldn't have died. It's not fair. She didn't deserve this. How am I supposed to live without her? In an effort to give myself something to do, I reach over for my purse. Feeling around for my phone, my fingers encounter a folded wad of paper. Frowning, I pull it out, snagging the phone on the way. Oh, that's right. Alyssa gave me a letter this morning, and I haven't had time to read it yet. It hadn't been long after she'd given it to me that everything began to go downhill....
I put the paper down. I need a minute before I read it. Tapping open the photos on my phone, I thumb through the images. A small smile forces its way onto my lips. How many selfies have I taken with Alyssa, anyway? Then there are the pictures I'd planned to use as reference...
Abruptly, I drop my phone. Not going to look at those anymore. When will the pain leave? How long do I have to live this way, flinching at anything that reminded me of my sister? I pick up the wad of paper, toying with it. Fire has torn its way through my life, starting with Alyssa's diagnosis, and now it has burned itself out, and all that's left are the ashes – and lingering agony.
I realize that my tense fingers are biting into the paper. Relaxing them, I unfold the letter. Lines of Alyssa's delicate half-cursive script cross the page.
Thought I should write this for you. Just in case things get... tense today. I can't talk about everything, but somehow it helps to write it down. The doctors say my chances are low. I understand that. I just want you to know that I know, that I won't be surprised when all of this comes to an end.
Tears flood my eyes now, and I have to blink them away before I can keep reading.
I have to explain something to you, though, because this isn't going to be easy for anybody. Give Mom and Dad this letter, too. I don't think I'll be able to copy it out. But I have to say this to you.
Everything about this situation feels totally unfair. Why did I have to get cancer? I'm sixteen, I don't even have my driver's license, didn't even take the SAT, not applying to college next year.
But that's how it turned out. And yeah, of course it's not fair. Life isn't fair, and life will never be fair as long as sin exists in it. I've had time (heh heh) to think about this recently, and I've come to the conclusion that basically, yeah, it's not fair, but it's not the end of the story.
I have a metaphor for you. I think you're gonna like it, since you're an (incredible!!!) artist.
Guess what, Meghan? I'm a clay jar!
Okay, read 2 Corinthians 4:7. Better yet, please tell me you remember it.
Oh, that one. We have this treasure in jars of clay. I dimly remember that 2 Corinthians chapter four was a favorite of Alyssa's.
We have this treasure (the gospel) in jars of clay. Our bodies are jars of clay. Job says we're made out of clay (ch.10:9) and then of course Isaiah 64:8 says we are the clay and God is the potter. So yeah. I'm a jar made of clay.
And that's not an easy thing to be but it's so comforting. Let me clarify.
That means that I'm not in control. Clay jars can't control everything, 'cause they can't control anything! That means someone made me. Clay jars need a Potter. That means someone knows best what to do with me. Clay jars are best used by the one who created them.
Whether I'm a clay jar used to hold water or a clay jar used to carry flowers or a clay jar just sitting way back on a shelf, I'm being used as is best for me. And if I have to shatter into millions of clay pieces, hey, that's best for me too.
I think the shattering is coming soon for me. But it's fine. I'm just a clay jar and the Potter knows best. I think sometimes we think we're so capable, like we could run the world, you know? But the one who made it is the only one who really can (and does!) take care of it.
I brush tears away from my cheeks.
It really is comforting. I'm in safe hands, you see! So, I don't mind being a jar of clay, Meghan.
Alrighty, I should stop for now.
Love you big sister
I don't mind being a jar of clay.
I sit for a moment, thinking.
Then I put the paper down. Resolutely, I cross to the living room. Shadows drape the room, swathing my furniture in mourning attire. But Alyssa isn't grieving anymore. I walk forward to the window and tug the curtains aside. There must be light outside now.
Yes, dawn has come. The sun has risen over the world. Its rays slip into my living room, sweeping out the shadows left over from last night, ushering in gentle beauty.
I toss the cloth covering off my easel. It falls lightly onto the floor at my feet. Then I select a narrow, paint-smeared brush. As beams of light dance around me, I began to stroke color onto the canvas, watching Alyssa's face take on dimension and life under my fingertips. How did I ever think I could possibly throw it away?
Love you little sister.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” -2 Corinthians 4:7.
Maria Copeland is a 17-year-old storyteller, artist, and ENFJ whose passions include books, allergy-free baking, and photography. Inspired by several years with the National Bible Bee, she also loves committing Scripture to memory. Currently she divides her time between her senior year, a magazine ministry, blogging, writing a YA historical fiction novel, and driving her family's 15-passenger van. Her “Beauty for Ashes” story is completely fictional, but her health adventures also remind her that she's “a jar of clay” in the hands of a skillful Potter.
Tell Maria what you think in the comments below!
Good morning, friends!
Today I have the exciting responsibility of posting the first place winner of my 2018 Beauty for Ashes Story Contest!
I am thrilled to be featuring "I Am New" here today and hope you will enjoy...
The princess's hair blew golden in the wind as she wrapped her arms around the prince. The horse’s legs pumped as they rode into the sunset--
Emily Connors' hand jerked on the last word as she wrote. She glanced up to see her younger sister, Harmony, looking down at her from where Emily sat.
“Um, doesn’t it look like I’m busy?” Emily asked, motioning at the notebook.
“You’re always busy,” Harmony answered. “I wouldn’t bother except Momma said to. She needs you in the living room.”
“Can’t you just do whatever Momma wants?” Emily snapped. She instantly regretted it when she saw the pained look on Harmony’s face as her lower lip begin to tremble. Emily reached out and pulled her sister toward her into a hug. “I’m sorry, Harmony. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“I know,” Harmony nodded her dark head, wiping her small tear on her older sister’s shoulder with that motion. “You never mean to.”
Emily wondered what Harmony meant as she pulled away. Her younger sister was only nine, yet so sure of herself. The dark hair was relieved by the brilliant blue eyes; her small pointed face was covered with freckles.
Emily got up slowly and followed her sister reluctantly. Emily herself wasn’t ugly, but she didn’t look like the heroine of her dreams. There was no way you could make the brown hair into gold, or the hazel eyes into an indigo.
“Emily?” Her mother asked from where she lay on the sofa; her long brown hair falling off of the edge onto the floor. Her face was pale, yet gentle and submissive.
“Yes, Momma?” Emily stood by the side of the sofa, and reached out to touch her mother’s hair.
“I’m not feeling well. Do you mind helping out a bit?” Emily chewed her lip—she really wanted to finish that story idea—She moved her feet together silently. “Please, Emily?” Her mother’s eyes met her own.
I wish I didn’t have a family! I wish--Emily scowled, even though her mother’s eyes reproved her. With a shrug, she nodded her head, the action seemed to relieve some frustration.
“Sure,” Emily said aloud. “What do you need me to do?” Her mom handed her the list of chores that were to be done. Emily worked the whole evening; washing dishes, doing the laundry, and cooking the dinner. Around five, her father arrived home.
“Thank you for taking care of the housework, Ems,” Mr. Conners placed his hand on Emily’s shoulder. For one moment, the work was worth it. But the next moment, when Emily thought of the prince in her story…No, it wasn’t worth it.
The evening wore on. Their dad tried to keep them cheerful, but a heavy cloud seemed to overshadow them. Perhaps that’s the reason Emily stabbed her food viciously. Perhaps it was actually because she was having a pity party.
“Kiddos, I’m going to check on your mom, okay?” Harmony looked up at her dad from the coffee table before nodding. Emily sighed heavily from where she sat as their dad ascended the stairs.
“Harmony, do you ever just get tired?” Emily tossed the book she had been reading from her.
“Sure, but then I go to sleep.”
“You know that’s not what I mean, Harmony,” Emily sighed again in disgust, as she laid her head upon her hand.
“Then what are you talking about, Ems?” Harmony got up from her puzzle, and walked to her sister. “Why are you tired?” Harmony laid a hand on her older sister’s leg.
“If I knew that I would stop being tired!” Emily exclaimed, waving Harmony away. “I meant—“ What Emily meant Harmony never knew, for at that moment their father rushed into the room.
“Emily, your mother is very sick—” their dad grabbed a blanket from the back of the couch before turning towards them. “I need to take her to the doctor.”
“Oh?” Emily asked, her heart beating a bit. Momma never needed to go to the hospital.
“I need you to babysit your siblings. You can put them to bed.”
“Daddy, will Momma be all right?” Harmony had caught her father’s hand with an imploring look.
“Of course, just pray for her. We’re leaving now,” Mr. Connors turned to leave.
“Bye!” Harmony cried after his retreating form. Turning to her sister, Harmony said, “We need to pray, Emily.”
“Later,” Emily shrugged it off. “I have stuff to do.” Emily took care of the boys before Harmony decided go to bed as well.
“Why are you going to bed so early?” Emily asked before sitting down and taking the pen in her hand.
“I pray best when I’m in bed,” Harmony answered seriously. “Are you sure you’ll be all right by yourself?”
“Of course,” Emily rolled her eyes. “I’m not a baby.” Harmony bade Emily goodnight before climbing up the stairs. Emily didn’t respond; she was too busy writing her story.
The sunset’s golden beam reflected life—wonderful, carefree, and golden. The princess sighed. Life was exactly as it should be--
Emily jumped up startled. Who would be ringing the doorbell at this hour? Emily slowly walked to the front door. Should she open it?
She peaked through the window to see to men in official uniforms—policemen. Emily had always been told to trust policemen, so she decided on opening the door. “Hello?”
“Hello; is this the home of Mr. and Mrs. Carter?” One of the policemen asked. He was young, perhaps twenty-five. The other man was older.
“Yes,” Emily said slowly, wondering why they were there.
“May we ask if you are related?” The older man asked respectfully.
“I’m their daughter…” Emily was wondering where this was going.
“Can we come in?” The younger man asked. He expression was full of sorrow…and pity?
“Uh, sure?” Emily stepped back to let the officers into the house. They walked into the living room and sat down. Emily stood awkwardly by the door.
“Sit down,” the older man instructed gently. Emily did as she was told without question. The young man cleared his throat before starting.
“I’m sorry, but your parents were in a car wreck.” Emily blinked rapidly. A car wreck? What? The sound of small feet made them all look toward the door.
“A car wreck? Are they all right?” Harmony cried. Her big blue eyes were worried, and her face was as pale as a sheet. The young police officer’s throat seemed caught, so the older man continued.
“I’m sorry, but the paramedics couldn’t save them.” Emily’s gut lurched. That couldn’t be true!
“Emily, what does that mean?” Harmony’s young face was full of shock and pain. Emily felt the tears stinging her eyes; her face twisted painfully.
“Harmony, it means Momma and Daddy went to see Jesus.” Harmony took one sharp breath. Her lip started to tremble and a tear rolled down her face. Emily couldn’t take it. Grasping her younger sister closer, she ran her fingers forcefully through Harmony’s hair. “We’ll be all right, Harmony. Don’t you worry. We’ll make it.” Emily’s voice sounded as if she were convincing herself as much as her sister.
“Do you have any relatives in the area?” The older policeman asked after they had calmed.
“Yes,” Emily brushed a tear, trying to think. “We have Aunt Megs.”
“May I have her number?”
Emily nodded her head. She told the man the number before the older policeman left the room with his phone. The younger policeman scooted to the edge of the sofa.
“We’re going to stay and help you until your aunt comes. Is there anything I can do for you?”
Emily was about to shake her head when Harmony spoke. “Mr…Um?”
“Harper, I’m Officer Harper,” the young man introduced himself. “What is it you would like me to do?” Officer Harper asked.
“Could you pray with us?” Harmony’s face was white with tears streaming down it. Harper looked uncomfortable as he sifted his weight.
“How about you pray? I’ll join with you though.” Harmony bowed her head, but no words came. Only the broken sobs of a broken heart.
“Don’t, Harmony,” Emily shook her head, crying as well. Her voice was laced heavily with pain and disbelief. The older policeman entered the room and looked at Harmony sadly before saying,
“Your aunt is on her way. I told her the news over the phone,” the officer informed. “Are you the only ones in the house?”
“No,” Emily shook her head. She felt dull, numb, and hurt inside. “Justice is seven and Ernest is two. They’re both in bed.”
“Anything else you need?” Harper wanted to know. The girls didn’t think so. They both had been so kind to them. However, Emily again felt the heartache when Aunt Megs arrived.
“Harmony, Emily, I’m so sorry,” Aunt Megs clasped them to her tenderly. Emily shook her head as the tears started. Aunt Megs looked so much like Momma! The pain was so real, the heartache so fresh. Emily pulled away from her aunt, and ran toward the door.
Rushing outside…rushing to where she wouldn’t hurt anymore, Emily tripped in the dark and fell to her knees. Everything hurt so bad. Why? Why would God let this happen?
“Emily,” Aunt Megs placed her hand on Emily’s shoulder.
“Go away,” Emily shook her head and tried to push her aunt’s hand away. “It hurts too much.”
“I know,” Aunt Megs’ voice broke a bit before she took a deep breath to continue. “I know, but it will get better. You’ll manage; you’re a strong girl, Emily.”
“I don’t want to. I’ve been strong long enough.”
"That’s what you told your aunt?” Mrs. Anderson asked. Emily and her siblings were staying with Reverend and Mrs. Anderson until all the papers could be filled out with their aunt.
“Yes,” Emily nodded her head numbly. The funeral was over, the sympathies payed, and Emily felt so…alone. The sound of the children playing in the background only made her feel more alone.
“Then why don’t you stop trying?” Mrs. Anderson pressed.
“I don’t understand,” Emily shook her head. Stop trying?
“There comes a time in all of our lives where we feel a little bit broken. Because the truth is that we live in a broken world. Disappointment shakes us, heartbreak crushes us, loss devastates us. We have all lost someone or something that we love,” Mrs. Anderson explained gently, taking Emily’s hand in hers.
“But I don’t want this world to be broken,” Emily cried, shaking her head. “I want it to be golden sunsets and laughing brooks; I want it to be joy.” But, Emily added mentally, it sure didn’t seem joyful now.
“God did too, Emily. God doesn’t enjoy our sorrow, and He didn’t want Adam and Eve to sin. That’s why He sent us a way to make beauty out of the ashes of our life.”
“He did?” Emily dashed a tear from her face. “What did He send?”
“Who, Emily, who did He send? He sent Jesus—“
“I’ve heard that in church,” Emily turned her face away. “He’s supposed to be good and a comfort. But, Mrs. Anderson, it still hurts!”
“I know,” Mrs. Anderson’s face mirrored Emily’s. “I will miss your mother as well. But, our Kind Heavenly Father sent His Son to take away the pain of this world. Someday, you may be able to meet your mother and father in heaven again.”
“Mrs. Anderson, how can I be sure?” Emily asked. “How?”
“Repent and believe. Tell God that you believe. Cry out to Him, and ask Him to help your unbelief.” Mrs. Anderson watched as Emily fell onto her knees in prayer. Emily’s prayer was simple and pure, but meaningful.
“Lord, I believe…help my unbelief.”
A few days later as Emily found her notebook. Scratching out the pages about her princess dreams, she wrote, I am a new creation…and now I have a new song to sing.
Amie Woleslagle (age 13)
Amie is a wild, crazy writer who is either day dreaming or talking a hundred miles an hour. When she is not doing those two things, she is probably reading or jamming on one of the four instruments she plays.
Writing is her overwhelming passion, but she is also passionate about horses, music, photography, blogging (her blog is https://crazya.blog/), and living life to glorify her Creator and Lord.
She is the second oldest of seven children and enjoys being dramatic with her four sisters. Whether it is in writing or in her words, she enjoys making people laugh.
Tell Amie what you think of her story in the comments below!
Drum roll please! It is the day I'm sure a lot of you have been waiting for. :) The announcement of our story contest winners!!
First of all, thank you to each of you amazing young writers who contributed stories to this contest. Our judge (my sister), MacKenzie told me that they were all so good she had a really rough time picking just two to win! Each of you did a fantastic job with your story plots and matching the theme of the contest. Congratulations to all of you on a job well done! <3
And now, without further ado, I will present to you the winners of my 2018 Beauty for Ashes Story Contest!!
Second Place Winner...
Maria Copeland with her story "A Jar of Clay"!!
First Place Winner...
Amie Woleslagle with her story "I Am New"!!
Congratulations to both of you! I will be emailing you shortly.
Thank you all again for your entries and support of the contest, and blessing us with your writing. :)
Keep writing! <3
Today I just wanted to post a quick reminder about the deadline for my 2018 story contest, Beauty for Ashes. The deadline is midnight tonight, so if you were planning on submitting a story please do so by midnight! The judging will begin tomorrow.
Thank you to those who have already submitted stories. We can't wait to begin reading them. To prevent bias, I will not be judging them. ;) Our judge is my lovely sister, MacKenzie, and she also will not know who wrote each story when she chooses the winner.
Winners will be announced next Friday, March 9th, so keep an eye out for that!
Keep writing, friends <3
As Christian writers, our primary audience is obviously Christian.
But what about when writing something that will be read by a non-Christian audience?
Maybe you were asked to write an article about fashion for a friend's magazine that reaches all their non-believing friends. But as a Christian, your thoughts on fashion are changed by your faith. So no matter what topic you're writing about, how do you write to a non-Christian audience without being "offensive"?
Well, here are my thoughts:
First of all, it is not your obligation to keep from offending them.
People get offended all the time in the world we live in. Someone could breathe the wrong way, and chances are it would offend someone somewhere. Your responsibility as a Christian writer is not to shy away from your faith to keep from offending someone. If you're sharing your faith and it offends someone, that is not your problem. We are to be unashamed of Jesus Christ and speak His Name, even when the world stands against us.
Second, love your audience.
Treat your non-believing audience with just as much love as your Christian audience. Welcome them, respect them, engage with them. Chances are, if you share your faith boldly but respectfully (for example: don't argue with them or talk down to them), they're going to either listen or just ignore you. But either way you've won cause you've planted seeds. So love the people God sends into your life as readers. Show them His love firsthand--don't just talk about it.
Third, be real.
Boldly, declare your faith. But be real about it. Don't be fake, don't be judgmental, and don't live a double life. Let me be clear here: we're all human and we all make mistakes. None of us are perfect and none of us ever will be. But if you continually write about and preach one thing and then purposefully live another way, you're living a double life. Always believe that there is room to grow. Be authentic. Be real. Be bold.
Fourth, remember that it is your responsibility to share Christ.
As a Christian, you are an ambassador for Christ. It is your privilege and responsibility to share Him with the world. You are not obligated to anyone else, but Christ. Write what He calls you to write, share what He calls you to share. Love Him and love His people. That will be your greatest testimony.
Sometimes, creating a thrilling plot can take a lot of work.
It can be difficult to capture your readers and give them a story that makes them come back for more.
Although I don't typically write fiction much anymore, I grew up formulating plots and crafting novels. I've definitely done my share of plot and character development.
So here are just three things I learned that will help make your plot capture your reader and make the story come alive:
1. Don't go with the predictable ending. A lot of times a novel can feel boring because you have a pretty good idea of where the plot is going.
Take movies for example. Have you ever watched the same movie on TV over and over, just with different titles? Of course, the actors/actresses and the names aren't the same, but the general plot is all the same.
When this happens in writing, the reader gets bored and may not even finish the book. Or if they're like me, they'll skip to the end and discover--just as they thought--that the plot ends how they imagined it would.
Play around with the sad ending. When a book ends with "happily ever after" and all the character's dreams come true, it feels just a little unrealistic to me. Because life isn't always like that. Make the story feel real, even if your character doesn't get what she/he wants in the end.
Throw in a plot twist no one was expecting. Maybe it's the villain who comes out of nowhere or the accident that shocked the reader. Throw your reader off. Surprise them.
2. Create believable characters. I will get bored with a book so much faster if I cannot relate to the character or imagine this character as a real person. There are some books where the characters just feel distant or unrealistic (too perfect, no flaws, gets everything they want, says stuff a real human wouldn't say, etc.), and this bores me. I will be so much more into the book if that character feels like a long lost friend I'm just re-discovering.
Throw in some character flaws. Maybe your writer is too opinionated or gets irritated easily or gets angry when people don't close their bedroom door. Everyone has their own quirks and flaws. Make sure your character has them too.
3. Don't drag it out. A reader can sense when you are throwing in bunny trails or throwing in extra action scenes or dialogue just to make the story last longer. You're going to keep your reader's attention best when you stick to the story, you tell the story, and then you finish the story. You're telling one story in this book, not three or four.
The best movies or books are the ones where you know that every little detail has a purpose. They aren't just telling you about the pink hat your character used to love because they thought it would be interesting. They're telling you about that pink hat because it's going to mean something to that character further on in the story.
This is a good use of foreshadowing, which is key to a great story. Use every detail to your advantage and focus on the one plot that you are telling.
Sometimes if we admit it to ourselves, writing can feel a whole lot more like work instead of feeling like a whole lot of fun.
It's true. Writing does take a lot of hard work. But it shouldn't all be working.
You should be writing because you enjoy it, because you love it. To develop consistency it does require you to write even when you don't feel like it, but even then it should develop a deeper love for writing in your heart.
So what do you do when you forget how it feels to love writing? What do you do when writing feels more like work than anything else?
1) Take a break. Sometimes in order to refocus, you really do need to just step away and take a break. Get your mind on something else and then come back to your writing with a renewed attitude.
2) Spend some time in God's Word evaluating your heart. Really ask yourself why you're writing what you're writing and why it has felt so hard lately. Have you been writing only to gain more readers or to grow your platform? Have you been writing only to get attention? Sometimes writing feels like a weight on our shoulders because we're doing it for the wrong reasons. Write because you love writing and you want to glorify God with your writing. Keep your focus where it should be.
3) Tell someone your love story with writing. I was eight years old when I fell in love with writing. I was twelve when I finished my first real book and felt the excitement pounding in my chest. I was eighteen when my first book was published and I had never been more in love with writing. We all have a moment or time when we fell in love with the craft of writing. Tell someone your story today.
4) Pray. Ask God for wisdom on how you should proceed. Should you take a prolonged break from writing? Should you just push through and keep going? Ask Him for wisdom.
You can do this. Keep writing.
About this page:
This page of my blog is dedicated specifically to writers. I've been writing for over half of my life. I live and breathe writing. Because of that, I'm passionate about helping other writers grow, develop, and succeed. This section of my blog will include blog posts dedicated to writing, encouragement, and resources. Feel free to read through some posts and my contact form is always open if you ever have any questions or need encouragement! ♥