Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Keturah by Lisa T. Bergren

I'm doing two posts this week, because I need to post this review, and didn't want to crowd my schedule up anymore than it already is ;)

People, I have a confession. I don't like romances. I care for few historical fictions - I love history, but in  my opinion historical fiction is like a paragraph of what you'd find in a history book stretched over a trashy story.
Except G. A. Henty's books... his books are like a paragraph of fiction stretched out over a great history book!


So, yeah, I think I really had little business picking up a historical romance...

Except the main character has my name!!!!!

And so I requested to read this book in exchange of an honest review.

Here we go ;)



In 1772 England, Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson and her sisters find themselves the heiresses of their father's estates and know they have one option: Go to the West Indies to save what is left of their heritage.

Although it flies against all the conventions for women of the time, they're determined to make their own way in the world. But once they arrive in the Caribbean, proper gender roles are the least of their concerns. On the infamous island of Nevis, the sisters discover the legacy of the legendary sugar barons has vastly declined--and that's just the start of
what their eyes are opened to in this unfamiliar world.

Keturah never intends to put herself at the mercy of a man again, but every man on the island seems to be trying to win her hand and, with it, the ownership of her plantation. She could desperately use an ally, but even an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend leaves her questioning his motives.

Set on keeping her family together and saving her father's once-great plantation, can Keturah ever surrender her stubbornness and guarded heart to God and find the healing and love awaiting her?

My review on Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Genre and plot aside, it was an easy enough read. The romance was mostly appropriate. Mostly the characters day dreamed of each other, and their fantasies were all appropriate. Some kissing. There were a couple scenes where rape was attempted/ manhandling, but it was dealt with in a very good way.

I found Keturah's backstory and her previous marriage intriguing. It was very relateble, even if you've never been in a real abusive relationship.

It was definitely a christian book, full of ideas about how God was working in her life.

I did not enjoy how the sisters were not very claiming of their femininity, but very brash and ready to do things of their own strength. I felt it was feministic for the setting.

Keturah's character was sometimes out of place. She was very formal, with names and titles and proximity and social ways. But then with slaves and working she let everything fly. Also, she did not approve of her sister's first "love" choice as the man was a crude captain of the seas. But then later in the book all that mattered was love. To me this all felt illogical, the way her character was very logical, then not.

I enjoyed reading about a character with my name. It was funny to hear people shouting, "Keturah." Or read, "Keturah was not very beautiful." It was interesting to see my name used in ways it would never be used... and in ways it would be used.

I feel this book is very true to it's genre, so even though I gave it three stars on goodreads, I feel anyone that loves christian historical romances will like this book a lot.

I do not plan to read anymore books in this series, but a friend has been trying to get me to read another of this author's books for a long while, Waterfall. I will probably read this soon.

What is your opinion of historical fiction/ romances? Does this look like a book you would read? 

I Had a Little Troll, But It Wasn't Cute

So... had an interesting cyber experience this summer as a result of going to federal court with my Dad in Nevada - my first personal experience with trolls. 

A lot of my dad's friends seem to not like it so much (I guess having lies told about you constantly isn't the most fun) but to be honest everything that was said was so outrageous I found it hilarious. 

Yes, I laughed. A lot. 

I mean - publicity is good, whether positive or not, yes? Lol... not exactly ;p  But still - very funny.

I think you all remember I went to a writer's conference in July? I wrote about it here
Now, some info for y'all. My dad does politics full time. Meaning he attends all the trials for the men involved with the Bundies and other men who are being prosecuted, as my Dad feels, wrongly. He updates the public through his Facebook page, reaching thousands of people and telling them what happens in the courtroom. Letting many people know about things that they would otherwise not ever hear about.

As my dad does this full time he can't work, so people occasionally help out with donations. At this specific time his sister was getting married and people gave more money to help him travel down to her wedding.

Like anything, there are haters. And Dad has many of them.

Like any idiot - these people decided to jump to conclusions. They decided since I was with my dad attending a writer's conference he must have payed for it.

In all honesty, I used my own money. Which I work for very hard. My dad was returning from the wedding to the trials in Nevada.

For quite some time he had wanted me to attend court with him. This happened to work out. We drove to Nevada, stopping at my conference. While I was with writing friends Dad was staying somewhere else continuing his political research. And then we continued on up to Las Vegas where I spent a week in court with Dad before I had to return home to work.

After this I guess they decided to stalk me a bit I guess? They shared my post I wrote about my time in Las Vegas. But not in a positive way... lol.

And here's where the wild guesses start... not sure what they think we stole ;p ;) 

This is hilarious. We are neither Mennonite nor Amish. And we have no more online presence or tech gadgets than any other normal person... so I'm not sure what's up with that ;p 

Sorry, Ivie. You are most certainly not stupid. And what in the world is he talking about how I center my text??? That's art ;p But maybe that makes you stupid to center blog text? I don't know... but shall continue doing so :D 

But his readers seem to think he's smart for making fun of how I align my text. To be honest I was quite surprised they didn't say anything about the pink, lol. 

"...At least can spell." HAHA! Thank you...? to be honest, I'm not really that great of a speller. Auto-correct is truly a friend, and my readers who will occasionally point out to me, "You need to change this before too many people see the horrid thing you just wrote!" 

But I do appreciate these kind words spoken by the infamous troll :) 

Well, technically we are lambs not baboons. But whatever. As to genius? Like the post says... it doesn't take a genius to recognize corruption. I sure wasn't trying to act like I was smart. Just stating what I saw. ;) 

I'm glad they liked my headline: "Corruption is obvious. But what are we going to do about it - beyond ranting?"

Yet why do I sense so much sarcasm... as if they really could top it? LOL And I really don't think they understood the ranting vs. doing part... 

I hope you all enjoyed this post. I know it's a bit different than I normally do. But these people drew a lot of traffic to my blog. So it's only fair I gave them just a bit of thanks :p Laughter is always good? 

And this is a good lesson for us, too. Make sure you are well informed about what you claim to know a lot about. Other wise you'll look very much like an ignorant fool. Something that is never fun... ;/ 

But comedy is good - so maybe we shouldn't stop the idiocy? 

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Lawrence Children: Chapter 3

Lucy Learns to Live

Tom and Mary O'rally lived just over a small hill, the Lawrence children's only close neighbors. The O'rallies would bring milk to the Lawrence's regularly in good weather in trade of an occasional meal or time of informal fellowship or special anniversary or holiday of some sort. They also leased land to Tom for gardening – so he would pass by in the summer quite often on his way to his fields.
Noah and Tom were especially good friends.
Soon after the storm died down, Tom and a couple men from town came to bury Frederic Lawrence.
It was just shortly after that Julia became sick and Lucy told Vern to go get Mary.
“Too many late nights in the cold?” Mary asked. She at once informed Lucy that their mother had pneumonia. And that they should have come for her sooner.
“She hasn't been ill long, though.” Lucy answered defensively. “I sent Vern as soon as I realized it was more than a cold.”
But Lucy felt it was even more than pneumonia. Julia hadn't been the same at all since Frederic died. She felt her mother was dying of a broken heart, mournful.
Lucy and Mary stayed up all night. Ann stayed up, too, for a long while. But Lucy noticed how her eyes were bloodshot and in need of rest. “Why don't you take Julie to our room? I think she needs rest – and someone to cuddle with,” Lucy said to Ann.
At first Ann seemed hesitant to leave their mother. But she took Julie's hand and lead her away.
Lucy knew their mother wouldn't make it.
She hated herself for being so resigned. And she couldn't cry. Not even when Mary announced their mother had passed the very next day.
Vern did not appear shocked. But even he cried as everyone else did. Noah shook his head, and asked quietly, “I thought we were going to be fine?”
Mary wrapped her arms around Noah, “It will be fine, Noah. God is still with us. He's just working in a strange manner we humans can't understand right now.”
Noah wasn't convinced.
Lucy knew she wasn't convinced.
Noah voiced just what she was thinking, “You are saying God is doing this?”
Mary didn't answer.
Vern did, “No. This is not the result of God's works. But evil. I'm not sure how or why – but I know it can't be God's will.”
Lucy nodded.
Mary looked troubled, but didn't say anything.
It didn't take long for the town to hear about the deaths of the Lawrence parents. Many gathered at their home as Tom lead a short service, burying Julie next to Frederic's fresh grave in the family cemetery.
It was a good service – one that Lucy knew her parents would have approved of.
Mary stood between Lucy and Ann, holding Julie in her arms. It was comforting having another adult close by, even if she had to leave soon.
Lucy gulped at a thought, “We are orphans now. And Vern and I have to care for everything. And everyone.” She did not say these words out loud – but they felt loud in her mind. Vern was nearly 18 and she 15. But neither of them were ready for this work before them.
Her eyes were already full as she watched the last of the dirt fill her mother's grave.
Tom, Vern, and Noah stepped away from the two mounds, both fresh.
Noah was still crying. His face was smeared with the dark soil that now covered their parents.
Lucy left the warm side of Mary and gave her little brother a hug. He cried into her shoulders. She found herself finally able to cry a little, too. But not too much.
She had to be strong.
She was the new mother – but even as she thought this, she cried harder than Noah.

Many of the town's people that attended their parent's funeral brought dishes of food. No one stayed for a meal – for that the Lawrence children were thankful. They were not in the mood for putting on the act a formal meal required. Several women requested that some of the small children stay with them for the night – or even a couple weeks.
When Lucy heard them ask she panicked.
But Vern saved them, “Thank you, but I think it would be best for the little ones to stay with us, much more change won't help them right now.”
The town's people looked ready to differ, but Tom hushed them.
Mary had wanted to bring Julie home, too. Out of everyone Lucy trusted her. But she couldn't let any of her family out of her sight. Not right now. “You understand, we need to be together right now?” Lucy asked Mary. She didn't want to offend the woman. She just wanted everyone safe and together.
“Of course I do, dear. I'll come check on you all soon.”
“Thank you.”

“The path should be good enough for the kids to start going to school again tomorrow,” Vern said that night over dinner. The path had been good enough for some time, Lucy knew. But no one had felt like continuing life outside their home quite yet.
Vern was saying it was time.
It was just three days after the funeral. Lucy hadn't made anything fancy for dinner. You were supposed to have lots of food at funerals. She knew this because of the novels she read. Yet life never seemed to be able to imitate every detail of fiction as one would like.
She didn't have the strength to live up to a picture perfect novel. Especially tonight. The food from neighbors, kept cool in the cellar and snow drifts, would suffice just a bit longer, and merit what they needed.
“That is good,” Lucy said to Vern. It was about time they started attending school again. No one was going to fall behind just because she and Vern were in charge now.
But as she looked at Julie, Lucy knew they wouldn't all be able to attend like before. Someone needed to care for the baby.
“Will you still be studying? Like Mother had you do?” Lucy already knew what she had to do. But she wanted to make sure they all kept to their parents wishes. Even Vern.
“I don't know… Someone has to keep the mines going. I need to make sure the ore shipments are filled. And that's going to take a lot of work. I've even considered having Noah stay home to help.”
Noah looked up from his food, his face showing sharp worry.
“Vern.” Lucy said quietly. “We'll be fine.”
“No, we won't,” Vern replied quietly. His tone made Lucy's skin tickle. The reality of their situation hit her more. Vern would have to do more than she thought. “But you are right. Noah should keep going to school for now. And I'll try to study when I can. Evenings or weekends?” Vern's words drifted off, and even as they did Lucy knew that it would be very hard for Vern to keep studying. He would be working too much – and when he was home he'd want to sleep or eat.
“Good.” Lucy said. She'd make sure everyone had a good education, that they all lived, that no one could say anything negatively about them even if times called for actions that were a little less than ideal. Vern would suffice, all that mattered was that he kept them going and kept the mines in operation. “I'll stay home, too.”
“You – what?” Lucy could tell he wasn't expecting this.
“Someone has to take care of Julie. And cook. And clean. And wash. And -”
“Lucy, you don't have to stay home to do all that. I can take care of Julie. You need to go to school.”
Lucy raised her chin, “And how are you going to care for Julie? Take her into those dangerous mines?”
“They aren't that dangerous -”
“Tie her to a tree outside? Leave her to freeze to death?”
“I know how to care for a baby, Lucy.”
“And I know you can't mine and care for a baby at once.”
Vern slouched over his beans.
Lucy felt everyone on her side, nodding at Vern.
“And I won't drop out of school – just do my studies at home. If I have to go in every now and then for tests we'll work something out. You can tie Julie to a tree then, just for the day. Maybe Mr Farrows will let me send my work in and I can still graduate.”
“I won't tie her to a tree.” Vern said, obviously giving in to what would need to happen for things to run smoothly.
Ann let out a small laugh.
The whole room was thrown into a fit of silence as they all stared at her. It had been so long since anyone had laughed. Especially Ann, their bubble enthused sister.
Ann's face turned red. Lucy didn't know what to say – it wasn't bad that Ann had laughed. But it was evident Ann felt guilty.
Lucy knew she should say something. But her own throat felt blocked.
Vern was the one that spoke, “It's OK Ann. Laughter is good. It's healing. The Bible says so.”
Ann shrugged her shoulders, “Are you sure?”
Vern nodded. “Very. We need you to laugh for us.” He smiled at her – Lucy could tell his smile was strained, forced.
But it resulted in another small smile from Ann.
Lucy wanted to smile. It was nice seeing Ann smile, nice knowing Vern was able to be strong when Lucy couldn't.
It was nice knowing they would all have to learn how to live again together, and each have a part. Their own struggles and sacrifices would compliment each other, helping them all to find life again.

The next morning Lucy woke up early. She and Julie now slept in Father's and Mother's old room. She felt bad for taking their room – but Julie had still slept in bed with her parents. And Lucy didn't want to leave her alone their empty bed or move Julie to her own.
She had invited Ann to move rooms, too, but Ann refused to enter her parents' room.
Lucy made sure not to wake Julie as she left the warm bed for the cold floor. She made sure all the blankets were piled just right around Julie then walked into the outer room.
Lucy stirred the coals and started working at the fire. Soon it was burning hot and she was able to set a tea kettle on, and another pot for breakfast cereal.
Soon Vern came crawling down the ladder followed by Noah.
Lucy smiled at both of them and offered them each a cup of coffee.
“Don't take too long to drink it,” Vern said to Noah as he sat down with his own cup. “We need to get the sleigh hitched and animals fed before school.”
Noah nodded and began drinking his coffee.
“Do you want breakfast before or after you are finished outside?”
Noah opened his mouth to answer, but Vern beat him, “Noah will have his after. I'll eat mine as I go to the mines.”
Lucy wanted to protest, but she remained silent. It would be better if Vern ate in the kitchen. But this wasn't worth fighting over. She knew he didn't want to waste any time getting to work.
After the boys went outside Lucy woke up Ann and Fred-O, had them dress for school, and sat them down to eat.
She would let Julie sleep as long as she wanted. It was too cold to make the little girl get out of bed.
Noah came in just as Lucy was dishing out their breakfasts. “Vern will be in shortly. He just had to get a few things.”
Lucy nodded. “Here, eat.” she sat a bowl of porridge in front of him.
“Vern is so grumpy today,” Noah said to no one in particular.
Ann and Fred-O stared at him, eating and saying nothing. Their eyes were wide as if they were still fighting sleep.
“He keeps saying I have to do all these things. And won't give me a break and -”
“Sounds like Vern isn't the only grumpy one,” Lucy smiled.
Noah shut up and ate his food.
Lucy scooped out her own food and joined her three siblings at the table. They all looked tired, not ready for a school day. She half felt bad for them, even as she thought how she should be going with them if life was fair.
Lucy shook her thoughts away. Vern shouldn't have to be the man of their home.
It wasn't about fair anymore, but what was right.
The kids finished eating and Lucy handed them the lunches she'd packed along with their books.
Vern walked in, “Ready?”
Lucy said, “Yes.”
“Good. You all need to start going.”
The kids followed Vern outside, and Lucy came behind with a large quilt. “Noah, make sure to not drive recklessly. You have two others with you.”
Noah smirked, “Of course I'll drive carefully.”
Lucy spoke, stopping any further argument. “I want Fred-O to sit in the middle.”
No one argued, thankfully. Noah jumped on the sleigh and Vern handed him the reigns. Fred-O obeyed and sat beside Noah as Ann followed. Lucy then tucked the blanket all around them.
“There! Have fun! And don't forget to tell the teacher that I still want my assignments.”
“Want seems like a powerful word,” Vern winked.
Ann answered, “We won't forget.”
And then they were off.
Lucy would have stared after them and cried if it weren't for the cold wind and Vern watching. She ran back inside to proceed fixing Vern's breakfast and lunch.
“There are so many things to do,” Lucy thought. But that was OK. At least she wasn't staying home to an empty schedule.
Vern came in letting cold air fill the kitchen once more. Lucy shivered, “You ready?”
“Yeah,” Vern said. “I guess I'll take my food and start out.”
Lucy handed him a pail of food and a thermos filled with hot coffee. “Your breakfast is in a jar on top.”
“Thanks.” Vern didn't smile. Just took the pail, adjusted his coat closer to his neck, and exited. “Bye!”
“See you. Have fun.” She called out as the door shut after Vern.
Lucy looked around the kitchen.
It was so empty.
She was alone, she realized.
For the first time she was alone.
Lucy let herself fall into a chair at the table. For a second she stared at the wood grains of the table, and then she let her head fall.
Lucy cried.
She cried for her parents. She cried for Vern's and her future and all the hardships they would face. She cried for how she would manage this house and the kids. And she cried for Julie – Julie.
Someone pulled on her sleeve even as Lucy caught a glimpse of her little sister's messy hair. “Lucy?”
Lucy looked up suddenly realizing that she wasn't alone. No, she had Julie.
Lucy quickly wiped away her tears and put Julie up onto her lap, “Nothing, little girl. I was just tired.”
“You cry when you are tired?” Julie's question was asked with wide open eyes, as if this were the strangest thing she had ever heard.
“Sometimes. It's humorous isn't it?”
Julie didn't laugh. Just nodded, and smiled a little. She rested her head against Lucy's chest. “I'm not tired. I am hungry.”
“Want something to eat?” Lucy stroked Julie's small head.
“Yes. I am hungry.”
“OK. I'll get you some warm cereal.”
Lucy eased Julie off of her lap and set her on a chair. As she poured out Julie's food Lucy's need to cry vanished, replaced with purpose.
There would be so many things to do today – studies, housework, and of course watching over little Julie.
There wasn't any more time to cry.
Lucy tried to smile for Julie as she handed Julie a bowl of hot porridge.

Make sure to return the second Monday of next month for the next installment of the Lawrence Children! 

Father Tells a Story posted 10/9/17
No More Good-nights posted 11/13/17
Lucy Learns to Live posted 12/11/17
Never Know, Noah posted 1/8/18
Grandpa's Mystery  posted 2/12/18
Ann Finds Answers posted 3/12/18
Vern Lead's An Adventure posted 4/9/18
A Friendly Visit posted 5/14/18
A Real Clue? posted 6/11/18
Fred-O is Frightened  posted 7/9/18
Good Job, Julie! posted 8/13/18
Hello, Life posted 9/10/18

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

My NaNo Life

So... I realized something. I'm really bad at updating the world to my writing life. I mean... I didn't even tell you all that I was doing NaNo. Much more... that I had huge, HUGE writing goals for last month.

At least they were huge for me ;) 

Plus I was traveling... while trying to write. 

Here's my apology, with an update! 

Back when I was trying to get serious about writing and started the process of building up my writing habits I joined Go Teen Writer's 100 for 100. I wrote a sci-fi novella called Silent Thoughts. It took me several months... but once I was finished I completely loved what I had. And could finally say I'd finished a story of some length. 

Here's a guest post I recently did on Go Teen Writer's that goes more in depth about that journey. 

But it didn't stop there. 

In my mind a series began to develop. 

A Series Of Thoughts. 

83,341 words, a little over four novellas! 

Three years later I finally felt ready to tackle this series. 

In a single month. 

My second time doing NaNo, and I decided to write 100k words. 
That's five 20k novellas. 

I houseclean almost full time for work. So the first couple weeks of NaNo I would get up at 5:30 and write for about three and a half hours before I had to work. If I still had a daily word count quota to fill I would do that in the evening, but normally I didn't. So I would relax with a book, music, movie, or friends. 

I survived those first few weeks with a lot of water and Oolong tea. And fresh air. I was writing 4-5 thousand words a day. 

Then the last couple weeks I was in Kentucky visiting one of my best friends. 

I set a high goal for myself that I thought I might not be able to complete. But I would try. The last two weeks of November as I traveled, visiting friends I wasn't able to write as much. I knew this starting out... and told myself it was OK to fail my goals.

But who am I kidding? I am an overachiever. I set goals that are impossible and then die trying to make them happen

Well... I did force myself to not die. But I didn't quite reach 100k... just a little over 83k words. the last few weeks I had to remind myself that people were more important than stories... that without people my stories are nothing. 

And so I felt happy with what I did achieve :D 

My NaNo word count.

A neat comparison. I wrote Silent Thoughts when I was 18, and learning to build good writing habits, 100 words a day. It took me over three months to write the novella.

But three years later I wrote a novella in four days, five thousand words a day.

It's amazing how building little habits slowly can really create amazing results! 

This month I will finish Final Thoughts, and then I will set aside the series to finish writing a novel I started back in August called Let Me Meet Death Dancing. After that is finished I plan to use this next year of 2018 to rewriting and polishing A Series of Thoughts. So you may hear a lot about it. ;D 

I haven't mentioned much about my novel on here either. The reason for that is my novels tend to be very personal as I write them, and I have a hard time sharing about them until after they are finished. 

Also, I do have a page for all my stories now! It is here. Or if you look through my pages you will see My Stories. 

One other thing funny... I just discovered that NaNoWriMo doesn't stand for what I thought it did. Here I was telling everyone it was National November Writing Month.

Mary, the friend I have been visiting, informed me that it actually stands for National Novel Writing Month. 

Who knew? 

If you want to know more about the series feel free to check it out on NaNo or my writing page... I have a little on both places. 

Did you do NaNo? What were your goals? What are your future writing goals? And what do you do to survive? Have any of you tried Oolong tea? 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

God Wills Free Will

I have many questions in life, mostly about how life works and how people make it work. 

I don't really bother over common questions like;

Why would God allow this?

Why is there suffering? 

Why is there so much evil if God is good?

To me these questions are too petty to think on - the answer to all of them is this: God doesn't allow sin, but we choose it. Suffering is a result of our sin. Consequences. Naturally what we will choose will affect us and others, just as what others choose will affect us and many more people.

My question is this: why do people choose evil??? Why do we hate? Why are we selfish

And why do so many of us choose what is not right somehow managing to convince ourselves that this must be right??

How can two people appear to be following God yet make drastically opposite decisions each "according to the will of God and what He has told them to do" but it somehow hurts one or the other?

These are the questions I ask.

Why do people hate me? Treat me wrong - when they obviously have the potential for greatness? Why do they (or I) choose stupidity over love?

Even as I do it... I wonder why??

And then I wonder... How can God allow this stupidity? This pain? This awful way of living?

It's kinda crazy, but this question bothered me for a long time. Bitterness against those that were treating me in what I considered a wrong way turned me into not wanting to be around people at all. I didn't understand God at all - and it seemed the more I tried to understand the more confused I became. 

I was finding that others' hate was causing me to hate even more... and I knew it. And it scared me. 

But I was stuck - how could people be so evil? How could God be in their lives and they act in such a way? How can people claim to know the love of God and not even show it?

And then I realized several things. 

1. Was I any different? Romans 3:23, 1 Corinthians 13
2. I was very willing to judge others for their actions, and myself for only my intentions. 1 John 4:20, Galatians 6:3
3. God made us free - to choose what we will. 1 Peter 2:16
4. And making making mistakes is what we all do - myself included. 
5. When people wrong us I must keep loving. Bitterness is not what a child of God gives in to. Galatians 5:13, Luke 6:46
6. Sure, God wants love. Book of First John  Perfection. Matthew 5:48 Righteousness. But He also wills free will. John 7:17  And while that's a huge thing on His part - it's who God is. God is good - thus He doesn't' force us to be good.

And so many of us won't choose all of Him completely. So many good people will fail. So many of us will choose hate over love.

The world will continue seeing stupidity.

But the pain isn't God's will - He wishes for us to choose Him over hate and bitterness and uncertainty. 

God wants our love. From us, not from force.

It's kinda a scary thing. It's a painful process. So many more people will be hypocritical idiots. I will forever have to choose to press closer to God and forgive and not vent in bitterness.

It's so hard.  It's tiring - especially as I see more and more of the state of selfishness we humans love to embrace. 

Only this helps: Choosing God gives strength, despite others' hate.

So, I still wonder, why do we hate? 

But I understand now it's not because God ignores us. He really does love each of us. And I'm sure He hates the stupidity even more than I do... way more. More than, it must sadden God.  this is all His creation.  

But we aren't meant to continue giving in this ugly pain. No matter the person that gives the hate, we are called to love. 

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.
Galatians 5:13

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Is It Wise For You To Read This Unfortunate Series?

If you are reading this post you are probably considering whether or not you should read A Series of Unfortunate Events. I am here to tell you that you will hear two different answers for your question.

Lemony Snicket: Absolutely not. Unless you just enjoy being completely depressed, soaked in the puddles of your own tears.
Me: Absolutely, yes. I'm not sure what is the matter with the author. But you won't shed tears… at least not many. Only one who is very dimwitted wouldn't laugh over these warm hearted children's books.
Lemony Snicket: Warm hearted! The only thing that is ever warm is the blood spilled by vicious villains! No, do not listen to Keturah. These books of mine are full of miserable accounts concerning the lives of the Baudelaire orphans. Many of which consist of very cold, sleepless, frightening nights.
Me: I'm sorry, dear readers. We will say goodbye to Mr Snicket, as he isn't in the most postitive mood today.
Lemony Snicket: Wh – no! You can't let this go on any lon-
Me: Goodbye.

There. I do apologize for those unnecessary words of Mr Snicket.

Now we can get on to the review of the series, A Series of Unfortunate Events.

I'm not sure what you call this genre, but I call it horror comedy. It's so horrible it's funny. But not at all stupid.

Isn't horror stupid,” you may ask. That's if you are like me and detest horror…

And I would agree and add, “Yes. But not when the it is stupid horror.”

Comedy – a word which here means, “a terribly funny series that you must read” – is mixed perfectly with cleverness, a trait that many stupid adults can't seem to grasp and apply to their lives.

Go here to read my review of the series on Goodreads. Be warned that it contains minor spoilers.

Here are 13 reasons why you should read A Series of Unfortunate Events. By the way, I am not secretly endorsing the Netflix series (or book, for that matter) 13 Reasons Why. I just happened to use a phrase that has been long in existence before that show ever became unduly popular. I am not putting that show down – I have never seen it. But I just want to make certain you all understand I was not hinting in secret code (a practice used all too commonly in A Series of Unfortunate Events). I was simply using words in their correct usage according to our English language.

1. If you enjoy simple stories, full of complex situations this series may be for you. Yes, this is a children's story – but as all good children's stories it is very appropriate for all audiences.

2. If you would like to stretch your mind and question your belief that you know a lot, this series is most certainly for you. Because you will learn something, I guarantee. And if you don't, you may in fact be a villain incapable of storing key information in your mind.

3. Do you want to be considered well-read by people that are in fact well-read? Read this series. A little peer pressure never hurt one's mind – unless the peer pressure was issued by idiots, of course. Remember, well-read persons often read books that are worth a well of information. Be well-read.

4. If you want to find out the truth about what happened to the Baudelaire children. Remember, the author has made a solemn oath to reveal all the truths he knows.

5. Mysteries abound aplenty in this series. The word aplenty means, “more than needed” which here means “so many mysteries your mind will not be able to handle the amount, and you may very well die of brain injury before your reading is completed if your brain is not sturdy”.

6. Who is Beatrice, the beautiful love of Lemony Snicket? The woman that will be forever dead.

7. Superstitions – real or not? That depends on how you look at it… or read it ;)

8. Are adults all doomed to be inefficient – a word here that means “Completely incapable of keeping three orphans safe and happy from the clutches of their own or others' greed?”. Read to know.

9. Do you like to learn new words? Well, I'm afraid that these three children, Klaus particularly, will be able to teach you quite a few words.

10. Do you often feel depressed? I've heard reading about others misfortunes has a way of making your own feel petty. This series shall be perfect for you.

11. If you like happy endings – this series isn't for you. Oh, wait. I forgot I must be positive. In good light of the series, even though the lighting in the series is rarely good. If you like clever cliches, this book is for you.

12. If you like to have your hope {I mean fear} dashed to pieces this is perfect for you!

13. If you would like to know more about Lemony Snicket, but know as I do that his autobiography contains no real information concerning his mysterious person, I am happy to say that he has hidden many details of his own life in these books.

To give an honest review I should include 13 reasons why you should not read this series. Especially as the author would like me, too. But he and I both know that is very much impossible, as 13 reasons is not near enough for all the tragedies that refuse to limit themselves to such a small number.

But laughter will overrun all your tears, I guarantee.


Lemony Snicket: Be honest.
Me: I am being honest. And I told you your time was over.

Sorry, again. He has a way of always wanting to get in an extra warning, I mean, word in.

These books will be exactly what you need if you are looking to add much knowledge to your sadly empty brain. They will make your glassy eyes laugh. And your stone heart beat {in fear}.

One of the most enjoyable {terrifying} reads of my life!!!!!

Do read! And let me know what you think!!!  

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

More Than Modest: Respect

This is loosely related to my post More Than Modest.

This post was originally published at the blog A Pinch Of Classy, where I do monthly fashion posts. 

I have come to a huge realization: most of the world is selfish. Past the way we act and speak, on to the way we dress. To each individual life and the world revolves 100% around “me” and the way they do things.

And I am no exception to this.

(Do you ever like to watch people and think, 'to them I am the stranger. To them something drastic is happening. Their life is all that matters – my problems would be petty to them.' It's a humbling thought.)

I am going to try and keep this post clothing focused...but as in many areas, my thoughts are directly and indirectly weaved around so many others.

Life never unravels in one place – but the whole garment of
existence has a way of catching flame suddenly all at once. Not only
is it hard to put out the fire – but the damage isn't just a little
bit of mending.

More like a complete remake – but there are still pieces worth salvaging???
and how we wear them.

Man, this isn't just some light issue...even amidst deeper, harder things. It still

I've always believed
that the way a girl dresses should express her femininity with
humbleness, appropriateness, and respectfulness. I've always believed
and still believe that those are the key elements of what make up

But...what do those
qualities really mean? What do they look like? So many
many have good points...some are just plain wrong - or are they?

What is perspective,
what is truth?

And what is simply

I look at so many
women that dress like me (and way more conservative). Even though I
understand their background I also can see deeper, past those

It seems so much of
conservative modesty is really just a mask to hide a vulgar,
feministic, selfish woman. No joy (or smiling). No beauty.

Shouldn't women be
beautiful – aren't we after all the epitome of beauty, of God's

And then I've seen
that so much of conservative dress is completely a man-made belief –
and we judge each other on our own self-made rules!

Where in the Bible
does it say a dress must be full and ankle length? Or that we must
dress against the modern culture?

Where in the Bible
does it say, “Seek weirdness, flee fashion”?
It doesn't.

I still hold to my
core beliefs in how to dress...but I am unsure how those ideas must
be expressed through my clothing in ways that both honor God and man.
In ways that show respect yet I can still express my personality.

I'm not saying
modesty is bad...but it most certainly is being abused.

Dress appropriately,
yes – but we don't need to hide the fact we are women and have a

Women are not

We are beautiful.

Conservatism modesty
(hide under layers and layers of polyester – sweat out your faith)
doesn't help women be true women.

And neither does the
porn industry or Holly Wood
(starve yourself to get your bones to
pop, then give away your skin for free in clothing that is very
worthy of being labeled poverty rags. Show all men what you have –
and hide next to nothing) inspire feeling in women of being something
more than an object for men.

These two extremes
scream at all of us young girls.

How are we supposed
to know what to do? Feel good about ourselves?

Balance is a foreign
concept – we only know the two wrongs.

Be holy and “save”
our entirety for a potential husband (who may not notice us because
he's enthralled in the cheap alternative that is too accessible).

In frustrations so
many of us throw away the embrace almost nothing. Trying
to say, “I am just as beautiful...”

Of course there is
still the chance he will only see what you are showing instead of who
you are...and even then what you have may not be enough...

Starvation...fashionable doesn't work.


But why not???

The problem is way
bigger than the way we dress, first off…but that is another matter

Dressing to please
anyone but God will lead you only to darkness – there will always
be someone to find fault.

We must recognize
the hypocrisy. But we don't run away from it toward sin.

We embrace the truth
of what was said – and “fix it up” instead of covering the
truth in lies.

We are women, and
must dress accordingly despite what the two extremes tell us.

I am wanting to
learn how to respect God and man and myself by not becoming an object
– whether an object that hides behind layers or an object that
exposes her skin for men to lust after. Who is with me???

I'm still not sure
what this looks like. I'm still not sure on a lot of things.

But it is starting
to fit together...slowly.

I do not need to be
ashamed or hide my body. And I do not need to prove this by embracing
the opposite end of the stick – I can still be me, be free in the
fact that I am me with out being ashamed of not conforming to one or
the other.

True femininity
starts with those modesty qualities being instilled in our hearts
through Jesus (Yeshua). And once it is we should be able to better
express that true modesty in the way we dress.

Many will still judge and hate.

But modesty
(fashion) isn't about receiving approval. It's about so much more –
such as what is right.

This is an old picture - but I love it because it was a time from my life when I was happy for no reason. When I had every right to be depressed - I was content. The feelings in this picture - this should be our fashion statement. 

Tell me, girls –
what does your journey toward respectful dress look like?

We are all in this
together, after all. Every movie, every magazine, every garment that
is made – it honors or offends each of us personally. And affects
all of us together.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Lawrence Children: Chapter 2

No More Good-nights

When spring came Frederic never took the Lawrence children treasure hunting. Life had other plans instead, drastically opposing those of what the children desired.
It all started in the dead of an October winter, just a couple weeks after Frederic told his story.
Snow covered the Montana valley so that it was impossible for Frederic to traverse to the mines, much less for the children to attend school. For days all were stranded in their small cabin.
But life continued for the few days the whole family was trapped in their home.
Julia made sure that all the children kept up their studies. There wasn't much pressuring to do with Lucy or Noah. Even Fred-O did well. But Ann and Vern were another matter – especially Vern as he thought he didn't need to do much studying as he didn't attend school anymore.
“I do not see why I have to study so much when it doesn't even matter.”
“Vern Lawrence,” Julia sighed. “You don't learn because you have to go to school. You go to school so that you can learn. And you continue learning even after school is over. That is life.”
Vern was not persuaded.
“Besides,” Julia said, letting her exhaustion show in her voice. “What else is there for you to do with all this snow?”
Vern shrugged. He would much rather help Father. But he knew he wouldn't be able to make the snow melt soon enough.
Julia nodded as if her point were proven.
Frederic spoke as he sent Vern a sympathizing look, “If you finish all your studies, why don't you go trapping with me tomorrow? I think the weather will be good enough to do so.”
Vern's eyes lighted, “Yeah!” He looked sideways at his mother, waiting for Julia to tell him no.
Instead she said, “It will be good for him to get out of the house, and away from me.”
Vern grinned.
“Good!” Frederic said, “It will be a little hard to check them with all the snow – but at least we will have furs to keep us occupied.” Vern looked to his father and smiled – taking care of meat and furs was his preferred kind of work.
Julia smiled, “It will be good for both of you. I don't enjoy keeping my boys cooped up inside, forcing them into scholars.”
“I like learning,” Noah exclaimed. “You don't force me.”
Julia laughed, “No, you are a special one, aren't you?”
Noah returned the laugh, “But I wouldn't mind going with Father.” His eyes hinted at a wanted invitation.
Frederic laughed, “I should take you, too. But it shall be so cold out. Next time, deal?”
Noah smiled, not seeming bothered by having to stay, “Sounds good to me.”

Frederic woke Vern early.
Why? He didn't have to take the children to school – snow! There was no school today. And he was going trapping! Vern moved from his shared bed with Noah as quietly and quickly as he could manage. And then he buried himself in warm clothes.
Climbing down from the loft, the warm smell of coffee saluted his nostrils.
“Good morning,” Julia smiled, directing him toward a place at the table. Bacon, coffee, and cooked grain. It was all hot, steam overflowing with delicious scents.
Vern already felt so hungry, as if he had already worked a full hard day without food.
Frederic was already seated at the table, eating.
“Eat quickly,” Julia directed. “Your father wants to be out before light.”
Frederic's mouth was full. Vern sat down and made his own mouth likewise. His father kept eating, neither confirming nor contradicting Julia's words.
Once they were finished Julia handed Frederic a large tin lunch bucket, and a canister full of hot coffee to each of them, wrapped in cloth. Frederic grabbed his rifle, and Vern took another. They were bundled up warm, prepared to meet cold and wildlife.
“Take care,” Julia kissed Frederic and Vern, Vern receiving his kiss on the cheek. “And have fun.”
Frederic nodded, returning his wife's kiss.
Vern grinned. Of course he would have fun – not being cooped inside was the first guarantee of that.

Stepping in the snow turned out to be more work than his books would have caused.
But Vern did not mind.
He enjoyed having this time with his father, and learning more about the traps and even the animals.
“Have you been finding many animals in the traps lately?” Vern asked. It had been awhile since they had trapped together, as Frederic normally checked the traps while Vern would take care of other chores.
Frederic nodded amidst his many layers, “Yes. Though not as many as I'd like.”
They had already checked a good five traps, having to dig them out of drifts to only find them empty. Half the day was over. They would be stopping to eat soon and not one animal – dead or alive.
“It seems quiet out here, doesn't it?” Frederic said, breaking into Vern's thoughts.
“Yeah,” Vern said. “Is that bad?”
Frederic grunted, “Naw, it's neither. Just an observation.”
“I like it. Feels peaceful.”
“That it does.”
“I remember Richard telling me once that trapping was dangerous work,” Vern said as if the idea were preposterous.
“Anything is dangerous. But I think it's ten times safer than the mine work. Plus, as you say it's more peaceful. But yeah – anything involving wild animals can lead to an accident.
“Oh.” Danger would add some excitement to the quiet. Not that Vern wanted it to be loud. But excitement was never bad.
Silence settled between the two men as they continued to shove their feet over and through the snow.
“One more trap, then we'll eat?” Frederic announced, though as a question.
“Sounds good.” Vern replied, breathing hard from the exertion of pulling his boots through the snow.
Before they even reached the trap Vern could tell this one was going to be different than the others.
He heard movements and groans. Something was caught, and the poor creature was still alive.
Frederic smiled to Vern.
“Finally!” Vern exclaimed.
Frederic nodded, “Hopefully it isn't just something small.”
But Frederic wasn't hoping to see what he saw.
Both of their smiles disappeared when they saw what was caught – a small bear cub. Frederic let out a frustrated gasp. “Stay back, Vern.”
“What are you going to do?” It was just a baby. They usually went for smaller animals, though not babies. Especially not bears. Not with foot traps.
“I'm going to try and let it loose. Hopefully it isn't so hurt we have to shoot it.”
Vern heard positivity in his father's voice. Most likely it would be alright once they freed the cub.
“Just keep an eye out for the mother bear. Keep the gun ready. And be careful”
Vern nodded, pulling his rifle off of his shoulder, and making sure it was cocked.
Frederic stepped toward the baby bear, and immediately it let out a groan, mixed with tortured pain and fear. “It's OK, little fellow. I'm just going to get your foot out of that there trap. OK?”
The bear growled – no, wait.
That growl was too loud for a baby…
The mother bear was on Frederic before Vern even saw her.
Frederic yelled.
Vern's brain froze even as his arms moved into action. Where was he supposed to shoot? He had to shoot, his hands knew this. But his mind said, “You'll miss!”
Rifle set against his shoulder, he aimed.
What if he shot his father?
He couldn't think.
Vern pulled the trigger.
One shot resounded.
The bear looked up, wounded. It roared, obviously hurt, but not fatally.
Vern reloaded quickly and aimed once more, taking advantage of the open face.
A second shot exploded right into the bear's face.
It stood up on its hind feet, angry. The mother bear raised her claws toward where the gunshots had come from. But the two shots had done their work. The bear toppled backward, falling beside Frederic.
Frederic. “Father,” Vern ran over to his father's side.
There was too much blood. Vern ignored the blood and pulled his father over, not looking at his face. Just his chest. It… it was moving.
A moan.
What was he going to do? His father needed help.
Vern took handfuls of snow and wiped blood off of his father, cleaning his face and neck and skin as much as he could. But the blood was just coming back. The snow wasn't helping. Frederic's warm clothing was torn into shreds. And the snow Vern had just piled onto him would make his father even colder.
Frederic didn't answer.
He was in too much pain. He was moaning – Vern felt sick. The bear hadn't been on his father long, but there was so much blood and his father sounded too weak.
Vern would have to carry Frederic home.
The baby bear grunted, causing Vern to remember the cub. He left his father and released the baby bear quickly, dodging its small claws. The cub ran off not giving Vern a chance to examine its wounds.
He didn't have time anyways.
Vern quickly dumped out all excess things from him and his father. With only a rifle over his shoulder, he picked up his father and started walking slowly home.
His mother would have herbs. She would know what to do.
She had to know what to do.
“Please, God. Don't let him be hurt too bad.” Vern whispered. He felt so numb with horror he didn't even notice the weight of his father.

Vern never forgot his mother's face. Horribly white. He knew when he saw it that there was no hope for his father.
“I brought him as fast as I could,” it was too warm inside. The cold had kept him numb – unable to feel pain. Now he could feel, and he was crying. All his brothers and sisters were staring at him. But oddly enough Vern did not care.
Julia broke out of her state of shock and started pulling the frozen, bloody clothes off of Frederic. “Girls! I need hot water. And my herbs.”
Lucy was already heating pans of snow.
Ann ran into her mother's room for the satchel of herbs.
Julia looked up into Vern's face, “You did good, Vern. We'll save him.” Seeing the little ones, she added, “Do you think you can take them away? I don't want them seeing Father like this.”
Vern walked away in response, grabbing Julie's and Fred-O's hands. He took them to the loft ignoring their questions.
Not ignoring. He couldn't hear them.
Vern tried to be strong. He tried to not cry.
But deep down it was too hard.
He knew his family would never be the same.
Julie and Fred-O stopped talking and hugged Vern as he cried. He wrapped his arms around his two littlest siblings, feeling a little stronger as they hugged him.
“Sing to us,” Fred-O asked Vern.
He didn't want to sing.
But there were so many things he didn't want.
“I don't know any songs right now,” he answered his little brother.
“The one Father always sings to me.”
Vern hugged Fred-O and Julie tighter. “OK.”
And he quietly sang the chorus of the sad folk song their family all loved so well.

Oh, Fred-O,
Don't Go!
That fateful day away.
Oh, Fred-O,
Come home!
Back to loved ones to stay.

After the little ones were put to sleep, Vern crawled down out of the loft. All night he and Julia with the girls and Noah stayed by Frederic's side.
But nothing they could do would save him.
A fever grew over Frederic. All the next day Frederic became weaker and weaker. He never opened his eyes. He never said a word.
Frederic was dead by the next night, and they were still stranded at their cabin, isolated from town and neighbors. The night he died another storm erupted, making it impossible to alert neighbors or bury their father.
Vern and Noah wrapped their father's body in blankets and put him outside the barn, surrounding Frederic with snow. In a few days when it was a bit warmer they would be able to put him in the ground with neighbors' help.
Vern didn't shed another tear after the first night. He knew he needed to be strong for everyone else. There wasn't time for him to feel sadness. But as they buried his father he was glad for the numbing cold once more. It felt so good to not feel.
Noah couldn't stop crying. As they finished covering Frederic with snow, Vern doing most of the work. Noah asked, “What are we going to do?”
“What do you mean?” Vern asked, struggling to speak through the cold air.
Noah shrugged.
“It's not the end of the world.” Vern felt as if he were lying. “We own our land. You and I know how to dig the ore and weigh it in for the gold. We can trap. We both are capable of making sure the rest of this family lives.”
Noah still cried, “Mother doesn't look well.”
“She won't for awhile.” Vern didn't want to be the strong one. But who else would?
“Do you think… th – that...”
“No. Don't even think that way. We'll all be fine.”
Noah nodded. Vern had convinced him for the moment.
Vern gave him a quick hug and whispered, just as much for his own sake as Noah's. Noah needed confirmation that they would be OK. “We are all going to be just fine. You'll see. God is still with us.”
But Vern felt as if God must be someplace else. It was all too quick, too sudden. Yesterday was supposed to be a good day – a day with a break from school to be with his father.
Not the final day of his childhood.

Make sure to return the second Monday of next month for the next installment of the Lawrence Children! 

Father Tells a Story posted 10/9/17
No More Good-nights posted 11/13/17
Lucy Learns to Live posted 12/11/17
Never Know, Noah posted 1/8/18
Grandpa's Mystery  posted 2/12/18
Ann Finds Answers posted 3/12/18
Vern Lead's An Adventure posted 4/9/18
A Friendly Visit posted 5/14/18
A Real Clue? posted 6/11/18
Fred-O is Frightened  posted 7/9/18
Good Job, Julie! posted 8/13/18
Hello, Life posted 9/10/18