Posted in A Non-Artist's Guide to Bible Journaling

A Non-Artist’s Guide to Bible Journaling: November 8, 2016

I could go on and on about how disappointed I am in America. About how I never knew we were still so racist, sexist, and hateful. I could make a long post about how Donald Trump is the epitome of a Biblical fool. I could post links to eye-opening articles, explain why open support of him is a personal attack on me myself.

But I won’t. At this point, I’m not exactly sure what effect it can have so late into the game. All I can do now is pray. Pray for this country’s healing, pray for peace in the coming days, pray for this Election Day. I can’t vote this time (and I may never get over that), but one prayer has a much bigger impact than one vote, going directly into the ear of the King of kings, the Ruler of rulers, the election Decider. A prayer is a vote for Jesus.

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So I challenge you today, no matter who you support, to pray as well. And after the day is done, when the votes are all counted up, and the new president is declared, I challenge you to pray for her/him too. Not just for God’s sovereignty, but for Him to touch their heart so they can make good decisions, so their heart can be open to His truth and direction. Just imagine what could happen if we all prayed like that.

Note: Feel free in the comments to leave your thoughts there. I’d love to hear what others my age have to say about this election. But if it gets too nasty, I will stop the discussion. 

 

Posted in A Non-Artist's Guide to Bible Journaling

A Non-Artist’s Guide to Bible Journaling: Weeping


Psalms 30:5 (NLT)

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.


I cry a lot. And that’s okay.

Emotionally, this has been one of the most painful weeks of my short, teenage life. For a while, I’ve been wrestling with forgiveness and bitterness. Just when I start to think that I’ve begun to move on, a wound that’s been festering for years is struck again, becoming further infected. An already deep gash increases, making the healing process all the more difficult.

I’m tired of this vicious cycle, but every time I make myself vulnerable and speak up, all that arises is more hurt. Constantly, I’m told that I’m free to express my feelings, but whenever I try, something I say is undermined and rejected. Words offend, and I’m the scapegoat, the one to blame for bringing it up, damaging relationships even more. I gave the failed method one last try, and within a matter of seconds, my emotions were destroyed. It all happened so fast that I didn’t have time to process it. One minute, progress is seemingly being made, and the next, I’m so worn and spent that I don’t even bother to gather the strength to get back up again.

I’ve spent an entire week without hope, and it is the darkest place to be. My Bible journaling suffered greatly. I spent six days working on a one column entry that I would usually tackle in an hour.

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All I wanted to do was cry, but surprisingly, tears refused to come forth. Usually, a good cry can ensue with a single thought, but I’d fallen to a place where I’d exhausted my supply of tears on the subject, something I once thought unfeasible.

I’ve always been slightly ashamed of how easily I can burst into tears. Crying seems to be my body’s first response to sadness, anger, frustration, and elation. It’s not uncommon for teardrops to roll down my cheeks when I’m writing heartfelt scenes–or even when I’m simply plotting a depressing scenario in my mind. And I can guarantee you that I cried at least once while composing this blog post. As I’ve gotten older, I find that I’m more prone to cry during a book, TV show, or movie. I used to be able to keep track of how many had made me cry, but I don’t bother anymore. The more I embrace my personality, the more emotional I become.

All my life, I feel like I’ve been led to believe that my hair-trigger emotions are a character flaw, a result of caring too much and naivety. Maybe if I could just “fix” this problem, I could fit in, say what I really want without hesitating, get over my fear of rejection and not being taken seriously. Maybe as I grow older, I’ll lose my idealism and learn to just move on with my life. Maybe I won’t spend my days wallowing in distress, resentment, and silence.

But I don’t want to lose myself. No matter how many times my personality comes back to bite me, I don’t want to change who I am. I don’t want to lose my compassion for others and gain mistrust. I don’t want to lower my opinions of people just so I can avoid another disappointment. I don’t want to fill those special places in my heart for the hurting with indifference.

I’m an optimist. I don’t automatically expect the worst from people, and it can be quite shocking when someone acts out of character. I can’t stand confrontation, and I die a little inside whenever my power laced words hurt another. I’m passionate in my beliefs. While I might not always speak up, you can bet there’s a debate going on in my mind, attempting to decide whether or not I have anything worth fighting confrontation to say. And when I do muster the courage to talk, I’m firm in my opinion, always trying to use facts to support it. If I can’t find “sufficient” reason to have credence in something, I sit out, content with my view and willing to respect yours.

But I take things too personally, often not seeing the difference between criticism and humiliation. Disappoint is an emotion I experience daily, and it’s also one of the most mentally harrowing emotions on me. I’d rather you be furious with me than disappointed. I avoid it nearly as much as confrontation. To me, there’s little worse than failing to meet your exceptions. How can I hold someone to a standard I can’t meet myself? Offending or disrespecting someone else is almost as worse as failure. It is failure. I’ve failed to get my point across, and instead, I’ve only hurt someone in a way I despise being treated myself. I don’t wish those ugly feelings on anyone, and to know I caused that is not something I can easily recover from.

Slowly, I’ve come to realize that it’s not my personality that holds me back. It’s fear. It’s always difficult for me to discuss anxiety with other Christians. Often, I’m met with the reciting of verses that only remind me how much I suck at the whole being Christ-like thing. Sure, scripture is more often than not encouraging, but it’s also nice to know that you’re not alone in feeling this way. I do talk to other believers about it because I’m looking for Christ-centered motivation, but as a sister in Christ, I’m also looking for empathy, not a harsh rebuke and a reminder of the “rules.” Maybe it’s my fault for having expectations, but nonetheless, I don’t want to leave fellowship in more anguish than I started with.

And sure, one could argue that it’s my choice to feel this way, that I’m the one twisting their words of encouragement into reprimands. And to that, I don’t have a sound argument against the notion. The same choices don’t come easy to everybody. That’s the beauty of humanity–everyone has their issues, struggles, and flaws. This just so happens to be mine. All I can ask is that you try to see my point view in the same way I try to see yours.

Last night was a restless collaboration of hours for me. I’d found it difficult to focus on my writing all week, my heart too busy contemplating paranoia to focus on doing my idea of the week justice. In the wee hours, I managed to force myself into a groove, relying on my ability to be somewhat functional without adequate sleep to get me through yet another despondent day. I resolved to start journaling earlier than usual, starved for some meaningful time with the Lord. On the table, my Bible lay open to the same entry I’d slaved unnecessary days to finish. My eyes skimmed the adjoining page for any journaling prospects, and they instantly landed upon the second half of Psalms 30:5. My heart leaped; my eyes swelled; my brain shouted, “HEY! I KNOW THAT PROMISE!” 

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Well, it was 6:30 A.M. Sunlight was starting to stream through the blinds. It’s morning.

But where’s my joy?

I didn’t have time to think about that. I needed to find a sunrise tutorial fast, so I could make some headway before church. Last minute, I decided to include the verse in the drawing and rushed upstairs to print off a fancy font to trace. I made quite a few mistakes with this entry. I picked a bad color to use for the words, making them somewhat hard to read. I colored the ocean at the bottom of the page too dark, forgetting to fade it out. I used the wrong black colored pencil and now have to squint to read the little bits of text encompassed by the swimming girl.

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Nonetheless, I love the entry and cherish the hours I spent this morning working on it. Finally, I had a good cry, the songs on my Bible journaling playlist confirming that the morning is coming, weeping only lasts for the night, and that I’m not alone in my insecurities. One song in particular hit me especially hard, Vicki Yohe’s “In the Waiting.” I can remember listening to this song (and the entire album) on repeat as a kid, but I don’t think I ever paid close attention to the lyrics or grasped its honesty.

 

Pain
The gift nobody
Longs still it comes
Somehow leaves me
Stronger when it’s gone away
Pray I try and pray
For your will to be done
But I confess it’s never
Fast enough for me
It seems the hardest part
Is waiting on you
When what I want
Is just to see your hand move

When I take a moment to think about it, I realize that my issues are somewhat petty. There are so many others out there who have to deal with things I can’t imagine surviving. There are even much bigger problems in my own life right now, but frankly, I’m not worried about those. That should tell me something. If I can have confidence that the Lord will take care of my dire needs, then I can have confidence that He will aide me in the process of healing and forgiveness, that He’s the one who can show me the happy medium in my personality. It’s by no means an easy journey, but I don’t wish to waste anymore time in hopelessness.

I know I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent, but that’s okay, too. These blog posts aren’t supposed to be scripted to the very last period. They’re about sharing what’s on my heart, and going on a tangent is perfectly acceptable when it’s all coming from there. 😉 I want to leave you today with another song, another promise. It’s been on repeat since I began writing this blog post. It’s exactly the reminder I needed today, so thank you. 😊

Posted in A Non-Artist's Guide to Bible Journaling

A Non-Artist’s Guide to Bible Journaling: “Why did you doubt Me?”


Matthew 14:22-33 (NLT)

Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.


I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all had the misfortune of meeting doubt. But if you haven’t had the displeasure, then allow me to illustrate with words the gnawing feeling. The official definition for doubt is to be uncertain about something, to believe that something may not be true or is unlikely, but I don’t feel like the dictionary does the emotion justice. Even when you throw in synonyms like uncertain, insecure, and apprehensive, you still don’t get an accurate picture of doubt. Frankly, I don’t belief emotions can be drawn with pens or painted with watercolors. Instead, sentiments are drawn with similes and painted with metaphors. It is comparison that portrays the clearest. It’s why a well-written book can touch your heart, move your soul. It’s why words can toy with your emotions, leaving you in a tattered crying mess or fits of giddy. It’s why I read; it’s why I write.

Because even if you’ve felt exactly what the words are forming on the pages, you can feel, understand, experience the emotion, the situation, or the attitude in a brand new light.

So doubt.

Indecision.

Distrust.

Wariness.

Anxiety. 

Doubt starts as a small fire in your heart, ignited by a choice you’re about to make or a decision you’ve already made in the past. The risk is the match, kindling the flammable fuel the brain provides. The questions are acetone, the motives why not are gasoline, and the reasons why are the fire extinguishers. They’re only of help if you use them before the blaze becomes an inferno.

As a spark, doubt is usually fleeting, easy to ignore or drown. It burns when you try something new or exit your comfort zone a little bit. This fire is easy to put out. You may wonder someday why it even started. Though if not handled immediately, doubt can spread to your limbs, paralyzing your thoughts. This is the indecision that drives you mad, frustrates, and intimidates the truth. It burns into a disability, immobilizing your decision making. Doubt takes over your body and makes the choice for you–whether or not it’s according.

Occasionally, incapacitating doubt can be a good thing. It’s a sign that what you’ve done or are about to do goes against morales, beliefs, rules. But I find that more often than not, this doubt doesn’t save me. Rather, it scorches what could have been, chars a good path, and blackens my confidence. It leaves me singed, disappointed in myself. Doubt is meant to make us think, delay a dangerous action, distract us from making grave mistakes. But I let it substitute my GPS instead of letting Jesus be the navigator.

How many times have I channeled Peter? How often do I take my eyes off my Savior and focus on doubt? How many times have I allowed the wind to knock my blinders off, causing me to suddenly be aware of a storm I was gliding through moments earlier. Or even worse–how often do I turn to the boat and call out for Judas to help me, not trusting Jesus enough to calm the storm, rescue me from all my troubles, and deliver me from evil?

Why don’t I take courage, assured that He is still walking on the water even when I am sinking? Why do I loose the phlegm I beamed when I left the safety of the boat to follow Christ? Why does cowardice replace determination in my spirit when I look out and see the waves? Why don’t I fight the sea, refusing to be engulfed, submerged and swamped with these petty troubles?

Aggravatingly, the answer is because I am human. It is a chronic condition, something I cannot change. I will always battle my flesh. It’s a grim diagnosis, the truth no one wants to hear.

The Good News is that there is a cure. My pre-existing sins and conditions will never disqualify my eligibility. Any future bouts of sickness have guaranteed coverage. I will never be denied because of my age or circumstance of life. This insurance, my salvation, is not cheap. The premium is so expensive that I could never work hard enough to pay for it. No matter how much I want to, how hard I try, or how pure my intentions are I can never afford afterlife insurance.

Yet the policy is mine. I have not a paid a cent for it; no one will ever harass me for ransom. It’s already been atoned for in full. The entire amount paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. Salvation is completely free to me, offered as a gift. I could have chosen not to accept it, to work for it in vain, to not care. No one forced me to do anything. I was given a choice. There was an unlimited selection of providers to choose from. But I chose Jesus, the only guaranteed Provider, the only one not contingent on flawed me, the only one that knew my needs without a word from my mouth. Instead of distain, His eyes looked upon me with compassion and love. How could I say no? How could I go on with my life, knowing that a free cure for my disease exists? How could I walk away from the promise that He will always be mine, and I will always be His?

How could I run from the promise that I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me? So that when He does call me out upon the waters, to the great unknown where feet may fail, I will find Him in the mystery, in oceans deep.

So that my faith will stand, and doubt will fall.


Journaling Inspiration

DrawingFont

Posted in A Non-Artist's Guide to Bible Journaling

A Non-Artist’s Guide to Bible Journaling: In the Beginning

It’s been nearly two months since I started Bible journaling, and the experience has greatly changed my outlook on morning quiet time. More than once, I’ve gotten up earlier than needed simply to have more time to decorate the pages of my Bible. I’ll be the first to admit that Bible journaling is not for every Christian, but for me, it has been a tool that’s brought me closer to God, excited to study His Word in a brand new way. While I don’t claim to be an expert on all things Bible journaling, I’d like to use this series as a way to pass on what I’ve learned in my crafting ventures and to share what’s been on my heart lately. As a short (and unnecessary) disclaimer, I am absolutely not being paid by anyone to say nice things about their product. Anything I recommend is something I do use on a daily basis. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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I have to admit. I did a lot more research on what kind of journalling Bible to get after I had already ordered an Inspire Bible. The thing that immediately drew me towards it was the fact that there were illustrations already printed on the pages, just waiting for me to color in.

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And this is a non-artist’s guide to Bible journaling, right? 😉 Having pre-designs sounded like a good backup plan–just in case I couldn’t fill an entire Bible’s worth of blank, one column pages.

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But oddly enough, I immediately found myself gravitating towards those blank, intimidating pages. My very first self-entry is the featured image, the one at the top. A two page wide design that popped into my mind the day I got my Bible. Hours earlier, I had given a devotional at my CO/OP, a recount of the past three years and the worst months of my life. The Lord had put Psalms 121 on my heart a mere months before the storm had begun, even prompting me to compose a little picture. My first Bible journaling experience you could say.

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A part of me knew that I would recreate the scene in my new Bible, but I didn’t endeavor to make it my first. Psalms 121 was special to me, and I didn’t want to mess up the entry. I wanted it to be beautiful, designed by a mind that was familiar with the page layout, and drawn by hands that knew just how carefully to press the pencil. I wanted it to be perfect.

And I quickly realized that I would never be able to create a single entry if perfectionism was my goal.

Because mistakes are inevitable. No matter how skilled you are at anything, your work will never be perfect. There will always be something out of place, something wrong, blemishes. A perfect Bible journaling entry is unattainable. My entries are meant to be imperfect. They’re done by a flawed vessel, one only made whole in Christ Jesus. They’re apart of my worship, an expression of adoration and thankfulness for all He’s done for me. My goal shouldn’t be to make an Instagram (or blog) worthy entry, something to show off my growing art skills. My goal should be to spend quality time with the Lord, immersed in His Word. Encouraged by a Youtube video, I devoted a still unfinished page in the front of my Bible to declare just that.

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It was becoming painfully obvious what passage I needed to do first. Not only did I have a design in my head, but I also needed to eradicate the fear of imperfections in my heart. So I Googled the lyrics to one of my favorite songs,“Shoulders” by For King & Country. The words match Psalms 121 wittingly, and in my darkest hours, it was my cry to the Lord, a reminder of His promises. I knew that I wanted to reserve a column for the lyrics, but my handwriting is nowhere near the flowing, neat marks I envisioned. Yet another roadblock.

That’s when I discovered tracing.

Bible pages are thin. The fact had been a nuisance during my quest to highlight my entire Bible. My Sharpie gel highlighters would bleed through, always ghosting. It got to a point where I had to implement a system of what colors could be used on which side of the page. What had once been an annoyance was now a gift from God. I could print off song lyrics, scripture, and even etchings to trace straight into my Bible. I may not be able to draw on my own very well, but I could be a pro at tracing. I found a beautiful font, Silent Reaction, watched a tutorial on how to drawl hills, and got to work.

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It took me two days to complete, but I couldn’t have been happier with the results. After I had finished tracing in the words, a wave of doubt washed over me. Without the color, the page looked incomplete, wrong. I hated it, nearly erased it all. But a voice whispered to me that it was okay, to give it a chance, to color it in. I must admit. It was a bit of a nervous moment for me, coming to accept that I’d possibly “ruined” my favorite passage, my biggest fear in this new endeavor. But even if it was ruined in my eyes, to God, it would be a work of art. The time I spent sitting in my dinning room, singing praise and worship music, silently praying in my heart was not wasted. It was spent with Him, and if I didn’t regret how I spent those hours, what did it matter how the entry turned out? So I scattered my brand new pack of Crayola Twistables across the table and started coloring. In the end, the color made all the difference, changing a despised design into something I loved. I know it’s not the best; it will never be on display in a museum. But that was never its purpose.

So in conclusion, my advice to you, dear reader, is to not let fear hold you back. Pray. Ask the Lord to guide you, remove all needless fear from your heart. His perfect plan will win every time. Even if you overcome your fear, and it still doesn’t workout, have confidence in knowing that the Lord has something better in store–and that you didn’t give into anxiety.

And to anyone who wishes to start Bible journaling but isn’t sure where to start–or if they could even afford to. You don’t need a lot of supplies. Just a pencil and a Bible will do. If you want to buy a new pack of colored pencils, I highly recommend Crayola Twistables. The colors are gorgeous, they’re relatively cheap, and I’ve used them on a daily basis with no signs of needed replacement soon. Frankly, you don’t even need a journaling Bible to start either. Even on the highlighted pages of my ESV Study Bible, Bible journaling shines through.

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But if you do want to purchase a special journaling Bible, I strongly recommend that a lot of research and prayer go into it. There are so many to choose from–even just among the realm of Inspire Bibles and similarly pre-illstruated ones. Even if you’re the exact opposite of me and have been blessed with the gift of art, I would suggest looking into creative journaling Bibles. There is a certain beauty to them that anyone can appreciate.

If you already Bible journal, I’d love to have a discussion in the comments, and if you want to start but still have questions, I’d love to try to answer those as well. 😊

Posted in A Moment With Me

The Liebster Award

So I was…tagged 😱 by Kellyn Roth to do this award, so thanks for thinking about my rather neglected blog. I thought this might be a good way to get back into the groove of things, so I guess you could say that I’m back. 

Rules

  • Acknowledge the blog who nominated you and display the award.
  • Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 11 bloggers that have less than 200 followers who you think deserve this award.
  • Let the bloggers know you have nominated them.
  • Give them 11 questions to answer.

When did you start blogging? Why?

I started blogging in December of 2012. Technically, I had just become old enough to start my own blog, and I’d been planning it since September of that year. I don’t really know why I started a blog, but my mother suggested it, so I ran with it!

What were/are your original blogging goals?

All I wanted to do was post stories. That dream has started to fade a bit now, but hopefully, installments will once again be this blog’s dominant content.

Are you a fan of potato chips?

The word fan doesn’t cut it. I am a potato chip lover. A large bowl of crumbs is likely to be found sitting next to my computer.

Do you enjoy singing? Are you a good singer (by your own estimate)?

Do I enjoy singing? Yes. Am I good singer? Nope.

Do you ever sew? Knit? Crochet? Enjoy any of those activities?

I used to sew, knit, and crochet all the time, crocheting being my favorite one out of the three. I haven’t done it quite as much as I used to in the past year or so, but I still enjoy them.

Does it snow a lot where you live? Do you enjoy it?

I wouldn’t say that it snows a lot, but generally, we get at least one or two good snowfalls a year. When I was younger, I loved playing in the snow, but now that I’m firmly into my teens, I guess I feel like I’m a little too old for it now. I do, however, still enjoy watching snow fall down.

Does your laptop run out of batteries easily?

Ummmm…no…

If you could time travel, where would you go?

The future. Definitely the future.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Hit the snooze button on my alarm.

What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed at night?

Pray. Even if it’s just a simple, “Lord help me.”

What’s your least favorite color? Why?

Orange. It’s just so…bright

Facts

  1. My favorite genre is probably science fiction–dystopia, aliens, generation ships, experiments gone wrong, time travel, settings on different planets, cyberpunk–it’s all interesting to me.
  2. My favorite genre to write, however, is contemporary romance.
  3. I absolutely love lazy lasagna for no good reason.
  4. At one point or another, I wanted to be in the military, a doctor, or an astronaut when I grew up.
  5. My favorite letter is P…and X.
  6. My favorite number is 11.
  7. My favorite books of the Bible are Psalms, Esther, and Ruth.
  8. If you ask me to pick a favorite movie, I will probably go on for about an hour. Same for book, TV show, and song.
  9. My favorite color has been pink, blue, and neon green. Currently, it’s purple.
  10. My favorite chocolate candy is M&M’s. Especially if they’re minis.
  11. My personality type is INFP (Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, Perception). I nearly cried at how accurate it was. 😂

I honestly have no blogs to nominate, so I nominate you, dear reader! If you want to do my questions on your blog, you are hereby nominated! If you don’t have a blog and still want to answer the questions, feel free to do so in the comment section! 😊 If you do accept my nomination and do it on your blog, I’d love to see it, so leave a link or something in the comment section!

My Questions

  1. What did you want to be when you grew up? Has that aspiration stayed consistent throughout the years?
  2. If you had a Youtube channel, what would you focus on mostly? Reviews? Sketches? Vlogs? Games?
  3. Musicals or plays?
  4. If you could redo one day, would you? If you would, what day would you redo?
  5. Favorite day of the week and why?
  6. If you had to be stuck in a fictional world for a day, what universe would you choose?
  7. What are your thoughts on bridges?
  8. The lesser of two evils: Bees or wasps?
  9. If you invented a sport, what would it be?
  10. What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?
  11. If you could star in a film, what role would you want to play? The Protagonist? The Best Friend? The Love Interest? The Villain?
Posted in A Moment With Me

A Moment With Me, Ari

I never know how to start these kinds of posts. I guess I could start by apologizing for my 445 days of absence (😱), but most who read this blog know that I didn’t suddenly die. But my passion for this site did. I can remember how excited I was when I first created this blog three and a half years ago. I had my own tiny piece of the internet where I could share my thoughts, feelings, and stories. To a thirteen year old, that was an incredible feat. Highlight and Write was a much needed retreat, a place where I could escape my world and jump into another’s. It gave me a chance to possibly help someone by sharing Scripture and uplifting songs. The probability was high that I personally knew that somebody, but that didn’t matter to me. It started to as time passed but not anymore. That’s not what this blog is for.

This blog is for you. Me. God.

I don’t think I could ever purposely delete Highlight and Write. Frankly, I don’t think there’s anything on here to be ashamed of.  Sure, I may cringe when I go back and read some of my old posts, but that’s okay. That was over three years ago. My writing has grown and strengthened. It would have never reached this point without Natalie. I would have never learned how to grow characters, relate everything together, and give it closure. And even though it didn’t receive a lot of exposure, I’m glad that I put my story out there on the internet for anyone to find. Maybe it will help me muster the courage to send a story off to a publisher one day.

In the meantime, I’ll be returning to this blog. And I know I said this the last time I claimed to be back, but it still rings true. I’m looking forward to the year ahead on this blog; I’m still not-so-patiently waiting to see what God has in store for my life; and if anything, I know even more now that He’s with me every step of the way.

Here are a few updates that I feel make this post worthy of sticky note status.

New theme! 

It’s as if the ScratchPad theme was made for this blog. I mean there’s a giant highlighter sticking this post to the top of the page! It’s such a unique theme based around writing, and it even allowed me to make a few adjustments regarding fonts. Frankly, I was in love the moment I saw it, and I think the blog deserved a new look after a year long standstill.

New series!

I’m not starting a new story for the blog just yet, but I am starting a new series that will have multiple posts a week. Recently, I started Bible journaling, and it’s been a refreshment to my quiet time with the Lord. However, I have not been especially gifted with anything artistic besides a love for colors 😝. So A Non-Artist’s Guide to Bible Journaling was formed in my mind. The series will basically be “tips” on Bible Journaling with low artistic skill and whatever thoughts the Lord puts on my heart to share. Posts shall be coming soon, so be on the lookout!

Verse of the Day

I’m a little unsure whether or not I will be continuing this category. I still make yearly Scripture calendars, but I must admit that posting these (especially the long ones) daily was a contributing factor to the death of my passion for this blog. On days like today, I will definitely post the short ones in full. On other days, I may just post the verses if it’s especially long. I might leave a little note about it in a Non-Artist post. We shall just have to wait and see. If you’d like me to email you an Excel sheet of the yearly calendar I make, please contact the blog at highlightanwrite@gmail.com, and I will be more than happy to do so.

Song of the Week

Returning June 19th! And if it doesn’t, I give everyone permission to spam me until it does. 😂

Highlight & Read

I desperately want to restart the book club, but I need to find a good platform to host it on. In the meantime, feel free to leave book suggestions in the comment section below! Updates to come!

 

Posted in A Moment With Me

A Moment With Me, Ari

Hello. It’s been a while since we last spoke.

The first thing you probably noticed is that the blog’s theme has changed. I changed the theme once in the past, and I felt like the blog could use an update. Frankly, I am loving this new theme. It’s so fresh and bright looking, and whenever I get in the mood for change, I can just change the header photo. 

If you click on the left box (three bars), you will be taken to the menu. From there you can proceed to one of the site’s pages. If you click on the right box (four bars), you can search for something on the blog, see recent posts, follow the blog, access old posts by month or catergory, see the tags, and there’s also a little calender with special dates on it. All this used to be on the side of the page.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this major change. You can either tell me what you think through this poll or in the comment section. If you absolutely hate it, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion, and if you love it, that’d be great to know.

 

I’d like to apologize for neglecting the verses of the day and song of the week. I have no excuses, and I’m going to try harder to scheudle the posts ahead of time. This year in the verses of the day, we are mostly going to be in the Psalms, Proverbs, 2nd Samuel, Acts, and Genesis, and this year I’ve added a Christmas advent to the calender. If you’d like the Excel of the calender, I would be more than happy to send it to you. You can either contact me personally or email the blog at highlightandwrite@gmail.com, and I will send you the attachment.

I’m very excited to announce that Highlight & Read is starting back next month, and I’ll be announcing March’s book tomorrow. Book club will now be hosted here on the blog. On the meeting’s date, I’ll create a new post, and we can discuss the book in the comment section. All book club posts will be password protected, and you will either need to contact me personally or email the blog to receive the password. I may change the system in the future, but let’s just see how this works.

As for the Berkshire County Chronicles, I’m not sure when that will start again. Someday, I’d love to return to the world of Natalie and My Crazy Life, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. Those books and characters will always have a special place in my heart, but I think it’s time I start moving on. I’m not saying never. I hope to one day finish the entire line-up of books I planned out two years ago, but for now the entire series is on hiatus.

Since I did create this blog to share my stories with the world, I will be starting a brand new series this spring. I don’t want to “offically” announce this new story since I haven’t started writing it yet and just in case things don’t work out, but hopefully by May, I’ll be publishing chapters twice a week. The one thing I will say about this new series is that it’s science fiction and takes place in space.

I’m looking forward to the year ahead on Highlight & Write and am not-so-patiently waiting to see what God has in store for my life. But I know He’s going to be with me every step of the way.

Posted in The Berkshire County Chronicles, The Diary of a Writer Girl

The Diary of a Writer Girl

December

Sunday

I originally created The Diary of a Writer Girl category to share with you my struggles in editing Natalie. Well, it’s been six months since I posted the last installment of Natalie and I’ve only gone back and reedited the first two chapters 😳

For my birthday, I asked for a proof of Natalie from a print-on-demand, self-publishing website, Createspace. It arrived in the mail on Saturday.

photo 1 (12)photo 2 (11)

I’ve already found a couple of mistakes. I flubbed the last sentence 😛  and somehow the Chapter Twelve title line ended up on the last page of chapter eleven even though I checked all the chapters before I submitted the forum. Submitting and formatting was rather easy…waiting was the hardest! The back cover is a little bit blurrier than it is in the picture (hard to believe!). It might just be the cover type I picked…I love the paper. It’s not printer paper. Its cream, book paper! 😀

I hope to post one day soon that I’ve approved Natalie: Volume I for publishing!

Posted in A Moment With Me

500th Post!

It’s almost been a year since I started this blog. It’s hard to believe that five hundred posts have gone by, three hundred and fifteen Verses of the Day, a hundred and ten Berkshire County Chronicles, thirty-nine songs of the week, twelve Highlight & Read, seven Highlight & Poll, two Highlight & Craft, three Highlight & Contest, ten Moments with Me, two Birthday Shoutouts, four Misc., one Spotlight, and one Girls in the Kitchen.

I’ve had a lot of fun doing this blog even though I have forgotten to actually post on several days…including most of October…moving on. I would have never had the passion to explore The Berkshire County Chronicles in the way I do without this blog. I know its been a while since we’ve heard from Natalie, Charlly, Virginia, and Jessie-Maria but their stories will be finished in time. I hit a major writer’s block on My Crazy Life this October and in November I was busy writing a different novel for the National Novel Writing Month. I know these aren’t really good excuses (except for the November one…that took up a lot of my time!) and I have no excuse to why they haven’t been picked up this December. And to make up for this, I’m bringing Natalie back!

I’ve been planning to bring Natalie’s voice back after I finished My Crazy Life since Natalie starts her next story in the middle of Charlly’s, but it’s Christmas time. My Crazy Life is still stuck in September, and Natalie’s story picks up in December of that year. I don’t know how this will effect My Crazy Life, but I’m really just going with the flow on this. Some stuff maybe have to be changed later on but I don’t have any anything to worry about that. Hopefully, I’ll have the first installment of Natalie: Part 7-Christmas Hope posted early next week!

Posted in A Moment With Me, Highlight & Poll

Sometimes We Need A Change

Notice anything different? Ok, there’s a BIG something different! I changed the theme of the blog from Spectrum to Something Fishy!  Today is one of those days where I just need a change. I’ve been scouring different themes. First I tried the Notepad theme, but it was dull and not colorful at all. Then I landed upon the Something Fishy theme.

On of the things I was looking for was a different font type. When I saw how awesome the blog title looked in Something Fishy that in itself had me ‘hooked’ (sorry I know its a bad joke!). Then I saw the moving fish and sea animals. Also the deeper you go down the page the darker the sea gets. And if you click on the worm on a hook it’ll take you back up to the top of the page.

BUT there is no tag cloud 😦 . That was one of the things I really liked about the Spectrum theme. I could just go to the bottom of the page and click on one of the characters names and see what post they’ve been in. I can see here in my blog admin, but you guys can’t.

Something Fishy is also a little less colorful than Spectrum, but I don’t think its less eye catching.

With that being said what do you think of the new blog theme? Keep it? Change it back? Or should I try again? I really want a truthful answer (I’m talking to you the REAL Charlotte Lilly).

Posted in The Diary of a Writer Girl

The Diary of a Writer Girl

June

Wednesday

I can’t believe that I took off over a week from this blog! When I signed in, it was totally different!  My blog admin has changed and I barely know where anything is anymore 😦 ! I guess that’s what I get for neglecting this blog.

I have some bad news. Episode I of my Crazy Life is taking a short hiatus until further notice. I’m taking a short break from writing all day. I took a three-day weekend break, but I think I might need a little bit more time. I’m not going to say that I’m NOT going to write because in the middle of my break I may have a breakthrough, but I’m just going to (try) to forget about the bumps I’ve hit and enjoy my free summer days.

Lately, I haven’t been liking anything I’ve been writing. Even this blog post is a struggle for me. For some reason, I’m stressed about everything I try to write. Currently, I have three novels in ‘main’ focus. Maybe, it’s a little much but I don’t want to give up on one of them and I don’t want to have to resort to putting one or possibly two of them aside for now.

To tell you the truth, for this past week I’ve been focusing on my latest book idea (I came up with it on my three-day weekend break). Since Monday, I have only written thirty-two words for the novel,and I’m not even sure if I’m going to keep those words! Nothing is coming naturally to me. I have to put deep thought into every word. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with putting deep thought into a story, but that’s just not usually how my stories work. When I was writing Natalie, the words just spewed forth and I liked what I was writing. Maybe that’s because I was Natalie. Natalie reacted the same way I would if I was placed into those situations. In this book, I’m switching between two characters point of view. One of the characters is a girl and the other is a boy. I haven’t had a lot of practice doing that. The only time I’ve switched from a girl’s point of view to a boy’s point of view was when I was writing Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys mysteries! Maybe, I should go back to writing those for practice.

But what’s really been on my heart lately is giving to up all to the Lord. He’s the One that has given me the ability to write and He’s the One that puts the words in my heart. He knows the beginning from the end. Sometimes I’ll do something simple like put a piece of gum in my mouth and I’m instantly reminded that God knew I was going to do that! And then I sit in wonder for a couple of seconds.

I’ve gotta stop worrying if my books are ‘perfect’ or not and just trust that God’s got it.

I’ll sign off with these words from Matthew 6: 25-27: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

Posted in A Moment With Me

A Moment With Me, Ari

Natalie may be finished, but its far from over. It’s time for the dreaded process of editing! I’ve decided to create a new category to chronicle my editing and my every day writing. I’ll soon be posting my ‘diary’ online.

Also with Natalie being finished, I guess its time to start a new story. The first installment of My Crazy Life will be posted next week and in the meantime I’ll be posting the coming soon plot later today. Farm Girl and Gifted will also be picked up with Natalie being finished.

My New Year Resolution was the have Natalie editor ready by the end of the year. Let’s see if I make it!

Posted in A Moment With Me

A Moment with Me, Ari

Today my Bible study class threw a surprise baby shower for our teacher. My Ms. Erin.

Today was the last day of Bible study and we just wanted to do something special for her, since she does so much for us.

My friend and I have been playing this for about a month, and I’ve been thinking about baby showers ever since Ms. Erin told us she was expecting.

It was pretty hard keeping the secret since Ms. Erin is with us just about every moment of Bible study, but somehow we managed to plan everything and turn in our baby photos for the game.

photo (8)

Thanks, Ms. Erin, for being our middle school teacher! Can’t wait for next year!

 

Posted in A Moment With Me

A Moment With Me, Ari

Yesterday, my mom beat me at Scramble with Friends.

I thought I’d be upset about or cry or something. I also thought my mom would go screaming from the rooftops or post the picture of her score higher than mine or something.

But no. I wasn’t upset, and my mom didn’t even tell me.

I have gotten better at Scramble since I started playing my mom so that was a plus. I also beat her at the other game we had going…

Oh, well.

Posted in A Moment With Me

A Moment With Me, Ari

I’ve had a very interesting Saturday.

After book club and lunch, my mother and I decided to go out. Saturday at JoAnne’s it was half off all classes so we decided to go there first. Well on the way there while my mother and I are singing (off key) to our CD, my mother hears a noise. She gets off at the next exit, and we discover that we have a very flat tire. Well we’re pulled over on the ramp so my mom tries to move so cars don’t hit us. We don’t get very far.

My mom calls the only people we know in the area, but they aren’t home. So my mom decides to try to put the spare tire on, but my mother has no idea how to do that. After a couple minutes of debating how to replace a tire my mom calls my dad, who is at home, to ask how to put the spare tire on.

My dad says that it is too hard for my mom to do so he calls a tow truck to come and put the spare tire on. The guy takes around fifteen minutes to show up. He puts the spare tire on (which proves to be much harder than one would imagine), and my mom and I drive to the mall so they can fix our tire (our tire had a nail in it)

It turns out that another one of our tires needs to be replaced and the car’s alignment is messed up or something. The guy tells us that it will take at least two hours to fix the car.

So my mother and I do so shopping (I got two shorts and my mother got two shirts). But when we’re finished its only been an hour. My feet are hurting (Toms are not good for walking around the mall). My mom is tired. And we still have an hour to go.

So we walk around the bookstore and get a book for my dad. While we are getting the book for my dad, the guy who is fixing our car calls and tells us that the machines that do the alignment are busy and it will be at least another hour and a half.

Well it’s five something when he calls so that would mean we would be stuck at the mall until seven. My mom and I decide to sit down and I get myself a Coke.

After ten minutes, my mom and I get up so I can go get a book (The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey. Thank you Charlly and Anna for the gift card). We also get some ice cream :).

My mom and I go back to our ‘seats’ and eat our ice cream. We read an email that my grandma sent and talk to a guy who is also waiting for his car to be fixed.

Then the guy that fixed the tires calls and says that the car is ready, early. Of course my mom and I are happy. We will be leaving the mall thirty minutes early and we will still be able to get my dad’s dry cleaning.

And that concludes The Adventures of Aretha and Ari.

The sad thing is that when my mom and I were on the side of the road NO one stopped to ask if we needed help (all though quite a few came close to hitting us).

This experience will defiantly be showing up in Natalie somewhere……. 🙂