NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

Thankful

Me and my Mom

This month always reminds me that I should be more thankful and not take things for granted. But I am particularly thankful this year because my family has been going through some hardships recently and the response from my family in Christ has been so amazing.

So to start the story, back in October, the 23rd to be exact, my mother woke up with very bad back pain that was shooting down her right leg. She has experienced something like this before, and thought as long as she went to the chiropractor, everything would be fine. So she went, and used all her normal tricks to relieve the pain, but it didn’t go away, it just kept getting worse and worse.

The next day the pain was bad enough that she couldn’t drive and it was torture to walk. So we borrowed my grandma’s walker and I drove and then wheeled her to another chiropractor appointment. He ordered an x-ray and MRI scan since the pain was still not going away. We got the x-ray but had to wait a few days for the MRI.

The next day was probably one of the hardest days of my life. I woke up to a phone call from my mom. She was ‘sleeping’ downstairs in our living room, since going up the stairs was too painful. She hadn’t slept and she was in the worst pain I’d ever seen: crying, screaming, and breathing like what a woman does when she’s in labor. She said she couldn’t take the pain anymore so we were going to the doctor’s office so they could give her something for the pain. She didn’t even want the walker or a jacket because it was cold outside, she just wanted to go. So I drove her to the doctor and we ended up using a wheelchair, since she couldn’t walk without crying. They gave her shots and a prescription for the pain. And finally, after she got the pain pills, she was able to get some relief.

The next days were a whirlwind of more appointments and prescriptions and finding out from the MRI that she had a herniated disk that was pressing down on the nerve. Adding this to the normal routine of caring for my grandma, working for my Dad, driving my sister to her appointments, and serving at church and I was feeling pretty overwhelmed.

But God is faithful and my church family is amazing. First, one of my friends at my small group offered to bring a meal. Then one of my oldest friends called to check on me and let me just talk and cry and see her cute baby on the phone screen. Then as time progressed, more and more people said they were praying for me and my family and checked to see how we were doing. One family even set up a Care Calendar for our church to bring us meals.

It was a little weird for me to be the recipient of help, because I’m usually the one giving it, but it made me realize just how blessed I am to have so many friends and brothers and sisters in Christ who care. So I am thankful for all of them today. And I’m happy to report that my mom is making progress. The injections, and chiropractic treatments are slowly helping. She can now walk for short distances and today she drove a car for the first time since all this started.

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Sutherland Springs Church Shooting

Yesterday and today I’ve been struggling through the latest shooting and it’s aftereffects. This one hits much closer to home than any one before. Some of my friends know people who were murdered. They’re sad, hurt, confused and I don’t know what to say. So I wrote this poem/prayer to God just now. I hope it brings comfort to someone out there.

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God there is so much pain,
Every time I turn around there’s another victim,
another reminder that this world is not alright.

Why? The question I hear again and again.
How could He let this happen?
Where is He? It hurts so much.

In the midst of all the pain and questions,
part of me knows it’s in Your hands.
You have a plan,
This too shall pass.

And as I search the past, Your Word, the lives of ones before,
I see the same questions and cries.
Why Lord Why? Why have you forsaken me?

Jesus cried it on the cross,
My friend cries it in a small Texas town,
My brothers and sisters in persecution cry it too.

And You say,
I have never forsaken or forgotten you.
I was there, I am here.
I will never leave, I will never let you go.
You are mine and you must trust Me.
For when you cannot see, cannot understand,
I can.

I hold the world in my hands,
Each breath, each story, each purpose is Mine to command.
I see the connections, the problems.
I’ve felt the pain, the sorrow, the anger.
And I have not left you alone.

I entered in.
I took the full weight that you could never carry.
So don’t try to carry it now. Don’t despair.
Give it to Me, give it all to Me.
Trust Me now in the darkness, in the pain, in the hurt.

And wait.
Just you wait.
I have better plans in store.
A hope that does not disappoint.
A future that is secure.
And one day you will see what I see now.

That I bring life from death, rejoicing from sorrow, and good from evil.
I am the God who saves and nothing can stop me.
No death, no evil, no disaster, no sorrow,
No depression, no sickness, no plan.

So trust me now.
Let me hold you now.
And watch and pray.
I am coming soon.
And you too shall be changed.

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500th Anniversary

In honor of the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg church’s door, I wanted to share some pictures from my trip to Germany. I hope you enjoy the pictures and take a moment to remember that God can use our small acts of faithfulness to make huge changes to our culture and all of history.

The statue of Martin Luther in Wittenberg

 

This is the famous church where Luther nailed his 95 Theses

 

The inside of the church

 

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Response to Hardship

This past week has been crazy busy with all sorts of things, big important work duties, a friend’s wedding, my brother’s birthday. But then yesterday, things seemed to take a turn for the worse. My mom started having severe nerve pain that just would not stop. Sometimes it was so bad she started crying. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my mom in such pain. Add onto that work stuff frustrating my Dad, and pet concerns worrying my sister and I suddenly felt like I was stuck in the middle of multiple spiritual attacks.

But in the midst of it, I felt like God was telling me to just worship Him. To take my eyes off of all the problems and fears and worries and stress and just worship Him. So I started singing, I started meditating on scripture, and I grabbed my Dad and asked him to pray with me. Not all the problems went away. My mom is still in a lot of pain, my sister still has pet issues and I’m not sure what to do to help. But I felt a sense of God’s peace, when I stopped and worshiped last night. And I want to hold onto that. Even in the midst of storms, He is present. Even when life is hard, He is still good. Even when you don’t see a way out, He has a plan. I’m learning to hold on to Him and trust Him for myself and others.

So I’m still in the midst of the storm and I’d appreciate the prayers. I’m so thankful that I can ask my brothers and sisters in Christ for help and support. But I’m also in the arms of my Loving Father and I trust that He will bring me and my family through this current trial.

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Why do I make Art?

I was skimming through old school assignments today and came across this question I had to answer. Here’s what I wrote five years ago:

Why do I make art? That’s a hard question. I’ve been doing it so long it seems like part of who I am. I was always told I was good at art when I was growing up so I kept doing it. I think the satisfaction of someone seeing my work and approving it was what I sought after. But I don’t think that’s the whole reason. I mean I like people’s good opinion, but I think I also like the shared experience of the artwork. When I make a painting of a sunset, or some landscape, it’s because I see it and I just want to capture it. I don’t ever want to forget what it looked like and felt like, and then when others see it too, it makes me feel like I got to share that experience. I also love art because, I feel like it’s worth the work, like at the end of the project there’s a deep satisfaction and enjoyment of the work. When I finish a big paper for class, I never want to see it again, but when I finish a painting, I want to show it off, to hang it up and let the world see it. I guess I also really admire O’Keeffe and how she took something that no one would notice and made it where you couldn’t ignore or miss it anymore, like the everyday flower. I feel like that’s what I want in my art, for people to be able to see and appreciate what I see. To not just see another sunset, but see the purples, pinks, yellows, the beams of light and vibrancy that make it unique, that might never happen again. I just love seeing the beauty in nature, and I want others to see it too, so I paint, draw, take a picture, or whatever. I don’t know if my art is meaningful, if there is some great question or problem I’m trying to address. I guess it could be as simple as stop and smell the flowers, enjoy life, it is so beautiful and amazing. And maybe this won’t always be the case, I’m sure the problems and changes in life will affect what I make and what I want others to notice, but I’d like to hope that I’ll always be positive and uplifting with my art, because that’s who I want to be and what I want others to get from my art.

I think many of these reasons still are true for me. But a conversation I had the other day reminded me of how much more significant artwork can be when it’s used for God. For the past two years my mother and I have worked on making small watercolors to give away to people at prayer rooms. These pictures could have a scene from nature with a verse, or some object or person represented. But the whole point of them was to remind people of truth, not just with words but with images. It’s been amazing to see how God has used these little pictures to encourage people, remind them of His love and provision and speak truth.

So I think the reason I make art has grown, to not just make people notice what they’ve been missing in nature, but to recognize the God who made nature, us, and everything. I hope my artwork continues to improve and glorify the God who enabled me to make it in the first place.

And since I’ve talked about it so much, I thought I’d share a few pieces of artwork.

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Sneak Peek #2 of The Pirate Princess

I’ve been working on my third novel off and on throughout this year and I think it’s time for another preview. Now keep in mind that this book is still in progress. This scene in particular is new to the story and I’m not sure if it will end up in the final version or not. But I enjoyed writing it and I thought y’all would like to see what I’ve been working on, so enjoy.

 

Serina had hardly slept for the past four nights. She climbed to the highest tower once again and looked out over the rolling hills. Still no sign of him. Oh I should have just gone myself. Serina crumpled to her knees and tried to reason with herself. I shouldn’t have expected him any earlier, it is such a long way to travel and who knows what the weather’s been like. He’ll be back by tomorrow for sure and… She forced her mind to think positive. And he’ll have a letter from Adrian, a long explanation for the silence and probably a gift too, something to console me. Serina sat back against the hard stone and pulled her knees up to her chest, settling her head on top and folding her arms over to shield her face from the sun.

She didn’t know how long she’d been sitting like that, she could have drifted off to sleep for all she knew, but her muscles were cramping so she untangled herself and stood up slowly. She stretched and scanned wearily towards Linden again. She froze. Is that… could it be? She leaned over the battlement and shielded her eyes. It is! She hopped and rushed down the winding staircase and out to the stables. As she fumbled with the tack she wished for the hundredth time that she had learned to ride bareback. But her father wouldn’t hear of it, and hardly anyone in the castle knew how anyway. Finally she had managed to secure the saddle and bridle and she threw open the gate and climbed on hurriedly.

Buttercup danced around the small enclosure, picking up on Serina’s excitement.

“Shh,” Serina coaxed as she patted Buttercup’s neck. “Come on girl; let’s see what George has found out.”

Buttercup took off towards the open gate with a kick from Serina and after clattering down the drawbridge, lengthened her stride in the open road.

Serina could hardly see as the wind whipped her hair into her face and tears filled her eyes, but she didn’t care she just had to get to George as fast as possible. After some time, she could feel Buttercup slowing and she pulled back on the reins and let her trot for a bit. She took the opportunity to get her bearings and see how close George was now.
George was nowhere in sight, so Serina guided Buttercup to a small hill and pulled her to a stop. She glanced behind her and could still see the castle and a few guards riding out in pursuit of her. Then she turned back to the road and looked for any sign of the rider. Maybe it wasn’t him; maybe it was a farmer headed home… But Serina wasn’t ready to give up. She clicked her tongue and sent Buttercup into a steady canter as she kept a look out for George’s familiar figure.

The rolling hills hid parts of the road and Serina kept scanning the next place where the road vanished for a sign of the rider. Finally, after several minutes of tortuous waiting, the rider appeared. He was sunk in the saddle, only traveling at a slow trot and not even looking up, but Serina recognized him right away.

“George!” she called and urged Buttercup into a gallop.

George looked up and gave a short wave. He picked up his pace, but it was clear that both he and his horse were exhausted.

“I didn’t think you’d make it today,” Serina said excitedly as she pulled her horse to a sliding halt. “You must have traveled all night, but I’m so glad you did. You don’t know how worried I’ve been. Please tell me you have got a letter from Adrian.”

George nodded wearily. “I do.”

“Well, hand it over.”

George fumbled with his jacket and pulled out the letter he’d been given. He held it out to Serina.

“Is there anything else?”

George shook his head. “Sorry, no. But after you read the letter, I have… to um tell you some things.”

Serina raised an eyebrow. “Alright.” She studied his face trying to figure out what that meant. “I suppose you should go report to my father.”

George dipped his head. “Of course. Won’t you accompany me back to the castle?”

Serina held the letter tightly. “Well I was hoping to read this in private.”

George nodded and glanced at the guards who had followed Serina. “I doubt you’ll be able to read the whole thing before they get here. You sure you don’t want to just find a quiet room in the castle?”

“Can’t you just tell them to leave me alone for ten minutes. I promise I’ll come straight home once I’m through.”

George gave her a sympathetic smile. “Alright, I’ll see you back at the castle then.” He kicked his horse and rode towards the approaching guards.

Serina smiled. Sometimes George can be quite the gentleman. She nudged Buttercup into a trot and hurried off towards a copse of trees where she used to play when she was a child. She dismounted and quickly tied Buttercup’s reins to a branch. Then she settled into a soft spot of grass in the shade of the largest tree and opened the letter.

Serina,
I was so glad to receive your last letter. They always make me laugh and it keeps me from feeling so lonely. I keep thinking about when we’ll next get to be together. It’s only been a few months but it feels like years. I know you’ve asked if I could come down for the Spring. I’m trying to convince Richard that it’s a good idea and I believe it’s almost been decided. You keep reminding your father as well.

Caleb doesn’t want me to tell you this, but I knew it would make you laugh. He’s started taking dance lessons and I’ve caught him staring at Susan three times now. I think our joke has turned into a real possibility of romance. I’ll make sure to keep you updated.

I’ve also received a letter from Josiah. He’s really enjoying his time with Kalim. If he ever stops by your castle, be sure to tell him I miss him. So few Unguls travel during this season that any letters I send him are often retuned and never delivered.

Oh and you might find this interesting. You remember that little village we visited where Martin’s mother lives? Well he’s had word from her that something’s going on. We’re not sure what it is yet, and I may not have a chance to send this letter till after we get back. But now that I think of it, I’d rather wait to send it. I want to send you a little gift and I bet Martin’s mother will know just the right gift for you. I hope you enjoy it!

-Adrian

Serina looked over the letter once more and noticed the date. But why hasn’t he written anything since then? And where is the gift he mentioned? I guess I should go talk to George. She folded the letter and stood up with determination.

When she had returned to the castle she asked a servant where George had gone and soon found herself waiting outside the King’s throne room. Apparently George had wanted a private meeting, so Serina was not allowed inside until they were through. She paced in front of the door, ignoring the guard who was blocking the door and coolly watching her.

I don’t like this. First Adrian doesn’t send the gift that he clearly intended to send me, and now George wants a private audience with my father. Something’s not right. Oh why did I insist on readying the letter first? I should have just asked George what’s happened. She was reminded of all the times she’d had to wait as a child. She wasn’t very good at it. A particular moment when she had a longing for cherry pie and had to wait two hours for the cook to finally finish it came back to her. She had been too impatient to wait for the pie to cool and when no one was looking she had pushed her finger through the crust for a quick taste. Unfortunately, the pie was still piping hot and she had ended up with a burnt finger. Serina stopped pacing. I just need to be patient. This meeting can’t last forever.

And right as she had the thought, the door swung inward and a guard gestured for her to come inside.
Serina smiled and marched into the large throne room. Though the crystal decorations glistened like always, and the intricately woven murals hung on display, Serina ignored them all and focused all of her attention on George, who was standing next to her father’s throne.

A servant quickly brought a chair for Serina, it wasn’t a throne, but it was nicer than anything else and she always liked pretending it was her private throne. She made herself comfortable next to her father then put on her most diplomatic smile. “It seems that something has happened that I am hitherto unaware of, would you be so kind as to inform me of the development George?”

George gulped and looked at her father.

Charles waved his hand. “Go ahead; I’m sure she’ll have too many questions for me to answer. You might as well just tell her.”

George looked uncomfortable. Serina hoped that was because he was tired from the journey, but she had a nagging suspicion that it was something more. “Go ahead George,” she said with a smile, hoping to put him at ease.

George smoothed his mustache. “I assume you read the letter?”

Serina nodded. “Yes, I was surprised you didn’t give me the gift he’d mentioned. Although maybe you just forgot it, you do look rather tired.”

George shook his head. “I’m sorry Serina, there was no gift. You see…”

Serina waited as a thick silence filled the room. She glanced at her father.

“Oh just spit it out,” Charles said. “There’s no way around it.”

“Spit out what?” Serina asked.

“I’m afraid the plague has returned in Linden. Glenton was the first village affected and Adrian journeyed there to help with…”

The rest of George’s words faded from Serina’s mind. Plague… Adrian. She didn’t know what George was saying, but she blurted out. “Is he alright? Tell me George is Adrian—” She couldn’t finish the sentence.

George looked at his feet. “He has the plague. I’m so sorry.”

Serina’s heart stopped for a long second, then beat with an intensity she had rarely felt. George was saying something, trying to be comforting. Everyone was looking at her, her father, the guards. But it didn’t seem real, none of it was real. She closed her eyes. I’m dreaming, this is just a dream. Wake up Serina. She felt a hand on her shoulder, more words that didn’t penetrate the fog in her brain. I can’t lose him.

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Revival

It’s hard seeing disaster after disaster come up on my news-feed and being reminded again and again that this world isn’t perfect and that so many people are hurting. I’ve been reading in the major prophets section of the Bible: Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. And it struck me how much devastation the nation of Israel had to endure. It reminded me of what has been going on in my world: natural disasters, killings, political unrest, fear and just a sadness that this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.

And inevitably people try to come up with solutions to these problems. Maybe we need more gun control, or a better education system, or we need to take care of our planet better. I don’t know what ideas will or won’t work. But I know the problem is really so much bigger than any of those things. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try them out, or attempt to make things better. But there’s only so much we as humans can do to change the world.

And this morning, I felt like what God was telling me was that what we really need is revival. We need to turn back to God. Over and over God told the Israelites that the reason He was letting them go through such hard circumstances was because they had stopped following Him and He was reminding them that He really is God. He is patient and loving but He wants us to turn to Him even if it will cause us some initial pain. Because living without Him is the worst possible thing. I’ve heard some people say that suffering is God’s megaphone. It’s His way to get our attention when nothing else will.

I feel like with all that’s going on in our world, that God is calling us back to Himself and a great revival will start. So that’s what I’m going to start fasting and praying for, because I know that what people really need is Jesus. He is the answer to all of these problems. He is our only hope. So if you follow Him as well, I hope you’ll join me in fasting and praying for revival. And if you don’t, I hope you take some time to think about life and where your hope comes from.

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My Story

My church has been encouraging our congregation to think about our story and answer three questions about our life. I thought it would help me if I wrote out my answers and since the whole point is to be able to share our stories with others and listen to theirs, I thought why not share it here? So here’s my answer to the three questions.

1. Why Do I Follow Jesus?
There’s a lot of ways I could answer this, and it might change some depending on the day or what I’ve been reading in His Word or learning at the moment. But one of the biggest overarching reasons that I follow Jesus is because He has promised never to leave me or forsake me. When I was a kid, I was terrified of being alone. I didn’t want to be forgotten or left out. I clung to my family like a lifeline and never wanted to be left somewhere. I had terrible separation anxiety. In fact many times my parents would let me go with them to the adult church services because it was just easier for all of us. But when I learned about Jesus, that He would never forget me or let me down, that I would never be alone if He was with me, it calmed a fear in my heart that nothing else ever has. Because deep down I knew that even though my parents loved me, they wouldn’t always be there for me. One time they forgot me at school, and I know one day they will leave this world and me. But Jesus promises over and over again in His Word that He will never leave us or forsake us. No matter what I’m going through, no matter how I feel, or what I’ve done, He is there. And when I remember that I can have peace.

2. How did you get started following Jesus?
Well my older brother was telling me about Jesus and how if I believed in Him I could go to heaven. And when I found out all of my family believed in Jesus and was going to heaven, well I didn’t want to be left behind. So I prayed and asked Jesus to come into my heart. Even before that moment, my parents had always taken me to church, but this first step started me on the path of following Jesus for myself. And as I got older and began to understand more of who God is and who I am and what He’s done for me, my faith grew and strengthened and matured. I learned how to trust Him, believe his promises, and obey Him.

3. What has changed since you started following Jesus?
Gosh so many things have changed. I used to be terrified of speaking up, like talking to people I didn’t know or giving a speech in front of people. It’s still my preference to listen rather than talk, but I can talk to people now, especially when I feel God prompting me to do it. And I’ve learned to trust Him in my weaknesses and learn that even though I don’t like to speak in public, He can use if for His glory. And if I rely on Him in it, it’s not as hard. I’ve also grown in not worrying as much. I can still get stressed about things, but it’s easier for me to stop and remember that He is in control and has the best plan. I don’t have to do everything perfectly or know all the variables because everything is under His control. I’ve also learned to be more patient. I always thought I was pretty patient and easy-going, but God has stretched me and grown me in it, especially when it comes to helping people with anxiety. My sister went through and continues to deal with panic attacks, severe anxiety and sometimes depression. And in the course of learning how to encourage, comfort, pray for and come alongside her, I’ve learned how to help when other people in my life also get nervous or anxious. I guess I was the anxious one when I was a kid, but as I’ve grown, God’s shown me how I can trust Him in the midst of it and also help others to trust Him. It’s been really cool to see how I’ve changed but also how He’s grown the people I’ve helped and prepared them to be used by Him as well. I love getting to be a part of God’s family. He’s shown me that not only is He always with me, but I also have a family in Christ, even in other countries. I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without Jesus. He is my everything and I couldn’t do it without Him.

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Why I like Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Recently I’ve been binge watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I’m now into season 2 and I’m loving it. And I think one of the big reasons I like it so much is that the same producers made Parks and Recreation. Parks and Rec is my all time favorite show. Although some of the jokes can be crude, the chemistry of the cast after season 2 is just so perfect. Every single character can make me laugh, but in a different way. And Brooklyn Nine-Nine does the same thing. So, I thought it would be fun to compare characters in Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Feel free to disagree with my choices and come up with your own, but here’s how I see it.

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Jake Peralta is the main character in Brooklyn Nine-Nine and he reminds me of Andy with his goofiness and child-like enthusiasm. However, Andy can also be naive and a bit slow, while Peralta is very smart and observant. So I’d say he could also have a bit of Ben Wyatt in him, especially in his love for nerdy things.

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Captain Ray Holt is very similar to Ron Swanson in his demeanor and straight face. He also has authority over all of the other characters like Ron does. However, Holt is gay while Ron Swanson is the manliest man around.

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Charles Boyle, Jake’s best friend, is a bit of an oddball. In some ways he is like Chris in Parks and Recreation, very enthusiastic and always looking on the bright side. But he is also very awkward sort of how Ben can get when he’s flustered.

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Sergeant Terry Jeffords is a very unique character. I want to compare him to Leslie Knope because they share the second in command role and he also cares deeply for his coworkers. But he has a soft side along with his buff exterior that reminds me of health-conscious Chris with his emotional breakdowns.

Sorry I don’t have pictures for the rest of the characters, but I’m going to do them anyway.

Amy Santiago is a lot like Ann Perkins, wanting to please others but also Leslie Knope in her enthusiasm and detailed organization. So I’d say she’s a mix of the two.

Rosa Diaz reminds me a lot of April Ludgate in her don’t-care attitude and ability to confront others with the truth. Though more physical in her approach, she has a lot in common with April.

Scully and Hitchcock both remind me of Jerry/Gary/Larry. All of these characters are looked down on by their coworkers, but just go on with life. They also all make stupid mistakes that are easy for other’s to make fun of, but have their own quirks that keep us laughing.

And that leaves us with Gina Linetti. I’m not quite sure what to make of her. She’s a bit like Donna, with doing her own thing while at work. But while Donna never fails to treat herself, Gina cuts her own hair and is very thrifty. She’s also very crazy, like a whole lot of psychiatrists were fascinated by her in one episode. So I might say she’s a bit like Mona-Lisa too.

Anyway, those are my thoughts so far. And if you like Parks and Rec and haven’t tried out Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I recommend it.

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Companion

I’ve been struggling with what to write this week. So I decided to look through some old work from college and I found a poem I wrote my senior year about companionship. The picture of my two cats seemed to go along well with it. So, Enjoy!

Companion

No one wants to be alone in this world
Everyone wants a friend or companion
Someone to talk to or sit beside
It doesn’t even have to be human

A cat will curl up and keep you company
A dog will stand watch and keep you safe
A bird will bring music to the silence
Even a fish will not leave you alone

But there is nothing like a real person
To laugh with, talk to, and even listen to
We were not made to live in silence
Or sit by ourselves at the table

We are social animals and we need
Others of our kind around

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