An Introduction to My Latest Novel [the NaNoWriMo 2018 edition]

I shouldn’t technically be writing this post because I haven’t finished the first draft of this novel. I have this unspoken rule that I don’t post about my novels until the first draft is done.

But here I am because we are in the middle of April Camp NaNoWriMo 2019 and I’m still trying to finish the first draft of my NaNoWriMo 2018 novel. Yeah, the one I started in November 2018.

“You can write the flashy, here-are-a-bunch-of-aesthetic-collages, also-playlists, I-finished-the-rough-draft-of-my-novel, mwahahahahahah post after you finish this draft,” I told myself in November.

And here we are mid-April, and I’m writing the post with an unfinished draft anyway. You do the math (not that there’s actually any math to be done–I just wanted to say that).

It’s not a terribly long book (at least not right now in the first draft)–only 55,000 words at this point with probably another 10k to go before the end. I just… have been terrrrrrrible about finishing it (the number of r‘s used increases the weight of a word like “terrible,” in case you didn’t know).

But I’m trying to finish it this month.

Granted, I’ve only written a grand total of 1300 words since the start of the month, which isn’t the most auspicious start, but this book and I already have a history of rallying after an unimpressive start (like that time I wrote only 13,000 words in three weeks and hit the last week of November and wrote like 37,000 words so I could actually finish NaNo… even if I didn’t finish the book).

ANYWHO. Enough of this rambling introduction. Enough waxing eloquently (or not so eloquently) about where this novel has or has not gone. Enough looking back on the set and failed goals of the past four months.

*goes on to say “enough” this or that for another few paragraphs*

I give you my NaNoWriMo 2018 novel (no, I’m not actually giving it to you; that would be awful because it’s still a mess; I’m introducing you to it)!

latest novel 1

Title: Ritter André or To the Red Oceans and Beyond.

Genre: Sci-fi, space opera, aliens, interpersonal drama, space battles, etc.

Wordcount: 55k and climbing (in case you forgot, I haven’t finished the first draft yet).

How long have you had the idea?

I’ve had the idea for almost two years now. To the Red Oceans and Beyond is actually set in the same storyworld/galaxy as my flash fiction collection (Stars and Soul, for the uninitiated), and I got the idea at the same time as those stories.

At first, I thought about it as a flash fiction…. but it was too big. So I started thinking about it as a shorty story. And then a novella. And then finally a novel when I realized how much was going to go on.

Describe what your novel is about!

Hahahahaha, this is the part where I give you as little information as possible because I’m terrrrrrrible at talking about my books and stories (note the r‘s again).

To the Red Oceans and Beyond is about a young criminal investigator who goes to the end of worlds to rescue his kidnapped best friend from a mysterious criminal organization.

Plus, like, aliens, intergalactic drama, and a shipload of interpersonal drama.

Describe your book’s aesthetic!

This is really what this post is for: giving aesthetics, moods, and visuals and not any real information about the story.

~ cityscapes puncturing the atmosphere ~ glowing wires ~ ringed planets ~ solar flares ~ sleek black ~ blue and red tech ~ desolate moons ~ aliens ~ space walks ~ red oceans ~

Introduce us to each of your characters!

Ritter André: my main character and intergalactic criminal investigator. Sometimes I think he’s a product of my mad genius; sometimes I think he’s cardboard. Time will tell.

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Ritter’s collage; I own none of the pictures

Erick Ikehara: intergalactic criminal investigator and Ritter’s best friend (the one who gets kidnapped); fierce with lots of past hurt; legendary reputation (not that I’m going to tell you why he’s got a legendary reputation, though).

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Erick’s collage; I own none of the pictures

Oberon: a smol, mysterious hackery genius who teams up with Ritter.

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Oberon’s collage; I own none of the pictures

Philippa: an exiled contender for the throne of the empire spanning half the galaxy; possibly a sociopath.

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Philippa’s collage; I own none of the pictures

Agrippa (I clearly need to get these names out of my system before I have offspring): a dangerous hacker; also happens to be an Artificial Intelligence with questionable intentions.

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Agrippa’s collage; I own none of the pictures

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

  • Put on a playlist
  • Pin some more pins to my Pinterest board (somehow we’re at 292 pins on this board; don’t know how that happened; probably wasn’t me)
  • Gloat over the portion of the novel that’s already been written
  • Cringe at the portion of the novel that’s already been written
  • Create some character ships that will never actually work in the story
  • Write a completely different story
  • Envision the theatrical trailer
  • Dream of snippets from the sequel
  • Dream of snippets for the epic trilogy conclusion (not that this is actually a trilogy, mind you; it’s supposed to be a standalone, but don’t crush my dream)
  • Etc.

You know, all the usual procrastination stuff.

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

A certain stolen starship (yet to be named; when it is named, you can bet it will be named something equally weird brilliant as everything else in this novel).

Red oceans. Designing worlds is one of my favorite things, and sometimes I get a little drunk on power and throw something like red oceans into the mix just because I can. And then it somehow gets worked into the title because it becomes a super huge deal in the book.

Outer space. Gotta love it, my dudes.

What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Ritter André (that name, though [“Ritter” means “knight,” and “André” means “manly” or “brave warrior” {You: “Isn’t that a little over-the-top?” Me: No comment.}]) spends most of the novel trying to unravel the kidnapping of his best friend and fellow criminal investigator Erick Ikehara.

However, Ritter’s own government has given Erick up for dead, so Ritter must go around the system he cherishes to track a criminal organization spanning the galaxy without starting an intergalactic incident.

What are your book’s themes?

Friendship. Extra-familial brotherhood (i.e. – the deep bonds of family that can be shared between those who don’t share the same blood; think David and Jonathan, Holmes and Watson, Frodo and Sam, Kirk and Spock). Endurance. The nature of morality.

That’s what’s shown up so far.

Playlist.

There are actually several playlists, one for each character (I’m known in some circles as The Playlist Queen, so we all had to know there wasn’t going to be just one playlist). There is some overlap in the songs, and none of the playlists are very long yet, but I’m pretty in love with them.

Ritter | Erick | Philippa | Oberon | Agrippa

Now I just need to finish the novel.

Minor detail, but I should actually finish this thing. I’ve been stuck on the cusp of the climax for like four months now.

Part of it is that life’s been crazy (moving and such), part of it is needful rest, and part of it is not being able to press past being uninspired to finish it. But inspiration or no inspiration, I’m finishing this book. It’s going to need some revisions, but I won’t quit now.

So I’m actually go do that for a little bit since I’ve exhausted all avenues of procrastination.

What is your current project? What does your creative process look like?

With love,

Rosalie

p.s. – these questions were ripped off of the old Beautiful Books tag put on by Cait and Skye.

p.p.s. – I think I used a record amount of parenthetical statements in this post, and I don’t even care (I was clearly In A Mood or something when I wrote this entire post).

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What Keeps Me Writing

With my move to Texas, a lot has been thrown up in the air, and I’ve spent a lot of time frantically glancing at God and asking which things I’m supposed to catch and which I’m supposed to let fall out of my life, at least for now.

Of course, writing has been one of the things I’ve been wondering if it should stay or go, and I keep asking myself, “Why doesn’t the urge to write just die off? Why do I keep writing?”

what keeps me writing

I.

I cannot remember a time before I wrote. Yes, there was obviously a time before I could read and write, but I don’t remember it.

While that instinct to write comes very naturally, the writing itself is hard. It’s hard to wrangle a plot when it often seems like I don’t have a single plotting bone in my body. It’s hard to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until it comes out right. It’s hard to make the time and muster up the motivation when I’m not feeling inspired (which, by the way, is most of the time).

But I keep coming back to it. What brings me back to it?

II.

I no longer find my identity in being a writer or storyteller—that was one of t things that used to compel me to write. I didn’t know who I was if I wasn’t a writer.

Now, I know that I’m Rosalie, a redeemed slave of God, a part of the bride of Christ. That is my identity, not writing.

With the death of my misplaced identity came a great sense of relief and freedom. It’s okay if I don’t write. It’s okay if I don’t tell stories. They don’t define me, don’t bring meaning to my life.

So what keeps me writing?

III.

One of my dearest friends has entered a season of her life when she isn’t writing anymore, and it feels strange to me to be writing without her, like something’s missing.

But why do I still do it?

IV.

It took me a long time to understand that my writing honors God. As a child of a culture addicted to functionality, I fretted over whether my writing could actually serve a purpose—especially storytelling, my native tongue.

Slowly, painfully, I’ve learned that my writing—my blog, my stories, etc.—doesn’t need to serve a practical, functional purpose.

It can, but it doesn’t need to in order to be valuable or honoring to God. God is glorified in my simple enjoyment in creating, and God is also glorified in my dedication to keep creating when it is less than fun.

My writing doesn’t have to “do” anything else.

I look around at this earth, this planet we’re richly blessed to live on. It doesn’t need all these colors. It doesn’t need all these wondrous creatures. It doesn’t need all these scents or these sounds. It doesn’t need all this beauty, this beauty that doesn’t do anything, that just is.

But aren’t there better things I could do with my time? Why do I keep coming back to writing and art?

V.

Last week I walked to the nearest coffee shop with a notebook tucked in my purse. I ordered a tasty coffee drink in the largest size and picked my spot. I breathed in a moment, whispering to God about an idea only two days old, and then I breathed out a story.

My mind was completely immersed in images and sensations, tangling with words and metaphors, forgetting fear, following the ebb and flow of the story. And I just wrote. And wrote. And wrote. And wrote. For hours. And as I wrote, confusion fled and healing for many things was finished as the ink dried on the pages. It was good. It was joyful.

Why did I spend hours in a coffee shop, drenched in words, writing a story?

VI.

I’ve gotten a lot of clarity about why I still write, hard as it is. There are many reasons, some solid and quantifiable, others more unmeasurable and more difficult to define (but no less real).

I keep writing because writing forces me to grow. It requires dedication. It requires consistency. It requires perseverance. It requires throwing off fear. It requires exploration and risk. It requires patience. It requires trying and failing.

What keeps me writing?

The thrill of creation, of building worlds from the ground up with sheer imagination. The discovery of new characters and personalities and journeys. The way that stories have impacted me, made me into who I am today much like friends. The awe and wonder that stories and storytelling calls out in my blood. The healing I’ve experienced through the act of telling stories. The knowledge that my creativity is a wonderful gift. The delight that my creativity is a special way I get to image Christ.

What keeps me writing?

Knowing I was designed for this—to write. Knowing I was designed to tell stories. Knowing it is a gift I’ve been given to help me make sense of life, to bring healing to completion, to have my imagination redeemed for good things, to enjoy God more, to grow in wonder, to endure and persevere, to see beauty ignite out of ashes.

VII.

I used to think that my writing was God’s gift to the world (yikes, I know). Now, I know that it is one of God’s gifts to me, for my personal good in so many ways, a gift I am privileged to sometimes share with the world.

VIII.

I’m incredibly proud of my creativity, not because it came from me or I worked for it or anything like that, but because I get to use it.

There was a time when I would have been to afraid to write that previous sentence because I feared my own pride so much that I couldn’t have simple confidence and delight in the gifts I’ve been given. I would have been afraid of people thinking I’m conceited.

I’m not afraid of that anymore. At least not about this.

So I’ll say it again: I’m incredibly proud of my creativity and my writing. I’m proud because I am creative in the image Christ. I’m proud because I know that everyone is built to reflect of image of Christ in a unique way, and I’m privileged and honored and humbled and proud and delighted to reflect God in this way: writing and creativity.

I hope I do it with right confidence and boldness all the days of my life.

IX.

I don’t know what this post is supposed to be. Don’t ask me what the Roman numerals are doing besides providing dividers between threads of thought that for some reason belong in this post but couldn’t flow together naturally.

This is, I suppose, more of a journal entry than anything else, an expression of what’s been cycling through my mind and heart… but also a revel in this way God has built me, for my good and his glory.

Thanks for reading. I hope it made sense (yikes).

With love,

Rosalie

p.s. – I seriously hope this post makes sense.

p.p.s. – I’ve written posts about why I write before, but I’ve been ruminating over it a lot (again), and I figured it’s never the wrong time for existential musings.

p.p.p.s. – I have this niggling feeling like there’s a typo (or seven) hiding out in this post, but they are invisible to my eyes. So, sorry about that. ;)

Why Dracula [a review/journal entry about why I (surprisingly) love Dracula by Bram Stoker]

If you’ve been around Penprints any time since October 2018, you’ve probably seen my frequent references to Dracula and how much I love it and want to write Dracula fan fiction and wear all the Storiarts Dracula merch etc. etc. etc.. Well, today a little background into why I love it so much.

I’m not sure what compelled me to use one of my precious Audible credits to purchase an audiobook version of Dracula by Bram Stoker.

While I’ve always loved science fiction and fantasy and most else that can be classified as “weird”, I’ve had an aversion to the horror genre (a post for another time, perhaps?). I’ve never caught the vampire craze, and I have a tenuous relationship with most pieces of classic literature.

So why’d I decide to listen to Dracula—vampire novel, predecessor of the horror genre, piece of classic literature?

I still don’t know. But listen to it I did, expecting not to like it, expecting I’d not even finish it, and instead found I love it. So much so that when I visited Barnes and Noble last Tuesday, I bought a red leather copy to keep in my personal library.

So here’s a review/journal entry to explain some of why I so enjoyed Dracula. Maybe it’ll intrigue you into reading this classic.

why dracula

[Brief Blurb]

Jonathan Harker, a young English lawyer, travels through the Eastern European country of Transylvania to conclude a real estate transaction with a nobleman. As Harker wends his way through the picturesque countryside, the local peasants react with terror when he tells them his destination: Castle Dracula.

Upon arriving at the crumbling old castle, Harker finds that the elderly Dracula is a well-educated and hospitable gentleman. But after only a few days, Harker realizes that he is effectively a prisoner in the castle, and as he investigates the nature of his confinement, he realizes that the count possesses supernatural powers and murderous ambitions.

Told from the perspective of multiple narrators, Dracula recounts a group of ordinary people who uncover the count’s plot and seek to stop him at any cost.

(Blurb adapted from sparknotes.com.)

[The Format]

The first thing to strike me about Dracula is its format: a collection of newspaper clippings, ships logs, letters, and personal diaries. And that style of storytelling is incredibly appealing to me

Each piece of writing—be it a telegram, ship log, journal entry, etc.—pertains in some way to the overarching plot surrounding Count Dracula. While the reader sees correspondence and reflections from almost a dozen different sources, we primarily get to know three narrators in particular: Jonathon Harker, Mina Murry, and Dr. John Seward, which brings us to the next thing I loved…

[The Characters]

Um, I loved them all.

Well, mainly Jonathan Harker, Mina Murray, Dr. Seward, and Dr. Van Helsing. But the rest were also endearing.

They loved each other so much and were so passionate in their affections and admiration for each other and all that is good that I just have to smile whenever I think about them. (More on them when we get to the themes.)

[The Themes]

Amity, modernity the nature of goodness, and the nature of evil were some of my favorite themes from Dracula.

Modernity.

Victorian era London (where the main characters are from) was one of the peaks of modern enlightenment and science. I found it very interesting how that modernity failed in the fight against Count Dracula. The heroes had to suspend what science told them, what their enlightened minds could understand, in order to go after Count Dracula. Instead of science, they were forced to embrace that which would be scoffed at as mere superstition. Their modern intellect and rationality were forced to give way to that which cannot be explained.

I believe this is especially thought provoking in today’s modern world. We get so comfortable in our flesh and bone, in the brief moment of time we live on this earth, in the science that’s integrated into every aspect of our lives. We think we’re so logical, enlightened, modern, scientific, and knowledgeable—too proud (or maybe too afraid) to embrace what we can’t see or don’t understand, which, for the Christian, has frightening implications when it comes to our faith in a Savior God who has always worked in strange and supernatural ways.

We should take care not to become so modern that unseen, strange realities have no bearing on how we think and feel and live.

The nature of evil.

Count Dracula is cruel toward others, murderous, hateful, vengeful, cold, proud, selfish, and basically completely void of love for anyone but himself. He is humanity at its worst, most fallen. Not only does him simply love only himself, his heart is so hard that he is incapable of treasuring anything but himself.

In him, we see so much of the awful potential that humanity has to be evil (i.e. – total depravity).

Amity and the nature of goodness.

In our heroes (Jonathan Harker, Mina Murray, Dr. Seward, Dr. Van Helsing, etc.), there is a simple honesty and goodness. They are diligent. They are afraid yet fight on, exemplifying courage and perseverance in the face of great evil. They are, it seems, outmatched against Count Dracula, but they keep at their quest no matter how bleak it looks or how much they’ve lost already because if not they cannot or will not fight Dracula, who will? They are quick to see the value in each other, quick the love each other. They are kind and love what is good.

In them we see all the best potential that humanity has for good (i.e. – ways people image Christ, like we were designed to).

[The Portrayal of Men, Women, and Marriage]

In general, the portrayal in the heroes of masculinity, femininity, and marriage was so wonderful and refreshing.

Mina Murray was smart and resourceful, and while sometimes the writing was over the top with surprise at how smart and resourceful Mina was, it was a fitting representation of women. She was kind and gracious, clever and helpful, brave and tenacious.

Also, all the dudes in this book were so amazing as men. They saw it as their responsibility to help and protect Mina and the other women at whatever cost to themselves. They were gallant and devoted as well as intelligent and strong. Where gentleness was needed, they were gentle. Where ferocity was needed, they were fierce. They, simply put, were good men.

Also, a certain couple gets married in the middle of the book, and their relationship and Stoker’s portrayal of marriage and the roles in marriage is just so beautiful to me.

[The Slow Burn Plot]

I just loved the plot for this. And I don’t usually love plots because I’m a character first person…. but Stoker was masterful.

In the first act, he attaches us primarily to one character (Jonathan Harkar, aka: my favorite) and then deploys an unexpected (at least to me) twist, veering off in a new direction while the reader reels from a mid-book cliffhanger.

Then, begins the slow burn.

The reader knows all along the way that something bad is happening, that the things that are being written—every ship log, diary entry, etc.—are relating to Count Dracula in some way, but the reader isn’t always aware how it is related.

There’s just this rising tide of dread that grows and grows as tension tightens and tightens around each arc of the plot.

It’s especially excruciating since the reader knows about Count Dracula, but the heroes don’t at first. Every little thing that’s a red flag or piece of foreshadowing for the reader just goes over the heads of our heroes at first because they have no idea what they’ve gotten into.

To me, it was so well done that I hope to write such suspenseful fiction one day.

[Unsettling/Objectionable Content]

Dracula is still the father of all vampire fiction (and some horror fiction too), so I cannot not mention that there were some things that unsettled me and stunt my recommendation when it comes to younger readers.

Generally, it’s a surprisingly bloodless book (considering these are vampires, people), but there are a few scenes where the violence and gore was unsettling to me. Also, there was a weird and unsettling sensuality in the way vampires were portrayed in some scenes.

However, I found these scenes/this content few and far between and not troubling to the degree that I can’t enjoy the story as a whole.

[To Wrap It Up]

Excuse me while I go write a ton of Dracula fan fiction and rave about how freaking amazing Jonathan Harker is.

(Seriously, though, if I ever were to write a Victorian era novel [or something steampunk-ish] it would be Dracula inspired. And if I ever were to write anything involving vampires, it would basically be a Dracula retelling. And also the main character is going to based off of Jonathan Harker. Just so you’re all warned.)

Have you ever read Dracula? What did you think?

With love,

Rosalie

p.s. – Let me just say that I’m so happy that I get to post on Penprints about persevering in the power of Jesus one week, curate a ridiculous collection of gifs about how to maximize bookstore enjoyment another week, and then turn around and share some thoughts on Dracula. All on the same blog.

Hopefully none of you have whiplash from such topic changes, but if you do, I will quote Lego Batman to you.

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Mwahahaha (I’m done now I promise).

7 Steps to Maximum Bookstore Enjoyment

Today, I am going to a bookstore.

I haven’t been to a bookstore since November 2018, which in bookworm years is like half an eternity.

I’m very excited and have been planning this bookstore trip for about two weeks now. The nearest bookstore is about 35 minutes away, which is just far enough that strategery must be deployed for Maximum Bookstore Enjoyment.

Today, I’m sharing my wisdom on Bookstore Ventures. Listen up, kids.

7 steps bookstore enjoyment.jpg

Step One: Carve out a good chunk of time (aka: release yourself of all responsibility for at least 7.5 hours). 

Take the day off from work. Clear your schedule. Make it clear to your loved ones that if they need anything, you’ll be at the bookstore and thus otherwise engaged for quite some time.

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People will be sad that you are unreachable during your Bookstore Venture. That’s okay. They’ll live.

Step Two: Conduct reconnaissance and gather provisions. 

It’s important to know what sort of bookstore you’re walking into and what amenities the surrounding area has to offer.

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For instance, you’ll likely need some coffee, so make sure there’s either a coffee shop inside the bookstore or that there’s a coffee shop on the way too the bookstore. (Also, I should warn you that a bookstore without a coffee shop should be regarded as Shady.)

If there are no proper eateries within thirty seconds of the bookstore, pack snacks.

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Step Three: Select the proper wardrobe.

You can’t go to a bookstore wearing just anything.

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You need something comfy, stylish, and possibly bookish. If you have bookish merch of any kind, this where you break it out. Wear the Out of Print t-shirt, the Storiarts headband (anybody want to buy me a Dracula headband?), the bookworm socks. Or, go the fandom route.

You’re going home to the bookstore. Such an occasion requires the proper attire.

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Step Four: Leave the dead weight non-bookish people at home.

If you are a mother and have offspring, leave the offspring at home.

It’s also best if you leave family and/or friends at home who may in any way try to rush the Bookstore Venture.

If they are not a fellow Bookworm, they will only detract from the Venture by….

a) complaining about your mood, attire, etc.

Bookworm:

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Person:

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b) getting bored in the bookstore

c) asking if you’re almost done

d) sighing

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e) constantly checking their phone

f) sighing more

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g) asking, “Don’t you already have enough books?”

h) ect. 

Step Five: Locate and take pictures of all the books you already own by authors you already know and love and post them on Instagram.

If I need to explain this why this step is imperative, you clearly have not been exposed to the #bookstagram community, and the very nature of your Bookworm-ness has been called into question.

Step Six: Angst over which books you’re going to purchase.

You know the feeling. There are so many good options and too little money and shelf space.

You take books off the shelves only to reshelve them only to take them off again. You read blurbs and first chapters and stare at covers and recheck your bank account and reshelve the books.

You don’t know which books to buy, which ones are the most essential to your towering TBR pile.

Buy the box set? Or get the YA retelling?

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Or choose the book you’d never heard of before today but has a beautiful cover and a mouth-watering blurb?

And what about that special edition of your favorite classic?

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Or go with the hardcover that you have to take out a mortgage to buy, but my goodness it’s gorgeous?

How can you possibly choose?

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Step Seven: Buy some books. Engage in some “I just bought books” merrymaking. Die happy.

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That’s how it’s done.

With love,

Rosalie

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p.s. – today is Katie Grace’s birthday!! Happy Birthday, Katie!!

p.p.s. – that Avengers: Endgame trailer, amiright?

p.p.p.s. – I clearly spent more time looking for gifs than I did writing this post.

Beloved: In the Lord, Your Labor Is Not in Vain

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, your labor is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:57-58

beloved your labor is not in vain

When we serve Jesus, there always seems to be a little lying voice that invariably springs up whenever it gets the chance.

The voice says, “Give up. It’s not worth it. Nothing will come of it.”

Give up on getting up half an hour earlier to read your Bible. It’s not worth it.

Give up on talking to that person. It’s not worth it.

Give up on praying for that sickness. It’s not worth it.

Give up on your marriage. It’s not worth it.

Give up on holiness. It’s not worth it.

Give up on worship. It’s not worth it.

Give up on trusting people and being vulnerable. It’s not worth it.

Give up on fighting temptation. It’s not worth it.

Give up on church. It’s not worth it.

Give up on this ministry. It’s not worth it.

Give up on that relationship. It’s not worth it.

Give up on waiting for a change. It’s not worth it.

It’s too hard. It’s taking too long. Give up. Get swept under. Lose hope. Lose faith. Give up. It’s not worth it.

But Jesus says, “Be steadfast. Your labor is not in vain.”

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Jesus’ life was surely one of perseverance and steadfastness as much as it was a life of grace and love.

As little as we know of his childhood, he likely endured a certain level of contempt regarding his birth, which looked scandalous and disgraceful to world. During his ministry, he endured temptation, rejection, the unbelief of others, the great wear and tear his ministry must have taken on his body, reviling, constant attempts to entrap him by those who hated him, great crowds of people seeking him for his teaching but perhaps more for his miracles, and being very misunderstood, even by those closest to him.

And then, after all that, after a life of enduring, of persevering, of exemplifying steadfastness, he endured more, persevered more, exemplified steadfastness more. He endured the physical torment, abuse, and shame of the cross as well as the unspeakable emotional and spiritual anguish of the wrath of God, his Father.

And none of it was in vain. In all of it, Jesus was and is perfectly victorious.

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“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, your labor is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:57-58

Your prayers and tears and grief for your grown child to come back to God are not in vain.

Every week you lose sleep to get up early and get to church early to set up so that the service can run smoothly is not in vain.

The anxiety attack that hits you while you’re trying to lead in worship is not in vain.

The words you’ve invested in others—from the long, deep conversations to the simple “hello”—are not in vain.

The decision to deal with a crabby, missed-a-nap baby in favor of going to church is not in vain.

Every single time you open your Bible, it is not in vain.

The small group that struggles or seems hard is not in vain.

The acts of fidelity you make every time you turn away from sin of all kinds are not in vain.

The forgiveness that is hard, that you wrestle with, is not in vain.

The prayers for salvations or your own sanctification are not in vain.

The song you lift in worship when it hurts the most is not in vain.

Every risky letter or text you send in love is not in vain.

Every weight of depression you press through is not in vain.

Every scrap of loneliness you refuse to let ebb into self-pity is not in vain.

Every hardship or setback you meet as you toil along the climbing way, looking for the day Jesus welcomes you home, is not in vain.

It. is. not. in. vain.

It is not in vain because Jesus will always accomplish what he intends to in every act of faithfulness, no matter how weary you are, no matter how thin your faith seems, no matter how many times you slipped and fell along the way, no matter if you had no idea how it would ever be for your good.

Jesus bought the victory—which he gives to you—with his own blood, his display of ultimate steadfastness and fidelity.

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So entrench, beloved.

Where it seems like you’ve been slipping, like an avalanche is always one misstep away, when it seems fruitless and hopeless, when you can’t see God moving in your ministry or your life, when you wonder if it matters for anything, when you can’t see the point, when the enemy would have you doubt if it’s even the work of the Lord anymore, entrench.

It may still be hard. It may not turn out how you think it should. It may hurt. But it is not in vain.

Beloved, don’t give up.

Beloved, Jesus gives you his own victory.

Beloved, be steadfast, immovable, despite the doubts and questions and pain.

Beloved, always abound in the work of the Lord.

Beloved, in the Lord, your labor is not in vain.

With love,

Rosalie

p.s. – there won’t be a post here on Penprints next week! Details to come to those subscribed to my newsletter!