The 6 Stages of a Weekday [if ever there was a post to be a gif-full post, it is this post] [seriously, though, we’re looking at less than 200 words]

This is a #realtalk post, my friends. It’s about weekdays.

Let’s get to it.

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Stage One: Waking From Slumber.

Alarm #1.

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*gently snoozes*

Alarm #2.

snooze 2

*snoozes less gently*

Alarm #3.

waking up 1

*failing to silence alarm #3*

Stage Two: Waking From Slumber [the sequel].

Actually up.

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Profound words.

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Food is our friend.

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Coffee.

limitless 7

it’s all better now

Stage Three: Assessing the To-Do List.

On first glance…

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After further contemplation…

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A little bit later.

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sometimes I get some earthshaking revelations

Stage Four: Work.

(Disclaimer: I enjoy my day job immensely, but it requires departing from the the house. Thus…)

At first.

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Suiting up.

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At work.

singing in the rain 2

because I can

Stage Five: The Revenge of the To-Do List

Approach #1.

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Approach #2.

procrastination 2

Approach #3.

procrastination 1

Approach #4.

hamster eating 1

Approach #5.

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Approach #6.

doing stuff 4

wait a sec. I think something might be happening.

doing stuff 2

oh wow

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you better believe it

doing stuff 5

boom

doing stuff 3

yassssssssssssssss

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MWAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

Stage Six: The End of the Day.

Reading.

reading 1

Food.

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More reading.

reading 3

General merrymaking.

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The End.

Yeah, that basically sums it up.

Does any of this apply to you wonderful people? Which stage do you find yourself caught in the most? What stages do you experience that I do not?

With love,

Rosalie

P.S. – congrats to Lisa from Inkwell on winning the magazine giveaway! Watch your inbox for an email from me! :D

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An Instance When You Shouldn’t Think of Others Before Yourself [an autobiography]

Usually, it’s a good think to think of others before you think of yourself. In fact, it’s always good to think of other’s needs before your own. We’re to consider each other as more significant than ourselves, looking to their interest before our own. This is a huge part of how Christians are to love each other, how we’re to be Jesus to one another.

But today I want to talk about an instance when it’s wrong—sinful, even—to think about someone else before you think of yourself. After several stabs at this post, the best way to do this seems to be by sharing a bit of autobiography.

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A not-so-hypothetical situation.

It was Sunday morning at church, and a visiting pastor was speaking from Ephesians 4 about how our leaders are gifts to our church, admonishing us to be unified, reminding us what—or rather who—unifies us as a church, and calling us to grow up into the image of Christ. I sat there in my pew, brimming with enthusiasm. I had a running list of people who I thought needed to hear that sermon, who needed to hear it and then heed it. I’m not the type to call out an amen in the service, but I wanted to that morning… until I realized I was deciding how everyone else had to change because of the truth we were told that day except for me. I wasn’t thinking about how I needed to learn and grow; I was thinking about everyone else who needed to learn and grow, calling them out in my head.

It was a strange, disorienting, somewhat sickening moment.

The problem.

In December 2016, I was reading The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis, and that was the first time I was made aware that this sort of thinking was a problem… and that I had this problem (The Screwtape Letters can do that to a person). It ebbed in and out of my mind for months as I caught myself thinking about how the truth being preached and taught to me could be applied in the lives of all these sinners around me. Goodness knows I’m painfully aware of their sin and problems and am so wise as to know how they need to go about growing up, and I sure hope they are actually listening to this sermon because they really need to get their lives in order.

But here’s the deal.

Sermons on Sunday mornings, daily quiet time with God, convicting books on the Christian life—these are rarely the time to be assessing the sin of others.

The Holy Spirit puts me in church on Sunday for me to hear the message and learn from it, not so I can steam about how so-and-so had better be awake to hear this because I think I know so much about so-and-so’s heart and life.

My quiet time with God is my quiet time with God where he and I set up a battle plan for my life and my sin issues, not where I pick out pieces of what I’m learning and wish my sister or friend or whoever knew it so that they could stop being such a difficult person for me to deal with.

The Holy Spirit is with me while I read that book on the Christian life to convict me, not so that I can convict others.

These are all situations where I should come first in my mind, but so often I don’t. There is something sickly satisfying in looking down on someone else from the safety of my mind, from the high vantage point my self-love so readily gives me. But my mind isn’t safe from God’s eyes, and my high ground is just an illusion I’ve made for myself.

The source of this mindset.

It all boils down to pride. This is thinking much of myself and hardly anything of those around me.

There is a time and place for coming alongside a brother or sister in Christ and exhorting them with the power of the Holy Spirit, but the only power of the Holy Spirit that has to do with pride is the power that the Holy Spirit uses to expose and then cut down pride. There is no upside or strength in pride, only sin and self, and in the process of sanctification, both of those must go.

A holy heart.

How can I learn to look first at myself before turning my eyes to the lives of others? Humility and love. Humility and love. Humility and love. Humility and love.

Humility is for looking at myself first. I have sin issues. So do you. So does everyone else. But the sin issues that need to occupy my mind are my own, not anyone else’s. When I feel the tug to look at the sinners around me—whether it be in church or during my devotions or reading a book on the Christian life or anywhere else—I will stop and pray.

I will pray to the holy God to whom I should have no right to lift up my voice. I’ll ask for help from the Holy Spirit whose presence I should have no access to. I will look to Jesus, who has given my what is his, and I’ll remember that grace has nothing to do with deserve.

Pride has a hard time standing before the brilliant holiness of God, and I think that might be part of humility in a nutshell. It’s not about looking at others or yourself or comparison at all. It’s looking at God, truly looking at him, and remembering why you can.

Love is for when I do see legitimate sin in someone else’s life. Love, 1 Corinthians 13 love, is not blind, but it is true. 1 Corinthians 13 love gives the correct heartset for confronting a brother or sister in sin. It is devoid of pride and the sick urge to rejoice in the faults of others and tear them down or feel superior.

Instead of thinking anything about self, love immediately moves toward the best interest of the beloved, even if it involves painful confrontation. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

Further reading.

I wrote this because I know I’m not the only one with this sin, and so if you’d like to read the Scripture behind this post, here’s a list of some of the influential passages: Jeremiah 17:9-10, Proverbs 16:18, Matthew 7:1-5, Luke 6:31, John 8:1-8, Romans 2:1-11, 1 Corinthians 13, Philippians 2:3-10, and James 4:12.

Who has read The Screwtape Letters? Did anyone else get major speck vs. plank vibes from this post (if you did, it was probably because Matthew 7:1-5 was hugely influential)? Which is harder for you—humility or love? Speaking of humility, what do you think it is (I ask because opinions seem to vary)?

With love,

Rosalie

P.S. – this is a messy subject, and there were several things I didn’t clarify because it was getting to be a monster huge post. What clarifications/follow-up posts would you like to see?

P.P.S. – don’t forget to enter the giveaway from last week’s post by Just B. Jordan!

Just B. Jordan on Writing Flash Fiction

In 2015, I met Just B. Jordan at Realm Makers, and then in 2017, I fell in love with flash fiction (short stories 1000 words or less). And it turns out that Just B. Jordan is no stranger to brief fiction. In 2016, she published her first story with Splickety Publishing Group, and then in 2017, she sold three more stories to Splickety as well as shared a few flash fics on her blog.

SO. Just B. Jordan has graciously agreed to share some of her flash fiction wisdom with us today, and at the end of the post, be sure to enter the giveaway to win print copies of all four magazines that feature her stories.

Without further adieu, here are her thoughts.


on writing flash fiction.jpg

The Post.

When you speak to writers about flash fiction the most common response you hear is “I’d like to write a story in that form, but I can never make anything that short!”

I was an extremist in this group; I didn’t think I could write a story under 100,000 words. It was impossible until I changed the way I thought about short stories.

one thing.jpgThey aren’t exactly like novels, which are about the growth of a world and its characters. Flash fiction is about one thing, whether it’s a moment, a suggestion, a question, or a change. Something brief, but potent, that could be written in any number of ways. As a scene, an accumulation of different moments, a recollection—any structure that fits the tale you want to tell.

Learning the craft of flash means learning how to cut every word you possibly can. You have to be concise and advance the plot quickly. The story must be reduced to its essence, but remain vivid. For someone who tends to write long (yes, that’s me) it’s an invaluable lesson, and well worth the effort.

The restriction of words feels confining at first, but there’s a freedom to flash fiction. Embrace that it doesn’t have to be perfectly complete. It only has to be complete enough to resonate.

One way to resonate is to leave an imprint made by a question left unanswered, the reader feeling an emotion, or even something as simple as an image that’s strong enough to last in the mind’s eye.

Crafting a strong image is not only a good writing exercise, but it can be a powerful devise that makes your story memorable. Once a story’s written, find the moment that could become an “imprint” image. Shape this moment into one line, and work over the language of that line until the wording is unique, until it feels alive. Then you’ve created an image that will stay in your memory forever. (An image I will never forget is a line as short as “the howl of a songbird on a string”)

Every reader might find that a different line, image, or emotion remains with them from a story, and it could be one the writer didn’t purposefully craft. But that reflects the beauty of flash fiction; it has a form, but some stories are just abstract enough that it means something different to each reader.

Even so, coloring words and images shouldn’t cross the line into being too poetic. Flowered prose has its place, but a story still needs to advance. Description should be used as a gear, not the whole vehicle.

Everyone has their own writing style. And everyone has a different way of developing their story. I find it easiest to start with finding an idea I love. I let the story grow until I see the moment in time where the biggest change happens for the characters. That moment becomes the only scene I write. It begins just before, or just as, the “big change” occurs, and it ends when the characters are faced with accepting or fighting this change, or shortly after they’ve acted on it.

Write the big moment. Leave the reader with a unique image or a strong feeling. Cut everything that doesn’t advance the story or add emotion.

And when you’re ready to submit your story for publication, do a little research. It’s worth your time, I promise. Read stories published by magazines or ezines you want to submit to. If you find works that are similar to yours, you know that magazine will have a much higher chance of being interested in your work—submit to them!

Then keep writing those big moments. ;)


Jordan 300dpi croppedThe Author.

Just B. Jordan writes high fantasy and sci-fi. She received a contract for her first novel at the age of 18. Her published works include Never to Live and multiple short stories.

Check out her YouTube channel, Twitter, and website (and don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter).


enter to win (1).jpgThe Giveaway!

Be sure to enter to win the print copies of the four magazines that Just B. Jordan has been published in!

There are three different ways to enter, so be sure to get alllllllll the entries you can!

The giveaway ends on 1.20.18, and the winner will be announced in the post script of the January 22, 2018 post from Penprints. :)


SO. What do you think about flash fiction? Have you tried to write it? Have you read it?

With love,

Rosalie

17 Things from 2017 & 18 Things for 2018 [that’s a grand total of 35 things] [but, never fear, this isn’t a giant post] [oh, wait. it is.]

There is no intro for this post. Only greatness. (Am I being serious? No, but it sure sounds real swanky to say “There is no __ for __. Only greatness.”. You know I’m right. You know it.)

17 and 18

 

First, the seventeen things from 2017.

The six best books I read in 2017. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke – Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer – On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King – The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction edited by Tara L. Masih – Havah by Tosca Lee – The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson.

The six pieces of flash fiction I submitted for publication. The Necklace was accepted and published in this issue of Havok Magazine; the core of the story is the idea that all people are created in the image of God, and as such, we have the potential to mirror his image in all the purest ways despite the pull of our fallen nature.

Sense of Red, a dramatic piece that helped me deal with and express the boiling and red of jealousy, was rejected.

I wrote Captain-ish-ness to have lots of fun, but it ended up not being just funny to me. It was also about stress, not being what you’re supposed to be, not doing as well as you’re supposed to, and how when dreams come true, they aren’t always as shiny as you thought they’d be but that can be okay because of the people in the dream with you. And it still makes me laugh every time.

The Power of Nothing clocked in at eight drafts. Eight drafts. And we’re not talking about switching up sentence structure here and there. So many point-of-view changes, stopping and starting at so many different parts of the story, and trying to figure out if it made any sense at all. The sense it made to me was this: what we choose not to do is just as important as what we choose to do in our pursuit of doing to others as they would do to us.

In my personal opinion, Star-rise is the best flash fiction I have written to date. Gift giving, pure hearts, and true friendship are at core of this little story, and it makes me so happy whenever I think about it. Captain-ish-ness, The Power of Nothing, and Star-rise were all rejected, which was tough because I think they’re some of my best work.

Cap-tivated was the other story I submitted, and it was also rejected. As I look back at Cap-tivated, I can see that it isn’t much. At it’s best, it’s cute. At it’s worst, it’s cliched. And no matter how many times I reread it or think about it, I can’t find any sort of actual meaning to it. *shrug* Oh, well. The interesting thing is that I didn’t try to put anything into any of these stories; I found the themes and abstract ideas after I finished them, not before (or in the case of Cap-tivated, I found nothing whatsoever).

Three people and what they taught me.

My Grandma read through the entire Bible twice in 2017. Twice. TWICE. I’m doing well if I get most of the way through the Bible once in a year. Not Grandma. She went through one reading plan, but instead of patting herself on the back and putting up her feet for the rest of the year, she started in on another plan and finished that one several days before the end of the year. And another thing–Grandma doesn’t boast about anything (except maybe Grandpa’s raging good looks), so the only reason I know about it is because it came out in an offhand comment over Christmas. So three things to take away: 1) Grandma kicks reading plan butt and is more amazing than I had already presumed, 2) don’t ever be done reading the Bible, even if you’ve already read it once this year, 3) there is something incredibly noble, attractive, and godly about people who do beautiful things in secret.

This was a tough year for me, but as much of a tough year as it was for me, it was about five times tougher for my dad. He faced 8/10 same things as I did plus 8 of his own battles. It was one thing after another on nearly all fronts all. year. long for Daddy. Instead of folding up and crying in a corner (which is what I would do), he just kept moving, kept rolling with the punches, kept getting up in the morning, kept leading meetings, kept going no matter how messy or stressful or hard or all of the above things got. And he hardly ever said anything like a complaint. He exemplifies Christ-like perseverance.

There are many things that Luke says and does that have a profound impact on me, but this year, the One Thing would probably be a phrase I first heard him use on Thanksgiving break: “All things for the sake of the Gospel.” All things for the sake of the Gospel. All things for the sake of the Gospel. Including looking silly and clumsy since you can’t dance in order to make someone you don’t even know know that you value them enough to dance just to make them feel more comfortable. Including moving fourteen hours away from your closest friends and family to see Christ proclaimed somewhere where he is unknown. Including a hundred other things no one but God will ever know about. All things for the sake of the Gospel.

18 of the my goals and resolutions for 2018.

(We’ll revisit these on Penprints at the end of the year.)

  1. Devotions every day.*
  2. Write every day.*
  3. Finish draft five of Beasts and hand it off to betas.
  4. Launch newsletter (yeah, finally).
  5. Read 50 books.
  6. Read through the entire Bible (thanks, Grandma).
  7. Draft one new novel.
  8. Get through draft two of False Gods.
  9. Be discipled.
  10. Blog once a week.**
  11. Revisit Flickering Lights (yeah, this might turn into a novel).
  12. Write two letters/notes of encouragement a month.
  13. Discover and develop my spiritual gifts.
  14. Submit nine pieces for publication.
  15. Write two short stories (not flash fictions; short stories are longer).
  16. All things for the sake of the Gospel.
  17. Love people well. 2017 was the Year of Love in the Vague Sense (aka: no bueno). 2018 is the Year of Love in the Startlingly Specific Sense Laid Out in 1 Corinthians 13. I’ll botch this one sometimes (or a lot of times), but it isn’t a lost cause with the Holy Spirit.
  18. Rejoice in God. Jesus is the reason and source of all true joy, and it’s time for me to fight for my joy in him, to stop looking at the joy of my salvation as something that comes and goes but as a constant with and because of God.

* – I’m giving myself 15 “burner” days. Meaning, I have 15/365 days to miss on these things and that’s it.

** – continuing with the “burner” idea. I have 3/52 weeks to miss for the blog.


Let’s conquer 2018, kids.

What are your highlights from 2017? What do you expect from 2018? What will you make of 2018?

With love,

Rosalie <3

P.S. – If you made it to the end of this post, let me know by giving someone who inspires you a shout out in the comments. I’ll give a shout to two people–Nadine Brandes and my boss, Anne. Nadine inspires me with her words of life, and Anne inspires me with her generosity and kindness in all things.

12 Surefire Methods For Getting In The Christmas Mood

There are exactly two weeks until Christmas Day (for those of you who are behind on your gift-buying, you’re welcome for that bone-chilling, adrenaline-kicking, stroke-inducing reminder).

For some reason, I’ve had a bit of a hard time getting into The Christmas Mood. I don’t know what it is, but I only really managed to snag the Christmas cheer this past week. Today, for anyone else whose spirits might be flagging, I’m going to share 12 surefire methods that are sure, beyond all shadows of any doubts, to get you in The Christmas Mood (because they’re basically science).

The Christmas Mood.jpg

Oh, look, a red snowflake. How festive.

1. Wrap a present. (Note: if you don’t have any gifts for wrapping yet, wrapping a present to get into The Christmas Mood will not exactly work since it’s not, strictly speaking, possible to wrap a gift you don’t have–unless of course you wrap a metaphorical gift, in which case, use your imagination and make it look real good). For those who struggle with gift wrapping, you may refer to this incredibly therapeutic post from Penprints a couple years ago (you’re welcome in advance).

2. Take a drive after dark to see the Christmas lights. It is so fun and cheering to admire the lights that so many enterprising, Already In The Mood people have taken the time to decorate with. So, don’t be afraid to go out after dark; instead, take advantage of any opportunity to see the lights.

3. Invent your very own festive playlist. This one is new to me this year, but I’ve got a specialized playlist for Christmas on Spotify. I encourage you to do something similar because there’s nothing quite like music to usher in Mood and Anticipation. Since the beginning of December, I have added at least one song a day to my playlist (you can listen to it here; for cute and fun, I recommend “Hey Moon“; for nostalgic, go for “To Be With You“; for haunting and hopeful, “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day” and “End of Exile“; for abstract and reminiscent of the tender tone of some of the O.T. prophecies, I can’t recommend “I Will Find a Way” enough).

4. Decorate with red and green and garland and lights and nativities. If I need to explain this one, well, I’m sorry for your childhood (or lack thereof).

5. Say “Merry Christmas!”, especially to strangers. You can’t use “Merry Christmas” more than five times without feeling The Mood come upon you. So say it.

6. Take quiet time away to reflect on Jesus and His birth and the hope of Him. Hope is so essential to the Christian life, and this time of year especially will be hollow if we don’t take time to recognize and reflect on what it meant back then and what it means today.

7. … And respond with joy. C. S. Lewis said that joy is not complete until it’s expressed. SO, when you’re thinking about everything Jesus’s coming means and the sheer joy of it hits you, express it. Sing. Extol God. Pray. Tell someone. Smile. The explosive joy of God is sometimes too much to explain or share, but try to communicate it anyway–to God, to your family, to your co-workers, to everyone.

8. Snuff some peppermint essential oil. Trust me, this is pure genius from yours truly. Bring up a chair, my padawans. Essential oils aren’t just about wellness.

dream bigger 1

Essential oils are about Mood, too. So, go out to your local Store and pick up some peppermint essential oil. There are a few ways to benefit from the fragrance. Put some in a diffuser necklace for easy access. During a hot shower, drip 2-3 drops on the shower floor. If you have a diffuser in your home, put a few drops in there and enjoy. It’s like inhaling candy canes and sleigh bells.

9. Following along the line of sniffing Christmas, light up a Christmas tree scented candle. Even if you have a live Christmas tree, there is never enough Christmas tree smell, and candles add to ambiance and Good Moods with the longer nights of winter. Plus, matches never get old. (If any of you thought we were going to make it through this post without a reference to fire, you were sorely mistaken.)

10. Write/design a Christmas card or two or three. This is good for you and good for the person(s) you send the card to.

11. Watch a Christmas movie. While Charles Dickens did not invent Christmas (obviously), The Man Who Invented Christmas looks like it would be a fun, festive one to go see in theaters this year. Other popular Christmas movies aka: the classics we watch almost every year at my house include: The Nativity Story, Elf, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (basically a Christmas movie), The Very First Noel, and The Muppet’s Christmas Carol.

12. Some sort of advent. There are so many options. Come Let Us Adore Him by Paul David Tripp is one that my mom is enjoying this year, but there are countless other resources available online and in bookstores.


And that is the most comprehensive, exhaustive, complete, surefire of all surefire lists of Christmas-y things to do you’ll find on the internet nevermind that Christmas cookies, caroling, jingle bells, Christmas pageants, snowmen, and like 300 other Christmas things were never mentioned.

What do you do to get in The Christmas Mood? Any favorite traditions? What is something new you’d like to try this season?

With love,

Rosalie <3

P.S. – To all you lovely people who took the time to leave comments these last couple of months: I shall enjoy re-reading your thoughts as I finally reply to all your wonderful comments this week. I love getting and reading your comments, but for reasons unknown, I never reply to them in a timely fashion. I know. I’m a very bad blogger person.
ugly-llama-face-1

I shall make it right.

P.P.S. – Just another friendly, give-you-heart-spasms reminder: two weeks until Christmas.