Why Winter

We are nearing the end of January, just about to slide into the month of love and romance and chocolate and all that jazz (aka: February, in case you didn’t know). And we are also in the middle of winter (at least, those of us north of the equator). Now, there are those among us (I shall refrain from naming them) who do not properly appreciate winter.

This is an affront to me okay so “affront” may be a little strong, but details.  I love winter. It is the best of all four seasons. This is a fact. Period. No argument can sway me because this is truth: winter is spring, summer, and fall’s superior. But, alas, there are those who don’t agree with me; simply put: they are wrong. And this is post is to tell you why (and because a blog on only serious things would be boring).

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First of all, I’m not going to disparage the other seasons no, actually, I probably will. This post is solely about the winter’s virtues and the other seasons’ shortcomings. Note: part of the reason I’m writing this is because it is currently 45 degrees outside, and it’s been raining for the last week like it’s spring. These are great, depressing crimes against winter, and I hope to remind myself that most winters aren’t like this one.

I am a great lover of the cold, and because I live in the wilds of Wisconsin, it can get pretty cold (in 2014, we had more than 40 days below zero. Boom.). I can’t stand the heat and sweat of summer. The sticky, smelly damp that clings to the skin when the air temperature rises above 75 degrees. The humidity that suffocates you the instant you step outside. But it isn’t so with winter. It’s crisp and clear and cold. The first inhale that sends frost through your lungs and color to your cheeks and reminds you that you are alive.

And there are the other things that come along with the cold. Fuzzy socks to slide around on the hardwood and tile. Soft slippers to pull over chilled feet. Cozy blankets to burrow under. Hot chocolate with whipped cream to sip. Hats to cover messy hair and keep ears warm. Scarves to wind and tie in fun knots. Fires to start and then admire. Frozen lakes and ponds to dance on and walk across. So many wonderful things come with winter’s cold, including snow.

Who in their right mind does not like snow? From heavy, packable snow to powdery flakes, it’s magical. Fall ends in death, people, that’s all there is to it. Sure, the colors of fall are pretty, but then everything ends up naked and dead and ugh. Snow is the blanket that covers fall’s crimes and brings beauty back to the world. Waking up to the blinding brightness of sunlight on snow is one of my favorite things. The colors of winter, the whites and the pale blues and the blacks, are exquisite, crystalline.

Speaking of the sun, yes, winter days are short, and people can find the darkness depressing, but winter is the only time when many people actually see the sun rise over the horizon oh, look, another strike against summer: no one besides my dad wakes up at four in the morning and so no one besides my dad sees the sunrise in the summer, so there, summer, with your coveted long days. But winter sunrises can come around seven, and there’s little that can compare with a fresh fall of snow set on fire by the sun’s rising rays.

Winter is a time of sleeping, when the earth rests. It’s a time of soup and naps. It’s a time of learning and stillness. It’s the time of quiet before life explodes again in the spring.

Mmmmmmm. Now the temperature just needs to drop below freezing again so that it actually feels like winter. Anyway, those are some of the reasons that I find winter so enchanting, so much better than all the other seasons combined.

What about you? Do you love winter too (the correct answer is yes)? If not *gasp*, what’s your favorite season? Why? Or, do you not care about seasons at all?

P.S. – This was a short peeps. I actually kept it under a thousand words even though I can sing winter’s virtues for days.

Cover Reveal: Martin Hospitality

Happy Saturday, Peeps!

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why am I getting a Penprints post on a Saturday? Has that girl completely gone out of her tree?”. Well, I can’t say anything for certain on that last part, BUT I am here in your inbox (that sounds really weird) burdened with glorious purpose.

Abigayle Claire of The Left-Handed Typist has a book releasing next month!!!!

And today, the cover is revealed for said novel which is titled Martin Hospitality.

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But, because I’m cruel, we’re going to go through all the fun bookish details before I let you see the lovely cover (okay, I’m not that cruel at all since I’ve already been blasting the cover across my social media, but whatevs).

Availability:

So, sadly, Martin Hospitality will not be available for purchase until February 4, BUT at least that’s only a couple weeks away! So, I assume all of you will stay up with me on February 3 to order Martin Hospitality at the stroke of midnight.

“But, Rosalie,” you sigh. “What makes you think that we should stay up with you and order Martin Hospitality as soon as humanly possible?”

Peeps, I’m so glad you asked because that leads straight into the next part of this post….

The Blurb:

Gemma Ebworthy is eighteen, pregnant, and alone. Now that she’s been evicted, she spends the night in a barn, never dreaming that tomorrow could bring kindness of a life-changing magnitude.

The Martins aren’t a typical family—even for rural Kansas. With more kids than can be counted on one hand and a full-time farm, Gemma must make a lot of adjustments to fit in. But despite their many differences, Gemma finds herself drawn to this family and their radical Christian faith.

When Gemma’s past collides with her yet again, she must begin revealing her colorful history. With every detail Gemma concedes, she fears she will lose the Martins’ trust and the stable environment she desires for herself and her unborn child. Just how far can the Martins’ love and God’s forgiveness go?

The Lovely Author:

abiclaireAbigayle has been inspired to write since she could spell her own name. Her passion wasn’t completing the stories (she did that twice and decided it wasn’t for her), it was jotting down the ideas.

But in 2015, a story grabbed her–one she had to finish. Inspired by a crazy dream in a genre she no longer read, Abigayle set off on a journey to write her first novel and she hasn’t looked back since.

Writing is her ministry, freelance editing her job, and reading her pastime–all of which are proof that God really does know what He’s doing when He inspires a 6-year-old with a pencil in her left hand.

The Cover:

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Isn’t it lovely? *happy sigh* I, for one, cannot wait to read it because 1) the story sounds so good and sweet and full of love 2) because of this cover. I  know you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but I kind of am. And I’m not ashamed of it.

Have a merry weekend! I’ll be back on Monday!

9 Ways to Enrich Your Devotions

Merry Monday, Peeps! I hope your weekend was excellent!

Today’s post is about some ways you can enrich your personal devotion time. A quiet time alone with God and His Word is essential to the growth of every Christian, and so I decided to share some things that have helped me make the most of my devotion time.

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#1: Confess sin to God.

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: sin will always put a barrier between you and God, saved by grace or not. Everything from the everyday, I-shouted-at-my-sister variety of sin to the I-just-punched-my-boss-in-the-face-and-cussed-him-out-like-there’s-no-tomorrow kind will put a separation between us and God. But simple confession is the beautiful battering ram that destroys the wall that we build when we sin. So, first things first, destroy everything between you and God.

#2: Ask for the Holy Spirit to help you.

Such boundless blessings can be found in the Holy Spirit. Guys, He’s the Spirit of God living inside every believer, and He’s here to help us, guide us, and grow us. We have access to the One who holds all knowledge and wisdom and power, and just humbly asking for His help as we seek Him will deepen our time in the Word of God. My favorite verse to pray at the start of my devotions is Psalm 119:18 which says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things from Your law.”

#3: Set enough time aside.

The time you spend alone with God is the most important part of your day. Whether you realize it or not, there is nothing that you will do that is more important than meeting with God to know and serve Him better. So don’t skimp on your time with Him. I’m not saying you have to spend two hours in the intense Bible study every day. I am saying that fifteen minute leftovers at the end of the day when you’re half asleep are not enough. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: morning is the best time to study God because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Strive to be intentional about how much time you invest in your personal relationship with Christ. Fifteen minutes is good. Half an hour is often better (as a general rule, the longer, the better; I say a general rule because the Holy Spirit can do some pretty amazing things in a short amount of time).

#4: Go somewhere quiet.

Setting up to do a devotion in the living room while the cats decide it’s time to loudly battle to the death is setting up for a distraction-filled devotion where, more likely than not, not much will be learned. Go somewhere quiet and secluded. My favorite spots are my bedroom and my study with a fan on to block out background noise.

Bonus tip: tell your family that you’re going to do your devotions and ask them not to disturb you unless it’s an emergency.

#5. Turn your phone on silent.

I’m not talking about vibrate; I’m talking about silent. The little dings or vibrations whenever someone likes a Tweet, comments on your latest Instagram photo, or texts you about what they ate for breakfast are distractions that will pull your focus off of God. Trust me, even if you don’t read that text, it’ll be there in the back of your mind.

Here’s how it works for me if I don’t silence my phone:

Phone: buzz buzz

Me: *looks up from Bible reading* Ah, I have some sort of notification. No matter, I’ll read it later.

Phone: *tantalizing*

Me: I wonder if it’s a text… No! I’m focusing on my devotions! Get behind me, Satan!

Phone: ….

Me: *rubs chin* I could always just look at it real fast and then jump right back into my quiet time.

True story, guys. If, by chance, you are not married to your phone like most people are these days, then good for you! But chances are, you’re a human like the rest of us, and so the good ol’ phone will only serve to take your mind off what’s really important (aka: God). So put it on silent.

#6: Listen to/sing a song or two to start.

This is something that helps me get into the “time with God” mindset. We sing songs at church before we hear the sermon; why not sing a few songs before we open our Bibles to study for ourselves? I have found (at least in myself) that this fosters an attitude of worship and helps me focus on God. Sometimes I listen to a couple songs. Sometimes I sing from my hymnal. Sometimes I play a song or two on my ukulele. *shrug* It helps me; maybe it’ll be beneficial for you too.

#7: Write down your findings/observations/thoughts in a notebook.

Some people tell me, “Well, Rosalie, I’m not a writer, and so I don’t find it helpful to write things down during my devotions.”

To which I feel compelled to reply: “That’s nice. So you have perfect recall?”

Okay, now, maybe it is just because I’m a writer, but it seems to me that when we actually want to learn something, we take notes. These don’t have to be elaborate, just a few sentences or words about what you found in the passage that day. Part of it is that writing things down forces us think harder; instead of just some vague feelings and notions, we can end up with a few solid points. Before you write off (tehehehe) notetaking, please at least try it. Days when I take write down what I’m learning from Scripture are often some of the days when I come away from my devotions with a clearer view of God and His Word.

#8: Be intentional about figuring about the application in your life.

Now, you’ve spent half an hour (or more) singing, praying, reading and meditating on the Word (and taking notes, right? Right?!?), and it comes down to this question: what now? How will this time with God affect your life? How will you live differently because of this time in worship and study? This is where your alone time with God meets how you’ll interact with your family, how you’ll do your job, how you’ll work on school, and how you’ll bring glory to the name of Christ. This is perhaps one of the most important and also one of the hardest parts of devotions. It’s a good idea to ask the Spirit for help again as you try to sort through what you’ve learned and how to apply it to your life. Honestly, your time studying Scripture is all but wasted if you don’t do something with it.

#9: Don’t skimp on the prayer time.

Typically, I open in prayer (confession and asking for the Holy Spirit’s help), sing a few songs (heart prep and worship), read and meditate on the passage (learning), figure out how I’m supposed to live in light of it (that darned application that’s so hard sometimes), and then I close in prayer. For the longest time, I spent 24 minutes in study, four minutes (at least) being distracted, and then two minutes hastily wrapping things up in prayer. Now, I sometimes still do this, but I’m starting to be better carving out a good amount of time (remember #3 about enough time?) so that I can spend more time in prayer, and my time with God has been so rich because of all the two-way communication (song = me to God, study = God to me, prayer = back and forth conversation).

Bonus tip: pray aloud; this can help keep you from getting distracted by the rabbit trails your brain likes to go down (example: I once went from praying in my head about a friend to remembering that that friend had a blog to thinking about my own blog to trying to figure out what I was going to post that week all in the space of thirty seconds. True story.)

And that’s all I got, kids.

Those are nine things that have helped me get more out of my devotion time, and I hope they help you too. As you may have noticed, a lot of them had something to do with focus and eliminating distractions because I can get distracted so easily (oh, look, frosted animal crackers! Wait, what?).

Let’s chat it up, peeps. What about you? What are some things that help you in your devotion time? What are you currently studying? Are any of these things helpful to you?

About Me

Guess what!

It’s Monday! And that means back to the grind of work or school (or both) and waiting for Friday. But it also means another post from your favorite blog (because this is your favorite blog. Right? RIGHT?!?).

So, after years of blogging, I just realized that you wonderful people know almost next to nothing about me except that I love my run-on sentences and peanut butter (wait, did you guys even know that I love peanut butter?). Hence, this post. It’s an about me post for those of you who don’t know me (then there are those of you who do know me and read my blog. People who know me from, say, my church, catch me off-guard whenever they something remotely related to my blog; it’s like I don’t think they should know it exists or something. EXAMPLE—Me: “…and I’m also doing some rewrites in one of my novels.” Friend: “You mean Beasts?” Me: “What. How do you know that name?” Friend: “You mentioned it on your blog.” Me:

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translation: strong, startled, and perhaps even disturbed reaction

*cough cough* Anyhoo. Now that I have that overly long intro to this post out of the way, let’s get this show on the road.

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Let’s see, where to start (prepare for some random facts).

I’m the youngest of four (I have an older sister and two older brothers). I graduated from high school last May and am currently taking a gap year to write, save up some money, and figure out how I’m going to spend the rest of my life.

I reside in the wilds of Wisconsin where I spend my days obsessing over this blog (obviously), singing loudly, hanging out with my older sister (also known as the age old, younger sibling duty called “pestering”), listening to NeedtoBreathe, nannying two adorable kids, reading not nearly as many books as I would like, lighting matches, dreaming of novels I haven’t written yet, and chilling with my wonderful parentals (that’s kid lingo for parents in case you didn’t know).

I’m an INFP (introverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiving; go to this website if you don’t know your MBTI). I’m also a Hufflepuff (which basically means I’m a loyal marshmallow. Though, full disclosure, I have yet to read the Harry Potter series; it’s on the list for this year.).

My favorite books of the Bible are Romans and Psalms.

I picked up bullet journaling recently (translation: last week), and I’m loving it. I’m a chaotic person. Procrastination is my middle name, and I find myself saying “I forgot” too many times a day. Theoretically, bullet journaling will help with all that jazz.

I play piano and ukulele. For better or worse (probably worse), I also enjoy singing. Very loudly. At random intervals. Sometimes on key and sometimes not.

We have three dogs: Levi the golden retriever, Indie the German shepherd, and Bear the German shepherd (aka: Wolfdog). We’ve had Levi and Indie since they were puppies, but we got Bear a little over a year ago when he was three. Bear is bipolar, and Levi struggles with depression and anxiety (you think I’m kidding; I’m not). Indie’s the only normal one in the bunch.

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Levi is beyond cute.

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And Indie is also wildly adorable.

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And then there’s Bear who often looks like he needs to be squeezed.

I also have a barn cat named Graham (aka: the Grahamling or My Precious). He’s adorable and amazing and he knows it (ugh, he can be such a cat sometimes). If I could have my way, he would come live with me inside, but my dad is very allergic to My Precious. So he stays in our barn with the goats, chickens, and turkeys (the Grahamling, not my dad).

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Behold, the Grahamling; he can be such a sassy baby.

Fire is my friend. I have quite the stash of matches squirrelled away in my study. I also have an impressive store of candles (tapers and votives as well as a few pillars). I like starting fires (not like arson, peeps; I’m not that crazy. I like to start fires in fireplaces… or the backyard).

Peanut butter is the glue that holds my life together. That and Subway. I’ll probably meet my husband at Subway.

I love winter and (strongly) dislike summer. I’m a hot chocolate or tea person rather than coffee, usually.

Three things that I abhor are: sloths, small talk, and insincerity.

Three things that make me happy are: handwritten notes, peanut butter, and morning light.

Well, peeps, that’s about all the almost relevant info about me that I can think of. What about you? What’s your life like? Do you have siblings? What are three things that you abhor? What are three things that make you happy?

P.S. – I’m writing 10,000 words today. I haven’t done it since July of last year, and so we’ll see how this goes.

P.P.S. – Does anybody else find it a little funny that I have pics of all the pets but none of my family? It shows where my #priorities are, I guess. ;)

Vision for 2017: Soul-fire & Self-control

Today is January 2, 2017.

2017.

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I whole-heartedly believe that great things can come in 2017. Growth. Change. Renewal. Birth. Death. Adventure. Learning. Solitude. Unity. Friendship. Discipleship. Laughter. Tears. Incandescence. Soul-fire.

But these things won’t just happen on their own or by accident; they have to be sought with intentionality. I believe that great things can and will come in 2017 because I’m praying and looking for these things, and when God puts them in my path, I’m going to hold onto them with both hands. I expect great things from Him.

I expect Him to do great things in me, in my heart, mind, and soul.

I expect Him to do great things in my family.

I expect Him to do great things in my church.

I expect Him to do great things in my town.

But I’m not just going to twiddle my thumbs for another year, waiting to see God do something. I’m not going to spectate when the calling of Christ is to participate.

Once during Jesus’ ministry, He left His disciples to go onto a mountain to pray while His disciples stayed in the boat on the sea. But while He was praying, a vicious wind drove the boat far from the shore, whipping up the waves to beat the boat. So Jesus went to them, walking on water, and the disciples were very afraid at first because they thought He was a ghost. But Jesus said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

And Peter (in typical Peter fashion) shouted back, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

“Come,” Jesus said.

So Peter hauled himself out of the boat and began to walk to Jesus on the water. But then he remembered the wind, and he was afraid again. And then he began to sink. “Lord, save me!” he cried out to Jesus.

Jesus grabbed him immediately, holding him up, and said, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Then He and Peter got to the boat and climbed in, and the wind ceased (you can find the account in Matthew 14:22-33).

Typically, when I’ve been told this story, all the Sunday school teachers have been like, “Don’t be like Peter. He took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. He paid more attention to his surroundings than he did to Jesus.”

Now, I have to say I disagree. There were twelve men in that boat, and Peter is the only one who got out of it, expecting Jesus to help him walk on water. I’d have to say I’ve spent most of my life in the boat. I’d have to say most people have spent most of their lives in the boat. I don’t think I’ve really ever gotten to the point of “don’t be like Peter” because I’ve never been enough like Peter to get out of the boat in the first place. And honestly, I’m sick of the boat.

I’m climbing out of the boat, expecting Christ to meet me, to help me, to uphold me in my devotions, in prayer, in my writing, in the way I interact with my family, in the way I spend my time, in the way I serve in church, in the way I read books, in the way I do friendships, in everything.

I have many goals and resolutions and visions for 2017, and I know I can achieve every single one if I’m with Christ. I have two main prayers for myself for this year: that the Holy Spirit will give me an unquenchable soul-fire for Him, and that through His power, I will master my mind and heart and body with self-control. All my other prayers for this year flow from these two, and I know that it’s going to be hard. And I know I’m not always going to follow Jesus like I should, but I’m thankful I’m finally getting out of the boat.

Will you pray and find God’s vision for you in 2017? Will you get out of the boat? Will you expect God to do great things, and be ready to respond to His work? What do you hope God does in you and through you this new year?

P.S. – a note on the picture at the beginning of this post: I shoved my box of matches at my dad and said, “Daddy, can you come to a dark room and strike matches so that I can take pictures of the matches?” And he did. He helped me find the right setting on the camera and struck many matches for me to take pictures of, getting some very hot fingers in the process.