Book Review: Ellie Claire 365-Day Devotional Journals

Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

There’s something about a fresh year that makes me want to start a new journal, and a new devotional book! All three of these Devotional Journals are softcover with beautiful cover art and coordinating color artwork throughout the book. Each one features a ribbon bookmark and elastic to keep the book securely closed. The Devotional Journals feature a short devotional for each day of the year, and lines for journaling your reflections. They are dated, but you could still begin using it at any time by simply flipping to the current date.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus may be my favorite out of the three! The floral cover art is a watercolor style and I like the hint of floral art in the corner of each daily page. The devotionals are based on a concept from a hymn or Christian song, and so each day starts out with a line from the song.  A short devotional reading follows with a suggested scripture passage to read. The bottom half of the page consists of blank lines for journaling. The paper is a nice, thick quality with a smooth finish, and should hold up well to most pens. As much as I enjoy music, I love the idea of the daily entries being based on hymns and songs! This one would be ideal for the music lover on your list.

Peace Begins With Me starts right out with a devotional titled “A Promise of Peace”.  Many of the devotional readings have to do with finding our peace in God, and resting in His promises. Each page begins with a scripture passage, devotional reading, and short prayer. The bottom part of the pages is ruled for easy journaling. The cover art for this one is more of an abstract watercolor of varying shades of teal, and the page edges include the same design. The paper quality should hold up well to pen ink. This would be a nice option for someone who struggles with worry, or for someone who prefers a less floral artwork option.

The Earth Is the Lord’s, and Everything In It is the Devotional Journal with a nature theme to the entries. The cover artwork featuring peacocks is just beautiful, and it’s carried throughout the book. Each page begins with a scripture, devotional reading, and a short prayer before the lined portion for journaling. All of the devotional readings have the theme of seeing God reflected in His wondrous creation. The paper is the same heavy quality as the other two journals. Nature lovers will appreciate a devotional journal that ties into their love of creation!

Any one of the Ellie Clair Devotional Journals would be a lovely gift for someone who enjoys journaling and devotional books. Pick the theme that fits best for your recipient, include some nice pens, and maybe a box of tea and you have a gift basket ready to go! 

Top 8 Books for Gifting

I love books! I love receiving a book as a gift, and I love giving them too! If you’d like to purchase any of the books mentioned, just click on the book cover! Here’s my list of top 8 suggestions for books to gift this year:

I’m starting off with a 3-book Space Drifters series by Paul Regnier. Reading the series was the such a fun adventure! It wasn’t just me who loved the books though, my geeklings all thought it was a hilariously good series. Captain Glint Starcrost has become one of our favorite spaceship captains. Nothing ever goes quite to plan for Glint, but one of the things I love about his character is how he just rolls with it when everything goes wrong and tries his best to talk his way out of anything. He has mixed results with this approach… Speculative Fiction Comedy isn’t a huge genre, but this fits in with things like the TV series Eureka and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Fans of sci fi who appreciate something that can make them laugh will read this series over and over. Since it’s a clean read, I’m find handing it off to my tweens and teens for them to read. (Even my 7-year-old liked it when I was reading the first book aloud to the kids!) If you do pick up any of the Space Drifter books as a gift, be sure to include a pair of red checked pajama pants. Trust me on this one!

Another 3-book series that just released the final book this year is Joshua Johnston’s Chronicles of Sarco series. The worldbuilding and the fascinating cultures created for the story pulled me in, and I was hooked! This reminded me in many ways of Star Trek, with various planets and people working together, and spaceships crewed by a diverse cast of characters. Naturally, the series starts with a new threat to the people of the universe… or is it an ancient threat? Uncovering the details of a nearly-lost religion that may hold the answers adds an element of mystery to the series too. If you have a Star Trek fan on your gift list, pick up the Chronicles of Sarco trilogy for them! This one is also a clean read, so I’d be comfortable handing it off to teens. I think it may be a little advanced for some tweens, but as always, parents should use their own judgement since they know their child better than anyone else.

Morgan Busse’s Soul Chronicles series is a set of just two books, but these stories pack a lot of punch! This series is what made me fall in love with steampunk stories. I’d never read anything from that particular genre before, since I’m usually more of a space opera fan, but Morgan did such a fantastic job with these books that I couldn’t put them down. Kat Bloodmayne is the main character, and my heart went out to the girl who wanted to be noticed by her father. Unfortunately, Kat has a secret that she must hide from everyone – especially her father! There are twists and turns aplenty, and who doesn’t love a story that involves airships? If any of the adults or teens on your list are fans of all things steampunk, then Soul Chronicles is perfect for them! This is another clean read that I wouldn’t hesitate to give to a teen, but some of the concepts explored would be a bit too much for tweens in my opinion.

For someone who prefers action with a futuristic twist Man Behind the Wheel by Steve Rzasa is a great pick! It imagines a future where not only have automated vehicles become the norm, but where few humans are even allowed to drive a vehicle themselves. Roman Jasko is one of the few authorized to drive because he’s one of the people who keeps an eye out for unauthorized drivers on the road. The story takes an interesting twist when a gang of criminals starts to rob people while they are “safe” in their automated vehicles. I thought the imagining of a time when folks no longer do the driving themselves was interesting, and it did make me ponder whether it would drastically reduce instances of serious car accidents. Still not convinced that I’d be OK with the idea of my car driving itself! While Man Behind the Wheel is technically speculative fiction, I think it would appeal to anyone who enjoys action stories and thrillers, even if they don’t usually go for spec fic. There are a few mild swear words, but they are infrequent and pretty tame.

I’m not typically a big fan of YA books. I do like Jason Joyner’s new book Launch though! It’s the first book in a series, and currently the only one that’s out. If you have a young person on your list who loves superhero stories, then this is exactly the kind of book they would enjoy! I’ve read some YA books whose teenage characters only annoyed and irritated me. That’s not the case in Launch! I’m finding the characters to be believably imperfect humans, but still interesting and likeable. The mystery surrounding Alturas Collective and Simon Mazor adds an interesting angle to the story. I appreciate how faith is definitely present in the story, but fits seamlessly into it. This is a very clean, Christian story, and I would be completely comfortable with a tween or teen reading it. Honestly, Launch would make a nice family read aloud. The only real downside is that there’s just the first book out, but if you gift it to someone and they love it, you could always gift them book 2 next year!

No list of recommended books would be complete without the Firebird series by Kathy Tyers. It’s absolutely my favorite space opera series, and I’ve read it over and over. The first three books follow Firebird and the last two continue the story with her children and grandchildren. This is a brilliant example of Christian speculative fiction because the story is well written, and the elements of faith absolutely belong in the story. I own a few editions of the books in both print and e-book format. (Basically, if they publish a new edition of any of the Firebird books, I’m going to buy it!) Enclave Publishing released the first three books in the series with new covers a while ago, and now they are re-doing the covers of the last two books to match! Those will definitely have a place on my bookshelves! This series is ideal for Star Wars fans, and good for adults and teens. While there’s nothing objectionable in the books, some of the themes and topics touched on are a little more mature, so I wouldn’t recommend it for tweens, and suggest caution with younger teens.

In a similar vein is Anne Wheeler’s Asrian Skies series. It’s a two-book set, and a lovely space opera story. Avery Rendon is the main character, and since she’s a pilot, I liked her immediately! The story includes intrigue, political plots, betrayal, twists that I didn’t see coming, and a good romance to boot. While not explicitly “Christian” there are faith/religious elements that I appreciated and made me think at bit. There was one character that I just didn’t know whether to like or hate until the very end! Asrian Skies is a clean read and overall appropriate for teens and adults. One caution though: there is a character who is imprisoned and tortured. It’s not depicted graphically, but use caution when determining if your teen is ready to take on what is a somewhat more mature issue.

The last book in my list is the only one that doesn’t fit into the speculative fiction genre, but I loved it anyway! I enjoyed all of the books in Tamara Leigh’s Age of Faith series, so I pre-ordered the first book in her Age of Conquest series: Merciless. It’s set in medieval England during a time period that I honestly don’t know much about the history of it. It’s set in the aftermath of the Norman invasion of England, and does a good job showing the conflict between the Norman and Saxon people. I had no idea the prejudice that both sides held for each other, and Merciless does a good job of showing characters on both sides without vilifying one or the other. Most of the medieval stories that I’ve read are set during the later years of that time period, so this book makes me want to do more reading about the earlier years and learn more of the history behind it. As always, Tamara created memorable characters and did a fine job of making me feel like I was in the middle of the story. It is a romance, but a clean read with elements of faith throughout.

All of the books mentioned are ones that I bought or won freely in a giveaway. I received no compensation in any form for including them in my list, so rest assured that all of the opinions I’ve written are my honest views on the books. I compiled this list based on newer books that I enjoyed reading, and I think that other spec fic fans would like them to! (OK, so Firebird isn’t exactly new, but it’s still awesome, and if you haven’t read it, you should go read it now!) Just click on the book covers to follow a link to Amazon and purchase. It’s not an affiliate link, so I receive no compensation if you buy via the links on my blog.

Beloved Book Review

Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

Today’s book review is a collaboration with my favorite blogger – my 13 year old daughter! Munchkin writes over at The Gerbil Keeper, and she’s brand new to blogging this year. Since the devotional book I’m reviewing, Beloved by Lindsay Franklin, is targeted towards young women, I thought I’d get an expert opinion:

Are you a teenage girl who needs a Scripture-based daily devotional that encourages you to be your best? Then Beloved by Lindsay A. Franklin is the book for you! Every day begins with a Bible verse and then discusses it on page that only takes 5 minutes at the most to read. The page ends with a few lines of journal space. It even has a ribbon bookmark!

I love the flowery theme and pink colors. I’m also glad it includes an extra day in case of a leap year. I like seeing how far along I am and the numbered days do just that. The ribbon bookmark is a nice touch, and so is the journal space. It’s cool how every day begins with a verse. The patterned page edges add a touch of elegance.

I wish the ribbon was pink instead of red; it would have matched better. I also think more journal space would have been helpful. Other than that, I love it!

If you’re a teenage girl who’s confused about who you’re supposed to be and how to act, and also loves Jesus, you’ll love this!”

Books are always a great stocking stuffer in my opinion, and if you have a teen or even tween girl on your list this year, then Beloved is worth a look!

The hardcover binding makes it durable enough to hold up to being tossed in a backpack, and the compact size won’t take up too much room in her bag. Each day contains a scripture, short devotional reading, and four lines for journaling. The color theme of the book design is definitely pink, but it’s the floral print along each page is pretty and fits the target age range well.

Being a girl today can be hard and confusing, and being a Christian girl even more so! Even as an adult, I still struggle to figure out my place in the world and what it means to be not just a woman, but a woman of faith. Lindsay uses the stories of women in the Bible to delve into this topic in Beloved. 365 numbered devotionals will carry your teen girl through a whole year of quiet time, and since the entries are numbered rather than dated, she can start any time of year, and not just on January 1st.

If you do pick up a copy of Beloved for your daughter, you may just want to take a peek at some of the devotionals yourself. There’s some good stuff in there for girls and women of any age!

Book Review: Ellie Claire Art Journals

Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

One of my favorite things to give (or receive!) is a great journal. Ellie Claire has released three unique journals that might be perfect for someone on your Christmas list!

The Faith and Lettering journal is the one that caught my daughter’s eye right away. The hardcover is beautifully embossed with foil accents. The journal includes step by step instructions for artistic lettering, with plenty of room to practice, and room to journal too. The paper is heavy enough quality to hold up to most pens and some markers. The journal includes a pen loop on the spine and a ribbon bookmark, and my daughter appreciated these little details. The interior includes ruled pages, graph pages, and dot grid pages, so there are plenty of options for both journaling, and practicing your creative lettering techniques. The heavyweight paper has a smooth finish that would work well with most pens. There are plenty of beautiful full-color art lettering examples for inspiration, as well as “pro tips” scattered throughout the journal. This would be ideal for someone who is interested in art journaling in their Bible, or their journal.

My middle son has been learning about illuminated manuscripts from medieval times, so when the Illuminate Your Story Journal came out of the box, he was quick to claim it! This one also has an embossed hardcover with foil accents. There’s a pen loop on the spine, a ribbon bookmark, and an elastic to hold the journal closed when not in use. There’s a heavyweight paper pocket in the back for storing small keepsakes. The introduction in the journal gives a nice overview of the history of illuminated letters, which we found interesting! The instruction pages do a great job of breaking the intricate letters into easy steps, with room for practicing. These pages have a dot grid background on both the examples and the practice spaces which is very helpful! Interspaced with the instructional pages are ruled pages with inspirational quotes at the top of the page. My son has had a wonderful time replicating some of the illuminated letters, and has decided to use the journal for his daily copywork assignments. He’s used both pens and colored pencils in the journal, and both have worked beautifully on the smooth paper. This would be a wonderful gift for artists, or anyone with an interest in medieval history and art!

The Illustrated Word Journal is the one that I kept for my own use! The hardcover is embossed with foil accents like the other two journals, but this one does not include a pen loop or ribbon bookmark. The ruled pages are accented with real examples of illuminated medieval art and every few pages is a line drawing replica of the featured artwork that may be colored. I tried a couple of different pens, two kinds of markers, and watercolors on the line drawing to test out the various mediums. Only one kind of marker had much bleed-through, but this brand is one that I’ve had bleed through cardstock, so I was not surprised that it did bleed through the pages a bit. The watercolor didn’t bleed through at all, nor did the page wrinkle from the wet paint. There’s a bit of texture to the pages that works well with the watercolors, and that was my favorite medium to use in this journal. Colored pencils would also work nicely with the paper’s texture. It was a little too textured for my fountain pen, but I didn’t have any ink bleed-through, so the paper is a good weight for most inks. I enjoyed seeing the small full-color photos of medieval artwork throughout the journal, and there’s a good balance of art, coloring pages, and ruled pages for writing. Anyone who enjoys intricate coloring designs would likely appreciate this journal!

All three journals are excellent quality, and I’m very picky about my journals! The price point they are offered at makes them a great value. Because of that, they aren’t just the kind of journal that you’d give to an adult or older teen, but is affordable enough that they would be a thoughtful gift for an older child or tween who enjoys journaling and art. Put any one of these in a gift bag with an assortment of pens or pencils and maybe some tea or hot cocoa and you’ve got a lovely gift basket!

Just click on the title of any of the journals to find them on Amazon. Thanks to Ellie Claire for sending me the journals for review!

Thoughts for Tuesday, November 6th

Outside my windows… it’s dark so early since the time change this weekend! Can’t say I love that result.

Inside my house… a candle is burning and the hamburger for tonight’s tacos is defrosting in the microwave.

Counting 1000 gifts… houseplants blooming on the kitchen windowsill, despite the cold outside.

Prayers of the heart… for people traveling, and that I’ll write the things I need to this month.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… hanging out in the living room playing games, reading, and working on projects while I type and make dinner.

From my playlist… Main Theme from “The Right Stuff”. I’ve got a thing for epic soundtracks…

From my reading list… Reading? But it’s NaNoWriMo month. I’m still chipping away at The Minimalist Home, and you can look for a review in December.

From my needlework basket… Fingerless mitts and a scarf. Both are easy projects that I can work on while watching TV with Aaron in the evenings. Sometimes simple knitting is best because it lets you unwind.

In the learning room… I’m having fun listening in on Munchkin’s Biology and American History lecture videos!

Random ramblings… I wrote 15 words on my NaNo project today. Just 15. My total is still at just shy of 16,000 words though. I don’t think this project will hit the 50K goal, but the point of it wasn’t a word count, it was telling a story that I’d never dared sit down and write out from start to finish. I wrote some hard chapters in the first five days of November. Now, I’m at the chapter where my best friend became my better half. It’s one of the best parts of my story, so you’d think that it would be easy to write. Maybe I just needed a day to breathe before I switch from writing about some ugly things that happened, to writing about someone who still makes me smile. In any case, I’ll pick up writing more tomorrow. Tonight, I’m going to have tacos and hang out with my kids for a while.

Profound ponderings… “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different…” – C. S. Lewis

Caught on film…

Thoughts for Tuesday, October 30th

Outside my windows… we’ve had snow dust my yard a few times now, but it hasn’t stuck around for long. Yet.

Inside my house… the spot next to the coal stove has once again become everyone’s favorite place to sit!

Counting 1000 gifts… Beautiful things — and beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.

Prayers of the heart… for wisdom and words in November.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… working on sewing projects and playing games while they wait for dinner to finish cooking.

From my playlist… today it’s just the sound of the coal stove and dishwasher humming away that break up the silence.

From my reading list… Little Book of Hygge. I’ll be chipping away at it as I have time in between life and writing this month. Interesting little read so far though.

From my needlework basket… fingerless mitts from my favorite pattern. The perfect project for a special ball of yarn, and tremendously useful to boot. They make lovely little gifts as well! You can find that pattern here: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/maine-morning-mitts

In the learning room… we’re in our last 6-week block of school before Christmas break. The thing that I love most about year-round school is that it allows us to take an extra long break in December!

Random ramblings… NaNoWriMo begins on Thursday, and I’m looking towards it with a mixture of excitement and terror. I said at the beginning of this year that I wanted to “write the hard”. Ironically, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to write about hard things. (I know how foolish that sounds, but my brain works in weird ways…) Hard doesn’t always mean bad though. Doing hard things can be the most rewarding and make the most difference. Sometimes we say hard when we really mean “awful”, and perhaps it was a mistake for me to phrase things as I did. Maybe I should say, “I’m going to write about awful things that happened, and that will be hard to do.” It’s not the hard part that’s bad, because the hard part of that is what will help me find the beautiful mosaic amongst the broken pieces.

Profound ponderings… “The darkest day. The blackest hour. Chin up, shoulders back. Let’s see what we’re made of, you and I.” — The 12th Doctor

Caught on film…

A Thread of Grace

I want to chicken out. I’m berating myself for telling anyone that I was writing a memoir for NaNoWriMo this year because now I can’t chicken out. That’s why I told people, because I knew that my stubborn streak would kick in no matter how badly I wanted to bail if other folks knew my goal.

I’ve read and heard the suggestion in more than one place. Write out the story of the abuse to help you deal with it and heal the old hurts. Writing is how I process. But writing makes it real. If I don’t write it down, maybe I can pack it away into boxes and pretend that since it was in the past it doesn’t have anything to do with my present. The only thing that strategy has gotten me is a pile of health problems and a heart in turmoil over things that I never faced head on. Life throws enough at us without dragging around a bunch of junk from the past because you never bother to sort through it and let the stuff that you don’t need anymore go.

The times when I’ve written little bits and pieces of my story have done more than just allowed me to face the things I’d rather not. In the writing, I start to see the lesson, the miracles, and somewhere along the way, that piece of my past doesn’t seem to hurt me quite as badly as it used to. Some days I wish I was an artist or a musician who could translate all of it into a painting or music. I feel like those mediums can express deep feelings better than mere words. Words are my medium though, and so I pick up the pen or sit at the keyboard. I think it was Steve Saint who said, “God doesn’t waste hurts.” I hope that’s true. Humans are always searching for the meaning in life, and if there’s some meaning, some purpose to the hurts, then maybe it’s easier to make peace with them. I’ve seen God bring beautiful things out of terrible circumstances. There’s something about knowing that a struggle is not in vain that gives us strength and hope. I find myself in need of both at the moment.

And so I’ll write.

I’ll write a story that I desperately wish was fiction. A story not meant to be read by others or published anywhere. Somewhere in that story, I’ll find a thread of grace that runs through the whole tapestry – the handiwork of God in my life. Maybe there’s a reason after all.

I know that I’m not the only one walking around with a bunch of junk from the past. I couldn’t avoid it forever, and neither can you. But if I can decide to deal with it, then so can you. (Really, I’m the biggest chicken in the world, and if I can be brave enough to do this, then you definitely can!) Whatever medium lets you express and process all of the overwhelming feelings you have about what happened, use it. Find that thread of grace in it all, and you’ll find God’s fingerprints all over your life, even in the hard places.

Thoughts for Tuesday on Wednesday, October 17th

Outside my windows… the leaves hit their peak about this weekend I think. I’ll enjoy the fading color for as long as I can though.

Inside my house… I still haven’t quite gotten the whole seasonal décor figured out, but at least our tissue boxes have pumpkins printed on them.

Counting 1000 gifts… looking over the photos in my phone from the past year. Lots of smiles on the kiddos’ faces!

Prayers of the heart… for friends who are walking through hard things.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… It’s a free-for-all this evening for dinner, so they’re raiding the cupboard and fridge to see what strikes their fancy.

From my playlist… a track from one of the old Mad Onion benchmark demos. If you have a clue what I’m talking about, you’re either a hardcore computer geek, or you’re married to one!

From my reading list… The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker. I’m on the launch team for this book, so it’s not releasing to the public until December. (ARCs are lovely things!) I’ll be sharing a review closer to the launch date, so be sure to check back for that.

From my needlework basket… I’m hand-quilting a Christmas quilt. Really. Every time I hand-quilt something I swear that I’m never doing that again. Every time. Six months later, I inevitably get the idea that I should hand-quilt something. I have a love/hate relationship with hand quilting.

In the learning room… the kids and I have survived the first 6 week block of our school year and so this is their week off. I think we all breathe a little sigh of relief when we get to our week off. It’s nice to be able to rest a bit when you’ve been working hard!

Random ramblings… Guys, I really want to just chicken out on NaNoWriMo this year. I sort of wish that I had never said anything about it to anyone so that I could chicken out and no one would know. That’s actually why I mentioned it on my blog and told a few of my real life friends, so that I couldn’t jump ship. I want to do this. I need to do this. This is important. I’m writing these things down because of the quote I’m sharing this week…

Profound ponderings… “I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it. We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.” – C.S. Lewis

Caught on film…

Thoughts for Tuesday, October 9th

Outside my windows… It’s overcast but the leaves have turned brilliant shades of autumn.

Inside my house… the leaky kitchen faucet replacement turned into a kitchen sink replacement which turned into needing a bigger hole cut in the existing countertop. Thankfully, we have a friend who knows what he’s doing when we don’t, and he was gracious enough to help us!

Counting 1000 gifts… the riot of fall colors that I see every time I look outside. It may not last long, but it’s beautiful nonetheless.

Prayers of the heart… for a family in my hometown who are going through an unimaginably difficult thing.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… finishing up lunch and enjoying an hour break from their studies. Munchkin has been using this time to work on a quilt!

From my playlist… Amazing Grace by J2. It’s an interesting rendition, and it’s been added to my writing playlist.

From my reading list… The Brave Art of Motherhood launched today, so now you can get your own copy of the book that gave me the push I needed to pick my 2018 NaNoWriMo project!

From my needlework basket… I decided to make a Christmas quilt. I’ve pieced the top, and I’m just waiting for the batting to arrive so that I can get to work quilting it. I’ll likely regret taking on another hand quilting project, but for some reason I keep deciding that it sounds like a good idea!

In the learning room… We’re on our 6th week of school, and though it’s gone well, we’re all looking forward to next week’s break.

Random ramblings… Too many things fill my head, my heart, and my soul these days. Much of it, I can’t seem to express with words. I find myself longing to be a painter or a composer, so that I could somehow express all of these things. The closest I can come to either of those is poetry perhaps, but even that seems but a pale shadow.

Profound ponderings… “The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places. But still there is much that is fair. And though in all lands, love is now mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater.” – JRR Tolkien

Caught on film…

The Brave Art of Motherhood (And how this book helped me pick a NaNoWriMo project…)

Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

When I had the chance to be part of a launch team for a book called The Brave Art of Motherhood it was the word brave that caught my eye. The tagline sold me: Fight Fear, Gain Confidence, and Find Yourself Again. I’d never heard of Rachel Martin before, but oh man, I want to be brave so badly. Fighting fear to boot? I’ve never quite grown out of being that scared kid sitting on the floor of my room next to the closet. I need all the brave and fear fighting I can get.

What I didn’t expect to get from Rachel’s book was the push I needed. I’ve read the suggestion a few times that someone who went through abuse or trauma during their childhood may find writing their whole story down to be helpful in the healing process. I’ve written bits and pieces here and there, but no matter how many times I tried to write the whole story, I just never could. I kept giving up. I knew that it was something I needed to do, eventually. Reading The Brave Art of Motherhood is what it took to make me decide that this year for NaNoWriMo, I’m not writing a completely fictional novel. I’m writing my memoir. I’ve set an end date, made the commitment to do this, and I’m not going back. Whether or not I’ll ever let anyone else read it is something that I haven’t decided yet. I’m not writing this one with an eye for publication. I’m writing it so that I can let go of some of the past and finally, finally let some of the damage start to heal.

Why did I decide to use that for my NaNo project though? Why not just write it? I need the end date. It was this excerpt from The Brave Art of Motherhood that made me see the importance of that, “Don’t listen to the voice of fear of the unknown and let that override the bravery it takes to write the end date. This is the moment when you get to decide your path. You must have a date you want this done, completed…. Keep it in your head and you risk it staying there. Write it down and you risk it happening.” All those failed attempts at writing the whole story, and the one thing I never did was set a time frame.

There’s something healing about writing for me; it’s how I’m able to process the things that I can’t make sense of or come to terms with any other way. I’m tired of my past holding me, of it hurting me, and I want to break this cycle of being stuck in the memories.

“… in Haiti I made a conscious and powerful decision never to return to the mindset of victim. I was no longer going to allow others or circumstances to limit my ethos or potential.” — Rachel Marie Martin

That’s what I want. I want to stop being the damsel in distress, and start being the protagonist of my story. I want to be the brave one. The one who – despite all of the setbacks, struggles, and many mistakes I’ve made – keeps moving forward. By the grace of God, this farmgirl is going to find her voice.