On Butterflies

Follow the butterfly.

This is a life motto of mine. It reminds me to stop, take a breath, enjoy the simple beauty of life, and thank God for his work in nature and the transforming work he’s constantly doing in me. Butterflies, like rainbows, are a sign to me that God hasn’t given up on me yet, so I can take hold of that hope and carry on.

We all know about butterflies, right? The Kindergarten teachers in the school where I work order butterfly kits every spring and the kids get to watch as the ugly little caterpillars go about their business, eat their food, molt a couple times, form a chrysalis, and then, one magical day, spread their wings to fly away. It’s one of the most fascinating processes in nature, perfected in the butterfly. Metamorphosis. Transformation. This land-bound, awkward creature hides itself away in a sort of tomb and becomes something utterly different. Something beautiful. Something that can fly.

The implications are obvious, aren’t they? The same God who invented the idea of metamorphosis can transform our lives, too. We start out simply enough, full of unrealized potential, learning the basic functions of life. We grow, get a little uncomfortable, shed some old habits and form new ones. We get a little better at life but we’re still awkward, land-bound creatures. We start to long for something more, something greater. We want to reach for something that is beyond what we are currently capable of achieving. But something is wrong. No matter how much it struggles, sheds its skin, and grows, a caterpillar will never be able to fly. It has to become something more. And so do we.

The process of transformation is strange, painful, and almost unnatural by outward appearances. In order to transform, a caterpillar has to stop moving, stop eating, stop growing. It retreats into a place of darkness and stillness that lasts for so long, it might as well be a kind of death. I think we miss this important truth sometimes. Growth happens when we move beyond our comfort zones into the unfamiliar. We can learn and grow all our lives, but for true transformation to take place, sometimes we have to stop moving and be still. Something in us might have to die. We might have to give up what we have always been in order to become what we were truly meant to be. How often are we guilty of stopping the process before it is finished? We struggle, we crawl along trying to do life on our own, and all the while God is whispering, “Stop. You can’t do this. I can. Let me.”

Let me be as clear as I can: Humans are powerful creatures. We can accomplish great things. We can transform our minds, our bodies, our lives. We can change the world, in small ways or in great ones. We can help each other. We can be generous and gentle and great. There is one thing we can never do alone. We cannot transform our souls. We are born with small, ugly souls, full of selfish ambition and unhealthy desires. Only the all-powerful God who designed us can transform our souls into something beautiful, something that is free to fly. He gave himself for us so that he could make us new. And it is only through the death of our land-bound souls that we are given the freedom to fly. That is redemption. That is transformation. That is the secret of the butterfly.

Whenever I see a butterfly, I stop for a moment and watch where it goes. When I lose sight of it, I close my eyes to give God thanks for what he has done in me, and renew my commitment to be who he has made me to be. I call it following the butterfly. I challenge you to do it, too.



On Growing in the Dark

Mary Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

Have you ever been in a season where it feels like everything is painful or at least uncomfortable, where you’re filled with doubt and you wish you could see some light on your path ahead to show you that the future holds some hope? I’ve had a rough few months personally, nothing big or dramatic. But I’m working on growing some new things in my life, new habits and new ways of thinking and a new business, and let me tell you, it is an uncomfortable process. I was sitting in church this week and the sermon inspired a thought in me, a question I’d like to ask you.

How does growth happen?

The Bible is not a botany textbook, but in John 12:24 Jesus, the author and creator of all life, makes a statement about growth. It goes something like this: Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it does nothing. It remains dormant. But… if it dies… it produces fruit. He was speaking about himself, and his upcoming crucifixion, but he also applied it to anyone who follows him. I’d like to go ahead and apply it here to everyone.

Do you remember doing experiments in elementary school to observe the growth of plants? I do, and I must have thought it was pretty fascinating, because the image has stuck with me for years. You take a brown dried out seed, put it in some dirt, water it, and wait. Keep watering, keep waiting. In a few weeks, a little baby green plant slowly begins to emerge from the dirt, sometimes with the remnants of the original seed still clinging to it. It’s like magic, or a miracle. But what is happening in those weeks in the dirt?

The seed, already dormant, dies. It shrivels, wrinkles, softens a little, and finally breaks apart. The new seedling then reaches slowly for the air and light, growing incrementally toward the surface while also sending slender roots deeper into the dirt. It finally breaks the crust of the earth, spreads its first fragile leaves, struggles to hold them upright on a tiny slip of a stem, and begins the process of photosynthesis, growing stronger and greener in the light and the rain, until it eventually becomes a strong plant, vine, or tree, capable of producing seeds that can one day become hundreds more plants, vines, or trees.

It all starts with darkness. Death. Shattering pain. A wound that may never fully heal. Doubt. Losing hope. Reaching, trying, failing, wondering if anything will ever feel right again. Then, just when all seems loss, when everything seems the hardest, when everything within you and around you screams it’s not worth it, it’s time to give up…


Light, growth, and abundance.


The growth that everyone around you sees comes only after the pain that you endure alone. If you are blessed with positive people and healthy relationships there may be people around you, encouraging you, watering and feeding your dream, but that initial shriveling and dying and breaking apart is a quiet secret that happens in the death of your soul where only God sees. He will let you break because he knows what is coming from it. But he will never abandon you. He is always there. When your faith is too weak to see him, he is strong enough to keep you from falling apart. He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. He knows your pain. He’s acquainted with death and darkness. He overcame it, and we can too. That is a promise.


On GOSPEL by J.D. Greear (and why everyone should read it)

I admit, I don’t often read nonfiction, and when I do, it’s usually because Greg recommended that I read it. Sometimes after I’ve read several novels, I feel like I need to read something real and true, just to get myself grounded in reality before diving back into fiction again. As usual, I asked Greg what I should read, and as usual, he suggested a winner.

I honestly think everyone should read this book. No joke. If you only read one book this year, read the Bible. If you read two, read the Bible and Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary. (And if you read three, add my BFF’s upcoming book, Inseparable: Who I Am, Was, and Will Be In Christ.) In Gospel, J.D. Greear says a lot of things I’ve heard and read in the last few years, but I love the way he says it. He’s a smart guy, he’s got degrees and he pastors a big church, but he talks and writes like a dude that I could be friends with if I knew him.

If you’ve read this blog at all (other than my silly posts about movies and stuff) you’ll probably understand why this book spoke to my heart. It makes the claim, very simply, that everything we do as Christians is inspired by the gospel, motivated by the gospel, and empowered by the gospel. Put simply: it’s all about Jesus. Not about following a bunch of rules to check off all the boxes to make sure that we’re saved and that God loves us. Not about being a good example to the rest of the world about how we ought to live. Not about living in fear that God will strike us down if we obey. Because of Christ’s completed work on the cross, we can live in freedom to do the good things that God actually created us to do, because He loves us and we love Him, and because Christ made all of that possible. Greg just started a sermon series on Romans and one of the verses that keeps sticking in my mind is Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” The gospel is the power that saves us and makes us new. The gospel. Not our own lame efforts.

Greear’s theology is definitely what people would call “Reformed,” that is, among other things, he has a very high view of God and His sovereignty.  He believes that everything God does is for His own good, that He is in control of all circumstances, and that He has a plan and purpose in every event that unfolds. Some people have issues with the Reformed crowd, but if I’m being honest I count myself as one of them in most points. This perspective that God is big enough to handle my issues, my inconsistencies, and my circumstances, whether or not I understand what He is doing, is okay with me. I don’t expect to understand God, so it doesn’t bother me that sometimes I don’t. I like things to make sense, to have a logical order to them, to be scientific and formulaic, so I can explain them. But some things defy explanation. My faith tells me that even when things don’t make sense to me, they make sense to God. If I could see things the way He does, I would understand why they are the way they are. I can’t always see them that way, but I have faith that He does, and sometimes that just has to be enough. The gospel is God’s plan for the world, the central theme of His story, and an incredible picture of who He is and why He is so great and unfathomable that we simply must call Him God.

The book is arranged in three parts: A basic introduction into the gospel and what Greear calls “The Gospel Prayer,” a detailed look at the parts of The Gospel Prayer, and ways that the gospel answers some of the questions we often have about life and Christianity. It also addresses how we often come at the gospel from a backward perspective, focusing on actions and behavior rather than on God’s work in Christ. It suggests caution toward many of the ideas we have been taught in churches about “doing things for God,” noting that while it is good to do good things, the reason why we do them should be motivated on our love for God which flows from our belief in the work He has done, not because we want God to love us for what we do.

In the chapter on gospel-centered churches, Greear does a masterful job of breaking down many of the “types” of churches that exist today, while ignoring confusing denominational labels. With each type of church, he points out the areas those churches often focus on instead of the gospel. While most of those areas of emphasis are not bad, and Greear actually agrees with and applauds many of them, the problem happens when churches replace the gospel with their favorite sacred cow, whether it be prosperity theology, the filling of the Holy Spirit, Calvinism, or anything else. The chapter on the church is, in my opinion, one of the most important chapters in the book. But if you skip the other chapters and read it first, or alone, I think you’ll miss the point.

Now for the part where I tell you why everyone should read this book. It’s not because it’s brilliantly written. The writing is good but I’m rather particular about such things and I found several problem spots (also I read it on Kindle and the formatting isn’t spectacular). It’s not because I agree with everything Greear says, although throughout most of the book, he says what I would like to say, only he says it better. A few times I thought, “Well, I’m not quite sure about that …” but I believe he’s right on in his presentation of the gospel and its vital importance in the lives of both believers and unbelievers. This book lays out, relatively simply, what the gospel is, how it changes our hearts and lives, and what that change can look like when it’s lived out in our homes and job and communities. Whether you consider yourself a Christian or not, if you’ve ever wondered what Christians believe or why they do the things they do, read this book. I think (and I pray) that if you read it all the way through with an open mind and a humble heart, it might just change your life. It might just change mine.

What about you? Have you read this book? What did you think? Any recommendations for what I should read next?

On Trouble

I almost titled this post “On Suffering” but then I thought, do I even know what it means to suffer? There have been hard, hard times in my life, but when I look at people I know, or know of, or people I’ve never even heard of across the world who really, truly know how suffering looks and feels, I realize that I have no idea what suffering really means. Now, trouble is something else. I know a few things about that.

In my recent post On Waiting and Working, I quoted John 16:33, where Jesus promises His disciples: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart: I have overcome the world.” Since I posted that I can’t stop thinking about that verse. It’s like it’s on repeat in my head and I just keep thinking about the implications of it.

Trouble. I quoted the verse the way I learned it, in the old NIV. Other versions say “tribulations,” “trials and sorrows,” etc. But you get the idea. Trouble. That one word can encompass everything from the little inconveniences and disappointments to the great, tragic, horrible things that I don’t even want to talk about because I can’t imagine dealing with them. We all have trouble, some more than others, because we live, ever so briefly, in this world. It is a natural hazard of living and breathing every day. Now, one thing I keep asking myself is, why is that when we come to Jesus, who told us very clearly that in this world we will have trouble, we expect Him to take it all away? And then we’re disappointed when He doesn’t. Or even worse, we stumble into even more trouble and then blame it on Him. We wonder if He’s abandoned us, or if He’s punishing us, or if He hates us, or if He’s somehow refining us by putting us through hell on earth before bringing us home to heaven. I can’t condemn that kind of thinking because I’ve been there. But I think that maybe when we’re focusing on the trouble or how we are feeling in the midst of it or how we wish God would just intervene and take it away, maybe we’re focusing on the wrong thing.

I feel like I’ve been harping on this kind of thing lately but I suppose it’s because I’m so convicted about it. I have a real problem with thinking that my life is all about me. Or that it’s my life at all. Because well, it isn’t. It belongs to Christ. The trouble I have isn’t just mine, it’s His. All that pain and frustration and questioning and doubting is just part of the sin and pain and death that He bore on the cross. Everything that makes us feel overwhelmed and horrified and crushed, He felt it all when He cried out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” And what did He do with all that? He overcame it. He died, He was buried, He rose again, and He overcame this world and all the trouble that goes along with it.

I am so small-minded and present-focused. All I know is what I’ve learned and experienced in my 34 years in this world, and my poor little brain can’t even begin to imagine the vastness of eternity, but that is what Jesus promises is in store for those who believe in Him. Forever with Him, in His presence, at His feet, basking in the light of His glory, because He is worthy. It’s no wonder the Apostle Paul asked, what are the tiny troubles of our little lives in comparison to that (2 Cor. 4:15-18)? The good gifts that God showers on us every day, the troubles that darken our days and make us long for heaven, they are all for one purpose: So that we can shine God’s light into the lives of as many people that we possibly can, extend His grace to a world that needs it so desperately, and one day fall at His feet knowing that we brought as many souls with us as we could.

I’m not trying to minimize or ignore the pain that trouble causes us. It can break our hearts, rob us of loved ones, destroy our health, and strip us of everything that we value. That’s big stuff. Heart-rending, awful stuff. It can drive us from God or bring us to our knees. But whether our troubles make us feel closer to God or wonder why He feels so far away, reality is, He’s there. And He does have a greater purpose in it, to grow His Kingdom for His glory.

Our troubles are not about us. They are not what God is doing to us, what He is allowing in our lives for some reason that we hope He understands because we can’t, they don’t happen because God forgot about us or hates us. When we walk with Christ, when He is in us and we are in Him in this unfathomable life that He bought with His blood, they are His troubles, too. When I can’t figure out anything in life and I don’t know how I’m going to get through it, I know one thing: He’s got this. He has overcome the world. I don’t have to.

God, give me an eternal perspective, even if my mind can’t grasp it all. Let me keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith, knowing that one day, everything else will fade away and I will see Him, not through eyes of faith, but through my very own eyes, transformed by His glory forever.

On Waiting and Working

Do you ever feel like you’re just waiting for God to show up, wondering if He ever will? Do you ever long to see God at work in a mighty way, like He did in the Bible? If you grew up in church, like I did, surely you know the stories. God sending plagues on the Egyptians, parting the Red Sea, providing manna in the wilderness, letting Moses see His glory as He passed by, wetting the fleece for Gideon and then keeping it dry, Jesus feeding 5,000 men with a little boy’s lunch, turning water into wine, raising the dead, Peter and the apostles preaching and people hearing in their own languages 3,000 and coming to Christ in a single day. This is big stuff. Life-changing, earth-shattering, history-altering stuff. Do you ever read about that and wonder, what’s the deal today? Here in 2014 in America, are we getting the shaft? What is God doing now? Is He doing anything? And if He is, do we get to be a part of it?

I’ve heard these questions in many forms. I’ve asked them myself. I remember specifically one time reading in Acts about the thousands of people who were being added to the church on a daily basis, and right in that moment I asked in prayer, “God, why don’t we see things like this now? Why aren’t You working like this today?” And in that moment, an answer came to my heart. God is at work just like that today. Across the world, thousands of people believe in Him and follow Him every day. Just because I don’t see the Kingdom growing by leaps and bounds in my own life, in my own church, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. God is active. God is always working. So what is our role in this work?

There is this idea that when we don’t understand something we read in God’s Word, or when we have questions about who God is or what He is doing, we need to just wait on God to show up and reveal Himself or deliver a plan for what we should do next. This is a concept that is fairly common and sounds very spiritual, but I wonder if it is truth. A friend of mine suggested that it might be just an excuse for people who don’t want to work, or who have given up hope of ever seeing God at work. That may be true in many cases. Maybe they don’t see Him at work because they’re not looking for Him, and maybe they’re not seeing it because they are refusing to do the work God has called them to do. 

This is what I know: God works through people. He always has. I don’t know why He chooses to do that, He doesn’t have to, but He does. If you want to see God, look closely at the people around you. I see Him everywhere. I see Him in my husband. I see Him in my friends who come over on Thursday nights to eat pancakes and ask questions about God and the Bible. I see Him in the endless questions my daughter asks. I even see Him working in surprising places, that maybe shouldn’t be so surprising. I see Him in the faithful servants in our church, who might look old and gruff but who still have hearts that are tender toward God and are learning from His Word. A troll might tell a princess in a movie that “People don’t really change,” and in most cases, that’s true. But God can change a human heart, mind, and soul. I’ve seen Him do it many times, in other people and in me, and each time He does it, I know I’ve seen a miracle. Oh sure, I’d like to see Him do the “big stuff,” the earth-shaking, mountain-moving, mighty acts of wonder and healing and provision. I’d like to see Him heal my son’s heart condition. But sometimes I think we overlook the great, eternal, constant work of God because we’re looking for something that we think is bigger. What if we’re looking for the wrong thing? 

Jesus told the people in John 6 that their fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and died, but He was offering eternal life. In order to get it, all they had to do was believe in Him, accept His offer of His flesh and His blood to cover their sins, and take hold of eternal life. Most didn’t understand. What Jesus was talking about was too radical. A few stayed with Him because they caught a glimpse of who He truly was, and they knew they could never be satisfied with anything else. Those few, filled the with Holy Spirit, went on to start an organization known as the church. That church changed the world, and it grew and continues to grow and is still changing the world today by impacting people, one life at a time, for eternity. This is the work of God. This is what He calls us to do. How is this too “small” for us?

I think we went through this phase in the church (I mean the Church as a whole, as a culture, not one specific body of believers) where we settled for less than what God offers. And then we got used to less. And then we expected less. Now the false flimsy faith we were fed doesn’t satisfy, and we want more. We want the real thing. We want all of God, here and now. And that’s a good thing. But when we set aside God in all His fullness for the culture of the church, we also forgot about the cost of knowing Him. He demands everything. Every hope, dream, desire, possession, and relationship you have must be laid at the feet of Christ. When we come to Him we give up our old, dead, sinful lives, and He gives us His life. We cannot imagine what that looks like, but He gives us clues in the Bible. For one, when our lives are no longer our own, we are wasting time when we focus on ourselves. Our ultimate purpose is to give our lives to serve Christ, serve others, and grow His Kingdom for His glory.

If you have this idea that serving God, trying to be good and then be extra good to make up for times when you’re bad, then God will eventually make your life better, that’s a nice idea based on a false view of God. There is no scale you have to balance out before He can bless you. There is no punishment left to serve. There’s a line in an old song, “Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe.” All of God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). If you do a bunch of good things and avoid a bunch of bad things and call that the Christian life, then you can claim some of the credit for what you’ve done. If you look for where God is working, engage in what He has called and uniquely gifted you to do, and allow Him to do His work through you by the power of His Spirit, He gets the glory. Being in Christ, that is the blessing. That is the abundant life. To all outward appearances, your life might suck as long as you’re alive. It might not. That’s just part of living in this fallen world. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart: I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). So what is our hope? Christ. Forever. 

When I write a post like this, it’s always tempting to make it sound like I really know what I’m talking about, like somehow I’ve figured out this Christian life thing and how it works. Really, I feel pretty clueless most of the time. I struggle with things I thought I’d figured out, lessons I thought I’d already learned, temptations and failures that I never imagined I’d deal with. In the middle of all that, here’s what I’ve got: Jesus. He is enough. Even on days when I question whether or not He’s enough for me, He is. 

Is he enough for you?

On My Anniversary

This week I’ve seen several blogs with interesting, thoughtful, perspectives on marriage. One was from a girl who was married when she was 19, about all the things she “gave up” when she got married. Another was from someone who’s been married 20 years, offering wise words to her girls about the importance of a marriage vs. a wedding. So with that and the fact that today is my 14th wedding anniversary, I’ve been thinking about marriage. I don’t know if my perspective is interesting or thoughtful, but here it is.

First, a word to my single friends: I know being single sucks sometimes. I remember what it’s like to long for someone to just live life with. I remember wondering, every time I met a guy, “Is he the one? Could I marry him?” Every. Time. As someone who married young and has now been married almost half my life, I may not be the best person to deliver advice to the single crowd, but what I have to say is this: Remember, there is no human being who will fill every void in your life, meet every need, be your rock, your everything, complete you, whatever. Only Jesus can do that. Whether you’re married or single or in a relationship or it’s complicated, believe me, Jesus is the One you want. Rest in that. Rest in Him. Someday He might bring someone along who you can spend the rest of your life with, but nothing in this world compares to spending eternity with Him.

Fourteen years ago today, I married Greg Duke, the love of my life. I was 19. I know all the questions. I heard them.
“You were so young! How could you possibly know he was the one for you?”
“Are you crazy? You think you’ll be happy with that one person forever?”
“You didn’t live together first? So how can you know it will work out?”
“Was something going on? Were you pregnant?”
“Weren’t you just, you know, in love with the idea of love?”
There were more.

Now I’ve been married fourteen years, and I hear other things.
“Wow, that’s a long time! Good for you!”
“So how’s that working out?”
“So are you…happily married?”
“Only 36 to go, and then it’ll really be something.”
There is more.

For some reasons, I think I was too young to get married. Mostly because I was pretty irresponsible and barely grown up. I didn’t have good habits for handling money, taking care of a house, being a wife and a student and sharing my life and my stuff and my bed with someone else. It took some adjustment, and that wasn’t easy. There were frustrations and tears and arguments and feeling like I wasn’t good enough. But we got through that, and although I’m still not good at handling money and taking care of a house, it seems to have worked out anyway.

Still, there were lots of reasons why I did get married when I did, and I think they were good ones. I had found someone I loved and who loved me, who I could spend hours and hours with and laugh and have a good time and not wish I were somewhere else. Someone who was as smart as me, who had a deep faith and commitment to ministry, who was more mature and responsible than I was, who could deal with my crazy quirks, who would take care of me and protect me and just be there for me. Someone I was happy to make dinner for, talk to, be with. He was graduating from college and I still had three years left, and I didn’t want him to move away without me. I was planning to be a camp counselor for the summer and God made it pretty clear that He wanted us to get married instead. So we did. No, I wasn’t crazy, or stupid, or pregnant. In fact, I was a virgin. Yep. That happened.

Being married for fourteen years does not make me an expert. It means I have experience, and I have learned a few things about commitment and choices and feelings. One thing I have learned is that I have to put him first. (What? Shouldn’t you put God first? I don’t know. Is God a priority for me? Is He #1? No, He’s everything. So He’s not exactly first, He IS) I have to put Greg before my kids, my friends, my parents, even myself. So the things I want don’t matter to me as much as the things he wants. When I pray for others, I start with him. When I need an opinion or I have a question, I go to him. I am not good at this, not by any means. I am so inherently selfish. But I’ve learned that if I don’t put Greg first, things go downhill. Quickly.

I’m not really a “feelings” person. Yeah, I have feelings, but I’m not really one to focus on them or let them interfere much with my life. I often find that they are inconvenient. Feelings can change. They can lie. If we’re not careful, they can lead us down paths in life that we would be better off avoiding altogether. But they are real, and sometimes they’re good. Going through life with a person for fourteen years means I’ve run a whole gamut of feelings. Have I felt 100% head-over-heels in love with Greg the whole time? Nope. Have I been an awesome wife the whole time? Nope. We’ve had some rough times, and a few moments when I wondered if I had it in me to make this whole thing work. But I have been his wife, and I know what it means to choose him. I chose him fourteen years ago, and in some ways, I keep choosing him every day. Most days, it’s not hard. He’s the best man I know, very likely the only person in the world who could deal with me every day, a godly man and great pastor, and he does dishes. He’s a catch. Most days, I’m totally in love with him. Those happy, “in love” feelings are nice, but love is a choice. Fourteen years ago I chose to love Greg, for better or for worse, forsaking all others, until death parts us. And today, more than ever, by the grace and power of God and the love He has for me, for Greg, and for marriage, I am still making that choice. So far, life with this guy has been good. I’m looking forward to sharing the rest of our lives together.

On The Writing Process (Blog Tour Post)

Let me start off by thanking Matthew Wilbur, one of my #WritersRoad friends, for inviting me to post this as part of the Writing Process Blog Tour. Check out his blog at nightveil.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter, @Nightveil. He’s cool.

So now I’m supposed to talk about what I do as a writer and why and how and all that. Since I have no idea what I’m doing, really, this should be fun.

1. What am I working on?

My current work in process (or WIP) is a YA (teen) fantasy set in a world where history and myth have become blurred to the point that no one really knows which is which. My main character has some nifty knife skills and a horse that she will do anything to protect…including maybe magic. It’s about 85,000 words (300ish pages) right now and I’m moving toward the ending, which scares me because I don’t exactly know how the ending will go at this point. 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Is anyone even writing YA fantasy right now? Seems like just about everything is paranormal or urban fantasy or dystopian or steampunk or something these days, and what I’m writing is just plain fantasy, with other worlds and magic and trees and mythical creatures and that sort of thing. It’s what I love and maybe it’s not selling right now but I don’t really care. I write from a very Christian worldview, which is different from mainstream fantasy, for sure. I don’t write allegory and I try not to preach but what I believe about God and the world is my life, so of course that’s a huge part of what I write.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Writing about God and universal truth in a different world is a strange sort of experiment, and honestly, I’m attempting to write it because I thought it would be a fun challenge. It is a challenge. I hope that the end result is a faithful representation of the story that I believe we all want to be a part of: something good, something bigger than ourselves, with beauty, community, and sacrifice, and an attempt to explain the unexplainable. This is a story I believe in, and it’s the story I feel compelled to write. It has not been easy for me, but I love it.

4. How does my writing process work?

In a word, chaos. I enjoy organization and outlines but my brain just won’t settle down and follow them. I do start with an outline, which I follow more closely than I think I do, and then I revise it when I really stray. I’m on the second(ish) draft of this book but probably the eighth or ninth draft of the outline. When I started the current rewrite, I added a plot. That was a big deal. I had these characters that I loved but nothing really happened to them and they didn’t do much. Now I have things like story arcs and villains. I am very pleased with that.

To borrow an old analogy, this process has been like building an airplane in the air. Everything I read and everything I write teaches me something new about writing, so my WIP has been in this shifting state of flux for several years now. I think it keeps getting better, but it’s not good yet. I write when I have time and someone else is watching my kids. So maybe two hours a week. It’s slow going, especially when I keep going back to the beginning to incorporate changes I made because of a brainstorm I had in the shower. I’m not getting paid for this, I don’t have deadlines, and although I really want people to read it, I’m not ready for that yet. I want it to be good. I hope I will know when it is.

The Writing Process Blog Tour continues next week! Let me tell you about the friends I invited to join:

In addition to being my BFF, Ashley Linne is a wife and mom who loves to write, sing, and travel, She has been writing and leading small group Bible studies for over 15 years and cute her ministry teeth as a collegiate campus minister in her home state of New Mexico. Ashley has a Master of Arts in Family Life Education from the Oxford Graduate School and studied at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She lives with her husband and son in Bellingham, WA. Find her at ashleylinne.com

Amber Stokes works in marketing services at Harvest House Publishers and writes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor’s degree in English and to run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. Happily, the next step in her career lies in the Pacific Northwest – a part of the world she has always considered home.

Blog Link: http://seasonsofhumility.blogspot.com/

Go check out their blogs and hunt down the other posts on the tour. This has been fun!