Don’t Shrink Back

“So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised.

‘For in yet a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay, but my righteous one will live by faith, and if she shrinks back, I take no pleasure in her.’

But we are not those who shrink back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and are saved.”

Hebrews 10:35-39

This scripture is the theme verse for my current WIP. Finding a theme verse is such an important part of the writing process for me because it sets the entire story on a foundation of truth. My theme verse is very much like a lighthouse; It is the destination of where my story is going. I just need to follow the light.

Now, at first it seemed like my theme verse had been chosen for me. After all, my WIP is a retelling of the story of Esther, so wouldn’t my theme verse be “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” While that is a very famous verse from Esther, it wasn’t the crux of the story I want to tell. For Esther is about more than God’s Sovereignty over our lives (although that is an important part of it, for sure).

One of the reasons I was really drawn to Esther was because I felt like her story was always romanticized, I mentioned in a previous blog post. This has always bothered me because I think that what makes Esther’s story so amazing is how very dark it really is. Esther had a great deal to be afraid of, and the king was a big one! Here is an unorganized list of reasons why King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) would have been a very scary man to Esther (and probably wasn’t the love of her life):

  • He exiled his previous wife because she wouldn’t be paraded naked at a party.
  • When they were married He was 40 and she was 15.
  • He picked a second favorite from the harem directly after Esther was crowned.
  • His reign was marked continually by aggressive war strategies.
  • He was very easily presuaded by those around him, especially in violence.
  • Have you seen 300? Yeah the bad guy in that was this dude.

Alright, let me get off my tangent, but all in all, this guy was SCARY. When Esther goes before him in chapter 5, she has good reason to be very afraid of the king (after all, he hadn’t even wanted to see her for a whole month). It was a very real possibility that she would be killed, and that’s why when she says “If I perish, I perish” is so powerful. It’s not a throw away; she is acknowledging that her trust is in God, not in herself or the king’s favor.

I love this part of the story, because yes, God put her in a very important position for just the reason – to save her people from annihiliation – but it wasn’t easy. I love this part of the story! Because in order to do what God had placed her there to do, she still needed to trust and rely on Him for the courage to act. She truly had to decided if she was going to live by faith or shrink back and be destoryed.

And that is so encouraging to me. God does often give us opportunities in life to do great things for His glory, but it is still often times very scary to step out in faith. I can easily spot good reasons to be afraid: rejection, danger, failure, are usually at the top of my list. But rather than shrinking back from the opportunity, I can, like Esther, choose to live by faith and do something stupid scary in the pursuit of God’s glory.

So that’s why I chose Hebrews 10:35-39 to be theme verse!

I’m so excited to share this story with all of you in the future! I just surpassed 40,000 words and I’m almost halfway done with the first draft! Be sure to keep following me on instagram for more snippets and sneak peeks at my WIP and my life as a storyteller!

The Power to Define Me

As I have been posting more and more on my Instagram page about my Scorpio necklaces and accessories, I realized that I haven’t really gone in depth on here about why I adorn myself with this zodiac symbol, especially as a Christian.

For those who haven’t read my book POLARITY, astrology and the zodiac are key elements in the story as the main character, Kendra, returns to her hometown of Polaris, and the pressures of the society there. Namely, the pressure to truly embody your zodiac sign. The zodiac, for those who are less familiar (and in the simplest terms I can muster), is a constellation symbol associated with the birthdate of a person. These symbols, and the stars that form it, supposedly can tell you what your weaknesses and strengths are, as well as predict your future (a la horoscopes).

So in the world of Polaris, your zodiac symbol is who you are. It tells you everything about yourself, what careers you are suited for, who your potential spouses are, even your personality. Kendra experiences those pressures more and more throughout the story, sometimes feeling trapped by these expectations, and other times using them as an excuse for her actions.

For me, these are very relatable struggles: to live up to the expectations others have of you, or to defy the assumptions they make about you.

So I’m a Scorpio. According to the zodiac, I am jealous, determined, controlling, violent, and passionate, and according to my daily horoscope, my “dilemmas are bigger than you anticipated they would be and many things are at stake, but you already know that answers are simple when they are ripe and clear.”

But am I those things? Do I have to be those things? Is that truly my identity?

Uh, no. I have the power to make my own choices, to decide who I am doing to be and what will define me. While I don’t find I am particularly violent or jealous, if I was to give the power of identity to my zodiac, maybe I would think that it is beyond my control to resist those sins when temptation came.

In the same way, I can allow an event that has happened to me – such as spiritual abuse – define me: I can’t trust scripture; people only use the Bible to manipulate others; I am not strong enough; I am not brave enough; I am because this happened to me. Or, I can allow what others say to define me: I never say no; I’m not good at keeping my house clean; I’m not good enough; I am because they said so.

These are all lies, but even a lie can seem true if you believe it.

Instead of giving this power to others, I have the ability to decide for myself what will define me. And everyday, I want to choose to allow Christ to define me: I am loved (1 John 4:10, Romans 8:37-39); I am forgiven (Colossians 1:13-14, 1 John 1:9); I am free from sin (2 Corinthians 5:7, Romans 6:18); I am hidden with Christ (Colossians 3:3); I don’t need to be afraid (1 John 4:18, Joshua 1:9); I am who God says I am (Ephesians 2:10).

And my Scorpio necklaces remind me of that truth. I decide. You decide. And don’t give that power to someone who is going to abuse it with lies. Give that power to Christ – it’s only in Him that truth and real love are found.

[So that’s my spiel! Can you tell I’m a people pleaser? I’m working on it.]

Finding the Story

Finding my next novel to sink my mind into has been a long journey. Since finishing Polarity, I have had been through countless ideas, but none of them hooked me enough to get them off the ground floor. Polarity was a suspense novel but a bit of whimsy in the world, and I was desperate to be capture by another idea in the same way.

I thought that maybe I should write what I enjoy reading the most: domestic thrillers. I had several very intriguing ideas, but none of them found focus, and I struggled to flesh them out beyond the initial “what if” question. I invested a lot of time into these ideas, exploring location and characters and plots, and one day, maybe I’ll be fortunate enough to repurpose the best pieces for another story.

Then, I thought that maybe I should watch what I enjoy watching: spooky ghost stories. I am obsessed with Harpers Ferry, WV, having tried to write several stories in this location in the past. My husband took me on a mini vacation to finally see and explore Harpers Ferry in person at the end of 2019, and I was even more obsessed afterwards. I set my mind on a ghost story, hoping to get sucked in completely to the idea.

Discipline and determination can only get you so far.

Just in the same way that a good book can hook you on the first page and then you can’t stop reading until it’s finished, I have to get hooked by my story. It has to pull me in and make me believe that there are endless possibilities and a strong throughline. And none of the ideas I had were capturing me.

On the side, of course, I am writing musicals with my husband, and there was one idea that we kept discussing but Jeremy (by hubster) was firm that the story was overdone, even if done in an inauthentic way every time we had seen it turned into a movie, play, or musical. Plus, he argued, we had so many other great, unique ideas that were fresh.

But that story idea kept coming back to me with a passion, because it was a story that I wanted to have told without the whitewashing and rose-colored glasses. When you strip away the beauty montages, the love story, the perfect faith, there is a much more relatable and inspiring story. That was the story I wanted to be told by someone but every time I felt let down.

So, after years of casually studying the story, the history, the context, I knew I wanted to tell this story. That was over a year ago. And I kept putting it off for one reason: I didn’t want to write a Bible story. And I didn’t want people to be shook because all the things they imposed on the story had disappeared, or at least shifted in a darker direction. This story wasn’t VeggieTales, after all, so I set out to figure out a way to take away those reconceptions and present this story as something fresh. Something people would find themselves sinking into and forgetting, even for a moment, the story they grew up hearing.

And then the pieces began to fall into place this past summer. I had that burst of inspiration that helped me to finally find the lens through which I wanted to tell this story.

It has been so refreshing to be hooked, to be pulled in, to sink deeper and deeper in understanding of the world, the characters, and the story. My hope is that this story will refresh you as it has refreshed me; that these simple words would be a call to courage, to faith, to righteousness for you as they have become for me:

“Perhaps you have been chosen for such a time as this.”