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.]

Rediscover Reading

Do you go through reading droughts like me? Sometimes I just can’t find the motivation to read a single thing. When it’s just too tempting to watch tv or be on my phone, and reading feels like a mental strain? I only recently came out of such a rut, and I don’t want to slip out of the habit again because reading has been lifegiving to me in this past season! I’ve felt more relaxed, like I find it is easier to slow down and disconnect, and more inspired, easily finding new story ideas and an excitement to write each day.

Are you stuck in a reading drought or looking to refresh your love of reading? Here are some things that have helped me climb out of the rut and rediscover reading:

  1. The Library. Sometimes, the problem is that I don’t have any books on hand that I’m interested in reading, and I tend to have shopping anxiety so buying a book when I don’t know if I will like it or not is never easy for me. I also don’t want to waste time on a book I’m not enjoying, but I feel guilty if I don’t finish a book I spent money on. That’s why I love the library! I can check out three or four books at a time that catch my interest with no strings attached! If I don’t like a book, I don’t have to finish it; I can just return it to the library and start on the next one until something hooks me in.
  2. Book Club. Last year, my cousin and fellow author, Valerie Cotnoir, started a casual book club, which has been a big motivator for me to finish reading books. We don’t have to read the same book, but every month we gather to share about what we had finished reading and what we thought about it. It is really rewarding to be able to tell someone about a book rather than just write a review on Goodreads, and it’s also a great way to discover new books!
    • If you don’t know of any book clubs that interest you, start your own with friends you know who love reading!
  3. Readathon Day. This was my latest discover and it was a gamechanger, not only for my reading goals, but for my self-care! I dedicated two full days just to reading (although even just one day or one morning would be helpful, I think) and told my husband I was just reading for those two days. I got a book I was very excited about, cleared my schedule, gathered my favorite coffee and snacks, and snuggled down for a good read. I not only felt free to relax and just read (after all, it was in my planner), but it made me so excited to sink into the story that I’m writing.

You hear it all the time: writers are readers. And it sounds like a chore, like you have to read in order to grow in the very concrete skill of ‘good writing’. But I have found that reading grows so much more than a critical eye for good writing technique, it has grown my imagination, it has grown my ability to rest, and it has grown my love for storytelling.

My goal this year is to read 12 books – one a month, just in time for book club – and have had readathon day every 1-3 months. You can follow my reading journey on Goodreads.com – and you can review my books if you have read them there as well!