Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Blogging break


Hello my loyal readers,

I feel like I just got back in the swing in of blogging and now I have to take a hiatus because it is Finals month. I don't have any test to study for just a lot of work to finish off this semester and work to start preparing for my thesis, I will be writing next semester. So I kind of have to take a break from blogging. Sorry.

I know there is a lot going on but if you could pray for my stress level. As much as school should be my only my focus, I feel I have a lot on my plate for one I have to find a new place to live for the fall and some other personal stuff I am trying to juggle.  Also pray for my focus to finish this semester hopefully with no all nighters.

As busy as I am, I am eagerly looking forward to going to Denver to see my sister, H and E.

Love you guys and I will be back in May.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Jane Austen and the modern girl

I have been Jane Austen fan for over 11 years. I can't say if it started when I actually read the books on my own or when I finally enjoyed all 5 hours of the BBC Pride and Prejudice and falling head over heels for Collin Firth. Needless to say Jane Austen has filled a great majority of my life. In high school though I felt I was the only girl my age who read Jane Austen and it was a little lonely being in love with characters that existed only in books. So when I started meeting girls in college I probably got overly excited to share my love with others. I am also happy when new movies or books help people discover the awesomeness of Jane. So yes I have read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies... and I would actually recommend it. But the thing I love most about Jane is that while her stories are great as period drama's to watch on a rainy day with a cup tea, her stories are so universal they can be updated and still be relevant to today. My favorite modern adaptations have been Bridget Jones' Diary, Clueless (an adaptation of Emma) and Bride and Prejudice.

While I can watch these movies over and over I have lately become obsessed with the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. In short they are vlogs (video blogs) retelling of a modern Pride and Prejudice. But they are also so much more with multiple layers of communication through Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. And like every good Jane Austen update they capture your heart.
Not only do you hear the story from Lizzie's point of view you all get to watch the Lydia drama unfold.

And you get to watch Gigi and Darcy save the day.

These are just the first episodes from the three intertwining story lines... that come into use at different times to tell the complete story line of Pride and Prejudice.

If you have read the novel or seen any of the movies you know the plot, and if you love the book or the movies you might be skeptical about a modern update on a classic. Well let me just say I was there. I love Jane and sometimes I feel Hollywood does not do her justice. So I was skeptical when YouTube kept suggesting I watch these videos. But after catching up and watching about 50 episodes in a weekend I was addicted and then in Episode 60 we FINALLY get to meet Darcy.

Seriously they did good with the casting of Darcy. Though Colin Firth, will always be THE MR. DARCY... I think the actor Daniel Gordh does a wonderful job being Darcy.

All the Darcys
I will always love the British accent but thanks to this retelling I also love the Newies cap and bow tie (I know it might be a bit hipster... but I cannot help it). 
Anyway, now after today's episode (ep. 98) and only 2 more left... my heart is all a flutter. 
If Tumblr and Facebook can be trusted I hear there is word that Emma might also become a vlog... oh I can't wait to see who will be cast as Mr. Knightley. He is another favorite Jane Austen hero of mine. 

from Emma
I do not think Jane could have ever realized what an impact she has made on the world. And how her six novels could forever be causing ripples through the lives of her readers. 

Now, I must move on with my day. Thanks for reading my nonsensical post. 
P.S. Thanks YouTube for knowing what I would like. And a specially big thanks to my friend who shares my obsession with Jane Austen... you always make me smile. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Discovering my Mountain

Dear Anne, 

I have just finished my 3 part blog posting on "Not Forsaken". If you have not read them I hope you will because otherwise this letter will not make a lot of sense. At the bottom of the 3rd post I wrote about how my friend keeps telling of me of a mountain that when God has something he wants to teach us and we ignore Him we will circle around a mountain but never actually able to climb it. As beautiful as I think mountains are I have never been an outdoorsy person. So I apologize ahead of time if I lose the analogy. 

Anyway, the idea of this mountain and circling around it comes from the Old Testament, the story of the Israelite's and their wandering through the desert as they wait to enter the promise land. (Sorry I am also not a big Old Testament scholar so forgive me if I miss quote something). But the Israelite's are lead out of Egypt (and their slavery) by Moses and Aaron and very soon after entering the desert they begin to complain and grumble about how God has abandon them. First they decide to build an altar and make an idol and say that Baal (the golden calf) brought them out of the Egypt. Then at one time they want to return back to Egypt and go back to their harsh life of slavery as they think it will be better than their lives in the desert with God. Because they are not following God they are left to wander the desert. But God has not abandoned them. It is written that a cloud of smoke by day and fire by night lead them (Deuteronomy 1:32,33). Even with having God's presence they still grumble and did not always trust in God. Before I go criticizing the Israelites I should stop, how many time have I grumbled and not trusted God? And so many times when I read the Old Testament I realize I am much like the Isrealites.  I may not have God's presence like a cloud of smoke but I definitely have God's presence in my life. So let me move on...

As I was working on my 3 post for "Not forsaken" and reflecting on all my post I have already written I discovered something. As much as I write about hope... I still don't know what it means to hope in the Lord and in that I don't know what it means to truly trust in the Lord.  I know to trust in the Lord in the grand scheme of things. I know that the Lord has a perfect plan for me and in that I trust. I also know when I try to take control over my life it feels like it falls apart. But on a day to day basis, I don't know what it means to Trust in the Lord, so I keep circling this mountain. 

how I imagine letting go
I will admit that I have a fear of not being "good enough." So sometimes I feel I have to watch every step to make sure I am being "perfect" (even though I know perfection cannot be reached). I fear that I am not "good enough" people will see me as the wreck (I feel I often am) and they will stop loving me. So when I think things are going bad in my life, I try to take control in the situation, and fix myself. Though when I try to take control of the situation I slip, I fall and world seems even worse off than when I started. I know it is because I have pushed God away because I want control. So I go around the mountain again. I feel this is a constant pattern in my life. But I am going to change it... so I can go up the mountain and experience all of God's goodness and grace.

As I said I am not an outdoorsy person so I don't really know how to climb a mountain. In fact the last time I climbed a mountain was almost 6 years ago and there was a marked path and I had a group of friends and leaders. While I have no marked path here, I know I have God. I have friends and I have lots of people who speak great truth in my life. 

So I hope to learn how to climb this mountain. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Not forsaken pt. 3ish

As I was writing my Not Forsaken blog post I was reminded of some other post I feel I have written on much the same topic. So I wanted to high light them because faith is a constant journey. Pictures and previews below...Happy Reading!

I can't keep it bottled up inside any more.
I am burnt out.
In my life I have wanted to be many things
but my heart has only wanted to be two things
a wife and a mother.
I have placed so much time and energy thinking and dreaming about those two things
I lose my focus.
A few hours ago I got back from a wonderful retreat and I come back with one BIG take away. I have written many times on this blog that I have wanted to be a wife and mother but that feels very  far away from distant from me. For awhile I walked around a little depressed because I thought if that is the purpose of my life why is it not happening. Then I wondered is this really God's desire? So I began praying "Lord please change my desires if they are not yours" quickly followed by "but I really want to be a wife and mother." Up until this weekend I thought this was a good prayer. I mean I couldn't lie to God and pretend that I didn't want my desires but I knew His desires were more important so I thought this prayer was a good compromise. 
Delight yourself in the Lord
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
-Psalm 37:4

I know that verse is used a lot. At first reading it should seem like that God should give you whatever you desire/want. So many times we do not get what we want. Does that mean this verse is a lie? No. I think this verse tells us there is a process (a process I am still learning).

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart- Jeremiah 29:13. The most important part in these verses is the Lord. When we seek God with all our hearts, we will find God. When we delight ourselves in the Lord that is when we get the desires of our hearts. Often times I pray "I want this and I want that" and when I don't get I give up and usually pout and complain. That is not where prayer should stop. 

Hope is an interesting word. In church and in the bible we are told to hope in the Lord. I have long to struggled with the idea what this idea truly means. When I was in my most serious relationship I knew what it was like to hope in our relationship and hoped that one day we would get marry. But that did not work out and when we broke up I felt like I had lost all hope. 

I have been going through a study in the Bible on the word hope. Before this study I knew what it was like to hope for a good grade; I knew what it was like to hope for/in a relationship; but I never knew what it meant to "Hope in the Lord" (a phrase often used in church). I got to hear my friend talk about what she was going through and she said the phrase "God wants our best in life so we don't need to fear that things will work out." Our best does not mean financial prosperity or happiness all the time but it does mean God's will being done perfectly through us. From the time she mentioned that to now (and on going) my perspective on the word HOPE has changed. More on this in my Hope is an Act of Waiting post. During my quiet time my study came across this scripture...

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me
heavenward in Christ Jesus. 
-Philippians 3:13b-14 (NIV, 1984)

You know it is interesting. My friend keeps talking about how when God is trying to to teach us something and we ignore Him, He will let us have our own way for awhile (a month, a year, tens years, whatever) but we will keep circling the mountain. We will go around the mountain and we won't really be able to climb up the mountain and experience all his greatness... I think this my mountain. Hope is my mountain. I have written about hope and the future so much but I have yet to grasp what it really means to Hope in the Lord. I keep underestimating his grace and what He has in store for my. I can see my mountain now I just need to learn how to climb it. 

In my post "A thought for Thursday" I wrote "And the roads to get up those mountains are loopy and sometimes you may not be able to see where you are going. But isn't that what makes life fun... the unknown?"  I am not so good at embracing the unknown and right now I feel my life is a lot of unknowns. And not to sound all preachy, but I know God is here to take me through all the valleys and hill tops and He has promised never to forsake me.

By: Brooke Fraser

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Not forsaken pt. 2

Have you ever heard something that even though it wasn't directed at you, you feel it is meant directed at you. Well this Sunday I had that moment. My church had a sermon today on the words Jesus cries out on the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46 or Mark 15:14)

I know on this blog I  have spoken about some of the harder times I am going through right now in my life and I have often wondered "why is this happening to me?", "why am I going through this pain?",  "what is this all for?".
Sorry after I wrote out my prayer I realized the post was really long so I decided to split it into two part. So back to the sermon. 

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
How many times have I felt distant from God and alone. We have all had moments where we question God. And the first thing my pastor said that it is okay to question God because our questions mark our walk in our faith. We should turn our questions to God. Then he stated a survey that asked "If you could ask God one question what would it be?" The number one answer dealt with "why does God let suffering happen?" I do not have all the answers but I do not believe God allows suffering to happen. God created our earth to be perfect and it was when sin entered the picture that the world was separated from God's perfection. Jesus who was perfection himself and he took on all the sin on himself and I think in that time He felt all the punishment that sin causes us and he felt the separation we live with. 

God mad Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. ~2 Corinthians 5:21

This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. ~ 1 John 4:10

So Jesus calls out... "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

This passage comes from the start of Psalm 22. I have been reading Psalm on my own and I have noticed a pattern in then is that they start off calling to God in agony and they end in hope. But between the calling out to God and the hope God gives us there is a verse that my pastor pointed out to us...

For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one: 
He has not hidden His face from him 
but has listened to his cry for help. 
~Psalm 22: 24

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. ~Romans 8:18

I do not have all the answers but as I was sitting through the sermon I really like hearing that God has not left me. He has not left me and He has promised He will never leave me. He didn't leave Jesus and He is not going to leave me. I know I am going through some hard times right now and no matter what I feel I know God is with me. After the service I wanted to give my pastor a hug and tell him it was "what I needed to hear." I didn't. 

Now to explain the picture my Church is doing a Instragram project where they are collecting images from the themes of the sermon. As I was walking home I saw a some budding. After all the snow we have had in Boston it was great to see some flowers coming out. I feel this is very symbolic of what is going on in my life. I'm going through a winter but soon it will be spring and I can see a little bit more hope. 

Other passages:
Hebrews 9:26
2 Corinthians 5:18, 19
Romans 6:11, 14

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A new cover...

One of my favorite things when I get really into a story I am writing is to find an image and to think I want that for my cover (if I could). For my last story Sisters of Pine Haven I found the one below. Now for my story Rose Gray (working title) I found the above picture.

I know most of my story takes place in pre-WWI and will go into WWI .This 1920's hat is not very appropriate for the time period (I know) but I feel the 1920's is when my character will step beyond her comfort zone and be the heroine we desire.

Side Note: If my working title is Rose Gray does that make anyone think of 50 Shades of Grey? I have never read them (and I never will) but I don't want a reader to think my book is closely related to that. Let me know your thoughts.

I do not own these pictures so I know they probably will not be my cover art but I do like them and I find them very inspiring. I can't wait to one day be published and get to chose the art work for my cover.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Not forsaken pt. 1


Have you ever heard something that even though it wasn't directed at you, you feel it is meant directed at you. Well this Sunday I had that moment. My church had a sermon today on the words Jesus cries out on the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46 or Mark 15:14)

I know on this blog I  have spoken about some of the harder times I am going through right now in my life and I have often wondered "why is this happening to me?", "why am I going through this pain?",  "what is this all for?".

Before I get to the sermon (part 2). I have wanted to share this prayer I wrote the other day... then I will get to the sermon (and I will explain the picture).

Read Psalm 88

Dear Lord, 

I know you have not rejected me or left me in a pit. You are here with me. You have have not hidden yourself from me. I have turned from you. I have pushed you out so far I cannot feel you. Oh Lord my God I know you will not abandon me. I know you hold me close. Lord, I am suffering and I feel my world is falling apart and I can't get anything right... Lord, I am sorry for my doubts. Oh Lord as much as I know your ways are perfect and as much I know your for me. Lord I felt you placed certain desires in my life and those desires are so far from me. Lord and the thought that they may not come has left me in this pit of questioning the point of my life. Lord, I know you make no mistakes, you created me almost 27 years ago for a reason. you had a design and a goal for my life but I have no clue what that is... Lord and having no clue has left wandering and feeling helpless. Lord in all this I have pushed you out. I have pushed you far away from me. I have taken all these negatives and tried to fix them on my own... I keep thinking I can fix things but I am so far from able. Lord I need you.

Lord I need your light and your presence to guide my feet. I need strength to hold on to me when I am weak. Lord I need your love to remind me I am not alone. All those aspects you have in abundance. Oh Lord my God save me. I do not want  to walk through pain. Lord my God, save me from my doubts, save me from my loneliness. Lord you are perfect. Shape me and mold me. 

Lord thank you for all the blessings you have given me. Thank you for all the support and love you have given me. Lord I know I am not ever truly alone. 

God is Near
By: Rend Collective Experiment 

I have been listening to this song a lot and it is a great reminder of how God will never leave me.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thankful for

If you have been reading my "Dear Anne" letters you will know I have been in a kind of negative place. Well at the advice of my dear friend who I call my "Boston Mom" she reminds me of the things I am thankful for... So to share them with you I wanted to make a collage. I couldn't post all the pictures I wanted but this is a good reminder....

1. My family: They have always been supportive of me and it wasn't until I moved to Boston that I realized how much I need them. 

2. My friends: The random dance parties, our trips together, going to the movies, and being a shoulder to cry on.

3. My older sister: Who has always been looking out for me. 

4. My relationship with my dad: We weren't that close during my teen years but now I feel I can turn to him for everything.

5. My relationship with my mom: We have our ups and downs but I know she loves me and is always supporting my dreams wherever they can take me.

6. Being an aunt: I love being an aunt to my sister's kids and my best friend's baby. I have been told I will love my kids more than my niece and nephew but I love them so much and they have brighten up my life. 

7. Hope: No matter how dark things might get there is always hope. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

No fight left

No Fight Left
By: JJ Heller.

Dear Anne,

I am sorry it has been so long since I have written. I could easily blame Grad-School but considering I have had no motivation to do anything in school, I cannot really say that. The last couple of weeks I have felt my life going down hill. I even wrote you about how I was focusing on the good things in my life, I thought that letter would keep me up-beat. I am sad to say that it has not. I have even reached out to my "support team" (close family/friends) for them to pray for me and the response I have gotten has been so heart warming, I have felt truly loved but some how my heart an mind keep dwelling on the bad and I just see my life as a downward spiral (as much as I smile and pretend to be all right). I even questioned if I belonged to him since I kept having these times in my life where I was low and discouraged.

Well over the past couple of weeks my church has been going through the book of Jonah. He is mostly known for Jonah and the Whale but that is so little part of the story. When Jonah goes to Nineveh (the bad guys) and after little convincing they repent and our saved from destruction. The story goes further but I am going to stop right there. Both Jonah and the people of Nineveh had turned away from God and both were saved by God's never ending grace. At the end of the sermon my pastor said "there is nothing you can do to out run God's grace". As awesome as that statement is I will admit I didn't go right home and immediately go to God (as I should have done) but later Sunday night as I was brushing my teeth I read the verse taped near my mirror.

"Find rest O my soul in God; my hope alone comes from Him" (Psalm 62:5)

And I thought, "how little do I consider God my hope." I have this verse written in multiple places and I never really consider God my Hope. I know God has saved me and I know God wants the best for me but how little do I actually think about God's hope and grace. Then as I was sitting and \
praying, I realized I keep underestimating God's grace. God's majestic saving and healing powers. 

I wrote that first part and then during my weekly phone date with my dad, I just couldn't hold back the tears anymore. He was just talking about how I was doing so well, I was climbing Mount Everest (in Grad-School) and I am at the last 10% and this is the hard part. I told him I didn't feel I was climbing Mount Everest I felt I was going a downward spiral to no where. I hate standing some days and I just want to hide and cry. 

I realize I am much like Jonah in the whale. I am going through a hard time and as easy as it would be for me to just retreat and sulking in my distress. I need to turn to God and  find my hope in him. Right now this is easier said than done.

Today I read Psalm 86 and it was exactly what I need to read. So while I am still in this low place, I need to remember God is with me. I just wish I felt Him more. 
I liked verse 5-7
Sorry this letter is a bit scattered... it reflects my state of being right now. 

Thanks for reading.

P.S. Is it bad that I just want to spend the day eating chocolate and staying in my PJ's?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Some descriptive writing

"A desire to write grows with writing"-Desiderius Erasmus 

In my last post about my story (which is still untitled) I wrote sharing my story with you my loyal readers it kept me inspired me to continue writing my story. So I hope to continue sharing bits of my story with you. I may not be able do to so regularly as I find I write better when I write with my hand and then I type it up. It is a very long process but it is so far the only way it works for me.

As much as I love writing plot, I love more the moment where I can get out a few good sentences of descriptive writing and make my characters or my setting seem more real. I am just at the beginning of my story so I am really working on some descriptive parts so my characters come to life for me and for my readers. So I wanted to share those parts with you...

This wasn't a journey this was a new beginning.

            Parts of this narrative I remember as if they were yesterday even though they happened years ago. Some parts of this story I have conjured up out of my imagination to make sense of the outcomes. Therefore, I cannot call this a true account of my family but it is the truest account you ever hear.
            There was a time when we were all joyful and innocent to ever changing. Before the war and the destruction that followed in its wake. The war had changed our family in so many ways as it had for so many others. Before the war it didn't matter that Parker was heir to Cranston Court and best friends with Shane Gray, who was the oldest son of Cranston's head cook. Daphne would be happy to wear a daisy chain necklace and Marcus dreamt of exploring the deep jungles of Africa. Back when we were children we would spend our summer afternoons in the Back Woods wading in the creek that divided Cranston Court from Southerton Greens. I remember her we could be a thousand miles away from everything and everyone with only our dreams to play out. But that was before the Great War. The Great War that had killed Shane and made our poverty known. It was all due to the war. It was the reason our lives had changed forever.

Summer 1909

Those were the grand days for us children at Southerton. Without mother and father there we were under the care of Nanny Alba. Every day after lunch she took a long nap  and expected us to do the same. Instead as soon as the weather turned warm we would run all the way to the Back Woods not stopping for any breath. It was here we all plotted out the grand adventures we desired for our lives. I wasn't old enough to plan a grand escape. I still loved our home. It had been a part of our family since King Charles II. It wasn't grand compared to Cranston Court but it was a prized estate. I was still finding nooks and crannies when to hide in for hours. My ancestors took Southerton Green from a simple hunt lodge to its grand scale built in the a modern architecture in the Georgian style. My grandfather used to tell me of the grand days of Southerton when they would throw lavish parties on the scale of a Duke and Duchess. I promised him I would recapture those grand day and bring them back to Southerton.

Dress Inspiration #1
Lady Welford was perfection itself. She had delicate features from her ivory skin, her gentle hazel eyes and her fair auburn hair that seemed properly placed as a crown on her head with no strand out of a place. Her dress was done in the stylish 'Empire' revival fashion that was coming back into style with lots of subtle lace and beading on the top, then a large cherry silk ribbon that had a large flower pin on in it, fading to a soft pink with deep inverted pleats at the back which went down to a little train. One would think that the dress being so subtle in would wash her out but it didn't. Lady Welford was true beauty. Her figure was particularly graceful and it was a style in which elegance reigned. A beauty like I had never seen before in such a way that one could tell the outside was due to reflect the inside. She looked down and saw little Georgiana looking almost lifeless and had overwhelming compassion.

            "Oh my goodness is all right?" Lady Welford asked with watery eyes.

            "Yes your lady. She is fine now thanks to Mrs. Gray, she probably just needs some rest," Marcus said.
            "Well of course. We have several guest rooms she can stay in. Mrs. Banks," she called the house keeper over. "Will you make sure to find the little girl a place to rest and get some food for the children and have them take it into the nursery. Then when we are done with our guest in the library."
            "Elizabeth!" Lord Welford stunned by her.
            "And maybe some dry clothes for the young ladies."I did feel a little embarrassed by my outfit. "Also Mrs. Banks we might want to fetch the doctor. And all of you will stay here till your sister is all better. Mrs. Banks make sure to also write Southerton we would not want Mr. Harrington to worry."
            "Our mother is not home your lady," Marcus said.
            "Well then it is settled, you shall all stay the night," it was almost as she could feel her husband getting mad. "Now Welford, I want you to smile and remember we need votes."

Dress Inspiration #2
            All what Lady Welford asked to be done was done in an orderly fashion. Her manners reflected her charming beauty for they were winning and never commanding and she show complete empathy to those around her.

            I would find out years later as perfect as her world seemed she terrible lonesome. Her husband would spend months away at a time her some was away at school, and while Lord Welford brought her back a nice broche or a new necklace it never replaced her heart's cry. By the time I learned this would be too late for me to do anything about it. I put this now so you would know the whole story and it will impact future events of this narrative.

            Cranston Court stood as a relic to the Tudor years with a lookout tower and lots of outset windows and it always had a feeling that a knight on white horse would be coming about any moment. Though it was a Tudor relic on the outside on the inside it looked more like a French Chateau done highly in the Rococo style that was ever so popular at the end of the last century. Lady Welford was an American Heiress through and through coming from a family who had their money from mill factories and investments in both railroad and a shipping industry. She had insisted for many modern improvements to be done to the house including new pipes, fitting windows, and dumb waiters so the food would be warm when it reached the dinner table. Most importantly she had the money to back up her insistence.
Painting of Derbyshire

Side note: I have changed the date from 1906 to 1909 to bring them a little closer to WWI. I also changed my heroine's name to Rose... I couldn't really get attached to the name Esther.