Confessions of a Human

Hey warriors! Welcome or welcome back to Words! Today I’m taking a break from The Novelist’s November (just for today! Don’t worry, that interview and other things are still coming!) to be real and raw with you. This post is a confession, a snippet of reality. The purpose of this blog has been and will be to further my job, my goals as a writer. But today I’m just being real, not because I’m never real but because I’m never not hiding. And this isn’t meant to expose everything about me. I’m just opening up. Several of you have already read some version of this, but it’s important to me that you really know what’s at the heart of what I say and do. Let’s dive in.


I have come here today not to profess my greatness but to announce my imperfection. I am here to take off the weight that burdens me. I am here to stand before your opinions, compassions, and raw emotions. I am standing here, a human in the center of a stadium full of people. Here I am.

Why have I come? I have come to break. I have come to take off the mask, though it’s mostly translucent and has been removed countless times before. But today I take it off before you all. Not to point out only the scars but to reveal both the scars and the hope in my eyes. I have come to open the door and let you all in.

Why am I opening the door? I am opening the door so you needn’t guess around at what’s inside. I am declaring boldly that the place is slightly amiss with perhaps some decoration you may come to appreciate, so that now it is not a question of what’s inside but rather whether you like it enough to stay or not. I am not suggesting you leave, but I am not forcing you to stay. I am opening the door because I want to simply be before you, allowing you to tread beside me or pass me as is best for you.

Friends, enemies, strangers, acquaintances, I am an awful person with an awesome God. I am an unfaithful and thoughtless teen, loving and pursuing a faithful and all-knowing God. I am broken, but here my God and I are one: I have broken and so has He. I am made new and He is ever new. I have borne the pain of rejection, temptation, betrayal, and loss. So has He. Still, He is rich and consistent, though spontaneous, and I am merely a bunch of emotions in a blender, waiting to see which emerges strongest. I ought not follow such emotions, but I am a human like you. I am young, like you. And here I rest my case, that as imperfect as I may be, I see a God who is Perfect who lives His life in me for His expression.

I cannot write words anymore on my own. I don’t know quite what that sentence will mean, but I simply cannot. This battle has raged, this war has been fought, and I stand in the center of the battlefield, faced with the choice of who wins. Will I allow the Lord who bled and died for me and for all I love and see to have His way? Who conquered death and lives within my heart? Who is eternal, the true Author who gives any of the meaning my life holds to me? Or shall I choose the selfish creature Satan, the vain angel that only sought his own welfare and kills without mercy, who will die in the lake of fire and simply seeks to steal all I have and all I could have from me? Friends, I can make no other choice but to declare that my God will win. But for me to cross the battlefield and reach His throne where I will lay my pen and my heart, I must be stripped. I must admit that I have forsaken promises to complete tasks. I have spoken harshly and hurt, whether or not you admitted it. I have acted quickly by my own inspiration and started things I could not complete. My yes did not always remain yes and my no was often not a strong no. But today, it is all “amen.”

Will I be perfect from now on? No, I will not. Will I continue to live my life, occasionally a fool and occasionally wise and occasionally somewhere in between? Indeed. The scars will not leave. The hope will not leave. The pieces of my soul will not change, at least not before your eyes. But here I am, peeling off the mask, stepping out of the armor, slowing my watch, and raising my hands up in praise to Christ Jesus my Lord, King of the Universe and all that ever was and will be. I am opening myself to be a safe place for you and for all I know. I am opening myself to say that I’m broken and that I do not know nor have answers. I am pointing to the heavens.

After today, I shall remain the same. But perhaps after today, you shall no longer see the girl you once saw. Perhaps after today, Jesus alone will reign in my heart and perhaps He shall reign in yours. Or perhaps not, though I pray towards each end.

Dear warriors, I don’t know what tomorrow may hold. I don’t know if I will post, forget, or simply become unable. I don’t know if the Lord will one day take my pen and my blog away, or if I will forever use my pen as my sword to overcome His enemy. I don’t know what He has in store except that His will is perfect, and I want to be willing to give all to remain in His will. I know what may be good, but I am not always good. Instead, I seek His righteousness, which may not seem good in the darkened world. Whether 10, 100, or 10,000 hear my voice, I want to stand firm for Jesus is my Lord and King. I want to be able to follow His leading to the cross, whether that cross takes my words or my life. I want Him to be my faith, my speech, my walk, and my living. I want Christ to be everything to me and the Church to be my goal and aim, as it is His.

I am a human and that is all I profess to be. I am imperfect, and that is what I confess to be. But Jesus is Lord. And so I bow my knee.


Part of my goal in sharing this is to really learn what you all want and need from me. What posts might you like? What kinds of things might Words expand to reach so it can serve you best? What questions do you have for me, for the Q&A or for a more urgent reason? Please let me know, warriors, for the battle is not won in anything by one man. It requires an army.

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Dark House: Illustrated Poem Swap with Maggie!

Hey warriors! I know today isn’t a usual post day, but with NaNoWriMo coming up so soon I wanted to get one more fun post in before I share all my tips, tricks, and encouragement! So today I’ll be sharing my poem Dark House again, only this time… it’s illustrated by Maggie from Maggie’s Doodles! (Psst. If you want to see my own pathetic art skills and her poetry, check out her poem with my art here!) Let’s dive in!

The sound of beating hooves

Pound across the cobblestones

Cracked and coated in dirt

From years of heavy burdens

The gate is iron cold,

Squealing dark disapproval.

Angry dogs threaten guests

Til one regrets arrival

Toward the gloomy house,

Up the winding path of stones,

Past the littered garden…

Could those be a human’s bones?

A loud clap of thunder

And dismal drops of cold rain…

The stink of cigar smoke…

Is someone crying from pain?

The door opens slowly:

The light of a fire dying,

A broken chair lies by

A bruised young boy still crying.

The dream is over and

You wake up and think of him

The tired criminal

You thought of as inhuman

His eyes were full of tears

But he never let them flow,

And deep inside he broke

But he never let it show.

Because another man

Had locked the boy deep inside

A prison made of lies

The boy did his best to hide

And as the boy grew up

He did things he knew were wrong

Then bore his punishments

Inwardly weak but so strong

The sin and taunts gather

Weighing on his weary heart

He’s sorry to be this

And longs for a brand new start

How many times have you

Judged this man for his tough face,

Not realizing the boy

Inside him has remained.

If you said you loved him

And gave him just one more chance,

Hugged him when you saw him

And smiled when you just glanced…

Would the old cracks be filled?

Would those cold gates open wide?

Would you find that young boy

Who’s still crying deep inside?

Could you light a fire

Where the flames have long gone cold

And warm every corner

Til heat reaches the threshold?

Could flowers cover up

The dirt and death he feels?

Could some gentle caring

Help a lonely man to heal?

You look in the mirror

And find your child within

Then visit that poor man

And so the healing begins.

I hope you enjoyed seeing that again, this time with Maggie’s amazing doodles! Make sure to check out her poem! Which drawing was your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

The Dark House: A Poem

Hey warriors! I recently realized I’ve been trying too hard to create helpful posts when this blog isn’t just for writing tips but for my writing! So here’s a poem I wrote. I hope you enjoy it!


The Dark House

The sound of beating hooves
Pound across the cobblestones
Cracked and coated in dirt.
From years of heavy burdens

The gate is iron cold,
Squealing dark disapproval.
Angry dogs threaten guests
Til one regrets arrival

Toward the gloomy house,
Up the winding path of stones,
Past the littered garden…
Could those be a human’s bones?

A loud clap of thunder
And dismal drops of cold rain…
The stink of cigar smoke…
Is someone crying from pain?

The door opens slowly:
The light of a fire dying,
A broken chair lies by
A bruised young boy still crying.

The dream is over and
You wake up and think of him
The tired criminal
You thought of as inhuman

His eyes were full of tears
But he never let them flow,
And deep inside he broke
But he never let it show.

Because another man
Had locked the boy deep inside
A prison made of lies
The boy did his best to hide

And as the boy grew up
He did things he knew were wrong
Then bore his punishments
Inwardly weak but so strong

The sin and taunts gather
Weighing on his weary heart
He’s sorry to be this
And longs for a brand new start

How many times have you
Judged this man for his tough face,
Not realizing the boy
Inside him has remained.

If you said you loved him
And gave him just one more chance,
Hugged him when you saw him
And smiled when you just glanced…

Would the old cracks be filled?
Would those cold gates open wide?
Would you find that young boy
Who’s still crying deep inside?

Could you light a fire
Where the flames have long gone cold
And warm every corner
Til heat reaches the threshold?

Could flowers cover up
The dirt and death he feels?
Could some gentle caring
Help a lonely man to heal?

You look in the mirror
And find your child within
Then visit that poor man
And so the healing begins.


I hope you enjoyed this poem. What is one way you could love someone today?

Clover’s Thanksgiving: A What Matters Most Deleted Scene

Hey warriors! I’m so sorry it’s been so long since I wrote a regular post, but here we are, back to writing! In this post, I took a What Matter Most deleted scene, edited out any spoilers, and analyzed why I didn’t include it after the first round of edits. Hopefully this post will be fun and perhaps helpful! Let’s dive in.


Clover’s Thanksgiving

“Move out of my way, darlin’! Would you get the casserole out of the oven?” My mom orders, speed-walking past me with a pot of mashed potatoes. It’s Thanksgiving, and, surprisingly, my house is a hectic place. It rarely has any action, but today my mom is waitressing her own family and my dad is praying he won’t be fixing his own things. Having seven cousins, two uncles, and three aunts in your house when you’re used to two adults who aren’t often home and one quiet teenager is a wild adventure. 

I think about this as I pass Uncle Jack and try to ignore Nora and Patrick’s loud arguing on my way to the commercial oven that my mom thankfully talked my dad into buying for her last year. If we didn’t have that, this would be an even more hectic place. Mom’s fabric oven mitts sit on the counter, waiting for me, so I slide them on, smiling at the floral pattern. She really needs new ones, since I bought these for her when I was six, but they’ve protected my mom’s hands as she’s baked many desserts and meals. I pull on the metal handle of the oven, releasing the delicious aroma of the Irish potato casserole. I reach for the casserole, and I’m about to pick it up when Sean grabs my shoulders. I jump, almost launching the casserole, but thankfully it remains in the oven. I glare at Sean as I actually take it out. “You do realize that would have burned both of us, right?” I scold him.

Sean’s green eyes are wide as he stares at me, but as I scold him, he has the decency to blush. He’s taller than me, but he’s only twelve. He, Uncle Joseph, Aunt Maeve, and Nora came all the way from Ireland to visit us on the most family-oriented American holiday of the year. “Sorry, Clovsie,” he says, his voice cracking awkwardly and his Irish accent in full swing. 

I roll my eyes at the nickname. “Just think before you act next time, ok?” I use my foot to knock the oven door closed again and I set the casserole on the counter.

“Thanks, darlin’,” Mom says, giving me a tired smile as she grabs a thermometer to check the casserole. 

I nod. “Anything else I can do?”

She shakes her head, even though I know there’s plenty I could help with. “Just go enjoy your cousins.”

“Ok. Let me know if you need help though,” I tell her. 

She leans over and hugs me, her apron smelling sweet and savory like all the food she’s been cooking.  “Don’t worry about me. I’ve got it under control.”

I don’t really believe her, but I walk into the living room where Nora and Patrick are still arguing, and Makenna, Liam, and Jaime are sitting on the couch on their phones, glancing up at the drama once in a while. Keira, the youngest cousin at age six, is playing with a toy in the corner of the room, but she keeps looking at the older ones, wanting someone to play with. I decide to see what’s happening between Nora and Patrick and then play with Keira, so I walk closer to the war zone.

“YOU BROKE IT! STOP DENYING IT!” Nora screams. Her Irish accent makes it almost feel comical, but in her hand is an iPhone 12 with a cracked screen. She’s sixteen and has a boyfriend who she said she was supposed to call about now, so I can see why she’s mad.

Patrick’s face is red with rage, and his muscles are bulging as he squeezes his hands into fists. He boxes, and I wouldn’t get in his way if I were Nora. Plus he’s almost nineteen.“STOP ACCUSING ME! THE ONLY FREAKIN’ THING I DID WAS TAKE IT FROM THE CAT!” I’m grateful Keira’s in the room, because otherwise Patrick might curse. 

“YOU JERK! A CAT DOESN’T BREAK A PHONE.”

As if to prove her wrong, Cheshire, who’s been sitting on the coffee table, jumps down, swishing his tail, and nearly knocks Patrick’s phone to the floor. 

Patrick’s eyes go wide as I dive for the phone, catching it. 

“Sorry, Nora,” I tell her, getting up and handing Patrick his phone. “Cheshire is a rather obstreperous cat.”

“What the heck does that mean?” she asks. She still looks mad, even though she knows by now that Cheshire’s at fault. “Do I look like I’m in the mood for your big brains stuff?” The way her dark brown hair frames her face and her green eyes shoot daggers, she reminds me of a scarier Ryleigh.

I blush. “Sorry. It just means that he’s hard to control.” I avoid adding that she’s rather obstreperous as well. 

Nora rolls her eyes and sits down to call her boyfriend. Apparently the phone still works.

I turn to walk toward Keira, but Patrick grabs my arm. “Thanks, Clovsie,” he says. “She’s…” He bites his lip, glancing over at Keira. “Crazy.” 

I shrug. “I mean, everyone has their good and bad moments.” I refuse to throw anyone under the bus, especially not my family. 

Patrick grins, his dark eyes lightening up a bit. “I don’t see you having a bad moment though.”

I roll my eyes, smiling. “Thanks, but I’ve had plenty.” It’s all I can do not to think about my stupidity these past few months.

He shrugs. “I haven’t seen any.”

I almost say “do you want to?” but then I realize that Patrick wouldn’t be scared in the slightest and that it would be a curious thing to say, so I shrug back before walking over toward Keira. 

Keira beams at me when I sit down across from her and holds up her stuffed cat. “This is Princess Emily Matthew. You wanna play?”

I nod, keeping a straight face even though I’m laughing inside. Keira and I play with Princess Emily Matthew until Mom calls us for lunch. 

As the cousins and I stampede into the dining room, I smile. I have a lot to be thankful for. Especially the fact that my name isn’t Princess Emily Matthew.


Why I Cut the Scene

Since What Matters Most was a NaNoWriMo novel, I was in the depths of fall and surrounded by preparations for Thanksgiving. The idea of a thanksgiving scene had bubbled below the surface from nearly the beginning, so I finally decided to write it. When I was editing, however, I realized that this scene just confirmed again parts of Clover’s character that were already clear. We met her family, but they weren’t important here. No part of this scene has anything to do with the plot, which is why I’m able to post it. I was sad to cut it because I felt it was written well, but it does much better as an extra scene than as a part of the story.

Thanks for reading this! I’m sorry I missed Middle-of-the-month check-ins this month, but I’m open for September submissions! I’ll be sharing the official guidelines in the next post (along with a Limited Teen’s Guide to Limited Time!), but the guidelines are also on the middle-of-the-month check-ins, which I linked above. Would you have cut this scene? What’s the hardest scene you ever had to cut? What makes you cut a scene? Let me know in the comments! See you next time!

(SURPRISE TUESDAY POST) Some Exciting Announcements and Ideas

Hey warriors! I am back again (after far too long… so sorry about that! Life is crazy sometimes.) and I have some news for you all! From writing progress to big posting projects, a lot of exciting things are happening. Let’s dive in!

Exciting Announcement #1

The first announcement is that What Matters Most is back! I’m diving into edits again and so excited to be doing so. If things go smoothly, I’ll be ready to publish it next year. However, I’m also entering a new school year and hoping to be a better student, so as much as I’d like to be able to have it done sooner than later, I’m not making promises about when I’ll have it done. I also have a new project in the works, although I won’t be saying more about that yet. I’m still working on sorting out a plan for my writing.

Exciting Announcement #2

Even more exciting than that: I’m launching a new series about creating your dream blog, with all the things I’ve learned over time. It will most definitely be over here on Words, but it may also be on Living the Blogging Life at some point. It’s still in the works, but the series will guide you from idea to launch, featuring everything you need to know to make it solid, enjoyable, and consistent. So many bloggers struggle with gaining an audience, writing consistently, finding post ideas, getting response, and being unique. This post series will pull together what I’ve learned and some of Living the Blogging Life’s best posts. They’re amazing and I recommend every blogger follow them. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to work with them on this, although I have no definite times in mind for even my posts yet. Still, I’d love to help you all build your dream platforms!

Exciting Announcement #3

This announcement is the one I’m most excited about because it is HUGE. I’m going to be posting every day from October 25th-November 30th. Why? Because I’m going to be helping you all through Preptober and NaNoWriMo! I have the posts outlined already and I’m so excited for you guys to see them! They’ll feature tips on writing, planning tips, weekly writing check-ins so we can support each other, and so much more! I can’t wait to share all my surprises with you! But because I’m doing NaNoWriMo posting, I will not be doing Blogmas. I will return to my usual schedule or an adjusted schedule during December. And for the sweet people who are concerned that I’ll burn myself out, you guys are amazing but don’t worry! Most of the posts will be shorter, not only for my sake but because you just don’t have much time when you need to write 50,000 words in a month! I already have them planned for that reason, too. If things go well, I’ll have most of the posts already written and scheduled by the time NaNoWriMo comes around. NaNoWriMo will be amazing this year, if I can help it!

Post Ideas! (Vote in the Comments Below)

Since I’m just coming back, I have a lot of partially written posts in my drafts. These are just a few. Which ones would you like to read first?

  • Do Hard Thing Book Review
  • The Star That Always Stays Book Review
  • What I’ve Learned From Reading the Bible
  • A Limited Teen’s Guide to Limited Time
  • A Collab (Not yet in the works)
  • Snapshot: My Best and Worst Characters (+ What I’ve Learned)
  • A What Matters Most Snippet
  • A What Matters Most Deleted Scene
  • A What Matters Most Alternate Perspective Scene
  • How I Write: Song Writing
  • How Writing Has Grown Me As A Person
  • How I Write: Book Reviews
  • How I Write: Plotting
  • The Pros and Cons of Writing in Multiple Genres
  • How to Conquer Writer’s Block (Snippet From My Writing Book)
  • Random Post: Recipes for Busy Writers (and Readers!)

I hope you enjoyed reading this post! I will post again tomorrow, but after that I’ll return to my usual schedule of every Friday and every other Wednesday. What are you most excited for? What posts do you want to read? What other posts would you love to read? Let me know in the comments!

I Am Not a Comedian: A (Potentially) Funny Take on Comedy In Writing

Hey warriors! I’ve felt a bit like a lazy person lately, so I decided to use my YouTube overdose to inspire me right back out of the laziness. And no, I totally won’t go right back to AGT after posting this. Anyway, I hope you enjoy my rant on humor writing.


I am not a comedian. Let’s get that straight, first of all. I don’t belong on a stage cracking jokes. The only humorous thing I can crack is my humerus bone and I’m too lazy to do anything that could crack it. However, I am a writer. Which means, in today’s day and age, I have to attempt to master two things against my will: comedy and romance. Occasionally I can avoid them, but if you think about it, they’re the spoiled youngest twins of a big family of genres and every single poor genre with more wisdom has to drag them around with them. I hear them in my head: “Fantasy, weeee wanna go to Wonderland too! Whaaaaaaa!” “But come onnnnn, Contemporary! Let me come or we’ll tell our our friends and all your friends how mean and stupid you are!” “Sci-fi, you need us! Pleeeeaaaase?” Their whiny little voices are simply so aggravating almost every author gives in. And I, the teen writer without any humor, feel obligated to bring them along as well.

Now don’t get me wrong. Laughter is the best medicine and I enjoy a healthy dose every now and then. But when you spend over 50,000 words on a plot with comedy as it’s sub theme, it feels like a whole lot of work for nothing. If I wanted to laugh with less work, I’d go drink too much coffee, hang out with my sisters, and we’d stay up until 3 am. For heaven’s sake, skip the 3 am part and add sugar and exhaustion and it’s even easier. Besides, books are like tacos. Those covers had better be a shell full of good stuff. Just like I hate when fast food tacos are 70% wilted lettuce and cheese, I hate when a book is 70% pointless jokes that ruin good moments and paint overall good characters as stupid.

So maybe I am somewhat anti-comedy. But I still have to write it. If that wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t be writing this post. I’d be writing a 50,000 words book with about 4,000 words of attempted humor max. Because when you get to the parts of life that just aren’t funny, you have the chance of helping them in a different way. Laughter is the best medicine but sometimes you need surgery and not a pill and water. Maybe it will hurt more, but no pain no gain! If you don’t allow yourself to be exposed to the pain, you won’t know how good it feels to be whole… or to become whole. Of course, sometimes a pill is just what you need, but there are too many pills made by fake docs with the weird headlamps and strangely handsome faces that supposedly cure everything when they don’t. Sometimes racking over a little more time for longer term help is better. So I’m not against comedy, just a little careful when I use it.

But as I mentioned before, I’m not funny. My version of roasts often look more like I turned on the flame and ran running for water so nobody gets hurt. I’m so horrible at roasting that, one day, the one guy at my church who could never roast anybody successfully roasted me without getting roasted back. Is it because I’m too nice? Partially. But it’s also because I’m too mean. If I really let all let loose, I would definitely have no friends. Not because I’m inherently horrible but because I just don’t understand the line. I’ve tried to find it, but it either burns too bad or it’s far too kind. Comedy for me is like Peter Pan: always going off on its own only to remind me that it’s in charge and there is no way I’m going to get it to take a bath to wash away the meanness so I can just go run away and leave it be or allow it. Shamefully enough, I have a friend who I beg to read my writing simply so she can roast it and make characters harsher without making them too brutal and dirty. So no, I am not a comedian. But thanks for not asking.

How do I plan to fix my lack of funny? Is it by watching too many AGT comedians? Is it by reading the I Funny books again even though I’m far too old for them? Maybe partially. But the biggest thing I plan to do is watch other people watch AGT comedy and watch other people laugh about jokes from I Funny. I’m going to study the audience and find what makes them laugh. I’m going to learn with my very logic-centered mind the logic behind the cringe, the laugh, and the chortle. I’m going to think about why I laugh at every tenth joke my grandpa delivers over the other nine that make me roll my eyes. And, once I have a little bit more knowledge, I’m going to practice. Maybe that will involve talking silently to a mirror. Don’t judge me. I’m ready to do whatever it takes to be the doctor who uses words not only to cut deep but to administer the slightly bitter but often sweet pill everyone would prefer. Because I’d rather help a stubborn heart a little than help nobody at all.

I am not a comedian. But maybe I can be. And maybe you, the not-so-funny person hiding in the back of the room, can be a comedian too. After all, anything is possible.


Do you think of yourself as funny? What makes you laugh? What makes you cringe? What’s the best joke you’ve ever told? What’s the best roast you’ve ever used? Let me know in the comments!

The “What’s Your WIP?” Blog Tag!

Hey warriors! Welcome or welcome back to Words! Today I get to tell you more about my WIP, thanks to Sara at Sparkle Girl! Thanks so much Sara! (And y’all, go check out her blog! It’s amazing!) This will be a long post but I hope you enjoy it. Let’s dive in! (Also… this post looks much better on the actual site, https://kaleykriesel.wordpress.com.)

Rules

  • Thank the person who tagged you & link to their blog. (Thanks again, Sara!)
  • Link back to the creator, Katja @ Little Blossoms for Jesus, & add the tag graphic.
  • List the rules.
  • Answer the questions.
  • Feel free to add snippets!
  • Tag as many or as few people as you wish & let them know they’re tagged.
  • Add a clean copy of the questions at the end of your post for the tagged.

Tag

Note: This tag is long so I tried to keep my answers short but full of information. This book contains some minor trigger warnings but nothing is explicitly mentioned here.

Has your WIP a working title? If so, tell us! If not, have you any idea of what it might be?

My main WIP is titled “What Matters Most.” I’ll be talking about it (and its sequel) for the tag today. The sequel’s title is currently No Matter What but I’m not sure it really fits the story yet.

Have you a synopsis for your WIP? If so, give it to us! If not, can you give us a blurb on what your WIP is about?

Here’s the blurb for the first book:

Trixie Alcaraz doesn’t understand people. Sometimes people care, and sometimes they don’t. Like her parents, who don’t care for each other and left her with her older sister, and like her sister, who seems so caught up in building a future she hardly sees Trixie. So when it seems that the popular kids at her new school are caring, Trixie happily jumps into their midst… only to find out that she still feels alone.

Clover Montgomery is hard on herself. Even as her blog grows in followers, she can’t help but wish that she knew how to speak to people offline the way her best friend Amelia does, and when people say mean things, she’s prone to believe them. When she encounters bullies, she begins to inwardly tear herself apart.

Amelia Standish feels forgotten. As the middle child and only girl in her family, she wonders if she’ll ever be as popular as her best friend, Clover, or the new girl, Trixie. When she sets her mind to get noticed, it hardly seems to matter who’s doing the noticing; as long as they’re popular, she wants them to see her. When popular boy Wyatt begins to pay attention, she’s determined to do whatever it takes to keep it that way.

A little bit of chance and their hidden desires blaze into a fire of friendship when the girls meet. But as each is confronted with the question of who they are and what they believe in, things start to fall apart. Is friendship worth preserving if it exposes your brokenness? And how do you save what already seems gone?

I won’t reveal anything about the second book’s plot simply because it isn’t written yet and would spoil the first.

Have you a working/mock cover for your WIP? If so, show us! If not, have you an idea in mind?

One is in the works for What Matters Most! It’s going to be a watercolor painting of some key things from the book with some fairy light. My sister will be painting it, once I get a picture of the objects to her. Which… hadn’t quite yet happened. But I’m also brainstorming a similar but different one for the sequel.

How did you get the idea for this story?

I’d wanted to do a story about friendship with three plots that meld into a fourth for a while, but I wasn’t sure how. Then I signed up for my first NaNoWriMo and I decided “Ok, if I’m going to write this, I’ve got to figure it out now.” So I brainstormed some things that affect teen girls today and decided to write a school story as realistically as I could. I didn’t want to load it with stereotypes and mean girls without purpose. But writing a school story realistically when I’m homeschooled is a real challenge. Hopefully I can pull it off. The second book really just came because I couldn’t leave my characters after I finished What Matters Most.

How long do you think it will be? Is it longer or shorter than you thought it would be?

The first is around 50k right now and that’s after the first round of edits. It’s shorter than I wanted it, which is kind of disappointing but I do know some things that I might be able to successfully bring out more to enhance the plot. If they work, I’m expecting it to at least reach 53k. The second might be longer but it will probably be around the same size.

Who’s your favourite character so far?

I want to say all of them but I really have to say Noah Hamilton. He’s in both books, in the first as a side character and in the second as a main character. He. Is. A. MOOD. He looks stoic and unhappy, is extremely intimidating on the outside, and doesn’t speak much. But when he does speak… he’s a total marshmallow on the inside. He just hides it away and sometimes pretends he isn’t. He’s blunt and to the point but not one to hurt with his words without a reason. He’s fiercely loyal and protective as well as gentle and caring. I am obsessed with him…. He has flaws, but man is he the best. Is it bad that I have a crush on a character I created?

What’s your favourite memory related to this WiP?

Ooh… that would probably be the day I wrote 6k and met my NaNo goal. But there’s so many memories of laughing and stressing and pouring everything on this book I don’t exactly have an answer. I don’t yet have much for the sequel, but the first chapter is currently one of my favorite things I’ve written.

Any special person(s) who helped create it?

Oh gosh… I’m going to make you all wait for the acknowledgments page whenever it publishes simply because I have so many people who have helped me and pushed me forward. I’m so insanely lucky.

What’s your favourite scene so far (if you can tell about it without spoilers!)?

I think the least spoiler-y favorite is the scene where Noah and Clover really meet the first time. She’s so scared of him even though he’s just helped her with something. He proves in that moment that there’s a sweet side hiding underneath all the intimidating layers. Clover also surprises herself in this scene, but I think explaining that would spoil. And, as mentioned for the sequel, my favorite scene has to be the first scene in chapter 1. But I won’t spoil…

Can you give us a snippet?

… or maybe I will spoil from the sequel, just a little.

Here’s an edited portion of that scene without major spoilers from Noah’s perspective. Trigger warnings: blood, mention of death.

“I force myself to pack my old guitar into its guitar case slowly, telling myself it isn’t that big of a deal. Guys and girls hang out all the time, and when they’re our age, it normally gets forgotten in about four weeks. I’m dreaming too big. Picking up the case with my right hand, I adjust my hat with my left before walking out the door, through the hall, and into the living room. Nodding at my dad, who’s sitting in the old armchair, I open the front door. “See you, Dad.”

“Love you, Noah,” he says, his deep voice tired. He coughs softly and then falls silent. His eyes are sleepily trying to close, even though his glasses are still on and his book lies open in his lap.

“You too, Dad,” I tell him, not really feeling like smiling now. He over did it at the store stocking shelves again. I can see it in his face, in the way his arms limply sink into the threadbare armrests, in the way he’s just sort of melted into the chair. Frowning, I walk outside and shut the door behind me. Her house is pretty far away, so I start walking quickly, not wanting to be late. The sun that felt so right just a little bit ago feels overly optimistic. A girl shouldn’t be liking me if my dad can’t have my mom because of stupid people. A girl shouldn’t like me if my dad can’t have his leg, an actual part of him. And even more than just a girl, … a beautiful, super smart girl like [her] should definitely never like me. Kicking every crack in the sidewalk in our neighborhood, I ask the cement silently how come I get to have such a good life when my dad can hardly do his job without feeling exhausted. Then I reach The Concrete Block and I force my eyes up and away quickly. I can’t look. I force myself to breathe like I’m fine, but I didn’t mean to see it.

The Concrete Block is a reminder of all I lost, all the stupidity of this world, all the reasons I don’t deserve this. The Concrete Block has splotches of red where nobody bothered to clean the blood and where it’s stained forever. The Concrete Block is where the screams and sounds came from, the ones I heard all that way away and that haunted me for so long since even though I didn’t know the girl. The Concrete Block is where I first really knew what my mom might have suffered when she died. And if I look, I might break. So I don’t look and keep walking, wishing I hadn’t agreed to hang out tonight.

Sorry for any tears caused lol.

Is the story still what you thought it would be or has it thrown you a couple curveballs?

I definitely didn’t see anything from the sequel coming, nor several things from the first book… I couldn’t even begin to list the curveballs if I wanted to.

Is there a Bible verse, poem, hymn, picture, or quote that helped shape this story?

For WMM I think Abbie Emmons’s cover for 100 Days of Sunlight inspired me most, although I know the quote “When people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them,” from Maria Popova sums up the theme of the book fairly well.

When and where have you done most of the writing so far?

Mostly sitting on the floor…. For some reason I work best there. To be specific, I wrote WMM sitting on the floor of the library we have in a corner upstairs. I did most of it in the evenings of last November for NaNoWriMo

Where do you get inspiration for this story?

I remind myself of all the girls out there who keep getting told to ignore what certain people say but still don’t know what they’re worth. I remind myself of all the people reading books that don’t relate to their real lives and wonder “when will I find a book that I can really believe can happen and find help for my situation from?” Those are the biggest ways I’ve been inspired, but not the only ways.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Actually this book has totally changed that. I was a total pantser and now I will never again write a book without plotting it first.

Do you have a little ritual before you start writing?

Not really. I look over the outline and whatever I’ve last written and just dive in.

Are you thinking of publishing this story?

Yes! Both should be out by 2025 at latest, but WMM will be out (hopefully!) next year.

What things have you learned while writing this story?

I can. That’s what I’ve learned. I can write characters I don’t share much experience with. I can write every day for a month. I can write 50k. I can plot. I can write something that can make a difference. I can.


I hope you learned something new and enjoyed this post! I’m going to leave this open to anyone who has yet to share their amazing book with the world. Here are the questions:

  • Has your WIP a working title? If so, tell us! If not, have you any idea of what it might be?
  • Have you a synopsis for your WIP? If so, give it to us! If not, can you give us a blurb on what your WIP is about?
  • Have you a working/mock cover for your WIP? If so, show us! If not, have you an idea in mind?
  • How did you get the idea for this story?
  • How long do you think it will be? Is it longer or shorter than you thought it would be?
  • Who’s your favourite character so far?
  • What’s your favourite memory related to this WiP?
  • Any special person(s) who helped create it?
  • What’s your favourite scene so far (if you can tell about it without spoilers!)?
  • Can you give us a snippet?
  • Is the story still what you thought it would be or has it thrown you a couple curveballs?
  • Is there a Bible verse, poem, hymn, picture, or quote that helped shape this story?
  • When and where have you done most of the writing so far?
  • Where do you get inspiration for this story?
  • Are you a plotter or a pantser?
  • Do you have a little ritual before you start writing?
  • Are you thinking of publishing this story?
  • What things have you learned while writing this story?

Is there anything that surprised you in the post? Anything you’re excited for in my book? Whats your book about? Let me know in the comments!

Snapshot: My Best and Worst Hooks (+ What I’ve Learned)

Hey warriors! This post is the first in what might become a series of snippets from my journey as a writer. This post is on hooks, those first sentences meant to draw you in. A blogger and Ydubber I know, Lydia K, recently posted this post on her blog and it looked like so much fun that I thought I’d give it a go. So here we are today! I’ll be analyzing 10 of my hooks (even from different drafts) from worst to best and explaining why they’re bad or good in my opinion. Then I’ll share some of my favorite hooks from books with what I’ve learned from them! This will be a long post, but I hope it helps you! Let’s dive in!

Note: This is based on my own experience as both a reader and writer. Some things may not match your experience or your audience.


Age 10-12

I began writing when I was about 7, but I really began to treat it as a passion and dream instead of a hobby when I was 12. Not because I knew how or knew what to say but because people began to really enjoy my words and I became more able to write large amounts. Here were some of the hooks of books that encouraged me to think I could:

If, by chance, you read the “Southern Cooking” magazine, you might find a wonderful article.

Cooking Canine, age 10-11


Analysis: This hook is… something. The grammar and arrangement doesn’t present me well because it’s overloaded with comas. The lone adjective I used was nondescript, not drawing much interest.
What I could have done to improve it: If we remove “by chance” we lose two comas that muddy the sentence. We could also replace “wonderful” with a more drawing adjective to make us question what’s within the article.

Maddie Henderson was a student at the prestigious Hailee Quinn academy.

Academy Action, age 11-12


Analysis: We began this one by stating a fact, which is my current favorite way to write a hook. However, this doesn’t leave us with much to question or prove. If I read this sentence now, I wouldn’t want to continue.
What I could have done to improve it: If I had begun with a fact that left room for questioning, the reader would have been forced to continue. “Maddie Henderson wasn’t your average student at your average school,” isn’t perfect either, but by stating something vaguely I make the reader more curious. How do we know this? What does that mean? It encourages them to continue.

“Elizabeth Jackson had always been part of the guardian ponies.”

– The Pony Revenge, age 11-12


Analysis: This one is extremely similar to the previous example and has the same problem. However, I did make it slightly more curious. What are the guardian ponies? Is she a pony? Why has she always been involved?
What I could have done to improve it: This one needs to be vaguer still. “She had always been one of the revenge ponies,” is both clearer and more interesting. Who is she? What are they? We know “she” is a revenge pony, though, which means she is a pony. I prefer it, but that’s a personal preference.

Age 12-14

Once I was 12, I really began typing up my stories. Typing them up instead of writing them by hand was far quicker, meaning I could write much more. I also felt extremely inspired because I could share writing more easily and could get help from new writer friends.

The 13th century scientist Eustace sniggered at the tool before him.

Second Moon, age 12

Analysis: This hook is much better although the subject isn’t vague. Why is he sniggering? What is this tool? What is it for? This hook is one that makes us ask questions by diving straight into the narrative. I enjoy this one.
What I could have done to improve it: It could have done without mentioning that he was a 13th-century scientist in this portion. I could have just said “The scientist Eustace.” I can’t think of any other improvements.

“Intro to Atmosphere’s High School, by Ms. Solar Energy: Welcome to Atmosphere High, home of the Comets!”

-Universe draft 1, age 12

Analysis: This isn’t a good hook at all, at least not in my opinion. It’s full of information we never see again in the story. We never again mention the Comets, so that shouldn’t matter. Ms. Solar Energy never appears again either. Those are about the most fascinating things in this hook. I also repeated “Atmosphere High” twice. It’s wordy and doesn’t have much connection to the plot.
What I could have done to improve it: This sentence really can’t be fixed. It’s the first sentence of a snippet the main character reads from a pamphlet so I could introduce the school. However I didn’t need to introduce it in that way. Always start with the protagonist in a chapter 1. If you do a prologue in third person, you can choose another character, but this strategy can cause us to fall in love with another character first and that can cause problems. The main character is meant to be most important, so starting with them makes it clear who’s priority from the beginning.

The short man with white hair that practically glowed smiled as he stared at the large map in front of him.

Universe draft 2, age 13

Analysis: This is an example of starting a story with a prologue from the perspective of the villain. It works, but it can cause us to start sympathizing with him before we meet the main character. While you do want a villain you can believe in or even feel bad for, they can not be more loved than the main character.
What I could have done to improve it: Why is his hair important? I could easily have made it less central: “The short white-haired man smiled as he stared at the large map in front of him.” I also should have made it clear that he is not the protagonist. I need him to appear sinister or at least a little less likeable. “The short white-haired man smirked at the large map in front of him and gave it a quick nod.” This shows he has a plan and the smirk makes his intentions seem less friendly.

The long braid of periwinkle hair with silver highlights swung back and forth as Foggy Skye walked up the stairs nervously.

Universe draft 3, age 14

Analysis: Again with the hair…. When you start with physical details, the reader is given random information that isn’t relevant to them yet. They haven’t had a reason to care about the character, let alone care what they look like.
What I could have done to improve it: Instead of using the hair for description, it could have set the mood. “The long braid swung back and forth gently across her back as Foggy Skye nervously walked up the stairs,” is a more interesting sentence. Why is she nervous? But it still doesn’t grab me as much. It’s not my favorite.

It was strange, but it was her.

Little Red, age 13-14

Analysis: This is short and sweet, a declaration that we don’t understand unless we read more. This is much better. What’s strange? What does it mean, that it was her? However, the opening scene that followed had little relevance to the plot and did little for character building.
What I could have done to improve it: The sentence itself is good. However, I needed to put more thought into keeping the reader hooked and connecting the scene to the plot. The hook may be the first one or two sentences, but the reader needs to remain hooked throughout the story. Confusion and poorly written scenes don’t help that.

Age 14-15


After I joined The Young Writers’ Workshop my writing greatly improved. I wrote my first novel-length story in less than a year.

As she gazed into the box, Eloise felt a tear fall.

Box of Leaves, age 14

Analysis: This sentence isn’t awful, but it isn’t too drawing either. Yes, we wonder what this box is and why she’s crying, but we don’t care much for her yet. Our first impression of her is that she’s crying over a box.
What I could have done to improve it: This sentence comes across as quite dramatic and unnecessary. It would have been better to write something from just before that moment as the hook. “She hadn’t expected to find the box. But as she gazed into it, Eloise felt a tear fall, frozen in time.” This one is personal preference, though.

“When everyone you love runs from you, you start wondering if anyone will ever stay.”

What Matters Most, age 15

Analysis: This one is the best hook I think I’ve ever written. Why? Because it states a thought as fact that makes you wonder who the character is, why they know this, and how they know this is true. It points us to their past as we dive into the present story. It uses simple language to describe a feeling, meaning it cuts deeper than flowery language. I recently revised this one and currently have no thoughts on how to improve it.

Some Favorite Hooks and Why They Work

These are some of my favorite hooks from best-selling authors.

The old woman remembered a swan she had bought many years ago in Shanghai for a foolish sum.

The Joy-Luck Club, Amy Tan

Analysis: This one is powerful because it supplies interesting information but leaves us asking questions. Who is she? Why did she buy a swan? What did she buy it for? To find out, we have to keep reading.

“Before you agree to have Joseph come live with you, ” Mrs. Stroud said, “there are one or two things you ought to understand. “

Orbiting Jupiter, Gary D. Schmidt

Analysis: When I read this line, I instantly wonder about many things. Who is Joseph? Who is he coming to live with? Who is Mrs. Stroud? What ought they understand? He also instantly makes Mrs. Stroud seem realistic by using common speech. We also are instantly plummeted into the narrator’s perspective. This is done extremely well.

Henry Smith’s father told him that if you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you.

Trouble, Gary D. Schmidt

Analysis: Trouble immediately begins with the character and a belief he and his family have that directly affects the plot. This is actually one of the character’s misbeliefs. We also wonder who their father is and why he believes this. I definitely am hooked by a story starting with a fact or opinion that needs to be proved.

When did this fairytale become a nightmare?

Dust, Kara Swanson

Analysis: By asking a vague question, Swanson plants the question and more questions in our minds. When did this fairytale become a nightmare? What fairytale? What happened? Who’s speaking? We are eager to learn more.

Conclusion

When writing a hook, consider these points:

  • The hook is the first impression readers get of your story and your writing, right after the cover.
  • The hook should be clear and express your writer’s voice clearly.
  • If you begin with poor grammar and confusing words, your reader will not enjoy your story as much.
  • The hook should not satisfy the reader. It is meant to pull them in by causing them to have questions that are only answered by reading further.
  • A hook filled with information that doesn’t matter to the reader will not draw a reader.
  • A hook that is irrelevant to the plot will lead the reader to the left when you need them to go right. It is more of a flashy distraction than a hook.
  • Be careful who you use first in your story as they are the first person in the story the reader might get attached to.
  • Short hooks and questions that are written well can cause the reader to ask lots of questions in a few words.
  • Too much emotion in a hook is like switching channels to a death scene halfway through a show. You don’t care enough about the character to really feel the emotion and be affected by it.
  • Facts and opinions make great hooks because a reader wonders how the character knows that or why they believe it. If these facts or opinions are meant to relate to your audience, they instantly attract those people.
  • Using a misbelief or past pain in a hook can plunge us into the plot, although you don’t want to do this too quickly. Jumping into ice water isn’t fun.
  • If you are writing in first person, the hook should instantly establish what the character thinks, hears, or sees.

I hope this post was helpful to you! Which hook was your favorite? What was something you learned? Was there anything you disagreed with? What’s your best hook? Let me know in the comments!

Why I’m Taking a Writing Break + What That Means

Hey warriors! Welcome or welcome back to Words! Today’s post is a little more serious than sometimes, but I’d like to update you on some amazing changes to come and the small sacrifices I’m making so they’ll work. Let’s dive in!

What I’m Doing

I’m going to start by explaining what I’m changing so you won’t be disappointed after I deliver the exciting news. To begin with, I won’t be working on What Matters Most for the next month. I’ll work on some other projects and be working toward exciting things, but I will not be revising or preparing to self-publish What Matters Most yet.

I’ll also drop out of Summer of Stories contest, not because I don’t love it but because it’s one more thing to post, one more thing to write, and one more thing to do when I already have too much in all three categories.

I’m not going to post every Wednesday on this blog or on SSS. I already said that on SSS but I forgot my own plan and went ahead and posted yesterday. 😂 But I’ve been posting Wednesday and Friday here, and I can’t keep it up. Instead, I’ll post on SSS one Wednesday and here the next. If I miss a Wednesday, I will apologize but I will not pressure myself about Wednesday Words posts.

For followers of Charlotte O Juice, she is officially saying good bye… kind of. I love her and don’t want to say goodbye, but I currently can’t be under the pressure of a fourth blog, especially one getting 0 views. So Charlotte will live on here, in some way shape or form. It is yet to be determined. But perhaps she should have a photography corner somewhere on the blog?

Why I’m Pausing What Matters Most and What That Means

I’m pausing What Matters Most in order to focus on my platform for a moment. In other words, I’m pausing for you guys. I’m also pausing to give myself a chance to grow and work toward a goal I have for next year.

I needed to take that stress off my shoulders so I can really throw myself into the awesome things I’m working towards!

This means that, when I hit 100 followers, I won’t be self-publishing the book. Not this year. It was my original goal, but I don’t think it would be best for me or my story. I’m sorry if anyone’s upset, but I doubt anyone is extremely disappointed because I’ve hardly given you reason to care for the book. That changes now.

Now for the best part of this post….

What I’m Working Towards

In the coming months and years, I have a lot of dreams. Here are some of my goals in the future:

  1. Launch an email list (Partially started and officially coming very soon! It will contain ways to vote for what I post here, sneak peeks, and exclusive writing Q&As!)
  2. Join the Author Conservatory (and do a post with one of their instructors promoting it, as well as sharing just how much I’ve changed since joining just their community two years ago)
  3. Share more snippets of writing (including bonus snippets for books, with scenes that aren’t in my books or scenes from different perspectives)
  4. Share more How I Write posts (What do you guys need? Let me know in the comments, so I can make sure I get everything you guys need!)
  5. Post more book reviews and interviews with authors (because supporting other authors is literally one of my favorite things to do)
  6. Write a sequel to What Matters Most (that dives into the perspectives of the previous book’s villain as well as some side characters, switching from all girl perspective to all boy perspectives)
  7. Start a writing class that would run for a year (teaching you how to write a novel in a year, using my writing book from my giveaway and other resources all over)
  8. Host a contest or two (because you guys are amazing, and I want to help you show that to the world!)
  9. Self-publish What Matters Most and its sequel around the same time (so nobody has to sit there wondering what happens next.)

In order to get there, I’m going to be working on simply growing for a little bit. Like a theme park where you can’t ride the roller coaster until you’re a certain height, I won’t be prepared to take these leaps and bounds until I’ve learned more. I’m not perfect. In fact, I’ve found even better character profiles since I wrote the post “26+ Things You Should Know About Your Main Characters.” So I’m going to learn for a while, stress less, and try to really store up knowledge and energy for when I start reaching for these goals.

As I do that, I’d like you to come along! Until my email list launches, the best way for you to do that is to subscribe! Another amazing way you can help me out is to comment what you’d love to see from me, what I’m doing well, and what I might want to fact-check or work on. Meanwhile, I’m also hoping to support you! Submissions for my Middle-of-the-Month Check-In: July are open! For those who don’t know, I explained it here, too. This month, there isn’t a theme. But there might be one in the future! Until then, the only rules are to keep it PG, at 1,000 words or less if it’s written, and to submit it through my contact page with your name or username and a blog or social media link. Please do not include the link to your blog or media if it contains content that might trigger or upset someone without including potential trigger warnings. I want to protect everyone here, and I’d rather not have to hunt through your blog to do that. I’ll be choosing my favorite entry and sharing it here on the blog when I post my next Middle-of-the-Month Check-in!


I hope you enjoyed this post and are excited for what’s to come! What posts do you want most from me? What goal are you most excited for me to reach? Are you submitting an entry to my Middle-of-the-Month Check-in? Let me know in the comments! Have a great weekend, warriors!

Worth It: A Story

Hey warriors! Today I have a unique piece of writing for you. I will warn you that it is a mix of fact, imagination, and a little bit of inner experience. You may not agree with everything I say, still, I hope it speaks to every one of you.


Trigger warning: blood, death, drunkenness, mention of smoking, mention of torture, a romantic relationship, and mention of storms.

A heavy wood beam drags in the sand. Slowly it digs deeper as the one carrying it grows weaker. A soldier walks nearby, eager to taunt and torture the 33 year old man as he carries it onward. In the soldier’s eyes, the man is crazy and weakening. But what he doesn’t know is that, as the man slowly lets the beam down and another man picks it up, this exhausted and bleeding prisoner destined to die is neither crazy nor weak. In fact, this man has already broken through the highest thoughts of his time and is about to do more than has ever been done. All while being hated.

***

In the far future, a woman is surrounded by her peers. She is just over 30 and has never drunk alcohol, not because she’s so strong to resist it but because she’s never been around it and has never been interested in it. She knows it isn’t good for her and doesn’t intend to drink because she believes it’s better not to but she’s never had friends who drink, or at least not friends who cared if she did or not. But tonight she’s surrounded by partially drunk men and women, laughing and joking and telling her to lighten up. Just a sip. One sip. Only one! And it tastes so good… it feels so good…. Blind to the woman getting sick in the corner of the room, unthreatened by weapons but pressured by words, she hesitantly reaches for a cup and slowly presses it to her lips.

***

The man stumbles forward until they reach a hill called Golgotha by Jews and Calvary by Romans, where the solider and another one of the men pound the wood beam into the ground. It’s tall, with another beam across it at the top. Slowly the two men lift this dying man up and jam nails into each hand, piercing them through and through the wood beam. Then they put one of his feet over the other and nail through them both, again piercing both even through the cross. Beside this cross and this dying man are two other crosses, one on each side, with two other men hanging on them. Painfully, the men gasp for breath as gravity slowly pushes their weight against their lungs. They’re going to suffocate before too long, and they know it. But while the other two men are primarily in pain from their lack of air and the piercings in their hands and feet, the middle one has even more reason to be dying: his back is covered in bleeding wounds, as is his scalp. They tortured him to the point where he almost died already today: they whipped him with a sharp lash, leaving deep bleeding cuts. One more lash of the whip and he would have died. They taunted him for calling himself the Christ, the king of the Jews, and wrapped his bleeding body in a purple robe and placed a crown made of thorns on his head. Then, after the robe had dried onto his bloody back, they ripped it away. They took off the crown of thorns. And they made him carry his cross like the other two, the rough and heavy wood digging into his torn back as he walked up hill under the burning late morning sun. Still he has not refuted his claim.

***

The woman doesn’t like the first cup, but as the drunk people encourage her to drink more, she continues. Then she begins to lose herself in the feeling, the freeness of it for a moment. It seems so good… and she continues, feeling like she fits in, like she is a part of the crowd. It feels so good to forget the pain and stress. She begins to party too, looking just like one of them.

***

This man has limited time to live, but in the six agonizing hours he suffers on the cross, he comforts the man beside him, tells one of his followers to look after his sobbing mother and her to look after the follower, and cries out to God for forgiveness on behalf of those killing him. He is in great pain and torment, but not only because of the horrific torture he is suffering physically. No, because in his heart he feels the weight of every sin ever committed. Not his own sins, but the evils of others. Thousands and thousands of people and their millions and millions of sins weigh heavy on his heart. He knows he is dying for these people, these wrongs. And he loves them. So right now, his holy God and Father has left him for the first time in his life. Though he never once sinned, he is covered in the filth of others and his righteous Father is unable to be with him. He cries, “My God, my God! Why have You forsaken me?” but he knows the answer. His Father can do anything but touch sin, and now, as the sky becomes dark and it becomes harder and harder to breathe, His son is sin itself.

***

When the party finishes, her friends drive her back to the hotel she’s been staying at. She opens the door to her room and collapses to the ground, sick and feeling awful. Her boyfriend hears the door and her body hitting the floor and runs to see what the matter is. When he finds her drunk, he’s disgusted. He found her smoking a couple days ago, too. This isn’t the woman he fell in love with! Why did he agree to come on this trip so she could visit friends? He reluctantly puts her in bed and lies down beside her, angry and planning to confront her about it in the morning. As he closes his eyes, he’s given up on her. One more thing like this and he’s leaving. Or maybe sooner. He can’t take this.

***

As he begins to still, he knows that this is a part of the plan. He isn’t crazy. He really is the Christ, the king of the Jews. He isn’t weak, either. He is the only human ever to have lived a life without any sin or failure. Not because He’s been so good out of His own humanity, but because He has God’s life within His spirit, a goal within His heart, and a plan in His mind. He was born by the Spirit in the womb of His mother as a human who is God. It hasn’t been easy; He has been a man of suffering. He spent weeks in a wilderness without bread, confronted by the devil himself. He was taunted by those who thought He blasphemed the God He was, who thought He broke laws He created to last until He came. He was sold by a follower and betrayed with a kiss to the failing leaders of His precious people. He asked His Father to take away this death He knew He would suffer, crying tears so distressed that they were made of blood, but He knew this was the only way. And He knew what would come next. He knew why He needed to die because He never stopped speaking with God. He knew God’s heart well because it was His own. Though humans would never understand fully while on Earth how it was possible, He and the Father were one. And as He ended His human life, He was strong. Knowing this, He breathed His last and His body hung limp against the wooden cross.

***

When the woman awakes, she sees her boyfriend’s suitcase by the door and fear fills her heart. He’s leaving her. She begins to cry softly, hating what she’s done. Why did she give in? Why?
Meanwhile her boyfriend notices the sound of her breathing change from where he stands in the entryway of the bathroom. She’s awake. He feels a twinge of pity. If he leaves, who will she have left? She’ll be alone. But he tries to push it away as he returns to packing silently. He’s leaving.

***

His followers mourn at the loss of their Teacher while the crowd rejoices at being rid of a man they believe to have blasphemed their God. The triumphant cheers of the crowd are cut short. Not only is this man dead, but the ground has begun to shake violently beneath them. Rocks split into bits. Cries rise across the city, whether or not they can be heard from Golgotha, the Place of the Skull. The veil between the Holy of Holies and the rest of the temple, the veil between God and man, is split from top to bottom. It’s as if a hand from above tears it in two. No more is there a barrier between them. In the distance, even more has happened: the earthquake has opened tombs and, though no one is aware, dead followers of this Jesus of Nazareth rise to life once more. They will come out soon, when He too rises to life. In three days He will conquer death.

***

The woman’s boyfriend picks up his suitcase and looks her in the eye. Too exhausted and overwhelmed with emotion and sickness to speak, she doesn’t say a word. But he does.
“You changed. And I can’t do that.” With that, he leaves.
A sob escapes her lips. Desperate for some comfort, the woman remembers a Sunday school class long ago. There had been a loud storm, and the children were afraid. The kind old woman who taught the class had told them that Jesus brought peace in the storm and had told them stories of storms in the Bible where Jesus kept His precious children safe, from Noah to Paul. All this time she’d been running from Jesus, thinking life was meant for fun. But it just got her here, alone in a hotel room and sick from drinking. “Lord, she whispers now. I don’t know what to pray, but I’m sorry. I need peace. Please come into this storm. I keep messing up and I want to be free. Save me from this mess, Lord!” And even as she lies in bed, tears streaming down her face, peace and joy fill her heart. Everything she once believed that kept her from Christ is shaken, every sin that drew her away is now torn into nonexistence. A part of her heart that once was dead now lives, loving this Jesus who can calm the most violent storm. “Praise You Lord!” She can’t stop the comfort. She is safe now. Safe in His arms.

As He floods into her heart, shining His light into the dark and filling the cracks with Himself as the Spirit, He smiles. This is what it was for. This is why He died. Kissing her broken pieces and holding them tight, He whispers, This is why I died. This is why I rose. This was My heart’s desire. To gain you. To gain others through you. To love you as My bride and see your beautiful smile as you begin to reflect Me. All that suffering was worth it, because now I have you. You are Mine, precious child, forevermore.


If you haven’t yet experienced the joy of the earth-shaking veil-tearing dead-raising Son of God, it’s as simple as whispering that you believe He died for your sins and rose that He might live in you as a new life, a different life. If you have received Him, what’s your story? Let me know in the comments!