I think most every sincere writer has an author they are inspired by, either because of the content, the style, or the topic.
I have a few authors of my own that I am inspired by.
I think one of my favorite authors is Jane Austin. Jane Austin has the unique ability to make her characters come alive as real humans through the way she writes a dialogue. Most any Jane Austin reader can say that they are like one or the other of her characters or they can say they no someone just like that character. Also as one who enjoys romance, I find her love stories some of the best. She also has a good sense of humor and I love her use of sarcasm.
L. M. Montgomery is another favorite. I love how she describes things. Sometimes I struggle to read a book with lots of description, but I think Montgomery knows how to do it well. She's the kind of writer we quote today because her words say it better than anything we could try to make up ourselves. Her stories are heart warming and sweet and the places she takes you make you want to go in real life. How many of you long to go to Prince Edward Island all because of Montgomery?
Charlotte Bronte's book, Jane Eyre is another inspiration. I am not always one who likes a sad story unless the author can do it really well, and Bronte can. Jane Eyre is one of the few sadder stories that I have read and absolutely love and have read more than once and will probably read again. I am inspired to be one who can write sadness into a story in such a way that it makes your own heart feel just what the character in the book is feeling.
Jan Karon still writes to this day, but who is also an author I admire. I have read the first few books in her Mitford series and loved them. She takes you into a small town and makes you feel as if you are there yourself. You grow to love this town filled with varying personalities and you even love those who are maybe less lovable because they are people, too, each with their own unique story. I love her stories because they're heart warming and cozy. They may not be filled with some great mystery or suspenseful plot, but they do feel realistic and cozy and I love books that make the realistic enjoyable to read. Sometimes maybe we find the real world a little too boring, so we create stories with an exaggerated plot and life, but I love when a writer can take the simple lives of realistic people and make that exciting and enjoyable, too.
One more writer who you won't find his works anywhere is my brother, Micah. He would write about his hospital visits and turn them from visits that could seem mundane and boring to something of an adventure. He would see the humor and excitement in the little things of life or even the not so fun things of life. I am not always so good myself at laughing at things that are in the moment not so pleasant, but Micah would often see the humor in life and write that humor into his real life stories. I want to be a writer who takes the mundane of life and shapes it into something beautiful because it is.
Who are some authors who inspire you in your writing?
I have been having fun discovering young bloggers and authors seeking to make a difference in the world through their writing. But one thing I started noticing for a lot of these young writers and authors is that many of them have been writing stories since they could hold a pen.
I cannot say that for myself. However, it did make me ask myself the question of when did I start writing and why?
I think I started writing during maybe the last year of my brothers life. That last year was a year of lots of changes and growing up and becoming an adult. It also ended in sadness and grief and confusion.
I believe it was around this time or not too long after that I got into journaling. At one point I became so devoted to journaling that I journaled every single day. I have a whole box of my journals, about life or a scripture that stands out or thoughts or feelings or sibling adventures.
But then about nine years ago is when I started actually sharing more of my words with the world. That is when I started my blog over here at Graced with Grace which was originally called The Kings daughter. I wrote several posts about my brother on that blog and also shared several poems that I wrote about him.
I think the reason for why I started writing is that it became a way for me to sift through my thoughts and feelings in a chaotic and confusing season of life, especially for a twelve year old girl.
But confusing and chaotic seasons of life did not stop there. I have continued to have my own ups and downs in life just like everyone else. And I always find myself writing the most when life is the hardest. Its my way of processing. Some people just need to have someone to talk to, but although I need people to talk to, as well, I find that sometimes I just need to write instead.
Sometimes I write to simply get my confusion out on paper. Sometimes I write so that I can refocus and get my mind on what is encouraging and true and upright. Sometimes I write so that I can simply process something.
But more recently, having more time on my hands, I have delved into story writing. I had done this a little growing up, but had not thought seriously about publishing anything until more recently.
So you ask why I am interested now in publishing a novel. Well, for maybe a few different reasons.
Right now I have a ton of time to pursue and nurture my skill as a writer, so what better time to pursue writing an actual book than now.
Secondly, I have loved reading fiction and classics for a long time, but sometimes am sorely disappointed in modern day authors and the stuff that they publish.
Take for example romance novels. I love a good love story, however, so many of the romance novels that are being written today are either plain trash, poorly written, or so unrealistic. Or its all about the physical and the sexual when there is so much more to love than that.
So my desire is to write stories that I hope can be a little more realistic, wholesome, and pure. No girls swooning at first site of a man and falling madly in love with someone just because they look cute. My own story of how my husband and I first met and ended up dating and getting married is testimony to the fact that it is not usually love at first sight.
But more than my love for a good love story, I want to help my reader to understand suffering a little better by reading a book by one who has walked through suffering herself. Having a brother who died when I was only twelve years old gives me a unique perspective to life and suffering.
Suffering is a topic close to my heart because not only have I faced it, but I have watched as my seven living siblings and my two parents have walked through and faced suffering too. But I have learned that each one seems to face it in different ways. We all have our way of coping with pain and deep sorrow and not all those ways are good.
I want to write fiction that can portray some of these ways that people cope with pain and sorrow. But I want to also offer hope and comfort and encouragement through the stories I write. I also hope that my readers who have not had to walk down the road of losing a loved one yet, may know a little better how to be a friend to those who have walked down that road.
This post, Why I Write, also may be helpful in understanding why I want to write for others.
Are you a writer? Why do you write? When did you start writing? Do you have a particular message that you want to give your readers? If so what is that message? Why do you want to give that message to your readers?
I made some Lentil soup for the first time a couple days ago which, I feel like turned out decently well for being my first time. I googled a couple recipes and looked up how to cook Lentils and then just made up my own recipe with the vegetables and seasonings that I had.
I am one of those cooks who feels that recipes are only there to give you a guideline, but not to actually be followed (unless I really don't know what I am doing).
I think I got this from my mom because I don't think she hardly ever sticks to a recipe when cooking. If you ask her for the recipe of something, she might have a recipe she semi-followed, but most likely added this or that and left out something else.
So back to Lentil soup, I didn't make anything fancy. I added some carrots and onions and several spices and then added some chicken flavored broth. The test was to see how Tyler would like it. I don't think he will ever call Lentil soup his favorite meal (unless I manage to work wonders with it), but he definitely did like it.
We had been eating so much of the exact same combinations, so it is good to finally have another cheap meal to add to the list.
I will continue to want to mess around with it and try new things. I found a recipe for curry lentil soup that I really want to try out. No, I probably won't follow the recipe precisely, but it's there for a guideline. ;)
On another note, for those of you who put baking and cooking in the same category (Sorry! They're not in the same category!) I do tend to be much more careful about following a recipe when I am baking.
However, even there I generally do fail to be exact. I rarely ever level off a cup of flour with a knife or something to make sure it is absolutely flat and no I don't use a scale either. Yes, I have been known to use the palm of my hand to measure something. I have used a liquid measuring cup for dry ingredients or vise versa. And guess, what? It almost always turns out delicious.
I am an imperfectionist who really enjoys baking and cooking, but sticking to exact rules is just so hard.
Would my food turn out a ton better if I actually followed recipes more precisely? I don't know! Never really tried. There's a good chance that it would, but if it turns out good anyway then why add the fuss? I think, why not be a little creative, instead.
Ok, I really love and respect all of you who actually stick to recipes precisely. In fact, I am here to say that you are probably a far better cook or baker than I will ever be myself.
What about you? Are you a recipe follower for baking or cooking? Or are recipes just a basic guideline for you? What is something new that you have tried baking or cooking recently?
When Tyler and I first got married, I suggested that we hang-dry our clothes in order to save money because it cost to wash and dry clothes at our apartment. But Tyler was none too fond of the idea because he doesn’t like crunchy clothes.
Well, now we are in our second year of marriage and guess what? We are hang drying the clothes (I admit, it is much more out of necessity than desire.). We have a small washer machine, but apparently it’s rather common to not own a drier machine.
So I get to do life in a little more of the old fashioned way. I pull out the clothes pins and hang out the clothes on the line that is tied from one end of our tiny ledge to the other end. Its just enough to room to get all or most of the clothes out.
We also take cold showers right now while its summer time, because it costs more to turn on the water boiler to heat up the water. I am sure when winter sets in we will use it, but for right now it doesn’t hurt to save every penny we can.
I think between hang drying my clothes and taking cold showers and living in a foreign land, I feel like the pioneer women must have felt. Ok, may be I am exaggerating a little, but it does sometimes make life funner to pretend.
On another note, Tyler and I decided to buy some date honey and try it out. It kind of tastes like honey and molasses, but with a very distinct date flavor. I think I will need to get used to it, but it really isn’t bad. I would like to be able to find particular recipes that specifically call for date honey.
I was reading a ladies blog in which she said that it is very possible that when God promised the Israelites that he would bring them to “a land flowing with milk and honey” that he was speaking of date honey and not bee honey. It seems very likely, too, considering date honey seems to be much more the thing here in Israel and a good amount cheaper here then bee honey.
This may already be a known fact to everyone, but being an American I guess I just always assumed that it was bee honey, not even knowing that date honey existed. But now that I am living in Israel, date honey makes much more sense.
Bread and Pastries
Last week Tyler and I decided to divulge in buying some fresh Cinnamon roll pastries and we were not disappointed. They were so delicious! Sinking your teeth into the pastries was pure joy itself. The flavor, the sweetness, and the texture were all just perfect together. I don’t know if we will ever eat a cinnamon roll that perfect again.
Several weeks ago we bought a loaf of Challah bread which was also absolutely superb, but since then all the Challah bread that we have found has not been quite as perfect, as that first one.
I would like to eventually try my hand at making my own Jewish pastries, even if just one time. But very likely it is just as cheap or cheaper to buy it at the open markets rather than make it myself.
I have been slowly trying to build up my baking ingredients, but not knowing the language makes it hard to read labels sometimes. And some things that are very easy and cheap to buy in America are not so easy or cheap here.
There is a movement that has started that is all about self-love. Although I don't know a ton about the movement, I see my friends posting quotes here and there that give me the basic idea.
The basic idea seems to be to encourage ourselves to take care of our bodies. Take time to take care of ourselves. Take the time to exercise or eat healthy, or relax or whatever it may be that our body needs.
Taking care of ourself, I have no problem with. I think that it is good for people to see their need to care for their own body. In fact, you can love others better and care for others better if you are taking the time to first make sure you yourself are taken care of in the proper way.
But what does bother me is that it is called self-love and and the way that Christians talk about self-love. It honestly sounds really self-centered. It puts all the focus onto myself. Everything becomes about me. What bothers me is that as a Christian our focus should not be on ourself.
Our focus should be on God first and then others. As Christians we are not to be self focused.
So am I saying that the whole idea of self-love is wrong. No! I am saying that the way we talk about it as a believer is wrong.
Growing up my mom has always been a strong advocate of taking care of our bodies whether in eating or drinking or exercise. But she never once called it self-love. It was always for God's glory and it was always Biblical.
Taking care of our bodies is Biblical, but never once does God call it self-love. We are commanded to care for our bodies as believers because it glorifies God. Taking care of our bodies shows our love for God. Yes, in doing so we show love for our own body, too, but ultimately it puts the focus on God and not on ourself.
Here are a few scriptures that talk of using or caring for our bodies for God's glory.
"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercy of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." (Romans 12:1)
I am sure sure I could find more scriptures, as well, but the point is that taking care of your own body is a biblical command. We are commanded to care for the body God gave us for his glory because our body is not our own, it has been bought by his precious blood.
So friends, I am sorry for my long rant. I don't like to be preachy, but I was reading in Romans this morning and it all hit me and I had to share my thoughts.
My request is simple now. I ask that if you are a believer and a part of the self-love movement, that you reconsider what you call it. Instead of promoting self-love, will you proclaim God's glory, by caring for the body he gave you?
Simply turn your focus away from yourself and on to God.
Yesterday I sat in on a lesson one of Tyler's classmates was giving on beginner Latin (Apparently being in a Greek intensive course is not enough.). I was reminded that not all languages are as confusing and hard to understand as Hebrew or Greek. Latin is kind of fun, especially when you can make connections with English and Old English.
Today we visited Bethlehem, walked down a lot of streets, ate good food, and learned some history.
We tried Falafel and Shawarma. I remember trying Falafel in the past and not liking it too well, but this time I found it quite delicious.
I keep seeing social media posts from my friends in America raving that fall is here and posting pictures of there pumpkin spice lattes etc. I am here in Israel noticing that the evenings are starting to get a little cooler, but that might be the most I will experience of fall for a bit longer.
I have a feeling Fall is not experienced here in Israel the same way it is in the vibrant green South of the U.S.A. Trees are just a little more sparse in the desert lands.
I think I will miss experiencing the change of season that is most noticeable through the leaves. The rich changing of colors that is followed by a lovely dance in the gentle breeze that whispers its song in the treetops.
On the other hand, I don't think I am going to miss the bitter cold winters of Minnesota with its never ceasing snow falls, endless amounts of shoveling, and buried cars.
When I first started this blog, I had a whole page dedicated to the explanation of the title of my blog, but then I deleted it. So I thought I would try again to at least give you a post that might explain the meaning behind the title.
Growing up I loved dandelions and I loved daisies. I loved dancing and I loved dreaming.
I loved picking a dandelion and blowing the seeds to the wind. I would watch the seeds dance away and fall to the ground elsewhere to be replanted and pop up again the next year.
My life is sometimes like those dandelion seeds, I am picked up from one place and blown away only to be replanted again.
And sometimes being up rooted from one home and moving to a new home is hard. Its rather painful even. Sometimes its confusing. But despite all of that, I keep reminding myself to dance. To dance through life.
And some times life really does feel like a dance. I can pick up my feet and find joy in that season. maybe its a dream just fulfilled.
But some seasons come that are full of rain or drought and I have to command my feet to keep dancing. To dance in the rain and dream of of the sunshine that will come out again.
Sometimes life seems to be filled with a lot more dreaming then dancing.
As a little girl, my family had a patch of daisies and my sisters and I would go out to pick those daisies.
We would say, with all the other little girls in the world, "He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. He loves me not........" as we plucked the peddles and threw them to the ground.
And because of that game daisies have always been special and some what dreamy for me.
And so it reminds me of that other stage in life, in which I dream of the future.
Some seasons are for having those dreams being fulfilled and those are the seasons I most feel like dancing.
But some seasons are for dreaming and not giving up. But those are the days I remind myself to keep dancing.
I have been exploring more and more what I can write. And yet whenever I write I find that I long to evoke deep feeling.
I don't want to write something that is just funny or just whimsical or just pretty. I don't want to write just so there is a lesson at the end or just to make one feel good.
I write that others may feel deeply.
I want to write with such emotion that others are intertwined in that emotion, too. I want my words to make people feel again and to not be afraid to feel deeply.
If there is one thing I have learned in life, its that life is hard, its painful, people walk through suffering in this world. Yet people also experience joy and happiness. I have learned that beautiful things happen even in the middle of the sad and heart breaking things.
I have learned that one man suffers in one way and another man suffers in another. I have learned that what is one person's joy and delight is another's dread and fear. Something can be beautiful to one person while ugly to another.
I want to write in such a way that people have to step out of there own shoes and feel deeply with someone else. I want my words to cause you to cry when the character cries, but to smile and laugh when the character does.
I want my readers to know a character because they have been that person themselves or because they know someone just like it.
I want to write about things that are painful and hard and sad because its real, but I want to right about joy and love, because that, too, is real.
I want my reader to read with hope, knowing the story hasn't ended yet. And as long as your own story hasn't ended yet, there is still hope for you, too.
I want my reader to know that there is hope even in the darkest hours, that the sun will shine again and that the morning will come, and so does joy.
Sitting crossed legged on my bed,
Weaving tales with yarns of words.
The big door wide open
Letting in a morning breeze
Until the morning is swept away
And the heat of the afternoon begins.
Pull out a book and read,
And smile and close that tale,
And write my own.
I listen to music, Josh Garrels,
John Denver, Marty Robbins,
Just to name a few.
Pull out my yarn
and start a new pattern
I've never tried before,
And smile because
It's actually turning out ok.
And pull out my black ink Pen
And make words turn to art
Not just in story,
But in story, too.
I like words.
I like them as pictures
On a white page.
But I also like them
When I weave them into a tale.
And the tale becomes a story long
And I take my story
And I hope it rings with hope
And turns into a book.
But either way,
It still gives me pleasure,
Just to sit and write.
Some people take color yarn
And weave a hat or blanket or rug
But I take another kind of yarn
And weave and spin
That are tied into a tale.
And that is why,
I call myself
The spinner of words.
I may have a small obsession with kitchens. For me the kitchen is like the heart of a home.
Let the kitchen be filled always with happy laughter, deep conversation, and delicious aromas.
Lately I may have been day dreaming a little too much of my dream kitchen. I have been flipping through Pinterest, and penning pictures of what kind of kitchen I want to have someday.
I like to have a clean kitchen, when its not being used. But I want the kitchen to be a place people can feel at home in. Because more than how a kitchen is designed, is the people who fill that kitchen and the food that is created there.
A kitchen should be a place you can pull up a chair and sit at the bar while sipping on a hot cup of coffee in the early morning.
If the oven door is opened, let the aroma of fresh baked bread fill the air.
In the fall time, when the air is getting chillier and vibrant colors are floating and dancing silently to the ground, let the kitchen be filled with the smells of fresh baked Apple Pies and pumpkin pie spice (I don’t even like pumpkin pie!).
I dream of a kitchen where children can come in after a hot summer’s day of play, and drink deeply of a cold glass of Chocolate milk. (I only say that because it was one of my own favorite treats on a hot summer day growing up.)
Or in the winter after coming in from thrilling sled rides, or invigorating snow ball fights, may there be hot tea ready to be poured from memory making tea pots and sipped from pretty delicate tea cups.
In the spring time may small child hands pick the blooming daisies and I will place them in a tiny glass bottle on the windowsill above my kitchen sink.
May the sweet aromas of my kitchen always call out to the neighbors and beg them to come in and say hi and even sit a while with a cup of tea in one hand and a fresh baked cookie in the other.
And it’s ok for the cupboard to hold chipped dishes because every chip tells a story. Or maybe your mantel displays your favorite old mug because it is too cracked to hold liquid anymore, but that, too, tells stories of its own.
And when I am old and grey, may the walls of the kitchen still ring with the laughter or the tears or the hushed conversations of time and memory. May little tiny footprints still linger there, stamped upon my heart forever.