Tag Archives: writing

OwningOurScars

Owning Our Scars – A Poem

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a poem on here. So here you go.

Owning Our Scars

we walk into the world unblemished,
but we soon find that the world lashes out.
not a life passes
in which a cut is not felt–
be it as light as a paper
or as deep as a sword–
leaving us with unshakeable scars.

so we skulk in the shadows,
slather on cosmetics,
and try to hide the brutal but beautiful
reality that we are all broken.
we are all scarred.

the choice we have is to wear our scars proudly.
not to hide,
but to show that no matter what it does to us,
greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world.

and all scars are precious in his eyes,
because scars speak of pain, yes,
and scars speak of brokenness,
but also of survival and triumph,
victory in the face of adversity.

there is a strength that comes from scars
that we do not find any other way.

so let us embrace our scars,
let us run and jump and dance,
and bear our scars to the world.
let us rejoice that we are free
from hiding, free from shame.

we will turn our jagged faces and battered bodies
to the sunlit sky,
smiling and singing.
owning our scars,
for the scars of the world do not own us.

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“I Just Have To Write What’s on My Heart” – An interview about blogging, social media, viral posts, and Christianity

Just thought I’d let everyone know that a good friend and blogger Boze Herrington interviewed me for his site today on blogging, Christianity, social media, viral posts, etc. It was really fun talking to him and answering his questions.

Boze is an amazing and versatile blogger, covering issues like spiritual abuse, literature, writing, Catholicism, etc. Last September, he guest blogged on my site about escaping a cult he’d been involved in. He’s currently writing articles and a book to help others understand how a cult can form amidst even seemingly sincere Christians. Boze is also a huge fan of fantasy and has a series of fantasy novels in the works. Check him out!

You can read the beginning here of our conversation here…

“I Just Have To Write What’s on My Heart”: A Conversation with Teryn O’Brien

On Friday I sat down with Teryn to discuss her views on blogging, social media, and finding the courage to do the things you feel most passionately about. The following is a partial transcript of our insightful and inspiring conversation.

Tell me a little about the history of your blog. How did you get started?

I personally started blogging at Identity Renewed almost three years ago this month. I started it right after college to work through some of my pain and brokenness. I was only posting twice a month, basically once every other week. I had a list of topics to write about, and then I was going to end it after a year. Honestly, I think it was just a time of experimentation and trying to find my voice. It really wasn’t until getting into the second year that I started blogging really regularly, posting three times a week. The main thing about blogging is consistency, because if you’re not blogging consistently, no one is going to come back to your blog. I kind of just played with a whole bunch of different schedules and ideas.

Then one of my best friends died in October 2012. She was in an abusive relationship inside a cult, and I realized that I had been fighting abusive tendencies in my own life, too. Suddenly, all the brokenness, pain, and struggles toward healing I’d been through began to make sense. So it was probably only after she died that I truly found my voice. And people started listening more. So I started getting a little more traffic and meeting more bloggers. The very first year I blogged, I think I got about 1,000 views. The second year, about 3,000-4,000 views. My goal in 2013 was to get 25,000 views.

The thing you have to realize is this: Blogging is a community, so no one is going to come to your site unless you go to their sites. Especially when you’re just starting out. If you’re not a famous blogger or pastor or speaker or whatever, no one is going to listen to your voice. So just starting out blogging, that’s one of the most important things you can do: Put yourself out there, meet other bloggers, comment on other sites, show a genuine interest in what others have to say. I’ve made some great friends through the blogging world, and we’ve never met in real life (yet!).

Read the rest here.

NOTE: I don’t normally broadcast this, but I do social media, online marketing, and writing/editorial consulting for a fee. If you’re interested, please contact me.

Photo credit: Dusit on Shutterstock.com

spiritoffear

My Spirit of Fear and Anxiety – Guest Post by Renee Fisher

I’m so excited to have Renee Fisher, published author and blogger from Devotional Diva, on my site today! We became friends over the blogging world last year, and it always amazes me just how many things we share in common about our past struggles. Her writing has really encouraged me through some tough times. She even called me on the phone once and gave me a pep talk that I really needed about writing and career and life. :) Today, Renee is writing an Identity Renewed post about her struggles with fear and anxiety. I appreciate her vulnerability and honesty on a tough topic to deal with.

My Spirit of Fear
by Renee Fisher

Since I was young, I have struggled with a spirit of fear. My favorite Bible verse has always been one from 2 Timothy, and for good reason: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV).

Easier said than done.

Although I wasn’t properly diagnosed with anxiety until I was in my mid 20s, I battled extreme fear. I’ll never forget the day it all began. (Thanks to therapy for helping me pinpoint that day).

My parents left for a two-week missions trip and I crumbled. I honestly don’t know why I broke, but I did. Hard.

I.
Couldn’t.
Stop.
Crying.

That’s when my battle with food began. That’s when I was afraid to eat, leave the house, or go to school. I was afraid to eat because overeating would make me fat, and if I was fat–no man would ever love me. I was afraid to leave the house because I didn’t know when I would freak out (later I learned these episodes were called panic attacks). I was afraid to go to school because it was humiliating to suffer with anxiety in front of other people. The fear gripped me so much that I asked to be home schooled again.

Junior High was a nightmare.
High school was even worse.

In 9th grade, I discovered I was allergic to band-aids and suddenly developed eczema (skin rash). My eczema spread so quickly that I lost the skin off my feet and face. I ended up in the hospital, and it took my body six years to heal from that ordeal.

If I thought I struggled with a spirit of fear, battling eczema on top of it took me to a whole new level of fear.

When I thought I was done “suffering for Jesus,” I moved to Texas to pursue full time missions. I enrolled in a DTS school (not YWAM), and discovered my passion for writing. I only made it five months in the Texas heat before I lost the skin off my hands due to eczema.

Another three years would go by before I was fully healed.

From the ages of 15 to 25, I prayed to God constantly, asking him to take away my spirit of fear. I begged, pleaded, prayed, and cried. The tears became my food, like David said. I read the Bible over and over and over and over until I wrote over hundreds of devotionals.

When a mentor helped to brand me as the Devotional Diva, it only took three months before I had my first literary agent and signed book contract. That’s (unfortunately) when the spirit of fear completely took over my life.

I was faced with the choice of quitting my job to keep my book contract. I couldn’t handle working full time and writing full time. The fear became so overwhelming that I ended up in the hospital with panic attacks.

Once again, I asked God to take it away.
But then something even more amazing happened.
I found hope.

God used my spirit of fear to spur me forward so that I could spur others forward to love and good deeds (now my ministry verse, Hebrews 10:24).

It is amazing how the enemy stirs up trouble most when God is on the cusp of something brand new and beautiful.

When people discover I’ve written four books, they congratulate me. They ask me how amazing it is to be an author, and I cringe inside. Yes, it’s amazing. But I paid a high price.

They didn’t see the years I struggled in obscurity.
Wondering.
Hoping.
Waiting.

I find myself, once again, in another difficult season. I am back on my anxiety medication. I am praying and asking God to heal me. Although He may never remove my thorn in the flesh, I continue to write. Writing is what God called me to do. No matter how difficult, I must carry my cross.

I thought once God healed me that I would write about my past for His glory. What I didn’t expect was that He wasn’t done with me yet.

It’s amazing how God has used my greatest fear for His greatest glory.

Friends, if you struggle with a spirit of fear–you are not alone. Whether it’s a diagnosable fear, a fear of the unknown, or both–it’s okay to seek help.

When I didn’t quit my job right away to start my writing career, I had to go on disability. I felt like the BIGGEST LOSER on the planet. Combine that with the fact God was calling me into full time ministry at a time in my life when I felt most unworthy.

How would I pay for my bills including health insurance? Did I really want to move back in with my parents again at the age of 27?

Friends, like me, your life might not make sense. God might be calling you to do something you don’t feel you’re ready!

It’s.
Okay.
To.
Be.
Afraid.

It’s not okay to let your fear stop you from following God. Maybe some day the struggle will end, but until then I hope my story encourages you.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32, NIV).

Renee Fisher New Headshot

Renee Fisher is an adoring wife to Marc and mom to their pit bull named Star. She is the author of four books, including Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me (Harvest House, 2013). Renee is the editor and founder of DevotionalDiva.com, and loves nothing more than to spur others forward. She is the creator of Quarter Life Conference, a graduate of Biola University, and a spirited speaker and author to the 30-somethings. Connect with her at ReneeFisher.com.

writersarentnormal

General Thoughts on Not Being Normal

 

I haven’t written about a quote on writing in a while. Since my guest blogger this month was a writer, I thought I’d do something along those lines tonight.

Besides, this quote was just too priceless to pass up an opportunity…

So here goes.

You know, I used to wish I was normal. All growing up, in high school, in college, I just wanted to be normal. I wanted to be who everyone else thought I should be. I tried so hard to fit into the “normal” thing. To be a “normal” woman. To live a “normal” life.

What was normal to me? Well, basically getting married and having kids and having a husband and following his dreams. Being a missionary or pastor’s wife or something, because that’s the only way you could really, radically follow God in the circles I grew up in.

Really. I’m not joking. That’s what I truly thought I needed to do in order to be normal. To be accepted into womanhood. To be accepted in the “normal” Christian circles I ran around in.

Here’s the thing about normal, though.

It’s fine for normal people.

But I’ve never been normal.

So why try and pretend I am?

As this quote assures me, the “normal” ship sailed a long time ago.

So I’ve quit asking, “What’s normal for other people?” And I’ve started asking, “What’s normal for ME? What does God want from ME?” Not, “What does God want from others, and so I guess I should be doing that, too…”

God has us each on a unique path. Each one of us.

So for me…

Normal isn’t normal.

In fact, it’s pretty weird.

When I look at the sky, I’m always thinking of ways to describe it. The reddish hues of the sunset wafted along on pearly strands of cloud. Hmm, that’s a pretty marvelous description.

When I’m sitting at a coffee shop or subway or restaurant, I’m watching people and creating stories in my head as to why they’re acting the way they do. That woman who just came in looking worn is coming from an abusive home and plotting a way to get out. She has three kids, and she’s wondering how they’re all going to survive this horrible ordeal. But secretly, the barista is in love her. They smile at each other–she’s a regular and he knows her order. He’s going to help her escape…

When I see the world, I’m automatically thinking of ways it could be different. What if trees had leaves that could burst into fire?What if we had creatures we could fly on? What if WE could fly? What if the moon had a ring of stars around it?

What if? What if? What if? The imagination is full of possibilities. (This comes in handy when writing fantasy, I might add…)

I’m thinking of my characters constantly. I LOVE them. They’re ARE real people to me. In fact, if I don’t get to “hang out” with my characters for too long of a time (by writing), I start wilting and missing them very much like I’d miss a dearly loved real friend. (And yes, I promise I have real friends. And I promise I think about real real people, too).

I have conversations with myself all the time about plotline and world and characters and writing. I basically have a running commentary going all the time in my mind about various writing-related issues. Sorry. I just can’t help the creativity flowing in me like running water that really can’t be stopped no matter how hard I try.

I’d rather stay home and lose myself in scenes full of fighting, emotions, adventure, deep questions about life, etc., than go see some cookie-cutter action movie. Boring. I can entertain myself quite well enough, thank you very much.

I’ve always been a deep thinker that sees the world in different shades and angles than the average person. Being a creative writer (and an artist) just does that to you. When I go on a hike, I see a million subtle nuances of color and light and shadow playing in my mind’s eyes. When I see a person, I see their past, present, and future blurred together, their pains and questions and flaws and strengths reflected in their eyes.

This comes with being someone who sees. Who sees all the intricacies and beauties of this world that so many people walk past and never even notice. And I think to myself, “How could you not notice? Where are you living? What do you see?”

And guess what? I’m not normal!

And guess what?? It’s the best thing in the entire world.

Because I’m me. I’m who God made me to be. I’m full of life and bursting with stories and creativity and joy because I feel God’s joy when I write. I absolutely do. I’d rather write and never make a dime than stop writing and pretend to be someone I’m not.

This has been a painful process, I’m not going to lie. There have been times I’ve felt the pain intensely. The pain of not fitting in, the pain of not being normal, the pain of rejection and misunderstanding and feeling alone because I’m just not…normal.

I don’t understand most people. And most people don’t understand me. (But there are/were a handful, those Kindred Spirits of life that are/were hard and few to come by).

Yet when God created me, I think He said, “We’re going to make her a little different. We’re going to make her stand out a little. Because her voice will be used in different ways. And her struggles and her pains will give her a voice. A voice who will help others know they’re not alone. A voice that will color the world in unique tones. A voice that will not be normal, but a voice I still love very much.”

So I’m just gonna stand out. And be different. And hopefully, help others embrace their differences, too. And help others discover joy in the world, and heal from pain, be honest with themselves about their emotions, create stories of adventure and meaning, and do all sorts of other wonderful things.

No, I’m definitely not normal.

That ship sailed long ago.

(And you, whoever you are reading this post, you don’t have to be normal, either. It’s overrated at best. Normal is just a setting on a dryer anyway. Embrace who God made you to be, embrace His love, and see where He takes you. It’s often a painful journey, frought with challenges and trials, but full of so much joy, too. It’s worth it in the end.) 

flying

GUEST BLOGGER – Words of Courage & Healing: How Writing Fiction Helped Me Learn to be Honest With God – Part II

In the month of October, I’m having another guest blogger take over my site. I got to know A.J. Adwen through the blogging world. We soon began to develop a friendship as we discovered we have a love for writing fiction. We both love emotional honesty in writing. We both believe that the only reason to write fiction is to heal—ourselves and others. I love her heart, and I love her personal story, which is one of tragedy and redemption. Please read Part I here before reading the conclusion in Part II.

Words of Courage & Healing:

How Writing Fiction Helped Me Learn to be Honest With God

 Part II

by A.J. Adwen

Let’s jump to the summer of 2009.

I had just gotten out of an extremely destructive relationship in the spring and was still very damaged from it. He was the first person I’d really allowed myself to trust since my divorce from my porn-addicted ex-husband. He’d crushed that trust.

Ever heard the song Stupid Boy by Keith Urban? If not, have a listen. It could have been written to the men in my life.

She laid her heart and soul right in your hands,

And you stole her every dream and crushed her plans.

She never even knew she had a choice,

And that’s what happens when the only voice she hears,

Is telling her she can’t.

Stupid boy.

I was told “You can’t” over and over again. You can’t write, you can’t sing. You can’t, you can’t, you can’t. But what you can do is come to bed with me.

I came to a place where I believed that that was all I amounted to. I remember lying in bed with him, sobbing uncontrollably as I spoke of how much I missed trusting in God. I wanted this man to see that God was real, even though I hated Him myself. I think I wanted this because if he believed, I thought that maybe I could as well.

But he didn’t believe. This man didn’t care about my pain. He only cared about his. We were both very wounded people, and our relationship was bound to crumble. It did, eventually.

***

That’s when I flew to Los Angeles with one suitcase and my guitar, running into the arms of my best friend from childhood.

I had so many hopes for that new start in LA, but I didn’t fully reach for them because of fear. Fear of flying with wings that were still very much damaged from the storms I had weathered. I learned a lot there. I laughed a lot there. And even though I didn’t chase my dreams while I was there, I can honestly say that my healing had finally begun, even though I didn’t see it yet.

I flew back home when I became too overwhelmed. I felt like such a coward for giving up. I hated myself more than ever, even though a piece of my heart was ironically much more alive than before. It was as if the ice had begun to melt, and I was feeling the sun. That warmth burned. It was almost painful. It made every emotion feel that much more raw.

Eventually, I saw Los Angeles as a stepping stone. A moment of courage where I stepped away from abusive relationships and onto a new path.  A stumbling, winding path towards God.

***

My best friend had talked in the past about moving to Oklahoma, and I wanted another chance to thrive. That was when a couple of my close friends in Oklahoma opened their arms to me like she had in LA, telling me they would let me stay with them for a while to get on my feet once I moved. It just felt right.

In less than a month, I got myself packed up, and once again embarked on a new journey.

This was in September of 2009.

I was a mess. I ruined friendships. I ran from everything.

It was a struggle to even get out of bed while in their home, and I stayed up until all hours of the night. I hugged my pillow and cried for hours at a time, sometimes even imagining that I was being held, because the pain of being single was overwhelming. I’d grown so dependent on having a man in my life that I didn’t know how to live without one.

But one night, I gave up my hopes and dreams in one single prayer, opening a crevice of my heart to receiving something from the God I’d run from. I told Him that I was finally going to allow Him to work in me. My way wasn’t working at all.

***

One week later, God brought me the man I now call my husband.

I was so scared. On our first date, I opened my heart and poured everything out, essentially saying, “This is me… take it or leave it.” He took it. He loved every part of me. He encouraged me to keep writing the book that I’d given up on years before.

My first draft was complete garbage. It was stolen anyway when my apartment was broken into. They took my computer and most of my files with it. It was for the best, because that first draft was all a lie.

I didn’t write again until the winter of 2012, but when I did, I wrote Othrinia’s Rain entirely in three months. Ask anyone. In December, I was still keeping my wings clamped to my sides. By March 2013, they were unfolding.

***

Othrinia’s Rain, the first installment of The Rain Trilogy, isn’t a Christian novel. In fact, I think a lot of Christians might be offended by some of the content. But the heart behind each word is one of a wounded soul seeking healing. The heart, like I said, is one of redemption. And I hope that in some way, readers can draw strength from the trilogy as I write it.

Othrinia’s Rain is a fantasy novel about a girl named Raenah who goes from the embodiment of light to the darkest pit she could possibly imagine. She finds out that her path isn’t at all what she’d been raised to believe it was. As new trials arise, she finds that her truth lies in what she’s always been taught is the worst of evil. She finds that living the way she’s been raised will shackle her to an identity that isn’t her own, and in that, will discover that who she truly is can be redeemed for good. (This may be a little cryptic as far as plot line goes, but I don’t want to give any of the twists of my story away!)

I found it impossible not to pour my heart and soul into Raenah. All of my pain, all of my small victories… they were hers, too. I can’t tell you how many times I cried while writing it. I can’t tell you how many times my husband urged me on, telling me, “You can do it! You can!”

I was so afraid of my secrets being revealed through Raenah. Of people shunning me for the things I wrote in all of their twisted, brutal ways.

I was finally beginning to put my trust in God again. What if people threw stones at me for my thoughts? For the way I expressed myself? What if they told me I wasn’t walking with the Lord, when I knew I finally was?

What if God was ashamed of me for what I wrote?

I know now more than ever that shame is the furthest thing from God’s heart, because each word I wrote was another word that I’d needed to say all along.

God wants our honesty. He wants our pain uninhibited so that He can heal us. I wasn’t willing to say these things to Him directly, but He gave me the faith to write them instead. Through writing a brutally honest story, I learned to be brutally honest with God.

***

The discovery I made through writing this book is that who I am, who I really am, is a flawed, wretched human being that doesn’t deserve the goodness that God offers. I am not the innocent little girl I used to be. I have experienced true darkness and pain. I have sinned and fallen in ways I never thought I could. Though forgiveness has washed me clean, I am still on this journey of redemption. A path of new growth.

Who I am now is who I am meant to be, pains and mistakes and all, because I can offer truth to those who have been wounded. This position is one I never wanted. It comes a great deal of responsibility. But I know this is God’s plan for me.

I’m not the person I used to be. I am not a perfect little church-going, evangelistic, bible-thumping believer. Before I ever knew the darkness, I accepted the polished, fairytale-like vision of Christ. I never understood why people with so many burdens wouldn’t accept it, too. I get it now. I get why.

Now I love God fiercely with new vigor and understanding. And so I have to infuse my own stories with truth, with honesty, with rawness. I have to tell a story of true pain and darkness that readers can relate to, which is Othrinia’s Rain. Then and only then I can write about redemption, which will be the next books in the series.

I’d like to tell you that I wrote this book and now I’m as good as new, but that would be a lie. I have a long, long road ahead of me. But that’s why I keep writing.

I write to find my wings again.

I write to heal.

And I write because I can.

AJAdwen


A.J. Adwen is an Oregon native, born and raised in the mountains. She now resides in Oklahoma with her husband and three cats, where she devotes the majority of her time to writing and photography. You can purchase Othrinia’s Rain at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

lost_pennymathews

GUEST BLOGGER – Words of Courage & Healing: How Writing Fiction Helped Me Learn to be Honest With God – Part I

In the month of October, I’m having another guest blogger take over my site. I got to know A.J. Adwen through the blogging world. We soon began to develop a friendship as we discovered we have a love for writing fiction. We both love emotional honesty in writing. We both believe that the only reason to write fiction is to heal—ourselves and others. I love her heart, and I love her personal story, which is one of tragedy and redemption. Please read Part I here (it will be in two parts). WARNING: Although not graphic in nature, this article contains possible rape triggers.

 Words of Courage & Healing:

How Writing Fiction Helped Me Learn to be Honest With God

 Part I

by A.J. Adwen

You all know the saying—the one that says life can change in the blink of an eye.

One moment, you have it all together. Sure, things come up that you have to work your way through. Puzzles that need solving, speed bumps that need finesse to handle smoothly. Nobody sails through life without affliction, not a single one of us.

Yet I never thought it could happen to me. That one moment could shake everything I ever thought to be true and right.

I would like to tell you how I survived and how writing has been a means of healing.

***

The moment that changed my life happened in 2003.

I was living blissfully. I knew Journalism was what I wanted to do as a career and was actively working towards it. I was also closer in my walk with God than I’d ever been before. It was an intimate walk, one I felt sure that I would never stray from. In addition, I had finally begun writing the outline for a book that had been on my heart since I was 14. I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going with it, but I knew I had to write it.

One morning, I woke up to an insistent voice in my heart, telling me to pray for my protection as I went about my day. You have to understand—I was closer to God than I’d ever been, so even though that urge was a little unsettling, I trusted with all of my being that if I prayed for protection, He would grant it. I just knew it.

My life changed that day.

I won’t go into details, because the full scope of what happened isn’t important. What is important is that I lost my innocence that day. It was forced from me by a man who attacked me and left me reeling in pain.

I was introduced to evil. And I was introduced to betrayal by a God I believed would hold me in the palm of His hand.

I knew I couldn’t trust Him anymore.

***

You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve heard it said, “You know that God didn’t go back on His word. You’re alive today, aren’t you?”

Let me put it this way: If you were being attacked and your own father was standing not ten feet away, hearing your cries for help, wouldn’t you think that your father was either incapable or unwilling to help you the next time something came up?

I vowed that I would never trust God again. I would never trust myself again.

I was standing at a fork in the road, carrying my burdens on bruised and battered arms, choosing the path that I would forge on my own accord.

***

It’s hard to place hope in anyone when you can’t even trust yourself or God. But that is the lesson I had to learn—that the very one I was running from was the only one who could help me. For years, I lived in the arms of alcohol, meaningless relationships, unhealthy love, and self-destruction. I was the life of the party. The girl everyone wanted at their beer chugging, bong smoking gatherings.

What was once a joyous bond between my Father and I became the complete opposite. I ran. I ran so hard and so fast that my lungs might have burst if I hadn’t have stopped every other day to drown my sorrows in alcohol. I might have held a gun to my head had I not submitted to any man that was willing to take away the pain of what I went through. I felt happy again, trusting only in myself, only later finding out that my pseudo happiness was actually a dark and lonely void.

I used various things to fill the void. I even went so far as to marry a man I didn’t love, in hopes of somehow finding a new start.

***

It was 2007. Six months into marriage with the man I didn’t really love, I walked in on my new husband looking at pornography.

I laughed.

Not because it was funny, or because I didn’t care. I laughed at the irony of it, at how he had just proven how cheap I really was.

After he left for work, I sat down at the very same computer and scrolled through the history, just to get a full scope of what this man was into. I won’t repeat it. And after installing a password on the internet, more specifically the words, “doyourwifenotporn,” I began to pour out my soul in a Word document.

It was a release of fragmented sentences that I didn’t consider before writing. Maybe this is even why I tend to write in fragments to this day. It’s how I process. It’s how I sort. But I did a “search and find” at the end of those two hours, and one word popped up over 30 times.

Lost.

I’d never felt so lost.

And after erasing that document, I began a new one. At the top of the page, it was titled The River.

Six years later (September 2013), that book is a published novel. The title eventually changed to Othrinia’s Rain. It’s a play on words—one you might not understand until you read it. This novel helped me heal. This novel, dark as it is, helped me discover God’s truth. God’s longing for me. And its sequel will begin to show that redemption. Its sequel, I hope, will continue the healing process in my heart.

To Be Continued in Part II

AJAdwenA.J. Adwen is an Oregon native, born and raised in the mountains. She now resides in Oklahoma with her husband and three cats, where she devotes the majority of her time to writing and photography. You can purchase Othrinia’s Rain at Amazon.

ireland_day6_341

Life In All Its Forms

Tonight, I just want to share two moments with you.

A moment with my grandfather while I was still in Ireland and we went falconing.

And a moment when I took my first steps to learn to train a horse.

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Don’t they just look like each other? Fierce.

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My very first time calling the falcon in.

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Hello, bird.

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This picture turned out a little too dark, but the falcon (Wilde) was resting on my hand and I had to try and take a picture.

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I think this falcon wants to kill my camera.

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He wants to kill me, I think.

I’ve always had a fascination for birds–especially birds of prey.

When I gazed into the fierce and uncompromising eyes of these falcons, I was blown away.

They are terrifyingly beautiful.
Their golden eyes stare you down.
Birds of prey.
They cannot be controlled or contained.
They choose to stay with their falconers because they choose to stay.
At any moment, they could fly away.
Yet their humans have taken care of them,
and they stay, trusting their humans to provide.

They were amazing.
And I could’ve stayed for hours, just watching them dive and swoop through the air. Just watching them land on my glove and pierce me with their eyes.

A piece of God flew with them.
For God is indeed an amazing Creator.

***

Tonight, I started learning how to train horses.

I had to choose which horse to train. So I went around to the horses and talked to them and rubbed their necks. And one golden-brown horse named Zoey (who is a loner, not truly part of the herd) followed me. And I knew she was a little on the outside, and my heart always goes out to both people and animals who are on the outside. I, too, know what it is to be an outsider. To not really fit in.

So I decided I’d work with her.

I put a lead rope on her, and I walked her around the pasture. I had to learn to respect her and earn her trust. Because to a horse, humans are not naturally friends. They are prey animals, and we are technically predators. They must learn that you are safe, that you won’t hurt them.

We walked around, and I had to learn to be the leader, to direct Zoey where I wanted. To be firm, yet kind.

Her eyes were gentle. Her eyes asked me to treat her with care. (She has been neglected in the past by humans).

She followed me even in the rain, and she stayed by my side because I had earned her respect and trust.

***

When a human establishes a relationship with an animal, something beautiful is formed. When life connects with life. When creature connects with human.  There’s nothing like it.

What am I trying to say tonight?

I’m not sure. My words stumble along, inadequate to express what I’m feeling, as they have often done this summer.

This world is beautiful.
It’s full of creatures and places and things that are lively, wonderful, healing.
Embrace it.

Embrace life, in all its forms.

For life is from God.
Every living thing is a taste of the divine. From the fierce eyes of a hawk to the gentle eyes of a horse.

Let us not tread lightly on the divine. Let us not take life for granted.

Let us remember that this world was given to us as a gift, and it is a precious gift. A gift easily mistreated and scorned. A gift nonetheless.

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4th-Week-of-the-Month Blog Break!

My monthly blog break is happening this week.  Which means that instead of posting anything myself tonight, I’m going to share articles/videos/blog posts that inspired me, made me laugh, or made me think during the month of August. Because I’m tired…and it’s hot here in CO…and I feel a lot like this camel. (Fall, please come quickly!!) :)camel

But first, to remind you of coming things: In September, I’m having a guest blogger take over my Thursday night posts. His name is Boze Herrington, and he is going to share how his identity was renewed through unhealthy fundamentalism which led him into a Christian group that gradually became a cult. So tune in next month for a very interesting, heart-breaking, thought-provoking, and ultimately redemptive story. I hope you will read his posts, because he has some interesting things to say.

So now…without further ado, here are my articles/blogs/videos this month. A lot of these are intense and thought-provoking. I might not necessarily agree with everything written in each article, but they challenged my thinking. Ultimately, that’s an important thing: I want to engage my mind and heart in every issue. And then…some of them just made me laugh. :)

1. Corgan: God is the future of rock music The singer of Smashing Pumpkins talks about how God is the great unexplored territory of modern rock. WOW. This short video interview is really interesting. He actually talks about how Christians need to make better music. As an artist who is often baffled at why Christians produce such lazy art, writing, music, etc., I thought his statements were intriguing. I wonder if more would listen to us if we would produce more high quality art? Lots of thoughts on this, but I’ll keep my mouth shut for now… ;)

2. Going To Weddings Alone I thought this article was a good reminder that God is not just all about weddings. He is a God who made us for lots of kinds of community–friends, family, church, etc. The church tends to focus so much on couples that so much gets lost along the way, leaving singles feeling not enough and lacking. I really believe the church has a lot to relearn on this topic.

3. Why Modesty Is Wrong Right away, you know this article is going to be interesting. Now, while I would be the first to say I believe in modesty and not just wearing anything and everything, I also believe the way it’s been taught has been very hurtful and legalistic. This blog post really challenged my thinking, and I think it’ll challenge yours. We tend to objectify women’s bodies in weird ways in the church, too, sometimes.

4. 17 Problems Only Book Lovers Will Understand A Buzzfeed that just made me laugh. I have all 17 of these problems (especially #5, #11, and #15). I am truly a book lover, and it comes with so many problems!

5. Only God Knows–A Look At Pain and Worry Mara is a great blogger who I’ve gotten to know over the last few months. She has dealt with a lot of health problems, and so have I, so I appreciated her post on this topic. Sometimes, when you are pain, you feel so alone. You feel… not normal in a society with people who seem to have no problems, no pains, no issues. Remember, you are not alone.

6. What I Won’t Tell You About My Ballet Dancing Son This post is beautiful. A mother shares her story of her ballet-loving son. Her son simply loves to dance, despite others wanting him to conform to rigid stereotypes of what a boy is supposed to like (football? guns? violent video games?). This is a wonderful reminder that each person is made with unique loves, talents, and abilities. I hope this boy can be strong throughout the years and remain true to himself. As a woman who has often defied stereotypical labels (I like epic battles, swords, martial arts, adventures…and plenty of girl things, too haha), I relate to this so much. Just embrace who you are. Be who you are.

7. When Your (Brown) Body is a (White) Wonderland With the Miley Cyrus VMA performance debacle taking center stage this week, I read plenty of articles on the horrendous display of I-don’t-even-know-what-to-call-it that Miley exhibited. However, no article had the angle this one takes: How Miley Cyrus’ video performance (the first song she sang) was horribly racist and perpetuated demeaning sexual stereotypes about black females and their bodies. (That, too, Miley. What were you thinking?). The writer also talks about her own experiences as a black woman, and it was both mind-blowing and eye-opening. I know I’m naive, and I have a lot to learn. But I want to come alongside and try to understand these kinds of issues. Read this article, it’s very insightful and thought-provoking. (I immediately got what the writer was saying once I re-watched the video after reading this article. Wow. It’s disturbing.)

8. Four Interpretive Pitfalls Around the New Testament Household Codes I actually don’t read Rachel Held Evans regularly, but this article is fascinating. It talks about the cultural and historical household codes that dictated society during Paul’s writings, and how that helped shape his commands on marriage, etc. Really interesting stuff that makes you think. Complementarians always make it out to be so black-and-white, but it’s not. The Bible is complex, and it’s meant to be wrestled with. We need to think through things on deep levels (I’m still on the journey, as we all are).

9. 17 Things You Don’t Say To A Woman With Short Hair Okay, I have short hair and I’m a woman. No, I don’t like other woman. Yes, I Iike having short hair. Yes, I know men are supposed to like longer hair better, but is my every thought about what men think?…Haha. I loved this particular Buzzfeed because I have had almost every one of these things said to me whenever I get my hair cut short (which has been several times in my life so far). Not included in this Buzzfeed are the subtle and not-so-subtle hints about how biblical women should have long hair. Don’t get me started…

10.  …. (You pick!!)

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Top 10 Blogs for Christian Women – Honorable Mention (Devotional Diva)

First off, I wanted to let every know that I officially finished #36 out of over 350 blogs over at Patheos.com. So thanks anyone who voted for me. You are the reason I stayed in the top 50. So thanks so much!!!

Second, I just found out that my blog made it on the Honorable Mention list over at Devotional Diva’s Top 10 Blogs for Christian Women. (Although I’d say my blog is definitely not only for Christian women–so don’t get that idea!!) ;)

Devotional Diva is an online magazine for 20-somethings trying to figure out life, faith, love, and everything in between. I’ve written several guest blog posts for the site, and I truly love this site. So I’m honored that my own blog made it onto this list.

I’ve been feeling truly encouraged about my writing this past two weeks.

Honestly, I’ve been getting really tired and discouraged about writing in general lately (both my blog and my novels). It’s also been a little rough, as I’m coming up on a lot of anniversaries that relate to my Kindred Spirit’s death this fall, and I’m just really having a rough time. I’m too tired, too busy, and too…everything. Heh.

Yet I feel as if these two blog acknowledgements were encouragement from God that I can’t give up on writing. But I’d appreciate prayer as to what all this means, because I know God is moving, but I’m not sure where or why or how. I just need a little energy boost. A little refreshment. A little direction. Some more deep healing and comfort from God over grief.

Thanks for all your support, encouragement, and love along the way. The blogging world is truly amazing. :)

Related Posts:

Which Christian Blogs Are You Reading? on Patheos.com

Top 10 Blogs for Christian Women on Devotional Diva

Follow God’s Heart: article by Teryn O’Brien on Devotional Diva

Your Love Can’t Change Him: article by Teryn O’Brien on Devotional Diva

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I need YOUR help! (vote for me, please)… :)

Hey everyone, I need your help!

Someone just nominated me as a Christian blog you should be reading. I had no idea I was on this list until a coworker of mine pointed out. I’d love it if you went and voted for me!!

1. Go to this link: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christianpiatt/2013/08/which-christian-blogs-are-you-reading-nominatevote/

2. Scroll down through comments (make sure you’re on the “crowd rank” tab). Watch for “Identity Renewed.” You’ll see my author bio picture.

3. Click the little arrow next to my name to bump it up.

I’m at #34 right now. Anyway, just happy I made the list and that someone nominated me (don’t know this person at all).

 

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