November 24, 2015

Gingerbread Houses & Our Baby

Molly was totally cracking us up as we made gingerbread houses.

It was clear she could smell the spices.

I could almost hear her thinking, "These cookies came from crinkly packages. Must be for me!" (Treats from plastic bags that we open in the living room usually are dog treats. Lol.) Molly danced around and couldn't understand why we wouldn't let her even lick them!

Silly girl.  :)

It was Dave's first time making gingerbread houses. He did the construction part, so they were quite sturdy little structures by the time the frosting dried!

As we decorated with more frosting, gumdrops, and other little candies, Dave reflected, "This will be so fun to do with our son or daughter someday."

We both smiled.

Lately, we find ourselves talking a lot about what we're looking forward to showing and teaching our baby. We're excited to experience the world through our baby's eyes and watch his or her own unique talents and personality develop.

We are completely amazed by how God is bringing together all the details for our adoption, especially in terms of opening doors for buying a house.

We still have a long way to go on fundraising, but donations keep coming in, and we have more plans for fundraising and applying for grants this winter. We keep stepping out in faith, trusting that God will provide everything we need.

Dave and I just wanted to say that we are so blessed by all your prayers and words of encouragement. It's a long journey, but we're so excited about what lies at the end of all the paperwork, interviews, and adoption education: our baby!

And in a few years, we hope to have another (very messy) gingerbread house to go alongside these, decorated by the tiny hands of our son or daughter.



November 3, 2015

Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes


Dave and I both care deeply about kids around the world. We always look forward to packing shoeboxes full of presents to send to kids through Operation Christmas Child! What we love about this ministry is that boys and girls are also introduced to the Gospel and have the opportunity to attend a discipleship class to learn more about Jesus.

By packing these shoeboxes, we can help meet the spiritual and physical needs of kids around the world. What a powerful opportunity!

I know that sometimes people wonder, "What should I pack?" Well, here's what we packed in our shoeboxes this year. Hopefully, you can glean some ideas of your own from our lists!  :D  This year, we chose to pack shoeboxes for boys. Overall, girls receive more shoeboxes than boys. When we found out that boys ages 2-4 and 10-14 typically receive the fewest boxes, we wanted to do what we could to help meet this need.


For boys 2-4, we packed:

A giraffe Beanie Baby
Sticker sheet
Sticker/activity book
Small lined notebook
Bead lizard
Crayons
Toothpaste
Child toothbrush
Plastic bowl
A small 4-year-old-sized t-shirt
Tootsie Rolls & Laffy Taffy (see candy restrictions here)
3-pack of bar soap
Soft bouncy-ball


For boys 10-14, we packed:

Pens
Pencils
Pencil sharpeners
Small notepad
Water bottle
Handkerchief
Toothbrushes
Toothpaste
Small sports ball
Laffy Taffy & Tootsie Rolls (see candy restrictions here)
Duct tape
3-pack of bar soap

October 29, 2015

Pumpkin Carving

We're busy ... but not too busy to carve a couple of pumpkins!



Even Molly got in on the action. Now, she's pretty much obsessed with pumpkins. Oops.  :)



October 3, 2015

12 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Younger

It's October ... my favorite month of the year!

Ever since I was a kid, October has held a special kind of magic for me. The leaves change color. It's sweater and hot chocolate season. Thunderstorms shake the roof. It's the month of my birthday. And feeling a strong breeze as I walk in nature always reminds me of the presence of God.

This year, I'm reflecting on some of the lessons I've learned over these past 29 years that I wish I knew when I was younger. I thought I'd share some of those with you today.

1. Celebrate your exquisite uniqueness!

2. Don't compare yourself to others.

3. And on a related note, trying to impress others or meet their perfectionistic expectations just leaves you feeling empty and worthless. Stop doing that.

4. A number on a scale doesn't define your worth or the person that you are. And neither do societal or medical labels.

5. Take the focus off of yourself. Bless others, listen to them, serve them.

6. Don't be afraid to open up. I know that weaknesses are difficult for you to talk about because admitting to them makes you feel inferior. But being imperfect is not only "okay," it's the story of every human being but one.

7. Invest in relationships that matter, and dive deep into friendships. Share from your heart--even the dark parts. There really is a blessing in bearing each other's burdens.

8. Writing is awesome. You should make a career out of it!  :)

9. Remember that God is truly all you'll ever need. No matter the struggle, you're still in the grip of the God who made you. Look to him for strength and the will to press on when you have nothing left.

10. Keep in mind the things that are eternal. This body is just a temporary residence.

11. Serve God to the best of your ability wherever he puts you.

12. What you feel doesn't matter as much as what you do.

What words of wisdom would you share with your younger self? One of my favorite things is hearing from my readers, so please make a comment below!

September 18, 2015

Adoption Update!

Dave and I have been really busy with adoption paperwork. Right now, we're working on finding a house (so we have room for our growing family!). We're also gradually getting in the 60+ hours of adoption education we need to complete as a couple. It's quite a process! But we're thankful for these required hours of education. We truly are learning so much about open domestic adoption and what it will mean for our child over the years.

I continue to brainstorm fundraising ideas and options. $21,000 is quite a daunting amount! Dave and I are setting aside as much as we can to go towards that goal each month. I know there are mixed feelings and opinions about fundraising for adoption. Some people say, "Well, you should only adopt if you can afford it."

I read this article by Heart Knit Home lately, and I really resonated with what Kelsey said:

"I never want anyone to feel pressured to give to us. I'm not expecting a hand out. I don't expect to be given something for nothing. I will work my hands to the bone ... I am and will continue to WORK to raise the money needed to bring my daughter home. And I will pray that people will be receptive to what we're doing. I will pray that God will place an understanding in their hearts that we are talking about children, children who desperately need love and a family, children that could be provided for were it not for FEES standing in the way."

Dave and I are middle class people. We both work very hard, and we live within our means. Our cars and my student loans are paid off. We have no debt (other than a soon-to-be house mortgage). We are excited to welcome a baby into our family and have the resources to provide for a child. However, we don't have enough money to pay for all of our adoption fees. All we can do is step out in faith, trusting that God will somehow provide for the financial needs along the way.

Meanwhile, I keep thinking ... what else could I do? Or sell? Or make?

What would be something that people would be interested in buying to help bring our baby home? Should I write a poetry book or children's book? Should I try my hand at jewelry-making? Should we make t-shirts? Should I host a bake sale? Would anyone even want to buy stuff like this?

Anyway, that's a peek inside my brain lately.

Do you have any successful fundraising experiences? Or is there something I could make that you'd love to buy to support our adoption? I'd love to hear from you!

July 14, 2015

Adoption Is More Than Becoming A Mommy

Dave and I have so much love in our hearts to share with a baby.

When I was a little girl and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, the first thing I said was, "A mommy!"

But our adoption is about so much more than making me a mommy or Dave a daddy. It’s about giving a child a forever home where they will be loved and taught about God. It’s about giving them opportunities to grow and discover their unique talents and gifts. It’s about building a family however God calls us to build it—even if it’s not the easiest way. There are a lot of unknowns on this road towards adoption. We’re a little nervous, but also so confident that God will provide what we need along the way.

There is something uniquely beautiful about adoption. It mirrors God’s adoption of each of us as his children, welcoming us into his family. As we continue to take steps forward on this journey, Dave and I can’t even begin to tell you how much it means to have you standing with us in prayer! Much love to you all.

July 2, 2015

Back from Florida!

Dave and I spent a week with his family down in Florida over the past week. We had a great time!
Sorry we don't have any photos to share ... we were too busy having fun! But here are some highlights from the trip:

  • Feeding a live alligator by attaching gator food to a string on a stick. (I was behind a fence. It was perfectly safe.)  ;)
  • Going shelling and discovering a beach covered in INCHES of shells. Amazing!
  • Mini golf at a pirate-themed course.
  • Relaxing and reading books side-by-side on a screened-in porch, watching the sun set.
  • The food was amazing. It set me back a little in terms of my #22by30 goal, but I'm getting back on track now that we're back from vacation!


June 22, 2015

A Word Cloud!

Every writer has her favorite words and topics. I turned to a word cloud generation tool to help me get an inside look at this blog. Here is a conglomeration of my favorite words and topics.

Enjoy!


Image Credit: http://worditout.com/


June 8, 2015

What I Wanted To Be When I Grew Up

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

I don't know about you, but I got asked this question a lot as a kid. And my answer changed all the time! I wanted to be an astronaut and explore the fascinating things I saw in night sky. (When I was really little, I used to think that stars were tiny pinpricks in the sky that the light of Heaven shone through.)

After having to take a lot of medicines as a young girl, I asked my mom where the medicines came from. She said, a pharmacist. So, I decided I wanted to become a pharmacist so that I could make all medicines taste like candy. I had a plan of soaking hard candies in liquid medicines.  :)

My parents thought I might pursue a career in medicine--as a nurse or doctor--because I used to read our medical book FOR FUN when I was younger. I was fascinated to learn about our amazing bodies, diseases, treatments, and all things medical. I never shied away from blood. Or adventure.  :)  I remember wanting to be a storm chaser, too. Read the backstory to my fascination with thunderstorms here.

In 5th grade, I believed that my best quality was soccer.  :)



That same year, I was asked to make a book. I wrote about what I wanted to be when I grew up. Like the nostalgic girl I am, I kept the book all these years. Here's what I wrote in photos!













Clearly, I was conflicted.  :)

As you might imagine, I had a hard time settling on a major to pursue in college. But I entered my freshman year determined to make a career in social work. With my strong sense of social justice, this seemed a great fit to me.

But then, a year and a half in, I felt a distinctive pull to switch my major to Communications. And I did. The academic dean at my college asked me the same question that day I'd been asked all my life: "What do you want to be when you grow up, Laurel?" I still really had no idea, but I liked that a degree in Communications offered me a lot of options. In college, we joked that Communications was the degree for people who didn't know what to do with their lives. There was some truth to that! I considered going into radio, editing, and a few other Communications-related fields.

But the funny thing is, the career I ended up in has been staring me in the face since I was 7 years old. My mom tells me she doesn't recall ever seeing a 7-year-old write as much as I did. I began journaling, chronicling our trip out west and all the things we saw and did. I kept journaling for many years of my life. I always enjoyed writing. My mom told me I was a good writer (but moms are supposed to say that kind of thing, right?).  :)  It wasn't until I hit my stride in college and then absorbed lots of information in two writing-based internships that I truly thought, "I could make a career out of this." And love doing it, too!

It took a few years, but one of those internships launched me into a job as a full-time writer. Hindsight vision is 20/20, right? What seems so clear now (how I ended up as a writer) was very murky for years. I'm just glad that God knew better than I did and led me to a place where my passion for justice meets my love of writing.

June 3, 2015

What’s New with Dave and Laurel

I’ve been asked lately about what’s new with Dave and me.

Well, last month, we started tutoring a young Burmese family in English together. I’ve always loved to teach (just ask my younger sister!), and it’s been fun to make lesson plans and help this family get a handle on some of the basics of our crazy language!

Another ministry opportunity that I recently jumped into is writing to people who are in prison. I write once a week to encourage one person and share about my faith over time. Of course, I love to write—so this is a natural fit for me! Some of you might find this odd, but I really like to send and receive snail mail. There is something so personal about that—because it takes more time and effort than sending off an email or text. And there’s a lot more room for creativity! I can doodle and use stamps … and even send origami or a picture I colored. (Yes, I still color. Don’t judge.)  ;)

Meanwhile, Dave and I are keeping an eye on the housing market and familiarizing ourselves with the steps we need to take. We’re excited to start seriously house hunting next month!


May 28, 2015

The #CharlieCharlieChallenge: Good, Bad, or Both?

The hashtag #CharlieCharlieChallenge burst onto social media recently, and has been growing enormously in popularity. Earlier this week, the BBC reported that over 2 million people used this hashtag in just one 48-hour period!


What is the #CharlieCharlieChallenge?


So, what is this challenge that seems to be taking the internet by storm? It’s a “game” any child can play because it only takes two pencils and a piece of paper. But it bears an eerie similarity to Ouija boards because the idea behind the game is to call on a demonic spirit.

I think this BBC article captured the essence of it pretty well: "It's a game which involves balancing pencils over the words 'yes' and 'no' on a piece of paper. Players ask questions which are supposedly answered by Charlie - a mysterious demon who spookily moves the pencils, if you believe in that sort of thing."

The #CharlieCharlieChallenge is popular among teens right now. It's gone viral and has jumped into the American mainstream.


The Bad


Okay, let me be clear about this. The #CharlieCharlieChallenge is evil ... and I dare say, Satanic. I just want to make sure you know where I'm coming from before you read the next section. I've been accused of being an eternal optimist, so I guess take what I have to say next in that context.  :)


The (Potentially) Good


I think that the popularity of the #CharlieCharlieChallenge points to American kids' inner conviction that there's a spiritual realm and their desire to connect with that realm. (Or maybe they're just curious and wonder if such a spiritual realm is real.) Of course, they're seeking out connection and answers in a very dysfunctional and wrong way; they are looking to connect with evil rather than good, and that is dangerous.

But -- at least from what I've seen up until now -- even a simple awareness of the spiritual reality that surrounds us seems to have escaped most kids in the U.S., especially if you compare them with their Eastern counterparts. I am encouraged to see evidence of a desire to become more aware of it, at any rate. In this era of popularized atheism, I was worried that for many kids and teens in America, that desire had disappeared altogether.

Bottom line, if you are a Christian believer like I am, we serve the God who can take what Satan means for evil and turn it into something good. I hope that the #CharlieCharlieChallenge opens up conversations about the spiritual reality that surrounds us … and ultimately, about God.

May 26, 2015

How to Thrive in a Selfie Stick World

Dave and I traveled to a flea market this week.

We had lots of fun poking around different shops and laughing at some of the strange wares we saw displayed. Hanging under the flaps of one tent, a sign proudly boasted, "Selfie Sticks Sold Here."

For those not familiar with these sticks, they're an invention that allows you to take "selfie" pictures featuring you with more people. I think it's so strange how selfies have completely taken over the internet. Before I owned a digital camera, I used to almost exclusively take pictures of things and people other than me! I looked for the beauty in the things around me.

But the advent of the social media and selfie stick age has brought with it a cultural acceptance (and promotion of!) narcissism. Vanity. Obsession with ourselves. And that can quickly slip into a dangerous desire for the approval of others. (How well I know that.)

If I was to put together a guide for thriving in a selfie stick world, this is where I would start. Maybe you need these reminders as much as I do!:

1. It's not about you.
For Christian believers like me, life is ultimately about God. His plans. His purposes. His desires. How much are your posts on social media pointing to Jesus instead of yourself?

2. Listen well.
Especially as a writer, I spend so much time speaking into things -- from social media to work to family. As much as I love to write and talk, it is so much more important to actively listen to broaden my understanding and meet people where they are at.

3. Look outside yourself.
It can be all too easy for me to get caught up in my own worries, excitement, disappointments, life circumstances, etc. that I fail to look outside of myself. When was the last time you noticed something beautiful in nature? How could you help meet a need in the world? 

4. Don't seek validation from others.
How many times have I checked my Facebook page just to see if someone liked or commented on something I posted? It's got to be an embarrassing number. Instead, I want to spend my time building up and encouraging others, shining the light of Christ into their lives.

5. Comparison steals joy.
This one's related to #4. Envy can sneak in when you're looking at pictures of a friend's cute baby, bigger house, model-like body, etc. One great way I've found to combat this is with gratitude. Keeping a gratitude journal is a great practice, but at least make sure to praise God every day for a few of the blessings in your life!

So, yeah, just some thoughts I was having tonight. What would you add to this list?

May 20, 2015

Hezekiah

In my personal time of studying the Bible last week, I read from 2 Kings.

I was really moved by the story of Hezekiah. He's not one of those figures in the Bible you usually hear about in a sermon or even Sunday school, but I think his story is worth being told more. Hezekiah is a descendant of David and an ancestor of Jesus. After numerous generations of idolatrous and evil kings in Judah, Hezekiah came on the scene.

He was only 25 when he became king, but Hezekiah did what so many other kings before him had failed to do. 

"He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.) Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses" (2 Kings 18:4-6).

Later on in the chapter, Assyria's king, Sennacherib, threatened war on Hezekiah and his people. Sennacherib sent his commander, who tried to convince the local people not to believe their king, Hezekiah, when he told them the Lord would save them. Still later, we see Sennacherib boasting about his exploits in a letter to Hezekiah, which is recorded in 2 Kings 19:10-13:

“Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria.’ Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered? Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my predecessors deliver them—the gods of Gozan, Harran, Rezeph and the people of Eden who were in Tel Assar? Where is the king of Hamath or the king of Arpad? Where are the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah?”

And what did Hezekiah do in response to these threats? I love this.

"Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: “Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God. “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God" (2 Kings 19:14-19).

I love that Hezekiah's immediate response to the threats of an enemy was to go into the presence of the Lord. I was really struck by the image of Hezekiah spreading out the letter before the Lord and then entering into a time of prayer. Whenever trials come into my life, I want my knee-jerk reaction to echo Hezekiah's ... to lay those things before the Lord and seek him in prayer.

Oh, and in case you're wondering how this ended up ... God heard Hezekiah's prayer and delivered the nation from Sennacherib and his vast army.

May 16, 2015

Molly is so cute!

Here's a new video of Molly. Because she's just so stinkin' cute!


May 15, 2015

Finding Our Dream House

Dave and I will soon kiss condo life goodbye.

We're planning to buy a house--and hope we can find a great one before Thanksgiving. Soooo excited! It'll be my first time buying a home (although Dave has walked this path before). Any advice to share for this first-time home buyer? I'm all ears.

Dave and I started to put together a wish list for our dream home, and here's what we've come up with so far:

  • Newer roof and good structure
  • 3+ bedrooms
  • 1.5+ baths
  • 2-stall attached garage
  • 1 story with finished basement
  • Lots of kitchen counter space & cupboards
  • Fenced-in backyard for Molly, our dog  :)
  • Brick home
  • Nice, family-friendly area
  • Close to a library

We're willing to put a bit of work in to finish a basement, put up a backyard fence, etc. And I know we might not get everything on our wish list ... but it sure would be nice!  :D


UPDATE: Our house-buying plans have been delayed until spring of 2016. Stay tuned!

May 5, 2015

And the Winning Poem Is ...

The results are in! Before I share the winner with you, I want to say a special thank you to all who shared their votes with me. It was really fun for me to see which ones were your favorites! :)

By a slim margin, the poem from my April Poetry Challenge that received the most votes was … Amia!

Amia, a fairy, pins hair in a plait Whilst sipping a tin can Admiring light wings And a tail shining as a star A bit vain in a glass As rain drips again In a fairy lair

You may have noticed that this poem contains only three vowels: A, I, and Y. Restricting myself to words that only contain these vowels made it challenging to write, but really enjoyable, too! Glad to see that so many of you loved it. :)


April 30, 2015

Vote for YOUR favorite poem!

Phew! That was a lot of poetry! Thanks to all who offered encouragement and ideas along the way as I worked through my April Poetry Challenge.

Now, it’s time to cast your vote for your favorite poem from this challenge! You can leave a comment under that poem OR comment here with the name of your favorite poem. (The poems eligible for this competition were posted from April 1-30, 2015. You can find the whole list of 30 poems here.)

One vote per person. Voting ends this Monday, May 4 at 10pm.

May the best poem win.


Bury the Poems

What would happen
If I buried my poems
In rich soil?

Would a madwoman crawl out
Muttering nonsense?

Would a bat inch his way
Through the mud to the open air?

Would a tree sapling sprout
And spout love poems?

Would a vain fairy named Amia
Burst forth and fly away?



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 29, 2015

A Fly's Day

He doesn't know I zig and zag
Over his tattoos as he loses his shoes
And snoozes watching the news

Zooming, I brazenly peruse
The day's prizes--
Pizza, wings, and cheese

Frozen breezes seep from the windows
Pushing me in a dizzying maze
As I graze on the buffets

Hours later, I buzz out
Over nature's bouquets
Over-sized as the sun's rays

I suppose I'll doze on that rose.



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 28, 2015

My Shadow

My shadow
isn't made of matter.
It can't occupy a bowl
Like cake batter.

It's not alive.
And yet it grows and shrinks.
And lays beside me
When I get forty winks.

Sometimes, it's a dove gray
And then swiftly turns black.
When I exercise,
I can see it doing jumping jacks.

I've seen my shadow dance, too,
And don a hat.
It's also tripped
And fallen flat.

My shadow can even
wave "hello" or "goodbye"--
Or mouth the words
To a lullaby.

My shadow's not matter
In a classic sense.
But I like mine
Without pretense.



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 27, 2015

Walking to the Barn

Blood-sucking bats.
That's what my parents--both teachers
Shared about with us tonight
In a book about exotic animals
After dinner.

Then, Mom asked if I'd fed
The cat.
Gulp. No.

So, I grabbed my jacket from a
Hook in the hallway.

My cat lived in the backyard
Where the sun had
Dug a deep hole in the horizon
And disappeared--
Taking every drop of light.

The sky was a new chalkboard
With not a single prick of chalky whiteness
To break the black.

The sooty sky
Was the perfect hiding place
For a blood-sucking bat.

I felt for my hood, bringing it up
Protectively around my white neck
Surely an easy target--especially
On such a night.

I shivered with the tree leaves
As the wind blew past.
I ran at a dead sprint
To the barn door.

Inside, I looked suspiciously up
At the rafters
But I saw no flutter
of wings.

I lifted precisely one scoop
of cat food into the cat's dish
As she mewed in the corner.

I shuddered looking out into
the black night.
Now I had to walk
Back home!



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 26, 2015

Green-eyed Gossip

Beware of Lady Gossip
Concealed in the shadows,
Green eyes glinting
Eager to destroy her prey

Her gnarled roots entangle conversation
Poisoning the hearts of
speaker and hearers
Forming bent, twisted opinions

Secrets are her perfume
Eagerly wafting from her wrists
The stench cannot be contained

Her whispers are sickeningly sweetened
By the words, "I'm only telling you this
so you'll know how to pray."

Lady Gossip talks too much.
She has broken confidences
And divided close friends.

Beware of Lady Gossip
Lest she tear you apart.



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 25, 2015

Still In My Heart

In a busy Mexican marketplace
A brown-eyed boy blocks my path
Selling Chiclets with a downcast face
I give him pesos, generous in my math.

The cobbled streets of Prague
Whisper stories under the feet of passersby
As the river's misty fog
Soars to meet the just-lit sky.

In the Dominican Republic, an orphan girl
Slips into the seat beside me
Her black hair a tangle of fuzzy curl
My name sounds strange to her ears, and we laugh freely.

India's Taj Mahal, resplendent in white
Conceals a tragic tale
It's a tomb, though blisteringly bright
And enormous in scale.



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 24, 2015

A Moment I'd Rather Forget

Shivering, I strolled
under tangled trees
My slow breath a foggy mist
My path crunchy with frost

Birds warbled, trilled, and called
The messengers of spring
I tried to smile, but my face
was too numb

Just ahead, I spotted the warm lodge
Where breakfast awaited
The smell of sausages
Wafted on the chilly breeze

Flinging open the door
I realized I was late
As twenty pairs of eyes turned on me
Gasps sounded

Hands covered tittering mouths
Fingers pointed--all at me
Instinctively, my hand touched my chilled cheek
Coming away white and wet.

"She has bird poop on her face!"



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 23, 2015

Funeral

I don’t want to see him
I’m not strong enough
To gaze into the casket

But they tell me I must.

My throat is tight
Like coiled springs
Legs shudder under
My black dress.

I see him.

Why does this waxen, lifeless manikin
Look like him?
And yet not like him?

Hot tears hover in my aching gaze
Threatening to boil over
Down my flushed cheeks.

And finally … they do.

The hot drips
Spiral me into emptiness.

It's hard to imagine God has
A plan, a purpose in this
But my mind tries to convince me anyway.
It will be long before heart
And soul can follow.



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 22, 2015

My Hideout

This tree is my hideout
Thin, spiny leaves arch overhead
Kissing the rugged dirt
Where I sit, hands clasping knees

Thin, spiny leaves arch overhead
A thick canopy with tiny sunlit pinholes
Where I sit, hands clasping knees
And leaning against scaly bark

A thick canopy with tiny sunlit pinholes
Kissing the rugged dirt
And leaning against scaly bark
This tree is my hideout.



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 21, 2015

Fuzzy Chipmunk

A fuzzy
chipmunk
squirreled
underground
Clutching a tiny
steaming
mug of
bitter
coffee
I am
Not.



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 20, 2015

My Anxiety, the Troublesome Tagalong

“Mental illness” is a scary phrase
A stigma that dogs me now
Throughout my days
A companion I wish I could disavow.

Niggling fear in the back of my mind
Becomes a fast drumming heartbeat
My breathing feels confined
Numbness steals my hands and feet.

Anxiety was huge and I felt small
Even novels, movies, and driving
Left me curled in a ball
And barely surviving.

My wet grip on the life raft kept slipping
Over and over again, I sank in anxiety waves
Losing sight of the raft, cold and dripping
Feeling anything but brave.



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

P.S. If you'd like to read more about my journey with anxiety, start here: My Struggle With Anxiety (Episode 1)

April 19, 2015

Mirror

My name is Mirror
In reflecting light, I see things as they
Really are
Revealing flaws and beauty alike
Oh, but I abhor darkness
Revolting black that obscures all light.



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 18, 2015

Amia

Amia, a fairy, pins hair in a plait
Whilst sipping a tin can
Admiring light wings
And a tail shining as a star

A bit vain in a glass
As rain drips again
In a fairy lair



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 17, 2015

Swing Set

Thinking of swings brings to mind
How I felt like a king with wings
Or a rock in a sling
On a swing set in the spring.



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 16, 2015

More Than A Picture


Looking at this picture, 
What would you guess about our story?
A picture is like a tiny gem
That doesn't reveal the whole quarry.

This picture doesn't tell you
That we met through online dating
Or that Dave plays hockey
But I hate roller and ice skating.

It doesn't whisper that I had mono
only six months before
Or that I would soon find out
That Dave sometimes snores.

A photo also can't capture
How we fell in love
And how Dave's weird and my weird
Go better together than a hand and a glove.

But you probably can see
That I found the love of my life
And that I'm so excited
To be his wife!



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 15, 2015

Beautiful

Bonny bluebells bend in the breeze
Ebony elk elegantly emerge from evergreens
An albatross ascends in the air
Under brush, a rabbit runs unfettered
Tiny toads topple into translucent water
Instinctively, illuminating insects inflame the night
Flowing fronds of sassafras wave flawlessly
Unified crickets sing an uplifting tune
Laughing, the life-giving lake laps the land.



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 14, 2015

Yellow Fabric

Colorful fabric swings in the breeze
As marketplace vendors call to me
Not wanting to long linger
Timidly, I point my finger
At a long bolt of smooth yellow.

Behind the booth, a young fellow
Picks it up and holds it aloft
My fingers touch the fabric—so soft!
I sigh, my gaze a bit starry
As I picture the cloth as a beautiful sari.

I pull out my worn purse
Hoping he won’t notice my face is terse
Digging inside, I offer a fistful of rupees
My desperate look saying, “Please?”
Instantly, I see his eyes snap.

He knew that of education, I’d not had one scrap.
He tells me the price, counting my money
Is it just me, or is his face a little too sunny?
I walk away, yellow cloth in hand
Feeling not at all in command.

Did he cheat me or not? I just can’t tell.
Illiteracy is a jail cell.



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 13, 2015

When You Weren't Home

When you weren't home, you supposed me pining,
Annoying our neighbors with my whining
But I have a confession to make:
Though I looked drowsy-eyed, I was awake
When the garage door closed
I nosed
The ground
And found
A few chores had been left undone.
So, I decided to finish them, knowing you'd be stunned.

With the observation skills I've been employing
I've noticed our curtains are nothing but annoying
Shut to open, open to shut
What is the point of this little ritual, what?
Besides, I never cared for that deep shade of brown,
So I pulled every last curtain to the ground.

Finished with that,
I set my sights on a tissue, fallen on the bathroom mat
Gazing above, I saw a whole tissue roll
And I made decimating it my new goal
Scattering fluffy debris here and there
Decorating our home all the way to the living room chair.

Suddenly I heard the sound
Of an opening door, and I jumped 'round
And 'round your legs as if to say,
"See how much I helped today?"



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 12, 2015

Why Red?

Out of the rainbow of colors, why is my favorite red?
Lots of reasons could be said,
But there's one that rises above the spread.

Red's the color of the blood that Christ shed
From his nail-pierced hands and feet he bled
And from the thorns pricking his head

Giving me life when I was dead.



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 11, 2015

Is It Spring?

Glittering ice snaps
Softly, silence is shattered
The forest awakes



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 10, 2015

How a Cactus Says, "I Love You"

When thinking of things that say, “I love you,”
Cacti don’t usually make the list
With prickly and pointy spines
They aren’t likely to be chosen if you want to be kissed

More likely candidates include
Deep red roses, candlelight, champagne
Sweet chocolate, a heartfelt note,
Or a violinist’s beautiful strains

But you knew my heart
And weren’t afraid to break the rules
You searched for that perfect cactus
Which meant more to me than jewels

The truth is, love is not one-size-fits-all
So, let me give the rest of you guys a clue
Find out what your girl really wants
It might just be a cactus that best says, “I love you.”



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 9, 2015

Where is the Line?

I have loans and bills to pay
Cups of tea at the café
Let’s not forget makeup and hairspray
Oh, and I want to see that ballet.

“Beauty, wealth, and influence are the way
To lead a meaningful life today!”
“You deserve to entertain yourself before you hit the hay!”
At least that’s what culture seems to say.

But I think those things lead to societal tooth decay.

I don’t believe it’s wrong to buy tickets to a play, per se,
But how much am I thinking of others when I give those dollars away?
With hurt, loss, disease, poverty, death, and decay
In the world, why does my selfishness still hold sway?

At some point, I go beyond “okay”
I cross the line and fritter away
What could have been used to allay
Awful injustice and evil today.

I am the Potter’s clay.
Lord, mold and shape me; cut away
The selfishness that drags its feet, wanting to stay.
I don’t want to follow you halfway.



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 8, 2015

On a Rainy Day

I dare you to pick up that worm

Don’t drop it! It’s wet and squirming.
And now I double dare you to
Raise it to your mouth. Yes!
Even with the wet dirt still clinging to it.

You can’t refuse the triple dare!
Open your mouth wide … yep, like that, and
Unflinching, drop the wriggling worm down your throat. Ewww, that was gross!



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 7, 2015

Gift Ideas for Compassion Child (Part 2)

Gift Ideas for Compassion Child, which I wrote back in July, is one of my most popular blog posts of all time!

So, I think a Part II is long overdue!

I'm sending letters and small, flat paper objects to Adelce and Rhoda, the two girls I sponsor through Compassion International, and here are some of the recent things I've sent and/or am sending soon. I hope it sparks some ideas of your own!  :D

I recently took a one-night art class with my husband. After our class, I had him snap a quick picture of my finished product. If you're artsy, a photo of you with one of your art pieces might be a fun thing for your sponsored child to see!



If you're more of a doodler, send some doodles! Also, crayons and markers aren't just for kids! Here's a scene I drew and colored to send to one of my girls:



I really enjoy card stock paper -- it comes in such fun colors and patterns and there's so much you can do with it! I cut some rectangles out of card stock and stapled the pages together to make a small book:



One of my more recent ideas was to trace shapes on card stock and then cut them out. You could do outlines of clothes for paper dolls, animals, stars or other shapes ... use your imagination! I LOVE the way these dresses turned out!




Finally, if you're looking to add a little sparkle, I really have enjoyed using this roll of duct tape (I can't be the only girl who loves shiny things!). TIP: Fold duct tape around the edge of a letter or make it into a simple bookmark!  :)



The Poolside

Water sloshed as Dad
Raised his hands from the depths
and clapped them in my direction
“Jump to me!”
He said.

Quivering, I stood by the poolside
Not keen on the idea
Of my feet leaving the
solid pavement for the
liquid pool

But at his urging, at last
I jumped
Not because I’m an excellent jumper
Or because the water is safe
But because I trust Dad.

And he caught me.



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 6, 2015

Unequal

Every day, I’m locked indoors
Abandoned by my family
And when I cry in the middle of the night,
Hard-hearted, they ignore me

They don’t share the umbrella
When it rains
I just shiver, wet
As we walk the lanes

I’m not allowed to go outside
Without one of them or more
I’m not allowed to eat at the table
They serve my food on the floor

But when they come home
I always greet them, tail wagging
And if they have a treat,
That I might be guilty of snagging

So, I have to admit
Even though I’m not treated as an equal
I’m actually a pretty lucky dog
To have them as my people.



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 5, 2015

Easter Haiku

The stone rolled away
Revealing an empty tomb
He will come again!



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 4, 2015

If I Could

If I could,
I'd handpick words from every language
And fling the warmest of them across the sky
Shining brightly like stars in the night
I'd pluck the brightest as gifts
Each morsel of light absorbed in your heart's beat

If I could,
I'd capture every lover’s whisper that caused a man’s heart to skip
Or a blush to curl ‘round his ear
And hand the phrases to you in a jar
Like one we'd use to catch fireflies
in the garden

If I could,
I'd take the glow you put in my eyes
And the love in my heart
And replicate them with ink on paper
So you could hold that shining wonder
close to you all day



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 3, 2015

Good Friday

"Hail, king of the Jews!"
Soldiers cried out, falling on their knees
in mockery.

A simple purple robe
Twisted thorns as a crown
But Jesus did not step down.

The soldiers did not know
They spit on and struck
The One who created all of us.

"King of the Jews"
the sign above his head hailed
As to the cross Jesus was nailed.

But what the shouting mob didn't know
Is that they crucified the King of Kings
The Maker and Ruler of all things.

And when the noonday sun
should have been brightly shining,
The crowd found themselves in darkness confining.

Three hours later, into that dark blackness,
Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

And he breathed his last.

But that's not the end of the story ...



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.


April 2, 2015

Why I Should Have a Pet Bat

I think I should have a bat
It would be much better than a cat
He could sleep while I'm at school
And after dinner play on the piano stool

Say goodbye to mosquitoes and flies
They're his food and favorite prize!
I read in class that a bat's poop is great
at fertilizing, so Mom, your garden would look first-rate!

And at night when I'm in my room
What fun it would be to see him zoom
Winging in circles above my head
As I drift off to sleep in my bed.

Besides, you know my plan to become Batman
And who could train me better than a bat can?



This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

April 1, 2015

The Madwoman's Murmurings

I pace the halls more often than I should With a miniature dragon in my teacup. A key is trapped by peanut butter on my mirror. I wonder if dinner could get any weirder. With a bite of prickly cactus for dessert, I turned green. My pens started to whisper, and I screamed. For protection, I hired a llama who could find a werewolf hair To get the cigarettes out of my ears. Spiders keep stealing my nail polish brush. Sometimes I swear the wallpaper hears my thoughts. I like pickles, and sickles, and hearing blood trickle. I formed a daisy chain out of metal drains But I have never made a paper crane.


This poem is part of my April Poetry Challenge. In honor of National Poetry Month this year, I'm writing lots of poetry and posting a new poem every day in April! Read more of my poetry here.

March 24, 2015

My April Poetry Challenge!

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month?

Well, I'm going to do something here on my blog next month that I've never done before. I've set a goal of writing and posting a new poem EVERY DAY during the month of April. But I need your help! I'm in need of some great poem prompt ideas! Share yours in a comment below.

To whet your appetite, here's are two bonus poems that I wrote a while back that I haven't shared with you yet.


Death Sonnet

When death like shadowed curtain falls
And casts its doom upon my face
I can’t resist its urgent calls
To follow to that unknown place.

The breath of life death slowly steals
And covers sight with jet-black ink.
The warmth of joy death does not feel
Of evil work alone it thinks.

As poison counts the beats of heart
So death will take its time to kill.
It will in due time play its part
In making life turn cold and still.

Now, death will not sit by and wait
For me to set the time and date.


Penguin Poem

Slipping, sliding
Splash!
A cold belly-flop

Soaring, spinning
A flight under the waves

Deep, cool
Breezes float past my ear

A flutter of feathers
The water drops splatter and
cool to ice
on the white ground

Long waddle-walks
And a lifetime
of penguin praise to the Maker.

March 23, 2015

A Blast from the Past

I started keeping a journal when I was 7 years old. My family took a trip out west when I was that age, and I made sure to write down what caught my interest. It's neat for me to be able to relive memories through the eyes of my young self. Just for fun, the rest of this post is excerpted from the journal I kept on that trip. Enjoy!  - Laurel

We packed lots of things. We had Fanny Fae along. She is funny. She is a stuffed bear. She is mine. I got her for Christmas. I like going on trips.

There is a lot of corn there. I like corn. Do you? There is a place that has a silly name. I think there is 10,000 corn there.

We are going to the Badlands. I can’t wait until we get there. I can already picture it in my head – it looks bad. That is why it is called the Badlands because it looks bad. Get it? M-m-m-m. It was time for water and a snack. It was good. Then we went on our way. We were at the Badlands. We climbed a Badland mountain. They are high mountains.

At Wall Drug Store, I bought an Indian doll. She is special. She is expensive. She cost $5.00. I had $5.00, and I bought her. I do not have a voice for her yet, but I will someday. I will name her, too, someday. She is sort of big and sort of small.

We panned for gold, and I got some gold. It was shiny! I loved it. It was raining then, but I was inside of the building that had panning. We are going to Yellowstone Park. I can’t wait. I like what we did so far.

We rode in the clouds on a road in our car. Our ears popped. It was neat. It was great. It was terrific! It was fun. I saw animals. I saw two houses, lots of sheep, and a dog, and some more people, too. I like going on trips. They are exciting. We were at the Yellowstone Park. The lake was almost frozen. We looked for bears. We did not find any the first day yet – the first day in Yellowstone Park. We saw some mud volcanoes. It was stinky. I plugged my nose. We saw 30 buffaloes or more. We saw ducks in a pond. We saw the biggest buffalo in the world! We saw the geysers. I got to be a Junior Ranger.

We went swimming yesterday. It was fun. It goes to 8 feet water, and the shallow was 1 foot deep. Now that is so low. And 8 feet is deep. I cannot swim yet. I have swimmies. Do you like swimming? I do. We went to McDonald’s. We played on the toys. Then, we went on our way. We are going to the desert today. It will be fun. We went through a tunnel. It was fun.

March 16, 2015

Celebrating 2 years of marriage!

Dave and I dated for 8 months.
We were engaged for a little less than 3 months.
And now we've been married for 2 years!

I've shared about our love story before, but I couldn't resist posting a few more photos from our fairy-tale-like wedding day ... a day full of memories I will cherish all my life.

 He makes me smile. Like this.  :D


 March 16, 2013. The date imprinted on my heart.










Happy 2nd anniversary, my best friend and my love. I am proud and happy to be your wife.

- Your Laurel

March 9, 2015

50 Things About Me

Just for fun, here’s a list of 50 random things that you might not know about me:

1. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t an avid reader. (When I was in elementary school, I vividly remember picking up a large stack of The Boxcar Children books at the library. At checkout, the librarian looked me up and down and asked, “Are you sure you can read all of these in two weeks?” Yes. Yes I can.)

2. My favorite color is red, and it was the prominently featured color at my wedding.

3. I like tea. I don’t drink coffee.

4. I first tried Nutella when I was in Europe. (Does anyone else feel like Nutella makes all bread taste like a chocolate donut? Soooo good!)

5. I have never had a cavity.

6. When I was a child, I was obsessed with cats. (I was given a kitten for my birthday by a family friend one year. My parents didn't know about the gift until it was already given ... and I was so excited that my parents were nice enough to let me keep the cat, which I named "Butterscotch." The cat had to live outdoors, though, because my dad is allergic. In later years, I also developed a cat allergy. Sad day!)

7. Together, my sister and I read every one of Jane Austen’s novels aloud!

8. I don’t like plain tomatoes, but I do like tomato sauce, salsa, and ketchup. Weird, I know!

9. I was 23 years old when I had my first kiss.

10. I played the violin from 2nd grade through high school.

11. I love my husband. He’s honest, humble, hardworking, and funny. And handsome.  ;)

12. I began keeping a journal when I was 7 years old.

13. I can sing the alphabet backwards.

14. My favorite constellation is Orion, and it’s usually the first one I spot in the sky when I gaze up into the heavens on a clear night.

15. I have never broken a bone.

16. I am right-handed.

17. My favorite letter is D. It's been my favorite letter ever since I learned cursive in 3rd grade!

18. I prefer dark chocolate.

19. Dave and I have two pets: a red fish named Sir Percival Blakeney (Percy for short) and a Shih Tzu named Molly.

20. My favorite superhero is Batman. I also like Captain America.

21. I look so much like my mom that complete strangers comment on it when we’re out together!

22. Hockey is the sport I can most tolerate watching.  :)

23. I have had a lot of fun being in plays over the years. I love playing characters that are very different from my personality in real life. My favorite of the parts I’ve played so far was an angry hillbilly!

24. I have gone swimming with stingrays.

25. I can recite all 50 states in alphabetical order.

26. I am not a morning person. I typically prefer not to communicate verbally until after 10am.

27. I don’t like any kind of dressing on my salad.

28. Some people think I am tall, but I am actually the shortest of my siblings!

29. One day, while I was stopped at a red light in my car, I was rear ended by an SUV. The driver apologized, saying she was distracted because she was thinking about donuts. True story!

30. I’d prefer going to a play than a movie.

31. Owl City is my favorite musical artist.

32. My name, Laurel, has two meanings: flower and victorious.

33. When I want to cheer myself up, I watch video clips of babies laughing.  :)

34. When I was in high school, I fell flat on my face one day and had to get stitches! I still have a scar above my upper lip, but you have to look closely to see it.

35. According to Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I am an ENFJ.

36. I have been to a leper colony.

37. When I was a kid, I used to get in trouble a lot for talking in class.

38. People say I look like Molly Ringwald.

39. My favorite animal is the humpback whale.

40. When I was a child, my favorite food was my mom’s Broccoli Cheese Soup.

41. Autumn is my favorite season.

42. I have had panic attacks. They are awful!

43. I sponsor two little girls through Compassion International.

44. My favorite punctuation mark is the em dash. (Yeah, I am a bit of a grammar nerd!)

45. I enjoy baking and trying new recipes!

46. I don’t mind looking at mice in a pet store when they are behind glass, but it freaks me out if mice are skulking around in my living space!

47. I like opera, especially The Barber of Seville and The Magic Flute.

48. When I was a teenager, I used to volunteer in the dementia unit at a nursing home. (One lady was convinced that she left her oven on and had to go back to check on it constantly. Another had a baby doll that she swore was a real child. My favorite was a lady who thought she was a teenager like me. She’d grab my arm when I came in. “I’m glad you’re back!” she’d say. “I don’t know why I’m stuck here with all of these OLD people.” She regaled me with stories--including one about how she snuck out one night. She made me promise I wouldn’t tell her dad!)

49. My favorite people to sing with are my family.

50. Of all the Disney princesses, I find that I most identify with Snow White. Animals always seem to love me. I even met with a whole family of deer one time on a walk! I also love to sing. And then there’s my skin color … definitely a beautiful white!

Do you share any of these things in common with me? What are some random facts about yourself? I'd love to hear from you! Just post in a comment below.  :)