Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A True Thanksgiving Story: Guest Post

Today I have a special treat for you all. A good friend of mine (also a missionary kid and currently residing in Brazil) wrote this short story. You may know her as R. Franklin because she haunts a few of your blogs. B-) Yes, I have trained her well...
E-mailing back and forth was a little complicated, but I still managed to squeeze this story in before Thanksgiving was embarrassingly past. I mean, it's still November, right? ;) #pocrastinatorforever 
Long introduction short, I think you're going to enjoy this story...hence this post. Read on and let my good friend know how much you loved it!! 


Small Miracles
By R. Franklin

What a way to spend Thanksgiving! But before I actually begin the story, let me introduce you to everyone.
   First off, my family has six members: Dad, Mom, Ruth, Becky, Renee(that's me), and Grace. We are missionaries in a South American port city where my Dad teaches at a Bible school, SIBB. When this story takes place my maternal grandma, Aunt Rose, cousins Katie, Jean, and Sammy were visiting. My Aunt Rose is a photographer and as such walks around with a bulky camera, bag of lenses, and . . . whatever else photographers use. 
   It was the last day of classes (the school-year here goes from January to June, then August to November with many holidays in between) and Ruth, who had been taking a few classes at SIBB, was going to take the final exam. So without her and Dad, the rest of us took off for Areia Preta, meaning Black Sand beach. 
   We parked the old green pickup and gray sedan then clambered out in a blizzard of flip-flops, sunscreen, boogie boards, and the ever-present camera. The sidewalk was falling in at several places where the waves had erroded away the foundations. After climbing down a staircase onto the red sand, we kicked off our flip-flops and bee-lined toward that scintilating-blue web of light that some have called an ocean. We had to walk down the beach a little, and finding out that there was a path up to the road, created by a promontory of rocks, Mom went back up to re-park the sedan closer to where we were. She saw several policemen up there.
   Meanwhile, Katie, Becky, and I exploded into the water with the boogie boards. To our left was the rock barricade where several fishermen took advantage of deeper waters. To our right was open waters puncuated by several black teeth and gums that defiantly rose up out of the water closer to shore, sometimes being drowned by saliva. It was to our right, deeper into the water, where three teenage boys were surfing (or rather, attempting to).
   Mom came back and began talking to a JW teen named Anderson. 
   I glanced behind me; a perfect sized wave wobbled and whitened. Kicking up from bottom, I leaped in front of it and leaned slightly forward. Water crumpled over my face, and the sting of salt tried to assail my eyes. I edged my weight on one side and guided it toward where I saw Becky standing. The familiar grating of sand scratched beneath. 
   Becky was crying! 
   "What's wrong?"
   The wind carried away her words. I asked again.
   "Someone stole our camera!"
   She held up a thin camera strap that shivered dilapidatedly.
   This took some thinking. Becky pointed up to where the three surfers were messing around in the bushes that grew half-way up the hill. 
   Becky kept pointing to the sky, her eyes, then them.
   God sees you.
   I do not know if they understood because later Grandmama said that it looked like Becky was beating her fist in the air like she wanted revenge.
   I walked over to my mom. The Anderson guy was talking on his cell phone.
   "Mom, someone ran up behind Becky and stole the camera. She was facing the waves and he just tugged at it. The string broke, and he ran away yelling voce perdeu like it was her fault.
   Becky told Aunt Rose what happened, Katie came in from the water, and soon all of us were gathered together. Jean, Sammy, and Grace were playing the shallow water nearby.
   One of the teens (not the one who stole the camera) with curly dark hair dotted on top with a blob of died eggy blonde sauntered up with another pal. Both had earings that looked like large red sewing pins in fashion of the Quechua. There was black writing on the first boy's arm. The second boy stood a little behind the first.
   "Do you know that guy," Mom asked the first, indicating the teenager that was still messing around in the bushes.
   Aunt Rose suggested that if we paid him, he might convince his friend to return the camera.
   "If we give you twenty reals will you return the camera?"
   The two went of to discuss something then came back.
   "That's not enough money."
   The guy in the red shorts inched closer to Aunt Rose, glancing at the camera. Feeling nervous, she went to sit down on her big black bag and wallet where they lay at the base of the rock dike.
   He sat down next her, then suddenly lunged at her neck, tugging wildly at the camera. The thick canvas strap held.
   In the blur of those first few seconds, she landed on her knees. Quickly she decided to fall down and shield it.
   From there it's hard to remember.The boy in the red shorts began beating her. I recall punching him only to get the same treatment to my stomache. I grabbed the hard plastic boogie board and began ineffectively hitting him on the back. Katie and Rebecca did the same. Grandmama rammed into one and that well mannered dude slugged her in the mouth, cutting her lip. At one point, one of the teens (the second one who had mostly stayed out of it) landed near to where the younger ones had been playing. Jean grabbed Sammy and took Grace farther into the water.
   The teen in the red shorts picked up a large rock, dribbling his feet with a vicious look in his eyes.
   We then realized how very, very dangerous this was.
   I dropped the board and screamed with terror, with rage that they'd try to hurt us.
   Mom took up the call.
   "Policia! Policia!"
   Inwardly I was sobbing: go away! Go away!
   They took off running, and relief, gratitude replaced their presence.
   The boy mom had been talking to was up on the dike, yammering on his cell phone. Several fishermen rested up higher on the beach, staring at the scene they'd just witnessed.
   "Let's go now," several of us cried. We grabbed everything in reach and scrambled up the rock promonitory. None of us voiced our concern: they might come back.
   "I think my flip-flops are still down there," Jean said.
   "I don't care," my aunt yelled. 
   "They've caught him! They've caught him," people squawked, leaned out of their apartment windows like gawking birds. We stuffed everything into the car.
   "Over here," a man in a light blue coverall told us. 
   We debated whether to follow him; we were not in the mood to trust anyone, but then we caught sight of a group of policemen. The teen in the red shorts had his hands in cuffs, his head against a wall scrolled with grafiti. A man in a blue and white T-shirt also claimed his camera had been stolen. 
   A few people gathered around, staring at this interesting event.
   After asking a few questions they told us to go to the police station. We didn't want to go up to get the truck right then, so the police offered to give us a ride. We saw red-shorts getting into the police car.
   "I am not riding in there," I said.
   Thankfully there was another police car nearby, and Grandmama, Becky, and I scrambled in.
   Then we got into the truck and followed the police. I kept cracking jokes, while Katie was crying. I never have been good with channeling nervous energy into better expressions such as wiggling my foot.
   We got to the tourist police, but after waiting thirty minutes they told us we'd have to go somewhere else.
   When we got to the other station at 10:00, the interrogater was at morning college, and when she did get there, then the police had to go on lunch break. We didn't try to find a restaurant as this section of town was rather rough. Katie and Becky thought they saw two teenagers who looked like red-short's cronies. 
   Dad, Ruth, Pr. Reubens, and a young man from our church (who also studies at the seminary) came and brought some lunch. The receptionist let us use the small station kitchen. We feasted on watermelon and leftover turkey. After a few minutes, Ruth, Pr. Reubens, and the boy left.
   The trains rumbled by each hour, shacking the station.
   After the police came back, they interviewed Mom, Becky, Aunt Rose, and Grandmama. Then it was my turn. Red-shorts was in the same room, so I tried to cover half of my face with hair. I didn't have much to add to the report so I was soon ushered out. 
   The police came in with two boys who fit the description of the other two theives. We weren't sure; they were released.
   By then we had found out that red-short's name was Alan. His family came in, and we were able to give them gospel tracts. 
   It was already dark when we drove to the police hospital to confirm are "injuries". 
   We finally got home at seven o'clock, thirty minutes before the graduation banquet began. Dad, Mom, and Aunt Rose only left at eight.
   The next day the police requested photos to confirm our story; we were able to find the three teenagers in the background of some of Aunt Rose's pictures. Alan was denying charges, resulting in more than the normal twenty-four hour penalty. I wonder. . . what is his story.
   "Six Americans attacked me and tried to steal my surf board."
    But now I certainly have a story to tell. A story of gratitude. Our feast that Thanksgiving may have been watermelon and cold turkey, but I don't think I've been more grateful on a holiday.
   Grateful that he didn't have a knife or a gun. 
   Grateful that he didn't throw that rock.
   Grateful that none of us were hurt beyond several cuts and bruises.
   Grateful that God was in control, and that He is always in control. . .even when we do get things beyond "cuts and bruises."
   God is in control! And that's something to cling to and always be grateful for.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Incomplete: A Poem by Yours Truly

Today is Thanksgiving Day. Whoop, whoop! Probably you are all at home eating turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing with family. *cringes* I'm sorry about that. I think I'm going to skip on all that except the family part and go on a pumpkin pie and candy corn diet. Anyone with me on that? ;) 
Anyways, last year I wrote a whole blog post about being thankful. Cheesy and cliche, I know, but I did. So instead of doing that again for this year, I decided to give you a poem about something I am very thankful about: God isn't done with me. He hasn't given up yet (nor will He ever, thank goodness). I keep messing up my life, but God is always there to forgive me and help me move on. I'm pretty happy about that. And, good news guys: He's working on you all too! How's that for awesome? So, sit back with your leftover turkey dinner (since you're probably reading this tomorrow...that sounds weird, but anyways...) and reflect on all the things YOU have to be thankful for while reading my poem.

 *curtains open*
*music starts* 
*mic feedback* 
*waits awkwardly for feedback to stop, then bows*
So now, without further ado *clears throat* I present my poem entitled:

Written by Rebekah Eddy

I'm not perfect, I'm a sinner
Just like you, I'm a beginner
I've no idea what
Is in my future but
When God is done I'll be a winner!

I'm incomplete and unresolved,
My God's not finished with me yet.
I am broken, and undone,
But God's not finished with me yet.

He takes me through thorny briers
And through His refining fires
The dirt all burns away,
The gold shines bright as day
He never takes a break or tires.

I'm incomplete and unresolved,
My God's not finished with me yet.
I am broken, and undone,
But God's not finished with me yet.

I don't how long it will take
For God to perfect and make
This old self disappear,
To wipe off Satan's leer,
While Jesus pleads for my sake.

I'm incomplete and unresolved,
My God's not finished with me yet.
I am broken, and undone,
But God's not finished with me yet.

There are things I don't understand
I trust that God holds it in His hand
When good and innocent die,
And wicked are left alive
Over all this He has command.
I'm incomplete and unresolved,
My God's not finished with me yet.
I am broken, and undone,
But God's not finished with me yet.

My God will give me a chance
To bear fruit like other plants
No matter what I do,
He can make me just like new
So sing with me and dance!

We're incomplete and unresolved,
Our God is not finished with us yet.
We are broken, and undone...
But God's not finished with us yet!

So...*bites lip* what did you think? (And yes, this is a song...since I know that you were wondering. *points at chorus*) I thought this was a pretty good post to have after my rant on depression. ;) 
Enjoy your hectic life and Happy Thanksgiving! :D

Monday, November 14, 2016

Defeating Depression

Everyone has Those Days. Those days when you feel like nothing is going right. Those days when the world seems about to end (or has ended). Those days when you feel like no one loves, understands, or cares about you. Those days when even the weather seems to reflect the hurt and abandonment of your soul. Those days when you just can't stop crying and you don't know why. Those days when you're an emotional roller coaster. Those days when you just want to curl up in your favorite blanket and wallow in self-pity.

I come from a loving, Christian family. I have an optimistic, the-sun-is-always-there-even-if-it's-hidden-by-clouds personality. I'm one of those "the cup is half full...of juice!" people. But even I have Those Days.

Recently...on Election Day coincidentally, I was feeling depressed. After going to bed having a pretty good guess at who our next president was going to be, I just lay there wondering how God could let our country get this bad. I mean, He couldn't WANT this to happen, right? Why would He? What sort of twisted plan would involve such a mess like our nation is today?

Well, thankfully for me (and the rest of the world), God knows what the end looks like. And He actually DOES know what he's doing. And no matter how the future turns out, He is still in control. We all need to accept that. No matter how hard it is to do that.

But back to the main subject. Enough of the political rant for today or I'm going to end up using my own advice sooner rather than later. ;)

I'm writing this post in order to encourage myself and hopefully you as well. So let's do this.

Like I mentioned in the beginning of this post, everybody struggles with depression at some point in their lives. Self-doubt, self-pity, lack of self-confidence, and other variations of those things. For some reason, teens are hit the hardest when it comes to struggling with depression. Often times this is because of broken homes, bad friends, or unwise choices. Not knowing that there's a God who loves them also plays a part in that too I'm sure, which is why on a scale of one to ten Christian teens don't get as depressed as non-Christian teens. (Don't get me wrong though, Christians get depressed sometimes.)

As a Christian teenager, and one that comes from a loving, Christian family, I have an advantage over a lot of the teens who struggle with depression. (My cheerful, happy-go-lucky personality helps too...just saying. ;) But even so, there are lots of times when I feel like I'm not understood by my parents, or I feel picked on by the world in general. There are even days when I feel God is far away and somehow unreachable.

Because of this, I'd like to give you a few steps I take in order to climb out of that pit of selfishness we create whenever we throw a self-pity party. Hopefully it will help you like it has helped me in the past. :)

1: Stop focusing on the wrong things. You might have been treated unfairly. The world might be falling apart around your ears. That breakup might have torn a hole in your heart that you think is unmendable. Your parents might be acting unreasonable (although, for the record, I've found parents are usually right...just keep that in mind). But you shouldn't dwell on that. Dwelling on everything people have done to you will only make your depression worse.

2: Logically, if you're not supposed to focus of wrong things, the next step would be to focus on the right things. So step number two is just that: Start focusing on the right things. Phillipians 4:8 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible for a very good reason. When your mind starts to dwell on everything that's gone wrong in your life, STOP. Turn your mind instead to the the many blessings you have. Once you start looking for blessings in your life, it's hard to stop. And the list seems endless. Nothing is more amazing and awe inspiring than looking back on your many, many  thousands of blessings and realizing that your life really isn't that bad. After all, have you ever considered every breath you take is a gift from your Creator? If all else fails, you can thank Him for THAT.

3: Realize that there ARE people in your life who love you. A lot of times when kids (or even adults) are feeling depressed, its because they're having a "I'm worthless, no one cares about me or loves me" day. This is only a lie. A lie you tell yourself so you have an excuse to wallow in self-pity. EVERYONE, I repeat everyone has people in their lives that love them. Whether it's your parents, a favorite sibling, spiritual leaders, or friends. And even if you are a homeless beggar with no family (but apparently some sort of electronic device if you're reading this...) and no friends, God loves you. And He will always be there for you. No matter what. You can always count on Him...He will NEVER fail you. Keep that in mind.

4: Stop degrading yourself. You're not worthless. You're not unloved. You're not "trash" or "useless" or any other name people think up. You are precious in the sight of God. If your heart belongs to Him, nothing can take it away. He will help you overcome every trial that trips you up on the path of life. Sure, you might feel useless at times, but that's only an illusion. God knows exactly what He's doing with your life, and He'll make sure it happens. Read your Bible, keep your mind open to the guiding of the Holy Spirit, and pray often. If you do those things, God will use you to accomplish great things. Trust me on that one.

5: Seek out godly people in your life and talk with them about what you're going through. This might be your parents, your pastor (or you might luck out and have a pastor AS a parent...but I digress ;), or a person from your church. I am blessed to have all three types of people in my life. My parents have always been there for me, which I know is a rare commodity nowadays, and having my dad as a pastor has helped me even more.
He is one of those thinking types...a guy who will read a whole book about something just so he can casually drop a golden nugget in the laps of those who pay attention to what he's saying at any given moment. Yeah, my dad is a personified treasure chest of information. And if he doesn't know something, he'll look it up. Right there. So he'll know next time someone asks him about it.
My mom is less of an informant, but if you want a shoulder to cry on, she's the better choice. She is always willing to hold me, to comfort me, to let me know that she's there for me no matter what I've done or how rotten I'm feeling at the moment.
If you're like me, one of ten kids, competition for one-on-one time with parents is high...and usually the little kids are the ones who end up being the main focus because they have more training that needs to happen. In my case, the stats are even less in my favor because Dad has a whole congregation to lead as well as his family, even though we are his first priority.
However, I figured out a way to fix this. I found a couple godly women in my church who I look up too and admire for their love of Christ and their love for their families. One of these women in particular is our assistant pastor's wife, Mrs. Miller. She has been a huge encouragement to me and we have had a close friendship ever since they first started coming to our church. Whenever I'm struggling with something I know I can confide in her and ask her for her prayers as I go through whatever it is I'm going through.
I would highly recommend you to do the same. Find someone you respect in your church and talk to them. Peer pressure isn't the best way to figure things out. Ask an older person's opinion. They'll have better advice than the friends around your age. Probably. There's always an exception, but as a general rule, older people have learned more from life, and therefore will give you better advice. Just something to think about.

6: Read your Bible. Maybe you don't have one. Well, if you can read this blog post, you can read the Bible. Just Google it. But, most of you have a Bible. (Probably a couple different versions.) Nothing helps me get out of a self-pity party than reading a chapter or two of the Bible. Psalms is a good place to start. It helps you realize things could be a lot worse, our God is in control, and that with Him, you can conquer all things...even depression.

7: Pray. Talk to God. He is always there to listen. He will never let you down. And once you've taken out all your frustration and poured out all your woes on His loving ears...

8: Have a good cry. Sometimes, you just need to cry. Not to sound too sappy and sentimental, but everyone should have a good cry every once in awhile. It's scientific people. Tears have a way of draining bad things from your body (not sure what, but they do). Sure, our tears might make us feel a little silly about ourselves, or perhaps more frustrated because you did not want to cry in front of so-and-so, but they do help. I'm not an avid crier. I tend to bottle up my sadness or depression inside and cover it with a mask of "everything is fine" until the bad feelings dissipate. Which really isn't the best way to deal with it. Burying feelings never helps. Don't do it. Deal with them. Even if it makes you cry.

Well, I hope those steps helped you as much as they have helped me in the past. I know most of you don't deal with serious depression, but these things will help you even when you're just having a bad day (which I know you all deal with. Don't even try to deny it! ;P).

Have a great day, and don't forget: YOU ARE LOVED.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Pinterest, Procrastination, and Plotting

Thumbs up for the beautiful alliteration guys. Take a moment to appreciate the effort I put into that title please...

Ok, moving on.

HOW IS IT NOVEMBER ALREADY??? WHOSE IDEA WAS THIS?!?!? I PROTEST!!!! *waves flags* *climbs walls* *yells* *runs around in circles*
Seriously guys, HOW. JUST HOW??

Two. Months. Until. 2017. Chew on that while I update you on what LAST month was like for me.

You know, it never really stops being busy. As you can tell from my posting this wrap up post a week late. *cough* I don't even have the "Well, I've been busy with outlining my novel for NaNoWriMo" excuse. However, I DO have the "school, housework, and ministry" excuse, so. But yes, life has been busy. Have I said that before? Well, the truth doesn't change. Basically, we've been learning how to cope with one fewer older sister around the house. Which means everyone has to step up and help more. And that takes time.
Also, I've been taking a college class, so that sucks up time I would have spent reading, writing, or blogging. (And having an account on Pinterest doesn't help much either...more on that later.)
I did get more reading and writing done last month then in September...which is good. Improvement is always good. ;)
My parents attended a conference in North Carolina during the last week of October which put Margaret and I in the babysitter position. That was fun. We actually had a blast while they were gone. To put a very long week shortly: it was a party pretty much nonstop. We are awesome babysitters. ;) I can't believe Mom and Dad left us in charge again after all the excitement of last time we babysat...but apparently we are very popular. XD
Hallo*cough*een came and went. Our family doesn't celebrate it as a general rule, but if you watched my vlog, you would have heard that we do hold a harvest party at our church where we earn candy by playing carnival style games and hang out with all our friends. (Which is waaaay more fun than protecting your bowl of candy from small [or not as the case may be] children dressed as skeletons and ghosts.) And I made the brilliant discovery that the shortened version of "trick-or-treaters" is "tots". You're welcome world. (And yes, I'm totally calling them that from now on...)
While I'm on the subject, here is my favorite Halloween video:

"Ocean Mist" is NOT finished yet...but it's on the home stretch. I ended up changing the end completely (which happens quite a bit to me) so we'll see what happens now. ;)
For those of you who don't know, I participated in the "5k in one Day" challenge at the beginning of this month, and killed it with over 7,500 words. And I didn't even start writing until after 2 in the afternoon at which point I was totally freaking out!!!
I started a brand new story that is going to be a futuristic Daniel tale called "A New Name". Which I'm super excited about. :) I'll give you all a teaser in a post eventually, but I've got a couple other posts to write first. ;)
But yes, my writing didn't suffer QUITE as much in October as it did in November. :)

I actually feel good about the amount of reading I got done last month. Sure, I didn't read a crazy amount, but I did better than September. (Even though two books isn't very hard to beat...) Here's the list:
Image result for dreamlander by k. m. weiland

Image result for Navigating Early

Image result for Tales of the Peanut Butter Kid

Image result for 5 Secrets of Story Structure
I also had the privilege to read the work-in-progress by Jesseca Wheaton: A Question of Honor. :)
Favorite book of the month? Probably Navigating Early. But the other ones were really good too! I gave them all five stars on Goodreads, (excepting "A Question of Honor" because that hasn't come out yet) so that says something. ;)

I am still getting feedback on "The Princess & I" from my awesome group of editors. It has been so nice to hear their advice! I'm feeling very confident that this is going to be my best story yet! ;) And I can't wait to get it published!!
I've already mentioned this in the books I read in October, but I was able to give Jesseca some feedback on her book "A Question of Honor" which was amazing. I rarely cry while reading (or watching movies for that matter) but her book definitely brought me to tears. I'll be giving a full review of her book later. ;)

(Yes, I'm adding something to my monthly overview post!! :D Because music is a large part of my life!)
Here's a few favorite songs from this month. They also happen to have gotten stuck in my head periodically all throughout October...

Yep, you're welcome. ;) Don't annoy your family with these songs too much now. :P

Goals I Reached:
1: Edit "The Princess & I" and "Alice & Alyssa"
Yes! I did this! Both are still a project in the works...but they're getting there! ;)
2: Finish writing "Ocean Mist"
*cough* Better luck next time, right? After all, I had to stay true to the "procrastination" part of my title. ;)
3: Try vlogging 
Been there, done that, and over all, had a blast! It was so fun to try something new! And I discovered I do very well in front of a camera...things to consider... :)
4: Write a poem
I did actually! I'll probably be sharing it with you sometime this month. :) It's called "Incomplete", and it's about how every Christian is being worked on by God. We're not perfect, but we're GOING to be...someday.
5: Read at least five books
*thumbs up* Whew! That was a close call though. ;)
6: Reach forty blog followers, twenty Pinterest followers
Wow. You guys are so awesome! <3 Not only did I reach this goal, but went over the top! I have 41 blog followers and 43 Pinterest followers! :) Talk about awesome!
7: Get my drivers license 
*cue fanfare* I got it! And I have been driving all over the place now. And it's AWESOME. I'm loving it. ;)
8: Host two guest posts (anyone interested? Comment below!)
I did get the volunteers, and one of them was actually posted last month. But your second guest post will probably come this month. So you have something to look forward to. ^_^
But I did guest post for Faith P. so that totally counts too. ;)
Goals for November:
1: Continue the editing process with
"The Princess & I" and "Alice & Alyssa"
2: Finish "Ocean Mist" (for reals this time!)
3: Publish a guest post
4: Write a poem
5: Read at least five books
6: Write a book review

Hope your month is going well so far. For those of you who are doing NaNo, good luck and good sleep (what little of it there is). ;) Watching you guys freak out over word counts and lack of inspiration is kind of funny...but I do feel your pain and can say with full assurance: you guys have got this. :) Do it. Don't give up. Because no matter what you do, however much or little you write this month, you probably will write more than me...so keep it up! :P 

Blog Tour for Project Canvas!! *cue intense celebration*

GUYS, I couldn't be more excited to share about this incredible book that is going to be available for you to get your hands on in just ...