Friday Favorites: January

It’s that time again and I’ve got five new favorites for this month! Check them out and let me know what you think!

1.The One Stick

This is my favorite new product. Be a Bombshell produces a stick of all-in-one lip color,

blush, and eye shadow… Now why you want pink eye shadow, I don’t know, but it works great for the other two! My favorite shade is flustered. (The one in the picture is called girl crush.) A tube costs $16 from their website. I’m sure you can find it for less elsewhere. It’s a great matte lip, which I love wearing both dressed up and dressed down.



2. Day Planner Printable

I love lists. I am also a little scatter-brained. How to I keep everything straight? Well, recently, it’s been all thanks to Ann Voskamp’s printable day planner from her blog, A Holy Experience. You can find the planner here. It is sorted into sections based on priority. There are 3 “dire” tasks to be completed that day, places to list daily and domestic to-dos, and even a menu slot. My favorite part is that it provides spaces for a daily memory verse and a relationship to focus on. This has been my favorite addition to the new year BY FAR.


3. Brides Throwing Cats

I just… It’s just so… Ugh! there are no words. It’s photo blog. Of brides. Throwing cats. Enjoy!


4. Sacre` Bleu by Christopher Moore

Such a weird book, but so wonderfully clever! Moore explores the world of post-impressionist artists in Paris and the murder–not suicide– of Vincent Van Gogh. And the color Blue is a character. And it’s wildly witty and so unexpected. Try it on for size. I’ve really enjoyed the read.
*Please note that this is not for the kiddos… unless the cover didn’t tip you off to that. There is sexual content (Less than the cover implies, I promise.) and language. The story is well worth it, so don’t let that turn you off.


5. SHERLOCK!!!!!!
At last we’ve arrived at Series 3… and I’m an American so I haven’t seen it yet, but I just know it’s going to be a favorite this month. If you have been hiding under a rock for the past four years, you can catch up on series 1 &2 on Netflix. Watch the series trailer here and plan a watch party with my previous post! [Also, in reference to the trailer: “It’s been 2 years. He’s gotten on with his life.” John may have, but the rest of us have not. Seriously, it has been much too long.] The premier is on January 19th on PBS at 10pm EST.

My Bound Brain

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young writer in the process of a novel must be in want of a brain. Mine just happens to be worth spit when it comes to remembering my ideas.

I cannot tell you how many unfortunate moments I’ve experienced where I have had a wonderful idea and have just plumb forgot about it since I did not write it down.

Well forget no more!

The summer of my sophomore year of high school, I had the privileged of sailing around the North Channel in Ontario with a small band of writers. We sailed from beautiful anchorage to even-more-beautiful anchorage, writing, reading, discussing books, hashing out life, and really just learning from one another. That trip was foundational for me as a writer as well as a well-balanced, functioning member of society.

Among these wonderful writers was Tracy who was researching for a novel on Jonah. I observed her furiously writing notes in a little notepad and began to find that an ingenious solution to my forgetfulness. She would write down answers to questions she had about sailing, and take notes of inspiring sights around her. It was so simple, so brilliant–I knew I just had to jump on board the writing-important-stuff-down train.

Sine then, I have kept notepad, after notepad and have graduated up to a Molskine journal. I jot down plot twists, character traits, quotes, general observations, and pretty much anything that could be useful to my writing. I use a different color ink for each idea– just because I generally appreciate frivolity– and put to paper whatever comes to mind. I have been so thankful to this part of my process as I have had ideas months before I have come to the point when I need to write them into my novel or a blog post. My writing is richer because of this notebook, I have no doubt.

What has been a tool to you in your writing world? I’d love to hear from you either here or on Facebook or Twitter!

xo,
           –Lex

Season’s Greetings!

Sorry you haven’t heard from me in a while. I promise, I’m here to stay!

In the last month, I have moved out of the home I have known for the past twenty years, finished school for the near future, and happened upon a real job in which I have to think. It’s like my grew up in the last few weeks without me and I’m not quite sure how I feel about that yet.

It’s exciting–don’t get me wrong–but it’s weird.

I feel like I’ve written so much on this blog on stages of life and the shift from one to another. Writing about it and watching it happen practically overnight are two very different things.
Some of it’s scary, some of it overwhelming, but at the end of the day, things are good. I am cared for. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.

So often at work, I feel so clueless. Learning to ask for help is hard. Especially when I am trying to impress the people I work for. But here’s the thing: Part of being good at what you do is knowing when to ask for help.

I have been blessed by a wonderful supervisor who is patient and encouraging. The publishing world is fairly new to me, especially in the obscure corner the company I work for is dabbling in. Every day is a new challenge. Some of them hard, some of them exciting, all of them what I’ve needed. God is providing for me in such wonderful and unexpected ways.

It’s humbling. It’s a learning experience. And it’s good. Hard, but really healthy. I’ve been given an arena to trust God in and I need to be faithful to that.

It’s a new season and I’m ready to embrace that.

I have now found myself with lots of wonderful time to write and embark on some new projects. I still won’t be up to a consistent two posts a week yet, but at least one. I won’t be leaving you cold-turkey again for a while… or at least without warning.

I just wanted to drop a line to say hello! I’ve missed you all. It feels good to be back in Preppy Bohemia.

xo,
           –Lex

The Cardboard House

My family has lived in the same house since I was nine months old. And now we are looking to move.

It’s weird. I cannot imagine not living here. The change will be exciting… Just weird.

To get ready for showings and make our hundred-year-old house look more spacious, we have begun to pack up our closets and storage areas. At the moment, it feels like everything is in boxes. The rooms are filled with them. We made countless trips to the storage area this weekend. Our house is becoming empty.

And we do not know if our house will sell that quickly or what house we even want to buy. My parents just feel it is time for a change and God is opening up the doors.

My dad is saying that this is a chance to step out on faith and just see what happens. It’s scary. The unknown is beckoning. It’s a hard call to accept. It will be great to have a larger room and spaces to entertain in. But for now, all we have is boxes.

It’s those seasons of unknown that bring about the greatest opportunities to trust. It is there God has met our family in wonderful and mysterious ways. It is there we have grown close with each other and with Him.

So yes, I am a little sad to move. Many of my evenings this month have been spent strolling down memory lane, flipping through old notebooks and photo albums before they go into boxes. So many things have happened here. Many memories I will always cherish.

But the new is exciting. The new will provide adventure and many many more memories. The new is filled with God’s blessing as well as his lessons for the four of us.

So here is to packing your world in a box and going on an adventure with nothing but faith… and boxes.

Worries of an Infidel

It’s not only wrong to worry. It’s infidelity.
–Oswald Chambers

The truth of this statement makes me one of the most unfaithful people I know. Worry is my most time-invested hobby. Wish it wasn’t, but it is.


It starts out with something as simple as “I’m going to be finished with school in four months.” It’s a simple fact. Not a fret, not really even a worry. And then I really start to show off. 

“Well, that means I’ll have to get another job.” My inner-fretter replies.
“Yes. Yes it will,” I confirm.

“But I am not qualified for another job. At least not a better one. At least with this one, I don’t work nights or weekends.”The worry-wort inside my head clucks her tongue in disappointment.

“Yeah. That is nice. I might have to give those up. That would suck.”

“And then I wouldn’t have time to be with my friend’s or even do my laundry! I’ll be friendless and my clothes will stink of sweat from two weeks ago.”

“I don’t want to be smelly and alone,” I say, the dread beginning to sink in.

“Well that’s probably how I’m going to end up anyway. I’m done with school. I missed the love boat. I’m going to die smelly and alone whether I like it or not. And now I’ll have a job I’ll hate on top of it all!” She becomes hysterical.

“And I’ll be smelling and alone, working a job I’ll hate while living in my parent’s basement!!!!” I say, rising to her level of panic.

“I will have to buy a cat because it will be the only creature that can stand to be with me!” she cries.

“But I hate cats!” I moan.

And then we cry, eat our feelings, and watch Titanic for the ten billionth time because it is the only movie we can identify with in the current state of our life.

And that’s how I waste my weekends.

Alright, not totally, but it is not out of the ordinary. (Though Titanic is not usually my movie of choice. I find myself hoping it won’t sink this time and I am continually disappointed.) So much of my time becomes wrapped up in what is going to happen and the thousands of ways it can go wrong. The present is not a place I can often exist in because I am consumed with worry over the future and sometimes the past. Very little of my self-talk is concerned with living in the present and trusting God with the future.

I ran across the Oswald Chambers’ quote yesterday in my quiet time and was struck by the truth of the statement. I worry all the time. Something God tells us not to do. But not only am I worrying when I’m not supposed to, I am not trusting him.

Worrying is my way of taking control over my circumstances. I give up His peace that I may try and make some peace of my own. Only I’m fooling myself because I cannot possibly control everything in my life, nor can I bring a sense of peace to my circumstance. It will never happen.

It is only when I am trusting my father with my life that peace comes. Even in the midst of hurt, turmoil, or loss, his peace is there because it is not bound by circumstance or logic. It just is.

So this week I am going to try and focus on faithfulness. Worrying is not a hobby I should feed. It’s prayer and trust I should be investing my time in.


Praying your journey is blessed by peace–not worry,
xo,
             –Lex

Trust and Tubing

I have live in Michigan my entire life. Born and raised in the Great Lakes State and not once have I been tubing until this year. Sad but true  and to be honest, I have never felt like I was missing out on much.


I felt forced into it. I was leading on a church trip, house-boating on Dale Hollow Lake, and one of the students found out I was a tubing virgin. This was apparently a crime, so I was soon caroused into my swimsuit and forced into a life jacket that was a bit too big. If not uncomfortable. Standing at the stern of the houseboat, waiting for the speedboat to come pick me up, I couldn’t think up one decent reason for plunking out of this. 


But it was too late and the student I was going with just had to tell the driver that it was my first time tubing. And that was met with a devilish smile and a “Oh, we’ll make sure it’s a good one then.”


Crap.


That was along the lines of what I was thinking as I swam out and climbed onto the tube. Or at last it had four letters and the same general meaning. I crossed arms across the tube with the student, white-knuckling the handles. She assured me doing it this way would help us keep each other on. I didn’t think the ninety pounds of her was going to keep all five foot ten of me on anything.


And then the boat took off. And it was fun at first. Speeding up, turning onto the main lake. And then we actually started going.


Crap.


This was not what I had signed up for. I felt rigid on the tube, trying my best to keep my knees on the flying circle and my swimsuit bottoms on my hips. My jaw kept beating onto the tube no matter how hard I tried to hold my head up. My teeth were clenched, which probably didn’t help the repeating blows. My toes felt like they were going to be ripped off my feet as they bounced into the water with each run over the boat’s wake.


Did you know giving a thumbs up does not mean that you are doing okay? That it actually means you want to go faster? Because I did not know that. It also didn’t help that some punk kid on the tube next to ours yelled to the driver, “You drive like a lady!”


Crap.


My arms were about to tear out of my sockets and I imagined flailing off the tube and not having arms to swim with. We flew continually back and forth over the wide wake of the speed boat. I began to slip over the side of the tube. I could hardly work my way back to safety as we whisked all over the unforgiving water. I could hardly feel my arms. I think I pulled a muscle in my neck. I think I peed a little. 


They probably don’t recommend this in any manual in small group leadership, but all I could manage to shout to the girl next to me was, “I hate you! I hate you. I. Hate. You.”  I couldn’t think of anything else. This was becoming a test of survival. What ever it took, I had to stay on this tube or else I was going to die!!!!!

And then the ninety pounds shoved me off the tube.


I hit the water with a smack and skidded a bit before coming to a halt. 


Checking immediately to make sure my arms still worked, I then shoved them beneath the water. Where they there? I felt around my waist. My bottoms had begun to fall, but were in a reachable, fixable distance down my legs.

And the boat turned slowly to come retrieve me.


My arms began to relax, turning to rubber, humming with soreness as I began to paddle back to the boat. Relief filled me as I realized I was going to live to see lunch. My life was not over!


There was great comfort–after the melodrama had cleared–in realizing that the driver and another passenger in the boat had been keeping an eye on us all along. Their intent was not to throw me off the tube (Though I strongly suspect  that yes, in fact, it was…), but to take me on a ride.


I felt like a cheese-head as my ever-connecting brain began to knit the parallels here. See, I have recently come off of a year of, well, crap. A lot of loss and struggle, but God was present in it all. Tough to find in the moment, but in hindsight, so ridiculously present, I can’t believe I missed it. For a lot of that season, it felt like I was holding on for dear life as I was jostled, beat up, and thrown around. I was tired and scared. But I made it. Because God was watching. Because he cared. And it didn’t just end when I didn’t like where the ride was taking me. It didn’t end because of his lack caring. No. He cared too much about me and my character and my relationship with him. He wasn’t putting me through that season to throw me off into hopeless oblivion. He was taking me on a ride. 


He promises he will not put us through more than we can handle. He does not promise he wouldn’t bring us up to the screaming edge of the cliff, but he has told us we will not topple over the edge. It is in those moments, looking desperately over the cliff’s edge that I begin to see God clearly. Because I’m not distracted by me or my wants. I am given a full view of his love. I am shown how deeply and vastly he desires relationship with me, desires my trust.


So it is safe to say I am never tubing again. But I am thankful for the living metaphor. The feeling and the reminder that I can trust even when my arms can’t take it any more. When I’m flying off into the unknown, not even knowing if my pants are on right. God’s got it. Both in the physical and the metaphorical… though I think the pants are my responsibility…


B-T-Dubs, I Write…

I have mentioned I’m a writer. I actually started this blog not to be just a place to rate books or rant about life after college, but also as a way to keep myself writing.

Deadlines are a must for me… kind of. I should say, rather, that consistency is a must. I cannot tell myself, “You must have your novel completed by Christmas… or else!” It won’t get done. I can tell myself to have a chapter written a week and I’ll have much better results. So what about those times when I don’t have a chapter to write? What if I don’t feel like approaching my fiction on a given day? Now that I am out of college, I have found I will not have to write as many short essays or to think further about what I’ve been reading. So how on earth am I supposed to keep myself writing?

Answer: blog!

By giving myself parameters of two blog posts a week (one if things are crazy or ideas are slow) I am giving myself the perfect way to keep up with my short fiction and creative non-fiction in the midst of writing my novel.

So what do I write? Growing up, I loved fairy tales and re-tellings. This is reflected in my current work as I approach a loose Robin Hood adaptation set on the high seas. Fantasy is interesting to me, but not something I enjoy writing. I find myself gravitating more towards paranormal fiction where only one thing is out of the ordinary or amiss, rather than an entirely different world that I now have to know everything about. I greatly respect those who can manage that. I am just not clever enough. I also believe you can’t go wrong with realistic fiction. I am prone to write romantic comedies, as much as I dread to admit that…

Writing and reading go hand-in-hand. I cannot tell you how many writing conferences I have been to where this has not been the resounding piece of advice given to new writers. I am just on the beginning of my writing journey and I can tell you these wise words have made all the difference in the world! What I read informs and inspires me in a way no other medium can. Finding a wonderful new author is like meeting a new mentor. Some of the writers I find most inspiring are Jane Austen, Gail Carson Levine, Daniel Nayeri, and Sophie Kinsella. It’s a random mix, I know, but the more I read, the more I find to read! Genres I once despised are becoming more appealing to me. (More on that later.)

One thing I have come to appreciate as I plunge deeper into the writing world is meeting other writers. There is something magical about people who love words. We love to talk about what we’re writing and what we love to read. I can talk shop for hours. If you ever want to discuss craft, books, or anything remotely literary, please shoot me an email!

I guess I just wanted to throw all of this out there as a chance to define this blog a little further. Yes, this is a blog about life outside of college, but it is also about the life of a writer outside of college. Writing is a team sport and I am excited to encourage and be encouraged by all of you as we embark on this journey as readers and writers together.

So who are my writers out there? What do you like to write? Who do you find inspiring to your writing?