Happiest of Birthdays to the second red-head in the family! Finley-bear, I love you so much. I love to hold you, bribe you with carbs, and watch you follow after your sisters. I adore the look of constant worry on your face. It’s the cutest. I’m so glad to have you in our family. LOVE YOU!
As someone who loves to daydream, this is one of my favorite quotes.
I’m one of those strange writers who doesn’t mind clichés. What I mind is when they’re slapped on because we all know that’s how the story goes, but delivered without conviction or chemistry. I love war movies and action movies. I like cop shows and westerns. Almost all of these stories are just a change of setting and actors, with the same plots, and the same characters. I eat it up. I’ll watch an anti-hero become good over and over. I’ll watch the drifter save the town and get the girl. I’ll bask in the story of the elite team that sacrifices itself for others, each one getting picked off one by one.
“Please sir, can I have some more?”
Because I don’t run screaming from clichés, I tend to have a few of my own. Whether I’m working on my YA Epic, one of my Huntsman and HearthKeeper stories, or a fairy tale retelling, I tend to focus in on four types of characters: the warrior, the dreamer, the forgiven, and the ordinary.
These four tend to make up my teams, my crews. They are my main characters and important secondary characters. And they come complete with their own symbols.
See, I’m a doodler. I love to doodle. Set a piece of paper in front of me and the next thing you know it will be covered with light bulbs, trees, swirling lines, mushrooms, antlers, axes and shields, and favorite quotes. It will also have arrows, feathers, tulips, and dandelions lined up in a row. This is my warrior, dreamer, forgiven, and ordinary.
The Warrior: I love humble warriors (proud warriors are dangerous and annoying). I love the broken ones who stand between darkness and the innocent. I love the ones who hunt monsters under the bed, evil, and danger, pouring themselves out for the rest of us. They are often dirty, dark, and cracked. They’re rough. A dull arrow can’t help you. A sharp one, a tested one could cut you, but it can also defend you.
The Dreamer: I love the soft ones who see the joy in life. They’re gentle. They’re quiet. Their strength and power is far more subtle than the warrior. They have seen all the darkness the he has seen, but it hasn’t stolen their laughter. They face the storm with a song and a dance. They’re filled with hope. I often pair a warrior with a dreamer. It helps the warrior not break completely when he has this light-filled creature standing beside him.
The Forgiven: One of my favorite shows is Fringe. It is brilliant, beautiful, funny, painful, oh so very painful. In it they use the Tulip as a symbol of forgiveness. This works for me because not only do I love the show, so me doodling tulip is an ode to my love, but I’m also a 5 point Calvinist. The Tulip is used by us to represent the five tenets presented against Arminianism. One of the beautiful points about Calvinism is that we aren’t good, we aren’t worthy, and we don’t deserve forgiveness. But GOD! God came. God supplied what we couldn’t and forgave us, sinners. Christ came and touched the sick, retrieved the dangerous, and befriended the villain. You will never read one of my longer stories that doesn’t have at least one of the villains being forgiven. I love having someone who doesn’t deserve forgiveness on any level getting it from the hero. Each of my forgiven characters represents my own undeserved rescue, because I didn’t deserve to be rescued.
The Ordinary: In our day in age, ordinary is a bad word. If you want to live an ordinary life somethings wrong with you. Suburbia is boring and only for those who have given up on life. And yet, ordinary is amazing. The Bible often encourages us to be ordinary, to live an ordinary life. Don’t get me wrong, I love adventures, magic, and supernatural things. But, I think there is great magic in living an ordinary life, a quiet life. (My hobbitness is showing.) When I have warriors, dreamers, and forgiven characters running around, I will include someone who is ordinary. They aren’t the fighters, the light, or the villain rescued. They’re just a normal boy or girl drawn into an extraordinary situation. This appeals to me because I believe heroes are often ordinary people. Many men in battle are just like you or me with the only difference being that they’ve been thrust into an extreme situation.
I wish I could tell you, dear reader, who these all are in my YA Epic, The Artists Return, but spoilers. I have yet to introduce my “Forgiven” character. Once my patrons receive The Sparrow and the Star, and have time to devour the epic-ness that it is, I’ll be able to freely talk about my four characters. Maybe that will motivate me to finish editing!
As you read my stories, watch for these four characters. Sometimes they merge and blend, a character being both the warrior and the forgiven, the dreamer and the ordinary. Some of my shorter stories will have only one or two of them. But, no matter what I write, these four ideals rise again and again. They take on different skins, different quirks, different plots, but stay essentially the same: warrior, dreamer, forgiven, ordinary.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you enjoy high fantasy, you must must must read the Way of Kings…and Kaladin is my favorite. I’m sure you’re super surprised. I love him because he is a true warrior. He’s all about protecting those around him.
Happy birthday Ellie dear! I love you so much Ellie. You’re beautiful, spunky, game, and very little gets you down for long. You adore your older sister and older cousins, are quite at home playing rough with the boys, but always have a tender heart. You also play the perfect Mario! I’m looking forward to watching you grow up into a beautiful and wonderful young lady. I pray for you all the time, that the Lord would do a work in your heart.
I love you dear Ellie! Happy 6th birthday!
How beautiful is this quote??? And how true is it that we are the beast, and Christ loved us long before we were beautiful. Beauty and the Beast is a wonderful fairy tale that teaches us to be Brave before we have to be.
Growing comfortable being a Sunday widow, I watched you walk to the front of the room just like I had countless times before. But, this time it was different. You left my side, stalk up in your heavy way of walking that has earned you the nickname Strider, and stood beside Pastor Jarrett. Steve Martin, Steve Garrick, and my father (looking a bit Balin-ish) joined you. Jarrett said a few words and then one by one they laid their hands on you and started to pray.
I started crying. I hadn’t planned on crying today. I didn’t expect to cry. Tear up? Yes. Weep? Nope. I couldn’t hold back. I couldn’t stop. Tears streamed down my face. Emily Shiflet, who drove up from Houston to witness this great event, put her arm around me. I wept.
But, these were not sad tears. These weren’t happy tears. They were mingled tears.
There was more joy in this situation than I can ever express. I have had a front row seat in my husband’s life. I have seen his great sin, his many faults, and the great grace he has been shown. I have known him when our marriage was falling apart, and when we were putting it back together. I have walked at his side when he was asked to teach, and when he kept teaching despite the long hours of study it took, despite the cut in pay it took, despite the lack of any sort of consistent day off it required, despite the hours I never saw him. I have prayed for him and with him. I have studied him both as my husband, and as a fellow church member to see if he was qualified.
It has been my husband’s dream to be a pastor since he was a kid. And here we are. It hasn’t been an easy road. It’s been a road filled with sin, pride, the work of sanctification, patience from others, self-sacrifice, self-doubt, sleepless nights, long conversations, encouragement, critiques, and grace upon grace upon grace.
I wept tears of joy to see my husband get to step into the role he’s always dreamed of filling. I wept tears of joy because God worked it all out in his timing, which was so much better than ours. I wept tears of joy because God promised to gift his churches with pastors and teachers, and today he kept that promise yet again. He’d raised up a young man to continue to shepherd our church. And, I wept cause just a month ago, I don’t think my Dad would have been able to be there. To see him standing there, gripping my husband’s shoulder, was joy upon joy. I wept tears of thankfulness.
But, there was a tinge of sadness to those tears. While my husband took the role of pastor on his shoulders, while the older men prayed around him, while the church watched and prayed, I had a deep sense of missing two men. I deeply, heart-achingly, trustingly missed my extra Dad. Price was being ordained and Vidal was no longer with us. Oh, how thrilled and proud he would have been to see his son called as a pastor of our church. To see Price standing there would have probably made Vidal cry, but it was a moment I know Vidal longed to see. The Lord, in all his kind wisdom, chose to take Vidal home before he got to see this great moment.
The other man I missed was Ron Baines. Ron took Price under his wing early on. They shared a great love of the Old Testament, and Ron pushed Price to go to seminary. Ron was one of Price’s greatest cheerleaders. Again, I wept because I knew Ron would have been thrilled. Ron would have been one of the men up there praying over this new pastor, but, the Lord, in all his kind wisdom, chose to take Ron home before he got to see great moment.
So, I cried and cried. Happy and sad tears, trusting tears overflowing with the grace of God, trusting his timing and providence, for he is God and knows all things, sees all things, and I’m but a weary creature.
There was such a huge amount of joy wrapped up in this moment. Getting to see my husband’s dream come true was one of the most fulfilling moments in my life. My love for him has only grown. I’m so proud of him, so thankful for him, so happy for him.
Our church has endured persecution of late. Price being ordained was encouraging. Christ proved through this that he was still with us, still tending us, still gifting us, still faithful to us. We weren’t cut off, we weren’t lost. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers, were still together. My Dad has been on sabbatical due to some, honestly, scary heath issues, and not only was he able to be there yesterday, but, Christ hasn’t left everything in Jarrett’s lap. Dad had to step back from his duties, but in God’s perfect timing and providence, Price was brought in. Price has been faithfully serving for five years and wasn’t a raw recruit. He wasn’t a greenie. God worked it out perfectly so that when Dad had to step back, Price came to the table with experience. It was an amazing thing to see the love of Christ for his bride.
So my husband is officially an elected elder of our church, and an ordained minister.
I’m tired, but happy. I’m filled with joy to stand beside this man through life, to every day, when I cook, clean, iron, pay bills, enter accounting info, water plants, vacuum, and manage all of life, to serve my pastor, and by serving him, I’m serving the church.
I believe every women who diligently keeps her home serves her church. I believe that with my whole heart. My service just because a little more tangible, that’s all.
Pray, dear sibling-saints, pray for your pastors. They bear a great burden. They have a great love for the flock. The sacrifice much of this world for the sake of the next. Pray for them. They defend us from the wolves within and without. Pray for them.