Top Posts of 2016!

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It’s time for the list of the top 10 posts of the year!

This was a slower year for me, mostly due to pregnancy and all that comes with that, so I only wrote almost half of the amount of posts of the previous year.  In 2015, I wrote 93, and this year I wrote an exact even 50.  BUT, even with half the posts, I actually, just barely, got more views and visitors this year than last year, meaning that my posts are bringing in more readers than ever!  Hooray for that!

This year, I had 11,687 visitors to my blog with 16,043 views and ended the year with 118 blog followers.  *cheer*  (To follow this blog, click FOLLOW on the right hand side of this page) 

Without further ado, what were the most popular posts of this year?  Well, not all of them were even actually published on this blog this year – some have remained super popular from previous years, and have lived on with lives of their own all over the Internet.

Sitting at #1, by far, with no competition, and with around 35 hits A DAY is:

Anime Characters by Myers-Briggs Type (with 7,164 individual views this year!!)mami_tomoe_render_by_moeblueberry1771-d5evnl7

This post is also #1 on any Google search for “anime characters by Myers-Briggs type and continually brings in guests to my blog.  Kind of exciting, even if it is very niche.  So if you like anime AND personality typing, this is the post for you.  Identified by name, show title, and picture, I have anime characters from various shows in neat little groups according to their types.  🙂

 

The Day I Met Job (with 996 individual views)PCOS Challenge Infographic

This makes me so happy that it’s #2.  This is the deeply personal testimony of what God did in my heart and life last year after suffering with secondary infertility.  It is also about my best friend and her daughter, an appreciation of my mother-in-law, a nod to a fellow author, and mostly a testimony about a hero of the faith I met last year.  Please read the article.  I hope my vulnerability and sharing of God’s greatness touches your heart!

 

An Open Letter to My Pregnant Sister (with 460 views)beautiful-wedding-tiara

Still going strong.  This is a writeup I did for baby showers that I first composed for my sister 2 1/2 years ago, and have tweaked a few times since to share with other expectant moms.  There must be a need for this, as people continually search for this online and find my site.  🙂

 

Tied with “My Pregnant Sister” is: Setting up the Romance Ship (with 460 views)austenland-holding_13254521245

How fun that my breakdown of the smart secret to writing a winning romance story did so well!  I thought this one was a bit obvious until I read (and watched) many people miss this key point to setting up their relationship story. Thinking I had nothing to lose, I threw my own theory out there, and it did very well!

 

Should Married Women Vote Against Their Spouse? (with 349 views)your_vote_counts

This one was a hot button when I first posted it a few years ago, and it continues to be something people search for and find through my blog. Read at your own risk…  🙂

 

Could You Love This Genderless Person? (with 287 views)5

Maybe it was just a catchy title, but this was a very niche article about genderbender dramas that I posted. A “genderbender” is when a guy dresses up and pretends to be a girl, or vice versa, and the opposite sex falls for them.  I explore this trope and why it means so much to women, and maybe what’s spiritually at the heart of this “forbidden romance” story.

 

In Memory of Victoria Mercy Conte (with 262 views)conte-052

A year and a half after the sudden and tragic passing of my husband’s baby sister, this post, written by *him* not me, still makes the top 10 on my list.  Please read my husband’s beautiful, tear-jerker tribute to a lovely life that sits very dear to our hearts.

 

NAME THE BABY! (with 221 views)namebabygirl02

I’m legitimately shocked that this made the top 10!  Last year I teamed up with lovely author Melanie D. Snitker to do a giveaway and promote each other’s books.  Readers named the baby that her main couple was pregnant with, and we got some great responses.  I need to do more on this blog with fellow authors next year!  In the meantime, check out Melanie’s very successful books on Amazon.

 

Asian TV for the American Newbie Viewer (with 188 views)patemainverted_dvd-f

This is a fun list that I kept on my sidebar.  Always hearing me talk about anime and kdramas but have no idea what’s safe or good to watch or where to start?  Not sure you’d even like Asian TV?  I put together a “starter” list of Asian TV for people who don’t like Asian TV, so to speak.  These are storylines and shows that I think any American could love without feeling too “eastern” in the storytelling style.  Give any of these shows a chance, and let me know if they did not disappoint!

 

And last but not least: Sarcastically Realistic Movie Descriptions – Name That Movie!2a3

This one also surprises me that it made the list.  This was a funny little game I posted on my blog a while ago, and it’s done well recently.  Someone must have reposted them.  If you’re looking for a comedic way to describe popular movies, as a game for a party you’re hosting, this might be the post for you.

 

So which blog post of mine was YOUR favorite this year?  Leave a comment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reflections on the Election – by the Home School Legal Defense Association

Everythinmike-farrisg that I could say about the current election is said even better by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)’s chairman, Mike Farris. Excellent recap of our concerns, needs, prayers, and even hopeful relief in Donald Trump’s election.  I urge you to read it carefully.

 

So what does this mean for issues of concern to homeschooling families and related communities?

1. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and related treaties most likely will not see the light of day.
The person leading the State Department’s transition team is Steven Groves, a long-term ally from the Heritage Foundation. Steve and I were the only two witnesses allowed to testify against the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

This is a strong signal that the State Department will move in a good direction on protecting American sovereignty.

2. We will need to exercise special diligence on judicial appointments.
Historically, Republican appointments for federal judges are good in many sectors of constitutional law. However, GOP-appointed justices have been very unreliable on issues of parental rights and religious freedom.

HSLDA will join with other religious freedom–oriented groups to ensure that these issues are given appropriate consideration in the process of vetting federal judges.

3. We cannot just assume that all will be well on education issues.
Donald Trump has no experience or track record with education policy. There is some very early talk about an effort to actually close the United States Department of Education. That would be a wonderful miracle.

It is fair to expect Trump’s team to take away any federal program that will promote the Common Core. This does not mean that states will automatically stop this program. But the federal financial incentives to do so should be halted.

We can and must insist that the prohibitions on any federal role in homeschooling (which we first won in 1994) will be extended and hopefully put into permanent law.

4. Religious freedom will still be an extremely important issue and cause for concern.
While we can expect the administrative branches of the federal government to be far less of a threat itself to religious freedom, the federal courts are not so easily changed in the short run.

However, many of the threats to religious liberty are at the state level. State agencies are the ones that have prosecuted Christian pharmacists who refuse to sell abortion-causing drugs. The Supreme Court (led by GOP-appointed justices) eviscerated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and limited the ability of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to protect citizens against state agencies which invade our free exercise rights.

There is not a lot that the Trump administration can do to fix these state-based problems originally caused by the U.S. Supreme Court. Appointing good justices is a start, but that is a long-term issue that will require a real change on the Court.

Religious freedom fights will continue to escalate and we cannot relax thinking all is well on this front.

5. The right to life may see some important gains.
It is very possible that Planned Parenthood will no longer receive federal funding. That will be a really big deal, if it comes to pass.

We certainly should see the federal government step back from its role as a worldwide promoter of abortion rights.

6. Mike Pence may become the most influential Vice President in American history.
While Donald Trump clearly understood the hearts of the American public in remarkable ways, his lack of political experience will require him to lean on others for knowledge and wisdom. There is no finer man I have ever worked with in politics than Mike Pence. He is a strong evangelical Christian and an unfailing friend to homeschooling families.

I am committed to praying every single day for Mike Pence, that he will be relied upon in significant ways not only for policy but for wisdom and an example of character.

7. Trump and the GOP majority in Congress have a real chance to deliver.
If the Trump administration becomes known for verbal outbursts and vendettas, the GOP will suffer long-term damage. Worse yet, because of the strong evangelical Christian support for Trump, this community will suffer lasting political consequences through association with a leader for whom character does not matter.

However, if Trump turns a page in his life and becomes the man that many good and godly people hoped he would become, then we have the far better story that people can change and that character still does matter.

But as important as the character issues are, the plain fact is that Trump and the GOP must deliver meaningful change that results in less federal government, less debt, less intrusion into our lives, and greater protections for the freedoms actually listed in the Constitution. The alienation coming from the long-term failure of the GOP to deliver any meaningful reform is at the heart of the reason the electorate rejected every experienced politician, first in the GOP presidential primaries and then on November 8.

In short, if Donald Trump exhibits consistent character and together with the GOP leadership in Congress delivers meaningful change, then the future looks brighter than it has in a long time. But, in the meantime, citizens must be vigilant at all times because the allure of Washington, D.C., can entice the best and the brightest.

8. We need to pray for our president.
Donald Trump will be sworn in as President on January 20. If we are Americans, he will be our president, just as Obama was our president. Our duty to pray for our president is unconditional and does not depend on whether we voted for them or not.

I am praying that Donald Trump will become the man that many believed him to be and that he would come to know Christ in a mature way. (I don’t know his soul, but we can always pray that someone would grow in Christ.)

In conclusion
Pray for our leaders. Hope for the best. Watch and be ready to fight at a moment’s notice.

 

Ask Me Questions!

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I’m thinking of trying to get with the twenty-first century, and try to use video more with my online presence. I’m looking at a video advertisement idea, as well as I want to leave a video for you on my blog and Facebook page answering questions YOU have for me.

They can be on anything: Christianity, parenting, Asian TV, or, of course, writing and publishing.  Please shoot your question my way here in the comments, or, if you want to be anonymous, to dashwoodavenue@gmail.com (and label it “anonymous question”).

Look forward to “seeing” you here later this week!

#30+10 – Homeschooling and Swing Dresses

#30and10 Day 20
Believe it or not, homeschooling was NOT nonexistent in the 50s, it was just relatively rare. However, in small towns, you might see a family or two that adopted the practice ahead of their time. 🙂
Homeschooling has grown by leaps and bounds, however. Just from 2003 to 2012, homeschooling has seen a 61% increase! With the nonsense about gender education now being promoted in my home state of Washington, I expect we’ll see a growth in homeschooling soon.
Day 21
I LOVED the 1950s. That and the Victorian era (at the turn of the 20th century) were my favorite time periods for history, style, literature, etc. I even had a friend make me an authentic, 1950s, red-checkered, swing dress. Since having children, I’m not sure I’ll ever fit back into it like I did when I was 17-18, but I’m saving it for my own daughters some day. 🙂

Me, circa 2006 in my swing dress, with the seamstress Neeva W. on the far left  🙂

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30+10 – 1950s Lingo

There is a giveaway going on!  Check out my Facebook page to participate.  If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can leave a comment here to play.  🙂

#30and10 Day 10
I heavily researched the clothing, language, and hip words of 1950s South Carolina. At first I was worried the authenticity of it would turn away the kids it was written for, but then someone gave it to their grandmother, who was a teen in the 50s, and she wrote me back saying, “You got the speech down perfectly! it was all the words I said!”
Write your funniest “cool” word you used growing up in the comments below (or on Facebook) to win a paperback copy of Dashwood Avenue. 🙂 Giveaway ends midnight tomorrow night (12:00 AM July 4th)

To buy Dashwood Avenue for Kindle, or any of my other books, go here: http://www.amazon.com/RJ-Conte/e/B00MDY4T0S/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

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Could You Love This Genderless Person?

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WARNING: Adult material (sexuality and homosexuality)

Please don’t read ANYTHING I say below out of context.  Please read the whole article to get the gist of what I’m trying to say.  At some points, I’ll go heavily into speculation, so bear with me on that.  I’m just thinking “out loud” here.

This article is not a recommendation list.  I mention these dramas to prove points in this article.  Watch all things at your own risk.  

 

Many of you know I’m fan of Korean (and some Taiwanese) dramas.  On the whole, the evidence that South Korea is a primarily Christian nation shows in their TV.  The dramas I watch tend to be BBC-type 16-20 episode stories – wholesome, modest and have basic Judaeo-Christian values.  Creative, formulaic, and pleasant, they appeal to me much more than our overly sexualized, bad-language-ridden, or just immature American TV.  I like live-action Korean dramas much more than anime even.  It fits my personality and story style.

However, in the last couple years, I’ve been sorry to see the experimentation Korea – and Taiwan – are taking in gender fluidity.  While out and out gay couples aren’t shown – as Korea, thankfully, has not accepted such things yet – I think it’s only a matter of time.  😦

The trend is “gender bending.”

It’s nothing new, really.  We did it in the States – for KIDS – in Mulan.  Japan’s done plenty of it.  Matter of fact, there’s been a transgender individual in almost every Japanese show I’ve seen, which is why I don’t like live-action Japanese TV. Just about every time I watch what would normally be a family-friendly G-rated show, there’s a cross-dresser. They’re inundated with it over there in Japan.

It concerns me that I see it coming to Korea.

Gender-bending shows, like Coffee Prince, You’re Beautiful, Hana Kimi, and the latest, Taiwan’s Bromance, are fan favorites internationally.  In all of these shows, heterosexual, beautiful girls dress up like boys and live or work among men due to various reasons.  None of the reasons make a lot of sense, and all seem to be very contrived, but thus lies the problem in romantic comedy (rom-com) plots: got to create some unbelievable circumstances to force the couple to be together.  In Coffee Prince, she needs a male-only job to make more money for her family.  In You’re Beautiful, she has to sing in a male k-pop group in her miscreant brother’s place.  In Hana Kimi, she infiltrates a boys’ only school to convince her idol to get back into track and field.  And, in Bromance, a fortune teller told her parents she would have bad luck unless she pretended to be a guy until her 26th birthday.  All pretty lousy reasons to fake masculinity, if I do say so myself.  😛

Can you tell which one is the female in each?

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In almost all of these shows, with the exception of You’re Beautiful where he knows she’s a girl, one of the leading men in the story – Mr. Macho Masculinity himself – falls for our boy-girl not knowing she’s a girl.  Mr. Leading Man is staunchly heterosexual, and is surrounded, usually, by a cast of other handsome males whom he has never had feelings for.  His affection for the weakling, feminine-faced new guy (our cross-dressing girl) confuses the living daylights out of him.  And, at some point, he has to accept “being gay,” or at least looking like it, in order to embrace his deep love for the girly-guy, who must exude some sort of strong feminine pheromone, even though the entire world can’t tell her gender.

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Now, if you’re a straight male reading this, you’re cringing.  I don’t know a single guy who’d say that his ideal love story involves falling for his best guy friend, whom he didn’t know was female.  It insults men on every level.  And the guys in the dramas are hurt.  They’re hurt when they think they’re becoming gay over their bestie.  They hurt when they found out how deeply she’s lied to them.  They’re broken down, confused, and hung out to dry.  It’s painful to watch.  Yet they get back up and keep loving her.

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This stuff hits women hard in the warm fuzzies. 

And I started to think about why. I’m convinced there’s a much deeper spiritual longing going on here.

As “Occupiedterritories.tumblr” said, in a Coffee Prince exposé,“K-dramas depict love as an overwhelming totality so ecstatic that it transcends just about everything and approaches the realm of the metaphysical.  Love transcends not just sexuality (which it embraces and folds into itself) but, more precisely, sexual identity (which it dissolves and makes moot).

Because our male leads haven’t fallen in love with a woman.  They haven’t fallen in love with a man.  They’ve fallen in love with a genderless soul: what is assumed to be a person at their deepest core.  Many of them swear off sex, because, as heterosexual men, the thought of sex with their “male” lover revolts them.  Instead, there is a chasteness to the relationship that is rarely seen on TV (or in real life!)  Except for a kiss or two, they bond on a much deeper level – one of friendship, camaraderie, and dedication.

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A woman wants to think that, at her least attractive – even looking like a man –  that her personality, her friendship, and her soul would be desirable enough to change a man’s sexuality.  That he could get past anything to love her.  That it’s not really about sex at all.  That it’s not about her body at all.  In a culture that tells you you have to be a certain cup-size, a woman wants to think that a man will love her if curves and a female reproductive system don’t exist at all.  That he loves her deepest soul – a part of who she is that makes her unique, individual, and transcends her physical self.  

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Every woman’s dream.

Every human being’s dream really.

All of us are looking for a relationship, love, and passion that cannot be attained on earth.  Even the hardest, coldest, bad boy needs to feel like he’s loved for who he is – even if that lover is him loving himself.  We look for it in many, many places, but, most popularly, in other people.

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Human beings are sinful.  They’re selfish, physically-oriented, small-minded, and weak.  We get sick, we die, we change our minds, we reject, we abuse, and we distort.  We’re not telepathic and we see the world only through our own eyes.  Our understanding of the spiritual worth of a human soul is limited at best.  And, when we find out the ickiest and nastiest about people, it tends to turn us off from that person.  People “fall out of love” every day, with divorce rates at its highest in the last decade.  Bullying is impossible to avoid in most school and work settings.  Finally, more and more, human beings are turning to experimenting sexually, with homosexuality being at its peak in the U.S., with experts guessing at around 10% of the population.

I want to say, firmly, that I stand with the Bible that homosexuality is a sin.  It isn’t natural, it isn’t something you’re born with that you can’t choose to avoid, and it is wrong in God’s eyes, Biblically.

The gender-bender premise is dangerous. In an effort to spiritualize love, like we should be doing, we fall short when we take God-created gender out of the equation. Instead of being a squeal-worthy comedy-fest of true heterosexual love succeeding against the greatest of odds, gender-bender shows introduces dangerous new ideas, like:

  1. Myth: Men don’t appreciate femininity. Women should shake off things that make them female, and should strive to be just like men.  Androgyny is more attractive than embracing the way God made us.

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I have had many guy friends in my life, yet I am one of the most girly people I know – all of my friends will tell you that.  I’ve never upset a guy because I was girly.  I truly think most think “viva la difference” between us.  They like my perspective, and I value theirs.  A girl once told me that my husband needed a tomboy girl – one that played basketball with him, didn’t wear makeup or jewelry, and stuck to blues, grays, and masculine clothing.  He couldn’t possibly appreciate a pink-loving, girly-girl.  Well, turns out, this is the same man who buys me new high heels every year, and likes seeing me in skirts, and long hair dyed pink.  He said it would be pretty boring if I was just like him.  No matter how you dress, your husband married a woman because he wanted a woman!

God created us to complement eachother.  That’s “complement,” like being an opposite matching puzzle piece.  I’m not sure if you’ve had close friends of the opposite gender – although you should have one if you’re married!  The bond can be strong, coupled with the fact that hormones were created to get in there and add spice to the pot that doesn’t exist with same-sex friendships.  It’s so easy to let your relationship with the opposite gender get too close and go too far.  Why?  Because we’re created to be close like that.  We’re created to have ONE spouse, of the opposite gender, who complements, intrigues, attracts, and interests us.

I sure love my girl besties, but none of them will ever compare with the bond I can only achieve with one man.  There’s just something about it.  God created it.

  1. Myth: Gender doesn’t matter.

People want to claim that gender and sexuality matters as much as a pair of shoes.  Wear one pair today, toss ‘em and change to something else tomorrow.

But it seems that gender is intrinsic to our personality and soul – much more than human beings would like to admit.  Even God identifies SOLELY as a He.  Jesus was clearly born male, and He still sits at the right hand of God – male.  And God the Father is inherently male.  Father = male.

Once I heard someone wonder if we would be genderless in heaven.  The concept sat very badly with me.  Maybe I don’t have much of an imagination, but I can’t see how I’d still be RJ Conte in heaven without being female.  Even if my heavenly body isn’t as physical as this one, I think that, if God is male, I will still be female.  God could totally do something miraculous and create new genders or abolish them, but we see no precedence for this in Scripture.  We see commands to embrace our maleness if we’re male, and our femininity if we’re female. We see different roles, different strengths, and even occasionally different commands for males and females, husbands and wives.  We hear of dead people and angels referred to by gender.

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I think we wonder about gender in heaven because there will be no marriage.  I personally don’t think that means there won’t be gender.  There’s no need for marriage, because intimacy in heaven will be complete.  No sexual act with a spouse here on earth will compare to the spiritual – and perhaps physical, mental (telepathy, anyone?), and emotional intimacy we will have with God and other people in heaven.  Marriage will seem like a cruder, less effective method of trying to bond with people.  What about when you can know them completely in a new form?  What about when every moment in God’s presence is pleasurable? Sex will be pointless.  Can you imagine being intimate with God? 

 

I think that’s the point of our pitiful attempts to create the perfect love story.  It can’t compare to the love of God.  He loves our very soul.  He inhabits our body.  He embraces and partakes with us of our emotions. He knows every single thought we’ve ever thought or will think. He doesn’t care what gender we are – His love is the same.  He died for us.  He is the ultimate author of passion.  He is the ultimate lover.  He fills you from the inside out.  He defines your true worth.

There is no intimacy like being inhabited by Christ. 

There is no intimacy like knowing the God of the universe and being known.  Like being died for.

You’re just not ever going to find that in a human man.  Even if you dress up like one.

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RJ Conte writes about love and the Christian life for young adults.  Her latest novel, a romantic suspense, will be released in February on Amazon.com

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May We All Be Pollyanna’s Dad

Growing up, I got so sick of the Hayley Mills’ Pollyanna movie.

Even though Hayley Mills was my favorite actress (Tied with Shirley Temple!), I got way too much of Disney’s Pollyanna, as my younger sister was obsessed with the movie.  When it was our week to do the family’s laundry, it was also our week to pick the movie the kids watched while we folded the clothes.  There were four of us, so, once a month, on the dot, my sister frequently chose Pollyanna.

Whatever lessons that could be gained from it were lost on me after the forty-fifth time.  (I kid, I kid… maybe.  😛 )

I mean, the movie is an ESFJ‘s (my personality type) deepest wish come true.  ESFJ girl walks around just loving everyone and spreading cheer and happiness to everyone, and, when she has her first real trial, the entire town shows up to thank her and tell her how she blessed them. Could it get any better for an ESFJ?!

Unfortunately, real life is rarely like this.  You can spend your whole life loving people, and maybe one percent cares when you suffer yourself.  A good fifty percent may never say thank you for all the care you show.  It’s why we shouldn’t ever do things for the humanly recognition!  😉

I remember, one day, when my sister had picked it for the umpteenth time, to groans from my two younger brothers and myself, my dad said, “Hey, guys!  This is a good movie!” and actually sat down with us to watch the whole thing.  My dad was not one to love kids movies, but he laughed at all the funny parts, exclaimed at all the sad parts, and sat riveted.  I’ve never enjoyed the movie more than that day, and it taught me how much a parent can influence their child’s attitude.

Now, looking back on it, I’m not sure all of my dad’s reasons were noble.  I think he was a serious Hayley Mills fan, back in the day.  That, or the two of them were secret twins.  😀

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My Dad

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You see it, don’t you?  😀

Speaking of dads, though, let’s talk about the unseen character who is really the hero of this beloved story.

I sat down and watched this movie with my little girls this week because we had just finished reading an abridged version of the book.  (The sequel is way better than the first, by the way.  Pollyanna Grows Up is a hidden gem for a slightly more mature audience.)

But, for the first time, watching this as a parent, I thought about Pollyanna’s poor dad. Hated by his wife’s relatives, a missionary off in a remote country, barely making any money, living on charity where he couldn’t even afford to buy his daughter clothes and a doll… yet happily doing God’s work.

And he was the originator, teacher, and guide for every good thought Pollyanna shared with Harrington Town.

Everything that Pollyanna was and is – everything she did in that town – originated from her dad. He searched the Scriptures for things about God’s love, grace, and joy to bring hope to his congregation. He learned how to bring out good character in people and encourage them on toward love and good deeds. He never complained, but taught his daughter to be thankful in all things.

He may have died young, and, for all we know, never saw fruit in his ministry – single parenting alone – but his daughter, taking what he taught her, went on to bless multitudes of people. His ministry continued.

As a parent, this would give me no greater joy.

Parents, as you do God’s work, day in and day out, saving money for kids’ college funds – instead of buying fun things for yourselves, changing poopy diapers, trying to do devotions with squirmy, disinterested toddlers, taking your children faithfully to church and chatting with them on the drive home, praying before bedtime, and living your life feeling perhaps small, tired, and weak – just be faithful.  Know that you are raising future Pollyannas, future Billy Grahams, future John Wesleys, and Martin Luthers.

Your work is amazing.  You may not be in the spotlight for it, but you are the unseen hero of all of your children’s stories.  May they rise up and call you blessed.

Separated Shoulders, Whovians, and 2-Star Reviews

Lucent Sylph has now been downloaded 2703 times and has 23 reviews!  And I got my first 2-star review ever as an author, but 2D - CopyI think the reviewer left a review for a different book on mine by accident.  I can’t make heads or tails of it.  😛

I am recovering from a separated shoulder.  One of my precious babies landed on it – a shoulder I first injured at a pool party seven years ago.  I’ve been out of commission for the last three weeks, and will be signing up for physical therapy tomorrow.  Prayers would be appreciated!  The majority of the excruciating pain is over, but my arm is still very weak.  😦

As I recover, I am enjoying Dr. Who for the first time.  I started with the 9th doctor (who I like the best so far) and have finished season 2.  😀

Happy October, all!

Grace Unplugged the Movie – a Call to Christian Artists

Just saw Grace Unplugged. Fantastic movie. It was nice to see AJ Michalka go back to her Christian roots.  She is someone whom I’ve watched and listened to since being a young teen.

At the end of the movie, I spent my own tearful time with the Lord, giving up my plans once again and purposing to follow Him in everything.

Let me say this: artists, writers, musicians.

LISTEN.

The world says you have to give up your body, heart, and soul, or you FAIL. You’re nothing.

I can attest to this, as I struggle along as a writer, spending more money than I make, as contests and publishing houses have rejected me for my evangelistic, moralistic, God-honoring fiction. The world will HATE you if you are a Christian, but that kind of success is empty nothingness. It destroys you body and soul. Instead, hold fast to Christ and do not compromise. Write something Jesus Himself would be proud to read. Sing something you could imagine would make the angels smile. Create things that magnify our great God. HOLD FAST. There are more of us than you think, and we stand together against the enemy and against this world.

Just the other day I lay on the office floor in my home, crying tears into the carpet because it felt too hard. It felt like I would never succeed as an author, I would never go anywhere as a musician, and my life was no better than a nobody mother doing nobody things that nobody bought or cared about.

But you know what? My God listens to my singing and playing. My God reads my books. And my God loves me. Loves me more than anyone else combined. And only His love matters.

And when I get to heaven, I want Him to have my books on His shelf and say, “Well done, my precious little RJ. Well done.”

Who’s with me?

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

I was nominated by Nikki Noelle at Inevitably Revised.  I’m so honored!  Nikki”s fantastic writing abilities are only succeeded by her masterful editing skills.  She has a way of understanding, dissecting, reviewing, and assessing prose, as well as encouraging good writing to flourish.  She is on my street team of beta readers, and I appreciate her input immensely.  If I could nominate her for this award again (Not sure how this works!), I would!

The Rules

  • Post the award on your blog
  • Thank your nominator, of course!
  • List 7 facts about yourself
  • Nominate up to 15 other blogs you are inspired by
  • Post the rules so people know them

Seven Facts About Me:

  1. I can forget anything I want to on command, and, by exerting effort, “box it up” in my brain. I value innocence above almost anything and have forced myself to forget much junk over the years, to my great advantage.  🙂
  2. The anime girl in the above banner is supposed to be me.  I have long blond hair, and I dye the bottom six inches pink.  🙂
  3. I never forget a song if I’ve heard it like twice. I can never tune out music either. I taught piano and voice for ten years, all the way up until this year (when I moved across the US).  Before I had kids to pay attention to especially, if you were to take me to a restaurant, we sat there for around an hour and a half, talked, had a good time, etc., then later that evening, I could give you a playlist of what songs played – and in what order. This is why I’m extremely picky about music. I can’t tune it out. Music is an experience, not background noise.
  4. I have synesthesia.  This influences my writing.  🙂
  5. I never, ever, ever cry in movies. That’s an emotional response I keep switched off when watching TV because I just don’t get crying about fictional people/events.  There are plenty of real life things to cry over.
  6. I am 5’6″ and have short, fat feet. They’re a 7 1/2 double wide.
  7. I like certain kinds of anime a lot (PG-rated!), but LOVE all things Korean.  K-drams, K-pop, and Korean fashion.  Someone take me to Seoul!

Nominees: 

Bethany A. Jennings at The Simmering Mind – Speculative Fiction, parenting, and Christian living blog.  Bethany has a way with words that will touch your hearts and interest you in new ideas all at once.

Heather L.L. Fitzgerald at The Tethered World – The Pathmaster!  A motherly, yet peer writer.  We all love her.  She’s sweet, encouraging, supportive, and fun.  Her first book is coming out soon!

Abby Jones at A Gentle and Quiet Spirit – ISFJ!  Finding other sensor authors is unique.  I enjoy Abby’s love of the harder topics.  She shares that same interest with me in that way.

Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience – Ann is quite the bestselling authoress now, so, Ann, I don’t know if you’ll see this, but your blog is immensely encouraging.  Your speech is beautiful and your writing deep.  You have been influential in my life!

Tim Hong at TX Father of Seven – Tim is politically savvy, economy-conscious, and an outspoken libertarian.  I’d rather get my news and info through him than anyone else.

Heidi Joelle at Homemade Mythology – Heidi’s savvy thoughts on her faith and on writing speculative fiction is always fun to read.  She just published an (adult) short story!

Rebekah Shafer at Lantern Leaf Press – “Lady Rebekah” is a brand new, spunky blogger and friend.  We hit it off immediately due to being so similar where it counts: we think in sentences, love to be around people, and talk Myers-Briggs personality types.  Seriously, what is better than that?  😉  Check out her first novella.  She’s got another one coming out soon!

Mirtika at Mirtika Writes – Mir’s clever, dry wit and business sense have inspired me immensely.  She’s the reason I’m writing these three modern retellings of fairy tales.  Her ideas are right-on, and she says things few have the guts to talk about.  I look up to her.

Caleb Lawrence at Merely This – Used to be one of my piano students – now has grown into a young man whom I respect.  We share a love of Japanese things, and I have seen him grow in so much wisdom and insight.

Ryan Christoffel at Beholding Christ – On the pastoral staff at my former church back in Texas, Ryan’s thoughts are God-focused and profound.