Thursday, November 12, 2015

To Youth Ministers

I have been around various forms of youth ministry throughout the course of my seventeen-and-a-half years of life.

Being the daughter of two youth ministers, I spent my childhood immensely looking forward to being part of a youth ministry program. I saw the joy of people passionately pursuing Jesus and leading others to Him. Even as young as three, that was so attractive to me. I assumed that I would be a part of a youth ministry program as wonderful as the one my parents lead when I reached high school.

Unfortunately, my experience with youth ministry over the years has been frustrating and the source of much heartache. I've been let down by multiple Cristian adults...and it hurts. I'm not going to lie, I'm angry about it. Even though some of these situations happened years ago, I'm angry. I've forgiven those involved...but I still recognize that the things that happened were wrong.

So please, all of you who work with kids in the Church, learn from these mistakes of others.

My absolute favorite line that I've gotten from youth ministers (and I've gotten it from at least four) is the ol' "Well, you're way ahead of them all."  This statement has been said in response to suggestions given by myself or others. Usually, this line is in response to requests for greater depth in something or an expression of frustration at the lack of leadership.

When I've received that line, I've felt put in a box. It's like I'm different from everyone else, and almost ostracized. Growing deeper is up to me and the youth minister is not going to help me. Also, I think it puts the "them" in a box which prohibits their own growth. To me, that line is a cop out from putting more work into something.

Every single person alive longs for greater depth spiritually, regardless of whether or not they realize it. Our hearts were made for relationship with Jesus. Obviously, the leadership which leads to the relationship can take many different forms. So don't tell me that I'm the only one who wants that.

Please realize that you are never going to please everybody, so stop trying. You're not going to please every priest, every kid, every parent, every member of the church. So just strive to please one-- Jesus. Don't compromise Church teachings just because you don't want to offend somebody. Take a stand. Stand up for Jesus. And also, please do not give your opinions if  they are contrary to Church teaching. The church has been around for two-thousand years. She knows more than you.

It's not about you and your ministry. It's about leading people to relationship with Jesus. That's all that matters. I don't understand why, under this premise, so many youth ministers are unable to work together. Why do so many schedule their events on the same night, seemingly intentionally? I get really frustrated when I (and others) get crap about going to a different church's events. Youth groups are not sports teams competing for coolness or attendance. There was a youth minister I knew once who wouldn't even talk to a girl after she skipped a week of our church's youth group to go to another church. Well, that's mature!

Please do not mimic your kids when they offer suggestions or voice concerns. Often, it takes a lot of courage for a kid to speak up to an adult. Regardless of whether or not you agree with what is being suggested, please be respectful and listen.

Don't talk about kids to other kids. Youth ministry is a hard balance between relating to the kids while still maintaining a leadership persona. But please, please, please set an example and don't gossip. As one who has been gossiped to and gossiped about by a variety of youth ministers, it's not cool. If you're frustrated, talk to another youth minister or confront the kid yourself. If you're gossiping as the youth minister, how are you supposed to teach your kids not to gossip? Also, it puts the kid being gossiped to in a very uncomfortable position. And if you're being gossiped's heartbreaking.

How much do you know about the personal lives of your kids? I'm talking beyond sports and clubs How much do you know about their wants and dreams, their fears, their hurts? Are your kids comfortable sharing with you? Another hard balance of youth ministry is that of having a fun side as well as a deep side. Are your kids able to get real with you?

It's not about numbers...for the sake of numbers. But each number represents a soul. Your responsibility is to lead these souls to heaven. Do you realize how much power you have?! You have so many souls literally in your hands, and you have the truth that they long for! Are you doing everything in your power to reach as many as you possibly can?

Please be prepared for your events. Please don't fill youth events with a bunch of games because you think we can't handle depth. We crave depth because we our culture has starved us of it. Additionally, for goodness's sakes, write you talk ahead of time.

If you're going to enlist others to be on a leadership team (especially other teens), please train them. Meet with them, talk and pray with them, build relationship. Don't just throw them to the wolves.

If you're not going to pray openly with your team and kids, then you're not going to go anywhere. If you're not pursuing a relationship with Jesus to the best of your ability, then you're not going to be anything but noise.

Be real. Be fun. Be deep. Don't be afraid to give yourself wholly and completely, like Jesus does continuously for us. Youth ministry is so much more than a's a way of life.

I have been let down often in my life and this is partly my fault. But the worst, most heartbreaking let downs have come from youth ministers. When leaders don't lead, especially in the church, I get so upset. Wen I am told how I am "too far ahead of everybody", it hurts. I want to be fed, to be led closer to Jesus. I have problems just like everyone else. When I see youth ministers wo are so obsessed with "success" that they miss the souls in front of them, it hurts.

The most important thing you could ever do is love and lead a soul to Christ.

I'm praying for you! I know that youth ministry (and every kind of ministry) is difficult. But what God has called you to, He'll provide the grace sufficient for. Remember, more than anything, the sacrifice that Jesus has made for you and the love that He pours out continually on you. Cling to that, and let Him be your strength.

To all the kids who have been hurt by youth ministers...youth ministers are just people. People are human, and we fail. I know kids who have left the Church because of being let down by the leadership. Always remember, our Church is founded on Christ. He is our hope. Our Church is run by humans, which means we will fail. But the Church never will.

I'm praying for you.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Porn in a Pub: You're Worth Over a Million Dollars

I am a very emotional person.

I feel things very deeply, probably over the top most times. Things swirl around inside me for much longer than they probably should. Which is probably why I'm up at 12:43am on this November 3rd. I was lying in lying in bed for at least an hour, wide awake, sick to my stomach because of what had happened this past evening.

So this past evening, family friends invited us out to eat with them. The name of the restaurant is McGuire's Pub, and it's apparently a pretty big deal.

Before we walked into the pub, I noticed dollar bills, signed with various names and phrases, taped to the insides of the windows. When we walked into the pub, I completely lost my breath. Dollar bills, everywhere. Literally hanging from the ceiling, covering every inch so that all you could see were the vertically hanging bills. The restaurant was huge, and the bills went on and on and on.

I didn't know what to think or what to say. I was so overwhelmed by the loud voices of the pub's patrons and the steady rambling of the waiters and waitresses, the musky scent, and the dim lighting. My head spun, my stomach sunk, and my legs automatically moved forward with the rest of my family, with my eyes unable to remove themselves from the vast sea of money.

Our waiter lead us to a little secluded area, a tiny circular room encompassing a circular table. The walls were lined with vintage pictures, mostly beer advertisements and such. In addition to these though, there was a drawn picture of a woman, mostly naked and showing her breasts, obviously meant to be seductive. Pornography.

The fact that people look at pictures of naked men and women for pleasure absolutely sickens me. So many people think that it's not a big deal, that it's only a picture, and maybe I'm making too big a deal out of this.

But the thing is, pornography reduces people down to things. I strongly believe that pornography is the biggest perpetrator of rape culture. Porn says it's okay to use without any responsibility or commitment or lasting effects. Porn reduces people to toys to be played with. Porn gives permission to use people. We were made for love, not to be lusted after and used. Lust says that I'm going to take you for what you can do for me...but love says that I am going to lay my life down for your good. Porn promotes lust and destroys love.

Like I said, porn sickens me. But the people involved...the photographers, the models, and the people who do not. You are worthy of love. My heart goes out to you if you're addicted to porn, whether it's something you're okay with or struggling with. You are made for more. I am praying for you, that you would come to see the truth of who you are and given the strength to give up living for something so much less than you deserve.

When I saw the picture in the pub, my spirit just felt so heavy and...yuck, honestly. Everything inside me felt out of order and chaotic. I felt like I had just forgotten something really important or that I was in the wrong place. I felt lost. The money-ceiling felt like it was getting closer and closer, and was about to crush me.

My dad asked the waiter if  we could remove the picture or cover it up or anything. The waiter said that we could move to the room over, so we did.

And then my mom came back and told us about the bathrooms.

Apparently, the door to the men's bathroom read "LADIES" in large print, followed by a small printed "do not use this bathroom". The ladies' bathroom said "MEN", followed by "do not use this bathroom". Again, disgust. How could that be okay? It's not funny. While we were there, a number of people accidentally went in the wrong bathroom.

Men and women, we are more than just bodies...we are bodies and souls. But our bodies are sacred and holy, a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are not meant to be used as a joke or as an embarrassment. However, our bodies were designed to give glory to God. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to aid each other in recognizing our true, infinite worth.

How does tricking men into going into the ladies' bathroom promote an culture of respect for each other as persons, body and soul, worthy of love and respect?

Our waiter repeated the spiel about the bathrooms and added what he called an interesting tidbit. Apparently, all of the dollar bills all over the place added up to one and a half million and there was a certain spot in the pub where you could see the entire ceiling and all you'd see was millions of dollar bills. He called it cool.

This time, I couldn't control my tears.

One and a half million dollars used as DECORATION for a restaurant.

One and a half million. Decoration.


How many people die each day from starvation? How many people don't have a place to sleep? How many people can't receive the medical attention they need? All of this...due to lack of money.

Meanwhile, at McGuire's, you'll one and a half million dollars used as decoration and amusement.

Honestly, I don't care if it was one or two or ten or twenty dollars. The fact that it is any being completely wasted when there are so many underprivileged people...completely and utterly disgusting.

Apparently, someone told my brother that they do donate some money to some charity or another. That's great. Still not an excuse to waste one and a half million dollars.

Sometimes, I wish that I just didn't care. That I could see a picture like the one I saw and just look away. That I didn't have the kind of dad who had to make a big deal and ask if the picture could be removed. That I could laugh about the bathroom joke and just be careful. That I could "oooh and awww" at the money as I was clearly expected to do, perhaps even signing a dollar myself. That I wasn't up at now almost two in the morning and could peacefully sleep as though nothing happened.

But I am  not called to the comfort of conformity. I am called to greatness. And the reality is, by the grace of God, I care more about people than I do about my social status.

I care that men and women are being used for their bodies, that pornography is destroying marriages and relationships. I care that the porn industry is growing rapidly, and that money is being made off of the sacred bodies of men and women made in the image and likeness of the God of the universe. I care that a pornographic picture was put in a pub. I care that pornographic pictures exist, period. I care that my little brothers and sisters saw it.

I care that so many people don't have food. That so many are without moms and dads, that so many live without love. I care that so many die in the streets each day, due to various diseases. I care that so much money is wasted rather than given to help these people. I care that selfishness exists in this world, just as much as undernourishment or any kind of disease.

My experience at McGuire's challenged me. It challenged me to look at the ways that I use people. Do I see men as just an attractive thing without a personality? How much money do I spend needlessly, how much time do I waste? These are really hard questions that are so good to keep in mind.

The men and women in pornographic pictures are worth far, far, far more than one and a half million dollars. Guys, you all are worth so much more than that much money. We all are priceless. When we use people, whether physically, visually, or emotionally, it's sort of like hanging one and a half million dollars from a dirty old ceiling, not letting it live up to its full potential. It's telling a person that s/he is something that s/he is not, that s/he is worthless.

Let's stop wasting something that is worth so much more than any amount of money...someone. Each other. Let's stop using each other for our own pleasure, and instead...let's love. Let's sacrificially do what is better for each other, let's lay our lives down. It's hard not to use people, especially when you're in the habit! I know, believe me, I've been there. It's a daily struggle not to fall into the temptation of use. But living lives of love, rather than use, is always worth it. The very fact that it is so hard validates how worth it it is.

Let's make commitments not to use. Let's love. And let's pray for each other.

For more information on how pornography destroys, visit these awesome websites:

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


When I was little, I used to love to jump in the leaves.

I absolutely loved raking them, too. It made jumping in them even sweeter, when I had poured effort into creating the perfect pile, with the perfect dimensions. It had to be just wide enough and tall enough for maximum jumping crunch.

I remember feeling the wood of the rake's handle in my sweaty hands. I gripped it tightly, and pulled against the leaves hard. I ran it through the grass as fast as I could, visions of twenty-foot high piles of leaves climbing high up to the sky, just waiting to be jumped in. I would always get raw, red marks on my hands, but I hardly noticed. It was a small price to pay for the glory of leaping into a magical pile of leaves.

But one fall brought with it the day when I discovered a slug. This slug was lurking within the folds of a crispy leaf, just inches from my head. I jumped up from my leafy bed and ran inside, shivering with disgust.

Suddenly, the slugs were all I saw in the leaves. The raking ceased. The jumping ceased. My fear of nasty slugs overpowered the wonder that I held for jumping into the leaves. The slugs stole my wonder.

We come into this world with so much wonder. We marvel at everything, from touches to tastes to sights and everything in between. We long to believe, we long to love.

But then the slugs come.

Personally, I love to love. I love to be excited and to dive into something whole heartedly, whether it be a project or a relationship. I don't do things by halves, perhaps to a fault. I'm completely trusting...or completely afraid. I have so much love to give and I want to give it to EVERYBODY RIGHT NOW.

Until the slugs come.

The leaves were once a place where I loved to lay and look up at the pale blue fall sky. I loved feeling the brisk air on my face, chilly but not uncomfortable. The indescribable fall aroma was something that relaxed me and brought me happiness.

But then the slugs came.

People who used and abused, who filled themselves and then took off. And, silly me, I just kept right on filling. The world became less wonderful, and I became tired. Because I was never full. Life stopped being beautiful. The thought of trusting, of being vulnerable, of loving-- made me feel sick.

I had so much excitement for life. And I willingly gave it up to the slugs. I stayed inside and just watched the wind tickle the branches of trees that dropped leaves. But those leaves, all I saw in them were the slugs.

I'm sure you seasoned bloggers think you have this post figured out. Another cliche "See the Good!" post, encouraging to look past the slugs and see the leaves. Encouraging to GO LIVE YOUR LIFE, DESPITE THE SLUGS! You're partially right. Which means you're partially wrong.

I don't think we should look past the slugs. We need to see the slugs.  See the bad. The bad is there, and the bad hurts. It hurts so, so, so horribly, and has terrible consequences. It persuades us to stop loving and trusting, and thus hurting ourselves even more.

We need to see the slugs.

About a year ago, I was talking to a formerly-close friend of mine about someone who was really hurting me. This person had said a lot of really nasty things to me. Deep down, I believed that the things he said were lies...but part of me also questioned whether are not they were true. I shared all this with my friend, and he replied: "The hurt is real. The lies are not."

That really struck me and has continued to stay with me. I thought that we just ignored the hurt, writing it off as irrelevant and as though it didn't actually matter very much. But's okay to feel hurt.

The slugs are there. The slugs are real.

They're the people who hurt us. But place a couple of slugs in a huge backyard, filled with a thousand enormous trees shedding vibrant leaves. Look out into that backyard and know that the slugs are there. But we can't stay focused on a little blob of slime when there is so much beauty in front of us. How silly would it be to be so afraid of the slugs that we don't go jump in the leaves?

The slugs are real. But what is not real is the imagined threat that the slugs are to us. The lies that they the slugs tell us...that we're not good enough...that is not real! YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. I am sick and tired of this world proclaiming that we're not good enough.

The God of the universe CREATED you in His IMAGE AND LIKENESS and the world has the audacity to plant the idea in you're head that you're not good enough?! No, my friend. Not at all. The truth is, the world is not good enough for you. That is real, and that is the truth. You are beautiful. You are treasured. You are sacred. You are His.

God defeated the slugs. When God is for us and loving us unconditionally (despite our rather sluggish tenancies at times), what do we have to fear? The God who defeated death is in control of our lives. So trust Him. Easier said than done, right? It takes work. But it is always, ALWAYS worth it.

Let us not lose our wonder. Let us continually see all of the beauty of the world, of life. More specifically, let us continue to marvel at the beauty of our individual lives. You are alive, right now, for a purpose and a reason. How incredible is that? Let us not allow past hurt to rob us of the marvel and wonder that God created us to have.

Don't draw back when the slugs come. Let God brush off the slugs, and let it go. And keep jumping in the leaves.

I'm praying for you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Pre-NaNo Update

I am excited for NaNoWriMo. 

I'm sort of dreading it, I'm really overwhelmed by it, and it's definitely scaring me. But with all of that, I'm incredibly excited. 

October has been a veeeeeeeery slow writing month for me, which has been frustrating. Last month was extremely productive, and I suppose I just assumed that the productivity would carry over into this month. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I don't know that I've even written five chapters of my WIP this month. My goal of finishing before NaNo is utterly impossible at this point, but that's okay.

I've been learning lately that it's good to set goals. That it's important to work your butt off to achieve those goals. But perhaps it is necessary also to be okay when we do not reach those goals. It's okay to let our goals morph into other goals when they become unrealistic. And the most important of all is not to beat ourselves up over it, because that will get us nowhere. I'm finding that we can let the disappointment of not reaching a goal fuel the excitement of meeting the next goal. 

Additionally, I've been praying a lot that God would help me be productive. It's taken me seventeen and a half years to realize that I can't do it on my own. 

Seventeen and a half. I'll be seventeen and a half, officially, on October 24. How odd is that. On October 25, I'll be closer to my eighteenth birthday than to my seventeenth birthday. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Speaking of growing up things, many of you know that I applied to NET ministries. Last week, I got a phone call telling me that I'm invited to come to an interview weekend! It's a good thing I wasn't able to answer the phone and had to listen to the message, because my reaction may have got me uninvited....blubbering and screaming and the like. That will be in February, so please keep me in your prayers! 

Also, this is weird, but my brother Dominic and I have become obsessed with this local classical radio station. Right now, they're having a fundraiser thing, and we literally have it on all the time. The deejays have the most relaxing, almost hypnotic voices. They play the strangest array of music, not just classical...there is some electronic and...I honestly don't even know the other genres. A lot of it is really different and I've never even heard it before. I listen to classical music occasionally and greatly appreciate it, but don't typically chose to listen to it on my own, so I have no idea why I love it. I'm honestly so confused by why I'm so addicted to it.

That was probably the most irrelevant paragraph I've ever written (which is saying something), but I really felt that need to confess all that so y'all better just suck it up, buttercup. Irrelevancy is my thing. That is such a fun word. Say it. Irrelevancy. 

Back to NaNo. My outlines are ready, my pencils are sharp, and I've found a stellar pen. Not that the writing utensils matter so much, as I type out my books. But it's comforting to know, if I should need them, they're right near by. I rounded up a couple of writer friends to participate in a NaNo support group, and I'm really really really pumped about the ladies I'll be working with. I'll keep y'all posted on how the group goes.  

What have you guys been up to? How are my Wrimos feeling pre-November? 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Reach Out

Once upon a time I wrote a blog post on the amazing book This Is Not A Writing Manuel by Kerri Majors. If you haven't read it, you seriously need to. It's more directed towards teens/young adults, but I really think that a stockpile of information can be gleaned from Kerri's brilliance regardless of age.

Anyway, Kerri strongly suggests becoming a part of a writer's community. When I read that, I decided that I wanted a community to share my writing with. So I emailed some friends from all over the place (geographically) and asked if they would be interested in started a group where we would share and critique writing on a weekly basis.

The group went okay for a while, albeit not exactly what I had in mind. Most of the people who had joined had never really been in a writing group before that wasn't a class. It died off by the end of the year.

Earlier this year, I revisited TINAWM and decided that I really, really, really needed a writing group that actually, physically met. So, I googled writing groups in my area.

To my surprise, there actually was one that met at a cafe every Tuesday. But as far as I could tell, it was an adult group and I wasn't sure if teens were welcomed. So I sent the head lady an email, asking if she knew about any teen writing groups in the area.

And, badabingbadaboom, the next thing I knew, she had emailed be back saying no, she did not, but their people were interested in starting one! Then, some days later, another one of the writers emailed me inviting me to the group to discuss particulars.

Though no particulars were discussed, the group was an insane amount of fun. The members (for the most part) were all easily ten to thirty years older than me, but it was so cool. I didn't bring any work to be critiqued, but I learned so much by listening to them critique each other and reading their work.

Just being around other writers makes my soul so happy.

I'm actually going with them to a writer's conference at a university near my house next month. I AM SO. SO. SO. SOOOO EXCITED. I had business cards printed already and I keep staring at them.

Having writing friends does so much for your writing, especially if you can physically meet with them face to face. Even if you can't though, find yourself a critique partner! I don't think any writer should be without a critique partner. This is someone who you can vent to about your characters and bounce ideas off of. They can critique parts (or all of) whatever you're working on. And you can do the same for them, learning a lot about writing in the process!

It also helps in building a tough skin that is required for publishing. Having a person who genuinely cares about you and your writing makes it easy (or, at least, easier) to be critiqued, if you're not used to it.

The other awesome (probably the most awesome) thing about having a critique partner is that they'll a lot of times turn out to be one of your closest friends. (*waves* Hi, Jess!)

So! The moral of the post is DON'T BE AFRAID TO REACH OUT! If I had found the writing group but never emailed, then there would be no potential teen group, I couldn't have joined the adult group, and I never would have even heard of the writer's conference. Don't be afraid of how people will receive you...the worst thing that can happen is that they won't reply to your email, and how bad is that, really?

In addition to all that, same goes for blogging. I love the blogging community so much! My writing has grown exponentially thanks to y'all, I'm forever indebted. I love the friendships that have resulted in my activeness in the blogging world. Don't be afraid to comment, or even to send an email to a blogger! We don't bite, I promise.

Actually, that's so not true, I hate when people say that. I just realized that I hate when people say that, and now I'm all fired up. Of COURSE we bite. How do you think we eat?! By BITING. Unless you're a baby, then you don't bite. Well, actually, you do, you bite people, even if you don't bite food.

So moral number two: BLOGGERS BITE.

Have a fabulous remainder of the week everyone.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

What My WIP Is Teaching Me

I am so excited about my WIP, which is a fantastical thing.

The fact that I'm excited, not the WIP. Necessarily.

It's a full blown high fantasy, full of magic and mystery and milk. Milk? Yes, milk. Actually, no, there's no milk, but "milk" starts with "m" and I was looking for another m word so I just stuck with that. What even is this paragraph?

This WIP presents a lot of firsts for me. I've been learning so, so much while writing and these characters have been stretching me in ways I didn't think was possible. I've realized that a lot of my characters are copies of each other as well. And it's not just me--I've come to realize this is how it is in most books. Even in books where we're lucky enough to come across a unique MC, the supporting characters all fall back into either black or white. Or vice versa. Unfortunately, people are neither black or white; our personalities are millions of shades of gray. There is so much originality in our world!

I've been working really hard on communicating that originality. I've been focusing a lot on the speech and reactions of certain characters. Also, I've been working hard on withholding information. In the movie The Lady in the Water (really bizarre movie, never watch it), there's a character who is a film reviewer or something like that. After coming home from a movie premier, he says that the movie was terrible because everyone walked around and said what they thought.

That really struck me. I'm an extrovert, and I definitely say what I think a lot...but I probably don't communicate fifty percent of my thoughts. Characters are really two-dimensional (if not even one-dimensional) when there is no distance between mind and mouth.

My MC is definitely more introverted than extroverted. That's been weird to write, because usually I write extroverted MCs. However, writing an introverted MC has taught me a lot. One, I can't rely completely on dialogue to tell the story. Dialogue is one of my biggest strengths, but a lot of times, I let it overpower my descriptions of the setting, body language, etc.

My dialogue has improved even more, though. I also had the realization that all of my characters talk similarly. Again, not realistic!

There is a large cast of characters in this WIP, and I was worried about making them all the same. Additionally, I was concerned that they would all just get lost and my readers wouldn't be able to tell the difference between them or remember them.

I've fixed this by the different things that they say. For example, I have one character who says everything twice. I have another one who never speaks besides when spoken to, another who asks a million questions, and other one who just talks constantly to fill the silence. Of course, these are general, but I've fleshed them out more in the story (as you'll hopefully see some day!) I've found that it's important to figure out how the character expresses himself verbally in the stages of pre-writing character development.

So! My mind is full of different characters, plot points, and great motivation for writing. Unfortunately, life has been absolutely crazy, so I haven't had as much time to write as I would like. However, I'm inching closer to word at a time.

What has your writing been teaching you lately?

(NANOWRIMO INFORMATION! Check out my profiles and friend me: adult site (A.M. Schlueter) and YWP site (schluetera656)If you're a teen doing NaNo and would be interested in joining an email-based NaNo support group, please email me:! Don't know about NaNo? Visit or

Friday, October 2, 2015

October Appreciation Post: Socks, Writing, and Happy Birthday Month

Last night, I was at my church for an event and one lady who works there told me how cute I looked.

"Very fally," she said. "Really adorable."

Word art by moi
So what did I do? Proceed to rant about how much I love being able to wear socks again. I told her all about how I never wear socks in the summer and how I loved socks and it just felt so amazing to have my feet hugged again. As I neared the end of my rant, I started to realize how utterly weird I sounded and also that I was talking really loudly and people were listening. Oh, well. I'm a writer, I feel passionately about things. Things like...socks.

But seriously, last year for Christmas, I got a whole box full of the most amazing sweater socks and they are just so life changingly incredible. I'm joking. Not really.


October brings with it so many wonders (socks included). My mom always decorates our house so cute for fall, with little pumpkins and scarecrows and the works. The trees have finally started changing colors, slowly but surely. The sky is overcast and the temperature has dropped to the 50s. Homecoming drama is upon us. Thankfully, it hasn't touched me this year, which is refreshing.

October holds lots and lots of motivation for me. Motivation to wrap myself in my fleece sheets and sit in bed and drink hot cocoa all day long. Motivation to finally finish Lord of the Rings (I finally started reading it last month, totally in love). Motivation to be on Pinterest and read all of your blogs. Motivation to finish my novel.

Despite all the motivation this month is brimming with, I do not want to leave my house. At all. Unless it's to go for a walk or a hike...I cringe when I think of all my responsibilities. The world should just pause when it comes to October and stay paused for the rest of the year, with nobody allowed to leave their houses. All in favor?

October is also official unofficial NaNoWriMo prep month. I love seeing my Twitter feed be overrun by all y'all's prep posts. I'm SO PUMPED...but also low key dreading it.

I have yet to finish the novel I began last month, though I'm a little over halfway done. I really want to crank out as much writing before I graduate as I can, as I'm not exactly sure what next year will hold for me as far as writing opportunities are concerned. So I'm trying to squeeze in writing three novels. Kinda big for someone who took three years to complete her last book. (A book, I should mention, that needs to be completely rewritten.)

So the goal is for me to finish this book by the middle of this month, in time to speed-plan the next one. But we'll see how that goes...whatever happens, I know God's got it. Despite having large goals, I'm doing my best to just enjoy the ride. I'm really enjoying the novel that I'm working on now, and I'm trying to immerse myself in the moment rather than continually looking to whatever I have to do next.

October is also Respect Life Month. I like to look at it as one big birthday party month-- we're celebrating everyone's lives! Go thank your parents for giving you life! Also, I know lots of areas are doing things to stand up for people who don't have that right to life, whether it be babies in the womb or the elderly. If you can't participate in the events going on, be sure to not only be grateful for your own life, but also help make other people grateful for their lives by building up and affirming them.

Have a fabulous weekend everyone! And an absolutely wonderful October. Go drink some hot cocoa for me, and let me know what you're up to this month. OH! And add me as a buddy on NaNo...I'm schluetera656 on the YWP website and A.M. Schlueter on the regular site.

(ALSO...if you're a teen doing NaNo and would be interested in joining an email-based NaNo support group, please email me:! Don't know about NaNo? Visit or

Monday, September 28, 2015

I'm a Catholic and I'm Frustrated with Pope Francis

As you probably already know due to the social media and news explosion, Pope Francis was in America this past week. As a Catholic myself, I anticipated the event with much curiosity. I know some people who were waiting with baited breath for the pope to announce some of the Church's teachings to be invalid. I am so sick of people who call themselves Catholic thinking that the pope will do this!

Nobody, absolutely nobody, can declare "oh, well, {insert issue here} is actually okay to do. We've been wrong for 2,000 years and Jesus was wrong, so yeah." Nope. Not a thing. The Catholic Church is never going to be okay with abortion, birth control, same-sex marriage, etc. (I feel like I should note that the Church still loves and accepts people who practice these the sinner--we're all sinners--hate the sin, and all that.)

And why is that? Because Jesus founded the Catholic Church and Jesus designed the human race for perfection. Sin takes away from perfection and distances us from Him. The things that the Catholic Church (and Jesus) doesn't allow us to do is for our own good.

SO I don't have an issue with Pope Francis and I don't doubt His spirituality nor loyalty to the Church or to Jesus.


I had MAJOR issues with the pope's speeches at the White House and to Congress. Everything he said was so...easy. One of my friends commented that he was basically throwing cotton balls. Nearly every single person in America would agree with the majority of the things he said...

But it wasn't necessarily what he said that upset me. It was what he didn't say.  He did say that human life is to be valued, but that was it. He did say that marriage is under attack, but that was it.

What he didn't say was that abortion in this country needs to stop. What he failed to mention were the thousands upon thousands of babies that are being murdered in their mothers' wombs in the United States. What never escaped his lips was a cry to defend the unborn. He had the opportunity to explicitly defend them, and he didn't.

What he didn't say was that marriage is between a man and a woman and cannot be redefined.

I have a huge amount of respect for Pope Francis and the papal office. But I was disappointed, disheartened, and perhaps a little angry at the missed opportunity.

I know that he did a lot of good while in the United States, and brought up these themes while he spoke to the bishops and other Catholics. I'm not discounting that.

But what frustrates me is that he could have boldly proclaimed the truth with love to the president, the congress, and the nation and that he merely glossed over important facts without taking a solid stand. The bishops already know that the Catholic Church is against abortion and that homosexual unions are wrong. It's awesome that the pope brought this up to them! But how much more needed were these truths to be told to the rest of the nation?

I have stood up for the Church imperfectly, but I have still striven to make known her truths with love to those who do not understand. I, and countless others, have been discriminated against and hated for believing what the Church teaches. I felt so let down that the pope did not make a declaration of support of the unborn and traditional marriage to the United States government, when both are in jeopardy.

But, you know what? I am at peace. Even though I was definitely disgruntled...the Catholic Church is more than one man. The people that make up the Church are only humans and we sin. We do not always lead perfectly, and we do not always love perfectly.

I do not hang the truthfulness of the Church on the pope, nor do I hang it on any nun, priest, bishop, or lay person. But I follow the Church's teachings because they were administered by Jesus Christ, and that's who I am striving to follow.

I know a lot of people have left the Catholic Church because they have been let down by those entrusted to lead her. I know many who have been disappointed by the leaders of the Church. I'm sure that I have some ex-Catholics who read my blog. And, in the name of the Church, I am so, so, so sorry. I am sorry for the ways that the people of the Church have hurt you have mislead you, have failed you in any way. I hope and pray that you will find it in your heart to forgive whoever wronged you, and the Church as a whole.

And please remember...the Church is not defined by the failings of its members, or it would have died long ago. The Church is defined by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Since we're on the topic...does anyone have any questions about anything the Catholic Church teaches? So many people believe things about the Church that aren't true, and I'd love to dispel some of the rumors for you.

(ALSO...if you're a teen doing NaNo and would be interested in joining an email-based NaNo support group, please email me:! Don't know about NaNo? Visit or

Have a great week, everyone! May the peace of Jesus reign in your hearts.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Busy, busy, BUSY!

It's been a while since I have written about writing! Perhaps my subconscious is still recovering from my writing themed A-Z Challenge. Let me let you in on what I have been up to.

My main project has been drafting TBN (which, obviously, still has yet to be named). I started September with the goal of finishing by the end of the month...not quite sure if that is going to happen. The month has been so hectic. I worked twenty-six hours last week, plus add school, other volunteering obligations, and family's been insane. There have been a few mornings where I have woken up an hour or two early because the day was so full. 

But! The good news is, I'm just over half way done, so I have made quite a bit of progress. I have been enjoying this draft more than any other I've ever written. I've been told a million times to be okay with your first draft being crap, but I've never been able to actually believe it. For some reason, it's finally stuck this time around. 

I have been able to completely accept my draft as it is and plow forward, just putting words on paper. I'm not judging my writing, which is huge for me. I know that I can write better but also that my draft is how it needs to be for now. It's okay, and it will get better.

Life is super beautiful when we learn to let go, let God, and accept ourselves, completely and totally, flaws and all.

By the way, thank you so much to all of you who commented kindly on the poem I posted a few weeks ago! I was blown away by your sweetness.

I have been cranking out more poetry, slowly but surely. I really wish that I could put music to it and write songs, but alas, I'm not that talented. I'm pretty excited about this poem I've been working on, based on Song of Songs and the Gospels. Perhaps I'll post it when it's ready?
I just wrote two essays last night for my NET application (just one to go!), which launched me into a very reflective mood that I have yet to break out of. The topics were my faith story and how my relationship with God has changed me. They were actually surprisingly hard to write! But the Holy Spirit took care of me and they're thankfully done. The last one I have to write is on two ways I can improve in the way I relate to people which will be very short because I'm perfect. Joking. I should probably start writing now because I might not be done by the time I graduate...

I've been pondering doing NaNo this year. Because, you know, I will have just finished a draft in need of major edits and am working an average of 15 hours a week...oh, and plus, I have to put together a youth rally/retreat for my dad's ministry. Oh! And school, essays and reading! Plus college visits! So why not do NaNo?!?!?! My crazy is showing. 

There was only one year I was able to complete NaNo and it was absolutely awesome...and a long time ago. It's been five years since then, and I think it would be a great addition to my senior year. Also, I'm not sure when I'll be able to do it again. And I do have a story that I'm just itching to write...

Who else is doing NaNo? I was thinking about starting a teen NaNo support group via email. If you're interested, please leave your email in the comments below! Or shoot me an email:

What have you all been up to? Have a fabulous remainder of the week!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Tag of Happiness: With a Touch of Duck Dynasty

Opal, who makes me incredibly happy happy happy, tagged me in this happy happy happy (if you didn't just read that in Phil Robertson's voice, we can't be friends) tag, The Tag of Happiness. Opal can make you happy happy happy too, but you have to go to her blog

  • Take the banner and put it in your post
  • List as many things as you want in each category
  • Come up with more categories if you wish
  • Tag as many people as you want

Songs that make me happy happy happy:

Musicians that make me happy happy happy:
Echosmith, Needtobreathe, Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers, Johnnyswim, Us the Duo, Eddie Vedder, The Civil Wars, Kodaline, Vance Joy, Ingrid Michaelson, Taylor Swift, Bethel, Steffany Gettzinger, Jesus Culture, Tenth Avenue North, For King & Country...I should probably stop now.

Places that make me happy happy happy:
Rita's Italian Ice (Erie, PA) | Down the street from my old house.
St. George Catholic Church (Erie) | The church I grew up in, for the most part.
St. Joseph Bread of Life Community (Erie) | Spent a lot of time here...beautiful, beautiful chapel.
Presque Isle (Erie) | Stunningly gorgeous peninsula featuring amazing beaches and hiking.
Blasco and Millcreek Libraries (Erie) | We went so much that we became besties with the librarians.
Frontier Park (Erie) | My siblings ran many, many races there.
Dublin, OH | Where my grandparents live.
Charlotte, NC | Where I vacationed with my family (immediate and cousins).

Books that make me happy happy happy:
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, The Help, Harry Potter, The Secret Life of Bees, Sense & Sensibility, The Fault In Our Stars, The Book Thief. 
(Well, lots of books make me happy, but these make me the happiest.)

Classes that have made me happy happy happy:
9th Grade Theology Class | Became very close with the teacher.
Latin I (freshman year) | Best teacher I have ever had, he made everything so clear and was so sweet.
English II | SUPER hard class, but learned so much (still look at my binders from it!).
American History (sophomore year) | Taught by a brilliant football coach. Awesome discussions.
Medieval History and Literature | Loved the history/lit combo!
(holding off on mentioning my classes this year, because we'll see how it goes...but absolutely loving my American Economics and Government, Literature 12, and Catholic Doctrine classes!)

Shows that make me happy happy happy:
Merlin, Duck Dynasty, Downton Abbey

Movies that make me happy happy happy:
Pride and Prejudice (BBC), The Young Victoria, Tangled, Avengers (I & II), Captain America (I & II), North and South, Cranford, Wives and Daughters, Cinderella (WHICH IS OUT TODAY!)...the list goes on. 
(We recently saw Little Boy which was amazing, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed When The Game Stands Tall!)

Colleges that make me happy happy happy:
Belmont Abbey | North Carolina
Franciscan University of Steubenville | Ohio
University of Mary | North Dakota
Ava Maria | Florida 

(Just a few) Bloggers that make me happy happy happy:
Opal | Jessica Wolf | Ashley G | Katie Grace | Cortney Pearson | Elizabeth Seckman | Emily | Faith Hough  | Rebekah Joan | Sky | Skye Hoffert | Jay Noel | Leandra Wallace | Grace K | Candice Williams | Jenny | H.M. Wilson | Wendy Paine Miller | Chrys Fey (and many, many, many more...probably you, too!)

I know that everyone has a million tags to do, so I'm not going to tag anyone. But if you feel like doing this, consider yourself tagged!! What makes you happy happy happy?!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

My Weekend With A Three Year Old: Roar Back

Little kids, man. They're crazy.

I spent this past weekend with some cousins, including little Catherine. Catherine is three and has vivacious curly blonde hair that matches her personality. Her big blue eyes exude spunk and sass. Every other word that comes out of her mouth is "why?"

I admire Catherine so much, and perhaps even envy her a bit. She is so filled with wonder at everything...she doesn't have to worry about the SAT or student loans. She's not concerned about her weight or how people react to her personality. She doesn't know how to be anything else...besides who she is. Besides who God made her to be. She hasn't been hurt by other people, she doesn't know really know how to do anything besides love unconditionally. She's so trusting, reaching her pudgy arms out to anyone who will take her.

Maturity is a beautiful gift. But how often do we willingly give up aspects of childishness that we should keep? 

Catherine kept calling the boys (there were about seven total, ranging from seven to sixteen) "hedgehogs". I'm still not really sure where that came from. The word guys has officially been replaced by hedgehogs in my vocabulary. Sorry, hedgehogs.

My sisters or I would be holding her and say "Hey, Catherine, what do you want to do?"

She'd lift her arms towards the sky, as if preparing for battle. Her ever-present grin would widen as she would shriek: "LET'S GO TICKLE HEDGEHOGS."

Lots of hedgehogs got tickled this weekend.

When they would try to tickle her back, she would scream, "BAD, BAD BEHAVIOR!"

Catherine also has figured out how to play her parents. It often occurred that she would ask Mommy for something, only to be told no. Then she would go find Daddy, who would absent-mindedly answer yes. 

The sass that this child has is unparalleled. She was giving her mom a hard time Sunday morning, so I attempted to help put her shoes on. While doing this, her mom wiped some powdered sugar off her face.

"HEY!" Catherine yelled. "DON'T DO THAT!"
"Your mommy is just trying to help make you pretty!" I explained.

"I was talking to Mommy not you." came the response. 

"I'm scared for what she'll be like in ten years..." my aunt shook her head.

Catherine sat on my lap during church that morning, which was so fun. She started out with my sister (also named Catherine), but at age thirteen, she weighs only like two pounds (not joking at all), and Catherine nearly broke Catherine's arms. Make sense?

Anyway, Catherine was super good for the most part. She sang along and stayed put. At one point, the church was completely silent, and she looked at me and whisper-yelled, "HOW OLD ARE YOU?" (I swear, she only has one volume.)

"Seventeen," I answered, holding back giggles. It wasn't even that funny, but her little voice and intense stare killed me.


I could not get a grip. Again, it's not even that funny, but she's just such a stinker.

There was one point in the course of the weekend when my dad was talking to her parents and asked when they were going to come visit us. Catherine looked up from her watermelon and cocked her head thoughtfully, saying, "But my mommy and daddy would miss me too much."

One night, we were being really silly and I told her my name was Ed Boots. (Isn't that the most fantabulous name ever?! I have a step cousin on the other side of my family named Ed Boots and I'm eternally jealous of his name. My cousin and I want to write a whole series on him, even though we've met him like three times. And that was like...ten years ago. But still. That name, though.) After that, everyone became Ed Boots. 

"Nice to meet ya, Ed Boots, how ya doin', Ed Boots," she kept saying every three minutes out of the blue. It became a chant of sorts, accompanied by a little hip shimmy and head bob.

Catherine is also quite talented in the art of fake crying. We had a fake outburst at least every hour, which was cured with a good tickle. 

This weekend, I was wrapping up Sense and Sensibility (GREAT GREAT GREAT BOOK!). My uncle keeps their house literally below zero, so though it was over ninety degrees, I spent the weekend wrapped in a blanket and covered with pillows.

Saturday afternoon, I was reading when Catherine came over and demanded to bury me. Then, she issued a decree that I was "never, ever, ever, EVER allowed to move ever ever EVER again, Ed Boots". I obliged for a bit before peeking my head out. She was curled up on the other couch, holding my book up to her nose and occasionally page turning. It was the cutest thing I'd ever seen. 

With a mighty roar, I broke lose of the pillow dungeon. She shrieked and reconstructed it, giving the same orders. This repeated itself two or three more times, each occasion ending with her back on the couch, reading Sense and Sensibility.

Perhaps my most profound thought of the weekend occurred when the boys hedgehogs kept saying "RAWR" to get Catherine to scream. And scream she did. I've never met a child who loved screaming so much. Except maybe myself, I feel like I was a screamer. Anyway, my eardrums are still ringing.

Eventually, the strain on my poor ears was too much to handle, so I told her to counter their roar with an even louder one. It took her a few tries to get it, but eventually, she was roaring rather than screaming. 

She would inhale half of the breath in her room, so much that her lungs were probably bursting and let out a roar larger than herself.

So many people try to get us to scream. They roar at us, try to scare us...and, oftentimes, we do. To quote Catherine, "Why?" Because it's what's easy. It's what is socially acceptable. We would rather not fight, we would rather just nod and move on. We submit, cower, and scream.

But what if we roared back? Roaring doesn't mean being hateful, and it doesn't mean being rude. But what it does mean is standing up for ourselves and what we believe in.

Catherine challenges us to be ourselves. To love fully. To be ourselves. To be silly. To tickle hedgehogs. To be fearless. To bounce back. To roar back. 

Children are such a beautiful gift. They bring us joy, they bring clarity to our lives, and show us deeper truths. And they don't even try! So how do they do it?

Simply, by just being themselves. 

Let us never take them for granted. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Inkheart, Plotting, and Moose Tracks: It's snowing in the summer!

Well, actually it isn't. It's ninety degrees where I live and I'm dying. Well, not literally. Actually, technically, yes, literally, we're all dying.

Happy Labor Day! I hope that you're all having a relaxing weekend. I just got back yesterday from some time with my extended family which was decently nice and produced some thoughts for a (hopefully) kick butt post later this week. So stay tuned.

Today I bring to you the adorable Alexa Winters from over at Summer Snowflakes (what a great blog name, am I right?!). Enjoy, then go visit her at her blog!

What was the last movie you saw? Why did you (or didn't you) like it?
Heh. I actually had to think about this one for a little, lol, because I don't watch movies very often. BUT, I managed to remember: the last movie I watched was Inkheart and I loved it because the story is just so fascinating to me, and being able to read out your favorite characters or go into your favorite book is basically every bookworm's dream. Yet in the movie (and the book series) it kinda gets turned on its head and you see how there actually might be some problems with having such a power. :p Plus, it's just a really great, fun movie with crazy, quirky, amazing characters. One of my favorites for sure. :)

I saw Inkheart for the first time years ago, but I recently rewatched it with my siblings. My mind goes crazy with that story! It's so incredible, and especially great for writers. The book is awesome too!

What is one writing trait you'd like to improve on during this school year? 
Hmm... I hadn't really thought about this, but now that you mention it, I want to get better at plotting. I'm a pantser so I really just write whatever comes to me at the time and, while that's fun, it also leaves an extraordinary amount of space for plotholes. :p So yeah, I'd like to get better at plotting my stories, so I can fix the plotholes with less pain, stress, and tears, and maybe keep some of them from happening in the first place. :)

I've been working at getting better at plotting for the past year and a half. It's a serious struggle (well, for me, anyway), but it's so worth it. I enjoy drafting so much more after putting in a lot of work with the outline. Plus, there are a lot of awesome plotting worksheets on Pinterest! ;) 

Markers or crayons?
MARKERS. I love markers because I love watercolors but I'm very not good at painting. So markers give me a similar look but they're much easier to control than a paintbrush.

I saw on your blog that you're homeschooled! *fist bump* How does homeschooling help your writing and how does it make writing more difficult?

*fist bump back* Homeschooling for the win, hehe! Well, for one thing, I can count writing as part of my schoolwork, and my mom is really cool about it. Last year, she even said I could take off math the entire month of November as long as I used that time to work on my NaNo novel. So yeah. She's amazing. :D
The only thing that's a bit more difficult is when I'm writing about public school or something, because I don't have any personal experience to draw on. I have to just trust TV, movies, and books (which are not always terribly accurate :p), and I often end up asking friends really obvious questions about school, then just hoping I get it right, lol

Ahhh that is so sweet!! I used to find that hard too, before I went to school (my freshman and sophomore years of high school), but there really isn't a whole lot to it.

Do you share your writing with anyone? If so, at what stage? (First draft, edits, etc.)
I do, and it depends. I used to ask for critiques only when my stories were as close to perfect as I could get them. Lately though, I've started asking earlier in the process, around second or third drafts, because, like I mentioned above, I've realized I need help with things like plotting and making sure the storyline makes sense.

Very smart! I do the same. Though, I think I struggle with the temptation of sharing too early sometimes...
Ten years from now, where do you hope to be with your writing? 

Well, unrealistically, I want to be a bestseller with 20 million published novels (yes, I have that many ideas) and half of them made into movies, lol.
Realistically, I'd like to have published a few books and really be getting my name out in the market, but still writing and learning every step of the way. :)

You go girl! Best of luck to you.

What was your favorite part of this summer?
CAMP. I got to go a mission camp this summer and it was EPIC. We had the best time, just learning about God and having fun together, plus we got to serve Jesus, and the community. It was great. :D

That sounds amazing! The camp I went to was definitely one of my favorite summer memories as well.

What are you working on right now, writing wise? 
I just finished a character-driven YA thriller (that has about a million plotholes, but whatever. Editing exists), I'm taking a break on my contemporary story, and I'm in the process of editing a dystopian with a friend. I also write some fanfictions and—obviously—my blog.

Oooh, busy!  Good luck editing...definitely not my favorite.

Who is your favorite main character that you've ever written? 
OH MY GOODNESS I DON'T EVEN KNOW. All of my babies are too adorable for words <3

However, I think I'm gonna have to say Elliot. He's the MC in my contemporary story (that might be called Sketchy Moments and might be called Low Expectations, I'm really not sure yet), and I love him because he's cute and sarcastic and broken and adorable, but also, he's my first original MC since I really got passionate about writing. So he'll always hold a special place in my heart. <3

Aww, author/character love. Gotta love it.

What is your current favorite song? How does music inspire your writing?
Hahaha, okay so here's the thing: I get so obsessed with music that I'm not even sure what my favorite song is. I LOVE IT ALL, lol, and I get randomly addicted to different artists, so my favorites can literally change by the day. By the hour, actually.
At this very moment, though, I'm going to have to go with either Flares or Paint The Town Green by The Script or Better Than Revenge by Taylor Swift. Honestly though, none of the above influence my writing at all. I mean, Flares a little bit (I could use it for a few characters maybe) but they're really just fun songs I listen to whenever—maybe while writing, maybe taking a break... just whenever. :)
I'm the same way. And I have never heard either song by The Script, I'm going to have to check them out! 

What is your favorite ice-cream flavor?
Coffee. But also moose tracks. And mint moose tracks. And bunny tracks. And girl scout Samoa cookies.

I could probably go on for a while (but I will stop) because I really love ice cream. It also holds a very special place in my heart.

And I don't think that I could end that in a better way. So we're just going to leave it at that.

(Head on over to Alexa's blog!)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Farewell, Summer...Thou Hast Been Cruely Ripped From Me By The Evil School Year.

Welllll, that was a bit dramatic.

Yesterday was my last first day of high school, thus ending my last summer while I'm in high school.

I feel like I'm nearing a cliff, unable to see what's below. But my pace is becoming so rapid that I can't stop...and even if I could, the speed and the mystery and the excitement is exhilarating, despite the occasional explosion of butterflies caused by a bump in the road. I'm so close to this end, and yet so far...and when I reach it, what next? Will I fall, or will I fly? Will I want to go see what's below or take to the sky?

Anyway. Before I get carried away with thoughts of the end of this year, here's a bit about this past summer.

I grew in my relationship with Jesus. He continues to fill me with wonder and draw me into a beautiful, passionate relationship with Him. It's really hard to be a Christian today and not get discouraged by the world and despair, but choosing to live in His hope and His love is always worth it. I also grew in my relationship with His mom, Mary. I know that a lot of other Christians believe that Catholics worship Mary, but we don't. Jesus entrusted her to His apostle John (and in doing so, to us) and entrusted St. John (and us) to Mary when He was dying on the cross. Mary leads me closer to Jesus...kind of like how if I want my dad to do something, I'll ask my mom first so that she can help petition him. Anyway, this summer I consecrated myself to Mary. Basically, I went through a retreat sort of thing in order to entrust myself into her care. It was really awesome and definitely helped my spirituality.

I met amazing men of Christ. At summer camp, I was awed by the incredible guys I met that are so desperately in love with Jesus it brought tears to my eyes. They really strengthened my resolve to keep my expectations high and hold men accountable. Also, they helped me to trust God that He has someone for me who will lead me closer to Him.

I met amazing women of Christ. Also at summer camp...they inspired me to trust more in Jesus and abandon myself completely to Him. They inspired me to let only Him define me. They showed me that it's not a one time thing, but an every day process and decision that's difficult but so, so worth it.

I lost a friend over my beliefs. That hurt. Unfortunately, though, it's life. We are called to share our beliefs with love. Sometimes, even when we're loving, hate is the response that we get. I struggle at times to still be loving even after that...but God always provides the grace necessary to fulfill everything He asks of us.

I set aside my fear and confronted someone who needed to be confronted. This was really tough. Like up all night before and sick to my stomach tough. But again, God always provides the grace necessary to fulfill everything He asks of us, and I truly believed that He wanted me to do even in my fear, I talked to someone who had really hurt me. It didn't solve everything and things didn't necessarily get better, but I walked away from the meeting with a new found peace and closure.

I realized that a lot of people are fake. As negative as that may sound, I feel like it's a reality that everyone has to experience and discover in life. I also realized that I can't be the only person in a relationship to be making effort.

I unexpectedly gained a new best friend. A family friend came and lived with us this summer to do some interning for our nonprofit...despite living down the street from me when I lived in PA, Anna and I were never really close. However, this summer, we shared so much...from shopping and ice-cream and making dinner together, to deep late night talks featuring lots of laughing and tears. It was seriously incredible, I'm so blessed by her and miss her so much!

I spent lots of time with my cousin. If you've been following my blog for any amount of time, you know that I'm super close with my cousin, Alex. We spent every day together in the summer when I lived in PA, so living four hours away from her is really difficult. Anyway, I was so blessed to be able to spend collectively about three weeks with her. We did a lot of fun stuff: put putting, shopping, swimming, typical girly summer stuff that was 100x better because it was with her.

I did a lot for Mass Impact, the ministry my family runs. I worked the table at our local Christian music festival and got to talk to a lot of amazing people. We also had a pretty big festival that we put a loooooot of work into. That took up most of the summer...but it was cool to serve so many families and help them grow closer to each other and to Jesus!

I'm feeling increasingly validated to do NET. I've talked about NET before, but for new readers-- NET (National Evangelization Team) is a ministry that trains and sends teams of young adults all over the country to do retreats for high school and middle school students. I'm in the process of applying for next year (2015-2016). I've definitely had some doubts as to whether this is what God really wants me to's hard to give up a year of my life! Especially since I'm excited to go to college. This summer, though, God made it increasingly clear through other people's support and different events that that is where He wants me to be.

So there you have it, folks. It was an insane summer, and I'm looking forward to this school year God taught me so much this summer and blessed me in so many ways...cannot wait to see where He takes me this year.

How was your summer?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

2 Special Things: 100th post and 1st poem!

I utterly cannot believe this is my 100th post. In some ways, it seems like I've written 1,000 and in others, like I've written 5. Oh, well.  But yes, indeed, this is my 100th post!! Totally cray-cray.

Also, today I'm posting my response to the prompt on the incredible Ashley's blog: "Not all haunted places are houses." She's been posting these prompts all summer, but this the last one of the season. Head on over to her blog and leave some comment love and a follow!! She's seriously awesome and hilarious.

I was inspired to write a poem. Which is kind of scary for me, because I've never published any poetry of mine on my blog. I've been writing poetry since seventh grade (that's about five years), and I've written hundreds of poems...probably only about 8% could even be called decent. But, I digress! Here is what I came up with: 

(ALSO: warning, I don't really use punctuation in my poetry. If that bothers you, no worries, just thought I'd warn you before my grammar nazis have heart attacks.)

Butterflies by Anne Marie J. Schlueter

I watched as they spun around

The sparks that issued from their touch

burnt my skin

But she did not see

all she could feel were the butterflies

he poured into her veins

Spinning, spinning, spinning

dizzifying magic that scared me

retreated to a corner

alone, cold, scared

But he did not see

all he could feel were the butterflies

lifting them up

and carrying them away

I looked above the whole time

as they spun between the clouds

with a gust of wind, winter came

driving them apart

falling to the ground

I stood below, trying to catch

But she did not see

all she could feel were the butterflies

shattering into a thousand pieces

the impact exploding in his heart

Breaking, breaking, breaking

disgust that I was right all along

tried to fix, desperate, scared

But he did not see

all she could feel were the butterflies

now ghosts haunting their hearts

I watched as their hearts turned into haunted houses

filled with regret, filled with hurt

Not all haunted places are houses--

hearts will serve just fine

Butterflies tickled their insides

sending sparks of pain through their bodies

Making them blinder than before

all they can feel are the butterflies

ghosts of what they once knew

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Interview: The AMAZING Abigail Post

So this chica I had the privilege of interviewing months ago is absolutely incredible. Abigail Post is an incredible writer and I'm blessed to call her my friend. She is seriously one of the sweetest, realest people I have had the pleasure of interacting with who has provided me with so much support.

I hope you enjoy reading her brilliance as much as I did! Then leave some comment love and head on over to her blog =)

Q: Describe your writing process. You have an idea...then what?

A: If all goes well, and I’m not distracted like I usually am, the idea goes on paper. It’s usually just one line, such as “A man and woman fall in love during the End Times”. Then, depending on how many projects I’ve got going, over the next few weeks I start brainstorming until I’ve got ideas for a protagonist, an antagonist, and if I’m lucky, a few supporting characters.

Most of the time, the story ends up completely different than I first imagined it, which is the case with my recent WIP. It’s an interesting occurrence, and one day, I might discuss it. At any rate, after that, I come up with character goals and motives, a few plot points, and workout the story structure. Then, I “flesh out” the characters, and start writing.

Then, it’s all editing. Ya’ll know how that goes.

Very interesting! For me, the process depends on the project. And hope to see a blog post about that particular interesting occurrence sometime in the near future! =)

Q: Favorite food?
A: Just one? Okay, um, probably Pad Thai. The waiters at my local Thai restaurant know me by name.

You know, I have never, ever had Thai. I'm not even sure I know what it is.

Q: Where do you look for/find inspiration?
A: Ooh, good question. I think it depends. Sometimes, my mind will wander into the deep recesses of the “What If?” universe, and a nugget of gold will pop up. Other times, I’ll read through Pinterest, or StumbleUpon, and stumble upon an article that piques my interest.

Ahhh only you, dear Abigail, could make an interview answer so poetic! I used to use StumbleUpon a lot about two years ago...I should get back into that. Amen to Pinterest! Pinterest's tagline should be "A Writer's Best Friend".

Q: Who is your "fictional boyfriend"?
A: Currently? Well, if I had to choose one…

Chris Redston from K.M Weiland’s Dreamlander. Sadly, though, he is interested in another woman. 

Oh, woe is me, to resign to being a forgotten love!

Ahem, what’s the next question?

*SIGH* Why is that so often the case?! Moving on...

Q: What part of the day are you typically the most productive writing-wise?
A: Definitely the early morning, or what I’ve loving dubbed, Coffee Time. *insert Cheshire Cat like grin here*

Oooh! I've been getting more into writing early in the morning rather than late at night. 

Q: Glitter or matte?
A: Matte, for its clean look.

I think each has its place, but I have to say, I have an incurable obsession with glitter. It's terrible, really.

Q: What is the best piece of writing advice you have ever heard?
A: Oh, gosh, that’s a tough one. I could go for a quote from one of my many Writer Crushes, but, I shall break my own conventions. I had a conversation with one of my favorite people the other day, and he uttered this interesting tidbit of wisdom:

“When analyzing successful fiction, one finds a definite pattern. The story either follows an accepted structure that’s proved successful, such as the Three-Act Structure, or is so vehemently flawed that the masses can’t help but marvel at its ridiculousness. I’m looking at you, Stephanie.”

Best defense of story structure, ever. Do you want to be another Stephanie?

That’s what I thought.

HA. DEAD. Oooooh, Stephanie...(not you, Mom, I do really want to be you!)

Q: How do you use Pinterest with your writing?
A: I just surf around the home page, looking for pictures of fountain pens. Or, you know, search for cute puppy pictures. But you mean in a non-procrastinating sense, don’t you? Yeah, I figured as much.

Pinterest is a great story-boarding, and inspiration tool. Seriously, if you’re on Pinterest, and you’re a writer, there is no reason for you not to begin utilizing this program as a writing tool. I’m going to make everyone promise that after they read this post, they will begin to use their Pinterest account for story-boarding purposes. Now, hold up your right hands, and repeat after me “I will not let Pinterest go to waste, and in conjunction with my boards about cute puppies, I will design specific boards for my work-in-progress.”

There. Now, I shall divulge.

In Pinterest, I have a general story-board for my work-in-progress. It contains basic information about the story world, quotes that relate to the story’s plot, pictures of the settings I could use, and tidbits of knowledge that might be useful. Also, I have boards that represent the major characters in the novel. There, I’ve pinned quotes that sound like them, and pictures that resemble them.
Of course, I also save interesting writing articles to Pinterest, in order to keep them safe for later reading.

AGAIN. DEAD. You're killing me...that is all so true! And girl, repeating after you, loud and proud. Pinterest is awesome for a writing break as well as writing encouragement. Also, it can be a great tool for connecting writers. I owe the discovery of my most recent CP to Pinterest, actually.

Q: Do people know that you're a writer? Or is it something that only a couple people know?
A: Let’s just say I wish more people weren’t aware of this pursuit of mine.

While this debilitating secret is kept safe from strangers and most of those I come into contact with on a daily basis, enough people know. Believe me. All in all, I’d estimate over twenty people know. Not including nosy aunts known to interrogate unsuspecting nieces during Thanksgiving gatherings.

Verrrrry interesting! Those nosy aunts...I have a few myself, though I'd have to say, the uncles of yours truly definitely are quite nosier.

Q: Current favorite song? (Or one of them.)
A: You think you’re clever, don’t you? First, you make me answer with only one of my favorite foods, and now this. All right, I’ll be your huckleberry.

Donde Lieta sung by Sierra Boggess.

Oh, Abigail darling, it's because I am clever. Just ask my brothers. (Wait, actually, don't. Never heard of it! Looking up now.

Q: Who is "author goals" for you? (Which author would you most like to be like?)
A: It’s a tie between K.M Weiland and Bryan Davis. I admire the two authors for their literary achievements, especially Mr. Davis for his prolific writing. Also, I admire them for their interactions with their readers. They both have wonderful blogs, chat with their readers (either virtually or in person). Those are the traits I admire in writers: the willingness to talk with readers, talent, hard work, and ingenuity.

More authors I've never heard of! I shall check them out. ( the library...)

Q: Is there any person or situation that has influenced your writing? Either as a whole, or just a story or something?
A: Great question. Or, in other words, I’m about to tell a story.

All writers are influenced, in some way, by some thing. I think my writing’s influence comes from working with children. Most of them loved hearing stories about bravery, courage, and the like. Maybe it was because I enjoyed telling those stories, but, I digress. I’m a huge believer in getting children to read as early as possible. Heck, I’ve been known to read to wee, little holding babies.

So, the little ones influence my writing. I write for them.

End of story.

*Claps* Beautiful. *wipes tear* I love how you can get little ones to believe anything...that's what fuels my writing magic too, somewhat.

Q: What color is your bedroom?
A: Manila Tan, apparently. Imagine those little manila cookie things, and there you have it.

Ahhh. Sounds lovely!

Q: What made you start to take writing seriously?

A: I think seriousness entered my writing when I realized the impact of stories. As cliche as it sounds, have you ever really thought about it? I mean, “stayed up late at night biting your nails” thought about it? Stories have the power to make you laugh, cry, or question the sanity of human kind. So, I wanted my voice to join the literary chorus. Everyone has a story to tell, why not let mine be one of them?

AMEN to that! That is so brilliantly well put that it belongs on my Quotes Pinterest board. You go, girl.

So there y'all have it! Head on over to Abby's blog and check out more of her awesomeness!!