Writer, Christian, SEO/Social Media Marketer, Book Reviewer, Deaf and Loud.

Category Archives: creative writing

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Image Credits: Dodskypict.com

Hey guys! I know I’ve been talking about my MA project/untitled memoir a lot lately, but today I want to talk about something completely different. For those of you who may not know, I took a genre writing course this semester. I’ll be honest and admit that I initially only took it for the credits. I was going to take an American Sign Language course as an independent study originally, but because the course was an undergraduate level course and I’m a graduate student I’d have to conduct some kind of research study around it which calls for IRB approval and a whole complicated string of events. Between teaching two classes, working full time, and taking two graduate courses, it was just way too much so I backed out. There were not any non-fiction writing courses being offered this semester, so that’s where writing genre fiction came into play.

It’s been quite an interesting experience. Not only do I have little to no experience in genre writing, but I also never read any kind of genre fiction. I love classic literature, young adult/literary fiction, and non-fiction. Throughout the semester I have had to read and write mystery, horror, and most recently, fantasy/sci-fi. Although I did not like writing a mystery and reading House of Leaves or Mama Day, I found my overall experience in genre writing to be pretty enjoyable. Professor Atwood is a sweetheart and one of the most fun and kind-hearted professors I have ever had. I really wish I could take her publishing course next semester! If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend taking any of her courses. It is guaranteed to be a good time with many cat videos and references. 😉

The last project I completed for this course was an extension/revision of my fantasy short story, now titled “Moore Magical Garden”. This story was inspired by the very few fantasy novels I don’t hate like Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells and Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Tiger Lily. 

I also drew some inspiration from my own personal life. Lenny the Leprechaun and all of his sarcasm was largely inspired by my dad who is the most sarcastic person I’ve ever met. He also gave me the idea to have Lenny show up to the well with a beer bottle and to make him drunk.

As a Christian, I don’t believe in magic. The bible warns in multiple places against following magic, witchcraft, and any kind of sorcery, which also had some influence on this story.

This story is not by any means perfect, but coming from someone who’s main writing focus is non-fiction, I was pretty proud of how this revision came out and I wanted to share it. Feel free to read below and leave a comment on what you think!

 

Moore Magical Garden

Magnolia was born in her family’s famous magical garden, known as the Moore Magical Garden. She was tall and tender with strong, light pink wings and a full head of silky blonde hair. According to her parents, she was born right under a bed of freshly blossomed magnolia buds. “She’ll be beautiful and strong, just like the flowers are,” he father said. Her parents both agreed that there was no better name for her than that of the flower, so they decided to call her Magnolia, or Maggie for short.

As a child, Maggie loved growing up in the Moore Magical Garden. Her family was extremely wealthy as they made a living off of their magical flowers. No one knew for sure how the magic worked, but Maggie’s mother, Gloria, would use unique blends of all different kinds of flowers and plants within the garden to cure all of the villagers of their ailments or to bring them whatever their hearts desired whether it be love, wisdom, strength, confidence, healing, happiness, or even just some good old sex. The Moore Magical Garden operated under one motto, “Flower power in one hour.” Meaning they could choose the right flower for any condition and after baking it in just 1 hour or less, have the perfect recipe for whatever you needed.

The Moore Magical Garden was located in the far end of the village away from the ocean where the mermaids resided and the woods where Sasquatch was rumored to roam. Sometimes they received visits from other tribes who liked to roam the forest like the dwarfs, elves, and goblins. Maggie loved it when the unicorns visited. She’d often spend time brushing their long, rainbow manes and riding them through the rows of flowers, being careful as to not crush any of the budding plants. She was often frightened by the goblins, and horrified by how hideously ugly the elves were with their long, pointy ears, big noses, and short statues. However, her parents told her that all of those tribes were harmless and worthy of her honor, respect, and attention. It was the foreigners she had to fear, they warned.

The gnomes, her parents said, were the most trustworthy of all of the tribes, other than the fairies of course. They weren’t always the prettiest creatures in the world, or even the strongest, but her parents said they were the most loyal. “Find yourself a good gnome and you’ve got a friend for life,” her father would say. They were generally always agreeable and extremely hard workers, especially when placed in their natural habitat – the garden.

Maggie’s parents decided to hire a gnome to help them to tend the garden. His name was Gunter and he was 34 years old, meaning he was only a few years away from ripening to the age of 40, which everyone knows means “time to settle down” in gnome world. He worked hard and vowed to always protect the Moore Magical Garden and to ensure that the secrets of the magic always remained secrets. For these reasons Mr. and Mrs. Moore promised Gunter that on his 40th birthday they would reward him with their prized possession – their daughter Maggie’s hand in marriage. This would ensure that the garden always remained within the family, that their daughter was well taken care of, and that the garden remained in pristine condition with the magic not only intact, but a mystery throughout all of the village for many years to come. Mr. and Mrs. Moore and Gunter the garden gnome kept this their secret for many years to come.

As a child, Maggie came to grow to appreciate the freedom she had to roam around the magical garden and smell the sweet aroma of all of the budding flowers and plants. Her mother, Gloria, named after the famous morning glories, would often take her through each of the aisles of the garden to teach her about the different magical powers each flower or plant brought.

“Roses.” Gloria said, “Just a sprinkle of petals and you’ll be well on your way to a beautiful new beginning.”

“What kind of new beginning?” Maggie asked.

“It depends on the color,” Gloria explained as she pointed to each of the varieties. “Red will bring you love. Pink will help you to feel more appreciated. White is for marriage – not to be confused with love. Orange will bring you passion, which you’ll need after marriage. Yellow will give you new friends, for those not quite ready for marriage. In your case, stick to the yellow ones for now, please,” she smiled.

Maggie looked up a Gloria and smiled. “Yellow it is then,” she said.

“Give me your hand, Maggie. I want to show you something else.”

Maggie held out her hand and Gloria pricked it with the thorn of a rose.

“Ouch! What did you do that for?” Maggie said as she clenched her finger in an attempt to stop the bleeding.

“You’ll see. Follow me.”

Maggie followed Gloria back to a row of aloe plants. Even though she’s walked by them dozens of times she never quite understood what they were for. They looked strange and kind of ugly after seeing the beauty in the roses.

“Put your hand out again,” Gloria said as she broke off a piece of the aloe plant.

Maggie put her hand with her bloody finger out in front of her. Gloria took it and squeezed the aloe plant over top of it until a gel-like substance poured over it. She rubbed it into the wound until it stopped bleeding.

“Aloe. For when you get a little too close to the roses. Roses while beautiful, still have their thorns and dangers about them. Much like the love and relationships many of them promise,” she explained. Maggie nodded. She understood now that aloe brought healing, but she wasn’t sure if she understood anything about the love part. At only 11 years old, love was still a mystery to her.

As Maggie grew older, she became more and more beautiful over time. By the time she was 16  and only 1 year away from her secret marriage to Gunter, her platinum blonde locks began to darken and change to a reddish tone and her wings grew larger and an even deeper shade of pink. Sometimes, Mr. and Mrs. Moore could swear they saw a twinkle in her eye, too. She was becoming even more beautiful than all of the roses within the garden, and when the other tribes from the village came to pick up their magical baked goods, they took noticed.

“My, oh my, that Maggie girl of yours sure is a beauty,” a lonely dwarf commented one day. “I only ordered a special helping of your slumber loaf bread to help me to fall asleep at night, but now I’m wishing I would’ve ordered a slice of lustful loving pie. Maybe I’d get lucky and end up falling asleep with her tonight,” he said. Dwarves were never very good with social skills, it’s why they had so much trouble making friends.

“Take a bottle of water lily juice on your way out.” Gloria said, “It’s on the house.”

“Sweet! Thanks, ma’am!” the lonely dwarf replied.

“Water lily juice?” Mr. Moore asked.

“Yes, to cool his passions and purify his heart to ensure he keeps it in his pants and away from our daughter,” she said.

“I can fix this problem tonight,” Mr. Moore said. He knew that as Maggie grew older and more beautiful, she’d have more than just lonely dwarves to worry about, especially if Mr. and Mrs. Moore were to keep their promise of marriage of their daughter to Gunter.

That night Mr. Moore went deep into his garden making sure to pick up as many garden stones as he could along the way. He carried them all into the garden shed located at the end of the garden and pulled out some supplies from the shed like his trusty hammer, a bucket of concrete, a trowel for smoothing over the concrete, and some wood. From there he set to work.

Mr. Moore spent hours in the garden shed. When his wife, Gloria tried to call him for dinner he responded in a muffled voice, “Can’t. Sorry. Busy,” and continued working straight through supper. An empty stomach was no big deal to him, he knew how important his work was. Finally after hours of tedious labor, his work was finally complete: it was a well made out of garden stones and concrete with a little wooden roof over top and a bucket hanging over it. The well was ten feet deep and only three feet wide. Mr. Moore stood back and admired his work. “Ah, she’s a beauty. A beautiful well to protect my beautiful daughter,” he said before calling Maggie out to further admire his work.

“What do you think?” he asked her.

“It’s beautiful, but I don’t understand what we need a well for. The pond is only a few minutes away,” she said. She had grown accustomed to fetching water from the pond outside of the garden. She loved visiting the pond because her beloved unicorns were known to frolic there at all hours of the day.

Mr. Moore let out a sigh. “This well isn’t for water…” he began.

“Really? Then what is it for?” she asked.

Mr. Moore hesitated before explaining, “Maggie, this is your new home. You must live deep inside this well and you must not come out for any reason within the next year.”

“What? A WHOLE YEAR? INSIDE THIS DEEP WELL? WHY? WON’T I DROWN?” She asked. The idea of being trapped in such a tiny space unable to view the beauty of the garden or mingle with the other tribes horrified her.

“No. There well will be completely hallowed with no water inside. You’re getting older now, Mags, and you are too beautiful. The dwarves tried to pick you up the other day,” he said.

“Well…was he a nice dwarf?” she asked, hopefully.

“Mags, you know what the dwarves are like…” he said.

Maggie sighed. “Okay, but what happens after a year?” she asked, afraid of what the answer must be.

“After one year you will be married to Gunter the garden gnome. Then you will be free to roam the garden again, unless he tells you not to. You will belong to him and you must obey everything he tells you to do.”

“But I don’t love him!” Maggie contested.

“Tough luck, sweet heart. He will be good for you and better yet for our garden. Now, climb in this well. For the next year, you can think about all of the ways in which you may grow to love Gunter. We’ll send you your food and water through the bucket twice a day, once in the morning and once at night.

Maggie sighed. She knew it was no use arguing it, her parents had the final word. Always. After all, they were the owners of the Moore Magic Garden. Without the garden, Maggie might as well be a fly, rather than the radiant, beautiful fairy she’s blossomed into over the years.

Mr. and Mrs. Moore’s plans to protect Maggie from other tribes and potential suitors through the village sounded great in theory. The well was far too deep for most of the village tribes to even consider climbing down, and no one would ever guess that Maggie would be hiding down below the bottom of the well. Since the fairies were the only tribes with wings, they didn’t have to worry much about anyone flying down in the well, either. Even the fairies weren’t a threat; everyone knew that all fairies, except for Maggie who was known for her unconventional ways and overall fearlessness, were afraid of the dark and what could possibly be darker than the inside of a deep and narrow well? However, there was one tribe they failed to consider; a foreign tribe residing outside of their village but beginning to make their pilgrimage throughout Germany in hopes of finding buried treasure, or gold, more specifically: the leprechauns.

Maggie was sitting deep against the side of the well braiding her hair to past the time as she waited for her mother and father to send down her daily food rations in the well’s bucket when she heard a loud noise.

THUMP!

Maggie moved towards the front of the well and looked up at the opening. Could this be her daily food rations? Maybe her mother was sending down her famous rose petal jam spread across a French baguette or Maggie’s favorite lilac blossom almond scones. She imagined they must’ve fallen out of the bucket causing the loud noise.

However, when Maggie looked up she didn’t see any of her mother’s magical food creations. Instead, she saw an ugly leprechaun. He stood approximately 3 feet tall; very short compared to Maggie’s height of 5’7”. His skin was dry and wrinkly and had a pale green tint to it. Maggie couldn’t get a good glimpse of what his hair looked like since it was hidden underneath of an over-sized top hat with a four leaf clover in the middle, but she did notice he had strands of bright red hair poking from the sides that matched his red neatly trimmed beard. He was wearing a tiny green tuxedo with pants that were a little too short and that revealed knee-high green and white socks. He carried a bottle of Guinness in his hand.

“Greetings from Ireland! My name is Lennnnnn……” he began to say before Maggie started screaming.

“WHAT ON THE EARTH ARE YOU??????” She screamed.

“That’s no way to greet a foreigner,” he said.

“Sorry.” Maggie said, “But really, who ARE you?”

“It is I, Lenny the Leprechaun,” the leprechaun replied.

“What are you doing here?” Maggie asked.

“What do you think kid? I’m a leprechaun…” he said.

“I don’t know…don’t you have a rainbow with a pot of gold to look for?” Maggie replied.

“Have you seen any rain lately?” he asked.

“Come to think of it, no I can’t remember the last time it rained,” she said.

“Bingo. But that don’t mean that a leprechaun can’t still search for gold,” he said.

“Oh okay. Sorry but there isn’t any in the well.” Maggie replied, “There isn’t much of anything down here,” she said sadly.

“Maybe not, but I bet I could make a few bucks off this here garden of yours,” he said. “I heard it was worth a fortune,” he said.

“You want to sell my family’s garden?” Maggie asked.

“No. No. Not at all. I mean profit off of it. Aren’t the flowers magical or something?” Lenny asked.

“I can’t tell you that,” Maggie replied.

“Hmmm. Okay. How about this…you tell me which flowers are magical and I’ll grant you three wishes,” he said.

“You got yourself a deal…if I can get the wishes first,” she said.

“No, then I’ll give you the wishes and still won’t know a damn thing about these magical flowers.” Lenny said, “How about a compromise? For every wish I give you you’ll show me a magical flower,” he suggested.

“You got yourself a deal!” Maggie exclaimed.

“Okay pretty lady, what’s your first wish?” Lenny asked.

“I wish I could get out of this well!” Maggie said without hesitation.

“Works for me. I imagine you’ll need to be out of this well to show me the magical flowers.” Lenny said, “Now close your eyes.”

Maggie closed her eyes while Lenny threw a handful of green glitter over her face and chanted, “Glitter green, nice and mean, come heaven or hell, allow Maggie to escape from this well.”

When Maggie opened her eyes, she was outside of the well and free to roam around the garden.

“Okay, now you owe me a magical flower,” Lenny said.

Maggie took her time walking around the garden. She knew that Lenny and the other outsiders didn’t know this, but the truth was EVERY flower and growing thing in the garden was magical. The question for her now was, which forms of magic did she want Lenny to know about?

Maggie stopped in front of a long row of tall, fully blossomed sunflowers. Perfect, she thought.

“We’re here,” Maggie said.

“The sunflowers are magical?” Lenny asked.

“Yes,” Maggie said.

“How so?” he asked.

Maggie bent down one of the tall stems and ripped off a fully blossomed sunflower. She pulled off each of the golden yellow petals and crumbled them in her hands. After all of petals were crumbled together she rubbed them on Lenny’s cheek.

“Hey! What in the hell are you doing?” Lenny screamed as he backed away and swatted Maggie’s hand away.

“Showing you your first magical flower,” Maggie replied.

“How is rubbing crushed sunflowers on my face magic?” Lenny asked.

“Sunflowers contain a special oil that when applied to the skin can act as a moisturizer, reduce wrinkles, and also serve as an anti-aging formula,” Maggie stated matter-of-factly. Her skin was perfectly flawless and had a natural glow to it that made it look like the sun was constantly shinning down on her and kissing her face. It was obvious that she had used the magical sunflowers on her own skin.

“Are you trying to say that I’m ugly?” Lenny asked.

“No, no, no. Not at all!” Maggie lied, “I’m just uhhh suggesting it because it will help to highlight your uhhh wonderful cheekbones.”

“I always did have some pretty bitchin’ cheek bones,” Lenny said as he took another swig of his Guinness. Maggie thought about correcting his language; she never liked cursing, but she decided it would be best to just let it go. After all, Lenny had been drinking ever since he arrived. She wondered if he might be drunk and if so, what type of drunk he would turn out to be. So far, he didn’t seem like an angry drunk. Sarcastic? Yes, but she could handle sarcasm. Violence is what scared her.

“Time for my next wish?” Maggie asked.

“Sure,” Lenny said.

“I wish for you to get rid of Gunter,” Maggie said.

“Who the heck is Gunter?” Lenny asked.

“A garden gnome who works for us. My family hired him many years ago,” Maggie explained.

“What did he ever do to you?” Lenny asked.

“See, that’s just it: nothing. My family arranged for us to be married though.” She said.

“You don’t sound too happy about that,” he said.

“I don’t want to marry someone I don’t love,” she said.

“Then why don’t you just tell your parents ‘no’?” Lenny asked.

“It’s not that simple. They want me to marry Gunter to ensure that the garden stays safe and that all of our secrets with the magic stay secret,” she explained.

Lenny let out a laugh. “Don’t you realize you’re already broken all of those golden rules?” he asked.

“What do you mean?” Maggie asked.

“Hellllooooo. Beauty sunflowers? You already let me in on one secret and you owe me two more,” Lenny said.

“Oh. Yeah. Right…” Maggie said unapologetically.

“Yeah so, I mean if you’re trying to respect your parents wishes, there’s no use you already messed that one up,” Lenny said.

“But can you make Gunter go away, anyway?” Maggie asked.

“Sure. I’ll see what I can do, close your eyes.”

Maggie closed her eyes and this time Lenny grabbed for the black glitter and threw it over her face while reciting, “Gunter works day and night, but now it’s time for him to take flight. I wish I may, I wish I might, give Maggie the strength she needs to fight.”

“Now what?” Maggie asked as she opened her eyes, “Is he gone?”

“Not yet, but he will be,” Lenny admitted. “I need a favor from you first.”

“Hey no fair! You still owe me a wish!” Maggie said.

“I need your help for this one. Are there any flowers in your garden that aren’t used for good? Anything that you give people that maybe you don’t particularly like or aren’t particularly happy with?”

“I think mama gave a dwarf some lilies the other day to purify his heart. She thought he was trying to pick me up or something,” Maggie said.

“Okay, I need you to do better than that,” Lenny said. Are any of the flowers dare I say…toxic?” he asked.

Maggie thought long and hard. It was as if she was manually searching each and every flower encyclopedia stored away in her mind, looking for the perfect flower. Finally, she said “follow me” before taking Lenny to the far left of the garden where there was a field of pale purple bell-shaped flowers surrounded by green leaves and black, perfectly rounded berries. The flowers were locked away behind a gated fence, away from all other plants.

“Black berries? This is your poison?” Lenny criticized.

“No. Belladonnas.” Maggie explained, “One of the deadliest plants in the entire world. That’s why we keep them locked away from everything else.”

“Okay. I can work with this. Let me think,” Lenny said. “How about we pick some of these berries and tell Gunter here we’ve got him some nice blackberries for lunch?”

Maggie shook her head. “Nope, won’t work. He’ll know as soon as he sees it it’s not a blackberry.”

“Okay. How about we crush it and make some tea then? Don’t you have some chamomile around here we can mix it with?” Lenny asked.

“Excellent idea!” Maggie said, “I’ll pull the chamomile plants and I can make up the tea mixture. Dad keeps hot water in the shed for when he’s working late at night and wants coffee or tea, so I can just borrow some. He won’t even notice it’s gone.”

“Sounds good, but how about you hand me the supplies to make the tea and then you can go off and find Gunter. I don’t want to scare the guy.”

“Sounds good” Maggie said as she picked off the flowers and berries and handed them to Lenny.

Lenny entered into the garden shed and found the water right away and began the process of making the tea mixture. He rubbed the chamomile plant in his hand until the petals began to crumble. Next, he crushed up the berries as much as he could until they were nearly liquified. He mixed it all together and poured the hot water over it into a teacup he found sitting on a table in the corner of the shed.

“That shall do,” Lenny said as he admired his work. He left the shed and found Maggie standing with Gunter just a few rows back. He walked over towards them.

“Lenny! Meet Gunter. Gunter is our family’s garden gnome that was hired to help out with our garden. Gunter, meet Lenny.”

“Hi, nice to meet you. Which tribe are you from?” Gunter asked.

“Uhm. I’m a uhhh…Elf,” Lenny lied. He knew if he said he was a leprechaun he would risk being thrown out of the garden. Gnomes and leprechauns have always been mortal enemies, especially when it came between the Irish leprechauns like Lenny and German gnomes like Gunter.

“Oh cool. Where are you from?” Gunter asked.

“Where all of the elves are from, the North Pole, silly!” Lenny said.

“Actually we have some elves that are local to our forest here in Germany, but they sure look a lot different from you,” Gunter said. The North Pole sounds pretty far from Germany. What brings you here?” Gunter asked.

“I uh invited him over for tea,” Maggie said.

“Young lady you shouldn’t be inviting anyone over without your parents’ permission. And hey, what are you doing outside of your well?” Gunter asked.

Maggie rolled her eyes and began to answer before Lenny interrupted her. “Enough of the chit-chat. Do you want some of my famous Christmas tea fresh from the North Pole or not?” Lenny asked.

“Imported Christmas tea? Count me in!” Gunter said as he took a big gulp.

Within seconds, Gunter dropped dead to the ground.

“GUNTER? ARE YOU OKAY?” Maggie screamed.

“What do you think? He just drank belladonna tea,” Lenny said.

“You killed him!” she said.

“Well, yeah. You said you wanted him gone,” Lenny said.

“Yeah GONE. Not dead!”

“Sweetheart, we all have to die someday. Pick your poison. Would you rather die alone in a tower, with Gunter, a man you don’t love, or another method of your own choosing?

“Another method of my own choosing,” Maggie answered with hesitation.

“Okay, glad we got that taken care of. Now honey, can I grant you another wish?” Lenny asked.

“Can we get rid of this body first? It stinks and I don’t think my parents would be happy to find it like this,” Maggie said.

“Is that your wish?” he asked.

“Yes,” Maggie replied.

“Sure thing.” Lenny said. “You know the drill.”

Maggie closed her eyes as Lenny poured black glitter over her before chanting, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Get rid of Gunter’s smelly dead body is a MUST!”

Maggie began to open her eyes before Lenny screamed out, “Keep them closed! Wish in progress!”

“Okay I will!” Maggie said, “But is something burning?”

Lenny was rubbing two sticks together that he pulled off from the nearby apple tree. It was beginning to spark and form a fire. Just as the flames began to rise and inch closer to his hands he threw the burning sticks over to where Gunter’s dead body laid.

“Okay you can open them now. And yes, it’s burning baby. Burn, baby, burn.”

“You lite Gunter on fire???” Maggie exclaimed.

“Sweetheart, he’s already dead. You wanted me to get rid of the body. I figured cremation was the easiest method.”

“You are cruel and unbelievable!” Maggie said.

“You say that, and yet here I am making all of your wishes come true,” Lenny smirked.

“Why do you have to be so evil? Can’t you just use some of your leprechaun magic instead? Kind of like how my family and I use our fairy magic?” Maggie asked.

“Sweetheart, I hate to break it to you like this, but someone’s got to tell you someday. Magic ain’t real,” Lenny explained.

“What do you mean magic isn’t real?” Maggie asked. “My parents having been using it in their recipes and making a fortune off of it for ages. And what about you? You got me out of this well and you got rid of Gunter and you still owe me one more wish,” she said.

“Honey, your parents are better con artists than even I am, and I never thought that could even be possible,” Lenny admitted. “They use ingredients in their recipes that have healing benefits or are good for you in some way, shape, or form. But that ain’t magic. It’s all in everyone’s head. For example, if I want to fall in love I’m going to buy one of those love pies or whatever it is your mother makes and then I’m going go out and claim to be in love because it’s what I think will happen, what I want to happen. But I don’t need no damn pie to make me fall in love. I just need to have that idea planted in my head. And I didn’t get you out of the well, you flew out. You were just so focused on the magic you didn’t even realize it was you all along. And I poisoned and killed Gunter. What’s so magical about poison, Maggie? Poison is poison as murder is murder. I’m not too proud to admit now that I’m a murderer.”

“So, if none of this magic is real, then my entire life, this entire Moore Magical garden -it’s all a lie?” she asked.

“Yes,” Lenny said.

“What happens now?” Maggie asked.

“You’re free. When’s the last time you were free?” Lenny asked.

Maggie thought long and hard. “I have never been free,” she replied.

“The gate is open. Write your own story,” he said.

“What about you?” Maggie asked.

“I can take care of myself,” Lenny said.

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scary_american_girl_doll

 

Image Credits: Ali Express

Hey guys! For those of you who don’t already know I am currently enrolled in a Writing Genre Fiction course at Rowan University as I work towards completing my MA in Writing. I took this class because I had to take something. I’ve never really been into genre fiction (although I do like horror) and I am actually more of a non-fiction writer which is completely different from genre fiction. This class has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone as a writer on more than one occasion.

I actually really enjoyed writing my horror story though. Initially I had planned to write about something related to trypophobia, the fear of holes, because I think the whole concept is so strange but fascinating. However, I quickly changed my idea once I read about one of my Facebook friend’s nightmares. Here’s how they described it in their Facebook post:

FB Friend Horror Nightmare

 

And with that, the beginning of my story was born. I was going to write a story about a creepy doll that wanted to suck the breath out of people. But first I had to answer, why would she do that?

I pulled a lot from my Christian beliefs about life and death and good and evil and somehow came up with a story in which everything starts off dark, gloomy, and depressing. The horror is portrayed as being normal or even good, whereas normalcy and goodness is portrayed as being evil. I will allow you as a reader to draw your own conclusions about why I took this path.

The story is below. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  🙂

A Breath Of Life

When Lillian was born, her parents had every intention to call her Lily.

“She’s beautiful, just like a field of fresh lilies,” her father said.

However, Lillian wanted no parts in lilies, or any flowers for that matter. From the time Lillian was three, she demanded to be called “Lilith”.

Lillian, or shall we say “Lilith’s stubborn, eccentric side showed in ways far beyond her name. When her mother, Rose, wanted to dress her up in frilly dresses with bows in her hair, Lilith refused.

“But you’ll look so pretty!” Rose said.

“I don’t want to look pretty!” Lilith said. “Black. I want to wear black,” she said as she pointed to her beloved black sweater with her black pants and black shoes. Rose never knew of another five year with half as many black clothes as Lilith had, but she also knew it wasn’t worth arguing with Lilith; Lilith never lost an argument.

Lilith’s dark side took some getting used to. Sure, adults expected some edginess and darkness from a moody teenager, but no one ever expected it from a “sweet” seven-year-old girl. Still, as everyone got to know Lilith, they became more and more familiar with her unusual sense of style and life perspective.

When Lilith requested to have her eighth birthday part on Friday, October 13th, no one was surprised, even if it was three weeks before her actual birthday.

Lilith’s birthday party was different from those of most eight year olds (or seven year olds, if you want to be technical). All of the balloons were black. There were no pony rides or petting zoos or even a walk around character. Instead, Lilith surrounded herself with her beloved black cat, Bones. She replaced the cliched piñata with a series of sugar skulls and for entertainment she played the saddest songs she could find while guests had the opportunity to build their own personal graveyards.

Lilith didn’t have any friends. Her parents enrolled her in a local public school, but all of the other kids thought she was weird. The parents didn’t help; they couldn’t understand why a child of Lilith’s age would choose to be so dark.  They most certainly didn’t want their normal children hanging around someone of Lilith’s kind.

Still, Lilith’s party wasn’t a total bust. She had her parents, her brother, Ryan, and several aunts, uncles, and cousins in attendance, mainly because they all either felt obligated to come or they were sorry for her. Her parents guessed it was a combination of the two emotions.

Other than her parents, Lilith’s family never quite got her. Her parents tried endlessly to tell her other relatives that Lilith liked dark things. Still, year after year after year Lilith would end up with frilly pink and purple dresses, my little pony figures, and cute “girly” things that she’d promptly throw in the trash immediately after all of her guests have left. When Lilith’s Aunt Violet gifted her with a new, custom-made American Girl doll, she realized that this year was no different. However, her mother was determined to put a stop to it.

“Look Lilith! She looks just like you!” Rose exclaimed.

“I DO NOT LOOK LIKE THIS!” Lilith corrected her mother.

“Sure you do. See, she had beautiful black hair just like you. And isn’t her dress gorgeous?”

“My hair covers my face and I don’t wear dresses,” Lilith corrected.

“I tried to get one that looked like you…this is the closest they could do…I even brought your picture in with me to the American Girl store…” Aunt Violet said, apologetically.

“It’s fine. Lilith loves it. It will do her good to have a new friend.” Rose said, you can even give her a nice new name. How about Eve? She suggested.

“Sure, whatever,” Lilith said.

The guests were invited to stay until dinner to enjoy Lilith’s favorite meal, spaghetti tacos. Many of the guests asked why they couldn’t have tacos OR spaghetti. Apparently, Lilith’s family didn’t understand the art of combining the two favorites into one, but Lilith didn’t mind.

When the last guest left shortly after 8, Lilith’s mother had a firm discussion with her daughter.

“I don’t understand why you found it necessary to be so rude to your guests today,” she said.

“I wasn’t rude!” Lilith said.

“Yes you were! You didn’t thank anyone for coming or for bringing your gifts. Your dear Aunt Violet went out of her way to visit NYC to get a custom American Girl doll made to look like you and your way of thanking her is by complaining!” Rose said.

“IT. DOES. NOT. LOOK. LIKE. ME,” Lilith argued.

“Whatever. Here’s what you’re going to do. You are going to learn to appreciate when people give you a gift. Remember, there are plenty of people on this planet that don’t even know what it is to be given a gift. Now I want you to take your doll up to bed with you to sleep with tonight. When you wake up in the morning I’ll help you to write a thank you letter to Aunt Violet explaining how much you love your new doll.”

“Yes, mama,” Lilith said. She knew it was no use arguing anymore, she had been clearly defeated this time around.

Lilith had no trouble falling asleep that night. A terrible thunderstorm has come in off the coast and threatened the area. Lilith was able to fall asleep to the sounds of heavy rain, and thunder with what she thought sounded like the occasional pang of hail. The surges of lightening gave way to just the right amount of light in her otherwise pitch-dark room to allow her to sleep comfortably and dream of all of her favorite monsters.

Shortly after Lilith entered a deep stage of REM sleep, the dreaming began. She saw the image of her favorite monster and only friend, Mr. Olga. Mr. Olga was tall, fat, and full of hair. He had a snaggle tooth, big mean claws, horns, and often wore a spike collar. In her art class at school, Lilith often drew pictures of Mr. Olga. Her classmates and her teacher, Miss Lana often said that Mr. Olga looked like a darker version of Sully from the Monsters, Inc. films, but Lilith knew he was far more unique than that.

Lilith’s dreams were always the same. She’d enter in to Mr. Olga’s home in the world of Sorrowville, a town of only two: her and Mr. Olga. This was the only place where they could truly be themselves and live freely among each other. They would plant cemeteries together (even though they never had any people to bury) and play with Mr. Olga’s black cats, Mischief and Despair. When they grew tired of that they’d put the radio on and play all of their favorite songs from My Chemical Romance, Black Veil Brides, and the occasional piece from Sleeping With Sirens. Then they would depart and count down the hours until the next day when they could do it all over again.

But tonight was different. Lilith knew that from the minute she stepped foot in Mr. Olga’s small cave in Sorrowville. The temperature wasn’t its breezy temperature of 66.6 degrees Fahrenheit the way her and Mr. Olga always set it. It was 34.14 degrees and set on Celsius. She felt warm and clammy and was even beginning to sweat a little, something she never thought was even possible in Sorrowville. What’s more, the town wasn’t its usual shades of black and grey with clouds and thunderstorms. The sky was bright blue without a single cloud in the atmosphere. The sun was bright and blazing hot, which explained why she was so warm. Her family would say it looked nice and she worried that if they ever seen this version of Sorrowville, they’d even want to join her and Mr. Olga. The very idea of that happening horrified Lilith.

Lilith and Mr. Olga weren’t the only ones in Sorrowville tonight. Instead, they were surrounded by the presence of a doll who looked like a prettier version of Lilith; it was her brand new custom-made American Girl doll from her Aunt Violet, Eve.

“What on earth do you think you’re doing?!?” Lilith said.

“I came here to play, Lillian. Don’t you want to be friends?” Eve said.

“My name is LILITH, NOT LILLIAN. AND NO! NO ONE IS ALLOWED HERE BUT ME AND MR. OLGA!” she screamed.

“Silly Lillian. Don’t you know that I am you?” she said.

Mr. Olga glanced at Lilith. “She does have your hair,” he admitted.

“YOU ARE NOTHING LIKE ME!” Lilith screamed, “I NEVER WEAR MY HAIR LIKE THAT AND I HATE DRESSES!”

“We can fix that, Lillian,” she said.

“I am perfectly fine the way I am. I don’t need to be fixed.”

“That’s too bad. You see, your Aunt Violet sent me here to fix you. She said it’s not normal for a girl your age to be so… dark. And depressing.

            “Psh. What does she know. She can’t change me,” Lilith said.

“No she can’t. That’s what I’m here for,” Eve said. I came to suck the breath right from you.”

Mr. Olga started to laugh.

“Stop it!” Lilith said. “Why would you laugh at that?”

“Because she thinks she can suck the breath out of you. Did she forget that I’m a monster?” he said.

“Good point,” Lilith said.

Mr. Olga inched closer to the Eve’s face and placed his hands up high above his head to show off his freshly sharpened claws. He then let out a huge growl. “RAWRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!” he said.

Eve flew over top of Mr. Olga and made her way through to Lilith.

“Just one little bite. A little something soft, trying to be polite. Nothing too hard, it wouldn’t be nice,” the doll chanted as it took a bite out of Lilith’s neck.

“WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU? ARE YOU A FRIGGEN VAMPIRE?!? Lilith screamed as Mr. Olga rushed over to her pry the doll off of her neck.

Mr. Olga clenched the doll tightly in his claws. He walked outside of his cave, towards the lake of misery and cast the doll threw the doll deep into the lake.

“Well done!” Lilith exclaimed, “Thank you for always taking such good care of me.” She gave Mr. Olga a big hug.

“You’re welcome,” he grunted.

Mr. Olga and Lilith began their walk back to Mr. Olga’s cave to resume their daily adventures. When Mr. Olga went to turn the knob on the cave door, the entire door knob fell off and the door flung open on its own.

Eve was standing there, glaring at both Lilith and Mr. Olga.

“You can’t get rid of me that easily, but it was cute for you to try,” she said.

“Not again! What do you want?” Lilith said.

“I already told you, Lillian. I want to suck the breath right out of you.”

“Okay, but why?”

“You need to change Lillian. It is not good to be so dark. Dark is a form of evil, and there is no place for evil in our world.

“Which is why Lilith comes with me to Sorrowville,” Mr. Olga explained.

“Yeah…about that. Sorrowville’s got to go, too.” Eve said.

“Go? Where?” Lilith asked.

“Bye bye. Sorrowville go bye bye,” the doll said as she struck a match and tossed it towards Mr. Olga. “Lilith, run! REMEMBER: 1 Peter 3:11!”

Lilith woke up covered in sweat and out of breath. Nightmares usually excited Lilith. She found them to be fascinating and entertaining, never scary the way her family and classmates described them. But even Lilith had to admit that the nightmare she just had was absolutely horrifying.

Lilith climbed out of bed and walked towards her window, hoping to find solace. She didn’t think it was still raining, but she always felt at peace with the passing of a storm. She pushed back her black curtains and opened the window by an inch and looked outside.

The sun was beginning to rise. The sky was bright and by society’s definition (though never Lilith’s), it was a beautiful shade of pinks, purples, and a hint of blue. There was no sign of the storm.

Lilith looked down towards the ground and then she saw it. Eve. Her custom-made American Girl Doll. It was holding a sign that read:

“Hi Lillian. I didn’t forget last night. Don’t forget 1 Peter 3:11. Also, remember Proverbs 16:17. Allow me to suck the breath right out of you. Or else. Love, your favorite doll.”

Lilith shut the window and pulled the curtains tight again. She ran into her bed and pulled the covers overhead, hoping to fall back asleep again. Her dreams were bad but reality was somehow even worse. She needed to get back to Sorrowville, back to Mr. Olga. She hoped he had survived the fire, that this dream would bring forth a new adventure, one without that stupid evil doll.

  1. 2. 1. And she was back into her deep REM Sleep, back in the darkness of Sorrowville.

Only there was no Mr. Olga this time. There was no darkness. The cave was even gone. She was greeted by the doll and a beautiful mansion on a bright and sunny day.

“Are you ready to follow Proverbs 16:17 yet?” she asked. “Will you allow me to suck the breath right out of you? Do you want to live?” she asked.

Lilith could not speak, she had no answers.

 


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Image Credits: Rhythm Agency

Hey guys! Happy New Years Eve! It’s about that time of year again where I look back at the past year and reflect on some of the greatest moments of the year. I came into 2016 pretty broken. I was in the midst of dealing with a difficult breakup, I was stuck in a job that I could no longer stand, and I was about as miserable as could be.

2016 was by no means a perfect year. I’ve been battling a terrible illness for the past couple of months and was recently diagnosed with bronchitis. My beloved cat and friend, Gizmo also passed away at the ripe old approximate age of 21.

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Rest in Peace…Gizmo

But overall, despite how many people claim that 2016 was their “worst year ever”, 2016 ended up being pretty good for me. Here 6 of my best moments from 2016.

  1. FINALLY going to NYC…(Twice, actually).

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I have been obsessed with NYC ever since I was a little kid. I swear, I must have been born a city slicker. However, up until 2016 I’ve never actually been to NYC, my loved was based solely on what I read about it o seen on TV or in movies.

I had plans in the past to go. I was supposed to go to see the Statue of Liberty for a field trip in 7th grade, but when the terrorists attacked the twin towers on 9/11/2001 when I was in 6th grade, so naturally that field trip was cancelled.

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I was also going to go on September 11, 2013 for a job interview I had with the Christian Post. However, at the time I wasn’t exactly in the same place as I am today with my faith. I was on the fence about the job and unsure about it being in NYC which was pretty far from where I lived. I received another job offer to work at a local SEO agency the day before my scheduled interview, so I decided to accept that job offer instead.

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Fast forward to 2.5 years later and my magical job suddenly wasn’t so magical. I was unhappy and more than ready to move on.

I applied to more than 100 jobs, some of which were in NYC. When I got a call back to interview for an Assistant Digital Producer job at Scholastic I was stoked. Working for Scholastic seemed like a dream to me. I grew up reading every scholastic book imaginable and was obsessed with the book fairs. This love and obsession carried on to me even in my adult life.

The interview was pretty much a disaster. The recruiter was super nice and that preliminary screening went well, but when I met with the person who I guess would’ve been my boss it all went down hill. I thought a digital producer was basically the same thing as a content coordinator but I quickly found out I was completely wrong.

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I still don’t know what an Assistant Digital Producer does at Scholastic, but I know it’s definitely not blogging, social media, or content marketing…

But I had a great time in NYC anyway. Just being able to see the office was amazing and NYC was everything I thought it would be. I definitely still want to move there.

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I loved my first trip to NYC so much that I decided to come back there to celebrate my 26th birthday. I went to eat lunch at Black Tap NYC. This restaurant was all the rage at the time thanks to their famous milkshakes. The restaurant was actually really disappointing and the staff was horrible, but the rest of the trip was great. I was really just in complete awe of the city. I enjoyed going to the M&M Factory and Bubba Gump and exploring Times Square. I can’t wait to get back there again.

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2. Seeing Good Charlotte…Twice.

For those of you who don’t know, Good Charlotte is by  far my favorite band. I saw them perform for the first time in 100+ degree weather outside on Father’s Day at Festival Pier in Penn’s Landing back in 2010. Since then I’ve seen them Cherry Hill, at the TLA multiple times, and most recently at the Fillmore. I’ve seen them a total of 5 or 6 times, two of which were in 2016.

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Seeing them in 2016 was especially special for me because it was the first time I could REALLY hear them. They sounded just as amazing as I remembered. I liked that I could hear everything they said when they were just talking, too. Before receiving my cochlear implants in 2014 and 2015 I would miss out a lot on their talks to the crowd and teasing each other. The Madden twins have such a great sense of humor that really comes out when they play shows together. It was great to finally get to hear it in these shows.

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Both of the shows were amazing. The TLA will probably always be my favorite venue, but the Fillmore was pretty awesome, too. I like the atmosphere of the TLA better and have a lot of great memories at the TLA, but I think the sound quality at the Fillmore was better. While both shows were incredible I’ll have to say the one I saw in November at the Fillmore was probably their best show ever. It was the perfect blend of old and new songs and so very nostalgic. It was like my childhood come to life in musical form.

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I can’t wait to see them again. For those of you who really, really, really love me they will be performing/traveling with this amazing warped tour/emo/punk cruise ship package thing in October. If you buy it for me I promise to love you for forever…just saying…

3. Working at Becker’s School Supplies

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Image Credits: Becker’s School Supplies on Facebook

This one probably comes as a surprise for most of you guys.. My job at Becker’s didn’t really work out. I actually didn’t get this job originally. It’s kind of a funny story. I found the open SEO Marketer position accidentally on Monster.com, a website I rarely ever used during my job search (I was pretty loyal/exclusive to LinkedIn). I applied and got an interview pretty quickly and thought I had nailed it. I couldn’t have asked for a better interview. I got along with everyone  so well. Being obsessed with school supplies and wearing paperclip earrings to my interview also helped a lot haha.

Imagine my devastation when I received a phone call while at work on April Fool’s Day of all days. I couldn’t believe it.

But the story didn’t end there. I got another call from them about a week later. Apparently things didn’t work out with the first person they hired, so I was next in line. Eager to get our of the miserable job I was currently stuck in, I quickly accepted.

Becker’s wasn’t a bad job at all. It was actually almost anything you could ask for in a job. It was pretty much the complete opposite from my current job which was a plus. It was a family owned business that benefitted the education system in a positive way. I was honestly just excited to get out of the agency life. I also liked that it was a small family-owned business that was around for many years. But my favorite parts? Everyone was sooooooooo nice and professional and there was none of the typical office drama or politics.

I got along great with everyone and was well-liked. It was refreshing to see and work with various members of the Becker family each day. They owned the company and were at the top of the tier, but they never made you feel like you were below them. Everyone was all part of the same team. They valued and respected all of their employees. I’ll never forget how the first thing Kurt Becker, the company’s treasurer, asked me was what I thought about the website and what I’d fix. I was an employee at that time for less than a week and he still valued my opinion and expertise enough to want to know my ideas for change.

As great as Becker’s was though, it wasn’t right for me. I spent years working in SEO in the past, but it was much different. I learned that when it comes to SEO, I’m all about creating content such as blogs and other website content that is optimized for SEO. I’m not much for Google Analytics (although I’m learning!) or any of the data/analytical side of things which this position dealt a lot with. Also, while I loved school supplies my love for school supplies didn’t quite match up with the products the company sold. I thought this was a company that sold a bunch of notebooks and pens, but it was really all early childhood education supplies like furniture for childcare centers.

I used to love product meetings where vendors will show us their stuff and try to persuade us to purchase it, mainly because I’m a child and I love to play with fake sand and dinosaurs and legos and read picture books, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around early education. I never went to pre-school, let alone daycare as a kid. It was a whole new field for me.

When I accepted the job with Becker’s I still had a lot of other job applications out and was negotiating with Penn Medicine. I wasn’t sure what would happen with that opportunity. It sounded good, but I have also been negotiating for several months and nothing was happening and I really needed a new job. I was also looking into grad school and applying for the TEP program. My future was so unclear. Everything was a risk.

I have absolutely no regrets about Becker’s. I learned so much about my career interests, job preferences, and how to turn down a job that isn’t working for you. I left them with the best gift I had to give: I referred them to a former co-worker who I saw as an expert in SEO that I knew was interested in the position. She could do for them everything they needed and wanted in terms of SEO that I didn’t know how to do. They hired her almost immediately. The rest is history.

4.Working at Penn Medicine

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Image Credits: Henrietta Hudson 

While it was quite the long process, I did end up getting hired by Penn Medicine in 2016. I initially turned down the position to work at Becker’s, but they begged me to reconsider. Isn’t it funny how things work out? I applied in January and was finally hired in June.

I honestly wasn’t sure about Penn when I first applied. I previously did an internship with Slack Medical journals and really, really, really hated it. It was so boring and technical and confusing. I was afraid Penn would be the same, yet for some reason this felt really different. I almost backed out of this interview several times because of other interviews I had (first with Scholastic and then with Bernie Robbins jewelers). I am so glad that my mom and some of my friends and former colleagues pushed me to go and keep pursuing this opportunity, even when it seemed hopeless.

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Working at Penn has been a blessing to me in so, so, so many ways. First off, I really love the location. Like I stated previously, I’m a city slicker. We’re located right in University City. It’s a safe part of Philly and there’s so much stuff going on! We’re within walking distance of many restaurants which makes lunch time fun, especially if we have a new member to our team. I recently tried an Indian buffet with my co-workers and in the summer we’d frequently meet up for green smoothies from the fruit lady’s food truck or frozen yogurt from Kiwi yogurt.

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The content team at the #LoveFest Pep Rally

Secondly, I love my job itself. I get to do my two favorite things: write a lot and work on social media. I also get to teach my co-workers what I learn, specifically with our new social media content management system, Sprinklr. I’m never bored. I learn constantly and am always challenged. I didn’t know much about medical conditions initially, but have since learned so many incredible things. I’m in awe by Dr. Carl June’s work with immunotherapy and cancer. All of the neurological conditions constantly blow my mind (did you know there’s a procedure where they turn off and test different parts of the brain to see what if anything will be lost if they cut away part of it?). It’s fascinating stuff!

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My co-workers are also the best. They are so talented, kind, and hard-working. It’s also a very professional atmosphere free of office drama and politics. While everyone is always working really hard, we also have fun together with team building exercises such as monthly full staff meetings, our pep rally, and our Christmas bowling party. We are also starting a professional development book club which should be fun.

5. Becoming an Adjunct Professor AND a Grad School Student at Rowan University

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Image Credits: Rowan

Of all of the possible things that could’ve happened this year, I never imagined I’d become a college professor, but that is exactly what happened.

I’ve been toying with the idea of going back to school to earn my MA in Writing for years. I didn’t want to get my MA originally. I was tired and burnt out after earning to BA’s and I didn’t think an MA was all that important to be honest. But after receiving bilateral cochlear implants I wrote a book and now I want so additional help to finish writing/revising it and publish it.

Still, I wasn’t sure how this would work. I didn’t know at the time that Penn has an amazing benefits package that would cover the cost of my tuition. I just knew that financial aid wasn’t an option with grad school, so I was on my own and grad school doesn’t come cheap.

When Professor Block emailed me about grad school and mentioned the TEP program which allows students to teach while earning their MA and pays for at least part of their tuition costs, I saw it as a sign that I was meant to go to grad school and apply.

I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. I knew I like teaching, but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I ultimately did. I didn’t expect to get so attached to my students. I think teaching is one of the best things to ever happen to me, honestly. I love it so much. I love feeling like I’m making a difference and seeing my students improve as writers.

Grad school’s not bad, either. Some of the writing projects for Core were fun. It’s not the most interesting year for me though. I feel like I have a lot of pre-reqs which can be a little dry to take now to get to the good stuff like writing the memoir and non-fiction writing. But still I’ve really loved just being back in school again. I love the challenge of it all. I love learning.

It hasn’t been easy. Juggling a full time job in the city, teaching three times a week, and taking 2 graduate level courses a semester is no joke. But I love the thrill of the challenge and being constantly under pressure. I feel like I am constantly working towards a goal and I feel I’ve been fairly successful so far.

6. Going to Washington DC

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DC is another place I had plans to go to multiple times, but never actually went to until this year. I was first going to go on a field trip in 7th grade, but alas the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on 9/11/2001 when I was in 6th grade caused the trip to get cancelled. Then in 2014 or whenever it was I was going to meet Casey there and get back together with him, but in a really bizarre turn of events he cancelled our plans and ran off and got engaged and married to some other girl…but that’s another story…

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Every year Rowan picks a book to have the University read together as a whole. This year the book was Americanah! by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I don’t know what the book was about because I didn’t actually read it lol. Anyway though, the book inspired the University to take a free trip to DC that was open to all students and faculty and since I’ve always wanted to go to DC anyway, I jumped at the opportunity to go.

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I was nervous about the trip at first since I didn’t know anyone who was going. Who would I hang out with so I wouldn’t get lost? Should I go as a student or a faculty member since I was actually both? I hung out with faculty originally until I met a faculty member’s son who was a current senior at Rowan and closest in age to me. We hung out for the rest of the trip and became fast friends and had a blast.

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We went to the museum of African history, an African art museum, and one of the Smithsonians, though we didn’t have much time at the Smithsonian. It was a really cool trip. I’m a museum and art nerd so I love looking at and learning about this stuff. The only down side was that the main African history museum was realllllllllllllly crowded and you could hardly move.

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We also ate at a soul food restaurant. I don’t eat soul food much, if ever, so it was a different experience for me. I had these oysters cooked in some kind of a hot sauce that were really good.

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It was a really nice trip especially since it helped me to get out of my comfort zone. I am glad that I did end up befriending someone despite not knowing anyone and that I took the risk to go to a new place with no one I knew. I’d definitely do something like this again in the future and I hope that in 2017 Rowan provides me with more opportunities to do so!

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7. Going to Kentucky.

My trip to Kentucky was incredible and perhaps the highlight of 2016.

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My mom and I went with Gloucester County Community Church (GCCC). I’ve been following the making of the Ark from day 1 a few years back and when I heard it opened in the summer I couldn’t wait to go. We previously looked into driving down for my mom’s birthday in August, but it was too expensive. However, going with the church would save us money and we’d take a bus with everyone so transportation wouldn’t be an issue.

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Our trip lasted 3 days and consisted with a few hours at the Creation Museum followed by almost a full day at the Ark.

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The Creation Museum was okay. Not quite as good as I was expecting, but still pretty cool. I really loved the dinosaurs. I always liked dinosaurs ever since I was a kid. About a year ago I realized that the bible never mentions the word “dinosaur” so I started to ponder why. I turned to Answers in Genesis and they explained how dinosaurs did exist and were referred to using different words. To see and learn more about this at the museum was neat. Most of the dinosaurs weren’t as big as made out to be and the dinosaurs used to only eat plants as did all animals which the bible clearly states, but few people realize. It was very informative.

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Noah’s Ark was amazing. You don’t realize how big it is until you see if for yourself. It was also incredible biblically accurate. They had all of the animals that they had back then and the cages and everything so well done. I enjoyed learning about Noah and his family and the work that they did on the Ark as well. It made me thirsty to learn more.

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Overall, 2016 was an incredible year. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for me!


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Image Credits: Happy Thanksgiving Day Images

Hey guys, Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m not really feeling the holiday spirit this year – at all. My family and I considered scaling back or even postponing Thanksgiving this year and I am already sick to death of Christmas.

I’ve had a rough week. I went on a trip to Kentucky to see the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. It was a fantastic trip and I learned so much about the book of Genesis, God’s creation, and Noah’s Ark. You wouldn’t believe how big the ark really is – you need to see it for yourself. Kenn Hamm should be very proud of his creation on the Ark Encounter because it was extremely accurate and stunning!

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However, I went on the trip a little bit sick and came back extremely sick. My mom was also sick and diagnosed with bronchitis and sinusitis or something. Dad got the flu. Our poor cat, Gizmo also got very sick and sadly could not fight off the infection. He died on Sunday morning.

Losing Giz has been extremely hard on everyone. He was so much more than just a cat to us – he was family. He was more loyal, loving, kind, and compassionate than most people we know including our blood family. He would always greet you at the door, eat dinner with you, and comfort you when you were upset. He was my dad’s best friend and my dad would talk to Giz and spend all of his time caring for Giz when Mom and I were at work or school. My dad has been completely heartbroken and devastated by the lost of his best friend.

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I know that it was Gizmo’s time to go. He was 21 years old and we could tell he wasn’t feeling well and on Saturday night, was really suffering. We chose to have him buried in a pet cemetery where he will get his own headstone and everything. I know it sounds crazy, but he deserves it. His burial will take place on Saturday. I don’t think my family and I will ever be ready to let go of him though.

So, with all of this we’re not exactly in the mood for Thanksgiving or any of the holidays this year. It’s sad and not the same. It’s hard because we think of the times we’ve spent with my grandparents. How my grandfather would accidentally insult my mom’s cooking and it was so funny you couldn’t be mad at it. We remember the crazy Thanksgiving song my Mom’s mom invented and how mad it made her husband, my mom’s dad. We remember making special dinners for Giz and how we’d torment him with the turkey before we cooked it. We remember years ago when my sister was a part of the family and the holiday. We remember how these people are no longer a part of our lives, and we miss them and the way things used to be. This makes the holidays hard. Plus, while we’re feeling better than we have, none of us are 100% yet, which just makes it harder.

I know a lot of people would criticize me and say that this isn’t very “Christian” of me. I’m a Christian, but I’m not perfect. I need God in my life to give me a source of hope when I feel hopeless. When I’m too far invested in the world (like I have been lately) and not invested enough in God, I have trouble feeling hope. That’s why I want to spend a large portion of my time today invested in reading scripture, so I can feel that sense of hope again.

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Image Credits: Bible Verse Images 

There is always something in life to be thankful for, even if you don’t always feel or see it though. Here is what I’m thankful for this year.

1. My Amazing Family.

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My family is small – just my parents and I – but it’s been amazing. My parents are my biggest fans and supporters. They want nothing more than to see me succeed and reach for the moon. They yell at me when they think I’m not reaching high enough or when I’m “settling” for something less than the best. They always drive me everywhere I need to go since I don’t have a driver’s license and they do it without complaint. My dad has over the years even driven me all the way through State College for a job interview that went horrifically bad and my mom has taken me to NYC on the subway she knew nothing about for another job interview gone bad. My parents are the best and I couldn’t imagine my life without them.

2. My Job at Penn Medicine.

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This was an incredibly hard job to get. My interview process started in January and I didn’t actually get hired until June. I am thankful that Penn has worked with me and did everything they could to offer me a job, even when I took a different job instead initially. I know I have a strange schedule due to school, so I am incredibly thankful for Penn for working around my schedule by offering me reduced hours and the ability to work from home. I am thankful for my amazing co-workers who teach me everything and exert extreme patience, kindness, and understanding towards me. Penn has been such a great company to work for and I am so blessed to have the opportunity to work for them.

3. Rowan University.

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Image Credits: AliveCampus.com 

As a student, I don’t always agree with some of the changes or decisions the school makes, but I still really love this school and am so thankful for all of the doors it has opened to me. I am thankful to have the opportunity to earn my MA in Writing and to hopefully become one step closer to finishing and publishing my book, God Granted Me Hearing. I am thankful to have the opportunity to teach freshman college students through the Teaching Experience (TEP) program, something I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to do. I am incredibly thankful for Dr. Courtney and the current and former TEP instructors for all of the help, assistance, lesson-plan sharing, ideas, and advice they have given me. I’d be lost without all of you guys – you’re the best. I’m thankful for my students who while they drive me crazy at times, also know how to make me smile and show me why teaching is so awesome.

4. My Amazing Church Family. 

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Image Credits: Washington Baptist Church

I saw a picture posted on Facebook the other day that said “Church isn’t just a place, it’s a family”. As someone who’s been church-hopping for many years, I can truly say it’s hard to find a church that feels like a family. I found that with Washington Baptist Church. Pastor Lex and all of the members of the congregation are absolutely amazing people. They really take the time to get to know one another, to lift them up, and to pray for each other. You’re never just a nameless face at WBC.

Even when I left WBC for a few months to try out another church, as soon as I came back I was welcomed with open arms. Even when I went each week to another church I couldn’t forget about WBC – I missed them because they were my family. I never felt that kind of connection at any other church before. This church has taught me SO much and helped to bring me closer in my walk with God.

5. My Cochlear Implants.

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This is the first time in 2 years that I’m not recovering from surgery around the holidays. I just celebrated 2 years with my first cochlear implant on my left ear and on Wednesday I will be at 1 year on my right ear. It still never ceases to amaze me how well I can hear. Even though my right one hasn’t been working right the last few days (I’m probably going to have to send it out to AB for repairs), I can still hear so well, better than most people I know now. I’m always in awe when I can watch YouTube videos (or my latest obsession – TED talks) without caption. Certain sounds are still new to me – hearing trains go by still scare me because I forget what it is that I’m hearing. Every time I’m feeling down and depressed and having an “I hate my life, why me?” kind of moment I remember how much God has blessed me with this incredible gift. I’m so thankful for Dr. Willcox and the amazing team at Jefferson for helping to make this miracle happen for me.

 

What are you guys thankful for this year?


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Image Credits: House to House 

For those of you who don’t already know, I am currently enrolled in my first semester of graduate school in the MA in Writing program at Rowan University. One of the classes I am enrolled in this semester is Core I: Theories and Techniques of Writing. This is a required class for my program where we study many other writers and how they write. We have just been assigned to write a paper that is either an imitation or parody of another writer. For this assignment I have chosen to write a parody of Henry David Thoreau’s “Why I Went to the Woods”. My parody is listed below. As you read it I ask that you keep in mind that part of the assignment requires me to adopt Thoreau’s writing style. This is why the sentences are so long and detailed with many commas and semi colons and very long paragraphs. It is also why some parts of it may feel very repetitive and the language is kind of old-fashioned and not the way people talk today. I am attempting to write in Thoreau’s voice here, not my own. Also, please keep in mind that this is a first draft. While I am very proud of this draft (hence why I am choosing to publish it to my blog), it is just that, a first draft. This is far from perfect and will be undergoing significant revision as my semester goes on. I do however welcome any comments or feedback. 

Why I Went to Church

I went to church because I wished to live for Christ, and to live my life in a way that is only pleasing to him, and to see if I could lead a life free of sin, so as to go on to heaven at the time of my death. I wished to follow the commandment of my Lord in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1728). I wanted to surrender myself and my life to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, to live so spiritually and free of materialism as to have no one question my faith, but for others to come to know Christ through me and my faith, and to show the world what it means to be a Christian. We do not live our lives for us, we live for Christ.

Did you ever consider how we might live for Christ? Living for Christ is a conscientious choice that we must make every day; a decision to live free of our material possessions and the worldly sinful life. Some choose the pleasure of a life of Christ, others choose the ways of the world run by Satan. It is my hope that one day those who choose the world will wake up and break free of Satan’s hold on them, that they will suddenly choose the life of Christ and follow him and his ways, so that they too, may be saved. Why should we exercise the right of free will? We are determined to choose our own paths in life. Men constantly choose their own paths, thinking they know what’s best for their lives. But we constantly fall short of the glory of God. It all started with Adam and Eve, who chose their own free will, they took pleasure in their own hearts’ desires, so that now we must all suffer the misfortunes of their sin. And now when comes forth acts of temptation, we must all struggle with decision to sin or turn way and follow God, for this is a constant battle in an unbelievers heart, until the day comes that they may be saved.

There is but few men residing alongside Washington Township who considers himself not a sinner, but a saved man, yet has an excuse every which way for why he cannot attend church. The man claims to not have the time of day for such matters as church, yet the same man and his wife would ask the fine couple next door, “What’s the plans for the day?”, fearing that they may miss out on the town’s latest social event. Yet they fail to realize the day’s occurrences are but temporary, for they cannot match the days of heaven that would lie ahead of them, if they were to only get saved.

Still, we live for the world and not for Christ; though the Bible tells us in Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mam’-mon” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1462). Our lives are stained in sin. A saved man knows not to count on the things in the world for happiness, for as Psalm 23 states, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 915). Pray, pray, pray! I command, pray 10 or 20 times a day, and not once or twice; instead of television read your bible, and listen to 2 Corinthians 6:14 which demands, “Be yet not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1764). Pray, pray. Instead of arguing with your wife, pray for peace; instead of drinking at the bar, invite your friends over for a time of prayer; and pray for each other as often as you can. Our lives are each ridden with sin as the result of the fall of Adam and Eve, and we constantly fall short of the glory of God, with the only option to escape salvation through the grace Christ alone. Look at our nation, an icon of sin, which obviously hasn’t been doing so well in recent years, thrives on the motto, “Do what makes you happy, regardless of the consequences”, which explains why we have become obsessed with the sexualization of our culture and the constant need for self-gratification, and the only way to escape the ruins that we have fallen into as a nation is to turn away from ourselves and our own free will and instead surrender our lives to Christ and his will and his ways for ourselves as individuals and our nation as a whole. Repent, repent, repent! We must admit our shortcomings to the Lord and ask for his forgiveness as we accept the life he has laid out for us, and not merely the paths we think we know best for ourselves, for in all honesty, we know nothing. Men believe that they must engage in pre-marital sex, to put money before prayer, and to break each and every commandment in the bible for the stake of liberty and equality in our nation; whether they actually engage in these acts or support them as bystanders remains to be uncertain, but whether we shall live as moral Christians or sinful heathens these days is questionable.

As for me, I could easily do without the television. I believe there are very few Christ-pleasing shows on air these days. To be honest, I haven’t seen a television program but twice a year during the span of my lifetime that I believed worthwhile of my time. And I am confident that I’m not missing out much on this week’s latest tabloid stories. It’s just one Kardashian sex tape, Taylor Swift’s breakup, WikiLeaks breakthrough, celebrity drug overdose, Jennifer Aniston pregnancy, Kanye West feud, Kate Middelton hat, Oprah Winfrey failed diet, Jennifer Lopez wedding, and Angelina Jolie divorce after the other. Reading one tabloid story is more than enough to last me to my final days. Why do we care to read so much gossip about the misfortunes of the rich and famous? Does Ephesians 4:29 not state, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers”? (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1785). Rather than judging these celebrities and talking about the times when they fall short of the glory of God, shall we not pray for them instead? I hear women in the grocery store pick up these tabloids and chat about the celebrities all the time. “That Taylor Swift sure gets around these days,” they say, “What a whore!”. Some of these expressions come from women who wear a cross around their necks and claim to be a Christian, yet they can’t remember the last time they stepped foot in a church or made time for prayer. They may be better off if they threw the tabloids in the trash where they belong and open up their bible and fold their hands to pray instead. Gossiping about Taylor Swift and talking bad about the other celebrities in the tabloids will only fuel the success of the tabloids and bring about no change or betterment of the lives of those who these women mock; for the only real change can come within these celebrities due to an intervention from the holy one above. We as citizens and brothers and sisters in Christ can only do our part to pray for those in need, and not to gossip about the misfortunes and shortcomings of others, for we know ourselves to be stained with the same blood of sinners.

Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll seems like a life of luxury. Sure, these things will bring us gratification, but men must realize it is only temporary. For as John 14:6 tells us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father; but by me” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1638). We can never be satisfied in the things of the world or our own personal gratification alone; we must depend on Christ for hope, salvation, and happiness to last all eternity.

Prayer is but the essence of my life. I come to the Lord as a sinner ready to repent, yet through his grace he redeems me. I struggle in the world ridden with sin as my eternity in paradise awaits. I would live more humbly, pray more often, and attend church to hear the word of my Lord and savior amongst a community of imperfect believers. I am perfectly flawed. I cannot count but one day of life without sin. I always regret the ways in which I let my savior down. I strive to live a life for Christ; but the devil often crosses my path and leads me down the road to sin. I do not wish to follow his ways, but rather to cleanse myself with the holy water to follow in the path of Christ. My heart is pure and for my Lord. I feel an overflowing love and adoration for my savior Christ. I hear the promises my Lord makes in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1212). I hear his calling and I follow him, to live a life of purity and the need for nothing more than my faith in my Lord and savior Jesus Christ; for I understand that this life in the present moment is but temporary, the starting point for a life of eternity in Christ that is yet to come.


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Image Credits: Pretty-Random-Things.com

Hey guys! Since I finished the 30-Day Writing Challenge yesterday I thought it would be a good idea to write this follow up post detailing 5 key things I learned from doing the challenge. This was my first writing challenge (unless you count NaNoWriMo) and I learned A LOT. Overall, it was a positive experience, with a few drawbacks mixed in. Here are 5 things I learned.

1. Writing takes time. This seems like a give in, but I really learned just how much time writing takes after doing the 30 day writing challenge. If I got done a post in a half hour or less it was extremely rare. Most posts took me over an hour to write…some took more than a couple hours to write. When I got to day 2 which was to “Write about your first love or your first kiss, if separate, do both” I ended up writing 2 separate posts on 2 different days. Each of those posts took me a couple of hours to write, especially the one about my first love where I detailed my dysfunctional, unhealthy long-distance relationship.

2. It’s OK to break the rules. The 30 day writing challenge was supposed to end in May, but I didn’t finish it until July. I think it was more than okay to break the rules because I was still really committed to writing as much as I could. Some times I took off of the challenge so I could write about other topics like the Social Media Philadelphia Day or book reviews. Other topics got spread upon multiple days as mentioned above. One day, day 23, I completely refused to write about the topic because I didn’t like it. As long as you write and are consistent, does it matter if you follow the rules?

3. Writing is therapeutic. Some of these topics were very difficult and uncomfortable for me to write about, especially day 26 when I had to write what I’d say to my ex. I ended my longest relationship ever less than a year ago and the wounds still are a bit fresh. When we broke up, I hung up on him and that was it.We haven’t talked since then, so there was definitely many words left unsaid and not much, if any, closure. While I really dreaded writing on day 26, I was so glad I did it at the end of it. This post took me days to write and I really poured my heart out in the post. I probably said a bit more than I should have in that post, but I really needed it. It was my way to get all of those emotions and feelings out that have been bundled up inside of me for many months. Writing that all out was so therapeutic to me. I’m glad I did it.

4. 30-day writing challenges are great for generating content…I blogged so much over the last 2 months. Once I had the topics, the content just flowed through me. I began to think of how my own personal stories and experiences could work into characters for stories.The 30 day writing challenge was awesome for coming up with ideas and for churning out content for my blog.

5. But they are terrible when you already have a novel in the editing stage. The biggest drawback of doing the 30 day writing challenge was that it involved so much of my time that it took away from the project I was already working on – my novel – which was much more important. I was almost finished editing my 2nd draft before taking on this challenge. Now it’s been nearly 2 months and I haven’t touched it and I’m not entirely sure where I was when I left off. Next time I’ll have to make sure to do a writing challenge when I don’t already have a lot going on in my life.

Have any of you guys ever participated in a 30-day writing challenge? What was your experience like?


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Image Credits: Keyword-Suggestions.com

DISCLAIMER: I do drink and enjoy it on occasion now, but I am writing about my past and on the night of my 21st birthday on May 8, 2011, I was still very much straight edged and adamantly opposed to drinking.

Happy 4th of July to all of my American readers!

 I’m up to day 29 of the 30 day writing challenge and considering the holiday, today’s challenge is an interesting one: Describe the night of your 21st birthday.

I don’t remember too much of it, not because I got to drunk to remember, but because that was 5 years ago and not all that big of a deal for me compared to how it is for most people.

My 21st birthday was actually on Mother’s Day, so getting wasted was never a real option — that would seem really disrespectful to my mom. During that time I was also still straight edged…I was very much against the idea of drinking. I was allowed to drink of course and my parents didn’t discourage me from it, but I didn’t want to drink.

Instead I went to Atlantic City to gamble. I’ve never been much of a big gambler though. I think I won about $20 on a slot machine that I paid like $1 for and called it a day. My mom was the same way, except if my memory is correct she won about $40 and ended up paying for our dinner.

We walked around the boardwalk a little bit and I think it was more window shopping than anything else. I had a birthday crown and sash on so a lot of people stopped me and wished me a happy birthday. I remember it took me forever to pick out that stash. I  made a point to get one that didn’t in anyway promote drinking…much easier said than done.

I think we went out to dinner at the Hibachi Grill and Supreme Buffet in Turnersville which is a little different from usual (I usually go to the Colonial Diner), maybe because it was Mother’s Day? I know back then money was always tight. We still lived in Woodbury and I was still in school and at that time it was right before I started working a minimal wage job at Heritages. My parents still did give me a really nice day and gave me a nice gift though. That was the year that they gave me an engraved journal with Proverbs 3:5-6 engraved onto it. It was to help encourage me to write more and to grow in my faith. At the time, that was my favorite bible verse but I viewed it a bit more as being a quote than I did as a bible verse. I didn’t have the relationship with God that I have now.

My birthday was overall a pretty quiet day though especially considering it was my 21st. It wasn’t a big deal to me. Alcohol scared me back then. I was always afraid of turning into an alcoholic. I started drinking about 10 months later for the first time after my abusive boyfriend at the time (who now is my ex, thankfully) and I got in a really bad fight. It’s not my proudest decision, but I am proud of the fact that I never been completely drunk, never had a hang over, and I am strong enough to handle alcohol and not abuse it. A part of me wishes I would’ve known that for my 21st, but even if I did I don’t think it would’ve changed much. I still wouldn’t have had a “wild and crazy” birthday like most people had. I never wanted that.

How about you guys…what was the night of your 21st birthday like?



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