Doon ~ Book Review

See the source imageHave you ever wanted to be transported into a magical world? Complete with stunning scenery and a cool kingdom to match?

Oh, and did I mention the amazing guys with Scottish accents? Or the fact that soulmates exist? 

Yep. Soulmates.

Basically, this book was my daydream come to life.

If you love fantasy mixed with the modern-twenty-first-century, plus a good dose of mystery and romance, then this is the book for you.

Written by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon, Doon follows the tale of two best friends – Veronica and Mackenna. With her home life a wreck, dad left and mom is…well, not exactly picking up the slack, not to mention that her choice in men is less than admirable, Veronica is more than ready to escape.

Enter best friend, Mackenna. After breaking up with her jerk-of-a-boyfriend, Veronica calls Mackenna. In the span of a few minutes, her entire summer changes when Mackenna tells her that she wants her graduation present, from her dad, to be a plane ticket for Veronica to come with her to Scotland.

And with that, though they don’t know it yet, this summer will change everything for them.

*note: above is the spoiler-free part of the review, if you don’t want plot spoilers, RESIST SCROLLING, I’ll try to steer clear of the major ones but…NO PROMISES* 😉

*WARNING*

*PLOT SPOILERS BELOW*

Once arriving in Scotland, Kenna notices that something is up with her bestie. When she questions her, Veronica nervously mentions that she keeps seeing a boy.

Specifically, a Scottish guy who’s tall, blonde, and by her own admissions, “gorgeous.”

Kenna tries to logically deal with this, and since her dad used to teach undergraduate psychology, she throws that at her.

“He’d say ‘Kilt-Boy’ is your anti-Eric.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“He’s your knight in shining armor. The perfect boy. Someone heroic who’d never choose their own interests ahead of yours.” Her fingers absently brushed the quilted fabric of the comforter as she continued. “Think about it. He conveniently shows up after Eric dumps you, then again after your mom chooses Bob the Slob. Doesn’t that seem a little bit convenient?”

Convenient, it does seem, and Veronica is inclined to agree with her musical-loving friend. And yet, some part of her, wonders if the kilt boy could be real? Was she actually going crazy, or could there be more to this entire world than she had first thought?

She needs answers, and she can’t rest until she has them. Despite Kenna’s efforts, Veronica is determined to find something. Kenna eventually goes along with it, if for nothing else, than the hope that once her best friend sees that this is not real, Veronica will actually come back around to her normal-does-not-see-random-vision-boys-self.

During one of the days they’re exploring, Kenna and Veronica are told the story about the land of Doon. A magical land. And not only that, but Kenna’s, aunt, Gracie, had been there.

This is all too much for Kenna, who brushes it off as silly fairytales. Sure, her aunt always liked to tell some crazy stories, but another land? With magic? Hidden from the world? 

Way too out there.

On the other hand, Veronica is completely enthralled by the tale. As she listens, she can’t help, but think could this be real? And when she hears the old man speaking mention one name, her heart thuds.

Was it coincidence that her mystery-dream-boy shared the same last name as this person of Doon? Or could it be something more?

Over the course of the book, Kenna and Veronica travel to the land of Doon. They encounter the Scottish boy that Veronica had been envisioning, and upon meeting him, are shocked to see how aloof he is acting.

Still, the girls aren’t two people willing to give up, and so they press forward, despite Kenna’s anxiety about this entire ordeal, and Veronica’s frustration with her Scottish vision. The best friends encounter several obstacles along the way, not to mention the evil that lurks about, though it by no means is all trial, as the romance and magical land state.

If you haven’t read Doon, then I highly encourage you to go and get it! It’s a wonderful book, and I can’t wait to go buy the second one!

~ Southern Dreamer

 

God’s Promise

The rainbow. God’s promise.

“Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” – Genesis 9:8-16

In our world today, the rainbow has become the symbol for the LGBT movement. The real message of the rainbow, however, has existed for centuries.

After the flood, recorded in Genesis, the first rainbow appeared.

Can you imagine? Having never seen a rainbow before, and suddenly there is this sheer, sparkling magnitude of light over the horizon? The reds, the blues, the yellows! The purples, the oranges, the greens!

See the source image

It must have been absolutely stunning.

Rainbows…God’s promise to us.

Placed in the sky as a declaration of His covenant with mankind.

For me, the rainbow has an even more personal note. If you’ve read my story, then you may remember that I was diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy at a very young age.

When I had first gotten sick, at six years old, God told my family something. I’m not going to disclose it right now, but it was important for us personally. And not long after that happened, there was a huge double rainbow over the sky.

A few years later, my family and I were driving to North Carolina and stopped on the way to take a picture. My dad had the camera, while my mom, brother, and I smiled.

Snap!

The crazy thing is though, upon looking at the picture, we noticed something pretty amazing. There was a rainbow cascading over us. It was as if God was enveloping us in the words He had given just a few years before. My mom said, “I was basking in His glory.”

rainbow3

That array of color was not there before.

Totally God.

Last month, my family and I went to visit my grandparents in Mississippi. Our first night there, we all went to a restaurant downtown at the square. The food was delicious, and the restaurant was lovely, but for me, the highlight of the night came after.

We exited the restaurant. I looked up at the sky, and guess what I saw?

A rainbow.

I was so excited, and instantly called everyone else’s attention to the awesome phenomenon.

“We have to get a picture!” I exclaimed, yanking my phone out of my purse. Once my family realized, my mom came over and my dad snapped a picture. My brother, being the free-spirited person he is, decided to photobomb one of the photos.

rainbow

At first, I was kind of annoyed. We were trying to take a picture. But then my mom reminded me, that Brayden was in the original one too.. No accident, of course; Brayden has been such an instrumental prayer, part of God’s promise to me. He has faithfully gone before God on my behalf. He has walked every step of the way with me.

It’s so crazy looking back now, at the first picture with the rainbow, and then this one recently. Through all those turbulent times, God has continued to be faithful. Even during the times where it didn’t feel like it, when I had doubts, or during those seasons of silence, He has not left.

rainbow2

I love the rainbow, not only because of its beauty, but when I see it, I’m reminded of God’s promise. His promise to me…personally. I am hanging on to it.

Whatever God has promised you, don’t lose hope.

“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory,” ~ 2 Corinthians 1:20

He is faithful and His word is trustworthy.

~ Southern Dreamer

Summer Fun

Hey y’all!

How is y’all’s summer going? Are you surviving the heat – and humidity?!

I’ve been having a good one so far! The past few months, my family and I have actually been trying to sell our house. We’re still staying in the same town, just moving to a different (currently gutted xD) home! With that, comes all the design decisions to make; so, I’ve been doing a lot of painting to try and figure out what color our kitchen cabinets are going to be. Exciting!

In other news, last week (ok when I wrote this the fourth of July had just happened so…) was busy and a lot of fun! Wednesday, my brother and I went to one of our friend’s home, where they were having a fourth of July party. Thankfully, the weather wasn’t too bad, and we were able to do a bunch of fireworks!

Image may contain: Lanie Dean and Gena Swords Long, people smilingImage may contain: 2 people, including Lanie Dean, people smiling, people standing and night

The next day was the premiere of Antman and the Wasp and you bet I went to it! Griffin, Mallory, Brayden – my brother, and I all went to see the new Marvel film. It was really good! I’m hoping to go see it again this weekend, so I can get a better idea of it, and I’ll definitely post a movie review afterwards!

Image may contain: 6 people, including Tanya Armistead Dean, Lanie Dean, Griffin Smith and Mistee Ingram Smith, people smiling, people standing

Then Saturday, my roomie for this fall and friend, Amanda, came to see me for the day, along with her younger cousin. We went by Swift and Finch, a coffee shop, along with doing some shopping on Broad Street. Now y’all, I have to tell you this story.

Ok, so we went in this one shop that I had not been in before, called Elysium. Cool name, right? We went in, and looking around, I was kind of like, well this seems more like older women’s clothes. Nothing wrong with that, just…not the style for younger people. Lol.

We started talking to the two ladies, who were working there – very nice people, and they told us that the items in their store came from all over the world. Then, she pointed to this jewelry display (y’all know, like where they hang necklaces off of), where three BATS were hanging upside down. Their mouths were open in a rAWRG way, teeth showing and wings tucked to the side.

Creepy.

One of the ladies says something like, “For instance, these bats come from a country where the people eat bats.”

And I’m all like…

If we’re being completely candid here, my first thought, upon hearing her say this (and apparently not thinking that selling taxadermied bats as jewelry was STRANGE???) was WITCHES.

I know. I know. They’re not actually witches. The result of too much reading and creative writing. But still.

CREEPY.

Moving along! We went in several other little boutiques like Paula’s and Whistle Britches, along with a second-hand book store. After, my brother met us for lunch at Mellow Mushroom – yum!

Our last activity was going to Berry College and taking some pictures! If you’ve never been there, the campus is absolutely beautiful! Very romantic and picturesque!

Image may contain: 2 people, including Lanie Dean, people smiling, sky, grass, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: Lanie Dean, smiling, standing

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, plant and outdoor

So, that’s what I’ve been up to! What have y’all been doing this summer?

~ Southern Dreamer

Isaiah’s Daughter ~ Book Review

See the source imageHey y’all!

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve last done a book review, so I thought I would change that! Today, I’m going to be doing one on Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews. I’ve read several of her books, and have enjoyed each one. I’ll try to start doing some more reviews to give y’all a better idea of what they’re like, but trust me, they’re great! 🙂

Isaiah’s Daughter: A Novel of Prophets and Kings is a biblical fiction novel tracing the story of Hephzibah – Queen of Judah and wife to King Hezekiah. She is a real person and character in the Bible, however, the only difference in this book or the part that brings the fiction element in, is the Scriptures do not say she was the adopted daughter of Isaiah.

Nevertheless, this book is firmly rooted in truth and the Bible. Each chapter references a Scripture at the beginning, that helps the reader to understand at what point the author is getting this inspiration from – something I appreciated.

Being the list-maker that I am, I also loved how before the story even starts, Mesu lists out all the major and minor characters that appear in this story. She tells you which ones are mentioned in the Bible, and which she used the Holy Spirit, discretion, and creative liberty to create; along with, who they are.

I’ve always enjoyed reading biblical fiction, and this one was no different. If you’ve never read a biblical fiction book before, then I highly suggest you check out some of Mesu Andrews! Personally, I find reading them helps the characters in the Bible to come alive further, makes them more relatable, and reminds me that even though they were great men and women of God, they were still human too.

Some characters that you might be familiar with, if you’ve read Scripture, are Isaiah, Micah – also a prophet, King Hezekiah, and his father King Ahaz. There are plenty of female characters as well, but their names might not be as familiar to y’all – Isaiah’s wife – mentioned in Scripture, but I believe not named specifically? Anyway, Mesu does give her a name! 🙂 Along with, the mother of Hezekiah, Queen Abijah and his wife, Queen Hephzibah.

I found it really interesting that in the book, and I’m sure based on what evidence she could find and therefore make an hypothesis/injecture upon, Isaiah was a royal tutor and had royal blood in him. Now, for this blog post I’ve done a little research, and as far as I can tell, the Bible does not mention either of these.

However, I was reading on BBC’s website, in their article on Isaiah, written from a professor at the University of Oxford, and he said,

“What is more, he seems to have had easy access to the royal court (see especially chapter 7), and to be well informed about the affairs of state. It is therefore generally assumed that he came from a family that would have been included in the ruling classes; whether he was in fact related to the royal family in some way is possible, though entirely unknown.

From the way he writes we can see that he was well educated in the best traditions of the time. It is not just his fine use of language which impresses, but also the way that he incorporates insights from the distilled wisdom of the Israelite people. It is probable that such material will have formed an important part of the national curriculum of the time. Only a few families, whose children were destined to follow their fathers into the court bureaucracy or other positions of responsibility, will have received a formal education, including learning to read and write. It looks very much as though Isaiah should be included among them.”

Fascinating!

So, while we do not know for sure, whether or not Isaiah was a royal tutor and/or had royal blood in him, the notion of it is not so far-fetched to be impossible.

Another aspect of her book, that piqued my interest was the names. Many times in the Bible, and I believe, if I’m not mistaken, people took the meaning of their names very seriously. I’ve always wondered why, for instance, with Hosea, God tells him to name his children names that I don’t find very pleasant – ex. Lo-ammi (not my people).

Now, in terms of why God said that, we don’t really know, but one of the characters in the book is named, Ishma, which means something like desolation (y’all will have to excuse this paraphrased explanation, we’re currently in the process of moving, and a lot of my books have been packed, so I’m going from memory here xD).

When Isaiah’s wife wonders why she was named that, Yaira, Ishma’s friend, defends her. She explains that right before Ishma was born, Yaira had just been through a very difficult time, and soon after she came to live with Ishma’s family, the little girl was born. Her parents gave her the name, “Ishma” to remind her that even in times of difficulty, there can still be good things ahead.

Anyway, I just thought that was really interesting!

If you haven’t read Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews, I strongly encourage you to check it out! It’s a wonderful book that details the lives of some pretty cool people in the Bible.

~ Southern Dreamer

Feeding The Spirit

Everyone always talks about how we’re made up of the mind, body, and spirit. And I knew that. But…sometimes one forgets the importance of spending time with God to your own spirit.

The past couple of months I haven’t been hearing from God as much. Logically, of course, I realize that there are seasons where He is silent and other seasons, where you hear Him all the time. Feelings or emotions though, did not exactly get my self talk. It was more like…

Image result for panic gifs

Yeah. Not exactly the most helpful thing.

It also happened to make my heart/spirit really anxious and worried.

Definitely not helpful.

So, even though I didn’t necessarily “feel” like sitting down and spending time with God. I made myself do it. Sometimes you have to make yourself do something even if you don’t want to.

I grabbed my Breaking Up With Perfect by Amy Carroll – which is a great read by the way for any perfectionists out there, my Bible, and a highlighter, sat down in my bed and closed the door. Now, everyone has their own way that they do their quiet time and I am by no means suggesting that this way is the “best” way or the “right” way. I tend to overthink things so I do better if I can have a guide, that helps me decide what to read in the Bible.

So, I’ll read through a chapter of the book, and then out of the passages of Scripture, Amy Carroll referenced, I’ll pick one to go more in depth to. This usually transitions to me reading that chapter in the Bible, and then having my prayer time.

I did this for who knows how long, I can’t remember exactly. It wasn’t a super long period though, and then, one day I just realized, wow. my spirit isn’t feeling panic-y and anxious about this. 

This does not mean that I don’t still struggle with anxiety, because I do. But there’s a difference in me being anxious, and my spirit part being anxious. At least, it feels slightly different to me. Additionally, this does not mean that I don’t still have questions or doubts or other such struggles that Christians go through.

Sometimes my head can be very full of thoughts going in all kinds of directions. Sometimes I’ll be obsessing over something, making it turn into an unnecessary anxiety.

But.

There is something that completes our spirit when we spend time with God. I’m not sure exactly what it is – if it’s the fact that the Holy Spirit is in me, or that I am formed by the Maker to know Him, or maybe something else.

I honestly find it amazing, since many times my humanness/sinfulness comes into play and I find myself thinking…I don’t want to do this right now. I have other things I could be doing. And in my own mind, I feel like a hypocrite. How can God want me to spend time with Him, when I have to push myself to do the basic quiet time?

“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust,” ~ Psalm 103:13-14

Love this verse. Somehow, even in the midst of being the most powerful being in the universe, the one who created the stars and moon and sea, He still manages to see us and remember our humanity. Not only remember it, but to show us compassion for it.

Amazing.

The love and mercy of our God always astounds me, and more often than not, I find that my expectations of what it should be are expectations that exist outside of grace. Many times, I can easily start overthinking what I’m doing for spending time with the Lord, but I’m trying to work on that and to give myself grace, and remember that I am human.

As we all go about our day-to-day lives, let us remember the importance of feeding our spirit and to remove the yoke of perfectionism from ourselves, and take up the mantle of grace.

~ Southern Dreamer