Creative Writing ~ Media Autobiography

For my media autobiography, I decided to do a combination of both music and literature. There’s not really any specific order to this, though I did try to organize each category (songs and books) in the order of life events it occurred with.

  1. “God Is All Around Us” by Twila Paris

Truthfully, the entire CD that this song is found on, has been instrumental in my life. Ever since I was diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy at six years old, I have listened to this album during every rest/nap and at night. Because of the horrific nightmares that often come with narcolepsy, I was and sometimes still am, scared to go to sleep. Having this CD though, and specifically this song, gave me something to listen to that was completely centered around Jesus and His love.

2. “Blessings” by Laura Story

As stated above, I have an illness that is not curable. And this song, Blessings, really describes how I feel. It says, “We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering, all the while, You hear each spoken need, yet love us way too much to give us lesser things.” There have been so many times that I have prayed for God to just let me get a good rest. I mean, that’s not a huge request, right? But sometimes it doesn’t happen. He doesn’t answer or come through in the way I want Him to.

Another lyric that I relate to says, “What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near.” I can’t tell you how many times I have been awake during the night. Sometimes crying, sometimes scared, and this line really is true.

3. “Through All Of It” by Colton Dixon

Something I struggle with is doubt. Like most people with whatever they struggle with, I’ve had seasons where it’s stronger than others. During one of those, I was listening to Colton Dixon’s album and caught these lines, “When I was blinded by my fear, and I struggled to believe, but in those unclear moments, you were the one keeping me strong, this is how my story’s always gone.” I love that.

4. “Free To Be Me” by Francesca Battistelli

I’ve never met Francesca Battistelli, but if I did, I would ask her if she’s a perfectionist. The reason why, is several lyrics in this song seem to hint at that.

Try to fit the pieces together But perfection is my enemy

And

When I was just a girl I thought I had it figured out

Being a perfectionist myself, I relate to those lyrics.

5. “Oceans” by Hillsong United

I really love this song; it deals with a lot of different components: faith, fear, and trust. I’m someone who doesn’t trust very easily – even with God, I struggle with it, though I like to believe that I’ve grown in that.

6. “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

This is such an awesome song! It’s really empowering and inspirational. I love how it talks about to keep fighting even if everyone else is saying you can’t do it or if you feel like giving up.

7. “Mean” by Taylor Swift

I’m pretty sure every person on the planet can relate to this song. It talks about the mean people in our life, and how someday they won’t be able to treat us like that. I know I’ve had people who have ignored me and well, y’all girls know, all that girl drama lol. So yeah, this is another great, upbeat song.

8. “Love” by Jana Kramer

Alright, I’ll admit it. I’m a completely Hallmark-watching, sappy romantic. I adore a good love story. Put a romantic movie in or give me a love story, and you can be guaranteed that I’ll probably like it. Side note, that’s likely the reason why I’m such a shipper. Anyway, this song is definitely me.

9. Elsie’s Endless Wait by Martha Finley

Even though I absolutely love reading, there have been very few books that have really touched me beyond the fact that I think they’re wonderful. I remember reading the Life of Faith series for the first time, though, and being struck by Elsie’s character. She made me want to be a better person and Christian. Even in the midst of her circumstances, she was still honoring God and putting her faith first when it would have been easier not to.amy-carroll

10. Breaking Up With Perfect by Amy Carroll

Lastly, this is probably the most recent one on this list. I still haven’t finished the book yet, but what I have read so far is really good. It was written to help perfectionists (aka me) break free from their perfectionism. And being the perfectionist I am, I had to include it.

There you go! Those are my ten songs and books that would be my media autobiography. What ten songs, ten books, or ten songs and books would you choose as your media autobiography?

~ Southern Dreamer

The Selection: Book Review

35 GIRLS. 1 CROWN.

THE COMPETITION OF A LIFETIME.

My best friend has been begging me to read The Selection series by Kiera Cass for quite some time. So, when I received a Barnes & Noble gift card for my birthday, I knew I had to buy them.

To condense the lengths of these posts, I’m going to divide the books in The Selection series up into an individual review for each. This one, of course, will be for the first book – called ironically, The Selection.

the selection

***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***

Within the very first page, the reader already gets a sense of the main character – America Singer – being very much different than the average girl.

“I didn’t want to be royalty. And I didn’t want to be a One. I didn’t even want to try.”

Being in caste five – there being eight castes in total, this is surprising considering the fact that she is only three castes away from being homeless. And America is not so far above as to not have experienced real, true hunger.

As the beginning of the story unfolds, the reader learns exactly what those three earlier statements meant. The Selection, a competition, recruits girls all across their country of Illéa. One girl from each province. And for once, the caste you are does not matter.

“If your eligible daughter, sister, or charge is interested in possibly becoming the bride of Prince Maxon and the adored princess of Illéa, please fill out the enclosed form and return it to your local Province Services Office.”

And America Singer’s mother is adamant that her daughter fill out the application to have a chance of being in it.

But America has a secret – one that no one knows about. She is in love with a Six – Aspen. In their society, this is very rare: why would anyone want to marry down a caste? And then be transferred into a much harder one? This doesn’t bother America though. And this is also why she does not want to enter The Selection.

Aspen and America both love each other – despite all of the stigmas against them. Yet, for some odd reason, Aspen asks America to enter, for him. And because America would never do anything to hurt him, she agrees. It helps, naturally, that her mother wasn’t aware of this and so used a bit of money bribery.

After the submission, America sneaks out at midnight – like every night – to meet Aspen. Meeting together is risky, especially since if they were ever discovered, they would be in major trouble with the government.

She’s excited and gets there early. America has been saving the money her mother has been giving her as part of the bribe, and she plans to give it to Aspen. As a Six, his financial situation is much more dire.

Yet, Aspen is upset. Not with her, but at the fact that he doesn’t feel, he is providing for her. He suddenly says that its over. He can’t put her through being cold, hungry, and tired all the time: what being a Six would entitle. America tries to reason with him, but he leaves – after kissing her one last time.

America is heartbroken, yet has to try and not completely loose it since that would give away their secret. She comes back into the house and sometime soon after, the announcements for the thirty-five girls picked comes on.

What are the chances that she would be the one chosen from her province, Carolina? Out of hundreds of other girls?

“Miss America Singer of Carolina, Five.”

She gets picked.

Humor, romance, and conflict fill the remaining pages of the book as America tries to navigate the waters of being in The Selection. Being her unconventional self, she informs Prince Maxon up straight that she was not here to fall in love with him.

“I need to be here. My family needs me to be here. Even if you could let me stay for a week, that would be a blessing for them.”

“You mean you need the money?”

“Yes.”

Prince Maxon agrees to let her stay as long as he can. Because of her upfront honesty, America and the young royal become good friends…and as the story progresses, perhaps, something more.

~ Southern Dreamer

Note: This is a romantic series and as such there is kissing and physical contact. One or two scenes verges on being inappropriate but overall, it is clean.

Matched: Book Review

matched

***Warning: Spoilers Ahead***

Matched by Ally Condie, is the first in the three-book trilogy. It takes place in a dystopian society where everything you do is regulated to some extent.

Cassia Reyes, the main character, is heading to her Match banquet at the start of the tale. In the Society, you can be called to attend your Match ceremony at any moment after your seventeenth birthday. And for Cassia, it occurs exactly on her eighteenth birthday.

The Officials in the Society are the ones who match people together. It is supposedly a very intricate process, the responsibility only given to certain Officials. Whoever your match is – that will be your future husband or wife. There is no other choice, though you can decide to stay single.

This doesn’t bother Cassia, however. After all, her parents are happy together and she’s never had a reason to question the Society’s choices before. Why start now?

Yet, when Cassia later inserts her microcard to read the information about her match…something odd occurs. The face of her match from the banquet appears, yet seconds later, the screen goes black. A different face appears.

Disturbed by this, Cassia wants to tell one person: her grandfather. And because his Last Banquet is coming soon – he is eighty, the Official allows for her to do so. She tells him and they discuss it together. Then, Cassia asks about what her grandmother would say.

“I think,” he says finally, “she would ask you if you wondered.”

This is the beginning of Cassia starting to question whether or not the Society is right about everything. Could they be wrong about some things? Make mistakes? What if she is meant to be with the other boy that appeared on her microcard? Not the one she was matched with?

Matched is a story of romance, intrigue, and discovery. It follows the life of Cassia who is only beginning to wonder about everything she has been taught.

~ Southern Dreamer

Note: The quote is from Matched by Ally Condie.

 

So Not Happening: Book Review

so not happening

So Not Happening by Jenny B. Jones is a humor-filled story that is a melting pot of God, faith, and city-girl meets countryside living.

Bella Kirkwood had everything that the world offers: New York City was her home, Broadway only a step away, and an A-list line of friends with her plastic surgeon father’s credit card in her pocket. She adored fashion, name brands, and would likely advertise ‘shopping is therapy.’

Yet her life quickly changed.

With the divorce of her parents, Bella was left to live with her mother. And her mother happened to try online dating, fall in love with a farmer in the middle-of-nowhere-Oklahoma, and move herself and Bella there.

This is so not what Bella Kirkwood is about. And she is wondering exactly where God is in all this. Then there is, of course, the two stepbrothers she could seriously do without: one always seems to be trying to push her buttons and the other watches way too much news for his elementary school age.

I found myself sympathizing with Bella as she stepped in cow poo, was forced to dumpster-dive by the annoying editor of the school newspaper, and having to live with there not being a good shopping center seconds away (#smalltownwoes).

So Not Happening by Jenny B. Jones is a hilarious story filled with some romance, mystery, and very relatable situations. I’d advise anyone to pick up a copy and laugh as you read of Bella’s adventures.

~ Southern Dreamer

Book Review: Right Where I Belong by Krista McGee

book2

With Christmas only yesterday, I am certain each of us have received several wonderful gifts. My brother chose a book for me – Right Where I Belong by Krista McGee. I started it this morning and already finished it! What can I say? I love to read and am a total bookworm. 😉

***Warning: Spoilers Ahead***

The main character, Natalia Lopez, lives in Spain. Her father is not the most moral person and is definitely what one would consider a “player.” With his third marriage to American citizen Maureen, Natalia’s life begins to change. Maureen is a Christian and brings the light of Christ into the seventeen-year-old’s life. She eagerly learns about Jesus and has a thirst for him and excitement on learning his Word that is made clear throughout the book.

Sadly, the sinful habits of Natalia’s father continue and he divorces Maureen. Natalia is torn. Is love even possible? Her father has married three times – soon to be four! And he has yet to stay committed? Naturally, this ignites almost a fear of ever falling in love within her heart. Paired with the determination to never be like that, Natalia tells the Lord that she will remain single, and for the majority of the story, believes this is what God wants her to do.

When God nudges her to go with Maureen back to the United States, Natalia obeys. The two women find themselves in Tampa, Florida and a whole slew of situations occur, not the least, is Natalia’s introduction to Brian Younger.

Son of a pastor, Brian Younger loves the Lord yet has always felt that Spencer Adams is better than him being popular, smart, and good-looking. When Natalia comes along, Brian is instantly smitten. He finds her passion for learning about Jesus refreshing and soon desires to be more than friends with the Spanish girl.

Natalia, however, is afraid. She tries to distance herself from Brian. After all, she keeps reminding herself, she does not want to date, marry, or…fall in love. God seems to have other plans despite her attempts and she is unable to completely separate herself from the kind young man.

Throughout reading the story, I found myself chuckling at relatable awkward and embarrassing moments while gaining a greater understanding of the differences between American and Spanish culture. This book is a wonderful read – especially if you’re a romantic like I am – and I hope you take the chance to dive into its pages!

~ Southern Dreamer

My Favorite Romance Books

hands

In a way, this is a continuation of my post titled ‘Romantically Inclined’. I thought, after all, it might do well to give y’all a list of some good, clean romance books I have been fortunate enough to enjoy. Hopefully, some of these will spark your interest and take you on a marvelous journey within its pages!

  1. The Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn.

This has to be one of my top favorite series’ that I’ve ever read. It follows the tale of a young teen, christyChristy Miller, through high school, college, and eventually marriage! Several topics that young people struggle with are addressed in a non-depressing way and by a Christian worldview. There is romance in this series (it wouldn’t be on my list if it lacked it) but it is clean while still satisfying your romantic taste. You can find these books at Lifeway or through CBD.

 

2. The Life of Faith series by Martha Finley

I have been reading these books since the time I was in middle school and continue to love them.

elsie2

This is an older series, written decades ago, but is nevertheless a wonderful read. One of my favorite things about this series is one of the heroine’s – Elsie Dinsmore. Her Christian character and virtue challenged me to step up my own. It is set during the 1800’s and there are several series within the overall series (the Elsie Dinsmore one being an example). It does contain romance in its most old-fashioned, elegant form. You can find these books at Lifeway or through CBD.

 

 

3. The Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke.

This series is set in a historical time period during the mid 1800s and follows the tale of a younglove come softly woman named Marty who has just lost her husband in a tragic accident. Through a marriage of convenience, she slowly falls in love with Clark Davis and he with her. The ups and downs during their own lives and those of their children make an enjoyable read and give the reader a greater understanding of how people lived their lives centuries ago. You can find these books at Lifeway or through CBD.

 

 

 

I hope one of the three series’ I listed has intrigued your interest enough to look into reading! All of these books contain clean romance and are written from a Christian perspective. So tell me readers, do you have a favorite romance book or series that is without the common vulgar images and language common in today’s literature? Tell me in the comments!

Until next time,

~ Southern Dreamer

Christy & Todd: The Married Years – Book 1

christy and todd

This morning I looked on my dining room table and what do I see? A package containing the first book of the Christy & Todd: The Married Years series. *squeal* I was soooooo incredibly excited!!! I adore this series and as one who has read the entire Christy Miller series multiple times, I can assure you these books are amazing!

If you have never read any of Robin Jones Gunn’s books, I encourage you to start! Below are the books in the Christy Miller series, preceding Forever with You.

Christy Miller Volume 1 (Summer Promise, A Whisper and a Wish, and Yours Forever)

Christy Miller Volume 2 (Surprise Endings, Island Dreamer, and A Heart Full of Hope)

Christy Miller Volume 3 (True Friends, Starry Night, and Seventeen Wishes)

Christy Miller Volume 4 (A Time to Cherish, Sweet Dreams, and A Promise Is Forever)

Christy and Todd: The College Years (Until Tomorrow, As Your Wish, and I Promise)

Now, on to the review! 🙂

*Warning – Spoilers Ahead*

This book does not disappoint! As an avid reader of this series, I was pleased to find it lived up to my expectations.

It starts out with Todd and Christy Spencer married and living in an apartment. Todd is currently a youth pastor and truly loves the teens he works with. On the other hand, Christy is employed at The Ark – a bookstore.

This book is mostly about the struggles Christy and Todd are going through in their life right now – mostly financially. It shows the times when they struggle understanding why God allowed Christy to be laid off, and why Todd resigned and can’t seem to find a job. Yet, it always comes back to the conclusion that God knows best and they are in His hands even though they might not understand their circumstances or why they are being tested.

When I completed reading Forever With You, I was left desiring more, which in my opinion, is always a good thing.

I encourage all of you to go and if you haven’t yet, pick up the first book in the Christy Miller series. If, like me, you have already read those, go ahead and order your copy of Forever With You today! You won’t regret it!

– Southern Dreamer

P.S. If anyway is reading this :P, how do you like what I am writing about so far? I would love any suggestions you might offer!