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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

God Speaks: One Story of Many

Someday I will be good at photo-editing. Someday.

This past December, I went to see Magi, a Christmas production put on by Word of Life Bible InstituteThe performance was stellar—neat lighting, fantastic singing and acting, compelling message—and I'm so glad I was able to see it.

But as cool as the play/musical was, that's not what this post is about. It's really about listening and obeying God, and about recognizing that God speaks in a multitude of ways.

Even if you don't believe in God, I'd ask you to hang around (though that's your call to make) because you and I can learn a lot in the most unexpected of places (and from the least likely of people). 

I believe and assert that Jesus existed in the flesh on this earth, and that He also exists as more than a mere historical figure. I also believe that He loves YOU. He wants you to feel comfortable enough to just be with Him—to talk with Him as a friend. 

I understand it's unreasonable for me to expect you to immediately jump on board...and I'm not asking you to (but I won't deny that would be awesome). All I'm asking is that you to allow me to share this story—this one experience of many—with you in the hope you might, perhaps, see things a little differently.

So. God speaks.

Here's my story about what happened that night:

After the play was over, we had a time of prayer. During this time, the main speaker of the 'function' invited audience members to come to him/any of the individuals who put on the production if they wanted to speak about anything—wanting to know more about Jesus, about prayer, about what being a Christian means, etc.

And suddenly, I heard "Go speak with him" and was nudged toward the first young man standing in the aisle to my left. I immediately thought it was from God, but I wasn't completely sure. 

I wasn't sure if I heard what I did because I wanted to, if that makes sense; it'd be a good thing to go and encourage/congratulate someone, so why not? I reasoned that it could have been a thought spurred on by the invitation. In other words, I wasn't sure if I was actually hearing God, or *wanting* to hear God. 

Odd thing was, I didn't feel nudged to speak with anyone else—just that one guy. 

So I asked God in my mind (amid my other questions...namely, 'Was that You?'), “THAT guy?” And again, more insistent this time, I heard Him again...specifically instructing me to speak with, yes, *that guy*. 

Ok, not just me. I needed to go talk to him! 

Then my newfound certainty started to get weighed down with a healthy dose of panic because I like people...but I'm introverted, and I'm not exactly fantastic at starting conversations with people I don't know. Ok, I'm not always stellar at starting conversations with people I do know. So I hesitated, asking God in a shrill voice (I'm a writer, remember? ha) “What am I supposed to say?!”

"Ask him where he is,” God replied, bringing up the brilliant point that if I want to be a missionary, I need to learn how to go out and speak to people. Ouch.... 

“O-ok.” My mind was still raging because I had no idea what I was doing, why I was supposed to ask him that, and what. if. I. failed?! (And yes, I am that melodramatic. Maybe that's why I'm so tired all the time. Hmm...)

But I knew this was what God wanted me to do. In response to my hesitation, God said, “Just go talk to him!”

To the man! Sokka style.
After a bit of an awkward start—I congratulated him on the performance, then continued to linger until the man giving him tuning advice left—I explained that God wanted me to talk with him...even though I had no idea why. I didn't even ask for his name until the end of our conversation! (It was Reggie.) 

He laughed and I asked him where he was (in life), and he told me he was finishing his year at the Bible Institute. After explaining the program and sharing his love for it (btw, BI sounds incredible!!), I shared my background as Toccoa Falls College as a Missions major. I somewhat jokingly promoted missions because missions is fantastic :D and admitted I wanted to go to Japan someday as a missionary.

Reggie seemed surprised. A few moments later he asked, his tone a mixture of curiosity and slight desperation, “How did you know you wanted to be a missionary?”

Whoa, I thought, this must've been why God wanted me to talk to him. 

So I expressed the journey God took me on since I was a sophomore in high school when I first became a Christian, and Reggie confessed that he was uncertain of where God wanted him to go next--either to leave the BI and go into the field as a missionary, or to...*ahem* well, I forgot what the other option was. I actually wrote this post out in December, and then the draft didn't save T_T >_<! I was so upset and busy I put it off til now. Sorry!

Point is, God knew exactly what Reggie was going through. You remember that God had told me to ask "where he is" (in life implied)? I didn't understand why I was supposed to ask that until Reggie explained his situation to me. He was at a metaphorical fork in the road, and I was sent to help him in his decision-making process. 

I completely understood where he was coming from; I've struggled with uncertainty a lot. But God, knowing Reggie just as deeply as He knows me, knew he'd need lots of confirmation and assurance. Reggie thanked me for talking to him and relayed how a lot of people had been bringing up missions around him lately. (Do you see the motif of assurance here?! lol)

My speaking to him wasn't coincidental.

God knows you, knows what you're going through, and will meet you where you are. All you have to do is ask, and be willing to listen...because God speaks.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Anni Moon and The Elemental Artifact Melanie Abed *Review and Random Things*

Hey everyone! My first post of the month (and not last, unlike January, ha) is a tour stop! 

Today I'm reviewing Melanie Abed's Anni Moon and The Elemental Artifact.

This post'll have the synopis, my review, a stellar 'Top Ten' Random Things list, author info, and a GIVEAWAY! (And, as always, lots o' links. :D)

If you want to check out the other stops, just click on the banner :)

Anni doesn't know about Elementals, Funk, Zephyrs, excited talking Bat-Rat creatures, and, least of all, Dragons. All that changes when her best friend, Lexi, is kidnapped and forces beyond Anni’s control trap her on a hidden, floating island in the Elemental world.

In a race against time, Anni sets out to save her friend. Along the way she finds allies among the Elementals, but she is also presented with a choice, one that might help save Lexi. If Anni agrees to an ancient, open-ended contract, will her sacrifice cost her more than she’s bargained for? Or will it land her in the middle of an age-old war between the humans, the Elementals, and the dreaded Fectus?

Anni Moon and The Elemental Artifact is a cute story filled with imagination and adventure.

This novel has a lot of potential. The story, the setting, and the's all very creative, and I would've liked to see more specific details about this incredible other world. Maybe in the next installment? :) 

One thing of note before I dive in: I don't read much MG, so I can't say this with any authority, but I felt the novel was more of an elementary read. I'll start with the 'likes' first...

Some things I enjoyed: 

The pov switches between Lexi and Anni. Yes, switching heightened the suspense...but what I really loved about it was the fact that it was strictly friendship-based. I could count the novels I've read that don't have some sort of romance going on between the two pov characters on one hand. It was refreshing.

Lexi's pov. Ahh. Reading from her pov was like kind of taking a luxurious bubble bath because I liked her as a character and because, unlike Anni's side of the story, Lexi's was taut. The pacing was solid, the mystery intriguing, and the danger visceral. 

Whiffle. I was on the edge of my seat with this character—good guy in a rough package, or bad guy disguised as a good guy in a rough package? Yeah, that probably doesn't make any sense to you, but my point is, he's an enigma throughout the novel. The revelation(s) regarding him were a bit of a let down in the end, but I *loved* the ride. 

Prophecy. If you're looking for a shocking twist on prophecy, look no further. I was a little outraged about the affair...but I had to admit it was well played. 

Some things I didn't enjoy quite so much:

Anni's pov. Anni showcases some of the best parts of the novel in terms of creativity (i.e. the Elemental world). Sadly, her story—which takes up the majority of the novel—is riddled with extraneous dialogue that slows the pace. I often wondered when the novel was going to pick up again. 

Anni. I know, I'm picking on her (sorry), but I honestly couldn't stand Anni for the majority of the novel; she's rude, loud/obnoxious, and she listens about as well as some of my more rebellious children -__- (I work with 1-2 yos at a daycare. And j/k about the face--mostly; I love my kids. Even when they don't listen, they still crack me up...).

I realize these are more pet peeve things, so the fact that  she's like this won't annoy everyone—case in point, one reviewer loved Anni, stating her way of thinking is “just so real”. 

Normally background would help me relate better, but instead of evoking sympathy or helping me understand Anni, it left me feeling miffed. The melodramatic nature of what she endured/endures reminded me of Harry Potter...except, with Harry, I actually related and felt he was honorable and intelligent. I didn't think Anni was—or could be—either of these until about 2/3 of the book later. 

Well, ok, there were these rare glimpses throughout, but it was difficult for me to connect with her train of thought/rationale most of the time. I might've blamed that on her age if it weren't for books like Harry Potter and Anne of Green Gables.

All of that to say, Anni pulled through for me in the end, and though I can't say I'm fond of her, I do resonate with her for being courageous and determined. I tip my hat to the author for convincing me Anni has potential. 


Anni Moon and The Elemental Artifact is a real gem (albeit an unrefined one).

There are many people who genuinely enjoyed this book and found it enthralling and relateable. I'm not one of those people, but you might be! You may never know if you don't try it for yourself. I'm willing to give the sequel a go...

Final Verdict: 

Onto...Melanie's Random Things!
Top Ten Random Mythical Creatures

What a great category ^_^! I'm so excited I get to share this with you guys.


Here we go...

1. Dragon
2. Griffin
3. Mermaid
4. Sphinx
5. Unicorn
6. Pegasus
7. Naga
8. Piasa
9. Phoenix
10. Kraken

Personally, I'd love to see a Chocobo on that list. Oh wait. Chocobos aren't mythical.


Seriously, though, I had no idea what in the world a Naga or Piasa was, and figured I'd post a little info on them--

I about lost it when I saw the naga...I don't do sea serpents. It's just something about not being able to see into the water. *shivers*

According to Wiki, a Naga is a serpent-like creature who resides in rivers, sacred ponds, lakes, and caves. (No thanks. Ha) They are exclusively marine.

The Piasa, on the other hand, is so much nicer. *SNORT*

According to Brittanica, the Piasa is a bird. Alright, so far so good. You wanna know what the next line told me? It's a mythical man-eating monster bird that was 'known' to swoop down and carry off hunters.  

Me: O_O I'm sorry, WHAT?! 

Yeah, they're uh, known for being a little too friendly I guess ^_^'. Moving right along...  

About the Author
In kindergarten my life's goal was to become a teacher who wore only pink and ate French fries all day long. Now that I've matured, my goal in life is to become a Miss Marple-Sherlockian-Jedi Knight--I'm totally serious, it's a real thing.

I love stories, and I've had the privilege of working in Hollywood for over a decade in many different capacities, working with celebrities, directors (I'm married to one, plus he's my illustrator), and a few executives (the head-honcho types that I can't talk about because I signed confidentiality waivers). I'm not sure any of these people would have hired me if they knew I had a closet full of mint condition Star Wars toys...

However, the life of a freelancer is not for the faint of heart. I've kept myself busy with my extracurricular activities, from skydiving to scuba diving, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a degree in Fine Art, an M.A. in Psychology (with a focus in Neuroscience), and a few other things that I like to keep top secret. ...Some people think I'm a spy, but I'll never tell!

Twitter @Melanie_Abed | 
| Website |

Onto the Giveaway...!

1 Winner will receive a Signed Copy of Anni Moon & The Elemental Artifact 
1 Winner will receive a $20.00 Amazon Gift Card

Must be 13+ to enter