Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Say I Won't

In November of 2021, I was away from home doing volunteer work when my phone beeped, alerting me to a new message. It was Tuesday, which meant the Regent University newsletter was out. I took a lunch break and, over two slices of cinnamon bread and a bag of oyster crackers, I read through the email. I skimmed quickly through the majority of the photos and announcements, but then a section of the newsletter seemed to fairly jump out at me, and my heart skipped a beat. The section was titled Tutor Interest Meeting, followed by this description: "If you are a strong writer and passionate about serving other students, come learn how to join the University's tutoring team. We welcome both undergraduate and graduate students as well as both on-campus and online students..." I screenshotted the section and texted it to Mom with the question What do you think? Mom was fully on-board with the idea, and so I signed up to attend the virtual meeting. I wasn't sure if they would be okay with a 17-year-old who was not even yet a full-time student tutoring, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to find out more about the position . . . especially because I knew immediately that with all my heart, I wanted this job. Before and after the meeting, I prayed about it, and God was already working in mysterious, wonderful ways. 

In order to tutor, I had to complete my ENGL 102 class with an A as well as take an 8-week training course. When I went to register for these courses, I encountered unexpected problems. I was told I couldn't take the tutoring training class as an early college program/high school student, and I certainly couldn't take it until I had done ENGL 102. Not ready to give up, I submitted a petition to the university and witnessed God's hand in my life once again when it got accepted. Now not only was I allowed to take the training course as a high school student, but I could also take it alongside ENGL 102. And thus began eight of the most academically challenging weeks of my life as I formatted and wrote papers, posted and responded to dialogue posts with my peers, researched the women's rights movements (for a 12-page research paper that I had less than a week to draft), etc., facing both discouragements and victories along the way. I will be honest and admit that there were a couple times when I wanted to drop one or both courses; when I told myself I couldn't do it; when I complained or wondered if I was wrong, if this wasn't what God had called me to do. And I will also tell you that along the way, I learned a lot. Spiritually and academically. I learned that tutoring isn't like editing in that I can't do the work for the student; I learned how to cite a source in true MLA format, as well as APA and Turabian;  I learned how to write a polished research/argumentative paper; and I learned that to thrive, I need to persevere in Christ's strength alone and do my absolute best with whatever He sets before me to do (have I mentioned that "thrive" is my word for the year?). Philippians 4:6, "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God," took on a whole new meaning for me. 

Also during this time, I came across a song that is now my go-to called "Say I Won't" by the contemporary Christian band MercyMe. One of my favorite lines from that song? Keep saying I won't, and I'll keep proving you wrong. Regent originally told me I couldn't take the training course, and I couldn't do it with ENGL 102; but through the strength and provision of God alone, I proved them wrong. I did both courses at the same time and flourished. Around me, adults are saying teenagers can't apply themselves, can't do hard things; but through the strength and provision of God alone, teens can prove them wrong.

Following the completion of these two courses, I applied for the job, and in the next couple of weeks, I got an interview. Two months and several steps into the application process later, I finally received their decision. My family was just loading up into the van after a morning spent strawberry-picking at a local farm. With my hands sticky from berry juice and baby wipes, I pulled out my phone and saw the subject line of a new email: Welcome to the Writing Lab Tutoring Team! To say the least, I was. so. thrilled. I started cheering and hollering, "I got it! I got it!" I played MercyMe's song on the radio as we headed home, listened to the lyrics, and cried as I reflected on all it had taken to get me to this point. God had had His hand in the whole thing, that was for sure, and I had worked so hard, but it was so worth it. I filled out the paperwork and am planning to start tutoring tomorrow. For now I am working 6 hours a week, but I am hoping that as I grow more comfortable in my job, I can do more.

Typing this post out now, I am still in awe. I have a job doing something I absolutely love to do. It's in line with my major and my future career. And I have God alone to thank for it.

Thank you, Jesus, indeed.

Prayers for strength and grace and that I will shine Christ's light in the workplace would be greatly appreciated. And I hope that this post served as a reminder to you that when others tell you that you can't do something hard or important, through God, you can prove them wrong and bring our Savior glory.


I'm gonna run; no, I'm gonna fly.
I'm gonna know what it means to live, and not just be alive. 

Not just surviving,

Ellen S.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Congratulations, Winner!

Congratulations to Sadie S., the winner of my 2-year book birthday giveaway! Please contact me ASAP through the email address listed in the comments below to claim your prize! If I do not hear from you by Thursday of next week (May 5), I will have to pick a new winner.



Congrats again, and thanks to all who entered!


Blessings,

Ellen

Saturday, April 23, 2022

"Yosemite at Last" and "Stranger in the Glade" Book Reviews

Yosemite at Last: And Other Tales from Memory Creek Ranch

Christian YA reads that are clean, wholesome, and truly "Christian" are steadily becoming harder to find, so I am especially thankful for those few that I have the privilege of adding to my shelf . . . like Susan K. Marlow's Circle C Milestones series, and particularly Yosemite at Last: And Other Tales from Memory Creek Ranch, the fifth book in the series.

While I have read and enjoyed all of Mrs. Marlow's books to date, Yosemite at Last will probably always be my favorite.
This book was originally self-published as Tales from Memory Creek Ranch, but it was re-published by Kregel Publications on March 15, 2022, with a new title, a fresh cover, and yes, even some brand-new, never-before-seen-in-print stories!
The previous book in the Circle C Milestones series, Courageous Love, left readers hanging regarding Andi and Riley's courtship year, wedding, honeymoon, and married life. Even with the addition of the self-published Tales from Memory Creek Ranch to the series, Andi and Riley's honeymoon adventure alone was not given justice since it was only briefly mentioned in one of Andi's journal entries as being uneventful. With Andi involved, how is it possible that anything can go uneventfully, much less a honeymoon in the wilderness? Hence, the all-new story "Yosemite at Last" (after which the re-published book is titled) is sure to be a favorite for long-time Andi fans and new readers alike as it expands on the couple's disastrous, week-long honeymoon trip . . . complete with the perfect ending scene that makes the whole story worth reading.
Besides getting to see more of Andi and Riley's wedding and reception and trek along with them on their honeymoon, readers will also find out more of what happened during the year Riley and Andi courted (including a hilarious account of how Riley learned to dance), welcome a new member to the Prescott family (!), and meet a specter from Andi's past with whom she and Riley must offer a second chance (a story that continues to tug at my heart every time I read it). This book can be read as a standalone, but to enjoy it to the fullest I would recommend reading the rest of the Milestones series first.

Believe me, Yosemite at Last: And Other Tales from Memory Creek Ranch is a book you won't want to miss!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Stranger in the Glade: And More Tales from Memory Creek Ranch

Life has not calmed down for the Prescotts since the last installment in the series (
Yosemite at Last: And Other Tales from Memory Creek Ranch). Some of their newest adventures include having old friends (and enemies) reappear, finding a stranger in their hidden glade, Andi learning a few fresh lessons on forgiveness and gratitude, a rabid raccoon sneaking in during the dead of night, and Andi and Riley experiencing the biggest surprise of their lives when they try to enjoy a relaxing visit with Kate and the kids in San Francisco. These adventures test Andi's faith and help her mature as a wife and mother.
Some of my favorite stories were "Winter Ice for Summer" (one of the FOUR new stories since Kregel re-published the book), "Nanny Riley" (this story still makes me smile, even two years since it was first released . . . and especially now with fresh short scenes and details woven in), "A Night to Remember" (also new - and confirms that hands down, Riley is my favorite fictional male character ever), and "San Francisco Suprise" (you'll find out why I like this one when you read it *winks*).
I  would 100% recommend this book to long-time Andi fans who've enjoyed the former five books in the Circle C Milestones series (Thick as Thieves, Heartbreak Trail, The Last Ride, Courageous Love, and Yosemite at Last).

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Have you read either one of these books? Do you want to? Are there are any clean Christian YA reads you would recommend? Comment below!

Blessings,

Ellen

Thursday, April 21, 2022

"The Whispers God Gives" is Two Years Old!

 Today two years ago my thirty-day devotional book, The Whispers God Gives, was released to the world. I went back and reread my post from that day and started feeling excited all over again. *grins* To celebrate, it's time for a giveaway!

Full credit for this image goes to Sawyer Marie.

The prize: a signed paperback copy of The Whispers God Gives.

How to enter: simply drop a comment below letting me know you're entering. BONUS ENTRIES if you . . . 1). also tell me why you want a copy of my book, and/or 2). follow Ellen's Musings!


Final details: this giveaway runs from Thursday, April 21, to Tuesday, April 26. The winner will be announced at the end of that time. Due to shipping costs, this giveaway is open to U.S.A residents only (sorry, international friends).

Good luck!

Blessings,

Ellen

Saturday, March 19, 2022

First Post of 2022 // In Which I Explain My Absence

Helloooo, blogging world! I've missed you guys. Happy New Year! (A little late, I know.)

To quickly sum up what's been going on in my life over the past few months (and perhaps satisfactorily explain my absence from this blog) . . . 

  • We caught COVID (the omicron variant, which was miserable while it lasted but not the worst thing ever)
  • Since December, I have had Bible study almost every Thursday evening with some wonderful young ladies including my sister, Marah
  • I took two 8-week college courses that were challenging but oh, so rewarding
  • By God's grace alone, I managed to write a 12-page research essay draft in less than a week for one of those aforementioned courses
  • Snow
  • Warm weather
  • More snow
  • More warm weather!
  • New books!
  • As an awesome early 18th birthday from my parents, my mom took me to my second Casting Crowns concert . . . this time with pre-show experience tickets so that, before the concert, we could have a Question-and-Answer (Q&A) session with my very most favorite band ever!
  • I watched the movies War Room and Fireproof (both of which were fantastic, but I especially liked War Room and rewatched it with my mom the following day)
Now, for the pictures!



Reviews for this book and Stranger in the Glade coming soon!
I am making my way through this book for the Bible class I am currently taking. I am only a couple chapters in, but it is already promising to be a good read!

An afternoon in the bookstore! I left with a copy of Elinor by Shannon McNear, Secrets of the Heart by Al and Joanna Lacy, and A Christmas Promise by Thomas Kinkade and Katherine Spencer.

Two Weeks by Karen Kingsbury was an . . . interesting book, and one I would not necessarily recommend, but nonetheless I enjoy reading my books over a good meal . . . like warm sourdough French toast. Mm!
Mom and me at the concert!


Q&A with the band!
In our seats :-)
(the auditorium filled up fast shortly after I took this picture)


We arrived early enough to see them setting up the stage for Casting Crowns' song Crazy People before the concert started! This song was one of my favorites from that night.



Mom and me sporting our matching "Healer" shirts (souvenirs from the concert) and jean skirts :-) 

How have you been?? Did you have a favorite picture from this post? Do you like Casting Crowns' music or listened to any of the songs from "Healer," their newest album? Have you read the two updated Tales books? Comment below!

Blessings,
Ellen S.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Operation: Share Kindness

Hello, everyone! I have exciting news. 😀 My friend Kate (from Kaitlyn Krispense, Author) and I teamed up to launch Operation: Share Kindness, a blog where, twice a week (every Tuesday and Friday), we post challenges to prompt our readers (and us) to kindness. If you want a sneak peek of some of these challenges, check out our intro post. In a sin-scarred world full of sin-scarred people, our goal is to shine Christ's light through these random acts of kindness. 

We hope you'll join us for the journey!!

Please consider following Operation: Share Kindness via email and/or Blogger so you'll be sure not to miss out on any of the fun challenges we have planned, and if you can share the word, that would be great! Our first challenge goes up next week, on Tuesday, January 4, 2022. 

Thanks so much, and Happy New Year!


Blessings,
Ellen

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Blog Birthday Giveaway WINNER!

Sorry to get this posted so late . . . it's been a busy day. I did volunteer work this morning, and tonight was thoroughly enjoying the cool new features of the latest edition of Word (I just got updated from the 2016 version and now I have DICTATE and READ ALOUD on my COMPUTER . . . and I LOVE it!)

Anyway, on to the news I know you all really came on to hear . . .

THE WINNER OF MY BLOG BIRTHDAY GIVEAWAY IS . . . 

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HEAVEN!

Congratulations, Heaven! Please send your mailing address to my email (listed in the comments below) and I'll get your prizes shipped out ASAP! 

Thx to everybody who entered my giveaway . . . I got some great feedback and ideas of what you would like to see in future posts, which is super helpful!

Merry Christmas



Blessings,

Ellen S.