Beautiful

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Where Does the Joy Go?

Published October 15, 2017 by Ashley Townsend

As the years pass, where does the joy go? The earth hasn’t changed, the world doesn’t play more unfairly than it did before, and the sun and stars are still constant. So what changed to make the spark disappear?

wander

I was inspired to write this post after I heard someone say, “Life just loses its sparkle as you get older.” I wanted to respond with, Life is wonderful, how can you say that? But later on that night, I realized that, tragically, this can be true. The reality of adulthood takes over—less free time, bills, responsibilities up the wazoo (and using the word wazoo is no longer “age appropriate”), broken hearts, stress, deadlines. If you let them, these things will slowly leech the joy and adventure from life so that you’re just living each day on autopilot, waiting for it to be over so it can inevitably begin again. The day-to-day becomes tedious, and eventually, the dawn turns into something that you dread.

This harsh reality really bothered me, and I wondered why it should be that the joy and excitement of life should end because a new chapter of life begins. But does it really? I began to realize that the magic that exists in the world doesn’t disappear, rather we let the cares of this life distract us to the point that we’re too exhausted to look for it when it seems scarce.

the heavens declare the glory of god

As children, everyday seemed to hold a bit of mystery and excitement, but we’ve become too focused on more money and success, the idea that maybe a different relationship or occupation would complete us, or a million dollars would solve all our problems (or an extra 8 hours in the day to write my work in progress *cough*). That’s not to say a few of these things wouldn’t be nice, but it’s untrue that our lives would be perfect or “complete” because of these fleeting things. Discontentment breeds jealousy and greed and a restlessness that nothing can satisfy. I’m not exempt from the “if-only” idea, but I am a firm believe in the magic of everyday things and the hope that it produces, and the excitement of a new adventure.

incredible carl sagan

I have to admit that I’ve never understood people when they say that the love between them and another “simply died.” Call me naïve, but the only way that can happen is if no one tries to save it. Love is like a flower—you have to care for it so that it continues to grow and flourish, even if it isn’t as young and beautiful as it once was; if you ignore it and forget it exists, it will die. The same goes for the belief in the excitement that occurs in life: we have to choose to look for it, especially when it seems impossible to find because that’s when we need a bit of magic the most.

 

the best view hardest climb

Just this week I was having a difficult time finding that spark of joy after a tough week of stress and feeling overwhelmed and inadequate. I was sitting there in traffic, grumbling about the sun in my eyes, and then as I glared at it for another minute, I suddenly saw how beautiful the sunset was. I had spent the entire drive home complaining about something that, since I would have been caught in traffic anyway, should have been enjoyed. The rising and setting of the sun is some of the most obvious magic you can find, and I had almost let it pass by unnoticed because I was too caught up in the bustle of life, the competition to get one more car ahead so I could race home to—what? Drudge the next day?

Nuh-uh.

awfully big adventure peter pan

God did not put us on this earth to work ourselves to death earning money that disappears all too quickly and to lament each day He’s given us. Every morning our eyes open is a miracle, and my challenge to you this week is to remind yourself to seek out the miracle in today. Easier said than done, right? Trust me, I’ve been there and am still there sometimes, struggling to find the joy in the things that exist around me. But it’s there, even in the small things—the leaves shifting color, the falling rain against a window, meeting a writing deadline, a new dawn brining with it a clean slate. And when you feel you can’t see the magic, be bold and create your own! Climb a mountain, explore the sea, take a long drive with the windows down while the rain is pouring, find a new bookstore (umm , bibliophile!), try something you’ve never done before. This life was intended for us to learn and explore and live it. We just have to choose to keep our eyes and hearts open to the magic of the everyday and to not let our sparkles—our inner light—die out.

So, where does the joy go? It’s been there all along, though it shifts forms like a chameleon and is sometimes tricky to spot. But if you keep on the lookout for it, the world might surprise you.

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Goodbye, July!

Published August 1, 2017 by Ashley Townsend

July, you were chaotic and occasionally stressful, and while I’ll miss the adventures and fabulous memories you brought my way, I bid you adieu!! *flips calendar to August with a dramatic flourish*

August

Now that the breakup is out of the way, let me give you a recap on the happenings of July. I feel like it was mostly everyday life craziness that made the month fly/drag by. . . . Oh, yeah, and there was San Diego Comic Con, apartment hunting in SoCal (not an easy feat), finding new car insurance for my new go-go machine, balancing finances (reference the aforementioned car and insurance), the general chaos at the office, relatively maintaining a social life *cough* *cough, cough*, setting up engagements at local bookstores, libraries, and Barnes and Nobles (details soon!), and reminding myself that I’m a writer who has a work in progress to be tackled, something I may or may not have neglected. *hides face in shame*

hiding

Instead of making this an eleven-page post—with most of it being taken up by details about Comic Con, because there is so much to tell you about!!—I figured I’d just give you the happy highlights of this month and have an entirely separate update for the nitty-gritty of SDCC, so stay tuned for that.

Quick San Diego Comic Con summary (because I couldn’t resist):

Amazing cosplays, meeting/attacking Derek Theler, missing the once in a lifetime Psych panel *sobs*, finding Waldo in the Exhibit Hall, being a Disney princess, getting pics with Bob Ross and Kid Flash, accidentally stumbling upon the Outlander signing, seeing Stan Lee, being flabbergasted by the handsomest and most charming man ever to cosplay Rick from The Mummy, and discovering ALL THE THINGS that Comic Con has to offer with my big sis.

Camp NaNo Update: ……………………… 0.o Uhhhhhh, what’s Camp NaNo?? Well, the first half of the month was great. *cringes* Below is an accurate depiction of me trying to pretend that everything is okay whilst covering up the fact that I’m waaaaay behind:

digging out of a hole

I can’t feel too guilty, though, because Comic Con prep was consuming, apartment hunting was the same, I got organized for several speaking/signing engagements, I actually kept up with my blogging schedule (wahoo!), and I plotted out the last ¼ of Jungle Princess, fixing some holes that a T-Rex could have fallen into and broken its ankle. You’re welcome, Rexy. But, hey, I made sure to write every single day, even if it wasn’t specifically for my work in progress, so GO ME! 

What I read: 

Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor ***

strange

I very seldom say “Meh” to a high-fantasy book that is, technically, well written, but meh. I felt like I should have loved it because her world was elaborate, but the writing was stilted and unnecessarily ostentatious (see what I did there?), which made for slow reading, and half her world was unexplained and left me confused. Was there a prequel I missed?? And while I liked two of the characters, nothing really happened. Until. The. End!!! I’m still trying to get over the guilt of not loving it when everyone else seems to think it’s remarkable, but I just can’t.

The Girl Who Could See, by Kara Swanson *****

the girl who could see

EEP! I got the novella signed by Kara at the SoCal conference and flipped it open as soon as I arrived home. It was gripping and moving and such a fabulous story that I found myself wanting to dive right back into her world after having just finished it.

Purple Moon, by Tessa Emily Hall ****

purple moon

I’ll admit, tears were shed while reading this story. Such an incredible book about brokenness and healing, of loneliness and God’s unfailing mercy and love. Oftentimes troubled teens as protagonists get on my nerves, even if I know their behavior will turn around. But I felt constantly connected to Selena’s perspective and emotions, and while she made some poor decisions, I understood her. Such a lovely book by an even lovelier author!

Angel Eyes, by Shannon Dittemore ****

angel eyes

I feel like I am so behind in this series! I met Shan at the SoCal conference, too, and since everyone had been raving about this series, I had to pick it up. Now I’m happy to have jumped onto this bandwagon, taken up the reins, and set it at a chaotic pace as I attempt to devour the rest of the books in a single day. Such a beautiful and unique depiction of the spiritual realm and heavenly forces, and it is a wonderful story that will ignite your spirit.

Lucky in Love, by Kasie West. **************** (that should be enough stars)

lucky in love

Kasie is my auto-buy author, and I’ve gotten into the habit of pre-ordering her books before they even release the cover (although it’s so cute!!!! ^_^), and I had no idea what Lucky in Love was even about. But in typical West fashion, she did not disappoint!

you complete me

Well, that’s about it! You know, aside from an amazing week at Comic Con. But that will have to wait until next week, dear hearts!

 

 

Another Beautiful Review for Chasing Shadows!

Published May 12, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

I love the way that Christine writes on her Musings of An Elf blog; it’s so beautiful and heartfelt, and seeing how similarly impassioned we both get over good books was the reason why I asked her to review the Rising Shadows Trilogy, and I’m so glad I did. Christine loves the series! *happy dance* It warms an author’s heart to know that others connect with these characters as they do. I couldn’t be more pleased with her review of Chasing Shadows, so be sure to check it out and share around with your other book-loving/blogger friends. And don’t forget to follow Christine’s blog to keep an eye out for something about beta reading the final book in the series. . . Just sayin’! ^_^

Arise, Beloved!

Published August 7, 2012 by Ashley Townsend

Poem time again! I was sitting in church with my family and we were singing “We’re the People of God,” and I just started to doodle some of the lyrics. Then I added a little here and there without really thinking about it, brought my pathetically confused little scribbles back home, and spent the afternoon singing and mulling possible next lines over and over until this came about. Even though I love to read and write poetry, I am far from skilled at it, so once again, bear with me! But I thought today might as well be a good enough day to share this with you all. Oh! And Friday I’ll have my favorite books of all time up here to inspire some more reading fun. Brace yourselves for further Reading Extravaganzas and stay tuned for Friday!  

 Arise, Beloved!

I have called you by name

I fought back the darkness

That clothed you in shame

With the sword of truth

I battled those lies

To show you your worth

I have fought for and loved you

Even before your birth

Come to life, O’ Precious One!

See what I have in store for you

You have been ransomed by love

And washed in words of truth

I do not lie like flesh and bone

I profess over you only what’s true

My love, my heart, my home

Be still, Beautiful Child!

Know that I am True Love

Can any of those whose love you seek

Compare to that of the One Above?

They see you as their eyes perceive

But in My eyes I see the one you were meant to be

All of your faults and falters are plain to me

Even more so than what others can find

But a child cherished by the Holy One

Is your portrait in my mind

Take heart, Sweet Treasure!

My love is everlasting

It never falters or fades

It is not favoring

Since before your conception

I knew you by name

And the truth is, the sweetest reception

Was the joy you felt over being so changed

Be patient, Everlasting Soul!

Your name has been written since the beginning

So enjoy this life and have faith that

You will live forever with Me beyond this world’s ending

I have clothed you in white

So you will not just see it

But can at last embrace the Light

Arise, Beloved!

As the sun ascends toward the heavens

So shall you be lifted into eternal light

Because I have promised, it is so

And you are one of the few chosen lambs

For whom My Love will always grow

Beautiful

Published July 6, 2012 by Ashley Townsend
 
I wrote this about a friend of mine when I was sixteen, so it’s pretty painful, but I came across it the other day and just knew I had to share it with you all, if only for a laugh. I was far from in love, but at the time I fantasized about sharing this with him beside a fire or in a hot air balloon, or something cheesy like that. But I knew I could never get up the chutzpah to actually read it to him, so I hid it away for so many years. So, without further ado!……Beautiful
 
The way your hair falls over your golden eyes
Darling, just know it’s my demise
You sweep it away with a shake of your head
It makes me feel what can’t be said
Your hands move over the strings of your instrument
And with each pull
I can see your heart of gold
You’re strumming the cords of this heart
I never want us to be apart
Do you know how beautiful you are?
Your concentration makes me smile
The music spoke to my heart all this while
I hear what it’s saying
But do you hear it too?
Do you know how beautiful you are?
The sun shines on your wavy brown hair
Right now I don’t have a single care
You take my hand and guide me through the dance
It makes me want to take a chance
As you smile into my spellbound eyes
Darling, just know it’s my demise
Do you know how beautiful you are?
I could have gone on forever, hand in hand
Waiting until the moon turns to sand
I never wanted the dream to end
But I awake in a world where we’re just friends
The firelight dances on your beautiful eyes
The sight makes me forget my strife
Through the years you’ve been nothing but true
I know I can always be myself with you
Your laugh, your smile, the way you say my name
With each of these I nearly go insane 
Though I dream of us growing old together
I will wait in silence and be your friend forever
So with a pen in hand and a heart full of hope
Here I sat and here I wrote
Because I believe life is always an open door
And you, my darling, are worth waiting for
 
I told you, it’s painful, but if you’re reading this, congratulations! You made it through the whole thing! Oh, and for your edification, we’re still friends, so this poem was kind of prophetic; I never told him I liked him, I’ve effectvely talked myself out of liking him over the years, and we will always be just friends, nothing more. And I can live with that. *POP!* That was your young love bubble bursting. Sorry. But I guess now he might finally read this, so maybe a part of my fantasy came true…… But I have plenty other fantasies to keep my thoughts occupied!
 
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