Saturday, June 20, 2015

Meet the Meet Cute Socks

So in the writing world, there is a term called the "meet cute." It's that moment when the hero and heroine first meet. The more abnormal this first encounter - at least in my opinion - the better. The future couple just can't meet at a Bible study. There needs to be drama, humor, some kind of physical collision, or clash of personalities. My favorite way to write a meet cute is with a clash of personalities. Usually ending with the heroine embarrassing herself.

For instance, Erynn Mangum has a meet cute in Miss Match (Book 1 of the Lauren Holbrook Series). The heroine meets her future husband at a Bible study, BUT she meets him while hiding a bag of Oreos from the rest of the Bible study. He totally catches her. ;)


Yes. :)

In Robin Jones Gunn's popular Christy Miller Series, the heroine meets her husband-to-be when a dip in the ocean goes horribly wrong. She ends up crashing to the shore, tangled up in seaweed.

In Janice Thompson's hysterical Weddings by Bella Series, the heroine meets her dream man when she mistakes his name, DJ, for his profession. She tires to hire this cowboy to do the music for her first wedding as a "professional" wedding coordinator.

See? All cute, funny, horribly embarrassing meet cutes. :)

Lately I've been toying over the idea of a meet cute over warm socks...

Yes, I said socks. Warm socks to be exact. There's a story behind this crazy thought. You see, when my husband and I were dating, I had a tendency of having cold feet. In the physical sense. When it was a beautiful day outside, I had (and still do) a habit of wearing shoes that are not very warm. Flip-flops, flats, sandals. And every time my feet would start to FREEZE!

And every time my now-husband would give me a pair of his socks to stop my feet from turning blue and falling off.

Sam's socks were never this cool. ;)
He takes care of me.

This always makes me think of how God takes care of us. How He says if he can take care of the little birds, and make sure they eat, then how much more will He take care of us? Is there a spiritual meet cute where God gives us warm socks? I think there is.

Every day of our lives.

After the story's meet cute, there is always angst, drama, and confusion. It's the page-turning conflict that keeps us reading the book. The characters are never certain what's going to happen next, or how their lives will turn out. Will Sally get her happy ending? The reader can find out by flipping to the end of the book, and seeing that Sally does indeed marry the Tony Stark look alike. The average writer usually sometimes sort of knows what will happen to the character.

But us? Well, we haven't got a clue what's going to happen next in the story of our lives.

"Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" Matthew 6:26

But I know that the Great Author is good. I know that from first page to meet cute from confusion to last chapter that He is going to take care of me. He's always going to give me a pair of cozy, fuzzy socks.

And God is way nicer to us then any author out there. ;)

V. Joy Palmer

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Spitfire Heroine

I've had to literally tear myself away from an absorbing book series to write blogs this weekend. If you've ever read a book that causes you to loose track of time, hygiene, and food, then you understand my plight.  :)

I read A LOT. Some of you have probably seen my book reviews or random posts about books that I couldn't help but gush about to you. I read a wide variety of books, too. Historical romance. Contemporary romance. YA. Dystopian. Fantasy. Biblical fiction. The set of books I working on right now is a dystopian series that is awesome. I notice that whenever I read dystopian books, I always get very reflective. On our nation. On people. On myself.

I've come to a conclusion.

In dystopian books it's always a futuristic society that arises out the ashes of devastated nation. Usually, the nation that comes about is unfair, corrupt, and held together with manipulation. There's always unrest among the people, and almost always there is a spitfire heroine. Often she is a somewhat unwilling hero thrust right into the middle of the situation.

She is always so relatable. Fearless. Headstrong. She doesn't turn a blind eye and just take stuff. A born leader. She fights for what she believes.

Like Katniss.  :)

So many times I run and hide. Keep my mouth shut. Give up. This girl isn't relatable because she's just like me. So why does a part of my spirit just get her? She's relatable because there is part of my spirit that longs to be the special spit-fire heroine. I think it's that way for a lot of people.

I especially want to be like that for God. Brave. Unwilling to let evil win. Bold. But there's always that voice in my head that says, "God didn't make you for that. You are just you. Nothing special. Nobody important. You are the perfect mouse, so just be content with your ordinary roll in life.

I am so tired of listening to that voice.

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." Psalm 139:13-16
Five years ago, when I first started teaching in the youth group, I was preparing a lesson. I had an idea in mind, but it was just an idea. I was spending some alone time with God, praising and worshiping. Then WHAM! He gave me an awesome idea, tying the whole lesson up with a nice little bow.

I brought a ton of hair brushes and a cd with me. After dragging a couple volunteers up with me, I told the kids to pretend they were at a concert. My volunteers and I used our hairbrush microphones, and we rocked out to Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me."

They thought I was a little crazy, but I always have a point.  :)

God's crazy, undying, you belong with Him, love. The song is about a girl who is just hopelessly in love with the boy next door. His girlfriend is terrible and doesn't love him. She knows that she's perfect for him. God looks at us, and He's thinking the same exact thing. He loves us so much. He knows that we belong with Him. He's waiting for us, always trying to woo us, always trying to tell us just how amazingly special we are. Sometimes, we are just too attached to that voice that tears us down and breaks our hearts. But why? The voice doesn't love us.

The little voice in my head tells me I'm not hero material. I'm not worth it. That I'm just ordinary. But God tells me the exact opposite. That I'm special. That I'm loved. That I am hero material. God's voice is what gives me the strength and courage to be the spitfire heroine for Him.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5

Whether it's just a few people, or whether it's an entire nation, I know that I make a difference. God says I make a difference.

I'm the star of my own dystopian story.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, June 1, 2015

Review of A Love Like Ours

Lyndie James and Jake Porter were the best of friends when they were children. Lyndie was an imaginative girl with a deep love for animals - especially horses. She was always rescuing wounded animals. Jake was a sullen boy who saw himself as Lyndie's sidekick and her protector. They loved each other even then, not in a romantic way, but in a best friends for life way. Unfortunately, Lyndie's family moved from Texas to California while they were still children, tearing the two friends apart for twenty years.

I love the last two lines of the prologue, because if any two lines sum up the spirit of the book, it's those. "Lyndie would return one day. And when she did, Jake would be the wounded one in need of rescue."

When they finally meet again, Lyndie is the same stubborn, free spirit she's always been, but Jake is a new man. Tall, Dark, and Brooding. A tragic accident during his time as a Marine left Jake withdraw from life with PTSD and a hefty case of survivor's guilt. Lyndie - always the one to spot the wounded - goes to Jake for a job exercising his Thoroughbreds, and leaves with a mission to help Jake heal.

Lyndie unlocks the mystery of why Jake's Thoroughbred, Silver Leaf, won't run. With it comes the opportunity to serve as Silver Leaf's jockey in his upcoming races. A dream come true for Lyndie, but something that scares Jake to the very core of his soul. Due to his past in the Marines and the love he has always had for Lyndie, he can't stand the idea of putting her in harm's way.

The story really picked up once Silver Leaf ran his first race, and Jake stopped pushing Lyndie away all the time. Lyndie's love had a healing effect on Jake, but Jake tried to put all his faith in Lyndie instead of God for a time. In a classically stupid move typical to men, Jake breaks Lyndie's heart in order to keep her out of physical harm on the track and safe from the likes of his wounded soul.

My favorite scene in this novel was when Jake's two older brothers and younger sister came to check on him/talk some sense into him/confront him. I thought it was hysterical! Jake learned the hard way that God's love is the only one that can truly heal all wounds, but once he let God in, it was grand.

This novel had a serious tone to it due to Jake's struggle with his PTSD. It really helps you understand how someone with PTSD functions with the pain and day to day guilt. It is my understanding that Becky Wade put in a lot of research on this topic, and I don't believe it to be lacking. Her portrayal was exceptional.

Also, if you are a horse lover, stop wasting time and buy the book! You will love it. Seriously. I really enjoyed Lyndie's race scenes with Silver Leaf. I felt like I was the one racing from the safety of my couch!

The theme for this novel was "finding hope," which I agree with, but I'd also tack on two others. "Healing" and "sacrificial love." This is a novel filled with healing, and watching Jake heal was like watching a green leaf pop out of barren and burnt land. Also, Lyndie's sacrificial love for Jake was breathtaking. She gave up her dream of being a professional jockey for him, and that moved me in a very special way. More couples need to understand this sacrificial love for their spouse. It's not about what you can get, or getting even. It's about the love you have for that person, and how you've chosen that person. It's the kind of sacrificial love God has for us.

I also enjoyed the secondary storyline with Lyndie's downstairs neighbor, Amber Richardson. She is a young, single mom who longs for someone to love her, but struggles with waiting for God's timing. This leads to an agreement between the two friends that they will each go on three dates within three months. I found this to be quite funny, and was happy with how her story ended - with Will McGrath!

I also want to praise the cover design. This cover was absolutely ADORABLE! The woman used to portray Lyndie was perfect. She really portrayed Lyndie's essence from the book.

A Love Like Ours is the third book in the Porter Family Series, and while readers of Becky Wade are sure to enjoy seeing previous characters pop up in this novel, it is not necessary to read the previous two books to understand the story. Each book functions well on its own.

Thanks to Bethany House for providing a free copy in exchange for my honest review.

V. Joy Palmer