Strong Enough to Say I Need You

I overheard a conversation in a bookstore about how someone was “so sick of those stories about girls who are just waiting to be rescued.” (Side Note: Seriously, when was the last time you read one of those stories? I’m pretty sure they’ve died out over the last thirty years or so. But I digress…) So, the woman at the desk recommended a book with a strong, female character who is a real inspiration. And when she announced the title, I nearly gagged.

Why? Because I read the book, and the only thing the main character inspired in me was a few negative feelings. So why did I bother finishing the book? Now, that’s a fair question I’ve even asked myself a few times. I guess I was hoping this bitter, sadistic character would transform into the heroine the reviews promised me.

There was enough back story for me to understand her lone ranger mentality, so I was waiting for her to overcome it. And I waited and waited and waited for nearly 500 pages. What a letdown. It reminded me of the humorous quote from the movie Picture Perfect:  “Her character never grows, Alan. I need growth!”

I have a hard time understanding why anyone would sing the praises of a character who is broken and bitter and trusts no one but herself. That’s not strength; that’s arrogance.

Want to meet a strong character? Watch a wallflower become a queen in Rae Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns. Follow her through The Crown of Embers where our once-timid, uncertain heroine makes the strongest declaration of all. There comes a scene when she looks into the eyes of the man who has been her strength while she has yet to find her own and says, “What I did was weak. Cowardly. Unqueenly… and you were right. About everything. I do have power. Enough that I don’t need you. But I will miss you awfully.”

And. My. Heart. Melts.

Because strength is not believing you can take on the world by yourself; strength is realizing you are capable, but admitting your dependence on someone else.

I believe there’s a lot to be learned in the crafting of novels (because if I didn’t, the last year of my life would be a total waste). As I read and research and discover what creates a strong, female character—as I mold my Genevieve into someone whom I hope is both believable and inspiring—I’m learning to become that kind of character myself. I’m learning to say, “Hey, you know, I was wrong and, um, I need you.”

Yeah, I’m still working on the delivery. Because it’s amazing how such simple words can be your undoing.

But I want to be strong enough to say that I need you. Strong enough to admit that I was wrong. Strong enough to know what I am capable of on my own… and choose not to do it on my own after all.

I want to be strong enough to depend on someone other than myself. Strong enough to trust another human being with the fragile pieces of my heart.

I want to be strong enough to grow—because we all need growth—no matter how painful and difficult and terrifying that growth may be.

I want to be strong enough. Just strong enough…

And so I set out on this journey of becoming.

Strong Enough

Start Writing Now

I should have known I was going to be a writer by the way I invented a desk of stacked storage containers and covered its surface with pages of scribbles because my fingers hadn’t yet learned to form words.

I should have known I was going to be a storyteller by the way my dollhouse characters had histories and futures that were ever so clear in my mind.

I should have known. The signs were all there. But if you had asked me as a child what I was going to be when I grew up, I would have told you I’d be a mother and a missionary, but never would I talk about those stories that were engrained in my heart. They were as much a part of me as the wave in my hair and the gold fleck in my eye. Maybe that’s why I never noticed their significance. Because they had been there all along. All my life, my imagination ran wild with story after story after story.

I wrote my first book when I was perhaps nine years old. It was a horrible collection of short stories that my family still laughs about to this day. I’ve often wished I could burn it, but since I haven’t yet discovered how to erase certain memories from the minds of my family members, I elected to let the horrid creation live. Besides, it’s a reminder that before I even realized I was called to write, my fingers were doing what came naturally to me—filling pages with words.

That’s where all writers must begin. With words—your own words. If you want to be a writer, stop reading all the advice. Stop worrying that you’re not going about it the proper way. There is no proper way. Just do whatever works best for you.

Don’t worry about the critics, don’t obsess over “making it” in the writing world, and know that your validation as a writer does not come in publication. Seeing the finished product is a beautiful thing, but it is not the only thing. I was a writer long before I held Beyond Waiting  in my hands.

I’d have given up long ago if I chose to believe the people who told me I’ll never make it in the “real” world. Writing would lose its worth if I allowed myself to be convinced that stories aren’t necessary and I should write the truth as cold, hard facts—if I listened to those people who tell me to dream in black and white when my heart is pounding with deep purples and vibrant yellows.

Let me tell you, if you don’t believe that stories tell truths, you haven’t heard Brodi Ashton’s definition of the word “redemption.” You haven’t found hope in Laini Taylor’s hands. And you have yet to let Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution  take place inside of you.

And that’s the key to succeeding in writing: to believe in what you do. If your heart is fully invested in the words you’re spilling onto the page, no one can take that from you. The way to press on through the hard days is to know that you know that you know that you are called to this. You were made for this. And the words that are in your heart were meant for being shared, even if only a few ever read them.



In the words of one of my favorite authors: “I love how irreverent Jesus is in His stories. He compared Himself to a chicken, the coming of God’s Kingdom to a robber breaking into your house, God’s message of hope to an uncorked bottle of wine, and prayer to a nagging neighbor hungry for a sandwich at midnight. According to Jesus, we can learn about God’s Kingdom from eccentric landowners, dishonest managers, idiots who built condos on quicksand, demon-possessed do-gooders, a warm loaf of bread, a field full of weeds, and a little kid tugging at your pants leg asking you to come outside and play. The Kingdom of Heaven unfurled from His lips in story after story after story.”

On that note, let me tell you a story…

Her name was Lily and she was absolutely adorable. I sat, watching her play happily in the nursery. At one point, she leaned into a toy box to get something. As she leaned farther and farther in, it became apparent to me that she was going to crack her head on the table when she stood back up. I jumped to my feet, hoping to slide my hand into a position that would cushion the impact. “Lily, wait. Don’t stand up or you’ll get…”


“Hurt,” I winced, wishing I had moved more quickly. “Owie,” I said, placing my hand on her head. “Lily, honey, are you alright?”

At first I thought she would fall into my arms or maybe run to her mother for comfort. For a moment I even thought that she would brush it off like nothing had even happened. What I wasn’t expecting was the look of betrayal that crossed her face as she glared at me accusingly. One second of looking into those angry blue eyes was enough to tell me that she thought I was the source of her pain. Her nineteen-month-old brain couldn’t comprehend that her pain had been caused by her own mistake.

She screamed and ran to her grandma, and I briefly explained what had happened. At that moment, her father walked up, egging her on. “Aw,” he cooed. “What did that mean girl do to you? Did she hurt you? Rebekah’s so bad. Poor Lily.”

As she buried her face in her father’s shoulder, I stood in the nursery, hoping she would eventually forgive me for the pain I had tried to prevent.

I think it is somewhat humorous (albeit ironic) that we so often ignore God’s voice as He warns us to stop and then we blame Him for our pain. “Why did you let this happen?” we cry as if He had not tried to prevent it. And when we remember His words of warning, we act as though we never heard them as we cry to our friends, “I don’t know why this happened.”

Don’t you? Didn’t you hear His voice as He gently called, “My child, don’t do that. You’ll only get… Hurt.” But we bury ourselves in our pain and leave Him hoping we will turn back into His arms. We’re mad at Him for our own refusal to listen. ”Wait just a moment,” He warned. Had we obeyed, He would have softened the blow. But we didn’t listen. And now it hurts.

But maybe, for once, we should stop trying so hard to blame God and turn into His comforting embrace instead. Maybe it is time to fall into His loving arms and let Him chase away the tears as He whispers, “It is okay now, beloved. I’m here.” Maybe, just maybe, He should be the One we run to rather than the One from which we run. Maybe this time, we should give Him a chance to soothe away the pain we have inflicted upon ourselves.

Don’t run away. Fall into His arms today.

The Facts Behind the Fairytales

“Okay, Rebekah,” you may be thinking. “Why the obsession with fairytales? Why can’t you just let them go and accept that they are simply bedtime stories that have no relevance in real life?” Well, it’s because I do think they have relevance. Perhaps they are not entirely fantasy. Perhaps there is something more to them. Just as Aesop’s fables were meant to teach us something, perhaps fairytales are more of an allegory than a fantasy.

Am I the only one who finds it interesting that Snow White’s ultimate demise was taking a bite of a poison apple? Doesn’t that remind you of a story found in the third chapter of Genesis? Or how about Beauty and the Beast where the heroine couldn’t see that the Prince of her dreams was standing before her because he didn’t come in the form she had always imagined him to be? Doesn’t that make you think about a people who didn’t recognize their Messiah when He came to rescue them? And why does Prince Charming have to fight through a thicket of thorns in order to save the Princess? Could it be that this fictitious Prince is a reflection of the Prince who wore a crown of thorns on behalf of his beloved? I think there are too many coincidences to be accidental. And even if they were accidental, I think there is still so much we can learn from the fairytales. I think that if you look a little harder and dig a little deeper, you’ll find many hidden messages in places you never would have dreamed they would be.

I believe in finding God in the everyday ordinary – in butterflies and beaches, sand and storms, flowers and fairytales. Close your eyes, open your heart, and allow yourself to see the facts behind the fairytales.