46 Things I’d Rather Do Than Scroll Through Social Media

I have a love hate relationship with social media.

On one hand, social media (especially Instagram) is helpful for keeping up with my writing friends, getting book recommendations, looking at pretty pictures or funny memes, and building a platform with hopes to be able to reach as many people as possible with the stories and articles God lets me write.

On the other hand, social media is often a time-sucking highlight reel where real relationships are not fostered so much viewed through a screen as well as an outlet for attention-seeking clamoring for recognition (especially for aspiring authors and others who “need” to build their platform for their career).

I see benefits and dangers alike in social media. Like most things, it’s good in moderation.

social media

Instead of scrolling through social media, I’d rather…

  1. Doodle in my bullet journal
  2. Listen to an audiobook (preferably Dracula)
  3. Curl my hair
  4. Do something that will make me satisfyingly sore the next day
  5. Reread The Chronicles of Narnia (especially The Horse and His Boy)
  6. Make a card and write a note
  7. Call my parents and other loved ones I miss
  8. Go to a coffee shop where there are real people, not just people to “see” or “know” through a screen
  9. Worship to some of my favorite songs
  10. French press some coffee
  11. Cook something from scratch
  12. Read Psalm 145
  13. Go for a walk–no matter the weather
  14. Paint my nails
  15. Lay on the floor, stare at the ceiling, and think instead of allaying my boredom or anxious thoughts with mere distraction
  16. Turn my thinking into praying
  17. Take some pictures and then edit them–not necessarily to post them somewhere, but to have them for me to enjoy
  18. Write and send a letter to someone I don’t know personally who inspires me
  19. Read Romans 8
  20. Write a short story
  21. Hang some pictures or poems on my walls
  22. Make an aesthetic collage for one of my stories
  23. Pray Psalm 119
  24. Look at the sky to see the moon or the shape of the clouds or to feel the sun on my face
  25. Reread the books that had a role in forming me into who I am today *stares at all the Nadine Brandes, Robin McKinley, and Tony Reinke books*
  26. Watch a good movie with superior storytelling (hahahaha, like The Lion King, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Lord of the Rings, The Dark Knight trilogy, etc.)
  27. Listen to the sound of water put into notes by Claude Debussy in his piece of artistry called “Isle of Joy”
  28. Snuggle with my cat
  29. Recall to mind my favorite childhood memories
  30. Sleep
  31. Read Ephesians aloud
  32. Reread Hinds’ Feet on High Places
  33. Make scones
  34. Walk through the library, especially the sections I don’t usually go to
  35. Stare at Monet’s beach scenes or Casatt’s portraits of her sister or other lovely impressionistic art
  36. Do a word study on a Greek or Hebrew word from the Bible
  37. Read an article on Desiring God and not exit out of the tab right away but instead read it again and think about what it has to do with my life
  38. Learn some origami
  39. Reread Hebrews
  40. Have a spontaneous karaoke or dance party
  41. Do something for the sensation of it (e.g. – sprint down the road and feel the stitch in my side and the burn on the fringe of my lungs and the jarring impact of each footfall etc.)
  42. Play piano or ukulele
  43. Scratch around with my charcoal
  44. Re-pot my succulents
  45. Send a message or text to my friends far away
  46. Journal about what’s been on my mind

Well, that’s the end of that. Lol, would you look at that. I get better and better at ending blog posts.

I want to enjoy moments of boredom–either to reclaim the lost art of being bored or to leverage my boredom into something good.

I don’t want to end up scrolling through social media right before I go to sleep or right when I wake up or when there’s a line in the store or when I’m alone in my house or when I don’t want to have to think.

Social media is not bad. It’s just that so many other things are better.

What sorts of things would you rather do than scroll through social media?

With love,


p.s. – I went and saw The Gray Havens in concert last Saturday. I can now die happy.

p.p.s. – My brother, Luke, who took me to the concert gave me a Gray Havens mug, shirt, and hat. So, yeah. That’s pretty swanky. When I die happy, bury me in my Gray Havens shirt and hat with my hands folded over my Gray Havens mug over my heart.

A Love Letter to the Tales of Goldstone Wood [yeah, it’s a fangirl post]

I first heard about the Tales of Goldstone Wood while with my cousins eight years ago. Brittany, my eldest cousin, showed me a beautiful book she had picked up for just a few dollars at a little bookstore. It had one of the loveliest covers I had ever seen. It was titled Heartless, and it was written by Anne Elisabeth Stengl.

It is the first book in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, and it is my childhood. (Warning: this is a major nostalgic fangirl post with so many references that many won’t understand…. but I really don’t care. #sorrynotsorry)

love letter 1.jpg

I’ve always enjoyed fantasy, living off of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia for as long as I can remember, but The Tales of Goldstone Wood took that love to a new level.

I read Heartless three times before Veiled Rose was released (Heartless was published in 2010, and Veiled Rose came out in 2011…). I devoured Veiled Rose and then Moonblood, but whatever expectations I had for the series could not prepare me for what came next. Starflower and Dragonwitch completely outdid everything that had come before them.

The books just. kept. getting. better.

goldstone 1.jpgGoddess Tithe, the first novella, was released on the heels of Dragonwitch, taking breath away yet again. When the opportunity arose, I signed up for the cover reveal for Shadow Hand, completely delighted that I could participate.

Bits and pieces about Golden Daughter were dropped, then came the cover and the buzz about how long it was (584 packed pages). Then Draven’s Light, a huge “novella” fitting the hugeness of the series, was released. I cried while reading it. Repeatedly.

The depth and richness of everything in the Tales of Goldstone Wood is incomparable. There are many excellent modern fantasy novels, but the Tales of Goldstone Wood series towers over all of them. There are so many good fantasy stories out there, but The Tales of Goldstone Wood dominates on every level.

So much can be said about the world(s) captured in the series–the cultures and kingdoms and histories. The lordly sun and the lady moon. The glory and purity of the starry sky. The Faerie kings and queens with their three lives. The halls of the Merry People and the throne room of the goblin queen. Rivers and all their craftiness. The Dragon and his kiss. The Knights of Farthest Shore and the Lumil Eliasul. Much can also be said about the stories with all their complexity and twists and the threads that trace through them—the wild fun and the wild danger.

But the world would be only interesting and the stories would be only adventures if it weren’t for the characters. The characters are what make these books more than just stories. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over the people that leaped off the page and commanded attention and affection, each one unique and so so so so real.

stengl 1I never much cared for the Chronicler or Leta—probably because I’m very partial to Alistair and didn’t like that they didn’t see or appreciate his greatness—but the Brothers Ashiun stole my heart, their story devastating me every time I read it. Somehow, I came to adore even the Flame at Night with all her fire, hatreds, lies, and brokenness.

Not many people loved Una, but she was dear to me even with all her selfish whining. Felix, that dastardly little fiend of brother, has never stopped making me laugh, and watching Leo grow from the boy-prince into manhood with much trial and error is still one of my favorite things.

I wasn’t a fan of Daylily and Foxbrush, but that’s probably because I’m very, very partial to Leo, Rose Red, and Una (it’s like a love pentagon).

Draven’s courage and Ita’s resolve will never not give me tears and chills. I haven’t met Sairu yet, but from what I’ve heard, I think I’ll like her. The Panther Master broke my heart, and I sorely miss Sun Eagle.

Imraldera, the sweet, brave Starflower; oh, how she taught me compassion. And words cannot express the place Eanrin has in my heart, the most cat-ish poet to ever grace the page, so fierce and noble and unexpected in every way.

For whatever reason, I stopped reading the Tales of Goldstone Wood a few years ago, but then Anne Elisabeth Stengl announced that she won’t be writing any more of them.

So I went back to my shelf and stared at the books, feeling strangely, deeply sad. Heartless, Starflower, and Dragonwitch are on my special Favorites of All Time shelf. Golden Daughter sits on my To Be Read shelves. The others are gathered together on their own shelf, and I decided it’s time to revisit all the beloved places and reacquaint myself with all the beloved people.

This time, I’m reading them in chronological order—the order they take place, not the order they were published. Starflower has already reclaimed its place in my heart, and I’m nearly finished with Dragonwitch, dying over Eanrin, Imraldera, Hri Sora, Etanun, Mouse, and Alistair all over again.

I know not everyone who reads Penprints will “get” this post, but it’s been a long time coming. The Tales of Goldstone Wood are a prime example of the power and beauty of stories. They are pure, beautiful, and everything stories should be.

It’s strange how they only get better the more I read them, how sad and happy they make me at the same time, how much I’ve learned from them about people and life and myself and God, how deeply they delight and compel at the same time.

What stories made up your childhood? Have you read any Tales of Goldstone Wood? Do you have a favorite?

With love,


P.S. – I may not post next week. We’ll see. If I do, should I post about hope when hope is gone or the importance of growing up.

P.P.S. – I realize that as a love letter, this should probably have been addressed to the series instead of just talking about the series, but I thought talking to a stack of books might be a little odd. So I figured I had better just talk about them as if they were real since that’s less weird. ;)

Why Winter

We are nearing the end of January, just about to slide into the month of love and romance and chocolate and all that jazz (aka: February, in case you didn’t know). And we are also in the middle of winter (at least, those of us north of the equator). Now, there are those among us (I shall refrain from naming them) who do not properly appreciate winter.

This is an affront to me okay so “affront” may be a little strong, but details.  I love winter. It is the best of all four seasons. This is a fact. Period. No argument can sway me because this is truth: winter is spring, summer, and fall’s superior. But, alas, there are those who don’t agree with me; simply put: they are wrong. And this is post is to tell you why (and because a blog on only serious things would be boring).


First of all, I’m not going to disparage the other seasons no, actually, I probably will. This post is solely about the winter’s virtues and the other seasons’ shortcomings. Note: part of the reason I’m writing this is because it is currently 45 degrees outside, and it’s been raining for the last week like it’s spring. These are great, depressing crimes against winter, and I hope to remind myself that most winters aren’t like this one.

I am a great lover of the cold, and because I live in the wilds of Wisconsin, it can get pretty cold (in 2014, we had more than 40 days below zero. Boom.). I can’t stand the heat and sweat of summer. The sticky, smelly damp that clings to the skin when the air temperature rises above 75 degrees. The humidity that suffocates you the instant you step outside. But it isn’t so with winter. It’s crisp and clear and cold. The first inhale that sends frost through your lungs and color to your cheeks and reminds you that you are alive.

And there are the other things that come along with the cold. Fuzzy socks to slide around on the hardwood and tile. Soft slippers to pull over chilled feet. Cozy blankets to burrow under. Hot chocolate with whipped cream to sip. Hats to cover messy hair and keep ears warm. Scarves to wind and tie in fun knots. Fires to start and then admire. Frozen lakes and ponds to dance on and walk across. So many wonderful things come with winter’s cold, including snow.

Who in their right mind does not like snow? From heavy, packable snow to powdery flakes, it’s magical. Fall ends in death, people, that’s all there is to it. Sure, the colors of fall are pretty, but then everything ends up naked and dead and ugh. Snow is the blanket that covers fall’s crimes and brings beauty back to the world. Waking up to the blinding brightness of sunlight on snow is one of my favorite things. The colors of winter, the whites and the pale blues and the blacks, are exquisite, crystalline.

Speaking of the sun, yes, winter days are short, and people can find the darkness depressing, but winter is the only time when many people actually see the sun rise over the horizon oh, look, another strike against summer: no one besides my dad wakes up at four in the morning and so no one besides my dad sees the sunrise in the summer, so there, summer, with your coveted long days. But winter sunrises can come around seven, and there’s little that can compare with a fresh fall of snow set on fire by the sun’s rising rays.

Winter is a time of sleeping, when the earth rests. It’s a time of soup and naps. It’s a time of learning and stillness. It’s the time of quiet before life explodes again in the spring.

Mmmmmmm. Now the temperature just needs to drop below freezing again so that it actually feels like winter. Anyway, those are some of the reasons that I find winter so enchanting, so much better than all the other seasons combined.

What about you? Do you love winter too (the correct answer is yes)? If not *gasp*, what’s your favorite season? Why? Or, do you not care about seasons at all?

P.S. – This was a short peeps. I actually kept it under a thousand words even though I can sing winter’s virtues for days.