A Quick Note on Fear

This morning while I was in the middle of my daily quiet time with the Lord, I started thinking about how often I worry about things. I stress about a lot, and oftentimes they are things that don’t really need to be stressed about that much. And then I started to think about how much control I give fear in my life sometimes.

Then I thought about that sentence a little more.

…how much control I give fear in my life…

That word “give” hit me really hard.

I let fear dictate my thoughts.

I let fear distract me from the promises of Jesus Christ found in Scripture. I dwell on whatever thing it is I’m stressing about and I let it fester in my mind until I’ve created a fictitious situation too difficult for me to handle. Fear has no power on it’s own. The only power fear has is the power I give it when I let it have the reins of my thoughts.

Ephesians 4:26 talks about not giving “the devil a foothold” by dwelling on anger. I wonder if the same principle applies to fear. If all we do is focus on the source of our anxiety, then we aren’t focusing on God’s promises. We aren’t mediating on Scripture. We aren’t praying. We’re forgetting about our greatest weapons against Satan’s tactics.

We forget that we are God’s children (Galatians 4:7).

We forget that He is greater than anything in this world (1 John 4:4).

We forget that His love for us is unchanging (Romans 8:38-39).

We forget that He is the source of peace (John 14:27).

Fear is nothing more than a distraction. A very powerful distraction, but just a distraction nonetheless. The object of our fear (physical harm, financial trouble, etc) may be real, but fear itself is a battle tactic to make us turn our eyes away from Jesus. It makes us think that said object of our fear is somehow greater than our Creator, our Redeemer–the one who created the entire world and who has already defeated death.

But our God is greater than anything this world throws our way.

Continue Reading

Book Review: The Coronation by Livy Jarmusch

Title: The Coronation

Author: Livy Jarmusch

Genre: Contemporary

*Thank you to the author for sending me a copy of The Coronation in exchange for an honest review.*

Okay, this was a super sweet story about the royal family of a fictitious kingdom. It takes place in present-day, but has the feel of a fairytale. At first a struggled a bit to keep track of all the siblings, but after a few chapters I enjoyed learning about them.

Addison, the oldest, is preparing for his soon-to-come coronation as king. The older sisters are all trying to figure out boy drama, self-esteem, and wanting to see the world beyond the sheltered castle. Meanwhile, a new security guard is torn between loyalty to the royal family and committing in act of treason for his criminal father….

There’s a lot of story lines but they are all balanced well and I never felt like the book was cluttered. It’s a pretty long book (over 450 pages) but is also a fairly easy read. The length is due mostly to the high number of characters as opposed to overly-wordy writing.

There are some sweet themes like trusting God, loyalty, purity, and overcoming heartbreak. Some mature topics are mentioned, but are very brief and described tastefully. Christianity is a key part of the siblings’ lives, which I appreciated. And they’re homeschooled! That’s also a plus, as it’s rare to find homeschooled characters in fiction.

I did have a couple complaints:

First of all, there was quite a bit of head-hopping that I found distracting–especially since there are so many different character perspectives. I would have rather just had one character’s perspective per scene rather than several.

Also, I thought it was a little unrealistic that all of the older siblings were having similar relationship drama situations at the exact same time. Not to mention, it’s a bit obvious who is going to end up with who, in my opinion. Not quite “insta-love”, but still very clear that the two characters liked each other right off the bat.

Other than that, I thought this was a cute story left open for a sequel. Fans of fairytales and contemporary stories should enjoy this! You can learn more about it on Goodreads.

Have you read The Coronation? What did you think?

Continue Reading

Reintegration Cover Reveal!!!

Hello, everyone!!!

Today is a really big day because I’m finally going to show you the cover for my soon-to-come (as in: one month from now) dystopian novel, Reintegration. I had the privilege of working with Magpie Designs, and they did a FANTASTIC job of creating a cover that is absolutely gorgeous and I think fits the feel of the book very well. 

Without any further delay…here is the cover for Reintegration:

Continue Reading

Reintegration Blog Tour Sign Up


Hello, everyone!

TUESDAY IS REINTEGRATION‘S COVER REVEAL! I’m so excited to share the cover with all of you (and some cool bloggers will also be helping out). Also, as of Tuesday, it will officially be one month until the release date.

Which brings me to…

The Reintegration blog tour sign up!

If anyone with a blog would like to help spread the word about Reintegration around the time of the release, just fill out the form below and I can e-mail you with more details. 🙂

Thank you so much! I look forward to hearing from you.

Continue Reading

Interview With Author Nadine Brandes

Hello, everyone! 

I’m here with Nadine Brandes, author of the awesome Out of Time trilogy for an interview! The Out of Time series is a Christian dystopian trilogy. Most of my GoodReads friends raved about the first book, A Time to Die. I love dystopian books and knew I had to check it out! It’s one of few series that resulted in lots of fan-girling for me. 🙂 So I’m really happy to be able to share the interview with you!

 Here we go!

Ashley Bogner: If you had to pick your top three favorite books or series, what would be on the list?

Nadine Brandes: Oh goodness, you start with the hard questions! I’d definitely say:

1) the Bible (I know that seems like a cheesy answer, but I just can’t start a day without it!)

2) Harry Potter series — Because they had such a huge impact on my imagination!

3) The Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers, because they’re the best and most inspiring historical fiction I’ve ever read in my life.

 What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

READ! But that’s expected. I also enjoy cooking, traveling (I think traveling should totally be a hobby), rock climbing, reorganizing my bookshelves, and playing the piano.

Reorganizing bookshelves is definitely a hobby. 🙂

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Frankly, I adore all of it (yes, even editing!) But I think my favorite is when I first get a new idea and the excitement of developing it totally takes over my brain for several days. Those days are magical—when anything seems possible.

I also love the editing process!

Who is your favorite character in the Out of Time series?

How can you ask me this?!?! *dies* Obviously, I have to say Parvin. Probably because she is so much like teenage Nadine—and teenage Nadine and teenage Parvin would have made good friends. But don’t tell me to pick between Jude and Solomon. I can’t. I just….no.

Is there a certain Scripture verse/passage that particularly influenced the series?

There are several! Pretty much the entire book of Ecclesiastes, but also Isaiah 42:6-7 (book 1), Jeremiah 1:6-8 (book 2), and Isaiah 60:1-2 (book 3).

What is the biggest message or takeaway you hope readers pull from your books?

Well, it’s been amazing to hear the different takeaways that each reader finishes the book with—they vary so greatly and I love seeing how God weaves different themes in that I didn’t expect, that touch different readers.

But when I wrote the books, it was with the hope that readers would walk away with a new understanding that, no matter how dark life gets, there is always hope. And that we have a purpose in our lives — to help return the world to how it was intended to be. Shalom! I also really hoped that Parvin would be relatable and feel like a friend that my readers could journey with.

(I could go on and on with this. 🙂 )

One of the things I loved about the trilogy is that it does offer hope even in dark circumstances. That’s something definitely missing from a lot of dystopian novels.

Can you tell us anything about your latest project?

Actually yes! My latest project is a historical fantasy set in 17th century London. I will have many more details to share very soon via my newsletter. But you can prepare yourself for dark alleys, color magic, alchemists, midnight duels, and secret plots hatching in tunnels beneath London.

The book is a standalone and should release sometime in 2018.

Sounds super interesting! 😀 Can’t wait until we can all read it.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Keep writing! The writing journey can be very bipolar—encouraging one day, discouraging the next. Just keep pushing through. No matter how much you despair over a project, there will be times of rejoicing over it just around the corner. 🙂

And, if you ever can, attend a writers conference and connect with other writers! It will change your life. 🙂

Writer’s conferences are amazing!

Thank you so much for letting me interview you! 

More about Nadine Brandes:

NADINE BRANDES once spent four days as a sea cook in the name of book research. She is the author of the award-winning Out of Time Series and her inner fangirl perks up at the mention of soul-talk, Quidditch, bookstagram, and Oreos. When she’s not busy writing novels about bold living, she’s adventuring through Middle Earth or taste-testing a new chai. She and her Auror husband live in a Tiny House on wheels. Current mission: paint the world in shalom. 


Continue Reading

Life Doesn’t Always Go as Planned, and That’s OK

I like to have a plan.

I’m a huge fan of calendars, to-do lists, and figuring details out way in advance. I’m that one person who’s always early to events and needs to know exactly where and when things will be taking place. Needless to say, I don’t like surprises.

Interestingly, 2017 has been full of lots of surprises

And BIG changes of plans.

At this same time last year, I would have told you exactly what I had planned for my life. I knew exactly where I was going to college, how long I would be there, what I would major in, and what my post-college job would be. I knew what my publishing journey would look like. I knew exactly who I would be and what I would accomplish.

All of that changed over the course of a couple months.

I don’t know how everyone else reacts, but when my life does a complete 180, I find adjusting to the shift to be 1000000000% overwhelming. How dare something interfere with the meticulously-detailed life plan I had. It drives me crazy to have to re-figure things out. I start to feel lost without my trusty outline.

I think one of the biggest things God is teaching me this year is to let go of my expectations for myself and give everything to Him.

It’s so hard to do, when I’m holding on so tight to what’s easy and familiar. Or what seems like the best path with the limited knowledge I have. Oftentimes, I think God is saying, “Not that way. I have something better for you over here. Just trust me.”

But giving my dreams and goals to God is one of the most difficult things for me to do. I want instant gratification. I want things to go exactly how I want them to, without any hiccups. I want to feel successful by accomplishing what I planned to. At least, my idea of what successful is.

Instead God called me to other things. I’m going to attend a different college this fall and pursue a different major. My ideas for my post-college jobs has significantly shifted, too. I’m self-publishing instead of landing a contract with a major publishing house. My summer plans haven’t turned out quite as I anticipated. I’m still trying to figure everything out. The details aren’t set in stone. With some of it I have no idea what I’m doing. At all. I’m being introduced to some ridiculously-new concepts that go way over my head.

But the funny thing is, I can already see God’s hand in all of it.

I can see how He’s growing me and how He’s going to use me. My mindset is changing. I’m no longer holding on to my own plans with a clenched fist, not sure what to do when they’re yanked from my grasp by the circumstances of life. I’m slowly letting go, telling Him that He can use what I have to offer however He wants.

Loosening my grip on the thing most important to me–having a crystal-clear vision for what my future will look like–has been a growing process in and of itself.

I’m already seeing the benefits of the things to come. I’m excited for how they might turn out. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, that moment when I look back and say “Wow. God really saved me from something”. I’m already experiencing a bit of that moment. It’s not what I planned, but something tells me it’s going to be really awesome in the end.

I don’t need to cling to my own me-centered plans.

My wonderful Savior has my hand and is leading me on.

Continue Reading

Big, Exciting News!

Hello, everyone!

I have a big announcement to make that I am super excited about!

I’m publishing a book this year.

My dream, for years, has been to be a published author. Writing has been one of my favorite pastimes. My journey has been different from what I expected, but after a lot of prayer and research, I’ve decided to do something really scary and exciting and crazy.

Later this year, I’ll be self-publishing my dystopian novel, Reintegration. 

Right now, I’m almost finished with edits and the manuscript will just need a final look-over by my proofreaders (AKA my awesome mom and dad). Then it’s on to formatting and cover design!

I’m really excited, and also really nervous, that people are finally going to be reading what I’ve written.

Here’s the official summary:

A perfect citizen. A captured rebel. One decision could destroy them both…

As a Regulator, seventeen-year-old Katherine Holliday’s duty is to protect the people of the Federation from a group of violent rebels who have exiled themselves to the mysterious wilderness. When one of these rebels is captured within the Federation, the government leaders propose an alternative to execution, a procedure they call Reintegration. The procedure involves erasing the rebel’s memory and attempting to make him a member of society. The rebel, a young man named Matthew, is not the violent criminal Katherine expects, and she can’t help but befriend him. A few weeks after Matthew’s Reintegration, Katherine realizes the procedure failed and she is now presented with a choice no one else can help her make. Can she warn her superiors that Reintegration failed, which could mean death for Matthew? Or will she defy everything she knows to help him escape—and risk her own execution?

Be on the lookout for future posts with updates!!!!! 😀

P.S.–If you’re on GoodReads, would you consider adding Reintegration to your to-read list? You can find the page here.

Continue Reading

My Thoughts on the Insta-Love Epidemic

I’ve wanted to write this post for a while.

Entertainment impacts our thinking way more than we think it does (I wrote a whole post about it here). YA novels like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Twilight (and countless others) have become big parts of our culture. For teens in particular, books like these have greatly shaped their thinking.

One of these areas is with what a romantic relationship should look like.

Continue Reading

3 Stories That Break the Mold

On my Goodreads account, I have a shelf (a “shelf” is a category you can organize books in) dedicated solely to books/series that I thought had a certain level of uniqueness to them. If you’ve read a lot like I have, you know that after a while most stories and characters start to feel, well…generic. Plot twists become predictable. All the protagonists of books in the same genre look and talk and act identical to each other. It’s rare to find a book that makes me go “Wow, I haven’t seen anything like that before”. But sometimes I do.

If you’re looking for something to read that stands out, here’s three books/series you can try:

Continue Reading