Saturday, August 6, 2016

Happy Birthday to Meeeeeeee!

Sixteen years ago, I was dunk-baptized by Mike Campbell at Clayton Baptist Church during our Sunday morning service. I remember a lot of little details - the white shirt I wore with 90's art style blue and grey flowers across the breast, the clear tote bag with purple handles in which I brought my hair dryer to church, sitting next to my dad in a different pew than normal with hair still dripping holy water from the saturated ends during the sermon.
I wanted to get baptized because all of my other friends had already claimed Jesus and left their "old life" underwater. I answered all the ABCs of Christianity which approved me to be submerged in the spirit. From thence on, August 6 was my "baptismal birthday",making me a spiritual Leo, and finally giving me some form of personal holiday to celebrate in the summer. (You can't exactly throw a pool party five days before Christmas.)
But as I grew up and older, August 6 became an important date to me. During my freshman year of Chapel at North Greenville University, a very long, very adamant line of preachers insisted that if I didn't know the date, time, and place that I was saved, well, I wasn't saved. If I didn't have sweaty palms and an active fear of going to hell because of the heathen filth I was, I didn't know Jesus. This deeply unsettled me. I didn't feel like heathen filth. And who had I been praying to for the past 10 years? Who had been responding to those prayers? Hermes?
Even as I stood in front of Mike in my childhood church and spouted back the admits, believes, and commits, I felt troubled. From my very first memories, I could recall knowing Jesus. If nothing else, I knew he'd always known me, always loved me. And then we moved away from my home in Clayton and my relationship with God got totally wrecked.
Present Day - My spiritual mentor has been encouraging me to find the little-Aly. The fearful, the carefree, the trusting, the child, and in trying to find the space where I can shut adult-Aly's worries down, I realized that I don't know her. I cannot trace my memories back far enough to find her.
Some years ago, in this galaxy we're currently in - I had cancer. A stage 3 tumor the size of a grapefruit was engulfing my left kidney. Surgery. Radiation. Chemo. Long term hospitalization. Ports (this little thing they put in your body that draws blood directly from your heart and they have to stab you in the chest with a short, fat needle to draw the blood they need.) Nausea for days and nights on end (genuinely that was the worst part of it all.) Hair loss. Weight Loss. Seeing old photographs of yourself as a child on the edge of death is not an emotion I can easily explain. While I would never erase it from my life, having to fight cancer at a very young age changes your nature, your soul; it calls for you to lie still on a cold, metal table under radiation beams when you should be lying on a picnic blanket, finding dinosaurs in the clouds. It calls for you to lose all of your hair while your classmates are learning how to braid pigtails. It calls for you and your friends and your family to have the endurance, the strength, and the courage to say that failure is never an option because a life of 5 years isn't enough.
I still very much had a childhood. I went to Disney World (thanks, Make-a-Wish). I was in school plays, played sports, ate as much pizza as a tiny child can possibly consume, made sundaes with Mayfield chocolate ice cream, whipped cream, butterscotch AND caramel syrup, and rainbow sprinkles. I broke bones, I skinned knees, got my first B (ever) in Math in 3rd grade. Went steady with Jeremiah Vanderhorst from 1st until 4th grade. I had a great church family, great friends, good school, and acres of woods to tromp through and let my imagination run wild. Then I turned 11 and my parents scooped me up after a week of hell 4-H camp in Jekyll Island and plopped me here in ole Greenville, SC. I had never been so miserable in my entire life. In chasing that elusive spiritual-Aly-child, I find this to be one of the most pivotal moments in my relationship with God. It was the moment when he became a bully. When I started to ask him why it had to be this way, and I would not stop asking until I felt like I had an answer. I was split down the middle of knowing I couldn't survive in this weird new place (where the second question you're asked (after your name) is whether you pull for Clemson or Carolina) without divine intervention, and also hating God for doing this to me. And so from then on, everything bad that happened in my world was a constant system of cause and effect - God caused the bad thing to happen to me.
I bet you're thinking that this is where it gets good. This is where God turns the tables and he shows me an outpouring of favor and love and provision. Well, he didn't. There was no "envelope that showed up in my mailbox with the exact amount of money I needed for a mission trip" story in my life.

 I went to a garbage middle school, a slightly less garbage high school and then a University that told me my faith had to look like A,B,&C in order for it to be authentic, that I wasn't a "good" Christian if I didn't read my Bible everyday and pray a specific way and have a "ring by spring."

The majority of the "how to" lessons in my life have been learned by witnessing what not to do. (With the exception of how to parent, shout out to Mama and Papa Queen because they are the literal best.) I am just now beginning to witness "how to christian" based on people that are getting it right (by failing, loving, and being vulnerable and messy and trying).

I have kept silent on the topic of spirituality for awhile due to some of the absolutely atrocious conservative, close-minded "time hop" posts Facebook has so kindly brought back to my attention that I posted only a few years ago. Do not look for them. You will not want to be my friend anymore. (I don't want to be my friend anymore after some of them.)

When I look back to try to see how God was there for me, a lot of the time it's just the sole truth that I'm still around, that I have somewhere safe to sleep, food to eat, great parents and friends that at least try to love me and show up for me in ways that I understand.

If my parents had met and had kids at an average age, I'd be in my 40's right now, so maybe that's why my spiritual mentor constantly tells me that I'm an old soul. I don't know how to chase down my aly-child, part of me doesn't want to because I've fought so hard be where I am. In real life, if I could go back to being a child, I wouldn't. I probably wouldn't change much other than making sure I bought Brandon Campbell tickets to see Brand New at Orange Peel for his 24th birthday.

And honestly, my conclusion for you is that I don't have a conclusion this time. And that's okay. Maybe that puts me one step closer to finding that wildly extroverted, imaginative, carefree little girl that didn't always need a question or an answer. Sometimes the answer is "Because I said so."


For those of you who did read this. Please keep me in mind when you pray / send out good vibes. A lot of stuff is going down in my heart and mind and life all at once and I feel like I am going crazy. I need people to be friends to me. Get coffee. Eat Pizza. Cook Food. Have face time. Quality time is my #1 love language. I need you people to be the cords that bind with mine so I don't unravel.

And if there is anyway I can support you, listen to, or love you b/c you're in need, lemme know.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Five First World Problems of Fall

The temperature is dropping, school is in session once again, and every is walking around in infinity scarfs with steaming lattes in hand. The Autumnal Equinox is upon us, and if you're living in the first world, this brings upon five specific problems.

We'll start with the most difficult obstacle to overcome during the Fall season. There's 20,000 pumpkin flavored everythings everywhere. Channel your inner bubba-gump and start listing:

Pumpkin latte. Pumpkin scone. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin cheesecake. Pumpkin fudge. Pumpkin Spice Kahlua. Pumpkin shirt. Pumpkin car. Looks down and sees skin turning orange like a Pumpkin Beauregard.

But before you roll your eyes, don't try to deny that all of it is delicious and the real struggle here is finding the best pumpkin latte.

*hint* - It's not at Starbucks.

2. Sweater Weather. Not like the Neighbourhood's song.
The first leaf falls and all of us are scrambling to get the slew of cardigans out of the closet, but the issue is that it's still 98 degrees outside. (Give me just one night of non-sweltering heat, Fall baby, because my sweater game is so strong.)

If you live in the South, specifically the Carolinas, you can guarantee about 18 weeks of Summer, 2 weeks of Autumn, and 18 weeks of Winter.

Spending a lovely Saturday downtown at the farmer's market?

We're expecting a forecast of 45% chance Summer-clad shorts and crop tops, 45% Goodwill flannel and combat boots, and 10% of the usual population that dresses themselves from the clean clothes in their floor.

3. Apple Picking. yayayay!
The perfect fall activity - what could possibly go wrong? Well, lots of things.

If you wait to go during the two weeks of fall weather, all of the apples are long gone. If you go pre-fall weather, you're sweating your face off in all of your oh-so-perfect-apple-orchard-matching-Scotch-tape-flannel-flawless-facebook-couple photos.

This one has an easy fix.

You say screw the apples, they sell those at the supermarket. Screw the cutesy-couple photos, you look exactly like everyone else.

Do go buy apple cider donuts because that's what really matters here.

4. Hans Solo Season
Black Puffy Vest. White Button Down. Jeans. Tan Riding Boots. Probably pearl studded earrings and a monogram in the middle of the back window of their Ford Escape.

Don't buy any death sticks or make the choice to consciously dress like a fall pinterest pin-up.

The issue? There's so many of you, people are having panic attacks b/c they think the world is being taken over by Vineyard Vines clones.

5. Football Fanatics
Don't get me wrong, ya girl loves football. (yeaaaaaaaaaaah Georgia!)

What I don't love is the tacky, flag-flying, jacked up SUVs that are driven by people that have clearly never yielded to a traffic law in their lifetime. I'm sorry, did you want a parking space? I'll take three.

If you aren't driving recklessly for the namesake of your team, then you're probably speaking recklessly for them. I can appreciate some playful banter, but do not pull against my team just for the sake of "keeping it interesting."

More importantly, don't quote statistics at me from 20 years ago. There's this thing called the here and now, welcome to it.

Fall is typically everyone's favorite season, All the craft beers come out from the woodwork, you can smell campfires burning 5 out of 7 days of the week, and no one can deny that mild weather is the best weather. But as every rose has its thorns, every Fall has it's onslaught of ugg boots.

~Make Good Choices~

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hey, How are you?

"Hey, how are you?"

"I'm great. I've got a full time job doing what I love, I've been dating a wonderful dude for over a year now, we've got an awesome vacation planned come September, and my cat isn't using my sofa for a scratching post anymore..." what I should be saying.

But in actuality, I have a full time job doing something I don't love, I feel like my major talents and desires are being wasted, I fell in love with what could've been the right dude but at the wrong time, no vacation in sight, and Frosty is definitely shredding the shiz out of my sofa. (He also figures out how to destroy any gifts given to me, so please bring them in cat proof wrapping.)

Don't get it twisted, I'm not complaining, I'm actually super pumped to be alive, but I'm here to say, "God what the hell am I supposed to do with this?"

But let's get some background real quick.

Being a twenty-something is confusing and frustrating. And no matter what you're doing, there is so much pressure. Oh, you just got a degree? Find a job in your field immediately or else you're a FAILURE. You still haven't found a candidate for marriage? You'll probably be single for the rest of your life. Also, BABIESBABIESBABIESBABIESBABIES.

But where is this pressure even coming from? Friends, family, media, church, just trying not to be the dude that flips burgers for the rest of his life? Regardless, it's there and I know if you haven't "found your calling" you feel it.

But I want to speak to one thing I have found very important in the midst of all of this disappointment and turmoil in my life. It's what I think to be the greatest, but hardest calling that there is: Being yourself.

When you choose to be yourself, you're risking a lot of things. You're risking judgement. You're risking loving someone and not having those feelings reciprocated. You're risking being turned down for jobs or even being disowned by the majority of society.

Of course, we are meant for many purposes - loving people, creating meaningful things, making memories, etc. But I think God created us with the greatest intention of loving him and loving who he made us to be which prompts us to do all of the above things.

Which is why I feel so out of sorts. All the meaningful things I was pursuing - poof! Gone. Looking for a creative job. Pursuing marriage. The cosmic brakes/breaks (ha, get it?) were thrown on and I am 100% stopped where I am no matter how hard I'm trying to go places.

And what a terrible place that feels like it can be, because all you have to look at is yourself and your immediate scenery. But luckily, it doesn't have to be.

When you are knocked down by something bad happening, please do not immediately run the Conservative Christian thought gambit and immediately start looking for ways God is expecting you to grow or trying to make you grow.

When I come out of the sadness or anger, I find myself searching for the silver lining or at least an explanation, and most times that's just as exhausting as the emotional turmoil I just elbowed my way out of.

No one tells you how hard it is to just exist and try to live through grief or disappointment. I've had cancer, I've broken bones, and skinned my knees to the point where there's still gravel in one of them, and nothing is as painful as losing something or someone very, very important to you.

Right now, all I have is time, myself, and Jesus. Yes, I have friends and family that I am very thankful for and they help keep me hanging on, but they can't heal my wounds or make the things I want to happen happen for me.

So, the beautiful thing about being at a place where you're asking God what in the hell you're supposed to do with all this stuff that was dumped on you is that you don't really have to do anything, and that allows you time to discover another facet of who you are.

And I assure you, you are a 20,000 karat diamond. Or whatever stone you want to be, just lots of karats.

I miss and grieve my relationship, particularly the future I thought I had on lockdown. And I grieve for the job I don't have or may never have, but at the end of the day, who wants to just sit and grieve?

I want to live and discover and create and have fun and get to know myself better. The more self-aware I am, the greater grasp I've seemingly had on how to do life.

I feel like so many of the people I know are waiting on permission to live the way the want to and be the way the want to be but are stuck in a power struggle of finding themselves and living a formulaic life put in front of them by institutions or society.

All I'm saying, is that you've always had the permission to live the way you want to live. You don't have to follow in the footsteps of your parents, live up to expectations of your friends, or even succumb to the silly pressures I know we all put on ourselves.

It really bugs me that I have to put in a disclaimer here saying: I am not supporting being irresponsible or stupid and doing things to harm your fellow man. If you are even going to bring up the "murder can equate to this other piece of an argument" go ahead and shut up and sit down. We're adults here.

All I know is at the end of the day, all of us are of the same race and fighting battles both internally and externally. One of the greatest weapons to wage of all time is love and understanding for yourself, so give yourself time and care to sharpen that shit. You will need it later.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Escalator Etiquette

As of late, I've been visiting my close friends that all happen to work at haywood mall. In trolling around the mall on a slow week night and during the weekend rush hour, I'm bewildered to discover that the Greenville society is in need of some very important pointers on how to escalator. (We all know there's no hope for teaching people to walk in an orderly fashion while shopping, but maybe we can still save this.)

Rule 1: There is at least a 2 stair minimum between parties on the escalator. This is very important for many reasons. For example, should a poor soul get their ripped, boot cut designer jeans caught in the teeth of the escalator, the passenger behind said boot cut mall patron will need time to react or else he might be facing a lawsuit for (unintentionally) "getting fresh." 

The two step minimum is also a safe flatulance barrier. Either way, you are gliding straight into the wind, my friend. Be sure to give it some time and space to disperse. 

This goes hand in hand with a safe fainting radius. If the party in front of you is temporary blinded by their lack of adherence to the flatulance barrier, they might be hit with a strong sense of vertigo and proceed to topple backwards. If you are standing too close, you may as well be toppled over, causing a chain reaction of escalator riders to be toppled over, thus causing an endless cycle of people moving against the direction of the escalator, and thus causing a black hole within the mall. 

Pointer 1: When using an escalator as a form of transportation, it is best that you remain facing forward or have eye contact with your riding party. If you lean on the moving handrail with body, face, and projected vision facing the mall patrons walking toward you, it is likely you will glide into awkward eye contact that awkwardly unlocks the depths of a person's soul. If this proves a challenge, at least try moving your neck every 6 seconds. 

Rule 2: Do not walk more steps up or down the escalator as it is moving. This is an insult to the escalator. It is going as fast as it can. And by no means should you ever squeeze by someone on the escalator unless it is an emergency. Not only are you breaching rule #1, but you are causing a very dangerous situation in which a rider might be tipped off the escalator to their deaths. If you're such an eager beaver, hike your ass up the stairs next time. 

Pointer 2: Parents and guardians, please do not let your child put his or her face/mouth/tongue on any part of the escalator. It's not cute. Also, keep said small human on the same step as you, or one in front, seeing as how most still-growing humans have yet learned rule #2 of the escalator. 

Rule 3: No PDA on the escalator. The mall is not a place for dating. It is for spending unwise amounts of money on clothes for when you are on a real date. If you are not planning on spending money, dropping off a coffee for your friend that works at the mall, or walking the mall for fitness purposes, do not be at the mall. Particularly on the escalator. The escalator is for patrons with bags and tired feet. They are serious shoppers and are not interested in how much ass you can fit in your hand when it is at eye level. 

Pointer 3: While riding an escalator, do not look up at the person standing in front of you. It is the most wise to check your phone for texts, engage in polite conversation with your shopping partner, or stare down at the stairs for the length of the ride to make sure your ragged boot cut jeans do not catch in landing of the escalator. 

Random pointer: While on or near an escalator, do not recall the mall scene of the first final destination. If you have not seen the movie, disregard this pointer. 

So during your next visit to the mall, please remember these pointers and kindly adhere to the rules of the escalator. When in doubt, please take the stairs, it's better for your health. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

But who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most? -Mark Twain

My dad and I were in the car, on our way to run errands, maybe headed home, I don't remember exactly.  I had recently professed to be a Christian, around the age of 5 or 6, and we were talking about the changes that that decision had brought about in my life. We talked about what scripture is was reading in my largely illustrated, rhythmical, rhyming Bible. Then we started to talk about prayer and I was excited to tell my father about who made the top of my list. 

"Daddy, I prayed for Satan!" I told him at 500 decibels. 

He laughed. 

"That's sweet of you, Honey, but I don't think there's any hope for him."

"Oh," I said, assuming that my very knowledgeable, very devout father would know best on that subject. So, I probably shouldn't waste my time or prayers on someone for whom it wouldn't make a difference. 
But the other part of me was not convinced. I had hoped that my rememberance and genuine concern for the Fallen Angel would somehow cut around his stone heart and find the little, tiny crack in it that I believed was there. I recognized there was a good chance the Lord of all darkness may not appreciate my prayer, but how could there be no hope based on the love of God I knew? Not even for Satan. 

As an adult, I've realized that was probably my proudest moment, and I want to continue to believe with the heart of a child, that there is always hope and that God's love is wide enough and strong enough to cover even the one who has gone the farthest astray. The God I believe in loves everyone, no exceptions. 

As I go into the world each day, I want to be the place where heaven meets earth; a sanctuary for the love that has no exceptions. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Homosexuality vs. The Duggars

Sexuality in general is a conundrum. I believe it is the hardest part of life and the bible to understand because no one person's sexuality is exactly the same as another's. That being said, how difficult and unfair does that make it to create laws (in which I mean government laws) about it?

As you've probably seen, the Duggars family from TLC'S 19 Kids and Counting is being petitioned to be taken off the air due to "fearmongering" and "hate speech" toward the LGBT community. In case you don't know, I am a hardcore advocate for freedom of speech. It is the Duggar's right as American citizens to say whatever the hell they want to. I'm not sure if anyone ACTUALLY READ their statements, but at the core of their arguments, they're not hateful, they're not spreading fear, they're just extremely conservative and passionate about their beliefs. How many times do we have to remind people that opposing views does not make you racist, homophobic, hateful, or ignorant? 

Personally, as a Christian, I can't give you a concrete answer as to how I feel about homosexuality. Maybe that's terrible, Maybe it's not. All I know, is I am trying to learn, empathize, and research as much as I can until I have that answer. I am the child that asks why? after every single answer a parent gives. Blind faith is not a strong faith. 

For the record, I have plenty of friends that also happen to be homosexual or transexual, that's the thing, I don't set them into a different category of "my straight friends" and "my gay friends." They're just my friends. Now just replace the word "friends" with "people."

Legally speaking, I can tell you that I definitely stand with homosexuals that they shouldn't be denied the right to tax breaks or access to ill or hurt loved ones just because they aren't or are not allowed to get married. 

Marriage is, indeed, a Christian concept, specifically a marriage based on love and by love I mean a self-sacrifing, respectful, compassionate love, and yes, it was created to be between a man and a woman. But, Christians have adopted countless pagan lore, practices, and traditions for centuries. I believe it started out something like:
Hey, let's do more things pagans are interested in so they can hear about the love of Christ in a scenario they're comfortable and interested in.

Let's make a motion.

(1 year later)

Whoops, we got a little more worldly in some areas. Our b.
So don't get upset with people of other faiths, orientations, races for wanting to adopt a practice that  condones oneness and unity between lovers. Is that not ultimately what we're striving for in one way or another? Intimacy, love, acceptance, and happiness? Does that justify gay marriage to someone who doesn't stand for it? Well, no, but at least see their desires for what they are, which is largely the same desires that Christians have for their lives. 

But here's the meat amidst the potatoes of the blog post, people: our arguments as Christians against homosexuality (if that's the stance you're taking) cannot simply be "because the bible says it's wrong." If you aren't a Christian, you don't give a rats ass about the bible, so why should it dictate your pursuit of happiness? 

Is the goal here to win an argument or win a soul to the knowledge of holiness, goodness, and grace?In these exchanges, it's like everyone forgets that the Bible says the greatest law is to love the lord your god with all your heart, mind, soul, and second to that is loving your neighbor as yourself.

So, the main issue for Christians shouldn't be whether or not homosexuality is wrong; the issue is how do I show Christ to those who don't know him? What does loving a non-follower of Christ look like? Where do I draw the line between love of a wonderfully and fearfully made human and support of things [I] don't stand for? All sin is an abomination to God because it isn't holy, so shut up saying that God only thinks homosexuality is an abomination. Even if you want to try to rank sin from bad to worst, it doesn't change the fact that Jesus died for all of them and they're as good as gone. 

Regardless of what society says, love and grace happen when you say I don't care what you've done or who you are, I love you and I'm here for you because that is exactly what Jesus does every single day for me. 

I've said it in the past and I'll gladly say it again, if Christians, and I mean true believers, followers, pursuers of Christ, were known more for what they stand FOR instead of what they stand AGAINST, the arguments would be much different. I fully believe that Christians get more focused on sin sometimes than they do on Christ. 

May I remind myself as well as others, it isn't our job to police sin - that in and of itself is an impossible task. I cannot possibly have time to police everyone else's sins when it's necessary for me to spend every second of the day working on my own. 

Christ is the one who takes care of the sin, always has been and always will be. He just gives us the opportunity for the introductions. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Most Influential Book ..... Challenge

Well, Autumn Flanigan challenged me to list my top 10 most influential books. I don't why it's a challenge/nomination. Anyone could ask at anytime really and I'd tell you. But anyway, I always like to give reviews/explanations, so I thought hey, why not make a blog of it.

And here we are.

Top Ten Most Influential Books:

1. The Sword & the Stone by T.H. White - because it's the most perfect book in the universe. duh. It's my favorite Disney movie and also my favorite story. If you haven't read or seen either, I have no idea what you're doing with your life.

2. Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events - If you've only seen the movie, you need to read the books. There's no comparison. Lemony Snicket had a huge hand in influencing my writing style and humor. He has a very unique, dry writing style and very, very complicated plot. So complicated, I'm not sure he was able to bring all together himself. He wrote about tragedy and sadness and being okay despite nothing ever going right and I'm realizing as I'm typing this just how much putting that into a story means to me. Seriously, thinking about re-reading them makes me want to cry for both joy and sadness. Also, I still want to know what exactly happened to Beatrice.

3. Anything ever written by Laurie Halse Anderson.  Speak. Prom. Chains. Wintergirls. She is one of the other authors I aspire to imitate in morals and message. She writes about the ugly things in life that plague a lot of people but shows there is hope and strength that comes from each traumatic event.

4. The Hiding Place by Corrie Tin Boom - I remember absolutely not wanting to read this book for summer reading. I was like, ew, gross, Christian literature that isn't fiction. Turns out it was incredibly moving and eye-opening for my middle school self. Thankful that I read it b/c it exposed me to good memoir, as well as the importance of personal experiences.

5. Angry Conversations with God by Susan Isaacs - This book means a lot to me b/c it's probably the most recent thing I've read and in the midst of a bunch of hokey Christian literature, it's extremely authentic and also hilarious. Home girl writes exactly like I want to - snarky, but vulnerable and transparent. Go read it right now.

6. To Kill A Mockingbird - Maybe the only book I ever enjoyed reading in school. We all know it's slow at first, but if definitely packs a punch for the last 5 chapters or so. Love the characters. Love what the story stands for. Timeless piece of Southern lit.

7. Desperation by Stephen King - Because it's the most terrifying book I've ever read. But it's a battle between a "lesser god" and the God of the Bible. Guess who wins. It was excruciatingly gory, very dark and twisted, suspenseful, and actually had a really solid moral to it. It was the first time I realized a book could be more terrifying than a movie. Also, homeboy is the master of description.

8. Graceling by Kristin Cashore - Because it's the most interesting fantasy/adventure fiction I've ever read. I want this to be a movie so badly. The characters and story line are incredible. Fist pump for the strongest female lead ever and the most perfect fantasy male lead. Oi. One of my favorite books of all time.

9. The Horse and His Boy - Because it's MF C.S. Lewis. I don't know why so many people hated this book in the Narnia series, but it was my absolute favorite. He's the man and one of my favorite authors of all time. What some wisdom and what a way to bring the gospel to children.

10. Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B. Cooney - I love Greek Mythology. Another rad story about a girl standing up for her faith even though it's the uncommon thing. Lots of action, very suspenseful, and marvelous.

                                - HONORABLE MENTIONS -

Tantalize - It's a story about Vampires and Werewolves that actually isn't stupid. It revolves around another female lead trying to save her restaurant. Atypical romance as well. Good stuff.

Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Renninson - Easily the funniest books you will ever read in your life. British humor is the best.

If you can't tell, I'm a young adult fiction and memoir kinda girl and I own most of these books if you're interested in borrowing. It's been a fun challenge. :)