Love & Link-Ups: A Post for Fun, Fiction & Valentine’s Day

Happy (late) Valentine’s Day, dears! I’m never quite sure how to feel about this holiday, as a single girl. Should I buy myself chocolate? Pretend it’s not a holiday? Celebrate “Singles Awareness Day” instead? (No. I hate that term. It makes singleness sound like a disease, which is it not.) Actually, I like to spend Valentine’s Day celebrating… love. Shocking, isn’t it? But just because I’m not in a romance of my own, doesn’t mean I have no one to love. Today, I enjoyed the blessing of my family’s love, the love in my friendships, and the boundless love of the Savior. It’s love that has lasted me for years and years, and has no end in sight.

Of course, I’m not anti-romance by any stretch. I may roll my eyes or grumble about the occasional couple and all the posts with photos of flowers, but I’ve been a hopeless romantic since I first watched Sense & Sensibility at age seven. My favorite love stories tend to be just that: stories. As a writer and a romantic, it often fascinates me reading through a fictional couple’s story. True, there are plenty of romances I don’t care for, but when I find a couple I deeply care about, I must follow their story.

In the world of fans, there’s a special language for this situation. It’s called shipping, which essentially means wanting or supporting two characters in a relationshipBelieving two characters are perfect together means they are your one true pairing. In honor of Valentine’s Day, and the fact that many fans are more interested in fictional relationships, I’m linking up with the Fangirl Initiative on this subject.

It was so fun collaborating on this link-up with my fellow Initiative agents Sky and Jaime. Together, we came up with 14 questions to celebrate February 14 and our favorite fictional pairings. You can read the full link-up post, and find out how to join, here or by clicking the image below. If you’d like to hear about my chosen couple, read on!

It’s a wonder I haven’t mentioned the River of Time Series by Lisa T. Bergren before. They are my favorite young adult books, some of my favorite fantasy novels, and they include the story of one of my favorite make-believe couples.

If you haven’t read them, I recommend two things: 1) You read them and 2) You don’t read the rest of this post until then. I’m going to spoil some of the love story in answering these questions, and I’d hate to ruin the romance for you. And the series is so fantastic, it’s worth experiencing firsthand. Then we can discuss it! (Online book club, anyone?)
River Tribe

If you have already read these novels, don’t mind spoilers, are too curious to stop reading this post, or you don’t plan to read the books (though I could write a review that would change your mind), I will now come to the link-up questions and my answers.

cover collage

My chosen couple is Evangelia (Lia) Bettarrini and Luca Forelli. They start out as secondary characters in the series, but they were instantly stars for me. I loved watching their stories unfold, especially towards the latter half of the series when Lia becomes a main character. I’ll contain myself from writing a book report, and stick to the 14 questions shared on the Fangirl Initiative.

  1. What is their current relationship status, and how did they meet?
    “Current” depends on which book you’re reading. By the end of the series, they are officially husband and wife. They met when Lia and her sister Gabriella accidentally traveled back in time to Medieval Italy. The sisters were separated, and it was actually Gabi who met Luca first. He and his cousin, Marcello (spoiler: Marcello and Gabriella make a marvelous match as well!) help Gabi find her sister, Lia. Luca and Lia instantly have a connection, and become great friends through the early part of the books.
  2. Why do you want them to be together? What makes them better together? They know how to be a team. Their relationship is romantic, but it’s so much deeper than that. They understand each other and respect their differences, using them as strengths rather than weaknesses. They can survive without the other, but they thrive together. 
  3. What song(s) remind you of them? I would say “I See the Light” from Tangled. (See question #12 for more on that.)
  4. How would they divide household chores (cooking, cleaning, etc.)? Being nobility in Medieval Italy, they have servants, so neither one has many chores. If they did, Lia would likely attend to most of them. Though Luca would do just about anything his lady asked him to. (With some teasing complaints tossed in.)
  5. What would this couple argue most about, and who is most likely to compromise? They tend to argue about their different ways of handling situations. They’re protective of each other, and sometimes overly so, which causes a bit of conflict when one starts to feel smothered. Fortunately, both are good at compromising, so it all evens out. 
  6. What interests do they share? Archery, riding, art, spending time with family, and laughing together.
  7. Are they introverts, extroverts, one of each? Lia is an introvert, and Luca is an extrovert. In some relationships, this could cause friction, but in theirs it lends more balance.
  8. What would their first date be like? (If they’ve already had their first date, describe their ideal date.) I would imagine a picnic in a sunny spot, perhaps by a river. (This IS the River of Time series, after all.)
  9. Do they get along with each other’s families? Yes, completely. Since his cousin marries her sister, they really are all one big, happy family.
  10. In what ways do they drive each other crazy? In what ways do they drive other people crazy together? See answer #5 for one way they drive each other crazy. I think it also drives them crazy that it’s hard to stay mad at one another. They drive other people crazy with their inside jokes, and earlier in the story, their resistance to actually forming a relationship. Or maybe that last one just drove me crazy. 😉
  11. Where would they go for their honeymoon/a romantic getaway? Sienna, or perhaps Normandy.
  12. Do they share any similarities to classic romantic couples? (I.E., Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, Beauty and the Beast) Maybe it’s too soon to consider them a “classic” couple, but Luca and Lia remind me of Flynn and Rapunzel from Tangled in many ways. Hence the song that I chose for them (#3)
  13. What would their “celebrity couple” name be? (I.E., Brangelina) I really can’t think of anything, considering their names both begin with the letter L. Lucia? Liuca? This is harder than I expected.
  14. Where do you see this couple in 10 years?​ Happily married and with several adorable children, some of whom are outgoing and spontaneous like Luca, some quiet and sweet like Lia. And I imagine this couple will continue to fight for justice as needed.

Who are your favorite fictional couples? Have you read any unforgettable love stories? Did you celebrate this Valentine’s Day?

Lots of love!

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Thanks for Nothing

Thanks for Nothing

I have so much to be thankful for. It crosses my mind at random intervals throughout the year, but at Thanksgiving, it’s so much plainer. Towards the end of November, life seems to glow with gratitude. As the season crosses into Christmas, I want to sing and smile at strangers and express thanks for everything.

But there is one thing I’m not thankful for. I have trouble being thankful for nothing.

It’s an odd statement, and I’m pretty sure it’s grammatically incorrect, so let me explain.

When everything is going my way, when life is busy and bustling with blessings, it’s easy for me to be grateful. It’s second nature to give thanks for each good thing, for each answered prayer and successful step forward. When my dreams come true; when I get the job I wanted; when the words come smoothly, the “thank you’s” flow freely.

In the times when nothing is happening, though, when nothing is working out the way I planned, and I feel like I know nothingI don’t consider being thankful. How can I be, when there isn’t something to be thankful for? Who says thanks for nothing? 

I don’t. When nothing is going as I want it to and I feel stuck in that nothingness, my response is not to be grateful. It’s to sulk and mope about how nothing is going right. Nothing is happening. Nothing is changing. 

Although this year has been a whirlwind of change for me, it’s also been spaced out with empty caverns of nothingness. I’ve hated those “nothing” times. As difficult as change is for me, being stuck in the middle of nowhere, in the midst of seemingly nothing, is worse. I’m only thankful when I get out of those places!

Yet looking back, and then looking ahead and wondering if I’ll be in another “nothing” stage soon, I’ve realized something. Those times of stillness, when nothing happens and I go nowhere, have been some of the most life-shaping seasons for me. In every long stretch of “nothing”, something actually has been happening. God has gracefully been teaching me patience. He’s been holding me back when the time isn’t right for something else. He has given me these pauses so I can breathe, and rest, and simply wait and be still. 

Those moments of nothing are when I should be most thankful. Rather than being anxious about what may be ahead, and when I’ll get to it, I should actually pay attention to the powerful words found in Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

Every time I’ve read that verse, I’ve paid attention to the prayer and supplication part. Do you know which part I’ve ignored? With thanksgiving. 

Don’t be anxious; be thankful. Even when there is a cause for anxiety, give thanks.

In everything and in nothing, give thanks.

This Thanksgiving, I want to say thanks, even for those times of “nothing.” …Especially for those times of nothing.

give thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends! In the times of everything and of nothing, I pray you’ll be blessed.

What are you thankful for this year?

Also, on a mostly unrelated note, what kind of pie do you prefer? The pumpkin pie pictured above gave me a craving, but there are some scrumptious apple pies in my kitchen at the moment too. How does a girl choose?

One last thing before I go for the pie and whipped cream: Thank you for being a reader and friend here! I can’t express my gratitude, and how much it means to share the journey with you. It’s another thing I truly give thanks for.

Happy Stuffed-Like-A-Turkey Day!

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