“I am going on an adventure.”

We all know the words that started one of the greatest adventures of all time. And those same words continue to begin adventures, great and small.

My current expedition takes me into the Great Smoky Mountains–a place I loved passionately as a teenager. Even though I have since fallen in love with the beauty and majesty of the ocean, there is always a place for the Smokies–or anywhere, for I truly love adventures and travel.

I will be attending the Blue Ridge Mountains Writing Conference–and I am beyond excited! I am nervous and scared. But also so incredibly happy, expecting great things, that I cannot keep this smile off my face.

The conference does not begin until Sunday, but I decided to take a few extra days to spend enjoying the amazing countryside around. My days during the conference are absolutely packed–so I want to take advantage before and after of the opportunity to see as much as I can. My mom agreed to come with me–a relaxing vacation for her, and a travel buddy for me.

Anyone who knows me, knows I hate to travel alone. I want to experience as much as I can, but without someone to share those experiences, it is almost worthless to me. So, I am quite grateful that I do not have to experience this trip on my own.

Another source of excitement for me is the opportunity to meet my writing mentor–the woman who has coached me through my writing classes for over a year now. She was one of the founders of this particular conference. She is also the woman who has provided me my first publishing opportunity. That’s right, this fall, I will be a published author. It’s only a short in a collaborative work–my contribution is so small, in fact, that I won’t be paid for it–all proceeds from the sale of this book will go to charity. And when read in light of many of the other submissions, my work screams out amateur…but I don’t mind. With hard work and determination, my work will continue to improve. For now, this is a very small step with long reaching results. And I am quite happy and excited about it.


God of My Everything

I pulled the SUV over to where the pavement met the sand and sparse grass. My hands both wanted to cradle my face in their palms, and lift themselves to the sky–a desperate plea for Christ to meet me there. My heart ached for loved ones who were experiencing pain, loss, confusion…and ached for myself, as I experienced the same emotions, and the confusion of how to help in the face of such unfathomable depths.

The water lapped softly against the shore. Further out, gentle waves rose and fell. As I’ve gotten older, the water has become a source of peace and strength for me. A reminder of who Christ is, and His role in my life. Refreshing. Life-giving. Fierce. Encompassing. A balm to the wounded soul.

And so it was–with Bebo Norman’s album Ocean playing in the background–ten minutes on the reservoir’s shore was all that was necessary to give my soul the strength it needed to keep going. Because, as always, Christ did meet me there.

Ross Barnett Res.

That album has been constantly playing this week. It’s almost all I listen to. Norman has always been able to minister to my spirit with his songs.

I went on a jog at the Riverwalk this evening. It was a lovely day for it. As I ran, the dying sun cheered me on. With every step, I lifted up my heart to Christ. Most of the time, it was the same words, over and over: “Oh God of heaven come and hem me in. Gather the pieces that are broken. Show me the wonder of You again. Oh God of heaven.”

He is faithful. Of that I am sure. He is loving, good, and perfect. His mercies never cease. He has taken me as His own–given His name to me…made me a child of God.

Sometimes I do not understand what is going on, or what will happen. I do not understand what His full plan is for my life.

Sometimes we do not understand. And that’s okay. We do not have to. That is the beautiful truth of being a child of God. He will give us what we need in the time in which we need it.

In the meantime, I will hold fast to Him–to the God of my everything– and to the truths I know to be certain.

The Writer I Hope To Be

I’ve known for a long time that I didn’t want to be a Christian writer. This doesn’t mean that my faith is not important to me—quite the contrary. There is nothing that gives me quite so much purpose and joy in my life as my relationship with Christ. The guidance that He has given me has directed me through every decision I have been faced with.

But there is a stark difference in my mind between a Christian writer and a writer who is also a Christian.

I picked up a copy of Little Women when I was seven years old, and began moving swiftly through the classics. These literary works were often the efforts of writers who were Christians, but very seldom were marketed as Christian works. Whether the authors meant it as such, they carried the message of the gospel within their pages, as well as the values taught within Scripture, but these were veiled within the characters and the storyline. In this way, these great writers influenced society, teaching them the messages of the Bible without alienating those who would be put-off by the name of “Christian”.

As I grew older, after exhausting much of the classics library, I began to turn to Christian fiction. Much of it seemed stilted to my young mind; an exhausting tale of Christians in name, who followed rote in order to receive good from a benevolent God. This is not to say that everything under the Christian genre is purposeless or Pharisaic, but rather has to do with the manner in which I received it. I have since come to find that there are many Christian books that I enjoy–as a teenager, I simply did not know how to sift through the good and the bad of the genre as easily as others. But I realized that if I, as a believer, was put off by the Christian genre, then wouldn’t it effect a non-believer even more?

In Matthew 28:19 (ESV) we are told to make disciples of all people. While this is far from the only way to accomplish this goal, I feel that incorporating aspects of faith into the everyday lives of the public in the form of literature can serve as the stepping-stones that acquaint and lead readers to seek out Christianity for themselves.

It is due to my faith in Christ that I want to write content that will reach those who would never pick up a book that was labeled “Christian”. In this way, I can share the magnificent story that God has given us in the Bible.

If readers choose to act on what they learn in this way from my writing, then I will be happy. In the meantime, I hope that Christian and Secular markets will enjoy and learn from the stories I tell. In this, I am content.