Blog Stuff, College Life, Writing

Beginning Again

Where I live, we’re caught in the awkward time of year between summer and fall. See, technically it’s still summer, but school’s back in session, so it should feel like fall. And if we’re being really technical, we don’t experience very much variety in the seasons department ‘round these parts. They all just kind of blend together in a combo that slides from spring to summer and back to spring.

You can tell I’m getting old when I open a blog post with a discussion about the weather. Sigh.

Maybe I’m not that old, but I did start my fourth year of college this week! As a matter of fact, it’s Day 4 of my senior year of college.

Senior. Me. Anna Schaeffer. What.

I’ll try not to freak out on you. No promises, but I’ve yet to go into hyper-cleaning mode like I do when I’m stressed.

Now that my Costa Rica series is over (click here to read it), we’ll be moving on to some new topics on the blog. I had such a great time sharing a few of my experiences with you, and I appreciate all of you who told me you were keeping up with my journey.

Now that the series is over and school is once again in  the picture, here’s what the blog schedule will look like:

Because I’m doing the whole manage-your-priorities thing, homework has to come before blogging. Because as fun as blogging is, it doesn’t pay the bills. Neither does school, but you know what I mean. But take heart: I’ll still be hanging around! I’m just planning on a weekly rather than biweekly posting schedule this fall. Blogging really is important to me and I have the greatest time sitting down to type out my thoughts and hearing what’s going on in your lives, too.

If you’re curious, I’m taking classes exclusively in my major (English Creative Writing) and minor (Communications) this semester. Core requirements are behind me (with the exception of I have to pick up later), which means each of my classes are either writing intensive, reading intensive, or writing and reading intensive. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about that later on.

In other news, I finished the first draft of my 2nd novel!!

You know, that one I mentioned a couple months ago. The one that involved lots of conflict and “what if” questions and research. The song of my heart? That’s the one. And it’s done! Or at least the first draft. I’m taking a bit of a break from the story so I won’t be so overwhelmed by things that need to change when I read through it. It’s currently just under 80,000 words, which is actually a little over my goal. It’ll be trimmed and rearranged and all that good stuff, but I’m happy with where it’s at for the first draft.

I’ve never poured so much emotion into a story before. I’ve never had such high stakes (not to be confused with steaks, which would be an awesomely delicious story element) in something I’ve written, either.

This story is also a little grittier than my previous stories. And I don’t mean that in an edgy, cover-the-kids’-eyes way, of course. What I mean is, it’s about life. And life isn’t always handed to us in a neat little package with a big bow on top. Sometimes it’s feels like life is dumped into our lap and we have to sort through everything before it makes sense. And that’s where the emotion, hopefully, comes in. The goal is for the reader to see that, yes things happen that we don’t understand, but God promises He makes all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28).

A lot of times, writers tell you their characters take over the story and do what they want to do, rather than what the author wants them to do. If you’re a non-writer, that may sound ridiculous, but if you love penning stories like I do, you’ll probably understand what I’m saying.

Example:  I didn’t anticipate my main character’s personality. I thought I had a pretty good grasp on how she processed life before I started writing, but she turned out differently. She’s a little snarky like I thought she’d be (she’s a product of my brain, after all), but her voice is so much stronger than I’d planned. Her story is pretty serious, so although there are jokes and one-liners and other things I wish I were good at in real-life, she needs that strong voice to carry us through her story.

Maybe it’s because my characters are in their teen years, or maybe it’s because I’m in to happily-ever-afters, but I had to fight really hard to make the plot go the way I wanted and not end up super bubbly and light-hearted. Meaning, I had no intentions of writing a love story.

But then, somehow, one of the guy characters ended up with a dimple on his chin. So of course the girl character think that’s adorable, and I found myself yelling at my main character, saying: “You can’t like this guy! You actually despise him! You don’t even let people see past the wall you’ve built up around yourself!”

And she was like, “But he’s got this dimple and deep eyes…”


And she responded with, “Well, at least don’t make me say that next line to him. That’s hurtful.”

And then I walked away from my laptop for a few hours, trying to figure the whole thing out. And I don’t want to give any spoilers or anything, but I will say we reached a compromise (Really, though, I  just laid down the law…don’t tell my character).

As I was thinking about this the other day, I realized something: We’re just like those characters. Obviously, we’re real and they’re not (unless you’re me and they’re constantly murmuring things in the back of your mind), but we’re people living out a  story.

Oftentimes, we try to do things our own way, just like my example up there. I’m not just talking about relationships, although you’re welcome to draw your own conclusions from that. But we think we know what’s best for us. I’ll be the first to raise my hand.

NEWSFLASH, ANNA: You don’t know what’s best for you.

But God does. And He has big plans for our lives, if we’ll just trust Him. If we’re following Him, He will take all of the stuff we’ve been through and use it for our good. For a purpose that glorifies Him.

I’m excited about the next step for this novel. I’m excited about revising and editing and everything else that comes along with the whole writing thing.

I’m also excited to see what God has in store for Fall 2013 in my own, real-life story. What about you?

In His love,



A New Story

I’m noveling again. What does that mean, exactly? Well, I’ll tell you. It means I’m oh-so-slightly neurotic about life at the moment. I’m obsessive about taking notes on anything and everything that could possibly be incorporated into a scene. I’m paying way more attention to my surroundings than usual, too (okay, so that’s actually a plus). It means I’m asking random people random questions at random times. It means I’m bouncing ideas off my sister like, “What do you think of this name for a character?” or “What should I name this guy who seems cool but actually has a messed-up life ?” It also means that, if you have a conversation with me, I’m most likely paying attention to your word choices, your facial expressions, and your reactions to what I say back to you. It means viewing my Google search history is definitely not in your best interest. And I love it. I know all of that might seem a little creepy, but…

Okay, so it is a little creepy.

The point is, I’m writing my second novel. The one I finished drafting almost a year ago was for “practice” and, as such, it will be a while before it sees the light of day again. I mean, it’s still very special to me, but I know its plot still needs some attention, and I also know I’ve improved in a couple of areas since I excitedly typed “The End” on the afternoon of July 25, 2012 (of course I still remember the exact date…).

writingspace1Part of my writing space. Behold my wonderful wall-o-cork with a few scene notecards pinned up. On the front of each card, I write the name of the scene, then on the back I write who’s in it, what its purpose is, a brief summary, etc. writingspace2

A close-up (taken several months before the previous picture) of my “happy place.” See the gnome? He’s my writing buddy, although I’ve yet to figure out exactly how he helps. He’s just too cute.

I’ve been planning this new project almost as long as I’ve been finished with the first draft of my other story. And, weirdly enough, the main character of this new one is the best friend of a character in my last story, who is actually the main character in the very first novel I started writing when I was around fourteen. Catch all of that? I have plans to return to that very first story after I finish this one, but it’s just kind of cool how I’m getting to know a character who’s been around for years.

And wow, does she have a story!

Last time, I kept the details of the story to myself. I wrote the novel in chapters, sending them out to my sister and a friend each time I completed a new section. But that’s it. I didn’t discuss plot or characters or anything with anyone. Top secret stuff.

But this time, I need help. The story is so much more complex and deals with things I’ve never experienced. My sister Abby has agreed to help me research some stuff (If you’re reading this, Abby, please contain your enthusiasm. And eye-rolling), and I’m being forced to open up more about what’s going on in the story. But because the story is so much more complex, I’m not passing out chapters for critique as they come. Everything has to tie together so much more tightly, so it wouldn’t work to break it into pieces like that.

So what’s it about? The theme is purpose. It’s about how, no matter who we are, what we’ve done, or where we’ve come from, God has a plan for our lives. In that way, it’s also a story of redemption. I love a good redemption story.

I’m already learning a lot through this project. My main character isn’t a Christian, so I’m trying to figure out how she approaches difficulties in life. Personally, when I’m faced with something hard, I pray. I may also recite some Scripture verses that tell of God’s promises. But what about my character who believes that, if there even is a God, He’s hands-off and doesn’t actually care about the details of her life? How does she process tough stuff (and she’s seen more than her share of that)? All I know is that I would feel hopeless. Without knowing I was loved so deeply by my Creator who has great plans for my life, life would be meaningless. Without purpose.

I became a Christian when I was young. I’m the daughter of a deacon and a Sunday School teacher. I’m the granddaughter of a pastor. I’ve grown up knowing Jesus loves me. So this project is really opening my eyes. I can’t imagine life without Jesus, but I know so many people live day-to-day without knowing Christ as their Savior, their Hope, their Redeemer. Without feeling His grace wash over them. It’s heartbreaking, and that’s one of the reasons why this story is the song of my heart.

It’s also one of the reasons why this project feels like such a huge responsibility. It’s a story bigger than anything I could tackle on my own. It’s a story I can only tell when I sit back and allow God to tell the story through me. It can only be effective when I realize it’s not my story at all, but rather, His story. A story that He can use.

Writing is a form of worship for me. So whenever I get overwhelmed with how difficult it is to tell such an emotional story, I remind myself that I write because I love it. And I love it because I feel close to God when I write what’s on my heart—what He puts on my heart.

This story has so many twists, turns, and questions, but I’m excited about it. I’m excited to sit in front of my computer and transpose this song of my heart. This piece of me. This story that’s screaming to be told. My main character may be fictional, but to me, she’s real. Like a close friend for whom I care deeply. Because of this, I’m  trusting that the Lord will accomplish His purpose through both my life and the life of this character.

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” – Psalm 138:8

In His love,


P.S. Have a question about my writing? About things that inspire my stories, how I get to know my characters, or my writing techniques? Or maybe some other, completely random question (it’s fair game!)? Leave a comment or send me an email, and I’ll answer them in my next writing-related post :)


Writing Stuff

A few weeks ago, I got a new book in the mail. That’s really not unusual, but this is a book I’ve been wanting for quite a while. When the book finally arrived in the mail, I was excited. Not the we’re-having microwave-chicken-pot-pies-for-dinner kind of excitement (although those do make me happy), but more of a this-feels-so-strange kind of excitement. Actually, it almost felt scary. What book did I receive? Behold this beauty:


Boom. Nice, isn’t it? Of course, I immediately posted a picture of the book on Facebook, announcing how I would be spending my Wednesday afternoon. I happily spent some time flipping through pages upon pages of agents, publishers, magazine companies, and more. ‘Twas beautiful.

To answer a question you may (or may not) be asking: No, I’m not submitting anything for publication. Yet. But here’s what I am doing: I’m learning about the market. I’m learning how the whole agent representation thing works, what publishers are looking for, and how you go about putting all of that knowledge into action.

I’m also working on a book proposal.

See, I’ve got that novel that I’ve been working on for a while now, and I’m in the third-draft stage (I’m currently planning on four drafts total). Revisions get kind of tedious after a while, so I decided to break up all of that by working on other things like a summary, a synopsis, a blurb (like what you’d find on the back of a book), and other stuff. I’m quickly discovering that those things are way easier to talk about than they are to create. 

If you’ve ever come up to me and asked what my story was about, you probably got an “Um, well, it’s about this…this…girl…” response. That’s because it’s hard for me to summarize around 70,000 words worth of action in a sentence. Now, I could just tell you it’s a story about love and loss…and that would be true. But how generic is that? I mean, The Hunger Games deal with issues of love and loss (definitely more loss than love, though), and my main character is pretty different from Katniss Everdeen. She doesn’t eat squirrels, for one thing. So that’s where a quick-pitch sentence for the book will come in handy. Not only will it prevent me from awkwardly tripping over my words, it’ll also make me feel like I’m actually answering people’s questions. Because I feel genuinely honored whenever someone takes an interest in what I do. I’ve just gotta get better at explaining what I do. Sigh.

But anyway, I’m still working on the story itself, too. I still have a long way to go (although I do think I’m doing a little better with this book than when I write short stories…but that’s for it’s own future blog post), but progress is happening. I seriously thought about sharing some quotes from it, but that would just be weird, especially since I can’t really tell you what’s going on with my characters without floundering like a, well, flounder.

So what’s the purpose of sharing all this? Just as an update, really. Even though it’s going to be a tough journey (I’m already learning that), I’m sticking with it. I’m learning to always keep learning; to always keep moving forward, even when it feels like I’m standing still. Sure, I may currently be a college student, busy with homework and learning more about the craft of writing, but I’m still actually writing, too. I’m learning this whole thing requires tough skin and a willingness to keep trying.

But isn’t that what life is like, especially for a Christian? It’s not always easy, but we keep pressing on, reaching for our goal, heading toward the finish line. And somehow, despite all of the obstacles and trials we face, we keep running the race. Because the destination is so worth it. And it’s the knowledge of that destination that fills the journey with joy.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,  since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” –Colossians 3:23-24

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 3:14

In His love,


God Talks, My Kind of Average, Writing

“He Knows the Plans”


Little Sis turns three today. Three. Gone are the days of swaddling and bouncing and spoon-feeding. No more baby talk, no more pacifiers, no more potty training sessions.

Actually, we’re still experiencing those things, but with her baby dolls. There’s Natalie, Jennifer, Giggles, Teeny, Tiny, and lots more. Instead of spreading a blanket on the floor for Little Sis to play on, I’ve assumed the role of Auntie Anna as I spread the blanket for her little plastic children.

The other day, I told Ellen I might cry on her birthday.

“Why will you cry?” She asked, her little face level with mine.

“Because I don’t have a baby sister anymore. She’s going to be three years old!”

And then Little Sis smiled sweetly.

“Don’t grow up, Ellen. Okay? I want you to stay little forever.”

“No mine can stay little forever!” She exclaimed, using her trademark grammar that sometimes drives her oldest sister nuts.

“Why can’t you stay little forever?”

“Because God made me to grow up!”

Well. How can I argue with that?

She’s entered a new phase. The toddler phase is quickly following the baby phase. The result: a tiny little girl. A giggling, smiling, dancing, heart-melting little girl.

On Ellen’s second birthday, I posted “The Story of a Miracle” which was a letter I wrote to Ellen. I also have something I want to share this year. It’s a creative non-fiction story I wrote in a creative writing class this past summer. It’s the true tale of the months leading up to her birth, told in short story form. Yes, I turned this in as an assignment in a secular university. And yes, it’s a powerful story of God’s unending faithfulness. When I submitted it to a workshop in that class, and later as I submitted it in my final portfolio, I prayed God would use Ellen’s life to strengthen others’ faith in the way her story has strengthened mine. The power doesn’t come from the vocabulary, sentence structure, or imagery. The power isn’t the result of anything I can possibly write. See, there’s power in the truth, and this true story shows that God really does know the plans He has for us. It’s my prayer you’ll be encouraged, too, as you read “He Knows the Plans.”

So happy birthday to my littlest sister. You’re God’s awesome answer to the prayers, doubts, and questions of your oldest sister. You’re proof that God’s still in the miracle making business, writing incredible life stories for His children. You’re all of that plus so much more, and you’re only three years old.

I’m going to love every minute spent watching you grow in the love of the One who is most excellent.

I’ll love you oh-so-much forever,


“He Knows the Plans”

by Anna Schaeffer, 2012

     Where’s Mom? I thought as I rolled a creamy coat of paint over the concrete wall. I made a W shape with the roller, matching the concerned expression on my brow. I hope she’s not in another room painting. A few moments later, I sighed with relief as my Mom appeared in the doorway to take some pictures. I brushed a sweaty lock of hair off of my face and reached for my water bottle. “Mom, you should probably go back into the main room where the fans are. It’s too hot back here.” I kept my voice a whisper, so that the other people in the room wouldn’t overhear.

     “I’m fine, Anna. I’m just taking pictures.” Despite her reassuring tone, my anxiety was as thick as the New Orleans summer humidity. I reluctantly nodded my head, then resumed painting by criss-crossing another W on top of the one I had just painted.

     I was seventeen that summer, and on a mission trip with my family and some church members. I’d anticipated the trip for months and thought the trip would be a worry-free week of ministering to others. But that was before the family meeting. As I worked, my mind wandered back to the meeting that had occurred home in Georgia just a couple of days before.

     The day before the trip, my parents gathered my two younger sisters and me into the living room. This was unnerving, because my family never had meetings unless a relative had passed away. But rather than announcing the death of someone, my parents told us about a new life: a new sibling’s life. This news came as a gigantic shock to me. My parents were in their forties, and it had been twelve years since a baby had been in the house. It was the kind of news a soon-to-be high school senior needed time to process. However, as I packed for the mission trip, I was told to keep the news a secret until my mom could see a doctor.

     I dragged my mind back to the present when one of our team’s leaders announced it was time to leave for Bible club. I, along with the other teens in the group, loaded up on the sweltering church bus and headed towards the inner-city mission building. I loved playing with kids, and I loved sharing the good news of Jesus with them, but my mind remained on my mom and the baby. As I played kickball in the hot sun with my mission team and a group of children, I worried that my mom might get too hot back at the construction site. When the group migrated inside the building to cool off with some icy Kool-Aid, I wondered if Mom was staying hydrated. When the group colored pictures with the children, I hoped she was staying away from paint fumes.

     As I sat at an old wooden table, concentrating on a jigsaw puzzle with a group of young girls, I felt like a hypocrite. After all, I was supposed to be bringing hope to a city filled with desperation. How could I share with people that God was faithful if I was having so many doubts about how He would look after my mom and the baby? Clearly, my heart needed a renovation. I was like that shell of a house my team was working on; still functioning, but not the best I could be. I believed in the power of prayer, but I still worried when uncertainties entered my life. Of course, I didn’t realize these things until after the trip was over, but at the time, I was gradually learning to rely on God and to place my worries into his capable, omniscient hands.

     Half a year later, on January 26, 2010, I anxiously switched my weight from one foot to the other in the corner of a tightly-packed room. Four stark white walls surrounded me, and machines beeped and whirred next to the bed. My two sisters, dad, and grandmother stood next to me as I anxiously fiddled with my hands. Time seemed to pass in slow-motion as I waited to meet my new sibling. Finally, after nearly nine months of waiting, praying, and learning to trust God, I got to hear my baby sister utter her first cry. It was a shriek that pierced the air, but rather than covering my ears, I raised my hands to my mouth, overcome with all kinds of emotions I couldn’t yet sort through. The cry was proof of life; proof of miracles. As I held Ellen for the first time, I ran my finger over her chubby pink cheeks, her strawberry blonde hair, and her tiny, rounded nose. I counted her delicate fingers and stared into blue eyes full of promise; not only promise of a purposeful life waiting to be lived, but also the promise of God’s faithfulness. I felt tears trailing from my own blue eyes, down to lips that whispered, “Thank you, God” like a praise song on repeat.

     As I stood with my newest best friend wrapped securely in my arms, I knew I was safe in the strong hands of God. As much as I already loved my sister, I knew God loved us more than I’d even begin to understand. As I pulled Ellen even closer to my chest, I remembered the Bible verse my family had claimed shortly after the surprising baby announcement. In the NIV version of the Bible, Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” God had proven his faithfulness to my family by blessing us with a perfectly healthy baby and mother. I realized all of the worries I had experienced were futile, because God had been in control of the situation all along. However, had my family never gone on the mission trip to New Orleans months before, and had I never experienced such anxiety, I never would’ve learned to fully rely on God. Only by facing uncertainty did I learn God’s promises are sure, and that He knows the plans He has for us.

College Life, God Talks, Writing

In Faith

If you’ll recall, last semester I took a class known as Poetry Workshop. When I first went into that class, I knew next to nothing about poems. I mean, I’ve been writing poems for myself for years, but I’d never actually studied them. I ended that class with a whole lot more knowledge about poetry and greatly improved skills (I use that term loosely). I enjoy writing poems, but poetry isn’t my thing.

I like fiction. This semester, I’m in a class called Fiction Workshop. What happens is everyone submits short stories for the class to shred into hamburger meat critique. Then, armed with tips and a dose of humility, you take your story home and revise the stew out of that puppy.

Even though my turn to submit hasn’t come yet, I’m already learning so much just by critiquing my peers’ stuff. Each day, I’m seeing how other people do this thing called writing, and it’s helpful to see other people’s techniques. It’s also helpful to hear what the professor has to say about everyone’s writing. I’m constantly making mental notes on how I can incorporate his advice into my stories.

The good news is, I’m nowhere near as lost in this workshop as I was when I first started studying poetry. My heart beats a little faster whenever someone mentions voice or point-of-view, and I’m pretty sure my ears perk whenever the phrase “dialogue tag” is tossed around. I’m a huge writing nerd. Man, I love that stuff! And for the most part, I understand it. The problem is applying it to my work.

Look, I’ve written a novel. It’s not yet up to publishing quality by any means (sing with me now: A dream is a wish your heart makes…), but it’s complete. Whole. Baked. Whatever. I wasn’t nervous while writing that novel, and I’m not nervous whenever I sit down to work on the draft of my newer one. And yet, when it comes to preparing this little short story, I’m on the verge of a freak-out.

And here’s why: While working on my novel, I was writing it for myself. I wasn’t obligated to show anything to anyone. That was a choice I could make if/when I wanted. I mentioned this before, but even after I typed “The End” and hummed the “Hallelujah Chorus,” I still didn’t show it to that many people. Even after finishing the second draft, I still haven’t shown it to many more people. And that’s because there’s no pressure when you’re not trying to live up to people’s expectations.

My workshop class may not have any expectations of me or my work, but there’s still pressure because they’ll be critiquing it while it’s still in the rough draft form. It’s enough to make me shiver, but I know this class is good for me. It’s my first little taste of what it’ll be like in the publishing world. I’ll one day deal with agents, editors, publishing houses, and readers. I’ve heard you have to have tough skin to be a writer, but honestly? Sometimes I feel  like one of those off-brand trash bags on the TV commercials. You know: wimpy, wimpy, wimpy.

A little while ago, I blogged about feeling unqualified to be a writer in “The Humble State”. God has definitely helped me out in that area, but I’m still learning. Sometimes, I still crawl into bed at the end of the day and wonder how God could possibly use me.

But wouldn’t you know, during those nights when I’m sitting in bed, reading God’s Love Letter to me, He leads me to Scripture that perfectly addresses my concerns. As strange as it may seem to say I’m comparing myself to a guy known as The Weeping Prophet, I’ve found great encouragement from the moment God called Jeremiah to be His messenger.

“The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’

Ah, Sovereign Lord,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.’

But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am only a child.” You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.’” –Jeremiah 1:4-7

Did you see the part where Jeremiah told God he couldn’t deliver the Lord’s messages because he was young and inexperienced? And did you see where God says (and I paraphrase here), “I know you and what you’re capable of. You think you’re too young and inexperienced? Go anyway, I’ll take care of you.”

Okay, whoa. I read that passage often, and it still hits me every single time.

I don’t know what God’s called you to do, but I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has moments of “I’m not going to make it.” We all have those moments. The important thing to remember is, if God says He’s with you (and He is), then that’s a promise. And He always keeps His promises. Always. He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), and if we’re walking (or writing, as the case may be) in faith, He will take care of us.

So here’s what I’m doing: I’m stepping out in faith. I know I have a long way to go in my writing, but I’m not worrying about what others  will think. This is where God has planted me, and I’m going to concentrate on growing in faith. I’m striving to do my part, gaining confidence and experience and trusting that He who is faithful will work everything according to His most excellent plans.

In His love,



P.S. Since we’re on the topic of gaining confidence, walking in faith, stepping out of our comfort zones, and whatnot, I should probably mention that some of my writing is available online. If you check out the following links, you should be able to get a sense of my writing voice and the genre (young adult) in which I write.

A snippet of the first 500 words of my first novel are posted on a writing blog I’m a member of: Go Teen Writers. The site is aimed at teens, but you can still participate in contests as long as you’re under 21. And might I add that I have a while before I’m over 21. I’m embracing that. I know I’ve mentioned it before, and several of you are already members of the site, but if you’re not and you’re interested in a fantastic online writing community—and I do mean fantastic—there is a button you can click somewhere along the right side of this page that’ll take you to the homepage.

So anyway, this novel snippet (sorry, I just like saying that. Snippet. Ha) has been online since *cough* September. You can read it by clicking here and scrolling down a little ways until you come to the entry under—surprise—”Anna Schaeffer.”

I also recently placed in a contest known as the “Great First Lines” contest on the same website, and if you’d like to see my idea of a novel-opener, you can click here to see those. There’s one towards the top of the page, then another down a little ways.

Ooookay. I think that’s enough exposure to that which is Anna’s writing style. For now, at least. I recently realized that I talk about writing a lot, and yet I never really share any of my more recent stuff. Hence the aforementioned links.

Later fellow dreamers,


Christmas, Memories Monday, Writing

Memories Monday: “Holiday Hope”


Merry Christmas Eve, y’all! Can you believe how quickly December has flown by? Me neither. If you could see me right now, you’d behold my shocked face. But you’d also behold someone who hasn’t rolled out of bed yet, which would probably give you your own shocked face. Anyway….

I’ve had such a fun time sharing these Memories Monday poems with you, and I’m sad it’s coming to an end. It’s been a journey through lots of good memories for me, as I remember what I was thinking/feeling while writing these poems. I hope they’ve given you a smile, too.

If you want to catch up on the previous poems, here they are:

Today’s poem comes from 2005 – my first Christmas as a teen. When we were younger, my sisters and I would produce a play called “Closing Christmas” the last week of each year. During the show, we’d serve the audience (our parents) dinner, act out the Christmas story, and sing carols. This poem was recited at one of our “Closing Christmas” plays, so it’s got some extra-special memories attached to it.

But before you read “Holiday Hope,” I want to wish you a blessed and Merry Christmas. Ever since mankind first sinned, God has been writing an elaborate love story through which He brings His people back to Himself. The birth of Jesus was a key moment in this story, but it’s still being written today as He gently calls us into a close relationship with Him. How awesome is it that we get to be a part of such a beautiful story? Let’s not take that for granted this Christmas. Let’s find little moments of time in which we can be still and thank God for His “indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15). God promised a Savior thousands of years ago, and He came so that we could live forever with Him. Let’s adore Him.

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee
Born this happy morning
Jesus, to Thee be all glory given
Word of the Father
Now in flesh appearing
O, come, let us adore Him
O, come, let us adore Him
O, come, let us adore Him
Christ, the Lord!

Have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year! I’ve had such a great time experiencing life alongside you on my blog in 2012. It’s been a great year, and I can’t wait to see what the Lord has planned for next year. See you in 2013!

In His love,


Holiday Hope

Anna Schaeffer, 2005

Through a night sky full of light,
that holy Christmas night,

while angels watched in glory,
God’s Son was born, so humble and lowly.

With a cry that pierced the dark,
the angels ‘round sand, “Hark!”

In a manger cold and dark,
God’s only Son was born.

The angels above proclaimed,
as they worshiped and praised God’s name,

“Glory to God! Glory!”
It was a night that changed all history.

Thirty-three years after that night,
that very same Son was crucified.
With the words, “It is finished,” Christ bled and died.

Why did He do it? There must be a reason!
But there is: Christ died for our transgressions!

They put Him in a tomb and closed the door,
but three days later, He was there no more!

Jesus had risen up from the grave;
Jesus who came to seek and to save!

Why did He die, only the Father knows why,
when all we ever do is cheat, steal, and lie.

No matter the reason, this Holiday season,
keep in mind as you open your presents:

God sent His Son, the best gift of all,
to save us from our sins,
in the light of His presence!

Christmas, Memories Monday, Writing

Memories Monday: “Ten Tiny Fingers”

First, some updates:

  • Snow! No, not real snow. At least not anywhere near my house. But there is snow on this blog page. If you let the page sit still for a moment, it should start floating down. And the direction it falls follows the lead of your mouse arrow. I just figured that out, like, five seconds ago. If you can’t see the snow, I’m really sorry, because sometimes I just stare at it and it makes me kind of happy. It’s probably also the closest thing to a white Christmas I’ll experience this year.
  • Finals are finished! At exactly 4:00pm on Wednesday, December 12, 2012, I walked out of my last exam, practically skipped through the parking lot, climbed into my car, and sighed. Then there were a lot of “thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!” prayers to God for faithfully walking me through the semester.
  • Christmas is in eight days! When I was little, Christmas always seemed to take its sweet time getting here. But these days, the season flies by way too fast! Next Monday is Christmas Eve, but I’ll have one final Memories Monday post for you to enjoy before you kick yourself off the Internet and spend some time with loved ones.
  • Busy blog week! Today is, obviously, a Memories Monday post. Tomorrow’s post is one I’ve been planning since March. Seriously. If you were around me much this past Spring, you may be shocked I never blogged about what tomorrow’s post will be about, especially since I went into nerd mode several times talking about some of what the post will cover. So come back tomorrow.
  • Surprise Thursday! Yes, Thursday’s post will be a surprise! It’s something I haven’t done on this blog yet. So, yeah, that’s all I’ll say for now. But be here for that.
  • Friends. I just remembered I have some friends coming over in less than two hours. I’d better make this the last announcement, put this thing online, and get out of bed. They mustn’t see me before my coffee.

Now for our regularly scheduled Memories Monday post:

tentinyfingersI’ve enjoyed sharing pages from my old journals with you this Christmas season. To read the previous three poems, follow the links below:

Today’s poem is called “Ten Tiny Fingers,” and it was written in 2009. In light of the tragedy that rocked the country Friday, the tiny Baby this poem addresses is even more precious to me. Because that Baby grew up, defeated death, and provided a way for us to be saved. It is through Him, and Him alone, that we can reach God. In Him we find hope, peace, and security. I don’t have all the answers, but I pray God will use this tragedy to shake our nation so hard it can’t help but fall to its knees.

We needed a Savior, and He came. Now it’s up to us to accept His gift.


“Ten Tiny Fingers”


Anna Schaeffer, 2009


Ten tiny fingers, ten tiny toes,

Two tiny eyes, and one tiny nose.



One tiny mouth and two tiny ears,

One tiny tongue and countless tiny hairs.



Two tiny arms and two tiny cheeks,

Two tiny hands and two tiny feet.



One tiny moment, one tiny night,

One tiny stable, and one tiny sight.



One tiny city, one tiny trough,

One tiny bed, and one tiny cloth.



One tiny cry, one tiny time,

One tiny Baby, one tiny Light.



One big crowd, one big cross,

One big man, and one big loss.



One big purpose, one big plan,

One big time to save all men.



One big miracle, one big life,

One big God, one big sacrifice.



One big day for many, many lives,

One big gift to relieve all strife.



Ten tiny fingers, two tiny hands,

One big purpose, one big plan.


Christmas, Memories Monday, Writing

Memories Monday: “The Glorious Baby”


By the time you read this, I will be in the beginning of final exams week. As I write this, French class is behind me (for this semester, at least), and I’m working to finish my Poetry Workshop portfolio, a Political Science research paper, a lab practical, and two more exams…So I’ve got a few things to keep me occupied over the next few days. Maybe you’re counting the days until Christmas break like I am (Wednesday!), or maybe you’re busy with other stuff. Whatever it is, it’s so easy to get caught up in all of the stuff life throws at us—especially at Christmas time.

Today’s poem is another product of Christmas 2008 (clearly, that was a very reflexive year for me). It’s simple, short, sweet, and to-the-point. But maybe that’s the reason I like it, because whenever I read it, I’m reminded to just be still and savor the simple things in life. The often-overlooked things that we rush past in the midst of our Christmas preparations. It’s a poem about “The Glorious Baby,” who He is, and why He came. When we stop and think about it, isn’t that all that really matters, anyway?

In His love,

Anna Schaeffer

P.S. This is the 3rd Memories Monday poem. To read the previous entries, click the links below:

The Glorious Baby

Anna Schaeffer, 2008

Glory of Heaven, Hope of earth,

Humble Baby of virgin birth.

Straw for a bed, in a shed,

Just as prophets wise once said.

A Savior, Redeemer, Prince of Peace,

Lord of lords, and King of kings.

Father of creation,

Light to the nations,

Now gentle and new,

A promise come true.

Emmanuel, Jehovah, God,

Now confined to human bod.

Susceptible to a world of woe,

He had to come so we could go.

Miraculous Child born for everyone,

Jesus, Messiah, God’s only Son.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas, Memories Monday, Writing

Memories Monday: “Mary’s Questions”


Last week I introduced a new series in which I’ll post one of my old Christmas poems each Monday leading up to Christmas. Last week’s was called “The Shepherds’ Story” and you can click here to read it.

This week’s poem is narrated by Mary. One night, I started thinking about what it would be like to be in her position. To be faithfully engaged to someone, only to be told I was carrying a child. And not just any child, but the promised Messiah; the One sent to fulfill every prophecy. The One sent to save the world.

As I was writing this poem four years ago, I thought of the questions Mary may have asked God. This poem was written with the Scripture passages in mind, but it explores other questions the soon-to-be mother of Jesus may have had. You may notice it follows a pattern, too: from asking God “why?,” to boldly declaring her faith in her Creator and His magnificent plan.

“I am the Lord’s servant…May it be to me as you have said.” – Luke 1:38

In His love,


Mary’s Questions

Anna Schaeffer, 2008

Why me? How can this be?

I’m only a teenager, not royalty.

I have no fame, glory, or renown.

I’m just a girl from a small, rural town.

What have I done to deserve such a task?

I don’t hide who I am, I don’t wear a mask.

How can I be with child if I have never been with a man?

For what kind of purpose is this, what kind of plan?

In one single moment, my plans have been altered.

Why did You choose me, when in my life I have faltered?

What do You see in me, what kinds of things,

that I should be treated even greater than kings?

Why did You choose me to deliver Your Son,

when you, being God, can use anyone?

Why have I been chosen to carry out Your plan?

Why has Your Son become like earthly man?

But who am I to question the Divine?

Who am I to ask for what is not mine?

I must do nothing but believe.

I must have faith and trust that You will succeed.

I am Your servant, to You I’ll be true.

Create in me a heart like Yours, faithful and brand-new.

Allow me to bear Your only Son,

and protect me as I carry the Holiest One.

For I know You have a plan for me,

even when I cannot hear or see.

Thank you for giving me a gift so amazing,

so I can share with others Your grace that is saving.

Christmas, God Talks, Writing

The Humble State


In case you haven’t figured it out yet, let me fill you in on something: I’m a writer. A writer who writes all.the.time. And no, homework doesn’t count. Sometimes I can’t go to bed without jotting down some thoughts, or I can’t focus on a class discussion because a plot is developing in my head and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. Or when, like now, there are 1,005 things I should be doing, but I can’t possibly focus on them because I just need to be doing this.

And I’m a total nerd about it, too. I almost always have a craft book (by “craft” I mean writing, not paper-mâché) by my bed to be read in the 3.2 seconds I’m able to stay awake before falling asleep at night. I even read The Elements of Style for fun, for Pete’s sake!

But for all of my practice and research and studying, sometimes I just feel so…unqualified. Especially when I finish reading a book that does exactly what I want mine to do, but the author does it so much better. And yet I still keep writing. This is completely contrary to my nature. I often joke about my motto being, “If at first you don’t succeed, get someone else to do it.” But I can’t get someone else to do it, because I know it’s what I’m supposed to be doing. 

So I guess the question is: Have you ever felt called to do something, and yet you felt completely inadequate?

Welcome to my world, folks. It’s an over-caffeinated, under-rested, often confusing place.

Sometimes I get so caught up in feeling unqualified that I forget God doesn’t want me because of what I have to offer. If that were the case, He probably wouldn’t want any of us. But rather, it’s because we’re loved so passionately by a God who willingly allows us to play a role in showing the world His power. That’s why He wants us.

Okay, yeah, I know that. But sometimes I just don’t grasp it. Until I think about people who have walked through life before me. Like Moses, who couldn’t speak well. Or David, a scrawny kid who took out a giant with one small stone. Or Esther, the nobody who ended up saving the entire Jewish race because she refused to let her inferior position define her. Or Paul, who had some mysterious thorn in his flesh, but he was thankful for the very thing that brought him agony because God demonstrated his power through Paul’s weakness. On, and on, and on the list goes. Throughout history, God has used the underdog to alter the course of the world.

And then there’s Mary:  a small town girl trying her best to follow God’s law. A young girl with a big faith. The carrier of the fulfillment of every prophecy. The girl from whom a crying child entered the world to break hundreds of years of silence. The vessel who carried the one sent to redeem the world. The mother of the promised Messiah. All of that from a girl with no plans of being a mother any time soon. From the world’s viewpoint, she was the definition of unqualified.

And yet she was called. Why? Because she found favor in the eyes of God Himself. She was humble, faithful, and a believer in the impossible. And for that, God chose the unlikeliest person to bring the unlikeliest hero into the world.

That’s the kind of faith I want. To be humble and recognize apart from God I can do nothing, but be willing to accept that which He is calling me to do. To be able to really, truly, honestly echo the words of Mary, when she sings:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.” –Luke 1:46-50

So I’m in a humble state, knowing I have so much to learn, including how to enjoy the journey. To learn how to savor the moments of, “I can do this!” and to lean on Jesus in the moments of, “I’ll never make it as a writer.”

Because, honestly, it doesn’t matter how qualified I am. What matters is my willingness to play a role in a beautiful story only the Author of Life Himself can write.

“God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called.” –Unknown

In His love,