Month: February 2018

The Upside of Gutting it Out

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“You seem to be disenchanted with life this morning.”

My mother’s words before church on Sunday perfectly captured what I had been feeling for the past week or so (and am still feeling as I write). Disenchanted with life… I don’t want to get up in the morning because it’s just another day of school and work until falling into bed. I’m exhausted from the minute I wake up to the minute I fall asleep. Social interactions and books don’t hold my interest. There’s not much time or energy for writing. And don’t even mention working out – that hasn’t happened in weeks.

Living like this is frustrating. It feels like nothing’s working even though I’m trying so hard. I just don’t love life.

I don’t know what the cause of this is. Maybe it’s just a phase or season. Maybe I’m not getting enough vitamin C (though I know it’s not that – gotta ward off those germs). But I do know something that has helped me. Habits.

A couple years ago, I formed the solid habit of doing devotions (Bible reading, prayer, verse memorization) every day. I don’t often miss it. When I got a job and suddenly became busy, I formed the habit of praying constantly. Through years of siblings waking up bright and early, I formed the habit of getting out of bed by 7:30am at the latest (and considering that sleeping in).

I’m in the shower by 7:10 every morning. I work on school with most of my spare time. I get my chores done (mostly) in between various things. These things help me mechanically move through time, even when I’d rather not move at all. I can still get work done, I can still move forward, even though I feel terrible.

I don’t say any of this to brag. I say it rather to urge you to form solid habits. Decide when you need to get up in the morning and work on it until you wake up before the alarm rings. Pick a book of the Bible and read a chapter every day, at the same time every day, and pray afterward. When do you need to work out? Do it (and I say this one as much to myself as to anyone else).

We have so many feelings and they’re not always good. Bad moods, frustration, “disenchantment with life” will sometimes overstay their welcome. But life can’t stop for a week of disenchantment – or two or three.

Use the good times to form habits. They won’t fix the bad, but they’ll help.

Kira

What habits help you keep moving when life’s got you down?

Any new ones that you need to form?

The Golden Shark: Part 2

You can read Part 1 here.

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Michael started the message down the ship, through each of the slaves, convicts, fighters. Within the hour, he told me I had every man’s allegiance.

“Perfect. Now, how to get the keys? None of us can do anything against George and the rest of my crew in these chains.”

Michael thought for a minute. “Leave that to me, sir.” The next time we pushed our oar forward, he reached out and tapped the man in front of him on the back. The man nodded, seeming to keep with the beat of the drum. A moment later, he collapsed off of his bench, into the center of the ship.

The same voice that had ordered me to row shouted for him to get up, get back to work. He lay still. The man stormed forward and I recognized him as Howard, one of the lesser of my crewmen. He began beating the man on the floor with both his fists and his whip. The man cried out, but didn’t get up.

Michael jumped to his feet, stepping as far as the chain on his ankle would allow, and delivered a sound blow to the back of Howard’s head. He froze and swayed a little. Michael hit him one more time and Howard fell, the sound muffled as he landed on the slave he had been beating.

The slave wormed his way out from under the man and fished around in his pockets for a moment before pulling something out. He held his findings out to me. “Your keys, sir.”

I blinked, still taking in what had happened. But no time for that. Already, some of the slaves had stopped rowing and the voices above deck told me that George had noticed. Someone would be down to check on that soon.

I accepted the ring of keys and unlocked my own chains, and Michael’s. Then I passed them forward. I addressed the slaves as if for battle as they took turns unlocking themselves, all down the ship.

“The crew is armed. We are not. However, we outnumber them. And do not forget that for which you fight: your freedom!” Eighty or so fists raised in the air in silent celebration. “Follow me, men. Today, we fight to regain this ship.”

I led the way up the ladder to the next deck, where a few crew members snored in their hammocks. We crept by, unwilling to waken any extra enemies. I did, however, snatch a stray sword leaning against the wall on the way through.

The moment I reached the deck, I ran for the wheel. That was where George Mullins gleefully reigned. The smile fell from his face at the sight of me and my following of haphazardly armed slaves charging the deck.

As the slaves engaged with various members of the crew, I fought my way to George. It wasn’t difficult, considering how we outnumbered them. Every time a man attacked me, two slaves closed in on him and I moved on, nearer to my first mate.

“Captain.” He breathed the word. “How…”

“That’s not your concern, George. You have two choices: hand back my ship, or have it taken by force.”

“Do your worst.” He slid his own blade from its sheath and I raised mine, striking immediately.

The fight was short – George was not very good with a sword, and I had mine at his throat in less than a minute. “Care to give me back control, now, Mullins?”

He swallowed hard, sheer hatred in his eyes. He ground his teeth together and dropped his sword.

“Order the men to do the same.”

“Drop your weapons.”

I shook my head. “I don’t think they heard you.”

“Drop your weapons!” he screamed.

I smiled. “Better.” I turned to face a deck full of sailors surrendering to galley slaves. “Lock them up, men. We’ll need someone to row the Golden Shark to the islands.”

My new crew cheered and hurried to gather their prisoners. I handed George over to Michael, who prodded him below deck with a rather sharp looking shard of glass.

I gripped the smooth spokes on the wheel of my ship. “And now,” I whispered, “we sail.”

The End

Kira

The Golden Shark: Part 1

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The world lurched beneath me and my head slammed into something hard. I moaned and opened my eyes a crack. The world was mostly dark, with a single flickering source of light at the end of what looked like a long tunnel.

Rows of people lined either side of the tunnel – men, sitting on benches two by two and swaying in sync with one another. Behind me, a beating sound pounded into my head, a slow, persistent thump. Thump. Thump.

I moaned again and was suddenly jerked up into a seated position. “Row!” yelled a rough voice, right in my ear.

Stars still blinked before my eyes and I sat there dumbly.

“I said, row!” A fist collided with the back of my head and I woke myself up enough to grab the piece of wood rotating in front of me and copy the man next to me. Push, pull, push, pull.

What was I doing here? And where was here? I asked the slave beside me – for slave he was – and received a strange look in return. “You’re in the galley, Captain Shores,” he whispered.

I had deduced that I was in some sort of a ship by now, but didn’t understand why the man would be calling me Captain. “Why do you address me like that? I may not know where I am, but I am clearly no captain!”

Push, pull, push, pull. I realized now, that the rowing was in time to the thumping of what must have been a large drum.

“Sir, you are the captain of this ship, the Golden Shark. Your first mate organized mutiny last night and your men confined you to the galley. You must have hit your head…or had it hit for you.”

“The Golden Shark…” I paused in my rowing, the words bringing back flashes of memory. “My first mate…George?”

“That’s right, sir.”

It all came back. The darkness of the night on which George Mullins chose to lead my own men in attacking me. The struggle to fight them off, the cries for any of my men – any at all – to aid me.

And all over some cinnamon.

The Golden Shark was one of the Queen’s navy ships, charged with finding a quicker route to the Spice Islands and bringing back enough spices to make investors and the royal family quite wealthy. Of course, as captain of this ship, I was to receive a considerable percentage of whatever we managed to bring back to England with us. All George needed to do was claim that I drowned at sea or broke the law and tried to take all the riches for myself, turning pirate, and he would be lauded and paid – well paid.

I looked to the man sitting next to me. Galley slaves. All of them. And now I joined them, rowing and rowing, chained to the ship by my ankle, a man with a whip at my back. I must regain my ship.

But would they aid me? Me, who enforced the court’s sentence of slavery for however many years befitted their crime? There was only one way to find out.

“What is your name?”

The slave gave me a sideways glance. “Michael, sir.”

“How much longer are you sentenced to the galley, Michael?”

“Seven years, sir.”

“I assume the others have similar sentences?”

“I’m sure they do, sir. Some shorter, some longer.”

“And do you think they would aid me in regaining control of this ship if I offered them their freedom?”

Michael turned to face me as well as he could without letting go of the long oar. “Doubtless, sir.”

To be continued…

Kira

Love Doesn’t Come From Me

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We love because he first loved us.

We all know 1 John 4:19 by heart. We can recite it forward, backward, and upside down. But how often do we think about the deep meaning of the verse?

I think we Christians have a tendency to “know” all the popular and spiritual verses without understanding them. We have the knowledge in our heads, but it doesn’t reach our hearts. 1 John 4:19 is one of those verses.

I’ve been thinking about love lately. Not the romantic kind – the unconditional kind. In my pathetic attempts to love people by myself recently, I have discovered just how far my stores of love go. It’s not far. I began to despair of ever being able to love people as the Bible commands.

But then God reminded me that it’s not my job to come up with all the love. It’s His. I can love the people around me (no matter how obnoxious, rude, or just plain mean they are) by using His love. And His love never runs out.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10

God performed the ultimate act of love for me two thousand years ago and continues to love me to this very day. It is because of that love that I can love others. And the same holds true for you.

Kira

What verses encourage you through the difficulties of living for God? Are there any that you need to look at more closely for the truth they convey?