Author: kiraeq

My Testimony

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I was born into a Christian home. I grew up hearing all the Bible stories and, of course, believing them. My parents said they were true.

As a kid, I was selfish beyond belief. Everything had to be perfect and if something didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, I would get angry. I wasn’t very loving to my siblings because I didn’t think it was “cool” or “mature” to spend time with them. Absolutely every facet of my life had to do with making myself happy. And, believe it or not, that actually resulted in a lot of unhappiness.

I can’t point to the date on a calendar marking my salvation. It was more of a gradual thing (and I struggled with whether that meant I was saved for a long time). I had always heard the stories and I always believed them. But I didn’t own my faith until I joined a ministry that put a huge emphasis on discipleship, around the time I was ten or eleven years old.

All of a sudden, I was being encouraged to do something called “devotions” and to look at my life and try to become more Christ-like – to really commit myself to Him. I had more accountability than I wanted for a long time. It made me uncomfortable until I started purposefully investing in my relationship with God.

I thought I had pretty good faith, you know, as far as faith goes. I wasn’t an Abraham and I wasn’t Corrie ten Boom, but I was alright. The thing is, as soon as you start thinking like that, God tends to let you know exactly where you are faith-wise.

Our family does foster care and we got a tiny baby girl when I was eleven years old. We kept her for the first four months of her life and then had to give her up. She had become a sister to us and we all cried when she left.

I was also angry. I didn’t see how God could possibly think that it was okay to give her to another family. Our family was an amazing place for her to be and it would be good for her to grow up with us.

A few months later, we got a phone call from her grandparents, asking if we wanted to come see her. We went to their home and visited our sister. After a while, we got to see her again. Then we started babysitting her for a bit. Soon, she was living with us again.

It wasn’t until I looked back that I saw God’s providence in the whole situation. His plan was good, even when I was angry with Him for what He had done. I didn’t have faith in Him and His work. But He taught me that He knows what He’s doing, even when I don’t want to think so.

My faith is still growing. I catch myself doubting all the time, not wanting to step out of my comfort zone or be content that everything is worked out for good. Fortunately, God isn’t giving up on me. And I am grateful for that. I pray that He would be glorified in my life and that I would continue to become more like Him.

This isn’t my full testimony, but it’s a good part of it. One of my favorites, in fact. To get the rest of it, you need simply read past blog posts. They document what God is teaching me and how He is growing me throughout the weeks, months, and years.

Thank you, Lord, for my testimony!

Kira

All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”
Daniel 4:35

Your Testimony Is Not Boring

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How do you start your testimony?

Most of the ones that I’ve heard begin with the same sentence: “I was born into a Christian home.” It’s usually said dramatically or with an eye roll, trying to cover the embarrassment of having the same opening line as so many other testimonies. I’ve said it that way myself, several times.

So why do we consider that line to be such a bad thing? I think it comes down to the fact that we want our testimonies to be unique – different from everyone else’s. But have you ever heard two testimonies that were exactly the same? I haven’t. No matter how many times someone opens with “I was born into a Christian home,” they never go on to give a testimony identical to another believer’s.

God is doing something different and special in each one of our lives and it’s beautiful to see. He has an individual plan for all of us and that plan is good.

Maybe the awkward laugh after opening our testimonies has to do with something else. Maybe we think it’s not that special. We can’t claim to be former drug addicts or zealous Muslims or anything like that. We’ve been hearing the gospel since before we were born and we know the Bible stories by heart. After all, we were born into a Christian home.

I’ve struggled with the idea that my testimony is boring several times. It’s something that seems to keep coming back. But then God hits me upside the head with the fact that my testimony is what it is because He wants it that way. He put me in the Christian home and He saved me at a young age. He didn’t want me to suffer all the things that I seem to be jealous of (which, when I think about it, is kind of ridiculous).

Being born into a Christian home is a blessing. We needn’t be embarrassed by it – we should rejoice in it! We have the privilege of being surrounded by Scripture and the church from our first breath. Many believers would give so much to have had that, and yet we envy their “interesting” testimony.

Let’s give glory to God for our testimonies. He has done what is good in our lives. It’s our skewed perspective that leads us to believe otherwise. We don’t think our salvation story is all that amazing. But isn’t it amazing that we were saved at all?

On another note, your testimony doesn’t end at salvation. That’s really just the beginning. Your testimony is the story of your life as God’s child. Mine includes foster care stories, discipleship teams, and plain old emotional struggles. Some of those seem thrilling and some of them are average, day to day sanctification. But all of it is God’s work in my life. None of it is boring or accidental.

Your testimony is not dull. Your testimony is the work of our Creator and Lord in your individual life. Relish it – every detail.

Kira

What’s your testimony?

Please Read the Gospels

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Have you ever heard a story that you loved so much you could listen to it over and over again? Is there a book that you’ve worn through from so many re-readings? A movie with scratches on the disc because you have to watch it again?

Stories are incredible and many of them are so good that we could experience them again and again without growing bored. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched The Princess Bride or Annie. Whinnie the Pooh never gets old and Narnia will always have a special place in my heart.

But even those stories can wear down some eventually. I have to take a break between Doctor Who marathons and Lord of the Rings can only be seen so often.

But there is one story that is just as awe-inspiring and moving no matter how many times you read it. The gospel feels just as fresh the first time as the thirtieth, as we see our sin and then see what Christ went through to save us from it.

I’ve been reading through Luke for my morning devotions and I love to read all the stories of Jesus’s ministry again. The two that stand out, though, are His birth, and His crucifixion and resurrection.

My soul magnifies the Lord along with Mary and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior (Luke 1:46-47).  How could Christ have humbled Himself so much and been willing to suffer so much just so that I could be with Him? How could anyone love me that much?

And yet, God does love me that much. He loves all of His children that much. And the four Gospel accounts are refreshingly full of that love.

It seems simple to read through the Gospels over and over again. Shouldn’t more mature Christians be studying other parts of the Bible? We already understand salvation.

But the Gospel is the basis of Christianity. It is Christianity. They are encouraging and lovely and convicting and beautiful all at once.

Don’t forget to read the Gospels. Don’t forget the most important story ever told.

Kira

What’s your favorite part of the Gospels?

Some Ideas for Showing Love

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There are a thousand different ways to show people that you love them, but sometimes none of them come to mind. Here is a list we can all reference when we’re looking for creative ways to love the people around us.

  • text them randomly in the middle of the week
  • clean their room (exercise caution here – my sister always says she can’t find anything after I clean)
  • cook something amazing for them
  • go for a walk together
  • pray for them (they might not know about it, but it’s still loving them)
  • let them win an argument
  • do their chores for a day
  • presents!!! (works especially well for younger kids – unless it’s food, then it works for anyone)
  • give them a hug and just tell them you love them
  • go for coffee together
  • write an encouraging note and leave it somewhere
  • sit next to them
  • brag on them (unless they’re really shy)
  • have an inside joke
  • serve together (make a meal for someone, babysit, volunteer, etc.)
  • ask about their day/something they’re interested in
  • play with their hair (works amazing for girls)
  • ask what would make them feel loved and do it

Kira

Any other ideas about how to love someone?

It’s Okay to Enjoy Life

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Did you know that God created this world for His children? If you believe in Him, it was all made specially for you.

I made this discovery whilst putting together a Bible study on the first few verses of 1 Timothy 4. Paul is telling Timothy about false teachers who require “abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4:3b, ESV)

By those who believe and know the truth…

Isn’t it incredible to think that all the good things in this world were made especially for us? That God had us in mind when He formed trees and stars and whales?

But, awesome as that is, it’s not my main point for today.

It’s amazing to think that God made all of this for us – but it doesn’t matter if we don’t enjoy it. God created good things with the intention that we would look at them and experience them and think of Him. The next couple verses of 1 Timothy emphasize that.

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:4-5)

Why would we even think of rejecting the good that God has given us? And yet, we do it without thinking all too often.

How many times are we too busy to take a walk? Or too concerned with fitness to enjoy our run? How often do we pull out our phones to take pictures rather than enjoying the beauty in the moment?

I choose the busyness and pressure of this world far too often. But every time I choose to stop and enjoy the good things God has given me, I am thankful and happy.

A lot of times, it feels like cheating to take a break. How could we waste time looking at the stars when that paper is due next week? And yes, we must do our work. God has given us that as well. But He didn’t intend for us to drown in it. There is no reason to feel guilty for enjoying what we have been given to enjoy. It is healthy and it is good.

God loves us and He has blessed us with so much. Let us receive it with thanksgiving.

Kira

What has God given you to enjoy? What are some things you like to do to enjoy them?

What Are You Going To Do With Your Summer?

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What are you doing with your summer?

Most of us are already a few weeks into the blissful time of the year known as “summer.” It is a magical time, a time of no school (sorry homeschoolers – I’m right there with you), a time of hot weather, a time of consuming far more watermelon than should be consumed by a single person in such a short space of time.

Summer is also usually a time that is seen as a chance to “relax.” We go go go all school year and then get two months off. Two months to do whatever we want and not think about work or stress or any of the other craziness that bogs us down the rest of the year.

The problem with that mentality is that it tends to turn us into lazy and selfish people during our vacation. Rest is good. Rest is healthy. But rarely do we need two full months of it. And often it can be accomplished by simply changing what we’re doing – not just laying in a hammock drinking iced coffees all day.

And a chance to do things that we enjoy is also excellent. Hobbies and passions are great and they turn us into well rounded and interesting human beings. It’s nice to go for a walk by yourself or read a good book or sing along to every single Disney song ever written in all of history. Ahem. Moving on.

But what can we do to serve other people this summer? What can we do to grow spiritually (or mentally) this summer? What goals could we reach over the next months with the extra time we have?

This summer, I want to tighten my relationship with one of my sisters and be friends with her.

This summer, I want to finish memorizing 1 Timothy.

This summer, I want to finish the third draft of my novel and revise it one time after that.

This summer, I want to train for and run a half marathon.

Those are some of my goals for the summer. Let’s not waste this summer. It is an amazing opportunity and it holds so much life. Let’s live it.

Kira

What are your goals/plans for the summer?

“These are a few of my favorite things…”

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I’m sure you’ve heard the song in The Sound of Music where Maria sings about her favorite things. A huge storm is raging outside and the children are all cuddled in the same room. They sing about “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” and the like.

Well, here are a few of my favorite things.

Food: Because we must begin with the important things. I love Caesar salad and butternut squash soup. Oh, and cheesecake. Unfortunately, the soup and the cheesecake are a huge pain to make (so if anyone wants to send me some, I will be eternally grateful).

Seasons: Fall. Hands down. It’s got my birthday, Thanksgiving, and sweaters.

Sports: Soccer and running

Siblings: Like I would divulge that information!

Blogs: The Rebelution, Helping Writers Become Authors, Story Embers, thedancingrunner, etc.

Time of day: Early morning when I can run in the peaceful world.

Animal: Dogs!!! I like to say that I want to get a dog of a size that I could ride it into battle (should the need arise).

TV show: Doctor Who (I plan on a marathon when I get my wisdom teeth out this summer)

State: Virginia! I love the beautiful mountains, plus we have beaches too.

Coffee: Um, yes. I mostly drink black coffee, but I can really do anything as long as it doesn’t have mint in it. Mint chocolate anything would probably have to go on the least favorites list.

Kira

What are some of your weirdest (or normal-est) favorite things? Do you have a dog you could ride into battle? If so, can I meet him?

Adventure Novel (part 2)

You can read part one here.

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“Good, because we need to get down to work.” Jackson went to a small dresser on one of the walls and pulled open the top drawer. It, like everything else in this forgotten corner of civilization, was covered in dust. I sneezed.

Jackson crossed back over to me and held out a small round thing, roughly the same color as my skin. I took it and turned it over in my palm, examining it.

“It’s an earpiece. Put it in and get going. You’re going to be late for work.”

I shot him a look that said I definitely was not okay with this, but did it anyway. He checked to make sure it was in correctly, then spoke into a little microphone on his wrist.

“Testing, testing.”

I jumped when it came through loud and clear on my earpiece.

Jackson grinned. “I guess it works. You won’t be able to contact us, but Kat will be outside if anything goes wrong. Now go.”

“You still haven’t told me what you want me to do yet.”

He pushed me gently toward the staircase. “I’ll talk you through it. Just go.”


I was only a few minutes late, but Mr. Helsing’s secretary shot me a concerned look anyway.

“Morning, Natalie. Have they already started?”

“Yes. Here, bring in the coffee order and maybe you won’t get as many glares.” She handed me a styrofoam tray of coffees which I balanced with one hand while edging my way into the meeting.

Everyone turned to look at me and Mr. Helsing stopped midsentence. “Ah, Megan. So nice of you to join us.”

“Sorry I’m late.” I set the coffee in the middle of the conference table and six people turned to grab their drinks. The attention was no longer on me and I slid into a chair at the end of the table.

“As I was saying,” Mr. Helsing continued, “profit has spiked this past year due, I believe, to our marketing efforts.”

“Megan.” Jackson’s voice in my ear made me jump and everyone turned to look again.

“Sorry. Just remembered I forgot to feed my cat. Please, don’t mind me.”

Mr. Helsing gave me a very disapproving look before continuing once again.

“Megan, the virus is on a flashdrive in Mr. Helsing’s office. I’m told it’s in the top drawer of his desk. You’ll need to find a way to get in there, take it, and get out. You have two hours.”

In his office? And how did Jackson know where it was?

I pretended to listen to the meeting as my mind scrambled for an excuse to leave.

“One hour, Megan.”

I had to get out before Mr. Helsing went back into his office.

“Thirty minutes.”

Time for action.

I stood, once again attracting the attention of everyone in the room.

“Megan, is there a problem?” Mr. Helsing crossed his arms and glared at me.

“No sir. Sorry. I’m just not feeling well today. I think I need some water. I’ll be right back. Please, go on without me.”

“Be quick about it. We’ve got a lot to go over and I don’t want you missing it.”

“Yes sir.” I left in a hurry and went back out to the lobby. “Natalie, Mr. Helsing wanted me to grab something from his office for him. Could I have the key please?”

“Sure. What is it?” She handed me the key.

“Just a flashdrive. Thanks.”

I unlocked the door to Mr. Helsing’s office and stepped in, holding my breath.

Top drawer.

I opened it carefully and stared down at five flashdrives, all the same color.

“Can I help you find it?” I startled at Natalie’s sudden appearance in the doorway.

“Um, no thanks. Got it right here!” I held up one of the flashdrives and smiled, using my other hand to slip the other four into my pocket. I shut the drawer and slipped out past Natalie. She closed the door and locked it.

I headed toward the front door.

“Don’t you need to be getting back to the meeting?”

I stopped. “Oh, um…some of the drinks were missing. I’m just going to go around the corner and grab them real quick. It’ll only take a minute.” I offered her a reassuring smile and walked out the door, breathing a sigh of relief.

Kat caught up to me as I walked toward the base. “Do you have it?”

“I’ve got five. They’re all identical.”

“Well we’ve got to hurry. Time’s running out.”

Back at the base, Jackson had pulled up a computer and snatched the flashdrives from my hand as soon as I held them out. He began plugging them in and searching.

“Three minutes, Three minutes…” he muttered.

At number four, his eyes lit up. He began typing furiously.

Kat checked her watch. “Jackson…”

“I know, I know.” His fingers flew across the keyboard. I looked at my own watch, watching the seconds tick down.

Five. Four. Three. Two.

“Done!”

Jackson heaved a huge sigh of relief and sank back into his folding chair with a grin. “We did it.”

“And all thanks to you, Megan.” Kat smiled at me.

I smiled back. Just like in an adventure novel.

Adventure Novel (part 1)

You can read part two here.

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“Honey!”

I glanced over my shoulder as I continued to push my way down the busy street. Who would be yelling above the crowd so loudly?

A tall woman with dark hair looked delighted to see me. She must have been the one who called out. I turned and kept walking, faster now that a lunatic was following me. Only a few more blocks to the office. No problem. Besides, police officers were all over the city. Right?

Only a few steps later, an arm wrapped around my shoulder. It was the woman. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you!” she exclaimed.

I made a face and started to squirm away, but she tightened her grip and lowered her voice. “Come with me. Quickly – there’s no time.”

I obeyed in spite of myself. Surely there would be a police officer soon. I could call out for help as soon as I saw one. But my gut told me that wasn’t why I was going along with this black clad woman. No, it was the adventure novels. I was addicted to them and this felt like something out of the first chapter.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

“Shh. No time for questions. You’re my little sister and they have eyes everywhere, so act like it.”

I continued to trot to keep up with the woman’s hurried pace, trying to get a good look at her. She wore a black leather jacket and dark jeans tucked into combat boots. And was that a gun in her belt? Suddenly this wasn’t so much fun.

“Who are you?” I pulled away from her, but kept walking.

“Katrina. You can call me Kat. I’ve been watching you, Megan, and I think you’re going to be very helpful.” She raised her voice. “Well, you really ought to tell me if you’re going to leave without me in the morning. You had me scared half to death!”

“I’m a grown woman. I can come and go as I please!” I answered.

She shot me an appraising look. “Very nice,” she breathed.

“How do you know my name? And where are we going?”

“To the base.” She took a sharp right, shoving a path through the crowd and entering a tiny secondhand shop. The furniture and clothes all looked as if they had come from the twentieth century and my allergies instantly flared up at the dust.

I followed Kat through the deserted shop and down a narrow flight of stairs into the basement. The room was lit by a single lightbulb hanging over a card table. A teenage boy sat at the table, leaning back in his chair and shuffling a deck of cards.

He stood abruptly when we came in. “You got her then? No problems?”

“No problems,” Kat confirmed.

“Good. Have you briefed her?”

“Nope. Didn’t want them hearing anything.”

“Good call.” The boy turned to me. “I’m Jackson. Kat and I have been watching you for some time now. We need your help to save the world.”

I raised my eyebrows. “To save the world? Nice try, kid. Look, I’ve got to get to work. I don’t have time for this.”

“Then why’d you follow Kat?”

I glanced away, knowing he had won this round. “Fine. What do you want? You have five minutes.”

Jackson nodded to Kat. She turned to face me. “Your boss – Mr. Helsing – he’s trying to take down the entire banking system of America.”

I rolled my eyes. “Hilarious. Did John put you up to this?”

Jackson stepped forward, looking me straight in the eye. Somehow, his gangly teenage limbs didn’t detract from the seriousness of his face. “This is not a joke, Megan. He has a virus that will destroy everything holding the financial world together. We need you to get it for us.”

“Why would he even want to do that? He’s one of the richest men in the city – wouldn’t that undermine everything he’s done?”

“No. I don’t have time to explain all of the details to you. This virus is set to go live in three hours. Are you in or out?” Jackson held my gaze. Kat stood with crossed arms a few feet behind him.

I scoffed. “You expect me to drop everything and spy on my boss for some lady I just met and her teenage sidekick?”

Neither of them answered.

I glanced between their faces. “Fine. I’m in.”

Why I Read Old Books (and like them)

Let me start by apologizing for going AWOL for the past couple months. I’m back and I’m working to find a blogging schedule that isn’t interrupted by the rest of my life. Now, onto the post…

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Have you ever read Chaucer? Dickens? Thucydides? I have. Granted, all of these examples were for school, but I am glad of the chance to consume such literature.

A common problem in many readers today is that of reading only recently published books. But (and I am generalizing here) many of those books are shallow. They contain love triangles, vampires, and dead parents. Especially in books written for teenagers, the writing itself is simple and contains small words. The plot is straightforward and the characters have no crushing moral dilemma beyond whether it is socially acceptable to date whichever attractive person they are desperately in love with.

Now look at old books. Yes, some of them do contain these elements. Jane Eyre is quite the love triangle. But it is more than that. It is a young woman’s journey of growing up and learning what sacrificial love really is. It contains rich dialogue, deep characters, and a morally gripping plot.

Old books not only use more complicated sentences and bigger words (offering wonderful exercise for the brain), they also bring us into the thoughts and ideals of people in the past. Charles Dickens wrote about the French Revolution in A Tale of Two Cities, giving a story of political tumult and redemption which combined many plots into a rich climax. He offered his perspective on the revolution through his characters and his storytelling.

Of course, so far, I have only mentioned novels of a few hundred years ago. But the nonfiction is just important, even though those books may be a bit more dull than their fiction counterparts at times. The Federalist and Antifederalist Papers show us the discussions and disagreements between some of the core founders of the United States. The History of the Kings of Britain shows both the complicated history of Britain and the political corruption (and purity) in some major players in said history.

The theological books are, yet again, powerful and offer insights into the early history of the church. Eusebius gives us a thorough Ecclesiastical History, as does Bede. Augustine wrote countless books on different aspects of theology and the Christian life. He examined the kingdom of God in The City of God; he wrote his own testimony in Confessions; he looked at some basic Christian truths in On Faith, Hope, and Love (the Enchiridion). Calvin wrote almost too much to read in his Institutes of the Christian Religion and while we may not agree with everything these theological giants believed, they were pivotal in the development of the church and fighting the heresies of their day.

Old books offer us wisdom that recent books are unable to provide. They put at our fingertips the knowledge of the ages and the ideas and records of thousands of years. Old books are priceless. They enrich us.

Let me leave with the the advice of the great writer C. S. Lewis in his introduction to Athanasius’s On the Incarnation:

“It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.” (full introduction here)

Go forth and read!

Kira

What’s the last old book you read? What did you learn from it?