School

Faithful in a Little

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Dishes are not as important as changing the world. Or so I would like to believe.

I have to credit one of my very dear friends with the idea of this post and the torture that she has caused me these past few weeks as I think about her words. I love you Laura!

Luke 16:10 says, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.” Yes, faithfulness.

Until Laura brought the topic to my attention, I did not consider myself to be very unfaithful. I do my school assignments well and finish them on time. I read my Bible and memorize verses almost every day. I show up to work and do what needs to be done, even when I’m tired or sick or just plain unhappy. And all of those things are good. But it is not all that I am called to do.

God has put me in a family and has given me friends and classmates. Each of those relationships also come with other responsibilities and things to be faithful to.

I’m in my senior year of high school, which, of course, means college and life planning. I have huge dreams and ideas about where I want to go next and what I want to do, but that doesn’t mean I can make this year all about me. I’ve started to notice the ways I’m unfaithful to my family and friends as I put myself first.

I work for a great family a couple days a week and as I was doing some of the cooking and cleaning a while ago, I had the thought that I didn’t do things like this at home. Of course, I’m not paid for it at home, but still. I could make dinner every once in a while or take the younger kids to the park. So I began scheming about how I could be more helpful.

But then another thought came to me: You don’t even do the dishes.

I share the responsibility of doing the dishes for the family with two of my siblings. And, busy person that I am, I often don’t make time for washing dishes and the chore falls on my siblings and parents. And that’s unfaithful. Doing the dishes is such a small thing, but I am not even being faithful in that very little.

Yes, I want to be an author and I want to teach history and I want to have a family. But right now, God has placed me here. And that means making the time to do the dishes. I can’t move on to what I consider to be greater things until I learn to do the dishes.

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.” I must be faithful in this seemingly very little before I can ever be faithful in very much.

Kira

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?

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?

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?

God is Not an Afterthought

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I’m back! A month and a half later, and here I am, finally writing again. Nothing in particular has kept me from it, other than my busy schedule.

Life’s been crazy lately. I’ve never worked this much and there are an awful lot of projects soon to be due for different classes. Thanksgiving was, of course, wonderful, but also hectic. Random little things are in abundance: birthday celebrations, driving siblings to school, and getting the flu shot. It all adds up and, before you know it, you’re out of time.

We’re all given the same 24 hours in a day, the same seven days in a week. How we choose to spend it speaks volumes about who we are and what we value. The fact that I take books for school with me in case I have a few minutes shows that I value getting that done. Showing up for work on time and doing your best while you’re there shows a work ethic to be admired. There are a lot of good things to value, but there is only one best thing.

Often, God gets pushed to the backseat in the middle of busyness. Yes, I can make it to practice, but no, I don’t have time to read my Bible. This has become a problem for me. I was blessed enough to be able to pour a lot of time into my spiritual health and relationship with God over the summer, so that now I have that desire to spend time with Him. What I’m lacking at the moment is the time.

It is prideful and foolish to fill your life so much that there is no room for God every day. That is a sure way for things to fall apart. But I know what it feels like to be drowning in so much that it seems reading the Bible won’t fit anywhere and praying is a thing of the past. So here are some things I’ve taken to doing to make sure I’m still spending time with my Lord, Creator, and Father every day.

Create a habit for devotions.

This one’s tough, but it’s essential. Look at your average week and see what time of day is usually free. And give yourself some time. Make sure you’ve got at least half an hour to start, even if it won’t take you that long. Then do devotions every day that you can. Don’t beat yourself up over the days you can’t, but don’t let yourself skip the days you can, even if the time must be abbreviated.

It’s okay to be busy, but if you are unable to set aside time to spend in full devotion to God most days of the week, there’s a problem.

That being said, here’s what I do when devotions are not a possibility (and often when they are):

Pray EVERYWHERE.

Pray in the car on your way to work and class. Pray in bed before you fall asleep. Pray in the shower. Pray in class (maybe not all the time, but if you can pull it off…). Any time you find yourself with nothing in particular to think about, pray.

And vary your prayers. You can pray for your family at a traffic light. You can thank God for your blessings while you wash your hair. Just take a deep breath and talk to God.

Make meal times count.

I know that meals often get lost in the mayhem and tend to turn into “what can I grab from the fridge in two seconds flat so I won’t be late for fill-in-the-blank” sessions. But I would encourage you to take a minute to pray before meals. Yes, every time, and yes, in public.

You might only have thirty seconds or maybe you can take five minutes, but that’s time well spent. Besides, it’s good for you to stop to eat a proper meal every once in a while (or so the “experts” say).

Read your Bible whenever you get the chance.

Block out other thoughts while you read, even if it’s only for a few verses. Take notes and underline. Pray while you read. (I know – I won’t stop talking about prayer, but it is the one and only reason I have survived this past month and a half.)

Don’t confine yourself to the plan you’re doing if you only have five minutes and you want to read somewhere else. God’s Word sanctifies us (John 17:17) and gives us rest.

Go to church.

I don’t care how busy you are. If you are not dying of the plague, go to church. I understand that some people must work on Sundays, but do your best to avoid it. Church is specifically designed to be a place of fellowship with God’s people while we worship Him together. The Sabbath day is a day of rest. Church is an excellent way to rest. Don’t give up the opportunity to be spiritually fed and in turn praise the Lord because you’re too tired or don’t have time. Church is essential.

 

I hope some of these will be helpful to you in staying close to God through the chaos. Busyness isn’t a reason to push God aside; it’s a reason to draw even closer.

Have a blessed and fruitful day!

Kira

What do you do to stay “in-touch” with God? Are there any particularly weird places you like to pray?

Find What’s Best

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Let your weary spirit rest.

Lay down what’s good and find what’s best

And be. Just be.

“Breathe” by Jonny Diaz

This world is crazy. We don’t need to go over that again. We are all guilty of getting caught up in all of it, of placing mountains of importance on temporary things and forgetting the eternal for a while. That’s been especially true for me this week as I’m once again trying to balance school, work, social life, and all the rest, just like you are, I’m sure.

The song “Breathe” by Jonny Diaz is incredible. If you are so inclined, I highly encourage you to listen to the whole thing. The piece that has especially been on my mind lately is the chorus though. He says, “Lay down what’s good and find what’s best.”

That’s an easy concept, but a hard thing to do. I know that I (as a Type-A personality) want to do everything that is good. And there are a lot of good things in the world. So many of them are available and easy, but they add up. They fill up your time before you realize it. They become overwhelming and “what’s good” turns into “what’s draining.”

We must lay down the good in order to pursue what is best. So how do we discern what falls into these categories? How do we figure out what’s only good and what’s really best?

The answer is prayer. To give an example, I’ve been planning to do National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November all year. I’ve done it for the last two years and once a few years before. I love NaNoWriMo and everyone’s talking about it amongst the writerly communities.

I’m also in the middle of editing a manuscript which I sincerely hope to have published and maintaining and growing this blog. Not to mention the rest of life. NaNoWriMo looks so appealing and it is definitely a good thing. But I don’t think it’s the best for me right now.

I pray before I write every day and pray about my writing at other times too. As I prayed about NaNoWriMo, it became clear that, while it would be good, it would take away from school, relationships, and other projects (not to mention physical health during those midnight writing sessions). So I won’t do it this year.

Are you doing too much? Do you always feel hurried or exhausted or frazzled? Feelings are not generally reliable, but they can be helpful here, in figuring out if you’re trying to juggle too much. I feel busy most of the time, so I’m laying down the good of writing a novel in a month to pursue the best of being able to handle school, siblings, and editing.

Finding the right balance in life is not easy. It takes years of trial and error, prayer and evaluation. And it keeps changing, based on what stage of life you’re in. But it’s worth it for you and the people around you. Pray about everything. How you should do it, when you should do it, whether you should do it. That is always best.

So let your weary spirit rest. Lay down what’s good and find what’s best. And be. Just be.

Kira

Are you tring to do too much? What could you lay down in order to find what’s best?

Sickness and Schedules and Such

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Have you ever had a cold? You know, one of those energy-sucking, headache-inducing, voice-claiming ordeals which are never quite bad enough to warrant missing school? I got one this week and it was just as fun as I expected.

Something else you should know is that I am an extremely Type-A personality. I want 100s on all my assignments, my room to be in better order than a navy ship, and all of my goals accomplished neatly within the time frame I had in mind.

As we all know, colds tend to render us unable to complete all that we had planned for the week. Chores go undone, schoolwork is barely finished, and that extra writing project is certainly not going to happen right now.

That’s been my life this week – holding my eyes open to finish the reading for a class and then crashing on the couch to spend the rest of the afternoon moving as little as possible.

And let me tell you, I hate not being able to do anything.

I had to call into work sick for the first time (two days in a row) and cross off the school that didn’t absolutely have to happen. I barely published Tuesday’s blog post on time and my mother won’t let me anywhere near dinner while she’s cooking. All this has been extremely frustrating, made worse by almost losing my voice and trying to prevent sinus infections.

It has become evident that I struggle to rest.

Today, I’m talking as much to myself as to you. I’ve always known that I maybe don’t balance rest and work quite as I should, but I’ve shrugged it off. Who actually rests enough any way?

Recently, it was my mother who brought my inability to rest well to the forefront of my attention. In setting goals for me as part of a set of paperwork for a discipleship ministry, she wrote down, “Rest. God rested. It must be good.”

And you know, it is good. And God did rest. So now the question facing me (and all other hard working, Type-A personalities out there) is this:

If the Creator of the Universe rested after His work, what makes you think you can get by without resting?

Please, please sit for a minute and answer that honestly. What comes to mind when you ask yourself? I protest. “Well, sure I’ll rest – after I finish all this stuff.” “I rested yesterday.” “I don’t have time.”

None of those are legitimate reasons. Your body is a temple of the Lord and you must take care of it. That means resting. Even when you’re busy, even when you don’t want to. We must both learn to lay down our work and breathe for a while. It’s what we’re called to do as we imitate God.

Please stop living life like you’re going to miss out on something if you stop for even a second. You’re not going to miss out. Take care of yourself and thank God that He gives us rest.

Kira

Do you struggle to rest? What do you like to do in order to recharge?

Crazy Week and Energy

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Let me preface this post with an explanation of why it is so very short. This week has been an upside down, twisted up, crazy seven days. On Sunday, one of my brothers broke both of his wrists at once at a birthday party and spent the evening in the emergency room. Two of my siblings are in their second week of private school and still figuring out how everything works. I’m preparing for my own classes to start next week and working almost every day. Three people in our family have been traveling at the same time to two different states.

And now for the big one.

We got a new foster placement this week! For those of you who don’t know what foster care is, you can read about it in this post. So there are two new children in our house, going to a different school, and living in my bedroom. Which means we are all in a huge crazy busy transitional mess as we try to get a routine set up.

So please excuse the lack of coherent and thought out posts. 🙂


Today, I want to encourage you to keep going. The school year’s starting up and a lot of people are in a really hectic stage of the year.

In Colossians 1, Paul is describing his ministry to the church and says, “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” (Colossians 1:29)

What hit me about this verse didn’t have anything to do with Paul proclaiming the gospel, but rather with the idea that God supplies our energy.

In conclusion, the next time you feel like you’re drowning in life, remember Who gives you the energy to make it through.

Kira

How is your school year going so far? What helps you get through all the crazy?

From the Archives: Potamiaena’s Prayer

This post is a short story I wrote for a class a while ago. I still remember the story of Potamiaena above any of the others we read in Eusebius’s Church History. It’s my favorite.

Also, don’t forget to check out the giveaway in my last post – Edwin Brook: Dire Recompense. It’s only open for a couple more days.

Originially published: 9/24/15


This is a short-short story that I wrote as a project at the beginning of last school year. We were reading The Church History by Eusebius and we had to write a story about one of the many martyrs in the book. I chose a young woman named Potamiaena. Her story was only a page or two long, but I really liked it and wanted to spend more time thinking about it. So this is what I came up with . . .

* * *

Potamiaena stared up into the face of the judge, fear clouding her heart. She struggled to keep this same fear out of her voice and countenance. Her entire body ached, burned, and stung from the tortures she had already endured prior to this so-called trial. “I shall never worship your childish gods. They are invented only to provide something primitive and sinful for you to chase in ignorant hopes of fulfillment. I worship the one true God, the Creator of heaven and earth and His Son, Jesus Christ, now and forever!” Immediately, Potamiaena felt courage wash over her and she was now only faintly aware of the pain filling her body as she continued to stare at the judge, defiance on her face and in her stance.

The official’s look of shock and indignation rapidly evolved into one of anger and hatred. “Then you shall die! No one, not even a woman, can defy the gods and go unpunished!”

A soldier stepped forward to lead her away and Potamiaena willingly followed. As they made their way through the crowds to the road, he whispered her some comfort. “My name is Basilides. May I pray for you?” He began at Potamiaena’s nod of assent. “God, give this brave soul courage and faith through the end and keep Yourself at the forefront of her thoughts. Bring her to Yourself quickly and as painlessly as possible. In Your Son’s Name, Amen.”

Potamiaena whispered her thanks to the ground, so as not to endanger this kind young man.

Coldly, the crowd began jeering at her as she walked toward her imminent and torturous death. Basilides pushed the crowd away, driving them back and giving her room to walk, despite the oppressive nature of the bystanders. “Thank you for your kindness!” exclaimed Potamiaena, when they reached the place she was to die. She claimed one last glance at the single kind figure being swallowed by citizens of her former home. “I will ask the Lord for you and very soon I shall repay you for everything you have done on my behalf.”

With these faith-filled words, Potamiaena turned into the arena where she was to die. A tear slipped down her cheek, but she quickly brushed it away. Lord, she thought. Give me the strength to endure this for You. Help me to show them that I am not afraid to die for You. Let my death impact someone’s life. I look forward to seeing You soon. Oh, so soon. Potamiaena’s  prayer stayed in her heart through the last moments of her life. The thought calmed her from the fear of death and gave her a final smile at the thought of being martyred for her Savior.

Kira

Is there a martyr story that cuts right to your heart and gives you a stronger passion for Jesus?