Monthly Archives: May 2013

So Long!

Greetings! It is I, once again, here with an announcement. Starting June 1, I shall be away for a month, and I wanted to take the time to explain where I’m going. So here goes!

I have been accepted to a camp called STEP – Skills Training for Emergency Preparedness. STEP is a four-week outdoor adventure program for young women ages 15 and older. This challenging program is designed to build confidence on individual and team levels, in preparation to respond to life’s emergencies, while learning to put their trust in the Lord. STEP is located on the International ALERT Academy campus just east of Big Sandy, Texas, for those who like to know that sort of stuff.

There will be scripture memory from Phillippians and devotions from the same, hiking and swimming, CPR and first aid training, all sorts of camping and survival stuff, canoeing, basic electrical and plumbing stuff, drywall repair, basic auto maintenance, etc. etc. etc. (said with an Indian accent, mind. *Wonders vaguely who all got the movie reference*) Sound fun? (And exhausting…)

The downside? I will not be online at all during that month. Period. No time, and no internet access. (That also means no blog posts.) Are you crying yet? Don’t start yet, there’s more! You can still contact me, either by letter to:

IAA attn: STEP Calista Holmes
One Academy Blvd
Big Sandy, TX 75755

Or by e-mail at step@alertacademy.com

Note: As this is the ALERT e-mail, you have to put my name (Calista Holmes, not Calista Beth, mind) as the subject, and they will print it off to give to me. (And if you happen to include your mailing address, I might manage to drop you a line or two if I have time.)

Sound fair? Good. I’ll see you all in July! God bless! And as a last farewell, do allow me to share the lyrics to one of my favorite songs…

Think of Me by Mark Shultz

Packing my bags this morning

Was the hardest thing to do

But packing my bags was so easy

Compared to standing outside your door right now

To say goodbye to you

Think of me

I know you’ve never seen me cry

Think of me

But it’s so hard to say goodbye

Think of me

What can I say to show you

I’ll never give up on you

I will be waiting for you

I will be there when you call

I will be there through it all

And even in your darkest hour

I pray that the Lord we found

Will set you on solid ground

I know that it feels like leaving

Is a part of letting go

But I’m praying with hope and believing

That I’ll see you once again down this road

I hope it won’t be long

Think of me

I know God brought you as a friend

Think of me

I know He’ll bring you back again

Think of me

What can I say to show you

I’ll never give up on you

I will be waiting for you

I will be there when you call

I will be there through it all

And even in your darkest hour

I pray that the Lord we found

Will set you on solid ground

Think of me

I know you’ve never seen me cry

Think of me

But it’s so hard to say goodbye

Think of me

What can I say to show you

I’ll never give up on you

I will be waiting for you

 

I will be there when you call

I will be there through it all

And even in your darkest hour

I pray that the Lord we found

Will set you on solid ground

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

To Tantalize You…

I’ve been writing and rewriting quite a bit lately, and I think it’s time to share a piece of the result. This is from my (stubbornly still unnamed) rewrite of the fairy-tale Rapunzel. Enjoy

~~

“Where have you been, Raven? I thought I warned you that I would need you to take care of Luda this morning.”

Tolina’s frown melted away as her daughter came crashing down the stairs, landing with an unceremonious thump on her tail. Raven laughed wryly and rubbed the bruise. She stared up at the tall, dark-eyed woman before her, hoping vaguely that she would forget about being angry.

“I’m sorry…I forgot the time. The sun was so warm and bright and I just had to – ”

Tolina’s dark eyes bored holes into Raven, unceremoniously cutting off her excuse. “Luda’s been calling for you for half an hour, Raven.” she stated flatly. “Now I want you to go and apologize to her, and give Luda her medicine for me. I have to leave, and ought to have done so an hour ago if you hadn’t gone and disappeared after breakfast. It’s time you started thinking about more than just yourself.”

Raven scowled inwardly, but dared not say anything. She ducked her head and trudged down the stairs to the little cottage at the base of the tower. A heat wave rolled over her, and Raven instantly regretted coming down. Despite the fact that spring was well-advanced, Luda insisted on having a roaring fire in her quarters. Raven already felt hot and sticky as she stepped into the tiny room.

Luda sat wrapped in a cheerless quilt, scowling hawk-like at the fire crackling obediently in the hearth. The old woman rocked insistently, her gnarled hands fiercely engaged with knitting needles and drab yarn. Spying Luda’s project, Raven grimaced. No doubt the grayish shapeless object was destined to become hers…whatever it was intended to be.

“Well, there she is!” Luda exclaimed to her knitting. “I thought she’d never get here!”

“I’m sorry….” Raven hung back.

“Oh, of course.” Luda sneered. “So sorry she won’t hurry up and do as she’s told. Hop to it, young lady!”

Raven hastily obeyed, scampering to the high mantle-piece and taking down the heavy crock that resided there. She half-heartedly removed the lid, bracing her senses as an overpowering sickly sweet smell filled the room.

Raven gagged at the stench, and breathed through her sleeve while Luda painstakingly set her knitting aside and dipped a pewter spoon into the sticky black goo. As soon as the utensil cleared the opening, Raven clapped the lid back on and deposited the crock back on the mantel with a sigh. She ran to the narrow little window and breathed the fresh air in relief, before gladly escaping back up into the tower.

“I hope you apologized properly to her.” Tolina called as Raven dashed by. Raven skidded to a stop, nearly tripping on the rag rug in the middle of the floor.

She gritted her teeth. “I did.”

“I’m glad.” Tolina drew Raven into a hug. “I know she vexes you, but there’s nothing we can do to change her behavior.” She kissed Raven’s forehead. “I’m going into town now, so I need you to watch Luda’s fire this morning. Her fever is worse today, and I don’t want to risk her getting cold.”

Raven groaned inwardly. “Alright.” she finally managed.

“Thank you, sweetheart.” Tolina squeezed her shoulders and hurried downstairs. Raven watched out the window as her mother, cloaked and carrying a basket, began the slow journey down the hill to Penworth.

‘I wish I could go too.’ Raven frowned, and half-heartedly backtracked down to the cottage, convinced that the entire morning would be spoiled.

“Well, look who decided to visit me.” the old woman exclaimed to her knitting. “I wonder what would prompt her to come again so soon!”

“Mother is going to town and she told me to watch your fire.” Raven scowled. Why did Luda always have to aggravate her?

“That explains it.” Luda viciously stabbed a knitting needle through the yarn and fell silent. Raven ignored the caustic comment and leaned on the window ledge, trying to feel the spring breeze that played just out of reach.

“Why can’t I go outside the ruins?” she asked suddenly, turning to the cantankerous old woman.

“Because your mother was foolish, that’s why.” Luda rocked harder. Raven narrowed her eyes, and turned back to the window.

“She’s not foolish…” she muttered fiercely to herself, and then stopped. After all, why did Tolina think Raven couldn’t go out on her own? And why didn’t she ever tell Raven about their past? And why did they live in the castle ruins in the first place?

“What do you mean?” Raven turned suspiciously to look at Luda again.

“Now what nonsense are you talking about?” Luda held up her knitting and scrutinized it closely.

“Why did you call Mother foolish, and what does it have to do with me?” Raven prodded impatiently.

“I called her that because she is.” Luda snapped. “And it has everything to do with you. It’s her fault.”

“Why? What is her fault?” Raven asked, trying to quench the horrible doubts that rose inside her.

“Ask her yourself.” Luda retorted, and nearly stabbed herself with her knitting needle. She swore and threw it down. Raven squinched her eyes shut, and wished she could do the same with her ears.

‘Why do I have to live with this woman?!’ She moaned, and pushed her face close to the window. Sweat rolled down her back, and her hair felt nasty and sticky. If only the breeze would decide to be kind and blow inside for a change…Raven’s palms were sweaty, and she was suffocating in the heat.

“The fire is getting low.” Luda observed dryly. Raven turned around, feeling light-headed. Luda was knitting away, and the fire burned as brightly as ever. Raven’s vision blurred for a moment, and she swayed.

‘Have to…get out…’

“Raven! Did you hear me?” Luda exclaimed. “I said the fire is getting low.”

“I…have to go upstairs…” Raven mumbled weakly, and dragged herself up the staircase before Luda could object. Finally reaching the top, she collapsed on the stone floor in relief, letting the feeling seep into her body and cool her hot forehead. Her head slowly stopped spinning, and her wits returned.

‘I do believe I nearly fainted!’ she realized, and shuddered to think what Luda might have done if she actually had. Probably shove some of the nasty cordial down her throat, or maybe hit her with a knitting needle until she woke up. Raven sighed, and turned her head to the other side. Her gaze ran idly over the room. There was the many-colored rag rug in the middle of the floor… the old worn-out tapestry…the great bookshelves along the walls… Raven wondered how many of those books she had actually even read. And how many were just pieces of leather wrapped around disintegrated paper. Most of them looked like the moths had taken an interest to them. She crossed her eyes and watched the colors blur together. Red, brown, green…white…blue…or was it…purple? Surprised, Raven stood up and pulled the little book off the shelf.

‘It is purple! Where did it come from?’ Raven turned the book over in her hands. There were no markings on the cover. Curious, she opened it to the first page. Tolina Kirghen was written on it in a fine, neat hand. Raven stared.

“Mother’s diary!” she breathed. “But why haven’t I seen it here before?” A little guiltily, she realized just how very little she had read at all in the past few years. It would have been easy to miss a thin little diary amongst the great big books.

“Raven! Raven Tahuer, you come back here this minute!” Luda shrilled.

“Tahuer?” Raven’s heart jumped. Tahuer! Marcus had mentioned a Tahuer. But why would Luda… “What nonsense!” Raven shook the thoughts from her head. “You’re losing your mind, Raven. You just imagined it.”

“Raven!” Luda screeched again. Raven groaned and hid the little book under the stair, and slowly descended to Luda again. She would have to retrieve and read it a different time.

* * * *

Marcus trudged through the streets of Penworth, his mind anywhere but in the tiny town as he pondered his adventure that morning. His daydreams were abruptly arrested however, as a tall lanky lad suddenly burst around a corner and collided with Marcus.

“Hullo, what’s this all about?” Marcus exclaimed, disentangling himself from the other boy’s sprawled limbs. “Dan’l? What’s the matter?”

Dan’l hauled himself to his feet with a groan, his face pale. “There’s trouble afoot in the smithy.” he answered, replacing a battered cap on his tawny hair.

Marcus perked up. “What’s going on?” he asked eagerly.

Dan’l hesitated, his eyes shifting nervously from side to side. “Wahl…” He stalled, then drew closer and whispered confidentially, “I seen the ghost go in there.”

Marcus’ face lit up immediately. “You saw the ghost? When? What did it look like?” he prodded eagerly.

“You’re mad!” Dan’l exclaimed, his face going a shade paler. “You cain’t mess with spirits! It ain’t safe!”

“I know, I know.” Marcus brushed Dan’l off impatiently. “You let me worry about that. What did it look like? Is it still there?”

“’Tis your head.” Dan’l shrugged. “Don’t care if you want to get yourself cursed.”

“Well?” Marcus urged.

Dan’l gave in. “I saw it just a few minutes ago. It was walking around Mister Tahuer’s shop like they allus say it does, an’ it was all flowy an’ black.” The boy shuddered at the memory. “Marcus, you’re mad if you go anywheres near the place!”

“Was there anything strange about it?” Marcus prodded.

“Strange?” Dan’l scoffed. “Why, you are mad! Ain’t a ghost strange enough for ye?”

“Oh, forget it.” Marcus gave up with a sigh of disgust. He stalked down the street towards the smithy, leaving Dan’l gaping after him. Marcus couldn’t help but smirk at the other lad’s astonishment. As soon as he was out of sight however, his confidence waned and in spite of his bold pretenses he could not bring himself to peek through the window. Heart thumping, he slid down against the rough wall and waited.

“Marcus?” a deep voice broke the stillness. Marcus didn’t wait to see its source. He took off like a shot and never once looked back until he was safe inside his barrel behind Mr. Gateworthy’s shop.

Categories: Writing Excerpts | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Krachack, Chapter Three

The third installment of my old story, Krachack. Enjoy, and try not to wince to much at the style. If I end up rewriting it as planned, that won’t be a problem.

 

Master and student walked slowly out the door, and turned down a gently shadowed path under a line of drooping willows. The sun was setting, and the sky was a pale orange. A few thin pink streaks of clouds hung in the sky, as isolated and apart from each other as Gimel was from his companions. The two walked in silence for a moment, then Kaph suddenly stopped and looked Gimel in the eyes.

“My son, I must say I was quite proud when you stood up for yourself this evening.” He began, and his eyes glowed briefly before clouding over again, “But why? Why have you let so many of them treat you so for four years?”

Gimel hung his head, ashamed to look Kaph full in the face, “I – I’m not altogether sure.” he stammered. “It’s just that…well…I guess I’m afraid.” He glanced into Kaph’s eyes briefly before returning his gaze to the ground.

“O my son,” Kaph said quietly, “Never be afraid to stand up for yourself. You cannot live life being taken advantage of and persecuted by whosoever wishes to.”

“No, I know.” Gimel admitted, “But it’s so hard…I miss my family. What has happened to my mother? I’ve been gone for four years now – does she think I’m dead? She didn’t know I left to try out for your school…She needed me to help her with the house. You see, master Kaph, my father is dead, and my grandfather is frail, and no help about the house. I was her support. I kept the house while she worked. What if – what if -“ He couldn’t bring himself to voice his thoughts. No, they couldn’t be dead! Surely they hadn’t starved without his help!

A sob came from his throat.

“Ah, my son, I know your fears.” Kaph answered, so quietly that Gimel wondered if he had actually spoken. He gazed up into his teacher’s face. It was now lined with old worries, old pains.

“You do?” he breathed.

“I was taken from my family when I was about your age.” Kaph continued, staring into space, seemingly not aware that he spoke aloud, “O how hard that was! Both my parents were not well. I had to support them and my brothers and sisters. Then they came. They took me away to sell to pay my family’s debts. I have not seen them since.” The old man looked deep into Gimel’s eyes, “My anxiety ate me for many years, but I learned that you cannot survive so. It eats your abilities and prevents you from moving forward in life. Look not into the past for worries, my son! The future holds so many of its own, do not burden yourself with unnecessary fears!”

The sun had disappeared behind the horizon completely now, and they continued to walk as the dusk grew deeper. Gimel pondered what Kaph had said, and strode beside him in silence for some time. At last they came to the door to his Kaph’s residence.

“Master, what of the contests?” Gimel asked suddenly. His teacher started slightly, as if aroused from deep thoughts.

“Yes, my son?”

“Oh, master Kaph, I long to do something worthwhile! I don’t want to disappoint you, or fail – but – but what about Dragon Fire? I’m not ready to compete for it. And oh! How I long to tame a dragon!” tears came to Gimel’s eyes, and he couldn’t go on for a moment. “Ever since I was able to comprehend things, I longed for the permission to have a dragon, like the Krachack men. Master Kaph, please give me a chance to compete for Dragon Fire!”

Kaph answered quietly, “I would not force you to choose either way, my son, but if you are not ready for Dragon Fire, would you not be glad to be released, to go home to your mother? Or, you can go ahead and compete for Dragon Fire, but I warn you that your comrades are not easy opponents. You may not earn your way to Dragon Fire. Are you willing to risk this? I will put the contests off for another week if you choose, and I will train you intensively during that week.” Gimel’s eyes widened, and his heart expanded in gratitude to Kaph’s kindness. Oh, how glad he was to have Kaph for his teacher! But how hard it would be to decide!

“I – I don’t know which I want.” He stammered, “I want them both. I dearly want to see my family again, but – but I don’t want to leave in defeat!”

“I understand, my son.” Kaph smiled gently, “Think about it tonight, and tomorrow evening you may tell me your decision before we eat.” He patted Gimel kindly on the shoulder, and then entered his room. Gimel turned, and walked thoughtfully back up the path to the dormitory.

What would he choose? Oh, it was so difficult a decision! He turned the options over in his mind, but of course the answer wasn’t written on the bottom. How he longed for a dragon! Surely no one would torment him again, if only he had a dragon! But oh! It would be so easy just to go home and take care of his family again. Surely it couldn’t be wrong to give up if it was for one’s family’s sake?

Categories: Krachack | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

I’m Tired of Whining!

*Grumblemumblegrowlssomethingundermybreath* Anybody else ever said that before? I admit it – I’ve certainly done more than my share of complaining in my time. My philosophy was something to the effect of “Every silver lining has a cloud.” I kind of tried to brush over Philippians 2:14-15:

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…

But you can’t just ignore verses that you don’t like. This isn’t a Baptist-style potluck, people. If you don’t like the deviled eggs with avocado, you have to eat it anyways. [bunny-trail]Just in case people start getting ideas, I have no idea if such a dish exists![/bunny-trail] So I had to admit that the verse was right, and I shouldn’t be complaining.

Well, apparently just because a verse says something doesn’t mean it’s automatically easy to do what it says. Annnnd, well, if one has the bad habit of forgetting that sort of thing right when one needs it the most, well, that doesn’t always work out so well. But you know what I’ve found out? I’m actually tired of complaining! Strange? Not really. Complaining is kind of like verbal pollution, and it makes everyone – including its source – feel bad. And surprise surprise, apparently nobody likes to feel bad. Isn’t that weird? (Okay, I’ll stop with the sarcasm…)

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that…there’s a practical reason for commands like Philippians 2:14-15. God doesn’t tell us to do or not do something just because. It’s always for our good. And so…we should be grateful not only for the “ice-cream” verses, but also for the deviled-eggs-with-avocado. *Smiles*

Categories: Ponderizations | 3 Comments

“But I Don’t Want To Do It!”

“Calista, I’m leaving and I need you to finish making the cheese for me.” My mom says, as she dashes around the house trying to get ready to leave.

‘But I don’t want to do it!’ I complain mentally. I have my own schedule – my own stuff I want to do today, and it certainly did not include being tied to the kitchen and constantly having to check on a stupid pot of milk. If you look closely, I’m sure you can see a black cloud over my head as my mom leaves and I drag myself into the kitchen. It’s going to be a long morning.

 

I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me to do something that I hate doing, my initial response is to dig my heels in. Yep, it’s true, unfortunately. Maybe it’s just me and my lazy youngest-gets-out-of-everything mentality – I don’t know. What I do know is that my mom calls it a Bad Attitude. Either way, it’s not much fun to have, or to be around. (Go figure. The one thing I have plenty of, nobody wants…)

So anyways, I’ve been thinking about it recently, and it struck me that…well…Jesus was tempted to have a Bad Attitude about the cross. After all, He’s the God of the universe! Why did He come down to die for us wretched, dirty, sinners? He didn’t have to. He could have just stayed where He was – He could have just sat back and left us to our miserable selves or just destroyed us altogether. Why should He humiliate Himself so completely for our sake? Why didn’t He dig in His heels and say “But I don’t want to do it!”

Matthew 26:39 – He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

*Sighs* I think you can see there’s a big difference between Jesus’ attitude and mine. And I think that the root of that difference is basically pride. If there’s anything harder than laying aside my pride in order to submit to someone else’s will, I don’t know what it is. And yet, the very God of the universe was not too proud to lay aside all the glory of heaven and come live as one of us, and die an utterly humiliating death for people who didn’t even love Him. In that light, it makes all my selfish refusals look pretty stupid. *Laughs a little*

That doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle. Hey, I still don’t like making cheese. But, it is my hope and my desire that the God who cared enough to submit Himself and do something hard will in turn teach me to do the same.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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