Monthly Archives: August 2013

For the Tired

Have you ever just felt exhausted for long periods of time? Whether it’s because of bad health, or emotional wear, or just too much of life at once, it’s just not much fun. That’s been me for the past couple weeks. What with trying to regularly get up early, going to college, trying not to stress about a million and one things, I think it’s finally gotten to me. All I want to do is sleep, despite the fact that there’s plenty of work that needs done. And a little brother who could always use a playmate. And homework that needs um, worked on. Go figure.

What are you supposed to do about stubborn exhaustion that no amount of naps can repulse? While upbeat music is nice, it doesn’t fix everything. And neither do chocolate or caffeine. Sorry, people. (Actually, neither do avocados or sardines, much as I love them. *Gasp*) Guess what? Material things can only do so much, and then you have to find something else. Or maybe I should say Someone else.

“Be still, and know I am God.”

But what about all the things I still have to do today? And what about the relationships that I don’t understand where I’m supposed to take? And I’m still tired, God!

“Be still and know that I am God.”

But what about life? The world won’t wait for me.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

How? I’m not sure I even know what being still means anymore. My brain goes hopping down bunny trails in the jungle at seventy miles per hour, and even I get left behind wondering where it’s going. And good grief, I can’t just get out of working around the house just like that, either. Aren’t there apples that need picked, goats that need milked, apples to process, supper to make, milk to make into cheese? What about college? And homework? I can’t skip them either.

But wait. Remember riding a bike for miles and miles just as the sun was beginning to rise? Remember running in the early morning in the mist down a tree-lined lane? Remember the peace they gave you? Remember how you always found yourself in awe of God by them? Remember how they convinced you He was faithful in everything? Remember how He always gave you the strength to finish running or riding your bike, no matter how hard it was? Isn’t this the same? Isn’t God faithful in giving you the strength to live every day, just like He always gives you strength to run? Isn’t it God who does all that, not you?

I…guess I kind of forgot about that. It’s true, God can give me the strength to carry on, even when I’m exhausted. He can give me the ability to love others, even though I just want to collapse and forget about everything. He can. He will. He does. He is. So why in the world am I trying to play God and give myself strength? Pssh, like that’s going to work real well! “Buck up, Calista. You can do it if you just work a little harder, which will stress you out a little more, and make you even more tired.” Maybe I should try being still for once and let God be God. Maybe I should wait for the Lord instead of trying to do everything in my own strength and ‘falling exhausted’. Yeah, I sure wish I was soaring right now, but every time I try to fly by myself I hit my head on the ground. So maybe it’s time I was grateful that I’m on the ground. Instead of being frustrated because I’m too weak to fly, maybe I should be grateful that my God loves me enough to give me the strength to walk when I can’t fly. Maybe I should be grateful that the walking won’t last forever. Someday I’ll fly again. And maybe…just maybe…someday I’ll look back and see how God refined me in a way I couldn’t have been otherwise.

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Categories: Ponderizations | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

I Want to be Obsessed

People can get obsessed with a lot of things. Shoes, cars, video games, computer games, makeup, clothes, movie stars, bands, books, TV shows, sports…the list could probably go on into infinity pretty much. People sure have a lot of fun with their obsessions! Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing something. Could it be that I should find an obsession? Something I can spend all my energy on? Something I can talk about and seek above all else?

One little problem with that. Spending all your time, thoughts, and energy on material things is called idolatry. Sounds a little more serious than a non-offensive word like obsession, doesn’t it? It should sound more serious. We Americans are so worried about not hurting people’s feelings that we’ve slowly begun to use ‘softer’ words – words that mask what things really are. People get used to the soft words, and then they forget what they really mean. And after all, most people have an obsession of some kind. It’s hard to want to believe that they might not be healthy. But they are.

Too much salt can be very detrimental health-wise. Too much food (let’s admit it) will make you overweight. Too much air outside you would exert too much pressure on you, and you would implode. Hey, even water is lethal if you get too much of it! See, even life’s necessities are meant to be had in moderation. How much more so should our pleasures be!

God never intended for any of His creations to rule our minds and lives. When we allow the things of this world to come first in the list of priorities, our entire lives can be turned up-side-down. Slowly, it is true, but there is a definite change. Things just don’t work when a material thing is on ruling with an iron hand. And let’s face it – there is only One who is worthy to rule our lives. There is only One who deserves all our affections, all our energy, all our time, all our thoughts.

Reminds me of a song. The lyrics go like this:

“Give me one pure and holy passion

Give me one magnificent obsession

Give me one glorious ambition for my life

To know and follow hard after You

 

To know and follow hard after You

To grow as Your disciple in the truth

This world is empty pale and poor

Compared to knowing You my Lord

Lead me on and I will run after You”

Isn’t that beautiful? Out of all the possible obsessions you can have, this…this is truly the highest of all obsessions. And I want this. I don’t want to be obsessed with dragons, or daggers, or drawing, or even my writing, the thing I feel made to do. Because if Christ is not my first and highest priority, then the dragons and daggers and drawing and writing are meaningless. When it comes to ruling my life, they pale in comparison to the Creator of All. I want to be obsessed with my God. Because that is truly a magnificent obsession.

Categories: Ponderizations | 5 Comments

Krachack, Chapter Three

Chapter three of my story, Krachack.

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, Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

Happily Ever After, Huh?

Noelle: I’m going to get married when I’m 19!

Calista: (Ever the youngest trying to one-up her big sister) I’m going to get married when I’m 18!

Noelle: (Not about to be outdone) Calista, that’s WAAAY too young. Well, maybe not way too young, but it’s too young. (Just for the record, I never believed her.)

Oh boy, what’s Calista ranting about today? No, it’s not boys, if that’s what you were guessing. I’m actually ranting about girls today. And don’t try to tell me that girls aren’t rant-worthy. 😉 Girls aren’t just sweet innocent loveable creatures. We can be quite self-centered, and discontent. Real loveable, to be sure!

In all seriousness though, what do the majority of girls do with their time? Talk about boys, dream up the perfect wedding, read romance novels, listen to love songs, think about boys, have sleepovers in which they talk about boys, go window (or internet) shopping for wedding dresses… Good hawnk to high heaven, what is with this obsession with getting married?

In my personal (and extremely correct and humble 😉 ) opinion, it is very unhealthy for girls to spend all their time thinking about getting married. Don’t throw stones! There is certainly a time and a place to plan and prepare for a wedding. However! My point is, if a girl spends all her days thinking and dreaming about her perfect wedding and the perfect guy (and let’s be honest, there are no perfect guys), what is she spending her time and energy on? (Is it just me, or was that kind of a duh question?) What is she training herself for? And what happens when perfect Mr. Darcy sweeps her off her feet, anyways? The morning after that perfect wedding that she so carefully planned for years and years, she’s going to wake up and realize – she doesn’t know how to keep ahead of the dirty laundry. Or consistently keep a clean house. Or cook a healthy meal every. stinkin. day. She’ll find out that her perfect Mr. Darcy snores. And leaves the toilet seat up. And forgets to floss. And doesn’t wake up with perfect hair. And has annoying habits. She will become disillusioned and exhausted, and will wonder why in the world she ever wanted to get married.

What went wrong? This girl spent years and years studying guys and figuring out just how to do a wedding right, and in the process neglected to prepare for the marriage that comes after the wedding. And when a girl does that, she has effectively wasted what could have been fruitful years of singleness, and destined herself for bitter disappointment, and, in many cases, heartbreak.

Girls, this is serious! God has given us these years before marriage so that we might learn to work hard, and to serve others, and to be content. This is crucial training we may not have time for later. If we neglect it, how can we expect to have a “happily ever after”? And think how much of a blessing it will be to your future husband if you already know how to tend the house and cook and take care of kids – and are happy doing it. So if we have little siblings, let’s practice taking care of them. If our moms are busy, let’s practice making supper, or maybe go clean something. These may sound like boring activities in comparison to thinking about guys, but they’re much more fruitful ones. And remember: even Cinderella knew how to run a home before she married Prince Charming.

The conversation I quoted at the beginning of this post (rant) actually happened. Granted, I was probably three or four years old at the time. But I wanted to mention it because it’s natural to think about getting married. It’s normal to want that, and it’s not a bad thing. (Hey, I want to get married as much as any girl.) It only becomes unhealthy when it dominates our thoughts and our energy and our time. And you know, I still think it would be funny if I got married at 18 (yes, just because Noelle told me I couldn’t, I’ll admit that). But I’m not going to aim for it! Because if I’m not prepared for marriage at that age, then it is “WAAAY too young.” Any daydreaming girl can get married (provided she has someone to marry) but it takes a prepared woman (and man – just because I didn’t rant about guys doesn’t mean they don’t have to prepare too) to sustain a marriage. No matter how perfect Prince Charming is.

Categories: Opinionations | 9 Comments

Stairs

This is a short story I wrote last year. It was part of a challenge to write something from a single picture. The picture I got was of a bunch of creepy-looking stairs. So this is what developed from that. Enjoy! 

~ ~ ~

“Junior, beware the Stairs!” the old man mutters under his breath, “Aye, that’s what I’ve been told all my life. You’ve seen them, boy,” he turns to me, “but only by passing down them are we given a name…Oh, I’ve always wanted a name, but I couldn’t bring myself to risk the ominous Stairs.”

I gaze up into his worn face. No wonder I have never heard anyone call him by a name…. His eyes swim with tears.

“They called me coward for not passing down them, and rightly so. Oh, if only they had killed me then! A coward isn’t fit to live!” There is pain reflecting in his eyes, and my heart constricts. How I long to comfort him, to assure him that he isn’t a coward…but it is not Time.

I stroke his knee, sympathizing with my eyes, and he knows it.

“You’re a good boy.” he smiles, “A good boy who deserves a name, whether or not you can say it.”

Not able? I want to laugh. Whoever said I was not able to speak? I certainly didn’t. But the fact is, if a half-starved orphan shows up mysteriously on a doorstep and won’t talk, they assume he can’t talk. Not that I object. Being assumed mute has its benefits…especially if I cannot remember the past that these nosy villagers want me to tell them.

“You will be brave tomorrow, won’t you, my lad?” the old man – I silently dubbed him Grandfather – pleaded. Of course. What is so dangerous about these Stairs anyway? I nod encouragingly and pull gently on his hand.

“What? You want me to go to?”

I nod.

“No, my boy, I am too old to go down them.” he sighs, “It’s too late for me.” No! I shake my head emphatically and tug on his hand again. Please come with me. It is not too late. I will go with you!

“I cannot.” Grandfather sighs again, “I have been nameless all my life. I’m too old to change now. Besides, I have not enough life left before me in which to enjoy a name. No, lad, I cannot go.”

Tears spring into my eyes, and I open my mouth to protest, but I cannot. It is not Time. I sigh.

“Still trying to speak?” Grandfather asks tenderly, “I wish I had your persistence. May it carry you safely down the Stairs to a new name and future tomorrow.” he pats my shoulder, “Come on, now, it’s time you were in bed.”
* * * *
The next morning comes all too soon for me. Despite my brave smile, I am afraid of the Stairs. What dangers lie down there? I am unable to eat anything, so we go to the Stairs early.

“The Statesman is waiting for you at the bottom.” Grandfather says, “He will help you choose a name from the List. I wish I could wait for you down there too, but Unnameds aren’t allowed. Now go, my boy, and be brave.”

I step towards the ominous Stairs, and tug his hand, pleading. Please come with me. Gently, he shakes his head and releases his hand from mine. I cannot be afraid. One step down. Two. A deep unshakeable uneasiness begins to creep into my soul. What is there to fear? I try to shake it off, and keep going.

Three steps down. Four. The walls begin to feel like they are closing in. Claustrophobia sets in, and my heart hammers mercilessly on my ribcage. There is no danger! But no matter how hard I tell myself that, I cannot drive out the inexplicable fear that is growing steadily.

Five steps down, six! A mist rises before my eyes. I can’t see! I want to scream, to turn and run away, but I hear Grandfather urging me on. I can’t stop now! I rub my eyes, trying to clear up the mist, then feel my way forward.

Seven, eight, nine steps! My heart lurches in terror, and a black darkness settles on me. I can’t go on! I can’t, I can’t! I must. One more step! Two more! Don’t be afraid, don’t think! Keep going, don’t give in… I am ashamed of my unreasonable fear. What is wrong with me? Nothing has happened yet…and yet I am terrified.

Step, step, step. I am sweating violently now, and my feet are unsteady. Suddenly I stop. I can’t go on! Something is physically keeping me back. A terrifying, invisible, looming something. I can’t go on! It won’t let me pass! It is choking me…I can’t breathe, I can’t move!

I have to go on! I can’t stop now!

“Be brave, lad!” Grandfather calls. Somehow, it gives me new strength. I glance back at him. He smiles encouragingly at me. Steeling myself, I take another step. It requires every ounce of will, but I do it! Another one! And another one! I am going to suffocate! One more step! With the last strength left in me, I throw myself down the last stairs and collapse at the bottom.

The doorknob…weakly I reach upward for it, and turn it. The door swings open, and just like that, the fear, the ominous something – everything! – vanishes, like light dispelling shadows. Gratefully, I stumble forward and fall into the arms of the awaiting Statesman, breathing deeply. Air! Glorious, beautiful air!

“Well done, lad!” the Statesman praises.

I want to shout for joy. I can just see Grandfather smiling down at me. I beckon to him. Come on. You can do it. No…he shakes his head, but I insist this time. I nod decisively and open my arms to him. Come.
Unable to refuse me, he slowly begins the descent. One step, two steps, three steps, four. I watch the fear in his eyes, and urge him onward. Come on, Grandfather, you can do it!

He tries to smile, but I can see that he is breathing hard. He stumbles, and catches himself against the wall, fear blazing in his eyes like an uncontrollable fire. Come on, Grandfather! Don’t give up! I reach towards him, ready to help him down the last steps. He totters forwards, nothing but the momentum keeping him going. Then suddenly he hits the wall of fear. He can’t stop! I gasp, as he pitches forward, rolling down the last stairs.

I scream. “Grandfather!” I run to his side and help him up, before I even hear myself. He stares dazedly at me.

“Did you really speak?” he whispers. I can feel my eyes grow wide.

“Did I?” I laugh nervously. It must be my Time. It is strange hearing my voice for the first time…the first time I can remember. My tongue slurs the words I ought to know so well. “Come on, Grandfather, choose the name you have earned.”

“A name?” he asks distractedly, staring at me, “I do not need to, lad. You have already given me one.”

I am puzzled. “I did? What name?”

“Grandfather.” he smiles gently, “You have called me that twice now. At my age, there could not me a more honorable name than that. And you? What name will you be called by?”

I think for a moment. What name befits an orphan who cannot remember his past?

“You have let me give you a name.” I say slowly, “So it is fitting that you should name me.”

Now it is his turn to contemplate. I watch the thoughts turn over and over in his head as he stares hard at the ground.

“Well lad,” he finally looks up, “then I would be happy to call you Bern – it means ‘brave’. It is a good name, long neglected by the public, and I would be proud if you would bear it.”

“I would be glad to, Grandfather.” I laugh, and hook my arm in his, as we joyfully return home.

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