Saturday, July 20, 2019

Don't Forget God in the Midst of the Small Things -- a Thought




Disasters are the best for driving people to God. When something big, horrible, and life-changing happens, we analyze ourselves and (hopefully) go straight to the Word and prayer. Death, illness, loss, anything that shakes us causes us to desire solid ground. 
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. - Psalm 62:6 (ESV)
Sometimes we don’t go to God. The disasters in our lives can drive us farther from God if we’re aren't careful. But if problems drive us farther instead of closer, we are forgetting the purpose of suffering. God doesn’t just give us trials and leave us in the pit. He gives us trials so that we can learn to depend on Him, our Rock.
I have a theory. What if the smaller trials are even more deadly, in a spiritual sense, than the big trials? What if the everyday struggles to not lose our patience are more likely to pull us away from God than the horrible things we can’t contemplate? What if the problems that cause us to stop reading our Bibles and praying to our Father are invisible?
You see, the smaller problems create the easiest traps to fall into. Rather than pits, they are more like sinking sands. They’re the kind of things that come in massive quantities, the everyday things. Messes, homework, projects, fusses, scheduling are all things that are so small that we think we can handle them on our own. The truth is we can’t.
As we sink into the sands of stress, we are sinking so slowly we think it isn’t a real problem. 
It’s just sand, we think. I can just step out myself. I don’t need God.
As we try to handle things ourselves, we run to things that can’t really help us. Little pleasures, entertainment, and food might make you feel better for a little bit, but they don’t make a difference in the long run.
We need God — just as we always have. We need to go to Him in prayer. We need to go to the Word and hear His voice and build our houses on the Rock. 
And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. - Matthew 7:25 (ESV)
With all the floods of problems in our lives, the sand isn’t a safe place to stand on. God is our only hope in the storms. We need to go to Him in everything — even in the tiniest problems. Especially in the tiniest problems. End of story.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Some fiction stuff!






When I ran a poll a few weeks back, some of you asked for more creative writing. This week and the last I have especially been focusing on fiction more than nonfiction, so today I will share a couple pieces with you. Don’t worry, I’m not adding another novel to your pile; these are both very short.

First off, a little bit of flash fiction. It is a zoom-in a little part of one of my character’s backstory. In Booker Bunny and the 99 Captives, he is known as the Captain. But when he was a young monkey, his name was Ajay.

***

“Grandfather?”


My grandfather, a much older monkey, turns from his nearly-finished mango. Even from the tree branch we sit on, far away from the rest of the tribe, their chattering is loud; so he leans close. “What is it, Ajay?” 


“Won’t you tell me your story one more time?” I’m one of the oldest child-monkeys in the tribe, but I never tire of my grandfather's tales of sailing with buccaneers, looting priests, sinking ships, and his escape from his slavery to the pirates. The part where he rode a shark to the shore of our island is my favorite. But all his stories are an inspiration to me.


My grandfather grins. “Didn’t I tell it last night? You know my rule. Wait another moon.”


He sees my frown and says, “Ah, but the tribe’s having another ant-fishing contest. I never won those when I was young. Go win the spear-trophy and make me proud!”


I don’t enjoy ant-fishing much — sticking twigs in ant holes to get ants — but if I have a chance to impress my grandfather, an ex-swashbuckler who has seen everything, I’ll give the ant-fishing contest one more shot. 


We climb down the rough bark until we reach the ground, and find many of the tribe’s youth around a low, shady hill, whittling their sticks. Their parents and the tribe elders are off to the side cheering. 


“We’ve already started the tournament, but feel free to join!” says an elder with graying fur.


“Quickly, go find a stick, Ajay!” my grandfather yells over the commotion. 


So I climb back up the tree and take my time when looking for a stick. It’s too far into the competition to win anyways. I think about my grandfather’s adventures as I search, and then it hits me. 


When the pirates were returning, my grandfather escaped despite his lack of time. How? He used his brains — and so can I!


I grab a stick and impale a mango. I don’t care if there is a rule against it, because if my stick’s extra sweet, the ants will like it more. Then I climb back down the tree to the hill.


All the other child-monkeys are sticking their ant-fishing sticks into ant holes. I poke my sticky ant-fishing twig into a disregarded hole, and pull it out to find it absolutely covered in ants — fire ants! I shriek and throw my stick. Then the elders see it, and to my delight, declare me the winner and give me the spear-trophy. Grandfather beams with pride.


Suddenly, there’s a loud noise, like a large beast chopping through the vines. “Men!” shouts my grandfather. “Everybody, climb up high, and fast!”


I climb a little. But what if the men hurt my tribe? I think. Emboldened by the spear in my hand, I decide to face the men. 


As the tribe climbs higher, I climb lower. I want to have an adventure like my grandfather’s, so even as he calls, I don’t look back.

***

Sorry about the cliff hanger! I have written a full version of Ajay's story, but it won't be properly polished until after I've finished my novel.

Until then, I have a little snippet from Booker Bunny and the 99 Captives that I wrote to develop a bunny family's personalities. I hope you enjoy this fun around-the-table dialogue.

***

Background --
The rabbits, oldest to youngest: Uncle Wilder, Mr. Cooper— Uncle Wilder’s nephew, Mrs. Sunray, (Mr. Cooper and Mrs. Sunray are a married couple, bunnies go by their first names), Digger, Konnor, Meadow, Al, Chris, Hope, and Holly. All of the younger rabbits are Mrs. Sunray and Mr. Cooper’s children, except for Konnor, whom Uncle Wilder adopted. They are all chubby cottontails with short ears and various shades of brown fur, and they are sitting at a table made from a fallen bookcase to eat their beginning-of-spring-breakfast feast, otherwise known as their March feast.


“Some more blueberries, please?” came a small voice--Holly, from the edge of the table-bookcase. 


“Me, too!” hollered Hope, her twin. “Please!” 


“Hope, you’re such a copycat,”Al said.


“Yeah, especially when it comes to Holly,” chimed in Chris.


Meadow laughed. “Oh my, Chris, speak for yourself! You’re Al’s shadow!”


“Would somebody please pass the blueberry bowl?” Holly repeated.


“You’ve been hogging them all, Holly!” Konnor exclaimed. He pushed the blueberry bowl further from Holly. 


“Konnor’s got a point there,” Mrs. Sunray said softly. “I think you’ve had more than enough.”


Holly looked toward Uncle Wilder with a pitiful face.


“A growing bunny needs her berries!” Uncle Wilder argued. “I would know! When I was a lad, I used to—“


Hope interrupted. “I’m a growing bunny, too! I want more blueberries, too!”


“Quit the ruckus!” Konnor said a little too loudly.


Digger turned away from his meal for the first time. “What’d ya say?”


“Digger, your ears are clogged!” Al whispered.


“Huh?”


Meadow giggled and tapped Digger’s shoulder. “Your ears are clogged!”


“Oh.” Digger unclogged his ears and continued eating with his now-muddy paws.


“I told you we should have had them tidy up before the meal!” said Mrs. Sunray to Uncle Wilder.


“But it’s our March feast!” said Uncle Wilder. “It would be cruel to force your children to clean themselves on such a special day! After all, everybody knows that mud symbolizes spring itself, and you ought not to—“


“Have you never heard of ‘spring cleaning’?” Mrs. Sunray countered.


“Hey!” shouted Konnor. “Where’d they go?”


Mr. Cooper finished off the blueberries and licked his lips.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Two Blog Tags

I’ve been nominated for a couple blogger awards by two bloggers I met through the Young Writers Workshop. Since I have procrastinated a couple months already, I am going to post those both at once today instead of my usual article. Basically, I will answer their questions, and then nominate some more bloggers and ask them questions. So you can skim through and read what interests you. Sound fun?

Let’s start with the Sunshine Blogger Award!


The rules:
#1: Thank the blogger who nominated you and link to their blog.
#2: Answer the questions provided by the blogger who nominated you (11 maximum).
#3: Nominate new bloggers and make up 11 questions for them to answer.
#4: List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger logo in your post.

Thank you, Fe, for nominating me! You can find her blog, the Unshaken, here. If you are a Christian athlete (or even a non-athlete!) be sure to check it out! She just started a series on 1 Timothy.

Here are the questions she asked and my answers:

1. What’s your favorite book of all time? (Yes, I just went there.)

Hmmmmm… this one’s hard. I’m not much of a fan girl, I don’t reread a lot of books, and I prefer reading stand-alones, or just the first book of a series, to reading full ones. I’ve enjoyed a lot of books, but not many stand out as a favorite. Here are a few at the top of my mind in no particular order:

  • I have to include the Harry Potter books, especially Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I started reading them just last year, and was hooked at my first taste. Unfortunately, I’m only allowed to read up to the fourth book, but I will get to read the fifth one after my next birthday!
  • Keeper of the Lost Cities is one of the few series I’ve read through. It is very good, (Exile in particular,) and Harry Potter-like. I’m looking forward to Legacy, which is coming out in November!
  • Also should put The Mysterious Benedict Society in here, though I have not reread it nor read the rest of the series. Super fun!
  • Do Hard Things and This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years are both very good nonfiction for teens!
  • A few of my childhood favorites are The Black Stallion, Black Beauty, and Come Home, Candy. (Candy is the name of a puppy!)

2. Do you play sports? If so, which one?

Sorry, no. Not an athlete by any measure. No instruments either! I prefer creative exercises…

3. What’s your favorite type of music?

I am not a music nerd or anything, so I don’t know how popular my opinion is, but I like contemporary Christian music. Especially hip hop Christian music, and I really enjoy TobyMac. (I don't wanna be no backseat, don't wanna be no backseat driver!)

4. What is your favorite Bible Verse?

It’ll probably change, but right now I like 2 Corinthian 3-4.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Sorry, that’s two verses!

5. Do you have any siblings?

Do I! I am the oldest of ten. =)

6. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Invisibility would be fun! Would also help with the above mentioned distractions. ;) Flying would be cool too!

7. What is your favorite joke? (I hope you have one. I love jokes. Especially corny ones with puns.)

I’ve asked Siri about this a lot, and I really like this one: When someone tells me to stop acting like a flamingo, that’s when I put my foot down.

8. What’s your favorite quote?

As of very recently, I’ve liked this C. S. Lewis quote:

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it but because by it, I see everything else.

9. Do you have any advice for all of us Christian teens?

Remember your purpose. If you are saved, your eternal life has already started! So keep trusting God, and get to know Him on a deeper level through the Word and prayer. And then live like you know Him.

10. If you could go back in time, what would you change?

I’d go meet my past self and blow up the space-time continuum. =D

11. And now for the MOST PROFOUND QUESTION IN THE BOOK OF SUPER DUPER IMPORTANT QUESTIONS… Drum roll please… what is your favorite color? XD

PURPLE! I really like rich, dark, vibrant purples. And lavender is such a calming shade…

And since I couldn’t find anybody who hadn’t already been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award, consider yourself nominated!

Here are my questions for any bloggers who take this tag:

#1: What are your top two favorite book series?
#2: What is the yummiest ice cream flavor in your opinion? Best brand?
#3: Have you traveled the US much? What is your favorite state and why?
#4: If you could instantly learn one new skill, what would it be?
#5: What is your Myer-Briggs type? (If you haven’t yet, go take the test!)
#6: What do you like writing about the most?
#7: What is your favorite insect?
#8: Do you have a dream dog? What breed?
#9: What is your biggest accomplishment?
#10: What is your favorite season and why?
#11: Any plans for the summer?

Now for the Liebster Award!
The rules:
#1: Acknowledge the blogger who gave it to you and display the award.
#2: Answer 11 questions that the blogger gave you.
#3: Give 11 random thoughts about yourself.
#4: Nominate 11 other bloggers and notify them of their nominations.
#5: Ask your nominees 11 questions.

Thanks for the tag, Mary Grace! Mary Grace blogs lovely encouragement for ladies at Hopes and Joys. She has written many letters to women of the Bible!

Now I will answer her questions:

What’s your favorite flower?

Dahlias and tulips are very pretty!

Have you ever written a novel (or are in the process of writing one)?

No, in order for something to be a novel it has to be over 50,000 words. I have written a 19,000 word novella, and am working on the second draft now.

If you could time travel, when would you go?

I would go listen to one of Jesus’ sermons.

What personality trait has gotten you into the worst trouble?

I am an INFJ-T, and the combination of F (Feeling) and J (Judging) and T (Turbulent) can sometimes not be very fun. I am thrown off my guard when things don’t go according to plan.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

The first thing that comes to mind is “be a [insert alien word starting with ‘g’ and meaning jellyfish, as I don’t remember what it was].” My Bible study was watching Galaxy Buck: Mission to Sector 9 and that point stood out to us. We need to be like jellyfish: float in the current of God’s love and go where he takes us.

If you had to pick a new name for yourself, what would you pick?

I like my name! If I had to, maybe Josephine? It would be just as hard to spell though!

Do you feel like a leader or a follower?

It depends! I am definitely a leader at home, but if there are other more qualified people who can lead, I’m a follower. I think that when there is a choice, and the team in question is made up of younger/less-knowledged-when-it
-comes-to-what-we’re-working-on people rather than older/more-knowledged people, I’m a leader.

Which movie sequel do you wish you could erase from history?

I can’t think of any! What can I say? Bad sequels are unmemorable!

What’s your favorite book?

See other blog award answer.

What fictional character do you wish you could meet?

Hermione, maybe?

If your life was a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?

As I said in the other blog award, I like TobyMac music!


My 11 thoughts:
#1: Homeschooled. =)
#2: Will be 15 relatively soon.
#4: Rats make great pets.
#5: May have been bitten by a black widow before.
#6: My bed sheets are purple.
#7: My pillow cases are purple.
#8: My bedroom walls are purple.
#9: One wall has stripes.
#10: I say “my” bedroom, but I share with an 11-year-old, 4-year-old, and 3-year-old
#11: My baby brother just turned one!

Whom I am nominating for the Liebster Award: (These are all other young Christian writers who are a part of the Young Writer’s Workshop.)
Allison Grace @Allison Grace (a fabulous writer’s blog!)
Julia Nelson @Julia Nelson (another lovely blog for writers!)
Bekah B. @The Narrow Road for Teens (so much wisdom for Christian teens!)
And whoever else would like to do it, feel free!

My questions for them:

#1: What are your top two favorite book characters?
#2: What is the yummiest candy in your opinion?
#3: Have you looked at clouds much? What is your type (e.g. nimbocumuli)?
#4: Do you wear hats much? Why or why not? And what kind of hat?
#5: Is your head in the clouds a lot or are you sensitive to the real world around you?
#6: How do you get photos for your blog (if you do)?
#7: What is your favorite bird?
#8: What is your favorite number?
#9: What did you want to be “when you grow up” when you were younger?
#10: What do you now want to be “when you grow up” now?
#11: Favorite school subject?


DISCLAIMER: I came up with most of my answers on the spot, so they are very liable to change!