Month: August 2017

From the Archives: “What Does Practice Make?”

Life is still crazy, but please enjoy this post from my previous blog.

Originally published: 1/27/17


“What does practice make?”

“Perfect!”

“No. What does practice make?”

Every season of coaching our middle school soccer teams, Daddy would ask the same question in the middle of warmup touches. Confused silence always followed after the initial answer was rejected. Every single one of us girls had been told our whole lives that “practice makes perfect.” So what was Coach/Daddy talking about?

After a minute, if no one offered any new answers, he provided the correct one for us.

“Permanent. Practice makes permanent.”

And then he proceeded to explain.

“It doesn’t matter how much you practice something if you’re practicing it wrong. Whatever you do during practice is what’s going to become permanent in your head. And then that’s what you’ll do during the game.”

After the first couple times, my sister and I would exchange knowing smiles as the chorus of wrong answers were breathlessly given between touches, followed by the same explanation.

After a while, I realized that this sentiment doesn’t just apply to soccer. Rarely anything does unless it’s “shoot for the posts” or “keep the offender outside.”

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4)

The practice of these people is certainly not leading to perfection! A few verses later, John practically tells us right out not to believe the old adage about practice making perfect.

Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. (1 John 3:7-8a)

There’s another old saying that almost everyone knows: you are what you eat. I’d like to think this is similar. You are what you do.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? . . . So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:14,17-18)

Our works are what show our faith and the works we do regularly (habits) are made by practice. I can’t help but think of the line Daddy always used to end his mini lecture.

“Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”

Kira

What do you practice on a regular basis? Is there some way that you should change your “training”?

Advertisements

Crazy Week and Energy

still-life-851328_1920

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: Mask

I wrote this post about six months after I was finally able to open up to people in order to become closer to them and to grow myself. I’m still a firm believer in breaking the mask.

Originally published: 12/9/16


Are we happy plastic people?

Under shiny plastic steeples?

With walls around our weakness?

And smiles that hide our pain…

I’ve worn a smile that hides my pain more than I care to admit. And the walls around my weakness? Yep, been there. The mask of plastic? Worn it.

Casting Crowns’ Stained Glass Masquerade does quite a good job of capturing just what it is to hide your true self behind a mask.

And I don’t mean that stuff about who you really are in a Disney way. I mean it in a Christian way. Even though I had the head knowledge that I could exchange man’s judgement for God’s, I didn’t believe it until this past summer.

“Yeah, okay, I’m being who God wants me to be. I don’t worry about what other people think about me because I don’t have to.”

Right. That’s what I told people. “It’s all under control.”

But that’s part of the mask. It’s not all under control. At any given point in time, something’s not going to be perfect, but why does anyone else need to know that? I just kept it inside. As I smiled and said I was doing splendidly, my inside voice whisper-screamed, “No! I’m not okay! I can’t do this any more!”

That’s one I thought over and over again. “I can’t do this any more!” Meaning school, friends, church, family. It’s exhausting to be acting constantly. But guess who I told? No one. Because what if they judged me? What if they had it all together and I would just look bad if I told them I didn’t?

It turns out, no one has it all together. And it also turns out that a lot of other people don’t want to share their problems either. That’s what I learned this summer. Written like that, it looks pretty depressing. But when you add the third thing I learned, it sounds a little more comforting.

Everything is better when you share your life with other people.

They can pray for you, they can hold you accountable, they can comfort you. The people around you are struggling too. And they want to help.

I refused to realize that completely until this summer. When I had to, I would give some small struggle that wasn’t really the whole picture. I thought that would fool people. It didn’t. When I finally opened up this summer, or, rather, took off the mask, I found out that you can’t actually hide yourself from the people who love you and that it’s not worth it to try.

I don’t have some huge climax to this story, but I will tell you that it’s made my life so much better to let other people see that I’m only human. I feel free – I’m not locked behind an image that I wanted the world to see. Now I can actually care what God thinks. And people still love me.

But if the invitation’s open

to every heart that has been broken,

maybe then we close the curtain

on our stained glass masquerade.

Kira

Is there anyone you can open up to? Do you find it easier to bear your burdens when others know them?

Change Your Life

knit-869221_1920

Have you ever looked at your life and wanted to change things? Maybe you want to read more books, eat healthier, or memorize some verses. Antyhing, really.

Those things often seem crazily out of reach at first glance, but they’re usually not. All it takes is some commitment and care.

Decide what to change.

The first thing you must do is decide what you want to change, of course. For our example, let’s take memorizing verses. You decide that you want to know more of the Bible by heart. You know the benefits and you are determined that it will make a serious difference in your life long term to know God’s Word.

Set a goal.

Once you know the broad area that you want to change, it’s time to narrow your focus a bit. When setting a goal, a lot of people like to follow the SMART acronym. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound. In my experience, that pretty much covers all the bases you need to get started.

A goal needs to be something tangible – you should be able to picture yourself meeting it. In memorizing verses, maybe that looks like picking a New Testament epistle to memorize.

Your goal should not be impossible to reach, but it should look a bit hard. It’s going to be hard – that’s why you want to change.

Make a plan.

Making a plan to achieve your goal can be as simple or as complicated as you like. I have noticed that simple plans that don’t take a lot of time end up making the biggest difference in my life. Something that takes an hour a day isn’t as likely to happen right off the bat. You can work up to it, though, by starting with a few minutes a day and increasing over time.

In memorizing a book of the Bible, that could mean one verse a day.

Make sure your plan is focused on reaching the goal and that it is something you can measure. If your plan is to eat less junkfood, you need to have a way to measure that so you can tell if you are actually doing it or not.

Get started!

Nothing’s going to change until you get going. The first verse you memorize might not be easy, but I bet the twentieth won’t be as hard. Through repitition and forming the habit of doing something, you retrain your brain and body to make them easier. A year into waking up at 5:30 it feels natural, as opposed to the first week. Or month.

So pick something out and get started. Figure out what kind of goal and plan works for you and make those changes. Take it slow, and the results will astound you. A book is made up of thousands of single words. A house is built of single bricks. A dress is made of single stitches. Tiny steps make a big difference.

Kira

What’s something you want to change? What is one little thing you will do to make that happen?

From the Archives: Reasons and Excuses

This is a more recent post written after a long stretch of not blogging. It is sort of an examination of why that was and why it was wrong, all coming around to God’s work in the lives of His people.

Originally published: 12/1/16


If I were so inclined, I could produce a plethora of reasons (insert: “excuses”) as to why I haven’t written anything in the past few (ahem, five) months.

Fortunately for you, I am not so inclined.

I will, however, state one reason (do not insert “excuse” here): I haven’t had anything to write about.

I’m completely serious. The author wannabe hasn’t had a single thing to write about in nearly five months now. Not counting, of course, a few e-mails and texts and things of that nature. Though I will admit I am abominably slow at replying to such things. Oh, and homework. Who could forget a lovely thing like that?

But I haven’t had anything to say on here, on this blog. As you likely know, I usually write things like fiction, anecdotes from my real life, and ways that God’s been working on me.

Ah, ways that God’s been working on me. Such a lovely thing to ponder… Wait a minute. If I haven’t had anything to say on any of those topics for almost half a year, does that mean He’s just stopped? I’m no longer growing? I’ve finally reached that point of perfection so long sought after?

I’m not going to insult your intelligence by trying to convince you of that. No one’s perfect, believe it or not, and I’m pretty sure it’s a safe bet to say you believe that.

So why the drought of words? If I haven’t become the epitome of all that is beautiful and pure in the world, why have I had nothing to say on the subject of anything lately? Has God given up on me? Is that it? He threw up His hands in disgust and left to work on some holier project?

Um, no.

I can tell you with 100% certainty that God hasn’t given up on me. If Jesus went all the way to the point of death on the cross for me while I was still as dead as a person can get in my sin, why would He stop molding me to His image now? The thing is, He wouldn’t.

So that brings me back to my original question. What happened to all the thoughts that I normally transform so eagerly into sentences to push out into the wide wide world to be read by people who aren’t me and my imaginary friends?

I’ll tell you what happened. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to say. Nope. Just ask my sister, I’ve been talking probably more than ever since the July of my last post. And we’ve already determined that God hasn’t stopped working on me. Quite the contrary actually – He’s been growing me in ways that make me beyond grateful and that I didn’t see coming.

So are you ready for the answer then? The reason behind the lack of typed verbiage? There are two of them actually and here they are:

1. I didn’t think any of it was good enough to say.

2. I didn’t think I could do justice to what I did want to say.

Can we just take one second to laugh really hard at reason number 1? Seriously, go ahead. I have.

I’ll explain that moment of laughter. If I claim to be a Bible believing, born again Christian (and I do), shouldn’t I be growing in my faith every single day and not taking five month breaks? Yes, I should and yes, I have been. So if, like I’ve said, God has been working in me this whole time, isn’t that part of my testimony or witness or whatever word you want to use? Yes, of course it is. My testimony doesn’t end with salvation. That’s more like the beginning. Finally, if that growth is part of my testimony, how can it possibly not be good enough to say? Am I really criticizing God on how He’s been using me and growing me and telling Him it’s not good enough to post on the internet? Let’s take another laughing break, only this one should be in disbelief and with lots of head shaking.

But that’s what I’ve been thinking. “Wow, I love all this growth and learning new stuff, but I don’t think anyone else would want to read about it. So I’ll just go read some other blog written by some interesting person.” Really? First off, who cares if anyone wants to read it? My popularity (or lack thereof) in this life has absolutely nothing to do with who I am. Nothing. At all. Second, if God loves me as His daughter and is taking the care to grow me in a way that is special to me, He deserves praise and glory for that. Right? I mean really, am I right? Yes! So how dare I think that I don’t have anything good enough to say! If God’s working in me and through me, I should never run out of things to say, regardless of who reads them.

On to reason/excuse number 2.

I didn’t think I could do justice to what I did want to say. So, yes. there were a few things that I thought I’d like to write about and post, but I didn’t think I could say them well enough. I mean, I’m a teenager, still working on my writing, growing my fancy-schmancy vocabulary and learning how to make things interesting and fit together. How could I possibly say what God wants me to say in the way He wants me to say it? It simply can’t be done.

I am really hoping right now that you read that last paragraph in the most sarcastic voice your brain could supply. If you didn’t, please go back and try again. I’ll wait.

Am I ever going to be perfect? Nope. So am I ever going to be able to perfectly show what God’s doing in my life? Nope again. Well, if I can’t do it perfectly, then why bother?

Turns out, I’m supposed to bother because God told me to bother. If I don’t praise the Lord, the stones will. And who wants to lose in praising God to a bunch of rocks? Um, not me.

No, I can’t write everything perfectly, no matter how hard I try. And I probably can’t do it justice. But the point is that I try. I give my absolute best for God and quit acting like I have to be any good by my own strength before He can use me. Guess what. He can use me now. He could use this imperfect post I’m typing viciously away at however He feels like it. And who am I to stop using the words He’s given me because I don’t think they’re good enough? No one, that’s who.

So there you have it. That’s why I haven’t been writing. Because I’m a sinner who doesn’t want to praise God for what He does for me.

Well, that’s going to change. In fact, it already has. Look at this, I’m writing about what God showed me recently right this very second! I love my God and I want other people to love Him too. I want to be used by Him to show other people how great and amazing He is. I’m not going to do it perfectly, but I still want to do it. What could possibly be better than to have a testimony and a witness used by God in someone else’s life? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

So maybe now you could go back to where I said not to insert “excuse” and go ahead and put it in there. Because there is no reason good enough to not give glory to God.

Kira

What has God been doing in your life lately? How have you given Him the glory for it?

Setting the Example in Self-Image

girl-1317084_1920

Countless articles promote the idea that you are beautiful just the way you are. “Be satisfied with the body God gave you.” “Love yourself.” “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”

There are studies of the psychological benefits of being happy with yourself, statistics about how many people aren’t, and expositions on how to be content. But I believe they all miss a very important point: the effect your self-image has on other people.

A few days ago, my four year old sister was playing in my room and randomly started doing all the stretches and exercises she knew. I smiled at her pushups and the way she flicked her hair out of her face with a serious expression. But my smile disappeared when she told me that she was doing it so that she could have a “little tummy.”

This girl doesn’t have an ounce of fat on her body, but she decided that she needed to exercise so that she could look better. That her tummy wasn’t little enough. What on earth possessed her to think that?

There are, of course, the TV shows, toys, and ads to point to. She was born into a world that teaches her to look a certain way – to get there however she can.

But what about the people around her?

I would like to propose the idea that when you show contempt for your body and appearance, it has a real effect on those around you. How many times has my sister seen me look in the mirror and say it’ll have to do for the day? It’s obviously stuck with her.

The way we look at ourselves says a lot about who we are and other people pick up on that. When a girl that you think is especially pretty complains about the way she looks, your heart falls a bit. If she isn’t good enough, how could you ever be?

1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “encourage one another and build one another up.” It’s not encouraging to lead someone into discontent with how they look.

I’m especially speaking to those of us with younger siblings. Part of our job is to set the example for them in godliness. They do follow us, whether we realize it or not. They look up to us and want to be like us, and we must turn that to their benefit. It pained me to hear my sister talking about why she wanted to exercise. I don’t want her to think that way about herself. But that way of thinking is a direct reflection of the people she is around, including me.

How do you want your friends, siblings, peers to view themselves? Set an example in that, not in dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Encourage them and build them up by having a healthy view of yourself. They’ll catch on.

Kira

How do you lead people to see themselves in a godly way? What’s the hardest part about it?

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?

Book Review (and Giveaway!): Edwin Brook: Dire Recompense

3D Edwin Brook

Edwin Brook by Daeus Lamb has left me in shock.

I just finished reading the adventure story (which I received for free in exchange for an honest review) this morning and it’s still spinning through my head. Usually, I try to give a book a few days to sit after finishing it before writing a review, but due to my personal and blog schedules, that’s not an option this time. Thus, I am left to try to review this book in the immediate wake of its effect.

Matthew and his mother and sister have nowhere to go, so they turn to a wealthy home for shelter from a storm. The night seems simple enough, despite their desperation: find a benevolent person to take them in and have a place to stay for the night. Then life continues. But that is not to be the case for this small family.

What happens at the house of Lord Glenworth changes Matthew’s life forever. He will never be the same boy that he was before the visit. Despite his youth, Matthew feels a deep need to set out and seek justice for his past – his own justice. This resolve carries him through many decisions and events that an ordinary man might not be able to handle. But it is what must be done.

Edwin Brook was amazing. From the very beginning, I was entranced with the story, constantly feeling a need to know what happens next. Author Daeus Lamb kept his characters moving and kept me in suspense. As soon as I had the answer to one question, another popped up and I had to keep reading. The tale was creatively woven and excellently executed.

The characters came alive from the start, each with their own riddled pasts and real faults. Matthew is not a saint, but he is relatable – forcing you to search yourself for your own flaws that might compare. It’s scary to read a book and feel as if you’re looking in a mirror, but valuable beyond measure.

As to the writing style, it was unfamiliar at first. I can’t recall ever having read a book written in quite the same way. Edwin Brook had thought provoking descriptions and original wording. It took a few chapters to get my bearing, but once I did, I appreciated the uniqueness of the telling.

Overall, I found Edwin Brook to be a different sort of story. While it took a little bit to get used to how it was told, the story was gripping and one that I am sure will stay with me for some time. I would recommend it to anyone seeking a rich form of entertainment. It is not a book to be read just for the sake of reading, but one to be tasted, wrestled with, and appreciated.

Now for the exciting part: Daeus Lamb has graciously offered to give away five digital copies of Edwin Brook: Dire Recompense to readers of this blog. I encourage you to take advantage of this (and maybe consider leaving him a review if you win).

To enter, just go to this link and follow the instructions. Good luck!

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/c6aba7621/?

From the Archives: Counted Worthy: A New Christian Novel With A Story Worth Reading

My first book review from this blog is a review I wrote two and a half years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed Counted Worthy, so I wanted to bring over my review. Come to think of it, I just might need to read this debut novel again…

Originally published: 12/19/14


  Leah E. Good is homeschooler, now homeschooling college. She wrote the book Counted Worthy and self-published after being fully funded by Kickstarter in just a few days. I have just recently finished reading Counted Worthy, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a book of moderate length with a Christian theme that is not too overbearing and pretentious.

The main character, Heather Stone, is trying to do what’s right, but is faced with difficult decisions that have dire consequences again and again. She doesn’t want to repeat the past, yet she does want to follow God’s will for her life. This all weaves its way into an intriguing and fast-paced story that will suck you in right from the start.

I believe that Leah Good has written a wonderful book that should (and will) be read over and over again and I highly encourage doing so.

Every generation must discover its own storyweavers. Leah Good is one of ours and we are fortunate. Counted Worthy is a thrilling work of inspirational fiction that perfectly complements the message of Do Hard Things. Grab a copy for yourself, grab a copy for a friend, and help spread the word about this phenomenal debut. Counted Worthy belongs in the hands of every Christian teen and story lover in the country. It’s that good. –Brett Harris, bestselling author of Do Hard Things

The Author – Leah E. Good


I definitely believe Counted Worthy is worth reading and telling others about. I also believe that Leah has shown to the world that she is a hardworking and talented author and could be added to the list of Who I Look Up To. Since reading her blog and book, I have often thought, How cool is that? I would love to do just what she did! Also, random fact, her novel inspired me to start writing another story and this one I hope to follow through with (yeah, right, I know). I truly enjoyed this story and I hope anyone who gets the chance to read it enjoys it just as much.

Radical. Intense. Compelling. Leah Good’s dystopian novel, Counted Worthy, powerfully embodies the message that today’s young people need to hear: the Reason we have to die to self, pursue the impossible, and when all else fails, to stand. This is the message that has the potential to turn a generation of complacency into a generation of inspiration. –Melody van Achterberg, reader

 

You can find Leah on her blog, Leah’s Bookshelf. I highly encourage you to do so.

Kira

Do you have any favorite Christian books? What do you think helps make a book not preachy and obnoxious, but still gets the message across?