School

God is Not an Afterthought

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

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

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

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

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

Create a habit for devotions.

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

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

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

Pray EVERYWHERE.

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

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

Make meal times count.

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

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

Read your Bible whenever you get the chance.

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

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

Go to church.

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

 

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

Have a blessed and fruitful day!

Kira

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

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Find What’s Best

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Let your weary spirit rest.

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

And be. Just be.

“Breathe” by Jonny Diaz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kira

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

Sickness and Schedules and Such

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

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

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

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

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

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

It has become evident that I struggle to rest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kira

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

Crazy Week and Energy

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

And now for the big one.

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

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


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

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

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

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

Kira

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

From the Archives: Potamiaena’s Prayer

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

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

Originially published: 9/24/15


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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kira

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

Following Your Passion as a Teenager

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I, like any other person you talk to, have a passion. My passion is writing. One of my brothers has a passion for coding and other technical things I don’t understand. One of my sisters has a passion for music.

All three of us are teenagers. We follow our passions in the midst of teenage lives and I want to show you what that means.

Yes, everyone has a passion for something – children, adults, and teens alike. But I don’t know how to follow your passion as an adult, seeing as I am not one, nor have I ever been one. Also, I imagine not many children are on the internet, googling how to follow their passions. So let’s look at it from a teen’s perspective.

What is a passion?

A passion is something you love. What gives you a surge of joy when you think about it or satisfaction when you do it well? My sister can’t stop grinning when she leads worship without messing up any chords.

I also believe a passion is something that God gives to His children. He wants us to enjoy life in our own unique ways, so He gives us things that we especially enjoy over others. It is also something we use to glorify Him. He doesn’t want His children serving Him a certain way because they have to – He wants us to serve Him because we want to. So He gives us a passion for something that we can use to do just that.

School

School is often the most prominent aspect in the life of a teenager. I’m in the middle of high school and my classes take up a lot of time. Sometimes I hate that, but it’s where God has me, and, chances are, where He has you too.

In following your passion, it is crucial to work hard in school. Even though that guitar looks awfully enticing over there in the corner, your math homework needs proper attention. High school is meant to be preperation for college, where you can choose to study your passion for four or more years. No good thing comes from neglecting your schoolwork, so keep at it.

Health

Teens have the unrivaled advantage of youth. We are at a time in our lives where it’s relatively easy to be healthy. We have young bodies that are eager to give us energy and vitality in exchange for our taking care of them. So take care of yourself so that you can use that energy on your passion.

Spiritual and emotional health are also important. I don’t write very well if my heart isn’t taken care of. Spend time in your Bible and with other strong Christian friends. A social life can be good for you if it consists of the right people. We were created for community, so don’t hide in your room all the time, tinkering with your latest improvement to the light bulb.

Discipline

With school, soccer, piano, youth group, and who knows what else, teenagers have a lot of demands upon their time (though adults often laugh at the idea, it’s true). Following your passion is going to take discipline. You have to work hard at all of the other things in your life in order to even make time for what you want to do. And when you have that time, you must use it wisely. It is valuable and you are filling it with the pursuit of a desire God has given you. Don’t waste it.

Don’t give up!

Although it can be difficult to follow your passion as a teen, these are beautiful years that should be used for just such a thing. Even if it takes a lot of extra work on your part, invest in your passion. Do it to God’s glory and for His people. Pray that He will guide you and use you as you work.

Your passion isn’t just something to write about in a “what I did this summer” essay. It is something to cherish and nurture. Make it happen. Make it grow.

Kira

What’s your passion? How do you work to make it part of your life?