Tag Archives: Jesus

The (Real) Breaking of The Fellowship

10 Dec

Don’t be alarmed. This is not the end of EEB! This is a post about life, not a warning. We’ll be around for a while longer, God willing 🙂
Over the past few months, I have found surprising strength in God. Radically. Throughout the whole time, however, something hadn’t been quite right yet. I felt like I was taking awkward baby steps against high tide and didn’t quite have a heading. I was confused, but kept going. And even though I’m still growing, obviously, I think a lot of this confusion just culminated into answers while I was praying and reading my Bible a couple of days ago. I was praying about something in particular, which I will explain to you in a few minutes, and I opened up the Bible, looking for help. God pointed me to a scripture I had no idea existed in the context I was thinking, but it perfectly fit what I needed. Tears streamed down my face as all the pieces suddenly flew into place…it was amazing and broke my heart all at the same time.
It all started back in the summer. I had just learned that some people I knew didn’t think the same way I did about religious matters, which troubled me. They were Christians in the sense that they believed in Jesus Christ and God made the world, but we differed on a lot of other issues. And for some reason, I have the weird tendency to assume people think the way I do and to assume they’re perfect. When I realize this is not case (as it obviously never is), I tend to say, “Oh, that person needs help. He/she is broken and needs Jesus.” What hypocrisy! I always forget what I mess I am in. None of us are perfect.
The problem was, I didn’t know how to take disappointment. I kept trying to either defend the people in my mind and actions, or completely rejecting them. I prayed about it, and honestly I thought that both actions didn’t seem quite right: it seemed a bit extreme to avoid these people like I was a perfect saint since the only Real Perfect Holy Person died for them, but at the same time it was a really stupid idea to try to copy their mistakes! Anyway, I kept praying about it, but feeling confused. And then fear crept in, which only added to my confusion. What if I had to say goodbye? What if God was trying to tell me to go? And then what if He wasn’t? What if He put these people in my life so that we could grow in faith together and I was supposed to be His hand in guiding them? I couldn’t decide which one was worse because either way it would require more strength than I thought I had.
I decided, at least for the time being, that the best idea was to serve God in all I could and try to keep my spiritual ears open, but honestly it’s hard to be unbiased when you want Someone to say something.
For the next few months, I went through some terrible times. Some days, I became almost embittered, becoming scornful in an attempt to let go of these people. I tried to tell myself that I do without them; I tried to convince myself that I was strong and had the strength to “defy gravity,” so to speak. I had the Lord, so why did I need people anyway? These days didn’t last very long. After all, who has ever heard of a “wicked” Christian, pun intended? It became very clear that this was not the way of the Lord.
The other days were just as bad, if not worse. If I wasn’t copying these other peoples’ mistakes, I was living in fear of losing them, or perhaps doing both at the same time. Needless to say, it was a terrible, terrifying place to be.
Yesterday and today peace finally began to fall upon me. I was still worried, but I had decided that I was going to follow God no matter what. I was thinking about some friendships, almost dead, which had been hanging in the shadows for some time, and was nearly sick with worry. What if the same thing happened to my other friends and family who I had already been worrying about for months? The friendships I had already lost stung badly…I was still not healed from some broken relationships which had spiraled a long time ago. It would nearly break me if something like that happened with anyone I really knew well and loved. Once again, I prayed. I needed comfort, and answers. I didn’t know how to deal with not knowing the future. I didn’t know how to deal with disappointment. I didn’t know how to deal with tough times, or troubled relationships, or goodbyes, now or later. And then a miracle happened. I opened the Bible and found myself in Ezekiel. I flipped back a few pages, trying to find something to read and feeling literally lost because I didn’t think Ezekiel was almost in the New Testament (I don’t know the exact order of the books of the Bible like I should…) Then I “stumbled” upon Kings and found the passage where Elijah is taken up into heaven. As it turns out, this was God’s direction, not me simply browsing through the pages.
I had read about Elijah being taken up into heaven before, probably in a kids’ illustrated Bible, but I had never noticed his apprentice, Elisha. If you can picture Elijah as Frodo Baggins and Elisha as Sam, then you get a good idea of their relationship. As I continued reading, “The Breaking of The Fellowship” even started playing in the back of my mind, which certainly didn’t help the flood of feels I was going through by this point, nor did hearing my brother playing a moving rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” on a CD player down the hall. In the Lord of The Rings trilogy, Sam follows Frodo from the beginning of their journey through the end, and then to the final moments of Frodo’s life on Middle Earth, when he sails to the Grey Havens, which is basically a heaven for elves in the book. The story of Elijah and Elisha reads the same way. Over and over again, Elijah tells Elisha to leave him, but each time Elisha replies, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you” (2 Kings 2:2). Time travels on, and other prophets ask Elisha if he knows that the Lord is about to take Elijah away from him and up into heaven. He responds, “‘Yes, I know,’ Elisha replied, ‘but do not speak of it'” (2 Kings 2:3).
And then the climax of my emotional battle came when I read what Elijah asks Elisha just before his departure for heaven. 2 Kings 2:9 says, “When they had crossed [the Jordan River], Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?’” (2 Kings 2:9). Several things hit me all at once, and I began to cry. Then the most amazing thing happened. The Holy Spirit began to communicate with me clearer than ever before; it was actually like God was right there holding me. I broke down.
I realized that Elijah’s words needed to become my attitude towards everyone because I would have to tell them all goodbye one day. Everyone. Friends, family, everyone… not just fleeting friends who visit for a season and then move on. I had already been thinking about one person in particular through all of this turmoil over the past few months….in fact, throughout this post I have been saying I was concerned about “people,” but in reality I was mostly concerned about one person who I love, and whose position in my life seems most uncertain and unpredictable. Well, when all of these thoughts began to unfurl, this person immediately came to mind, and then Sarah. I didn’t know why she came to mind, unless I was thinking of the relationship between Elijah and Elisha because over the years she has definitely been an Elijah and a Sam to me. She has guided me through many a Mordor! However, at the moment, I still wasn’t sure why I was thinking about her in particular; I did figure this out the next day, however, and I will explain in a moment. But while I was thinking about Elijah’s attitude and inevitable goodbyes, I suddenly had a shadowy mental image of a light in a dark tunnel, and stairs. I suddenly believed in God and in heaven more than ever before; it was like I was catching just a glimmer of things to come. I felt just a drop of God’s presence deep in my heart, and it was enough to totally make me believe like never before. While all of this was going on, God seemed to be whispering in my head, “Can’t you trust me with these people? I have them safely under my wing and we are all going to be together in heaven one day. Because of this, there is nothing in this world that can truly separate you from them. You might be apart from them for a little while, but I’m not trying to separate all of you in the long run. So why would you try to blame me when goodbyes come, and why are you worrying about when you are going to have to tell them goodbye? Can’t you trust me?” This was the first time I had felt so much confidence about all of the believers I know (and the ones I don’t know) being together forever someday; it was amazing! It also showed me that my focus had been in the wrong place. I had been too concerned about “forever” in the earthly sense of the word, forgetting that “forever” literally means eternally in the spiritual sense and is much more important than anything which “matters” down here on earth. The good news is that, while earthly forever is somewhat of a myth, spiritual forever is a truth and it was the one God was giving me confidence in!
I realized that since goodbyes are inevitably coming, we must each be warriors. We must be strong enough in our own faith to stand and lift others up when they fall, and we must have enough faith to keep fighting after life or death has taken our fellow warriors away from us for a time. However, all the while we must be gentle enough to receive help and to give as well as receive love. We’ve got to have special people in our lives without becoming overwhelmed by the fear of goodbye. Essentially, we’ve got to be fearless warriors. For years I had read Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” but honestly I didn’t, and probably still don’t, fully comprehend it. To me, it seemed like one of those pious sayings which mean well, but, well, don’t mean a whole lot, like “Bless your little heart.” But really, it means that we draw all our strength from the Lord.
I did discover why Sarah was in that vision, and it does have something to do with finding strength in the Lord. The next day I talked to her, and discovered she wasn’t as perfect as I had always imagined. She was going through hard times, too, which I somehow didn’t believe was possible for her to do and probably why I hadn’t opened up to her so much about some of the problems I was facing. While I was talking to her, though, it hit me: our strength does come from the Lord and everything we do is supposed to be modeled after Him. In our lives there are many “idols,” but once we are past the stage of “monkey see, monkey do,” I strongly believe that there are no more “role models,” just “role virtues.” This is because we all stumble, and if you think people are perfect, you will be sorely disappointed. And this is going to sound very hypocritical, but when I hear other people aren’t perfect, I tend to label them as “a mess,” quite forgetting that I am in the same boat! Some days, I am not even in the boat, metaphorically speaking; I’m holding onto a lifesaver outside of the boat, fighting waves of doubt. Point being, we do have spiritual leaders in the Christian community, yes, but I really don’t care if you are a new Christian, devout Christian, pastor, etc. If you are breathing in this world right now, you and I have equal chances of letting doubt and the world overtake us without God’s help. If you are in doubt right now, I urge you to keep going. God is with you, even if you can’t see Him, and I promise He will speak to you, as He spoke to me after months of waiting. And I will live by Elijah’s standard: I want to do what I can for you before I am taken from you or before you are taken from me. If you are a Christian, you are my family and we are supposed to lift each other up and pray for each other because no one in this world is free from doubt and we are all in the same boat. If you are not a Christian, then I wish you would talk to me all the more because there is hope in Jesus Christ!
So as the world rages and falls into the dark shadow of Mordor, stay strong, my friends. Keep fighting the good fight in Christ’s name, as He gives you as much strength as you need for your calling. Love your friends, family, and everyone you come into contact with, no matter how long or short you may know them. Don’t worry about how much time you have on this earth, or how much time you have with people, but trust that God, who has them all safely in His hand, will give you just the right amount of time needed. And then use that time wisely. Pull the lost around you into our boat so that more people will be a part of the Lord’s promise of bringing all of the believers together again in heaven. I can hardly wait until we are all together with God in a true “Fellowship of the King.” 🙂

Best hopes for your journey! We’re here for you all.
If you are still here, thank you for reading this super-long post! I hope it was a help to you. And just so you know, there will be more posts in the near future. 🙂

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The One About Co-Writing (Part Two)

7 Aug

And then they… no, they didn’t dance. They finished the one about co-writing.

 

6. Discuss the Book and All Future Plans for the Book Frequently. This may seem like a weird thing to do at first, but I promise it’s worthwhile. No one will be more supportive of you and your future (obviously awesome) fandom than your co-author. So talk about it. Where do you want this book to go? What are your dreams? If your dreams are as bad as Flynn Riders, then come up with some better ones. While it may seem like you’ll never get anywhere, laughing about who you think your readers will ship in the future and drooling over certain publishing companies will help not only to set your standards of achievement high, but it will also make you and your co-author closer. Along those same lines, you’ll establish similar aspirations for the book. This is very important. If you’re envisioning yourself as the next New York Times Best Seller and your buddy is really just wanting to write a story to share with the family, then he or she might not be so inclined to slave over the manuscript like you are. Talking about where you want to go with the book will also help you tackle the big discussions in chunks instead of all at once. Do you want to have more than one main character? How long of a book are we talking? Do we want to make this into a trilogy? A saga? A series? Multiple series? When should we draw the line and maybe move on to other things? Brooke and I went through this a lot with our “cycle” WilderQuest. A lot of times, we let all of our gushing ideas accumulate for months before we addressed them, and because of that, our ideas would often clash and clash hard. Again, communication is the key.

 

7. Keep the Book Consistent. What tense? What point of view? Formatting. It is a big deal. Let no one tell you otherwise. Ever. Because it is a big deal. Especially if one of the people involved is OCD. That was me, Sarah, if you were wondering. This is probably one of the most important things to keep in mind while you are co-writing. A lot of times, you and whoever you choose to write with will have very different ideas of how things should look. In fact, your styles will likely be very different as well. And although it can become a really big road-block if you let it, there are a lot of ways to avoid locking up over inconsistencies. This may end up requiring you teach a few Microsoft Word short cuts to your authoring compatriot or sacrifice your own ideal title headings for ones that your buddy likes more. Again, be ready to compromise and work through the problem with God’s grace and serenity. Agree on and then set up a chapter template, make character description sheets up, and share what you think about each others’ writing. Brooke and I often talked through inconsistencies that arose, making notes of some character’s preference for certain things and also how to properly indent paragraphs. And more often than not, all that was needed was brief clarification. Here’s what happens when you don’t do this:

“Evangeline huffed in irritation, glaring at Liz with her cold, dark brown eyes.” — Chapter 2, written by Sarah

“Evangeline’s bright blue eyes flashed; fear was evident in her face despite the chaos of battle.” — Chapter 11, written by Brooke

See the dilemma? While these sentences didn’t actually come straight from WilderQuest, this very thing actually did happen. You’ll find that you and your friend will likely have characters that the both of you created almost entirely by yourself, or you’ll come up on a part in your book where one of you planned out the battle scene to the gory details. These aren’t bad things, but always keep in mind that the other person working with you is probably not telepathic. If you have things planned out to the very last dotted i on the page, be sure to share this and be willing to compromise if your better (writing) half has an idea. Plot bunnies multiply exponentially where inconsistencies are, and no one wants to have to chase all those fluffy mongrels off.

 

8. Make Achievable Goals. The word “achievable” here is very important. Goals will be the things that help propel you through the tough times of novel writing and also push you to the breaking point, and goals will also often be a test of your teamwork finesse levels. Whether it’s a goal to reach a certain word count, write a certain number of chapters in a week, or a setting and meeting a certain dead line, you will find that it is very important one, that these goals that you set can actually be achieved, and two– without butting too much into the next point, that you encourage your friend to meet the goals that you do set. Seriously, just knowing that someone else who you know is human (because who can be sure about these big time author people) tacking a crack at reaching that really hard goal will help you to do better, even if you don’t achieve that goal in the end. Granted that nothing is quite as satisfying as knowing that you and your writing compadre have reached a goal on time. So strive to meet those goals. Or make a point to laugh about them later. Both are pretty enjoyable, although one of them is decidedly more productive.

 

9. Encourage One Another in Writing and in Life. This is definitely the biggest benefit of writing with another person. Although, undoubtedly, you will have your ups and downs, good days and days that main characters end up in dark pits being tortured to death, you will also have days that you finally pull out of your writer’s block and the first person to throw you a party and send you cake is your co-author. Days that you’ll disparagingly decide that your novel will never go anywhere and you might as well stop now and take up some profitable career now like your mom has been telling you to for the past sixteen years and the one to dispel all that is your wonderful, high-spirited writing buddy. In fact, you’ll find that the friends who write together, often stay together. Like, seriously, Brooke and I have been life-buddies since the tender age of two. There is something about spinning a tale with another uniquely amazing individual that is really pretty awesome in-and-of itself, and you will likely discover that the people who “get you” the best are the people that you write with. So, with this pretty awesome relationship in mind, don’t overlook the importance of daily making an effort to build each other up and encouraging one another to strive for each of your “bests” — whatever that best looks like. And if you’re pen pal is just having a rough go of it in general, be there for them– pray for them. Trust me, riding through the storms of life with someone is one sure way to ensure that when you write together– it’s just that: together.

 

10. Co-Writing Can Be Lots of Fun. So Enjoy It. One of the best feelings you’ll have while co-writing is the moment when you and your friend finish a book, and you read back through it and realize that you’ve shared a very unique part of yourself with another person who feels the same way. I have learned so much from co-writing and continue to learn about not only my own style and abilities, but also about other people and how to best interact with others. Truly, nothing will improve your writing as quickly as working together with other talented individuals because you will find yourself wanting to put forth your best so that they will do the same. Instead of standing on the precipice of a new novel alone, you will be standing with a friend and fellow warrior. Some of the best memories I have are from late-night role-playing sessions, really, freakishly long book planning discussions, and the intermittent moments of shared insider jokes and character impersonations. So have fun with it. Co-writing is probably one of the most fun things you’ll do. And while it does take a lot of work on the outset, the rewards that you reap in the long run will far exceed the little troubles that you go through at the start.

 

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Well, there’s our take on co-writing. Did you think of something that we missed now that we’ve reached the end? Think that you could explain one of the points better? Have a story to tell that fits one of our ten points? Tell us about it in the comments below!

New Contact Form

7 Aug

Hi, guys!

We just want to let you know that we have a new feature of EEB! You can now find our contact form in a drop-down menu from the “About” page at the top of the webpage. We are super excited about this, because, although we had a contact form before, we really would like to encourage y’all to submit questions about writing, faith, and life in general! You now can have a significant impact on what kind of posts we put up there.

You're going to have to sharpen your pencil for this one, guys.

You’re going to have to sharpen your pencil for this one, guys.

Now, we are, of course, going to continue with our usual posts and writing updates (and probably come up with some fun, random posts too — *spoilers* Sarah’s been thinking about starting a serial on idioms in the English language), but we are also super excited about building a community of writers who are for the kingdom of God! This is why your input is super important. You are all what makes this blog so much fun to write, and as a team we want to keep building up our relationships with you guys!

So don’t be afraid to drop us a line– even if it’s just to say hi. You guys are awesome, and we are excited about this new opportunity for us to all grow closer together.

 

-the EEB Writing Team

 

I Do an Udder-ly Awesome Mud Run, Played Piano and Say Some Stuff, and Slow Dance

15 Jun

**LONG POST ALERT**

You’re welcome.

Well, I’m home from FFA-FCCLA Summer Leadership Camp, and, wow, what a week it was! First off, let me say I, the-one-who-has-a-general-dislike-for-showers-and-effort-in-appearances, had never been so happy to take a shower, sleep with two pillows, and wake up after the sun had risen as I was when I got home from camp. Seriously, guys. Just putting it out here: I haven’t unpacked my bag yet, and I haven’t done anything productive since I got home on Friday. So, obviously there was a little bit of growing that was done over the week I was gone. And let me tell you, it was a learning experience for everyone. I don’t really know how to accurately describe it to you, but here goes:

 

Day 1: I Lack Arm Muscle, God Rewards People Who Help Unload Luggage, and Also I Am Bad at Ping-Pong

So we get there, pack up our bags that had (for the most part) been stuffed full the night before we left, and hit the road all before like 9:00 AM on a summer Monday morning. It was great. My buddy Katie Darwin and I seat-buddied **I am making “seat-buddied” a word** (Sorry, A-A-Ron, we couldn’t be our usual Baptist selves). We sat, for the record, very near to the front of the bus and watched Blimey Cow videos using Katie’s earphones even though she **Warning: intentionally bad grammar ahead**be afeared of ‘dem earwax germs. Much appreciated, my marginally germaphobic **Also making this a word** friend.

Corner, top bunk with a window = one happy Sarah

Corner, top bunk with a window = one happy Sarah

When we arrived, we squinted into the nearly noonday sun and took a group picture. Then some staffers got on our bus, we screamed, they screamed back, we screamed some more things, and then we headed on into camp. Woot-woot! So totally stoked for this– waiting game. That’s right. Sitting on the bus for half an hour while waiting for our advisers (who are awesome) to register everyone. It was very hot. But that was okay. Not long after, we rode to our nice little cabin on Pebble Hill which was literally down a hill of pebbles and found out our team name: Phoenix. Oh, and we got t-shirts! They are awesome and say “Hero Within” on them. Because the theme of the camp was superheroes. It was great.

Now, I helped unloading luggage and did okay at it. Granted, I realized (not for the first time) that I have terribly weak arm muscles, but that was okay because I was doing the leader things and helping out because helping! This also meant I was one of the last girls into the cabin. Which mean that I, all of my almost 5’11” self, had pretty much been guaranteed a bottom bunk. Nope. A little bit of bargaining and I landed myself a top, corner bunk with a window. My reaction was complete with a big smile up at the ceiling toward my heavenly Father above because from what I understand about top bunks (my knowledge is limited to Parent Trap and It Takes Two and this one time I went to a Christian leadership camp in Tennessee with people from Alabama) are hard to come by, much less a corner bunk with a really nice window. So, all this being said, I unpacked my bed sheets and Winnie the Pooh pillow and went to town.

Not long after, we went to a pretty dawg-gone delicious lunch and a few assemblies. I embarrassed myself playing ping-pong.

Team Phoenix at FFA-FCCLA Summer Leadership Camp 2014

Team Phoenix at FFA-FCCLA Summer Leadership Camp 2014

Literally, you guys would be rolling if I had taken a video. Rolling. Like the ping-pong ball I kept accidentally slamming into other people standing within an about 6 foot radius of the table. So, realizing I was mostly terrible at ping-pong, I kept myself occupied by picking up trash and, while doing so, also surveying the surroundings because having a good knowledge of things going on it like really handy and very important. I didn’t make the mistake of wasting money on candy (yay for saving money!). Which is good. Because I usually am not good at that… heh.

Anyway, the rest of the night passed. We had a team meeting, and I signed up for a lot of stuff. Archery, horseshoes, essay, and the one mile relay. Later on, I practiced horseshoes (while dodging the dance because that’s what smart kids do instead of spending time before food to get ready and look nice) and realized I was a lot more terrible than I realized. So I played some games of checkers, won 2 out of 3 games against the brilliantly talented Katie Darwin (thanks for going easy on a beginner, my friend), and then switched with her. And good thing too. I would’ve killed someone with those horseshoes. For sure. We had another assembly, a reflection with a pretty explosive conclusion, and then we went back to go to bed. Well, have a team meeting, have a bedtime story, and then go to bed.

Needless to say, it was about 12:00 AM by the time we were all asleep.

And, let me tell you, o’ six-hundred hours came early the next morning.

 

Day 2: I Go To Devotions and Pray Out Loud, Stop for Directions Twice, Run Up a Really Big Hill, Compete in Things, and Make a Guy Cry

Devotions were at 7:00 AM. Which meant I had to be up and out of the bed by, like, 6:30 AM. Well, that was me on a normal day when it hadn’t been below zero while I was trying to sleep and I was the only one around. Everyone else, consequently, decided to be up by 5:00 to shower and get dressed by 7:45 AM. Granted, the cabin did have to be cleaned and for some reason girls strew their stuff everywhere. Literally. Fortunately, I was able to avoid that. I got dressed, cleaned up my area, put on my ball-cap, grabbed my backpack and high tailed it to morning devotion.

It was good. Nice and simple and the camp staff lead it. I said the closing prayer and then we went to flag raising and lunch. Then there were volleyball games and sun-screening times to be had. We screamed loudly and did cheering things and then, after finding out there was a piano available to be used, we went to lunch to we could go to auditions for the talent show so we could go to a training session for archery so we could compete on the following day. Yeah. Talk about a crammed schedule. Regardless, I was able to charge through lunch and then go and audition, playing my composition “For the King,” which for those of you who might not know about it was a song that I have been perfecting for a few months and performed at my church and before that at my annual piano recital.

I was late finishing, so I had to stop for directions to Walton Hall and then run up this really stupidly steep hill. I made it in just in time to hear the archery things and then leave once again to run up yet another hill to do this thing called the Udder Mun Run. For those of you who may have heard of the Tough Mudder, it’s like the Tough Mudder’s younger, slightly less daunting cousin. The Udder Mud Run was, in summary, 3.8 miles of hills, mud obstacles, and pretty-much-cut-right-out-of-a-medieval-adventure-movie territory. I’d like to say that I, even with my physically induced asthma, took it on like a boss, but that’s not completely accurate. I did feel like Leyrl from Kingsblade while I was going through it though. Seriously. It was awesome. If you guys are in the area on August 9th, you should totally come and participate in the run. I won’t be able to, but they’re raising money for really awesome people, so do the thing. And get muddy.

 

Showers came after. I threw away shoes. And two pairs of socks. And a t-shirt. Literally, folks, it was that intense. Gotta love that Georgia red clay. So, it was during this chaos that I found out I had been one of five girls chosen out of everyone that auditioned for the talent show to perform in front of some 600-odd people that night at assembly. Well, obviously I couldn’t really think about much outside of that because, well, performing literally scares the bejeebers out of me. But I did it anyway.

Really big storm, flickering lights, and this really terrifying-exhilarating dash to the dining hall, and dinner all happened. So did selfies. And texting. And a little glaring because girls and unnecessary drama. But that was okay. It distracted me. And then it was time to perform. We got special seats, waited through a few little skits and then it began. I was the second person to perform. The introduction for my piece was literally awesome. The two talent show gurus opened it like a skit. There were a few words exchanged, and let me tell you, when a bigger African American guy with awesome hair does crazy things you have everyone’s attention. But it essentially ended with, “I’m not weird, I’m original” and then this beautiful segue into the fact that I had written the piece I was about to play on piano. I had never done anything quite like this, but I was loving it. Well, loving it and hating it because performing! But, y’know, even though my heart was racing, the way they just invited me to stage and the way that piano say there, in all its grandeur, I wasn’t so afraid.

Now, I finished playing, and, despite a few hiccups and falters, I thought I had done well. And, I had played for Jesus. Not expecting

Sarah performing on stage at SLC for the girl's talent show

Sarah performing on stage at SLC for the girl’s talent show

much, I stood up after finishing and gave a little flourished bow, looking up to a standing ovation and screams of support and love from my chapter. The staff was standing, the judges were smiling, and I was grinning like a fool. This had actually happened at church the week before when I had played, but I figured that it was out of respect. Or kindness. But here it was again. I felt tears climb into my eyes, but I pushed them back and high-fived the African American guy who had helped introduce my act on the way down and sank into my seat, feeling my stomach swim with pure joy and pride. Not that cocky kind of pride, but the kind you get when you’re so humbled and happy and thankful that people actually liked that thing that you just did and it was overwhelming. So I thanked God, listened to the next few performances, and then another skit that was great. And then, it was time for announcements.

And, as I listened, I was imagining it would be one of the girls that had sang a song the rest of the crowd sang along too or my friend Kaylee, who had clogged! With blisters! Because she’s just that awesome. And then, as the hosts turned and smiled at our little row, I heard the last thing I expected:

“Sarah.”

Screams and a bolt of shock and joy. I was standing up, making my way to the stage. I attempted a jump up, but pretty much face-planted because, heck, I was in a state of I don’t even know how to describe it. Not discouraged, I just kind of did a little thumbs up thing and a small bow before they asked what team I was from and there was more cheering and smiles, they handed me a gift card to Walmart, but that wasn’t really what mattered.

Going back to my seat, I was still grinning like an idiot and it was great.

Checkers tournament at SLC

Checkers tournament at SLC

After assembly, I ducked down into the Cantina for a little quiet and to get ready for the checkers tournament. I played, had fun, and was showed with congratulations and praise. I couldn’t really think of much more to say other than “I’m so glad you enjoyed it” and “Thank you!” while we kept playing. I placed 4th in the tournament, met some awesome people(not to mention Mr. Malone who is awesome even if he is from Franklin County) I would end up seeing a lot for the rest of the week, and wandered over to a hug and congratulations from my friend Aaron– who had been playing ping-pong– and a fist bump with Mr. White. Later on, a pair of the staffers came and told me that the staff rarely showed preference in talent shows, asked how old I was, and one of them said that a very manly tear might have happened down his cheek while I was playing. More fuzzies. I hadn’t thought it was possible, but it was.

Reflections. Team Meeting. And then bed. This time, I had a blanket from the wonderfully amazing Jordan Collins and a fulfilling Jesus-joy in my heart. Needless to say, after our bedtime story from the incredible Ms. Bell, I slept very well. Even if it was 12:00 AM before were asleep, and I had to be up and out by 7:15 AM again. Honestly, though, in that moment I was falling asleep, I didn’t really mind at all.

 

Day 3: I Discover Running Is Not My Calling, Find Out I Am Not the Worst at Archery, Meet Some Cool People, and Shoot a Gun for the First Time

Running the relay was running the relay. We were around the middle of the pack when it got to me, and I ran the easiest of the legs– leg 2– and didn’t lose much of our standing. Which was good because I almost threw up when I finished. Asthma– I have it. And it is not fun having to concentrate on breathing. That being said, I was able to push myself to my limits and that was what I wanted to be able to do. Also, runners got to eat breakfast. It was a good thing. I might not have made it otherwise.

Sarah and Katie during some down time after dinner one night

Sarah and Katie during some down time after dinner one night

The rest of the day was filled with archery practice (and shoot a 22– pretty cool. I’m not terrible. Not great either, mind you),

bruises, archery competitions (I shot 53/100. I didn’t win, but, hey, I found some great people to put on my zombie apocalypse team, for real), essay writing (I’ll be typing up my essay and sharing it soon!), and more running. We literally got our essays in at 4:59. 500 word limits are nasty little buggers, just let me tell you. So then we flopped down on the stairs for dinner and waited for them to open the doors so we could eat food.

When they did, I was able to sharpen my wit and have some fun joking with the guys. Then, another assembly, another dance dodged, and a little more drama, but that was alright because exhaustion and camp.

So when we returned to the cabin, we had a short meeting, another story told by Ms. Bell, and drifted off into sleep only to wake up once again at 6:00 AM to prepare for another day.

 

Day 4: I Pray Again at Devotion, Do Some More Screaming, Make a Little Heart, Have a Come-to-Jesus Meeting about Relationships, and Get Suckered into a Slow Dance

Devotion was at 7:00 again. So I cleaned up, got ready, and then headed out to the amphitheater where it was held each morning. We sang, had an awesome devotion, and then I closed us out in prayer again. After that, we ate food, played volleyball and softball, and then moved out for lunch. Seriously, this day went by in a blur. We went to the mud course to scream-on our guys and girls during the course. The girls were awesome, and so were the guys, even if they had a rocky start. I hope to be able to do the thing next year.

I painted a little heart for Merry, my little sister. There were sentimental feelings and indecisive feelings. Sentimental because my dad always got me a little stone heart when I was little and he went on business trips, and I found myself making a little heart for Merry just like he found me hearts. I have quite a few still in my special box. Maybe one day I’ll post pictures of them. Because my dad is awesome. And chivalrous. And totally gave me really unrealistic expectations of guys. Indecisive because I wanted it to be perfect and not bad. Merry is an artist with lines. I am an artist with notes and words. Not lines. Sorry if it was terrible, Merry! I really tried. I promise.

After cheering, we had an assembly, then I had the opportunity that I had been praying for several weeks. God moves, guys. And He moves in big ways. My Come-to-Jesus meeting was not scripted or planned. I was able to talk about the greatest love story I know– ours’ and Jesus’s– and was finally able to get out my entire speech about love and romance and platonic love. There might have been one or two tears involved, a hug-out session, and some divine intervention, because I’m pretty sure that God was giving me words as I spoke. Yes, I carried my Bible around the whole time we were at camp, and if you are curious, the passage that I started off reading was Isaiah 9:2-7. So my sweet friend, who will remained anonymous so she doesn’t get any ideas about being embarrassed or anything. But it was good, and I was overjoyed and thankful when we were finally able to get everything out on the playing field. And that she got it. Be a mentor, folks. Those of you called to lead, lead and lead while following God because that’s the only way you’ll ever get anywhere. Note that it was only when I began by opening my Bible and reading it out loud that the words came and God sat there right beside us. Seriously, I could feel Him– and that isn’t a feeling I would trade for anything in the world.

Then there was another dance, which I managed to avoid until it, of course, actually mattered. One of my archery friends dragged me into a line dance that required a well-established knowledge of left and right (which I, for the record, do not have because dyslexia). It was still fun even if I made a fool out of myself in the process. Then, my match-making friend, Bailey Seabolt, suckered Aaron and I into the last half of a slow dance. My extremely introverted don’t-do-the-dancing-things side nearly died, but we made the most of it while Bailey looked on, grinning like an idiot. As you have probably guessed, I don’t really know the first thing about dancing. Seriously. I’m that kid who curls up in her Loofa (a wonderful noun penned by the awesome Quincey Pinkston, which describes my arm-chair that is nearly the size of a love-seat and that is inherently awesome and good for reading) on Friday nights and avoids all formal school dances. That being said, it was fun (dismissing just a little awkward), and I am sure we will laugh about it eventually. Brenna, when I texted her afterward, nearly died of laughter. Thanks for your unending support, Brenna. [Insert bemused, sarcastic scowl here.]

The dance ended and we plopped down for awards. I didn’t win the essay, which was okay (I actually found out later that I had placed as the runner-up). But what we did win was Leadership Team of the Week– the thing that all of the Phoenixes had been aiming for all week. Leadership Team of the Week, for certain superior to Team of the Week, was voted on by all the other campers, and needless to say we were ecstatic, screaming and all that as one of our advisers, Ms. Bell, went to get the plaque.

Team Phoenix after winning Leadership Team of the Week

Team Phoenix after winning Leadership Team of the Week

 

Sleep was quick in coming, and I ended the night feeling exhausted, but ready and smiling.

 

Day 5: I Was Exhausted

Seriously, guys. There’s not a lot to say about this day. We packed, we cleaned, and I helped out in whatever ways I could. Then, we waited for a while, got on the bus, and shipped out for the last time. Nostalgic feelings for real, y’all. I was ready to be home, but I will never forget all the memories I made at my first SLC camp ever.

Also, country music all the way home. You know you live in the South when…

 

But what I really learned this week was that words matter. Guys, as writers, musicians, and people in general, we have authority over others. Now, not like staff and scepter power, but the authority to make those words powerful– and not only powerful, but powerful enough to build someone up or powerful enough to drag someone down. It made such a big difference having so many people come up to me and compliment me on my piano playing  and encourage me to continue doing so. And not only that, but the mere actions of others– giving me a standing ovation, telling me that they cried. That’s so powerful. And those actions spoke volumes. As a team, we encouraged and built others up, kept smiling and laughing. When others said discouraging things to me or other campers or were unsporting and unbelieving in us, it hurts and cut deeply. Your words and your actions matter so much, no matter if you are giving a lecture, simply going out of your way to say “thank you” or “good job,” or screaming encouragement to your teammates. Satan knows that he’s already lost, and he’s working day and night to ensure that none of the Lost of our world ever find their way to Christ. You’ve got a chance to save someone. You’ve got a chance to be a hero! So use your superpower wisely! That’s what we, here on the King’s Road, are all about! Use the hero within you as a leader and a spokesman of Christ to spread the Light of an Almighty, Everlasting and Ever-loving God to every corner of the earth because what you do makes a difference.

It’s up to you to choose if that difference is a positive one or a negative one.

EEB: Sarah’s Video Introduction

21 May

 

EEB welcomes you to our blog and to the King’s Road!

The Outcasts

3 Sep

*An assignment for school. I do not have a cover yet, but I am hoping to post one on here soon.*

The cruel, cold wind beats my red face relentlessly, but I keep on going, leaning on my walking stick for support. The snow stings and my feet feel as if they cannot take another step, but I grimace and continue my walk. Even though it is only four o’clock, it is already darker than dusk. Deep, gray clouds hover over my path, dumping more snow on my light blonde hair. The pine trees look ominous against the dark skies and shadows creep up behind me. I shiver involuntarily; there is something I do not like about the woods at dark, but it can not be helped. I had to get out of the house, away from my father. My mother died five years ago. I was only eleven years old. She and my father were some of the first Puritan settlers to come to Massachusetts Bay Colony. She was a pure, pious soul and my father was as well as long as she was alive. However, her death seemed to have destroyed his very soul. Ever since then we have lived as outcasts of the colony; our reputation forever crumpled by my father’s drunkenness. I know my mother would have been heart-broken and I hated to leave the church. It was about the only place I felt that I truly belonged. Even though my father no longer cares about Scripture, I come by myself every Sabbath to sit outside the church doors. They will not let me in, being an outcast, but I can still hear Reverend Wilson’s messages. Sometimes, his sermons on Jesus’ love moves me to tears. The beautiful, yet simple Puritan hymns make my heart soar. I want to sing with them so badly, but hold it in for my solitary walk back home. I do not want their pompous, condescending mixture of sympathy and scorn. I feel that it is better for them to not know I am there at all.

I am close to the town now, but the outlines of buildings are as dark as the woods. All lights are extinguished in the homes. I know this is because everyone is in the church house. My walk becomes a little easier because I can vaguely make out a path now. I round one more corner and I have to squint at the sudden burst of light. The whole church is a large beacon of golden light. Its fingers stretch forward across the nearby cemetery, seeming to warm the freezing corpses that have been asleep for so long. The light breaks off a few feet away from my feet, as if to make a point. I can imagine the light as the reverend, shaking his solemn head at me, condemning me to a life apart from the rest of the congregation. I pass my mother’s grave and stare at it for a moment in reverence. Every time I pass it, my heart stops for a moment, almost as if it went with her. I smile with nostalgic memories, but tear myself away. I hasten to the church, not wanting to be late to hear the message.

I can see everyone inside the building clearly. Puritans are against stained glass windows, as they are relics of the Catholic Church. I move to my spot directly in front of the church and prop my walking stick up on the wall. I press my ear to the door and try to listen through the wailing wind. The sermon today is on forgiveness. It seems a little ironic to me and maybe even a bit hypocritical. There they are inside, enjoying the flickering, dancing warmth from the coal stove while I am outside freezing. Could they find it possible within their strict rules to let the daughter of a drunkard inside? I breath on my stiff, bare fingers and hope I will not freeze. The cold hurts, but I have learned to deal with it. The wind begins to beat harder. I take it as a temptation from the devil and continue to listen.

Bump! The wind throws my walking stick against the hollow wooden door, creating a loud knock. My heart catches in my throat and I stand there for a moment in fright. Could anyone have heard that? Before I can react, the door creaks open. The light from inside rushes out to meet me and I try in vain to shield my face. I want to melt in the snow, hide myself away from the world. I sink to my knees, knowing that the church’s response to me might be angry. Instead, I feel the warm light disappear and the door shuts.

“Get up, my sister,” a voice says. I look up to see a young man standing outside the door. His green eyes are soft and gentle, yet I can perceive hurt inside them.

“I am sorry, sir, I know I am not welcome,” I say humbly, looking down again. “I do not ask for your sympathy and wish not to hear your rebuke. If you will let me be, I would be grateful.”

“You are quaking from the cold,” the youth says. “Warm up before you go.”

“No!” I cry impulsively, standing up. “My father is a drunkard. We have been evicted from the church. Do not get yourself in trouble for welcoming me inside the church.”

“Well, then, if you refuse, at least take my gloves.” The young man yanks his mittens off his fingers and hands them to me. My cold fingers meet his, but mine are so numb that I can hardly tell a difference.

“Thank you,” I say. “I do not know why you would be kind to me. Everyone else treats me like I am the Anti-Christ.”

“You are welcome. It is not fair that you are kept in hiding for your father’s sin. You seem like a young woman of virtue and deserve better. I am sorry that I cannot do more for you,” he says.

“You have done more than most venture. What is your name?” I ask.

“Tyler Ast. What is your name?” Tyler asks.

“Charlotte,” I answer.

“Nice to meet you, Charlotte. Maybe I will see you again,” Tyler smiles.

“I hope you do not have that misfortune,” I groan. “Most people lose their status when they are around my family. Go back inside! They will look for you.”

“God will judge me in the end, not the church leaders,” Tyler said gently. “One day, I hope to help you more, but for now, just know that you and your father are welcome in my home at any time. It is next to the governor’s house.”

“Thank you. I really must be going. Get back inside before they find you,” I implore.

“As you wish,” Tyler nods and retreats back inside. I scurry away into the woods, running away like an animal that is scared from a hunt. Breathing heavily, I look through the trees at the church. The building is silent from where I stand and no one pursues me. With a thoughtful heart, I walk back home. What could Tyler mean for my future? One day, could I be brave enough to hope,- would I be able to return to church? For the first time since my mother’s death, I feel hope.

ANOTHER ONE? Sarah, please consider the possible ramifications of this–

15 Aug

decision!” wailed the high-pitched voice of my conscience. “You must be insane! This is the fourth project you’ve talked about and… HMMRGHHHPHHHH.”

There! Now I can think. You guessed it, I have yet another novel idea that I am going to work on. Check it out!

And I Will Never Be the Same

Current cover for Sarah’s new WIP, And I Will Never Be the Same

“”What if I challenged you to make every day matter? What if I told you you had… missed the opportunity to change someone’s life? How much would you change?” Two worlds, separated by the very fabric of the universe, become merged through a keen mind and a love for imagination. First-person. Third-person. An author. An agent. Could there, perhaps, be a connection between the two? Or is one doomed to live in the recesses of the imagination forever? The line between reality and fiction, once a gaping chasm, begins to blur.”

Short synopsis is short, I know! I shall be elaborating upon it later on when I have a better idea of exactly what it’s going to look like as far as length, target audience and finish date. The title? And I Will Never Be the Same. Shifting gears from more traditional novels (i.e. Sarah is procrastinating on Kingsblade), And I Will Never Be the Same will be a project I will work on over the course of the school year.

Currently, it is going to be my own life story for a year. One post every single day (about 1,000 words) and then a subsequent chapter about a “glorified” version of myself that I pretend actually exists and her journeys. Some things I am really wanting to do with it is shine some light on the connection between author and character by talking about the work as it is being written. I won’t give away too many details because of spoilers, but I think it will turn out interesting… hopefully, anyway. Otherwise, it might just sit and collect virtual dust on my computer hard drive.

You can check out the first two chapters here. Figment will become the dumping ground for said novel-ish endeavors.

The coming school year is going to be a long one. But, it’s the King’s Road, and He does not lead his followers astray!