Please remember to eat as much ice cream cake as you want and not worry if people are judging you for it. Ignore the upturned noses, pick up that fork and come on over. I some important things to share with you.
First and surprisingly, I’ve learned that adults don’t have life figured out. It seems like it with their nice jobs, college degrees and fancy vocabulary. Don’t be fooled. In many ways, they don’t know what they’re doing. So, it’s perfectly okay that you don’t either.
1. There will always be someone who is “better” than you. Through trial and error, I’ve realized it’s not worth it to put value on your ability to be the prettiest, the smartest or the richest. Anyone who loves you won’t care about that stuff. If they do they’re a noob (meaning: they’re still awesome deep, deep down, they just have their own issues to work through).
2. Social media is a plastic rose. What might seem romantic is super fake. Those people on Instagram with the “perfect” pictures are just like you. They take those kinds of pictures to earn YOUR likes! The more likes, the better they feel but when the likes go down… well, their mood goes down with them.
3. Just because someone has an opinion about you, doesn’t mean it’s true. You probably remember this because, I mean, technically you’re me. In middle school, my classmates avoided me because they thought I was weird. Newsflash. I’m still “weird” but people are now drawn to me because of it. I even get invited to speak at things because of my “weird” ideas.
4. Grades don’t define your worth. School is a bit of a messy mick muckle. Out of all my rants related to the schooling system, I will tell you this: just because you didn’t get an A doesn’t make you a failure, no matter what your friends, the teacher or your mom says. Love you, Mom!
5. Friendships will change, and that’s okay. Friends come and go. One year you’ll get along better with so-and-so. Next year, they might move on. When do they, know there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s normal. Don’t beat yourself up about migrating friends or changes in interest. People to befriend will always be around.
6. Being the most popular girl in school won’t matter in a year. Really though, just like migrating friends, they rise and fall from favor. When school is finished, people won’t recognize them as the Queen Bee.
7. Being popular can suck. Being at the top and always trying to maintain the power is tough. I remember dating a guy who made all the girls swoon. When we broke up, someone else quickly rose to the occasion and starting dating him. My reign and fame had ended. The time I could have spent doing more valuable things, seemed to be wasted.
8. It’s okay to be wrong. School teaches us it’s not okay to be wrong. Trust me, that’s how the most vibrant, financially well-off people got their start. They made a tonne of mistakes! Don’t be afraid to speak up and let yourself be wrong.
So, you’re more than what you feel, there’s a purpose to your life and you’re rocking it already! Keep enjoying that cake. Love you Princess.
A slightly older K.L.P
It’s really nice when things aren’t perfect.
When life isn’t exactly what you want it to be it makes you stronger, makes you wish for something more, makes you work harder.
That’s kind of why I like snow.
Snow reminds me that I don’t have it all together, even when I think I do. I may want to drive 100 km an hour on the road but I can’t. I will slip and slide. I will spin out, no matter how good a driver I think I am.
The icy touch of winter’s finger reminds me of my incorrigible impatience as I bustle to get indoors. I ask myself, “how often do I sit in my discomfort and allow things to simmer?” Seriously, how long is this going to take?!
Once I am outdoors for a while, freezing my pinkies off, I start to remember the pain other people go through as they trudge through the snow, with no home in sight.
Snow reminds me of my responsibility to have empathy and give to the downtrodden. They are beautiful souls, sometimes wrapped in rough packaging, but deep down they are just the same as me, in need of mercy, grace and unconditional love. In need of food, empathy and a place to lay their heads.
Snow reminds me of the slew of impure ways of thinking that used to toxify my mind and how they don’t anymore. The crisp white reminds me of the fact that I am clean, I am free, I am redeemed from all those the sins that once bogged me down.
As I stick out my tongue and feel the snowflakes melt I am reminded that when others gave their lives to Christ, their sin died to Him. Even though we all make mistakes, we don’t see those people as mistakes. We see them as glorious, dignified royalty, beloved by God and favored by all. We see them as sons and daughters of the Most High God.
I am reminded of my identity as a Princess and Beloved. When I look at the snowflake and see its design I know that God puts all things together so perfectly. The One who fabricated the perfect, little snowflake began something good in me and will see it through to the end.
When you look at the snow what do you see?
This morning, I was, as usual, struggling with the many flaws I found with my body. Tired, peeved and incredibly irritated by the constant barrage of self-doubt I stood from my desk and walked to my window. Petrified by the weedy state of my garden I closed my eyes, longing to escape thoughts of judgment and the endless list of “to-do’s”.
“Lord, what is beauty to you?”
Almost as soon as I had asked the question, His warmth invaded the space as He entered the doorway. He walked across the room and stood behind me, put His large hand on my shoulder and stood with me. We stayed in silence for a few moments before He spoke. His voice, deep and soothing. My nerves started to slowly relax and wind down.
“What do you think of the rose Katie?”
“Roses are beautiful Yeshua… but, I mean. No offense but…” I opened my eyes to the nasty condition of the garden that lay just beyond.
“I’m kind of sick of the rose metaphor. How can I apply that to daily life? I’m obviously not a rose, I’m human. I mean, I could wear a costume around all the time and spritz myself with that flowery stuff from Bath and Body but I don’t think that would work. And yeah, people judge other people based on what they look like. All I’ve wanted, for the longest time, is to be liked and accepted by people. Is that too much to ask?”
He paused, waiting for me to be ready to listen. “Everything uniquely, Katie bug.”
The radiance of His smile exploded against the walls. His hand stayed on my shoulder, grounding me.
“Yeshua, what does that even mean?”
“Trust me, just close your eyes my girl.”
I squeezed them closed.As I fought the temptation to drown my sorrows on Facebook a new garden came into sight. Planted in that garden, in the richest soil I had ever seen was a rose, vibrant red, stunning and blooming. Its fragrance filled the air. To the right of the rose was a raspberry bush, green and lush with ripe fruit hanging from its twiggy branches. To the left of the bush was a daisy, bright and yellow as the sun. Up the flower bed just a little further was an orchid, purple, vivacious and striking. Further into the grass and away from the bed were bleedings hearts, pink and red marble drops dripping from their green conical homes. Evergreen trees, stood tall above us on all sides. The forever protectors of all those who lived underneath their sturdy shadow.
“Yeshua, it’s beautiful here.”
“Yes, everything is beautiful uniquely.”
“I suppose, but don’t you mean “uniquely beautiful?”’
He grinned and donned a look of excitement that I knew so well. He swept his hand across the flower bed.
“Each flower is beautiful in its unique state, you see. When I see the beauty of a person, I see the unique attributes I have placed in them. Their strengths, their weaknesses, their personalities. I see all of it and I love all of it. I want, so badly, to show my people how to accept themselves as I have made them. I want them to then come to me and learn to cultivate that beautiful uniqueness I have planted in them.”
The joy in his eyes was now misted by tears, “Katie-bug, all you need to do is ask me what I see when I look at you. You would be overwhelmed.”
I nodded as my own eyes welled with tears.
He took my hand and stared at the sky. “Just look up!”
I lifted my gaze. A slit in the blue had opened and widened as we watched. Just as a long-anticipated grand opening, the veil quickly slide open to reveal majesty. There, waiting on the velvet canvas were billions upon billions of stars, the moon the sun in all its splendor. Galaxies woven into colourful tapestries of royal purple, gold and black danced. Stars sang. Colorful meteorites twisted and turned before exploding into fireworks of carnelian, jasper and ruby. Chills ran down my spine. My knees grew weak. I grabbed onto his arm and looked up at Him.
When Yeshua’s hazel eyes looked at me, they were filled with light, joy, peace. Heat poured through my heart and into my stomach. My knees started to collapse. The strength of His arm was the only thing keeping me from falling.
“My girl! Katie! Everything I have placed in you is infinitely more beautiful than what you are seeing right now. Infinitely!” He winked at me and lifted me by my elbows. As He did, strength returned to my shaking legs.
“Now, to answer your question with more than a rose. every person is unique. Each carries a certain type of beauty that the person next to them does not carry. I don’t look at aesthetics. I am much deeper than the world. I think in a way that people haven’t tapped into in regular practice. When you spend time with Me, the One who created you, uniquely you, you learn more about the beauty you hold. My girl.”
The veil remains open as He gently plucked a rose from the dirt and handed it to me.
“You wouldn’t hurt this rose, would you?”
“No! Of course not.”
He released my hand and lay the flower in it. “You need to stop hurting yourself with the words you speak and believe about yourself. When I look at you Katie, I do not see ugly. I see nothing lacking. I see perfection. In every child of mine, I see it. They are beautifully unique to me Katie. Show everyone how valued they are Katie. Show them what I see in them. Call out the truth in those who have been deceived by the enemy. I want them to hear this truth so badly.”
I nodded my head and tucked the rose close to my heart. He stepped closer to me and tenderly wiped my tears with his thumbs.
“I will keep fighting for you, my girl. I will never give up, even when you don’t see things as they are. I love you more than you could ever imagine.”
“And I love you Yeshua, so so much.”
We stood there together for some time before I opened my eyes. The warmth remained. The galaxies and fireworks stayed etched in the darkest corners of my mind. When the dark thoughts try to invade I will show them back and speak the truth, “I am beautifully unique. Loved by the Creator of the Universe. Lies hold no power over me because I, just as the rose, am forever protected in the shadow of my Savior.”
Now when the dark thoughts try to invade I will shove them back, break patterns that have controlled my mind for decades, and speak the powerful truth I now hold dear to my heart.
“I am beautifully unique. Loved by the Creator of the Universe. Lies hold no power over me because I, just as the rose, am forever protected in the shadow of my Savior.”
I step outside the marble pillars of the villa and peer past the sprawling courtyard. Servants hurriedly pluck fresh weeds and pour water delicately onto flowers. I smile at them as I walk past. Some grin back, others keep their heads bowed respectfully. The heat burns my exposed shoulders so I pull the silk shroud over them. Helios, god of the sun, must be hard at work today. His overexertion of expertise amplified far beyond what I, and most in Pompeii, appreciate. Passerby’s on the street wave in my direction as I walk past; some avert their eyes, dip their heads and carry on. I return glances, waves and air blown kisses before turning my vision on the ruins before me. The earthquake that destroyed most of Pompeii’s streets is long gone, vanished like a speck of amber dust on the ocean breeze; however, the rubble of past offenses remains and the once thriving merchants of this town set up shops in caves, the crumbling remains of their dignity. I haven’t the heart or the guts to tell them it was my over excited father who caused it all.
I was conceived in a manner most aren’t familiar with. It may sound odd but my father, the god of fine art, artisans, sculptures and fire, was able to produce me by himself. I was the product, formed by the melted iron of loneliness and the stinging flame of an aching soul. My father, who had been tossed away by his mother for his deformities, wanted a companion, an underling as it were. He used his power to make it happen. Upon my creation, he uttered a shout, loud enough to rock the foundations of the volcano, Vesuvius and powerful enough to kill six hundred innocent people. Death came as my new life was celebrated. This is where the shame sets in like a terrified serpent seeking shelter from a hurricane. The shame is relentless and unquenchable.
But, even if I did work up the courage to tell people, I’m not certain most would believe me. As far as they understand, I am the illegitimate daughter of Julia Felix, one of the most wealthy and respected merchants in Pompeii. Given her position in the town’s government and the status of her equestrian family, I am annulled of any shame; however, I still feel the oddness of my situation as it burns through my innermost self and deep into the caverns of my heart.
My mother never existed, my father, Vulcan, as the Romans know him, is a deformed, overzealous beast; my grandparents, Zeus and Hera, are war lords, bent on carnage and perfection. Father tells me I am hidden away from them so they will not destroy me. Perhaps they don’t understand that I, just as they are, am immortal. Father tells me the only way I can die is by fire. He says this as it is the same with him. I hope to never die. I hope to make change to a world that has been pillaged by the wars of my family. I will restore order where is necessary and make right all things the gods of Olympus have made wrong. Julia Felix named me Matilde. Since then I have changed the word to “Matilda”. Despite the change, the name means “strength in battle” but I do not want to be the cause of unnecessary fatalities, bloodshed, and loss. Enough is enough.
I aspire to live up to the meaning of my name but in a peaceable way. But, like they say, the tempers of the gods are insatiable, their lust for war and territory rampant. They are the immortalized characters, the caricature of human nature at its worst. They also say, once a god always a god. I can only pray this isn’t true.
The scent of cumin and frying tilapia mingle and fill the breezy air. Cries of fishermen returning home after a long day echo across the dark waves. I press my fingers into my pounding temple and tuck a stray strand of dry hair behind my ear, waiting. For what, I’m not sure. I sit here alone, staring out at the surf, thinking. Could death be easier than life? Just three days ago, doctors at home gave me another round of radiation. How interesting, the one thing sustaining my life is tearing me apart, killing me. Lately, my life has been a surging ocean of juxtapositions. Vast, wide, powerful and unforgiving. Flying to my father’s house in Tiberius was the best decision I had made in a while. The deadly heat, terrifying sea storms, political unrest and unfamiliarity of language are perfect reflections of my internal conflict. Perfect.
I lift my phone; there are a couple lingering Instagram likes from my slowly waining fan base. Three Facebook notifications reminding me about upcoming events. No texts, no voicemail messages. The last one, three weeks ago was from Max, Mr. Show Biz, the man who told me he would give his life for me. Bull. People reveal who they really are when you’re not at your best, hurting or, in my case, dying. Emotionally first, spiritually second, physically third.
I stare down at my white legs, they are thinner than they have ever been. The medical treatments have curbed my diet, thus making my famed curves melt into bone. Life is cruel, horrible even. Four and a half months ago I landed a contract with Storm agency in Los Angeles, Prada and Gucci contacted my agency wanting to set up shoot times. I had worked hard and was on top of the world. I run my fingers through my hair, look down and gasp. I clutch a fistful of strands in my hand. I’m slowly losing yet another thing that makes me feel beautiful, valuable, comfortable. Before long, it would all be gone.
“Shalom.” I jump a little and spin around. A man is in a white tee is standing there.
“Hello.” He smiles and sits down beside me. Given the heightened spirituality in this place I half expect him to have a golden sash across his chest. The landscape is stunning but Israel and its religion, it’s suffocating. I slide a little closer to the waves, away from the man. Please, God let him take the hint.
He ignores my gesture of discomfort and stares out at the waves. “Beautiful morning, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it’s nice.” I study my feet, noting that his accent sounds slightly Israeli, slightly American. If he decides to rob me or something I’ll have a small lead for the police. Helpful. Really helpful.
“Where are you from?”
I look up at the sea and pluck at my thin tee. “Colorado.”
“Ah, it’s stunning there.”
I tuck a piece of hair behind my ear. “Listen, I’ve had an awful year…”
He clasps his hands and leans towards me. “Why is that?”
“Please.” The last thing I want is a counseling session from a stranger. I turn to stare him down and stop. His eyes. Hazel. The most brilliant conglomeration of green, brown and orange I have ever seen. Beyond the colour I see compassion. I see compassion in those eyes. No one has ever looked at me like that, ever. In the days of my successful modeling career, it was burning envy and empty praise. Nowadays, smugness and pity. So many people were happy to see me fall. Was he one of the many who came to mock me? Maybe he wasn’t.
I look away quickly. “I have cancer.”
He looked back out at the sea. “We all have that.”
I bite my tongue, repelling the anger welling within me. “Do you have any idea what it feels like to be dying?”
He looks at the surf with a thoughtful smile on his face. “I do.”
I pick up a rock and lob it into the water. “Well, I’m sorry you had to go through it.” He pauses and picks up a stone.
“Do you believe you can be healed?”
“Science is getting better, I suppose so.”
From my peripheral I see those compassionate eyes studying me. “Do you trust me?”
“Uh, I guess. Why?”
He leans towards me and offers his strong hands. I notice two large scars on his wrists. “May I?”
I nod, still in shock over the white marks. He takes my frail hands.
“You are healed.” The once gentle breeze blew a gust of force, whipping my hair away from my face. My spine straightened involuntarily, commanded by an invisible force. The loud thumping in the right side of my temple subsides. I look up. Those eyes. Pools of honey and green, nourishment and new life. Who is this man? His presence is overwhelming. Warmth envelopes my heart, my stomach. Tingles shoot through my arms and legs. My eyes start to close.
“Peace my friend. Just be.” I squeeze my eyes shut. Bursts of light and warmth fill my sight. The breeze whispers through my hair. The sunlight shining on my skin no longer burns oppressively. But above all, that feeling of peace overwhelms me. I hear birds singing songs to my right and left.
“I am always with you. Always.” His words echo into the empty caverns of my soul, my heart, my spirit. When the warmth subsides, I open my eyes to see him but he is gone. In his place sits a small, white bird. It studies me with gentle eyes before taking flight over the glimmering sea. I watch until its small wings disappear over the horizon.
I stand and do not feel light headed. I take a step and do not feel pain in my bones. I walk to the top of the shoreline and stare back down to where we were sitting. One man’s choice to see me and care changes everything. No matter what it takes, I will find the man who healed me on the shores of Galilee. No matter what it takes.
Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay his life down for his friends
I stare up at the gray clouds with a realization daunting as a sea storm, I am about to be humiliated and die brutally in front of thousands of people. The pungent smell of blood rises from the sand beneath my feet, it soaks into my sandals. The roar of the massive crowd echoes across the arena, drowning the snarls of the caged lions to my right. Two gatekeepers stand near the barrier keeping the giant cats from entering the arena.
A scruffy legionary unsheathes a dagger and tilts it down, at my neck.
“This way. Move.” As I step closer to the Emperor’s stand I glance up at the crowds. Their mouths twist grotesquely, a thirst for death evident in their eyes. Their thunderous cries are repetitious, cruel and terrifying as they chant, “kill her, kill her.” The dark clouds move closer, the smell of a storm hangs in the air.
The soldier grabs my long braid and pulls me to the ground. Pain shoots up my knees, tears and sand sting my eyes. I glance up to see the Emperor, draped in purple and gold. His rings glint as he waves to the crowd. He stares down at me as he sinks into his seat. The man’s strong body, sharp jaw and deep eyes are famous for their ability to grab the hearts of the Romans, even a few Jewish women fell beneath his spell. I now see why. The Emperor, only a few years older than me, truly is beautiful.
The soldier slaps the back of my head, making me bite my tongue. “Don’t look at him until he asks you to.” Sand cakes my lips and mixes with the blood in my mouth. I look down at the dirt, humiliated, knowing my life is at the mercy of the Emperor.
The Emperor’s loud voice booms across the sands and into the stands. “Girl, you claim to follow the Way? This is your crime?”
I look up to match his gaze. “Yes.” Boos and hisses erupt from the crowd. A piece of rotten fruit is tossed at my head. It meets its target. The juice stings my eyes. I squeeze them shut. The soldier slaps my head again and tilts my chin up.
“Pay respect to your Emperor.” I force my eyes open.
The Emperor’s dark eyes casually study my tomato stained face, shredded tunic and bruised limbs. “Brutus, if you dare touch her once more I’ll feed you to the ravenous hippos.”
The legionary backed away from me. “Yes, my Lord.”
The Emperor’s eyes meet mine. “Beautiful girl, I have a proposition to make of you.” The sounds of the people grow quiet. I’ve never been in an arena such as this one but from the reaction of the crowd, I assume this doesn’t happen often.
I steady my rapidly increasing breaths. “Deny your faith and you will be granted the riches of my house, the pleasures of living with the Emperor of Rome. Who could deny such a generous proposition?” He makes a sweeping motion with his arm and the crowd roars to life.
His white teeth flash as he studies the crowd, still addressing me. “Just deny your ridiculous faith and it’s all yours.”
“Ketura! Ketura!” I search for the strained voice calling my name and see my older sister in the stands just below the Emperor. She leans over the seat in front of her, a terrified grimace plastered onto her chalked face. Another girl, dressed in Roman garb stands next to her, smirking.
“Choose him! Choose him! Don’t lose your life, gain it back!” I stare at my sister, her long hair twisted into a Roman knot, decorated so beautifully by the slaves of her powerful friend. She had been drawn away from the Way long ago when I first started taking interest in the legacy of the man-God named Yeshua.
I look at the top of my hands then study my palms. They have been crafted, not by rulers and their incentives but by a God who laid the patterns of the stars. The same God who gave His life for me. The same God who required the same from me.
The Emperor’s deep voice commands my attention, this time with less volume. “Look at me.”
“Your God asks too much of you. Come, be with me. I will ask much less and give so much more. My only objective is your delight.” I ignore my sister’s excited screams and study the elaborate, gold embroidery on his tunic, his strong arms and the golden crown nestled in his dark hair. He is a picture of health and beauty, a quintessential symbol of the all-powerful Rome. The arena is silent. Women and men alike lean over the sides of the railings, waiting for my answer.
“I… I can’t.”
His eyes darken. “You think you can deny god what is already his?”
I swallow the blood and dust in my mouth. “I serve only one God and you are not him.” The Emperor looks at me with those deep eyes, shaking his head. He rises to address the crowd.
“What should be done to her?”
The stunned silence quickly morphs into hissing, booing and spitting. More throw rotten fruit and vegetables are thrown from the stands. The same death sentence once screamed over me returns with great fervor, “kill her, kill her, kill her!”
The Emperor feigns pity. “Well, my beauty. What a waste. The people have spoken. Guards, release the beasts.”
“You’re as stupid as they come.” The soldier standing beside me snarls before jogging to an exit nearby. The gatekeepers unlatch the iron bars keeping the animals at bay. The cats scramble onto the sand, one lioness’s eyes scan the arena then lock on me. Screams of approval erupt from the crowd. My knees lock, drops of rain splatter onto my exposed shoulders. I stand slowly and lift my arms into the air. The cat approaches me, licking its lips. I look at the Emperor, on his face is a sardonic grin.
My sister’s excited screams have turned into wailing. “Ketura! No!” I turn to face her, taking one last look.
“Sister, choose life! Remember what Abba used to teach us. You have to die so you can live.” A piercing pain overtakes my shoulder. I scream as the beast pulls me onto my back. Hot, wet breath hovers over me, the smell of hell itself.
As I scream to the heavens, water fills my nose and mouth. “Elohim! Your will be done.”
Another stab of pain takes over my leg, then the other leg, then my neck. I fade from the darkness, the pain and mud into the most brilliant of lights. Bright, shining beams of light that reverberate through my skin and into the air around me. All is still. Singing. Melodious and joyful sounds surround me. Warmth spreads through my stomach and into my heart. There is no more pain, no more suffering. I laugh. I start to sing. The warmth deepens and spreads through my entire body. I feel someone approaching my right and turn.
A figure, dressed in white robes emerges from the light. In his hand is a crown, bright and brilliant. It is more beautiful than anything worn by the prestigious of Rome. The tall man places it on my head and holds my face with strong hands. His eyes hold galaxies. I collapse in his embrace and weep as he holds me.
“Well done my girl, well done. Your life has just begun.”
Before the busyness of the day begins, I sit down. Laying in front of me is my robin-egg creative writing Bible. Beside it, one of my bargain store journals splays across the table. I take a sip of my smoothie and stare mildly. If I’m honest with myself, there’s a part of me that dreads this time of the day.
I fear the failures that will be exposed, I fear the work associated with extracting my imperfections and diagnosing them. My fear is that I won’t add up, once again. For some reason, I dive headlong into the conclusion that there will be a million and ten things wrong with the way I am conducting the intricacies of my life… yet another reason I need to start reading the egg-shell book… condemnation sucks.
Here we go. I crack open the Bible and start reading Proverbs 3… for the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a Father corrects a child in whom he delights…joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding… Okay, so how do I gain wisdom Lord?
Lord? I roll my eyes and move on to the next passage. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold…
“Katie. Sit with me.” His voice is but a whisper but it resounds so deeply. Sit with me…
“Lord, I am sitting with you.”
“Katie. Rest. Be with me, not with your to-do list. I am here. Waiting. Come sit with me.” With a sheepish grin on my face, I tuck the Bible away, put down my pen and close my eyes.
“Just sit with me.” His plea is so innocent, almost childlike in longing. The warmth of His smile cascades over my shoulders like sunlight. Warmth, peace. A little girl’s laughter. Sun bathed flowers of all kinds. The Father chuckles. His laughter sounds of rushing waters, tumbling and leaping and crashing in pursuit of the shore. A blanket of warmth and softness tickles my toes. I open my eyes. He rests beside me, one arm around me the other in His lap. Those eyes. I catch my breath. They are deep caverns of living
“Daughter, what do you see?”
I open my eyes. He rests beside me, one arm around me the other in His lap. Those eyes. I catch my breath. They are deep caverns of living colour, awash with sunsets, dancing prairie grass and the greenery of Israel in bloom. He smiles knowingly, fully aware of all my thoughts. God of the Universe pulls me close, leans His chin gently onto my head and starts to sing. Deep, melodious and rich.
“My girl, my girl, perfect you are to me. You are worthy. I long to be with you. I want to hold you. Trust me. Trust me. Trust me. There’s no peace like mine. No striving. You are perfect my girl. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Nothing you could ever do will disappoint me.”
My heart warms, the pains and disappointments of life subside. I am filled with joy, in the presence of my Father. The One who knows me more intimately than any other and there’s nothing more I could ever want. I reside where my soul has forever longed to be. I am home.
If you’ve worked yourself out of the daily practice of time with the Father, don’t feel condemned. He holds no offense against you. My prayer is that you are inspired to once again join your Father in the place of being, the place of rest.
Much love, peace and rest,
Recently, I sat at my window staring out at the birds. It didn’t take long before the neighbours idiot dogs started yapping. I slowly sipped on my poo coloured, chocolate flavoured smoothie, anticipating the glorious quiet my recently purchased dog silencer would bring to the neighbourhood.
After taking in a couple deep breaths I cracked opened Alex’s bible. It had been a while since I read it paperback form and even longer since I had used my own (moving blues).
“God what do you want to talk about today.”
Fear. Katie, today we need to talk about fear.
I was a little surprised at His response, thinking we would be working on something more along the lines of patience…perhaps that one is for tomorrow…
Following His prompt, I picked up my pen and wrote, what do I fear, Father? There was a brief pause followed by a slew of situations where I have felt fear, most of them I have experienced since my teen years. One out of the large list hit me the hardest.
Fear of rejection.
Lord, how the heck do I get rid of this? I flipped to the index on the back of the Bible… fears. The verses that stood out most to me formed a beautiful pattern that I have put into, what I call, “freedom steps”. These “freedom steps” helped me move away from holding on to fear and anxiety. They propelled me towards freedom in Christ.
This is what they look like:
Step 1: hear and believe who God is.
Isaiah 35:4 says – “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come. He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution. He will come to save you.”
God is VERY interested in coming to save you at a time that is most conducive to your well-being and the glorification of His name. In the meantime, He tells us to not fear, no matter how dire the circumstance might look. Trust that He cares and will come for you. Do not fear when people reject you, the Lord will come and bring His perfect justice into the situation. He is a Father who loves and protects. He will avenge you.
In the meantime, He tells us to not fear, no matter how dire the circumstance might look. Trust that He cares and will come for you. Do not fear when people reject you, the Lord will come and bring His perfect justice into the situation. He is a Father who loves and protects. He will avenge you. He will bring people who love you and respect you, you only need to ask Him for this and wait on Him.
Step 2: run to Jesus when life is falling apart.
John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world gives (that is fleeting and momentary). Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Jesus left us with His incredible peace. Seek Him and the peace He gives freely, not the fleeting pleasures the world has to offer. The happiness and peace that money, fame, relationships and status give are momentary and will come crashing to the ground. Those things may tempt you into thinking they will give you peace but they can’t. They are not enough to fill the God sized holes in our hearts. Relationship and friendships won’t fix our fear of rejection but Jesus will. Run to Him and His truth before anything else as He is the only One who will truly satisfy.
Step 3: have faith, believe He cares about you and act on it!
1 Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Giving our worry to the Lord is a constant act of faith. We can choose to hold on to our concerns and allow them to manifest in anxiety and other disabling ailments or we can be bold, take a leap of faith and give them to a God who cares for us.
So, to answer the underlying original question: is it possible to be free from fear of rejection?
With God, anything is possible. So, yes. Definitely. It’s up to us whether or not we choose to pursue the One who brings ultimate freedom.
Have you ever rolled out of bed in the morning, sprung up, studied your bleary-eyed reflection in the mirror and said to yourself, “you know what? I don’t feel human today; I must not be human.” You’re probably giving me an eye roll and baulking, “yeah! All the time Katie.” Yeah, said no one ever.
Okay, I’m not going to make light of the situation at hand but it’s important to realize what we are agreeing to when we abide solely in our emotions and feelings about something.
We agree to super untrue things all the time. How often do we look in the mirror and think, “holy… I am an ugly piece of work”? Or on the other end of the spectrum, “wow, look at these curves; better make sure I maintain them, otherwise people won’t like me as much as they do now.”
Those are both untruths; albeit on opposite ends. Regardless of which side you digress towards, if what you are saying does not agree with what God says about you and your situation, you are repeating Satan’s lies over yourself. There’s no in between. There’s no middle ground. We are in a war and the king of lies wants to tear you apart, it’s a battle strategy and it works, if we let it.
Use God’s Word as it is, a weapon of destruction, a sword of truth. Choose to stand firm in what it says. Listen to what He says about you, not what the world wants you to believe about your identity.
The verse I meditate on regularly has brought me more freedom than I ever thought possible and I am honoured to share it with you, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14
Repeat it, ask God for help to believe it, soak in it, be changed by it then use it to bring hope to a dying world. This is basic stuff but it’s foundational to a life of peace, joy and power; all the things I desperately wish for you to experience, the things that will help you live life like you never thought possible.
With much love,
Seven years ago, I didn’t think freedom was possible. Freedom from a plethora of crippling elements. My emotions, my thoughts, my circumstances. Everything seemed impossible and anything that might have potential “light at the end of the tunnel”… I had to fight for. It was exhausting. I was stuck inside the confines of my brain. Trapped in devastating patterns that ruined relationships and wiped out opportunity.
If you struggle with any kind of addiction. Be it substance abuse, emotional turmoil, ways of unhealthy thinking… et cetera I want to encourage you. Freedom is possible. I’m not whittling the process down to make it sound easy but I do want you to know that it’s simple.
Here’s the first step:
Stop fighting and surrender.
God completely changed my life when I stopped beating myself up trying to fight the monster. He taught me to give my challenges to Him. When I let Him take the reigns He did the impossible. He helped me scale walls that were so tall I couldn’t see the top. The most amazing thing is this: I didn’t have to fight for it. I had to make choices but He did the rest. I was safe to rest in His arms while He beat away the enemy.
If you’re feeling tired, worn down and discouraged I hope this brings life back to your soul. Remember, “the LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still” and He does not hold back on His promises. Trust Him and lean into Him today.
With much love,
He and I sit alone together, staring out at the expanse of the ocean. Spinning cosmos and sprinkles of stars dance in the far distance. Eager waves toss and crash into the rocky crags beyond. It’s a beautiful sight but the mood in our meeting is different this time. Solemn. Sad. He looks at me, his eyes wrought with grief.
“Katie, they will one day know who True Love is.” I nod solemnly and look out to dolphins jumping. Their synchronized dance pulls at my heart. It’s all so perfect and yet people did not see my Father’s creative hand in it. Anger started to stir in my gut.
“Father, You made everything so perfect, yet they don’t see it. They say You are hateful and unjust. A giant bigot with overbearing rules.” A picture of Jesus, beaten, dripping with blood and struggling for breath flashes through my mind. We both stop. Breathe. The anger dissolves as He tenderly takes my hand. I remember sin and death and impending doom were beaten the day the Son of God was killed for mankind.
He smiles. “It is finished.”
Yes, the evil one’s plans were abolished on the day the Son of God was killed for mankind but still…
“Father, how can You still love people who mock You and spit in Your face? You’re so perfect and Holy and they don’t see it. You only want the best for them and yet they abhor You. It’s not right! It hurts me so much.”
He pulls me close, into the warmth of his shoulder. “That is the definition of true love Katie. It is unconditional. It doesn’t change based on what they do and don’t do. I will always love them.”
I stare out at the ocean and snuggle deeper in His embrace. I want to understand True Love and feel it. I want to be that kind of love for people, just like my Best Comfort and Provider is for me. I want to be an image of my Father.
God, would You please help me love those who mock You and berate Your name. Father, would You show them Your unconditional love for them and pull them close to You, just like You do for me.
I love You because You loved me first <3
Two days ago, a Christian publisher contacted me about signing my YA novel, The Fisherman’s Daughter, with their company. My heart leaped for joy but, just as quickly, sunk with trepidation. A week prior, I had read bits and pieces of my first novel with hopes of reviving it from the dust. After my brief, incredibly analytical survey, I determined it wasn’t good enough to send out into the world.
Nonetheless, my excitement at the publisher’s interest clouded my judgment for a brief period. During that hour, the publisher and I set up a phone call. After considerable thought, I was prepared to let her know that my book wasn’t good enough and that I didn’t want people reading it.
Much to my delight, and surprise, she told me my work had been chosen for a couple of reasons. Reasons being, it was fresh, good material with convincing characters and twists. She let me know that they wanted to work with me to polish my humble piece of art and make it really shine.
Point being, our feelings aren’t always indicative of reality. Just because I thought the book wasn’t good enough to be published, does not mean it wasn’t. Just because you feel like you will never succeed does not mean it’s true. When your mind tells you that you won’t overcome temptation, disregard the thought. He has not given us more temptation than we can bear. Just because your family seems impossible does not mean God will not give you the grace to overcome the pain of a broken world.
When you find yourself staring at something that intimidates you or makes you feel inadequate, remember: you have been made by the hand of a majesty, powerful, God. That same God wants to see you excel in the gifts He has placed in you. He wants you to be in a relationship with Him, the kind of relationship that brings life, joy and peace to a hurting world. He wants you to thrive and has given you the tools to do so.
Run to Him, lean on Him when you feel weak and inadequate. He’ll never disappoint you when you run after Him with all of your heart.
It was tough rolling out of bed this morning. My skull throbbed as though someone had whacked my face with a baseball bat. My stomach spun and flailed, tossed like Poseidon’s ocean, assailed by ravenous wind gusts and splashing mists of sickening nausea.
In short, I felt like crap.
After peeling myself off my floor, I slowly made my way into the kitchen, gingerly forced fruit down my throat, popped a pill and shuffled back into bed, deflated, defeated and feeling much older than my twenty-five years. I don’t know about you, but being sick for a long period sucks. Fear that the pain will never leave is more agonizing than the symptoms.
In many cases, my weakness has come as a full-blown blessing. In my times of greatest pain, fear and loneliness, I have come to know God’s character in greater depths. This is because I have had to cry out to Him like never before. I have had to lean my full trust on Him because there is nothing the doctors can do. There is nothing I can do except, snuggle into Him and weep.
It’s a level of intimacy I don’t experience with Him unless I am weak and needy. It’s kind of funny, and quite horrible, that I have to be struck down by sickness before I take a moment to spend serious one- on-one time with my Father, the most faithful, kind, gentle Being in the cosmos. Ya’know, the Creator of the Universe. I can’t help but laugh at myself sometimes.
If you are in chronic pain I want you to know that hope is not lost. God has not forgotten you. When you feel weak, take time to lay in His strong arms. Ask Him to cover you with His peace. Ask Him to show you deep truths about Himself. Ask Him to heal you in the way only He can. He will do it, in His timing. Remember, He has plans to “prosper” you; He wants to give you a “hope and a future” because He loves you more than you could ever imagine (Jeremiah 29:11). Although it may not feel like this is the case, don’t let your feelings dictate reality.
Do you read me? God loves you and wants the best for you, even when it doesn’t feel like it!
For now, embrace the peace of Christ in the chaos. Amid the pain, allow yourself to sink deeper into the blue. He is waiting there to take hold of you and bring you a life of deeper purpose and meaning.
Every one of us has a special skill, gift or talent. Mine is the propensity for joy with a slight edge of blackened comedy. I can walk into a room and within a couple minutes have at least one person laughing, even if that person is me 😝 When you’re an only child you make due with what you have… often it was me and my Barbie dolls make three… so. I don’t think my brain fully formed. The moral of the story is: have more than one kid. The end.
When God gave us talents, be it the ability to organize, lead or offer quiet, solid advice, He didn’t do so arbitrarily. He crafted us with intention and purpose. Yes, there is a purpose to everything God has made and, we are the by-product of that purpose.
The gifts He placed in us are meant to reflect who He is. When we use those gifts to bring glory to ourselves it pulls us down, depresses us and leaves us begging for recognition. When I thought my pretty face could make myself feel better about a bad day, it actually warped my emotional situation into something much worse. I started to run to the mirror whenever I needed affirmation.
Yeah…on days when I thought I looked like crap, everything kind of went downhill.
But when I started to ask God to make my gifts shine for His glory and not mine, things started to change, drastically. As soon as I started listening to His voice, and not use tasks to prove my worth, the anxiety I suffered from, lifted.
I realize this was the case because I had decided to pull myself off the stage and allow the King to take His place. When I did that, I started to not care about what people thought of me. I realized that any good bad or ugly conclusion they came to could fall on the shoulders of Christ. He would shoulder the burden for my imperfections.
He was the One on the stage, not me.
My prayer is that you allow Him to use the incredible gifts you have been given for His glory and allow Him to shoulder your many imperfections. He will do it with more love than you can ever imagine.
With blessings and much love,
I can be obsessive but I’m not one to easily become infatuated. Despite that fact, Adrian Loose’s gorgeous hazels leave a searing impression. It’s been over an hour since the thirty-year-old rocker and I first locked eyes yet there he remains in my mind. Forever embedded as waves of mesmerizing gold, green and auburn paradise. The colors weave through my sparking imagination and send a deep buzz through my whole body. Worst timing ever.
All I want is a successful show. To make that reality, focus is the only lover I need. Besides, Adrian is dating a diamond studded movie star, lucky her, lucky him.
I turn to check the digital clock on the back wall. Showtime is in less than ten minutes. I breathe in deeply and take a glimpse back at my fellow Victoria Secret angels. Dark waves, blonde curls, high cheekbones, slender bodies, toned muscles, none a day over thirty. Some sway their hips to an imaginary beat, others pop out their legs, toss their manes and snap streams of endless selfies. Plastic. As much as I want to ignore the fact, that’s exactly what we are. A parade of contrived perfection, the earthly definition of an angel, the closest to flawless mankind can attain. Women envy us, men lust after us. Millions look to us as though we are heaven come to earth, yet our stories are not fairy tales. Perching on a flat, cold, hard pedestal can hurt. Yes, we hurt. We sacrifice and pay dearly and yep, we bleed. I know this for a fact. My right toe is gushing as we speak. I bend down to conceal it and stop the bleeding. Monica Snow, fellow angel and drama queen of the century, gasps a lot louder than necessary.
“Kare, what happened to your toe? Ow!”
“It’s nothing. I probably just bumped it.”
“It needs to be wrapped!” I start to protest, it has been a climb to the top and I don’t want to cause trouble. The only piece of advice my mother, an ex-supermodel, gave me was to never leave a producer with a reason to give me the boot. Much to my mother’s chagrin, my actor father was a lot more open about the ins of showbiz. He told me to be kind, sweet, compliant and do what the director of the show wanted. Always. Well, so far so good. But that perfect image was about to be ruined by a bikini clad string bean. Monica waved her bedazzled arm in the air.
“Monica, please. I don’t…”
She ignores me, her eyes wide as she strains to get someone’s attention. “First aid! First aid! Good, oh good! Here comes someone.”
I plant my hands on my hips and glare. “My God, Monica, I’m fine. Please!”
Her blue eyes turned icy as she backed into a circle of other girls. “Woah, sorry.” I turn away from the eyes watching me and face the stage. I want to apologize. That came out so wrong, no matter how hard I tried to fit the perfect mold, it never worked. Mom was right, I should have stayed out. Even though I finally looked like I belonged, the industry wasn’t made for me.
A woman with a blinking blue headpiece rushes in to inspect my foot. Her name tag reads “Patricia”. A loud, voice hollers from somewhere backstage, “alright ladies, five minutes before show time! This is it! Five minutes!” Patricia’s sharp eyes dart from my foot to my face.
“What the hell happened?”
“Not sure.” Yeah, that was a lie. I knew. The super high heels they forced me to wear at the five-hour rehearsal had rubbed my flesh chicken skin raw. When they handed me today’s pair of crème-du-la-torture I didn’t dare protest. I slipped them on and “boom” the scab popped off. The woman’s tinted lips pull back, her eyebrows lift but not too far. Botox. Plastic.
She pats down her silky pockets. “I’ll try to find a see-through bandage.”
The voice hollers again. “Ladies who need help with wardrobe, just let Patricia know, she’s back!”
“Dammit Clark.” Patricia shoved a chunk of choppy blond hair behind her ear and took off in a whirlwind of expensive fabric. The smell of exotic flowers and dark notes of vanilla tangle with the scent of hairspray and heated hair. I glanced at the line of Victoria Secret models standing a couple paces behind me.
Most keep their eyes closed. Their wings flutter as they draw their breaths in slowly, calming themselves. Was it true that the immortal could be nerve-wracked? Did goddesses work hard to earn respect and work to keep it? Apparently. We had sacrificed freedom, bared our bodies, strut for men three times our age and here we all are. Chosen by the prestigious, lauded individuals who deemed us worthy enough to walk the God ordained show of fashion. It was our time to shine, to show the world how beautiful, perfect and valuable we are. To make normal women feel like they don’t measure up like they aren’t worth a man’s attention. Ironically, I feel the furthest thing from an unshakeable goddess. I despise the person I have become, beautiful on the outside but inwardly so unsatisfied. Apparently, plastic wings can’t hoist me above and away from the hideous imperfection dwelling within. My mouth is dry. My stomach is twisting into thick knots. Nausea sweeps over me in waves. I can’t help but wonder what the point of all of this really is. The voice screams again. So shrill.
Patricia books it towards me, almost knocking over two crew members in the process. “Take the shoe off!” She hollers from a distance. I hesitate. Rude. She stands in front of me and looks up at me, her face beat red.
“I’m sorry. But please hurry. Hurry!” I step out of my stringy shoe and wait as she administers the bandage. The lights above us dim slowly. Waves of anticipating screams rise from the audience. Millions would be watching at home, their eyes glued to computer and television screens. Nausea. I can hear my heart in my ears. A loud thumping sound washes over the stadium, all falls silent. I hold my breath. Thump. Thump. Thump.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Adrian Loose!”
Adrian’s smooth voice trills as it booms through the speakers. “Just shoot for my heart if it feels right… one life baby it’s yours better do it right.” A suited man stands beside me, black earpiece tightly wrapped around the outer lobe. His beefy hands press into the ear piece. My foot aches as Patricia finishes stretching the bandage over the wounded area. The suited man speaks.
“Karis Burdett, you’re on. In three, two, one.” I launch myself away from Patricia and towards the runway. Nope. My ankle dips to the right. I quickly snap it back. The cameras probably caught that. I beam despite the pain and give the audience one less thing to criticize later. Opening the show was a huge deal that many would kill for. I needed to pull my performance together with the cards I have left.
The main stage tonight far outshines how it had looked at rehearsal. Awash with blue, purple and green, the colors of the sea and decorated with large, glass pillars. Utopian, Atlantis. A place with no wars or fighting, no disease or disputed presidencies. Only the best of the best rule here, the stuff of legend, the immortal. At least that’s what the tabloids, star news, and fashion lines scream. Too bad the average person couldn’t plunge beyond the aquamarine mascaraed and into the ocean filled with plastic, plastic, plastic. This deep-sea world is so different from what I imagined. Yet the ambiance is still just as enthralling as the day I started. So confusing.
The handsome pop-star stands at the back of the stage, his gaze washes over me as I strut forward. He locks eyes with me again. I can’t help but be taken aback. The heated buzz I felt an hour ago, returns. It amplifies as he walks towards me and reaches for my hand. I take it. The crowd roars. Rumors will be buzzing tomorrow but who cares? This is show business. This is what the media wants. Publicity is how we make the money.
Adrian’s voice dips dangerously low then soars to new heights. “Girl, I found you. Finally, you’re here… shooting to those stars, why don’t we disappear into the night, together.” As we walk together, I notice his hands are warm and soft. Security. Something I hadn’t had since dad left. But Adrian has a girlfriend! How dare I hold his hand! He releases me as I near the end of the runway. I pause at the end, toss my glittery dress, twist my hips right then left, seek approval from the crowd. Am I good enough? Am I good enough? Cameras snap continuously. My eyes wander over the packed seats, gauging expressions. My attention settles on a young girl with a long ponytail. Her eyes wide.
She reminds me so much of me at that age. Innocent, young, unsuspecting and unaware of the dangers of the stage. I flash a smile in her direction, wave like a queen then strut back down the walk. The crowd erupts with applause. I feel the warmth of million of eyes as they scan me up and down. Adrian winks. I flash a bright grin. The buzzing continues. I disappear behind the curtain, enshrouded by the lie of perfection. If only I could disappear from myself.
Sometimes I hesitate to talk to God. Usually, it’s because my perfectionist tendencies get the better of me. They say: you haven’t woven together an elaborate prayer to bring to Him. He doesn’t want to hear you. You’re not good enough, not intentional enough. You haven’t carved out enough time to make the conversation worth His time.
Then, when I actually work up the nerve to talk to Him I always receive a response that is as warm as a ray of golden sun, “come to me. Just as you are Katie.” His grand smile stretches to the expanse of the heavens as He helps me up on His lap. I watch in awe as Dad moves the stars with a gentle command. All of the elements are in His control. His warmth envelopes me. I can feel the overwhelming heat of the smile in His eyes.
He loves me.
Daddy. Father. Abba. Creator of Heaven and of Earth. Eternal. Mine. And we are His.
Amidst or imperfections and in the busyness of life, we can sometimes forget who God is. Take time to spend time with Him. Get to know Him better. Understand that He is in command of Your day and the calm in your darkest of storms.
Know that He sees you, loves your despite all your faults, is on your side and marvels at the greatness He has placed in you.
He is your Father and He loves you.
A tremble shook the stones beneath me and the cavern’s walls on all sides of me. Large chunks of rock disconnected from the ceiling and came crashing to the floor. The fall echoed through the cavern and blacked out most of the light my main mode of exit. One more complication in a slew of abounding difficulties. My horse had taken off as soon as I had arrived at the caves, unlike me, she wasn’t a fool and could sense something wrong. Now I was alone, trapped, hunted and slowly losing hope for life. Had I not made enemies none of this would be a problem. Unfortunately, as royalty bound to a warring country, there was no escaping the fact that people would abhor me, hunt me and kill me for their own desires.
Many years ago, before I gained adulthood and a mind of my own, my mother would tell me,
“Cassia, you are meant for more. The war will end. You will be free.” She was so wrong. My mother is dead. Our country is not free. I am as angry, frustrated and bitter as ever. And now, I am being pursued by the people who are threatening to overturn the nation of Yisrael. They have killed my mother, two brothers and sister. Now they are coming for me.
When they invaded the courtyard of the palace three hours ago, I was in the gardens with my father, heard the screams and saw my sisters’ throat being sliced in two. Father and his men gave me no choice but to escape on horseback while they went back to fight. Although Abba is a warrior, well-versed in the art of attack, he probably isn’t alive anymore. I have been thinking about that fact for what seems like an eternity.
What disturbs me most is that I think all these things with little emotion. I am numb, lost and exhausted. I am all the things a princess of the king should never be. But I am no hero, I am no savior. If anything, I need a savior. I need something to trust in.
I believe in Elohim, the Lord of my people. I think there is someone out there so much bigger than me. But I doubt the care and love all the religious leaders have tried to drill into my head. I’m not supposed to say that; my mother would never hear it. But I really do have questions. How could Elohim, the Creator of goodness and light, subject His people to such darkness as murder, pain and war?
I doubt Him.
Boom. Snap. Lightening, thunder. The ground and walls shake again, this time with more power. Another chunk falls from the ceiling and almost lands on my leg. I drop and roll, the rock clips the right side of my thigh, leaving a gash. I want to scream but can’t. If I am going to survive I will have to stay quiet. I will also have to move out of the caves. Unfortunately, relocating will most likely place me directly into the enemy’s line of sight. The sea was right below the cliffs. If I could make it there and run the perimeter into Galilee I would have more shelter. But could I make it?
Boom. Crack. Rumble. Dust, splinters and pieces of debris flew in all directions as a massive rock came crashing from the ten-foot ceiling and onto the stone floor. I needed to move. I edged my way to the opening where the first rock had crashed and peered out. A flock of soldiers stood at the perimeter of the water, scanning the cliffs for any sign of life. I quickly retreat back into the cave. If I walk into their line of sight I would be committing suicide. Unless… I swallowed hard and peered out again. No archers. Good. Well, better. My heart jumped as one of the enemy soldiers screamed at the top of his lungs in Greek. “Exerchomai! Come out!” My heart started to pound. I started sweating. They knew I was here. How did they know? Did they know which entrance I was in? If they wanted to, they would search until they harvested results. This army took no prisoners, ever.
Crack! Boom! Another rock clattered down from the ceiling. It wouldn’t be long before the entire structure was brought to nothing. I had seen it happen before, when my brother and I were exploring these caves. I picked up my robe, held my head high and stepped into the light. If I was going to die, at least I would die of my own volition. I would not be hunted down like an animal and killed for sport.
One of the men stabbed his finger in my direction. “There she is!” I stood frozen. I couldn’t run. There was no point in fighting. It was over. I was dead. Two of the men ran in my direction, grabbed my arms and yanked them behind my back. Their cord cut into my flesh as they zipped it tight.
“Where are you taking me?” The soldier cocked an eyebrow and looked me up and down but didn’t answer me.
“I demand to know where you are taking me!” His ringed finger slapped my face, slicing a cut into my cheek. I grit my teeth.
“I don’t care what you demand. No one does anymore. Let’s just say, it’s going to be a little surprise.” I clenched my jaw and stumbled along as they led me from my hiding place.
Boom. Crash. A peal of thunder boomed and flash of lightning ripped across the dusky sky. With a loud crash, the cave, my last piece of security, collapsed into pieces. An apt, timely metaphor of my life. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Everything that had once held me together had crumbled into jagged, cracked pieces.
All I can do is catch tiny glimpses while being dragged away. I glanced at the strong arm of one of my captures. What were they going to do to me? Without a doubt, it would be worse this way than if they had killed me. And there was no way I was going to free myself. Given the lack of control I now held, was it possible that all the pieces be fused together again?
I couldn’t help but doubt it.
When I scramble and stress, trying to be the best it freaking drains me. When I chose to not pause and see what You see in me, it paralyzes me. When I stayed worried about the scary drive ahead, I wasn’t trusting that You, Father, would protect me. Instead, I buried myself in endless streams of newsfeeds and Youtube videos. It never works.
Despite my foolish choices, You stand beside me with Your strong hand on my shoulder and You said, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
The moment You showed me my passion but I took the route that made money instead I did so because I didn’t think you would provide for me. You didn’t reprimand me. Instead, You led me to my office window, twisted open the curtains and gently lifted my chin to look at one of the chubby robins. “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
When I allowed hopelessness in my situation to consume me, it’s because I didn’t believe You would ever get me out of my mess. You looked me in the eye with that wild yet gentle gaze of Yours, Your strong hand on your sword. “The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”
When I was super worried about putting on a bathing suit because of what people would think, I wasn’t remembering that were the One Who made me and You do all things perfectly. You pulled me into your lap, held me tenderly and stroked my hair. You reminded me of the fact that You made me perfectly. I recited what you have said to me thousands upon thousands of times. “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” You always smile so wide when I say those words. It always makes me grin and laugh too.
After giving You my fears and worries I sit in Your cloud of great peace, remembering the truths You have spoken over me, over us. Father, today I choose to give the things that cause anxiety and give them to You. Today, and tomorrow and the next for the rest of my life I will speak truth to the situation and not let my feelings get in the way of Who You are.
I love you into eternity Dad.
Models on runways, pop idols tearing up stages, CEO’s raking in million after million, Instagramers with truckloads of followers… fame, fortune and followers. Ah, what a life. I used to want what they have. Then I took a closer look and realized something.
This world has way too many superstars.
Please don’t get me wrong, I respect hard work and dedication. A Spirit of Excellence is a wonderful thing but, as we see in tabloids all the time, it can turn sour if it’s being used to bring glory to the person honing it.
If you’re anything like me and you catch yourself feeling like you haven’t accomplished much because you don’t have fame, riches and followers, I urge you to stop and reevaluate. Consider this: which people have had the biggest impact on your growth as a person?
Maybe some popstars came to mind for you. None did for me.
Instead, I thought about the teachers who cared for me, took me for coffee, bought me books on writing and submitted my work to competitions. I thought about my mother, who has done so many things for me I don’t even know where to start and my grandparents. I think of the girl at the insurance office who told me I was pretty when I felt uglier than a bald cat or the writing mentor who didn’t give up on me. I think about the friends who listened to me and let me ugly cry into their beautiful clothes.
I’m telling you…
The people who leave a mark for eternity are the ones who journey beside us, down the messy path and through hardships. They are not the gods on their plinths, smiling down on their pathetic subjects. They are like Jesus, walking along the dirty roads, gathering dust in between their toes and holding close the untouchables. They are the people who are surrendered to God’s Spirit and sent out to love people unconditionally, not be their idols.
It’s not a popular idea.
Yes, fame and flashy things are what the world values. But the King who created this earth, He thinks about things much differently. He might call you to lead a large ministry or do something that gains global recognition but the point is this: the world doesn’t need more superstars. That is people who work solely for their value and the approval of others. So, please don’t strive for that. It is a path that will leave you so empty.
What the world REALLY needs are people willing to lay down their lives for whatever God has planned. The world needs life. And ironically, life comes from death to self.
It is when we lay down our selfish desires and embrace a relationship with God that we can truly life and bring joy, peace, freedom and life to all those around us.
When you question how valuable it is to die to self and live a life for God, remember this. One day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that there is a God. We don’t have time to care if millions of people like us and follow what we do. Time is short and we have the greatest gift in the Universe.
Ourselves, sacrificed to God’s purposes, the best of purposes.
Let’s share it.