Unworthy To Serve

“He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” – John 1:27

I don’t know about you, but so much of me wants more for myself. More honor, glory, power. I want to imagine that I am serving God the finest feast, or singing Him the loveliest song, or dancing for Him in the most perfectly choreographed dance.

I want to do the best, most beautiful thing for Him—but when I read the above verse, I have to stop myself. Wait. Am I willing to do the most lowly thing for Him, too, like tying the straps of His sandals?

And not only that, but I have to take a thousand more steps back. Wait. Do I realize that I am not even worthy to do the lowliest thing for Him?

John the Baptist’s statement is painfully humbling to me–but the good kind of pain! I need to submit to God everything I am. I do not deserve anything.

I must lose sight of myself and see only Him, for He alone is completely perfect, loving, and good! He alone is worthy of honor, glory, and power. He allows us to tie the straps of His sandals, so we can share in the joy of serving Him.

All around us are people in desperate need of Christ. And the Bible tells us that when we help “the least of these” we are serving Christ Himself. In our service to humanity, we are honoring and loving our Savior on a deep, personal level.

Because of this, we must serve others as if we are unworthy to serve them. Isn’t that radically humbling?

We are unworthy to serve others in beautiful ways. We are unworthy to serve them in lowly ways.

And we are even unworthy to be alive. We don’t deserve anything we have right now; we deserve eternal condemnation. Death.

But Jesus Christ gave us the gift of life when He died for us. He humbled Himself on the cross for us so we could cherish our King for eternity. As Christ mediates for us on our behalf, we experience God’s lavished love for us forever.

God is so good to us!

He allows us to take part in His Kingdom—there is no greater privilege than that! He doesn’t need us, but He wants us. There is no job too lowly for us—we can gladly be slaves of righteousness! And as we serve Him, it’s amazing to see how He works beautiful miracles in people’s lives, in ways we could never imagine.

“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:26-28 (NIV)

Let this be the song of your heart to God today! He gladly accepts and cherishes our meager offerings!

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Perfect Love Casts Out Fear of Evangelism

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I’m terrified of evangelism. And I’m bad at it… Not to mention I’m really, really introverted.

However, (as you’ve likely heard many times before) God calls us as Christians to evangelize.

My guess is you’ve heard this verse before, when Jesus commands the disciples to spread the gospel and make disciples of all people:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

In a post I made a few weeks ago, I urged you all to fight against the fear of evangelism and reach people with the good news of Jesus Christ, because so many are condemned to death without hope of a Savior.

Now I want to take a step back and say, yes, evangelism is scary. In fact, it’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done…

But I have done it.

Not because of anything about me—no way! I don’t want you to leave this post thinking I have some special gift, because I truly do not. Everything within me repels the idea of going up to a stranger and sharing about the love of God. My flesh squirms in utter discomfort. Won’t it be awkward? I think. What if they already know about it? What if they reject me?

Everything about me prevents me from sharing the truth that sets captives free and heals the hearts of the wounded. My own self is a barrier between me and another soul.

But as Christians, we aren’t called to live for Christ. We are called to let Christ live in us.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 5:20

I can’t emphasize enough how much this post is not about me. How much my evangelism is not about me. How much reaching the hearts of this broken world is not about me.

And I can’t thank God enough for what He has done through me! Allowing Christ to live in me is the most breathtaking adventure I’ve ever been on. Letting Him take control continually blows my mind. His beauty and power are enormously greater than anything I could ever accomplish.

I’m continually amazed at what He does when I simply submit myself to Him and say, “Okay, Your will be done, not mine. Let Your love shine through me, and not my fear. Let them see the fragrance of Christ within me, and not the trembling fear within me.”

And the beautiful thing about God is, that He has no fear in Him. He is not fear. He is love. He is precious, atoning, unfailing, merciful, sacrificial love. When we trust in Him fully, His perfect love for us casts out fear of evangelism.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:18

Still, that doesn’t mean we have to wait to be the perfect person to evangelize. We don’t have to try to make our motivations right before spreading the word about the God who saves. Sometimes we just have to take that step of faith into the unknown in order to experience peace and strength.

Believe me, evangelism brings so much joy. While it is the scariest thing I have ever done, it is also the most joyous thing I have ever done. I’m not kidding about this—I rejoice in the hope I have for so many people to experience a lasting relationship with Jesus! I rejoice in the God who is giving these people a chance or more chances because of His power working through me.

After most of my encounters with people in handing out gospel tracts, I’m flooded with overwhelming confidence in the God who truly cares for His people. Even if I receive a rude response, I am only more assured that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and that their resistance is not against me but against Him. Each time I allow God to reach out to a soul through my act of faith, the Lord becomes so sweet to me, and I fall more in love with Him than ever.

Evangelism is what has strengthened me most in my faith out of anything I’ve ever done—and this is no exaggeration! The power of evangelism in our lives and the lives we touch radiates the name of Jesus Christ and bears eternal significance.

I sing for joy—joy, it’s something I don’t think I fully understood until I started evangelizing! Instead of looking at the thousands of people I pass by without hope, I have a stronger reason to pray for them and a deeper love for them and a greater hope that God would reach their hearts.

It’s that amazing.

I’ve learned so much about God through each step of faith. He is truly greater than anything this earth can supply. Forsaking all to shine His light instead of my own is beyond worth it, because God is far worthier and far more satisfying than even the good things I cherish around me.

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” – Acts 20:21

God is so good to us, and He knows how scary it can be to take that first step of faith. I have some verses in my phone that have encouraged me when I’m feeling afraid about evangelizing.

“He must increase, but I must decrease” – John 3:30

“Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent, for I am with you” – Acts 18:9-10

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:21

So please, please, don’t let fear stop you from sharing the wonderful news that God’s Son came down into our mess to completely purify us from all our sinful deeds.

Together, we can be terrified of evangelism, we can be bad at it, and we can even be really, really introverted (though if you’re extraverted that’s a bonus! 😉). That’s okay, as long as you surrender it at the feet of Jesus and choose to trust in Him no matter what. Because together, we can and will fight against this fear, because that’s the kind of mighty God we serve.

Savor the magnitude of what God has done in your life, for He has saved you out of the pit of death by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Let your joy and hope overflow to those around you. Let your life be grounded in prayer, full of the Spirit, and abiding in His word.

With all your heart, let your life be a living sacrifice to God as you give of yourself to others without any care of awkwardness or discomfort, and with full care for the souls of those you may see in heaven one day.

Here is a song that tells about God’s perfect love casting out our fears and failures. People are often surprised when I tell them what God has been doing in my life, but as Christians, anything is possible, for any of us. It’s not about who we are, it’s about who He is. Be encouraged today, and let Christ’s love shine brightly through you to this broken world!

What do you think about evangelism? Is it scary to you, or does it come more naturally to you? What kind of settings have you considered or are you evangelizing in (to strangers, friends, family, etc.)?

Chapter 9 of The Healer of Istagun – Risen

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This is the ninth chapter in my ten-chapter fantasy novella. So close to finishing! I hope you enjoy! Feel free to comment below your thoughts or any feedback that could make this climax better. 🙂 Chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

The first thing Tarquin did when we reached shore was rush me passed the fight and into Tiana’s house. Gently, he laid me in a bed. I was too weak to sit up as he spooned Gesu’s blood into my mouth.

At first it was painful to swallow, like my throat was on fire. But then, as it trickled down, a miraculous taste as sweet as a cherry filled my mouth.

“It’s terrible, isn’t it?” he asked me, wincing.

I grinned, as energy spread through me. “No, it’s… it’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted!”

He raised a brow quizzically.

Amazement rushed into me as I jumped out of bed and wrapped my arms around him.

“The plague is gone—completely gone!”

He clasped my arms and withdrew slightly, looking into my face in wonder. “Praise Gesu!”

“What are we waiting for?” I exclaimed. “Let’s save the others!”

***

Thankfully, the battle had not yet touched the village where the sick ones lay in the homes of the kind elderly people. In his loud deep voice, Tarquin ordered the healthy old folks to bring the sick ones out of the ice homes into one place, so they could more quickly be healed. Many were doubtful at first, but I testified to the miraculous power of Gesu’s blood.

“Dahlia.” Prima flew up to me and embraced me quietly. “You look well today, girl.”

I grinned as I explained to her the miracle. “Where is Kari?”

Her face flooded with pain. “He’s so sick—I don’t know what to do.”

Tarquin was feeding the blood to many people already, so I didn’t say a word to him as Prima led me to Kari.

His eyes were closed shut, and tumors covered his once-soft skin.

“He hasn’t moved for hours,” Prima said, shivering. “And there…” She pointed to three young boys beside him.

I nodded but remained emotionless. Mechanically, I bent down to him and fed him from the small bottle Tarquin had given me. When he opened his eyes, he smiled and jumped up into my arms, laughing. “DAHLIA!”

I hugged him tightly and set him down. “All right, all right!” I laughed. “How are you feeling today, kid?”

Before he could answer, he turned to Prima and gave her a hug that sent her tiny frame toppling to the ground.

“Be careful—remember she’s a fairy!”

But I couldn’t blame him. Inside me, I couldn’t have felt more joyful with this new life coursing through my veins. Yet there were so many more people in need of healing.
Andrea. The thought stole my happiness in an instant. She had been my best friend for as long as I could remember. I couldn’t let her die along with Hollis.

As I began scouting out the sick ones to find Andrea, Tarquin hurried up to me. “Dahlia, I need to help the Summer humans and Gesu-followers fight Hazina’s fairies. As soon as you heal the men, instruct them to go to shore to help us.”

“Of course.” I searched his handsome face, not knowing what might happen to him once he confronted the powerful fairies. “Don’t die, Tarquin.”

I hadn’t meant it as a joke, but he smiled. “I won’t, Dahlia. I’m going to be King.”

With that, he ran off.

 

“Dahlia…” When the strained voice reached my ears, I swiveled around.
Andrea lay in the snow, with a beautiful old woman spooning broth into her mouth.

The woman lifted her head when she saw me, locking her blue eyes onto me. “Dahlia,” she said again. “Your friend needs you.”

I rushed to Andrea, ignoring the old woman. “My friend, it’s been so long. I’m so sorry. I wish I’d—you’d never believe what happened–are you all right?”

She looked up at me, but, for once in her life, she didn’t speak a word. She was no longer the bright, outgoing young woman I knew a few days ago. I remembered how she’d teased me about the strange miner staring at me from across the field. Had he loved me then? I shook the thought off and brushed her hair out of her face.

I quickly brought out the bottle and fed her a small drop, so as to save plenty for the others.

Slowly, she sat up. “Wow… what was in that bottle?”

I pulled her to her feet, chuckling. “I’ll tell you another time.”

We embraced each other, giggling like young girls again in the Spring orchards. “I’ve missed you so much,” Andrea said.

I regretted to think I had been so focused on Hollis that I hadn’t thought much of her.

“I’m so sorry, Andrea. There’s so much to tell you.”

“About that miner boy?” Andrea raised her brows, and for once I was glad to see her being herself again. “I saw him walking around here a few minutes ago…”

“His name’s Tarquin.” I shrugged at her growing smile. “He’s… he’s my friend now.”

I ached at the thought of him. Feelings I hadn’t realized existed rushed inside me. He was so good to me. I wouldn’t ever be able to repay him for all he had done for me. I could never repay Gesu either—he had paid his own life for me.

But… not in time to save Hollis.

“Tarquin’s fighting the fairies by the sea,” I said quietly. “As soon as this stuff heals everyone, we can all help him.”

“What’s wrong, Dahlia?” Andrea leaned forward, her hand on my shoulder, looking deeply into my eyes like the friend I had always known and loved.

I turned away and sat down on a fallen log. She sat beside me, her kindness seeping through her dark eyes. I’d forgotten how much she loved me. Guilt wrecked me. I had done nothing to deserve her affection, always scorning her for her silliness and carefree nature.

“I feel… paralyzed.” My voice was feeble. “Andrea, it’s true. Hollis is dead. It’s more than I can bear.”

She wrapped her arms around me and sang softly, a song she’d so often sung to Hollis and me in the nights when we were young children, staring up at the stars. She was like an older sister to us—or a mother? Were mothers like this? I didn’t know.

“It’s just you and me… us together. The flowers bloom, it’s lovely weather today…”

Hollis used to sing it all the time. I remembered my dream about her… and about the longing for something more. The stars. I looked up at the brilliant little lights dancing across the black sky.

Thank you, I whispered silently up at them.

“—Andrea! We need to heal these people with Gesu’s blood.” I stood up and pulled at her hand.

“Blood? Yuck!” She yanked her hand out of mine and looked at me strangely.

I explained to her quickly the miraculous healing Gesu provided. “He healed you,” I finished proudly.

She gasped and shook her head. “I don’t know, Dahlia.”

I smiled. “I’ll show you.”

 

As Andrea witnessed strength returning to the sick, she laughed. “That’s truly amazing, Dahlia! But you need to stop saying it’s this Gesu person who caused all this. There’s something in that bottle! A spell, or something.”

I tried to explain to her that the great Queen Hazina had caused the plague, and therefore no spell could overcome it.

“I can’t believe that.” She shook her head. “What has that miner boy been telling you?”

I ignored her as I tilted the bottle into a middle-aged man’s mouth. It was the same man in Autumn, I now realized, who had bemoaned about his wife and children being taken from him. The man opened his eyes and sat up, looking up at me bewilderedly. “Dahlia?”

I gasped. How did he…?

He embraced me, tears streaming down his cheeks. “My daughter… He told me you were my daughter.”

I hugged him in return, astounded. “Gesu?”

“Yes,” he murmured. “In my dreams. But this is real! You are really here, my sweet child!”

***

A few hours passed of simultaneously chatting with my father and curing the sick ones with Andrea until we had finished.

I told him of dear Hollis, my life in Summer and Spring, and my recent adventures. He told me of how he had fallen in love with a woman named Mariella, gave birth to each of his daughters, and how recently Mariella passed away from the plague.

Finally, I spoke to the rejoicing humans who had been cured of disease: “If you are able and willing, please go to the battle to help fight against Hazina’s fairies.”

As people found spells and weapons, Andrea looked at me fearfully. “How are we going to do this? You cannot trust a dead man, Dahlia.”

Distress gripped me at the thought of the humans and Gesu-followers dying in battle—of Tarquin dying. No. Not him.

“Gesu is not dead,” I said firmly, though I did not know how I was so sure of this. “He is alive inside of us. With his power, we must fight, or else we will die.”

“You’re right, my daughter.” My father stood quietly beside me, placing a hand on my shoulder. “We don’t have much choice.”

 

As we reached the shore, my anxiety heightened. The Hazina-followers had circled around the Summer humans and Gesu-following fairies. They’d bound them up to poles. In the center, Tarquin was writhing against the ropes as a fire culminated beneath his feet.

The mud wall monsters from Spring and Autumn were marching toward us, and in between them Queen Hazina flew in all her splendor, colorful spells exuding from her and armed fairies by her side. Behind her, the Treelanders, undoubtedly under some sort of mind-bending spell, marched with swords made of the sharpest wood and shields made from the toughest leaves.

My heart pounded in my chest, and my father looked at me, concerned and alarmed. I did not look at him.

Tarquin was staring at me, from across the field of snow. The shore splashed on the rocks yards away from him. I stared back, horror coursing through me, even through these veins that rushed with new life.

His dark tortured eyes called out to me, undeniably, silently screaming, “I love you, Dahlia!”

I ran toward him, though my father yelled from behind me. I ran past the Hazina followers, past the loyal followers of Gesu tied to poles, I ran to the center, to the flames that blazed beneath my king.

“What are we going to do now?” I shouted up to him, tears streaming down my cheeks. If only my tears could put out this fire. But that was the hopeless romantic in me. Tarquin could never be mine—he could never be mine even if children didn’t exist.

He was going to die.

I looked into his eyes, aching all over, wishing I could express how thankful I was for all that he had done for me.

“Dahlia,” he choked. “You need to leave.”

“I need to save you—how can I save you?” Desperation filled my voice.

Suddenly, a Hazina-follower grabbed me and tied me to a pole beside Tarquin. Soon a fire was lit beneath my feet.

Tarquin cried out in agony as the flames began to smolder him.

Away from the scene, stood the humans from the village, including Andrea and my father, who didn’t know what to do. They didn’t want to run out here and end up like me.

All at once, Prima and the good fairies burst forward, and a great battle ensued between those who followed Hazina and those who followed Gesu. With the Treelanders and the mud walls on Hazina’s side, the good fairies were greatly outnumbered.

I watched as Prima cast soothing spells on the mud walls, and began talking to them, as if convincing them to join Gesu’s side. Soon Queen Hazina found out and got rid of Prima’s spell. A Treelander pitted Prima with the wooden sword while Prima fought back with her spontaneous spells. The wooden sword accidently turned into a bat, looked confused for a second, and then flew away, leaving the Treelander defenseless. But just as Prima rose her clear blue wand to strike another spell, a Hazina fairy electrocuted Prima, and she fell to the earth, helpless and paralyzed.

Prima. I wanted to shout her name, but the smoke was suffocating. I winced as I felt a flame on my own foot.

I glanced at Tarquin, terrified as I saw his feet being burnt bit by bit, and the fire mounting higher and higher to his ankles and legs. He screamed.

That scream shattered any innocence I had left in me. I sobbed wretchedly, broken, and so alone. Gesu, where are you now? Your blood saved my life. Why do you let me die? Why do you let Tarquin die, when you promised he would be King?

Just then, a cry rose through the air. A sweet, innocent crying out in terror. It shook my nerves, so I turned toward the noise, toward the shore.

I caught my breath. Hollis stood in a flowing white dress, her blond hair whipping in the wind, her face soft and beautiful. She was smiling.

Behind her, thousands of humans stood, glowing, radiant as the Summer sun.

The battle came to a sudden halt. Everyone stopped and stared, mesmerized and baffled by the beauty of these humans.

Gesu stepped forward, calling out in a deep voice, “Queen Hazina, these are the people you tortured with the plague. These are the ones who died from the poisonous waters. These are my friends that I have brought back from the graves of Midfuna Island.”
And before anyone could gasp or murmur let alone get a good look at him, he vanished into the Winter air.

Queen Hazina fluttered toward the risen dead, her guard fairies by her side. “What is this!?” she roared into the silence of the crowd.

I clenched my teeth as the fire licked my feet and ankles, withholding a shout. Murmurs of pain filled the air around me from the others who hung on poles.

To my astonishment, Hollis, meek and quiet, stepped forward, a smile still on her face. “My queen, you have no idea what Gesu had to go through to get us back. Your sin destroyed us, and only Gesu was strong enough to give us life again. Now before you kill us all off again, I ask you to listen to me.”

Hazina groaned. “To a little girl!? Are you kidding me?”

“It is the least among us that Gesu uses,” Hollis said simply. “Now, I bet you never considered the details of your plan to destroy the human species. Your sole object was to better Istagun’s economy, right?”

Hazina’s rainbow wings fluttered violently. “All right, whatever. Continue!”
I hung on that pole, my feet on fire, tears escaping me. What was Hollis thinking, to anger the queen like this?

“Well, what you didn’t realize, was that people were risking their lives to save the people they loved. Take Dahlia, for instance. My sister risked everything, even traveling to all of the seasons to find me.” Hollis quickly continued before Hazina could respond. “Dahlia risked her life for me. Have you ever known that kind of love, my queen?”

Tears continued to drip down my cheeks as Hollis spoke, but now more out of amazement rather than the pain in my limbs as the fire crept up and the smoke stung my eyes. My sister had matured over the years she’d spent in Spring without me. But even more, these words seemed to come from the power of Gesu who lived inside her.

“Gesu let your fairies kill him, so the sick ones could drink of it and be healed. Have you ever known that kind of love?”

Hazina folded her arms across her chest, impatient. “Get on with your rhetorical questions!”

Hollis shrugged. “You can answer them if you’d like.”

Hazina laughed. “Okay, I’ve never known that kind of ‘love,’ whatever that means. My father abused me; my mother didn’t want me to exist. Continue, please!”

Sorrow filled Hollis’ face. Within me, I too felt compassion for the queen. I had never imagined I would feel bad for such a person.

Hollis spoke more gently now. “No wonder you’ve been enslaving the humans, making us do certain tasks at certain times in certain ways, controlling very aspect of our lives. You’ve never learned freedom. Your own soul is enslaved to fear, unable to express love to anyone else. The only thing you know is fear.”

Hazina’s beautiful rainbow wings suddenly drooped very low as she sunk to the ground. Each guard fairy put a hand on her shoulder.

“My queen, you’ve separated the people so the children grow up without mothers and fathers, and the parents have to say goodbye to their babies as soon as their born.” Hollis sighed. “How can you let us live like this? Don’t you know anything about love, about loss, about healing?”

The queen waved her wand slightly, and then dropped it. Instantly, the fires beneath our feet went out, the ropes were undone, and we fell to the ground.

As cheering arose, I ran to Tarquin, whose feet were burned by the flames.

I clasped hold of his hands in mine, though they were covered in soot and ashes. The fire had scorched him more than me. “Tarquin, are you going to be okay?”

“What just happened?” he murmured, too much of a man, of course, to admit he was in pain.

I bit my lip, smiling slightly. “Queen Hazina… she saved our lives.”

 

SA: Story Analysis of The Healer of Istagun

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(Photo by Bobby Johnson on Unsplash)

Introducing a new novella I’m starting with the prompting (and requirement) of my Creative Writing class! I never though I’d write a fantasy story, but here I am, writing a fantasy story. 😉 Each week I will post a new chapter. To see the prologue, click here. Hope you enjoy this story analysis! 

Title: The Healer of Istagun (you may find it interesting that “Istagun” means “seasons” in Maltese)
Author: Grace Caylor
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Middle schoolers and high schoolers

Characters
In order of appearance:
Dahlia – Resides in Summer. Eighteen years old. Tall and thin, curly brown hair, and brown eyes. Compassionate and hopeful yet stubborn nature. A human slave who must work in the fields of Summer for the evil fairies. She is determined to save her younger sister Hollis from dying from sickness.

Hollis – Resides in Spring, later transported to Winter. Thirteen years old. Golden blonde hair, small frail figure, and very pale skin due to long-term sickness. She’s not as innocent as she looks. She understands things her older sister, Dahlia, doesn’t want her to understand.

Andrea – Resides in Summer. Nineteen years old. Black thick hair, medium brown skin, black eyes. Extremely bubbly and friendly to everyone. A human slave who must work in the fields of Summer for the evil fairies. Disagrees with her serious friend, Dahlia, on many things.

Gesu – Resides in Summer, later transported to Winter. Thirty years old. Tall and broad-shouldered, tan skin, shaven face, and dark brown hair. An extraordinary healer that people come to so he can cure them. Silent and brooding, yet also thoughtful and kind.

Tarquin – Resides in Summer. Twenty years old. Tall and thin, brown skin, black hair with scruffy beard. Works on mines between the lands of Summer and Autumn. Impulsive, yet passionate about the right things, such as finding Gesu the healer. Dreams to escape the island of Istagun and sail to the land beyond the sea.

Prima – Resides in Summer. Older than the trees. A small green, fragile fairy who talks fast and curtly. She is a servant of Gesu and loves him very much.

Queen Hazina – Resides in a palace in the center of Istagun. Older than the trees. The evil fairy Queen of Istagun. Giant sparkly rainbow wings. Cruel and demanding. Wants all humans dead so she can replace them with the strong species, the Treelanders, to toil for her instead.

Minor characters: Dahlia and Hollis’ parents and grandparents, mud wall monsters, Treelanders

Point of View

The story is told from Dahlia’s point of view.

Setting

Throughout the story, Dahlia transports to the lands of all four seasons. At the end, every land turns to the season of summer, showing that that was true time of year all along.

Plot Outline

Eighteen-year-old Dahlia’s younger sister, Hollis, is surely going to die—if she’s not already dead. Unfortunately, the evil fairies of the island of Istagun don’t allow young adults to travel back to the land of Spring, where only children live. When Dahlia discovers a remarkable healer, Gesu, in the land of Summer, hope springs within her. After asking Gesu for help, she travels with his fairy servant, Prima, to find her sister and bring her back. But when she can’t find Hollis and Gesu gets missing too, Dahlia must seek the help of Tarquin, a young miner who has secrets of his own hidden in his basement. Will Dahlia find both Hollis and Gesu in time before the Queen of Istagun completely replaces the humans with a stronger species?

Conflict

Woman vs. fairy Queen – Major conflict. Dahlia is trying to find both Gesu and Hollis, who are taken to Winter by the queen’s orders. This is a conflict because it makes it harder for Dahlia to find them.
Girl vs. sickness – Major conflict. If the sickness wins over Hollis, she dies and all of Dahlia’s efforts to find he are in vain.
Woman vs. woman – Minor conflict. Andrea and Dahlia disagree about marriage. Andrea thinks it’s the greatest thing and that you should do it, but Dahlia doesn’t think anyone should marry, because she doesn’t want her children to experience the misery of slavery and being  separated from their parents.
Woman vs. man – Minor conflict. Tarquin is in love with Dahlia, but she doesn’t want to consider him.
Woman vs. fairy – Prima wants Dahlia to go to Winter to find Hollis, but Dahlia is too optimistic and goes to Summer. Prima also wants Dahlia to seek Tarquin’s help, which after some debate, Dahlia agrees to.

 

Theme

Sacrifice brings life.
Love covers over a multitude of sins.

 

Literary Devices

Allegory – Gesu’s blood heals the sick. This represents Jesus’ death healing sinners.
Ceasura – Prima stops abruptly in between sentences: “Get along, ladies—I’ll do the work—you know you can’t be seen.”
Prologue – I include a prologue so that the reader gets more of an insight into the story world, as well as the relationship between Dahlia and Hollis.

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Dahlia and Hollis’ sweet love for one another is one of my favorite parts of this book. I also love how level-headed Hollis is even though she’s so young. Fantasy is usually not my favorite, but because this is a spiritual allegory along with some ideas that can be transferred to the modern world, it intrigues me. I love that this story is more about the characters and emotions than the story world, even though the story world is naturally a part of it. Speaking of story worlds, my younger sister actually helped me come up with the idea of four seasons separated into four different lands—and clearly, I think this is an intriguing idea this story has to offer. 😉 Another part of this story I enjoy is Prima, a fairy that chooses not to follow the evil queen but chooses to serve the healer Gesu. She’s innocent and quick-witted all at once. Finally, Tarquin is just way too cool. *Spoilers* He builds a ship underground in hopes to one day escape Istagun and sail to the lands beyond the sea.

 

Have you ever written or begun writing a book? Or do you have an idea for one you wished you had time to write? I’d love to hear about it! 🙂

 

Through Prayer Comes Life

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(Photo by Diana Simumpande on Unsplash)

A thousand voices echo in the night:

“I feel like I’m the only one trying.”

A girl falls to her knees at dawn.

Through praying she fights

for the people she loves.

 

Everything is intentional–

Walk the walk, don’t just talk.

She finds every corner of brokenness

and tries to fix it

but no one knows it.

 

Her tears breathe life

in the mother’s womb,

her prayers

move the heart of God

when all hope is lost.

 

She wrestles through the night

and fights the fight every day,

Smiling to the people she cares for.

She gives away the kindness stored up within her,

the Holy Spirit’s earnest, searching concern.

 

When she comes home,

she cries out to God in the silence:

“I feel like I’m the only one trying.”

But one whisper fills her with faith in the night:

“Your prayers have resurrected the dying.”

 

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” —  James 5:16

 

 

Holy Spirit: The Guide of a Lifetime

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What do you imagine when you think of the Holy Spirit? A presence that comes upon us by the flick of a magic wand, changing us into a new being in an abracadabra second? Or a gentle stirring, a loud whisper, a nudge in our conscience?

The Spirit of Christ is not magical, it is holy. It doesn’t transform us like a magic spell would. Instead, it directs us on the narrow path of life that leads us to the Father.

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” – John 16:13

The Holy Spirit works in our lives by:

Changing us.

Although our whole lifestyle doesn’t change in an instant, kindling God’s Spirit inside us will completely transform our perspective on life. Once you believe in Jesus, the Spirit indwells within you. But as my youth pastor said, it’s just like adding chocolate to milk–the chocolate will just sink to the bottom unless you shake it up, changing the plain milk into chocolate milk. By walking with the Spirit of Christ, and by listening and obeying to His instruction, we will become more like Jesus over time. Even Samuel as well as other prophets in the Old Testament experienced the dramatic impression the Spirit has on God’s servants.

“The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.” – 1 Samuel 10:6

Interceding for us.

I’m learning that I don’t have to sort my thoughts out for the Almighty God to understand me. The Spirit intercedes for us without words, but with feeling. How wonderful that our Creator understands us so intimately!

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” – Romans 8:26

Guiding us.

Once we pray to God for forgiveness and ask for His saving grace through Jesus, the Holy Spirit puts a new lens on our life (which I’ve learned that I need to reapply it more than once!). Now we can go out into the world, trying to do God’s will according to what the Spirit guides our heart to do. Reading the Bible is a huge source of thoughts directly from the Sprit of God, who guided the individuals who wrote it.

Even if we are faced with persecution, God promises to give us the words to speak through the Holy Spirit. Not only that, but the Lord directs us, by the Spirit, to do the right thing and resist temptation. So even when we’re weak, the Spirit is always strong in us!

“I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” – 1 Corinthians 2:3-5

Empowering us.

The Spirit of Christ has the power to fill our hearts with the warmth of God’s love, even when it’s initially hard for us to show that love.

Corrie Ten Boom, a Holocaust survivor, once faced a Nazi who had given his life to Christ and now wanted to shake hands with her. Unbeknownst to him, she recognized him as one of the Nazis who had dealt with her in the concentration camp. She didn’t feel any love for him, but she prayed for Jesus’ strength. Then raised her hand to shake his. Suddenly, as she shook his hand, she was filled to overflowing with love for the ex-Nazi, that could only have come from God. This is just one example of a Christian who relied on the Holy Spirit.
“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:5

 

We ourselves are no exception to what the Spirit of Christ can do for us if we have even one mustard seed of faith in the Lord Jesus who saved us and calls us to a holy–not magical–life. We can now breathe new air and sing a new song that reshapes our entire lives not through spells, but through the wisest Teacher one could ask for. And through this Spirit we have the greatest gift of all–fellowship with our Heavenly Father forever and ever.

 

Doing it Gladly

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“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Cor. 9:7

Last summer I flew on a plane with my choir to Seattle, Washington. One of the most memorable moments was on a farm miles away from the city (on an island, I believe), where our choir director took us to pick fresh strawberries that the farmer had for sale. Normally, the farmer would have required his customers to, of course, pay for the strawberries, and we fully expected to do just that. But when we had finished picking the berries, the farmer and his daughter gladly gave the strawberries to us for free. Not only that, but they allowed us in their house to wash our red-stained fingers, they gave us a tour of the farm, and they let us hand feed their adorable sheep. Of course, after that, we got to sing for all those sheep, but, really, of course, to the farmer and his daughter out of appreciation for their immense generosity.

 

It was a simple thing, but every one of the girls in my choir felt their kindness, and I knew for a fact that this delightful family believed and trusted in Jesus Christ as the Savior of their sins. They gave not reluctantly, but cheerfully, and while they were rewarded with meeting a bunch of human beings—which they seemed to be so far away from—I am thankful that their truest reward awaits for them in heaven.

 

Those strawberries were the sweetest, juiciest, most irresistible berries I’d ever tasted. Because they were real, not some hormone-showered ones at the store, or whatever you call them. They were real—just as the planter is real, just like the God who grew them is real.

 

In fact, the real seeds that the farmer placed into the ground are like the good seeds we place in our hearts when we choose to love Him and those around us. Good seeds sprout and grow into flourishing berries that nourish and delight our senses, just as our choice to simply love God and people matures us into kind, caring people, who draw into a more fulfilling and sweeter relationship with Christ.

 

But what’s the point of loving, even when it’s hard? And how can we do it gladly? How do we do the hard thing of loving and giving all that we are to God without being reluctant about it?

 

I used to have a lot of trouble understanding what it meant to give joyfully, to love relentlessly, and to do the hard yet right things in life without a speck of guilt or reluctance. I still have trouble at times, but I’ve also learned a lot about how to give gladly.

 

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” – 1 Cor. 5:14-15

 

Are we really to keep on living for ourselves after believing in the One who died so we could live for Him? Jesus said that those who love Him are the ones who keep his commandments (John 14:21). There are millions of hurting, starving, thirsty, longing people in the world. And there are billions of sinners—yes, all of us. The Israelites waited 400 years for the Messiah to save his people from their sins, to put a new heart and a new spirit in them, so they could have the honor of serving God without shame and with a divine power from the Holy Spirit. We as Christians have that honor. We are the ones the world must see as pure and noble and profoundly generous—not because of any greatness we possess, but because of Christ’s goodness overflowing through us out of the abiding relationship we have with Him. Not only should they see us as this, but God calls us to let our light shine so brightly that the pagans can’t ignore it.

 

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” – 1 Peter 2:12

 

Sure, we fail. But God’s love overcomes that. Our acknowledgement that Jesus’ sacrifice has the power to cover our sins set us free from every polluted thing we used to hold onto so dearly. Simply put: Our sin, replaced with God’s love. And, with that love abiding in us, we can do hard things with such fervor and excitement that it won’t matter how many strawberries we have, for in Christ we have everything we need.

 

“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” – 2 Cor. 9:10-11

 

Plea of an Introvert (or, an Introverted Plea)

If only people could realize,

I’m not just here–

I care.

If only they could know

I’m not just standing

In the corner

Without a word past my lips,

But I’m

Thinking of something to say

And waiting for the moment

And the courage

To bring myself to say it.

 

I’m alone in a crowd;

Stuck in an atmosphere

Of harmony

Without lifting my voice

To sing.

I know I should try harder,

And pray harder, too,

And someday I know I’ll be

Singing in my quiet way

Along with

The rest of you.

But if you’re that person

In the center

Of liveliness,

Of adventure

Looking back at me,

Just remember

That I care

And that I’m a person, too.

 

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

(Truly) For Our Greater Good

I’m sure we’ve all probably heard or asked this question before:

“Why would a loving God let bad things happen to us?”

To dig through the surface of such a mystery, we need to look more closely at God Himself. All over the Bible, God reveals Himself behind the foundations of the earth. Not only is God loving, but He is a Mighty God who is bigger than the loudest storm, the greatest earthquake, and our doubts that trickle through the cracks inside us. What we call a problem, He calls a slight worm that can be smashed in His hand. What we call a tragedy, He calls a raindrop that can be overcome by His ocean of grace.

No matter our situation, God loves us, so He waits upon us till we wait upon Him.

He waits for us to accept His power–the glorious news that His Son Jesus came to carry our burdens, to endure God’s wrath for us, to set our turbulent hearts secure in an unfathomable peace. The Lord Jesus came down to earth to offer us peace in the midst of chaos, to understand the depth of God’s love, holiness, and eternal joy in the midst of fear and confusion and despair.

We can experience Him even if our own circumstances don’t reflect His goodness. Continue reading

Love and Fear

When I used to ask God to tell me something—anything—most every time I’d hear Him say, “I love you”—as if those three little words were all that mattered. I believe He loves me, but what’s so important about that? I wondered. When is He going to tell me something that will significantly benefit me in life?

But when I think about it now, I realize that believing in God’s love truly does affect a person’s life in profound ways. Continue reading