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.)?

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I have a light

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The most terrible thing in the world is hell, and I want to save everyone from that. But I can’t.

At times, I feel absolutely helpless.

At times, I weep for the souls of millions.

At times, I feel selfish for living bold and free in Christ, while others are charging blindly into agony.

But what else can I do but be bold and free?

What else can I do but speak truth to the souls of millions?

What else can I do but trust God to help us all?

Some people are already in hell, and some are going to hell. That’s horrific. Why aren’t we doing more to show them the Way to hope, to peace, to everlasting life with our wonderful God?

The temptations of this world are so many, and so alluring. Sometimes I ask: Doesn’t God understand the appeal of sin? Doesn’t God understand how easy it is for us to displease Him?

And yet, He absolutely does understand. Jesus, God made into flesh, completely understands every tear, every longing, and every lure of the devil.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:14-16

Let us hold fast to our confession, and be truly humble before God! And let us seek Christ’s sympathy so we may find the courage to stand. When we fully allow ourselves to bask in the grace of Christ, His own perfection cleanses us and empowers us with fresh love for the world.

We can’t convince the world that God is real until they see the reality of God inside us and in our everyday actions. We can’t convince the world that God is love when we speak to the truth to them out of fear. We can’t be the light when we allow darkness to settle over our souls.

I am mainly writing this for myself. It’s hard for me to stand tall when everything’s crumbling around me. This world is crazy, and people are suffering everyday. But God is going to win in the end. Each of us is going to bow before Jesus Christ at the end of this age and confess He is Lord. (Phil. 2:9-11)

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9-11

God is good, but the only way people will know it is if we believe it. And the only way to truly believe it is to die to ourselves and seek His will every day. Once we live fully understanding His love, fully trusting that He has sent His Son to bear our sins, we can be free. And once we are free, people will know at first glance that we’re completely changed.

The most terrible thing in the world is hell, and I want to save everyone from that. But I can’t. I can’t fix everything—or anything, for that matter. I’m completely helpless, on my own.

And so are each of us, on our own. But together? We can change the world.

We as Christians need to acknowledge our fear of evangelism, so we can overcome it together, and win the fight together against our flesh together. In doing so, we can band together, and stop ignoring the deepest need in our world today. Together, let us not be silent about the God who is infinitely greater than we can ask or imagine. With hope, let us pray, for that is the very foundation of all our interactions with unbelievers. And with faith, let us shout His name.

And with wide eyes, let us watch to see God move.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” — 2 Corinthians 5:20

Not only do we need to unite as believers, but first and foremost we need to unite with Christ Himself. The only way we can win souls is if the world is convinced that there is true freedom in Christ. And for that we ourselves need to experience abundant freedom in Christ. And for that, meaningful time in God’s presence is needed, where we can find fullness of joy. Don’t settle for a timid declaration of God’s truth–that won’t last. Connecting yourself to the Vine is the only way to bear fruit.

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” — Psalm 16:11

A Message To My Brothers In Christ

 

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I want to take a moment to address you, men.
The strong ones;
The brave ones.
I want to address you as my brothers in Christ.
I plead with you on behalf of the girls in my life:
Stop for a moment,
And listen.

Too many of us have bad opinions of you,
And perhaps many of us have a right to;
You have a responsibility as men to take care of our hearts,
But too often you play or you steal or your tear us apart;
Too often you treat us just as you view us—as objects to take pleasure in
Or simply persons to ignore.
And while that sounds harsh, I want to set for you a higher standard,
To encourage you to be the men that God will first and foremost admire.

We may not always admit it to you,
But we’re weak—
Just as you may not always admit to us.
We may not always say it, but when you open the door wide for us our soul smiles wider;
When you take the time to just listen to us,
We admire your endeavor to honor us;
And when you ask us how we’re doing,
The whole world seems all right again.

Men, we might act casual, but you are important to us.
We often look up to you hoping we can trust,
Hoping we can trust you to be truly good men.
Don’t ignore the power of sensitivity—
To us, it’s the highest form of masculinity.
Be interested in who we truly are inside, not merely what we are on the outside;
And while this may be a lot to ask,
View us as your sisters in Christ—good friends whom you will never marry;
And when we see the deep respect you carry,
Your selflessness will teach us more of God and His glory.

Men, don’t settle for less than your best;
We challenge you to be truly great men.
Dare yourselves to be the men you want to be;
Dare yourselves to be good, strong, and free.
Don’t compare yourselves to those around you;
Compare yourselves to Christ who is in you,
And you always see that you can be something more.

“[Treat] younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” — 1 Timothy 5:2b

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” — 1 Peter 3:7

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” — 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Thank you for reading, and look out for my next post, A Message to My Sisters in Christ!

The Things You Say

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“Did you hear that…?”

“Isn’t so-and-so so stupid for…?”

Too often hearing gossip affects my perspective on the not-so-liked people. It’s terrible that before even meeting this one girl, I had a bad opinion of her. It’s easy to judge people, because it makes us feel better and more valuable. But your pride costs the dignity of others. And it often doesn’t give people a chance to change.

Whether we like it or not, gossiping is hurtful. The victim of gossip is likely not altogether a horrible person. Maybe they just messed up once. Or maybe they could transform if they noticed you had high expectations of them instead of low expectations. Think about it: would you more likely stop your habit of boasting about yourself if people whispered cruel words about you or if they gently congratulated you for being good at playing the piano?

Often people do stupid things because they feel insecure about themselves. So instead of rolling your eyes at them, try to just love on them, to let them know you care and they don’t need to do anything out of the ordinary for you to care about them. Expect the best from them. Assume they are going to be a nice, humble person by treating them how you would want to be treated. Get on their level and treat them with respect.

The gossip I had heard about the girl drastically affected my view of her for awhile in a negative way, so I was cautious about being friendly with her. Interestingly, it turned out that later I realized she was one of the kindest, sweetest people I have ever met. The rumors may have been true, but everyone messes up sometimes, and messing up doesn’t define people.

God loves each person deeply and gave up His Son for us to live freely for all time. The value He places on us is the only thing that should define us… Wow! Isn’t He so good to us?

The fact is, gossiping is for prideful people. We have all done stupid things at one time or another. We all need Jesus desperately, and, with His strength, we can forsake pride and reach higher. We are all under the same God, and He cares for us no matter how stupid we act.

“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” — James 3:6 (NIV)

 

I want vs. I have

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With God, relationships with Him and others are an outpouring of His love. ❤

I want a connection

My mind is awake
I want a deep conversation
From a guy or a girl—
Either one, I don’t care.

I just want real interaction
All I hear is
“Hello” and “Goodbye”
“How are you?” and a laugh
But that’s it and I’m drowning
Yearning for a connection
I just want a connection.

The human connection
That grows a soul
The touching a heart
The filling a hole
Deep inside me.
I want that.

We hide in the dark
But we want the light
Friendship means nothing
If we don’t really know
One another
If we think we know them
but never feel that we need each other.

I want meaning to this ritual
Of smiles and hugs and politeness
I want to understand you
I really do.

I want, I want,
This selfishness wired inside me
It’s taking control; it’s becoming a desire
I can’t withhold.

I want love to bind us
Because without love,
We’re only a pair
Of separate individuals
Yearning for something more.

 

I have a connection

My heart is awake
In a deep conversation
With my Savior and Lord
He’s the One who cares.

This is real interaction
Not just
“Hello” and “Goodbye”
“How are you?” and a laugh
If that was it I’d be drowning
Yearning for a connection—
But I have a connection.

The supernatural connection
As He grows my soul,
Touches my heart,
And fills a hole
Deep inside me.
He does that.

When I hide in the dark
He guides me to His light
Our relationship with God means nothing
If we don’t really know Him
If we think we know Him
But never feel that we need Him.

I want meaning to this ritual
Of prayers and songs and kindness
I want to understand Him
I really do.

I want, I want
This desire fires inside me
It’s taking control; it’s breaking the boundaries
Of my restricted soul.

His love binds us
Because without love
We’re detached from our Creator
Yearning for something more.

The Gospel, The Light: 6 Things God Has Done For Humanity

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(Photo by Samantha Lynch on Unsplash)

I blind myself to the truth, do you? Am I the only one who runs from the Light, preferring the safety of darkness? 

When the Light pierces through the darkness, it hurts. It hurts when I see I’ve been trying to fill the void inside me with my passions, dreams, ego, or self-pity. It hurts to see that me, you, and the whole human race sin every day without realizing it.

Or maybe we do realize our weakness, but we’re too afraid to do anything about it.

Woe to those who go to great depths
to hide their plans from the Lord,
who do their work in darkness and think,
“Who sees us? Who will know?” – Isaiah 29:15

Without this Light, I feel so empty. I’m in constant pain, letting insecurity rule and darkness overshadow any good that’s left in me.

I’m blind to my own weakness.

Why are we like this? It’s my fault. It’s yours. It’s Adam and Eve’s fault for eating that fruit in the garden. Their sin began a chain reaction that spread to every generation of humans who have lived since.

Doubts come: Come on, I’m good enough. God wouldn’t send a nice person like me to hell. I’ve done enough good things to outweigh the bad.

But God doesn’t weigh the good versus the bad; no, He measures us up to a stick, and we have to reach the top to enter heaven—He requires us to be 100 % perfect.

And we’re not.

And God is truly sad about that: “[God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)

So, how did God provide a way for us to escape hell and to enter His heavenly presence, now and forever?

1. He sent a perfect man.

God sent His Son, Jesus, to live on this earth perfectly following God’s laws, like no human ever had before. He was the one person in history’s existence who actually deserved heaven.

Only God is 100% perfect all the time. And that’s exactly who Jesus was, and still is to this very day.

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” – Hebrews 1:3

Jesus is the one perfect Light, the one true fulfiller of our souls. He spoke out against lies and injustice; He uplifted the outsiders in society. He was filled with deep compassion for people, healing the sick and preaching about the Kingdom of God, a place where hearts are free, a place their souls had been longing to hear about.

2. He sacrificed this man, His Only Son, for us.

What’s terribly ironic, is that the One person who deserved heaven went to hell in place of everyone else who deserved hell. Jesus was nailed to a cross to purify us from our sins, dying in our place so we wouldn’t have to eternally bleed.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” – John 3:16-21

3. He, in the form of a man, came back to life.

But it doesn’t end at the cross. Three days later, Jesus Christ rose from the tomb, alive and well, and witnessed by hundreds of astonished people. He went up to heaven where He now sits at the right hand of the throne of God.

4. He saves us not by any goodness in ourselves, but by His amazing grace.

This is the most crucial point I have, even though it’s number four (number 4 is a good number, right? ;)) So pay attention here.

The thing is, Jesus did NOT die so we would follow rules, He died so we would place our faith in Him and come to know Him. It is only by faith in Christ that we are saved.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

Christianity is NOT a religion. It is a beautiful, everlasting, soul-fulfilling relationship with Jesus Christ.

5. He shines His Light into our everyday lives.

Today, in the 21st century, Jesus offers this hope as we battle against anxiety, depression, temptations, grief, and feelings of emptiness: He is the Light.

Let those words sink in for a minute.

After Jesus left this earth, His Holy Spirit came to convict this world of sin.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

Wow! What an amazing truth that is. Throughout our Christian lives, we must bring our dark deeds into God’s glorious light, so that He may completely and totally outshine this darkness within us. His forgiveness is real, and He is waiting for you to simply cry out to Him with a repentant heart.

Once we believe in Jesus’ power to overcome death and sin on the cross, the Holy Spirit illuminates through our pitch black souls and guides us into more and more victories over our sin and failures, and more and more into the love and peace of walking in His ways.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” – John 14:16

6. He fills us with joy—now and forever.

With God’s Light inside of me, I’ve found the absolute freedom of His grace. I am no longer empty. I am truly, definitely, totally forgiven, as far as the east is from the west. When I place my surrendered trust in Jesus, my heart bursts with this Light.

As Christians, we face hardship. But through it all, our joy is made complete through Christ.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” – Psalm 16:11

I am free.

I am not floundering in darkness, but I am running out into the open arms of my Father, whose eyes ignite with unspeakable joy when He sees me. Without Jesus, I don’t know where I’d be. I don’t know how I’d bear the fires of this raw, miserable life.

But with Him, the sword of truth has attacked my old self. Now I am new like a polished ring, waiting like a Bride for her Groom, until the day He returns.

Please, when He comes back, don’t let it be your first time to bow.

“[Jesus], being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:6-11

(All Scripture taken from NIV.)

 

The Thrall’s Sword

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Now introducing my novel, The Thrall’s Sword! This is my Christian historical YA novel, at present unpublished–but by God’s grace, it won’t be for long. Keep a look out for updates! Follow my author blog to get updates: gracecaylor.com

On the night Sigrid escapes death on a fiery longship, she loses her mother. Will sweet revenge or a foreign god free her from despair?

The seventeen-year-old Norse slave Sigrid escapes her sacrificial fate in the afterlife, just as the Lord Joar of Bergen murders her mother. When two fishermen rescue her from the seas, the grief-stricken Sigrid joins them on their mission to warn the Irish of the oncoming Viking raiders, secretly plotting to destroy the Lord who has done her wrong. However, as the Irishman Erik teaches Sigrid about God, a power starts to work inside her, transforming her hate into forgiveness—but she doesn’t realize it until the moment of her deepest misery.

Blonde girl photo credit

S2: Quotes for My Novella

My work-in-progress novella, The Healer of Istagun, has a few themes. Here are some quotes to explain them!

Theme: God heals our wounds through His blood.

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” ~ Isaiah 53:4-5

“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD” ~ Jeremiah 30:17

“Christ is the Good Physician. There is no disease He cannot heal; no sin He cannot remove; no trouble He cannot help.” – James H. Aughey

“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.” – Malachi 4:2

Theme: He strengthens us through His sacrifice.

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13 ESV

If it doesn’t cost you anything, what is there to gain? – Grace Caylor

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” – Ephesians 2:13

Theme: Love is sacrifice.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8

“Brotherhood means laying down your life for somebody, really willing to sacrifice yourself for somebody else.” — Tim Hetherington

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:13

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.

Feedback

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! 🙂

 

CW14: Memories and Cheesecake

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So my creative writing teacher told us: “Give me some words that you would use to describe a restaurant.” So we said “okay” and gave her these: light, clatter, specials, cheesecake, spill, bacon, gratuity, bitter, delectable, tip, matre’d, mmmmmm, tasty, atmosphere, cheap, menu

Guess what she said next? “Write something without the setting of a restaurant using all of these words!”

This story is the result of that…

I pumped my feet over the bicycle pedals, taking in the glorious light of the sun setting in the west, glowing behind enormous clouds.

Evan had been pedaling behind me without speaking a word for five or ten minutes now. I only knew he was still there because I kept hearing the clatter of his gears on his rusty bicycle. No doubt that old bike was bitter of the many years of forced outdoor adventures, rumbling on the long stretches of dirt roads surrounded by the painfully flat Kansas prairies.

I made an effort at conversation: “How’s it working at the diner, being the handsome matre’d and all?”

“It’s all right.” He laughed a little, but he kept pedaling slowly behind me. His poor bike didn’t even let him keep up with his five foot girlfriend. Or was there something else on his mind?

“I’d go for a delectable slice of cheesecake right now,” I said, imagining the tasty dessert on my tongue. I remembered that first date we spent at the diner, sharing a slice of cheesecake, since we were poor college students and that was the only thing cheap enough on the menu. That was a few months ago, when our fascination for one another was at its peak. How could something that had seemed so real wear off so soon? I hoped it truly hadn’t. I hoped he still loved me.

“Strawberry cheesecake is one of the specials right now,” he murmured from behind me.

Mmmmmm.” Now the thought of cheesecake made my stomach rumble as I pedaled along. I gazed at the vast fields of wheat and corn that spread out endlessly to the horizon where the warm yellows and reds of sunlight continuously took my breath away. The atmosphere was so quiet and empty, yet strangely beautiful, calming my wearied spirit from the week of college finals that had so overwhelmed me. I set my foot down to stop the bike and stared off at the sunset.

“Why’d ya stop?” Evan said, as if forcing a playfulness in his tone.

I turned toward him, narrowing my brows. “Remember when you walked up to my table so carefully, trying not to spill the eggs and bacon?”

Evan managed a smile. “How could I forget?”

Heat flooded my cheeks, doubts surfacing within me. I was probably making him feel uncomfortable; he probably didn’t want to be here. For all I knew, he brought me here to announce that he wanted to break up. Yet I continued, “And that’s when it all started, when you started talking to me more, and I realized you liked me…”

“You gave me the biggest tip.” Evan grinned, but there was a hesitance in his dark, penetrating eyes.

“I call it gratuity.”

“Of course, Miss English Major.” He chuckled at the familiar joke, but then uncertainty filled his expression again and he searched my face. “Lydia, remember that night during Bible study?”

I nodded, but I didn’t know why he brought it up now. That had been the days before we started dating, when I had first met him, but also when I had first met the Lord.

Still sitting on his bike behind me, he stretched his hand out to me, so I shifted my body on the bike seat and reached my hand back toward him to clasp hold of his strong hand.

“Remember the Scripture we read that stirred your heart?” His voice was gentle, bringing back the memory of the Bible passage we’d read in our small group that night, a year before the incident at the diner.

“A little bit,” I said, trying to remember everything. “It was about Martha, listening to Jesus. He told her He was the resurrection and the life.”

He squeezed my hand, the warmth in his fingers comforting me.

We stared at each other in awe, holding hands, never wanting to let go. “Yes, Lydia,” Evan said, his voice returning with the passion and hope I’d so long associated with him. “Jesus is life.”

“And he brought me life again—through your message, that very night.” Tears filled my eyes again, but for a different reason than before. Even today, Evan was the leader of a small group of young men and women, often speaking passionately about the Scriptures, helping us to understand the heart of the gospel better. The Holy Spirit had convicted me through his message that night, bringing me to a place where I could fully trust in Jesus as my Savior.

But I didn’t understand why he was bringing this up at a time like this. “I thought you wanted to break up with me, Evan. I thought that’s why you brought me here.”

The young man pedaled his old rusty bike slowly till it sat close beside me. “The thought never crossed my mind, Lydia. I love you. I’ve just been tired, so tired. Between school and work at the diner, I feel like I have no time for you. I feel like we’ve grown distant, and that it’s my fault. I’m sorry.”

As he reached out and touched my cheek, his tenderness stunned me. I hadn’t felt like this in a long time, like he truly adored me. I let the tears fall down face. “I forgive you, Evan. I felt the same way, but I don’t feel that way anymore. We’re going to serve Jesus together, I’m sure of it. Wherever we are, me as an English teacher, or if you really become a pastor…”

Sitting astride our bikes, we gazed out into the empty prairie at the bright glint of the sun in the west that was now almost hidden completely under the earth. It was getting dark, but neither of us wanted to go back to the city.

Evan smiled at me, a hope burning in his eyes, and I couldn’t help but be assured of his love for me. “Or I could serve Jesus right now, as a handsome matre’d?”

“Or that. Maybe you could serve Him some delectable strawberry cheesecake…” After a moment my nervous chuckle exploded into a long, joyous laugh, as I realized he was finally laughing in return.