Friday, March 31, 2017

Book Review: This Changes Everything

I recently had the privilege of reading the book This Changes Everything: How the gospel transforms the teen years by Jaquelle Crowe for free in order to review it. And let me tell you, I loved it!

I had expected to enjoy the book since it was written for teens about living for Christ. I trusted the author, having read her articles before, and figured her first book would be good as well. So I was surprised at what an impact it made on me.

Jaquelle's book just came out today (I got it early - yay! ;) and I would highly recommend you go read it.

This Changes Everything is about how we, as teenagers, should be living our lives for Christ right now. We don't have to (and should not) wait until we're older. We are just as much God's people now as we will be in two or three or five years. We are not exempt from following God's Word because of our age and Jaquelle wants to make sure we know it.

The book is written very simply, not because teens need it that way, but because it can be stated that way. No one needs big words to understand that we are to lay aside everything tearing us away from Christ and live only and fully for Him.

That being said, I would not only recommend this book to teens, but to everyone else walking with Christ as well. Teens aren't the only ones who need reminders of these things. Even though Jaquelle is talking mainly to teenagers, everything she says applies equally to all believers. We are all called to a relationship with God and to go against the norms of culture.

If you're interested, you can find This Changes Everything on Amazon and Crossway and I'm sure some other places too.

I cannot tell you how wonderfully Jaquelle shows that the gospel does, in fact, change everything in our lives.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Borrowed Time

A while ago (I honestly can't remember when), I was having a conversation with my mom about I don't remember what. It must have had something to do with big decision making or spending time or something like that because she told me about doing random things for her boss at a job a long time ago. None of the other employees wanted to do things like drive across town to get something from the store, but she was okay with it.

When asked why, she said that her boss was paying her for her time so it was up to him how she spent it. It didn't really matter whether she was at a desk or in the car - she was being paid to give control of that time to someone else.

This wasn't just a random story though - she had a point. Our whole lives are the exact same way. They belong to God and we should be happy to spend them however He pleases.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

That thought is so incredible to me. God spent so much to save us and so our bodies, lives, and (on a smaller scale) time belong to Him.

Just the idea that every second of every day that I live belongs to God changes how I think and the choices I make. Think about it - what if you had to report to God what you did all day? Would you be on Facebook right now? Would you be done with schoolwork by now? I know I wouldn't waste time nearly as much.

But wasting time can happen in a lot of different ways. It might be spending too long on Facebook. But it also might be reading a trashy novel. It could be all sorts of things. Just because we seem to be doing something good (like reading) doesn't mean the actual thing we're doing is edifying.

We are called to use our lives to further the kingdom of God and every second that we waste is a second that we're not doing that.

That's not to say it's wrong to rest - just the opposite. Rest is a very good thing, but it must be done wisely. Too much is laziness, too little isn't good for you.

God has only given us so much time on this earth. We've got to be good stewards of it.

- Kira

Friday, March 17, 2017


I've noticed lately that I have a lot of stuff in my life. And a good portion of it's extra. Some of it, of course, like school, is important and should definitely be there. Other things though, like a Goodreads reading challenge, really don't need to be taking up space and time.

A few months ago, I saw a documentary called Minimalism. It mostly followed these two guys who wrote a book on the subject and they explained how great it was. One of the things they said over and over was that, without all that extra stuff around you, it's easier to think and relax and enjoy yourself.

Now, I'm not by a long stretch promoting minimalism. No way. But it brings up some interesting ideas.

What if we made an effort to get rid of just a few of the extra things in our lives? It would clear a lot of space in our heads (and maybe our rooms).

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. - John 10:10

Jesus came to give us abundant life! To me, that doesn't mean waking up in the morning dreading another day on this earth filled with its busyness. No, we're supposed to have joy in our lives. We've been remade! We are new people, cleansed by Christ and filled by the Holy Spirit.

As new people, we have a new purpose in life and that purpose is (according to the Westminster Shorter Catechism) to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Forever starts now - not when we get to Heaven.

God wants us to have joy in our lives. A lot of times, extra stuff that causes extra stress gets in the way of that. We're rushing around, trying to fulfill priorities we set for ourselves and finish checklists we wrote up with success and happiness in mind. But it doesn't really cause a lot of happiness.

For me, getting rid of the extra things means unsubscribing to a writing workshop. It means not going to a weekend high school retreat. It means not worrying about a reading challenge, but enjoying the books. That's what I've got so far, and I intend to keep looking for ways to cut out the things that don't let me live my life with joy.

And guess what. When you get rid of the extra, you'll find you have more time and brain space for the things you do keep. Like school. Soccer. Church. Family.

Don't get rid of everything. But maybe get rid of enough to enjoy life and your Creator a little more.


Friday, March 10, 2017


A couple weeks ago, I got to see the movie/documentary Is Genesis History? To be honest, I went into it not really expecting to learn a whole lot - or at least to just add to the list of facts stored away in the back of my mind that prove events in the Bible.

And I did learn a few more facts - really cool ones. But the thing that most affected me about that movie was the majesty of God.

We've all heard it since we first started going to Sunday School: "Look, God made those trees outside and all the mountains and oceans and rivers. Isn't our God incredible?" And then of course, we must nod and agree like good little Christian children because if we don't, we will never get to snack time.

Of course God is wonderful - we've always been taught that and we've seen it for ourselves on the occasional hike on a particularly beautiful mountain or the sparkle of a starry sky in the middle of the country.

But you know what? I take that for granted a lot. More often than not, I'm that kid at church, agreeing that God is great and would you please pass the goldfish?

That's the wrong attitude. We can't just dismiss how splendid our Creator is - though none of us would ever admit to doing so.

It's become one of those cliche things that everyone talks about, but almost no one believes with real conviction. But we should. When we look at the world around us, we should hardly be able to speak for joy at the beauty and detail of creation.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. -Romans 1:20

Now, this verse is talking about how the unrighteous and those who don't follow after God have no excuse for their immorality, but it applies just as much to Christians. We can see the work of God in the things He has made and there is no excuse for our complacency.

Let's all take every chance we get to admire the glory of God. He has given us a piece of Himself in our ability to appreciate beauty, so let's put it to use. It's not inconvenient. It's not hard. Let's revel in God's creation and give Him praise.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Seth's Journey: Part Four

It was dark again when Seth got home. Not just dinner time dark - after bedtime dark. The courtyard was silent as he walked through and he could hear every step. Not even the servants were up any more.

The empty quiet was almost eerie. The front door creaked as he opened it the smallest amount possible to squeeze through. The house was just as quiet and empty as the courtyard. Seth had never been up so late, past everyone else. He was surprised not to find his father pacing by the door, furious with his son for disobeying once again.

But no. Seth had been forgotten in the events of the day; even Juliet was sound asleep, exhausted from mourning.

Seth sank to the floor and hugged his knees to his chest. It was okay to cry now. No one was there to see him and tell him to be strong or offer awkward condolences.

But the tears wouldn't come. No matter how long Seth thought about it, his eyes stayed dry.

Finally, he rose and went to his room. Maybe sleep would help.

After a sleepless hour in bed though, he decided otherwise. Seth was restless. His mind darted from one thing to another. His mother was replaced by the Rabbi who was replaced by the physician's words which were replaced by the disciple's words.

On impulse, Seth grabbed a satchel from its place on the floor in the corner of the room. He stuffed it with clothes and the few coins that belonged to him. He took a few wheat pancakes, carrots, almonds, and radishes before returning to the courtyard.

This time, the silence didn't disturb him. Seth had a task - something to focus on.

He didn't pay attention to where he was going as he walked purposefully through the market for the second time that day. Dark figures moved in the alleys and distant yells and dog howls cut through the air. But Seth just walked straight ahead until he was outside the city.

A nice clump of trees offered shelter, and Seth settled in. He nibbled on a pancake as he drifted off to sleep.


Friday, March 3, 2017

I Am Weak

I am weak and I don't like it.

There are many ways to use that word: weak. You can have a weakness for some kind of food or novel. You can be weak physically or mentally. You can be weak in your ability to change or fix something.

Today, I particularly mean that last one.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a personal narrative essay for school. My topic (after much agonizing) was sleep.

Maybe you know, maybe you don't know, but I have trouble sleeping. It hasn't always been a problem. As a kid, I thought sleep was a waste of time that could be better spent reading or playing or writing or talking. If I got tired, I knew it wasn't more than a few hours until bed and then I'd be fine the next day.

At the beginning of the summer a couple years ago (2015), that changed. I started going to bed and just not sleeping. Nothing was wrong. I just couldn't quite get to sleep. That's continued to be the case in varying degrees of intensity over the past almost two years.

It's made me weak.

Even now, as I type, I'm having trouble making myself put down these words. Because it's still hard for me; it's still a painful struggle - and one that I feel I'm losing.

When I don't sleep enough one night, I'm irritable and tired the next day. When I don't sleep enough for a week, that intensifies. The littlest thing can (and will) make me mad and a single math problem can become a whole afternoon's frustration. And I cry. I hate to cry, but there's nothing I can do to stop myself when I haven't slept and the tears begin. Absolutely nothing - I have no control.

And that's part of what makes me feel weak.

It's not just the crying and trouble thinking straight and copious amounts of daily caffeine though. I also feel weak because no matter what we've tried to do to fix this problem, it's still there. You name it, I've tried it. Homeopathics, eating and bedtime routines, medications, vitamins. I even got my own room in the hopes that it would help. But nothing does. Not for long, at least.

This is a continual frustration. It doesn't only affect me at night, when I'm staring into the blackness for yet another hour. It also hurts me during the day when I can't focus and think long enough to finish a reading assignment for school.

As a perfectionist, I like to have things in my control. I don't have this in my control. I've been trying to get rid of the perfectionism for a while now, but this one thing I want to have for myself.

I've prayed (rather angrily) that God would take away the sleeplessness, asking Him why He would do this to me. It doesn't seem fair. Such a simple thing permeates the rest of my life and makes easy things hard.

Lately, I've seen the suffering around me. My friends have their own struggles and so does my family. I'm not the only one who has to live with something over which they have no power. And I think we're kind of meant to be that way.

In a sermon on John 11 (if I remember correctly), our pastor said one thing that really stood out.

Trials are good, because when we are weak, the only place we can go is closer to God.

That brings to mind verses like Jeremiah 29:11 and Philippians 4:6-7. God knows what He's doing with my life, weakness included. Even Paul had a "thorn in his side" that God wouldn't take away. Suffering is part of sanctification.

I think realizing that helps. I still want the suffering and weakness gone - I want to be able to sleep at night. But somehow, this is good for me. He knows what He's doing even when I can't do anything.