A STAIN OF RED

 

Last year for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) I wrote a book called GATEWAYS (title is subject to change), and even though I got a late start last year, I polished off 50,000+ words without a hitch. Coincidentally it was only a few months after I had written my first Christmas themed novel called PEPPERMINT: A BURST OF COLD.

This year for NaNoWriMo I set out to write the second book in the Christmas series, which at this point I am calling CRANBERRY: A STAIN OF RED. It follows the life of a quite ordinary girl who, in PEPPERMINT (Book1), got sucked into the wild world of Winterland, a place that seems strangely themed after our world’s version of Christmas. The heroin, Helen, has always lived one of the most boring, ordinary, and uneventful lives she has ever heard of. But when she crosses the intersect into Winterland, she finds herself dropped into the most bizarre and thrilling experiences imaginable.

There are two Kingdoms at odds with each other in Winterland; the Red Kingdom which is ruled by the Crimson King, and the Green Kingdom, governed fiercely by the Queen of the Pines. In PEPPERMINT Helen faces off with a terrible villain from the Red Kingdom named Mara Rouge who rides a dark-skinned reindeer with antlers as sharp as needles, and who is evidentially trying to hunt Helen down. Being a commoner, and a very clumsy and uncoordinated one at that, Helen realizes very quickly that she doesn’t stand a chance.

In CRANBERRY (Book 2), Helen is torn back out of her world the moment December hits, and finds herself running for her life once again, only this time she enters Winterland to find the Red and Green Kingdoms on the verge of war. People are being forced to choose a side; Red or Green, as the Ruby Legion and the Evergreen Host rage against each other in battle. All of Winterland seems to be coming under the influence of their chosen colours. The pressure is starting to close in and Helen isn’t sure who she can trust. Choosing wrong could cost her everything, but not choosing at all…that’s a death sentence.

As I have been writing CRANBERRY: A STAIN OF RED, I’ve been getting lost in the smells, tastes, and colours of Christmas, something I have experienced before in the middle of sweaty July when I wrote PEPPERMINT: A BURST OF COLD. It’s fun to paint an elaborate picture for an audience to get them hanging off the edge of their seats and ready for more. But the most important part of any of these books is the underlining message beneath the text, the one truth that I hope the world would recognize if I ever get published. On Helen’s journeys, she is introduced to the Truth, a seemingly living being that possesses all kinds of knowledge, wisdom, and secrets. It’s this Truth that comes from the breath of El-Olam (translated as the Eternal God), also known as the Star Breather to some. There are key points in both of these novels where Helen comes into contact with the words from the Volumes of Wisdom, which are old books that hold ancient truths that many don’t talk about or believe in anymore. It’s these truths that seem to change the atmosphere when spoken aloud, and can make the difference between victory and defeat.

There is a particular moment in PEPPERMINT where Helen is listening to Zane read (Zane, a young former Patrolman who in his shame had set aside his duties of guarding the Truth when the Truth was nearly wiped clean out of Winterland by Mara Rouge). As Zane is reading from one of the Volumes of Wisdom, Helen starts to understand for the first time why the Truth was unable to completely die out, as hard as Mara Rouge tried to silence it forever. The words Zane reads are as follows (keep in mind that anything posted from these novels is subject to change):

 

“All was still on the meadow hill,

Upon which sheep would graze,

The shepherds chattered, chuckled and battered,

Until the sky was of sudden blaze.

Struck with awe the shepherds saw,

The sky filled with Heavenly Hosts,

Proclaiming a wonder, in voices of thunder,

A hero of the highest, the Most.

An end to an age this hero did stage,

And a beginning of ages to come,

After the toils, troubles, and foils,

The battle would surely be won.

The prophets did say, there would come a day,

During which a hero would rise,

Seeking no tower, no authority, or power,

As a servant he would surely disguise.

A veil would tear and a load He would bear,

At dawn He would climb His tree,

The sun would rise, the sky, come alive,

Mankind would look up and see.

A chain does break and withers a snake,

The horizon fills with royal blue,

A Kingdom rises, an enemy despises.

Now none will conquer the Truth.”

I sincerely hope that this Christmas can be filled with as much joy and magic as possible, flowing straight from the heart of the Hero that came to save mankind. There is so much excitement at Christmas that is based off of things that won’t matter a week after the big day is over. But He will reign forevermore. Let your hearts come alive with life this season, because on this day He has come to the earth to save us. Our champion. The one who came to go to war on our behalf. Who raised men from the dead and sent armies of angels to change the world. He goes before us, He stands beside us, He follows after us and watches over us. He will never fail.

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!

cranberry-blog

Christmas in July?

IMG_00000929_edit

Sure. Why the heck not?

I’ve had something brewing the last little while like a hot cup of slightly overcooked, grind infested java. Okay, minus the grind infested because apart from being mildly over analyzed, this idea doesn’t have major grinds.

Yes. Call me a weirdo. Everyone else probably does. But I’ve been dilly dallying here and there putting sparkly, vibrant, and vastly absurd ideas into a story.

About Christmas.

What?

….Yes, I said Christmas. And I didn’t stutter. That’s impossible on here.

I know its not typically where our minds go this time of year, but for whatever reason I was inspired; enough so that I got up off of my butt and just did it. Now my novel is complete, slapped together from the scraps my brain spewed, and I’m rather fond of the thing. Sometimes I write novels and I deem them equivalent to garbage, so I never try to make anything of them until years later when I rediscover their magic and redirect the course of the story to make them something exciting. Other ones I’ve written are a bizarre combination of my nerves prancing into existence because I took some odd risks, and my pride beaming out of my face because I think its probably the best thing I’ve ever created.

It’s probably not. But I always think it is at first.

This is somewhere around my thirty fifth novel that I’ve written just for kicks (this is not a brag, its more of an embarrassment actually because I have that many in existence and I’ve never truly set out to do anything with them), but I think it took me that many to get to a place where I feel I can write moderately better than rotten garbage.

Anyway, literary agents take half of eternity to get back to us hopeful beggars, so you aren’t going to get any juicy news about this for a long time. Sorry. Pray for me. I probably need it and stuff.

Thanks, people I know and random others I don’t. I hope the peace of God finds you today. Remember that loving God and knowing Him will get you further than anything else in this life.

Kropf out.

Catching the Fire of Revival: Part I

CATCHING THE FIRE P1We make it soooo hard. But Revival is actually quite simple. It’s the life and glory of God pouring out into our mere human hearts.

I’m reading through the book The Calvary Road by Roy Hession, though I’ve read it a couple of times before. If I had a better memory and didn’t constantly forget to, I would read through this book every year. There are many reasons why I like this book, the first being, shamefully, that it’s so short. I can whip through it in well under two hours. Yeah I probably look pretty lazy to some of you out there, but I’ll be honest, that’s my kind of book.

This tiny purse-perfect sized book isn’t expensive either. I think you can buy it new for under $4 online in a few places, and I recently found it downloadable for free on Kobo so I can carry it with me all the time on my phone. This blog post is only going to be on the first chapter, and if my atrocious memory doesn’t get the better of me I want to post more on the incredible power that is in this book as I go through it. I’m hoping this short blog series will inspire many to engage into sparking a revival, starting in our own hearts and in our homes and then reaching those around us with healing and miracles.

Also…this is an older book and the way Roy Hession writes sometimes sounds a bit dated, but everything he speaks on is like experiencing the breath of God wash over, restoring and reviving. Just good life-changing stuff.

First things first: Us vs. Him.

We are inconceivably weak and shamefully smeared by mistakes and incapability. This is unfortunately true, though we love to deny it. We pull the “Look at me, I’m perfect” card a lot. Too much. In fact, we should probably be embarrassed about how much we play that card.

In Heaven they are always praising God for His victory because He is always victorious. Thankfully, He succeeds where we fail. And if we can’t recognize that we fail, then we need a reality check (and we won’t see revival until we realize where we fail/have failed/are currently failing). We all have weaknesses and limits. Tons. But His power is boundless.

This is the first key to revival; recognizing our weakness and His power. But it’s not just this, it’s becoming broken, because brokenness is the stage-setting for a revival. You can’t revive what isn’t broken. (What an epiphany). Revival isn’t making green grass greener, it’s taking the dead dry bones and bringing them back to life. So stop focusing on how green your ‘lawn’ is and expecting God to reward you for how pretty you’ve made it look. He wants you to confess that underneath the green everything is dead and you can’t fix it without Him.

It’s sort of like ‘rolling out the red carpet’ for the party, except that you’re not rolling out a red carpet at all. Your carpet is filthy. It’s gross and people might scowl at it. But unless you’re willing to roll out your sludge-filled carpet and expose the truth about yourself, you’re not giving Jesus anywhere to set His feet.

The proud self within us needs to be broken. And being broken is painful and humiliating, and usually it means others get to see our flaws. It means that people are going to get let in on the secret that we aren’t perfect. It means that the hard unyielding self needs to melt, relinquish control. The self who justifies itself, wants its own way, stands up for its rights, and seek its own glory finally bows it’s head to God’s will, admits it is wrong, stops trying to make its own way to Jesus, surrenders it’s “rights” and surrenders the chase for its own glory. It means we die to ourselves and our attitude. It means we let Jesus fill our “self” and choose His way instead.

My boy Roy Hession explains this very well in Chapter 1.

It is this dangerous, spirit-hindering self who gets irritable and worried. It’s the “self” that is hard and unyielding in our attitudes, especially towards others. And we always read these sorts of things and instantly think of others who are like this – not us. Am I right? No wonder we need breaking.

Are we truly wanting a revival? Or are we just searching for some fun and wild experiences? Because in order for a revival to occur there needs to be a breaking first. A time of repentance. A time of recognition. A time of being truthful, vulnerable and willing to let others see our flaws. Don’t be too proud to take this step, as it is the most important in lighting up a revival. But pride can be such a revival-killer. And if we are willing to surrender and become vulnerable, admit our mistakes, look like a fool even, whatever, then this can also be the cause for many restored relationships.

This isn’t just a one time thing either. We need to be re-broken constantly, probably daily, as we continue to lay down the part of ourselves that thinks we know best and accept that God knows better and is willing to redeem us. When we stiffen our necks and refuse to repent or acknowledge our behavior it hurts Him deeply; this is because He knows how much our stubbornness is hurting us and how much better off we would be if we just let it go.

He cares about us. More than we know.

But this means that we are going to have to reserve ourselves, we can’t necessarily speak every time we want to, and sometimes we won’t get our own way. Instead we must choose to believe that we don’t know best. Most of us have these habits that are hard to break. But God knows best. He just does. The sooner we can let this sink in the better.

Jesus is our prime example. His willingness to be broken, publicly, and strung up on a cross in our place should be motivation enough. He, rather than taking the prize of elevating himself on the same level as God (which He was), humbled himself as a servant and let himself become shamefully exposed and brutally killed; the most unfathomable act of selflessness. He let men gawk at him. Spit on him. He didn’t retaliate or defend himself. He chose to have no rights of his own. He did this knowing that it would give us the right to be redeemed, should we so chose it. Our slime and selfishness was what he took on. Maybe we should stop being so proud of the image of perfection we have created for others to see and try harder to be proud to know the King who let himself be ridiculed in our place.

The Sermon on the Mount teaches of non-retaliation, love for enemies, and selfless giving. He also acted this out as an example. These weren’t just empty words, these were the words of life-giving power, the power to revive people, churches, cities, nations.

All day long the choice will be before us. My way or His way. All day. But it’s always our choice.

This means a constant yielding to those around us, even if they humiliate us, are mean to us, publicly define themselves as our enemies, try to control us, whatever. Wow, that’s hard. I don’t particularly enjoy being in the company of people with the “My way or the highway” attitude. I sort of want to hoof them in the face most of the time. But you will constantly run into people like this, heck, sometimes you might be this person without realizing it. But I guarantee that people who rub you the wrong way will be everywhere you go, even in the places where we are supposed to feel safe. Even in our own families. Or our circle of trusted friends. And God wants us to trust that He will redeem us (in other words, we can stop trying desperately to redeem ourselves or salvage our own reputation). He loves justice. He’s going to keep His eye on things and lift up the pure in heart. We need to be willing to actually let Him do it though, on His timing, instead of trying to fix the problems our way. Trust, trust, trust. He is bigger than even the loudest, meanest, most controlling person you know. He’s bigger and far more powerful and influential than your boss. Than your overbearing family member. Whatever it is. He’s more powerful and He certainly doesn’t need our help to turn the tables. We don’t have the power, we will just make it worse by taking action on our own, because we are pathetic, and quite frankly, not very smart in comparison to Him. Which brings me back to the most significant point:

It starts with recognition: We are scum. We are sinners. We aren’t perfect. We don’t always get it right. The sin we are trying to hide away in the closet is starting to smell like garbage and stink up the house. God is perfect though, and He is all powerful. He is the champion of Heaven. Conqueror of earthly problems. He will succeed where we are not strong enough. But we are not going to get it right without Him.

Secondly, we need to confess our stuff (take your time on this one and feel free to say out loud to God whichever ones are yours, or add your own sins to this list): I have a hard time letting God take control. I often think I know best and try to do things by my own strength. I’m bad at being patient and trusting that God’s timing is perfect. I get offended easily. I stand my ground and when I should let God fight my battles. There are people close to me that I really don’t like. I am proud. I want others to see me as being successful, without flaws. I want to have a following (or I want people to praise me). I feel the need to be right in every argument (or I am fighting with someone, and deep down I know that I’m actually wrong but I’m too embarrassed to admit I’m wrong in fear of what others will think), I have a hard time admitting my mistakes. I always justify my actions, even when they might be wrong. I gossip. I steal. I’m an adulterer. I sleep around. I lie. I’m a closet alcoholic. I lust. I lash out at others. I secretly orchestrate painful situations for the people I don’t like. I’m a bully. I try to pit people against each other. Other stuff.

All of these sins are equal to Him, by the way. So don’t assume that yours is the worst one.

Whatever it is, just take responsibility for it. Admit it and be set free from it so it can stop having power over you. And you may need to apologize to some others, but admit it to God first. Trust me, He doesn’t care that you did it, only that you admit it and stop trying to justify it (to Him, to others, and to yourself).

Ah, freedom. Finally, we will experience freedom like never before and the stage will be set for the oncoming release of His glorious Spirit and earth-shaking power. I don’t know about you, but I want some of that.

STEP 1: Prepare to be broken. Let yourself look a little foolish for a change. Hallelujah.

 

CATCHING THE FIRE OF REVIVAL: PART II

What the crud are you doing? Stop that.

Today is…MEDIA HECKLING DAY!! Yaaaay! This is one of my favourite days of the year! Or week. Let’s start with a fun fact:

  • The media bombards the young girls’ minds. As time passes, it has been observed that the girls who are becoming weight conscious gets younger and younger—for instance, about 80% of nine-year-olds are on diets and that the number of eating disorder cases has been rising. (1)

First of all, this is gross. Second of all…this is gross. Did I mention how gross this is?

Mothers, fathers, protect your daughters. This world has chosen to go after them to make a buck.

My reasons for media-heckling today are closely related to what I’ve been seeing – and trust me I’ve been seeing a little too much if you know what I mean. So many of us are deeply insecure and it’s driving us into a downwards spiral that seems impossible to get out of. I’m talking in particular about the way we dress. The way we act. The way we see ourselves. What happened to all the ladies? Sometimes I feel like we’re inviting the men we meet to treat us like garbage because we’re not acting like ladies, thus giving them a reason to not view us as ladies.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a stuff-the-wad-of-spaghetti-all-in-my-mouth-at-once kind of girl, and when people look at me they likely don’t think of a Stepford-wife. But I feel a little bummed about how many young girls I meet that struggle with depression, anxiety, low self esteem and worst of all, suicidal thoughts. Because of the deeply rooted lies that cause these issues; “I’m alone”, “I can’t do this because I’ll screw it up and people will get mad”, “I’m not as pretty/good/talented as others”, “This world would be better off without me…” we are trying to make up on the outside for how we feel on the inside. These tragic thoughts are leaking into our subconcious. And they don’t come from God. They break His heart.

I had to experience and deal with some of these things myself at one time, I think most of us do, but the truth is that if we believe these things then we’re believing a bunch of lies. The media lies. The devil loves to manipulate you with whatever lies you’ll believe. But God created you for a greater purpose – to thrive and inherit His kingdom. One of the devil’s most cunning plans to trash God’s world is this; Go after the girls.

Females are a force to be reckoned with. We do have the power to strike down the enemy’s plans. We are emotional beings who thrive on building each other up emotionally, as long as we aren’t believing lies. If I was Satan, I’d do it that way too. Why not target the ones who have the potential to take me down? And don’t get me wrong – there are lots of men who are fighting the same battles. But I’m talking specifically about girls that have a powerful destiny of striking down the enemy’s plans. Those are the girls I’ve been watching him go after, and likely for that reason. He wants us to believe little of ourselves so that we don’t pose a threat. So if you’re struggling, it’s likely because you have the power to be a real threat.

One of my all time faves when it comes to ancient leaders is David. Yes, he’s a dude, not a lady, but his story is deeply grafted into my heart. And I think the beginning of his legendary life of battles is the coolest – because it started with him slaying a giant as a boy. Some kid, with a rock, killed a giant (who may or may not have had superpowers…that’s theologically debateable) but this kid had God. And a rickety sling shot. But it was enough, because he didn’t believe the lies. The rest of the Israelites were shaking in terror, talking themselves down, believing that this giant would kill them, even after God had promised them victory. But David was all like, “What the crud are you doing? Stop that. You’re embarrassing yourselves.” Because Israel had forgotten about God’s truth and fallen prey to the lies. So David did what he had to do, and he killed the giant. Epic.

In ancient times they faced different kinds of monsters; demons who claimed to be gods, giants, ancient beasts like Leviathan, Behemoth, evil spirits, maybe even dinosaurs…(again, some of those are theologically debatable but each one fascinates me), but what I know for sure is that because of the times we live in, we’re forced to face monsters that come with this age. One of the biggest predators doesn’t come with waves of thunderous growls, it comes quietly and conquers in the silence of our homes, through our TV’s, Ads, mags and other forms of medium. But though it’s silent, it yells.

What I find the most heart-wrenching is looking at the girls my age or younger that have taken a hit from this modern day beast. We were never meant to be like the Israelites that were shaking in terror and insecure in their own abilities while Goliath was yelling. We were meant to be like David, who was unaffected by Goliath’s words. Well Goliath is yelling. Why are we listening?

The truth is that you have the power to force Goliath to topple over with nothing more than a pebble. And that’s not because the pebble comes from a magical unicorn. It’s because the Lord God, the King of Kings, lives inside of you. You have the power to tell the liars to shut up, and to stop yourself from listening. But you need to make the choice to do it. Aren’t you tired of living under a haze? At what point do you stop being the victim and choose to be the bold one? Are you the Israelites or are you David? No, you can’t wait for your circumstances to change. Many have tried that. You’ll be waiting forever. You can’t wait for someone to come along and fix the problem for you either because as soon as they’re gone you’ll fall again. Time to wake up ladies. Time to grab your weapons and fight back against the monster. Truly, when you turn on it to strike, you’ll find that it’s a weakling.

Be set free. This is my prayer for you today. The Spirit of God is on the move. Get in on the action.

Peace out.


1. Facts About the Influence of Media on Young People. (2013). Retrieved from http://influence.bafree.net/facts-about-the-influence-of-media-on-young-people.php