Saturday, September 29, 2012

my feels will never be whole again

because of a television show.

The Doctor Who mid-season finale was this evening. And Amy and Rory Pond.
and the Doctor
my emotions.

I think I may never recover.

so if you see a skinny auburn-headed girl wandering the world someday, and ask her why it is that she can't speak above a whisper and why she is constantly crying, and why exactly it is that she's clutching a battered old sonic screwdriver to her chest

I will tell you now what she would say.

because the Doctor my poor baby 
he had a family and he lost it
Steven Moffat is cruel
that is all

- Kyla Denae

Friday, September 28, 2012

why yes i am ready for november

Ah, November. How to explain how much I love the exhilaration of fallen leaves, the first snows, a snappy chill in the air, the smell of wood burning in fireplaces, and the press of a warm mug filled with hot chocolate against my hands?

And then, of course, there's NaNoWriMo.

Forget everything else; NaNoWriMo is undoubtedly the most important part of the autumn season. It just sort of completes a year. After eleven months of having done nothing in particular, traveling and reading and writing a bit, trying to keep myself from getting too bored, all at once this wonderful thing comes again. And all at once I have a purpose! I must beat Mirriam! Nay, I must beat the whole world with my industrious word-crafting! My life becomes all about that purple bar at the end of the month, that simple purple bar that will tell the whole world (or, at least the bit that cares to check) that, hey, I'm accomplished.

I wrote 50,000 words in 30 days. 
What did you do this year?
Bet it wasn't as awesome as this.

So I am very ready for autumn. I've been planning for months, as always. Well, by planning I mean figuring out who my characters were and roughly what I was going to put them through. Still don't know how it's going to end. Guess we'll find out when we get there, eh?

- Kyla Denae

Thursday, September 27, 2012

loving jesus beyond all reason

sometimes, i just get to this place where i realize how truly amazing jesus actually is.
like, i know he's amazing.
i always know that.
but sometimes, i'll just be sitting there
listening to music
or reading
or studying
or in a lull at work
or about to drift off to sleep
and it'll hit me.

jesus died for me
God of the universe
outside of time
outside of space
possessor of all things

that God
he came to earth
and he was born as a baby
and he grew up like a mortal man
and then he died.

think about that.

just let it sink in.

God can't die.
no god can die.
even the greeks couldn't truly kill their gods.
the idea that gods of any form or fashion can die is a relatively newfangled fashion
arisen from the atheistic idea that there's nothing outside of us
that we are gods.

but this God did die
and he didn't just die because he thought it'd be interesting
he died for a purpose
for a reason
for a person
he died for you
he died for me
he died for the lost
the broken
the powerful
the needy
the unknown
the wealthy
the sick
the hopeless
the hopeful

God of the universe
the everlasting
came to an end.

that's not the end of the story, of course.
because what a dull story.
the good guy always wins
everybody knows that
as Satan rejoiced--his enemy dead--something was stirring
and a stone rolled away
the brilliance of a heavenly being made two soldiers fall over in a dead faint
and jesus came alive again.

his death saved us from the consequences of our sin
his resurrection freed us from the power of sin.
and it was all paid for.
and he did that for us.
even though we are what we are.
so sometimes, i get to this place where i realize how truly amazing jesus is.
and it just takes my breath away.
and i can't do anything but just sit, and think, and stare into space and marvel.
because i am loved beyond all reason
and i can't help but answer that love in kind.

- Kyla Denae

Saturday, September 22, 2012

in which i share a birthday

with two most admirable Hobbits.

If you must know, from the moment I first read Lord of the Rings and discovered that September 22 was both Bilbo and Frodo's birthday, it has become the most important part of the day. Because, after all, who cares about presents? Cake? Psh. Time with friends? I don't understand. Reaching the beginning of a new year? Yeah right.


I share a birthday with two Ringbearers. Take that, world.

- Kyla Denae

Thursday, September 20, 2012

bursting with passion

Have you ever heard that saying--or, at least, some variation thereupon? I love listening and watching people talk about the things they're passionate about. Their eyes get wider, their voice speeds up, its pitch arcing toward the ceiling, their hands begin to move, and their whole body strains as if it will fly up along with their voice, every fibre of their being straining with the pure feeling they have about this thing.

I love having that feeling, too. I love feeling as if I'm full up to bursting...though sometimes, the expression on the face of the person I'm talking to ruins it. Sometimes (actually pretty often), people laugh, as if embarrassed by the warmth of your feeling, and they look away. No, they are embarrassed. And that's sad.

Because what's wrong with feeling passionate about something? What's wrong with expressing it? Why should it embarrass us to be utterly open about the things that move us, that make our hearts beat and our feet move and our voices speak and sing and shout? Because on an emotional, raw level, the things we care about are the things that keep us alive. So why is it that, sometimes, we try to hide those things, as if they're shameful?

So let me tear off my own cloak for a moment.

i am passionate about souls.
i said it.

Sometimes, when I get to thinking about the world, and how big it is, and how many people live in it, and all the places that are so beautiful, and all the children who need a mother, and all the mothers who need some hope, and all the fathers who need some help, and all the souls that need Christ, I get to feeling so full up of feelings that I simply want to burst.

And I want to reach out to all of them, all at once so badly that it hurts. And not just an "oh, that touches my heart, ouch, why do I have to feel guilty and all these things" sort of hurt. I mean a raw, deep, visceral, physical hurt. And even though it hurts, even though it leads to this feeling that I'm been chosen for something that's impossible, that I'll never be able to reach out to all those people who need Christ, I love it.

I love it because it means I'm alive. I love it because it means God's not done with me yet. I love it because it means I've got a purpose for living here, that I've got work to do, that until the day I die I will have something to do. I won't be bored, because God's got plans. And in the meantime, I have this burning passion, deep inside, just waiting to be translated into action, one problem at a time.

So tell me--what is it that you're passionate about? What makes your heart beat faster? What makes your heart beat, period? I really do want to know.

- Kyla Denae

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

september's snippets

So in an attempt to actually make myself write more than I have been, I'm going to attempt the Snippets of Story project/thing/whatever that Katie over at Whisperings of the Pen puts on every month. There are only two this month, mainly because--well, I've not been writing as much, and what I have written doesn't really 'wow' me, but I did have a few good bits of description and times where I sat there and whispered, "I am so deep how do I do this I am so proud of myself yes."

And here they are. You're welcome.

Firelight played across the stone flags of the floor, washing over pages and leather bindings. A delicate pattern of light and shadow came right over her, sitting as close as she dared to the hearth, back against a cushion and book open across her lap. She had long since ceased reading, though, and Anarisia was staring into the flames, thinking and trying not to all at once. 
-Dark Dawn, novel in progress 

 either way, like or love or whatever is a funny thing. especially when you get to thinking about it. because what is love? seems to me it's sort of just this acknowledgement of the fact that both of you are alright, and the idea that maybe if two alrights come together they'll make an excellent. seems pretty absurd to me. still doesn't keep me from falling into it anyway.
-the eternal life of edgar alexander, stream-of-consciousness short story

 - Kyla Denae

Monday, September 17, 2012

carrying a message

One time I had a little kid ask me one of those really deep, philosophical questions that no little kid has any business asking. You know the ones--things just come out of their mouth, and you're left standing there, staring in shock down at their little faces, tipped back to you with a shy, sincere little smile, confident of the answer that you, their teacher/sister/older-person-at-the-moment will have a satisfactory answer for them. And then you just sort of stand there like, "uhhhh...where did that come from again why i don't understand even i don't have thoughts like that why is it that children are shown things not fair asdfjkl;"

Anyway. The question in this instance was very simple, and I actually had an answer for it, though I wasn't quite sure how to deal with it at the time.

why can't we go be with God right now?
do we have to die first?
and if so, why?
doesn't dying hurt?
why can't God just take us to heaven right now?
doesn't he love us?

Yes, he does. He loves us more than any of us can imagine. So why, exactly, does he want us to stay here on earth, in the midst of so much depravity and heartache and just plain stupidity? Why can't he take us to heaven--and since we know he can, technically, why doesn't he? Surely that would be simpler, removing his people permanently from the world?

Instead, we're supposed to live in a world that is not our home, in a place that is ruled by the Prince of the powers of the air, a place where disease and starvation and corruption and sin run rampant, where people kill people and justify it, where children get caught in the middle of armies and armies run roughshod over their people, where we can never hope to escape from the things we know to be wrong. So why? Why is it that God expects us to stay here? Wouldn't our Christian life be more pure if we were removed from all that?

Well, of course. And God could take us to heaven, and we could live with him the moment we believed in Christ. But God doesn't do something--or neglect to do something--just because. There's always a purpose. It may be difficult to see. But there is a reason, and there is one here. I believe it can be found in 2 Corinthians 5, verse 20.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ...
An ambassador is a person tasked to take a message for their home country to a foreign one. They are the public face of their nation in the foreign country, the one that brings the two parties together and links them, leads them to a bridge where common ground can be found. To understand just how amazing this task as an ambassador is, and what its purpose for the Christian is, let's look at the verses that come just before.
And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the message of reconciliation; that is, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Through Christ, we have been reconciled to God--which basically means we've become his son in his eyes. We have been given the righteousness of God the Son, have been transformed and converted from the inside out, radically changed from a sin-laden state to a glorious life of freedom. We have been brought into harmony, our debt has been mitigated, God's sense of justice has been appeased, we have been reunited with God. And now, it is our job to be ambassadors, to take the message of reconciliation, of this radical change, to the rest of the world.

Put simply, the reason God has changed us and we are still here on earth is because he's not finished with us yet. We have a purpose. We are supposed to carry a message--the most important message in the universe.

- Kyla Denae
full disclosure: 99% of this post was inspired by a missionary to Alaska, Bro. Carter, who came through our church last night and preached on this passage. It was amazing, and I wanted to share. So there's that.

Friday, September 14, 2012

striped pyjamas and humanity

Some instinct prompted me, on a recent trip to the library, to pick up the movie, "Boy in the Striped Pajamas". And I'm very glad I did. I also now wish to read the book--but judging by the stack currently sitting to my right, I'm going to have to wait a bit before that happens. (No, I do not have eight books sitting in a stack next to me, calling my name in the most alluring tones, begging me to pick all of them up at once and finish reading them to delve into their many secrets and discover how the Constitution was ratified by the Federal Reserve, put into effect by Queen Eleanor, and determined by the people of Westeros...wait. I've gotten that muddled up, haven't I?)

Anyway. In my searching through the internet (because I do random things like Google things I've watched or read), I've discovered that there's a lot of debate about this film, and the book that it's based on. Apparently, the argument goes that it gives excuses to the Germans, or doesn't portray the Holocaust in all its horror, or turns something awful into a quaint little fable. I would disagree on most points.

Yes, the story is told from the viewpoint of an eight year old little boy. Throughout, he never quite grasps just what is going on literally in his backyard. He is pulled between the love and respect he holds for his father, just like any little boy, and the horror he knows, deep within himself, to be happening to Shmuel and his people. He is naive and innocent--perhaps unduly so, but he is. I remember myself at eight. Would I have understood questions of genocide? Would I have been able to see past the "pajamas" and the propaganda that was being thrown at my head every day by my elders? Would I have even been able to understand the fact that some people are wicked enough to want to exterminate my best friend?

So yes, you see the Holocaust through a sort of rose-colored glass. You see a little boy who simply knows one thing: there is another little boy across a fence, and that little boy is his friend. He does not know why his friend must stay on the other side of a fence. Even when he discovers just what his friend is, and why he is supposed to hate him, he cannot. Because Shmuel is his friend. Shmuel is a nice person. And he, Bruno, is the best explorer in the world, because he has found a nice Jew.

To me, the message of the story is not so much "there is redemption for people who do horrible things", it is "there is no point to horrible things". Even in the end (which was heartbreaking, it must be said), Bruno cannot comprehend why his father would lie, why this man he's looked up to would do this to people. He cannot comprehend, even as it's clear to everyone else what's going on, why he's being shoved in among all these people, or what's about to happen to them. Because he is innocent, and innocence can never understand depravity.

Does the story show all of the historical details? No, of course not. It's downright wrong in many instances. But that doesn't really matter. If you want historical fact, go read a biography. What The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas shows us is that humanity is capable of knowing what is right and is wrong, without coming down to the level of depraved. It shows that redemption is possible. It shows the way propaganda can influence a person--and how that person can rise above the influence of it. It shows the horror of the Holocaust through the eyes of a child...which is, perhaps, the most chilling way to see it.

- Kyla Denae

Saturday, September 8, 2012

life changing?

the people who stay behind on missions trips have come to expect big stories. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. There very often are big stories. I've had some of my own, from Zambia and China. I saw God work in mighty ways in my own life, and sometimes, in brief glimpses, I saw just what he was doing in other people's lives, too. My outlook was radically changed by the poverty in Zambia and by the atheism in China, by the different aspects of a lost world strangled by starvation in one hand and by materialism in the other. But I've had trouble pulling together my thoughts about Romania, and not really because anything big and spectacular happened.

Yes, there were moments that still shine in my memory. There was Rebeca and Estera, two sisters who followed me around at VBS. There was Bethany and Cami, the missionary's daughters, who I grew really close to, and who I'm pretty sure were the people I was sent to Romania to minister to. There were other times: when I stood in the middle of a sauna that we once called an auditorium and taught to seventy kids, via a translator, about the miracle that brought Philip to a lone Ethiopian man on a desert road and then carried him away once his task had been taught and, despite the heat, I didn't feel hot or uncomfortable at all. There was the feeling of closeness to God as I stood above Budapest and, despite the people around me, looked out at a city full of all lights except spiritual ones, and realized that He was still there, though few claim His name. There was the moment when we were all in a castle and stood in the great hall and sang Amazing Grace. The words echoed from the rafters, filling me with a sense of how awesome that grace actually is, how amazing it is, how utterly awesome God must be (and also, as a side-note, discovered that Amazing Grace really shouldn't be sung outside of a place that can make it sound so beautiful just because of the acoustics).

But despite that, there was no life-changing moment that I can point to. There was nothing that broke my heart. The thing that came closest was, perhaps, when I was talking to Mrs. Tyler and discovered that there are only a handful of actual Gospel-preaching churches in Hungary...but that had very little to do with my trip as a whole. I suppose that, besides that, the one thing I really discovered on this trip is that I'm not called to Romania. I mean, I loved it. I have made friends there that will live in my heart forever, that I still pray for, who someday I'd love to go back and visit. But I can't picture myself living there for a long period of time like I can in, say, Zambia, or even China. God sent me to Romania for a purpose, I know that, he put that desire in my heart, and there were things that I believe I accomplished. But for the first time, I think I went to a place where I was doing the ministering, not necessarily being ministered to, and a place that is now closed to me, at least for the time being. That door has closed, my purpose there is over for the foreseeable future.

I can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing. If that's "life changing" or not. Either way, I doubt anybody would want me to answer the question of "what did you learn in Romania?" with, "I'm not supposed to be a missionary there."

But it's true. And here I stand, waiting with eager expectation for the next door to open.

- Kyla Denae

Thursday, September 6, 2012

adventures in the kitchen

so tonight I wanted to make something special.
well, I'd planned to make them.
but still.
I found this amazing recipe for stuffed cheese buns, loosely based on the ones Peeta makes in the Hunger Games trilogy.
and they looked deliriously scrumptious.
so I decided to make them.
and then I took pictures.
because, you know, I always forget to document the things I actually do around my house.
mostly because they're boring.
but making stuffed cheese buns, especially stuffed cheese buns that turned out so wonderful, seemed like a good occasion to actually show you all that I do, in fact, have skills around the house.

mm, flour.
I love making pictures in flour.
and taking pictures of flour.
I suppose flour is kind of like my own personal brand of fire.
you know how people stare into fire.
I stare into flour.
no, that is not weird.
and you can't convince me that it is.

kneading for ten minutes makes your arms sore.
I know.
because I did it.

I used mozzarella cubes for the middle.
I think I might use bigger cubes next time, stretch the dough a bit more thinly over them.
and then I might mix up the cheeses, too.
use some swiss in the middle.
maybe a couple with cheddar.
that way my family will be completely surprised at what kind of cheese they get.
we might also have a guessing game.
"which cheese is in this bun?
let's find out!"

I sprinkled a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella over the top.
again, I think I might change that up next time.
perhaps use mozzarella and swiss, as the writer of the original recipe suggested.
add some parmesan, since I forgot this time around.

mm, fresh out of the oven.

oozy gooey cheesy stuff

so yes.
I have skills.
also, you should totally make these cheese buns.
because they're delish.
especially with marinara sauce and meatballs, which was our main course.
except maybe you should also have with salad--
something that occurred to me (predictably) as soon as we were halfway through our meal.
good luck.

- Kyla Denae