Happy Birthday

As life takes on its milestones, birthdays are certainly big ones. The coming of a birthday is very important for everyone, but there are certain ones that are more important than others. 10, 16, 20, 50, and 100, for example. Sixteen years ago my life in this world had its dawn, though I was alive long before.

Young Nala

Sure, we don’t carry real weapons, but we are in a war.

Being what people call a “teenager” is difficult. We’re doing the jobs of adults while still growing into our brains. I hate to say it that way, but it’s true. We’re learning all the time, trying to make it in the world. It’s a war we’re stepping into, with new weapons and shiny armor, to join those whose shine might have faded but their skill grown.

As warriors and warrioresses, we must be very careful to fight and live in a way that glorifies our Captain. There are so many added burdens that can slow us down and make us less effective. The lure of the world does not grow any less when we pick up the sword; it actually becomes stronger!

We give our everything for the cause, but there are some things that shouldn’t be left behind. Innocence can be left behind, but faith is too valuable to lose. It might be too much to ask that we will be unchanged by this battle: there will be casualties. But pray that you stay faithful in the cause. I want you to read this.

Reject the worldly lie that says
That life lies always up ahead
Let power go before control becomes
A crust around your soul

Escape the hunger to possess
And soul-diminishing success
This world is full of narrow lives
I pray by grace your smile survives

For I would wander weary miles
Would welcome ridicule, my child
To simply see the sunrise of your smile
To see the light behind your eyes
The happy thought that makes you fly
Yes, I would wander weary miles
To simply see the sunrise of your smile

Now close your eyes so you can see
Your own unfinished memories
Now open them for time is brief
And you’ll be blest beyond belief

Now glance above you at the sky
There’s beauty there to blind the eye
I ask all this then wait awhile
To see the dawning of your smile

For I would wander weary miles
Would welcome ridicule, my child
To simply see the sunrise of your smile
To see the light behind your eyes
The happy thought that makes you fly
Yes, I would wander weary miles
To simply see the sunrise of your smile.

These lyrics go to a Michael Card song called “Sunrise of your Smile” about an older Christian’s hope that his ‘child’ will remain pure after his/her course in this war. We are still children, and we’re trying to grow up, testing new paths, trying new strategies, trying to build our kingdoms. But don’t forget that there are some things about childhood that should never be left behind. Don’t go so far in building the kingdom that the castle is lost. Be careful to guard what is most precious to us: our souls.

Though these words were written to a younger person, it can apply to any war-worn Christian crying out for rest. Be reassured: there are those who will come after you to take your place in the battle. But who will train them?

Can I encourage my elders today without sounding cheeky? Maybe not, but I’ll try. We are still rookies, raw recruits ready to take the world by storm, but we don’t have the experience to do anything worthwhile. Can you help us by giving us your wisdom? And to the other recruits like me: listen to those who take the time to teach you. Listen to that fatherly figure who only wants the best for you. Don’t be raw, but don’t go the other way and become hardened in life, either. There are so many obstacles for a Christian to face: the rocks of ignorance and the desert of apathy, and not much of a trail in between. I pray by grace your smile survives, untainted by the war, when we stand in glory.

 

Chosen Ones: One Close Call

The marshes of Agur’s wetlands were no place for a military campaign. The boggy ground and unstable terrain were a bane to any traveler unfortunate enough to wander in. There were tufts of stunted grass growing everywhere, and reeds and rotting pieces of wood that had fallen ages ago but still remained. It was also very cold. All told, it was the most dreary place Caro had ever seen, save the courtyard cemetery back at the capitol, but the strange place seemed to cheer Gino, who kept his eyes on the ground and nimbly discovered ancient paths through the muck that were safe for Opal.

Sargent Davis was waiting near the mouth of the swamp, and he also looked cheerful. “This will be a simply beautiful place to hide out in for now. There’s no way a regiment could come here without a guide. They would be dead in a minute. But who is our guide?” Gino looked sheepish, and glanced at his dog. Promise wagged his tail and flashed a dog-grin. “Us.” Gino answered, grabbing Opal’s hand as she almost fell off the path. “I’ve explored here, I mean I did, a long time ago. The land has changed, but I can still pick out the trail.”

Davis shrugged. “Well, if you know as much about frontier work as you do about map-making, then I’ll follow you.” Gino shook his head. “I know more. I’ve actually been here, but I’d never made a map before this. I’ll show you a secret place. It’s small, but it could be a base?” Davis smiled. “That’s the spirit! Lead on, then, shepherd. We can do this.” Opal stepped off the path and Gino and Caro had to grab her before she fell in. “Maybe we should get to solid ground.” She laughed, but her face was pale.Opal in the swamp

They helped her all the way through the twisting paths to a small hut. Years ago there had been a village of people who lived off the swamps, but it had been deserted. The huts were in terrible decay, as the moist environment corrupted the wood, but it was a start, and they were built on solid clay, covered by a hard-packed layer of split reeds woven together.

Davis and Caro began to talk of going back for lumber to repair the houses, but Gino dropped the bag he was holding and ran to them. “Stop! Are you insane? You’ll never find your way. I’ll prepare a path. You two stay here and unpack.” He went back and talked softly with Opal, who smiled and pointed. Gino took a small pot of powder and opened the lid. “Look at this! See this powder?” He tossed a small bit into the air. It landed on the ground and stained it red. “It will wash off soon, but until you find your way by yourselves, this will mark the safe path.” Caro smiled. Even if Gino wasn’t a fighter, he definitely was a thinker, and he knew what he was doing.

Gino had soon marked a path with the red dye, and Caro and Davis took their hatchets and walked back to the drier land outside the trees. They were able to find several strong trees to split and use for wood. Davis was used to the work, being a soldier, and Caro had always been using an axe to shape wood for pieces of his boat one way or another, so he knew how to use one. They soon had a small pile to take back.

They took it in trips, but on the third trip, Caro noticed that there was a different path that Gino had not marked. It was shorter and seemed to be as solid as the one they were on. Caro jumped over a small pile of rotten wood and took it instead. Davis called to him. “Don’t leave the path! These bogs are unstable!” But Caro looked down. The ground seemed firm enough. “It’s fine! I think I’m figuring this out. I’ll be there in no time.” Davis’ brow furrowed in frustration. “That boy has been given his own way too long. He needs to learn things the hard way, I suppose.” He leaped off the path and followed the Prince at a distance. The rotten limbs above them creaked and showed signs of breaking, but Caro didn’t notice. Just as he had almost reached the end of his path, one of them fell almost on top of him, shattering the “trail”.

Davis grabbed him by the collar and pulled him back. “This path is breaking apart and sinking! Let’s get back quick!” They ran back to Gino’s trail, with Caro’s breaking under their feet. Both were relieved when they were on the red trail again.” “Let’s try this again. Davies panted. “No more leaving the path.” Caro nodded, scared and embarrassed. “Leave the trail? I never want to leave this trail again!” Their return trip was uneventful, and they repaired the huts without further accident.

But that night Davis brought out a tool that made Gino shrink back into a corner: a the swordsword. “Why did you bring this?” He asked quietly, not taking his eyes off the bright steel. “I thought you would need the practice.” Gino glanced at his dog again, and he growled. Pussy climbed out of her basket and curled up under his paws, which quieted him. “You can train Caro, but do not look to us to fight. We can’t.” He held up his hands. “See?” “I see a perfectly good left hand. If you can’t use your right, do the next best thing.” Davis countered, looking narrowly at him.

Gino scowled, trying to come at a different angle. “But…” Caro looked at Gino too. Suddenly a thought crossed his mind. “He’s scared. He’s scared of that sword. I wonder why.” He tried to remember what Gino had talked about that first night before his house went up in flames. “Is it right to kill?” Gino asked, once again looking to Promise for support. He wagged his tail. “Do you always consult your sheepdog when making decisions?” Davis asked wryly. Gino sighed. “When one has been alone most of his life, he finds it more easy to confide in animals than people, especially when that person has been mistreated by them.” His comment silenced Davis, who looked uncomfortable.

“Please don’t argue, both of you. Gino, would you fight to save Caro? Or me? Or even Promise?” Gino knew that he was beaten, and nodded slowly. “Aye.” “Then at least train so that the fight will not always be a losing one. You can defend yourself, you’ve just never tried.” Opal’s gentle words broke him, and he buried his face in his hands. “Fine then. If that is the service required, I will pay it. But it feels as if it goes against my Gino and Promisevery being.” He spoke, and Caro was moved. If times were not so desperate, he would have sided with Gino, but they needed all the hands they could get.

Even if Gino could only give one, it was something.

Being Divided By Denominations

To Seek Man-Made Labels, or Christ?

Out of all the fights a Christian can fight for, why do we push each other away by denominations?

The battles we push against each other are heartbreaking: we have Baptist against Catholics, Catholics against Lutherans, Lutherans against Anglicans, and so many more.

We have put a label on our religion and it has distilled the truth from the Word. Our heart’s desire is clouded by what we think is in the Bible. In Jeremiah 17:9 it brings on the point,”The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”.

We have turned the Truth into a religion. We don’t need a denomination to define who we believe in; it doesn’t matter what tag we put on our religion, but what does matter is that we all put our faith in God, not the beliefs that we try to push in the Bible.

Do you know that from one Bible there are 1,800 denominations, and climbing?

Those are a lot of disagreements.

We have disagreed with each other 1,800 times,and we never even noticed the big picture we were missing. When we divide our Christianity, we divide ourselves from God and our brothers and sisters in Christ. The truth of the matter is, that we push ourselves away from our family in Christ when we make a new denomination as a result of a petty disagreement. Standing for principle is important, but there are other aspects to consider.

How can we evangelize people when we are splitting into factions from each other? How can we help each other when we are seeing whose religion is the best?

Sharpening each other with the Bible to make us wiser is good, but why do we have to make a new denomination to see who is right?

That is why we are divided by denominations.

In Proverbs 27:17 it says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” We are supposed to sharpen each other so we can be wiser in the word.

I, for one, do not believe in religion. I believe in the Truth of the Word, Jesus, and our Heavenly Father. I am of no denomination and I never will.

I am a Christian first, which means follower of Christ. And that is what I am—I am a follower in Christ. I do not need a denomination because they only cloud what I feel.

We can sharpen each other to keep us together in Christ, but we do not need to be separated denominations.We can’t spend our time trying to split when we should be spending time helping each other build a stronger foundation in Christ.

I know of two churches in Florida that were only thirteen inches from each other. They were once one church with one pastor, but when a minor disagreement came up, they decided to split from each other.

There were also two old men there. Each went to a different church,they would talk before they went in and would talk even more when they went out. One time a friend of mine asked them “What happened here?”. They all just laughed and said,”We have no idea, it’s been so long we have lost all of what happened.”

Do you see? They don’t know what happened. With just one disagreement, it made one church two.

It is crazy the ways we can join together and then in just a snap of a finger…we can separate just as quickly. How can just one difference, one argument, one disagreement set a whole church to split into two?

We can easily be united in Christ’s name. We can easily stand together stronger than any mountain, and louder than any chorus sung!

But it saddens me to see a Truth turn into a faction. God’s love is infinite, but God’s love does not split–it’s the same for every denomination, for every believer. Brothers andd sisters, believe it or not, God is in you! His love shines in the core of your heart and He wants you to share more!

Don’t let the ideas of a man, the shackles of denominations, be a hindrance from the truth of the Bible. It is time that we should stand tall, not hidden in the shadows of our own manly creations.

Non-Christian people can’t believes sometimes, because we won’t let them.

That seems a bit judgmental and harsh, but it is true.

When you wake up for Sunday church, what is your first instinct?

“Man, I gotta get my nice clothes on, my nice shoes, get my hair done, and I am out the door.”

When you wake up, you spend about an hour just working up to look your best, to show off your ‘Sunday Best’.

So I must ask…you spent an hour getting to look your greatest; now before you walked out of the house for Church, how many hours did you prepare yourself for the teaching to come? How long did you spend reading your Bible before going to Church?

Most of you would say “None”. Looking your best is fine; but what are your priorities?

A homeless person who walks into a Church seeking answers for eternity will see people staring at him, all in shining clothes that you believe are like pearls and diamonds!

They are bewildered by the ragged clothes you are wearing–some may even snicker at you–and then you are left with a decision: leave or stay?

If you were really put into that decision, what would you do? Most people are treated like that, and we don’t even know it!

God’s priorities are not for us to look rich. He wants us to know that we are rich when we choose Him!

God does not care if you wear the dirtiest of clothes, haven’t bathed, or haven’t combed your hair. Because God sees the true You. He can see your heart like a cell under a microscope and can see your true heart’s desire.

In the song, If We Are the Body, by Casting Crowns, there are lyrics I would love to share with you. “The weight of their judgmental glances tells him that his chance are better out on the road.”

When I described that scene of the homeless person, how did you feel?

If you were him, would you feel judged? God will not judge you by manly standards, including what you can or cannot afford to wear.

He will judge the intent of your heart!

Most people believe that getting into heaven is a series of trials and good deeds, but it isn’t that hard.

Jesus came to die for our sins, not to see his cross separated into pieces. He came as a holy sacrifice for us, so that no matter what we looked like,acted like,and talked like, we can all have a place in Heaven when we profess with our tongue that Jesus is King of Kings!

Another lyric is “It’s crowded in worship today. As she slips in trying to fade into the faces. The girl’s teasing laughter is carrying farther than they know.”

We are the body of Christ, we are here to heal and reach! But when we fight about denominations and choose legalism over Christ, we are not reaching as far as we could when we are all put into one body.

We don’t need to tease the brothers and sisters we love. Instead we need to reach, reach higher than the mountains, and farther than the stars in the sky. When we are united, instead of divided, we can move the mountains and we can sing God’s praise through every peak, every galaxy that glistens, every star that sparkles, and every crack in this world. We can push through anything as long as we remain humble and united in Christ.

Bananas and Mountains

A group of scientists placed five monkeys in a cage. In the middle of the cage, they placed a ladder with bananas on the top. Every time a monkey went up the ladder, the scientists soaked the rest of the monkeys with cold water.

After a while, every time a monkey attempted to climb the ladder, the others beat up the one on the ladder. After some time, no monkey dared to go up the ladder–regardless of the temptation.Scientists then decided to substitute one of the monkeys.

The first thing this new monkey did was to go up the ladder.

Immediately the other monkeys beat him up. After several beatings, the new member learned not to climb the ladder–even though he never knew why.

A second monkey was substituted. The same thing occurred, and in fact, the first monkey participated in the beating of the second monkey. A third monkey was changed and yet again, the beating ritual was repeated.

The fourth was substituted, and then the fifth: each time the beating was repeated. What was left was a group of five monkeys which although never having had a shower, continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder.

When I was talking about the church that was split into two,they had no idea why they weren’t a church they just continued being divided.

We are like the monkeys in this experiment: we are beating ourselves up because of something of which we know nothing. And do you know the difference between the monkeys and us?

We have the ability to change the cycle; we have the ability to put churches together, and sing God’s praises together! We don’t have to be monkeys, we can move mountains!

God gives us the power to sing his praise and be strong in worship. God has put a foundation of faith to our lives and it is up to us to either keep it and grow with it, or destroy it and lose it for good.

God gives us the strength to move mountains, and our summit never ceases until it is heard by the heavens.

God can hear the worship and loves to hear the praise of His own children. In order to be a mountain-mover you must drop your monkey business: do not be held by the label of denominations— be a Christian first. Be wary of man-made labels.

Labels can lead to division. Instead, be mountain-movers together. Be Christians.

God doesn’t look at denominations, or choose Baptists, Catholics, Protestants,Lutherans, or Anglicans over another; He loves Christians. He loves people who unite in His name instead of dividing without Him and choosing an earthly label over Christ.

God Bless and Godspeed. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

P.S. If you have input, comment below! I would love to hear your three cents.

Maleficent

Everyone knows about Maleficent. She’s one of Disney’s trademarked Bad-guys, who is eventually vanquished by the “sword of truth” and the “shield of virtue” or something like that. However, if you’ve watched the new movie, that picture is flipped.

Maleficent was once good and helpful and happy and well, fairylike. I suppose Flora, Fauna, and Meriweather might have been her little sisters: very child-like little sisters. As George MacDonald, champion of Scottish Fantasy, spoke of fairies, “They are always getting older but they are never learning anything.” Let me take the new version of Maleficent’s past and try to splice that in with the original movie.

So there is a charming little king who secretly is an evil bad guy who has locked the wings of Maleficent in his castle. And a charming little queen that…I don’t know, she might be in on it or not, I’m not sure. And then there’s another, older, charming little king, and his son Philip. Do they know about Maleficent? If the two kings are friends, they probably share everything, even enemies. So if two kings are on guard against the fairy and she comes: why are they so surprised?

Maleficent comes and acts quite interested in the pure little baby that her enemy has made, and comes to see it. She is rebuffed by Meriweather and then decides to curse the baby. She then spends most of the girl’s childhood sending  her trolls and goblins to find and imprison the girl and force this destiny upon her. During the fairies’ chatter, we see that Maleficent is a master of tactics, and knows nothing about anything good or true. But wait, if she had started off good, she would know what goodness means, and could catch them. That’s not going to work. This isn’t exactly the “fairy godmother” Aurora was hoping for.

Aurora grows up knowing nothing of her past and doted on by her “aunts” and according to the new movie, seeing glimpses of Maleficent. She eventually falls in love with Philip and then Maleficent captures him to keep him from freeing her. She seems to relish his conflict of emotions and his anger, something that isn’t surprising for someone who was betrayed herself. But that she would go from “good Maleficent” to “really really REALLY bad Maleficent is a little far-fetched. Sure, the new movie tries to redeem her, but at what cost?

In the minds of Children, this evil fairy has been the face of evil for so long. But now that’s beginning to change. The “good father” is the very one who is putting his daughter in danger, the “good fairies” are imbeciles, and the “good Philip” is being helped by her, the face of evil. In all this mix-up, it’s easy to say “Who’s good and who’s bad? I mean the good guys are bad guys and the bad guys are good guys and…what’s going on?”

Exactly.

In a time when Right and Wrong are objective, a movie like this makes a lot of sense. But when the original movie came out, people had a story to cheer for, a “story that really mattered” like Sam Gamgee in Lord of the Rings might say, “One where there is so much bad you don’t know how to go on but you do.” On the back cover of our copy there is a Walt Disney quote where he writes “Of all the stirring legends of the triumph of good over evil none has ever been so inspirational to me as Sleeping Beauty.”

Good verses Evil? But I thought they existed on dual planes. Are they truly at war? In a time when we aren’t sure what to think this movie easily turns the tables. We try so hard to convince ourselves that everything is relative, and it helps when we hear stories of the “Good Christian King Stefan” being  the “Evil Back-Stabbing Gaston-Type Benedict Arnold.” Maybe it eases our guilty consciences and makes us feel better about the evil in the world.

“Hey, they were put up to it. It’s not her fault that she cursed an innocent child and spent sixteen years plotting her demise then kidnapped her Prince Charming to torment in her dungeons until Stefan’s ‘happily ever after’ was a myth. It’s Stefan’s fault. He stole her wings.” Don’t believe that anyone would say that? A younger boy from our church was describing the plot in depth to me, trying to convince me that Maleficent isn’t as bad as it looks. But honestly, if I want to see spells and war, I’ll watch The Hobbit.

If you want to see Maleficent because you love stories on redemption, be my guest. But I prefer the innocence of the older movie, the charm of the enchanted kingdom, and my favorite fairy, Fauna, to any CGI effects Maleficent might have conjured up with her wand. Sure, it’s epic. But is it good?

That should be the focus of our judgment.

(P.S. Though Maleficent is dark, I should point out that there is a refreshing innocence in the part of the Prince and Princess. It isn’t often that royalty are portrayed so pure.)

Being you with God

being you with god

In order to be the person God wants you to be, you must have God in your heart.

God loves to see the real you revealed in His name. When you work a relationship with God, your real, God-ordained self is revealed.

There are so many things that God can work out with you, in so many different ways; but the conflict we fight with is How can I serve God? The great part about God is that you can serve Him in any role.

All you have to have is unfailing love and trust in Christ for Him to work His wonders in you!

How can I serve God?

You can serve God in any and every way. God doesn’t want your job, He wants your Faith in Him!

God will show you the way by pushing it into your heart: in Romans 12:2 it says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

All you have to do is be stuck into the Love of God and He will renew your mind so that your hands may be blessed for His amazing works!

God will work through us all, and the cool part about it is is that we only have to be ourselves.

God will work through us in our everyday’s work. In Ephesians 2:10, it says “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

You see it yet? God has worked His mysterious wonders built inside of us all! And you know what else is amazing? All you have to be is you! God doesn’t like fakes, He loves the realness you use in God’s name!

You can serve God in every situation in life because God crafted you in His good hands so that we can carry out His deeds throughout the World. As we do this, we begin to see the greatness God blesses us with.

In 1 Timothy 4:4 it says, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.”

God doesn’t care about what you do because everything here is His great Creation. The works you do in Christ will always be great, because God loves the Works you do in His name!

A Little Detour

I am a sixteen-year old teen who teaches, preaches, and reaches to others in Christ’s name. A person asked me “Why aren’t you with other teens? You seem so old and wise, so I can see some of that answer revealing itself, but how do you do it?”

I have never really fit in with younger kids, and I always was mingling with the older crowd. I was okay with it.

I replied, “I am what God wants me to be, I am the workmanship of Christ and He has crafted me to be this way and I will always love it because He has given me an opportunity to use my mind in the good of all!”

I never need to fit in because God has His great plans for me.

In Proverbs 16:3 it says “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” God will always have His plans poured upon you and you will always serve Him. As long as you be your funny, clever, beautiful, amazing, inventive, intelligent, loud, quiet, obnoxious, jaw-dropping, heart-stopping, and joyous self that God ordained for you to be in Him.

God will work Himself into your everyday life. In Jeremiah 29:11 it says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

He is planning a future so vast and amazing it can never be measured, He has greatness for you through Christ Jesus so amazing that it can’t compare to this world! He will use His amazing grace inside of you everyday and all you have to do is be yourself in Christ!

One day, God will use you and you will not even notice it.

All people who keep faith will see the power God can bless you with. He gives us so many blessings, including everlasting life and love.

In Romans 6:23 is says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God has given us free life, that in Him we will never die but live forever. With this amazing gift, He has blessed our hands to do His work. That is the amazing things God can do with you! All you have to do is:
1.)Keep Faith.
2.)Love God.
3.) And Be yourself.

If you do these things, then God will use your work in His name. Every day He will find your work to allow you to help many people. All you have to do is let God take your work in His hands and He will use your unique, outstanding, quirky, wacky, weird, hilarious, noisy, silent, and one-in-a-million talents — part of you as a new creature in Christ — in His mysterious ways.

Chosen Ones: Escape to the Marshes

While Caro was discovering his painful history, Nya was angrily pacing the golden halls of the castle. She was furious that her project had failed, but she refused to give him up, and sent soldiers after him. In the back of her mind, she knew that there were still Chosen Ones alive, and it drove her to near distraction. She was already feeling the blood-guilt from Julietta, or Nenya, who had she been?

The Blessing of the Chosen writ that those who had been Chosen were protected from death in two ways. One, that if they died, they would immediately go to glory. Two, that whoever killed them would be cursed forever, sentenced to never-ending guilt until the death was made right. This is why those who murdered them usually killed themselves trying to escape the quilt through death, but instead found only more.

Nenya had a unique gift, the gift of purity, though her parents never guessed that it would be kept in the way it was. She was destined before birth to lead a life of silent worship and service, and she never wavered. But for Nya, the pure girl’s blood was on her hands, and she could not get the thought out of her head. Only the madness of battle would ease the pain that she had caused, but battle without her greatest weapon, Caro, would be defeat.

She called one of her soldiers to her. “Have you not yet found them?” The soldier saluted but shook his head. “He has escaped us and fled to the mountains. There are reports that he had help from a shepherd.” Nya had been pacing again, but she stopped and turned slowly. “A shepherd, named Gino?” The soldier nodded. Nya ground her teeth and turned on her heel. Her heavy copper trident seemed to glow green in her anger, and lightning flashed through the window.

“I should have known. After all that I have done to threaten and to scare that timid man he still persists in defying me!” She muttered, sending the soldier away. “I knew he was Chosen. I saw it when he was brought before me, but I could not kill him or his baby friend because they were chosen, and I could not afford that. But now he has grown up. He’s not a timid boy any more, he’s a man. He can’t fight, we took care of that, but he sees everything with those dark eyes, and if Caro has found him he will lead him astray. I have to get him. But wait.”

Nya sat down and held her head in her hands. “Then there’s the girl. She will do what she can. I never should have let her go, because there was always something queer about her. She was always trying to speak to me. Then there is her to think about as well. In order to retrieve my pupil, I must first capture those two meddling brats so I can reach him.” She straightened and her eyes took an unnatural light. “I know!” She stood up and strode into the hall, where she hailed the soldier. “A message to Dawes. Man, write this down.”

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Promise barked the two boys awake the next morning. Gino stood up and went off for more wood, while Caro stretched and rubbed Promise’s head. Opal was already scurrying about in the small kitchen with a large bag. Her nimble fingers would search through the cabinets until she found what she was looking for, and then she would reach back in for something else. Pussy was busy as well, chasing a mouse that had escaped her detection by hiding in the cabinet. It was not long before dawn, and Caro’s two friends wished to be off as soon as they could. Caro’s head was spinning from the revelations of the night, and he said little.

Opal and Gino soon realized that they had a problem. “I will not leave her here. She can’t survive out here alone, and if the soldiers come here they will kill her.” Gino looked down at the spotted cat and sighed. “How are we supposed to bring a cat? It will be enough trouble bringing Promise along, without bringing Puss. She’ll run off in the marsh, and we’ll never see her again.” “I can’t see her anyway, but I’m taking her, and that’s final.” Opal persisted putting her hands on her hips. “Or I’m staying here.” “Fine! Bring the silly cat, but you have to be the one to carry her.”

Opal had already thought of this, and took out a small basket with a lid that could be latched on and a small hole cut in the top. “I’ll wear this, and she can sit in it and look around. Come on, we’re losing the light!” Gino looked sideways at Caro, as if he was saying “Girls!” But Caro lost the point, and Gino let it go. He called his dog and took one last look around. “We have blankets, and tinder, and the other things? You have food, did you bring the mats?” Opal waved her hands in the air. “The harness is on the mantle. We’ll have to make Promise carry as well, because I cannot carry the mats, and you two already have more than you can handle.”

Gino did as she suggested, and tied a little harness to the dog attached to a sort of sled, on which he tied some of the provisions and the sleeping mats. “There. We better be getting down. There’s a snowstorm coming from the north, so we need to go down as fast as we can. Come on, Opal, here’s your staff. Don’t trip now.” Promise didn’t seem thrilled, but he trotted ahead obediently. They traveled for half an hour, and made it to a green hill that was untouched by snow. Caro looked back at Opal, who had stopped. She was faced away from the sun, with the light streaming behind her. She looked very lost, but she also looked as if she was seeing someone that the others couldn’t.

Opal in the sunsetGino went back and pulled her arm. “Come on, Opal, we’ll leave this mountain behind. We’ll go down to the marsh and meet that soldier, and then we shall go on with our journey. Every step will bring us closer to Nya.” Opal nodded but kept her face to the west. “Yes, but when we meet Nya, what then shall we do?”

 

 

Poem: The Present

I can see it in the closet now,
That little book up there
I saw when it was purchased,
and yet am unaware
What story it has inside
Because I will not look
What torture can be found,
in that tiny book?
For though I’ve had my chances,
I’ve chosen not to see.
I know it’s a birthday present,
and that it is for me.

For days it sat on the bed
just a few feet away
But I refused to open it,
and in its bag it’ll stay.
Until it is wrapped up
I will not take it yet.
Though the surprise is getting old
I’m still a kid as yet

Birthdays can be tricky,
When you become this old,
And parents and siblings,
become less bold.
Sometimes I have to close my eyes
So I don’t ruin the surprise.
In the bag it will stay,
Until my 16th birthday
But until then I wish
The secret would just go away
So I can open my eyes again.

A Time to Wander…

When a soldier takes off the uniform and begins to live quietly, there are many things that will change. Though his family might stay the same he isn’t and with good reason: he has seen the deaths of many close to him. As a soldier fades into twilight he comes closer to death and begins to wander.

J.R.R Tolkien once wrote that

“All that is gold does not glitter

And not all who wander are lost.”

Though this small poem was about a fictional character, it has weight. The best things are often disguised as undesirable, and often people wander even when they know where they are. This poem was written about a warrior, who seemed dark and evil but was truly the best friend they could have had.

Still today we have wandering warriors: those who risked everything to defend the “simple hobbits” who in turn look upon them with suspicion. If the character in the book, Strider, would have told them what he did to help them, they would have scoffed in unbelief. No one would have valued his sacrifice, even though he had protected them for years.

Forsake not the wandering warriors who cannot escape the sting of battle and the pain of death. Don’t be ashamed of those who embarrass you because of their age, for they carry our nation on their shoulders. Though we should be thankful, like those simple Bree-hobbits we look with suspicion on those who fought and died to save us. May it not be so! Even if they were called to be in a fight that made them “villains”, they did it because they were commanded to and because they signed up to obey their commanders. That determination makes them heroes. And we should treat them as such.