Culture Prompt: Kaleidoscope

I was on YouTube (go figure) and an advertisement popped up for Aeropostale.  Before the add allowed me to skip, a question popped up in the ad:

Are you who you were a year ago?”

That question instantly struck a chord in me.  It wasn’t a question I really had to ponder to come up with an answer; the answer was a resounding no. This past year has changed me in ways I could never have anticipated or prepared for.  I am not the same person that I was a year ago, and I’ll never be that person again.

The question did get me thinking though.  If I’m not who I was, who am I?

At the beginning of my junior year, I was aggressively uncertain about the vast majority of my life.  The class two years ahead of me had been a huge influence on my high school career until that point.  They were graduated and moved on which meant that I had to start stepping into leadership roles and responsibilities which, quite frankly, terrified me.  I wanted to be a little girl for the rest of my life, which meant that growing up was scary.  Speaking of growing up, I’d been thoroughly informed by the people before me that junior year would be my most difficult year of high school.  They, of course, thought they were talking about ACT tests, college applications, rigorous curriculum, the most difficult religion class I’d ever had (woot for Christian schools!), and taking on the responsibilities of an upperclassman.  Yessiree, I was quaking in my boots.  I had no idea what God had in store for me.

I’ve talked quite extensively about all of the terrible things that happened to me in the past year, but I haven’t done a whole lot to dwell on the highs of the roller coaster.

I haven’t told you about how I had the opportunity to participate in the most fun and most rewarding musical that I’ve ever done.

Or how I finally sprouted a pair of wings (or rather, a driver’s license) and the freedom to start taking on my own life.

You didn’t know that my God used and inspiring woman who has become a strong mentor to me to give me a Bible study that He used to speak to me so many times when I needed him most.

Or that He gave me the most timely religion class (woot for Christian schools!) so that I would have no doubt as to the power, love, and complexities of my God, even as my friend stated with such conviction in class on his final day of life on this earth.

I had the best season in speech that I’d ever had last year.  I was able to break finals seven times total in seven meets, one being a meet two size classes higher than our school.

I was able to grow the closest I’ve ever been to many of my friends and teachers, even my family.

I began to gain confidence in my skills as a musician, and, in turn, as a person.  I was the lead saxophone and soloist in my jazz band, and I finally joined the school choir after having been afraid of being horrible for so long.

After school got out, I took a life-changing tour of Europe, and it is a treasured memory and experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

I started this post thinking that I was going to go into detail about everything that changed me this year, but I decided that would take far too long.  Needless to say, it’s made an impression.

I think I’ve come to the conclusion that life is like a kaleidoscope.  Nothing is ever the same, and you can’t keep your favorite beloved image in it for long.  But every little shift brings out a new and beautiful collection of colored shards of glass and mirrors.  Death is never a good thing, but God can bring beauty out of the ashes.  Whatever God is doing in your life, whether you like it or not, is a part of His perfect plan.  We only see a sliver of God’s work, but we trust that He is making it beautiful.

So here I am, at the threshold of my senior year of high school.  I get one more year in this incubated environment before I take my first step into the real world with college.  My question for me (but it’s kind of for you too) is this:

What am I going to do with the time I have?

God has blessed me with an opportunity in this day, this hour, this very minute.  How am I going to use the time I have to glorify Him and to live life to its fullest capacity?  Life doesn’t hang around for you to live it.  I’ve learned over this year that I have nothing without my God, but with Him I have everything.  So I plan to take that everything into the world and spread it.  I want to show God’s undying, unfading, unyielding, absolutely perfect love to the world.  I know that love for myself, and it has blessed me beyond comprehension.  Life here isn’t perfect, but one day it will be.  For right now, we have a job to do.  We are called to live and thrive and love with everything in us, because those are the resources that God has given us.  We are nothing if we are not His children.  So now I ask you, what are you going to do with today?

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The Golden Pen

Hello all!  I have finally managed to churn out a new story.  I’ve been working on this one here and there for several weeks.  Actually, the idea for this little tale belongs entirely to a friend of mine.  We were talking one day and she narrated this beautiful story to me.  It immediately caught my attention and I knew that I had to write it down lest I forget about it.  I hope you enjoy it!


 

 

Trevin trudged down the sidewalk, his life a mass of mediocrity.  He did well enough in school, but he was by no means outstanding.  He didn’t exactly sit alone at lunch, but he sat with a little bit of distance between himself and the person next to him, which he didn’t mind.  He wasn’t devilishly handsome, but at least he wasn’t ugly.  Nondescript might be a suitable word, though Trevin would certainly prefer to look like someone who is hiding very intriguing secrets and therefore must not stand out.  He was an artist who lived in his head, so he was constantly thinking more about his own little world than the real one. No one accompanied him home from school, and he was content enough that way.  He shoved his long dark hair out of his face, but his efforts were futile and it immediately resumed its resting place over his eye.  There was a pen on the side of the sidewalk that he began to kick along the path.  He reached a corner and, though he couldn’t say why, Trevin pocketed the pen.

When he got home, Trevin opened the front door and snagged a fresh cookie off of the kitchen counter before retreating into his bedroom.  The cookie was a little burnt, but Trevin didn’t mind. He was used to his mother’s cooking.  He pulled out his homework, but he abandoned it in minutes for his sketchbook.

He opened the well-worn notebook to the next blank page and reached for a pen.  Uncharacteristically, he found that his desk was entirely devoid of writing utensils.  He could have sworn that he had just been using a pencil to do his math homework.  He searched frantically, but he couldn’t find a single working pen or pencil in his room.

Belatedly, he remembered the pen that he had pocketed on his way home from school.  He pulled it out and examined it.  The pen was a sleek black pen with gilt accents.  He twisted it to remove the cap and he nearly dropped it when he discovered the caligraphy point.

Hesitantly, he put the mysterious pen to his paper and made a graceful stroke.  Nothing happened.  He tried again, scribbling a bit to try to make the ink flow.  When it still refused to yield ink, he lifted it to his ear and shook it.  He could clearly hear the ink moving around the pen.  After several more fruitless strokes, Trevin was frustrated.  All he wanted to do was to escape into his world of doodles, for it was only here that he felt anything more than the even monotony of life.  He threw the pen against the wall where it left a splatter of gold ink that dissipated almost as soon as it appeared.

Not quite believing his eyes, Trevin picked his way around the clutter on his floor and found the pen.  Absently, he twirled it around his fingers, trying to figure out what he’d seen.  As he twirled it, a fine line of golden ink marked the air, tracing his path.  Trevin’s eyes widened.  Hesitantly, he drew a leaf in the air, watching as the golden lines formed.

The leaf looked so real that he reached out to touch it.  As his fingers brushed the ink, it once again dissolved into the air.  Undeterred, he began to draw other objects.  A dog, a skyscraper, a pretty girl in a sundress, anything that came to mind.  Soon, his room was glowing softly by the light of the golden ink.  Gradually, as Trevin reached out for his creations, they disappeared.

After a while, Trevin noticed how late it was.  He stood on his bed so that he could draw a moon near the ceiling before tucking the pen under his pillow and settling down to sleep.

The next morning, Trevin awoke to find the moon still hanging over his bed and the pen tucked neatly under his pillow.  He reluctantly got up and went to school, leaving the pen behind at home.  All day was a return to his former dull rhythm of life, but all he could think of was the pen.  He practically ran home from school to find the pen there and resume his adventure into his own golden world.

The next day, Trevin pulled the pen out from under his pillow and stuffed it in his backpack before he could change his mind.  Once he got to school, he was itching to pull out the pen and draw happiness in a little bubble around him.

Between classes, Trevin was so distracted with the pen that he had become thoroughly oblivious to the rest of his dreary life.  He pulled it out and twirled it through his fingers, careful to keep the cap firmly on the pen.  He didn’t even see the massive linebacker approach until the football player slammed him against the wall as he walked passed.  The goliath glanced around at the rest of the hallway, daring someone to challenge him, and laughed when no one did.

“Freak.” He spat at Trevin before moving on down the hallway.

Trevin was dazed for a second, but the first thing he registered once his head stopped ringing was the pen.  It was lying, cracked, on the ground.  He picked it up quickly and rushed into an empty classroom.  Hesitantly, he took the cap off of the pen and began to write in the air.  Nothing happened.  Desperately, he tried again, but to no avail.  Just as he was beginning to panic, the bell rang, momentarily distracting him.  Trevin shoved the pen into his pocket and raced to his next class.

After school, he ran home and barricaded himself in his room, hoping against hope that the strange golden pen would once again emit what he had begun to think of as pure joy.  It didn’t.  Angrily, he threw it against the wall, vaguely hoping that it might repeat its original burst of gold.  Nothing.

Frustrated, Trevin slumped onto his bed, absently scratching his forearm.  It had been strangely tingling ever since…

Trevin’s eyes widened as an idea blossomed in his mind.  He looked at his vein, imagining the pen cracking against his arm.  The golden ink flowing into his veins, even now pulsing through them with life.  Slowly, disbelievingly, he raised his hand and began to twirl his fingers.

Familiar jets of gold streaked between his fingers, lighting up his face.  Wonder began to fill his eyes, even as the golden ink filled the room.  Trevin felt that, for the first time in a very long time, he was alive.