Living As I Write

Life is so busy that I hardly have time to do anything. Thankfully I’ve been given the chance to spend more of my time writing. If I were to choose any profession in the world, it would be to write. (Pro Mom is already a given of course.) But even though I have more time to write, it doesn’t seem like I’m making much headway. No matter how much I think and revise and work my stories don’t seem any closer to being finished.

Of course it would be easier if I wasn’t becoming a scheduling fiend. I still hold to my standard of “grace time” so I make sure there is a fifteen minute gap between every task just in case, but I’m still working on multiple projects at once.

It hit me while I was renewing our chalk board. I’m not sure why, but I wrote “Go on an adventure.” Adventures are such a big part of my life that I’ve always been hungry for more. With chalk on my fingers and the board in my hand I decided that it’s been too long since I’ve had an adventure of my own.

I became a writer because my mind is filled with adventures. I want to edit stories so that I can help other writer’s share their own adventures. But sometimes I forget that it’s ok to live your own adventures. Life has been a whirl of schedules, work, more work and trying to balance more schedules. (Ever tried to make the absent minded professor organize – and then stick to – a schedule? Try authors. They’re insufferable!)

My mind was made up; I put the chalkboard above the book section of our little toy store and closed up for labor day weekend two hours later. With my laptop in hand I stuffed everything else I brought into my car and walked to one of our local coffee shops. We have two, but I chose the one that had the best atmosphere for writing. (Dim lighting, comfortable chairs, organic tea that would make a hippy cry in ecstacy, art everywhere….yep.) I have no idea whether or not they have wifi. I didn’t ask. With my own personal little pot of tea I settled down in a corner and pulled out my laptop.

For once I managed to edit a chapter for another writer and work on revising my novel. Once I finished I looked around for a minute and thought of something….I was living my dream. Going somewhere I didn’t usually go, writing, taking in conversations and the pleasant environment around me.

I want to live as I write. When I say that I mean that I want to enjoy my life. Writing is a passion, not a pest. What no one ever told me is that passions were meant to be painful. (Look up the greek, peeps. Thanks, my theology professor!) So now that I know what I’m getting into – the easy days like Saturday, and the hard days like today – I still want to be a writer. And a teacher. And an editor. And a wife. And someday, a mother. If God wills it, I’ll get a blackbelt – maybe teach some little warriors of my own. #Goals

I’ve been so overwhelmed trying to choose from all of these things that I’ve forgotten. It’s not my will be done. Not even my will be done in my life – just God’s will….for the story that He is weaving I am but a thread. Were I to venture out on my own it would result in such a chaotic knot that only He could get it out. And where would the story go then? Would it not be greater to fulfill my purpose, no matter how difficult or impossible for me alone?

One word cannot make a story. Thus, it must follow the words that came before, and lead to the words beyond. Why would a single word wish to stand out above the rest? That is not how a story is made.

Why must everything I write seem so unoriginal? why would I choose topics like writing or women in the church or theology points that are most certainly beyond me?

Indeed, why would such a simple pair of ink-stained hands be given the opportunity to share her words with the world when she herself is nothing more than a life breathed by God?

That, dear one, is the key. Unlike words which are nothing on their own, a life breathed by God is loved by Him no less than any other. But like the heroes of your stories, you cannot write your own. No character has the power to direct their own lives without the will of their author. At times they do try, but it leads to chaos.

My life is not simple. It never was. One saturday long ago I was inspired to write a blog post. Months later, life went from chaotic to absolute….well…I don’t even know how to define it anymore. Let’s just say that “grace time” has disappeared. Time isn’t mine, it never was, and I get the feeling that I’m never going to have enough of it again.

The grace remains. Grace to live, breath & write as I am given.

Shalom.

Yael Eliyahu

 

 

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Move With Purpose

So many strikes, with so many purposes. Executed with precision, deliberation, and perfection, they formed near-perfect forms; each one struck more than just the air. A story came to light in the eyes of each practitioner.

Watching the high ranks practice their poomse’s, an ache slammed into me. Unexpected, unforeseen, I hurt with a dozen realizations.

What am I doing here? Why do I go to Tae Kwan Do?

I haven’t practiced a single Kata in over a month. I haven’t worked on any of my karate skills in weeks. I miss doing team kata with my fiancé. I miss hearing our Sensei call out instructions & counts.

Poomse’s, Katas, forms…..they are all so similar yet so very different. Why, in the midst of a class that I have come to love, did I suddenly long for the old practice? Why is it that no matter how much I practice, I feel hollow? It’s never enough, it’s never quite right….the current of passion that thrills through me with every kata is not there.

Where is my passion? How can I love two classes for such different reasons and miss the one so badly?

I dwelt on these things through the end of class and on the drive home.

Understanding hit me hard – it seems that tonight my thoughts cannot come gently…only in sudden, overwhelming bursts.

The last month has been consumed with “what can I get out of martial arts?” Health, strength, speed, the betterment of myself, a good attitude, overall learning. Something is wrong and I don’t understand why it could be.

Images of slow, deliberate strikes repeated over and over came to my sight. Hours of practicing, going until my muscles ached.

That hasn’t happened in a long time. Instead, my time is devoted to overall training. Endurance, fitness, improvement.

These are good things. They are helping me a great deal. But that’s not why I joined karate. It’s also not why I joined Tae Kwan Do.

My interest in martial arts began with myself. All of the things that I mentioned before…”what can I get out of it?” Every answer was a good one, and I’ve got all of those things now. But by the time I was able to begin my training in Karate, my perspective in life had changed. First I found out that my brother also wanted to learn martial arts. Second, I had come to the realization that my body is a temple. One which is not for me, but for God. I was not treating  that temple with the reverence that it deserved. A few months before my first karate class, I started doing stretches and exercises with my siblings.

I have AWANA to thank for directing me to the bible verses that finally showed me why this is important. 1 Corinthians 9…..Paul’s words inspired me. I wanted to actually treat my body as a temple and discipline my body for God.

I learned something through karate that I’ve never learned anywhere else. Perfecting something for Him is an act of worship. Discipline is beautiful. It is worth working for, and it is never going to be the same.

It wasn’t the difference between my two classes that made me ache inside tonight. It was the reasoning behind them. This month I’ve forgotten why martial arts are important to me; it’s not about what I can get out of them. I practice martial arts to see what I can put into them. Into my body, the temple that I was given care of by God. Through martial arts I want to show God how much I love Him, & how I want to use what He gave me with honor and responsibility.

In giving this to God, he also gave me things I never expected through martial arts. 🙂 Relationships developed between both of my classes – I can trust my teammates in ways that I can’t trust most people. As for my fiancé, he was my first example of what it looks like to glorify God with karate. I miss doing team kata with him, and training with him. He’s taught me so much, and I thank the Lord for that.

My Tae Kwan Do class is full of people I look up to, enjoy being with and want to learn from. There are also kids who might benefit from my example, so long as I make it a good one. It hasn’t been the best of late, but I want to see what I can put into my classes – both of them. Yep, I’m going to find a way to practice both again. I miss it so much. If I can be of use to these kids, and to the adults & upper belts (they know more than me, and they are better than me, but sometimes a good student is invaluable to a good teacher…a lesson I learned from my own students.) I’m done looking out for me. It’s time I go back to the reasons I learned these things in the first place.

**********************************

This was written over a month ago (I need to remember to hit the publish button, seriously!!) but in this area of my life I still need practice, and continued discipline. In the weeks since I wrote this I’ve gotten the opportunity to get to know several of the kids. We play together, train together, and encourage one another. It’s improved the attitudes, skill sets, and stamina of all parties involved! 🙂 Furthermore, I have renewed my Karate training. Martial arts are not my highest priority at this time – due to my imminent departure my family takes precedence – but I will use them to the glory of God.

Shalom.

Yael Eliyahu

 

Call Me Thomas

Hold on. This is not how Sunday school goes.

Why’re you passing out water before class? It’s not snack time. We just got here. First you pray, then you read the bible and tell us a story, then you quiz us, and finally, we get snacks. What are you, a sub?

Whatever.

Yea, I was that third grader. The obsessive-compulsive-can’t-change-the-routine third grader. My poor teachers….

Despite that, the teachers were doing something different. That’s not what bothered me. Adults are far more prone to error than they want third graders to think; a fact that I was fully aware of. No, something else was going on. They were giving us water, and they were really excited about it.  I squinted into my little Dixie cup and sniffed its contents. Smelled like water. Looked like water. So what was the catch?

My eyes narrowed further as the teachers stood up in front and began an (in my mind) overdue explanation.

“You were each given a cup full of liquid. It looks like water…it smells like nothing – just like water – for all we know just by looking at it, it’s water.”  A glimmer shone in the head ladies eye. I should’ve known that she was up to something.

“Now listen close kids….this isn’t really water at all. You’re going to have to trust me on this, but don’t drink it yet! This is lemonade. It’s not water at all.” The lady smiled, all excited. I looked from her, to the cup in my hand. I wasn’t buyin’ it. Being the informative little snot that I was, I made sure she knew it.

“This isn’t lemonade. It’s water!” I said. The lady frowned, her countenance falling. “Yes, it is. You just have to trust me.” She said.

“No, it’s not! It’s WATER!” The louder I said it, the more it made sense. A couple of kids nodded in agreement with me. Most of them (outwardly) trusted the teachers. Some of the kids frowned at me. Others looked into their cups, even more confused than they were before. I knew that I was right.

“Just hold on a second, sweetie. You just have to trust me.” Condescension never rubbed well with me. “I still think it’s water.” I muttered. Teacher didn’t listen, and all eyes moved back to her. I glowered in silence until the teachers said that we could take a sip from our cup. I stared at mine and shook it a little. Water or not, it didn’t look poisonous. I took a slow, cautious sip and found….

A room temperature glass of lemonade. I looked up at the teachers, shrugged, and said, “Ok. It’s lemonade.” I downed the rest with no further protest. Acceptance came with proof. No need to be embarrassed or sheepish about it.

When the teachers introduced our story lesson, they had the grace not to use me as an example outright. Thomas was a man who doubted everyone’s word. He had walked with them for years, watched miracles with them, learned side by side with them, and trusted them on a daily basis. But his trust had limits. Thomas couldn’t believe the impossible.

Thomas was just like me.

That chord struck deep…we both believed that we were right. We knew, deep down, that there are few certainties in the world, and that those certainties are nearly impossible to change. People don’t raise from the dead. Water doesn’t turn into wine (or lemonade) and just because you want it to be true doesn’t make it so.

Thomas and I had to have proof. We didn’t just hope for proof. We insisted on it.

I don’t think either one of us thought about that when we started following Jesus. It made sense at the time. Follow the guy who has the most authority, the most power, and most importantly, is impossible to prove wrong. Who could ask for a better leader?

I wonder, did Thomas realize he would have to trust Him in everything – to trust Him beyond the shadow of a doubt?

I know that I didn’t. When I agreed to this as a kid, I didn’t realize that I would have to trust God to do the impossible. I didn’t realize that I would have to trust Jesus to get me through every single day or that I would be asked to do things that I couldn’t do without Him.

Seeing is believing. I never doubted that Jesus was real, or that He was the son of God. I saw Him work in my life, just as plainly as I tasted lemonade on that fateful day. Only fools deny what is right before them.

But believing without seeing….that’s faith.

Honestly, I could use some more faith.

I don’t see how everything is going to work out, where I will live, where I will be working. Beyond this summer, I don’t know. I’m not going to live with my parents anymore. (Yay!!) I will be married – that much, I’m certain of. (Then again, Yellowstone might finally pop. You never know.)

Unfortunately, those aren’t the things that Thomas and I share in common. Well, probably, but they aren’t the things that are worthy of doubt. They always sort out one way or another.

I still doubt that Jesus will keep his promise.

I deny that daily. I say that I trust Him completely, and when it comes to life & death matters I do.

But if I really trusted Him without a single doubt…why don’t I listen? Why do I still try to take my own counsel instead of taking it to the Lord in prayer? What in me demands absolute proof before I move on in anything? Every action I take, vision I see, and problem I meet, undergoes serious evaluation. Some would say that I am cautious. I know the truth. I’m afraid.

Fear destroys certainty.

Doubt is uncertainty.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Once he knew the truth, Thomas accepted it. He called out Jesus’s name, knowing Him for who He was. I want to live as Thomas did after he knew. I want to accept my Lord and my God without question, and without falter.

I have to do something that I don’t like, and that I’m terrible at. I have to live with what I don’t know.  Water is not satisfying, lemonade is not nourishing. I’ve been given living water.  Jesus leads me, and His word is true. I want that to be enough. It is enough.

Shalom

Yael Eliyahu