1.31.2009

"Monthly Monday Poetry"




With my newfound love for poetry, I have done some browsing around on blogs to read other bloggers’ works, and I have been completely inspired by what I’ve found. So much so, that I decided to start a monthly poetry blogging challenge. It will take place on the first Monday of each month. The goal is for you all to post your own original pieces of poetry on your blog and then link them back here so that others can read them and be inspired and encouraged.

We’ll get started this Monday, February 2nd. To get involved, copy the code of the “Monthly Monday Poetry” button (on my sidebar) and put it in your sidebar. On the first Monday of every month, post your poetry on your blog with the button at the top of the post and a referral to my blog so that others can join in. Then, come to my blog and post your link on the Mr. Linky, which I will have in my post. Make sure to stop by each other’s blogs and give feedback—remember, the purpose of this is to lift each other up in our creative expression and share reflections on what has been written.

If you would like a monthly reminder to participate in “Monthly Monday Poetry”, please email me and I will make sure to send you one on the Friday before. I’m looking forward to reading what everyone posts. If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll be sure to answer them.

1.29.2009

Symbiote

(A living, sentient, alien organism that bonds with other living organisms in order to survive)
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Power—since the dawn of time, this word, transformed into tangible ideas, has been of great enticement to mankind; some individuals desire it with a sick and horrific fervor. Some others simply desire power over their own lives. The thirst for power is sometimes relatively unapparent, but every man seeks it in some form.

Think of the first man and woman, Adam and Eve—the first sinners. In the center of the Garden of Eden rested a tree; the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. These two were instructed by God Himself not to eat of the fruit of this tree—not even to touch it or death would become an awakened reality. However, the great Deceiver, in the form of a serpent, spoke to Eve and told her “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4b-5) These words were enough to make Eve abandon the instruction that God had given her—she ate of the tree with the promise that she would be like God…with the knowledge of good and evil. The first sin ever committed was the result of a lust for power—to be like God.

Corruption begins when man tries to take things into his own hands. We are formed by the hands of the Creator—He gave us minds, hearts, souls…everything we need to exist. Yet, we constantly rebel. Man has taken advantage of his supposed power in some of the most disgusting and excruciatingly intrusive ways imaginable. We have given ourselves the delusive authority to make life and take it. We have created new sources of “happiness” aside from the Savior which result in complete dissatisfaction. In many ways, we’ve even taken others’ lives into our own hands; forcing our rules, stereotypes, and definitions in their faces.

Human nature gives man an elaborate illusion of power—it’s just real enough to create drastic catastrophes when we let it carry us away in its black tar-like mass. It clings to us with a vigor so intense that we simply can’t dispose of it. The only thing that can deliver us from the black hole that sucks us deeper and deeper into its vain sympathies and solutions is the Origin of sinless man—the Creator and Deliverer, Christ Jesus—Upholder of the Universe and Defender of Hope. He is the only One who can hold true power and reap from it beauty beyond defeat rather than destruction beyond earthly repair.

Even now, after giving my heart, soul, and mind to my Father, I still struggle in my flesh with a lust for power—typically over simple affairs of my life. Daily, I must die to my own flesh and pray earnestly to my Savior “Not my will, but Thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42) Jesus was faced with death—the will of His Father was that He should die for the wretched of the earth; that He would give His life willingly and lovingly to those who took it, and in turn offer them the choice of eternal life in Heaven by His side. This wasn’t easy for Jesus…He was filled with utter agony—He pleaded with His father to let this cup pass from Him, but still…He spoke the immortal words “Not my will, but Thine, be done.”

The insecurity that we have in a will not of ourselves is the birthplace of our desperate view of personal power. We must learn to follow Jesus’ example by accepting God’s will. Only in that power will we be truly rewarded and feel real, vivid change for good in our lives. The earth is on a steady decline of morals, dignity, mutual respect, and most of all, recognition of the One who brought it all to existence. To cope with the tumbling world, man panics and buries himself in the false security of self-dependency; unfortunately, this is just taking him deeper and deeper into the abyss of confusion and darkness that he has created to be his cage of fate.

We have two choices—will you take the hand of illusive power and ultimately be crushed, or will you take the hand of surrender and live with the promise of a perfect plan? You can’t hold onto both. Make the beast that is our flesh cower in the light of our beautiful Lord. Stare directly into its weak and shifting eyes and with the power of God, let go.

1.28.2009

Magic




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Big city life has always enticed me—people walking up and down the streets in the winter with their Starbuck’s in hand, wrapped in their long black coats and decorative scarves; a full and exciting life awaiting the dawn of every day so that it may weave its fingers through the sunrise once more. A man sits on the street corner, cradling his saxophone in his gloved hands and playing a slow melody that brings peaceful energy to those listening. Tourists snap pictures of the big buildings and walk slowly, drinking in the sights and sounds of their surroundings.

Having never been to New York City, Chicago, or other such cities brimming with the richness of culture and sensationalistic atmosphere, my views of these places are shamelessly romanticized. However, in December of 2007, I was given the opportunity to experience a small taste of the city life which I so earnestly desire to experience in all its glory.

My dad had planned to take a one night business trip to Kansas City to deliver Christmas baskets that he had put together for his customers. I always loved traveling with him—so, I asked if I could go. To my great pleasure, my parents decided that I could. I woke up early the morning of our trip, around 5:00 AM. I never had trouble waking up early when I had something to look forward to. Dad and I had fun in the car, listening to music and talking on the way to Kansas City. Later on, dad informed me that we would be spending the evening at the Plaza. I had never heard of it before, but it sounded nice. After visiting several of his customers, we took our bags to the hotel we were staying at and prepared to set off for dinner at the Plaza. We drove for probably 45 minutes through downtown Kansas City in rush hour traffic before finally reaching the Plaza.

The sun had already rolled out of sight by the time we had parked our car in the massive parking garage inside of the Plaza. As I walked out of the concrete building, a strangely foreign and yet familiar world entranced me with its bright lights and waves of people—some in business suits, and some in jeans; almost all wearing smiles and breathing steam in the cold winter air. I must say, I’ve never felt so “at home” in my life. Perhaps that’s the purpose of those places—maybe that’s why so many people flock to their luxuries and excitements in places like this.

As we walked down the red brick sidewalks, Dad and I looked for a restaurant where we could get some dinner. We found a place called Houston’s which we chose. I must preface this next part by saying that in the few months before this trip I had developed a near obsession with the movie Ratatouille—stunning animation, an enchanting score, amazing story, and a talking rat chef; I mean, seriously…does it get any better than that?

As we walked into the dimly lit restaurant, we were greeted by a woman dressed all in black who led us to our table. The table which we sat at was candlelit, creating an atmosphere that gives you instant goose bumps if you have a flair for the dramatic. After our orders were taken I took a better look around, breathing in my surroundings. I peered over the tables next to us, trying to catch glimpses of the busy kitchen. I heard pots clanging merrily and shouts from various people in the steaming room. As I continued to stare, I began to talk, partly to myself and partly to dad, about what the positions of the different cooks were, based on what I had learned from observing Gusteau’s restaurant in Ratatouille.

Apparently our waiter, a young man also dressed completely in black, had noticed my looking into the kitchen and walked coolly to our table to see if we needed anything. My dad chuckled as he related what I was doing to the man who patiently listened. I was thinking “No Dad! Don’t tell him my pathetic story or my illusions of class will be gone forever!” Much to my relief, after straightening the napkin that lay over his arm, the waiter smiled and began his slightly more relaxed reply by relaying to us why he thought Ratatouille was such an excellent movie. Of course he would like it—why wouldn’t he? After all, he worked at this exquisite place! Still, it surprised me…I guess I thought all of these people were just drones, putting on a show for my fascinated eyes.

So, it wasn’t New York City, but it was my first taste of the life that has always given me the warmest feelings. I hope someday to experience it again—the sensation of complete and utter well being that the city brings is inexplicably refreshing. Until then, I’ll just keep dreaming it up—sipping a warm mug of strong, black coffee, listening to my favorite jazz artists, and scribbling out my daydreams in the form of words.


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To read more memories, please visit Lynnette Kraft @ Dancing Barefoot.

1.21.2009

A Unique Set of Friends


Join me in "Wednesday's walk down memory lane".

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For some people, a friend is found in whomever they’re with at the time. For others, friendship is only discovered after months or even years of searching for that connection with somebody. For me, friendship has been found in many interesting ways throughout my life. I’ve not often had the leisure of living next door to a friend, or seeing someone regularly—friendships haven’t always been extremely easy for me to obtain since moving an uncomfortable distance from many of the people that I consider my friends. Being separated from the world of constant sociality has done something good for me—something which I hold very dear to my heart, no matter how odd it may be. I found a way to create unique friendships with people in my television.

When a movie is made, the ultimate goal of almost every story is to engross the viewer until he feels like he is really, vividly experiencing it. In my case, many filmmakers succeeded flawlessly. Of course, there are always those bad apples—by no means did I like every movie I watched, but those that I did like, I didn’t just like…I was passionate about them. One of my favorite movies as a child was “The Black Hole”, a sci-fi movie made in the 70’s. All of your doubts of my normalcy can be tossed out the window now—I was far from normal. Everything about this movie entranced me; from the long discussions that took place in uniform around a giant glass and chrome table, to the massive extent of the space ship in which it took place. From the robots that played “video games”, to the stunningly accurate portrayal of zero gravity. Every time the opening credits began to roll, my brother Jared and I would hum along with the incredible and timeless main theme of the movie, written by the insanely talented John Barry.

Since we’re in the vein of starships and uniforms, I should definitely bring up another huge part of my childhood—Star Trek Voyager. This was one of the most viewed TV shows in our house. It ran every weeknight for a good four years or so; during that time, the crew of the starship Voyager became like a second family. We were acutely familiar with every aspect of that show—right down to the names of every crew member, their ranks, their uniform colors, how many buttons they had on their collar, and even most of their family histories which lay back on earth—far away from the Delta Quadrant in which they had been lost for years. Am I starting to sound like a geek now?

When we discovered Steven Spielberg, I think we pretty much hit movie paradise right then and there. Every Spielberg film we could find we drank in with all the fervor we could muster; The Indiana Jones trilogy, E.T., Jurassic Park, Hook…the list could go on and on. Each one of these exquisite films was accompanied by an equally magnificent score by the brilliant and undefeated John Williams. “Hook” especially held a very special place in our hearts. The magic found in the beautiful twist on the story of Peter Pan and the spritely vigor and nostalgic energy of the music were a tender sensory overload!

I’ve found throughout my life that these films have not only instilled a colossal appreciation for a good story and production in my mind, but they’ve also given me many valuable messages to ponder and expound upon in my own thinking. Though movies are made with a specific purpose, I still believe that they are what you make of them. As a child, they were the means of making thousands of incredible memories. Now, I find them to not only be that, but so much more. They inspire me to be all that I can be. They show me that not everything in life has to be dark and hopeless—life is what I make of it as I follow the divine will of my Savior, Jesus Christ. God gave me a passion for stories in every form. Without them, I wouldn’t be who I am. The world we live in is sinful and corrupt, but it is our job to dig the good out of the world and make the most of it. The earth is under a powerful light source—the Son of God, who gave us, His children, hope in a fallen world. With Him, there is a light for every shadow.

P.S. Please read my last post, "The Affinity of Soul and Song", and join in if you can!


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To read more memories, please visit Lynnette Kraft @ Dancing Barefoot.

1.17.2009

The Affinity of Soul and Song

A voice, a call,
Melancholy so sweet,
It haunts, it dances,
Tempting hearts to weep;
A life in a life
So sacred its touch
Power inbred
In explicit approach

Time held in space
In a beautiful face
A face filled with
Agony, love, or defeat;
Tears strewn on cheeks
A glimmer in eye
Hope, faith, passion,
Want, sympathy, pride.

Souls’ tendrils of sense
Weave through strings unseen.
Through sensation they glean
Sensitivity keen
Roots are entangled
A parasitic embrace;
The voice chokes
Under crushing strength
Souls take with thirst
What’s been theirs at length—
The song that at first
So gently rang,
Now much deeper
More solemn
The souls’ theme it sang.

At the mercy of minds’
Own tender state,
The notes resonate
They form jagged lines.
At last, perhaps
Though perilous the weight,
The voice that called sweetly
Has endured its due fate.
To live under rule of heart,
Soul, and spirit,
And grasp onto hope of
The life that clung to it.
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Abigail Kraft © 2009


As I listened to the beautiful opening track of one of my most cherished soundtracks “The Time Machine”, my heart felt something it’s never felt before. I’ve been inspired countless times by the haunting, heartbreaking, and breathtakingly sweet melodies held in this work of art, but this time the inspiration was new. For the first time in my life, I felt a poem in my heart, and knew I had to write it down before the magic of its presence left me in the dark.

Poetry has always enlivened my soul. I find it’s almost like a song put into words instead of music. After reading the works of several poets, both famous and unknown, I found a whole new world of imagination which I knew I held inside of myself—otherwise, how could I feel such potency in their tender or mighty interpretation of feelings, hopes, fears, sensations, etc.? I knew it was there, but the ability to express myself through poetry remained undiscovered until the song that has made my heart weep so many times touched my senses once more. It was in that moment that I was inspired more than ever before to attempt to grasp the unity that I feel with music and put it into the lyrical rhythm of a poem.

Though I know it’s far from being as vivid as what I felt, I thought I should share it with you all. Please let me know what you think! If any of you has ever written a poem, I would love to read it! I encourage you all to post the best work of poetry that you've written and link it here. I hope you will all take the time to do this, and give feedback to the ones who link up.





1.14.2009

Joyful Memories from Sorrow

Join me in "Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane".

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Have you ever experienced extreme peace, and almost giddiness in the midst of a complete catastrophe? There were times in the months after my sister, Anna, went to be with Jesus when I felt my spirit rebelled against everything it should be feeling. Instead of mourning 24/7, I felt an extreme urge to throw my arms in the air and sing—my heart was full every time I looked at the faces of the people I loved most. Instead of constantly feeling a gaping void in my heart from the absence of my sister, God showed me the joy that could prevail even, and sometimes especially, throughout times of pain.

Minutes after I initially heard the news of my sissy’s death, one of my dearest friends, Rachel, and her family showed up at our door. At first, all I wanted was to be alone—I holed up in my room with Anna’s favorite stuffed animal, a bunny named Alisha May, tucked in my tightly folded arms. It hurt to hear a voice, a hug made my skin tingle…any kind of communication with other people brought fresh tears and a new sensitivity to my own emotions. Yet through my obstinate insistence on being alone and staying buried in my grief, my friend stayed beside me and did everything she could to draw me out of the pit which I was in. There were many amazing people who ministered to my family at the time—each one was a unique blessing to us and I still thank God every time they are brought to my mind. What precious people He has given us to love and be loved by!

For days and possibly even weeks during this time, Rachel and her sisters, Emily & Lydia, spent much time at our house—catering to our emotional needs when needed, but more than anything they were an amazing distraction from the sadness that could so easily encompass me and my little sister, Cecily. Looking back, I can see what a huge sacrifice this must have been for the family—they practically gave up two weeks of their lives just to help us! Of those days, Rachel and Emily often stayed the night at our house…it was great for me and Cecily to have something to do in the evenings as sleeping often brought back the grief that we had temporarily buried inside of our souls.

I remember one night in particular—Rachel and I loved to have sleepovers in the finished garage about 50 feet northeast of our house. We would drag out a couple of thin blankets, CDs and stereo, etc. and brave the concrete floored building which only held a little Vornado heater for warmth. On this night, either in late November or early December, it was about 35 degrees outside—but of course, when a couple of 11 year olds set their minds to something, a little cold weather isn’t going to stop them. My brother, Jared, always made fun of us because he had no idea how we could spend a whole night without any movies or video games—I guess only girls can understand how fast time can fly just talking.

Our favorite songs at the time were “Mary Did You Know?” by Clay Aiken and “Emmanuel” by Amy Grant. We must have listened to those two songs a thousand times that night! We just kept playing them on loop for hours and hours. Then, finally at about 2:00 a.m. we decided to call it a night and try and get some sleep. We didn’t want to sleep on the floor for fear of spiders, so instead we pulled out a chair that we were absolutely sure we could both squeeze onto and be just fine sleeping there all night long…boy we were wrong. After kicking each other in the head a couple thousand times, and shivering in the cold for a good hour, we knew it would be impossible. After laughing at ourselves for thinking it would work in the first place, we grabbed our pillows and headed inside. As soon as we opened the door, we saw our sisters lying on the floor—cheeks flushed under the warmth of a huge thick comforter. It was a comical sight after our experiences in the bitter cold garage.

I praise God for giving me exactly what I needed in that time of heartache—He sent people to raise my spirits and create wonderful memories with. God cares for our hearts in so many different ways, and this is one of the most potent examples in my life of His working through people. It feels so incredible to be under the wing of my Father’s love!
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To read more memories, please visit Lynnette Kraft @ Dancing Barefoot.

1.07.2009

Through the Eyes of a Child


Join me in "Wednesday's walk down memory lane".
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Leaves crunched under our oversized rubber boots as we pushed our way through our tree row, which we had called “Sherwood Forest” since the first moment we laid eyes on what would be the birth place of thousands of stories. Long walking sticks in hand, we discussed seriously which route we should take through the forest in order to reach the other side without confronting any hidden foe—dragons, orcs, and the dreaded Tyrannosaurus Rex were common villains in these woods.

Of course, we never made it through without our fair share of hardships…what fun would our adventures be without a few thrills? What thrilled me most were the silver puddles that sat motionless in the grassless earth beneath the trees. These were no ordinary puddles—to me, they were passages to another world. The trees reflected in them to an exactness that made it easy to imagine another world waiting to be explored on the other side of these windows into the earth. I always wanted to jump in and see where it would take me, just like Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer in C.S. Lewis’s classic, The Magician’s Nephew. I knew deep down that it couldn’t be real, but my child's heart told me to keep pretending.

After a long afternoon of dreaming up exciting stories and even living them to a certain extent, my brother Jared and I would go back inside the house, cheeks flushed and noses pink from the icy cold breeze outside—but the temperature didn’t deter us from going out again the next afternoon, and the next, and the next. While a pot of stew simmered on the stove, wafting smells of home throughout the air, we would rush to our “clubhouse”—a closet which we had cleaned out to make just enough room for the two of us to squeeze in with a flashlight and a book.

We’d sit, eyes wide with wonder as Jared read chapter after chapter of his books to me. Every once in a while, he would even have one of his own stories to share with me; always starting by professionally saying the title and then with a hint of pride in his voice he would follow with “By Jared Kraft”. I must admit, half of the time, I had no idea what the actual plot of the story was, but still my imagination was constantly stirred by the atmosphere of the tales.

After sitting in the cramped closet for what never seemed like long enough, we would emerge to hear the sound of our momma’s voice calling us for dinner. Food never tasted as good as it did after a day of tramping through the “forest”.

The year when we first moved into our big country house was one of the most exciting of my life—five acres of our own land for my imagination to run wild! I was five years old at the time and Jared, eight. Now, as my younger brothers are around the same ages (Jonas, 5 and Silas, 7 ½) I love to see them running around our property, making treasure maps, sword fighting, etc. Using the imagination that God gave them to create their own stories and memories for when they grow older. When I look at them and I see their eyes sparkle with the same glimmer of adventure that I always felt as a child, my heart swells. The freedom to imagine is something only a child can behold in all its glory. I hope that my children will be able to experience the same thing. Keep dreaming alive!
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To read more memories, please visit Lynnette Kraft @ Dancing Barefoot.

1.02.2009

Past? Present? Future?

I often write about what, or more specifically, who we should always be living for. The answer to that question, reduced to its bare essence is Jesus Christ. He is the One who gave us life to live, He is the One who makes life worth living, and thus we should always make sure our lives are being fully surrendered to Him.

With Christmas having been here and gone at an unnatural speed, 2009 now being upon us, and moments still slipping through my fingers at every turn, another question has been wearing on my mind—which time of my life should I be living for?—the past, the present, the future, or a combination?

I think it’s probably a fairly simple fact that though we should learn from the past and grow from its experiences, we shouldn’t live in the past. If we lived in the past, we would find ourselves constantly convoluting our present lives and futures. Our past mistakes will eat away at our sanity if we constantly dwell on them, and our past victories will eventually fade away under the shadow of the life of unawareness we have created since. Yes…we have the past as a precedent for our commencing futures, but to live in the past is both impractical and destructive.

The line that separates the present from the future isn’t defined—the two almost meld together. In my opinion, they must always be taken as one or we risk giving ourselves the opportunity to place our own line between them. If we lose sight of future consequences or favorable results of our actions, then our current decisions will be unstudied and could wreak havoc. Conversely, if we spend so much time planning for the future that we are blinded to the present, then before we know it we’ll be in that future—but instead of the perfectly orchestrated and carefree paradise we expect to find, we’ll be presented with an utterly twisted and worthless mess that is the result of an unspent life.

Melding today and tomorrow in my mind is a constant struggle. I often get caught up in the present—I place too much importance on my current happiness and forget what the results, good or bad, of my actions may be. I disappear into dreams of the future—I give up the moments that I should be cherishing now and decide that what is to come is more important. Neither of these is right, and I have been praying that God will help me to create the balance between the two that is needed to create a healthy, satisfying, and righteous life.

If we blend this concept with the fact that we must always be sold out to Christ and have Him at the center of our focus at all times, we find something absolutely perfect—like pieces of a puzzle, they fit together flawlessly. Our Father has the ultimate outlook on life—when I learn to trade my bleeding sight with His crystal clear vision I will find the perspective I need to live a balanced life—learning from the past, cherishing the present, and being ever mindful of the future.