Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ask Sern!

Wow, it's late... By the time I post this, it might actually be Sunday. Sorry about that! Today was busy. Well, at least it was busy by my standards. Which basically means, I left the house more than once and actually did stuff. Yay for an active lifestyle. 

Anyways, the character up for interview this week is Sern Jesyn, father of Dertryn Jesyn, and also the former guardian of Sheth Terrem.  

Sern Jesyn

Sern is past the point where most people would be comfortable with broadcasting their age, but I'll embarrass him anyways: he's forty-seven. Right? *checks the timeline* Of course right. Anyways, he was born a Serdak, and as a young man, he was a dragon-rider/soldier. As such, he learned to be flexible and get the job done even when he didn't feel comfortable or was certain he had no idea what he was doing. If you need help with something, and ask him to assist you, he probably won't tell you if he has no clue how to get it done. He'll just figure it out, and you'll never know the difference. He married at age seventeen, and he and his wife, Syra, had two boys -- Nolan and Dertryn. 

One night fifteen years ago, raiders attacked Sern's town, killed Syra and Nolan -- then fifteen years old -- and kidnapped Dertryn. Upon hearing that searches of the nearby areas yielded no sign of Dertryn, a broken-hearted Sern disregarded his own physical wounds and left his mountain homestead in search of his son. His search only brought him near death with exhaustion, and did nothing to help him find Dertryn. A man in one of the last cities wherein Sern search forced him to take time for recovery, introduced him to Yahveh-Jeshua, and helped him find a new purpose in life, though Sern never gave up hope of finding his child. When a riot took Sheth Terrem's parents, Sern took charge of him, and became like a father to him, a fact which did not comfort Dertryn when he caught up with Sern and discovered his new situation. Sern and Dertryn have been estranged since, but a recent encounter brought them together again, and Sern hopes to regain what has been lost. Since his dragon-riding days, Sern has had many professions -- builder, repairman, tutor, evangelist, etc., as the situation demanded. Despite the fact that he lives often outside of his comfort zone, he is an introvert with little natural patience for incompetent or cruel people, and might be as likely to punch someone as turn the other cheek. He usually restrains himself, but it's difficult. 

Oh! Also, Sern was one of the few people to see Siran's (Sohrem's) predicament in Lans and make any effort to reach out to him, The response was underwhelming, but I'm sure it was at least remembered. Sern also insists on calling Sohrem by his given name (Siran), despite his protests. But I'm guessing it's more out of habit than from spite. Probably. Though Sern hides his thoughts and feelings so well, we might never know. 

Anyways, Sern will be around and taking questions through Wednesday, as usual. Since I've posted this so late, I'll try to post the results as late in the day as possible. Oh, um, about the punching thing -- he hasn't punched anyone who didn't deserve it in years, if ever. So as long as you don't start picking on people or physically assault him, he should be pretty polite. He's an adult, after all. He can usually handle himself with grace. Usually. *ahem* 

Also, I might take a break from the character interviews soon and start another series of some sort. What would you like to see? Writing tips? More music stuff? Lyme posts? Or would you rather keep going with the character interviews? (I'd probably come back to them at some point; I just might back off of them for a while.) Let me know in the comments! I'd love to hear from you. Well, not hear, obviously. Unless you want to send me an audio clip, or make a Youtube video, or something. But then I might just end up spending my entire day on Youtube and not do anything in regards to the blog. That wouldn't be very productive. But it might be fun... 

...But, as is ever the case with me, I digress. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Character Interview #7: Sheth Terrem

Well, fellow digressors, it's the day before Thanksgiving. Wow. Where has the time gone? I mean, seriously. I can't believe 2015 is so near. There are a great many things I could put on my list of things I'm thankful for, but for now, I'll just share the results of Sheth Terrem's character interview with you all. I'll warn you in advance that Sheth, as a bookworm and an amateur historian, has certain obsessions which may be expressed through his answers. This is good for my lazy brain, which doesn't want to come up with extra questions to fill out the post. Whether it makes for an interesting interview remains to be seen. But anyways, here you are: An interview with the famous (or, er, not so famous) Sheth Terrem. 

Hey, buddy. How are you today? 

Buddy...? Isn't that what you always call Sohrem? 

Can't I have more than one buddy? And anyways, you were my buddy first, and I can call you whatever I want. So, what's your favorite food? 

I've learned over the years not to be a picky eater. My least favorite food would probably be keita bread, not because it tastes bad, necessarily, but just because I've had it so much. As for my favorite food... I like turkey. 

Turkey? Really? Out of all the food you've ever had, that's your favorite? 

I don't know. I'm not good at picking favorites. 

Huh. Turkey. Wow, what a coincidence... 

How's that? 

Nothing. It's an American thing. How do you feel about said fangirls? 

I wasn't aware I had any... 

Huh? Where have you been for the past couple of years? 

In Jaern...? Well, until recently. 

Oh, never mind. Listen, you have fangirls. So how do you feel about them? 

It seems a little strange, since I'm more used to fading into the background, but I guess I don't mind. I only hope people don't expect me to be perfect and always live up to their expectations. That could be a little intimidating. 

As a young kid, were you more interested in reading books and such, or was that something you enjoyed once you were older? 

My mother used to read to me, and I always enjoyed it. She did all my schooling, and taught me to read when I was seven. After that, we'd read to each other in turns, and eventually, she decided that she preferred for me to do all the reading aloud. My father never really got into it. He was more interested in the practical aspects of keeping the wagon together and such. I'm not even sure he knew how to read. He never approved of people sticking their heads into the clouds while there was work to be done. That made it a special thing between my mother and I. Though I do recall a few times where my father told me to keep reading, even when he pretended not to be interested. So maybe he enjoyed it, as well. 

So... Fangirls. What are your thoughts on them in general? 

I guess it depends upon how they handle themselves. I don't think infatuation is healthy, but it's only natural to admire people sometimes. So in that sense, I think fangirls are all right. Just so long as you don't make the person you admire the center of your life, or anything. 

Hm... So here's a question of my own: Have you ever been a fanboy? I mean, you read a lot, or used to, so you must have admired some character or historical figure in there, at least. 

I admire Rhedan, one of the instigators of the Rhenor Civil War. Well, technically, Dahker started it by attempting to overthrow the theocratic system. He organized a series of protests and speeches, and convinced a great number of people that the nation would be better off without Yahveh at the center. I think Dahker felt like the government was pushing faith on its citizens against their will, and he wanted to be free from it. But it got out of hand. 

*whispers* Grab some popcorn, fellow digressors. We might be here for a while. 

Excuse me? 

No, no, keep going. *eats popcorn* 

...I'm sorry. I guess I lecture too much. It's just a fascinating bit of history. 


You must be bored. 

Procrastinating, actually. Go on. 

All right... Well, Dahker started a revolution, with the intent of reforming the government. It worked, but instead of just removing the expectation of belief, the unbelieving population turned on the Yahveh-followers, and tried to either kill them, drive them out, or make them renounce their faith. I only know what I've read in history books, but I get the impression that Dahker completely lost control of the revolution in the weeks after the rebels overthrew the system. 

Rhedan was a childhood friend of Dahker's, but he was also a Yahveh-follower, so he opposed the revolution, and then when things got violent, he helped a lot of other Followers escape into various tunnels and such outside of Rhenor territory, though by then it was called Khanor territory, and religious literature was forbidden. Some of them enocountered Kirat settlers and intermarried with them, which produced the Serdak, also called Dragon-Riders. Some left the mountains entirely and became the Reshen, the people in whose territories I've lived my whole life. And Rhedan and some others took a huge risk by venturing back into Khanor territory to witness to people and bring contraband literature to help those who still lived there and wanted to know more about Yahveh. Rhedan eventually gave his life while helping some believers escape Khanor law enforcement. Years later, Dahker left the Khanor and gave himself over to the Reshen, which makes me think that he didn't intend all the harm that came to be. 

Sooooo... Who do you think was right? 

Honestly? I'm not sure either Rhedan or Dahker were completely right or wrong. I don't believe the government should force anyone to believe in anything, however true it might be, but actually the revolution resulted in an outlawing of Yahveh-followership, essentially forcing people to say that He did not exist and forbidding them to practice their belief in Him if they did have it. If I had lived in their time, I think I would have been caught in the middle. But Rhedan ended up helping a lot of people, and he never gave up, no matter how bad things got. So you could say I'm a "fanboy" of Rhedan's. But of course, he was human just like everyone else, so I'm not blind enough to think he didn't have flaws. And... I just said entirely too much, didn't I? I'm sorry. 

No, actually, you aided my procrastination -- er, filled out the interview quite well. *ahem* What would you have said to your parents before they left if you knew they would (inevitably) die? 

...I think I still would have tried to convince them not to go. I would have told them I loved them, promised my father that I would stay sensible, and assured my mother that I would be all right. Now that I'm a Yahveh-follower, I would tell them about my faith and try to convince them to believe, too, but of course I didn't know about any of that back then. So... I guess that's it. I don't really want to talk about it anymore. 

Okay... Oh! Here's an extra question especially for Thanksgiving: What are you thankful for, Sheth? 

I'm thankful the Reshen still allow Yahveh-followers to practice freely, thankful that Sern stepped up and took me in all those years ago, and thankful that I met Yannah at Jaern. I'm also thankful to my parents for giving me a good upbringing, even if they didn't always get everything right. And since everything good comes from Yahveh, of course I have to be thankful to Him for caring and looking after me even when I make mistakes or question Him. And... I'm also thankful that not everyone gets upset with me for rambling like this. 

Oh, you get it from your mother. AUTHOR. You get it from me. Not your mother. I'm not... You know what I mean. 

...Right. May I go now? 

Sure. Happy Thanksgiving, bud. 

I'm not sure what that is, but all right... 

Well, there it is, folks. I think Sheth's bookishness showed a little bit there. Just a little. That's okay; apparently, it's part of why people love him. It's also a very big part of why Sohrem doesn't like him, methinks. Oh, well. It's cute when he tells Yannah his stories. Maybe he should be a writer someday. 


So what are y'all thankful for? I'm thankful for a loving family and friends who don't think I'm crazy even when I'm convinced that I am, for the means to treat this disease I have, and for the freedom to worship God freely and serve and write about Him without fear. I'm thankful for a brain that can still come up with stories, no matter how addled it might be, and for hands that can still hold a pen or use a keyboard so that others can experience those stories. I'm also thankful for my readers, who apparently find enough merit in my ramblings and far-fetched stories to keep reading them. 

How about food? Does your Thanksgiving dinner consist of traditional foods like turkey and pumpkin pie (the best parts of the meal, IMHO), or are you more unconventional? Will you watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade? I'm really not sure about that last one, myself. It seems to get less and less interesting for me every year, but I'm a traditionalist, so I'll probably at least watch part of it. I wonder what balloons they'll have this year, or whether we'll mostly just see the reporters' heads blocking the way...? Oh, well. I guess any view is better than none. 

...But, of course, I digress. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Another Announcement -- Musical Mondays!

Hey there, fellow digressors. So, you're probably wondering (1) what on earth I'm announcing this time, and (2) what exactly 'Musical Mondays' are. Well, since starting the whole series of character interviews, I've been reminded of something I actually discovered a long time ago: I need deadlines. I can try to work without them, but I'll be much more productive if I have some idea of exactly what I'm supposed to do and when it needs to be finished. This has proven true with the character interviews, in that I consistently post those, even when I don't get anything else done. 

So, I am instigating a new tradition: Musical Mondays. Henceforth, Mondays -- while previously dedicated to a celebration of doom, dread, and, um... um... of failed alliterations -- shall bring with them a post containing or related to a piece of music. This could be a hymn, a classical piece, movie score, or one of my own compositions. Anything goes. This flexibility is halfway there to provide variety, and halfway contrived to give my scattered brain freedom to choose whatever its evil little heart desires. (Do brains have hearts? That would be disturbing. Or if a brain literally had a mind of its own, and so you actually had two brains inside your head... That would almost be cool. ANYWAYS.) 

For the first Musical Monday, I am going to share with you a ballad that I wrote just yesterday. A friend from Go Teen Writers shared a song she'd written about one of her characters, and it inspired me to write a ballad of my own. It's called 'Heart of the Innocent', and gives a general outline of one character's developmental arc throughout the books so far. (I could tell you which one, if you like, but I'll withhold that information for the moment, in case anyone out there hates spoilers. And anyways, I think at least four or five characters are mentioned at least vaguely throughout the song.) 

I only have one halfway decent recording, and it's a cappella, because playing the piano might have involved inadvertently waking a couple of adorable kids who were napping nearby. It is by no means a perfect recording, but it should at least give you an idea of how the song is supposed to go. I'll also include the lyrics below, in case you either can't understand them in the video or don't feel inclined to play it at all (shame on you, sir or madam; shame, indeed). Oh -- and this is the first time I've written a ballad, as far as I can remember, so please be gentle. I've only written hymns/spiritual songs previously. Well, I mean, I wrote a lot of poetry when I was younger, and I've read and listened to 'The Highwayman' probably way too many times, but... Anyways, here it is: 

Heart of the Innocent

"Come and hear now the tale
Of the child of a beggar-man,
How his world changed overnight.
All he held dear
Was ripped from his fingertips,
And he tried to make it all right
For the one in his care,
All that remained for him; his life he’d gladly spend
For one little boy
With the heart of an innocent.

The price of his soul
Seemed a small one to pay,
But the deal, it was only the start,
And the child of a beggar-man
Found that his means of escape
Had fallen apart.
But a desperate man, he holds tight to his plans;
He does things that he never meant.
And with one blow,
He shattered the heart of the innocent.

Well, the beggar-man’s child,
His song came to an end
But the shattered heart he left behind
Went searching for love,
Searching for light,
But darkness was all he could find.
Long he lived in the night;
It was all that he knew,
But something inside was still bent
On finding someone
To rebuild the heart of the innocent.

Though the darkness said
There was no light to be found,
The innocent searched, and then
He thought one he met
Would the damage repair,
But they shattered him over again.
Oh hear how he cries,
How his hope, now it dies,
How in fear, to the flames he went.
Now so black,
Black is the heart of the innocent.

Now the light burns his eyes,
And when love comes, he flies.
When he falls, no-one sees his descent
But one girl,
One with the heart of an innocent.

Now the darkness abates
And the innocent waits,
Longs so, but fears to relent.
Is there still hope,
Hope for the heart of the innocent?"

Copyright (c) 2014 by C. F. Barrows

Yes, yes, rest assured the "innocent" hates me with every fiber of his being. But I'm not all that afraid of him, so meh. Even if he did work up the nerve to attack me, he'd probably be horrified at himself afterwards. Here's hoping he never finds any sort of portal into the real world. Do you think the Doctor would help him? Man, that's a scary thought... What if they see me as this big, cruel monster who's bent on gobbling up all the poor little people under my jurisdiction? 

Iiiii'm not sure I really want to think about that. 

OH. Also, a reminder: I'll be taking questions for Sheth Terrem over here until Wednesday. Make sure to get yours in by then! I promise he doesn't bite. He's one of the nice charries. Usually. 

So, heard any good ballads lately? Loreena McKennitt did a gorgeous cover of 'The Highwayman' once. It's somewhat abridged, but it's still ten minutes long, and utterly haunting. I can't speak for or against the rest of her work, but I love that song. It's so much fun to sing, too. The beauty... The flow... The creepiness... 

.........Buuuuut, as always... I digress. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ask Sheth!

Hey, digressors! Sorry I'm so late with this post; it was a busy day, preceded by busier ones, and there are more of the same fast approaching, so free time has been somewhat restricted. But without further ado, I shall introduce to you this week's character to be interviewed, Sheth Terrem. (Yes, fangirls,  please contain your shrieking, or we'll never get this interview underway.) 

Sheth Terrem

Sheth Terrem was born to Kheleth immigrants, and spent most of his growing-up years in the back of a wagon. His parents were merchants, largely of animals and their byproducts, but also of various other transportable goods. When Sheth was sixteen, the family made a stop in the Reshan-Shamindo bordertown of Lans and, while Sheth guarded the wagon, Shamindo cultists attacked the town and robbed him of both parents. The city council assigned him to live with Sern Jesyn, a Serdak dragon-rider turned evangelist who eventually led him to Yahveh-Jeshua. Seven years after moving in with Sern, Sheth is on his own, and has been called up for service in the Reshan Guard, despite his pacifistic stance. Now traveling with a ragtag combination of Reshen, Khanor, Shamindo, Kiratai, and Serdakai, Sheth struggles to stay strong in his faith without alienating certain others around him. Sheth is an introvert with a dry sense of humor, and loves books and stories. If he could be anywhere in the world, he would likely choose to return to his childhood home-base of Delnam and read a good book with his dog, Tori, beside him. (Poor Tori -- she must miss Sheth quite a bit, as I'm not convinced that the Guard allows recruits to keep pets.) Sheth is currently courting (or whatever you call the process) Yannah Delraen, and is in an uneasy truce with Sohrem Terahl, who assaulted him once for fighting with Yannah and making her cry (long story, Sheth and Yannah have since reconciled, and it wasn't really worth the assault). 

Sheth is the protagonist of 'The Follower', and also (arguably) of 'The Merchant's Son'. He's been bumped from that role for 'The Rescuer', but he's still in there, and he still has fangirls. Hm. I wonder if Yannah ever gets jealous...? 

Anyways, here he is, peopleses. Have fun asking questions. I shall do my best to post the answers a bit earlier in the day on Wednesday. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Character Interview #6: Kyra Daehr

Hello again, peopleses. Er, fellow digressors, I mean. Wow, it's late in the day to be posting, isn't it? *says the person who usually posts things after midnight* 

Anyways, on Thursday, I opened up my character, Kyra Daehr, for an interview, and some of you asked some great questions. As anticipated, she was a little rude in answering them, so you'll have to forgive her. I promise she's not heartless. She's just, er... a little hostile. *ahem* Anyways, here she is. 

Well, here goes nothing, I guess. Kyra, are you a troublemaker? 

No. If someone else makes trouble, I'll deal with them, but I don't cause trouble intentionally. That would be idiotic. 

Have you ever been one? 

In the sense that I haven't always conformed to the given rules, sure. I got into trouble for continuing my attack on a fellow trainee once when I had him on the ground. Apparently, that was considered bad form. I still say that if you don't learn to fight on the ground in training, you'll be dead in an actual fight. So any trouble I've caused was trouble that had to be made. 

Riiiiight. Why don't you get along with Sohrem? 

Because he's a spineless, secretive brat who doesn't know how to keep his nose out of everyone else's business. He's trouble personified. Ask anyone. Except for Shaetha, since she thinks everyone is some misunderstood innocent who just needs a hug or two. 

Hey, I like Shaetha. And her personality makes it a lot easier for her to talk with Sohrem without getting into trouble. Being nice does wonders. You should try it sometime. Maybe Lehn could give you lessons, since he apparently raised Shaetha so well. ANYWAYS. What is the most ridiculous thing you've ever done? 

That depends on who you ask. 

Well, I'm asking you. 

I think the most ridiculous thing I've ever done was let Jorthen take charge after Ender disappeared. The man is a traitor in the worst sense, and doesn't know when to step down. Others would say that the most ridiculous thing I've done was running back into the Lair when I realized we'd left Ender behind. I guess that was fairly stupid, too. 

Do you think that your friendship with Lehn could go further, and do you want it to? 

...Further than what? 

Further than normal friendship. Come on, girlie -- it's not like you haven't been ribbed enough about this. Don't play dumb. 

I'm not playing dumb. I just think it's ridiculous that so many people have shown so much interest in our relationship. As if I have time to think about relationships while I'm busy trying to get everyone home alive. 

Okay, Catnip. Whatever you say. 

What did you just call me? 


Look, my friendship with Lehn is no-one's business. 

Wow, Catnip -- you're looking a little red there. Is it hot in here? 

Don't make me hurt you. And stop calling me that. No-one ever calls anyone else 'Catnip'. 

...*ahem* Do you feel threatened by others because of your race, and if so, what kind of treatment do you get that prompts that response? 

It depends on the situation. People tend to be more afraid of me than anything else. The Kiratai have always been known for being nomadic and aggressive. We've had to be. The clans tend to required a certain amount of distance between each other, and of course we have to travel between them for any trade or other relations. It's a dangerous area. We also believe that the stronger man always prevails. If you can't be physically strong, or strong enough in will to make up for it, you're seen as being no good to anyone else. Honestly, I've been removed from the culture for a decade and a half, which is most of my life, so I don't remember much firsthand. But suffice to say, people with a Kirat heritage are assumed to be aggressive and to show no mercy right from the get-go. So people either do their best to stay out of our way or take it upon themselves to show us our place. We usually pummel them if they try often enough. It's really none of their business. 

Personally, I've gotten a fair amount of verbal abuse, if you can even call it that. Basically, people try to tell me that I'm a savage or that I'm not as strong as I think I am, in cruder terms. I don't care. In most cases, they go up against me in a sparring match an hour later and regret every word. So it doesn't matter. 

What's unique about your Kirat heritage as opposed to others? 

Well, for one thing, I think it gives me a stronger will and greater stamina than most people. I was raised to follow through and stay strong, so that's what I do. It makes me an effective soldier. It might not make me a very nice person to talk to, but I'm not much for talking, so who really cares? We're generally very easy to pick out in a crowd, because we have darker skin than everyone else. We don't all have the same shade, of course. Ender and I have bronze skin, while Kohr, a friend of ours, has dark brown skin. It varies depending upon which clans are in your bloodlines. I think there's also something in all of us that makes it hard to settle in one place for long. If we have to stay rooted in one place, then we have to be actively involved and progressing in something to avoid losing our minds. 

Oh -- and I think most Kiratai believe in some sort of elemental spirits or gods, but again, I was young when I started living with the Khanor, and I don't think our family was typical. I specifically heard my father mention Yahveh a few times, and in my experience, most Yahveh-followers don't tend to believe in other gods. 

Which clan are you from? I'm curious now. 

I don't remember. It wasn't vital information for a five-year-old to know. But I do remember that we lived at the base of a mountain. You could probably find the ruins of the village and see if there's any evidence of which clan built it. 

Fine. What do you like the most about your heritage? 

Like I said, it gives me a backbone. It enables me to get things done when no-one else will. 

And then Lehn teaches you how to be a good person. 

If you say one more word about Lehn, I will cut you. 

No need. *shoves Kyra into the character closet, then quickly locks and bolsters a heavy chair against the door* 


Well, there you have it, folks. Like I said, I swear she has a heart. She can actually be very protective when she sets her mind to it, and she wouldn't really kill anyone unless it really had to be done. But hey, now you've heard her side of the story, at least as much as she's willing to tell. I can rat her out further, if you wish. For now, I must be off to eat dinner. Dinner is important. Feel free to ask any further questions in the comments below. Maaaaaybe I can even drag Kyra back in here to answer them. Maybe. Otherwise, I'll answer them for her (i.e., I can answer them out of character; I'm not quite so insane as to actually believe she's a real person, or at least not yet). 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Like A River Glorious

Hey there, fellow digressors. So today (or, well, yesterday, since I'm posting this after midnight), I went to church. Shocking, I know. What on earth was I doing in church on Sunday, of all days? Well, besides watching a video about Noah's Ark (put out by Answers in Genesis; they're awesome) and sitting through a slightly different (but still good) sermon by a local missionary, we sang the song that the church in general has set to memorizing over the past several weeks: 'Like A River Glorious'. During Family School (which is like Sunday School, except with the whole family together), one of the pastor's sons told us the story of the hymn's author, Frances R. Havergal. She wrote several hymns, actually, including the popular 'Take My Life and Let It Be', 'Who Is on the Lord's Side', and 'I Gave My Life for Thee'. 

While her hymns are beautiful and inspirational, and her life story is fascinating, the part that leapt out at me was the account of how she once became very ill -- with a severe cold that caused inflammation of the lungs -- and, upon being told that her life was in danger, exclaimed, "If I am really going, it is too good to be true!" 

That seems a little off, doesn't it? When you find out you're within an inch of your life, you're supposed to panic. You're supposed to gasp and cry and frantically look for any way of prolonging your life a little further. Such news is supposed to rock your world. It's only natural. 

But the peace of God is far beyond natural. It is supernatural. 

I know this because I have been in Ms. Havergal's approximate position before. 

No, I've never faced a doctor and been told I might die. I was once informed that I had a chronic illness that would take years to beat, but it's not bad enough to be fatal. But... Well, maybe the best way to explain it would be to tell you a story. It's a story I've lived several times over the past few years. It goes down a little differently each time, but there are some common characteristics, enough that I feel I can share a relatively accurate account with you now. It'll be somewhat fictionalized, since no two instances are exactly the same, but here goes. 

It was a day like any other. The sun rose long before I did, as did most of the people in the house. Physical pain was either faint or nonexistent, but I awoke tired and sluggish. I dragged myself out of bed, grabbed my trusty cane -- which I often call my "buddy," not to be confused with Sohrem -- and made my way down the stairs. My feet dragged a little, but with much concentration, I managed to avoid tripping or making it too visible. I spotted our dog, Mia, nearby and leaned down to pet her before going to the refrigerator and looking for something to eat. There was plenty available, but the slight churning of my temperamental stomach warned me off of anything too strong. I would have to find something non-threatening to feed it. 

My gaze fell on a carton of almond milk, some farm-fresh eggs, and some maple syrup, and I pulled out these ingredients to make an egg nog. I noticed throughout the process that every move required a bit more strength than usual, and as I finally mixed everything together, a flash of heat went through me. That didn't bode well. I quickly rinsed off the stir-stick, put away the various ingredients, took a sip of the egg nog, and grabbed my buddy. I took a moment to check my pocket. Yep, my phone was there. Good. That was one less thing to find before I crashed. 

I reached the stairs, set the rubber grip of the cane against the first step, and thrust downwards, then dragged my foot up onto the step beside it. Another step, another thrust, another foot grazing the step as it passed over the top. This might have been simpler if my mind didn't insist on counting the stairs and stepping in a certain sequence on the way up. It was hard enough taking the steps in the first place -- counting them and insisting on taking them in a certain way? Come on. 

A wave of heat passed over me again, and my legs started to get shaky. I gritted my teeth and thrust again, and a faint groan escaped as I scaled the next step. I'd have to be careful not to slip -- a tumble down the stairs would not end well. A little while longer of doing this, and I reached the top, and walked across flat ground again. Finally. 

My walking had almost turned into plain old tripping by this point, and I managed to grip the doorframe with the same hand that was holding my buddy without losing hold of either. Just a few more steps. A few steps, and I could lie down. I took a second to be thankful that my family helped me haul most of the junk out of my room a few months ago. There were fewer things to trip me without it. I made it to the bed and had to work hard not to fully collapse onto it. I took a seat, then hauled the cup of egg nog to my lips and took a sip. My arm begged for relief almost before I got any of the sweet liquid into my mouth. I slumped a bit and set the cup on a hard surface nearby, then let myself collapse onto the bed. Great. I'd only been here for a second, and already my body had decided that this was where I would live out the rest of my life. I always was an ambitious sort, I supposed. Maybe there were worse things to do with my life than lie in bed all the time. 

Well, drinking that egg nog I made for myself would also be nice, but the inches between me and the cup seemed to have stretched into miles. No way would I be drinking out of that anytime soon. 

The next half hour was spent mostly in staring at the ceiling. There was a faint fluttering in my chest, and breathing evenly took concentration. Funny how these things I learned to do so well as a baby and a toddler seemed like Olympic events to be championed now that all my energy had been drained out of me. 

The bed vibrated. I blinked and turned my head, and after a moment determined the source of the buzzing. The phone in my pocket was ringing. Uh-oh. I took a second to muster strength, then dragged my hand along the bed beside me and hauled the heavy device from my pocket. Another moment's concentration, and I hit the green phone button and pulled my phone to my ear. "Hello?" 

"Hey." Mom's voice. She sounded like she was at the store. 

My tongue felt impossibly thick, but I managed to make it move. "Hey," I slurred. 

"How're you doing?" 

"Um... A little worn out." Ha. That wasn't an understatement at all. "It's a low-energy day." 

"Oh, no. Have you eaten?" 

"I made an egg nog. What's up?" 

"Jonathan and I are out running some errands. Do you know if we're out of almond milk?" 

Almond milk. I forced my scrambled brain to recall how much liquid had been in the carton downstairs. "I think we're getting low." I swallowed and tried to combat the slur that blurred my words together. "Unless we have some outside. Do you know?" 

"I'm not sure. I'd probably better get some just in case." 

"'Kay." The fluttering in my chest got worse, and I forced my lungs to draw a breath long enough to speak again. "Mom, I've gotta go. It's hard to talk." 

"Okay. Call me if you need anything, okay?" 


"I love you." 

"Love you, too." 

The line went dead, and I pressed the red 'off' button before dropping the phone. Its landing sent another vibration through the mattress beneath me, but I didn't care. I was too busy breathing. I closed my eyes and focused. Breathe in. Breathe out. In. Out. That's all it takes. 

Now if my heart would have just stopped fluttering, I might have actually been able to sit up and do something. Breathe. 

A thousand items from my to-do list flashed through my mind, and tears bit the corners of my eyes. How was I supposed to write anything or even pick up something off of my bedroom floor when it took a feat of strength just to breathe normally? I felt like I was dying. Keep breathing. 

Maybe I was dying. I'd heard of people dying from Lyme-related complications before. They had heart attacks or some such thing -- I couldn't remember all the different anecdotes, but they were out there. They really happened. What if I turned out to be one of those people? Air in, air out. Goodness, this is hard. 

Of course, logic told me that I probably wasn't dying. I had these attacks every few weeks, if they even had the courtesy to wait that long, and I was still here. I was still breathing, even if it took a lot of effort. And that fluttering in my chest told me that my frail heart was still beating. A normal doctor would probably do a check-up on me and tell me there was nothing wrong. 

But then again... what if I was dying? What if I was wrong this time? Would I ever muster the strength to get out of bed again? 

I took a moment to take stock of my emotions. They were a little hard to gauge, as the concentration it took just to breathe detracted from everything else, but I didn't feel particularly afraid. A little bit, sure. I was worried for my family. How would they react if I never came downstairs? Would they have to rush me to the emergency room? Would they think I'd done something to myself? Given my history of psychological issues, the idea of being found in my room unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate terrified me. I'd at least want to be able to explain what had really happened. 

But at the same time... I was okay. And that didn't really make a lot of sense. But when I thought hard about it, I realized that whatever happened, it would be okay. Of course, I didn't want to upset anyone, and I definitely wanted to get up out of bed and check off those items on my to-do list. I wanted to greet Mom when she came home. I wanted to help her carry in the groceries, carry on a normal conversation with her and the rest of my family, get out of the house and live a normal life again. I didn't really remember what having a "normal" life was like anymore, but it had to be simpler than lying there struggling to breathe and contemplating my immediate life expectancy. 

I looked up at the ceiling again. Talking was out of the question, but at least I could pray silently. God, help. Wow. My thoughts were so articulate. I focused on dragging up the proper words to use. I'm really tired. If You want me to get up again, please give me the energy. And if You don't, please help my family be okay. I've gotta admit, Heaven sounds really good right about now, but I also still want to do some stuff for You down here. So it's Your call. I trust You. 

And with that, I felt calmer. My situation had not changed. I still lay in bed, focusing intently on drawing life-giving breath, heart fluttering in my chest. I still couldn't reach the egg nog nearby, and I still dreaded the idea of having to talk again. 

But I knew it would be okay, one way or the other. 

It would be hours before I had enough energy to do anything productive, besides what could be accomplished by hauling out my cell phone or iPad, but eventually breathing became easier, and the fluttering stopped. I heard noises outside my room, indicating someone had come home. The idea of getting up still wasn't appealing, but it appeared I had made it through another day. I felt a bit silly for being so melodramatic throughout the incident, but it really had been crippling. Still, you would think I'd learn after the first dozen or so energy crashes. 

It has been three and a half years since I contracted Lyme disease, and over two years since I received my diagnosis and began treatment, and these attacks are still a normal part of my life. I have attacks of other varieties, too. Depression, anxiety, neuropathy, restless leg syndrome, OCD, chronic fatigue, and other issues all play a part in my everyday routine. I battle them constantly. And I have little doubt that, if I had to battle them alone, I would lose. But the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keeps my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. To say I do not struggle to feel that peace sometimes would be a blatant lie. I struggle just like everyone else. I have moments of terror, despair, and hopelessness. But in those moments, I can hold to the hope that I have a God who loves me and will never abandon me, even when life seems impossible to bear, or even when it seems like I might not have much life left at all. The peace of God truly does surpass all understanding, and overcomes everything else when it matters most. 

Little wonder, then, that Ms. Havergal penned the words, "Stayed upon Jehovah, heart are fully blest, finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest." 

Turmoil and pain are a normal part of life, whether you have a chronic illness or are completely healthy, believer or otherwise, wealthy or impoverished. But as believers, we can take comfort in the fact that, when we reach rock bottom, when we feel like we have nothing left, God's perfect peace is ever-flowing, and sustains us in the face of everything else. 

And beyond all this, I know that somewhere down the road, whether it's in fifty years or five, or even next week, when God calls me home, I will have peace. This fatigued, degenerate body is only a temporary dwelling. None of these trials are permanent. Even if the Lyme never goes away, even if I struggle with these trials for the rest of my mortal life, I will find freedom in Christ and in His salvation. 

"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

1 Corinthians 15:50-58, KJV


"Like a river glorious, is God's perfect peace
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth fuller every day
Perfect, yet it groweth deeper all the way.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.


Every joy or trial falleth from above, 
Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully all for us to do.
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.


'Like A River Glorious', by Frances R. Havergal

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Ask Kyra!

Hello again, fellow digressors. I apologize if I sound a bit scatterbrained today. That's mostly because I am quite scatterbrained at the moment. Ever have all your thoughts decide to play an impromptu game of 'Tag' and tearing off in different directions, scampering up trees and hiding behind bushes, climbing the drainpipes, occasionally chasing after each other, and ignoring all of your pleas to come back inside and help with the chores? Well, that's where I've been for the past few days, and I swear my thoughts have invented a hundred different varieties of tag in the meantime. 

Today Kyra Daehr is here for an interview. This one should be quite interesting. Kyra can be nice when she really wants to be, but she's generally very strongwilled and likes to put on a tough-girl front, so she might not appreciate my asking her questions. But she's one of the more popular characters from 'The Follower', so she really doesn't have much choice in the matter. 

Kyra Daehr

At age nineteen, Kyra Daehr is one of the best fighters in the Khanor Legion, but is better known for the set of claw-like scars that run down the left side of her face. After overcoming numerous hurdles put in place because of her race and gender, she has risen to a position of low command. She was in charge of the patrol that got trapped with another sent by the Reshan Guard, and routinely clashes with Jorthen Lavahr, the leader of the Guard patrol, now that they've been forced to work together. Kyra is the second-born child in her family, of which she and her elder brother Ender are the only survivors after Saethen (demon-dragons) and their servants laid waste to the village where the family lived. Kyra has few friends, but she is close with Lehn Sohran, and tolerates his younger sister, Shaetha. Kyra has a special passion for knives and for hand-to-hand combat, and excels at nearly everything she tries. Her Kirat heritage contributes to her fiery temperament, but (and she would never admit this) the proper trigger disables her by pulling her into memories of her encounters with the Saethen. Overall, she's not someone to be crosses, but she's not nearly as heartless as she'd like others to believe. Usually, Lehn is the only person she trusts enough to show her vulnerable side, and like Dertryn Jesyn (previously interviewed), is reluctant to discuss her family or childhood. It should be noted that Kyra was taken captive by the Saethen shortly after Dertryn was, and escaped around the same time or slightly later. Dertryn says someone helped him escape. It is possible that the same someone was involved in Kyra's escape. It is unlikely that she made it out on her own. 

Aaaaand that's all my scattered brain is giving me. Feel free to ask any questions below. Kyra has gotten a little more open recently, so she might not be quite as difficult as she would normally be. Maybe. We'll see. 

OH. Kyra and Sohrem do not get along at all. Ironic, considering that both of their ethnic backgrounds make other people less prone to trust them. One would think they would band together a little more, or at least not make it their mutual life goal to get each other hung from the gallows. But nope.