King Rifki’s Worst Enemy – Flash Fiction for Microcosms

Microcosms runs a flash fiction contests every Friday.  They give you the character, setting, and genre.  You have 300 words and 24 hours to write a story.  300 words isn’t a lot. I am learning to “kill my darlings” -a quote Steven King uses meaning to cut all the extra words that we as writers are proud of but don’t make the story tight, strong and the best it can be.  

I was excited to find out I had won last week’s contest.  The character/ setting/genre were elf/castle/memoir.  The prompt was to write a fairy tale. Fairy tales date back thousands of years ago and include fantasy characters, magic, and language that disguised the rebellious subtext of the stories.  Here’s my story.


King Rifki’s Worst Enemy

So, here’s the truth. I’m not actually an invisible elf. I’m just a regular elf. Gramma Leojym has a magic concoction that she rubs on me each morning. I don’t know how she makes it. All I can tell you is that she goes in the cellar and comes back up with a jar of goop that smells tart like rotten spaghetti.

Anyway, I’m so excited to serve in the Legion of Loyalty. Ask no questions, tell no lies. That’s our motto. Our job is to protect the king. Each day after Gramma rubs invisible oil all over me, I slip into the palace when the shutters are unlocked.

My job is to stand still as a board and study King Rifki’s face. I have learned to recognize the look. As soon as I see the greedy look in his eyes, I scan the room for the red-headed woman. There is always a red-headed woman. As the king starts towards her, I shoot my bow and arrow

at any part of his body as long as it is above his chest. He hardly notices. It’s a tiny arrow, really – especially compared to how big he is.

Barbu notices though. She always notices and gently guides the King away from the distraction and back to his work. The white dust having done its job – making him forget about the red-head.

I overheard Mama talking the other night. She said if not for us, the people would know who the king really was. Mama says we protect the king from no one but himself. I heard her call him a philanderer, whatever that is. All I know is I get an extra scoop of apple pie when I get home from the castle. And I like apple pie.

5 affirmations that changed my day

Recently, my husband accidentally stumbled across some affirmations I had written in my journal months before we left for our family vacation. He shared his surprise that I had begun to mentally prepare for the trip long before we left.

We were planning to spend 12 days visiting his family in Germany and then taking a mini 8 day trip to Italy and Greece with our children. That trip was rigorous visiting a total of four cities and a new Airbnb every couple of nights.

I had read that we tend to remember events based on the emotions we attach to them.  When you come home from a vacation all you have left is memories, right?  Knowing I am not a born traveler and tend toward safe comfortable places where both my feet are on the ground, my journal affirmations came from a place of knowing the trip would challenge and stretch me.

Affirmations

I first read about affirmations in Hal Elrod’s book, The Miracle Morning.  My initial reaction was one of feeling like they were silly. I felt like it was the philosophy that everyone is a winner – everyone gets a trophy for trying – you know, positive thinking mumbo-jumbo.

But when I began to pay attention to my thoughts I began to realize how much negative chatter went on in my head.   I realized I would never talk to another person the way I talked to myself. (You are so stupid, I can’t believe you said that. Or, you know this plane is going to crash, right?)

An affirmation is a statement that declares something to be true.

Ephesians 2:22-24 encourages us to replace stinky thoughts with truth. One of the definitions of the name Satan is accuser.  (Rev. 12:10-11). He is also called the Father of lies (John 8:44). We don’t have to believe the worry, anxiety and fear that loops through our heads. Jesus came to set us free from the power of the enemy.   Freedom is found by replacing the lies of accusation, shame, and insecurity with words of truth, light and hope.

While reading the book of 1 John I noticed that in the middle the book, John summarizes the purpose of the letter he was writing. He also specifically mentions each age group, clarifying that no one was exempt from the truths. As I looked at the verses I realized they were affirmations.  John is assuring us of the truths that we need to tell ourselves.

5 Affirmations from 1 John

  1. Your sins are forgiven through Jesus
  2. You know God who has been from the beginning
  3. You are strong
  4. The Word of God lives in you
  5. You have overcome the evil one

These are some strong statements. Statements that I want my soul to believe. I wrote these on my mirror in the bathroom so I can remember who I am. I’m finding that focusing my mind on truth isn’t a one time experience. Left to its default my mind is soon swimming in a pool of what-ifs and if-onlys.  Especially when I am in a HALT moment (hungry, angry, lonely, tired).   It’s a daily, sometimes hourly, sometimes moment-by-moment choice to think on what is true.  (Phil. 4:6-8)

As for the family trip? It was fun and it was stressful.  There were long lines, lots of people and tight spaces.  We loved well, laughed often and cried together (or maybe it was just me who cried. What happens in Rome stays in Rome.  Just sayin’. )  We made great memories. And, I found new freedom by doing the hard and uncomfortable thing and standing up to my fears and coming out the other side alive.


 

How about you? Have you tried affirmations? Have you found them helpful?

1 John 2:12-14

I am writing to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
14 I write to you, dear children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.


Father in heaven,
I thank you that you are the same unchanging God from the beginning of time to now. I thank you for your loving kindness and limitless love. I thank you that Jesus stands in my place, that I am forgiven for my sins. I am strong. I choose to replace negative thoughts with the truth of your Word. I thank you for giving me truth and life and bring defeat to the accusations and lies the enemy tried to defeat me with. Amen.

Be Bold – a coloring devotional review

Be Bold Book Cover Be Bold
Ellen Elliott
Young Adult Nonfiction
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
March 1, 2017
80

Be Bold offers an outlet to simultaneously focus on God's Word and express creativity. Using scripture as the foundation for her designs, Ellen Elliot takes readers through a series of inspiring verses reinforced with short devotional writings. Topics include joy, hope, self-image, peace, and more. Each coloring page and corresponding devotional will help the reader develop a closer relationship with the Heavenly Father.

My Thoughts

This book has a month’s worth of 31 devotionals. On the right side of the page, there is a Bible verse, a theme and a short  5-minute devotional.  On the left side is a page to color.   Some of the themes are: Believe who God says you are, Choose joy, Jesus never changes, and Trust in the Lord.

The book is marketed to teens – but, I think it would be fun for any age. I thoroughly enjoyed it and my teen years are a very distant memory!  Coloring is a great stress reliever and I enjoy coloring pages where there is a focus on Bible verse. I find myself thinking about that truth while I color.

What I liked

  • At the back of the book are 12 blank pages to write prayers or notes
  • The coloring pages are bold and whimsical, not tiny details.  Fun to color!
  • The pages are a thicker paper.

What I didn’t like

  • The pages aren’t perforated. I often prefer to tear the pages out to color them
  • The pages don’t lay flat – not a deal breaker for me but could be a challenge if you are left handed.

I would recommend it to

I think it would make a great gift for a teen or tween.

I have received a copy of this book from Tyndale for an honest review of the product.  

Zip It – a book review

Zip It Book Cover Zip It
Karen Ehman
Religion
Zondervan
February 7, 2017
240

Zip It empowers readers to put into action the advice and commands of Scripture concerning the tongue. Karen Ehman now takes a deeper look and offers practical how-to's that will inspire you to use your words to build, to bless, to encourage, and to praise. Each entry ends with both a challenge that will help you carry out the directive in the verse and a prayer prompt. Rather than a traditional devotional, the entries in Zip It build upon each other, equipping you with new habits in how to, or not to, use words.

 

My Thoughts

I read this book during the 40 days leading up to Easter.  Each morning I took jotted a line from the book on the top of my journal page. It was a visible reminder throughout the day to be aware of my words.

Some notes I wrote in my journal:

  • Praise not put downs
  • Our thoughts are the birthplace of our words
  • Don’t say something permanently painful because you are temporarily ticked off.
  • Take time to cool down – then address issues
  • Are my words truth and hope or confusion and discouragement?
  • Listen to the Holy Spirit and be yourself.
  • Jesus knows my thoughts. How does he feel about the way I treat myself?
  • Put my mouth on a ten-second DRV delay.
  • Are my words appropriate, gracious and necessary?

What I liked

  • Each day was structured with a Bible verse, a short lesson, Today’s Takeaways, Lessons for the Lips and a prayer.
  • There were lots of practical suggestions on how-to’s to use your words to bless and encourage others.
  • This isn’t a book you read through in a few hours and then set on your shelf.  I feel I gained practical tools for my tool box to help me in my journey of being a blessing and not negative and hurtful with my tongue.

 

I would recommend it to

Anyone looking for a devotional that has depth and practical application.

Sum it up

The tongue is a powerful tool that can be used to encourage and build up or tear down and hurt. You have the choice on which way you use it.


I have received a copy of this book from Zondervan for an honest review of the product.  

A to Z Reflections

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Psalms 103:1

 

This is my second year doing the A to Z Challenge. The challenge is to write a post every day of the month of April (except Sundays) using the letters A-Z.

At the end of the challenge last year I decided I would plan ahead better this year and write some posts in March.  March started off strong with choosing a theme and writing out possible post titles for each day.  But, then the flu hit our house for most of March, and my mom duties trumped writing.

When April 1 rolled around, I had decided I had too much on my plate and I wouldn’t do it. Then April 2 came and I saw my calendar with the theme chosen and a word for God for each day of the month written in and I decided to go for it.

And I’m glad I did. Thank you to everyone who read or commented this month. You’ve been a blessing to me!

My biggest takeaway

After spending a month reflecting on the character of God my take away is that God is God and I am not.  He is so beyond what my mind can grasp.  As I read Psalms 103 this morning I realized I could spend the rest of my life trying to answer the question, “Who is God?” and still only have a glimpse of His majesty and power.  Yet, it is a worthwhile pursuit, I believe.  As I realize more of who God is my love swells for Him and others.

Lessons I learned

  1.  I love writing.  I mean I really, really love writing – like catching the drips of a triple decker chocolate ice cream melting down my hand on a hot July day.
  2. Doing one thing means not doing another.  Time is a limited commodity – that was evident to me last month.  My zero-inbox email has become the 100’s of unread emails inbox.  I didn’t read as much as I would have liked.  My husband is a saint, and cheerfully cereal for supper more than once.
  3. Even when I’m short on time I need to take care of myself (sleeping, eat healthy, exercise, time in the Word). When one of those slips, I get grumpy. When I’m grumpy I don’t love those around me well.
  4. Done is better than perfect.  Often I would have preferred to edit and re-write the posts over a period of a few days.  Needing to post each day and having a limited amount of time to do it meant I had to resist the urge to edit and edit.

Blogs I discovered

Part of the challenge was to visit five blogs a day and comment.  That was fun and I found some new friends – too many to list here. But here are a few of my favorites:

Heather Erickson – Her husband has stage IV cancer. She writes candidly about their journey. I appreciated advice and thoughts on how to encourage and bless someone going through cancer. Her writing is full of grace, love, and life.

Tossing it out – His theme was It’s About Time. I enjoyed his thought-provoking posts.

Life and Faith in Caneyhead – I enjoyed her theme on Perspectives.

Word Dreams – Her theme was Literary Genres. I was not surprised to learn I love biographies and historical fiction.  Zombie fiction – not so much.

Missed a letter or want to go back and re-read one?  Head to my website Filled to Empty.  There is a A to Z Challenge link under the tab Devotionals at the top of the page where you can find all the posts.  Happy reading!


What was your take-away from the series?  Has your view of God changed? How do you read your favorite blogs?  I have a list of blogs I discovered and would love to read on a regular basis. I’ve tried email, bloglovin, and Feedly with little success.  I’d love to know if you’ve found something that works for you?