Life 2.0 Genre!

 

Hey guys,

Remember that Life 2.0 story series I told you about? Well, guess what!? Launch week officially starts today, and like I promised. . .Life 2.0 is going to be your adventure with your villains and your heroes that you choose for yourself, both through polls and through the decisions you’ll get to make with each new installment of the story. To start off, here’s the first poll for the week.

What genre is your favorite, would you like to read more of, or have you just always wished there was a choose your own adventure story in? What genre do you want Life 2.0 to be. Fill out the poll and let us know!

Yours for Miznos,
Jason



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2 Lessons On Writing And Power

“With great power comes great responsibility;” a popular coined quote that has been used by many. You’ve probably read it on a poster or heard it in a movie. The original speaker’s identity isn’t absolute, but many point to Teddy Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, even Ben Parker (Spiderman’s uncle). More importantly, the Bible gives us insight into this topic to some extent.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48B

This has been rephrased over and over again to fit a particular situation. No matter how you say it though, the statement means the same thing. If you have a higher advantage or gifting over fellow brethren, you are called to higher demands and expectations. When I think about the power I hold, I immediately point to Jesus in me, and his Holy Spirit that gives me the power to love. That comes with responsibilities as well. God tells us to nurture our relationship with Him, and to not hold ourselves over other people.

What about the gifts he has blessed us with? Such as…writing? Well of course that’s power! You can literally alter people’s emotions and actions! With your words, you can make someone cry, or perhaps throw your book across the room in frustration. You can cause someone to laugh until their sides hurt or steal your book from the library because they love it so much. Kind of scary, right? Of course, this is where our quote comes in, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Some of that duty is relatively obvious for a Christian writer. You should always glorify God and what he stands for in whatever you put out for others’ consumption. There should be meaning in what you write, deep insight in your words. Whether it be a nonfiction piece about loving our parents, or a fantasy novel about a broken nation that worships deities, it should all point to the cross in some way or another. There are actually, many responsibilities that come with writing in addition to glorifying God, though they all revolve around that point. Here’s a few of them.

1. Don’t Make Writing An Idol.

Recently I had been struggling with making writing a priority, and also balancing my “tight” schedule. Every day after I finished my school, I would sit down to write. I was kind of obsessed with planning out how long it would take to finish my school work, because I felt so guilty if I didn’t write something. After I wrote three hundred words or more in a day, I would go onto the Young Writer’s Workshop community as a reward. Let me say that that place can be extremely addicting and fun! If I wasn’t able to write, I wasn’t able to go onto YWW Community, and if I wasn’t able to go on YWW Community, I felt deprived. That deprived nature drove me to put writing as an absolute necessity, even over my own family. It was getting to a pretty weird level of obsession, and I soon realized that I was making writing, or perhaps the reward, an idol. Some might say that being obsessed with writing is a good thing, and others wish that they were that inspired to write. Jesus states that anything put before God is an idol. It calls for a careful balance of priority and conscience.

2. Do Your Best.

Whenever I write an article like this one, my immediate response is to send in the piece without any editing. It’s just raw first draft material that doesn’t have a refined touch, correct grammar, or fully collected thoughts. Why is this the case? Because correcting your writing is hard. It takes time and effort, usually more than just your own. Sometimes it requires you to create more content to replace the unacceptable. This is absolutely necessary though, because we must learn. By correcting and refining our writing, we can increase our knowledge of what is best. We must not settle for the “convenient”, or the “suitable”. Running towards excellence in everything we do will also advance our relationship with God as we are seeking to please him above ourselves. In addition, when we don’t do our absolute finest work, we deplete our own reputation as a writer. Who wants to read content that has a rough texture to it?

These two responsibilities are but a few of the many that we must follow as writers. As creators of wonderful pieces of literature that nurture minds and hearts, we are blessed with great responsibility. Instead of thinking about these things as a burden to your work, try to twist your mind into thankfulness. Our Father has given us much, and we don’t have much to grant in return. The least we can do is follow His Word, and the most we can do is sacrifice ourselves each day. Remember that God is all powerful. We are made in His image. He has given us writing. Writing is power. Treat it as such.

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” –James 3:1

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A Psalm to the Creator

My heart rejoices!
The Lord is ruler of heaven and earth.
His reign shall never be ended.
His children sing praises of thanksgiving,
And yearn to be with Him in His heavenly kingdom.

My heart rejoices!
The God of all the land is always present.
With firmness and grace He rules.
His protection spreads over all who fear,
And gives strength to those who are weak.

My heart rejoices!
How beautiful is His creation?
Can any others compare?
The stars in heaven give testimony to His greatness,
And the mountains resemble His might.

My heart rejoices!
The creator sent His beloved son
To be beaten, whipped, and crucified
So that we may live in freedom!
Not having to dwell in regret and shame.

My heart rejoices!
Our mighty King is moving among us,
He is coming very soon!
He will bring us into His mighty house,
To live and love with Him into eternity.

My heart rejoices!
The Lord has a plan for us.
It is for good.
He calls us to love Him and our brothers continually,
To seek our Father, and to know Him.

My heart rejoices!
I am not alone.
In my long, hard walk, my brothers are there.
They are walking in what they are called to do,
Continue in this walk my brothers, do not give into the evil one.

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Phone-y

Arkansas. September 13th, 2020. 4:30PM. Cloudy. Rainy. 65˚ F. I’m wearing a wool sweater. Jeans. And black-and-white Converse. The phone’s in my pocket. The forest is directly in front of me. Some bird song—like dying sirens.

Pull the phone out of my pocket. Stumble into the woods. The woods eat me—black, tall trees. Orange and red swirls of bark shooting out into explosions of still green flame. They’re watching me. I click the on/off button on the phone. The girl’s face stares up at me from the lock screen pic. I feel like I know her somehow. She’s blond. Tall. Sorta’ cute, you know? Pretty normal. Probably had lots of dreams. A few guys who liked her. An overbearing father. I wonder if I’ll ever find out who she was?

There’s a dove purring somewhere in one of these trees: sad and low, like a baby giggling, except it gives you the opposite feeling.

This whole business makes me nervous. I need to click the home button—but it’ll just ask me for the password, which I don’t have.

I don’t know. Not even sure why I’m out here at all. I just don’t remember—like it was all washed away by the rain. It was a day just like today, cloudy and rainy, except I was at a park near some railway tracks. And a dying merry-go-round. Then, in the grass, just lying there was this phone. Abandoned. I picked it up cause you know. . .I guess I figured whoever left it was in trouble.
My thumbs are shaking now—finally I click the home button, and it sends me straight into a Messages conversation with some Anne Switchblade. No need for the password. I sigh—half relief, half bemusement. That was easy.

I keep walking, away from the light, into the tall orange line of trees, always turning left at every cross in the road.

I flick through the convo with Anne. There are literally 16 texts from this girl, all nice and neat in a long row of green message blobs (just like the bad drawings kids make of trees.) No response from the blond chic, or whoever owned the phone.

A black bird flies right over my head, screaming like a dying woman. It gives me the chills. I keep walking. I am going somewhere. I just don’t where. Yet. I’m tracing my way back. To some place. Some time. Some temperature and weather. Something probably not at all as concrete as now, but something more important.

Lots of random texts about random teen girl stuff.

“Trevor asked me out!!!! Can you believe it?!?!?! SO excited. LOL.”

I roll my eyes though, to be honest, I’d have a mind to ask the blond girl out myself if I had a chance. I had the strangest thought a minute ago. What if she’s out there looking for me too?

The forest’s getting darker with each step, further and further away from the outside.

Wait a minute. . .I scroll back to the first text from Anne. Something’s wrong. I look around me in the darkness and keep trudging through the brown path. My eyes are on the phone. There’s something definitely sketchy here. The first text’s from. January. February. March. April. May. June. July. August.

September. September 13th 2006. Wait a minute. Today’s the 13th, and… I look over my shoulder at the dark trees again. . .What if they’re following me? Trees can’t follow you. They’re not alive. Well, not like that. . .2006 is. Let’s see. So, it’s 2020. So, 20 minus 6 equals. . .6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. That’s 14. 14 years ago. Can’t believe I still count on my fingers.

Fourteen years ago on this exact day. This phone has been lost for ages? Freaky.

My hands fling into action—put the phone to my mouth with the home button down—and, like that, I’m talking into Siri.

“What year did the first iPhone come out?” Eew. My voice sounds so low. Cool!

“Looking,” Siri says. It’s like her voice is echoing throughout the entire forest, making it feel emptier and darker and us feel smaller and more helpless. Her voice is so calm though—I wish I was that calm. “Here’s what I found on the web for, ‘What year did the first iPhone come out?’”

I scroll through the results. 2007. 2007. 2007. Scroll. Scroll. Scroll. Yep. They’re all unanimous. . .2007. A year after those texts were sent. And another thing. Siri wasn’t on the first phones. This is definitely sketchy.

If I was on my own phone, I’d shake my virtual finger. Blond chic, I will find you.

The trees are so black—as if the lights completely gone out. Like an idiot, I close the phone and put it in my pocket and just keep walking.

There’s no one to call. I could go through her VIPs. But if the last open text is from 2006, I doubt they’d be relevant or trustworthy. Someone’s been messing with this phone. And plus, I can always call 9-1-1, even if the phone is locked—it’s called an emergency call and the newer phones (with Siri) let you make them.

Keep walking. The birds keep singing and croaking. Maybe some frogs too. The trees are darker every minute, if that’s even possible. Keep walking.

I know I’m being brash; and if there was anything other than my own intuition to rely on, then I’d do it, but there isn’t.

A crow caws. I hear my own feet—crunching on last year’s dead leaves. I’m making too much noise.

Where did I find this phone? In grass. Next to a dying merry-go-round.

Why did I think the owner was in danger? I didn’t think the owner was in danger. I knew she was. I know she is. Somehow, I just know, and that’s why I’m in this forest going who knows where. I just can’t remember.

I check the phone. It’s been 2 minutes since I locked it. Step after step I take.

Just open the phone.

No. I have to see if it lets me in again without a password.

I breathe slowly. Just got to wait five minutes. That’s usually as long as anyone will leave their phone before the automatic lock sets in.

Wait a minute. I squeeze my eyes and try to concentrate, pushing my fingers over the eyelids—the skin feels rougher than usual. So wait. If the lock was set for five minutes after use, that means the blond chic would have had to be using the phone five minutes before the first time I opened it. . .

Which was just now. That doesn’t make any sense. I’ve had the phone since. Since. I shake my head. Of course. I can’t remember. Just like I can’t remember where I found the phone. Exactly. I can’t remember how I got to the outside of this wood. I don’t really even remember who I am . . . I guess. I mean, I’m a teenager. I’ve got a mom somewhere who’s totally sweet and awesome. I’ve got to find the blond chic. I shake my head again, and it’s like thought juices are bumping around in there. I really don’t remember. This is bad. Really bad.

Maybe when I get there everything will come back. Or. . .I mean when I get wherever I’m going. Lost kid in the woods with amnesia finds way back home through amazing intuition. Sounds like a headline I’ve never read.

Now. It’s been five minutes since I locked it. I guess I’ll just have to try. See if it lets me in.

I stop walking again. Breathe in the cool, fall air (it makes my throat feel scratchy.) Let the birdsong soothe me and the soft pit-pat of the rain wash over my skin. Just for a sec.

Then. Take the phone out. Smile at the blond girl, wishing I could look at her for longer. Click the home button. And it lets me in. It lets me in!

I start walking again. My pace is markedly faster. I’ll wait longer this time.

I wait. Ten minutes. I get in. I walk faster. I wait. Twenty minutes. I get in. I keep walking. Wait. Thirty minutes. In. Walk. Wait. Forty. In. Walk.

Come on! It lets me in every single time! Blond chic, no wonder you’re in danger if you don’t have secure settings on your phone! I lock the phone again. Try opening it with my left thumb. And it asks me for a password. . . Say what. . .Try my right thumb. It lets me in . . . Oh no . . . Oh no you don’t. . . I think I’m onto something. This could be really bad. Or good. Or both.

I need to look at her settings. I go to Settings: Touch ID and Passcode. But I need the password to see anyth. . .

What? I stare down at my hands, calloused and strange, then back at the screen. How did I know the password? What was the password?

I can’t remember a single number—except—my fingers somehow knew. My thumb.

My right thumb. That’s just it. My right thumb. That’s everything. Every time I click the phone with my right thumb it lets me in without a password. Even after forty minutes. And my right thumb, at least, somehow knows the password anyway.

I scroll to see her info. Her password can open the phone. I scroll lower for the touch ID. Both her thumbs can open the phone. Ok. And “Zack’s right thumb” can open the phone. Zack’s right thumb. Zack’s right thumb.

I’m terrified-ly overjoyed. I stop in my track—again. My fingers fly to the camera app. I have to know. Turn it to selfie. Am I Zack?

My face is dry and calloused and middle-aged. I’m not a teenager at all. I touch my face. I have a beard. A black beard. My hair is dark and black. I have glasses on. This isn’t me. I’m not me.

I lock the phone and click the on/off button again just to look in the blond girl’s face—she’s smiling, she has a white dress on. Deep, blue happy eyes. I don’t know why. My eyes kind of just water with the rain. A tear splashes right onto her face and I wonder.

Who are we at all?

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A Psalm of Hope

I am surrounded by evil
There is no respite.
I fight constantly, holding onto the hope.
The hope of nations.

I need the hope, with no boundaries.
Give me the light that spears from heaven.
Let me see the beautiful love of my creator once more .

I am surrounded by evil.
Men let themselves be deceived,
In the blatant consciousness of their death.
They run towards the darkness on legs like wind.
They tell us that what we seek is in the enemy.

I need the hope without boundaries.
The kind that spreads over our despair,
And makes it seem like a mouse compared to you.
Abba, when I fight, give me all I need

I am surrounded by evil.
The hordes of your nemesis choke me.
They feed me their bread, which is stale, moldy, and riddled with worms.
But it looks so beautiful.

I need the hope, with no boundaries.
Give me wings like eagles’,
So that I may fly away from my own failure.
Remind me of your Sword, and your Son.

I am surrounded by evil.
But I am strengthened by the lord!
I will bring these hordes to their demise.
Your sword destroys the darkness,
It does not fail me.

I need the hope, with no boundaries.
So that I may lift my sword another day.
May the enemy remember me,
And may he remember who I am in my Father!

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Exciting New Announcements!!!!

Hey folks! I’ve got some good news and some bad news. First for the bad news. . .which is actually good news:

Summer has officially started which means I’m planning to have a LOT more available time to invest in my blog, writing blogposts, and connecting with my readers! Yay! But first. . .I need to take a much needed break from writing, school, and all things un-summer. My family and I are doing some vacation stuff and then I’m going to a cool, Christian camp called Worldview Academy. All that to say, I won’t be on here at all during that time. I will still try to schedule posts for every Wednesday in advance, but I won’t be able to monitor comments and engage with all of you. So sorry!

Well, now that that’s over, here’s the good news: From July 12th to July 19th I’ll be launching an all new story series called Life 2.0!!! Why is this good news? No, not because you’ll get to read a series of stories by me. . .but because YOU will have the opportunity to read a series of stories by YOU. You heard that right. My goal with Life 2.0 is to let you tell a story. . .the story you’ve always wanted to read. . .with no work or writing on your part. This is how it works. I’ll be posting a series of polls on here and on the Young Writer’s Workshop paid community to determine just about everything about the stories I’ll be posting on here. Each week, I’ll also end with the main character (the main character you chose and created) having to face a horrible or wonderful choice, except you’ll be the one to decide what choice he or she makes. Remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books you used to read when you were 10? Well, this is just like that except better. . .because you can be just as involved (or not involved) as you want from inception to final conclusion.

Also, as part of Life 2.0 I’m inviting a brand-new team member to the Miznos blog staff, our very first teammate: Peter Rogati. Peter is a 15-year-old on fire for the Lord and with a passion for writing and for people. You’ll learn to love his humor, food descriptions, and honest depth. And he, and I, are committed to serving you and God through Miznos the best we know how.

Until next time,
Jason.

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Cry! It’s Mother’s Day <3

I’ve been pretty busy this week (have a math final coming up, an Arabic final, and am overly obsessed with texting friends,) so I haven’t written anything to post this week!

But. . .even though. . .I haven’t WRITTEN anything, I do have something to post. This week is Mother’s Day and I wanted to point you guys to these two wonderful links perfect for the occasion. WARNING: They’re tear-jerkers. So, sit down, click the links below and remember why YOU love your mom.

The first link is a story about a mother and son that I got to read for English last week, titled The Paper Menagerie.

The second is a video of a singer (who is famous in Korea) singing a song about his prodigal story.

They are both really good and worthwhile. I hope you enjoy!

The Paper Menagerie
http://therebelution.com/blog/2015/10/after-years-as-a-prodigal-son-he-sings-this-tribute-to-his-parents/

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