TCK Higlight: Karissa Chmil (Storylight Blog Tour)

Dear friends, where to begin? It’s been several months since my last posts. I’ve been applying to universities like crazy, and doing senior year, and trying to work on Truth4TCKs 2022 (more info on that soon!). Although I don’t have a new post for you today – I will soon – I have a lovely interview with TCK and writer Karissa Chmil for you. Enjoy.


What’s your story? (Not where are you from, because that’s an annoying question.)
Well, where to begin?
My name is Karissa Chmil, a young nomad on a quest to let the banner of Soli deo Gloria fly across the world one story at a time.
I was born in the United States, and by the age of seven I had picked up a few nomadic qualities—traveling six hundred miles every three weeks will do that to you. A little under three years later, I moved to the French alps, spent a few wonderful years there, and currently live in Western Africa.
Things haven’t always been easy—in the past five years I’ve said countless goodbyes, had siblings spend weeks in the hospital, have lost friends back in America to suicide, and more. But I don’t think I would change any of it—because, by the grace of God that I’m named after, all this fire has only served to bring out the gold.


What brings you joy?
Little moments—laughing with siblings over the most random of things, teasing my friends, walks in the twilight, singing when I’m alone in the house, hearing the little girls I take care of finally learn to say my name, the quiet at prayer meeting as we all cry out to the Lord and let His peace wash over us, long talks with my mom, watching candles flicker at night, teaching my friends simple words in English, slipping into stories, endless email threads with my best friend. . . As a friend’s mom says, “happiness is a feeling; joy is a choice.”
And I will choose, every day of my life, to find joy in the tiny, hidden moments.


What are your favorite latest reads?
I’ve just finished the Wingfeather Saga, which was definitely worth the read. Because of Mr. Terupt is also one I finished (re)reading recently, and I’d highly recommend it. On the nonfiction side, I’ve just begun a book called I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, and, so far, it’s proved fascinating.


How does your multi-cultural worldview affect your reading life?
I would say that my multi-cultural worldview makes every book I read deeper, because I can see it from so many different angles. French culture, American culture, honor-shame culture—all of it makes me see the characters and their decisions in a much more significant light.


Tell us about your blog!
Storylight is a blog that focuses around the tagline Remember the stories, which champions the idea that, when you’re hurting or confused or you’ve messed up at something, you can go back to the stories you’ve read, to the character’s you’ve grown with, and let them teach you and heal you.
It features flash fiction, bookish articles (such as Is Reading a Waste of Time?), book reviews, book recommendations, and soon-to-be author interviews—in short, it’s a hopeful, purposeful, bookish atmosphere, and I’d love to see you over there!


There you have it, dear friends! I’m planning on getting back to posting regularly after this long hiatus, and thanks for being patient with me. I hope you go and check Karissa’s new blog out!

My Newest Endeavor: Organization and Productivity

When I started up school about a month ago, I knew I was in for a challenge. I had just discovered the world of online writing. I was excited and had posted biweekly on my blog all summer long. I had big plans. Then I realized that school was coming up. What had started as a summer hobby had become a passion, and I didn’t want to stop. 

How was I going to maintain my writing while juggling eleventh grade? I’m not homeschooled. I don’t have the most flexible schedule in the world. Then it hit me. The one major area I lacked in was organization.

Organization: Why It Doesn’t Come Naturally To Me

I am a creative and spontaneous person. My mother will be the first one to tell you that I’m horrible at finishing what I’ve started. I always have a new project to work on. I get so excited about the project that I don’t strive to complete the first one. She’ll also tell you that I think deeply, and she has me repeat instructions to make sure I’ve heard them. Otherwise, I’ll continue on in my own world without realizing what she’s said.

With a personality like that, you can do great things, but you also have many struggles. You guessed it, a significant one is organization. With such a spontaneous personality, I am apt to forget, get lost in some thought or activity, or be lazy. Often because I think a structured schedule would be too hard to maintain. It’s not that I couldn’t do it, it’s that it’d be especially demanding and difficult. 

Organization: Why It Matters

I could just say, “Well, I’m bad at organization. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not one of those people.” Most of society would accept that excuse. After all,  (1) I’m a teenager, and (2) it’s not part of my “personality”. Why in the world would I try?

My writing instructor on YWW (the Young Writer’s Workshop), Brett Harris, encourages teens to rebel against the low expectations the world has for us. My thought was that I couldn’t organize, schedule, and plan easily and therefore I shouldn’t be expected to ever be successful in that area. 

But I needed to answer God’s calling to take on responsibility. I was being lazy. I was making excuses for myself. That’s not the kind of Christian I want to be. 

Productivity and organization isn’t about getting more done. On the surface, yes, that’s the goal. However, what I am learning is that our ultimate goal in organizing our time, energy, and productivity is to serve others as we glorify God. If I have done everything on my to-do list but haven’t served others or done it to the glory of God, it’s been a wasted day. 

That’s a huge struggle. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I waste my day. I’m lazy, or I am productive but for wrong reasons. I want to belong, or be known, or make a mark. 

But what if work and productivity was about creating beauty, serving others, and learning to be humble? What if organization was a tool to be a good steward? What if I was gifted in a certain way so that I could bless others and point them to Christ – not so I could draw attention to myself? What if my driving force in everything I did was that I was not my own? That the Creator has given me a tiny piece of His clay to help shape?

Organization and Productivity: What I’ve Done To Achieve It

I am just starting this journey. I am not an expert on the top five ways to structure your week or what timers you should be using. 

However, there are tiny steps I have been implementing in my days and weeks. Every little thing helps. Here’s what I’ve done so far…

  1. I’ve started a morning routine. My ideal morning routine looks like this: I get up at 6:30 am, make my bed, grab a cup of tea, and sit on the balcony to have devotions. After a half an hour or 40 minutes, I sit down to write for 15 minutes. This 15 minute writing session was inspired by Cassie Watson, a fellow YDubber who’s been doing a class on productivity. Although I often fail to implement this step, when I do, it’s extremely rewarding. I find that I have a ton of mental energy in the mornings so my writing sessions are more productive than a 30 minute session after school. I then go on to have breakfast, get dressed, and sit down for online school.
  1. I’ve bought a paper planner. People structure their time in different ways, but I decided to buy a paper planner this year, and I’m so glad I did. I’m still figuring out all the ways I can use it but it’s helpful to have all your organization & to-do lists in one place. It’s also aesthetically pleasing – a.k.a. happiness.
  1. I’ve made an ideal week schedule. Also inspired by Cassie Watson, I’ve created a Google Sheets schedule of what an ideal week of mine would look like, from 6:00 am to 10:30 pm. It’s color coded, and I have school, lunch, writing sessions, breaks, family time, and other things planned out in blocks. The idea is to plan my actual week around this schedule. I’ve yet to do this – it is a recent addition to my productivity endeavor – but I’m hoping to use it next week, and if I stick to it, for months after that. 

Those are three things I’ve tried to do to help myself out, but there are many other tricks and tips. I’d love to chat with you all about organization and productivity. What do you do to manage your time? What does your schedule organization look like?