Friday, October 21, 2011

Salome's Story

This is a piece of my newest adventure!

“Is she dead?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

Peter leaned down and put his fingers close to the girl’s nose, careful not to touch her. “She’s breathing.”

“Who is she?”

“How am I supposed to know? I’m not the Rabbi!”

“Well that is obvious.”

“What’s your problem, man? You’ve been in a foul mood all week.”

“I’ve been in a foul mood? You’re the one griping on me all the time!”

“What’s going on, guys?” Thomas joined them.

“Shh, don’t let Jesus hear you.”

“Sorry. What’s going on?”

“The girl.”

“Peter! I thought we had a pact! No women. Remember?”

“She’s not mine! Besides, look how young she is! I would never!”

“Well whose is she, then?”

“I don’t know, we just found her here.”

“She’s dressed like a dancer.”

“And a fine one, at that.”

“Purple linen…do you think she’s one of the palace girls?”

“Quiet down! Don’t let Mary Magdalene hear you say that. You know she doesn’t like to remember what happened to her.”

“She won’t hear me! She’s walking over there with Jesus.”

“How’d she get here?”

“We don’t know! We tied up the boat over there and came this way looking for firewood and we saw her just lying here.”

“Hey, brothers, what are you all doing?”

“Luke, she’s not mine!”

“What are you talking about, Peter?”

“Hey, guys,” Jesus walked up to them with Mary Magdalene.


“What’s going on?”

“She’s not mine!”

“What are you talking about, Peter?”

“Yes, thank you, what are you talking about, Peter?”

“Look, Andrew and I just walked over here.”

“And then Thomas joined us and accused Peter of breaking our pact.”

Peter slapped his brother in the stomach to make him be quiet.

“What pact?” Jesus asked.

“Nice going, Andrew,” Thomas murmured.

“We, uh,” Peter began. “We – the three of us, that is – made a pact to hold each other accountable.”

“Accountable for what?” Jesus pressed.

“It’s really not appropriate to talk about it in front of Mary Magdalene, Lord.”

She laughed. “Am I that delicate?”

“It’s a pact to abstain from women, Jesus,” Andrew blurted.

“And are you ashamed of this, Peter?” Jesus asked.

“No, my Lord. I just didn’t want you to know that we struggle with that.”

“Peter,” Jesus clasped the back of his head and drew him in close. “I am very aware of your struggles. It is the reason I’m here. You need not be ashamed. I have come to rescue those who struggle. Don’t hide from me.”

“I’m sorry, Jesus.”

“You are beyond forgiven,” He smiled. “Now, what’s going on?”

“Oh, right, there’s a girl here we found.” Peter, Andrew, and Thomas stepped aside so Jesus, Luke, and Mary Magdalene could see the girl dressed in purple linens and scarves, lying on the seashore.

“Oh my goodness,” Mary Magdalene breathed and stepped forward. She knelt down to lift the girl’s head out of the sand. “She’s freezing cold.”

“She’s probably ill from being out here all night,” Luke said quickly. “I’ll go get my medicines and meet you at your house, all right, Mary Magdalene?”

“Yes, yes, of course,” she answered and Luke hurried away. “Jesus,” she said quietly. “Her ring holds the king’s crest. She’s royalty.”

“Her name is Salome,” Jesus answered sadly.

“That harlot who got John beheaded?” Peter cried.

“Don’t call her that!” He frowned.

“Jesus, this girl was the instrument of your cousin’s death! We should throw her into her sea!”

Jesus swooped down and lifted Salome in His arms, Mary Magdalene supporting her head.

“Will you be the first to throw a stone, Peter? Have you already forgotten what I have told you? I have come to rescue those who struggle. I have come to set her free.”

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Breakaway Reflection

In June, the youth group went on our annual retreat to Breakaway on Hilton Head Island. It’s a truly amazing week of worship, learning, miracles, goofing off, pranks, and sea creature attacks. Breakaway is a milestone for us as teenagers to look back over the past year and see how God has moved in our lives and what He has promised us for the coming year. It’s a week where great leaders come to us and lift our eyes to the Cross and really help us dive into all that means for us personally. It’s a week where the Holy Spirit moves in really radical, sometimes scary ways. I think any one of the youth will tell you that our speaker this year held nothing back from us. God used his teachings to utterly and completely break us…but what happened when Jesus put us back together…THAT was the coolest part of Breakaway. Because – like Moses – we came home with a little bit of God’s glory burnt into us.

We came home from this mountaintop experience and got smacked in the face with real life. We came back to broken relationships, back to strained families, back to work, back to bad habits and addictions. Back to darkness. And I think every single one of us said, “I wish we could just stay at Breakaway. I want to go back to Breakaway.” But alas! Jesus prays in John 17, “My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of this world, just as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth…”

Well, here’s the truth. We are a different youth group today than we were before we went to Breakaway this year. We got home on Friday and as soon as we got home, we missed each other! I seriously have five pillows in my bed, one for my head and the rest are spread around me because I got so used to sharing a bed with a bunch of girls! I can’t sleep alone anymore! Call it what you will but that’s what happens when we’re all living together, eating together, worshiping, praying, and crying together. And that kind of energy spent together makes a bond that is not easily broken. Like the soldiers who sweat and bleed together find a brotherhood that lasts forever through the fiercest battles, we have found that bond in the blood of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t our blood spilt, it was His. Our blood isn’t enough to keep us together but His is.

The Friday following our return home we all met up in one of our basements. For about an hour we just hung out, danced a little bit, talked about whatever. One of the really cool things was that as more people would arrive, everyone went, “Oh my gosh! It’s so good to see you! I’ve missed you so much! Ahhhh!” Lots of hugging. Lots of genuine, heartfelt rejoicing to see each other. Then we all sat down in a circle and started talking about Breakaway, about what we learned there, about what God had done with us since we’d been home, whatever came to mind. Aside from “God’s awesome,” and “I love you,” do you want to know what the most commonly uttered words were that night? “Knowing that I was going to get to spend time with my friends who live their lives for God and talk about Him tonight got me through the week.” I’m sorry, these are 14-year-olds through 18-year-olds saying this. “Knowing that on Friday night I was going to get to be with my piers who love Jesus got me through the week.” Do y’all have any idea how ridiculous that is?! Do you have any idea how exciting that is! This is what your kids are saying. This is what your brothers and sisters in Christ are saying.

After about another hour of recanting the total awesomeness of our God, we worshiped through song. We didn’t have power point, or amps, or mikes, but beyond the shadow of a doubt, we had the Holy Spirit with us. There were probably twenty of us all crammed in the sitting area of the Chaney’s basement, which is beautiful and awesome and thank you for opening your home to us, but it was not designed to hold that many of us! And the way we roll at IDX, we throw our arms around each other or hold hands when we’re praying and worshipping because it makes that connection to the Kingdom of God all the realer and more passionate. So we’re down in the basement, shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, packed like sardines, and we’re just singing our hearts out. I was overwhelmed. I could feel the Holy Spirit moving in that room because my body was covered in chills and you can bet it was not because it was cold down there! There was a song a lot of us heard for the first time at Breakaway called “True Love” by Phil Wickham. It’s a beautiful song. Y’all should go look it up. But this has become our new favorite at IDX, our anthem, if you will. We sang it at Breakaway, we’ve sung it in youth a few times, and we sang it in the Chaney’s basement and felt the Holy Spirit sweep through our hearts.

Come close listen to the story / About a love more faithful than the morning / The Father gave His only Son just to save us / The earth was shaking in the dark / All creation felt the Father’s broken Heart / Tears were filling Heaven's Eyes / The day that True Love died / When blood and water hit the ground / Walls we couldn't move came crashing down / We were free and made alive / The day that True Love died, the day that True Love died / Search your heart, you know you can't deny it / Come on, lose your life just so you can find it / The Father gave His only Son just to save us / Now, Jesus is alive / Jesus is alive / Jesus is alive / Jesus is alive / Jesus is alive / Oh, He is alive / He rose again.”

This is what God is doing with the youth at Intown. This is where He’s leading us. At Breakaway, Jesus convicted our hearts of our horrible brokenness so that our only option if we wanted to live was to fall at the feet of the Cross, was to get on our knees and break our idols at the feet of Jesus and weep for the forgiveness and safety and peace and love and joy and the freedom we found there. We learned at Breakaway this very startling thought that conviction is a beautiful thing. Conviction is when you see yourself and go, “There’s no way I can be ok without Jesus,” and then run towards Him, knowing He is the only One who can fix it. Guilt and shame is when you look at yourself and say, “Yuck,” and then hide it away and run from God and His ability to clean you off. Conviction is what pushes you towards the Cross. Guilt and shame is what holds you back and makes you think you can’t approach Him. Conviction is what brings us to our knees before the Father. And because He loves us, He lets us grovel on the floor for about a millisecond before He scoops us up into His arms and cradles us like we are the most precious things He owns…because we are!

This is the vision the youth group has. We know we’re messed up, trust me, we know. We have our failures shoved in our faces – by piers, by family, by the voices in heads – all day long because Satan wants to guilt us into believing that we are not good enough and we could NEVER approach the Cross of Jesus. But that’s not what we learned at Breakaway and that’s not a lie we are going to let ourselves believe. We are the dearly loved children of God Almighty and He holds us to His heart because we are the most precious things He created and He longs for us to run to Him no matter what kind of day it’s been. We are more than children, though. We’re soldiers. We’re conquerors. He’s been training us, He’s been fitting us with armor. He’s been whispering in our lives, “I’m fighting with you…I’m fighting for you…I’m coming to rescue you…We’re going to have a great adventure…” And now, we are here to proclaim that God is moving in our lives and at Intown through us. Here’s what we learned about Jesus at Breakaway and what we want to pump into this church: He is not a tame lion…of course He isn’t safe, but He is good.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


This is a piece of my recently completed novel.

Scarlet put her book on the table and brought her blanket with her. She pulled her legs up on the couch and leaned her head against Luke’s shoulder. He didn’t move to touch her. Scarlet folded her hands in her lap, gazing at Aurora.

“She’s beautiful,” she murmured.

“She’s an angel,” he countered. He looked down at Scarlet. “She’s blessed to have you for her mother.” She quirked a smile but tears began leaking out of eyes.

“Thanks,” she said quietly.

Luke wanted to kick himself for making her cry. Instead he reached into his pocket to produce a white cotton handkerchief.

“Here,” he put it in her hand. “Don’t cry.” Scarlet was a goner and she knew it. His voice was so tender. She took hold of his free arm and picked it up, draping it around her shoulders so she could lean against his chest. Luke’s heart stuttered as the light weight of her head rested on his chest and the sweet smell of her shampoo intoxicated his senses. She closed her eyes and memorized this feeling: the steady rise and fall of Luke’s chest as he breathed, the constant and quiet beat of his heart, and the soft strokes of his hand on her back.

Luke felt himself on a precipice. Scarlet was on one side – evidently the side with far less certainty. Safety was on the other side. There was safety in the gloomy memories of Brooke. There was safety in solitude. There was safety but there was no Scarlet and no Aurora, no sunlight. Scarlet and Aurora both needed someone in their lives to be present, to care, and a hired agent was not what he meant. But it was more than that. He needed them. He needed Scarlet to smile at him because without it, the world was too cold. He needed Aurora to fall asleep in his arms because if she didn’t, the world would be too cruel. He needed to see Scarlet’s green eyes alive with laughter because if they weren’t, the air would be unbreathable. He needed to watch Scarlet holding her daughter, singing over her with the melodies she and Maggie used to sing in the sunlight. If he didn’t hear her, the moon and the stars would cease to hold each other in place. In the same way that Scarlet needed to feel Aurora’s weight in her arms, Luke needed to feel Scarlet’s in his because if he didn’t his heart would just stop beating. If Scarlet was not in the world to set it ablaze with passion and beauty, Luke wished to be blind. He would rather see nothing at all than see a world without Scarlet Kaitlyn Clint.

“Lord,” he prayed silently. “How did I ever live without her? How can I ever thank You enough for putting her in my life? Jesus, Scarlet could never replace Brooke and I never want her to feel like a replacement. Help me to love Scarlet in a way I was never able to love Brooke. Jesus, You’ve given me Your love. Now help me pour it out to Scarlet and Aurora. Let me love Scarlet in such a sacred way, it can’t be understood by human minds. Let me love her as You love her. And, please, Lord, help me lay Brooke’s memory down. It’s been a burden to carry. My season of mourning is over. This new season is full of life. Help me forgive myself for Brooke’s death. You are still in control and You still have good things to give me.”

“Sometimes I think it should have been me in that coffin,” Scarlet admitted, interrupting his prayer. Luke took a deep breath.

“Why?” he asked simply.

“Because Aurora will never know her real mom. My family was so enriched by Maggie.”

“Scarlet,” Luke tried not to sound like was minimizing her problems. “This is called survivor’s guilt. If you had died Maggie would be saying the same things you are. Aurora is blessed to have you as her mom. You’re here for a reason and Maggie chose to leave. Life – being the one who survived – that’s not a curse.”

“It’s just so weird to be alive without Maggie. We were inseparable our whole lives. Going on without her is like getting a heart transplant. My brain can still function normally and everything looks ok but my heart knows that what ought to be is not and what was is no more.”

“It knows something huge is missing.”

“Yes,” Scarlet looked up at him. His expression was understanding and compassionate. “You know how that is.” It wasn’t a question but a statement.

“I do,” he answered. “Brooke – in both life and death – consumed my life for a very long time.”

“And now?”

“I’m learning how to lay down her memory,” Luke said with certainty. “It’s been a long process but I think it’s coming to completion. Brooke will always be here, in a way. I loved her very much when she died. It was not a situation where my love for her dissipated and I was able to walk away with closure. She was stolen from me and ruined before my eyes. But God has given me a new kind of love. His love is incredibly different from what non-Christians consider love to be. God’s love is never ending and unconditional. The love Brooke and I shared was neither of those. You’re miraculously blessed, Scarlet, to have been raised in a family where God’s love is the natural and normal one.” He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I don’t know which is more difficult: losing someone because they walked away voluntarily or having them stolen from you.”

“Maggie chose to die, Brooke didn’t.”

“No, she didn’t chose to die, but she did chose to walk away. Would Brooke have walked away had Blanch not seduced her?” he shrugged. “I don’t know. All I know is that I’m sorry for the hurt but the way God has brought healing has been an incredible experience. There is joy to come. I promise you that, Scarlet. Through the hurt, joy will come.” He looked at her with that gentle and powerful promise. Her eyes told him that she believed him.

“I trust you,” she said quietly. She doubted he knew exactly what she meant but he would learn. Trusting him with her life was easy compared to trusting him with her heart.

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Novel

It was dark and he was lost. How could he have been so stupid to get in a fight with his producer? Aaron Jacobs was one of Hollywood’s top movie stars and he had fought with his producer like he was an armature. It was one more thing to add to his list of everything that had gone wrong that year. Furthermore, his cell phone had no reception, the sun had gone down, and he was lost somewhere in the plains of central Wyoming.

“What an idiot,” he thought of himself. He had been walking for what seemed like hours, but he had been lost long before that.

He came around a giant rock and saw a campfire far off in the distance. He frowned, ready to give his agent a piece of his mind for not sending out a search party sooner. He moved forward, fuming that he’d have to ask for help from a stranger. There was a person sitting by the fire, back to Aaron. A horse looked up and stared at him dumbly.

“Stupid animal,” he thought. The person turned around and he found himself looking at the fresh and round face of a woman. She stood up and stared back at him. He assessed her automatically. She wore no makeup and had a scarf tied over her hair so all he could see were blonde wisps at her hairline. She was tall and thin, lacking any curves. She wore jeans tucked into knee-high black riding boots and a black flowing shirt that for some reason reminded him of a tunic. By the looks of her, she – and her clothes – needed a good wash. She could’ve been pretty if she had on makeup and let her hair down.

“Hi,” he said. “What are you doing out here in the wild all alone?”

“I could ask you the same question,” she replied. “And I’m not alone.”

“Whatever,” he interrupted. He didn’t think of a horse as company. “Look, I’m a little turned around. I’m supposed to be shooting a movie just north of Hanna.”

The woman wrinkled her brow. “How’d you get here?”

“I told you, I’m filming a movie,” he said, annoyed with her slowness. His legs were aching.

“No, I mean how did you get here,” she pointed to the ground. “To my little encampment.”

“I walked,” he said obviously.

She huffed a laugh. “How long would you say you’ve been walking?” she asked him, the look on her face just shy of mockery. This was ridiculous. Didn’t she know who he was?

“I don’t know! I don’t have a watch. When I started the sun was up, now it’s down.” She smiled at his exasperation. “Get that look off your face,” he snapped.

“No,” she continued to smile and went right on talking. “Hanna’s about twenty miles from here. If you’re from the movie set I saw this morning, you’ve been walking for several hours. It took me two to ride from there.”

His mouth dropped open. He’d been walking for more than two hours. The woman sighed.

“Why don’t you stay here for the night, ok? The wolves come out to hunt at night.”

“What?” he was appalled. “Am I supposed to sleep on the ground?”

“It won’t kill you,” she laughed. He stood there gaping. “Haven’t you even been camping?”

“When I was a kid.”

“How old are you?” she asked. The way she looked at him made him think she could see straight to his soul. He didn’t like that.

“Twenty-six,” he answered, wishing she would look away but she didn’t.

“So am I. If I can do it, you can do it. Or will you be outdone by a girl?”

She hit his Achilles heel, his pride. He sat down by the fire and glared at her. She just smiled and went over to her saddlebags. He threw a few pebbles into the fire, hating the smoky smell. She came back to him holding out a canteen of water, an apple, and a package of crackers. He looked disdainfully at them but took them anyway, his stomach winning over his pride for the food. He paid no attention to her as she sat down across the fire from him and read a book.

What a mess. He was lost with a strange and ugly woman who clearly had no idea who he was. That irritated him. He was one of the biggest names in Hollywood; he had been for years. He was accustomed to woman falling at his feel and asking for his autograph. She looked at him like a sorry lost child, like a charity case.

“Please,” he thought. “She’s the charity case. Even a few beers wouldn’t help her look better.” He shook his head and ate the bruised apple. Wolves. A likely story. She just wanted an excuse to keep him there so she could tell the press, “One Night in the Wild With Aaron Jacobs.”

“Oh well,” he sighed, stretching out on the hard ground. “I’ve been caught in worse.” There were rocks and sticks in his back, bugs crawling on his clothes, and smoke from the fire choking him. “Nightmare after nightmare,” he thought. “Nicole dumps me. I didn’t get the movie I wanted so now I’m in Wyoming instead of the Caribbean. My car gets totaled. Some punk breaks into my house. Now this.”

It was only June and he wondered what else could go wrong that year.

Anna had never seen anyone fall asleep so fast.

“Very funny, God,” she prayed. “I’m in the middle of nowhere trying to stay away from people, especially guys, and here You send me Aaron Jacobs.” She looked up at the brilliant black and purple cosmos expanding above her. She would never get used to this. No matter how many nights she spent under the stars, it would never stop taking her breath away and leaving her in awe. She took in as much as she could of the massive sky and let the sweet smell of the fire fill her nose. She closed her eyes and listened. The fire crackled. The wind whistled ever so gently, echoing off the rock walls a hundred yards away from her. Bats chirped and crickets sang softly. Somewhere a wolf howled in the darkness. She knew her rifle was just a few feet from her so she wasn’t worried. She kept her eyes shut, listening to God’s symphony. The sound of her horse’s heavy breaths plodded through the air like his footsteps. She heard him swish his tail back and forth, swatting at a few fluttering moths. Then she heard the shallow breaths of her unexpected guest.

“What am I supposed to do with him, God? I know this isn’t an accident that he came here tonight. You brought him to me. What for? What does he need?”

“I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works.” Psalm 145:5.

Anna smiled at the challenge. God was going to use her to help Aaron become a shining light. God was going to use her to help Aaron see the beauty and joy of an abundant life in God. God was pouring out His love and beauty to her so that it would overflow into other lives. And Aaron Jacobs was her first mission.

“Don’t you dare let me fall in love with him, God. I don’t want another scar on my heart.”

Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” Genesis 28:15.

Anna spread the wood out in the fire pit and rolled out her thin sleeping pad. She would have offered it to Aaron if he hadn't fallen asleep so quickly. She took her extra jacket and wadded it up. She gently lifted Aaron's head and placed the makeshift pillow beneath him. She laid a blanket over him, knowing the night would be cold.

She went back to her bed on the other side of the fire. She pulled off her boots and stretched out under her own blanket of stars.

"Count the stars...if indeed they can be counted. This is how much I love you..."

Reflection on Genesis

"In this world, you will have trouble," Jesus tells us in John 16. Turns out, He was right. Over the past year, I've had some trouble. No, I wasn't heavily persecuted for my faith or turned homeless and starving, but I came to odds with the planet I knew as a comfortable home.
From August till Christmas I was on a self-destruct mission. Things were falling apart at home, my love life was a sort of personal hell I couldn't seem to escape and God was the bad guy who had stolen from me. Finally, I ran out of options. I hit rock bottom and - not for the first time in my life - God said, "Turn back around."
Now, the past five months have been far from easy and June will prove to be the hardest yet as I say another good-bye. My cousin, who is my best friend, is moving to France for two years on the the 20th of June.
As I look back over the "troubles" of the past year, I see nothing but God's masterpiece. Death is really the glorious entrance to our True Home, our True Life, and our True Love. God "taking" people away from me is actually an act of His righteous jealousy for me, for my attention. Ruined plans are in fact a new pathway and embarrassing confessions are a fresh start.
In the past year, I've been Eve - tempted and fallen; Enoch - who was blessed to walk closely with God; I've been a person at Babel - totally confused and freaked out; I've been Abraham - a wandering nomad; I've been Sarah - disbelieving God and laughing in His face; Lot - who accidentally stumbled into temptation; and a resident of Sodom - who ran towards temptation and any kind of sin like my life depended on it; I've been angry like Esau and a liar like Jacob, wrestling with God to no avail and coming away permanently altered. And - like Joseph - I've come to see things a little differently.
The past year, I've been all over the place. But more importantly, God's been in the same place. And that place was wherever I was.
Genesis is a book of God's faithfulness. My life is a testimony that He has not forgotten about me. He is faithful. This is my declaration.
"Look up at the heavens and count the stars - if indeed you can count them..."
"Don't give up," God is saying to each of us. "Don't give up on Me. Not until every star in the sky burns out and every grain of sand on the seashore is washed away...maybe even longer than that... Don't give up on Me. I am Faithful."

Thursday, May 12th, 2011.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Sonnet

Bullets tore through your flesh, your chest. They said

Your lip’s last words were of a sacred she.

Tears fill my eyes as pictures fill my head:

Hero, savior, lover you were to me.

Pride washes over the broken pieces

Of my soul like water o’er craggy rock.

My undying love only increases

For you, who braves to answer duty’s knock.

No more will I feel your beloved face,

Only the granite carvings of your grave

Under my fingers. Face veiled by black lace,

Tears come echoing from an empty cave.

Your life ended with bullets from a gun

Only my heart is killed by twenty-one.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Isaiah 62 For Girls

Girls, these are God's words to you:

Your beauty shines out like a sunrise on the beach - you are Aurora, the goddess of the dawn. Your life in Me, your trust and love for Me is like a bonfire - you are Nuri, My fire. Everyone will see your passion and your love for Me. You are the crown of splendor I wear on My head, you are My most precious jewel - you are My Cleopatra, the glory of the Father. No one will ever be able to call you lonely again. You will not be left behind or forgotten. I look at you and declare to all the world,
"My delight is her! She makes my heart soar! She is My joy! She is My pride and joy!"
You will never be beaten again. I am standing in front of you and I am protecting you from everything bad. I will not rest until you are safe. I will not stop spoiling you until everyone recognizes you as Mine.
People will be drawn to you because of My love that is flowing through you. People will come to you, be attracted to you. Never again will you be thought of as alone or ugly.
You are defined by Me. And I call you Lovely and Beautiful. I call you Mine.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I was sitting in the library amid a pile of engineering books. My hair was down. I was wearing jeans, a green spaghetti strap top, and wedge heels.
The men were everywhere. One in particular kept looking over at me. I made a show of pretending I didn't have a clue what I was reading - which wasn't difficult because it was all technological tongue twisters to me.
I got up to throw some wadded up papers into the trashcan which was conveniently located by his table.
"How's it going?" he asked me with a smile.
"It'd be better if I could understand what the heck I'm reading."
"What are you working on?"
"I'm trying to get a jump start on Dr. Brown's engineering class. I'm taking it over the summer."
"I'm taking his class now," he said. "I'd love to help you."
"I think I'm a lost cause," I laughed.
"That's not possible," he laughed too. "I'm a great teacher."
"All right," I started to walk backwards towards my table. "Let's see what you've got."
It took the boy all of three seconds to gather his things and come to my table.
"What are you having trouble with?" he asked.
"Chapter six," I lied. I didn't understand any of it but I didn't want to look completely incompetent. I figured as long as I could get away with just answering 'uh-huh', 'right', 'ok', I could feign brilliance.
He talked for twenty minutes until I couldn't take it anymore and said, "That makes sense now. Thank you."
"Of course," he smiled and grabbed my notebook. "Come on, walk me to my class." He threw one arm around my shoulders and we left the library. I looked up at him.
"A little precocious, aren't you?"
"So tell me where you're from. Did you just move here?" he asked, ignoring my complaint.
"I'm from Arizona," I lied. "I moved here last month and I'll start taking classes in the summer."
"Not going home?"
"Nope. What about you?"
"I'm from here, been here all my life."
"Boring," I sighed. He laughed and looked at me.
"Do you want to get dinner Friday night? There's a great little Italian restaurant that just opened down on the strip."
"Sounds romantic," I said nonchalantly.
"And a walk through the park afterwards would really be the icing on the cake. Meet me there at seven."
"A little precocious, aren't you?" I said again. We had reached his classroom and were facing each other.
"Seven o'clock," he smiled and backed away from me.
"Hey! You've got my notebook," I called after him.
"Friday night at seven and you'll get it back," he winked at me and walked into the classroom.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Elysa and Georgia headed out to the lake to take pictures. Elysa – Georgia's aunt – was a photographer, and a good one at that. Georgia was eighteen and had never had a boyfriend. Elysa was trying to fix that. She’d been a teenager a long time ago and wanted terribly to live vicariously through her pretty young niece. There were few things worse than watching a gorgeous girl sit in low self-confidence. Elysa might not be what she used to be, but she was never lacking in confidence.

“Wow, look at that church!” Georgia gasped as they were driving. Elysa had to stop just to get a good look at it. It was tucked back behind the trees of the forest, its white paint peeling but still it stood tall and straight. Elysa parked the car on the side of the road and got out. “What are you doing?” Georgia asked nervously.

“I’m going to take pictures of you with that church in the background. Come on! It’ll be great.”

“What if we’re not allowed back there?”

“Then we’ll be asked to leave,” Elysa said obviously, already heading towards the abandoned little church. She looked over her shoulder. Georgia was still standing by the car in her short, strapless dress and cowboy boots. She was as pretty as could be and scared as a mouse. “Come on, Georgi!” She pursed her lips and came.

“There’s a graveyard behind the church,” she commented quietly.

“Sure is. Man, those are some beautiful trees!”

Georgia shook her head. Her aunt wasn’t scared of anything. She admired that. She wanted to be brave and confident like Elysa. There was a small plaque on the wall of the church that read:

Church of the Commons

Built in 1818

Rev Richard Smith.

“How long do you think it’s been abandoned?” Georgia asked.

“Don’t know. Go stand by the door, with your back against it,” Elysa instructed. Georgia slowly complied, obviously uncomfortable. “Relax, Georgi, it’s fine.”

From the very first shot, Elysa knew she had magic. Georgi was glowing. Her pictures were outstanding. “Oh, wow, girl, you’ve got it!” Georgia giggled and shook out her long, brown hair. “Sit on the doorstep for me,” her aunt said. Georgia tested the door to make sure it would take her weight and found it was solidly locked shut. She sat down but before Elysa could snap another picture, the door swung open and a tall man in dark dress clothes stepped out. Georgia sprang up and stood behind her aunt, who was dumbstruck. The man looked them over with curious eyes. After what seemed a silent eternity, the man spoke,

“Goodness, child, you must be freezing,” he shrugged out of his dress coat and reached to drape it over Georgia’s bare shoulders. When neither spoke, he continued, “You could at least say thank you.”

“Thank you,” Georgia mumbled.

“What are you ladies doing here?”

“We were just taking pictures. I’m sorry, we didn’t –”

“Pictures?” he interrupted Elysa.

“Yes, she’s a senior so we’re taking pictures.”

“Senior? How old are you, girl? You don’t look like a senior.”

“I’m eighteen,” Georgia replied quietly.

“See, a senior is an elderly person.”

“No, a senior in high school,” Elysa laughed, thinking he was playing a words with them. “We’ll leave. We didn’t know the church was still in use.”

“Of course it’s still in use.” The man sounded almost offended. “It was only built three years ago.”

Elysa and Georgia exchanged a glance. “Three years ago?” Georgia whispered.

“Yes, three years ago, in 1815.”

“Sir,” Elysa laughed, “Three years ago was 2008!”

The man sighed and looked up, “God, why do you plague me with simpletons?”

“Aunt Elysa,” Georgia whispered. “Do you think–”

“Uh-huh,” Elysa nodded. “I think he thinks it’s 1818.”

Sunday, March 13, 2011

New Novel

This is the very beginning of my new novel. It is a wartime story about how a young girl came to know Jesus Christ through her older brother, who is a soldier.

I was fifteen years old when the unthinkable happened. I didn’t completely understand but oh, I was angry. This anger has coursed through my veins for the past two years and has only increased. I was angry that my country was being attacked. I was angry that innocent people were killed. But most of all, I was angry because three of my four older brothers and my father, deployed within one week of the catastrophe. My fourth brother deployed the next year as soon as he turned eighteen, leaving me home alone with my mother, who has wanted me to be a ballerina since the day I was born. Instead she is stuck with an angry tomboy.

My father is Major General Greene for the United States Marine Corps. He has been in the military all his life, which conversely means he has hardly been in mine. When he is at home, he wants me to behave like a princess, not like his soldier sons. He actually encourages my relationships with teenage boys. Once I wrote him that I had indeed made many male friends and that I train with them for the cross-country team at our high school. I bragged to my father that I was faster than most of them. His response was that men didn’t like women who could beat them at sports and why didn’t I try gymnastics, cheerleading, dancing, or singing instead? Things were fine before the war. He loved me for who I was. He loved that I loved sports. He loved that I was tough. But ever since the war began, he has wanted me to be soft and feminine. One would think this should be opposite; that it is right to be tougher in times of war. Apparently, that is not what General Greene thinks.

Michael is my oldest brother. He was twenty-eight when it happened. Like my father, the military is his career. He went to Annapolis to become a Marine, just like General Greene. Michael is very much like our father. He is driven and determined. He is smart and he is savvy. Michael deeply loves our family. He loves his younger brothers with a passion unparalleled. And while I know that Michael loves me, I cannot help the feeling that he is at a complete lose as to what to make of me. When I was four, Michael was gone to Annapolis and has been busy ever since. Of course Michael loves me, but he doesn’t have the slightest idea who I am.

Then there is Aaron. Aaron was killed in action a year into the war. There was a shoot out and Aaron was in the very thick of it, fighting down to his last breath. The worst part is that Michael was there. Michael and Aaron were best friends and fellow soldiers. I dare not ask to see through Michael’s eyes, engaged in a heavy fight but out of the corner of his eye seeing his brother fall, unable to go to him, forced to ignore him until the fight was over. I know there are plenty of families who lost loved ones and I know there will be plenty more to come. Aaron’s death was not original or unique in any way, only his life was.

Liam is my closest friend. He is five years older than me but he is the one who has time for me. Liam is my protector. He accepts me for who I am. He loves me for who I am. He expects nothing of me except a letter twice a week. That I am easily able to supply. I always have more than enough to tell him. The great thing about Liam is that when he writes back, it’s not just statistics and updates. Liam tells me what is going on inside of his head. He tells me the jokes and the stories the other guys tell him. He tells me the good and the bad whereas Michael and General Greene only tell me the good. Liam is a poet, a thinker. He is as capable with a gun as he is with his words. My suggestion of ambassador for him, however, was laughed straight out the door.

William has only just turned eighteen but he is on a mission to prove himself worthy of our family name. When Aaron died, William felt he had to replace Aaron on the battlefield although he could certainly never be replaced at home. William struggles to keep up with his older brothers, constantly needing to prove himself.

It has been two years now since the beginning of the war. I have not seen my brothers or father in eight months. My mother takes anti-depressants and sleeping pills to deal with the pain of losing Aaron and the loneliness of having most of her family overseas. How do I deal with my pain? Great question. I didn’t join the army – I formed one. We’re not particularly violent but we are passionate. We are the people who support the war. We are the people who have lost and yet know that we must press on or be forever decimated. Fight and fight hard. Everything is a fight.

I don’t know when or if my family is ever coming home. I don’t know if my mother can make it another year before she loses her mind. I’m not sure about the motives and reasoning behind this war. I’m not sure of the “greater, immortal value.” The one thing I know for sure is this: God – if he exists – does not care about me. Of this I am certain. I have no doubt in my mind that God does not care. I have all the evidence I need to stand up and proclaim that. There was only one piece of evidence I needed and it happened on September 11, 2001. Case closed.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Conversation With A Friend

"It's been six months since he are you doing?"
"You know, at first, I became an insomniac. I'd sleep three, maybe four hours a night. I hated sleeping because I would dream about him and then I'd wake up and have to admit that he was gone all over again. But now I sleep as much as I can, hoping to see him again. So I suppose you could say pretty bad because it still feels like a cannon ball got shot through my heart. On the other hand, you might say pretty good because I've made it this far."
"It sounds like you're still in denial."
"Of course I am. When truth be told, I hope every time I turn a corner or enter a room that he will be there, that he has come back for me."

January 2, 2011.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bloody Victory

Tonight in worship, I pictured myself a soldier in the ranks. For we stood shoulder to shoulder with the same thing on our minds: Victory. For some, the battle towards victory is bloodier than others. The blood that watered the fields of victory was of my own veins and others - but both were shed by me. On this road to victory, I had to spill my own blood so that the Lucifer in me would live no more. On this road to victory, there was bloodshed of others on my hands. To sacrifice blood - blood of those whom I love - is to keep my heart untaintedly fixed on the goal at the end of the battle.
I unclenched my fists which grasped their precious blood, foul with sin and let it drop from my hands. Only then, with empty fists, could I wash them in Jesus' blood, truly precious and foul with nothing.

June 15th, 2010