Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Guardian's Diary - Now on Nook

The Guardian’s Diary is now on Nook: Click Here
17 year old Jedidiah was born with a gruesome deformity that causes him to drag his foot. He embraces the nickname Dragonfoot and sets his goal to become a champion skateboarder, but amputation, a mission trip to Peru, and two girls that God puts in his path challenge his dream.
The story is told from four points of view: Dragonfoot’s, a girl who suffers a gang rape, the preacher’s daughter who hides a secret, and the guardian angel who fights for Dragonfoot on another level.
Jedidiah opens his heart to both girls. Can he rescue the one who needs him without losing the one he needs? And can he open his heart to God as well and accept His will?
This is Christian fiction that addresses difficult adolescent issues such as sex and drugs, but deals with them through a Biblical perspective.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Guardian's Diary - excerpt from chapter 4

The two young fishermen jumped into the water to cool off and then stood waiting for Jedidiah to move away from the ladder.

“What the . . .?” one of them said as he noticed Jedidiah’s deformed foot through the clear water. “Hey, Chuck, look at this.” He grabbed hold of Jedidiah’s leg and lifted it out of the water, dunking him backwards. Jedidiah struggled, but the older boy had a good grip and then the second boy got closer and grabbed the good leg that Jedidiah had begun to flail and kick.

Panic overcame the initial humiliation and even though the water was not that deep, Jedidiah was thrashing to stay above the surface.

In a sudden impulse he sucked in a lungful of air and went limp, letting his head sink to the sandy bottom. Jedidiah was good at holding his breath. Despite the tight grips both teens had on his calves, he concentrated not on the bruising his muscles were receiving or the foul-mouthed descriptions he could hear even underwater or the tightness that was growing in his chest, but rather, he concentrated on holding his breath longer than he ever had before.

And suddenly they let go. He righted himself and came to the surface in time to get hit in the face mask with a glob of watery mud. He gulped some air and dipped back under and watched from below as his tormentors’ feet disappeared up the ladder rungs. The muddied water hid the splashy approach of his three friends along with four girls and two adults. Jedidiah popped up and heard all the yelling and swearing that was going on. Friends and strangers had come to his aid, throwing mud, attacking and shouting down the jerks who had held his foot up for all to see.

“You all right, son?” one adult asked.

Jedidiah nodded and the adults herded the girls away.

“What was that all about?” Chris asked.

“Dude,” Dex said, “you don’t want to mess with those brothers. They’re weird.”

Before he could respond Eric said, “Dragonfoot, man, look, they crushed your foot.”

The three friends stared through the lake water and slowly, very slowly, holding his breath again, Jedidiah raised his foot to the surface. “Nah,” he said as his friends gasped, “it’s always been like this.”

(excerpt from THE GUARDIAN'S DIARY, a young adult novel)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Teens in the Bible - Rebekah

Chapter 3 Rebekah
At about the time that Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac, Rebekah was born. Hence there was about a fourteen year age difference between them. She would one day be Isaac’s wife to fulfill God’s holy plan. 

As the story goes Abraham made the chief servant of his household swear to find a wife for his son Isaac not from among the Canaanites, but rather from his (Abraham’s) own country, from among his own relatives. The servant took ten of Abraham’s camels, some men, and all kinds of good things with him as he set out for Northwest Mesopotamia. When he got to the town of Nahor he made the camels kneel down near the well outside of the town. It was evening, the time of day that the women came to draw water from the well.

This servant, whose name we don’t know, prayed to God for success. He asked the Lord, “May it be that when I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ that she will say, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’.” Before he finished this prayer Rebekah came out with her jar. She was beautiful! And the conversation took place just as he had prayed. This was the virgin for Isaac. (How quickly God answered his prayer.)

Now let’s look a little more closely at Rebekah. She must have been strong to carry the water jug on her shoulder. She was pleasant, a willing worker, friendly, compassionate (towards camels at least), and hospitable. Typical teenage traits, right? Read the conversation she has with the servant, a stranger to her, to see what you think (Genesis 24:17-25).

The servant took out a gold nose ring and two gold bracelets and put them on Rebekah’s nose and arms. That would be the equivalent of offering a girl today an engagement ring and subscription to Today’s Bride. Did Rebekah run away? Actually, yes.  With the ring and the bracelets. She ran home and told everyone. 

The servant followed. Betrothal arrangements were made and plans were set for her to leave the next day.
The family balked a bit and asked that Rebekah remain ten more days, but she was willing to go immediately and so she left. Ah, the impulsiveness of a teen bride.

The last trait we see in Rebekah as a teen is when she saw Isaac from afar. She asked the servant who that man was and upon learning it was her betrothed she took a veil and covered herself. Modesty? Cultural habit? What do you think?

Next Saturday: King David’s teen wife: Michal

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Teens in the Bible - Isaac's turn

Chapter 2 Isaac

Shockingly, God told Abraham to take Isaac and sacrifice him as a burnt offering. Trusting and obedient, Abraham saddled his donkey, took two servants and the boy, and headed for the spot God told him about. I have no doubt that Abraham did not forget what God had told him years before, when Ishmael was sent away, that Abraham’s offspring would be reckoned through Isaac. I’m sure he didn’t expect to really sacrifice him.

When they saw the right spot in the distance Abraham told his servants to wait while he and Isaac went on. He told the servants, “We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Even with the wood chopped and ready Abraham says we will come back. Trust. And Isaac must have picked up on that trust and assurance.

They had a conversation.


“Yes, my son.”

“The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?

“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”

Then Abraham built an altar, bound Isaac, laid him on top of the wood, and picked up the knife. I am sure that Isaac trusted his father the same as Abraham trusted God. There is no mention of a struggle or crying. The angel of the Lord called out to Abraham and stopped the action, yes, right at the last second (this is the original plot device of having the clock tick to the last possible moment). In a thicket nearby was a ram, caught by its horns. That animal became the sacrifice instead of Isaac.

Did Isaac learn anything else from this? Absolutely. He learned to fear God. This expression of fearing God does not mean we are to be afraid or terrified of our Heavenly Father, but rather to be in awe of, respectful of, and in complete submission to Him. Read the passage in Genesis 22 and you’ll see that the angel of the Lord makes the statement that now God knows that Abraham fears him because he did not withhold even his only son from God. What a great lesson for Isaac to learn as a teen. This shaped the rest of his life most certainly.

Now we’ve seen two half-brothers, Ishmael and Isaac, and examined their characters a bit. How very different they were from one another. Ishmael – a donkey of a man, mocking, and disliked by all. Isaac – trusting and obedient.
(next Saturday: Rebekah)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Teens in the Bible - First up: Ishmael

Teens in the Bible were subject to parental favoritism, sibling rivalry, and youthful indiscretion. They made mistakes, chose the wrong friends, suffered abuse, learned forgiveness, made bad choices, and disobeyed. Yup, teens in the Bible were no different from teenagers in any other time period.

Let’s look at their stories, see what they learned or didn’t learn, and let’s also see what we can learn from them. First up are Ishmael and Isaac, from whom descended two great nations: the Jews and the Arabs.

You can read their stories in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. When Abraham, their father, was still going by the name Abram, his wife Sarah was barren and totally frustrated that she had never conceived. She gave her handmaiden, Hagar, to her husband as a wife! when Abraham was 85 years old. That sounds pretty old to us and I want to say “eew”, but that’s what happened and since Abraham lived to be 175 maybe we should just picture him as middle aged.

Hagar gave birth to a son. Before he was born, an angel of the Lord told Hagar to name him Ishmael and described what he would be like: a wild donkey of a man with “his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him”.  Think about that description. The wild donkey image makes me think of stubbornness. To extrapolate further, Ishmael may have also had the characteristics of obstinacy, inflexibility, tenacity, and perseverance, all offshoots of that stubborn streak. If he had “his hand against everyone” I picture a person who was angry and socially immature; his grade school report card would have had this box checked: does not get along well with others. And if everyone’s hand was against him, then can’t you visualize someone who was a loner, who couldn’t catch a break, or who was just plain unlikeable? We see the first indication of that personality when the boy hits his teens.

Abraham must have doted on him, his only son at that point. Then God confirmed a covenant with Abraham that changed his name from Abram to Abraham, promised him innumerable descendants, and gave him the whole land of Canaan. The catch was that God promised a son through his wife Sarah who was then ninety years old. That’s when Abraham said to God, “if only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” God said, “Yes, but . . .” The covenant would be established through Isaac though God promised to bless Ishmael as well and make him into a great nation. That whole covenant-making thing happened a year before Isaac was born. Ishmael was thirteen and on that very day both Abraham and Ishmael were circumcised. Ouch.

There’s no record of Ishmael’s reaction, complaint, compliance or anything, but I’m going to guess that he wasn’t happy about that or about being replaced as principal heir. Maybe that’s when those personality traits started on their negative path. His half-brother, Isaac, was born when he was fourteen, just becoming a man. Two or three years later when Isaac was weaned there was a great feast for the toddler. The Bible says that at that feast Ishmael “was mocking”. I don’t think it means just a curled lip or a misspoken word or a single cutting remark. His behavior at that party got him and his mother sent away. Envision a party situation where a teenager’s conduct is contemptuous, scornful, sarcastic, and disrespectful. Ishmael was irredeemably in the wrong.

Mocking. And Ishmael took it too far. All behaviors have consequences. This seems like a pretty big one, but Ishmael knew his family’s dynamics and history. He obviously was pushing all the wrong buttons. Abraham gave Hagar and Ishmael some food and water and sent them off to wander in the desert of Beersheba. Guess how this boy behaved then – this boy who was to become a donkey of a man, disliked by all and disliking everyone. Ishmael cried. They ran out of water and the teen boy sat under a bush and cried. Now you can look at that as a pretty sissy thing to do if you want, but God heard him crying. The story ends with them finding a well of water that God provided. Ishmael and Hagar lived in the desert. Ishmael became an archer, got a wife, had many, many descendents, and lived to be 137 years old. Apparently those donkey traits served him well.

There’s some pretty good evidence that Ishmael’s half-brother, Isaac, was in his late teens when he went with his father, Abraham, to the region of Moriah, up the mountains to make a sacrifice to God. Isaac shows us a personality very different from Ishmael’s.
(next Saturday we'll look at teen Isaac)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Guardian's Diary - excerpt chpt. 1

Guardian's first entry:

Pity was something that Jedidiah Kelita could never ignore. He knew it followed him like a devoted puppy. He often thought that if he were allowed to have a pet, he would definitely name it Pity. Pity would be at his heels as he walked through the mall, nipping at his ankles in the crowded fast food restaurants, resting almost contently on his lap as he waited in yet another doctor’s silent white waiting room. It might be fun to see people’s faces as he called out things like, “Come on, Pity, follow me,” or “Watch out for Pity,” or “Don’t worry, Pity doesn’t bite.” But, of course, that wasn’t true; pity did bite. It bit him when he heard the whispered sympathies, it gnawed at him when heads quickly turned away and it sank its sharp teeth into his heart when he couldn’t avoid the curious stares.

Maybe you pitied him once.

Or maybe you bullied him.

Were you one of the kids who called him cruel names, finally settling on the one that stuck? Dragonfoot. Did you know he liked it? He couldn’t let you know that. He smiled at all the other taunts because his father taught him early to ignore words like gimp and cripple and clubfoot. Too soon in his young life he bravely earned heroic nicknames like Captain Courageous and Little Braveheart and Trooper. Those were nicknames that were laid on his head by pretty nurses as if they were gently placing golden crowns on his short blond hair, not hurling names at his hunched back, hissing and scoffing the insults like playground toughies.

It was on that wide playground as he headed toward the buried tractor tire, his shelter, his dragging foot scoring a trail in the dirt as he limped, that he heard for the first time that special name. Was it you who yelled it first? “He’s draggin’ his foot like a zombie. Hey! Draggin’ foot!” Or were you one of the others who took up the chant: “Dragonfoot! Dragonfoot!” You didn’t know this, but he had to think of something really sad to make himself look so pathetic. Of course, that made you yell some more: “Dragonfoot!” He liked it, so he acted all mad and angry and you used the nickname every day after that. There were fewer handicap jokes, fewer sneers and snickers, less mocking. Dragonfoot.

That was not a name his mother would have liked if she had lived long enough to give him a name, choosing between the two that she and her husband had finally settled on. She didn’t get to hold the precious red and squirming bundle that the nurse solemnly whisked away, hurriedly wrapping all but the tiny malformed foot. The small appendage waved like a tattered war-torn flag, a harbinger of a future war that would be fought first on the playground and later in your unkind world. What a desperate war it was as Jedidiah fought for victory over pity. All he really wanted was to be accepted.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Guardian's Diary

In 2011 I self-published an edgy YA novel under the title of Dragonfoot. It has been retitled THE GUARDIAN’S DIARY (IN PAPERBACK $9.99 and KINDLE $2.99), and has a nice new cover. It still deals with those pesky teen topics that should get an R rating – you know the ones. Here’s the back cover blurb:

17 year old Jedidiah was born with a gruesome deformity that causes him to drag his foot. He embraces the nickname Dragonfoot and sets his goal to become a champion skateboarder, but amputation, a mission trip to Peru, and two girls that God puts in his path challenge his dream.

The story is told from four points of view: Dragonfoot’s, a girl who suffers a gang rape, the preacher’s daughter who hides a secret, and the guardian angel who fights for Dragonfoot on another level.

Jedidiah opens his heart to both girls. Can he rescue the one who needs him without losing the one he needs? And can he open his heart to God as well and accept His will?

This is Christian fiction that addresses difficult adolescent issues such as sex and drugs, but deals with them through a Biblical perspective.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Who Lives in Mountain View, California?

Who lives in Mountain View, California?

One of the fun things about writing a blog is seeing where all the readers come from. That little “feedjit” app in the sidebar tells me I have viewers from every continent, countries I’ve never heard of, and cities with interesting or hard to pronounce names.

There have been times when I have had more visitors from Russia than the U.S. And there is someone from Mountain View, CA, who has been systematically going through past postings. Curiosity has me wondering if this is a former classmate, a stalker, a faithful blog reader, or one of those search engine spiders.

If you’re from Mountain View, tell me, what’s the weather like?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year - 2013

2013 should be great. 13 is my favorite number.

There’s a giveaway of my book, SHELTERED, over on Brandi's Blog
This is a nice way to start off 2013.

By the way, the winner of my Amazon wish list giveaway is Stephanie. She has been notified by email.