Friday, December 18, 2015

The Ten Commandments

Read Exodus chapter 20. The first commandment is basically “I am Adonai your God” (The Hebrew word here is

which you could pronounce as Yahweh or Jehovah though there's no "j" sound in Hebrew, but Jews replace this sacred name by saying Adonai or HaShem). If you started reading at verse 1 of chapter 20 then you know that God “spoke” all these words: the commandments. He starts with this implicit fact that He is our God.
“You shall not have other gods before me.” Literally, it says “before my face”, implying forever and everywhere, since God is omnipresent and eternal.
“You shall not take the name of Adonai your God in vain.” This commandment prohibits the voicing of the Lord’s name in an empty or useless way. Did you read that? Do not say “oh my God”! It has become a habit for too many people and it breaks my heart when I hear anyone and especially small children repeating this phrase.
“Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” Set it apart. The Sabbath should be special. Heed God’s word, after all He spends several verses on this one command explaining that you should not work on the Sabbath.
“Honor your father and your mother.” Now the commands switch from being about our relationship with God to being about our relationship with others. Notice that this command to honor your parents continues with a blessing for you if you obey. Read verse 12 and see what you will get if you honor your father and your mother.
“You shall not murder.” If your translation says “kill” it is wrong. That is too broad a word. The actual Hebrew implies illegal killing only, hence murder. This commandment does not prohibit justified killing or killing in war.
“You shall not commit adultery.” Could that be any clearer?
“You shall not steal.” Stealing implies a lack of trust that God will supply all of our needs.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” This commandment is implicit in our lives if we live by the truth.
“You shall not covet” and this goes on to list the things that you shall not covet: your neighbor’s house, wife, servants, ox, donkey, or anything he owns. To covet is to have a selfish desire or even lust.
The commandments are given in Deuteronomy 5 as well. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Structure of Exodus

The book of Exodus gets its name from the exodus that occurred, but the Hebrew name is based on the first word of this book, Sh’mot, which means names.  Look at your Bible and see how the book starts with the names of the sons of Israel. This book was written by Moses and records the redemption out of Egyptian bondage.

Other major themes are the giving of the Law and the provisions of sacrifice and priesthood. You could divide the book into three sections: 
1st, Israel in Egypt and under bondage for 400 years; 
2nd, moving from the Red Sea to Sinai and God making the covenant with Israel through the Ten Commandments; 
3rd, Israel at Sinai and the construction and consecration of the Tabernacle, the house of the Lord.

Exodus teaches that redemption is essential to a relationship with the most Holy God. Even a redeemed people cannot have fellowship with Him unless they are constantly cleansed and purified from corruption, defilement, and transgressions (sin).

Let’s look specifically at The Plagues. (See chapters 7 through 11.) There are nine plagues before the horrible 10th plague that culminated in the Passover. The plagues were 1) Blood in the Nile, 2) Frogs, 3) Gnats, 4) Flies, 5) Death of Livestock, 6) Boils, 7) Hail, 8) Locusts and 9) Darkness. Let’s take them in groups of three since they seem to cluster nicely that way. The first three were distressing and uncomfortable, but relatively minor compared to what was next. The second set of three were a bit more painful for the Egyptians and very destructive. The last three were dreadful. The plagues are an answer to Pharaoh’s question. Look at Exodus 5: 1-2:
 1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.’”
 2 Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go.”

“Who is the LORD?” he asks. Well, the Lord God Almighty is going to make the answer pretty clear.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Big Bang Theory vs. Creationism

As I understand it, the scientists' Big Bang Theory begins with everything being as small as a pea and then blowing up. The universe expanded at a specific rate of expansion so that it is now 1,000,000,000,000 times larger. That huge number with 12 zeroes is actually one million squared. Scientists also say that the Big Bang happened about 15 and 3/4 billion years ago. Whoa, too many years ago for me to fathom, but I'll accept it because ...

... because the Big Bang Theory coordinates with Scripture in the following way:

God created things on the (literal) 6 days as described in Genesis. Yes, I can believe that, too. 6 days, 24 hours each. But, at the scientific rate of expansion of the universe that first day is now seen from our perspective as 8 billion years long. The second day, with a little less time to expand, is now 4 billion years long, the third day is 2 billion, fourth day 1 billion, fifth day one half billion and sixth day one quarter billion. See how that worked out? And it totals up to [drum roll] 15 and 3/4 billion years.

So, if you had trouble with those numbers then think of a radio wave message being sent out into outer space at the rate of one per day as the universe expands. The following graphic may help.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Structure of Genesis

The word Genesis has become synonymous with beginnings. In Hebrew this book is called “Bereshith” meaning "in the beginning" because that’s how this book starts. It is generally believed that it was written by Moses, inspired by God, of course. The major themes of Genesis are beginnings and the self-revelation of God.  This is the book you read to find the stories of the creation, the fall and redemption of man, the story of Cain and Abel and then Cain and Seth, the great flood, the tower of Babel and the call of Abram (Abraham). There is the story of Lot and Sodom & Gomorrah, the lives of Isaac, Jacob and Esau and, finally, the story of Joseph
In Genesis we find that God makes several covenants with man: the Edenic Covenant (1:28), the Adamic Covenant (3:14), the Noahic Covenant (9:1), and the Abrahamic Covenant (15:18).
The first book of the Bible coordinates amazingly with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet: aleph. Verse 1 of Genesis says: “In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heaven and the earth.” The name Elohim starts with aleph, in fact many of God’s names start with this letter : El (God, Mighty One), El Shaddai (God Almighty), El Olam (God Everlasting), El Elyon (God Most High). Also many facets of God’s nature begin with this letter as well: love, light, truth, faith, Sovereign Lord. These are all Hebrew words that start with aleph.
Bear with me as I get a little deep here: When you write the three letters in Hebrew that spell “aleph” you get 3 different words - eleph which mean “ox” or “thousand”, alaph which means “teach”, “learn” or “tame”, and aluph which means “prince”, “chief”, “leader”, “master”, “ruler”, “guide” and “teacher”. The first one, eleph, may seem weird at first if you’re trying to relate the letters to Biblical symbolism. What has an ox to do with anything Biblical? Well, I'm going to tell you: An ox signified strength. It was the chief domesticated animal of the time and had to be “tamed”. That brings us to the second word, alaph, which means “tame” (as well as "teach" and "learn"). The last word, aluph (prince, leader, etc.), appears in Genesis 52 times, that’s 64% (!!!) of all the times it appears in the entire Bible. I think Genesis is showing us very clearly who our leader, master and guide is: God.
There are many words that begin with aleph besides God’s names, such as “one”, “love”, “light”, “truth” and “faith”. This are such important words to our beliefs that I suggest you pause a moment and think about why they would all begin with this first Hebrew letter.

Now think of the Ten Commandments (you can find the in Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5). What’s the first one? No other gods before me! God is Number 1, the One and Only, the Eternal Omnipotent God. His first initial is the first Hebrew letter. Throughout Genesis we get a good picture of God as our Father: He keeps reaching out to man, provides new covenants, never gives up on us and blesses us. He is the Sovereign Ruler over all of His creation. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Crossing the Scriptures

Let’s look at the New Testament. These 27 books can be divided as 5 NT History books (the 4 Gospels about Christ and the Acts of the Apostles) and 22 Epistles (letters written by Paul, James, Peter, John and Jude).
Why are there 4 Gospel accounts and is there a reason for their differences? Four witnesses give us a deeper understanding of the events as well as individual perspectives. Different viewpoints would be expected. I especially liked learning how parallel accounts reveal specific key links to the alphabetic verses. For example: Matthew matches up to the 18th Hebrew letter (tzaddi) which is the root for righteous or righteousness. Compare Matthew 5:6 (Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled) to Luke 6:21 (Blessed are ye that hunger now, for ye shall be filled). In 6 other comparisons between Matthew and Luke you find the same thing (Mt. 5:10 – Luke 6:22, Mt. 6:33 – Luke 12:31, Mt. 10:40 – Luke 9:48, Mt. 13:17 – Luke 10:24, Mt. 23:35 – Luke 11:50, and Mt. 23:29 – Luke 11:47). The Gospel of Mark matches up to the 19th Hebrew letter (quph) which starts the word for swift. In comparing Mark’s accounts of the casting out of the demon, five thousand fed, healings at Gennesaret, the boy healed of being deaf and mute and the question asked of Jesus of how to inherit eternal life with the accounts in Matthew and Luke of the same events, Mark’s accounts always include running. Luke’s accounts include wisdom: Mt. 10:19, Mark 13:11 and Luke 21:12 all quote Jesus telling the disciples not to worry about what to say, but only Luke mentions wisdom. Luke also emphasizes friends: compare the same stories in Matthew about the Centurion’s servant, the lost sheep, the warning of hellfire and being hated for Christ’s sake – in every instance Luke inserts the word friends. (There are other examples with the word see in Luke, and by the way, “friends” and “see” start with the same Hebrew letter, the 20th letter, resh) If God designed the Bible then I expect to find the theme continuing in the book of John, i.e. the 21st Hebrew letter (shin) better be pretty prevalent. Guess what? It is. To send (shalach), peace (shalom), name (shem), hear / obey (shama) and keep / watch (shamar) are overly abundant and the really amazing thing is that the New Testament was written in Greek, but the Hebrew pattern remains. (This is a sampling of the unique perspectives in this Bible study book: Crossing the Scriptures.)
The 22 epistles are, to me, like discovering important personal documents. (What if you found your great-grandparents’ love letters to one another? Wouldn’t you be interested?) Before you read one of these short books I recommend that you first find out what was happening in the author’s life and in the church that he’s writing to. Of course these letters are meant for us today, too, but understanding first century culture and customs will clarify things. Go online and read Bible scholar commentaries. I have found that each verse can be like a treasure chest that as soon as you open it (begin to study it) it overflows with treasure. Most Bibles have footnotes and commentaries that should never be overlooked.
Jesus lived. He died for our sins then rose from the dead to conquer death and live eternally. Every time I look at someone I must remember that Jesus died for that person, too. That tends to change my outlook quite a bit. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Structure of the Old Testament

'The Old Testament is made up of 39 books that can be categorized as follows:
5 books of the Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)
12 books of Old Testament History (Joshua through Esther)
5 books of Wisdom (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs)
5 books of Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel)
12 books of Minor Prophets (Hosea through Malachi)
Throughout these books God’s plan unfolds. First we have the covenants He made with Adam and Noah and Abraham. We watch the Israelites follow God, turn to idols, turn back to God, fall away again, over and over. The miracles and love are abundant and yet they keep being “adulterous” so to speak. From the perspective of the Jews there are two kinds of people: Jews and Gentiles. And I think that this is also God’s perspective. It’s like you have two children, your firstborn and your second born. The Jews are God’s firstborn, but the Gentiles are in the family, too, and the promises and inheritance are for the Gentiles as well.
The first 5 books give us the history of man from Adam on and the formation of Israel as God’s chosen people (and yes, Adam and Eve were real, not myths, and the Jews recounted their genealogies and named names all the way back to them). These books tell us of all of the laws for living and how to make offerings to God, peace offerings, sin offerings, grain offerings, etc. We find the 10 commandments in Exodus and Deuteronomy. God does get angry with man when he disobeys and there are consequences. He is a firm and fair parent.
The 12 books of Old Testament History record the events after the Jews entered the Promised Land. We find the rise and fall of David’s kingdom, the Babylonian exile and the return.
The 5 books of Wisdom are meditative and prayerful and poetic. There are several chapters in Psalms, Proverbs and Lamentations that were written as acrostics, that is, each verse (or series of verses) begins with the next consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. There are 22 letters so it’s easy to see the pattern when a chapter has 22 (or 66) verses. Of course the Bible wasn’t written with the verse numbers, but you can see the poetry of verses in the original. Smack dab in the middle of the Bible you will find Psalm 119, the longest chapter of the Bible. There are 176 verses (8 x 22) so the first 8 verses each start with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the next 8 with the second letter and so on. Some people think these are hidden codes. I think they are not hidden at all, but quite obvious. God in his infinite intelligence has woven his word together in an intricate pattern that is fascinating and awesome. (For further amazement and inspiration see my book Crossing the Scriptures.)
The 5 books of the Major Prophets are filled with prophecies, naturally. Isaiah is like a mini-bible in that it has 66 chapters divided in the same way as the Bible: 39 chapters of idolatry and disobedience, then 27 chapters of hope and redemption. The New Testament quotes Isaiah more than any other prophet, most likely because it has the greatest OT revelations of Christ (read chapters 40 and 53 especially). Lamentations is not prophetical, but it is the eyewitness account of the destruction of the Temple by Jeremiah who prophesied that it would happen and that they would be exiled 70 years (exactly right on).
The 12 books of the Minor Prophets continue the old, old story: prophets say repent but people turn away and God judges, people return to worship for a time, they receive blessings then fall off again, time for another prophet . . .

There are hundreds of prophecies throughout that tell of a coming Messiah. Most of the Scriptural requirements for what he will do and what will happen during His reign can be found in Isaiah. Hundreds of prophecies were fulfilled with Jesus’ first coming and the rest will be fulfilled at His second coming. Some prophecies are so precise that they are impossible to ignore.


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Friday, November 6, 2015

Is God Vengeful or Loving?

Ink, Red, Splatter, Abstract, Paint, Splash, Spray
I’ve heard many people say that the Old Testament is just a lot of bloodshed and that the picture of God that it presents is one of a vengeful tyrannical God. Many people think that the New Testament is a mixture of fact and fantasy. I believe that the whole Bible is the inspired Word of God. Everything in it is true. I think that some translations are better than others. I think that one must study the book the way you would study any other subject and always refer back to the original text. (Exactly why I decided to learn Hebrew.) God is not tyrannical and vengeful but rather loving and just.

As far as the Old Testament being blood and vengeance–I, too, was often repelled and confused by the stories and histories of the Israelites. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover a few times and I’ve read all of the books many times over out of order. Finally I had an “aha” moment when it all fell into place quite simply. The Old Testament is 39 books that tell of mankind vacillating between worshiping and obeying God and then turning away from Him and being idolatrous and immoral. Man’s behavior requires judgment. The New Testament is 27 books declaring a message of hope: Christ has taken on our punishment (death) and paid for our sins. If we accept that he has done this, then hooray, we get out of the punishment, but if we don’t accept it then we’re on our own and the judgment is eternal separation from God, i.e. hell.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Spooktacular Blog Hop


Win a copy of EXODIA by entering the Rafflecopter giveaway below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Find all the participating blogs HERE.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The "Other" Beatitudes

Most Christians are quite familiar with the beatitudes found in the book of Matthew, chapter 5: 

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

... and eight more. But did you know there are several beatitudes in the prophetic book of Revelation? Here they are:

Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. (Rev. 1:3) 
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. (Rev. 14:13) 
Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed. (Rev. 16:15 
Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb! (Rev. 19:9) 
Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The seond death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Rev. 20:6) 
Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book. (Rev. 22:7) 
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. (Rev. 22:14)

Take time to read and study the book of Revelation. It's not as difficult to understand anymore. I recommend the study guide The Book of Revelation for Blockheads. It will really give you some clear insights into prophecy and Scripture.

Friday, October 2, 2015

EDGE OF ESCAPE, the novel - another excerpt

Rebecca awoke choking. She turned onto her side and spat out the popcorn. She felt around her mouth with her tongue for any more kernels. The long hair fell forward and she swatted at it as if she were being attacked by a furry animal. She yanked it off her head and threw it across the room. What was going on?
Light, sounds, and smells were sifting in through the open window. Someone had been in the room! She leaped up and stumbled over the backpack as she reached for the window. She changed her mind about closing it and grabbed the bag instead and headed for the door. It wasn’t locked!
She had to be careful now. She thought that Mike must be in the house. And what about Ed? Mike must have done something to Ed!
She felt woozy and her mouth was dry. Why would he stuff her cheeks with popcorn? Her mind flitted back and forth. She was groggy. Why was she groggy? How did Mike do this to her?
She ran her hands down her clothing. She was still wearing the same outfit. She hadn’t been molested, thank goodness, and she still had her shoes on.
She opened the door and listened. Stepping out, she could see into the living room. The front porch fixture was on and it shot feathered arrows of light under the drapes. She listened some more.
There was a peephole in the front door and she had to get on her tiptoes to press her eye against it. The front steps were littered. Mike must have sat here and gloated after drugging her. How did he do it? It must have been the orange juice. And if Ed drank some, too?
She turned from the door and crept to Ed’s bedroom. The door was open and she could see that it was empty. The bed wasn’t even slightly mussed.

What time was it? Twelve? Two? Three? Well, whatever time it was, she was on the run again. She took another look through the peephole and studied the dark shapes of the trees, some of the leaves clearly visible in the glow from the porch light. A few leaves moved and suddenly . . . there was Mike Sylver’s face in their place.

Friday, September 25, 2015


They chased after the sound of crying and doubled their pace. The extra effort made Jedidiah cry out; he felt the warmth of blood as the sores on his leg broke open.
“There!” Allison screamed.
The chief was carrying Domingo on his shoulders and was using a stick and his machete as canes for balance. He was more than halfway across the river. Twenty feet behind him was Chaska. She held the basket on her head, balancing it with one hand while she used a stick to beat the waters around her.
Allison started screaming at her. The woman turned, lost her balance and dropped the basket with its precious contents into the dangerous water. Allison plunged in as Chaska grabbed hold of the basket and threatened to tip it. Allison froze. Then Chaska started screaming in terror.
She pushed the basket away and turned for the other shore. Chaska emerged on the far side of the river; the chief pulled her the last few yards. Lines of blood streaked down her bare legs.

Suddenly Allison screamed in panic and pain as tiny sharp teeth started to rip her flesh.

Friday, September 18, 2015

SHELTERED, excerpt #2

Emily hurried from the car to the house and tried to slip out of her shoes and coat quickly, hoping to get out of the cramped entry before she was forced to share the small space with Ben. Being fourteen inches apart in the car several times a day was almost too much. She smelled him, breathed in the delicious scent of his cologne. She had bought it for him for their meager Christmas exchange and he had worn it every day since.
Ben came in as she hopped up a step to the kitchen.
“Em, your pants are soaked. We really need to find you some boots.”
She only nodded and turned away. Her socks were wet, too, and she left a damp trail across the worn linoleum, the long frayed hems of her black pants mopping the dirty floor. She was saving up for boots . . . again. Perhaps, she thought, if she chose something more feminine than army boots this time, Cori wouldn’t take them.
Emily paused at the door to the staircase and listened to the newscaster’s voice as it filtered through Mrs. Kremer’s door. For the seventy-third night in a row she wished it was her mom in there listening to the radio. She wished the door would open and loving arms would enfold her. She wished . . .
The radio broke off mid-sentence and out went the soft glow beneath the door taking away that strip of hope. Good night, Mrs. Kremer. Emily only thought the words. She closed the staircase door and fingered the hook and latch. The one time she dared to lock it Cori screamed a tirade. It was all right, though, for Cori to lock Emily out. Maybe the new girl would stand up to Cori’s outbursts.
Maybe the new girl would be equally as bad.

Friday, September 11, 2015

OUT OF EXODIA, excerpt #2

We’re on an outcropping of rock, our thousand foot descent abruptly stopped far short of a deadly plummet. Barrett has cushioned my landing and taken the shock of the long fall.
“Bear?” I don’t dare move, but his right arm still circles around me. Limp.
I can see straight up, maybe thirty or forty feet to the bank where frightened faces peer down at us. I scan the rock face; there are no marks, no scratches to define our trail, no path to ascend. My scrutiny ends a foot above me where only a dew-beaded spider web, one end split from its harness, proclaims our helplessness. I lift my right hand to wave and Barrett’s arm slips off my chest.
If his back is broken if his breath is knocked out of him and I’m too heavy if
They shout at me from above, but I can’t wave for rescue. I can’t because I’m holding Bear’s wrist, not feeling a pulse, not sensing his life at all. My head is tucked below his ear, cradled like that child I saw in his mother’s arms. Tears track from my eyes as more faces appear above. I don’t need to count to know there are eighteen. Eighteen spot us. Hundreds more are hanging back.

Time slows to an eerie beat. Two minutes. Three. Four. I’m crushing Barrett.

Friday, September 4, 2015

EXODIA, excerpt #3

I round a corner and head up Burnell Street. I slow a bit when I see a group of Red kids, probably all around fourteen, lucky to have missed the Culling Mandate, lucky to be alive. They’re bullying a smaller kid and for some reason I think of Lydia’s smile, her eyes, and the whole pleasure of her beauty and how she looked at me. And I imagine her now prodding me to intervene. So I do.
“What are you doing to him? Leave him alone,” I say this with all the confidence of my height and weight advantage, not to mention my combat training.
“Who are you to boss us around?” the ringleader says. He waves a stick in my face. “Are you going to kill us, too, like you killed Sarkis Tait last night?” He shocks me with these words. My heart skips a beat, restarts with a hollow thump.
I forget about Lydia. I forget about the pages of notes in my sack. My tongue is stuck and I can’t swallow. If my awful deed is known here, and among children yet, how is it that I have not been seized by my grandfather’s men or shuttled off by my mother’s servants?
I look at these children’s bold faces and panic. I run. I reach the fence, the capitol grounds, the side door. I make it through unseen. I search for my mother. She’ll know what to do. Maybe she’ll send me to my nanny.
Punishable by death … punishable by death. But maybe not. Maybe being the Executive President’s grandson will have its privilege.
I come to my room. My hand is on the knob, but I hear voices behind the door. And scuffing, and banging. Guards are searching through my things. It won’t take long. My heart’s in my throat now; my mind’s racing through a million things. I step away as quietly as I can, turn down the back hall and take the farthest stairwell.
And run.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Cover Reveal: Dangerous Obsession by M. M. Roethig

Here's a new book my an author friend of mine, M. M. Roethig. I thought I'd help her spread the word. DANGEROUS OBSESSION releases this month, September 15.

Displaying Dangerous Obsession WEB 03112015 copy.jpg

A dancer and a Marine—two worlds collide.
Chloe Johnson is no stranger to the spotlight. A prestigious member of the LA Laker Girls, she’s in the public eye regularly.  Her world is perfect. 
Eric Taylor, on the other hand, is damaged, both body and spirit. Injured overseas, he returns home with fresh physical wounds, invisible emotional scars, and a bad attitude. 
When Chloe becomes the object of affection to an unknown stalker, she must leave her life behind and rely on a total stranger, and the only man she’s ever met who’s never happy to see her—Eric. Can she trust this hardened soldier with her life?
Adjusting to civilian life hasn’t been easy for Eric. Swearing off women forever, all he wants is to be left alone. However, his world is thrown into chaos when Chloe appears on his doorstep as an invited guest of Eric’s twin brother. Bewitched by her innocent charms, Eric fights to keep her at arm’s length, putting his No More Women resolve to the test.
Everything soon changes when Chloe’s stalker tracks her down, making her a pawn in a cat and mouse game of Dangerous Obsession.

Friday, August 28, 2015

A SOUL'S KISS, excerpt #3

I must have blacked out. When I open my eyes, I’m staring at my knees. They are covered by a brand new, clean hospital gown reaching to mid-calf. I’m sitting on the edge, the very edge, of a hospital bed in the recovery room. A nurse is turned away with her back to me. She fiddles with the monitor and runs her hand along the tubes that braid their way toward my head. My other head.
I hop down and look at myself lying on the bed. So pale. Still not breathing on my own. I sigh and then wonder how I can sigh. My senses seem sharper. I can read the fine print on a label across the room. I hear the two-beat thuds of a keyboard beyond the door. How can I hear individual letters being typed sporadically? The sickly scent of antiseptic cuts through the faint whiffs I get of the nurse’s mouthwash, deodorant, and hand sanitizer. She turns and looks at me—well, through me, I guess.
“How ya doing, Jessica?” she whispers as she adjusts all the paraphernalia attached to me. “Keep on fighting, sweetie. You’re gonna pull through.”
Well, that’s encouraging. Her words warm me. In fact, I feel warm all over. My feet no longer beg for socks; some ugly green footies are serving my toes very well. Huh. I touch my abdomen. No pain. I check for blood. No blood. There’s a pocket, though, and something is sticking out. A paper. Maybe a lab report? Or discharge papers?
Or love note?
Silly me. I try to pull the paper out, but it’s part of the pocket, stuck or glued.
“Hang in there, Jessica,” the nurse says. I get distracted for an instant and suddenly there’s no pocket on the gown. Of course not. Now I’m not certain I ever saw a pocket or a piece of paper. Those super sharp sensations I experienced a moment before flee as I watch the nurse squirt something into my IV line. I move toward the door and scoot out behind her when she leaves.
I wander around a while trying to figure out where my family might be. I am oddly calm, not fighting for life, or panicking. The hallways seem dreary and lifeless. The early evening light spoons dimpled shadows on the walls near the windowed waiting room. It’s empty. I take the stairs and search floor by floor. All the waiting rooms are vacant. By accident I find Keith’s room, but he’s sound asleep. I try twice but I can’t get into his head.
The last place I look is the main floor waiting room. It’s kind of noisy, but there’s a “grief room” in the corner. The door is shut and a sliding sign says “occupied.”  Hoping I’m invisible to whoever is inside I will myself through the door. Easy.
I’m shocked. Rashanda. With Tyler. Not who I was expecting to find hidden away in a grieving room.
In each other’s arms.
No way.

The tiny room has a love seat and two chairs. They are cuddled together on the love seat. Rashanda’s head is on Tyler’s shoulder, his arm around her, and his other hand holding one of hers. Cozy. I don’t know why I should feel the least little twinge of jealousy, but I do. They’re obviously very comfortable. So comfortable that they have dozed off. I get it. They haven’t slept much the last couple of days. This is traumatic for them. Still . . . this is . . . off.

Friday, August 21, 2015

A SOUL'S KISS, excerpt #2

I see Carrie, a girl in my social studies class, and call out, my lungs finally working, “Hey, Carrie, can I borrow your phone a sec?” She totally ignores me and walks around the corner.
Then I see Kayla. She’s headed for Tyler who is being mobbed by a bunch of kids near the drinking fountain. She won’t ignore me, I’m sure. I come up behind her as another girl asks her if she knew that Keith Mullins was Tyler’s brother.
I stop short. Huh? Keith Mullins? The senior who is friends with Michael Hoffman? The guy I was in a car with yesterday? I could have been in that accident!
And then somebody else swings a book bag at my chest. On purpose.
It’s like they can’t see me.
I land on my back, the breath knocked out of me. I need a doctor with a set of those shock paddles.
I feel like a flipped turtle flailing away to right itself, and nobody is coming to my aid. Not even chivalrous Tyler. Kayla is only steps away and as soon as I get some air in my lungs I gasp a plea. “Kayla, hey.”
“She can’t hear you,” someone says, kneeling down next to me. The voice is familiar. I can’t decide if I’ll be elated or deflated if it’s gorgeous Michael Hoffman coming to my assistance again. A hand takes mine and pulls me up. The bell rings and everyone scatters to class, a few of them, no doubt, facing detention for reaching the limit on tardies.
“Thanks,” I say, brushing off my butt. I have that funny feeling like I’ve forgotten something. Where are my books? Did I remember to bring back the drama script? I pat my back pocket, uncertain. I need to go to my locker before next hour, but now it’s too late.
“You’re welcome. How do you feel?”
“Okay,” I say and finally look at the angular face of tall, dark, and handsome Keith Mullins. Keith Mullins! “Hey.”
“Hey yourself.”
Keith’s eyes flicker back and forth from my right eye to my left eye. One of his eyes is more dilated than the other. He has a bump on his forehead that his hair partially hides. We spend an uncomfortable moment evaluating one another, alone in the hallway.
I remember something and say, “I heard you broke your leg.”
“I did. It’s in a cast, slung up on some kind of contraption.”
“What?” The tender tissue around my eye protests the scrunching I’m giving my forehead. “Huh? What are you doing here? Weren’t you in a car accident?”
Tyler steps out of room 236 and crosses in front of us to head to the boys’ bathroom.
“Tyler, look, it’s Keith.” He completely ignores me.

“He can’t hear you,” Keith repeats, almost like a chorus. “Or see you. Us, I mean.”

Friday, August 14, 2015

OUT OF EXODIA, excerpt #1

I CLIMB DOWN, duck through the crowd, and run nearer to the edge. I clasp my hands over my ears to muffle the painful cries. I see ribbons of blue diminishing into the depths, but I’m not close enough to see the bottom. The crashing sounds of metal are distant pings underscored with explosions. The thump of each body hitting the rocks so far below is not audible even to me, but I know when each scream breaks off.
Lydia and her mother, Jenny, come up on either side of me. Lydia pulls my arms down from my ears and takes hold of my hand. There is only a single breath of silence before a cheer goes up.
“We’re free!”
The joy is palpable. From their sleds and packs people pull out banners and flags. Children grab the ends and parade around while adults shout and sing and whistle and make more noise than a thousand lions.
Mira leads dozens of women in a dance line that follows the children as they snake among us. When she passes us she pulls Lydia away and I hate that I’m no longer touching her hand. Without her euphoria coursing through my being I feel as if my special gemfry powers are shutting down.
Suddenly the shouts and claps fade to nothing. I spot a large group of Reds who have stopped their jubilation and appear to be marching toward me. As they pass through the crowd people act bewildered, ashamed, even horrified. All eyes are riveted on this group. The spontaneous excitement of our victory over the Blues has morphed into a wretched misery. Too quiet.
“The Mourners,” Jenny whispers.
“What do they want?”


Friday, August 7, 2015

EXODIA excerpt #2

I walk away from the fence to get another perspective of my home. At night it doesn’t look much different than the dilapidated dwellings I just passed, only bigger. I feel no tender pull to return home.
I hear a growl that makes me stop mid-stride. My head and hands and feet freeze. My eyes track around the shadows. Before I get to the edge of my peripheral vision I see the dog. He’s a stone’s throw to my right. If I charge the fence and leap up I’ll make it. He takes a single step and his throaty rumble is only slightly louder than the pounding in my chest. I hope I’m only imagining the slow advance of other dogs in the distance. Stalking shadows. Though a pack of wild dogs tearing me to shreds seems like justice for the crime I committed.
The growling intensifies, grows deeper and my fingers tighten on the knife. I judge the distance. I need to run.
I need to run now, before he launches himself, knocks me down, and locks his fangs on my neck. My knife is only a few inches long, not good for much more than peeling an orange or picking at my dirty nails.
His front leg moves up. I’m wasting precious seconds. My legs move before I consciously command them. I run full out toward the nearest section of fence, ten feet closer than Barrett’s spot to cross. The wild dog lunges, crosses the distance between us in an instant. I jump too soon and catch the links lower than I should, but I clamber up a couple feet as the dog hits the fence, and his hard body sends a quiver along the wires. I almost lose my grip. His claws reach the metal inches below my heels and I crab up a little higher. I transfer my knife to my mouth so I can get a better hold and climb to the top.
The barbs are fortified with razor wire here so I cannot climb over. The dog has yet to bark. His growling gurgles with the saliva that drips off his fangs in anticipation. No other dogs have joined him. He is a lone killer.

Like me.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Musings on First John (5: 21)

Wordle: Musings

21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.
And that, folks, is the end of our 6 month “musings” on First John.

There’s actually quite a bit to this one verse. First of all, the term John uses here that is translated as “children” is actually a term of affection used by Hebrew teachers (2000 years ago) to their disciples.

The advice he gives in his closing is to keep ourselves from “idols.” That could mean images of heathen gods or anything that keeps us from putting Jesus first. Is there anything that keeps you from putting Jesus first? 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Musings on First John (5: 18-20)

Wordle: Musings

18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. 19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

The Apostle John has almost finished his first epistle and I’ve taken about six months on this blog to reflect on it bit by bit. Here John tells us 10 things that we (should) know. Because sometimes we read scripture and miss all the treasure that is in a short passage I’m going to list it out and let you fill in the blanks (yeah, I was a schoolteacher).

1. If you’re born of God you won’t continue to ________.
2.   ____________ will keep you safe from sin.
3.    ____________ cannot harm you.
4.  We are _________________ of God.
5. The whole ______________ is under the control of Satan.
6. The __________ of God has come.
7.   ______________ has given us understanding.
8. We can know Jesus, who is ______________.
9. We are in _________________.
10. Jesus is the true ________________ and eternal life.