Saturday, April 30, 2011

Melanie's Baby

(sequel to the blogpost titled “The Appointment”)

Melanie had one week left before the scheduled C-section. She was ready to not be pregnant, but she wasn’t ready for the 24/7 sleep-deprived care of a newborn. The plan was for her husband’s parents to take a Friday and Monday off work so they could take care of two-year-old Jannie while she was in the hospital.

But things never go as planned. After all she hadn’t planned on the horrible battle with the foreign doctor either. He had advised her to abort this baby. Each ultra-sound after that wavered. One week everything looked normal and the baby looked fine. Then another reading showed that the chances of Down syndrome were one in seven. She and her husband prayed for strength and a miracle.

The next appointment the odds changed to one in fourteen. Prayers were answered, it seemed. But today’s ultra-sound showed measurements indicating that he did indeed have that extra chromosome.

Melanie had no time for tears. She retrieved Jannie from the babysitter’s and headed home. Then her water broke. She panicked about who to call first: husband, doctor, parents, babysitter. Of course the order was doctor first, then husband, and he took over from there.

The birth was fast and easy and the new doctor handled the C-section differently, making the cuts smaller and, she told her with a laugh, giving her a tummy tuck at the same time. The plan was for Melanie to hold that little one immediately and marvel at the miracle of a perfect little person. But again . . . the plan changed. A nurse took the naked nameless boy straight to the NICU.

It was hours before Melanie was allowed to check his precious little fingers and toes, eyes and ears. She didn’t need the DNA test to tell her what she knew: her baby had Downs.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Wishmaker

Once upon a time . . . no, scratch that, it was yesterday. Yesterday I went into my sister’s room to find her frantically searching for something.

“Help me find it,” she said. I didn’t know what I was supposed to look for. Her next couple of instructions seemed kind of vague, but I started scanning the messy room and making half an effort to spot the round and sparkly, magical diamond. “It grants your wish,” she whispered.

Right, I thought. But then I thought again. She had been awfully lucky lately.

I got down on my hands and knees and peered under the bed. Nothing but dust bunnies and a button that looked like it had grown short fuzzy hair. I grabbed it.

“Found it!” I kept my fist closed tightly and stretched my hand out high. She couldn’t reach it. Didn’t matter, she just stared, probably hoping I wouldn’t make a wish. Or maybe waiting to see what I did wish for.

I didn’t make a wish. She went back to searching and I went back to my room, still clutching the object. I opened my palm and instead of a dusty old button there was what I can only describe as a crystal clear and quite dazzling little drum.

This was awesome.

Now, what would I wish for? Wait, how many wishes did I have? I didn’t want to waste any. This was really important. A candy bar versus world peace . . . and everything in between.

I didn’t wish for anything yesterday and today I can’t find that drum shaped diamond. This morning my sister came to my room and now she’s helping me look.

Strange . . . I’ve never seen these before. Seven little objects, all so small they could fit together in a ring box: a teeny tiny movie theater spotlight, a porcelain puppy, a miniature instruction pamphlet, a multi-colored beach ball and three other miniscule things I can’t identify. All under my bed, all grouped together as if they were one. I place them in my hand, squeeze it shut and, like yesterday, I tell my sister that I found it.

She actually hangs her head down, defeated. As she closes the door behind herself, I relax my grip, ready to open my hand, not expecting to see seven tiny items or a diamond or even a dusty button. I am pretty sure that I will find something else entirely. I just have to open my hand. I just have to open my hand.
Copyright 2011 by Debra Chapoton

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Secret

Happy Easter!
Here’s a secret – Easter is far more important to Christians than Christmas is. The secular world has taken over Christmas with Santa and Easter with bunnies and eggs, but they think that Christmas is our main holiday. Not! We wouldn’t bother celebrating Jesus’ birthday (uh, yeah, that’s what Christmas is) if it weren’t for Easter. In fact, who would even know about Jesus if He hadn’t died on the cross, been buried, and then rose again to be seen by HUNDREDS of witnesses for forty days afterwards?

No other religion has a central figure who claimed to be God as Jesus did. He said He was God so either He was a liar or a crazy person or . . . He was and is God.

This is Easter Sunday and millions of Christians around the world are proclaiming that “He is risen!”
Are they lying as they worship a liar?
Are they deluding themselves as they revere a delusional maniac?
Or are they singing “Hosanna” to the Lord?
Search your heart – you have already decided.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Zombies in the Bible!

Yes, there are Zombies in the Bible.
I’m not a regular reader of the paranormal, vampire, witch or zombie genres, but I love the supernatural. While listening to the scripture reading in church last Sunday I was struck by the reference to “zombies”. Yes, that’s right, there are zombies in the Bible, though I doubt they looked like the Hollywood version with their skin peeling off and dragging their left leg.

Jesus was crucified. You can read the Biblical account in the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. There are tiny variations in each which are natural given that no two people would report an event verbatim. Matthew 27: 50 – 53 gives us this:

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”

Dead people came out of their tombs! This is where Hollywood got the idea to begin with, I suspect, and then made what had to be a wondrous, joyous thing into something that is scary and evil and dangerous. On that first “Good Friday” these “zombies” were holy people. When they went into Jerusalem three days later they were most likely met with some fear and lots of wonder and joy and amazement.

There are other important things to consider in the verses above, but I will focus on just one on this Good Friday: Jesus “gave up his spirit”. Crucifixion was a long and tortuous way to die, but He didn’t linger on for hours, no, He took on our sins, every one of them, and then died for us of His own free will, giving up His spirit.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Teacher's Guide for Free

The Teacher's Guide for the first book in the Big Pine Lodge series for kids ages 8-12 is downloadable at Amazon and Barnes & Noble for $.99, but FREE for my blog readers at Smashwords
The Secret in the Hidden Cave - Teacher's Guide has over 130 questions which follow the chapters of this middle grade novel. The activities cover musical, artistic, spoken and written categories.
(Homeschoolers will love this!)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Little Snippet, part 7

The Hebrew Letter Dalet
The name of the 4th Hebrew letter is Dalet and it represents a door. This pictographic little letter represents the two doors through which we arrive and leave: birth and death. In the Bible the first birth and the first death are recorded in Genesis in chapter 4.

If you line up the 66 books of the Bible in 3 rows corresponding to the 22 Hebrew letters the 4th book is Numbers. 22 books down the line you find Ezekiel and another 22 books later you come to Galatians. I did a search for the word door in the Bible and found 239 verses containing this word. Here’s how it looks in a graph matching the books up 3 at a time:

It is rather amazing that the meaning of the 4th letter peaks right where it should.

Other interesting “connect 4” tidbits:

Numbers records the fourfold camp and the first violation of the 4th commandment.

Ezekiel has the greatest density of the number 4 and records the fourfold temple and the four living creatures that had four faces.

Galatians speaks of the four “weak and beggarly elements” (days, months, times and years) in chapter 4.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April Ebook Deal

For the rest of the month of April (my birthday month) I’m offering EDGE OF ESCAPE for $.99 at Smashwords.
The coupon code to use at checkout is RE28X. This coupon expires April 30, 2011.
Edge of Escape on Smashwords

Friday, April 8, 2011

Born Spiritually Blind

Let’s look at the same story from the last post, Born Blind, but from a different point of view (no pun intended). Going from being born blind to receiving sight as an adult is, of course, a miracle. Going from being spiritually blind to receiving spiritual sight is also a miracle. Remaining blind in your unbelief is tragic.

In the story in John chapter 9 we saw how the blind man received both physical and spiritual sight and became a believer in Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The Pharisees, however, remained spiritually blind and hence doomed.

They come into the story at the point where the (formerly) blind man is brought before them. Now they’ve been following things all along in regards to this Jesus person and have already closed their minds. In fact, they have decided that anyone who acknowledges that Jesus is the Messiah would be “put out” of the synagogue. That meant financial ruin. They also meant the “putting out” to result in spiritual ruin as well, but claiming Jesus as the Christ has just the opposite outcome.

The Pharisees are divided after they question the (formerly) blind man. Some think that Jesus couldn’t be the Messiah because he performed this miracle on the Sabbath. Others wonder how a sinner could perform a miracle. Isn’t it interesting that neither side disputes the miracle? Obviously they aren’t blind to the miracle; they seem to accept that as a fact even though they question the poor guy several times. But they are themselves blind. Why don’t they acknowledge their own scriptures? Isaiah 29:18, 35:4,5 and 42:7 all predict that the coming Savior would open the eyes of the blind – something that had never, ever been done before Jesus did it.

Not only are they blind, refusing to admit the truth, but they are liars, too. What? Religious people are liars? Yes, after the (formerly) blind man gets a little snippy with them as they persist in their repetitive questions (John 9: 26, 27) the Pharisees claim they are disciples of Moses and don’t even know where Jesus comes from. Liars! They knew all about Jesus and just a few verses before we found out that they would expel anyone who declared that Jesus was the Messiah. And as for claiming to be disciples of Moses, these same Pharisees (in chapter 8) had just been arguing with Jesus, putting forth that they were children of Abraham. They had such an argument with Jesus that they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus slipped away. Yet now they say they don’t even know where Jesus comes from. Apparently they were deaf as well as blind.

The (formerly) blind man goes beyond snippy now to bold and sarcastic. He says, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” Wow, what an argument he throws back at them. His deductive reasoning is logical, the premises sound and irrefutable. Do they refute him? No, they can’t so they throw him out.

A few Pharisees are around when Jesus seeks out the blind man and reveals Himself as Lord. The Pharisees ask, “Are we blind, too?” and Jesus answers, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” And thus they receive judgment (condemnation) by their unbelief. They are doomed. Are you? Open your eyes, open your spiritual eyes.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Born Blind

Can you describe the sense of spirsig? Maybe you’re familiar with sight, sound, touch, taste and feel and perhaps there have been times when you’ve felt another sense, that “6th sense”. But do you have the sense of spirsig or do you have absolutely no idea what it is or how wonderful it is?

Now, there’s an old prophecy that says that the Chosen One, the Savior of Mankind, will appear one day and heal someone who doesn’t have spirsig. Okay, okay there’s no prophecy about spirsig (which you will figure out what it is in a few paragraphs), but there is a prophecy in Isaiah 42:7 that one of the Savior’s actions will be to open the eyes of the blind. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be born blind, just like you might not be able to figure out yet what in the world is spirsig. The blind man in John chapter 9 is in for the surprise of his life. Watch how he gets physical sight and how he gains another sense, too – spiritual sight.

Jesus and his disciples come across the blind man, Jesus heals him, the Pharisees are in an uproar because He healed on the Sabbath, there’s an investigation and the Pharisees kick the formerly blind man out of synagogue, and the story ends with Jesus revealing His divinity to the man who then gains spiritual sight. That’s the story in a nutshell. Now, be the blind guy:

You’ve heard the scriptures read, you know the prophecies, you hang around the temple all the time begging and listening. You hear some men talking about you. They’re asking their leader if you or your parents are responsible for you blindness. The leader says neither; he says that you’re blind so the work of God can be displayed in your life. You’re more alert. You hear them get closer and the leader puts something on your face over those rounds things that are called eyes, but have no function for you. He tells you to wash it off in the Pool of Siloam. You have some faith so you do.

What is this?! Is this sight?! This is unbelievable! You cannot contain your excitement. You find your way home and your neighbors think you’re an imposter. You tell them what happened. They ask how this could be. You say it was “the man”.

The Pharisees are mad at the “the man” and send for you. You tell them your story. It’s so simple: he put mud on your eyes, you washed, and now you see. Some are wondering how a sinner could do this miraculous thing. You are beginning to put it together, remembering the prophecies. He is not a sinner, he is “a prophet”, you tell them.

They do not believe any of your story. They send for your parents. You know your parents will be kicked out of the synagogue, ruined, if they even hint that this “man”, this “prophet”, could be the Messiah. Thankfully they say you’re of age, you can testify for yourself.

A second time the Pharisees ask you and you reply “I was blind but now I see!” But how? What did he do? They still want to know and you’ve already answered. You’re getting more than a little frustrated with their unbelief. In fact, you’re impatient and you’re going to get a bit sarcastic with them. You say, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”

You’ve gone too far. They hurl insults at you, but you, in your anger, stand up for the “man”, the “prophet”, and claim he must be from God. Your inner eyes are beginning to see and as they throw you out of the synagogue you start to know in your heart who healed you.

And then He finds you and He asks you if you believe in the Son of Man. You ask who He is and the “man”, the “prophet”, this Jesus, tells you that He is the Son of Man.

“Lord,” you say, “I believe.”

You have been blind, but now you see. At first you thought Jesus was just a man or just a prophet, but now you know He is Lord.

Read the story for yourself – John 9: 1 – 41

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Child Finder

Who is Mike Angley? This man is intriguing – he was in the Air Force and had a 25 year career as a Special Agent with the Office of Special Investigations (OSI). That hardly seems to be the background you’d expect for the award-winning author of the Child Finder Trilogy.

He writes thrillers with a paranormal twist. His protagonist is a man whose deep faith guides him through one page-turning peril after another. The Child Finder Trilogy has a light yet somewhat edgy spiritual theme, too. It is not your typical Christian fiction, however fans of that genre as well as suspense and thriller enthusiasts will thoroughly enjoy it.

Check out his awesome website at ChildFinder
to learn more.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Porcupine Lessons

We cannot leave the front door open while we run over to the bunkhouse or Walter will saunter in. Walter is our “pet” porcupine. We throw snowballs at him and even coaxed him onto a sled once in the dead of winter (pretty good photo op), but we never thought he would be so bold (or fast enough) to come inside our log home.

To a porcupine a log home is just a bunch of sideways trees. It’s very easy to climb the walls, stare down at the humans and even have a bathroom break if necessary. (Oh, Walter, was it really necessary?)

Here’s a picture of my nephew pretending to stomp on Walter just last week. I kind of wish he had, maybe then he would have been afraid of us and never dared to come inside.

Let me tell you what it takes to eradicate a slow-moving, proud and prickly mammal from your home: 2 grown-ups (preferably not panicked), two ladders, two brooms, a spray bottle of vinegar and 1 and a half hours of patience. And you have to leave the doors open even if it’s barely 40 degrees out and not all the snow has left the woods yet.

Walter is gone now, may he rest in peace, but my house is aired out and cleaner than any other April first.