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Monday, September 29, 2014

Psalm 139, Part 5

How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.
If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.

Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

God is the ultimate creator, giving us a wild and seemingly infinite variety of plants, animals, and microorganisms (consider that 95% of organisms are now extinct), plus he created the vast array of landscapes across the universe. God’s thoughts clearly outnumber the grains of sand. How many grains of sand are there on the earth? Estimates run from 2.5 to 10 sextillion. To write sextillion, add 21 zeros after the 10. Scientists estimate there are more stars in the galaxy than there are grains of sand upon the earth. That’s pretty mind boggling.

David seems to have an abrupt change in his musings when he says “If only you, God, would slay the wicked!” Perhaps the transition is not quite as abrupt as it seems. Perhaps David is saying “How perfect the world would be if it wasn’t for all these pesky people you have made.” Most of us have had similar thoughts. Why did God make the wicked? Why does he continue to allow them to torment and torture those around them? A good example of this is in the news as I write this. ISIS has beheaded journalists, Christians, and even children. (ISIS Killing Children) Why is God allowing this? What should we as Christians do?

And what of the next verses:

Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.

The thing is, we can hate ISIS, hate passionately what they stand for, and despise their attacks on innocent people. Let me give an example. If someone saw a thug attack a young child, would the Christian stand idly by or would he/she stop the attack?

This actually happened when I taught in Columbus, Georgia. On that day, a fire drill disrupted our normal routine. As we were filing out, one of those children, one who was destined to be bullied, a skinny, short boy whom everyone disliked, whom everyone picked on, tripped and fell. Like a pack of wild dogs, several seventh and eighth-grade students began kicking and beating this small boy. I was the nearest teacher and searched frantically for another teacher for a split second, but no one was in sight. By the time I turned back around, about thirty or forty students, mainly boys, had joined in the fray.

There were several actions I could have taken. I could have realized that many of the students were taller and bigger than me, and that I was vastly outnumbered. I could have waited for help or gone for help myself. Or, I could have tried to reason with those who were frantically trying to reach the boy. I did none of those.

Instead, I jumped into the fray, grabbing students by the backs of their shirts, their belt loops, wherever I could find a hold, and flung them away as I made my way to the boy. Did I have warm, fuzzy feeling for this mob? Did I even care if I hurt them as I flung them aside? Of course not. I was shocked and appalled at their behavior and knew I had to react as quickly as possible to save the young boy from serious injury. The mob gave way slowly, and I reached my target and shielded him from further blows. I protected him as I waited for help that eventually came.

During that time, as this bullied child was being beaten, his enemies became my enemies. I fought off his attackers with all the strength I possessed, with a fierce anger. And I’m glad I did.

Here’s the interesting thing. Most of that mob of thirty or forty students consisted of young men (a few girls may have been involved) whom I taught. A lot of them got off scot-free. Since so many were involved, it was difficult to identify all of them. A few were punished for their behavior. They all returned to my class. And, yes, I forgave them and treated them the same as the students who had not joined in the mob mentality.

I’ll never forget watching the very first Survivor season and Susan Hawk’s speech. This is part of what she had to say: But if I would ever pass you along in life and you are laying (sic) there dying of thirst, I would not give you a drink of water. I would let the vultures take you and do whatever they want with you with no ill regrets.

During the fray, my anger was turned on the attackers. Later, I forgave and treated them with love, helped them with their work, and gave them encouraging words. I would have given them a drink of water and protected them from the vultures—something Susan Hawk claimed she would not do to the person she considered an enemy.

And David ends with this:

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

To enter into a fight with a thirst for vengeance or with an attitude of what’s in it for me is wrong. But to fight for the underdog or to help those in need is admirable. And after we have won the battle, then we provide the drink of water, the binding of the wounds, the love. Let God search our hearts and find what our true intentions are. Let us rid ourselves of wrong motives and stand up and fight for God.

He will lead us “in the way everlasting.”

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fog

fog

 

Fog comes on cat’s feet

As does age. 

Together they creep in, becoming one,

silently, stealthily stealing youth.

And more.

The fog confiscates memories,

transforming them to thin and ethereal wisps,

ungraspable as they fade.

Although they never completely leave,

for the mistiness condenses to tears.

Dew forms more easily in fog

and drips down cheeks.

And always must be swiped away

before pain is seen.

The long ago sun’s heat melted joys,

grew children up and away,

and evaporated hopes and dreams.

Life narrows.

Hair silvers, reflects the fog,

and film dulls the eyes

until the whole world fills with grayness.

And all becomes mist.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Thunder's Echo

Thunder's Echo? What in the world is that?

Yeah, not something I was planning. I was working on Thunder's Shadow and the first few chapters did not seem to fit with the rest of the book, being more back story than anything else. And, yet, they contain important information that sets up the story line for Thunder's Shadow. My first thought was to simply delete the chapters and condense them into a prologue.

I sent them to a few friends to get their reaction. They all agreed I should keep them and Pauline Creeden gave me an excellent piece of advice--make these chapters into a novella.

And I did.

If we're friends on Facebook, you've seen the cover I designed. If not, here's what it looks like: 

I'm basically finished with the story although somehow I added in an extra week that I need to go back and delete. Hopefully I'll be through with it soon and get it uploaded. I included the first two chapters of Thunder's Shadow, bringing it to 16,000 words--a very short read. 

Here's an excerpt I've shared on Facebook:

“Michael's joining the Marines.”

“Oh, how wonderful.” Sylvia brought her hands together. For a moment she looked as if she was going to burst out in applause. Her hands stilled but she still beamed. “That must mean you've moved the date up.”

I didn't answer. It was none of her business what we planned. What was she up to, anyway?  

Maybe if I kept silent, she'd take the hint and leave. My focus on her was so intent that I didn't see Michael until he scraped a chair over the tiled floor. 

He kissed my cheek and nodded at Sylvia, his eyes returning to mine, questioning. I shrugged.

He smiled at me, his look brightening. “You should have seen the line at the recruitment office. It wound around the block.”

“Oh, isn't that great,” Sylvia said.

Michael gave a curt nod.

I forced a smile and glanced at her. “Yes, that's good. I'm glad there are so many willing to defend our country.” 

Michael glanced at Sylvia, then at me, his forehead scrunched, eyebrows drawn. He lowered his eyes to the checkered tablecloth and traced a pattern. 

Sylvia touched his shoulder lightly, almost in a playful gesture. “You and Sarah Jane will soon be husband and wife.”

Michael flicked his gaze in my direction but didn't answer.

Sylvia continued as if he had. “I wanted to offer my congratulations. And y'all just let me know if I can help in any way. Michael, I'll be glad to sew on a button...”

Michael stopped his tracing and stared at her. “Jay is perfectly capable of sewing.”

“Oh, really? I didn't know... with all the studying and working so hard at her job. You do realize, Michael, I'm majoring in home economics. I can put together a trousseau like that.” She snapped her slim fingers. 

My jaw hung open for a second before I clamped it shut. I studied her for a moment and then cleared my throat. “My aunt has been helping me for three years now. My cedar chest is full, and we're almost finished with my wedding dress.”

A wedding dress I wouldn't be wearing for a while–not if Michael followed through on what he had told me last night. My cheeks burned at the thought, and my gaze fell to my food. I spooned in a mouthful, not tasting it.

Sylvia leaned across the table toward me. “Please, let me know if you need help with anything. I can give you cooking lessons if you'd like.”

My head snapped up. Had someone told her I couldn't cook? I could cook just fine–eating what I'd cooked was the hard part.

Michael grinned at me for a split second before sobering and turning to Sylvia. “I love Jay's cooking.”

I grimaced, knowing he was stretching the truth.

“Oh? But we can all use a little help at times, can't we?” She flashed her flawless teeth again and wiggled in her chair, tilting her head at Michael. 

He stared her down. “I'm sure Jay will be quite good at any and all of her wifely duties.” His eyes burned with such intensity, I was sure Sylvia would flinch under his scrutiny.

Instead, she raised an eyebrow. “Well, that's good to know. However, if you need me for anything, anything at all, you know where I am.” She winked at Michael, gathered her tray, and touched his shoulder briefly in passing.

After she left, I leaned closer to Michael. “What was that about?”

He shrugged his shoulders but red stained his cheeks. “You tell me.” 



Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cover Reveal for Sanctuary by Pauline Creeden

SanctuaryAd2

Left Behind for the Hunger Games generation


In a heart-racing thriller described as Falling Skies meet The Walking Dead, Jennie struggles to find a safe place for what’s left of her family. But it seems as though there is no place sacred, no place secure. First the aliens attacked the sun, making it dimmer, weaker, and half what it used to be. Then they attacked the water supply, killing one-third of Earth’s population with a bitter contaminate. And when they unleash a new terror on humankind, the victims will wish for death, but will not find it…

When the world shatters to pieces around her, will Jennie find the strength she needs to keep going? SanctuaryeBook  

Buy on Amazon / Barnes and Noble /Goodreads

 

Pauline CreedenPauline Creeden

Pauline Creeden is a horse trainer from Virginia, but writing is her therapy. In her fiction, she creates worlds that are both familiar and strange, often pulling the veil between dimensions. She becomes the main character in each of her stories, and because she has ADD, she will get bored if she pretends to be one person for too long.
Follow Pauline Creeden: Website | Facebook | Twitter
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