‘Catch’ My Newest Story

After a short hiatus in January to recover from the marathon of story writing in November and December, I have a new e-short out on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TEE1HZK

Caught! Is my take on the story of the woman caught in adultery. Found only in the Gospel of John, it is a tale of forgiveness and second chances like only Jesus can provide. The dramatic scene on the steps of the Temple has been told and retold in words and art through the centuries.

I think the words that ring loudest are those of Jesus.

‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Jn 8:7

What an example of love and compassion! Of all those in the Temple watching, Jesus was the only one qualified to judge. He alone was sinless. Yet he chose to forgive and offer a second chance at life.

‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’    ‘Then neither do I condemn you. go and leave your life of sin.’ Jn 8:10,11b

Perhaps we should remember those words before we judge and condemn those around us. Sin is sin, none bigger or smaller than any other. Adultery is no different than lying, or gossip, or envy. Are there any of us who can claim to perfectly keep all 10 Commandments?

No.

So before you pick up a stone to cast or a finger to point, remember that Jesus alone is worthy to judge. He loves all of us enough to die for us. Can you say the same?

Caught!

Caught!

The Big Orange X

I have noticed a new arrival on my road lately. Big orange x-es are appearing on the old maple trees. Those who know me or follow this blog 001know that I have a soft spot for trees. I love their ability to overcome hardship and damage as well as their peaceful acceptance of the seasons.

This marking happens every year and always makes me sad. These are the trees the county has decided are too old and ill to survive. They have become a hazard to the road below and the ugly black wires that stretch from pole to pole.

We can’t have them shedding limbs and stopping traffic or bringing down the wires now can we?

It doesn’t matter if the trees were there first. It doesn’t matter that they have been standing there tall and strong for 100 or 200 years. They are a liability.

007Now I know that there is truth to that. The marked trees have lost much of their former glory. Halfway up, jagged stumps remain where the main trunk had been lost to a storm or lightning a decade ago. Often there are only a few branches that still produce leaves, and those are growing sparse. The bark is rough and split with dead wood showing through. They are dying.

But I remember them as they were 30 years ago when my family moved onto this farm. They were at their prime and there were so many more of them back then. They lined the road every fifty feet or so. They were the home to thousands of birds, squirrels and chipmunks . . . not to mention the occasional raccoon and possum families. In the fall, the road became a glorious bower of red and gold splendor.

The family we bought our farm from told us some of the history of the area. They had lived here for generations, since the 1800’s at least. Our004 farm began as a small cabin at the base of a nearby hill. The hard working farmer who first settled here soon built a larger place where the house currently stands. It started as two small rooms and has expanded several times so that it can now hold my sister’s family and my own.

That same farmer was wise enough and compassionate enough to plant these so that his horses would have shade as they toiled along the dirt road. The fields were wide open by necessity, but the roads to and from was thick with cool, refreshing shade. The trees fulfilled their purpose long after teams of horses gave way to tractors and trucks. More than 100 years later they continued to stand guard over five young girls riding their bikes or walking 1/4 mile to the nearest house to play with the children who lived there.

So many times I would climb into their spreading boughs when the world became a hard place to live. I would go high as I dared and cling with my ear pressed to the trunk. There I could hear the creaking and sighing of the ancient tree. It seemed that it was talking to me, if only I could understand the words.

Now there are few of my old friends left. One by one they have fallen to the storms of the world or that dreaded orange X. The sunlit street is lined with new homes. Children no longer ride their bikes or walk in the road . . . with cars whizzing by without thought or care it is no longer safe.

Time marches on and everything must someday fall to its command.

I still hate the big orange X.

The other day when I was thinking about those trees marked for execution, my thoughts strayed to the Great Gardener. Perhaps if someone had tended to those old trees, they may have survived longer. If someone with skill had trimmed the diseased and damaged branches, had kept away the strangling vines, the trees would have been strong enough to withstand the storms.

Jesus said that he was the vine and we are the branches. (Israel doesn’t have much in the way of maple trees.) He knows how to tend to his branches to keep them healthy and strong. He prunes and binds, trims and trains so that we become all that the Father meant us to be.

He does not paint big orange X’s on us when we become old and weak. He tends us and loves us until time wins its battle. Then he takes us home where we are planted by streams of living water to become forever young, forever strong and forever with him.

 

Try Again

How are you doing on your 2015 resolutions? Even if you don’t make specific resolutions, most of us at least have something in the back of our minds that we want to do better this year.

I know I do. I have a whole list but there are two that stand out at the top of the pile.

1. Lose weight/get in better shape.

Now that isn’t exactly an earth shattering revelation, the majority of Americans have weight loss somewhere on their ‘to-do’ list. But this year I have to get serious about it. I’m no longer 20 and with middle age in full swing . . . or droop as the case may be . . . the hours I spend sitting and staring at this screen are taking their toll. I am teetering on the brink of Hypertension and diabetes. Perhaps I have already begun the plunge to my doom . . . unless I can make some changes, I am done for.

2. Get at least one writing project finished and ready to pitch to an agent.

This one is a little trickier. I have trouble finishing what I start and my writing is an innocent victim of my predilection for procrastination. I sit at my desk and think, ‘I will work on my WIP today.’ I turn on my computer, and think, ‘Let me just check my email first, just in case there is something important.’ There seldom is, mostly ads, reminders and those dreaded Facebook messages. So I of course have to go to FB to check on things there . . . the next thing I know, three hours have gone by and it is time for lunch. I can’t type while I’m eating, of course, so I check on some of my favorite blogs and shopping sites. Another couple hours go by, the kids are home and I have to settle squabbles, help with homework and start supper. The kids and my husband get the  computer in the evenings, so another whole day has gone by without even looking at my stories. Oh well, there is always tomorrow.

So my plan is to make a schedule for myself . . . just as if I was back at work and accountable to my boss for a certain amount of work to be finished before I am done for the day. I will have a block for eating, exercising, writing and critiquing the works of my writing friends. There will also be a block of time to check Facebook and blogs . . . after my other work is done.

I’m not sure I can contain the procrastination gene that keeps popping up to disrupt my best laid plans, but every day that I do the right thing is a step in the right direction. There will be days that I fail to follow ‘the plan’ . . . probably a lot of them . . . But each day is brand new, with no mistakes in itdouble rainbow, to quote Anne Shirley. So each day I will get up and prepare to try again. And again. And again.

I will never be perfect, but perhaps I can edge a little closer to that goal.

Angel’s Song

Better late than never! Unlike most of my Christmas series, which have been rewritten and revised several times, this story was nothing more than a vague idea in my mind a week ago. We love to sing about the angels, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Joy to the World, and The First Noel, among other Christmas favorites. But what is their story, what is going on in that mysterious realm of angels and demons on the most famous day in history?

This story is what I think may have happened.

You will notice that this book cover doesn’t have a figure from an old nativity set. Want to know why? Because I decided that the sappy, serene and aloof look of most nativity angels I have seen simply don’t fit the power of their story. Scriptures say that the angels celebrate in Heaven when one who was lost is redeemed. I think that pales beside their celebration on the day when the redemption becomes possible. The angels  echo the Joy of the Father when Jesus is born. And that is not a sweet and sappy smile, but a powerful burst of jubilation that rocked Heaven to its foundations.

So rather than put a substandard angel on my cover, you will have to just imagine the joy that filled them on that very special day.

 

The Angel’s Song  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00R1FBPEM  is available on Amazon for Free through Dec. 21.

Don’t forget to check out:

The Shepherd’s Tale  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PUZ9AD8

The Innkeeper’s Guest  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QOA67OS

 

Christmas Tales

The shepherds watching over their flocks at night.

The Innkeeper with no room.

Angels who watch and celebrate.

Wise men who follow a star to find a king.

A new mother and father with their first child.

A servant of God who sees the promise fulfilled.

These are actors in the greatest production the world has ever seen. Who were they and what did they see and hear on that first Christmas? Each week through the month of December I will be publishing a Christmas Story through Amazon Create Space. Come and See.

shepherd copyThe Shepherd’s Tale http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PUZ9AD8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The InnkeeperThe Innkeeper’s Guest (Free thru Dec 10) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QOA67OS

 

 

 

 

 

Watch for the Angels’ story later this week.

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is the day we pause to give thanks for the blessings in our lives. Even when there are things that are hard and difficult to deal with, even among the trials there are things to be thankful for. Sometimes it is as simple as one more day, one more breath one more beat of the heart. There are days when life itself feels like a burden, but it is a gift none the less and in each day God is there waiting to connect with us, to bear our burdens, to share our pain.

He loves us, each one of us, fully and completely. He is eager to be our life, our strength, our hope and our home.

He gave us the greatest of gifts, his son, to open the way for us to enjoy the fullness of his love.

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the Christmas season when we turn our eyes and hearts to that wonderful gift of love.

I have written a series of Christmas stories that circle around the miracle of that first Christmas night. I will be publishing them through the month of December, one each week. The first is, The Shepherd’s Tale, a story told by a simple shepherd, the lowest rung of the societal scale. After a year of drought, hardship and an attack by Roman soldiers, he brings his flocks to a sheltered valley outside the city of Bethlehem. He tells of the angelic visitation and his search for the new born Messiah.

Read his story here, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PUZ9AD8 . It is free today through December 1st.

Join me each week as we watch for the coming of the King.

The End is Near!

Here it is, November 26, the final days of NaNoWriMo.

Have I kept pace with my goal of 1700 words each day?

No, I am averaging about 1400, but have picked up the pace with ‘the end’ looming.

Will I finish all 50,000 words before Dec. 1st?

Well, its not looking good. I passed 36,000 yesterday, but that leaves 16,000 to write over the next five days (including today)

Do I like what I have written so far?

Well, parts of it. It is, after all, a very rough draft since I have had to lock away my ‘inner editor’ for the last few weeks. There are a lot of notes, highlights and whole sections to revisit during the coming months before I will consider it good enough to send through my critique group. That being said, the basics, the bare bones of it is good and there are some rough gems hidden within. The coming months will determine if cutting and polishing can bring out the shine of the early promise or if it would be better off as a paperweight.

I did write in a turning point last night and this morning:

NGS Picture ID:1075708“You have one shot, make it worth it.”
John sighted down his musket barrel until his vision cleared. He could see the play of muscle beneath the coppery skin.
His finger was greasy on the trigger as his pulled away the primer cover. The smell of burning saltpeter from the wick caked the back of his throat. 1. Steady your stance. 2. Take a deep breath and let it out slow as you draw a bead on the target. 3. As the last of your breath goes out, squeeze the trigger . . . gently.
Please, Lord.
Blinking, he focused on the brown, now, red skin. The forest had gone eerily still, even the birds and creatures that rustled in the leaves went still.
“Don’t move. Reload. There are always more.”
Swan crept forward once more with his already loaded gun. John rushed to follow, loading primer, powder and ball. They made it to Clary without incident. John laid a hand on the older man’s chest.  The heart thumped strong and steady beneath his hand.
“He lives.” John swallowed the lump in his throat.
Swan moved toward the bleeding Indian. “So does this one.” He stepped on the indian’s wounded shoulder to keep him from crawling away. The native’s black eyes were emotionless with not even a tremor to show the pain he must be in. Swan grabbed a leather thong from the Indian’s outfit, tied the native’s hands behind his back, and forced him to his feet. A bead of sweat traced its way through the garish paint. It stared at John with quiet menace.
“We will take them both back to the village. The savage will be our hostage to keep the others at bay. Can you manage Clary?”
The sight of the arrow sticking obscenely from Clary’s back made him queasy, but John swallowed and lifted his friend to his shoulder, careful to disturb him as little as possible. Bowing under the weight, he nodded to Swan.
Swan nudged the captive with the knife he had pulled from its sheath.
For John, the beautiful forest, just stirring with the new life of spring, had suddenly become a labyrinth of peril where death lurked just out of sight.

Sary stood and brushed the wrinkles from her skirt with her eye fixed on Mr. Whitaker. He would know if her father had arrived.
Before she was more than halfway across the crowded lawn, there was a commotion where the clearing gave way to trees. The shrill scream of a woman and the shouts of men made her grab her skirt and run. She pushed her way through the mass of bodies until she could see the trio of men that staggered from the woods. Skipping over the black haired savage and Mr. Swan, her eyes latched on the stooped form of a young man staggering beneath the burden of a familiar brown coat and shock of grizzled chestnut hair. Bright crimson blood streaked both men.
“Papa.” Sary clapped both hands to her mouth to hold back the cry that rose to her lips.