A bit of Jade

diner red



“Where you off to, Jade?” He looked past me kind of shy-like.

I had no idea what made me spill out my next words, except for a fear of being alone and the urge to know him better. “Oh, I was just thinking about going down by Jupiter Lake and taking a stroll.   It has been so humid and hot out today.” I stuck the side of my thumb in my mouth and chewed all the skin around my cuticle, a nervous habit of mine.

“I guess it’s a nice night ta go down by Jupita.” He scratched his head, “Thang is, see, I was thinkin’ more ‘bout gettin’ a cheeseburger. You houngry?”

“Well, I can always eat somethin’,” I said and laughed nervously. I was seventeen years old, never had a boyfriend or even been on a date. I felt about as gawky and ungraceful as a girl could be.

Dillon looked down the road and then back at his car. “I don’t want you to get into no trouble now, Jade. You knows how folks are in this town.” Tiny beads of sweat were forming just above his lip. He seemed as awkward and nervous as I felt.

“I can take us down to my territory, Nathan’s bowling alley. It’s colored, though. You might feel uncomfortable, Jade? How old is you now anyways?” His eyes scanned me kind of discreetly. I was wearing a cream-colored sundress with a pale blue short jacket. I had my hair in a ponytail to show off my newly pierced ears, another gift from Verdi.

“I’m eighteen.” I lied once more and then immediately started looking for more skin to chew, this time on my index finger. I didn’t want to lie to him but knew what he was thinking. If my daddy went to the sheriff, he would go to jail just for having me in his car. I had never really been alone with him. We just always talked at the store. He opened the passenger door and motioned for me to get in. It seemed like he had weighed the possible penalty against the chance to spend more time with me and made his decision. I slid across the mahogany seat cushion and bounced on the springs. He told me of his plans to go away to college and showed me his class ring. There was a real sense of pride in his voice.

“How’s your daddy been, Jade? I saw him with that Veronica woman last week. Is that goin’ okay?”

I must have rolled my eyes or made a face because Dillon let out a laugh that was hearty and knowing. “She’s something else, and Daddy’s drinking again. I try to stay away from them and their parties they throw every weekend.”   My head filled with images of Conner and my throat constricted at the thought. I changed the subject quickly. “I miss Johnny so much, but I guess everything happens for a reason.” No sooner than the thought escaped my mouth, I wondered the reason for Conner and his advances.

“Oh, girl, you is somethin’ else. I had my stepfather Leroy, in my life for some time now. He been good to my mama, a little strict with me at times, but, all in all, a good man. Course he ain’t never been one for the booze, nope, but he do like the ladies, the ladies be his downfall.”

“I was thinkin’ ‘bout findin’ my real father. I think every chile need ta know who his parents is. I looks at every white man I meet. I looks into his eyes and I say to myself, ‘Dillon that could be your ol’ man, right there.’ The Negro man don’t accept me half the time ‘cause I ain’t dark enough, and, course I ain’t light enough for the white folks neither. I did hear though in places like New York, Michigan, and California that theys more acceptin’. They says that the bigger states and the Northern states is not as racist like they is here in the South. I’s even heard tell all kinds of relationships occurs.”

There was a silence in the car now. I didn’t know what to say. I could picture kissing his lips. I wanted him to know that I had feelings for him before I knew it I blurted out, “Well, I’d date anyone outside my race if I liked them.” My voice sounded strained, and I gave Dillon a matter of fact look, but inside I was scared.

Dillon looked at me with eyes that seemed sad and wiser than before.   “Jade, you would have to put up with a lot of racism. You ever been called a ‘nigga lovah’?   Ever had people stare you down, try to make you feels dirty inside over the color of your outside? Did you know children of a mixed race are badgered and treated like trash? They git it comin’ from both sides. They ain’t black, they ain’t white, so they is nuthin.’ I was lucky to be dark enough to be okay, so to speak. But some folks have children and the babies are almost white, kinda yella looking with a light brownish color hair, but always nappy. People is cruel today. If any of the white boys in this town seen you with me, they wouldn’t want nothin’ to do with you and they’d beat me and maybe kill me, before they’d let a nigger have ya.”

I thought about what he’d said and it seemed an answer to my prayers, “No man would want you if they seen you with me.” But it was the last part I didn’t like. I didn’t want Dillon to get into trouble, but I wanted to make sure that Conner never wanted to touch me again.

I looked at Dillon as he pulled into the parking lot of Nathan’s. It was very busy from the looks of things. He turned to me and said, “Jade, I brought you here because they’s good people and you won’t be humiliated here. I won’t let anyone harm you, even if it were to cost me my life.” He reached his hand under my chin and pulled my face up, looked into my eyes with a look that made me feel safe.

We grabbed a booth in the back and Dillon went to the counter and ordered. There was a jukebox in the corner playing Aretha Franklin and bright red-checkered curtains in the windows. I loved soul music because it seemed to carry so much emotion. Dillon set down two Coke-a-Colas and a bottle of ketchup. “Two double cheeseburgers and fries is on the way! Miss Jade, I hopes you got an appetite because Lenny makes the best around.”

He smiled and his teeth looked like a parade of polished pearls. Dillon was something foreign to me, and I loved to hear him talk and tell stories. Before I knew it, darkness had fallen outside the red covered window. I wished I could stay with him forever, but I knew Miss Rita would be worried about me, and I didn’t need her calling my daddy. “I best get goin’ Dillon, it’s gettin’ late and I don’t want to upset Miss Rita.”   Dillon reached in his pocket and pulled out a crumpled mess of dollars to pay the tab.

We didn’t talk much on the ride back to the Taylor’s store. I guess I was busy trying to figure out how to deal with the emotions I was feeling. I was terrified of Conner and not very sure of what would happen if he caught wind of me being with Dillon. I wanted more than anything for Dillon to somehow wash all the pain away. I wanted to know what his soft lips felt like. I wanted to make love with him and let him replace every fingerprint of Conner’s and every piece of skin that he had brushed upon me. More than that, I wanted his spirit to cover all the evil Conner’s had placed over my soul.

“Jade, I’m just gonna drop you off a little ways from the store. Don’t want no static from the Taylors or with your pa. I’m not doin’ you no disrespect. I’ve had a fine evening with you, Jade. Just don’t want no worries.”

I knew the concern was genuine. I knew we were treading on dangerous ground, but I welcomed the opportunity no matter what. I felt alive and more normal again. We got out of the car, and I could see the porch light of the store glowing down the way.

“Good night, Jade,” he took my hand and kissed it. I reached up on my tiptoes and let my small thin lips brush across his warm full mouth. I felt a ripple of electricity and then a warmth that I never wanted to forget. He hungrily kissed me back with such intensity that I ran, ran like the wind and never looked back at Dillon. I carried the kiss all the way to the twin iron bed Miss Rita had fixed up for me. I replayed it over and over in my mind until I drifted off to sleep. My first real kiss.

“Dear God, it’s me again, Jade. Thank you for making Dillon’s lips so soft, and please help me to disappear. I still don’t like the Earth you created and I’m sorry for that.”



Vintage Diner Interior


The Two Witnesses

Free Chapter from Doctrines of Demons #2


Salvation Part #5


In the last chapter we discovered some hidden mysteries about salvation and now we are going to dig in deeper. “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them MOSES and ELIJAH, talking with Jesus/ Yeshua” Matthew 17: 1-3 NIV.

Many times when we read verses they seem quite simple and easy to follow. I can assure you that most of the time there is more to them than meets the eye. Moses and Elijah were two men who were often called by names to describe what they did. Moses was referred to as the lawgiver (Torah) and Elijah was the prophet that came to restore the Law (Torah) and the righteousness of G-d’s Word. Both men show up on this high mountain after six days. Think about the creation week and then the day of rest.

We have two prophets here that I believe will stand as a witness against our own righteousness and salvation, add Yeshua and we have three. The bible says a three strand cord is not easily broken. How, you may be asking? Deuteronomy 19:15 says, “One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” This teaching from the Torah did not pass away. Paul said this, “Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses” 1 Timothy 5:19 NIV. Jesus/Yeshua said this, “But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” Matthew 18:16 NIV. One of the most terrifying things I’ve read about grace and salvation comes from the book of Hebrews, “Anyone who rejected the Law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of GRACE”? Hebrews 10:28-29. We have insulted His grace today to a level I fear even deems worse than the pagan gods Israel worshiped. Let’s look at this closer.

“And I will appoint my two witnesses and they will prophesy for one thousand two hundred sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” They are “the two olive treesand the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.” Revelation 11:3-4. This is not a new verse but an old one; if you read all of Zechariah chapter four you will have more understanding. Zechariah has an angel come to him and show him mighty things, mysteries even. Let’s look at that now.

“What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps (The Seven Churches—The seven Spirits of Yah) thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof”. Zechariah asked the angel a question and he had to ask twice for an answer. “What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? And I answered again, and said unto him, what be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, My Lord. Then said he, these are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth” Zechariah 4:2, 3, 12, 13, 14 KJB.

Yes, it is through faith that we have been saved by grace, but as you can see we must come up higher. These two witnesses are so clear once we place the scriptures together. According to the verses we just went over, there must be two witnesses to an act in order for justice to be served. 2nd Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”  When we stand before that seat, we will have the testimony of two witnesses and these two witnesses have been declaring Yahweh’s Truth from everlasting. What does Yeshua/Jesus say is everlasting? “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” Matthew 24:35 NIV. “Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens” Psalm 119:89 NIV.

Now, I want you to follow me here on this topic because we have been taught many different views. I believe these two witnesses are none other than the Ten Commandments (Torah) and the Prophets and I am going to show you through scripture. A man approaches Jesus/Yeshua with a question, “A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 18:18. Does Jesus say, “Confess my name with your lips and invite me into your heart? No. He says this, “You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother” 18:20… He immediately starts giving him the Commandments. He begins to name them each and yet we don’t hear much about His holy commands today in Christianity. There seems to be more focus on power, prosperity, signs, and prophetic itching ear words.

One verse many Christians use in response to other religions is this one, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. When people say, “Aren’t we all really just worshipping the same god?” Christians will retort many times with the verse above and how there is only one way to get to heaven. Jesus/Yeshua said no one can come to the Father except through Him. He did not mean we could acquire this by praying in the name of Jesus or by asking Jesus/Yeshua into our hearts, it was something deeper. He was saying if you want to get to the Father and you want to be pleasing to the Father you must come through the Word that washes you clean. Jesus was the Word made flesh. So going through him means we must have washed bridal gowns that we have ironed. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27 NASB. As I mentioned in part one, the Rabbi’s in Yeshua’s day had a saying, “Torah is the way, Torah is the truth and Torah is the life.” Getting rid of every blemish is hard work and how will we know what we need to get rid of if we don’t have the Word and sound doctrine? Paul said it best in Romans. “What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 7:7. Paul went on to say in verse twelve, “So then, The Law (instructions) is Holy, and the commandment is Holy, righteous and good.” NIV.

As we continue I hope you are getting a glimpse of what Yeshua meant when he said we must come through him in order to get to his Father. I want you to envision the Word putting on a fleshly body. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” John 1:1, 14. Have you ever asked the question, “What Word?” They only had the Older Testament when John wrote this. What Word was he talking about? Let’s investigate this further. Did you know that Moses wrote about Jesus/Yeshua?

“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” John 5:45-47 NIV. Moses told the people, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.” Deuteronomy 18:15 NIV. Jesus/Yeshua did not come to get rid of His Father’s Words but to bring mercy and grace.

When John said, “The word became flesh” he was going to a deeper place of study our western minds had not ventured to. This stems from many denominations throwing out the Old Testament. The Old is what foretold of the Messiah’s coming. I heard about a Rabbi who was reading in the book of Isaiah and he said, “How did Jesus get in my bible?” His eyes were opened to Jesus/ Yeshua due the words from what many call the old portion of scripture. I find the Tanakh (Old Testament) more detailed about the end of days then much of Revelations. The Old is what Yeshua quoted from when he defeated the devil! The Old is what Paul and Peter, and Timothy and James used to make their points. What does this have to do with Salvation? You say, “But’s not by works.” No, it’s not, but there is more to it.

So what is sin? “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” 1 John 3:4. Jesus went over the law and He made it deeper, fuller, and richer in meaning. Let’s look at that. “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment” Matthew 5:21-22. Jesus moves from the topic of murder and anger, to adultery, divorce, keeping your oaths, and loving your enemies. The Ten Commandments came straight out of the Old Testament. Lawlessness is a huge problem today and not just in the world but in the church. Salvation is obeying Him, for He said, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” John 14:15.

How many times have you heard it preached, “We are not under the law, but under Grace?” “The law was nailed to the cross.” Let’s look more closely at what was nailed to the cross. Colossians 2:14 says, “…by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside nailing it to the cross.”  No need for any more daily animal sacrifices? (Read Dr Skip Moen’s Crossword Puzzle.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” NIV. Now many ministers will tell you He fulfilled it at the cross, but that is not the case. Jesus/Yeshua began to go over more details about this in Matthew chapter five. During the Sermon on the Mount or the beatitudes, he brought a clearer understanding to His Father’s instructions.

He said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law (Torah) or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until ALL is accomplished. “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 5:17-20 NASB. Yes, those same religious leaders who added so much to the law that men could not bear the weight of, we are to surpass. And we surpass them because we accept Yeshua/Jesus and His love and grace. Last time I checked heaven and earth were still here and Jesus had only fulfilled the first four Feast. We are waiting on the others to come to past. Yeshua said we will be called great or least.

One of the issues with these types of verses is the word curse. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole (Torture Stake).” Galatians 3:13 NIV. The Torah is instructions that have a list of blessings and a list of curses. It’s duel. There is something called the curse of the law but that doesn’t make the law a curse. Let’s look at some verses for a clearer understanding. We will start with how God described “the law” or instructions and how it would affect His people. “If you obey all the decrees and commands I am giving you today, all will be well with you and your children. I am giving you these instructions so you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you for all time” NLT Deuteronomy 4:40. He said this law would bring a long prosperous life. Now let’s look at some more verses. Paul said that the law was spiritual, “We know that the law is spiritual” Romans 7:14 NIV. He also said that the law was holy and good. “So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good” Romans 7:12. Paul went on to say in verse 22 of that same chapter that he delighted in the law. “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law (Torah)…” Therefore, we must be missing something? Yes, there were six hundred thirteen laws. Much of these no longer pertain to us today because we do not have a temple with High priest making atonement for our sins. Many of these laws showed us something I call “cause and effect.” If you do this, then this is the consequence you will face. By saying we are no longer under the law, we must then decide why the Christian church still keeps the portions they like such as tithing. To say one is no longer under the law without adding “the curse of,” it takes on a whole new meaning. Are we throwing out the commands or the curses for disobedience? Surely, saying we are no longer under the law doesn’t mean we can kill, steal, lie, and commit adultery. Paul was often teaching about how one could not earn their salvation through works of legalistic means. Yet, he never taught against G-d’s instructions. He never said they were not to be a part of a believer’s life. Let me get even simpler. If you committed adultery before Jesus/Yeshua came, you may have been stoned to death. In order for this to have happened, there would have to be the testimony of two or three witnesses who came up against you. This sounds like a horrific act, but that was the “curse” of the law. The law taught us adultery was wrong. I do not have to tell you myself that the Law is something incredibly amazing because David beat me to it. You may argue with me that we are no longer under the law but don’t try and tell me its evil or no good. The bible says it is more precious than gold. Read David’s words below.

Oh, how I love your law!

I meditate on it all day long.

Your commands are always with me

and make me wiser than my enemies.

I have more insight than all my teachers,

for I meditate on your statutes.

I have more understanding than the elders,

for I obey your precepts.

I have kept my feet from every evil path

so that I might obey your word.

I have not departed from your laws,

for you yourself have taught me.

How sweet are your words to my taste,

sweeter than honey to my mouth!

I gain understanding from your precepts;

therefore I hate every wrong path.” Psalms 119:97-104 NIV.


The book of Revelations 22:14 tells us who will be worthy to enter and wearing white robes and it’s those who keep HIS Commandments. After Jesus/Yeshua ends his passage on the Torah from Matthew chapter five, He says something very profound. He says a future time will come when people will not be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Does He say it is because they don’t call him their Messiah? No, these people call Him Lord. Is it because they have not said the sinner’s prayer and invited Him inside their hearts? No, it’s more than that.

“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Matthew 7:22-23 ESV.

Lawlessness was a word the people of Paul’s day would understand, for it referred to people who were living outside of the law. The purpose of the Torah was to give us life and success, health and wisdom. Jesus/Yeshua said “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” He also referred to himself as the living manna. The whole matter concerning salvation is not just one prayer. The whole matter is not just taking vows and getting a marriage certificate, but walking and living intimately and spotless with our husband. If you have a spouse and you place them under your parents, children, occupation, idols and so forth that marriage will not be healthy or intimate. It will be a marriage built on rituals you do together. You may say you love them and so forth but as God said about His own people, it will be honoring with lip service only, and your heart will be far from them. I am not trying to tie a heavy load for you to carry because we all fall and make mistakes. Also, we have understanding that many of the 613 laws do not pertain to today due to no longer having a temple to offer animal sacrifices. We are all right there with Paul when he said he was “the worst of sinners.”

Yeshua/Jesus said “I am the bread of life. “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. “This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh. John 6:48-49” KJV.

Now before we go further let’s dissect this. John said the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Yeshua/Jesus said He is living bread and if we eat of His flesh we can live forever. This passage goes on and sounds quite like flesh-eating cannibalism but it’s not, there is a deeper meaning I want you to get. First, I must ask you to erase the teachings you have been taught about the Eucharist, communion, and so forth and look at Jesus’s flesh. The first Passover was taken with bitter herbs and the bread of affliction. “Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste–so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt.” Deuteronomy 16:3 NIV.

Passover happens each year right around Easter. While some children hunt for Easter eggs, others hunt for any bread made with yeast in their homes. Why? Because yeast represents sin and we must get rid of sin from our lives. Yes, we must suffer and crucify our flesh and rid our temples of it. Egypt always represents sin. Leave it in haste and remember the bondage of sin you left there. Remember where The Lord Adonai brought you from.

Jesus-Yeshua said some difficult words when He said he was the bread that came down from heaven. The men just shook their heads at Joseph’s son the carpenter. They could not comprehend how His flesh was His Father’s Word.

“Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us HIS FLESH to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves” John 6:52-54 KJV. They could not grasp that the Word made flesh was Him. God used words to create the world and when they were spoken they carried with them a vibration. He used words to heal; He sent His Word and healed them. Of what? Sin. He heals not just our illnesses, but our wretched sins. The Word of Yah makes us recognize our sin nature and to try and do better.

Salvation through Yeshua/Jesus is keeping the Word of Adonai and when we keep His Word we are washed. Jesus/Yeshua had not gone to the cross yet when he said this, “Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” John 13:10 NLT. He confirms it again in John 15:3. “You are already clean because of the Word I have spoken to you.” NIV.

I leave you with this, if you haven’t made a journey down to an altar or said a prayer in private or with your Teacher, now is the time, now is the hour, you may not get another chance. Make Him King in your life. Get baptized or immersed in the Mikvah. We must continue to work out our salvation and the scripture even adds with trembling, and fear. Obeying our Father requires knowing what pleases Him. This is going to be a personal situation when you stand before Him. This is not going to be about what the men of your community think about you or what your mother or father believe to be true about your character, no, this is going to be individual. This isn’t about a sawdust trail and a handshake with your local pastor. You may even be a pastor reading this that needs an overhaul, we all need our feet washed as Jesus said. Salvation is about a relationship. Either He is going to say, “Well done my good and faithful servant or away from me you workers of lawlessness, I never knew you.” I pray it’s the former.




Pink Cotton Candy

“There’s always a time to shine,” she said, curling her bottom lip.

“You need to let the light shoot out of your hair like cracked eggshells covered in white glistening yolks.”




I pictured her hair standing up all over her head illuminated and glistening like the moon draped over an armchair or a starfish on fire.

She looked up at me compellingly.


“What are you thinking?”


But before I can answer her, she continues . . .


“I like to take out my pastel pink shirts on these occasions when I feel shiny. Reminds me of cotton candy and the summer of 1972— or a breezy blouse that’s indigo blue.


“Whatta ya think?’


She twirled around showing me her new outfit.


I frown and reflect on the dozen black shirts hanging in a row on one side of my closet. Even the hangers look tired and exhausted from holding them up. The other side has a smaller colorful section that used to hang off my thinner more active body.


She looks up again with a glazed expression.

“Sometimes on rare occasions, I braid my hair like a fishtail and sit on a rock by the river.”


“Over there . . .”


She points down the hill. Past the briars and the thorns and the medicine.

“It’s best to go just before the Sun begins to bursts forth like Samson stretching and yawning his head full of fire.

The fish move their mouths above the glassy waters.

Do you like water?”

She said it as if I might be thirsty.


I’m always thirsty.


I try and answer her.


“Yes, sometimes the sea calls my name and the ocean crashes into my bed and pulls me upstream.”

I look down at my black shirt and notice a butterfly light on my shoe–just the corner of my flip-flop.

Its vibrant blue and the palest yellow.

“Did you see it?”

“See what?”

“Never mind.”

I sigh long and hard and stare at her ginger brown hair woven into the sun.

I cut my own hair with a paring knife and a dull pair of scissors.


Suddenly, I feel gloomy in spite of her pink shirt and the trace of Dianthus on the wind, and I try and think of a song or something cool to say but nothing comes to me.

I force it.

“Remember when we were nineteen? And you used to walk to the corner store with me to play Pac-Man. We’d eat ice cream and go to your house and play your Grease, Zeppelin, and Meatloaf albums until dark . . .”

It was 1982.

I wait for the spark, and the engine to fire.

And then her hair lit up her smile, and the butterfly lit on my arm, just as she motioned with glee.

“I see it,” she says finally.

“You need a butterfly.”

“You need to shine.”

Suddenly I feel duller than the scissors I’d used the night before. Like a sparkler that’s went out on the 4th of July.

Her perfect white teeth look like choir boys rehearsing for an audition. She was forever telling me what “I needed.” As if she held all the answers.

“You need a black shirt,” I say rather curt with my nose crinkled up.”

“Just a hint of sorrow would be refreshing.”

Now the light coming from her had sizzled.

Her hair turned mossy brown and her eyes faded.

Was I to blame?

I fold up my lips and plainly tell her that the earth has eaten the trees and we’ve killed the honeybees and the oil has spilled into the Sea.

“Aren’t you starving for something tangible?”


She laughs hysterically.


“Darling you’ve always been gloomy and extreme.”


I cup my hands that are now suddenly full of oil and swath my hair in it. I pick up my shoes and then barefoot run through the thorns licking up the straw like grass, and throw myself into the river. It’s alive and suddenly I can breathe.


I am the sea.


“Oh Abba, Mikvah me!”

The moon gleams from the now darkened heavens.

The waters tremble and then the fish light up like lightbulbs in the dark.

They’re as green as a cucumber salad.

I come shooting up out of the river like a sea creature. I’m covered in golden dust and the waters turn pastel pink like cotton candy.

It tastes good on my skin.

I drink it in like pomegranate juice.


She yells something incoherent and then runs down the hill past the briars and the weeds. Her pastel shirt snagging on a shrub. Out of breath, she dips her foot in the pink waters that match her blouse.

“Are you thirsty?” I ask.

Her fishtail braid falls to one side of her shoulders, and with a just hint of candidness she whispers


And then she jumped into the deep.”

Image result for cotton candy

1,000 Words

I am not sure when I started writing this poem or why or whose kitchen I stood in but possibly it will help all of us think more about words. Ironically when I was finished it had a word count of 1,000. I know with social media and texting we often take words wrong or quickly respond without thinking about our words. Even still, what if all the words we spoke about ourselves were tasted and measured?

Psalms–Tehillim 139:14 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB) “ I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are Thy ma’asim (works); and that my nefesh (soul) knoweth very well.”

I dropped words

They shattered on the floor

Right in front of you

He dropped words, 22 letters crowned with Glory



Holding the cosmos together

I never meant for my words to fall, or me, for that matter

But you didn’t seem interested in catching them

His words sailed through the seas

They were brightly colored blooms of an almond tree

My words went soaring through your kitchen towards your heart

You stood awkwardly and let them fall

I held Words out for you in the palms of my hands

Big pink balloon blossoms,

You pulled out a needle and popped them

You squinted your eyes and then you twisted your mouth

Yes, you released silent words in ways that needed no explanation

I acted as if my words were not lying on your cold tile floor

You stepped on two verses as you maneuvered to the coffee maker

And flung a few careless words into the air



Not only did you not catch the ones I gave you

Later you stopped sending any words at all

The few that made it into your mouth you spat back out

I tried to package mine better and I held them in my mouth for a bit

Measuring their worth before releasing them to you

I added hues of ruddy sun burst and hints of emerald green

Tiny delicate touches to make the words kinder, sweeter

I bounced words up and down like a basket ball

Then polished them up like golden apples

But you kept looking for a worm

Inspecting them for flaws

I extended them again

Take these pretty words from me, I said

Yet they dangled there in mid air

Words suspended with no one to grasp them

Just hanging there like a dangling modifier

And why?

Was there something so ugly inside of my soul that your eyes bore holes?

I left and came back another day

I brought different words

Yes, that day. . .

I held words in my fist

I clenched them tightly to my chest and blew them into the air

Into your face

I looked intently into your eyes

Like a breath of wind the words breathed

You made your face like stone and wrapped it in a marketed smile

A fissure really

Like a pumpkin face

Perhaps you didn’t know how to taste the words I used from His Word?

The power of them is mightier than the sword

Forged in fire and blasted with Ruach


They are like the gilded wings of a bird taking flight


Like a wasp stinger embedded in our soul

We wad up words and layer them with love, judgement, and hate

Then fling them in the face

Or throw none at all









Some words smell like a rotten corpse,

Lying naked on the floor

Other words float above like a tuft of cotton

Our jaws can bring a stale perfume

Thoughtless words dissipate before noon


Words that linger on the surface

Words that rattle from a cage

Words that splatter candle wax

And words that type





Empty words from comic books and politicians with a hook

Words from the young still tainted with puffs of air, pride and sexual flair

Words like magic carpet rides

And words like diamonds light up the skies

Words as thick as molasses

Words that comfort heal and hold

Words that open doors and shut

Words from babes who utter sounds

And all the words that fell to the ground –

That no one caught or let soak in,

To lend an ear or be a friend

And all these words clutched in my fist

I hope one day to breathe on paper and send words that sail the seas

Words layered with Torah seeds and honey from bees

Words that stand up tall and hold sounds

Words that were spoken on the Mount and words that cause fires to burst

Words that no longer can break or hurt

Or wound or tear

or make feel bare

Yes, Words that bring a shine

Words that neither run nor hide

Nor bother to rhyme

Words that are tucked away in shoes

Standing on His Word

Words that form a song that soothes

And words that sing a halleluYah

Words that pump through my veins

For all I have to give to you are words

I have no fortune, I have no fame,

All I have are these words in the palms of my hands

The ones I picked up off your floor

The ones I washed and prayed over again

I extend

With my frail limp hands










For it is all I have

To give

My Abba Father—

My best friend

The one who washed me with His Words

Like goat milk soap and the freshest rain

Like precious oil upon my head

His Words hold me still

Help me heal

Turn my heart

Still my soul




King David’s words helped me through many nights

And Job’s words I carried in my lungs

Yes, “I know that my Redeemer lives”

Songs from Solomon

And cries from Jacob

Wisdom words marching with ants

Proverbial songs and stories that dance

I long to hear from you again

Without your words my heart feels bruised

My Abba’s Words are like aged wine

That gets smoother all the time

His Words I’ve completely stored

Tucked and polished and hidden beneath

Inside my soul forever they keep

Like a river of never ending love

Hold me up by Your Word

Hold me up by Your Son

Take my Words and wash them in Yours

Take these words spilled on the floor

And whisper to those who no longer speak

Who step over the words I am trying to fly

That I love them regardless of my inability to form one word to heal

To still


Storm . . .

Photo by Robonwriting.

1000 words

Lady Bug Charlie

It all started with a dream interpretation. This blog is about friendships, beetle bugs, and fire. Did you know ladybugs are protected by blood?

About a month ago, I received a private dream and one character in the dream– a small talking reddish brown hen with a bright red ladybug lit upon her back captured my attention for various reasons. One of the reasons was this timid hen who was floundering around and trying to hide under a couch cushion reminded me of myself at times. The other reason was due to a friend the Father handpicked for me over five years ago. A woman with fiery red hair, who lives at a place called Hen’s Acre Farm. A Texan. Spunky and full wisdom and good deeds. A woman who appeared at just the right time in my life. There have been several.


After losing my health and my home, I spent over a year living with friends and family. Eventually, I finally settled into my own apartment. It was a tiny space, just 650 square feet– but once you’ve lost everything a tiny space is abundantly sweet. It’s a place where you control the thermostat and when you open the cabinet your dishes live there.

I’m an introvert but at times it was also lonely there. One day a friend on Facebook told me she felt like the Father wanted her to introduce me to a friend of hers. I said “that’s fine” thinking that soon I would get a friends request and keep scrolling down my feed, but this lady didn’t do Facebook, she typed letters.


Not knowing anything about this woman, I was at times slow to respond and not sure how much to disclose of my personal life. I often found myself reading these letters from Miss Texas with curiosity.

“Who is this lady telling me about her dogs?” Of course, she didn’t realize that I just euthanized my dog a year prior due to him becoming over protective of me while sick. I missed Rex terribly and had a picture of him on my table framed with his paw print.

Again, who is this woman talking to me about chickens and bluebonnets? Who is this woman who used to Pastor a “church” of all things? She seems so spunky and full of life. I wondered if she’d ever been through anything difficult. And that is many of our faults, for we often think that the person right in front of our nose has no clue about our pain, but everyone has a story to tell. This woman had suffered horribly. Cancer had taken both her breast. Her testimonies of His precious Holy Ruach HaKodesh comforting her and getting her through the darkest of times helped me hold on when I was weak.


Her name is Charlene (Charlie) Manning. I didn’t even know a Manning at the time of meeting her, but within just a few months a man would appear in my life who carried the same last name as Charlie and the same first name as my ex-husband. Around the same time, my own mother would get colon cancer, along with Parkinson’s and leave this earth. Who was there encouraging me daily? Charlie was. When I didn’t know how to adapt to a new family that seemed rather affluent compared to the meager means I had found myself in, who was there? Again, Charlie Manning. When I was too sick to get out of bed and having balance issues, who was praying for me? My friend Charlie.


After my husband and I became engaged, children, friends and even fellow believers weren’t always the most accepting of this union, and when our church families listened to rumors and attacks festered—you guessed it, good ole Charlie Manning held my arms up. She talked to me about how her own congregation left wounds so deep that when she walked down the small square of her town, the ones she loved and prayed over would cross to the other side of the street so they wouldn’t have to speak to her. She taught me how to hold my head up strong and how to forgive quickly–how to love and move on. This older woman was a Feast keeper before many even knew the richness of His Holy days.


Soon I was getting lessons in grammar—paragraph structures—manners—good etiquette – and how to handle situations that were way over my head. The more I found out about Charlie the more I realized we had much in common. She was prophetic. She was and is a writer, faithfully posting a Sabbath day blog weekly. She wrote a beautiful book called Memories of my Earth Home. This book is deeply filled with creation. If you pick up a copy it will have you wanting to play in the dirt, explore rocks, trees, water, and all of creation with the eyes of a child who has touched green plush grass with bare feet for the first time. Charlie was just what the doctor ordered. She was a friend, a mother, a sister, a mentor, and a spunky gal that made me take notice of my gifting.

This red headed warrior–now turned grey listen to me cry—prayed over me, and it seemed just when my car would break down or I’d be short electric money, a check would appear. Birthdays were never forgotten. Not only was she a treasure to behold, sent directly from the throne, she had a personality filled with so much Texan charm, she had me often bent over in stitches, laughing my seams apart by her humor. She has taught me so much about the Father, family, integrity, compassion, and healing from rejection and bitterness.

Each time we disagreed on a scripture or a topic that I may have commented on, I just expected she would go away or I would not hear from her again. Being abandoned while sick was excruciating. I had been rejected and hurt by so many I trusted it seemed hard to breathe at times. Back then my wounds were so deep I often didn’t even bother opening the door of my heart and letting someone in full size! I felt sure they’d become someone else added to a long list of hurts–someone else I often think about and miss. Little by little, chisel by chisel, somehow I began to trust this woman with every piece of my heart.


When it was time to get my manuscript ready for my first novel Polishing Jade, again, I felt that gentle nudge from the Father that Charlie was supposed to sprinkle some of her sunshine and rain between the pages of my book. She gave advice and breathed new life into a character named Miss Cotton. I learned later that her family also had some Cottons, and yes, a Cotton-Wood Farm. Why? Because—Abba Daddy is in the details. He intricately weaves a beautiful manuscript of His own in our lives.


So what do a red hen and a beetle bug have to do with Abba Father? More than I ever could have guessed. In every culture, the ladybug has a very special name and meaning. In Hebrew, it is quite interesting that this tiny creature is called ‘parat Moshe Rabbenu’ which means Moses cow. Yes, and it’s also called ‘little Messiah’ and ‘Moses little horse.’


These beetles were part of an old children’s jingle. “Lady bug, ladybug, fly away home. Your house is on fire, your children will burn. “Except little Nan, who sits in a pan, weaving gold laces as fast as she can.”



According to a blog called Adorable Cow, This jingle comes from medieval times when farmers who burned the stubble at the harvest’s end to clear and fertilize their fields for the next year’s planting “warned” the ladybugs and their larvae to escape while they could. The “nan” was the ladybug’s pupa, which, immobilized within its cocoon or “pan” of reddish-gold threads while metamorphosing from its larval to its mature stage, could not get away like a larva.)”


“He will immerse you in the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand to clear His threshing floor and gather the wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with inextinguishable fire.” Luke 3:16-17 TLV.


Red or gold threads!

These beetles devour pestilence and they destroy it by their mouth. They eat the very thing that is destroying them. I believe they represent the prophetic. This reminded me of the two witnesses—the Torah and the Prophets. “And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.”a If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die.” Revelation 11:3-5

According to Lori Beth Robinson, the ladybug lady,

 Ladybugs can protect themselves by playing dead. By pulling their legs up “turtle-style”, and typically release a small amount of blood from their legs. (This is called reflex bleeding.) The bad smell and the apparent look of death usually deter predators from their small ladybug snack. After the threat of danger has passed, the ladybug will resume its normal activities.”

 (Just like our Messiah who sweated blood)

 I want to close this blog with a warm hug to my friend Charlie and a reminder that those beetles and that red hen in the dream were marked with a mark and also were given a warning of the destruction that was coming. They were sealed and protected by His mighty Power. I ask you my reader this very same question—are you sealed? He is coming to clear His threshing floor. Will you be ready? Please, I beg you, turn around today and return to His Ways and seek His face, for He loves YOU SO.














Photo http://www.shadesofgreensa.com/Images/Beneficials/ladybug.jpg

Read more: http://forward.com/articles/5541/the-adorable-moses-cow/


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Who Has a Broken Heart?

Who Has a Broken Heart?
Memoir Chapter
I peered into the reflection of the mirror and I wondered who the person was staring back at me. I had been too depleted financially to get my hair done at a beauty shop and was taken by a friend to a hair design school. This is a shop where the students learning to cut hair practice on you.  I sat nervously in the chair as the dye was placed on my head and the foils. Soon I was ushered under the dryer but something kept running down my neck. The dye had seeped through the foil. After shampooing the stylist showed me the brown spots that ran and dried. There were large dark brown spots in my blonde hair that looked horrible. Her assistant came out, the manager and soon a host of women were standing around my chair trying to decide what to do with the mess. The manager asked if she could re-dye and cut my hair. I nodded and sat in shock as I heard her clippers begin to literally shave the back of my head in a boy type haircut that left me with about an inch or two of hair on top that she spiked with gel. The color red she chose was more of a burgundy and covered the brown spots. It was such a drastically different look for me that I still had trouble gazing into the mirror when it was time to go out in public.
Losing my hair was just an outward sign. I had lost so many things I loved with such a swiftness, it seemed like one blow would knock me to my knees and before I could recover from the next one, down I’d go again.  The pain I felt seemed to seep out of my pores.   I felt as if I was walking around with blood oozing from my heart. I kept dabbing at the seeping places, applying pressure but to no avail. This pain was so heavy it made breathing problematic.
I drove the short distance to the church assembly and made my way inside with my new fashion statements, my cane, and red hair. Just trying to stand during one song was a struggle for me. Although I was better and able to drive some, I was still very spent from the chronic fatigue. Losing my health was more like losing my freedom.
Everything that identified me as a person had been plucked away.  I had begun to talk to Job as if he and I were old friends. “Oh Job what did it feel like when the messenger came with the news of more pain”? “How did you bow and begin to worship our Lord Adonai after hearing of the death of your children, your livestock, your servants, your health?”  I sighed and hobbled out of the mini-van and entered the sanctuary. I tried to focus on the people around me in the pews. They smiled, clapped their hands and sang loudly. Many had the joy that I coveted. Genuine joy. I am sure they all had a story–it seemed many I encountered did.
The message the pastor gave was well needed and many scriptures he quoted seem to speak to me, encourage me even.  He was gifted in the prophetic and humble and I knew I was where I was supposed to be going back then. I had just started driving this small distance to fellowship with other believers a few months prior but sitting alone on the pew was just a reminder that everything in my life had become empty.
I knew the Father had taken the desire from my eyes in more ways than one when he took the man I was sharing my life with.  He was in control but the pain was unbearable some days. I missed people,  I missed my pets, my step daughter, my job, my life as I knew it and yes a man that left me.  I couldn’t help but wonder how God could take my life and make anything out of it again. It seemed hopeless. I was too sick to start over and too empty. I did not know then that God loved empty vessels that He could fill. Elijah said to an empty widow, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few” 2nd Kings 4:2 ESV. She borrowed and the oil poured forth and filled them all. I needed to become empty of everything that was SELF so He could pour in HIS oil and His Spirit.
The service was coming to a close and soon the minister was asking if there was anyone who needed healing in their body. “If you have any sickness or disease please come up front we would like to pray for you according to James 5:14, Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord”.
I stood there on wobbly legs, my cane in hand but did not budge from my seat. I watched as many made their way down to the “altar.” I listened as the minister placed his hands on the heads of the many and began to pray for each one. My heart hurt so badly.  In that moment I began to notice the seeping blood and the sweeping sorrow and the constant throbbing that seemed to take my very breath. My heart felt like a sieve that blood was pouring out of. HELP! SOS! HELP!
I began to scream inside my soul, pleading even, “Oh Abba Father I am sick in my body, this is true, but MY HEART IS BROKEN IN A MILLION PIECES. PLEASE HEAL MY HEART. Father can you take this grief away, it’s more than I can endure.  I began to cry and ask Him over and over until something profound happened. Something so incredibly intimate it brought tears that poured down my face like the constant rain. Suddenly the minister raised the microphone to his lips and said, “I need everyone to stop for a minute, I need your attention, The Father is telling me that there is a person here who has a broken heart, and I can see it, its battered, shredded and bruised. WHERE ARE YOU?” He began to look over the congregation and I raised my hand, my small insignificant hand. He said, people, I want you all to go lay hands on our sister as we pray for God to heal her heart and in that moment, in that precious moment I suddenly didn’t care about my heart. I was so in awe that HE HEARD ME and that He loved me enough to speak to His minister. He loved me enough to stop praying over people with physical ailments to envelop me. He knew. He saw. He wanted to take His Son’s nail scarred hands and hold my gaping places and pat the blood that had oozed out with His blood. Oh, I needed an Intimate Father in more ways than one–one that was intricate and detailed. He would speak with not only A ROAR THAT SAID, “GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER” But also in a whisper that blew across my heart and held it to His. Oh, what a GLORIOUS Father!

Psalm 34:18 (TLV)

The righteous cry out and Adonai hears,
and delivers them from all their troubles.”

Elmer the Rich Man

elmer the rich man
Elmer Chastening stood atop a bluff overlooking his vast acreage. The velvet green rolling hills cascaded into the distance.  The tall pine trees breathed in deeply and exhaled into the misty fog beneath. The thick dense forest stretched its arms and waited patiently for maturity. But Elmer didn’t see trees. His eyes saw crisp dollar bills waving in the breeze where leaves should have been. He would wait patiently for cutting the timber, as he had waited patiently for most the things he valued in his life.
He was barely eleven years old when he’d learned to strap a yoke collar on a mule. Elmer remembered clearly the day his father had taken him down to Saline Clifford’s place and told him to get the mules hitched for plowing, he’d had a putrid hatred for heat, sweat, blisters, and the sound of his stomach demanding food that wasn’t there for the taking. No, he would never let that happen again. He couldn’t.
He wasn’t going to have one of his children walking to school with no shoes on, or worse, shoes so tight they rubbed the back of your heels until the flesh came clear off. “Why wear any shoes at all, thought Elmer?” Pride, he guessed. No, sir. His children might hate him for the workload he gave them, but he’d rather they did that then live with the humility he’d been cloaked with growing up.
Elmer owned a good deal of the small town of Heaping KY– if you didn’t count color town which ran clear across the other side of the tracks down Lewis Street. Most the white folks didn’t cross the tracks and seldom did a black man dare cross except to see a doctor, dentist, or the likes. The small town was seldom silent and almost never dull.
Heaping had been abundantly fertile to Elmer, just like his wife Gladys. But life had not always been perfect and Elmer had seen the effects of the Great Depression first hand, as he was born during the beginning of it.
Elmer had six children; all strong and of goodly countenance. War had taken its toll on a couple; but they sprang back like the elastic of a rubber band, sturdy yet versatile.
His wife, Gladice, was anything but giddy; although her name might suggest otherwise. No, she was serious and inquisitive, annoying at times even. Of course, he wasn’t the easiest fellow to get along with and could lose his temper over the smallest irritant. When this happened he seemed to completely black out and become someone he was not even familiar with. It hadn’t been that long ago that he had taken a fresh green switch and beat one of his children until the blood sprang forth. Gladice had grabbed the switch and broke it in half. “Elmer stop!” she’d screamed.  “ELMER LOY CHASTENINGS you’re going to kill that child!” It was in that moment that he seemed to come crashing back into reality, and felt sure that the proverb that said “punish them with the rod and save them from death,” was not perhaps meant to be as forceful as he had taken it. He’d tried hard in the last couple years to stop disciplining them at all. He’d let Gladdy do that he thought. Yes. For Gladice’s words were like chicken soup– warm and nourishing to the soul, but his words tended to be more aptly described as tar trying to mix with water; hot and sticky, repellant even.
Gladice was a sturdy woman with broad shoulders and breast that had satisfied Elmer for over twenty-five years now. She had dark chestnut hair, thicker than the pines, and her eyes were as violet as an Aster bloom. She could outwork most men and she cooked better than his mother ever did. Perhaps it was due to the fact that there was plenty of food to be had in Heaping and an abundance on Elmer’s table–and he needed an abundance to keep all the mouths fed.
His son’s names and their order of birth are as follows– Elmer Almon jr, Samuel Wesley, Johnathan David, and Joe Dellas.  His last son, Clifton Robert, died of measles shortly after his first birthday. They would have grieved in anguish longer had it not been for the surprise of a daughter, their first, Katheleen Sophia, and then two years later Eva Victoria was born. She being the last of seven.
At night, after all the children were in their beds Elmer would reach for Gladice and she would lay listening to the sounds of mattress springs keeping rhythm with her husband’s body. She’d sigh softly wondering if this would be the last time her womb would fill up with life. Elmer figured the more children he had the more workers and the more workers meant more money and money was his constant companion. The fear of never having enough was a restless irritant.
Yes, Elmer and Gladice were proud of their four sons and two daughters. The eldest was one of the finest men in town. Almon was a good shoulder above the rest of the boys and handsomely mysterious with his seaweed eyes and blondish auburn hair. Elmer put him in charge of the service station he’d opened last June. His charisma worked somewhat of a magic over the customers. They trusted Almon with their vehicles, the cost of repairs and the prices he quoted to them.  He had a  humble smile and what appeared to be a genuine concern for their pocket books. Many young men his age were moving to bigger cities to work in the automotive industry or factories that were popping up after the war, but Elmer wanted his children to stay in Heaping and Almon wouldn’t begin to know how to think for himself. No, that was something his father did for him. There was an understanding among the Chastening’s and that was to never go against Elmer’s wishes or desires.
Heaping was growing for a town its size and Elmer was seeing to it that he was part of that growth. The station had been profitable and he had hired a mechanic who was training his sons on all the repairs of the latest automobiles. Once Elmer felt secure with the first service station, he had plans to open another in the next town over.
Elmer sighed again as he looked over his land and thought about all the sweat and determination it had taken for him to become someone. Yes, he was someone now.  Elmer had made something of himself, and as you can imagine when Elmer walked down the streets of Heaping everyone knew who he was and what he was worth. Everyone in the town loved Elmer and used words such as good, kind, a man of God, a great father and husband, a loyal friend, easy going and even comical jokester was added at times. Yes, all these adjectives were used to describe the affections bestowed upon him.  After some time he acquired a nickname in the town of Heaping. There was Charlie the milkman, Frank the postman, Connie the beautician, Lane the tailor and the townspeople referred to him as simply, “Elmer the rich man.” Just the sound of it tickled his ears and made his chest puff out further. “Elmer the rich man,” he spoke into the thick air of the morning. His eyes twinkled. He clicked his teeth making a tweek, tweek, click, click sound and kicked up his heels. He counted the coins in his left pocket as he walked down the hill with a sass in his step.
 Elmer loved to count things. Nothing was ever wasted in his sight. If extreme was what Elmer wanted than extreme is what he got. He prided himself in having the same car for almost fifteen years. Of course, he had splurged on a new 47 Cadillac, with white wall tires. It was pearly cream in color, but he’d never driven further than the church house and back home in it–Kept it clean and waxed and covered. Everything was measured in worth here at the Chastening’s home. To get something new for a Chastening was a rather peculiar occurrence and yet their house stood higher than anyone’s in the town. Sunday morning attire was the finest to be had and even his daughters were cloaked in satin and silk. Come Monday it was back to basics and cutting corners to squeeze a dime out of a nickel.
Elmer didn’t trust banks and although he had a large sum in the First Bank of Heaping. He also had quite a few coffee cans hidden in the barn, among other precarious places.
Elmer’s front porch wrapped around the house and stood tall from the Corinthian columns that lined the front. The inside was even more breath-taking. The spectacular circular staircase greeted guest at the entrance and the woodworking was impeccable. Dust did not have a chance to settle in Elmer’s home because he was a perfectionist. Each lamp, crystal vase, and gilded gold picture were placed just so–causing the light to catch the eye and leaving one mesmerized by the beauty of the objects. But like all houses who kept their tenants sheltered underneath their dwellings, their occupants carried secrets–secrets the window curtains tried to cover with their heavy tapestries. Secrets the birds knew that chirped outside in spring and secrets that were forbidden to be discussed for fear that once the words were spoken their power would destroy each and every occupant. Each family member knew that speaking these secrets would forever change the course of history and then everything the occupants were trying to hold together would collapse. Implode, and erupt.
And. . . Yet even the biscuits and redeye gravy seemed to try and cover them like a thick coating that stuck to their insides and stopped the pain from seeping out. Sticky jams and marmalades drenched in butter churned and beaten covered them. Sometimes the secrets were covered by music, laughter, and even a taste of wine or sherry on occasion, but mark my word they lingered like the smell of eggs after a boil. Putrid and rotten. Even the fans and the perfume couldn’t escape them. Yes, the Chastening’s had their own demons to deal with, but we’ll get to that later. As for now in our story, Elmer has just left gazing over the land he owns and has just kissed his wife, tickled the youngest Victoria in the ribs and grabbed his coat and hat.
It’s Monday morning in the town of Heaping and Elmer is getting ready to drive into town and check on his Service Station and his saw mill.  He’s about to get inside his car, the one he drives everywhere, not the one for show. Certainly, that’s really where our story begins, because Elmer Chastening routine is getting ready to become greatly altered and the choices he makes will forever change his path and I would assume your path as well.  If I could oblige you to bend your ear for a moment, I’d like to tell you the story of Elmer’s predicament and how it came about. Perhaps, I’ll articulate it well enough to leave just a touch of Elmer’s fingerprints upon your soul?
If you ever find yourself in Heaping KY, look for the flag pole on Taylor Street and turn right at the service station. Follow the light post and the road that winds and curves down Boulder street and just to your left, you’ll see a road tucked back behind some trees, a road named after the very folks who live there, The Chastening’s. If you walk up the exquisite porch and take a hand to the brass knocker on the cherry red doors, you might just meet Elmer’s wife Gladys. If she invites you for tea, which more than likely she will because that’s just her nature, do try and study the creases right above her temple area and the violet of her eyes that now has softly faded. And after you dip your silver spoon into her rose covered tea cup and taste of the orange Asberry spice with ginger, do gaze out the sitting room, past the redwoods, and down the hill. There you’ll see a large oak tree with some carvings dug neatly into its skin and six steps beyond lies a secret box buried deep beneath the earth. A box filled with secrets that were never meant to be dug up. . . or buried for that matter. Buried secrets cause the most disparagement. For even though they may lie quietly at the bottom of the sea, their spirits walk amongst us.

Boot Camp

Chapter 5
Boot Camp

It seemed like it only took months for my sickness to progress into a total meltdown. I felt depleted of every ounce of strength, like wafting wet paper I floated along drained. It was a weekday in winter and the chill was all around me. I could smell death and taste it. I had become a snag embedded in stagnant waters. A dead dormant tree that just laid there, unmovable.  My stale morning breath was merely a disdainful reminder that I was just existing and awakening brought only more dread.
My eyes opened and fixed upon the jagged line that seemed to be forming one huge crack in the ceiling; pulling and even bowing down one side of the room. The plaster hung there like a distant reminder of how a structure can crumble and how my own body felt as weighted down. I had been watching it bow more every day as I laid in one position.
I was 38 years old, but my body felt ancient. The taupe couch had become my home for about a year now. The view from this position was a picture window draped and covered, a blue chair, plaid with hints of mauve and mint green, a coffee table lined with medicine bottles, water bottles, and a box of Kleenex.
In the silence, I heard a voice say, “Go check your e-mail.”
My computer was set up in a bedroom down the hallway and to the left. I stared at the distance that was only a few feet away with dread. My body was racked with tormenting pain and moving any part of it was like a bolt of electricity.  When I walked my legs were equivalent to huge elephant soles that had become plunged into quicksand, only to be forced out again.  I did not want to move!
Again the whisper, “Go check your e-mail.”
I had come to know this soft voice a little louder while lying flat on my back in the silence.
The reprise to check my mail pressed into my spirit.
I reached for my cane and made the excruciating journey from the couch to the bedroom; falling into a wall on the way and holding the same wall up to gather strength. As soon as my feet stepped past the living room into the hall area, I heard it, an almost thunderous roar.  It was the sound of my ceiling collapsing completely! I stood there in the moment, a cloud of smoky surrealism.
We’re not talking ordinary drywall, this ceiling was heavy plastered sheetrock and an electrical mess of wires that ran my heating system in this older home. I stood on wobbly legs and surveyed the spot on the couch where moments before I had laid and argued with that voice.
“But I’m so fatigued and tired, why do I need to check my mail?” “Father, if someone sent me a letter, I’ll read it later. If someone is going to send me money, thank you for helping me, but again, I can read it later.”  I argued with the voice as if my intellectual mind was filled with more wisdom than the one who created it.
I gauged the couch where my body laid just minutes before again in disbelief.
Now the entire structure of pillowed taupe was covered by a heavy mountainous pile of debris. I should have been dead or unconscious! I let out a slowly scattered sigh and thought about how many times I had ignored that voice, that soft still voice.
It was in that moment that I realized once again I was in boot camp and my trainer was trying to teach me some things. The more logical my mind thought or sure of my faith I became, the more He began to explain that I knew nothing about Him.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,   neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD ADONAI.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55:8-9.
I stood in the hallway and gazed up at the rafters; empty A-framed timbers held bits of insulation and I held myself and leaned into the wall.
Abruptly, I became aware of the gift of life and how when I was well and my body was whole, I had taken it for granted. I had been requesting to die because of the pain, the loss, and a host of sorrows, but now suddenly, in spite of feeling like death, I wanted to live.
No, I said aloud, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.” Psalm118:17.
As my eyes traveled over the room wrecked with rubbish, I knew that I had just witnessed one of the WORKS of the Lord Adonai! I did not realize that it would be one of much more to come; nor did I realize that His voice would become louder in my ear.
Anxious to lie down again, I shuffled to my son’s bedroom and waited for him to arrive home from school. I felt barricaded in and my medicine laid somewhere beneath the wreckage. Even though I had just witnessed a miracle, my mind was already wondering how I would pay my homeowner’s insurance. I was now several house payments behind. I slowly pondered all the losses that had come upon me; my health, my job, my career, the people I thought were my friends and now possibly my home. I feel like Jeremiah when he said,
“I don’t understand why my pain has no end. I don’t understand why my injury is not cured or healed.” Jeremiah 15:18.
“Oh, Father why do you keep me here?” I asked.
“When I wake up I feel like I haven’t slept. When I want to speak my words are jumbled. My mind is so bad I don’t remember my name at times. “Why G-d?”
My soul felt the tug of something bigger than me. It was a subtle knowing that He had a work for me to do. He has a work for all of us.
My heart began to meditate on what I feared was true. The fear of how I would ever become Holy enough, or good enough, or physically well enough to do it frightened me. Also just what exactly did He have planned and what if I let Him down? I knew He was speaking to me and that He had just spared me from disaster. He had spoken and I had heard Him. How many times had He spoke and I didn’t even recognize His voice?
The echo of His whisper-haunted me in a good way now. I could still faintly hear Him say,
“Go check your e-mail.”
There are no words to describe the sound of eternity.  His voice, His most Holy Voice, it can roar like the sound of many waters; as potent as the thunderous ceiling crashing into me or it can be as gentle as a feather on the cheek.
I laid on that bed and pondered the event. I touched the pillow case and rubbed my fingers across the ridge.  I stared at nothing, in shock and disbelief.
“Did my ceiling just implode?” I asked the silence? I laid there for a fraction of minutes and continued to just bask in awe of the glory of the Father.
But I couldn’t be still, I reached for my cane in wonder. I had to go again and look a second time at what He had spared me from. I leaned into the hallway and slid my hand along the wall to balance me. Then the view of the avalanche hits me. The surrealism becomes very real in that moment. My eyes traveled across all the red and blue electrical wires I see dangling throughout until finally, they rested upon the place where I should have been buried.  I exhale the breath that I have been holding in.
“Oh God!”
“Thank you, Father, thank you!”
I stand and soak it all in one more time before making my way back down the hallway.
In my heart, in the midst of my fatigue, my pain, my loss, and my inability to even clean up the mess, I know one thing… Yes, one thing is true. I know Abba Father is good and He is with me.


Leah the Wild Cow

A friend of mine sent me an interesting podcast the other day about Rachel, the wife of Jacob. She was the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. She said, “I keep seeing Rachel everywhere!” When she said it, I thought that’s funny because “I keep seeing Leah.”

Oh, Leah, you break my heart . . .  What can women learn from you and your eyes that cried a million tears?

Our backdrop starts in Genesis where we learn that Jacob, the patriarch later named Israel has just fled from his brother Esau who is looking to kill him. Why is he on the run? Jacob, with the help of his mother, takes the savory game she has cooked and pretends to be the first born (Esau) in order to get the blessing. He’d already stolen his birthright. He deceives both his brother and his father Isaac. Let’s look at that real quick.

” Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn; I have done just as you told me; please arise, sit and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.”

After Isaac blesses Jacob with beautiful words –mighty and true, Esau arrives with his game he has cooked and he tells his father he is there and to please bless him, but Isaac says, “What?” Who did I just bless? Your brother has deceived you.

“When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me—me also, O my father!” BLESS ME!

Have you ever had your blessing taken away? Right before your eyes–? By someone close to you? Yes, it’s a horrible feeling, but this story is about Leah. . . Rachel.

Leah was not the wife Jacob wanted— Rachel was the sexy dark-eyed beauty Jacob had his heart set on, but Laban tricks Jacob and gives him Leah- his first born, on his wedding night. Do you see the swap? Jacob the trickster has just been tricked. Jacob who dressed up as Esau has now met the oldest daughter dressed up as the youngest.

Imagine being so in love with a woman you agree to work seven years for her hand in marriage. Seven is the number of completion, but for Jacob, his dowry is now doubled to fourteen. There’s a message there but I’m going a different route. Imagine being Jacob for a moment. Young—handsome—on the run from your brother with his stolen birthright and blessing. Got an image? He runs and kisses Rachel at first sight. Her father agrees to the terms. And then comes the great wedding day. Ah, who is under the veil? Who is hidden from sight and unrecognizable? Again, there is a message there, but I am taking a left turn for a bit. Can you ponder what it was like when Jacob’s fingertips ran down her smooth back and kissed the nape of her neck? He became passionately one with his new bride whispering sweet tender words into her ear, but then woke up as deceived as his brother had been when he said Father don’t you have a blessing for me? BLESS ME—ME ALSO MY FATHER!

In the morning light Jacob arose only to find not Rachel the pretty little ewe lamb but Leah her tender eyed sister. Wild cow. Yes, that’s what Leah’s name means, that and weary, grief, and offense. Sorrow. One old legend explains that Rachel understood that her father had given Jacob her sister first and that she humbly helped her prepare her dress and become his bride knowing that she would be second. That is heartbreaking too.

However, Rashi tells us that there is an old rabbinic tale that explains Leah’s eyes and how they became weak or tender.

“According to this story, Leah was destined to marry Jacob’s older twin brother, Esau. In the Rabbinic mind, the two brothers are polar opposites; Jacob being a God-fearing scholar and Esau being a hunter who also indulges in murder, idolatry, and adultery. But people were saying, “Laban has two daughters and his sister, Rebekah, has two sons. The older daughter (Leah) will marry the older son (Esau), and the younger daughter (Rachel) will marry the younger son (Jacob).”[5] Hearing this, Leah spent most of her time weeping and praying to God to change her destined mate. Thus the Torah describes her eyes as “soft” from weeping. God hearkens to Leah’s tears and prayers and allows her to marry Jacob even before Rachel does.”

There is no greater sadness on the earth than a woman unloved by her lover.  Leah knew he would never love her like he did her sister. He wants her beautiful sister whose name means ewe—a lamb.

Instead of the “Bless me mantra” Leah’s words sound more like this—“Love me” Please love me. I know you have some love left inside your soul to wring out for me. A crumb my lad? Please do not let my fruitful womb go unnoticed! “

Can you hear the weak-eyed Leah crying?

When you go unnoticed for something you are good at it’s a miserable feeling. In the midst of Leah’s sadness, weakness and weariness grows a strong woman whose name is that of a wild ox-strong and mighty.  One day he’ll see what a beautiful woman his wife Leah is and he will ask to be buried with her. Rachel will die in childbirth to Benjamin on the way and she will be buried between Bethel and Ephrat. Rachel weeps for her children, not just the Joseph tribes (Ephrain and Manasseh) but Benjamin and the entire House of Israel and Judah who were taken to Babylon. Can you hear her voice coming from the cave? Crying out for her children to become one? I can. The Father tells her to restrain from weeping that her voice will be heard. WOMEN ARISE!

But I am getting ahead of myself.



Now the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah conceived and bore a son and named him [Reuben, for she said, “Because the LORD has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.”  Then she conceived again and bore a son and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.” So she named him Simeon. She conceived again and bore a son and said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore he was named Levi. 35 And she conceived again and bore a son and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.”

Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing. “Genesis 29:31-35.

Ah, Judah—The scepter will not depart from you! Jesus Yeshua the lion from the tribe of Judah will be praised. Leah finally reaches the point where she says forget about Jacob, my Father Adonai Elohim loves me! To every broken woman reading this know that He hears you and He loves you more than you can think or imagine. One day Leah and Rachel will be one bride. Unity is what we pray for.

I got pregnant at the age of 17 with my firstborn. We named him William. The name William means a determined protector—a strong helmet and he did become that for me and his brothers.  An old soul. After two years, many rough roads and multiple eviction notices I became pregnant with my second son and I just knew that with two sons and more responsibility, things would be different. Surely he would love me now and provide for his sons— — stop gambling—become grounded. My mother named this second son after both his grandpa’s “Robert,” but not much changed. The name Robert means bright- shining—famed one, and he is bright and filled with light. After seven years of crying and praying I gave up and went out to sow my wild oats, but we ended up back together due to his salvation journey and a new start.  He looked like Jesus and he wanted to go to church—read the bible and pray, but by this time I looked like death and the thing I had cried out for seemed like a curse.  I no longer loved him. My heavenly Father named my third son Samuel (Yahweh hears). Yahweh does hear, however, we don’t always remain faithful or obedient. I prayed for my husband to change but by the time he did I had too.  I went to church with him and tried to renew my vows, both of them. Soon he slipped back into his old habits and I wasn’t perfect either–everything looked like it did before. I stayed seven more years. Divorce breaks childrens hearts. Men and women take it from me, a woman who has made mistakes- raise them up in the ways of the Lord Adonai and His instructions.

After Samuels birth, I asked the doctors to tie—burn—cut and destroy my tubes because I did not want to bring any more life into the earth that would not be cared for. I knew this was not what the Father wanted but I disobeyed. The doctors tried to convince me not to do this because I was so young (23). The day after Samuel was born they took me back for surgery and after it was over the doctors told me they never had a case like mine that was so hard to do. They said you’ll be bruised. We had to really work to get them tied. My entire stomach turned black and blue. How many beautiful sons would He have given me? A troop possibly. My grandmother had 12. If I could go back and talk to my younger self oh the things I would say.

I’d surely try and be more like Leah, Rachel, and more like Ruth the woman I am named after.

Yah does hear and He opens Rachel womb and gives her Joseph. He is doubly FRUITFUL! Doubly BLESSED!

After the birth of Joseph, something happens to Leah that has always bothered me. I honestly can relate to this part of the story in a weary way. I know it has a greater meaning about the order of spiritual things but it still grieves me.

The moment has finally happened—Jacob, the one who was called a deceiver—the one who wrongfully seizes and usurps his way to blessings–Yes, this Jacob has wrestled with an angel of God and received a hip out of socket, a new name (Israel) and is prepared to meet his brother Esau. The one who wished to hunt him down and take his life is headed in his direction. Jacob has fear. Now, something happens that moves me to tears.

Jacob lines up his jewels—his wealth—his possessions—the things he cherishes and he has them in an order of what he deems they are worth. He places the ones he loves the most in the back for protection. Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two female servants.  He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear.  He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.”

As Leah walked with her young sons around her she still knew that her younger sister was treasured above her and the young child Joseph was safely tucked in the back with his mother–the little lamb. I have been there. Perhaps you are a woman whose husband has always placed something ahead of you and I’m not talking about Yahweh. Perhaps it’s his job—the children—money—sports—his ex—his desires. What would a woman like Leah do?

She gave up asking for his full love on the 4th try and said I’ll Praise my Lord Adonai. Her sons were blessings from Abba, my sons are too, and one day they will be mighty on the earth and the Torah of Adonai will be upon their lips and in their hearts. Yes, I am calling things that are not as though they are.



The other day this same friend who was talking about Rachel interpreted a dream for me about a little doe I saw coming through a gate and another about a male deer. She reminded me that the scriptures describe the tribe Naphtali as a deer on their banner. Ah, the handmaidens have given birth too! and their sons are also part of the 12-13. Could I be from the tribe of Naphtali? Oh, what a wondrous thought. Rachel had a handmaiden named Bilhah. According to Abarim publication, her name means timid, foolish.

The adjective בלה (baleh), meaning worn out (Ezekiel 23:43, Joshua 9:4).

The masculine noun בלוא (belo), meaning worn out things, rags. This word occurs three times in the Bible; all three times in Jeremiah 38:11-12.

The feminine noun תבלית (tablit), meaning destruction (Isaiah 10:25 only).” I have been all of those things and more! Jacob’s oldest son sleeps with Bilhah and loses his birthright and the blessing. Bilhah has a colorful background and her words describe someone I used to be. I am so thankful that my Father, My Abba Daddy, way back in that book some of you call old said, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18.

This woman named Bilhah gives birth to Dan the judge and also Naphtali.

“Naphtali is a doe let loose, He gives beautiful words.” Genesis 49:21.

Words are my favorite thing. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Each letter was carefully crafted by the FINGER of YAH.

Naphtali also means to wrestle. Jacob wrestled all night with an angel and would not let go until he was blessed. Ah, this reminds me of both women and myself. What are you wrestling with?

My husband came into the room the other night and said he wanted to pray for me. I had been studying for hours about the red heifer and its significance to our Yeshua and this Lamb that was also perfectly slain for you and I. How wonderful that these women, the ewe and heifer gave birth to the twelve.  How magnificent our Bibles are if we would just eat them—savory bites of goodness. My Husband opened his mouth and said, “Father bless my wife and may her words fall like dew. May she hear in her ear all you want to show her about this tabernacle and Yeshua. May her pen be mighty. May she write every beautiful word that you have placed into her heart onto the pages for your glory and may you bless her books and her desire to know all about you.”


My wrestling has ended with a blessing.

Can you hear Esau’s words—bless me too father. And he will. Love me too Leah cries and is answered. Rachel weeps for her children and he hears. “Retrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears for your work will be REWARDED.” Jeremiah 31:16.

So to all you weary Leah’s out there wrestling with your younger sister, remember you are a wild ox- strong like the red heifer. To all you Rachel’s out there you are a tender ewe, beautiful and powerful too. And to Bilhah, the one whose name means timid—worn out—rags—useless—you will give birth and your sons too will be mighty. Their words are beautiful. And how can we not mention ZILPAH!  Jacob slept with Leah’s handmaid and had Gad and Asher. According to Abarim publication, “ The name Zilpah comes from the verb זלף (zalaph). Its meaning is to drip, drop, sprinkle, pour.” POUR!

He said that in the last days He would pour out His Spirit- His Holy Ruach HaKodesh on His HANDMAIDENS and He is and I see it and they will start out as a drip—a drop—a sprinkle and then POUR! My Father My Abba Daddy has not forgotten His girls.

We praise you Yahweh for making us ONE. For bringing us together in unity—sweet unity.





  1. Jump up ^ “What’s in A Name,” Vayetzei (Genesis 28:10-32:3) at aish.com

Frozen with Fear– Memoir Chapter

The prior chapter had a few lessons I learned in elementary school.

Once I had ventured through 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade, my mind catapulted to middle school. This place was better by far, and I had a girlfriend from my neighborhood who shared classes with me. We were into Led Zeppelin, Journey, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. We went roller skating every weekend and played Pac-man until dawn. We laughed, talked and shared many secrets. This was some of my best childhood memories.
But for some reason, it seemed like I walked through life with a target on my chest. Something inside of me seemed to draw the sharks. Have you ever seen a geek with nerdy glasses and high-water pants get the attention he didn’t want? I think we all have seen an antelope on Wild Kingdom walking with a limp. The lion crouches. He crouches down and waits for the sick one, the scared one, the one that can’t keep up with the herd. It’s an easy target. I seemed to have one of those postures that bent downward.
And then one day something happened in music class, something that wounded me even more. It was choir practice and we were standing on the bleachers. I accidently fell into the girl next to me. She was thin, pale, angelic looking and strikingly innocent. I said I was sorry and helped her up. On the back row, standing taller than all the other students in 8th grade was Melissa. She was 15 and had given a baby up for adoption already. She was hard, cold, and ready to pounce on me. After class, we went to lunch and as I ate, I had this sinking feeling. The kind you get when you know something bad is coming, but you’re not sure from where or what it will look like. Sort of like when the meteorologist says a tornado is headed in your direction, and you need to take cover immediately. You hear the sirens and you see the sky turn black with a greenish tint illuminating the darkness. You have no basement and nowhere to go, so you sit in the bathtub and wait for it to pass over. That day was like that.
I walked home with one of my girlfriends every day. And so after the stumbling bleacher incident, I headed down the sidewalk oblivious to the funnel cloud. The school sat back off the road and was almost hidden by the trees. The adjacent parking lot was that of a church with a line of trees and a fence. The sidewalk that ran down the long road between buildings eventually led to a big intersection where a crosswalk officer directed the school traffic and allowed us to cross the street. This was, however, unseen from the church.

As we rounded the sidewalk and were half-way up I saw a large gathering of students huddled outside the church. The buildings lot, which was empty during the week seemed filled like an arena and there in the midst of the crowd was Big Mellissa and several of her tough wrangling friends from the rougher part of town. They were yelling for me to come over. I didn’t want to. There blackened pupils and mouths kept calling me. I did not want to face them–or what I discerned now to be the storm I had felt all day.

About that time Melissa had one of her cohorts grab me by my hair and drag me over to where pretty angelic Michelle stood. Her short stature and frail frame looked up at me. I was under 5 feet in height and I could tell she was caught in the middle of doing what they wanted her to do. She had become their excuse to attack me.
“You pushing my cousin?” “You knocked her down in chorus.
Tekoa, why don’t you knock her down now B*%$#!” I started trying to explain it was an accident but they kept shoving me. One girl grabbed me and started punching me in the face with her fist as hard as she could. I began to fight back even though I did not want to. The crowd roared and the more I fought the more girls joined in and pretty soon they were holding me down. One had my hair wrapped around her fist and was bluntly jostling my head into the aluminum fence post. I felt a sticky substance running down my face and a taste of crimson blood in my mouth. By this time I gave up and let them get the best of me. The crosswalk lady came and blew her whistle a little too late and my one friend stood with the crowd, scared, helpless and frozen to do anything other than stand there gawking. My right eye was swelled shut and my bottom lip felt like it had been injected with Novocain. My first shiner!
I walked home alone. Blood ran down my face and my hair had patches of places that were bloody. My friend was saying something but the air was thick and my robotic legs were moving like something you’d see in a slow motion film reel. I remember thinking, “Jesus/ Yeshua is this what you felt like when they shoved those thorns into your skull?   I opened the door and entered the house spitting more blood out of my mouth into the yard. I was too wounded to cry.
My sister was the first to get a look at me, as my parents were working.
“Who did this to you? Do you know where they live?”  She scooped me up along with a baseball bat and went driving neighborhoods looking for those girls, but to no avail. That night I was told by my mother that I had to go back to school tomorrow and face these girls or they would continue to pick on me and bully me. I was terrified! I couldn’t breathe, but the next morning I entered the building. I heard the whispers–the eyes that followed me–the snickers and yes, a frozen fear. I couldn’t shower or wash my hair for days because the bruises and knots were dreadfully painful– but my heart was worse. Why was this happening to me– the shy little girl who never wanted to fight anyone?
Later that night my best friend’s father brought her down to our house and made her apologize for not helping me. I didn’t blame her. it was us two against ten or fifteen. We were innocent. I lost my innocence that day in a way I can’t explain. I continued to shrink back from people, faces, friends and enemies.
That week I prayed with all my heart and asked God to save me, but not like you do on Sunday morning at the altar. I asked Him to protect me and to remove me from the situation. A prayer I would become an expert at.  He did not remove me, but He did send a girl who was even bigger than Melissa. She was from Paducah KY and her family raised horses. Her name was Kendra and she had missed a few grades too. She towered above the girl’s heights and was even taller than most the boys. She said she heard about what those mean girls did to me and that she wanted to be my bodyguard.

I let her.

Pretty soon the word going around school was, “If you touch Tekoa, Kendra will kick your Butt!
I still had nightmares. I still had fear, but for some reason, I grew thicker skin. I probably made friends with some folks a tad more colorful than my gentle friends from youth. Almost 20 years later at an Italian restaurant, I waited on Mellissa. She was with a man. He possibly could have been her husband. She still looked rough and she had quite a few tattoos. She smiled at me oblivious of who I was and ordered a manicotti as if it were the most ordinary item on the menu. I was amazed that she was capable of offering me a smile that looked almost surreal.  I waited on her like a good server and thought how ironic it was to look her in the eye, refill her drinks, and take her dirty plates to the kitchen. I said Abba what are you trying to teach me?

And then suddenly it was quite clear. . . The Father had taken my share of dirty plates and if He could forgive me, I had to forgive her. I hoped that she had grown kinder, gentler and that whatever had happened to her in her childhood was being healed. I knew I still had a long way to go.