Posted in Tekoa, TM, torah

“So he was left hanging between heaven and earth”—II Samuel 18:9.

photo of left human hand reaching sky “So he was left hanging between heaven and earth”—II Samuel 18:9.

A man suspended between two points– do you know who this passage was written about? It is David’s son, Absalom. He is his third son. Not only will he hang from a tree, but his advisor will kill himself in Judas fashion.

Grab a rope and hold on tight as we look at one of the most dysfunctional families listed in the Bible.

David, a man after Adonai’s own heart has multiple children by multiple women. After his father in law, King Saul, chases him over hills with an army of thousands hunting him like a wild animal, he eventually takes the crown. Saul is wounded in battle, stripped of his honor and beheaded in more ways than one. Flash forward in time, and David is king. David is a great warrior, mighty in battle, but he lacks skills dealing with those in his own household. He doesn’t take care of issues. He acts as if nothing happened when his daughter, Tamar is raped by his firstborn son, Amnon. There is no healing or validation for his daughter. Tamar wearing her royal robe rips her ornate coat from her soiled body. She cries out wailing the loss of multiple things. Her tears get stored in bottles. A note is written in ink and the exact number of salty droplets are counted from heavens throne.

But Tamar’s father will never comfort her. He will never make the guilty party pay. Tamar, like most rape victims, will be isolated. She probably felt dirty even though she was kind and innocent. Many times the women blame themselves.

After Amnon fulfills his lust for her, he has her thrown out and the door bolted. Tamar warns her half-brother before this saying, “No, my brother; for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me” (2 Samuel 13:15-16). This response refers to Deuteronomy 22:28 which states that a man who rapes a virgin must marry her. Ouch! Why would a woman want to marry a man who rapes her? The victim is not required to marry the rapist; the rapist is required to marry his victim (if she consents), after paying her a very heavy fine.

Something happens after we love someone with the kind of love Amnon had for Tamar. It doesn’t have to be a person of the opposite sex, it doesn’t need be lustful—it can be anyone in our lives that we love in an unhealthy manner. They become a false idol of worship. Through fear of rejection or coveting their gifts, positions, and more, we can fall into sin. Amnon is pretending to be physically sick but he is far more spiritually sick than we can imagine. He wants his sister to bake him cakes and feed him out of her own hands. He wants his cake and to eat it too. Something dreadful arises out of the place where he imagined love lingered—it’s called hatred.

person cutting piece of paper

Then Amnon hated her with a very great hatred; for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.”

His love for her was a love to fulfill his desires and fleshly appetites. It was not a holy love. Love is defined as patient, kind, long-suffering. He has none of these qualities. We can have a false love for people. We can love the idea of them. Love has rules. The Father of Glory set up each rule for love carefully.

“You shall not uncover the nakedness of your sister, your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether brought up in the family or in another home” (Lev 18:9).

There is an order to His Love. We place the Father and His commandments first, then our spouses, then our children and honoring our parents/ family. We love our neighbor as ourselves. Anything out of this order causes chaos. If your brother hates your sister yet calls you brother and says he loves you, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

One does not have to be literally raped to be assaulted and defiled in such a manner. We, humans, are capable of doing this with our tongues and our actions. We can harm others through ignorance, gossip, and harmful words that are far greater than murder. If I shoot you, I take your life—you cease to exist, but if I shoot you with my mouth, and my fingers type out curses, I can cause people to shame you, isolate you and destroy your character. You end up living in pain daily. I know it sounds rather bizarre, but many of the wisest Sages say this can be far worse than murder.

What does all of this have to do with a man hanging between heaven and earth? A lot actually!

One event, one moment, one decision, yes, just one choice can change a person’s path forever and even change the dynamics of a whole family. Amnon did just that.

woman whispering on woman's ear while hands on lips

What happens to rape victims? Isn’t the victim often shamed? Of course, they are. The very ones who rape, sodomize, and destroy people’s lives often go living with no conscious or need felt to repent, meanwhile the victim is treated like a leprous outcast. Let’s look at the advice given to Tamar.

But now keep silentmy sister, he is your brother; do not take this matter to heart.” So Tamar remained and was desolate in her brother Absalom’s house.” (II Sam. 13:20).

They are hushed. They are desolate–abandoned. The victim is often treated like the criminal or whispered about in certain circles as deserving it.

woman holding signage

Tamar’s brother Absalom takes his sister to live in his house. King David is angry but he never punishes his son. Absalom waits for his father, the king, to do what kings do–penalize those who break the Torah and cause harm and especially to someone of a gentle nature as his beloved virgin sister. But his father is weak in this area. The man who can clean sever the head of a giant and circumcise a 100 philistines cannot do justice in his own household. He loves his oldest son more than he loves justice, mercy, and covering his daughter. He acts passive-aggressive. The silent treatment—simmering and brooding with intense anger, and yet acting as if nothing is unfolding before his eyes.

Years go by–A father, daughter, and son is separated by the sins of their very own flesh and blood. Is blood thicker than water? The blood of His covenant is thicker than any family tragedy. There is a family in Him that nothing can come in-between because the people in that family keep His commandments and they address issues right then. They go directly to the person to settle disputes. The sin of silence can’t live. Amnon is David’s oldest son, but even Dinah’s rapist wanted to marry her and make it right. Even he circumcised himself, but the circumcised son of a man after God’s own heart will act more wickedly with each action. He has her thrown out after he takes her virginity, even bolting the door.

If someone sees his fellow sinning, it is a commandment to make him return to the good and to make known to him that he is sinning, as it is said, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him” (Lev. 19:17). Are we bearing sin? Are we holding on to hatred and bitterness until its a putrid rancid aroma that we have grown used to like a dead skunk in the attic?

Katy bar the door! Yes, there’s trouble ahead.

In order to serve justice that was never served, Absalom comes up with a plan to invite his brothers during sheep shearing season and have Amnon killed. When we shear sheep, we remove the outer layer and get straight to the heart. Sheep shearing happened in the spring and it was considered a great festival with much drunkenness.

Author, Jeffrey C. Geoghegan, has a fascinating blog titled, “Israelite Sheep shearing and David’s Rise to Power,” where he states:

“As a final observation: both sheep shearing’s in Samuel involve the demise of drunken participants whose deaths aid the protagonists in their ascent to the throne: David gains land and livestock in Hebron, his future capital, and Absalom eliminates the heir to his father’s throne, placing himself next in line.”

Not only do we have these stories, but we also have another woman named Tamar, Judah’s daughter-n-law, who disguises herself as a harlot and sleeps with her father-n-law during sheep shearing season.

“Now when King David heard of all these matters, he was very angry. 22But Absalom did not speak to Amnon either good or bad; for Absalom hated Amnon because he had violated his sister Tamar. Now it came about after two full years that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baal-hazor, which is near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king’s sons” (II Sam 13:21-23).

pair of white sheep standing on green grass

Two years of hatred in his heart. He doesn’t speak good or bad. Ironically, this is the same thing Adonai warns Laban concerning Jacob and at the very season of sheep shearing. “When Laban chases after Jacob, God warns him not to speak to Jacob “from good to bad” (Gen 31:24).

Don’t speak anything good (tov) or bad (ra). Don’t say anything with intent to act or not act. Don’t act overly nice or overly cruel. But Absalom has hatred in his heart and for two years the seed has birthed murder.

Have you ever been in a room with people plotting your destruction and planning your death, but they are careful with their words. All the while, they strategically are planning your assault. Absalom is acting low key. He is giving his enemy no warning of his intentions.

Soon King David will experience what Tamar felt in a moment. He too will tear his royal robes and fall on the ground. Not once, but twice. Death. It comes in multiple colors. Sometimes we can be standing upright walking around and be deader than any corpse six feet under. This family full of dysfunction takes it to a greater level. Before the story ends there is suicide, secret messages, advisers who are said to have more wisdom than the greatest of men yet end up dangling by ropes. Kingdoms and concubines, adultery and treason, honor and shame and why such unrest? Ironically, Absalom’s name means The Father is Peace.

Finally, years go by and Absalom returns to his father. He now seeks to usurp the kingdom for himself and kill his own father. Once you’ve shed blood, it’s easier to do it again– with your hands or your words.

(II Samuel 15:10-14) Then Absalom sent secret messengers throughout the tribes of Israel to say, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpets, then say, ‘Absalom is king in Hebron.’ (11) Two hundred men from Jerusalem had accompanied Absalom. They had been invited as guests and went quite innocently, knowing nothing about the matter. (12) While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he also sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, to come from Giloh, his hometown. And so the conspiracy gained strength, and Absalom’s following kept on increasing. (13) A messenger came and told David, “The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.” (14) Then David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, “Come! We must flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom. We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin upon us and put the city to the sword.”

The knowledge that your son is your number #1 enemy is enough to crush the hearts of most men.

gray wooden 2-panel closed door

When Absalom starts his rebellion he wants to get Ahithophel on his side. Ahithophel was thought to be the grandfather of Bathsheba, so that would make him possibly a grand-father in law to David. He was his first appointed counselor and confidant.

“The advice of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if one inquired of the word of God; so was all the advice of Ahithophel regarded by both David and Absalom.” (II Sam. 16:23).

Tragedy, betrayal, and destruction are not with a foreign nation or military leader, no, it started right where it did in the garden with Cain and Abel. It’s the members of their own households.

Let’s backtrack:

Amnon rapes Tamar. Tamar is shamed and not taken as a wife. Absalom is angry and confronts his father. David does nothing. Two years go by and Absalom has his half-brother killed. Three years go by and the silent treatment between the father and son are brought to reconciliation by a wise woman from Tekoa. The next thing we see is Absalom trying to usurp the kingdom from his father and have him killed. One adviser, Ahithophel has him sleep with all his father’s concubines on the roof for all to see. Absalom pitches his tent-like Lot and his eyes are towards sin, his heart is now consumed with victory—a victory of his father and the kingdom given to his father by Adonai. Absalom is handsome and his hair is dark and long. He cuts it every year and it weighs it. It’s his pride and glory. He wins the hearts of the people and deceives them. He appears to be someone he is not.

man standing in front of tree

Both Yeshua and Absalom have followers who hang themselves (Judas and Ahithophel). Both rode on a donkey. Absalom’s donkey will keep going as his thick tresses wrap around a branch. Absalom’s hair was caught in a thicket. Yeshua was adorned in a crown of thorns. Absalom will hang suspended between two points, the heavens and the earth.

“(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)” (Ephesians 4:9-10). Yeshua will fill the whole universe with His Glory!

In Rabbinical Literature:

The life and death of Absalom offered to the rabbis a welcome theme wherewith to warn the people against false ambition, vainglory, and unfilial conduct. The vanity with which he displayed his beautiful hair, the rabbis say, became his snare and his stumbling-block. “By his long hair the Nazarite entangled the people to rebel against his father, and by it he himself became entangled, to fall a victim to his pursuers” (Mishnah Soṭah, i. 8). And again, elsewhere: “By his vile stratagem he deceived and stole three hearts, that of his father, of the elders, and finally of the whole nation of Israel, and for this reason three darts were thrust into his heart to end his treacherous life” (Tosef., Soṭah, iii. 17). More striking is the following: “Did one ever hear of an oak-tree having a heart? And yet in the oak-tree in whose branches Absalom was caught, we read that upon its heart he was held up still alive while the darts were thrust through him [Mek., Shirah, § 6]. This is to show that when a man becomes so heartless as to make war against his own father, nature itself takes on a heart to avenge the deed.”

heart engraved tree trunk

Notice that when sin is not dealt with it causes more sin. Dysfunction can be found in all families. Many people hope that the sins will evaporate and dissipate and eventually disappear, but sadly, these things usually get passed down. We need the blood of Yeshua and His Torah to become greater than any fleshly desires to be king. Let us place Yeshua Messiah as King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s. Let us cut our hair and cover our nakedness less we hang ourselves.

Could this story have had a different outcome? What if the king would have punished his firstborn son right when he raped his daughter? Could this type of authority along with action make someone like Absalom think twice before usurping authority? Our choices and actions do cause a ripple effect. What are your thoughts on this story?

For the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Ruach is life and shalom.

For the mindset of the flesh is hostile toward God, for it does not submit itself to the law of God—for it cannot.

So those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Ruach—if indeed the Ruach Elohim dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Ruach of Messiah, he does not belong to Him.

But if Messiah is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is alive because of righteousness.

And if the Ruach of the One who raised Yeshua from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised Messiah Yeshua from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Ruach who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:6-11, TLV). 

Blessings,

Tekoa.

Photos–unsplash

BOOK REVIEW: Walter – The Homeless Man by Tekoa Manning Best Blog India!

BOOK REVIEW: Walter – The Homeless Man by Tekoa Manning
November 2, 2017
@amanhimself  Link for Review

Walter Cover Final

Pages: 512, Paperback
Published: 2013 by It’s All about Him, Inc.
Cover Rating: 4/5

I am glad I got the chance to read this exceptional work. It is a wonderful feeling for a reader to read a book that has a strong on going plot with mature and very well build characters. This quality to be expressed in the form of writing is rare, and Manning has displayed this through her novel.

Walter: The Homeless Man is a story about a man in the sixties who has suffered a loss and is trying to avoid the pain that came afterward. He is on the run in a different town where he sleeps under the stars and in the day, breaks into a young widow’s home for shelter. Unknown to him, his routine touches every life in that home changes the course of their lives. A misunderstanding that is displayed in a fruitful manner starts another journey for Walter, that changes him for the good.

The plot of this book is smooth that possess a series of events happening one after the other in a manner of completing the puzzle. The theme touches include integrity of man, forgiveness, and redemption. The plot revolves around our protagonist, Walter but the two subplots that meet at a point do take a massive space inside the book. I like the way the author has entwined characters with plots and forming a perfect ending to the book. The plot has steady pace that grows further, and a reader would be able to finish this book into time. I was hooked by the plot, the characters, and the writing style, and regardless of its length, I did manage to finish it in two sittings.

The characters will take you on a journey and will make you feel and realize the themes I mentioned earlier this book covers. They are so realistic and developed without any complexity. Every character has something to show a reader how humane they are. This simple manner of developing strong characters did astonish me. Even more, often times a reader will find that these characters drive the plot forward. The narrative voice is good, and the dialogue formation is flawless.

The writing style smooth and simple and understandable. The author does try to let lose her characters at some point in time in the book, and it seems these characters have their own destiny and are controlled by it. I like the way she writes in a flow that seems satisfying for a reader like me to enjoy. I recommend this book to any reader who wants to enjoy a well-written book.

4 out of 5!

 

Posted in fiction, Tekoa Manning, TM, Uncategorized

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 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 see 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 store’s porch light 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.”

 

Photo:

Vintage Diner Interior

 
Posted in Memoir, Tekoa Manning, TM

Boot Camp

~Memoir~

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 dormant, dead 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.
Suffering.
My eyes opened and fixed upon the jagged line that seemed to be forming one large 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 colossal 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 heavily 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 massive 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 at 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 explained 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, despite 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 know 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 work for me to do. He has a task 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 does 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 pillowcase 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 at 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, amid 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

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Posted in fiction, poetry, Tekoa Manning, TM

Blackberry Jam

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You see the person you loved,
The one that loved you back.
They’ve quoted the same Book and sat in the same pew.
You know– the right seats.
The ones up close where you once thought the “important” people sit
They smile a plastic drawn on mess as you pass.
No whispered hellos.
What happened?
You moved back two seats and then four until you were out the door.

Is there still love there along with the broken pieces?
Broken people
What did you say when you caught your “Friends” stealing a piece of your pie?
The one you baked to a golden brown.
Sugar egg-washed faces
You pointed out the crumbs on their lips.
They lie as they wipe the filling from their mouth.
They cackle.
You chirp.
Broken words sent with arrows piercing souls, or is it reversed?
Is it because one of you is so smart? Smarter than the other.
I think not.
One of you knows the answers to life?
One of you drank deeper from the well?
One of you thinks the other is bound for hell or just ignorance?
You grabbed a flashlight and shined it inside my cerebrum, looking for knowledge.
I grasped my flashlight and pulled open your chest cavity to gaze upon your heart.
We both had blood on our hands afterward.

They quickly stitched me up like Frankenstein.
I raised my blouse to show the scar.
I pressed shut your chest and then dabbed oil on it.
I’m sorry, i said with half a heart.
You shot up like a canon and stole my papers.
The ones with words He gave me.
I called you out, but it didn’t phase you.
Have you figured out how one should act at a wedding?
Supper?
You stare at me as if you forgot eternity lay around the bend.
You look shocked that I noticed the plagiarism and twisting of papers you tore apart and taped together.
You won first prize and scrubbed the ink stains from your fingers.
They all laughed at me when I said the earth was round.
I never laughed at them.
The Father pointed out that I did, and I washed more egg off my face.
They whispered about me then too.
Only they looked different.
Younger, blunter, but not as cruel.
They said I was different, strange,
Morbid even.
The Son said that he knew what was in man and so He didn’t follow them.
Herod came out to see a miracle, but Yeshua wouldn’t tap dance for him, so they put him in a royal robe and threw pieces of hate, mockery, and even their spit.
He created their spit– used it once to heal blind eyes.
He mixed the earth with His saliva.
Oh, the pride of man.
Run and get your state ticket to the fair, she said.
But I’m going to pick some blackberries and heat up the oven again.
I think I’ll kick up my feet and open my mouth wide–fill it with a cobbler.
A blackberry pie.
Scrape off the sugar washed face and fold up the sun.
The earth’s too round for me to run.
Too flat for me to spin.
We all sin.
We all fall short.
There are no perfect men at the election booth.
Even the Son said, “Why do you call me good?”
He has taken off my soiled dress and given me a robe of Righteousness.
I straighten my crown and clean my teeth of all the blackberry seeds.
I strap on my boots and pull up my pants.
I walk out to the garden and eye the tares among the wheat.
“Let them grow,” He said.
Walk among the living.
Let the dead bury the dead.
I walk into the kitchen, and I stick two fingers inside the jar, scraping the side and tasting the blackberry jam.
It’s sticky sweet.

Posted in author, book signing, Kentucky Book Fair, Tekoa Manning, TM, Uncategorized

Kentucky Book Fair

 

It was an honor to be invited to the KY Book Fair. To be seated in a room full of authors like Wendell Berry was surreal.  His poetry has gotten me through many difficult times and caused me to become more aware of the beauty in creation. I had the pleasure of meeting Mary McDonough, who played Erin on The Walton’s. She stopped by our table and greeted me on her way to the back. New York Times best-selling author Sharon McCrumb was there, Jacinda Townsend’s, Bobbie Ann Mason, Cheryl Della Pietra, and many other authors who are very well-known for their craft. However, I guess the authors that I came to admire most were the ones that were seated around me.

It was a treat to meet P. Anastasia and sit beside her for two days soaking up all her marketing wisdom. She had lovely simple ideas, such as using a fun fluorescent marker to sign her books. If you are a Young adult or love Science fiction, you can pick up a copy of her trilogy, which starts with book one, Fluorescence: Fire Starter. 

It was great to see an old friend from a previous book event. Ronald R. Van Stockum, Jr. is a lawyer, teacher, biologist, writer, guitarist, and recently an actor living on his family’s old farm in Shelbyville, Kentucky. He is always inspiring and full of humor. One of his books that’s popular is titled Cosmos the Stellar Stalker. You can find him on Amazon. I was also excited to meet a new and upcoming author named Lauren Brandenburg, who, like me, writes faith-based books and she was able to share some great tips and advice both days with me. Her trilogy is called Boone. Book one is Boone: The Ordinary (The Book of the Gardener.)

 The young lady to the left of me who seemed to light up like a strand of bulbs each time a person stopped by her table. If Elizabeth Fannin Crowe’s book is as captivating as her smile, she will sell a million copies! Her book is titled The Proving. If you are a fan of The Hunger Games, you will love this story.

 Of course, there are always people we meet unexpectantly, the ones who, for whatever reason, are placed across our path, and that leaves me with my next two introductions. While eating at the hotel lounge on Thursday night, my husband and I decided to step outside and look at the adjoining shops and storefronts. I was on my scooter and still weak. We were assured that the doors were unlocked and we could come and go. So as our food was being prepared, we went for a stroll and then went to enter the hotel again, but found we were locked out. There was no way to get back in without going down a couple of flights of steps and enter all the way around through the hotel lobby area. With me in the scooter, there was no way for me to get down the stairs, and so about the time my husband decided to leave me there and open the door, a very kind soul appeared and offered to do that for him. I will not mention this person’s name because I feel they are entirely private, but I must say it was such a pleasure to get to know him. He had a great sense of humor, acting as if he was leaving us in the cold, waving with a smile. He asked what brought us to the hotel and where we were from, and the next thing we knew, we were in deep conversation about Walter the Homeless Man, family, friends, and the journey we all take in this life. I felt led to take this kind man’s hand and pray some encouraging words over him. As I was finishing, a woman appeared. She had an enchanting accent and a beautiful smile. Her name was Julia. She said, “Were you guys just praying here in the lounge? I love it!” she boomed and laughed and shared. I asked her if she was an author, and sure enough, she was. Julia Smethurst had just landed in KY all the way from England. It was so great to run into this native Californian at the book fair. Her table was one of the cleverest I’ve seen. It was adorned with colorful knitted chicken hats for the little readers of her picture book, Finclucky from Kentucky. Here is a description. 

Finclucky from Kentucky is the story of a chicken, his banjo, and a barnyard full of animal friends who form a band. Even the farmer, who is always working, joins in to enjoy the rhythm-and-blues played by Finclucky and his friends. Some folks say the blues were first played in the deep South, but those who read Finclucky will know the truth behind the music.”

 We sold over thirty books. I was thrilled that several ladies picked up my novels for their book club of the month, and several invited me to come and meet with them. 

 I want to thank my friend and mentor, Dr. Jo Zausch. Jo was able to help me polish up (Polishing Jade) in time for the fair. She also made the road trip to see me. I would also like to thank my friend and mentor, Charlie Manning, for breathing new life into Ellen cotton. Of course, I must thank my husband, who supports my books and holds me up when I am ready to collapse, both physically and spiritually. All and all, I am blessed to have had this experience and hope I am invited again.

Blessings,

Tekoa Manning

 

 

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Posted in Inspirational, Tekoa, TM

Cherry Trees in Winter

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For the past few months, the very word “cherry tree blossom” has been magnified in my spirit. It all started back in November or December while watching a movie called “Saving Mr. Banks.” This film is about the author of Mary Poppins and how her children’s classics came about. Although the author is quite cantankerous in the movie, I fell in love with her immediately. The film takes a peek backward into her childhood, where horrific and glorious memories haunt her.
Yes, it can be similar to many of us. During the movie, in one particular scene, Miss Travers looks out her window at the cherry tree blossoms and mentions how they look like cotton candy on a stick. At that moment, my heart leaped out of my chest, then an echo, “cherry tree blossoms.” “What can this mean?” I silently pondered. The next day I ordered Mary Poppins to read. “If you want to find Cherry Tree Lane all you have to do is ask a policeman at the crossroads.” P. L. Travers.
I married a policeman at my own crossroads in life, and I am thankful every day for his companionship, but what was God trying to speak to me when he continued to grab my attention using cherry trees? “Cherry-Tree Lane, where the houses run down one side and the Park runs down the other, and the cherry-trees go dancing right down the middle.” Dancing cherry trees and cotton candy, can it get any better than this?

I was so enthralled to find out what the prophetic meaning was, after reading Mary Poppins, I ordered the complete works of P.L Travers. The day I ordered it, I received a text from a gifted friend in the prophetic. He lives in New York City, and this is what it said, “Today as I was strolling along I noticed that in the dead of winter, the cherry trees are budding early and it reminded me of a dream God gave me about Cherry tree blossoms. In my dream, the trees were tall and laden with vibrant pink flowers. It was in the heart of winter and cold, yet the trees held magnificent blossoms.” My mouth hung open as I walked over to my husband and handed him my phone to read the text. Hmmm, interesting, he said. Wonder what it all could mean?”
I could not find any scriptures about cherry trees or their blossoms, but strangely Aaron’s rod budded and bloomed with almond tree blossoms that look like cherry tree blossoms. After this, I dreamt of my husband driving in our car and me with the window down, holding a huge branch from a tree with these blossoms on it. I was shaking it at a church steeple and prophesying a message to the building. There was more to the dream but a personal message.

One of my discoveries was that the Jewish people make a special blessing called Birkat Ha-llan, or the blessing of the trees every year. Whenever a person sees a fruit tree in bloom in the spring, they recite a special blessing.
This blessing praises Abba Father for His ongoing renewal of creation. We are trees as well, and we are to produce good fruit.
My friend’s dream seemed to say that in the dead of winter, I am going to bloom in your life! When things are the darkest, barest, and the coldest, I am going to BLOOM in your midst. May it be so.
I continued to ponder this Cherry tree idiom, and then life went on, and just as I had almost completely forgotten about it, months later, it came crashing back.

(2015) My husband saw an advertisement in the local paper for a free marketing seminar with Woodland Marketing, and we decided to go. We had just gotten 14 or 15 inches of snow a few weeks prior, and it was still colder than usual. A steady rain mixed with snow was slicing the air as we ventured to a local pizzeria and listened intently to the marketing expert. After the meeting, we met with the speaker, Paige Nickel, and arranged a date with her at a café on the square in town. Being new to the city, it was one we had never been to. On the morning of our lunch date, several folks on Facebook had posted pictures of Cherry tree blossoms due to a festival held every year in Washington, DC. So, once again, I had cherry trees on my mind. I also couldn’t help but wonder about the almond tree blossoms and Aaron’s rod that budded and bloomed and the beauty of the tassels hanging from the Jewish prayer shawls called Talliths.

As we walked into the café, I gazed at the large open floor plan and then noticed one table with some folders and paperwork on it. About that time, our marketer ventured from the back, greeted us warmly, and sat down in front of the paperwork. It was about that time that I had a Jeremiah moment! “What do you see?” I see the branch of an almond tree,” Jeremiah replied. Then Hashem answered him and said, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it” (Jeremiah 1:11-12 NASB).

Yes, directly over her head were three large photographs of cherry tree blossoms, and on the wall behind her was a painted cherry tree. Two scriptures were also painted on the wall, two that had meaning.
“Taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalms 34:8). And:
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who is wise wins souls” (proverbs 11:30).
I’m thankful that the Father keeps His promises and that whatever He promised will BLOOM in our lives in the right season. He will WATCH over HIS WORD to perform it.
I hear Bert singing, “Winds in the east, mist coming in. Like somethin’ is brewin’ and bout to begin.”
Bless the fruit trees and bless His Name forever!

P.S. While writing this blog, my oldest son put an offer in on the house on Cherry Lane. He knew nothing about the cherries.