I wanted to write this post and defend persecuted Christians. I wanted to use scripture, scenarios, and comparisons to show why Christians seem like bigots when we take a stand of faith.

My first I idea, I talked it out with my dad and we got in the horrible debate and it concluded with him refusing to believe what I believe. My concept for this post did not play out well in a real conversation.

Writing something is easy because no one can cut you off in the middle of a thought. You don’t have to look anyone in the eye as you make your point through your opinion. You’re free to be open-minded or stubborn, considerate or not, essentially you can vent and get it out there in the universe without any accountability.

The Apostle Paul was known for boldness in letters and his meekness (sometimes weakness) in person. And like Paul, sometimes I can type something or write something more easily than I can say it to someone’s face. But that’s because I hate rejection. I hate it when someone I love pushes me away because they didn’t want to hear what I had to say. I don’t like appearing intolerant, judgmental, unempathetic, or prudish. Yet, if I must, I’d rather someone I love has heard the truth and be uncomfortable and than stay complacent in a sea of lies.

Now, I understand being too blatantly truthful can be too hurtful, but at least that is better than never learning the truth.

Every we do should always be done out of love, and love as my game is my aim 24/7 these days. However, sometimes people aren’t receptive no matter how kind you are. And we should take a page from, Jesus the Messiah. He didn’t let anyone walk over Him or make Him look like a fool during his ministry.

Below is an excerpt from scripture (taken from Bible Gateway), where Jesus didn’t waste his words with men who weren’t sincere in hearing what Jesus had to say. In other words, he didn’t let anyone treat Him like a floor mat.


Luke 20 The Passion Translation (TPT)

A Day of Controversy

20 One day Jesus was teaching in the temple courts and sharing with the people the wonderful news of salvation.[a] The high priest and the experts of the law were there with the prominent men of the city. They confronted Jesus and asked him, “We want to know right now by what authority you’re doing this. Who gave you the authority to teach these things here in the temple?”

Jesus responded, “First, let me ask you a question and you tell me right now. Did John baptize because of a mandate from heaven or merely from men?”

His interrogators pulled aside to discuss this among themselves. “What should we say? If we say that John’s mandate was from heaven, he will ask us, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him and get baptized?’ But if we say, ‘John’s mandate was merely from men,’ then all the people around him will stone us, for they believe John was a prophet of God.” So they answered Jesus, “We cannot tell where John’s authority came from.”

Jesus said, “Then neither will I tell you where my authority comes from to do what I do.”


As believers why do we even bother to entertain conversations where an atheist, or a liberal, or anyone against us want to ensnare us. We are no one’s Savior, but Christ Jesus alone. And trust me, I as much as any believer with a desire to save lost souls want to “sow a seed”, but who says the seed sown must be words or scripture, it could be you’re behavior, and you can decline to speak someone. I wouldn’t be rude about it, but you can be blunt.

Many wandering souls are tired of feeling judged when they converse with a believer. The more you use scripture… the more they’ll use scripture against you or the more you’ll be antagonized, where sooner or later you find yourself in the trap acting like a hypocrite by having malice in your heart, saying hurtful things out of cowardice, and quick to anger like a lit matchstick. Thank God we serve a God who can turns those nasty moment to your good and at least one person may have been influenced by you in a positive way or will later, but why be a fool and act out.

Have you ever thought about this? Jesus only used the Word of God in synagogues. Amongst His disciples (that means His twelve and the thousands that followed Him around or came to a place He was speaking in town), he talked about godly concepts and precepts in stories aka parables. He would answer with the Word of God when asked directly about the Word at times, but often He would add a freshness to it.

Pharisees asked Jesus which was the most important commandment out of all God’s law. As Pharisees I’m guessing the Ten Commandments were as important as the 613 oral traditions they did their best to keep. And out of all of it, Jesus says, “Love the Lord Your God with all Your Heart, with all Your Mind, with all Your Soul (entire being), with all Your Strength (sheer will power), and love your neighbor as yourself.”

The love your neighbor as yourself part is the only part that is actually one of the Ten Commandments. The first part is the mantra Israel was supposed to keep in the wilderness, pass down generation to generation, and the mindset to keep once in the Promise Land, which if loving God so much is true, than it covers the first commandment which is to have no other god/idol than God.

A lot of pastors today, and a great one I know (of), keeps it simple and says, “Love God and love people”.

Many people have different definitions of love. The Greeks had four different types of love. Some churches are on a big kick about having agape love, which is unconditional love. That’s a great type of love, but if we don’t have a framework of what love looks like and how to love, than we could think there are a number of ways to love unconditionally which could just be the doctrine of tolerance in disguise.

Paul was great. He was able to put into words what love is supposed to look like for the believer.


1 Corinthians 13 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Love, the Motivation of Our Lives

13 If I were to speak with eloquence in earth’s many languages, and in the heavenly tongues of angels,[a] yet I didn’t express myself with love,[b] my words would be reduced to the hollow sound of nothing more than a clanging cymbal.

And if I were to have the gift of prophecy[c] with a profound understanding of God’s hidden secrets, and if I possessed unending supernatural knowledge, and if I had the greatest gift of faith that could move mountains,[d] but have never learned to love, then I am nothing.

And if I were to be so generous as to give away everything I owned to feed the poor, and to offer my body to be burned as a martyr,[e] without the pure motive of love, I would gain nothing of value.

Love is large and incredibly patient.[f] Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous[g] when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated[h] or quick to take offense.[i] Love joyfully celebrates honesty[j] and finds no delight in what is wrong.[k] Love is a safe place of shelter,[l] for it never stops believing the best for others.[m] Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.

Perfect Love

Love never stops loving.[n] It extends beyond the gift of prophecy, which eventually fades away.[o] It is more enduring than tongues, which will one day fall silent. Love remains long after words of knowledge are forgotten.[p] Our present knowledge and our prophecies are but partial,[q] 10 but when love’s perfection arrives, the partial will fade away.[r] 11 When I was a child, I spoke about childish matters, for I saw things like a child and reasoned like a child. But the day came when I matured, and I set aside my childish ways.

12 For now we see but a faint reflection of riddles and mysteries[s] as though reflected in a mirror, but one day we will see face-to-face.[t] My understanding is incomplete now, but one day I will understand everything, just as everything about me has been fully understood. 13 Until then, there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love—yet love surpasses them all.[u] So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.[v] (Check out Bible Gateway for excellent footnotes about this scripture.)


Verses 4-8 are the ones people quote and preach on all the time. In another translation, it mentions “love keeps no record of wrongs”… Is there one person in your life, you give a difficult time because you think of all the times they hurt you and did wrong towards, and you treat them disrespectfully to protect your heart or you’re quick to accuse them of meaning to do wrong, when they haven’t yet or didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings.

My mom up until a few years ago was this person for me. Often, I have to really think before I speak to her or respond after she does something I perceive as hurtful… and I realize it’s my faulty perception, my record of wrongs toward her, that make me misconstrue her actions and I often discover her intentions were positive they just didn’t turn out as she planned.

Today, in our Digital Age, the world has created their own creed of love and it’s framework is not based on scripture, it is not based on relationship with God. This love mantra is based on selfishness and forcing everyone around each other to comply to set of beliefs to make flesh feel free and for the truth to feel like a prison. This is to be expected. The Bible says in numerous places that people will live according to their flesh, to what feels good, and members of the world will live in a perpetual state corruption and immorality. More and more what is considered evil according to the Bible will be thought of as good and what is considered good by the Bible, will be thought of as evil.

Immature Christians accountable to zero spiritual authority will critique and criticize the members of the world partake in the reversal of wrong-is-right and right-is-wrong. They may even get into arguments and quote a bunch of scripture bring down the hammer of God.

Adolescent Christians will go the agape love route. They’ll love so much they look like Bible-cloaked-hippies. And when pressure comes with big issues like: “Is homosexuality is wrong? Is cohabitation bad? Is sex outside of marriage okay? Is getting drunk alright? Is porn really a sin? Masturbating is better than having sex, isn’t?” The ones about to get their mature adult Christian cards will tackle these and will either succeed or fail. The fresh adolescent Christians will probably not rebuke, pass judgement, or forsake anyone who comes with these questions or practices, but they won’t confront and answer these questions. They will ignore and just love on people and that isn’t a bad thing. God still works in that.

By now, I how you realize I mean adolescent and adult (Christians) like levels not literal ages. You can be 66 years young and still be a babe in Christ Jesus. Or you can be 16 years old and be more mature in faith than a 40 year old. You choose how you grow with God based on three things: how much you trust Him, how in love with Him you are, and how well you listen to Him.

Like the word says we received the righteousness of Christ Jesus when He died on the cross… righteousness just means listening to God… so Jesus died for us so we would have access to relationship with God, so we can listen to Him… If you listen to God through the Word, through His Spirit, through the people you’re connected to, and through experiences you have… you are righteous… not a sinner… you may sin at times, but sin no longer defines nature. Christ does now and He was never a sinner. Forgive yourself when you miss what God was trying to say, repent (change your mind), and move forward with God. There’s literally nothing you can do (other than walk away from Him and even then He’ll find you) that will stop Him from blessing you and making you more and more like Him!

Now… let’s finish up on levels of maturity… and adult (mature) Christians will be prayerful so often that the Spirit of God will lead them how to loving guide or rebuke a questioning or stumbling believer. A mature Christian will not cower and stay silent because they love people so much, at the same time, they won’t be too rough because the anointing of God will be on them to love people properly. And if it is still too harsh, well thank God the believer still has Jesus to make it through.

Let’s face it, the further you are from God, the more you’re doing wrong, the truth will hurt way more. Anything unlike God can’t stand His holiness and we have to get realigned to holiness, the process burns a little.

We’re finally in a great place to get to the point of my article. I know this is long, but if you’re still reading, thank you!

Taking a Stand of Faith will make you look like a bigot at times, intolerant of their beliefs and philosophies,  unwilling to listen to them in a way that embraces their ideology. There are two forces at work. God’s Kingdom and Satan’s Playground he tries to pass off as an empire.

These two forces repel each other. These opposites do not attract. The Kingdom of Heaven is based on community, love, and selflessness. The World is based on selfishness, greed, and pride. When God’s people come together it is for the sake of the world coming under the grace of God and His mercy. When people in the World ban together it’s to preserve everyone’s right to live how they want, even if it is wrong. God’s children come together in unity embracing our differences knowing that makes us stronger. Satan’s puppets ban together conforming to same hive mind and anyone who doesn’t fit in, is terminated.

When you are led by conviction and you take a stand of faith, let love be your motivation. Before you were a minister of the gospel, you were a sinner saved by grace. Before you are a believer, you’re a Child of God. Yes, your voice may be one for an entire generation, but it means nothing if you don’t have the Father’s ear up in in heaven.

Everything God ever did for humanity was out of love. Jesus came to earth out of love. The Holy Spirit dwells in believers because of love. We may never understand His love fully, but we can experience it to the point we are transformed by it and become a people of light that leads others out of the darkness and into the light like Christ Jesus did.

Jesus will ever be our standard. Who we are to model ourselves after. Not some great preacher or our mama or a celebrity. And Jesus stood up in faith daily, but not to make a point, not prove He was the Son of Man or Son of God, but He did took a stand of faith out of love for humanity and who we would all become one day! He did this before He saw what the church is today. Before He has seen the other side of this life and God’s final plan for this world completed.

I will confess this post went in a direction I did not expect. It is way longer than I wanted it to be. But I’ll conclude on this note:

Think before you post. Check your heart motive before your act or speak. And everyday, just find a way you connect with God best and ask Him what is He would like you to do today, and if you don’t get anything new, keep doing what you’re doing unless a fellow believer or a preacher or mentor say you’re doing something wrong. Then fix yourself by going to God, repent (I didn’t realize I was being a jerk towards my brother, forgive), and then most likely go apologize to the brother you wronged. Kingdom is simple. It can be hard because our flesh hates it, but one day it will get better.


If you’re an unbeliever and you read this whole thing! I’m convinced the Holy Spirit is trying to speak to your heart about Jesus the Messiah. My favorite thing about Jesus is that He is literally my best friend. At first, He was that way by default (I had zero to little friends growing up), but as of lately, He is the Greatest Friend I have and I don’t ever want anyone or anything to come between us.

He can become your friend today. You just have to believe by faith (like be convinced or just trust even if it doesn’t make sense) that Jesus died on a cross to kill the sin nature in you (that part of you that makes you miss following the rules God has for your life) and when Jesus rose from the dead in a resurrected body (you are born again in a way that gives you a heart and a mind to know God) and now the Holy Spirit (God’s very Spirit) lives in you to empower you with grace, mercy, and love to live according to the plan God has for your life as long as you agree daily to partner with God, and to trust His process of making you more like Him, and less like a lost sinner that will never know God deeply.

To insure you continue your process of transformation and sanctification (a term you learn more about in church), you need to find a church that believes in the Bible, believes in Baptism by Water and the Holy Spirit, believes in the Trinity (not modalism), and the people who attend treat you with love, kindness, and authenticity. You’ll know deep down inside you’re in the right place when you walk in because you’ll feel at peace. If you feel restless and uncomfortable, leave and don’t go back! If you feel nothing… revisit a few times if you can’t find a church and one day you’ll just know. Also, find a person willing to meet with you on a regular basis to talk scripture and pray with you and show you how to live like Jesus. Hopefully, this someone will find you, but be bold and find someone who look up to and want to be more like in the way they’re like Jesus. If the person says no or it never pans out, ask God to send you a mentor when you need one in the area you need one. In the mean time, go to God about everything and anything. That should be your rule of them anyhow. God first, His Word second, His people last.

If you’re in Tucson, I suggest some churches to try. Faith Christian Fellowship Tucson (that is my tribe), or Calvary East or Calvary West or a Calvary Chapel on Prince not related to East or West. Grace to the Nations or Passion Church. I’ve attended all these churches at one point throughout my life in Tucson, AZ and if God where to plant you in one of these places, it would be solid ground rich in what Christ Jesus has to offer.

If you’re in Columbus, OH, you can dive into World Harvest Church… It’s good soil there too. It isn’t for everyone, but it is a good place to grow if God plants you there.

Warning… Satan will be upset you accepted the invitation to become a Child of God. He is going to tempt you to live, to deceive into thinking Jesus is not worth giving up the world and Satan hates you so he will try every dirty trick in the book, but if you meditate on God loving you and the love you have for Him. That is what keeps you linked to God and Satan can’t break that bond, no matter what. Trust God through every turn- good, bad, ugly, and indifferent and you will live life to the fullest and we will be together in paradise and on the New Earth one day. Becoming a believer is so much more than just going to heaven when you die, it’s living a life with purpose!

Sunday night, at dinner, when I planned to ask mom and dad if I could go to homecoming, before I told them I promised to take Melody, mom and dad sprung some surprising news on Abbey and me. Since mom didn’t have school on Friday, because of the parade in Whiteriver, she and dad were going to their friends’ wedding rehearsal that evening in Phoenix. They would be there Saturday for the happy nuptial ceremony, and then either late Saturday night or way early Sunday morning they’d travel home and be to church by 10 am. Since we don’t have school on Fridays (something new the school is trying this year), they figure they can leave Annika with us and we would share the responsibility of looking after her. It’s an ingenious parenting strategy. We can’t have guests over, or throw a wild party if we have to take care of a 16 month old. Well, now I have a legitimate excuse to bail on Melody. I have to babysit my little sisters. Let’s face it, as being the oldest child; I will mainly be responsible for the household while the parental units are away.

Miss Combs, Lexi we usually call her, will check in on us around dinner time on Friday and around breakfast time on Saturday. She lives three doors down from us. She teaches second grade at Whiteriver Elementary, where my mother teaches fourth grade. Dad hasn’t gotten a teaching job here, even though the district could probably use him. Right now, he’s just serving as the assistant pastor at the church. Dad says God is teaching him to rely on Jehovah Jireh. So far, it’s not bad. We have a roof over our head, we have food on the table, and we get gifts for birthdays. God is providing just fine… perhaps more than fine.

I decided this morning, the first chance I get, I’ll break the news gently to Melody in person. The second I put the car in park, Abbey pops open her passenger door and springs out of the car. She doesn’t even say goodbye. She slams the door and in the rear view mirror I see her take off running. That can’t be good. Clearly, she has something sneaky in store, and I have a gut-wrenching feeling it’s related to the homecoming dance.

Walking across the parking lot, I noticed Melody in the distance arguing with her best friend Meaghan. I’m too far away to hear what the conflict is about. Melody’s in full fledge tears holding a single red rose as Meaghan hollers at her with a scowling face. Melody, in a begging manner, tries to hand Meaghan the rose, but Meaghan smacks the offer away causing the rose to fall onto the ground. Meaghan looks for it on the ground only to stomp on it. After yelling one last time in Melody’s face, Meaghan storms off without looking back at her friend once.

Melody flails her back against the huge black pickup truck I’ve seen her drive often to campus. Cupping her face with her hands, she wails in sorrow crying over her dispute with her friend, if they’re still friends at all.

She doesn’t notice me. I could keep on walking and maybe break my bad news to her tomorrow. I take one foot forward and the thought: Love her like Christ loves me came to mind again. Ugh! I don’t want to love Melody! I don’t even really want to be her friend. Because I’m tired of listening to her beliefs when she won’t sit and listen to mine. She just hums in agreement and nods condescendingly, with her ears closed and her eyes covered with blinders. Me on the other hand, like when Colton talked about the LDS church, I listen. I listen enough to allow doubt to creep into my soul. But after every time, God reassures me of truth, and then my heart breaks… I just want her to experience completeness in Christ… not the illusion of completeness in Christ.

I cautiously trek over to Melody. Seeing me causes her to latch onto me, and sob into the fabric of my green cotton, button-up shirt. Again, embracing her feels impeccably uncomfortable. Rub her back or don’t rub her back? When I finally decide to rub her back, she releases me from our embrace as she wipes the running mascara from her eyes. I thought they made waterproof mascara now? She looks at my chest, near my left shoulder, where she happened to be crying and she pouts her bottom lip.

“I’m sorry,” she says.

I look down and sure enough there’s a black, blotchy, spotty area of gunk on my forest green shirt. Luckily for her, I’m wearing a white undershirt.

“It’s okay.” I say, unbuttoning my shirt. I take it off, bundle it up, and stuff it in my backpack.

“You’re a real friend,” she pauses to sniffle, “You know that?”

Am I really? If she knew my thoughts she’d know I’m not really a friend of hers. I’m more likely a man on a mission doing what God told me to do.

As I suspected, she pulls a white handkerchief out the back pocket of her ocean blue, form fitting jeans. She finishes wiping her eyes and then she blows her nose. She folds up the handkerchief and stuffs it in her back pocket. That’s even grosser than when she wiped Annika’s nose.

“Could you walk me to class? I don’t want to be alone right now.”

How could I refuse her? We stop at her locker, before walking to her 1st period class. We both look down the end of the hall when we hear a group of people laugh. Jon Hurst, the QB and most popular guy in school (is that not textbook cliché?), is escorting Meaghan Holmes down the hall with their elbows locked together. Her brother, Charley, and Zander walk behind alongside Teagan and Reagan. Keegan trails the back with Tenor. Jon’s about my height, 6’5”, and his black hair isn’t as curly as mine. It’s more of a wavy quality than curly… in my opinion, its guy hair, while mine is total chick hair. His eyes are droopier than mine, but that’s probably a good thing. The vibrant hue of his blue-green eyes is eerily creepy. The more closed his eyelids are, the better chance not see the hue. Being an athlete he’s built with a sleek muscle tone. And for a white boy, he’s got a dark complexion, but at least it’s not blotchy. He looks complete… a look I wouldn’t mind having.

As they walk past us, something surprising happens. Jon doesn’t glance at Melody once. That’s a first. Since I went to Redridge, Melody and Jon ogled each other every chance they got. Melody’s doing her best to avoid eye contact with him too. The entire group ignores Melody and me… No glances from Charley or Zander? What’s going on? I have a feeling that fight between Meaghan and Melody was monumentally serious and it looks like Meaghan won. I’m MAJORALLY glad I’m not a girl. Girls are mean.

Melody begins tearing up as she grabs what she needs out of her locker. Not being able to hold it together, she tosses her books and binder into my arms as she darts off to the nearest ladies room. Okay… now I’m full of curiosity itching to know what’s going on or what exactly took place to exile Melody from her beloved, chain link group. What could turn brother against sister? Best friend against best friend? Admirer against admirer?

Since I’m a student that’s never late to class, I figure I can handle the consequences just once. Melody looks like she could really use a friend right now. I might as well come to terms with it. Melody and I are friends, because by the looks of it, I’m going to be her only friend for a while.

A few minutes after first bell, Melody emerges from the bathroom. She looks like she just lost her breakfast to the porcelain throne seeing that she’s three flesh tones lighter and pretty ghostly looking. If I was a Ferris Bueller type of boy, I’d say let’s blow school off and go gallivanting around town, but I’m not. Wrapping her under the wing of my one armed embrace, I nudge her to walk with me.

“Maybe we’ll go off campus for lunch?” I say. In my cheesiest, raspiest, machismo voice I add, “Queiro Taco Bell.”

By a small miracle, it gets Melody to breathe one laugh. Who knew I could be funny? The second bell rings when we get to her class. I’ll be late to mine but at least she’s on time to hers.

We didn’t go off campus for lunch, because I couldn’t find her. I ate with Pernel and he gave me all the juicy details traveling through the grapevine. Apparently, Charley and Melody were dating, but they weren’t public yet because they were taking it slow. But Melody confessed to either Teagan or Keegan that she’s not over Jon. I guess her and Jon dated as well for years. From Freshman Year to Junior Year, they broke up a year ago because they were just tired of the drama between them. Since the beginning of July, Meaghan’s been dating Jon, and that’s been very public. Meaghan asked Melody if it was okay to go out with him and everything. Melody swore she was so over him.

Yesterday, after church, Meaghan caught Jon and Melody kissing in his red truck. Jon claims they were just talking and Melody kissed him out of nowhere. Whether that’s true or not, Meaghan took her boyfriend’s side. So this morning, the disaster I witnessed in the parking lot was Meaghan ordering Melody to stay away from Jon, Charley, and all their friends. If she bothered any of them, Meaghan would tell Melody’s parents something that would break their hearts. I asked what that something was, but Pernel didn’t know.

Abbey texts me that she’s going to the movies with a group of friends and that someone will give her a ride home after school. She claims she called and asked dad… I hardly believe it, but it’s her that has to answer to our parents if she didn’t ask for dad’s permission. Exiting school, I see Melody at the pick-up and drop off curb arguing with someone on her cellphone.

“Today’s my day to have the truck! How am I supposed to get home?”

By the sounds of it, she’s arguing with Tenor. He went all grand theft auto and hijacked the truck from his sister… Normally, I would laugh about this, but she’s having a really rotten day.

Angrily, and patronizingly, Melody barks, “I love you too Tenor,” and then she hangs up on him. Without thinking, she chucks her phone against the nearest redbrick school wall. On impact, the case pops off, the back falls off causing the battery to fall out, and the screen cracks as it flops to the concrete ground. Just looking at her phone in pieces on the ground, her face tears up as she breaks down crying. Clearly, she’s PMS-ing. How else could she go to blazing angry to weeping willow sad? Continuing her song of sobbing, I pick up her phone and put it back together as best as I can. It takes a moment, a moment longer than it should, for it to turn on. It will definitely be hard to check her text messages, but I think she can manage calls.

I place her cellphone in her hand as I again sweep her into a sideways embrace. I don’t even ask. I guide her across the parking lot to the car, and open the passenger door for her.

Shocked by my kindness, she questions, “Are you sure?”

“Not quite. I’m not sure where you live, but it will be a good practice run for Saturday night.”

Flashing me a weak, feeble appeasing grin, she gets into the car. Once I’m buckled in and I have the engine going, she says, “About Saturday night…”

“No. I’m not letting you cancel. You can’t let those… let’s not be mean and call them what they are… you can’t let them win and keep you down. You wanted to go to homecoming, now you got a date, so we’re going to homecoming… and you’re gonna like it!” I say.

My pep talk seems to assuage Melody a bit. She nods her head as I back up.

“My Boys”

Cash sleeps peacefully in his car seat in the back. I can’t avoid looking in the review mirror to watch him sleep. His mop of maroon red hair reminds me of Patrick, dear old dad. For a second, I wonder how he holds up in prison.

Arnie talks just above a whisper not to wake Cash Moneymaker up. That name, right? I’m surprised the hospital let them walk out of with an infant named CASH MONEYMAKER.

“Thanks for coming to dinner with us tonight. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen my favorite little sister-cousin.”

I hate it when he calls me that… An abhorrent reminder of our terrible family tree.

“Yeah. It was nice. It’s a bummer Jessica couldn’t join us.”

Arnie sighs as he slowly rolls to a stop at a red light. “You know why she couldn’t join us?” He questions with hand gesture air quotes. I’m not sure if he’s really asking or being rhetorical… He continues without my response. “She’s out with her girls… enjoying her youth while she’s young! She don’t cook, clean, or take care of Cash. I do all that. She never picks up her phone. She gets in late at night. If I didn’t work overtime, we wouldn’t be making ends meet because she doesn’t chip in with her check at all… Jessica couldn’t join us because she’s a ghost!”

That sounds rough.

The light turns green and he looks back at Cash through the review mirror as he drives forward.

“I was going to break up with Jessica the night she told me she was pregnant; did you know that?”

I quietly shake my head no and moan subtly, “Nah-ah.”

“You know I only married her thinking about what my mom might of wanted… did you know dad didn’t marry my mom until after I was born? Netty was the only one born in wedlock…” He chuckles. “They of course told everyone they were married when they moved in together, but they weren’t yet.” He adds.

It’s weird. Our father had children with a set of sisters… Aunt Betty got breast cancer, fought it for three years, and died right before Arnie’s 16th birthday. Arnie and Netty went to go live with dad’s mom- Grandma Patricia. Aunt Betty never kept Arnie and Netty away from Grandma Pat, but Jewel never lets me see her. Maybe if I ask, I could go see her.

“Not to change the subject,” and by not trying to I totally am trying to, “how is Grandma Pat?”

“Good. Really good. She asked about you last week, I told her all the cool things you have going on and I left out all the drama- like the baby, D, and Aunt Jewel dying.”

“I get I disappointed everyone by getting pregnant as a teen too, but ironically, they baby, D, and my mom are the three main things giving me hope.”

“You really gonna marry D? Just because he knocked you up?”

“No… I mean sort of… I mean, D and I are going to get married one day any way, but due to this, we’re moving up our timeline.”

“You should put the baby up for adoption.” He says bluntly as he turns onto the street that leads to Bobby’s house.

“Well, tonight was great up until right now! Not everyone is like you, okay? D, is not you. D and I are nothing like you and Jess. I’ve been in love with D since we first met as kids. My love for him only gets stronger over the years. I love him more now than I did before I was pregnant. You have no idea the lengths he would go for me, how much he has already sacrificed for me, and how much more he is giving up for my sake. Sometimes, I think he’s too good for me, but I’m wired to love him, and if I don’t have to live without him, I won’t. Marriage wasn’t even on my mind, but he proposed to me. He got his parents blessing, he got my mom’s okay, and our families are surprisingly behind us. Life is always going to be hard, much of it will suck, but its not so much about where you’re going in life, but who is on the bus with you, bussing it through life with you. Derek is with me. Only death will separate us.”

The minute Arnie stops in front of Bobby’s house. I get out and slam the car door. Cash wakes up crying. As much as it sucks to disturb Cash from a peaceful slumber, I get satisfaction in charging away from Arnie with the final say in my court.

“Going Once, Going Twice… Sold?”

I stand amazed. I marvel at the beautiful, jungle styled nursey at Netty’s and Deshaun’s that used to be the office, across from the room I stayed in…

“We want you and the baby to stay with us.” Deshaun says.

That’s surprising.

“For as long as you need. We want school to come first to you.” Netty adds.

“You can focus on school and motherhood…” Deshaun falls silent.

“And if motherhood proves to be too challenging, we would be willing to take custody for you.” Netty shares the true motive of the baby room. They want my baby.

I take a deep breath in. I exhale as I count backwards from ten in my head. For some reason, this sweet offer pisses me off. Why do people think I can’t handle school and motherhood? Doing homework and raising kids isn’t a challenge for me. I did that with my sisters. They came out of my mother’s womb with me as their full-time caretaker. I was seven, went I was putting bottles of baby formula together and changing Albany’s diapers. When Jewel and Bobby were busy partying all weekend, I took care of the three of us.

And as a kid, even though I missed a lot of school, I never fell behind making honor roll every year until high school, where my grade went down for a lack of attendance. One teacher accused me of cheating, saying I couldn’t pass my tests if I wasn’t in class learning the material. Well, that one teacher was wrong! Obviously. Therefore, I left and I went to Brink.

“Thank you… this is really sweet… but I have to decline your offer.”

“We’re not going to offer something like this later.” Deshaun says firmly.

“That’s okay. D and I got this.” I say, proudly holding my bulging belly.

They chime in about how were too young to get married. I laugh because Netty married Deshaun when she turned 18 and he’s five years older than her. They started courting when she was 17 and half, but they were friends since she was 11 and he was 16. He was her youth leader in middle school and in high school. Granted, they didn’t kiss until their wedding day, but he groomed her to be his wife. And they are lecturing me about getting married too young… I can’t!

My phone pings with a fresh incoming text. It’s from Kaylie. She’s here to pick me up.

“I really appreciate this offer. I feel super loved, but I don’t need to take it. I can handle D, school, and the baby. I have to go, my ride is here.”

“The Darkness Gets Exposed”

Sliding into her car like a whale balloon, I sort of forgot we had a nasty fight. Remembering the last thing I said to her makes me want to climb right out. Why is she picking me up?

“Thanks for coming…” I say.

“I’m sorry.” Kaylie says turning off her ignition and pulling out her keys. “I had no business trying to force a huge life decision on you like that… I was wrong about that dream anyhow.”

Now I’m curious. As I struggle to put my seat belt on, I ask her what the dream did mean.

“Well… I think I know what the dream was about…” Kaylie admits nervously.

“I’m sorry too.”

“I get why you said what you said though… if I’m right about the dream…”

“What do you mean?”

She proceeds to tell me about her dream. She sees a dark figure looming over me at night while I sleep.  She seems me crying in Derek’s arms. I’m without clothes but he isn’t. She saw me give birth to a girl. She knows what I name the baby, but she won’t tell me.

She sees me place my baby girl in the arms of a light skin black man, he could be mixed. He has a maroon red afro, a matching goatee, and he dresses like he’s stuck in the 70s- paisley patterns and orange and yellow colors. He stood next to a woman with porcelain white skin and bright red hair. She had the most gorgeous aqua eyes. She wore clothes like she was in the 80s.

Then she sees the dark figure follow me as I age. Derek tries to help me, but I never let him. Before Kaylie saw anything else, she woke up.

“So based on that you think I give the baby to a couple that looks like my Grandpa Marion and Grandma Pat? How do you know I’m having a girl?”

“I know you’re having a girl because my dream from God said so… and yeah, I thought you were supposed to give your baby to a biracial couple, but I got it all wrong. The man is your dad, and the woman is your grandma, and after your daughter is born, you’re going to reconnect with them. But the dark figure… Kurt hurt you, didn’t he… he’s really the baby’s father, not D, isn’t he?”

I break down and cry. The burden of keeping that secret from everyone I love and care about hurts. Holding in such a filthy, dirty secret weighs on my heart. The more I cry… the lighter I feel. Like somehow, I’m letting go of all the darkness that shackles me.

Kaylie rubs my back… It’s soothing… Kaylie leans over and hugs me as she cries with me. Sometimes, it’s a relief to have someone sit with you, hold you, and grieve with you. Nothing needs to be said. No one needs to tell what to do to get past your pain. People who do that aren’t strong enough to bear the pain with you. But the person daring enough to empathize with you, and to labor in sorrow with you… that’s a true friend…

But how could she know the sex of the baby? I haven’t told anyone. Not even my sister. How could she know about the jerk? Just my mom and Derek know and neither of them would tell a soul. I’m a fool to ask when I know her answer. She’ll say that God told her through the dream…

I pat her on the back for I’m all cried out. She pulls back and sits back in her driver’s seat. We wipe our wet faces with our fingers. I rub my snot on my forearm like a little kid… not the most sanitary thing to do. Taking in a deep breath, I try to get back to normal… Finally, I ask something that really bothers me about God, “Why does God let awful things happen to good people?”

“Because He loves everyone.” She says…

We start laughing hysterically. I don’t know why, but the laughter perks up my downcast soul like a shot of a pure high straight through my whole body and mind. I seriously feel like we smoked some seriously good weed, but better! It’s like it’s a sunny, warm summer day, and I’m being hugged by everyone I love at once, while staring at the night sky. Those are my three most wonderful types of things in the world and this moment feels like all three of those things are happening right now. There’s a literal warmth coursing through my body. There is this energy, this presence all around us.

“I love you Savannah.”

“I love you Kaylie.”

Kaylie stops laughing, “I didn’t say anything.”

I stop laughing. I look at Kaylie and she looks back at me.

“I love you Savannah.” I hear softly but I don’t see Kaylie’s mouth move.

I check the backseat to see if Derek is with us, but he’s not. I want to freak out and panic, but I can’t. I have too much joy.

“A warm sunny, summer day… A starry night… Hugs from your favorite people like Genie and Albany, and Derek, and Arnie, and Cash, and Netty and me…” I hear and see Kaylie say. She adds, “God loves you very much Savannah. He has a plan for you and for your baby. The final days with your mother will be the best of times you’ve ever had with Jewel. Your father is getting out of prison soon and you’re going to get a letter in the mail from him, Netty will deliver it to you. Write him back. And don’t be afraid of the truth, expose the darkness and you will get justice. Turn Kurt in. Don’t wait any longer…”

There’s no doubt in my mind anymore. God is real.

“God”

All my life I didn’t understand

Who I was and especially the Great I Am

It didn’t matter how much everybody talked

I didn’t see what they saw that gave them their faith walk

So many times, I wanted to believe

But with all my terrible garbage I couldn’t perceive

Then something crazy happened to set me free

God audibly spoke to me

Now all I got on my mind is that God is real

He is real. He is real. He is real.

I feel like I’m falling in love all over again, but it’s stronger

I feel like I’m worth it, like life is worth living much longer

Jesus- died for me

Holy Spirit- sealed me with this revelation

Now I know G-O-D as FATHER

I don’t know much about dads because I never really had one

There’s this peace I have that somehow, I got this

God, I love you

Thank you for loving me

The poem doesn’t have a solid meter or rhyme

But it’s what’s in my heart this time (SMH-blah!)