Hope

ID SYNTHESIS – Part 3

MURPHY

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Murphy Fenix doesn’t really remember his parents. The Society ran the Protected Level differently in the beginning. Murphy and his wife were apart of the first generation of Synthesizers. They lived with their parents until they were 4 years old, and then they grew up in Sanctuaries until they were 16. As fresh sweet sixteens, they underwent I.D. Synthesis being evaluated every 3 months. Then at the age 20, they selected their gender, sexual orientation, and spiritual practice.

A couple of years after he finished his IDS, the process changed over the span of 10 years. How the process works now was finalized a few years before Jon was born.

Unlike Jon, Murphy never got to see his parents. It was complete separation from their parents for the Collective of 52, believing parental bonds could influence who children decided to become. However, majority of Society members from Collective 52 suffered from severe depression and did not complete I.D. Synthesis. To date, most of the workers in Sanctuaries are from Collective 52 remaining inside a gender neutral environment.

When Murphy left the Sanctuary, he was given an occupation he had to keep secret. He would say he worked as a janitor in the Law House, located behind the wall in the Private Sector. A black car from behind the wall would come and pick him up early in the morning as the sun rose, and dropped him back off at his apartment late at night, after dark.

He remembers the first day he crossed the checkpoint of the wall and ventured into the Private Level. It was his second day amongst the Society. He just spent a wild night at the Lounge with his roommate Gabriel. At the time Murphy was attracted to men and therefore, hooked up with different bulky, manly, men every night. On his first night though, he brought home the most beautiful woman he ever saw. Her outrageous beauty and enchanting charm swayed him to spend one night with her. After that, they agreed to be friends not feeling any chemistry between them. She fast became his best friend.

Behind the wall, there are trees, grass, space from building to building, and smog-free blue skies. Everything looks pristine and presentable. The sidewalks and the streets are so clean at times it seems fake. It was that way back then and it is the same way now.

The sun fully rose and took the sky when the black car pulled up to the Philosopher’s house. Chief Philosopher Silas Angelcrest was and still is considered the wisest man when pondering the state of humanity and directing a path for humanity’s future… Silas’s father, Hugo Angelcrest, was one of the founding fathers of the Society and continues to serve as Chief Policymaker.

Silas was single at the time and lived alone. The man’s black hair went down to his shoulders. He wore beaded bracelets and a beaded necklace. That day he wore a bright red tunic with a golden dragon on it. He did not wear any shoes because he was in a season of groundedness, where his entire being needed to connect with the force in his surroundings. He claimed to feel a connection with all things, living and inanimate.

The first place Silas took Murphy was to his study and explained why Murphy was there…

‘You’re here Blanco (Murphy’s Sanctuary first name) because you tested to be a deeper thinker, connecting with the deep universal truths without being taught them. The Panel and I know you’re destined to be a part of the elect, but it is up to you to choose that path. I will take you under my wing. I will share my wealth of knowledge of wisdom with you. And if you pass your training, if the Panel accepts you, and if you choose this path, then you will become the first Philosopher from the Public Level.’ Silas said with an effeminate tone. He talked with hands whenever he got the chance. He was a very bright person. If personality could be colors, he would be the rainbow with a touch of sparkles.

They began right away. Often, Murphy would be up to his head in books for reading assignments. Murphy’s reading go so extensive that Silas would allow him to spend weeks at time in the huge manor. After a year, Silas made a room for him to stay when wanted to, which was all the time.

The remaining six months of Murphy’s I.D. Synthesis, Murphy (who then was Blanco Fenix, a caucasian, homosexual, spiritual man) confessed he was in love with Silas. And even though it was unethical they proceeded to have an affair.

Then a month before Murphy’s IDS was to be finalized, he was reading the Holy Bible for an assignment studying “The Limitations of Morality for the Stability of the Psyche”. He came across an old testament scripture.

Leviticus 18:22

22 “ ‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.’ ” (NIV)

Leviticus 20:13

13 “ ‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.’ ” (NIV)
Reading these scriptures infuriated Murphy. He deeply desired to tear the pages right out of the old book, but he didn’t want to risk going to prison for destroying Silas’s irreplaceable property.
He once liked Abrahamic Literature. A part of him wanted to believe in the God of the Bible, even though it was forbidden, but after reading how the God of the Bible would order his death for him being who he was… he then hated the Bible God.
He began having nightmares about a place of fire. The heat hot enough to melt his skin, yet his skin never did. He would cry in agony so intensely he gnashed his teeth, bitterly angry that no matter how much he pleaded for help, no one came to save him.
One late night, Blanco forced himself to stay awake in the study, sitting in front of the fireplace, watching a real fire burn. Silas came in to check on his pupil, his love. When Blanco told him about his nightmares, Silas responded back, ‘You’ve been reading too much ancient history about hell, hades, sheol, the place of death, or whatever you choose to call it… Fill your soul with positive things.’
When Blanco asked what hell was Silas chuckled thinking the young man was joking.
Blankly, Blanco stared at him innocently. Legitimately unaware of a mythical or religious place called hell, Blanco asked Silas to explain what the place was.
However, Silas suddenly got uncomfortable and very irritable. The corner is right eye flinched, which happened when he was frustrated. He said to Blanco, ‘It doesn’t matter. It’s not real.’ He took Blanco by the hands and pulled him off the ground. He reeled Blanco close to him and asked, ‘Come spend the rest of the night in my room.’
Taking two steps away from him, Blanco asked a random, out of nowhere question, ‘You’re never going to marry me are you?’
Snapping loudly, and annoyed to the point of spitting as hollered his consonants, ‘YOU KNOW I CANNOT MARRY YOU. YOU KNEW SNICE OUR LOVE BEGAN!’
Weeping, Blanco fled the manor and ran to the wall desperate to get as far away as he could from Silas, from the cause of broken, confused heart.
Back at his apartment. Alone in his room, he sat at the foot of his bed. All the Bible stories where God would visit them in a vision or in their dreams… Deep in his heart, Blanco wanted to encounter the God of the Bible.
When he managed to fall asleep… nothing happened that he could remember.
Like all other mornings when he didn’t spend the night with Silas, the black car came to pick him up during sun rise. This time, however, Blanco didn’t get in the vehicle. The self-driving ride stayed parked outside Blanco’s apartment complex for days. Days where Blanco sat on his knees pleading to the God of the Bible, asking if He was real.
Day by day, Blanco changed the way he dressed, the way he talked, the way he thought. He would recite portions of scripture he remembered. ‘Be still and know I AM God.’ … ‘Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, the life’… ‘In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.’ … ‘No light can extinguish the darkness’ … ‘He is my shepherd, I shall not. Though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death, I shall fear no evil’… Day bay day, hour by hour, he began to believe these words.
He may have been held up in a white walled room, with a twin bed covered in white linens, and day and night he prayed on a cold, white tile floor, on his knees– but the more he believed the Word he felt like he was on top of a mountain peak, looking over a beautiful valley with a lake. He no longer felt alone. He felt this constant peace and an overwhelming warmth in his heart. He just knew… the God of the Bible was real.
One day, there was a knock on his door while Gabriel was at work. He had three days until his last IDS evaluation.
An old man stood in the narrow hallway and asked, ‘Are you Blanco Fenix?’
Hesitantly, Blanco nodded his head yes.
‘Have you ever heard the Gospel?’
Blanco shook his head, not because he didn’t hear that word, but because he did. He also knew, what happened when that word was spoken out loud, in any language, across the world… well, the world that remained. He shook his head wanting to protect this old man. Who was hunched over, frail looking with very wrinkly skin, and cloudy eyes.
Blanco wanted to warn the man and to tell him to go, but Blanco made contact with those cloudy eyes that once were all dark brown. The sense of pure love that emanated from them, captivated Blanco’s heart. If he remembered his father, Blanco imagined that gaze was the stare of a loving, proud, father. It was odd to miss someone you had no recollection of, but that was Blanco every day, he missed the man who was his dad, but he couldn’t remember what he looked like, or the sound of his voice.
The old man told Blanco the Gospel in the simplest form. Every person is born a sinner. That’s just the truth. Sin keeps people apart from God. Jesus, who is God- the Son of God, came as a human, born of a virgin, fathered by the Holy Spirit. At the age of 30, he started healing broken people, sick people, helping the poor and needy, feeding the hungry, taking social outcasts and giving them a new crew, and bring the dead back to life. Three years later he was put to death on a cross, naked and scared he died a shameful death charged as criminal though he was innocent. This act was taken as a perfect sacrifice by God, and in that moment God forgave every person that ever lived, was living at the time, would live. Three days later, Jesus came back to life, and forty days later ascended to heaven saying he would come back again, but with an army to destroy all that is bad and make everything good. The catch was, to be apart of this, was to believe, and to accept Jesus came and died for the sin of the world, that Jesus died for you and for me, for anyone who may believe. Once you believe in your heart and confess that Jesus is your Lord and Savior… then you are forever apart of God’s family.
Right as the old man said, ‘Murphy, do accept Jesus as your Lord and your Savior?’ the law enforcement came and violently apprehended the old man. Three armored officers tackled him to the ground dog-piling on top of him. When they stood up, the old man lied limp and twisted on the ground, laboring to breath. One officer snatched him by the foot and dragged him away across the floor. As the officer yanked the old man down the stairs, he wailed in deep pain. Blanco knew horrible torture awaited him.
The two remaining officers asked Blanco if he believed what the man said, using advanced technology to check if he was lying based on heart rate, voice pitch, basal temperature, and eye pupil dilation. The technology was built into their face masks.
Blanco could feel every drop of sweat drizzle down his forehead. His heart felt like it was beating in his throat. He was terrified to confess yes, but he felt like it would be wrong to say no. He didn’t want to lie anymore. Yet, he didn’t want to die. In that moment, he wondered if heaven was real or a state of consciousness like he was taught in the Sanctuary.
‘No,’ Blanco said.
The officer standing on Blanco’s left said, ‘His readings are on the cuff, but he’s probably shaken up by what he saw… I think he’s telling the truth.’
The other officer agreed with the once that shared the face mask scans. Then they left.
Blanco went back to his room and he looked at himself in the body mirror that hung on his door. He remembered reading a book on the Gaelic language. He remembered that Murphy means Sea Warrior… Then he wondered in his mind why God would name him Sea Warrior. Then he remember Jesus told his disciples he would make them fisher of men… God saw him. God was calling him to spread the Gospel to the Public Level. The old man, like a loving father, gave his life for Blanco Fenix… for Murphy Fenix.
Three days later, Blanco Fenix returned to the Sanctuary where he was raised. He took his last evaluation. The evaluator asked how the young man identified, he said, ‘Murphy Fenix, a caucasian, heterosexual man, who is spiritual… and I will marry Jaya Patel, the most beautiful woman in the world…’
FINDING JAYA
Seven years, a hundred and twenty-three days, fourteens hours, and sixteen minutes after his final IDS Evaluation, Murphy found Jaya in the most fated away.
He was cooking dinner for his ex-roommate Gabriel and his husband and their girlfriend when he sliced his finger open and had to be rushed to the Emergency Healing Center. As he and his grossed-out dinner friends were waiting for him to get seen by a Healer and an apprentice, when Jaya came in with a medic team bringing in some pretty battered up people.
She looked rugged, worn out, and exhausted and her hair was in a frazzled messy bun, and she wasn’t wearing any makeup, but Murphy knew it was the same beautiful woman from nine years ago, his first one night stand he ever had.
He leaped out of his seat and shout her name across the waiting room just as she was disappearing to the healing corridors. The sound of her name made her come back out into the waiting room. She stared at Murphy without a clue as to who he was…
He rushed over to her and exuberantly pleaded, ‘I know I seem like a total stranger but we do know each other. May I have permission to kiss you?’
‘No!’ She gasped fretfully taking a huge step back from him.
‘Right… creepy question… well, can we meet somewhere for coffee? I don’t drink. But we slept together – you know – had sex – nine years ago and lately, I keep thinking what would have happened if we ever went out on a date… May I take you out on a date…’
‘If we never had another night that meant I felt no chemistry with you, what makes you think that would change in nearly a decade?’
‘I’m different.’ He said gazing deeply into eyes, feeding all the chemistry he could muster in pure awe and fascination of her.
‘I prefer tea… cold tea… why don’t we meet at the Sailor’s Barge…’
THE SAILOR’S BARGE
A few days later, they met by the marina, at the Sailor’s Barge. She had iced tea, fish and chips. He got coffee and a burger with egg on it. Not only did they keep going back for every date, abstaining from sex until they were married. The Sailor’s Barge became their favorite restaurant.
Because for those who believed in the God of the Bible, during the bar hours, believers would gather in the basement, and study the world of God together, prayed together, and worshipped together. Over the years new members would come in after the bold faith of past member led the new believers there. And instead of morning the tragic loss of their martyred member, they would cling to the hope they would see them again in paradise, and thanked God for the new members to join their ranks in the battle for souls.
Two and half years ago, Jon came home to be with Jaya and Murphy. Six months ago, he left their home to get his own place. He works as a Janitor in the Law House behind the wall. He is engaged to be married to Gwendolyn Angelcrest… who meets in the basement at Sailor’s Barge twice a week. She writes new verses down from the Bible in her dad’s study and makes copies. She brings them to the basement group for members to pass out on the streets to those the Holy Spirit leads them to give scripture to.
Seeing them together makes Murphy think of him and Jaya… Jon has become the man Murphy prayed for him to be. He was never tempted with same sext attraction. He found God at a young age. And he found the right woman for him immediately after finishing IDS.
THE CALL
In the middle of the night, Murphy woke up suddenly panicked by the vision he had in his sleep, but when He prayed for strength, he found the courage to get up and to get dressed.
Jaya woke up and asked what he was doing.
He said, “I must go take care of something very important. I love you forever and beyond, Jaya.”
Gasping as fresh tears pooled in her eyes, she covered her mouth with her hands to muffle her scream. She furiously shook her head. Then she latched her arms around his neck and weeping with heavy tears.
“No, no, no, no, no, no… noooooooooooo,” she hushed just below a whisper.
“I have to go. I can’t be late.” He ripped her arms away from around his neck and he held his wife’s face in his hands and kissed her tear covered lips. As he broke away, her grief caused her to collapse on her face into the bed covers that buried her legs. She laid there bent with her upper half sandwiched with her lower half.
Murphy showed up to the spot of his vision. He waited under a street lamp, across from the popular Lounge where Synthesizers and Elects mingle in the landscape of the night scene. He wanted to see the person whose soul was worth his own life. He kept thinking about Jesus… bruised, beaten, scarred and marred hanging on a cross for him. The blood dripping from His side. He thought about Jesus drowning from the fluid in His lungs with a caved in chest. He thought about Jesus being mocked for being who was… the King of the Jews… the Messiah. Murphy thought about Him bearing the sin of the world and becoming sin all for this future moment… so that Murphy would know Him, and love Him, and to make Murphy a man willing to die so someone else may know Him… This was the heart of the Father- to give up everything one has for another with one’s own life, life being the most precious treasure one can own.
Murphy waited for his signal and once it came, he took a deep, and in his head he said, ‘Here I come Jesus! I’ll see you soon..’

 Author’s Note
As I wrote this last part of Murphy’s story… I had worship music playing and I was balling as I typed the last two paragraphs. I’m a typical American. I love my life and I want a good one. When things get rough, I act entitled and go, “Why me God?!”
But Jesus said the greatest thing one could do for their friend is to give their life for their friend.
Sure, I would die for my family, for my best friends, but would I die for someone I haven’t even met yet.
We know God is all knowing and growing up in church, I would hear sermons about God knowing everything about us and having a plan for us… which I believe is true.
But on judgement day, the Lord will either know us or He won’t. What if He doesn’t think about anyone and activates a plan for their life until they get witnessed to or someone prays for them.
Honestly, I don’t understand how God does it. I know He is good, the word says so, and I know He is love, the word says so… But I can’t understand what it is like to be perfectly just and to be perfectly holy… In my human understanding, I think it’s wrong for someone to go to hell just because they didn’t know Him. I can understand if they rejected God after hearing about Him, but what if no one ever told them about Jesus?
Maybe God has plan for that and took care of it, but there’s nothing in my Bible indicating this that I have found… so I can’t live my life based on a small margin of possibility. I must live my life on what I know the word says. The truth is Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus is who the Bible says He is, and the Holy Spirit affirms that. There are no deeper truths. Jesus was not #WOKE like the New Age Movement says. Oprah is wrong about Christianity. Jesus was more than just a teacher and a good prophet. He is my Savior. He is my Lord.
I’ll confess I’ve been so ashamed to right this story. I’m afraid people will misconstrue what I’m doing here. I’m afraid of getting attacked by people who for the LBGTQI Community.
I still live in a time where I can write a story, based on a thought, and I can share my beliefs. I would rather someone gets offended hearing the truth than to adore my stories on their way to hell.
The crazy part is, from age 8 to age 20 I felt like a boy. I had dreams about dating famous actresses. Intense, visual dreams at that. And I almost thought I would be stuck being a single, lesbian Christian woman because I couldn’t find enough support in the Bible that God made a mistake when I was born a girl.
Now, I proclaim a very different narrative. I am a woman, and boy, lately I got real desires to be married to a man so pray for me y’all!
And no, I never felt judged by the church because no one knew that I struggled with gender dysphoria. I didn’t even plead with God all the time to be free. I pretended to be a man in my imaginary word, and in my made up stories… That is how I coped with a reality being stuck as a woman that tormented me day and night… Then, as I matured in Christ Jesus, I got to a point I couldn’t take it anymore… I needed to embrace my desires to pursue becoming a man or I needed God to change me.
I prayed on election night, in 2012 – deeply troubled and in a moment God set me free. Since then, I have not lusted after a woman nor have had any dreams about being intimate with women. November this year, will be my 7th year of freedom and I believe God has something really special in store, because it wasn’t until last year around this time that I actually felt like a woman… I know… it doesn’t make complete sense to me either… It took six years to restore me into who he designed me to be from birth. God created the world in six days, and on the seventh day he rested in celebration… My seventh year of freedom is going to be my year of rest and celebration!
If you identify with the LBGTQI Community or support the community. Feel free to message me and we can discuss whatever you would like.
I also believe though you’re reading this story for a reason. Someone, somewhere in the earth is praying for the eternal destination of your soul. It’s no so much about where you’re going but who you know. Past the the thorns of religion and religious people is a God who loves you and is so committed to your freedom, He asks you to do something crazy and to give your whole life to Him.
Is your life easy now? Probably not and if it is, you should be worried… This life is meant to be a battle, but it’s important to end the war on the winning side. The victors are with Jesus the Son of Man. What God would call themselves the child of humanity? In its historical context, a Son of Man in Hebrew refers to someone called by God to be the hero for people. But I like to look at it like this… Jesus would have no purpose without humanity needing redemption. The state us in our sin gave birth to his humble entrance into the world and his walk on the earth that led to Him saving us! He may be God but He wouldn’t be our God without our need of Him.
In Revelation 4, it mentions God created us for His enjoyment. Not to torture us. Satan does that. But to enjoy us as sons and daughters. Join the family today by believing Jesus died for you, rose for you, and saves you from your sin nature. Now go tell three people you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior and welcome to the family! Find a church family and use a Bible App until you get a Bible. Read the word, it’s the only sure way you can get to know God quickly.
Feel free to message me with questions and for prayer.

Change (To #ManuscriptMonday)

Happy Thursday everyone! I can only hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. As November comes to a close, keep an attitude of gratitude.

I recently went to a seminar for documentary filmmakers and the speaker, who worked on Oscar-nominated projects, said the most successful people she worked with carried two key perspectives to life: Gratitude & Sense of Abundance. Therefore, thanking God for everything you have under the sun and believing you have more than enough to work with in any given situation will take you far in life.

I must be lacking thankfulness and abundance because all I see lately in my life are failures. LOL. JK.

If you got to see any part of my creative process, you would know I sometimes write a bunch of different versions of any given concept my brain develops. Sometimes, I have three or four different versions in my head before I commit the idea to pen & paper, or to keys & word doc. My goal with this blog was to be disciplined. To force myself to stay the course of my first thoughts, but this isn’t the case… I think I’m just trying to create a formula for my creative process and I now know that is impossible and if it is possible, I should treat such a process as non-applicable.

Part of the excitement in life is the journey, correct? Just because I thought of one plot point first, doesn’t mean it is the best plot point, correct?

What are you trying to say, Brianna?

I’m saying I decided to change the story featured on Manuscript Monday. Instead of chapters of “Girls of Grace”, you will read sections of “The Wildflowers Along Route 77” every week.

Check out the title graphic art below. I made it in Canva with my free access. I used white font, size 12, style Trocchi. I used Unsplash for the photos. I’m incredibly grateful for the creative eye of “gades photography” and “Nathan Anderson” for the beautiful photos they captured. I did add a filter to the forest to brighten it up and I made the sunflower more transparent than normally.

BT - TWAR77

My inspiration for the graphic and the story come from Whiteriver, Arizona along Scenic Route 77. In July, after the monsoon rains flood the land, along the two-way highway flowers spring up along the road. They look like sunflowers, but I don’t think they are, I’m pretty sure they’re weeds. Whether they are weeds or flowers they are absolutely beautiful. Especially, when the green grass is vibrant from drinking in the rain. The wind blows gently as soft gray storm clouds loom over the mountain plateaus in the horizon. Simply breathtaking to see as you cruise 55 mph down a winding road.

What is this story about?

Let’s back up a bit and talk about Whiteriver, AZ a little. The town sits on the Fort Apache Reservation. The only people who live there are Natives and Hired Teachers. Depending on how fast you drive, the town Pinetop-Lakeside is about 40 minutes away, Show Low is another 10 minutes away. The land is a mixture of chaparral and piney forest inside a valley on a mountain. The White Mountain Apache have four tribes: the Eagle, the Bear, the Roadrunner, and the Butterfly. Of course, these English words have Apache word counterparts, however, I do not know the language “AT ALL” to even relay the information.

(I will also confess, all this information I have about the tribe I picked up through observation, and what my friends at church told me. If I get anything wrong and you have empirical evidence or first hand knowledge that I describe something wrong, please email me with the details or leave a comment and I will make the correction, and credit you for the update.)

Their language is not lost, though much of the youth don’t know it, the Apaches are hopeful the language will be kept alive. Members of the tribe are either Christian, Traditional, or both. Many of the tribal members who live on the reservation experience alcoholism, suicide, teen pregnancy, physical abuse, sexual abuse, drug abuse, gang violence, witchcraft, and spiritual warfare in their families. Though there are Christians, there can be a big emphasis on RELIGION over RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.

The Apache identify as a people group through their native culture. Christianity preaches that all of their native practices are of witchcraft and are of the devil. And I would agree a lot of it is demonic based on what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard. But I have seen some struggle to hold onto their culture and pursue God will reckless abandonment, because they do not want to lose who they are.

In Pinetop-Lakeside and Show Low, the wealthy or upper middle class vacation there for skiing, hunting, and fishing all in the appropriate seasons. For the people who live there year round, like other towns they have their share of the poor and the wealthy. Small businesses for the time being are able to flourish there, but who knows when big business will fully takeover. (Oh that’s so grim, let me change it!) I mean, IT’S AMAZING AT ALL THE GREAT SMALL BUSINESSES THERE!

Must go to places are Darby’s, Baked in Pinetop, White Mountain Ice Cream, and Village 8 (Movie Theater). If you ever pass through the area, try to grab breakfast at Darby’s. For sure pick up a fresh loaf of sourdough from Baked in Pinetop. If you love ICE CREAM, go to the Ice Cream Shop by the movie theater in Pinetop-Lakeside. And, for those like me who can’t go on vacation without going to the movies… GO TO THE MOVIES in the WHITE MOUNTAINS because I used to work at VILLAGE 8 and it was one of the most fun jobs I ever had. The theaters are privately owned by the Croney Family and they LOVE what they do and owners like that give the people the best deals and the best service!

Believe it or not, Pinetop-Lakeside and Show Low are heavily affected by the drug scene. People who are born in the area, rarely ever leave. Many families encounter alcoholism, abusive homes, teen pregnancy and drug addiction.

And I can continue to compare and contrast life on the Reservation as opposed to life in the towns, but hopefully, it becomes evident in the fictional story I wrote.

The White Mountain area is a huge Latter Day Saints region. They have churches in Pinetop-Lakeside, Whiteriver, and in Show Low. In Taylor and Snowflake there are statues to commemorate important LDS moments or history in those towns. Then there Assemblies of God Churches and plenty of Baptists. There’s a Methodist church somewhere up the hill (Pinetop-Lakeside or Show Low). And even a Unity Church.

I will state I believe the LDS church and the Unity Church are falsehoods preaching doctrines of men and devils. It depends on the Assembly of God Church and Methodist Church… some are starting to stray away from the truth.

Now, I lived in Whiteriver for three years with my mom. She taught 2nd grade on the Reservation and I lived with her until I went away to college for a second time in Columbus, Ohio. We went to Canyon Day Assembly of God, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, and to this day, that church family is FAMILY. When we go to Pinetop-Lakeside or Showlow, if we’re there on a Sunday, we go to Canyon Day for church!

These two facts play a big role on the story you will read on Manuscript Monday. The main character Asher, moves to the Reservation with his family. His mom is a school teacher and his dad becomes the new associate pastor at a church near teacher housing. Asher is multiracial like I am, but he’s mixed differently.

Would you say the story is autobiographical, a little?

I’m gonna say no. I used realities in my life and applied them to the main character Asher, but there’s so much the story covers and goes into I’ve never lived or experienced in my life.

Now religion vs. relationship with God is a huge theme in this story. Many moments will feature Asher wrestling with his faith and the pressures of being a teenage boy in our modern culture. I do include a lot about the LDS Church. It may be different than what you’ve heard or seen or know. I can honestly tell you, I’ve heard different things from different LDS members. I think a lot of it has to do with what region the members are from and because the LDS Church is not based entirely on the Word, and not truly led by the Spirit of God, stories and doctrine will be contradictory.

True, a lot of people say Christianity is contradictory. The Bible has loads of evidence authenticating its many books. All legitimate denominations believe in core values from the Bible, therefore, unifying us under one belief. And all and all, I believe there’s only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus the Messiah. Once you believe in Him, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit and you pretty much live your whole life, from the point of belief, growing closer to God.

Of course, you’ll see my trademark ingredients to a story. Who knows, maybe I’m the future Nicholas Sparks of Teen Faith Fiction. His books always feature a death, a forbidden love story (one person comes from money and the other is poor), and a broken relationship (an abusive relationship, a bad daddy-daughter relationship, or estranged parent and child relationship). I still love the stories all the same, but he has a very clear niche that has made him very wealthy.

Is my aim wealth?

I certainly don’t want to be a dead published author or a starving one. But I write for this simple fact: writing is my passion and telling stories is life for me. I would write for nothing. Wait, I already do! At times, I’m a little vain glorious, but God so help me, in the end let my work not be in VAIN!

This venture is going to be an amazing journey and I’m glad you decided to join! I pray this story blesses you in some way! Enjoy.

Bussing It – Part 10

…10 Years Forward…


“Homecoming”

I’m honored to do Genie’s hair. Brings back memories of doing hair while Derek and I were both in college. He was finishing up his Bachelor’s in Religious Studies and I was getting my Master’s in Education. I worked at a high end salon, so I was racking in a lot of dough. Derek was working two jobs on top of going to school. And when I wasn’t at the salon, I was taking care of our girls… we barely saw each other.

But now, I work at Brink as a Math Teacher and Derek works at a Christian School as a Chaplain. He still works at warehouse some nights and on the weekends, but we’re not crazy busy like we used to be. He’s currently working on his Masters and wants to get his Doctorate eventually. I’m amazed at where we are!

“Wha-la!” I say spritzing her tight, pulled back bun with hairspray to hold it in place all night. I really didn’t do anything fancy.

She stands up and gives me the mightiest hug for the skinniest girl. Then she holds my shoulders and looks me in the eye, “I had a dream you and Derek had a baby boy.”

With an eye roll, “Derek and I are happy with both our girls… we don’t need anymore kids.”

We really couldn’t afford that right now.

“I’m just saying… he’s adorable! He looks like Papa Trick.”

Julie is pasty white with straight black hair and hazel eyes. Priscilla has straight red hair and ice blue eyes with freckles. She’s trying to tell me Derek and I are going to have a kid with brown skin and curly hair? HA!

“What are you smoking?” I joke.

“I know this is hard to accept but accept it!” She says keeping her cheery smile. She takes her navy-blue ball gown off its rack that helped it hang on the door of her closet. The bell of the gown embellished with faux diamonds and pearly-looking jewels. The sleeves of the gown matching blue but also see-through.

“I’ll wait for you downstairs with everyone else.” I say as I leave.

I was prepared to go through the whole safe sex talk. I know that makes me a little hypocritical as a Christian… but I think it’s better to have that conversation, but Genie’s pretty on fire for God… which I know we’re all prone to falling and sinning at times, but her heart desires what God wants for her life. At least I’m pretty sure, if her heart isn’t in that place, she is a GREAT actress.

In the foyer, Bobby lectures Oliver, Genie’s date, about when to be back and all the things father’s lecture their daughter’s date about. I picture Derek doing the same thing in like seven years when Julie goes to her first school dance. O my God! That’s only seven years away… I feel OLD. Okay, I’m only 26, but I have a 9-year-old! All my friends are just getting married and starting to have kids…

Xzavia, Bobby’s wife, has Albany on the home video-chat system. She’s away at college in Columbus, OH… That’s so far away from us, but we’ll see her at Christmas.

I purposely step in the line of sight to steal the attention.

Albany: Savvy!

Me: Hey Al!

Albany: I miss you.

Me: I miss you more! I can’t wait for Christmas… why aren’t you coming home for Thanksgiving again?

Albany: I’m going to spend it with Philip’s family. They’re right here in town.

Me: Aw… I forgot you have a serious boyfriend. Stop growing up! Just stop!!!

Albany: Whatever! You can take it.

Me: No, I can’t… (I get all teary-eyed.)

Albany: Are you crying? Are you finally pregnant again?

Me: Did Genie tell you about her dream?

Albany: No, we were praying for our families in class last month and I had a vision of you having a boy. He looks like your dad, just a lighter version. His curls are so gorgeous. You’ll finally have a kid that looks like you.

Me: (Trying not to be offended I say🙂 Julie and Priscilla look like me! We have the same eyes and noses.

Albany: Whatever, your son is gorgeous! I can’t wait until you find out your pregnant.

Me: D and I are done having kids!

From the top of the stairs, Genie yells, “No, you’re not!”

Looking at Albany on the hand held  video-chat sphere, Xzavia comes to my rescue, “Stop pestering her. Prophecy can change according to obedience, are you sure you were released to share that with Savvy right now?”

Albany: (wincing from shame) Oops. Sorry Savvy. I love you.

Clearing her throat loudly and theatrically fake, Genie directs everyone’s attention to her. We applaud her and tell her how beautiful she is as she descends the stairs. She walks up to Oliver, who nervously tells her how pretty she is. He puts the red rose corsage he brought on her right wrist.

In front of the door, she stands locking elbows with Oliver. Oliver’s black bowl-cut hair is slicked with a lot of moose to stay in place. He wears a gray suit with a navy-blue bow tie and a burgundy dress shirt. They smile for photos. I don’t get why Genie died her beautiful blonde hair jet black, but she wanted a different look. I never pictured Genie dating a Native American, but they look cute together. I for sure thought she would date a Mexican with her love of Mexican culture.

I remember when she was tiny playing princess in Bobby’s living room! I can’t handle this!!!

After pictures, I swoop in and hug her not wanting to let her leave. I whisper in her ear, “Guard your heart…” She totally knows what I mean by that.

Derek is the youth pastor at church, that we all go to together, and he preached a sermon about sexuality and purity. He preached when we guard our hearts we’re holding dear all the promises of God, and when we trust God and follow in His precepts, when we receive God’s promises it gives glory to God and prevents us from damaging our souls or hurting others. He emphasized sex out of marriage compromises our relationship with God. Because we’re designed for marriage and only meant to have sex within marriage, doing it outside of marriage damages our heart, but within marriage sex ignites our hearts and helps us build healthy concepts of commitment, love, and intimacy. I wish I heard a sermon like that as a teenager… Even though Derek and I didn’t have sex until our wedding night, this night ten years ago, which was like 4 months after Julie was born… I think Derek and I would have just had a smoother first year of marriage, if we heard the message he preached on “Guarding Our Hearts” at Genie’s age…

“Can you let go now? I don’t want to show up after all the fun is over.” She says loudly.

I release her drying my tears on my sleeve.

“Oh, Happy Anniversary! Why are you hear and not with your husband?” Genie wonders.

“He had to work… we’re gonna celebrate next weekend. Thank you.”

Bobby embraces me on the left and Xzavia embraces me on the right, as we stand outside by the door and watch the young couple get in Oliver’s mustang and drive away to one of the best nights of their high school career.

“Belated Happy Anniversary”

Half awake I feel a warm light appear in front of my face. The smell of pine firewood hits my nose and I perk up suddenly opening my eyes. To my wonderful surprise, it’s Derek holding a new candle of my favorite sent to my nose. I look at the alarm clock and it’s 4:13 am. He must have just gotten in.

“Happy Anniversary… Have I told you lately… I love you so much.” He set the candle down on my night stand and kisses me.

He breaks away and goes to stand up, but I hold him by the head, “Are you coming to bed?”

“I’m all sweaty and musky from lifting packages all night. Don’t you want me to shower first?”

“You can shower afterwards.” I kiss him back.

He pulls away to gain clarity, “You mean I’m actually getting lucky tonight?”

“So, you don’t want to then?” I tease.

Quickly, he stands up and whips off his shirt and then leaps over me and lands on his side of the bed. His long locks cover his face like a curtain. I turn over and I hover his head. I wipe the hair out of his eyes, strand by strand. For a good while, we just smile and stare at each other. He doesn’t look that different than he did 10 years ago. He’s a little thicker. I remember after military school for two years he had a six pack but now it’s a pouch… I’m very grateful he isn’t going bald like his dad…

But beyond his looks, I’m so in love with who he is on the inside now. I love the man of God he is. I love the father he is to our girls. I love the type of son he is to his parents. The type of brother he is to his siblings and to mine. I love the kind of neighbor he is to everyone around us. I love how he treats me like I’m his queen, but he leads me like a king. I love him more than I did yesterday. And yesterday, I loved him a lot because he picked up an extra shift at work to earn more money for our family vacation next June.

He lifts his head to kiss me, but I back up.

“What? You changed your mind?”

“Genie, Albany, and Xzavia have had visions of us having another baby… and I know we can’t really afford that right now?”

“Well, I wasn’t planning on going unprotected tonight.”

Yeah, we’re that couple that still uses condemns… Birth control makes me sick… we tried many different kinds but I’m one of the women in the world that gets terribly sick under hormone manipulation… and neither one of us like the idea of getting fixed… I’m usually pretty good about tracking my ovulation and make sure we avoid making love on the days I ovulate to be extra safe, but I don’t know… I kind of want another baby.

“You don’t have to tonight… if you think we can manage the expenses as they come up…”

“Oh, we can handle anything together. Are you sure?”

“Yeah…” I say right as I kiss him.

“The AMAs”

Tyler Swipe, who some how transformed into a pop star after rising to fame as a teen country star, announces who the New Artist of the Year is, “Kaylie Johnson!”

Julie and Priscilla leap off the couch and start jumping radically all over the floor. Julie does a somersault in between the coffee table and the TV yelling, “SHE DID IT!”

“Aunt Kaylie won! Aunt Kaylie FREAKING WON!” Cillie shouts exuberantly.

I’m like crying… This is the moment she’s been working for the past ten years. She moved to Nashville after high school. She would call me after every rejection, every fallen-through deal, and every disappointment for encouragement and prayer. When she took the huge risk to transition from a Christian artist to a Secular artist, she got a lot of criticism from our circle of Christian friends. But last September, her album dropped and beat out some of the top artists in the country. Her single “Love & Freedom” still sits at number one. Her album is the most downloaded across all platforms. Over half the songs on her album have been featured on TV shows, and in films…

Kaylie wears a stunning red dress, he long hair in a fancy fishtail braid, with sparkles and jewels woven in. She hugs the songtress Tyler Swipe and accepts her AMA.

Crying joyfully, she wipes her tears, “O dear Jesus my Messiah… I don’t have any words… but… Thank you! Thank you God, thank you to my producers Lauren and Ed, to all the musicians who played on this album… thank you to Neill, my husband… I love you honey… Oh, and I have to thank my bestie- Savvy! I’m so grateful for this and I would not be hear today if I did not trust the path God sent me down. My glory is God’s glory. Oh- and thank you Julie and Cillie, your prayers got me through- now go to bed!”

The girls freak out they got mentioned on national TV.

God’s goodness can be overwhelmingly beautiful.

“Cash Moneymaker, Future NBA ALL-STAR”

“Let’s go defense!” I blare at the top of my lungs.

“Cash Money!” Trick hollers.

It’s nice that we’re all here. Derek, my girls, Bobby, Genie, and Xzavia, Netty, and Deshaun, and Arnie and Jessica. Trick too, my dad, who is the best. I still can’t bring myself to call him dad like Netty and Arnie, but he’s cool with me calling him Trick. So… after Julie was born, I did start writing him letters, but even after he got out of prison we didn’t connect until my grandma, his mom, got sick. Julie was five and Priscilla was three. Julie has always been close to my grandma since she was born, so over the last week of her life we camped out at the hospital and Julie bonded with my dad right away. I knew there was no way to avoid him anymore.

Cash takes after his dad. He has a beautiful set of curls and yet, he shaves them all off to sport a bald look… He’s so tall for 13… 6’0”! College scouts are already recruiting him. He plays varsity for the high school he’ll be attending next year as point guard. Last week an analyst on ESPN brought him up and says he’s the second coming of Kobe Bryant…

Watching him on the court dazzles us.

One-minute left in the 4th quarter, we’re down by two points, and the other team has the ball. Cash didn’t play most of the game because he hasn’t been listening to the coach. He’s in right now, because he’s the best player defensively and offensively. He’s also the number one stealer in the region right now.

Sure enough, Cash steals the ball from the opposite team’s point guard. He drives to the hoop. On his way up for a lay-up he gets fouled, but he still makes the basket. He makes the extra point putting the team ahead by one.

 The clock slowly whines down, between the fouls and the time outs and the free throw shots, from both sides.

Ten seconds to go, we’re down by two, our ball. Full court pressure after the ball gets passed in to Cash. Cash spins around his defenders and rushes to the top of the key at the three-point line, he pops his shot off and it goes in putting us up by one!!! Yes.

They put full court pressure on the other team and the clock runs out before they cross over to their side of the court. We WON!

The whole family high-fives and hugs as we cheer about the victory. Cash leaves his teammates to join in our family hug. We don’t care that he smells and is drenched in sweat. We put him in the center of us and smother him with love!

This is one portrait of family I never pictured. I wanted a close family like this my entire life, since I was a little girl. We are far from perfect. We fight a lot and get on each other nerves, but there’s no doubt any of us love each other. We are all alcohol and drug free. We spend every holiday together. We get together once a month and we take giant family vacations together. We attend the same church. We live in the same city, and whether we’re blood or not, because we’re family, we’re there for each other, no matter what… All things are possible with God.

And my nephew will make it to the NBA if my prayers have anything to with it!

As we release Cash to go back to his team, Trick announces, “Pizza on me at Mama’s EVERYBODY!”

Trick does really well financially. He wrote a book about his life and his conversion to Christ while he was prison. He goes around the world sharing his testimony and preaching the gospel. And last month he just sold his book’s rights to Pureflix so they can make a movie about his life. Makes me wonder if I should write a story about my life… no one would believe I’m not on drugs, not a smoker, and not an alcoholic. That I’m a teen mom that lives in upper-middle class with a Master’s Degree. That I’m married to my childhood sweetheart. That I survived rape, kept and raised my rapist’s baby, and put my rapist behind bars… No one would believe my story.

“I Miss You”

Ten years ago today, a time of tremendous gloom

I sat in your hospital room

I witnessed you rededicate your soul to the One

Who bled, died, and rose again for you- the Son

Messiah Jesus- our glorious savior

Who won your heart through a painful cross labor

I’m at peace knowing you’re in paradise

I can’t imagine the glory you know and the size

Of the smile on your face

In that wonderful place

I have so many unfulfilled wishes really

I wish you got to hold Julie and Cillie

I wish you were there when Derek and I said I do

I wish I could hold you and kiss you and tell you I love you

I don’t really remember telling you that

And even though you put me through a lot of crap

I’m so grateful we had that best time together

For your finale in life, that it was better

Than our ugly beginning

I know you know in life now I’m winning

But with all my blessings- it doesn’t change this fact

I MISS YOU. I MISS YOU. I MISS YOU.

“Truth Prevails”

I stare at the letter from Kurt. He got sentenced for 15 years but he’s up for parole due to good behavior. He claims to have found Christ and his letter is filled with a long-winded apology. He wants me to be a character witness for him at his hearing! I believe he’s changed, but I don’t want to help him get out sooner. He wants to meet Julie too.

Now, we’ve told Julie that Derek isn’t her birth father. We told her that Kurt was and that he wasn’t a very good man and he was in prison for something bad that he did. We did not tell her about the horrendous act that led to her conception. We’re waiting until she’s older and more mature to handle that reality. We’re not lying to her, we’re just withholding part of the truth.

For the past year, I’ve allowed Julie and Kurt to exchange letters, but Julie’s never expressed she wants to meet him. She’s never referred to Kurt as her father. She tells her best friend Stacey that Kurt her is sperm donor dad. She came up with that take all on her own, after she watched a PBS special about IVF and egg and sperm donating in America, and how laxed our restrictions are on how often people can donate their genetic material. She may be 9, but at times she’s like 30.

I don’t know what to do… I don’t think I can handle this right now. Christmas is coming up, Derek and I just found out we’re pregnant for a third time- I really don’t why I let my sisters manipulate me into this pregnancy, and I have the classrooms from hell this year!

God, what do I do?

GO.

I laugh.

Julie walks past me and sits down at the kitchen table, and she set her backpack on the tabletop. Cillie follows her lead and sits next to her. They pull their school iPads out and log in to start their homework.

I snap out of it and put the letter in the junk drawer.

“What do you both want for a snack, before dinner?”

“A peanut butter and banana sandwich.” Julie asks.

“That’s weird!” Cillie says sassily to her big sis. “I just want PB&J mommy,” in a sweet girl tone to me.

That was Kurt’s favorite snack…

“Have you ever had a peanut butter and banana sandwich, Julie?”

“No, but Daddy Kurt says it’s is favorite snack and he misses it.”

“How come Julie has two daddies and I just have one? Paulie has two daddies too, but they live together, but he doesn’t have a mommy… that must suck.”

“Cillie, watch your mouth.”

I try to process Julie calling Kurt dad and wanting to eat a snack like him as I gather the ingredients. It’s so much easier to talk about forgiveness and moving forward when you don’t have to face the person who hurt you… I mean, I know I don’t have to worry. He has to register as a sex offender and he can never be alone with Julie, but I can’t stop my heart from racing with panic…

DON’T BE AFRAID.

Yeah, I don’t have to be afraid.

“Ooo! There are beautiful angels surrounding you mommy!” Cillie exclaims. She’s a seer. She sees angels all the time and she’s been getting visions about her baby brother like crazy. She told us his name the other day, Rodney, which before then we couldn’t choose between that name or River for a boy and Delany or Laney for another girl. We’re very private when discussing baby names not revealing the name until the seven month, but with prophetic kids and family members you can’t keep anything secret.

“Yeah, mom, God sent His messengers to help you be okay with Daddy Kurt’s letter. So are you okay with going to see him?” Julie wonders…

The mail was in the house, waiting on the kitchen island counter when I got in the door… The girls came in after me and there’s no way Julie could know about the letter let alone know what it was about…

Okay God… I will go… I’ll speak on his behalf but God… just keep me sane and my girls safe…

Both my girls get up and race over to me. They hug me as I start crying.

“It’s okay mommy.” Cillie says.

“You don’t have to go if it’s too hard.” Julie says.

Laughter tickles our hearts and as I crouch low we just keep laughing in the Holy Ghost. They smother me in kisses on my cheeks. Then Julie hands me the kitchen hand towel to wipe my tears.

“I’m okay… How did I get blessed with the best girls?!”

“Because God is too good!” They shout in sync.

…Back to the Present…


“God is Too Good”

I want to write a poem but I can’t really settle on rhyme and meter… But just thinking about God’s goodness, blows my mind… I went to church with Derek and Kaylie last week and I learned why awful things happen to people.

We live in a fallen world and we all have free will, because God loves everyone unconditionally, He will not override anyone’s freewill. Unless we submit our will to pursue after His will, is when He’ll interfere in our affairs and impact the earth because He gave authority of the Earth to us.

When we have relationship with God and we live our lives for Him, we build the Kingdom on the Earth. Through loving people like He loves us is how we change our world and bring people to Him. We don’t have to be perfect, we just have to listen and to trust Him and have faith everything we go through has a purpose that will make God’s Kingdom bigger. As believers we are one big family and our job is to add to the family God has designed and to build a home for God on the earth.

I have to forgive the jerk, Kurt- I have to forgive Kurt… Because Jesus died for all of us, he deserves forgiveness. I have no idea how I can forgive him… but I know with God… anything is possible.

I think last night I had like a vision of my future… Ten years from now… I don’t remember anything but the names of my kids… I think… nope… I don’t remember. I have immense peace! Whatever life throws at me, God is with me, and He will never leave me or forsake me!

Thank you, Jesus, for saving me.

And I must be this way because Netty’s been praying for me… probably Derek’s prayers too… And well Kaylie’s as well… who cares! Jesus is the best friend I’ve ever had… greater than Derek and Kaylie put together.

I don’t hate my life anymore. I’m sad my mother is dying. I’m sad I don’t know my dad. But I got this hope, knowing everything is going to get better. I have a purpose now. And that purpose is living life with God, after all He made humanity because He wanted to enjoy community with us (Rev. 4:11).

I think I’m going to write a book about my life… or at least blog about it… so if anyone suffered like I did or do… they know there’s real hope. Not the kind of hope where you wish for things to be better, but with hope that confidently knows something better is COMING!


Author’s Note

Originally, “Bussing It” was going to be 12 parts. But I cut it short, when I incorporated the flash-forward, I felt like it offered enough to showcase the direction Savvy was going to take with her life.

I was seriously thinking about Savvy putting her first child in adoption, but I decided against that. I felt like a stronger story of forgiveness prevailing that way. But I’m pro-adoption…

This story is the first Story Sunday where I have campaigned like crazy on social media and the first series where I was very adamant about being consistent. I only broke once by failing to post a part one week, but life happened and I didn’t plan enough to make up for it.

I’ve had this idea since 2012. There’s many different versions on my flash drives. The only part I used from those other versions are the characters and the stories that Savvy told her little sisters. In one version, I was going to have Savvy grow up to be a famous children’s author and I think based on this version, we can see she definitely followed some path of writing in life, but I left it very open-ended as to where that goes.

In all the other versions but this one, Savvy and Derek were going to break up and he was going to die in  a car accident and or a drug overdose. But I really fell in love with this idea of the two of them forever and never separating until death from a ripe old age.

Originally, she was going to be pregnant by Derek and not Kurt. Originally Kurt was really sweet and Bobby was the child molester, but somehow those roles changed and I’m okay with that.

As usual I have people getting saved in my story because salvation is the best and I love seeing the power of that even in a fictional context. I think I’ve used the power of conversion too much. For the next one, we’ll have a series with already saved people!

Thank you so much for reading this serious. If you loved reading it, feel free to share it with someone you think would enjoy reading it!

If you have any questions for me, drop them in the comments section, and I will respond as soon as I can.

I know Disney uses the slogan “Dare to Dream”… and I don’t know how long they’ve been using that, but I thought of the for story title back in 2013/2014, and I feel like I came up with it first… but I have no proof and I very well could be wrong. But I dare you to dream and to never give up on your dream, you have that dream for a reason, and you are meant to fulfill it. God will show you how to do it the best way! And if God crushes your dream, he has something better in mind because He knows you the best!

Best regards,

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Bussing It-Part 9

“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!)

Idolatry is No Joke

This post will be short. If it is sweet, that is for you to decide. In 2015, one of the most amazing things happened to me. I went to an amazing Christian college and God rocked my world in a way I only dreamt about. While going to school, for work-study I got to live the promise of an answered prayer… I got to work in Christian Television.

In the beginning, I was an assistant to an assistant, which made my job really chill and fun. I never had to face the pressure. But then, my second year of college, my supervisor moved away and I took her place. I also stepped into the role of dorm leadership, and I wasn’t good at doing both, but by the grace of God I made it through and I found myself graduating at the end of my second year (it was a two year junior college) and the TV Department of the church the college was connected to offered me a job. I didn’t take it because I decided to do a third year, to earn a second degree, I moved up in ranks in dorm leadership, and the TV Department got a new boss.

I lived in constant fear feeling like I wasn’t a good enough student, employee, or dorm leader. I dealt with spiritual warfare on a level I never faced before. If you don’t believe demons mess with Christians… let me tell you, I’m a Christian that battled demons!

I’m a person that likes to handle things alone, so I didn’t really tell anyone what I was going through but a handful of people.

I allowed my struggles to become so big, I became a poor student, a poor employee, and a poor dorm leader. And instead of placing all my hope in Jesus, I placed all my hope in people and things and especially my job. I overworked trying to get a job in the TV Department after I graduated again. I even stayed and did an internship, trying to earn a place at a church I convinced myself God wanted me to be there. Maybe He did or maybe He didn’t, all I know is that got more comfortable doing my thing than asking God what to do and trusting Him to do His thing my life.

At the end of internship, I got to stay in the dorms a month longer. I found a place to live, I moved my things over there, and I bought a one way ticket home believing I would be able to drive back with a car. The longest I planned to be away was three weeks. Due to things out of my control, weeks became longer, and I was informed via email the church was not going to hire me in their TV Department.

Sure, I was wrecked. I went from hopeful to hopeless in seconds and I feared my dreams weren’t going to come true without working at that place and living in that city.

Now, I could have gone back and found a job elsewhere and volunteered at the church to stay connected until that had a job there, but I still didn’t have a car.

After talking to a friend and praying, I felt the Lord leading me to give up my place in the city this ministry was at, and thank GOD I had friends to help move my stuff somewhere else. As I did this, I realized I made that city and that ministry an idol and put all my expectations in the wrong the place.

My expectations should always be in the Lord, and my HOPE should always be in Jesus, but I was so unhappy in my profession. Yes, I loved making Christian TV, but not from behind the scenes sitting at a desk… I wanted to be in front of the screen or at the very least, directing…

I also formed some bad habits not good for my walk with Jesus. I lived in fear, doubt, and unbelief. I had bitterness and unforgiveness toward other people. I didn’t pray and fast as nearly as much as I needed to, and I told little white lies a little too much. I also had a hard time submitting to delegated authority and I did not do my job with integrity or excellence and by integrity, I mean I would leave early with unfinished projects and I would show up late often. Not that bad in the eyes of man, but not appropriate. As far as excellence goes, I was too stressed all the time to do anything well or I would pretend to know how to do something when I really didn’t know how to do it at all.

Who wants to live like that? When I did pray, I prayed asking God if I could just volunteer there and work somewhere else, because I would walk in the office depressed. It was one giant reminder I wasn’t pursuing or living my dreams.

I know God allowed that door to be closed because my heart wasn’t in the right place. I trusted that ministry to get me where only God can take me. And in that place, I wasn’t doing life intimately with God anymore. He had to pull the cord and make me cry out for Him to hold me again.

Ironically, the week I found out I wouldn’t be hired onto to staff,  was the week the pastor of the ministry was ministering how God was taking away our idols. I love how God works, He has such a great sense of humor.

As of right now, I do believe I’ll go back to that city, and I’ll be involved with that church somehow, but until then, I’m letting God stay in His rightful place in my heart and in my life, above all and above everything (I know that’s redundant but I love how it sounds).

Much Love

Bri,

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