Below, you will see the graphic for the blog’s next featured story:

Grace Trials

THE STORY

If you saw the post about Manuscript Monday, going into extensive detail about why I chose the story I selected, I mentioned a story I wrote called, “Girls of Grace”.

“Grace Trials” is “Girls of Grace” rebranded, revamped, an under-new-construction rewrite. I guess, this will be my revision quest and I’m inviting all of you along for the ride.

In the original “Girls of Grace”, it was about three girls who became friends through church. In all honesty, this story is slightly based on real life, but in totality it really isn’t.

Like, the main character is a little like me. One of her friends is a little like one of my strong-willed friends that battles depression. The main character’s other friend is this super-family-oriented-person who has OCD. All three of them go to a tiny, baptist church where everybody knows everybody.  Me and my two friends, all went to a tiny, baptist church where the three of us formed a friendship. Beyond that, that is as real as the story gets. Okay, most of the story takes place in the city where we all live…

But the main plot points, the scenarios that unfold, and events that take place… never happened to me or my friends in real life… to my knowledge.

This revamp, however, will be wildly different. I started the project in 2012. Seven years later, with the characters well developed and a plot with lots of options, the content will be richer.

SYNOPSIS

Lauren Rae Tyler – 18, Melissa Grace Russell – 21, and Makayla Johnson – 17, are best friends that are closer to each other than sisters. Through all the trials life hurls them into, they rally to be there for one another and see each other overcome their tribulation. But they know they can’t obtain any victories without God’s grace.

Grace Trials may be the name of Lauren’s dad’s ranch and church, but the “Grace Trials” make up the casebook that proves God’s grace is for those who believe and cannot be saved, delivered, or set free without the free grace of God. (Okay, you’re right – the Bible has already done that, and proves so… It’s great!)

DREAM-GOAL

Yes, I want this story turned into a movie too! Executively-produced by Kirk Cameron. Pray with me y’all! (I’d accept working with David AR White too.)

It’s odd that I want to work with him so much… like I’m not a fan girl of his… I don’t really watch a lot of his ministry videos, nor have I seen any of his latest Christian Film Productions.

I just want to work with him. I think it would be cool!

WARNING

This story will feature some hard to swallow material, but the topics shouldn’t be ignored and swept under the rug in the church anymore.

MY REQUEST

If you like it as you read it, share it with someone you think may enjoy it, or benefit from it in someway.

MY HOPE

Is that someone who never had faith before, find faith in Jesus.

Yes, this may be a fictional story, with fictional characters, but the God of the Bible is the only God. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life… and in this little piece of fiction, God can save you or someone you’re praying for to be saved!

MANUSCRIPT MONDAY or STORY SUNDAY

At this point, I’m thinking neither, but we’ll see.

Thank you for joining this journey with me.


If you read my post,“Crossing the Finish Line”, then you heard about my story on LITNET called, “A Digital Age Courtship”. If you didn’t read that post or even if you did…

A Digital Age Courtship

The link below takes you directly to that story. ENJOY!

https://litnet.com/en/reader/a-digital-age-courtship-b106691?c=928921&p=1

Disclaimer: Obviously, these are the top five in my opinion.

# 5 – God’s Not Dead

This film is about a college freshman who takes a philosophy class with an atheist professor who is notorious for killing God by saying God isn’t real.

The title probably comes from something Friedrich Nietzsche wrote when he concluded God is dead. If you didn’t know, Mr. Nietzsche most likely died of thinking so much his brain gave out killing him…

Let me just give a shout out to David AR White! He was a mennonite kid that never grew up watching tv and as an adult he followed the leading of God, went to LA, and pursuing the dream God placed in him built what he has today. As a co-founder of Pureflix, an actor, a producer, (a list of credentials that go on and on), he is an example of someone living out the God-given dream God placed in him.

I used to be incredibly critical of his work and his films because deep down inside I was so jealous. In essence, he is doing what I want to be doing in life! But not just for the Christian community. I want to make films and TV shows that crossover into the secular world but honor God’s precepts. It’s like when you read the Bible and it reads, “Cain killed Abel”. I would display murder in a film, but it wouldn’t be gory or maybe the audience would only see the moment before… Like the Bible reads that Abel’s blood cried out to God from the ground. I would show the spot where the audience knew Cain killed Abel and then with an audio voiceover and dramatic music I would have Abel’s voice crying out to God because he has gone to the place of death (Sheol).

I think that’s more impactful than watching a man kill his brother.

BACK ON TOPIC! This film ranks at number five on my list because it did better than anyone imagined. During its run in theaters, it ranked #4 in the box office, and grossed over 64 million dollars.

I remember working at a movie theater, in Northern Arizona when this movie was released. We were a small theater so we needed to take in films that would make money. When this movie came in with a rank of number four at the box office, our theater finally got it, and there were lines out the door of people trying to get in to see this film!

Kevin Sorbo’s performance is phenomenal by the way. (He plays the atheist professor.)

# 4 – OCTOBER BABY

This film is based on a true story. A young woman finds out she was adopted. Needing to know her origin, she goes with a friend to search for her birth mother only to find out she survived a botched abortion. Out of shame, her birth mother abandoned her, and the young woman was adopted by her parents. Her adoptive mother being a woman who was one of the volunteers who kept her company when she was in the NICU.

The Erwin Brothers are AMAZING! They’ve worked with Pureflix and the Kendricks Brothers for Mom’s Night Out. I actually love every film they’ve done to date.

From the music, to the script, to the ensemble of the cast made this film one of the better faith films. Overall, this film was made better in quality than the faith films before it, but the message was and still is extraordinary.

# 3 – Left Behind (Kirk Cameron Version)

This film was based on the popular book series Left Behind. A fictional story based on how the last days may look on the earth.

I was SO CRITICAL of this film as a kid. I thought if the movie was remade with academy award winning actors in it, it would be better…

Well a few years ago a remake of “Left Behind” came out… with Nicholas Cage – any academy award winner… and it wasn’t as good as the original. (That’s putting it nicely. The good news is I have heard testimonies of people getting saved after they saw the remake version – so proof God was behind the making of it.)

That’s because to make a great film it takes more than great actors. It takes a team of people from the administration, to behind the scenes, to the music, to the writers, to the producers, and to the directors… I even might as go as far to say that the stars need excellent assistants to stay focused to give their best performance.

If you want to think about what the rapture may look like and don’t feel like reading – watch this movie series. However, like all things it’s not 100% accurate. We don’t fully know how everything will play out, but it is interesting to watch and to talk about with friends. Warning: you may feel a burning desire to actually study the Bible about the end times. LOL! That’s a good thing right 🙂

# 2 – WAR ROOM

This movie is about a woman who learns the power of prayer through a matriarch in the faith and through prayer her family is changed for the better.

The Kendricks Brothers make films that transform you when you walk out of the theater… this is their ministry. I would love to work with them one day for their anointing on some ideas I have… which is odd… because yes – I once was critical of these dudes too!

I went to see this movie with some friends and the audience was so lively. We laughed, we amen’d, we cried, we prayed, and we stood up applauding when the film ended. It was like going to church, except many of us were strangers. The fact this film could bring such unity shows how when God is in something it bring His family together!

# 1 – I CAN ONLY IMAGINE

I can’t believing I’m leaving my first favorite film off this list (The Remaining).

MercyMe is an incredible band that wrote a tremendous song called – “I Can Only Imagine”. This movie is based on the life of the band’s lead singer – Bart Millard – and tells the long story behind the hit song, which is the same name of the film.

First of all, the cast was AWESOME!

Secondly, the movie was so well written, beautifully directed, and overall I would say this film should have gotten award recognition from the secular world.

There was a moment I cried sad/happy tears! How does that happen?!

This one was entertainment and ministry. If you have not seen this film – SEE IT! Have tissues though.

It made just over 85 million dollars with a 7 million dollar budget… That’s incredible.

When someone gives the Erwin brothers like 100 million dollar budget it could become one the top grossing films ever. They’re such good stewards with their dollars and they do a lot with a little. I’d love to work with them one day too.


I also recommend watching the following films, they’re watchable, inspiring (or thought provoking), and they are all films that took me deeper in my walk with Christ Jesus. I’m not sure if they’ll do the same for you, but if you need a break from what Hollywood keeps making… these films will give you that Hollywood fix but fueled by Jesus.

  • The Remaining – It is a rapture themed film based on Revelation 8 and 9. It’s classified as a thriller – so it’s spooky. It’s not very biblically sound, but Alexa PenaVega (Spy Kid Girl) is in it and I LOVE HER!
  • Grace Unplugged – AJ Michalka who stars on ABC’s “Schooled” now. The spinoff show from the “Goldbergs”. In this film, the daughter of a rockstar, who left his wild life behind to follow Jesus, leaves home for LA and gets caught up in the fame monster Lady Gaga sung about and loses herself in the process. It ends well, but if I say more, I’ll spoil how. Chris Tomlin is in this movie for those who love his worship music. Jamie-Grace Harper Collins is in it too.
  • The Song – is sort of a modern version of King Solomon, if he were a Country Music Star and only had one wife… Alan Powell from Anthem Lights stars in it.
  • Woodlawn – another Erwin Brothers film. Also based on a true story. It’s a football movie about one of the first interracial teams. And the cool part is that Jesus the Messiah had so much to do with it!
  • Mom’s Night Out – IF YOU LOVE GREY’S ANATOMY’S DR. APRIL KEPNER – you will love Sarah Drew in this movie about motherhood. Well, mom’s needing a break from being a mom…
  • The Case for Christ – This was like the first well made Christian film I’ve seen script wise. It would be like in my top ten at #6 or maybe tied with #3. Erika Christensen may be a scientologist but she was a genuinely believable Christian convert. Her performance deserves an award in my book. I also think she is so underrated. Let’s pray she finds Jesus and leaves Scientology.
  • Unbroken: Path to Redemption – I wish Angelia Jolie wanted to tell the second half of the Olympic Runner Louis Zamperini’s life. He got saved at a Billy Graham Revival! It’s a new cast replacing the original cast and crew of the first film “Unbroken”, but Matthew Baer returns as a producer.
  • Soul Surfer – starring AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt, and Dennis Quaid… Carrie Underwood is in here too. Based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton and WOW this film is so great! I saw this at a really low point in my life and it picked me up and inspired me to dream again and to work hard at achieving my God given dream.
  • Breakthrough – no words other than that’s how faith works. See it!
  • Run the Race – this film felt like an indie film – (technically it is one) and had that pace. Super cool camera angles to bring a realistic depth and feel to the story. I cried during the main characters monologue prayer. I think it was little melodramatic with the storyline but I still loved it. When I say I got delivered from some things after watching this movie – I got delivered! Worth watching once.
  • Miracles from Heaven – answer to prayer. No lie… maybe I’ll write about it one day. Watch this with your family.
  • 90 Seconds in Heaven – Also an answer to prayer… It’s an alright film. I suggest watching it if you have a hard time believing people can die, see heaven, and come back to life.
  • Unconditional – heartwarming.
  • The Christmas Candle  – My favorite Christmas story that isn’t a nativity story.
  • Jumping the Broom – If you like romcom films.

Did I leave your favorite faith film off the list? Drop the film title in the comments and the reason why you love it, I’d like to check it out if I haven’t heard of it.

KYLIE

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“I like the name Gwendolyn for a girl and Murphy for a boy…” Kylie confessed with an unsure look on her face. She winced worried she’d bring up painful memories for Jon.

“I think both of those names are lovely. Papa Silas and Mom will feel honored when you share your preference, but I like Marie for a girl or Yesh a for a boy…” Jon said.

Kylie rolled her eyes wishing she could argue with him over those names. He like Marie because it’s a form of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and he likes Yesh, short for Yeshua, the Hebrew name of Jesus. Jon believes names are prophetic statements over once’s life… that a name can help shape who you become… that’s why God changed peoples names in the Bible or said what their names should be before they were born.

Kylie stuck her nose back in her book-styled tablet. The paper-light made it similar to reading an old-fashioned paper book. And though Kylie had plenty of regular paper books to choose from in the manor, with the rare blessing to be the newest, and youngest Philosopher’s Wife, she was used to using a book-tablet for all her reading like when she grew up in a Sanctuary.

The sudden touch of Jon’s cold, large, slender hands on her bulging middle made her heart skip a beat for a moment. She closed her book-tablet, and set it in the middle of the bed. She watched Jon lay sideways on the bed, his torso facing her, while his face was fixed on the exterior of her womb. Gently, he rested his forehead and his lips moved but no sound came out. He was praying for their unborn child. She could feel the warmth of the Holy Spirit flow from his hands and into the baby’s chamber. The baby began to kick and move around. Kylie giggle trying not to let the discomfort the baby gave bother her. She imagined the baby was dancing.

In Romans, the Bible says we are all born with the knowledge of God… her heart’s deepest prayer was that her baby would never forget about God. She prayed that God would lead the child to the path of eternal life.

If she knew God when she was pregnant with Bailey’s and Garrison’s daughter… she would have prayed the same… She’s so big now. She’s the 97th percentile for 7 year olds in height, She towers over all boys and girls. Kylie didn’t think her egg and Garrison’s sperm would make such a beautiful, tall, lanky kid. She worried the kid would be ugly. With the exception of Gwendolyn, the Angelcrest’s looked like the trolls that hung out under the bridge… not pretty. Kylie personally doesn’t find herself pretty, but little Taylor is the most gorgeous girl that ever lived.

Sometimes she wished Taylor could be her daughter instead of her niece… but right now, Kylie held the title of most awesome aunt in the world! As long as Kylie kept that what could go wrong.

When Jon finished praying, he used his elbows on the mattress to crawl to meet Kylie face to face.

“Have I told you lately how much I love you?”

“Only every chance you see me…”

“I love you,” He said as kissed Kylie on the lips.

There’s no one more she loved kissing than her husband of three amazingly sweet years. Though sometimes it was weird for her.

She remembers when they were much younger and kissing like this gave her anxiety. Where she felt tortured being treated like a girl. How when Nix would touch Lore’s breast she hated herself for being a woman and was depressed she wasn’t a man, like Nix. She would sometimes picture being the man and even though it wasn’t true, thinking that way helped her cope…

If she didn’t think like a man she may have killed herself. Because every time she had to look at her naked body, not matching how she felt on the inside, she desired death opposed to the living hell she was in… Two things kept her going in the Sanctuary… Her friendship with Nix and the chance for I.D. Synthesis.

“I love you,” Kylie said when they paused for air and she kissed him back.

Kissing Jon now made her feel every bit a woman. She felt a subtle power in being a woman- a life giver because only woman can bear and deliver children. As a woman she found peace in following Jon’s lead. She looked to him to be her guiding light and when Jon was weary and when Jon needed help, in those times she felt called to be his comfort and to be his support. Every day, she got up, she would spend time with God in her secret place, in her mind as she pretended to do her morning yoga, but then the rest of her day was spent making sure Jon got what he needed, and every need she had Jon did his best to meet it. Yes, they both failed everyday to be everything for one another, and they didn’t need each other, but they both chose to need each other.

Jon gently settled away from sucking Kylie’s face and laid on his side, holding up his head his hand on bended elbow. He lied there in his night tee and bed shorts like a total king and Kylie wanted more… if she wasn’t the size of an elephant… it was more work at this stage of pregnancy to get laid than it was worth… in her opinion… but not all women are like Kylie.

“Tomorrow, the Panel requested to see my latest Philosophy in pamphlet form… isn’t that cool?”

“No!” Kylie panicked. That meant he had to share his sources and all of it came from the Bible, using a portion is okay, but using all of it isn’t…

“Relax… whatever will be will be…”

Another topic she wanted to argue about with Jon. He could at least postpone to do something that could kill him until after the baby was born… but the Kylie thought what if one of the Philosopher’s needed to be reminded of the truth before their last breath…

She thought about the sacrifices both Gwendolyn and Murphy made for her.

GWENIE THE DEARLY BELOVED

‘I am grieved that my daughter will forever be known for supporting an ideology that spread bigotry, hatred, homophobia, and down-right judgmental thoughts and attitudes… but that doesn’t change the fact she was my daughter, dearly beloved. She was the wife of my brilliant apprentice I am honored to call son. Her laugh, her smile, her zeal of life will never be forgotten. She will forever be treasure in my heart. Her mother’s heart. Her brother’s heart. Gwendolyn Celeste Angelcrest Fenix aka Gwenie– is her own paradise fashioned by the delusion built on her faulty belief systems– and knowing she now rejoined with the deity that surrounds us, that is in us all and in all things, gives me peace of mind.’ Silas said at her for Gwenie’s eulogy.

Jon cried heavy tears the entire time. Kylie held his hand trying to be a comfort but knew she wasn’t. Gwenie was his wife for two years and he loved her deeeply. Jaya sat on the other side of Jon, rubbing his back in a circular motion.

Kylie’s mind was plagued with guilt for betraying Gwenie like Judas did to Jesus.

A few weeks before Gwenie was arrested at Taylor’s first birthday, at Garrison’s and Bailey’s home… Kylie was summoned to report to her Sanctuary for a spontaneous evaluation. At her second to last evaluation Kylie requested an extension to be an egg donor and surrogate for Bailey and Garrison. Bailey transitioned from a male to a female but still couldn’t have children. The Society agreed to stop her IDS, allow her to fulfill her duty to her family for however long it took and six months after giving birth should resume her IDS for six more months and then transition into a male like she originally desired.

Six months after giving birth, Kylie wasn’t sure about becoming male. Something about giving birth didn’t make her hate being a woman anymore.

In the last month of pregnancy, she lived with Garrison and Bailey, and one weekend they went of town didn’t time alone before becoming parents. Gwenie came over to stay with Kylie because Jon had a ton of work and he needed solace.

One night for dinner, Gwenie dragged Kylie to the Public Sector or the Sailor’s Barge… They had bomb fish and chips and then they stayed until the club hours and went to the basement and Kylie broke out crying when she was welcomed a small group of fellow believers. She no longer had to keep her faith in her mind. She could freely talk about God. She could pray out loud. For the first time, she sang a worship song about the second coming of the Lord… she didn’t want to leave.

Since that night and after giving birth, Kylie went to the basement of the Sailor’s Barge as often as she could. She took more copies of scripture than anyone else, but she never shared them. She saved them to make her own copy of the Bible.

On the day she was summoned to the Sanctuary, they had pictures of her reading a paper booklet tied together with yarn in a makeshift spin. They searched the purse she had with her and found it that booklet… as a makeshift Bible… when they asked where she got it she didn’t want to give up the Sailor’s Barge Basement… She gave up Gwenie instead, after all… she was the one who had access to a Bible and it was in her hand writing. As an offspring from the Private Level, she was one of the few people in the world who could write by hand… everyone else in the Public typed on devices or spoke into devices to create text messages and to write epapers for school.

They asked her right then and there if she believed she wanted to say yes, but she said no. When they asked why she read the pages she claimed she was curious. They asked why didn’t she report Gwenie and offer the book as evidence willingly, she honestly said she wanted to protect her best friend’s wife. Then they asked her why she wanted to be a woman after giving birth.

Kylie answered, ‘Having a child made me feel powerful… I don’t want to give that up… I want more children and if I must sacrifice my desire to be a man for that, then I can live with myself.’

New medical reports at this time shared the alarming rate of infertility. Shocking discoveries that people healthy to reproduce where giving up their ability to reproducing by becoming the opposite gender. And though some female to male people could bear child, it violated the Society’s Social Codes, so they’re started sterilizing all transgender people to make it equal across the board. If the world’s birth rate remained low, there would be no one to replace the world’s current population in the next 100 years.

Simply because Kylie proved to give a healthy offspring, she was spared punishment for breaking the Society’s number one Social Code – worshipping the One True God.

Kylie told herself Gwenie would get a slap on the wrist for being the Chief Philosopher’s Daughter and the Granddaughter of the Chief Policymaker, but it was because of her they decided to televise the stoning of One True God Followers. The Panel chose stoning as the delivery for death to honor their belief in an ancient horrid religion.

Due to the rise in believers, the Panel discussed bringing crucifixion back to scare people out of taking the risk of even thinking of believing.

Anyone who didn’t watch the stoning was arrested and stoned after Gwenie. Everyone was warned beforehand. Kylie sat in Silas’s TV Room, next to Jon, holding his hand, and she watched Gwenie get stoned by the armored lawenforcers. She stood for as along as she could, she only cried when it was unbearable. And when she couldn’t stand, she hoisted herself up on her knees, and in her final breaths on the ground, she cried the name of the Savior again and again until a stone  hit in between the eyes and caved her head in.

Jon and Kylie held each other balling together. He grieved from loss and Kylie wept from overbearing loss. She wished for death. In that moment, she wanted to stand up and say she believed, but Jon did something weird… He kissed her on the lips and then he whispered in her ear. ‘I need you… don’t leave me…’

They didn’t go on a date until two years, forty-two days, and nine hours after Gwenie’s death, but by then Jesus made it clear like Peter, Kylie was forgiven.

The day after her 24th birthday, she became Kylie Taylor Fenix… and without hearing the truth five and half years prior… she wouldn’t be a woman… and she would be on track to hell in the next life living this life as a man.

OUTSIDE THE LOUNGE

Kyl had been tormented for six months. Going through hormone treatments, to harvest eggs, and then having to handle failed implantation after failed implantation… Kyl loved his sister Bailey, but he couldn’t handle putting his dream of becoming a man for real on hold.

To blow off steam, and to relax, AND to FIND someone to HOOK up with to really let go off ALL the CRAP he FELT… he went to the Lounge. Though Kyl fished to take a pretty lady home, no one bit the bait. So Kyl got trashed. Drunker than he ever got before.

Leaving the lounge, he stumbled and nearly fell face first into the sidewalk. He caught himself on the post of a street lamp. A man met him there on that corner and helped hold him up. He looked like an old and gray Nix. And even though, him and Nix were friends again, things weren’t the same between them, and Kyl missed what he and Nix had in the Sanctuary.

‘Excuse me, have you ever heard the Gospel?’ The older man asked.

After giving some speech about Jesus, death, and resurrection and being born-again, and going to heaven instead of hell, the man asked, “Do you believe in the Gospel, Kylie?”

Suddenly, he was tackled by three armored officers. He fought back but the beat him until he fell limp unconscious. Kyl was so freaked out and confused by everything he passed out.

He woke up the next day in his bed. The officers must have brought him home.

Three weeks later, Kyl had a dream of a glamorous place. The streets were pure gold, so pure it was see-thru. There was endless light all around her and total peace. She say this man with holes in his hands and where a white robe. He was bearded and she knew who he was… the man who was God who died on a cross for her sins.

“I love you Kylie.”

Abruptly, she woke up and instantly believed the Gospel was true. She left like she needed to look in her back pants pocket and she pulled out a little piece of paper that had written on it, “God sent his only begotten Son for the salvation of the world. For whosoever believes in the Son should have eternal life…” John 3:16. The old man must have slipped it in her pocket somehow. Deep in her heart she believed in Jesus and she felt free. She no longer wanted to be Kyl. She wanted to be Kylie like her parents named her.

KYL LORE

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Three days after commencement, Kyl finally got leave. He got little panicked trying to leave the Sanctuary the first day and he feels bad that he stood Nix up. But when he was walking down the hall the first, a panic hit him heavy. Bailey always visited him growing up in the Sanctuary, would if his parents wouldn’t show up for him, and he would be all alone like Bailey was after her commencement.

For three days, he rested in a blue light room to release. He talked about his fears with a counselor. He did a lot of meditation asking spirits to guide him to peace.

He cut his hair into the male style he wanted and he selected faux eye-glasses to look smart. Chicks dig nerdy guys.

On his second attempt to leave the Sanctuary, he could feel another panic attack coming, but he pressed through fearing life in the Sanctuary more than the unknown that awaited him.

Bailey and Garrison came to pick him and took him to the Private Level to their house, though he was assigned a nice apartment on the edge of the Public Level. That’s when Bailey told Kyl about their parents. They were famous entertainers who took their lives in a double suicide when Kyl was 6 and Bailey was 12. They watched a marathon of movies their parents starred into together… they were the Society’s hottest actors and hottest celebrity couple.

Entertainers may live in the Private Level, but they only have the rights of Public Level Members. Their child must be raised in Sanctuaries but do get to return to their entertainer parents during IDS.

Kyl was never that into movie so he never realized who his parents were, but watching the movie where their parents fell in love on set, she remembered one visit from them in the Sanctuary.

LORE

Sage Lore was six years old. Hirs (here) caretaker took hirs to the Visitor’s Hall to see hirs parents. Sie (zee) was so excited! Lore’s Alma (mother) was pencil thin and looked like a walking corpse and Lore’s Animo (father) was big and bulky like a comic book superhero. Their teeth blindingly white, their skin seemingly perfect, and their clothes super pressed and fresh looking.

Lore sat in between them on a bench to a long table. All three of them used the table top like a back rest.

They spent a long time giving Lore kisses and telling sie they loved hirs. Hirs Animo sat hirs on the lap. Lore faced inward looking at hirs Animo’s face while hirs hair was braided by hirs Alma.

The time came for them to leave and hirs Animo set Lore on the ground on hirs feet. They both hugged Lore at the same time and whispered in hirs ear, ‘Believe when you hear the Gospel. Jesus loves you.’

Six people wearing clunky black outfits and black face glassy covers came and surrounded Lore’s parents. The people in black showed Mr. and Mrs. Taylor out. Lore got to visit with Bailey the next week, even though older kids did not hang out with younger ones.

Over time, Lore realized sie would never see hirs parents again, but sie knew sie would always have Nix.


Author’s Note

You may have realized everyone who got saved in this story was connected to believer in their family before them. I’m not saying only the relatives of believers get saved, but I do know God is faithful to answer prayer. If fellow believers are anything like me, I pray for my family who don’t know God personally, to know Him and I thank God for the salvation and I trust God will give them chance after chance until they die to know God.

Martyrdom turned out to be a huge theme I didn’t expect to hit on until I wrote Murphy’s section. Then this theme took over.

I know I personally don’t reflect on the fact that I could die one day for my faith in Jesus. Not that I think anyone aspires to be a martyr, but can you say you truly believe in something if you’re not willing to die for what you believe in?

This concludes I.D. Synthesis. This was originally a novel length idea that I compressed into a four part series.

I’m sure there are so many questions! Look out for some videos explaining the things not resolved in this series. Please, drop questions in the comments below or on any parts of the story and I’ll do my best to address them in my videos or by responding to your comment. Thank you for taking this journey with me and I hope you come along for the next one. Bring some friends too! Spread the word about this weird story you read online and you made you think a lot!!! Say what you want how you want to say it, I simply ask you be kind.

Thank you,

Much Love,

Bri,

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Let’s journey on the faith track for a bit.

I’m not a stranger to Jesus, the Son of Man. As I read miracles in the Bible I believe He can still do miracles. I’ve asked and I’ve seen God work miracles in my life…

Yet, lately, I’m having a really hard time believing God for some things right now.

My dad needs a miracle.

My mom needs a miracle.

My brother needs a miracle.

My grandmother needs a miracle.

My uncle needs a miracle.

My cousins need a miracle.

My best friends need miracles.

At this point, I could care less if God ever gives me another personal miracle.

I’m super analytical. So immediately, I think about all the reasons why these miracles haven’t happened.

My father doesn’t believe God will help him.

My mother is on her own walk with God.

My brother is rebellious.

My grandmother is missing the mark on the call of God on her life.

My uncle is a prodigal.

My cousins need to be saved.

My best friends are going through tests and trials with the Lord.

Now, I admit I know nothing and I’m probably wrong, and if I am right… I saw Jesus work plenty of miracles for imperfect people. It was His perfection that healed them. He was obedient. He was in tune with the Holy Spirit. He was the vessel acting in faith and doing miracles.

And Apostle Paul is like one of my favorite examples in the Bible, but he said to imitate Christ Jesus over him.

Lately, I’ve thought about how Jesus was always praying and pressing into the presence of heaven. And we can say this was/is so easy for Him because He was/is God, but He clearly lived a human life. What if He ran to God in prayer because the presence of heaven was like eating a whole carton of ice cream and an entire pizza? What if being in God’s presence was where He ran when the temptations and anxieties of life became too much for Him?

Then if He could do it, can’t we then?

That’s why we read the Word and we believe every bit of it in our hearts, right? So nothing in this world can satisfy like the presence of heaven?

Now, we must be careful to not covet heaven that we become spiritual fruit loops and nobody on earth can relate to us. Pastor Rod Parsley says that we shouldn’t be so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good.

When we go into heaven over load mode, we’re trying to escape the woes of this life, and Jesus didn’t set that example. He showed that we charge the troubles of this life and we let heaven become the remedy in the midst of that situation.

I have a knack for seeming like I know what to do in any given situation. But when it comes to kingdom business, I don’t have a clue without God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit giving the directions, dropping the revelation, and showing up and showing off!

Yes, I can easily keep a defeated mindset and wonder if these miracles for my family will ever happen, or I can read the Word, and pray to God, and trust in time these miracles will happen on this side of heaven, down here on earth…

It’s easy to type this confession. And it won’t be a challenge in my heart, if I set my gaze in the right place… on Jesus and the Word, not my circumstances.

Now, it’s perfectly healthy to acknowledge when I’m sad and when I’m hurt and when I’m angry, but the key is not to moved by the emotions to the point it determines my reaction. I need to respond like a soldier in God’s army, which often means going to God in prayer or in worship. I don’t need to reach for the remote or eat a box cookies or eat two dinners in the middle of the night… My comfort needs to be found in the Comforter (the Holy Spirit), not in my comfort foods.

TV, Movies, and Food are what I run to sometimes instead of the presence of God. They never fully satisfy like God does… More and more I’m running to Him instead of these things that only offer temporary relief. I love music too, so I try not to run to my worship playlist.

I wrote this whole thing fighting tears and listening to a bunch of strife in my household tonight… maybe I ran away from the chaos into this blog post searching for peace… All I know, is that I want lives to be changed and transformed. I want to see the Gospel manifest in the lives of those I love. Not to prove that Jesus is real, because I know He is real. Simply because I want people to be free, for that is the only way we should live, and it is an injustice to be chained in bondage our whole lives.

Pray for me saints as I pray for anyone who reads this post.

If you’re not a believer, I think you’re on your way to becoming one. Why put it off, when you can believe RIGHT NOW?!

Truth is hell is real. Truth is hell will be eternity for those who don’t choose Jesus the Messiah in this life. You can ask God later why hell is real. But today, you can believe that Jesus died paying for your sins, sins that Adam and Eve passed down to you through their disobedience. And you can give up your nature that is self-seeking and self-destructive, and undergo a life-long process of how to become humbly, selfless to the point you look like a mini Jesus to people. The Holy Spirit will empower you to live such a life. You’ll have ups and you’ll have downs, but through it all, you’ll know all is well. And on the other side of heaven, in eternal paradise, you’ll enjoy forever with God, me, and many more saints. All you have to do right now, is believe Jesus came for you, died for you, and when He rose from the dead made you alive with Him forever…

That was easy, right?!

I suggest reading the Bible now. The Hoy Spirit will teach you everything you need to know. So will a great pastor at a church you’re meant to be at, and as will other leaders and mentors and fellow saints.

Your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are as broken as you, so when one hurts your feelings in church, go to them and resolve the issue. Take the high road and let it go. Don’t expect them to take your side. Like, forgive them in your heart before you go to them.

Then next, find out why you’re on this planet and what God has called you to do. Then go through the process to fulfill your destiny. No one can say how long it will take, but enjoy the ride day by day because you only get one life. Also, you’ll never fully arrive, so you might as well enjoy the little things as they unfold into bigger things!

And when you reach a point, when you don’t see God coming through in some areas… don’t fall for the lies or base the possibilities on your feelings. Like God came through for Abraham and Sarah, God will come through for you!

Also, your actions are important. Think very carefully before you do anything, unless, you believe God is instructing you… His guidance you just do, and trust me, how things turn out will show you if it was God or not. In my personal experience, it is mostly God.

So what do you do… when you can’t see the miracles? Serious question, drop your thoughts in the comment section.

Much love,

Bri

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Natasha and Chlonelle (Clo-NELL) are setting up the stage, making sure the sound levels are right for worship, and that the lights are ready for their cues. Melody’s grip of my hand is firmer than her father’s handshake. I didn’t realize someone could be so nervous over going to church, but I remember walking in here is more a spiritual battle than a mental one for her. Nicolette, Aden, and Wilma enter the youth room from outdoors laughing together. When they see us, standing by the door to the hallway, they come over to greet Melody.

Nicolette’s style complements Melody’s. Today they’re both wearing black flats with ribbon bowties, skinny jeans (Nic’s are faded while Mel’s are midnight blue), Nicolette wears a white blouse with a ruffled collar and a knitted light gray, long sleeve cardigan sweater while Melody wears a yellow blouse with a cow bell neck line and a long, baggy black cardigan.  Stubbornly, keeping my hand in her clutch, Melody uses her right hand to shake. I introduce her to Nicolette first, and Nicolette winks saying, “Nice shoes!”

As Aden, Wilma, and I join Nicolette in a quick giggle, Melody only smiles uncomfortably. Fixing her sandy blonde, wavy ponytail Nicolette complements Melody’s hair too. This time we spare the giggles to alleviate the awkwardness of this first encounter.

Aden opts to wave instead of shake hands. He’s a borderline germaphobe. Hopefully, Melody isn’t offended by it.

Lastly, Wilma and Melody shake as I inform them of one another’s name. Melody’s grip has loosened now that she sees these guys are cool.

But she tenses right back up when Nicolette asks if she’s ever been to church before. Grinning out of angst, she huffs lightly, “Not one like this…” I expected her to follow up by professing she’s a Mormon, but she just lets her sentence drop and die out. Averting her eyes, she looks around the Youth Sanctuary… it’s really just a humungous room with a two foot high stage in the corner.

Wilma says, “We’re glad you’re here.”

“How do you know Asher?” Aden asks.

“We go-,” Mel and I both start to say, a titter escapes through our breath from our lips in unison too. She lets me finish the sentence. “We go to school together.”

Nicolette nods her head pursing her lips, her lame attempt at trying to be cool, as she says, “Right on.”

Until I’m required to report to my Youth Worship Team post as an ensemble singer (as Natasha calls us) Melody and I hang out in the Book Nook Corner. It’s a corner in the back, filled with Christian literature for youth and young adults. Bean bags surround the outer edge of the area, turning the corner into a square. Melody still holds my hand hostage while exploring the book selection. When I tell her she can borrow anything for free, she just has to sign it out on the clip board, she appears eager to take something home. By the look in her eyes, it’s obvious she doesn’t have a clue where to start. I would make a few suggestions, but I don’t want her to feel like I’m pushing her. Only if she asks… I’ll point a few books out.

“There’s so much here…”

“Yep.”

“Have you ever checked anything out?”

I think she’s fishing for me to tell what’s good to read, but I shouldn’t just assume. I answer honestly, “No, but-,” I point to a book I own and have read several times, “I have this one at home.”

Without hesitating, she pulls the red softcover book titled: not a fan. The book divulges what it really means to follow Christ and answer His radical call. After reading the summary on the back, she puts it back.

“Could I barrow it from you? It may take me a while to read it.”

“Sure.”

She continues to look on, dragging me with her. I try not to look as surprised as I feel when she pulls The Case for Christ off the shelf. Holding it up, she inquires, “Is this a good one?”

“I heard its good, but I’ve only read More Than a Carpenter… they’re similar, since both authors were former atheists.” I say.

Handing it to me, she says, “You should check it out and then after you read it, tell me which one I should read.”

I hand the book back to her, “Or you could check it out, and tell me what you think. Then maybe I’ll want to read it.”

“Asher man, let’s warm up.” Natasha calls out to me.

I manage to break my hand free. Once I think I’m scot-free to walk on, I’m held in place by a nervous-someone tugging at my shirt.

“Don’t leave me,” she yelps in a frantic whisper.

I pry her fingers off my shirt, and I join her hands together to the clutch the book in her grasp instead of me. Locking eye contact with her, I say to her, “You’ll be fine. Hang back here and skim the pages. See if it’s worth checking out.” Gently, I guide her to my favorite bean bag to sit in. It’s filled just right, not too full, and not too flat. Tenderly pressing down on her shoulders, I guide her to sit down in the royal blue, cloth bean bag. As she sits in it, her posture stiffens like a tall board, and her knees hug up against each other as they point to the side. Apparently, she is a princess now, sitting as royalty should.

Zeven happens to make his way to the stage as I’m heading there. He looks over his shoulder at Melody and asks, “She with you?”

I just nod, not feeling in a very talkative mood toward him.

Patting me in the back, “It’s about time you got a girl man. Congrats dude.”

I open my mouth to correct him, but a part of me wonders if Natasha would be jealous if she thought I had a girlfriend. I just pretend like I didn’t hear him.

We do a quick run through of our set. Natasha just makes sure we understood her notes on our sheet music about her arrangement, and she makes sure our sound level is perfect for worship. While we’re singing How Great is Our God, Chastity, who’s been standing in the sound booth all this time, steps out and goes over to Melody and interrupts her reading.

I’m fortunate this song is programed in my brain, because I can’t seem to concentrate as I observe my Youth Pastor talk to my Mormon friend. Considering my past experiences with Mormons and misguided Youth Pastors, I’m totally panicked that Chastity’s going to kick her out. But everything seems to be okay. Chastity gets Melody to genuinely laugh, which should help me relax, but now I wonder how close Melody is to accepting Christ… the real one…

The strangest thought crosses my mind once she’s saved, maybe we could date… My heart literally skips a beat, which is the first time I’ve ever experienced such a phenomenon. Clearly, my heart is aching over my missed chance with Natasha and Melody is the close proximity rebound.

The music dies instantly and Natasha hounds at me, “We’re repeating the chorus twice in the end Asher.”

Autopilot doesn’t always work out best. I apologize.

“Let’s take it from the bridge.” Natasha orders.

Melody tries not to laugh at me, by burying her face in the book. Once the music plays, Melody gives me two thumbs up trying to be encouraging. Chastity looks at me and in her expression she tells me to get focused without words. A peace sweeps through me as I trust Chastity to look out for Melody while I practice singing praises onto the Lord.

We get started right away tonight because everyone managed to show up five minutes after we finished rehearsal. Melody makes sure she’s front and center during worship. She doesn’t sing along much, but she reads the words on the projection screen, and sways to the beat of the music as she keeps the Case for Christ clinched in her hands.

The worship team joins the rest of the youth group on the ground as Chastity takes the stage with a bible in hand and a head mike attached to her face. As usual she makes announcements. On Sunday, we’ll begin the sermon series on Sexuality: Knowing Him and Her. The first Saturday of September, we’ll be having game night here in the youth room. There will be food and drinks and games provided. All we need to do is bring ourselves and some friends. Melody whispers in my ear that she wants to go. I nod my head, promising her we’ll go. Zeven and Aden walk around with baskets to collect tithes and offerings, then after everyone has given to God what belongs to God, Chastity begins her sermon.

“Tonight, we’re going to start a new series… Does God Know You?”

Zeven’s hand pokes in between my head and Melody’s with two slips of paper. Aden comes beside me and hands us a bible to share. Melody and I went out to eat at Lucano’s, which gave me no time to run home to get my Bible. Usually, I bring it with me Wednesdays to school in case I run behind, but today I forgot. Breakfast time was quite the showdown as Abbey picked a fight with my mother over cereal. The cereal was a cheap knock off brand and Abbey put her two cents in about it. She’s lashing out because she doesn’t get to attend homecoming, instead, she has to stay home and babysit her little sister. Dad told me to go to school alone, he had to have a talk with Abbey and he said he would drive her up the hill to school. Dad text me at lunch that he would pick Abbey up from school too, and by the looks of her not being here, I think she’s in big trouble.

I look at the half sheet of paper.

Does God Know You? Part I

1)    God knew you in the womb. Ps. 139:13-16; see all Ps. 139

2)    God has a plan for you. Jer. 2:5; Jer. 29:11; Ps. 16:11; Ps. 119:105, Pr. 3:5-6

If God had a plan for Jeremiah, certainly He has a plan for you.

Trust God and see His plan unfold. (Pr. 16:4)

3)    You were born with the knowledge of God. Rom. 1:18-25

4)    Seek God (knock) and you will find God. Mat. 7:7-10

Have you sought God with all your heart?

Have you asked to get closer to Him?

Melody pokes me to get my attention. She mouths: Do you have a pencil or a pen? I scout my pockets and find my favorite sketch pencil, but I trust Melody with it. Taking it, she notices what pencil it is, and she mouths: Are you sure? Casually I nod yes.

The sermon wasn’t questioning whether or not we legitimately know God, it was encouragement to seek God’s face and know him personally. Over the next four weeks, on Wednesday, we’ll be learning how to deepen our relationship with Christ, so we can have that deep, intimate relationship with God. I was wrong about Abbey being a no show, she showed up ten minutes into the sermon and she looked pissed. I try to find out why she was upset after our closing worship song, but Dad showed up to collect her. I know I’ll find out later.

On the car ride up the hill, into town, Melody won’t quit with the questions. Why were a lot of our worship songs about Christ and not God; aren’t we putting Christ above God doing that? I explain that Christ was fully man and fully divine, which she agreed with, but I lose her when I tell her God gave authority to Christ. I admit that I totally don’t understand it, but Christ is one with the Father, because that’s exactly what the Word says.

Next she asks, if we were born with the knowledge of God, wouldn’t that mean we were spirits with Him, before we passed through the veil and were born into fleshly bodies and forgot about Him? She almost lost me with that question, but I ask her, “If we forget about God once we pass through the veil, how could we be born with the knowledge of God?”

She argues the fact God knew us before the foundations of the Earth were laid, so we had to be spirits living with Him before entering earth. God knew us, because he foresaw us, but he knits us together in the womb (says so in Psalms), and directs our paths to fulfill the plans He has for us (mentions something like that in Proverbs). Taking a moment of silence, she mentally chews on my response.

“So if God, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit are three persons in one… what does that mean? Like how are Elohim and Jehovah not actually father and son, because the whole three persons in one concept seems like the father and son relationship is a figure of speech or symbolism for something, right? Like why would God talk and pray to Himself?”

For fun I question, “Do you not talk to yourself?”

“Well yeah, but…” her words cease as she looks out the window up at the stars.

“I don’t really know… and I think if I did it would boggle my mind. In my short 17 years on this planet, I’ve learned that God doesn’t think like us… If He did, why would we need Him, so that means some things about Him are incomprehensible; and when we try to understand Him in light of our knowledge, we misconstrue the message.”

Sighing, Melody wonders, “How do you reconcile your faith?”

What does she mean? “What do you mean?” I ask for clarification.

“In the beginning, the law was mandatory wasn’t it, then all of a sudden it isn’t, how do you progress in God’s grace?”

Lord, what is she asking and how do I answer it? Take over Lord. Holy Spirit give me the words.

“Why don’t you ask God and find out for yourself?” I ask her.

Really God? What about explaining that Jesus set us free from the law through His death and resurrection and that God’s grace is a completely free gift impossible to gain or keep by what we do. The only way to receive grace is choosing Christ and building a relationship with God, and through the Holy Spirit we’re empowered from within to imitate our Savior and live in God’s will.

“I did that about six years ago and I thought I got my answer…”

“How did you do so?”

“Well, I had all these types of questions before when I was 12. I had a friend at school, Melanie, and I spent the weekend at her house. I didn’t know she was a Baptist. When she talked about church, I thought she went to one like mine, I just figured she attended the church in Show Low or something. After Sunday school I started thinking that maybe I’ve been lied to about God all my life. I was scared of going to hell because I didn’t know the true Jesus the Baptist preacher talked about. I went to my dad and he told me to read the entire of the Book of Mormon. Just like it says at the end, you’ll pray seeking God’s Wisdom and know by the burning in your chest. And it happened, I felt just that and I knew I grew up with truth… or so I thought.” She sighs heavier, keeping her gaze out the window.

“Why are so unsure again?” I question.

“I don’t know…” She sniffles.

Is she crying Lord?

“Do you believe in devils?” I ask curiously.

“The Devil exists. He was upset he didn’t get to be our Redeemer so he fell and God chose Jehovah, who was an angel before He was born to Mary.”

“Of course you believe in Satan, but do you believe in devils and demons?”

Melody makes a gentle “ah” noise about to speak, but she falls silent after a short, low grunt. “I’m just confused!” She blurts out.

“God is the God of peace, confusion comes from the Enemy.” I say calmly.

Melody doesn’t say anything; she just grunts again sounding annoyed. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice her elbow resting on the window seal and her hand shoveled in her wavelets of hair.

Adam comes out to the car as I pulled up by the porch. He opens the door for Melody. Ducking low, and poking his head inside the car, he probes for details about our night by simply asking where we were. I open my talk piece to confess we went to my church, but she says we went to a movie: The Nephilim Class: Nexus the First

“How was it?” Adam asks.

I try to say, ‘Good’ but I just shrug my shoulders.

Melody covers for me. Resting a hand on my shoulder, she lies, “He fell asleep. His baby sister kept him up all night. I liked it though.”

Adam steps back so Melody can get out. Melody forgets her backpack, but Adam notices it on the passenger floor and picks it up for her. Slowly, closing the door, he tells me, “Have a good night Asher, and tomorrow after school, could you just drop her off right away. It’s family game night. You’re more than welcome to join.”

The chance to say yay or nay passes for he closes the door without waiting for a response, which I think he’s trying to encourage me to say nay.

On the drive down the hill, I pray nonstop for Melody, and ask the Holy Spirit to take care of the seeds planted within her tonight. In the parking lot, I take a moment in the car. Tears swell in my eyes as Colton comes to mind… I beg God to bring him back home before it’s too late, and I plea for Melody to see the truth. I confess that I don’t care if she stays my friend… I just ask for her salvation. If I could, I’d take her place, but You Lord already did that… You paid the price for her… Help her see that… When she asks… and I think she will… reveal Yourself to her so she knows without a shadow of doubt that You Lord are God the great I AM. The burden that built a home in my heart during our conversation in the car has lifted and peace once again resides in my heart the moment I say, “In Jesus’ name… Amen.”

It’s twenty after nine when I get inside and for some reason as of late I tend to get home when Abbey’s throwing a tantrum toward my parents. Rising from her place at the dining table, nearly across the front door where I stand, Abbey yells at mom and dad, “This is ridiculous! You don’t trust me, but you trust a 17-year-old boy to have the whole place to himself for the entire weekend? I swear I’m your least favorite child and you just love to see me suffer. I hate you!

Both of you!” She follows up with a loud, angered shriek as she stomps up the stairs to her room. For sure we presume she’s going to slam the door, but Annika must be in bed already, because she closes it as softly as possible.

“What is she talking about?” I wonder.

Dad stands up and grips me by the shoulder carefully, “Abbey’s coming with us to babysit Annika while we attend the wedding festivities. It’s her punishment for her disrespect lately.”

Mom comes to the other side of me, crossing behind me, and kisses me on the cheek.

“Have I ever told you how grateful I am you’re not a troublemaker?”

A little prideful that mom sees me as her angel child, I huff a tender a smile.

Giving me a quick pat on the back, dad says, “Don’t be too wild while we’re away.”

We all chuckle in a unified matter as we go our separate ways. Mom goes to the kitchen, dad plops down on the couch for his nightly devotions, I go upstairs to my room.

Tossing my backpack in the closet, I realize I don’t ever have to tell mom and dad I’m taking Melody to homecoming, but I should ask encase they’re not okay with it. Too lazy to put PJs on, I strip down to my briefs and the Sanctus Real band shirt I’ve worn all day. For the fun of it, I rush and leap into bed, landing face first into my pillow. The impact wasn’t as cushiony as I imagined it would be, but it was a small thrill… I’m too easily amused.

Lying on my back, wide awake in the dark I think of all the things I could have said to Melody in the car, but didn’t. It must have been the Holy Spirit because I wouldn’t operate a conversation that way… Restlessness rises up in me again… and I’m not sure why. Like an alarm clock blaring, very alertly the Lord says to me, “Melody, pray for her.”

But I did Lord?

What do I pray for? I prayed for everything I could think of in the car. Well, when you don’t know what to pray for, you let the Holy Spirit pray for you. After I say aloud, “Dear God,” strange ramblings of gibberish I don’t understand, yet it sounds like a combination of Spanish, French, Hebrew, and complete nonsense spews from my mouth. I pray in tongues until the ick feeling in my spirit dissolves. I look at my alarm clock on the nightstand and the red, block numbers illuminate the time: 10:45 pm. I prayed for one person for over an hour… I’ve never done that before… at least I don’t think so.

As I close my eyes to go to sleep, the Lord leaves this final word with me, “Will you listen to me Asher?”

Of course, Lord. I respond.