Originally, “the wildflowers along route 77” was titled “Everloving” and the little book was 17 chapters, not 16. But near the beginning of posting each chapter, I combined two separate chapters into one.
I didn’t realize how many gaps I left in the plot and how I left so many questions unanswered. As the author, I know in my head what happened at the moments in between and where people are now, however, I wanted it to feel real in the aspect we don’t know what happens from every angle and not every person gets to find out the full the picture. Often in life we are left with so many questions.
Anything you want to know about any character, ask in the comments below, and I will respond wholeheartedly leaving nothing out.
I plan on writing a sequel that will go back and forth through Asher’s last year of college and Melody reaching out to LDS family members. As to when that sequel will be written, I don’t know yet. I have so many other ideas I want to work on and finish before they become out of season.
Anything I write, I consider it a job well done if one part can make me cry, and when I read the chapter where Asher confessed everything to his dad, and his dad was there for him as a father first instead of as a pastor, choked me up! I have some friends who grew up under the pressure of being a preacher’s kid and the ministry always came first over their needs as kids. I’m sure there are wonderful parents out there who happen to be in ministry and are more like Asher’s dad than “the-ministry-first-parents” my friends had.
I think the story makes it really clear, I don’t believe the Latter Day Saints of the Church of Jesus Christ is real Christianity. They don’t believe in the core Biblical things the rest of Christians believe. I’ve had a friend in real life leave the LDS Church after God Himself led her out. I did my best to present my fictional LDS characters as realistic as possible. These characters are loosely based on LDS members I know in real life, with a lot of fictional components I developed from some research.
Overall, I hope the point and message this story is clear, having a personal relationship with Christ through His love is the main point of existence. The second point, for why we live, is to connect others to the love of Christ.
I will make it clear, I don’t agree or believe in missionary dating, but I do believe in obeying God. Sometimes, God asks us to do things now that don’t make sense but one day, when we see the full picture, it will make sense!
Thank you for taking this journey with me, and one day may you see this book on a shelf or this story made into a movie! Hopefully, “the wildflowers along route 77” will be a published book and a feature film. And that I will be able to say, to God be all the Glory, for why such things were accomplished.
Thanks for participating in this Manuscript Monday,
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.
“Four years ago, I can attest Luke Joshua Torwalt was born 7 lbs., 6 oz., and 19 in. tall in the Valley, Arizona. The Torwalts are the lead pastors at Faith Rising Church and they are full gospel, Pentecostal believers, and to this day I’m blessed to be a part of Luke’s like as ‘Mellie’.”
The auditorium erupts with applause. Happy to hear about the happy ending, to the personal testimony of Best Selling Author, Melanie Gartner Begay.
“And doctors say my ER visit was a misdiagnosis, because I did not have a vanishing twin. The placenta proved it.” The crowd explodes with various hallelujahs and praises to God. She adds, “I’m a firm believer God gave me back my baby because I asked Him to.” She smiles at everyone with her face flushing bright, lobster red. She lowers the mike and sets it in her lap crossed at the knees, where she sits center on a stool with a back rest.
Her husband, seated in a matching stool beside her, grabs her free hand that sports her sparkling, very visible diamond ring. He lifts the grill of his mike to his chin and takes over the spotlight, “Does anyone have any questions for my wife… or for me… since her book sort of is the story of us…”
I stand up raising my hand. Risking, looking like a total fool. With a shaved scalp, a full beard, and glasses on, I’m certain neither of them can recognize me.
“Yes, hipster that just stood up.” Mr. Begay calls on me.
“Melody states in the last chapter, neither of you believe in missionary dating, but did not missionary dating lead you both to salvation?”
The young Navajo man chuckles. He cracks his neck by jolting his head sideways and then back upright. “Uh… As she explains in the book, God is Everloving. His love is unconditional, continuous, ever present, all encompassing, constantly pursuing us because He has the singular goal of having a relationship with us, His way. Yet, He is such a gentleman, He pursues us by wooing us, and He uses any method we give Him permission to chase us. By grace and probably a little luck, Christ encountered us through a person we dated.” He gazes at Melody, completely spellbound by her, madly in love with her, and gives her a peck on the check. Majority of the audience gushes over the public display of affection. “And I got to ask that person to marry me. Thank God she said yes!” The crowd nervously laughs with the couple.
“To add to what Colton said…” She raises her mike back up. She gulps and explains, “Now, I obviously didn’t marry Asher, but it took his love for me to open up to Christ’s love for me…” She falls silently and stares at me. The look on her face is the classic expression of the Holy Spirit downloading fresh information into her spirit. “Sir, could you take off your glasses?”
I think I’ve been discovered. I comply interested to see where this will go. The moment I do, Melody gasps, leaping off her stool. “ASHER LUCAS!” Everyone reacts in various ways. Some are excited, others are confused, by some facial expressions of audience members they think this was planned, and Colton leaves his wife’s side and hurries up to me. He nearly trips half way up the steps by not paying attention to his feet, but he grapples me into a hug and the NBA’s first Navajo point guard won’t let go.
“How could you sneak in here all incognito?” Melody asks from the front of the lecture hall.
Rubbing my shiny head, Colton asks, “What happened to the curly fro, Bro?”
Colton holds his mike to my mouth for the whole place to hear my answer, “I was tired of everyone commenting I had chick hair.”
Taking the mike back, “So you’re not prematurely going bald?”
“No. I’m not.” I confess.
“Asher, can you come down and tell everyone why you d—,” she pauses and then she murmurs, “Okay Holy Ghost…” Again, she re-asks me, “Can you please join my husband and I upfront and explain why you did what you did?”
Following behind Colton down the stairs, and the crowd goes crazy with excitement, I think to myself: God, your sense of humor astounds me. Colton was my best friend in Sanders. He was convinced he’d never go anywhere or do anything with his life. He didn’t even want to go to college. Then he becomes a Mormon. Goes to Brigham Young for free and plays basketball. Helps them win enough to make it to the Final Sweet 16 in March Madness his Freshman Year. He convinces Melody Gartner to date him before being the number three draft pick and playing for the state of Utah. While they’re dating he rededicates his life to Christ.
Because yes, that is what Melody did, she went to Brigham Young not believing an ounce of Mormonism. At her graduation, she gave a speech preaching the true gospel and nearly everyone there dedicated their life to Christ. The Dean of Students and the Chancellor resigned from their jobs the next day. Brigham Young did not ratify her degree and to this day are withholding it from her. However, that’s okay. The Lord encouraged her to write a book, which she finished in a week living in the Torwalts basement, because her and Colton were still engaged, and Everloving is currently #1 on the New York Times Best Selling List.
I knew about the book prior to publication. She wanted me to have a 5% royalty from the sales, but I said no. When I went to the campus bookstore to buy a copy, and found out her book was sold out, I regretted not taking her offer.
Melody clarifies things for the audience, “We had no idea he’d be here tonight. What are you doing here? Didn’t you graduate already?”
“I’m a senior this year.” I state. Anyone who reads her book learns her pregnancy encouraged her to graduate high school early online and she began college courses at Brigham Young over the summer. Upon her enrollment she took 20 credit hours a semester and whatever she could every summer, determined to be out of there as soon as possible, which enabled her to graduate her Junior Year as Salutatorian of her class. She was chosen as the key speaker for her exemplary community outreach, on campus contributions, and sexual assault activism.
“Right, I forgot I graduated early.” She giggles. Clearing her throat, “Anyways, this is Asher Lucas, who was a great friend to me high school and even with all my tricks and schemes stayed by my side for as long as he could. Asher, please explain why you did what you did?”
Colton hands me his mike. The bright lights are blinding but they help make the audience seem non-existent, which makes it easier to speak to the crowd. I never set out to date Melody. It would be rude to tell the truth, wouldn’t it? That I never wanted to talk to her. That I had to force myself to be cordial to her.
What do I say, Lord? I ask Him mentally.
The truth… He answers in my heart. I should have known that. God is big on the truth and anything hidden only remains hidden if God intends it to be a secret, but at some point, He reveals things.
The longer something stays a secret, the bigger and fancier the miracle is, after all, Christ was planned from the foundations of the Earth. His birth, his life, his ministry, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, and his yet to occur second advent… Clearly, Christ is the biggest, greatest, fanciest miracle to ever exist. Yes, exist, because he wasn’t created. He always was and always will be, He is eternal and all things were created through Him. Truth be told. All truth already exists and has yet to be revealed. Lies are created based on the truth. Life is one giant journey that begins in the dark, where everything is hidden from us, and we are to find the light in the pillars of truth placed in our midst.
I think I know what to say now.
“Um… I totally didn’t set out to date Melody Gartner. I had a severe allergy to Mormons at the time. Every time I came in contact with one, tell-tell symptoms of fear, judgement, and a critical spirit made my spiritual heart sick and believe-it or not, brought me closer to Christ. Before I could defend my faith to anyone Mormon, I needed to be reassured by Christ’s love that I knew Him personally, and my faith revealed more and more of Him daily…”
I’m genuinely worried about Melody. She hasn’t been in school for 3 days, and she hasn’t called or texted me since last Saturday. I’ve called her every chance I’ve gotten, but she didn’t pick up. Today, her phone has been disconnected. Every time I see Tenor and try to ask what is going on, he glares at me as if I’m possessed with the devil and barks that she doesn’t want to see me so leave her alone.
Rumors like wildfire spread throughout Redridge High that Melody tried to kill herself, others report she got in a bad car accident, and some say she’s bulimic getting sent to the Valley for treatment. No one knows what to believe. It’s a different story every time someone opens up their mouth to speak.
At lunch, Pernel plops in front of me, and spills the rumor from the football locker room. Apparently, Melody had to go to the hospital last Saturday night. Many reports claim she was there until Tuesday. She’s leaving for the Valley tomorrow to go stay with her aunt and finish the school year because she is having a baby out of wedlock.
Panic takes control of my heartbeat, making that muscle beat out of tune to an irregular fast pace. I can’t be caught up in this lie, if I am, my reputation will be destroyed.
“Who… who’s the father?” I gently plea to know what others are talking about.
“No one knows. Jon Hurst tried to blame you but Tenor stuck up for you. He said you were as virgin as the Savior Mother. Meaning you’d only have sex with God.”
We both wince at such horrific thought. The idea of God ever having sex with his creation is pedophile-level perverse or worse. Of course, not every Mormon believes Adam-god came down, had sex with Mary, which led to Jesus—Jehovah’s existence. Some believe very similarly to sound Christianity. Only Brigham Young followers, high up in leadership believe that about Jesus. I’m not truly certain of the consensus of Mormon Theology on Jesus Christ’s Birth.
I do know according to their website, ‘Jesus and God the Father are one in purpose but two separate beings’. Jesus the Son and God the Father are the same essence and two persons that belong to the same Godhead, which includes the Holy Spirit as the third person. By saying God and Jesus are two separate beings, there are diluting God’s identity and admitting to worshiping more than one god. Though the two concepts sound like they belong to the same school of thought they don’t.
“The ‘Eagans are talking though. Jon and Meaghan just broke up because Reagan and Teagan say that Jon is the father of Melody’s baby!” Pernel leans back laughing, covering his mouth with his hands. Then leaning back in, he pounds the wood picnic table like the tom of a drum set with a drumroll and states the obvious, “The Bishop of Pinetop is gonna be a grandpa out of wedlock!” If our peers weren’t busy gossiping too, many in the cafeteria would have heard Pernel. Clutching the edges of his tray, Pernel leans over his food, and asks me, “You’re friends with Melody. What’s the scoop?”
Realizing that Pernel isn’t a real friend, and no longer having an appetite for this mystery food, I drop my fork and make it very clear, “It’s none of our business Pernel.” Resisting the urge to throw my food on him, I pick up my tray, climb out of the picnic table, and I walk away.
After I toss my food, Tenor grabs me tightly by the shoulder, and escorts me down the hallway behind the trashcans. The nearest exit leads to the dumpster behind school.
Pointing his index finger in my face like an ice pick about to spear my eyes, he holds me by my tee at the collar, “My sister is getting treated like crap because of you!” He indirectly spits in face due to his hush-holler at me.
Pushing him away, I snap, “I didn’t do anything!”
Using his forearm, he pins me back up against the cold, tile wall. “Bullshit! She doesn’t believe like us anymore. She says the Book of Mormon is false. That everything Joseph Smith said and wrote are all lies. That the LDS President is no more a modern prophet than a pickle is… whatever that means.”
Putting my hands up in surrender, I hope he takes it as a sign that I’m no threat. I use all the self-control I must to keep my smile of joy concealed.
He lets go of me and straightens out my tee trying to smooth the wrinkles out that he made. As he brushes off my shoulders he explains, “My family is a mess.” He steps back from me and digs his hands in his pockets, staring at the scuffed tile floor. “Saturday night, after she tells us at dinner, she believes in the real Jesus Christ, we had to rush her to the ER. She had a miscarriage. A vanishing twin, or I guess triplet. I don’t know. She claims your God saved her baby and gave it back to her. We won’t know if the doctors are right or if she’s right until the baby is born and they can examine the placenta.” Gazing back up at me, he tells me, “Mom won’t be at the house at 4. Dad can’t make it home until 4:20. I’m going to the movies with my friends after school. You have 20 minutes to fix my family. To get my dad to stop being a jerk, making my mom miserable because she has to listen to him, and prevent my sister from ending up in the ER again.”
Shaking my head no, I admit, “I’m only going to support her new faith, not discourage it.”
“I don’t care what you do, but just fix it. Abbey said you could, so just reason with my sister.” Tenor orders like he’s my boss or commanding officer.
I don’t want to go. I don’t know what I could possibly do to help. Yet, my conscience compels me to check on her. That is what a real friend would do.
I stop my alarm, expecting a text from Melody asking if I’m up. Sometimes asking whether I’m awake refers to morning, but mostly it is an inquiry if I’m up in the middle of the night. She suffers from insomnia. A dilemma I didn’t have until lately. For some reason, I partially wake up a split second before my cell screen lights up and the whole device buzzes alerting me I have a new message. Last night I slept straight through until now, and there are zero text messages from Melody.
As I’m debating between Sunday’s Best attire or dress causal my cell rings. I drag myself back over to my bed to retrieve my phone thinking it is Melody and totally not wanting to go through our morning routine. To my surprise however, Natasha is calling me, not Mel.
“You can play guitar, right?”
“Yes, I can. Not ‘Zeven’ well though.”
“It doesn’t matter. Can you play today’s set list or do I need to make some changes?”
Talking under my breath, I say the set list in order trying to recall all four songs. “All but the third song on the bridge… That progression is too tricky for me in Eb Major.”
“What about D and you sing lead?”
The cell slips out of my hand from shock, but I jerk out of it and catch my phone against my abs. I’m not ready to lead worship? Not like Zev. I can’t do it. Negative thoughts cross my mind. Fear rises I my heart and gallops to its out rhythm in my head as more negative thoughts flood my mind.
“You’re ready Asher,” I feel the Lord speak to my heart. Determined to listen to God’s voice above all others, I nod my head yes. Then I remember Natasha can’t see me.
“Yes…” I say. I didn’t agree softly or firmly, just generally.
“Okay. Thank you so much, please be here at 9 am for sound check.” She says and then she hangs up.
Forget Sunday’s Best or dress casual. Jeans, black canvas shoes, Desert Streams graphic tee with my black leather vest. Lord knows I’ve been saving that outfit for the first chance I’m blessed to lead worship. I can’t think about it too much or I will psych myself out.
I arrive 15 minutes early to pray and to plea for peace to do what is asked of me today. I find Nicolette at the altar on her knees. Soft worship music by Desert Streams plays subtly in the Youth Sanctuary. Nicolette and I eerily dressed similarly. We have the same gray, blue, and black color scheme. I wonder if the rest of the team is dressed the same? That will be weird if we are, especially since none us discussed color coordinating today.
Put the guitar onstage. I think. As I do this I pray in the Spirit and a soothing peace sweeps over me. I put my electric acoustic guitar on the stand where Zev usually keeps his. Tash didn’t tell me to bring my guitar, I just felt I should since Zev got upset the last time I touched his guitar. I place my case in the closet on stage left, where we keep extra music stands, mike stands, and extra sound equipment and instrument pieces. I set my case on top of mangled chords, piled in a black plastic milk crate.
Offstage, at the base of the stairs, I get on my knees to pray, when I hear Pastor Chastity’s voice from behind me.
“I’m glad you and Nicolette came early.”
I stand back up, turn around and Nicolette comes alongside me to face our Youth Pastor. She seems a little heavy-hearted with something troubling her mind. Her droopy eyes paired with her downcast countenance says it all.
“Until further notice, the two of you will be leading our youth worship team. Natasha and Zeven were asked to step down this morning.”
What? This can’t be good. I begin to think the worst because it’s natural. With Natasha coming from the home of a teen mother, her odds of repeating the family curse is higher than other teen girls. And living on the Reservation where teen pregnancy occurs at an alarming high rate. Yes, I always wanted to lead worship, but not like this, not at the expense of someone else’s virtue.
“Will you be telling the rest of the team or will we?” Nicolette asks.
“How about after church? We’ll meet briefly. I’ll have Natasha and Zeven sit in with us and we’re going to go over the criteria for serving in ministry again.”
“Yes, Pastor.” I agree biting my lip. I try to quiet my worst-case-scenario thoughts, but they won’t quit.
Pastor Chastity leaves toward the prayer room and when she is far out of earshot, Nicolette whispers out loud what I’ve been thinking.
“I knew they were doing it! Do you think she’s pregnant?”
“That could be why Pastor Chastity is so sad… I’m sure the last thing she wanted was Tash to follow in her footsteps like that.” Now I feel worse for saying something out loud. This is borderline gossip. We aren’t certain if what we’re thinking is true. “Wait, how do you know they’re having sex or they had sex?” I ask Nicolette.
She looks over her shoulder to make sure Pastor Chastity is out of the sanctuary. She looks around and spotting Chlonelle in the sound booth, she leans in close to my left ear. She softly whispers, “That fight they had in September. Aden said he heard Zev at school talking to his buddies about going to Third Base with their girlfriends. Zev said he and Tash did all the time. He was working his way to Homeplate by homecoming.”
The front doors swing open and Wilma and Aden walk in. Nicolette walks past me and adds, “It’s so disappointing. No one ever seems to make out of here.”
I don’t even understand all the sexual connotations implied in the baseball plate metaphor. Homeplate would be sex all the way though, right? Zev better join the adults today for worship. If I see him, I will deck him… Okay, I won’t. I’ll do what most Christians will do. Stare at him with seething anger and monumental disappointment, which will equal the unveiling of pure disdain for the boy who stole my dream girl. Big fat, giant lesson learned, and huge, greatly important note to self: DON’T LET THE FEAR OF MISSING OUT STOP YOU FROM TRYING FROM GETTING WHAT COULD BE THE NEXT BEST THING IN YOUR LIFE.
Suddenly, my peace evaporates and restlessness forms in my core like raging seas. Guilt hits me heavy in the heart. I cannot not go onstage and lead worship like this… I can’t let Nicolette either.
Approaching Nicolette and the rest of the band, I overhear them gossip-guessing what is going on with Tash and Zev and why they aren’t singing. Filled with a little righteous indignation and I throw words to proudly monkey wrench this conversation, “Maybe none of us should lead worship today and make the entire Youth Group join the adults in the Main Worship Service?”
“What are you talking about?” Nicolette questions?
“We have no idea why Tash and Zev were asked to step down. We can guess all we want, but until we’re told or the Holy Spirit tells us, and even then, the last thing we need to do is talk about it. In fact, we shouldn’t be murmuring about them. We need to be praying for them. I’ll admit, I gave in to the gossip monster too, but Tash and Zev are family…”
“Good point, Bro.” Aden says.
I hold out my hands before me, one towards Nicolette on my left and one towards Wilma on my right. “Pray with me.”
The ladies take my hands and include Aden and Chlonelle. We bow our heads and close our eyes together. Nicolette leads us in a prayer of repentance for our gossip. Aden then begins to intercede for Zev and issues with lust. When he finishes Chlonelle prays for Tash about peer pressure and following the crowd. Wilma sings over our prayers with a song of praise. I close in prayer thanking God for the cleansing blood of Christ that purifies. I pray that we all have clear hearts and clean hands so the we may ascend the hilltop of God and receives all His promises. I pray for our worship to be pure and true, in Spirit and in Truth.
Together we say, “Amen.”
We release each other’s hands and we lift our heads opening our eyes. Pastor Chastity stands right behind me. With tears in her eyes and a feeble smile on her face, she hugs me. She whispers a thank you in my ears. She ends up hugging everyone, saying thank you and thank you again, to all of us. Chlonelle offers Pastor Chastity tissue paper to dry her tears, and as Pastor does so, she asks if we would be okay with cancelling the entire Youth Service and joining the Main Service today. The band looks around at one another with hesitation. I’m not sure whether to be relieved or disappointed, angry, sad, or happy. And I’m confused, I thought God said I was ready to lead worship today.
“Pastor Josiah has requested that the Youth Worship Team lead worship for everyone today.”
I titter, freaked out and excited simultaneously. God cannot lie. He is not a man that he should change his mind. Will his word not do what he says it will do? When he makes a promise, does he not keep it? My GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD! Somehow now, I know I’m ready.
All eyes are on me as if I’m the official authority on making this call today. I start nodding my head yes and the rest of band starts speaking yeah as if they’re expressing their approval with a ‘hell yeah’!
Two minutes to 10 am, we take our place. The church worship team sits upfront next to the Pastor and his wife. I go over the set list in my mind when the Holy Spirit lays on my heart to start off with Our God is an Awesome God by Rich Mullins. I tell Aden, who tells Wilma on bass. I whisper it to Nicolette and right at 10 am we intro with a classic oldie worship song. Ready for God to show up and show off!
Melody ignored me completely on Thursday. I tried to sit by her at lunch, but she got up and walked away. I assumed going to homecoming together was a dead concept.
But as I’m saying bon voyage to my family, my phone alerts me I’ve received a text message as mom hugs me goodbye. I pull out my phone as mom’s the final person to get into the minivan.
The text from Mel G. reads…
We’re still going to homecoming tomorrow night, right?
Is this girl bipolar? One minute we’re all buddy-buddy, then she ostracizes me for an entire day like a typical Amish shunning, and suddenly I’m acceptable to talk to again. No; let’s not go together. I want to text that and I begin to, but then the thought love her like Christ loves me blares in my head. Whoever thought being a Christian was easy was a lunatic… Doing the right thing is harder than doing the wrong thing. Sometimes doing the wrong thing is a struggle too, but it still seems easier majority of the time as if wrongdoing is second nature. Oh wait, it is… thanks a lot Adam and Eve for the wonderful gift of sin.
Before I respond to Melody, I figure I should get my parents’ permission. I call mom’s cell. She worries why I called so soon and asks me what’s wrong. She asks if I’m locked outside of the townhouse. I remind her that it’s impossible to lock the door unless you’re inside or outside with a key, with a deadbolt lock there’s no way to lock the door behind you.
“What is it then?” She wonders.
“Can I go to homecoming? I’ll be home by curfew, I’ll go pick up Melody and drop her off at home. The only reason why I asked her is because I could tell she really wanted to go and nobody asked her.” I blurt out as quickly as possible. If I spoke slow enough for her to grasp all the words, it would somehow give her a chance to tell me no, but she could still tell me no.
“Let me ask your father.”
I can hear her talk to dad. Abbey bickers about how unfair it would be if they allowed me to go. Dad requests the phone to talk to me.
“When does the dance end?”
“Eleven-thirty,” I say.
“How faraway does Melody live from school?”
“About 15 minutes,” I’m pretty sure that’s right.
“Be home no later than a quarter to one. We’ll probably all be sleeping, but send your mother or me a text when you get home, so we can be relieved in the morning when we wake up.”
A wave of relief mixed with a touch of eagerness ripples through me as I thank dad ecstatically. I don’t have to let Mel down now. Dad hands the phone back over to mom. She tells me to drive safely and she sends a bundle of love my way. I thank her too, because none of us Lucas kids get to do anything, if both parents aren’t onboard.
As I walk inside, Mel shoots me another text asking if I want to go to the homecoming game tonight. I text yes if she really wants to go. Her ex will be the star, her brother will be a bratty showboat, and her ex-eagan bffs’ will be there. She texts that her parents are going, therefore she has to go. Begging me, she pleads that I go to spare her from boredom and humiliation. When I feel like I should accept her invitation, the alarming mental reminder that I have Worship Practice tonight blares in my mind. Regretfully, I tell Mel that, but I’m completely honest.
She texts back:
I understandJ Rock Out 4 Jesus. C U 2morrow nite!
In the Youth Sanctuary, everyone waits for the leading worship duo. Aden warms up on drums. Nicolette double checks the sound levels on the mikes with Chlonelle. Wilma plays scales on the bass. And since Zeven, left his acoustic guitar, I daringly pick it up and play around with it. Once I get into playing a Gabrielle y Rodrigo song, a song that carries the heat of running with bulls yet sooths like summer rain, everyone on the team stares at me, therefore I stop.
From way in the back, in the control booth, Chlonelle hollers, “Where did you learn to play like that?”
“I taught myself…” I say overwhelmed with embarrassment. Everyone thought that was good? If I practiced more often, I’d be way better.
“Can you play Desert Streams acoustic version of Born?” Nicollette asks.
“What key?” I wonder which she would prefer, “A, Bb, or E.”
My parents never got me a capo, so I learned how to play in different keys without one. It’s not always easy, but it is possible.
After I play the intro and the chorus, Nicolette uses her brazen mezzo-soprano voice to slay us all in the Spirit. She is such an anointed singer. She would probably lead more often if Tash wasn’t Pastor Chastity’s daughter.
Midway through the bridge, Tash bolts into the sanctuary with Zeven rushing behind her.
“Can we at least talk about it after practice?” Zev pleads.
Abruptly, spinning to face him, she whispers loudly, “No. You… bring it… and we… done!” Is all everyone could make out. She turns around and faces the group. “Sorry we’re late. Lost track of time.”
Zev glares at me as he approaches the stage. Hopping onstage he questions if I can play and challenges me to play a G-progression. When I do, he grudgingly acts like it is cool I can plays as well. I surrender his guitar back over to him. Everyone takes their rightful places and we officially rehearse for the week.
Okay, we all know 21st Century Americans (or any member of a first world country) love TV shows! Netflix, Hulu, and AmazonPrime are beloved streaming services people flock to for entertainment. For the Faith-Based Audience, we live off Pureflix and the Hallmark’s Movies app. But let’s keep it real… it’s because God taught us to see the good in anything, we can find satisfaction in Pureflix and Hallmark, because these are the avenues that give us grown up content without the nudity, the language, the gore, and the darkness. Yes, there is Vidangel that filters all the bad stuff out of “Game of Thrones” and “Stranger Things”, but is it really as good as the uncensored originals?
Programmers make content that the current society can relate to, and they do this to ensure people will watch their show. If programmers want to introduce something new to society, we now consider taboo, we will see it in comedic format until society catches up to this “something new” and having a drama with the content is palatable.
One of the first TV characters to have a baby, out of wedlock, on TV was Murphy Brown. “Murphy Brown” the TV show, was a comedy in the late 80s to mid 90s (it has been rebooted and cancelled after season one… not gonna lie… I prayed for that cancellation). Single mothers were common across America at the time. The programmers (producers, writers, directors, executives, etc.) addressed single mothers because they knew there were many out there and could relate to it. Also, think about the young women at the time who watched this show, and were raised to believe having kids out of wedlock was wrong… how many do you think decided maybe it wasn’t so bad if they had a kid outside marriage, and they made different life choices because of “Murphy Brown”?
Don’t twist my words… making choices based on what one sees on TV can be negative, but it can also be positive. Some may think, “No one makes life decisions based on TV and TV characters!”
I was on Instagram today, and one of my favorite actresses Olivia Wilde, made post about how proud she was of her bisexual character Alex Kelly on “The O.C.”. I literally read a comment where someone posted they realized they were gay because of her character on that show…
Now, depending on what worldview lens you hold, will determine how interpret what I wrote above.
As a person with a Judeo-Christian perspective, I don’t agree the homosexual lifestyle can be lived out and lead to Heaven with the God of the Holy Bible. There is enough scripture in there to support my personal belief. Now, if you’re reading this and you don’t believe homosexuality will lead to eternal death, I’m not angry and I won’t try to convince you otherwise. If you want a better understanding of what I believe and why I believe it, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If I quote scripture on homosexuality such as the following:
Leviticus 18:22: Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin. (NLT)
Leviticus 20:13: If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense. (NLT)
Romans 1:26-27: That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. (NLT)
1 Corinthians 6:9-11: Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive or cheat people –none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (NLT)
Then I could be accused of using hate speech on social media and I don’t want to get removed from Facebook. I’m quoting from the sacred text that billions of people believe to be the WORD OF GOD, the One who MADE EVERYTHING. Now, what the WORD says may not sound awesome to embrace and may be contrary to how a lot of people feel and think, but in a world where definitions and truths are as fickle as feelings and ever changing, what my God says today is the same it was 4,000 years ago and that brings me peace.
[Let’s rabbit trail, and think on this for a moment… God is love (1 John 4 says so) and love that is unconditional will always do what is best for the other person, regardless of how that other person feels, thinks, or acts. However, we have learned as the human race, we don’t do anything unless we believe in what we’re doing and believe what we claim as truth as our reason for why we do what we do. We are like this, because God designed us to believe in Him, but if we miss Him, we will find anything else to believe in that makes ourselves feel good…
So God, who is LOVE, had awesome experiences with humanity for thousands of years, but no one could stay consistent in listening to Him. Through the founding fathers of faith (in Judaism), He gave guidance and instructions to live a blessed life and because God longed to connect with the rest of humanity, he asked Abraham and his descendants to live according to love and to live for others as opposed to living to self, which is vain and leads to death.
Think about circumcision? Men are less prone to diseases and less likely to spread diseases if they are circumcised. How loving is that? God wanted men and women to be in good health! I will spare us specific details of why, for all the adults reading this, you can think of why.
To help humanity out, and specifically His people out, God writes down His guidelines and His instructions to the Blessed Good Life. Anyone who reads it, believes it, and lives out their life upon what the WORD says will live a BLESSED GOOD LIFE (in the end, when you look back on their life).
If you look at the Kosher Diet, that some people in Judaism follow to the letter, living in a time without the FDA, antibiotics, probiotics, and weight loss pills… that diet is the best diet to live a long, prosper life way back in those Bible days.
The Ten Commandments may have had harsh penalties, but if we look at 8 of them, they all prevent people from doing bad things, if they abide by them. The first two, if those are followed, those people would never do anything bad because following God of the Bible didn’t ask for crazy rituals to be pleased…
Do you realize most pagan idols (gods) back then required human blood sacrifice, sexual orgies, eating raw animal meat, torturing people, killing animals, doing drugs, mutilating their own bodies, and who knows what other vile things?!
People back then lived by fear. If they were afraid of something or someone, they most likely didn’t do what would get them in trouble. To ensure the people Israel wouldn’t do super bad things, God made a super bad punishment knowing most people would be too afraid to go against that. And if you read the Bible, when the whole lot of Israel got disobedient, He just graciously exiled them from the Promise Land, he didn’t kill all of them and start again, He realized after Noah, that doesn’t really work (kidding… I think…).
God is GOOD. He is LOVE. His WORD is LIFE. Living by His SPIRIT does HELP US in our EVERY DAY LIVES.
End of rabbit trail.]
Again, why isn’t there anything good (suitable for believers) to watch on TV?
I think we settle for it.
We watch what we want because it gets us hooked and because we know the truth all the sin, all the falsehood, and all the blaspheme against God doesn’t affect us that much. If we’re solid in the WORD, solid in our PRAYER LIFE, and connected to the BODY these shows don’t impact us deeply. For some folks, watching a scene with nudity could lead them to falling in the area of lust and acting upon those lusts. Or watching a show with bad words could lead them to cuss. Apply a scenario you watch on a show and how you do similar things in real life.
I’m not telling anyone to quit all TV, but if you want a program that honors God, and puts what is good on display, free from deception and the grips of the enemy, then we need to let programmers know there is a demand for it and there will be an audience that watches it. But it starts with us writing emails to local networks and asking why isn’t there a primetime show safe to watch with your kids about doctors? Who would love a Shonda Rimes Drama free from the scandal – okay, probably no one because she does scandal so well she created a show called SCANDAL! Hopefully, you see my point!
Another thing we could do is pray… Pray for more content to be made not just for the enjoyment of believers but to spread the Gospel beyond using the Nativity Story and the Life of Jesus. (Be on the look out for Chosen TV on Vidangel. Yes, the creators of Vidangel are Mormon, excuse me, LDS, but the creators of Chosen TV are not. Dallas Jenkins is the creator and director and this series is going to be BETTER than the BIBLE SERIES because it is more Biblically accurate with consulting from Messianic Rabbis from Israel! The first season isn’t out yet, but it’s coming sooooooooooooooon).
Also, have such an appetite for the things of God that whatever you’re watching, you see Jesus in it or where Jesus is lacking!
Programmers will make what we want to see when we show them what we want. Maybe we’ll luck out and Sarah Drew and Chris Pratt will team up and create an AWESOME show that is faith inspired and faith based for Hulu or for Netflix, and everyone can’t stop talking about it because it is SO GOOD! (Yes, this is secret prayer of my heart…Oops, it’s not a secret anymore, where two or more are gathered, HE IS THERE!)
Feel free to comment below, I only ask that you remain respectful. If anyone has any personal questions or wants to know my testimony about being set free from gender dysphoria and then lesbianism, email me at justbriannamonique.blog and I’ll be more than happy to share how I was Transformed By God’s Love (LBGT backyards acronym).
ALSO, if you feel inspired to, SHARE THIS POST with whoever and wherever! I’m already grateful for the gift of writing, this blog platform WordPress, and apps like Canva and Adobespark that help me do all this. I give God the MOST GLORY (like all of it) because I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without His constant leading and prodding.
My meditation scripture for the foreseeable future is Psalm 23:5-6 (ESV):
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely[a] goodness and mercy[b] shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell[c] in the house of the Lord
And yes, I plan to meditate on these verses three times a day, every day. Normally, I would think such an act is “too religious”, but I found out Lindsay Lohan meditates three times a day and that is her “personal religion”. She made zero mention of a god or believing in an existing religion as hers. Who knows what she meditates on… maybe she thinks of something or maybe she empties out her mind.
But meditating with God’s Word is simple, it’s a matter of going over the verses for a few minutes and thinking on them. Soaking the verses in to the point you believe them.
If you ask me right now, “Hey Brianna, do believe in the Lord in the way David described Him in Psalm 23?” I would say, “yes”. But if you look at how I respond to certain circumstances in my life, no way… okay, maybe sometimes. But David was always saying out loud what he thought of God and who God was to Him in relation to how he saw the world. Many times, he received prophetic words about our coming Lord Jesus. So he wasn’t thinking of God in light of how He wanted to see God, he thought of God how the Lord revealed Himself to David. And for living as he did because he thought as he did, David became the man after God’s heart. David was after God’s heart. David was not ultimately after his own.
Wow… rabbit trail two! I am definitely a woman, right?
To really sum it up, let’s make TV Networks give us more of what we want. Let’s watch less of the smut they are showing us and force them to create something that glorifies God, not exploit God. Be intentional what you stream, download, and tune into on TV.