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

Last Fall, with a burning desire to see my dreams become reality. I found a writing contest to enter advertised on Instagram. The contest was through LitNet, which is like WattPad where writers publish their books one chapter at a time. I look at this style of instant publication as live-tweeting for bookworms.

I had two categories to enter. One, “College Campus Romance” or two, “Small Town Mystery Suspense”. I never wrote a mystery before, that option was out. When you make goals to accomplish anything, you have to plan for things where the odds are in your favor and not where the odds are stacked against you.

True, I hadn’t truly wrote a romance, but I did watch a lot of Rom-Coms growing up. Falling in love is still on my agenda for life that needs to be experienced, but I figured my imagination could give me enough to use for a fictional story.

I planned it all out. I would write a book about a modern day courtship, because in all honesty, that is my fantasy. I want to meet a guy, who becomes my friend, then one day he asks me out, and we date with the intention to marry. Now, that doesn’t mean we HAVE TO get married, but I’m not dating to see if we will become something. I plan to date because we are something and we want to grow deeper in relationship.

Get this— I designed the cover, developed my characters, created a fictional world based in the real world, wrote a detailed outline of all the chapters, and I had five months to write my book. I wrote barely five chapters.

I fell for the foolish lie… “No matter how hard I try… I’ll never win the contest.”

All the ambition in me to complete the story was gone. Clutch time arrived, with three weeks left to submit my completed work, and the way I can crank out words I could have maybe finished if I pushed myself… but I didn’t. I think I gave up the second I entered the contest, when the first negative thought creeped into my mind, “Your story won’t get enough attention to win.”

The way the contest worked, to be eligible, was that it needed to fit the theme of the contest, be 50,000 words or more, and get a lot of views and reads from the public. I knew I could write to the theme. I knew I could write 50,000 words. However, I failed to believe people wanted to read my work.

As a Christian should I have low self-esteem if I am abiding in Christ Jesus? Like, look at King David. He was probably ignored by his father, and treated poorly by his brothers, yet he wrote psalms saying the “the Lord’s glory is my glory”… does it sound like he had a low self-esteem?

Since I’ve been thinking about my identity in Christ lately. I am reading the psalms, that we know David poured out from his heart, and I am looking at the scriptures of how God views the nation of Israel as His children, and I am wondering why I ever think so lowly of myself?

Is it because the people who where my examples to guide me in life put me on the back burner too much? Is it because I was picked on for being overweight and wearing boy clothes? It it because I equate what I do as the full representation of who I am?

There are so many scriptures to support we should never think lowly of ourselves. (We shouldn’t think too highly of ourselves either.) In John 3:16, scripture is clear that Jesus was sent and He died for every human being in the world, past, present, and future. By choosing to believe that He came for me, that He died and bled for me, and rose again so that I may have eternal life… that should at the very least let me think, “I am just as capable as anyone else, of winning this contest.”

Reading the word more and more and renewing my mind (in other words) thinking about myself in light of what scripture says, I ought to have amazing thoughts like, “I can win this contest because the Lord makes me victorious!”

Granted, I think people can start confessing the Word of God without believing it, therefore, those fake confessors won’t get nada!

Read Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers in the Bible. God delivered Israel out of B O N D A G E… He did miracles in front of them all the time, and so often they wanted to go back to slavery and idolatry, instead of remaining free. God moved in Israel’s life not because they believed, but because of His covenant and His faithfulness to Abraham. I can see why, when Jesus made a way for Gentiles to come to the Father, that God said all we have to do is believe. I don’t have scripture to back this up, but reading between the lines I’m going out on a limb to say, He must have been crushed age to age. Doing all these signs and wonders to bring people into relationship with Him and they would turn their back on Him for a false god made out of wood or for the doctrines of demons.

Belief will get you further than proof.

This is going to be an eccentric example, but transgenders are a great one. It doesn’t matter what science says… that you are either biologically male or biologically female. People are convinced, regardless of their biology, they are what they think they are. Not only will the medical field help mutilate their bodies, to help them appear to be what they feel, the law will allow them to change genders, and the society supports their beliefs, when the society uses the desired gender pronouns transgender people identify with.

God designed us. I wonder why He allows imagination and belief to be more powerful in our psyche than reality. Is it because He created all we know out of nothing? That because He saw us in entirety out of nothingness, and since we are made in His likeness, it is when we see something in our mind, we create the spark for it to become reality?

We live in the age if it sounds good, which means we think it is good, or we think it is true, we share it before we fact check it? Talk about living in a made-up world?

In Proverbs, the book on Wisdom in the Bible, it says that life and death is in the power of the tongue. Before the tongue can utter a word, you have to think about what you’re going to say. Proverbs also says, what a person thinks about that person is that in their heart. Heart in Hebrew is really more this concept of the heart and the mind being one. (I can’t remember if I googled that heart fact or if I learned it at Bible College, look up a trusted Jewish source on the meaning of the “heart” in the Torah… your mind will be blown!)

I am clearly past the point of winning this contest because it is long over with, but I still have a story to write. Who knows! Maybe Kirk Cameron or the Erwin Brothers will stumble across my story on LitNet and want to make it into a movie and it’s wildly more successful than “I Can Only Imagine” and “God’s Not Dead” put together! Maybe, in the secular world, it’s the best ROM-COM of the YEAR! Better than “Crazy Rich Asians”!

Joyce Meyers talks about the power of your thoughts. She said she’d rather believe God for a lot rather than for a little.

Abraham probably wouldn’t have believed enough for Isaac, if he never believed for descendants as vast as the stars in the sky… (now he has them). David probably never wouldn’t have made it to kingship, if he didn’t believe every victory He had came from the Lord. Paul probably would have died from being stoned the first time, if he didn’t believe it was his purpose in the earth to ready the Body of Christ for the return of Jesus.

What we believe fuels our drive in pursuit of our dreams.

I am crossing the finish line into traditional, New York Best Selling Author, publishing ONE. STORY. AT. A. TIME.

Please go to LitNet and check out “A Digital Age Courtship”. If you have a LitNet account, please follow me. If you like what you read, share the link! Pray for me. If you need prayer, drop a comment below and I will place that request before God in my prayer time and believe with you.

I just want to encourage you. The dreams you have burning like a fire in you, more than likely are in you, because God designed you to live out those dreams. If you aren’t certain your dreams are God-given, I pray right now, for whoever is reading this, that God makes your dreams clear and that He won’t let you escape from completing them. Souls are attached to your destiny. No dream is too small, too big, too silly, or too impossible to achieve when God is in it.

If you have a desire to work for Disney and you believe in Jesus, I pray you go in equipped and get favor to put something out there filled with light, love, and truth for the end time harvest!

If you dream of becoming a teacher but have no money to go to school, I believe God will get that education for you in ways you never thought He would. You knew He could, but you never believed He would.

And maybe I haven’t said a single thing you’re dreaming of… Maybe you have never heard anyone dream of what you dream of doing one day! I’m excited because I know I’m going to read your name in a history book somewhere. You got a dream that will revolutionize the world, and on behalf of the Kingdom, even if no one notices until you’re past your prime or you’re gone. You go do what God designed you to do!

Okay, I’m done now. AMEN! Below is the link to my story on LITNET— “A Digital Age Courtship”.

https://litnet.com/en/book/a-digital-age-courtship-b106691

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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I can’t believe I left my pencils at home. Now, I must buy overpriced mechanical pencils at the campus bookstore. The line could not be longer!

The song ‘Love is an Action’ blares from my pocket. The gf is calling for the umpteenth time. I pull my cell out reluctant to answer it. Seeing Melody a few weeks ago brought more to the light than I anticipated. I’m beginning to wonder if I truly love my girlfriend. Last month, I was certain we were ready for marriage. I have the ring picked out. I got permission for her hand. And God hasn’t told me not marry her. Double negatives really mean yes, right?

A small person abruptly runs into me from behind. How do you bump into someone standing still in line?

A panicked, petite voice shrieks, “I’m SO sorry!”

Rolling my eyes, I take a deep breath, I turn around and smile. “Don’t worry about it. I’m not bleeding.”

The pretty young lady laughs. She’s an African American woman, sporting a small afro. Her lime green and cream paisley go-go dress looks like it could be vintage and now a recreated fashion trend. She keeps her eyes closed enough to prevent anyone from actually seeing them clearly.

I haven’t felt this way since I was a teenager. That indescribable, yet cosmic proportion, sensation in my heart that I now set eyes on the ONE.

I’m craving to ask what her name is and to get her number. Then I remember I have a girlfriend, who I love, and I can plan a life with… Dang it, I’ve already started planning that life!

“Again, I’m sorry. I’ll buy whatever you’re getting in line.”

“No, it’s fine.” I turn away from her and face the front.

Only third in line from reaching the register, a slender hand grabs my forearm to get my attention. I look behind me and the African-American timidly asks, “Excuse me, but are you Asher Lucas?”

“Yes,” she holds out her copy of Everloving with a pen. She wants my autograph.

Cordially, I accept to fulfill her request. “Who do I make it out to?”

“Janet Washington,” she bops up and down ecstatically, holding her purse. She thanks me and says, “You may not be Melody but you’re the next best thing. Your role in her life encouraged me to invite every non-believer I know to church.”

Having signed her nearly purchased book, I hand it back to her, and yet she keeps talking.

“I wanted to buy the book a couple weeks ago at her speaking engagement, but I had zero funds… I barely meet my tuition deadline payments.” She smiles clutching the book to her chest.

Neglecting my burning desire to ignore her, I figure small talk can’t hurt. As we talked my admiration for her grew. Without understanding it, every part of my being wants to marry this woman. My head reminds me I have my dream girl. Eventually, I block out my head’s reasoning for the remaining duration of our conversation.

I purchase my pencils and she gets her book. We exit the bookstore together. Outside the front doors, I confess I must dart to class if I don’t want to be late. She admits she has a lecture to catch in the opposite direction. I defeat the urge to ask for her number. We wave goodbye to each other and I walk away feeling like I’m walking on the moon. I can’t remember the last time I felt this way, if ever after talking to the opposite gender.

‘Love is an Action’ rings loudly from my pocket. Like a man, I answer my gf’s call.

“Hey, what’s up?”

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!

         Dad had repairs to oversee at the church. For once, I need my father both as a parent and as a pastor. I go inside through the unlocked side door and I follow the noise echoing through the empty dark halls. Dad and Elder Cain Blair are in the men’s room replacing the piping underneath the sinks. Immediately, Dad instructs Elder Cain to keep working and escorts me to his office.

            To endure the trek, he makes small talk with me.

            “We’re blessed God provided the means for these repairs. I’m tired of soaking wet floors, holy walls, and torn up carpet.”

            “God is good.” I say, still analyzing in my mind the best way to bring everything up to dad and to get some direction.

            Chuckling softly, dad says, “All the time…”

            Sure that’s only half the saying but when you grow up in church, Christianese gets old and boring quickly.

            Dad sits down in his brown leather, swivel chair behind his dark mahogany desk. The wall behind him sporting his credentials and awards over the years. I sit across from him, in a simple, armless green sanctuary chair, wide and sturdy enough to hold all sizes. To postpone the burden, I’m about to place on dad, I ask where Pastor Josiah is. Dad says the board decided he would handle maintenance needs for the church since Pastor Josiah holds many other responsibilities.

            “Enough with the chit-chat, what’s troubling you?”

            I want to cry, but the strength to fend off that urge sustains my plain countenance.

            “Melody Gartner−,” I go to explain, but dad chimes in.

            “The girl you bring to youth group sometimes?”

            “Yes, sir.”

            Dad chortles, “Son, I’m your father first and a pastor to you second. Drop the sir. Call me dad. What about Melody?”

            “She’s my girlfriend.” I say.

            The shock on his face could stop time with his wide-eye stare and slight agape mouth. I know my parents believe I’d follow in their footsteps and not date until college. My dad did a lot of research on youth dating and majority of the data reflects more negatives than positives.

            Taking a very deep breath, as I exhale I confess, “And she’s pregnant.”

            That knowledge causes his face to fall into the palm of his hand as a feeble attempt to hide his broken heart.

            “She also wants to get married.”

            Sighing as he wipes his face lifting his head, “When did it happen?”

            I knew the it inquiry referred to the night of conception.

            “She says the night of the homecoming dance…” Relief rushes over me. I used to think back on that night a feel ashamed, now I no longer do.

            “You’re not so sure?”

            I shake my head. Everything about her and me makes me completely uncertain. “No.” I say, but I explain, “Before I came here I was spending time with the Lord… I felt so guilty… I regretted going to that dance, I regretted becoming Mel’s boyfriend, and I deeply regretted creating that baby… I thought if I never went to that dance the kid wouldn’t exist and as clear as day the Holy Spirit told me that the baby would. If I never slept with Mel, she wouldn’t be my girlfriend. I would have never slept with her, if the punch wasn’t spiked, and−,” dad holds his hand up to stop me from talking.

            “Are you sure you had sex with Melody? If you were drunk, do you remember that night?” Dad asks a justifiable question.

            “The last I remember is getting in the passenger seat of my car…I felt so weird I just wanted to sleep it off…”

            “How far along is she according to the doctor?” Dad asks a good question. “If it happened the night of the homecoming dance she’d be about 5 or 6 weeks”

            “The dance was a month ago?” I say.

            “Maybe you should take that sex ed class at school. Son, women are pregnant before they get pregnant. That’s just how the doctors count.”

            Silence rises between us and creates a giant of awkwardness. It didn’t really matter how far along Melody is in her pregnancy. Dad and I had a mutually strong feeling the baby isn’t mine. When I muster the courage to speak up, dad beats me to it.

            “Let me see if I understand why you’re dating her… You took her to homecoming, to be nice. Then you thought you lost your virginity to her, so you asked her to be your girlfriend?”

            I just nod my head yes feeling a little embarrassed.

            “Why do you think you did that?”

            The horrid sensation of my masculinity dissolving as I think of the real reason why, I slouch crossing my arms over my chest as if this position could protect how I feel inside… Sighing I confess, “I’m gonna sound like a girl if I tell you.”

            “No, you’ll sound like my son. It’s just you and me.” Dad says.

            “I want to wait or at least I wanted to wait until I’m married to have sex… Any kind of sex…” I shift forward and dangle my arms from my bent kneecaps. Scratching my head, I try to feel less exposed then I do right now. Why does guilt rack my heart with trouble when I’m just being honest? I go on to say, “I want to be like you and mom. You two waited until you met ‘the one’. And—,” before I could go any further, dad bursts into laughter.

            “What?” I ask.

            Cupping his mouth, he takes a deep breath. Shaking his head, he removes his hand and grabs a push pen from his desk. He presses the button again and again, and makes the pen click again and again as the ballpoint tip plays hide and go seek according to his actions.

            “What makes you think I was a virgin when I married your mom? I never stated that and I hope I didn’t imply that.”

            “You and mom both said several times you waited to sleep together until you married each other.”

            Dad raises his eyebrows, stops clicking the pen and sets it down as he looks me in the eyes. He says, “Yes, we said that… So I guess I see where you get that concept from, but I had a few girlfriends before your mother. One reason why I allowed your mother to leave that bookstore without saying anything to her, is because I was in a long distant relationship with my high school sweetheart. She went to Liberty University. We did a lot of fooling around. The girlfriend before her is who I lost my virginity to. We were both so scared that she could have been pregnant… Luckily, she wasn’t… And before that girl, I fooled around girls all the time at church camp since 7th grade. I actually got caught in 9th grade making out in the boys’ bathroom with the hottest girt at camp. And what we did is not safe for your ears to hear.”

            Dad gets real. He divulges the first time his eyes set sight on a dirty magazine when he was 11 years old. He admits that fantasizing and fondling himself wasn’t enough. He got the real chance to kiss a girl and explore the sensations of raging hormones. He added his middle school peers only inspired him with ways to explore the sexual desires within him without getting caught. In high school, his guy friends made it seem like a man was gay if he wasn’t having sex. For a long time, dad just flirted with girls on campus and went out on dates, and he allowed his friends to think what they wanted. However, it was different when he got a girlfriend. Making out and groping stories wasn’t enough to prove dad was a man. The pressure to prove his masculinity made him convince his girlfriend to have sex.

            When I asked dad, what about church and God, wondering if he felt guilty? He said he wasn’t serious about his faith. He added his church just preached on burning in hell a lot. If you weren’t a drunk, a homosexual, or an adulterer… no one feared going to hades. His church growing up taught him how to be a church goer not a Christian.

             His high school sweetheart, who was a different girl than who he lost his virginity to, was the girl who introduced him to the concept of a relationship with Jesus. They were never alone together. The only places she’d go out with him were to bible study, Sunday School, church, and church fellowship events. They would talk over the phone about the bible and he listened to what Jesus put on her heart. He wasn’t sure why he dated her for so long. He thinks it may have been because a few of his guy buddies were getting in trouble having sex. One caught Chlamydia, one got a girl pregnant, and the other got accused of rape, but was acquitted. All of them knew their friend was guilty, for he had no respect for women and was a very troubled young man.

           Dad planned on marrying the Liberty University girl, but that changed on their third-year-anniversary. She flew out to Tennessee and visited him at Belmont University. He was excited to see her. They went and grabbed coffee off campus and she explained this dream she had to dad. At the end of telling him about it, she confessed the dream made her realize she wasn’t in love with dad and didn’t think it would be a good idea to be together anymore. Simply because God was leading them both in separate directions and dad didn’t disagree with her. The break up lifted a weight off his shoulders and he felt free. He told himself when he saw mom next, he would talk to her. Liberty University girl left as mom walked into the café. The rest I know.

            “Looking back on things now, she showed me what it was like to personally know God. It was the process of growing closer to him, I thought about sex less, so I fed those desires less, and eventually, I didn’t think about sex again until your mom and I got serious. Then I had to practice self-control. It really boils down to where your mind is at, when you want God’s will more than anything else, because you trust God understanding that He knows what is best for you and that He loves you…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Luke 20 The Passion Translation (TPT)

A Day of Controversy

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


1 Corinthians 13 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Love, the Motivation of Our Lives

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

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

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

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

Perfect Love

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m sorry,” she says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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