All posts by Leslie DeVooght

Anything is Possible

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer. 29:11

Recently, I have spent a lot of time at the high school Libby will attend next year. The excitement is in the air. I get chills walking through the breezeways. These students have their whole lives in front of them–anything is possible. As we get older, we often forget that feeling, burdened by our daily lives.  Sometimes we need a reminder that God wants to prosper us all, no matter how old we are, no matter how far off His path we have roamed.

We have hope when we turn to God for direction. A future following His plan might have interesting twists and turns, but He is always there cheering us on when we need it, providing the right tools, and preparing us to do his work.

This week lets take a moment to look through the eyes of a teenager and see the opportunities God has provided and remember the way He blesses each of our days.

What new adventure are you considering? How are you stepping out in faith?

A Derby Win by Carlton DeVooght

Last spring, I told my husband, Carlton, about a flash fiction writing contest that wanted stories about sports and romance, and he wrote this fun piece about the Kentucky Derby.  Then he endured my brutal edits, and we’re still happily married, but we won’t do that again. This Saturday is Derby Day, so I thought it was the right time to share it. I know you’re going to love it. 

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What a miserable day. As rays from the setting sun, pushed through the clouds, Clint raked his fingers through his wet hair, surveying the damage.

The torrential rain shower had drenched his new seersucker suit, leaving it transparent. His pink shirt shown through the white stripes in his jacket, making it look like someone had sloshed raspberry lemonade on him. Mud from the infield and a variety of spilled drinks had turned his once white Bucks into a Jackson Pollack work. The pathetic lemon bow tie dangled around his neck, warped by the hours of rainfall—Sinatra’s disdain was palpable.

With his shoulders hunched over and arms hanging limp, he began his walk of shame, his damaged sartorial goods were just the start.

Lori Anne had gushed over his invitation to join him at the Derby in his sought-after seats on the final turn. Her lack of depth reared itself when she abandoned him to join some celebrity’s posse in a box on the stretch. All he had left was the stack of plastic mint julep cups, commemorating the 143rd running of the roses—a pitiful trophy.

Under the shadow of the Churchill Downs’ Spires, he attempted to scan the crowd for his group. Instead he experienced a solar eclipse brought on by a gigantic emerald green hat covered in a cacophony of red roses and white feathers. The feathers swatting his nose tore the cap of politeness off, spewing his frustration and spiking his blood pressure.

He batted at the offending plumage. “Do you mind removing that thing, the race is over.”

The head under the hat snapped around. Her fiery eyes scorched everything in their path, searching for the offending party.

He straightened as her eyes bore down on him. His heart beat like the hooves of the racehorses. But he couldn’t pull his eyes away from her. The millinery framed long red curls and alabaster skin—an enchanting fury.

She arched an aristocratic brow. “See-through seersucker suit and an ugly bowtie don’t make you in charge of Derby fashion.”

Ouch. Harsh honesty that he deserved, but it still stung.

Dropping her gaze to his feet, she grimaced. “And what color Bucks are those?” She was leading down the stretch, giving a final glower to push her over the finish line. “Certainly not white.” She smirked, daring him to respond.

But that’d be a mistake driven by impulse. Instead he’d do the gentlemanly thing and admit defeat. He tugged on his labels, rocking back on his heels. “Forgive me ma’am. It’s been a long day, and I’ve lost a lot more than the original color of these shoes.”

She tilted her head to the side, pursing her lips. Through narrowed eyes, she studied him. His mea culpa had either touched a suppressed nerve of empathy or simply confused her.

“Humility is not something I often find in Kentucky men.” Was that a hint of pity in her jade eyes? At this point, he’d take it.

She smiled sweetly. “Your stab at dapper may have failed, but there appears to be something attractive underneath those fancy clothes.”

Sighing, she flipped her hair over her shoulder. “Did your horse lose too?”

“Apparently, my horse didn’t like the mud.” He showed her his losing ticket from the betting window.

She tapped the ticket. “That’s ’cause you bet on the seventeen horse, and no horse has ever won from that slot. If you don’t have a horse running, best odds are on five or ten.” She tilted her head, blocking the sun with her green headgear of sinamay and feathers. “Or you could pick the horse wearing the prettiest silks like I did.” She winked—a font of Derby knowledge.

He shrugged. “Wish I’d talked to you three hours ago.”

She tossed him a smile.

Heat surged over his face. His impulse moves were winless so far, but why not try another. He wiped his hand on his soaked trousers and extended it. “Name’s Clinton Tanner, but please call me Clint.”

Despite his damp hand, she clasped it, firm and steady. “Mary-Brighton.” This was not a normal filly. She was special, and not afraid to race with the colts.

“Don’t suppose you’d like to get out of here and have a drink with me.” He tried his lopsided grin.

She nodded towards his trophy. “As long as it doesn’t include bourbon.” She hooked her hand around his arm.

A winning day after all and his odds were looking better for post time at the Preakness.

 

Weight of Waiting by Hope Welborn

My friend Hope Welborn often says, “I’m not interested unless there’s a dead body.”  And that’s okay since she writes Romantic Suspense stories. I am so happy to have Hope guest blogging for me this week. We met at my first writer’s conference when I sat with her at the regional breakfast. She was also from Georgia and so sweet to a newbie like me.  At this national conference, Hope was a big deal because she was a finalist for the unpublished author’s contest. I became an adoring fan right away. Never did I think we would end up being friends and in a critique group together. Last year, when I was a semi-finalist in the same contest, she contacted me with words of congratulations, and then we realized we had a mutual friend, Lindsey Brackett. Soon we were forming our own writers’ group. Hope’s words are inspiring and beautiful, and I know you will be blessed by them.

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I’ve been reading in Genesis during my quiet time before bed. I enjoy reading about the process of creation. It speaks to me as a writer. God had an idea, He followed through on that idea, and something was created.

Now for Him, the process was as simple as speaking the words, “Let there be…” and the Bible says, “And there was…”

For us, the process is not as simple. I often get frustrated with my own plodding progress. I feel pressures to write quickly, to get something to my agent so he can then send it off to publishers in the hopes of getting a contract.

But even if I could write faster, even if I had a finished product in a matter of weeks, all of that “hurry up” would be met with the inevitable … “and wait.”

I have a wonderful tribe of writers around me, all in various stages of their journeys. And all in various stages of waiting.

Some wait to hear back from an agent, an editor, or a publishing house. Some wait for feedback, critiques, or edits. Some wait until their book is printed and lands in their hands, a finished work. Some wait for their next great idea or inspiration to finish another book.

We all wait.

And in the waiting, we wonder.

Am I good enough? Will this book sell? Is this the right path to take? Am I just wasting my time? Why is this all so difficult?

There’s nothing we can do to change any of this. It is simply the process. The publishing “machine” moves very slowly, and we have to learn to wait patiently. We might start out in different places on the conveyer belt of publishing, but we’re all still on the same assembly line.

We are all card-carrying members of Team Wait. There are no shortcuts or by-passes. Each step along the way is a “right of passage” we must all go through. It may seem unreasonable, but there is a purpose behind it all.

I recently read the following quote:

“Often we fail to give God an opportunity to work, not realizing that it takes time for Him to answer prayer. It takes time for God to color a rose or to grow a great oak tree.” (from Streams in the Desert)

My mind lingered on those words.

I thought back to Genesis, when God created the universe. In just six days, He designed and formed everything that makes up our world.

But, He also created the process of growth.

He decided how long it would take for a tiny acorn to grow into an oak tree large enough to provide shade on a warm day. Sure, He could’ve made it so that acorn would form a new, fully grown tree by the next day. But, He didn’t.

In His infinite wisdom, He knew the tree needed time to grow.

Important things happen during the growth period. Roots reach deep into the earth and anchor the tree. The trunk grows, expands, reaching wide and high. It sprouts limbs and branches that give birth to leaves that absorb sunlight and rain to nourish the tree and allow for more growth.

And when the winds come, the tree stays anchored because of its deep roots. The strong trunk holds up, the branches sway and bend with the weather, withstanding the storms.

Because God knows what the tree will have to endure, He designed a growth period which gives the tree time to become what it needs to survive.

I see the same process in our writing journeys. We need time to grow as writers. To learn the craft. To find our voice. To develop our ideas. To understand the industry. To gain an audience.

These are all things we need. Things that will hold us upright when it gets difficult.

When we get our first rejection. And our twentieth. When we get our first contract, and then our first deadline. When we get a five-star review and a one-star review. When we win. When we lose.

Waiting carries weight. It’s a heavy burden to bear sometimes. But important things happen in the waiting. Growth is necessary, and growth takes time.

So, give yourself the time you need to become what God has purposed for you to be. Waiting isn’t easy, but if you use that time wisely, it won’t be time wasted.


Hope Welborn writes spine-tingling suspense, sprinkled with romance, and saturated with faith. She nerds out over superheroes, survives on chai lattes, and spends time at her family’s North Georgia farm. By day, she masquerades as a web marketing projects manager and by night, she stays up too late putting words on the page. You can connect with her at www.hopewelborn.com or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

the brink – a poem

At the brink of day, come with me
    to the edge of the sea.
Warm sand engulfs your toes
    as a salty breeze sifts your hair.
A chill wraps around your ankles
    as the waters cover the beach.
Shivering.
But your gaze follows the beam of light dancing east.
Drawn by the energy rising higher,
    dissolving the dark.
And yet, the ocean goes on
    into forever.
How far?
How vast?
How deep?
Reminding us of its creator.
Our limitless, infinite God.
No boundaries hold Him…
Not time.
Not logic.
Not physics.
And not my limited expectations.
But He who set the tides
    on His time.
I am but a speck, a grain of sand,
    unable to see past the horizon.
But what wonders He can do with even me…
    or you.
For beyond our vision, is our great God.
So we live boldly,
Knowing faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

 

Flash Fiction: Love is a Battlefield

This month’s flash fiction story tells the story of my characters’ past. It was fun for me to explore the history that set them on the path that would lead to the story in my book, Love is Elementary. I hope you enjoy it, and next month, we’ll be headed to the Kentucky Derby–fancy hats and mint juleps.

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Cissy’s eyes drifted up from the dull words of her reading assignment—Killer Angels. No hope for a romantic thread on the battlefield at Gettysburg. She dug her toes under the warm sand. Her surreptitious gaze expertly hidden behind the oversized sunglasses.

As Parker strolled up the beach, he brushed his blond bangs away from his tanned face, revealing his easy smile and eyes the same color as the June sky. Droplets of seawater trailed over his toned chest. High school boys posed no competition.

Cissy’s heart pounded like the marching drum leading General Lee’s army. But she forced her eyes back to the page. At this rate, it would take her all of summer vacation to read about a three-day battle. And if Paisley caught her ogling her brother, she’d never let Cissy hear the end of it. But she glanced back.

Two little girls giggled and nodded as Parker knelt near their beach toys. Together they dug sand, filling a yellow sand castle mold. Parker flipped it over, creating a tower. The girls applauded as Parker stood. So sweet. Too bad she turned down that babysitting job.

“Cissy … Cissy.” Paisley nudged her knee.

“What?” Cissy turned her head, giving her full attention to her friends.

Blair rolled onto her side, striking a pose she’d problem seen in a swimsuit ad.

Paisley adjusted her floppy sunhat. “Good grief. You must really be into that book. Parker loves Civil War History too. Click here to read the rest of the story.

Be Still – Guest Post by Lara Patangan

Happy Holy Week, dear friends. I just got home from our church’s morning service, and I can’t think of a better time to read this important message by my friend Lara Patangan. I hope you take time this week to be still and remember the love, grace, and miraculous gift that Resurrection Sunday is for each of us. 

Be Still.

I heard this often as a child.  I remember one time my mom promising me a new doll if I would just sit still for ten minutes.  When you are a kid, ten minutes is an impossibility, a lifetime, a duration that exists in fairytales along with happily ever after.”

Stillness remains a challenge for me.  By far, the hardest part of writing is getting myself to sit down.  I reheat my coffee, let the dog out, tell the cat she is pretty, stuff my face with white cheddar popcorn, nibble chocolate, check email, Facebook, scoop kitty litter, and reheat curdled coffee again.  Then, I sit, twitch, and fidget for a bit before I succumb to the stillness that begets words. It’s like an exorcism.

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

I am part of a group of women at my church who will be hosting a retreat this month, and we chose this as our theme.  It’s not a message we hear often, and it is certainly counter to what society encourages. Stillness is a renegade concept, a weapon that destroys the inauthentic notions of life.  I associate it more with someone like Yoda in a galaxy far, far away than I do anyone on our planet.

Our world teaches us our value is tied to busyness.  Do more, go faster, be efficient, be more, make more, and have more.  But for heaven’s sake, don’t be still.  Don’t stop and smell the roses.  Get them in the ground and check it off your list. Or better yet, pay someone to do it.  Your time is too valuable.  You need to be producing.

The message is clear, if you are still, the world will pass you by.  You will be considered slovenly.   You will miss out.  You will fail to measure up. You might as well be a concrete statue for pigeons to stoop (and poop) on.

When we believe these messages, eventually our motion spins out of control.  We lose touch with who we are called to be, the things we enjoy, and who matters most. We get lost and dizzy from all our spinning.  And tired.  So many of us are tired.

Last year for Lent, I challenged myself to spend ten minutes a day in stillness with God.  I was terrified.  I take my faith seriously enough that I didn’t want to commit to such an endeavor and not honor it.  Usually, the things we need most are the hardest to do, the least appealing, and met by the most resistance.  But I decided to be brave and embrace the stillness that always eluded me.

And you know what?  I didn’t turn green like Yoda or get soiled by pigeons.  I didn’t even feel like demons were being dispelled from my body like I do when I sit to write.  I didn’t miss a single day of my commitment.

Contrary to what we may think about motion, the real action begins with stillness.  I was more calm, aware of myself, closer to God, and felt a genuine sense of peace.  I was so much more intentional.

I continued my habit for awhile after Lent and then slowly traded the stillness for the unregulated motion that’s so much easier to fall into.  Like a child, I resist.  But I know that stillness waits for me, wants for me, and will embrace me anytime I am willing to surrender to its calm.

And the reward for stillness is far greater than a new toy.  It is a chance to sit with the knowing that is God.

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Lara Patangan
MercyMatters.net

Lara Patangan is a freelance writer and mother of two boys in Jacksonville, Florida.  She is a cat-lover and a catastrophic cook.  She blogs at Mercy me! I’ve Got Work To Do…  where she writes about her spiritual travels.  She is currently working on publishing her first book about her experiences doing works of mercy.  Please visit mercymatters.net to join this community that believes in the power of mercy to change the world.

Choosing Time

Time. What an elusive concept. If you follow me on social media, you know we’ve been on a family road trip for the last few days. (I know we shouldn’t be posting about being away from home, but we have an Eagle Scout for a house sitter and watchful neighbors, but in case you’re the one burglar who reads Christian blogs, we’ll be home by the time you read this, and remember I am from South Georgia.) My daughter suggested that we be one of those spontaneous families that stops randomly to see sights along the way. This is the child who hasn’t met a rule she doesn’t love, but I digress. Besides we do make spontaneous stops. Unfortunately, it’s only to visit lovely gas station restrooms because one of my sweethearts didn’t feel like he/she needed to go ten minutes before when we stopped. My brother says that when you’re traveling, every stop takes at least fifteen minutes, no matter what you do, and he’s right. (Don’t tell him I said that.) Those stops, that time adds up, and soon your five-hour trip takes six. (Bet y’all think I’m never going to make a point, but here it comes.)

Isn’t that how the minutes of our day go? One second, I’m sending an email, and I look up an hour later and can’t remember why I got online. People tell me all the time how disciplined I must be with my time to write. I’m so glad you can’t see the way I waste time daily, and then I’ll rationalize it. It’s amazing what can suddenly become research for my next novel when I’m feeling guilty. But this isn’t just about writers and it isn’t just about getting distracted. It’s about using the time we are given and making choices about how we can best use that time. And thank the Lord, it is about margin.

We can’t do everything, and although we can fill every minute, rarely does that result in positive results. Recently, a friend commented to me that she thinks I do a good job of setting boundaries with my time. At the moment, we were having a lovely chat over a cup of coffee. Later that same day, a childhood friend needed to talk and pray, and once again, I was blessed with time to share with her. If I’d packed my day with activities, I wouldn’t have had these moments. A few years ago, I read The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst, and it transformed how I prioritize my time. We all have many opportunities to serve and often must choose between two good choices—two ways to serve. If you’re like me, you start trying to figure out how you can do both, not which is the Best Yes. But that is where we make the mistake.

We need to choose one or neither. Yes, neither. Sometimes we need rest, and it is impossible to give away all our time and believe that we will have the energy to serve effectively. It is at this point that we need to ask God where He wants us.

Lately, I’ve felt overwhelmed with writing projects. I’ve even told God that I need to set aside some time to discuss and plan what He wants me to do and when. Notice I haven’t actually taken the time to pray about it, which is probably why I’m sitting in a hotel room at 8:00 at night trying to complete this post before I go to bed. We all have the tendency to fall back into this trap and get sucked under by the deluge of activities surging at us.

In the car today, I looked to scripture for a little help. I found this verse in Hosea 10:12, “Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.”

Isn’t that so true? It is always the time to seek the Lord, and in doing His work, He will bless us with love and righteousness. My family just spent an afternoon in Amish Country, and it provides me with a visual of this sowing and reaping. They were plowing fields, planting seeds, and they will reap the harvest. They are not distracted by the world.

I’m not suggesting I’m giving up my technology, but we can limit our worldly distractions. We can seek God’s will when we choose how we spend our time. We can pray for time to rest and play and spend time loving our friends and family. And we don’t have to make excuses or rationalize because we’ve chosen wisely.

What is one thing that eats up your time? As we draw closer to the cross, what is a way that you can spend more time with God? How will you implement this in your life? Share your thoughts below in the comments section. I’d love to see how you make the most of your time.

St. Patrick’s Courage from God

This Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day, when we celebrate his life and legacy. However, this celebration didn’t begin until 1631, almost 1200 years after his death. Since I love Ireland, I thought I’d do a little research on its patron saint. Maybe you already knew this, my kids did, but Saint Patrick wasn’t a canonized saint, and he wasn’t Irish. I know, shocking, however, I don’t want to focus on what he was not, but what he was—an obedient follower of God, who brought Christianity to Ireland. For the history purist, there was another missionary before Patrick, but he wasn’t very successful, or we might celebrate St. Palladius’ Day. 

Here is some of his story that I gleaned from several websites. Patrick was born around  387. As a teenager, Patrick was kidnapped from Scotland/England and taken to Ireland where he was a slave for several years. During this time he developed a strong faith, clinging to God in the midst of pagan Ireland. Before his captivity, his faith was lackluster at best. After experiencing a vision that led to his rescuers, he escaped his captor, a chieftain, who would eventually become one of his converts. After spending years in a monastery and learning about God, Patrick became a priest and then a bishop. Soon after, he followed God’s call to Ireland. His strategy was to convert the clan chiefs, so they would lead their people to God. However, this was dangerous business and his life was constantly in danger. Eventually, Patrick converted a powerful chief, akin to the king, and baptized him. Patrick spent about forty years ministering to the Irish people and planting churches across the Island. He died on March 17, 461 and is buried in Northern Ireland.

Two parts of his story strike a chord with me. The first part that he didn’t embark on this part of his life until he was forty. It seems it’s never too late for God to change our lives and send us on a mission for him. The second part is the faith and courage it must have taken to approach these pagan chiefs. In his own words, he writes in the Confession, “I [was] a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers. I [was] looked down upon by many.” This reminds me how God chooses the least likely to his greatest works and the courage that only God can provide in the face of impossible odds.

Tradition holds that St. Patrick wrote the following prayer before meeting with the powerful Irish King. However, some question his authorship. Regardless, the Lorica of St. Patrick is a beautiful expression of our relationship with Jesus and a hymn of protection. A Lorica is the breastplate in a coat of armor, like the one Paul tells us to wear in Ephesians six.

As you celebrate, I pray you keep St. Patrick’s words in your heart and remember they apply to each of us as well. Jesus loves us all and is always with us. God protects us and gives us his mighty power when we do his work just like St. Patrick.

What do you need God’s strength for today? Is God calling you to try something new, serve in a new and even scary way? How will you answer? May this be our prayer every morning. (Many people only pray the bold section; however, I wanted to share it in its entirety.) I loved to hear your thoughts, share below in the comments.

The Lorica of St. Patrick
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind, the depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.

I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.

I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
That may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

 

Flash Fiction – Prom Date?

It’s getting close to that time of year for millions of high school students–Prom. What do you remember most about your Prom? What do you look forward to most? For Sarah, she just wants to go with her best friend, but will he ask her?

I hope you enjoy this story and share it with a friend.

Sarah applied a fresh coat of gloss to her lips and checked her teeth for stray strawberry seeds. Why did she put herself through this every morning? Forest never noticed. Almost four years of sitting in the desk next to him—Mitchell and Miller. On the first day of freshman year, he’d declared they would be best friends, and that’s exactly what they’d been—friends. Occasionally, he paid her a compliment, but usually, he discussed his fluctuating relationship status with Jenna. During the breakups, Sarah would have him all to herself, but Jenna always managed to lure him back.

Sarah opened her planner. Activities and deadlines filled the boxes of the calendar. She drew another jagged line around the starburst on the last Saturday of the month—Senior Prom. Last night, during one of their marathon texting sessions, Forest assured her that someone would ask her this week. Why couldn’t it be him?

The door crashed against the metal cupboard. “You’re not going to believe this!”

Sarah jumped in her seat. Several students snickered, accustomed to the routine.

“Dude, she’s not that hot. Cut her loose.” Sam rolled his eyes to his brother.

“Yeah. College girls.” The Nolan twins slapped hands.

“Classy, guys.” Forest strode across the classroom and dropped into his desk. “She expected me to miss the G-day Spring Football Game in Athens to go dress shopping with her.”

“Hmm.” Sarah doodled in the margin. Why was he surprised? Jenna spent more time learning to manipulate Forest than any other subject in high school, which explained her mediocre GPA. But she had an “A” in drama. Jenna could produce more tears than Niagra falls. For a smart guy, Forest didn’t seem to catch onto her games and couldn’t stand to see her upset. He was empathetic to a fault. One of the many reasons Sarah loved him.

“Aren’t you going to say anything?” He rested his elbow on her desk.

Sarah glanced up at him. Their faces inches apart. Her heart fluttered. Flecks of gold radiated in his hazel eyes. What if she told him the truth?

Her stomach knotted. “My mom said not to say anything if you couldn’t say something nice.” She’d had enough of Jenna.

Forest slumped back into his seat. “She’s already crying and told me ‘to go if football was more important than her.’ But she doesn’t mean it. She’ll hold a grudge. Why does she need me to look at dresses? I even offered to go another day. But she insisted this was the only time. I told her I’d made plans with you. She said you’d understand.”

Sarah pressed her pen into the paper. Heat flowed through her veins. Forest might be oblivious to Sarah, but not Jenna. She clenched her jaw.

“And I know you would—”

“That’s it!” Sarah slammed her hands on the desk, sending her pen flying across the room. Click here to read the rest of the story.

Sometimes you need a little inspiration from Taylor Swift. Here is a video of Libby in sixth grade singing the song that gave me the idea for this story.

 

Put on Your Armor – by: Jenifer Jennings

My guest blogger this week is Jenifer Jennings, a multi-published author of Biblical Fiction. Jenifer is a great critique partner and helped me with my second flash fiction piece. She loves Bible stories and helps them come alive with her creative and beautiful gift of storytelling. I hope you enjoy her post on Barak and Deborah. It gives us all the chance to remember that God always supplies what we need for success–whether that’s a person or armor.

“And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:” -Hebrews 11:32 (KJV)

My favorite book of the Bible is Hebrews. This wonderful book reveals Jesus is some many interesting aspects from Priest to King to Prophet while peeling back the layers of foreshadows and pictures found throughout the Old Testament.

One of my favorite chapters of this book is Chapter Eleven, or what is commonly known as the Hall of Faith.

I enjoy writing about people of faith. When we hear of other’s faith, I believe it can strengthen our own. One such character brought me a tremendously amount of encouragement lately.

His name was Barak.

He was a courageous warrior, but he had put down his sword for twenty years. The book of Judges tells us that after a time of peace, the people of Israel did evil in the sight of God. (Judges 4:1) So, God sends a foreign king to rule over them. Being a defeated warrior, Barak hangs up his battle gear and lives a simple, but oppressed, life under the new king.

I can relate. Can you? There have been many defeats in my life. There have been numerous times I’ve wanted to hang up my battle gear and call it quits.

God sends Deborah, a judge at the time, to give Barak a message. “Warrior, it’s time to get back into the battle.” Barak is filled with uncertainty and requests that Deborah accompany him into battle. She agrees, but warns him that he will not have the victory over the enemy. God would send a woman to be the one who claims the victory for Israel. Barak goes into battle with faith that God would bring it to a swift end.

Barak stages a battle with the fierce enemy who conquers in massive chariots. He and his ten thousand men are outnumbered and the obvious underdogs. Just as the battle gets underway, a storm floods the nearby river causing the battlefield to become a gigantic mud pit. Not so good for chariot wheels. In the heat of battle, the captain of the enemy’s army actually retreats to save his own skin. Barak pursues him.

Searching for a place to hide, the captain comes upon a woman whose husband is loyal to his side. She invites him to hide in her tent and says she would protect him by standing watch and not revealing his hidden location. In a divine turn of ends, while the captain sleeps, this woman takes a tent stake and drives it through the captain’s head, instantly killing him. We aren’t told exactly what prompted her to do this, but God had already given the message that it would be a woman’s through which the victory would come.

With Deborah as the encourager support, Jael as a female double agent for God, and Barak as the willing warrior Israel gains the victory over the enemy and peace is restored in the land for forty years.

Writing about Barak was an eye-opener for me. His story was not on my original list of ones to include for my collection of Biblical short stories entitled “Sacrifice,” but I fell in love with his story and had to put him in. Until I began writing it, I never realized how much I was like Barak in life and like Deborah in my writing career. There have been places I’ve taken off my armor and it’s time to get back in the battle. My goal in writing is to be that Deborah encouraging voice in my reader’s lives saying, “God is bigger than anything you’re facing right now. Put your armor back on, warrior, and let’s get back to work for Him.”

If you’d like to read Barak’s story and others found in “Sacrifice” you can find all links here: jeniferjennings.com/sacrifice.

Jenifer is a wife and mother first, though writing is her soul’s desire. She takes Biblical accounts, weaves in historical resources, and adds a dash of fiction to create stories that encourage readers to take their next step of faith.
She married the man of her dreams who reminds her everyday what real love feels like. Together, they are raising two amazing children who keep them laughing.
With a degree in Church Ministry from Trinity Baptist College and an active member of Word Weavers International, Jenifer is always learning.

Her deepest longing is to show Jesus’ love by encouraging others through her writing. Jenifer is a wife and mother first, though writing is her soul’s desire. She takes Biblical accounts, weaves in historical resources, and adds a dash of fiction to create stories that encourage readers to take their next step of faith.