Dropping Stones


One of my favorite stories from the entire Bible is about the woman who was caught in adultery. (John 8:1-11) The Pharisees were chomping at the bit to have her stoned. I can only imagine their frenzy as they dragged the woman to the temple courts where a certain celebrity was teaching. The Bible doesn’t say, but I wonder if they made a huge spectacle on their way to see Jesus. What were they saying to the woman as they neared the temple? Were they calling for other people to join them as they rushed to carry out what would surely be the Godly thing to do? End her life. Seal her fate. Write her off.

I can only imagine the condemnation being poured out from their self-righteous mouths, pushing her further down into the mire of her guilt and shame. Without even knowing who she was, or anything about her story, I bet others joined right in with their judgmental bashing. The Pharisees, after all, were the “holy ones” of the era. They were the religious leaders who followed God’s law without fail. They never got it wrong. No one dared argue with their wisdom and knowledge of the ancient scriptures.

What a surprise it must have been when they placed her in front of Jesus and explained the situation. Instead of immediately answering them with a command to stone her, Jesus ignores the most religious men in all the land, bends down, and begins to scribble in the dirt. There have been many views on what exactly He was writing. I tend to believe that He might have been writing out their own sins. Of course He knew them all, He’s Jesus. When the Pharisees realized what it was, they still repeated their question.

Jesus finally answers by saying that whomever has no sin can throw the first stone. There was no other option than for them to unclinch their tightened fists and drop the stones they were so eager to throw. What else could they have possibly done? I’m sure the crowd had pressed in to see what the great teacher had written. The Pharisees were busted. Here they were trying to trap Jesus, and He completely turned the tables on them.

If anyone standing there had the right to accuse the woman of sinning, it was Jesus Himself. The One with no sin. The One who led a perfect life. He chose forgiveness over her failure.

How often are we quick to judge others? Do we rush around to all of our “Christian” friends eager to bash another imperfect human because of something they’ve said or done? Do we turn our nose up at someone who is marrying a person of the same sex? Do we turn our backs on the fifteen year old pregnant girl who made a mistake? These are the people we should be running to with open arms.

Why would anyone want to follow Christ if all they receive is judgement and condemnation from those who claim to know Him?

Just as the Pharisees, who stood before Jesus thinking they were God’s gift to the unwashed masses, assumed it was their duty to judge, so do we. It’s not at all. We need to realize that just because we have Jesus, we’re not elevated onto some untouchable platform, and all the sinners are wandering around in circles below us. We are all broken. We all hurt. We all struggle. We all desire a relationship with someone who gets it.

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It’s hard to open up your arms to someone in love if you’re carrying a bag of rocks.

Reflections From a Broken Mirror (repost)


At some point in our life, I believe we have all been there. Unsatisfied with how we look, act, or fit in. It’s human nature to never be happy with how we are. In some cases, that can actually be a good thing, but for now, I’m talking mainly about our appearance and how we feel about life in general. In a world where we are bombarded with millions of different looks, fads, opinions, and opportunities, it’s a miracle we even know who we are as individuals.

It’s everywhere. TV. Movies. Books. Magazines. Billboards. Newspapers. Daily, we are subjected to what the world, society, thinks we should be. What we should wear. What we should eat. What we should not eat. What is healthy. What is not healthy. The list stretches beyond eternity where no one can see an end to the madness. People are looked down upon if they don’t keep up with their neighbors. Men are degraded constantly in TV commercials. No matter where we look, sin is shown as friendly and fun.

There are lost and hurting people all around us, but sadly, most of the world turns round and round with an air of indifference. We are taught to look out for ourselves, move up the ladder of success, get the newest car, buy the largest house on the block, etc. We’re so busy chasing after the American Dream, we forget about the least of these. We forget that if we help the homeless man on the street corner, we’re helping Jesus. (Matthew 25:40) If we feed the woman standing outside McDonald’s with no money, we are feeding Jesus.

As I usually say when I publish blog posts, I am not throwing any stones. We are all broken. Your reason may be scars caused from past abuse. Maybe it’s an addiction. Or maybe we’ve been through such horrible things in our life, it’s sometimes difficult to even express in words. In my own broken mirror, the reflection I see looking back is one of heartbreak, loss, failure, hope, happiness, faith, and redemption.

In my opinion, one of the most powerful moments written about in the New Testament is the story of the woman caught in adultery. (John 8:7) The religious leaders of that time brought her before Jesus and declared that according to the Law of Moses, they should immediately stone her to death. I get chills every time I watch that scene in Passion of the Christ when Jesus draws the line in the sand and, one by one, the stones drop from their clutched fists.

None of us have the right to judge anyone else for who they are, or more importantly, for what they have or have not done.

There is only One who can repair the cracks in our mirrors. When we see broken glass, we assume it’s worthless, and toss it into the trash. When God looks at our broken lives, he sees opportunity. He sees pain that only His perfect healing can replace. He sees beauty that only His perfect love can reveal to us. He sees worth that no amount of money, clothing, popularity, or status could ever appreciate. One by one, He replaces the broken pieces with His love. When He’s finished, we can finally step in front of that mirror and realize the greatness of our God and look at ourselves through His lens to see what we look like in His eyes.

We are His children. We are His family. We are His beloved.

 

Chris Martin

From the Ashes (Part 2)


I stood, immobilized, gripped in the clutches of incomprehensible fear.

My eyes had most certainly watched as a large aircraft plowed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, but my mind had yet to rationally compute the horror. I winced as flames, debris, glass, and black smoke erupted in a fireball of destruction. The shock wave assaulted the North Tower, but the windows remained intact. At least the one I was looking through. I felt another rumble under my feet, and I forced my legs to move.

I returned to my fallen co-worker. He moaned in pain. “What’s your name?” I asked.

“It’s Jack.”

“I’m Rick. I think it’s time we got outta here, what do you say?”

Jack nodded. He pulled up his pant leg, and I could see that his ankle had swollen considerably in just a short amount of time. He needed medical assistance. Probably some ice. At that moment, we had neither, so it was time to move. I knelt down and put his arm around my shoulders. I counted to three, and we stood up together. He wasn’t able to put much weight, if any, on the injured ankle. I wondered how we would ever make it out of the building with non-working elevators and seventy-five floors of stairs between us and the outside. I pushed the thoughts away and focused on the present.

We slowly made our way out of the office and into the main hallway. It was nearly impossible to see anything due to the smoke, but I realized rather quickly that we were all alone. It was the same type of eerie quiet that follows a blizzard, except we didn’t have a sheet of sparkling white snow laid out before us. I’m not sure if it was just plain, raw fear, or some kind of instinct, but something urged me forward with increased intensity.

As we moved toward the stairs, I tried to carry as much of Jack’s weight as I possibly could. Sitting behind a desk all day wasn’t exactly a great fitness plan, so I was extremely out of shape. I knew most of my power was coming from adrenaline. If that ran out, we would both be in serious trouble.

We burst through the door and into the stairwell. The smoke was worse than in the offices. We both immediately started to choke and cough. I leaned Jack up against the wall and ripped off one of my long sleeves. “Keep this over your nose and mouth,” I instructed. I grabbed Jack, and we started down the stairs. I heard someone yelling, but couldn’t tell if it was coming from above us, or from somewhere down below.

After maneuvering down three flights of stairs, I had to stop. We sat on the landing, and I bent over, gasping for breath. 

“You need to leave me here.”

I looked over at Jack. He removed the shirt sleeve covering his face, and forced a smile. Tears etched two thin lines through the dirt and ash on his face. I coughed some more, and then shook my head. “No way. We’re doing this together.”

“We will never make it out of here with you having to carry me down seventy more flights of stairs. Just go.”

“You have kids, Jack?”

He nodded as fresh tears spilled from his eyelashes. “Yes. Two.”

“I do too,” I replied. “They aren’t going to lose their fathers today. Let’s go.”

Despite his protest, I picked Jack up, and we continued down. After counting another five floors, my body just physically couldn’t take it anymore. Jack had stopped talking altogether. His head lolled back and forth as if he were on the brink of unconsciousness. My throat burned with the kind of pain I could only imagine would result after swallowing razor blades. I realized that for the majority of our trek, I had kept my eyes closed. Each time I bumped into a wall, I knew it was time to turn.

I carefully laid Jack’s head down on the cement floor and made sure the makeshift bandanna across his face was secure. I leaned back and finally allowed myself to cry. I had desperately fought to hang on to hope, but sitting there in the darkness with a burning throat and stinging eyes, I knew the end was near. Occasionally, the floor beneath our feet would rumble, and I would hold my breath. I had no idea what had happened to the building. Had an airplane hit ours as well? A bomb? Did the outside world have any idea what was happening here?

I pulled my cell phone out and took a deep breath. I had never thought about the words I would say to my loved ones if I knew I was going to die. I don’t believe anyone could ever be prepared for that kind of conversation. Pivotal moments in my children’s lives flashed through my mind, and I wasn’t present for any of them. Graduation, college, marriage. How would my death affect them in the coming years? Losing a father is not something that just goes away with time. It never did after I lost mine.

I pressed the speed dial button for home. I would try there first. Andrea didn’t always hear her cell phone ring if she was helping Megan with something. After three rings, a tiny voice answered, and my body shook with uncontrollable sobs.

“Hello?”

With every ounce of strength I had left, I regained control and croaked out a greeting. “Hey, Sweetie. This is Daddy.”

“Daddy? Hi, Daddy.”

The excitement that rang in her voice, after hearing it was me, shattered my heart into pieces. “I-I’m at work, Honey. Can you get Mommy on the phone?”

“Daddy? I’m crayon in book.”

I clenched my teeth so tightly together that my temples throbbed in pain. “You and Mommy coloring?”

“Yes. Coming home now?”

God, give me the strength to do this. I hadn’t prayed in a long time. “Daddy can’t come home right now. Soon though.”

There was a shuffling noise, and I could hear Andrea’s voice talking to Megan. Then she spoke into the phone with concern. “Rick? Is that you?”

“Hey, Babe. Yeah, it’s me.”

“What’s going on? What’s wrong?”

“Turn on the TV. It’s got to be on there by now.” Jack moaned, and I leaned over to look at him. He moved his head back and forth, but his eyes remained shut.

“Oh, God, Rick. Are you still at work? Are you still in the building? Please tell me you were all evacuated.”

“What exactly are they saying?” I asked. “What happened?”

“You don’t know? Two planes have flown into both towers of the World Trade Center. There’s smoke pouring out of the upper levels. It’s total chaos. Firefighters and police are everywhere. Are you down on the street? Where are you?”

“I’m-” I paused. Should I tell the truth, or be evasive with my answers? “I’m still in the building, but we are getting out. Slowly.”

At first, I only heard static on the line. Then Andrea began to sob.

“Shhh, it’s okay. I’m sure they have people coming in to get us out. Everything’s going to be alright.” I fought back the urge to vomit as I tried to console my wife. I doubted anyone was coming to rescue us. Even if they did, there was no possible way they could evacuate a building of that size before the flames engulfed it entirely. The images of people falling toward the ground chilled my blood. I didn’t know how much more smoke I could inhale before passing out. Jack might be dead, I wasn’t sure. It was over. It was time to accept it.

Somehow, I had to be strong for Andrea. “Listen, Babe. You there?”

“Yes. I love you so much.”

“I love you too. Listen, I’m sure the firefighters are on their way up. But-”

She cut me off. “No, don’t say that. You can’t say that.” Her voice trailed off into more sobbing.

I swallowed the lump in my throat. I could barely feel the inside of my mouth. “If they don’t make it in time.” Choked up, I paused. I took a deep breath, and winced in pain. I didn’t realize I was lying on my back until I opened my eyes and saw a cloudy ceiling. The smoke had become unbearable. I wasn’t typically a claustrophobic person by nature, but it felt as if I was inside a tiny box, with barely any room to breathe. I knew the smoke was probably filling my lungs, and it wouldn’t be long before I suffocated with no air. “Andrea?”

“I’m here. Baby, I’m here. Just keep talking to me. Stay awake. They’re on their way to get you. Just hold on.”

“Andrea, I love you so much. More than you will ever know. Tell Matthew that so proud of him and the awesome grades he’s in school. Tell you-”

“Rick? Rick?”

My head twirled in a sea of nausea. I could hear myself talking, not making much sense, but I couldn’t control my words. It felt like an out of body experience. I focused all of my concentration on Andrea’s voice. “Tell Megan I think she’s a princess. Her smile tell her I’m sorry.” The building shuddered, and I waited for the final death blow. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I just knew it would be devastating.

Andrea’s voice slowly faded into the distance as I began to drift. For the first time since my morning had been completely turned upside down, I felt peace. My throat no longer burned, and I could open my eyes and see clearly. In contrast to the smoke-filled stairwell, the room was brightly lit. A warmth enveloped me from head to toe, and I sighed in relief. This wouldn’t end as badly as I had imagined.

I frowned when I heard the sharp bark of static.

My eyes snapped open. Bits of a conversation filled my ears.

“We have two.”

“Alive?”

“Barely.”

There was commotion all around me as I laid there in pain and confusion. A face materialized into view right above me. A man spoke, but I couldn’t hear the words. I could see the worry in his eyes, but he smiled. On his head, he wore a helmet with the number 213 and the initials FDNY above that. I tried to speak, but couldn’t. I surrendered to the blackness.

I awoke in the hospital surrounded by my family. I was alive. I had sustained permanent damage to one lung due to smoke inhalation, but other than that, I was fine. Well, physically speaking. I found out later that Jack and I had actually made it down to the fifty ninth floor of the building instead of only a few levels like I had originally thought.

Don’t take anything for granted. Your family, friends, job. While trapped in that building, I realized that life is nothing but a brief journey that passes by way too quickly. Hold your family tight, take chances, and don’t ever think there’s something you can’t do. Nothing is impossible. Oh, and Jack? He’s fine too. The shirt sleeve I wrapped around his face protected him from any damage to his lungs. Our families are headed out of town next weekend together. It’s time for some fresh air.

Note from the author:

While this story is fiction, constructed from the depths of my imagination, we all know how incredibly horrific 9/11 was. I can’t imagine what it was like for someone like Rick, trapped high up in one of the towers, not knowing if he would ever see the light of day again. I’ve tried to illustrate those feelings in my story, but I’m sure they aren’t even close to what a person might have endured. The respect I have for our police force and firefighters can’t be explained in mere words. The brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for others are the true heroes of this world.

We will never forget. 9/11/2001

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From the Ashes (Part 1)


The morning started off in such a beautiful way. Had I known the horror that would follow, I would never have stepped foot outside my front door.

My wife, Andrea, and I have two children. One boy and one girl. Matthew is seven years old and has his mama’s eyes. Megan is three, and thankfully, she doesn’t look like me. She does have my dimple in her chin, but that’s where the similarities end. She is a mini version of the woman I married eight years ago. We had been waiting a week to hear from the doctor about a variety of tests they ran on Megan. The call finally came in that morning as we were sitting around the breakfast table.

With tears streaming down my face, I delivered the good news to Andrea. We bundled together in a small family group hug for several minutes. Whether or not the kids could fully understand what was taking place, Andrea and I were more than relieved that our little one would not have to undergo surgery. There were no handouts or instruction booklets attached to the children at birth. We’ve done the best we can, and believe that their long term damage, due to our inexperience, will be minimal. Taking Megan to the doctor had been one of the most terrifying moments in our lives as parents.

After a celebratory breakfast, I kissed the wife and kids goodbye and headed into work. My job is pretty boring, but it puts money in the bank and food on the table. Selling insurance isn’t glamorous by any means, but it allows me to provide for my family, and that’s what matters. My Dad taught me the value of hard work, and even now in my late thirties, I realize it doesn’t matter what the work is. If you perform to the best of your abilities, there are rewards. In this day and age, just having a job is a reward all in itself.

Traffic that day wasn’t as bad as a typical Tuesday. Most people think Mondays are the worst, but in the city, pretty much every day has its share of bad traffic. Some, who either didn’t own a vehicle or just wanted to enjoy the beautiful fall weather, plodded along the sidewalks. I had my window rolled down and could hear the usual sounds of activity that always infiltrated our chaotic streets. Continuous honking of impatient horns, the serpent-like hissing of buses starting and stopping, and the ever present shouting out for the attention of a cab driver.

Once inside the office, I greeted my co-workers and snagged a cup of steaming, hot coffee from the break room. It wasn’t Starbucks, but it would suffice. Once seated, I looked at the pictures on my desk and smiled. I had so much to be thankful for. So many people take the things they have in life for granted, myself included. I decided right then that our family would take a trip the following weekend. We needed to get out of the city and breathe in some fresh air. It had been too long.

I glanced at my desk calendar and frowned. On September 10th, the day before, I had jotted down a reminder to myself to call my Uncle who was celebrating a birthday. I had completely forgotten to call him. I picked up the phone, and then changed my mind. It wasn’t even nine yet. He might be sleeping in.

I heard, or rather felt, the first explosion around 8:45. It was one of those moments where you wait several seconds before reacting just to make sure you hadn’t imagined anything. As I stepped outside my office and saw the fear on everyone’s face, I knew something had indeed happened. The building shuddered, and someone across the room screamed. I ran back into my office and stood by the nearest window. From my vantage point on the 75th floor of the North Tower, I could look down and see the expanse of New York City below.

I walked around my desk and snatched up the phone. I dialed home and waited. After several moments of complete silence, a busy signal assaulted my ear. The call didn’t even go through. I pulled the cell phone from my pocket and held down the 2 button, which was speed dial for Andrea.

“Come on, Darling. Pick up. Please pick up.”

After five rings, the call went to voicemail. I pressed End and then dialed our home number. No answer there either. She must still be on her way home from taking Matthew to school. He hated riding the bus.

A co-worker, Phillip, burst into my office. “Rick! Let’s go. We need to evacuate the building.”

“What happened?”

“I don’t know. Sounded like a bomb went off. There’s already smoke in the hallways, and the elevators are not working. We have to take the stairs. ”

I returned the cell phone to my pocket and followed him out. The main office was already clear of people who wasted no time in running for the exits. Smoke had already started to penetrate the air, and my eyes began to burn. We rushed into the hallway where we found small groups of people standing around, unsure of what to do. Phillip sprang into action and began to direct people towards the stairs. Several stood there crying. Some had cell phones out trying to make calls. It was an eerie scene.

I started to follow everyone else when I heard someone call out from an office I had just passed by. I stopped and looked. Through the gathering smoke, I noticed a man sitting on the floor. I rushed over to him. “What are you doing? We have to go!”

“I twisted my ankle and can’t walk. I think it’s broken.”

Movement flashed in the corner of my eye, and I turned toward a window. At first, I though it was building debris falling from the upper floors. I slowly walked across the office so I could get a better look. Once I realized what was happening, my flesh crawled in horror. Debris was indeed falling, but something else was hurtling toward the ground as well. Bodies. Before my stunned mind could comprehend what my eyes were witnessing, a plane appeared from around the building. My mouth opened in a silent scream as the aircraft slammed into the South tower.

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Another Thursday


The best day of the week is Thursday. Some people will try to convince you that Friday is better, but don’t let them fool you. Thursdays are definitely the best. I understand you might have doubts because I’m only ten years old, but trust me, I know. I never realized how awesome the fourth day of the week could be until about two years ago. I met Danny on a Thursday, and my life was never the same after that. Wait, before I go any further, let me introduce myself.

My name is Addison, but all my friends call me Addy. Like I mentioned before, I am ten years old. I have two of the most awesome parents in the world, and I love horses. My favorite color is purple, well sometimes it’s red, and I don’t mind school at all. Most kids my age can’t stand going to school, but I’m different. I like to learn as much as I possibly can. My dad said the more knowledge I have, the better off in life I will be. Mom tends to agree with him. Ever since I can remember, I have always been curious about everything.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I guess that’s to be expected, though, since I have so much on my mind. The one thing that kept me going through the night was knowing that the morning would come, and it was Thursday. Danny will be here in about twenty minutes. I am so excited. I drew him an epic picture of a horse out in the middle of a field. It’s right as dawn is breaking, and the sun is slowly creeping towards the blue sky. The horse is standing just at the edge of darkened woods, saddled, but there is no rider in sight. I’m leaving it to the imagination as to what may have happened.

I like to do that. I draw stuff all the time, but it’s never truly complete. An imagination is one of the most amazing things we could ever have been given. When I’m scared or feel alone, I go deep into my imagination and picture myself riding horses with all my friends. When I close my eyes, it all feels so real.

Danny is late, and I don’t know why. In two years, he has never been late. I’ve learned a lot about Danny since I met him that first day. I know he volunteers with the fire department, likes to play softball, and goes to church. The biggest thing we have in common is the love of horses. He has several horses on his ranch, and he promised me that one day we would go horseback riding. He and my dad are friends too. They have spent a lot of time together lately.

“Miss Cindy, have you seen Danny?”

Cindy Stepford walks over with a big smile. “Hi, Addy. I haven’t seem him yet this morning. How are you feeling?”

“I’m okay, just worried about Danny. He’s never late.”

“I’m sure he’s fine, Honey. Would you like me to check and see if I can find out where he is?”

I nod and attempt to smile, but I fail horribly. As I watch Cindy walk away, a sadness, that I can’t explain, begins to fill my heart. I can’t shake this feeling of dread. I push the button on my bed and wait patiently as it rises to a full sitting position. I can’t quite see the entire nurses area where the desk is. I see Cindy talking on the phone, and she appears concerned. That can’t be good. She hangs up and waves at someone out of my line of sight.

To my surprise, I see both of my parents walk up to Cindy. They talk for several seconds, and then Daddy glances over at me. I see the look inside his eyes, and my heart drops. Something must be terribly wrong. I motion for them to come into my room. They both enter and give me a kiss on the forehead. No one talks for at least a full minute. Daddy unconsciously tugs at the badge hanging from his neck. Below his picture, it reads Visitor. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is stamped below that.

I have cancer. I won’t go into all the medical terms or explanations that will most likely leave you even more confused as to what my condition is. They don’t know it, but I overheard my parents talking with Dr. Morris the other day. According to him, I have six months to live, maybe less. I know what you’re thinking. How can a ten year old handle something this horrific? Well, to be honest, I don’t know. Am I scared? Of course, but I still believe in the hope that the awesome people here will find a cure for me. They haven’t given up. Why should I?

I’ve experienced the stinging taste of death as some of my closest friends here lost their battles. I guess that’s what makes me more mature than what my age would dictate. I’ve seen pain, fear, despair, and hope in it’s rawest forms. I’ve learned to accept the cards that life dealt me, but to also press forward and never give up hope. I want to live again. I want to experience life outside of a hospital bed, like I did two years ago.

Sometimes I see a look of failure on my parent’s faces, and I know I have to be strong for them. I don’t let them see me cry. I only do that when I’m alone at night. They have shed so many tears of their own. They don’t need to hurt through mine as well.

“Daddy, what’s going on? Where’s Danny?”

Daddy looks up with glistening eyes. “Sweetie, Danny won’t be able to visit you today.”

I glance over at Mom, but she doesn’t look up. “What happened? Is he okay?”

“His wife and daughter were involved in a terrible car accident this morning. His wife didn’t make it, and their daughter is in ICU. She is on life support.”

I swallowed a swell of emotions that threatened to overtake me. Tears formed in my eyes, but I fought them back. I had to be strong. I had only met Danny’s family twice over the two year span I had been here at St. Jude. He told me they were uncomfortable visiting the hospital, and I could completely understand that. “Is she going to die?”

“She needs a heart transplant, Sweetie. They are trying to get her pushed to the front of the list, but there are no guarantees. They don’t have much time, so it’s not looking too good right now.”

“Danny’s daughter,” I say. “How old is she?”

“She’s nine.”

Two years ago, the driver of my school bus had a brain aneurysm, drifted off the road and slammed us into a tree, causing the bus to flip over. The gas tank exploded and the entire vehicle caught on fire. Most of the kids were able to escape out the back except for me and one other boy. The bolts, from the seat we were sitting on, had snapped, and the bench fell over, trapping us both inside the bus. A piece of metal had come up from underneath and pierced my back, causing me to be paralyzed from the waist down. As people screamed and the flames grew closer, I squeezed the boy’s hand and tried to stay strong for the both of us.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a fireman appeared over us. I remember the look of concern in his eyes, but also one of determination. At that point, I was nearing unconsciousness, but I remember him taking my hand and saying everything was going to be alright. The screams faded as I drifted off into darkness. I awoke in the hospital and couldn’t feel anything. The doctor said I was lucky, and if the fireman had been even a minute or two later, the boy and I would have died. It was during my stay at the hospital that the doctor found something on one of my test results, and we learned I had cancer.

I ask “What is her blood type?”

My mother drops her head and bursts into sobs. Daddy jumps up and stands by my bed. He shakes his head as tears begin to stream down his face. “No. You can’t- I won’t-”

“Dad, it’s okay. I overheard you guys talking with Dr. Morris. I know I don’t have much time. The tumor is spreading through my brain. I can feel it sometimes, and I know it’s only a matter of time before I won’t be able to speak or remember anything. This is my chance, my one chance, to make a difference in someone’s life.”

“But they might find a cure. We can’t give up hope. You might not even be a match.”

“Then let’s find out.”

While Mom and Dad stand over my bed and cry, I slowly begin to fall asleep. I hope they talk to Dr. Morris and see if my heart would be compatible with Danny’s daughter. I have come to accept the fact that I don’t have much time left on this earth. I won’t go to college. I won’t fall in love. I won’t get married and have children. I hope my parents somehow find a way to go on once I’m gone. If my heart can help save another little girl, then my life will have served a purpose.

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It’s a Thursday night, and Danny Johnson sits on his couch in the living room. The steady crackle from the fireplace nearly puts him to sleep. On the mantle sits a picture of a horse standing just at the edge of darkened woods, saddled, but the rider is no where in sight. He smiles through his tears as he realizes he never figured that one out.

He was off duty the day he happened upon the school bus accident. It was complete chaos with screaming children and onlookers who had stopped, but were afraid to approach the burning vehicle. Without hesitation, he donned his gear and rushed into the flames once he learned there were still students on board. The driver was already dead, but he was able to rescue the boy and girl trapped under the bench. It was a just another Thursday, but he had been on his way to their cabin forty miles outside of town. A full bottle of whiskey and a loaded .45 were going to erase the pain of the broken marriage he had been trying to piece back together.

When he rescued Addy, he once again found the hope he had given up on. His life was never the same after that day.

“Daddy?”

Danny looks down into the eyes of his daughter. Addy’s heart beats steadily inside her chest. The little girl he saved on that fateful Thursday afternoon, returned the favor by not only saving his daughter’s life, but his as well.

SPACE

SPACE

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It’s Time


Darkness. An endless expanse, void of light. A blackness so deep and encompassing that the dead embrace it, and the living fear it. My son passed away, and I am heartbroken. I knew this day would come. The absence of life requires the presence of death. It’s a well known fact that at the moment of birth, the long journey to the grave begins. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. That’s how life works. Death doesn’t care if you’re young or old, male or female. It doesn’t see color or religion.

Some would say my son was unique, special even. Before he was born, I knew he would accomplish great things. He was a natural born leader. People were drawn to him, and most of the time, they didn’t even know why. When he spoke, people stopped what they were doing, and they listened. He was slow to anger and quick to forgive. He had a gift of explaining things in such a simple way that anyone could understand. He was far from simple however. He was a miracle baby.

His compassion was endless. He was always the first to help anyone in need. His friends often marveled at his gentle way of dealing with those whom most of the world would reject. The broken. The poor. The ones who had lost all hope in a society that long ago pushed them to the curb. He never had much, but he gave everything he had. It was just his way. He never lived for himself, only for others. He showed love to those who didn’t do anything to deserve it, but that never stopped him. Even when people, who didn’t understand, tried to turn others against him, he pressed on.

His mother was very young when our son was born. She didn’t fully comprehend the weight of responsibility that was placed upon her, but she accepted it, and tried her very best. He loved her so much, and she loved him. It was a bond strengthened by trials and hardships that would have severed most relationships. Even though she couldn’t understand it all, she also believed our son was destined for greatness. She often talked about his purpose in life, and expressed her desire to see him grow up and change the world. Even though it wasn’t how she had imagined, he did indeed fulfill that desire.

Throughout his entire time on Earth, my son knew without a doubt what his purpose was in life. He wasn’t called to live like everyone else and just be ordinary. Royalty ran through his lineage, but he always said he would prefer to serve rather than be served. He was a king, but lived like a common man. He could have enjoyed the best that life had to offer, but he chose to be homeless and do without. He saw the best in people, even when they couldn’t see it themselves. When others said it couldn’t be done, my son said nothing was impossible.

He stood up for the weak and defenseless. He demonstrated to those closest to him how important it was to love others. He led by example, not just in speech. He said there was no greater expression of love than for someone to give his life for his friends. Whether they knew it or not, my son loved them more than his life.

The full realization of what was about to happen descended upon my son while he was praying in the garden. The struggle was so difficult that drops of blood streamed down his face. He cried out with anguish that was so deep and raw, because he knew what lied ahead, and he pleaded for me to provide another way. What I asked of him wasn’t easy, but there was no one else who could do what was required.

I watched as the soldiers brutally hammered my one and only son to the cross. Gabriel and a host of other angels stood at the ready, swords in their hands, anticipating his cry for help. That request never came. My son took upon himself all the sin and darkness of the world, and didn’t utter a single word. As his human heart became weaker with every beat, his love grew even stronger. His mother screamed out his name over and over pleading for his life, but even she couldn’t alter his destiny. I sent my only son to Earth to take on human form, and allow himself to become the ultimate sacrifice for all of mankind.

That day was the darkest moment in my sons life. When I turned my back, he cried out “It is finished.”

It’s been three days. There is work to be done. While Jesus hung there on the cross and death celebrated a monumental victory, I set into motion a profound event that would not only shatter the chains of death forever, but create a life altering ripple in the timeline of history. As the moon descended and dawn gave birth to a new day, I rolled away the stone of the tomb that held my son in whom I am most pleased. I breathed life into his lungs.

“Arise, my son. It’s time.”

 

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Finally Home (Chapter One)


Over the last couple of years, I have been working on a book entitled Finally Home. It is an attempt to describe the ministry my family is a part of called One7. To be honest, I don’t know when I’ll ever finish this story. I’m not even sure one book is enough for everything we’ve experienced over these past three years. Our main website is under construction at the moment, but you can find out more at the One7 Blog.

Finally Home (Chapter One) Copyright 2013 Chris Martin

She wanted to die.

Warm candlelight glinted from the razor-sharp blade pressed against her wrist. She possessed no reason to live. Loneliness and despair draped the girl with darkness no ordinary light could penetrate. Hope remained an illusion, a shimmering mirage across the wasteland of her defeated heart. It appeared for an instant, hovering within reach, but slipped through her fingers uncaptured.

Deep within the hidden chambers of a desperate soul, the awakened voice cried out. Invisible to the human eye, a spark flared, and then brightened.

A tear drop dangled from one eyelash, slowly traced the softness of her cheek, and fell into her open palm. More followed. Each one carried with it a glimpse of the life she never asked for. Paralyzing clutches of low self-esteem. Unyielding peer pressure at school. Parents incapable of demonstrating love.

The knife flirted with her skin as it tickled the surface. With a growing sense of urgency, the voice gained strength and momentum.

Tuyen suffered through more adversity during her fifteen years than most would face in a lifetime. Religious persecution in Vietnam forced her family to escape for the promise of freedom in America. They fled without looking back, nearly losing everything. She prayed the worst parts of her life would fade into distant memories.

The voice fought through one layer after another of her subconscious, ripping through the tangled mesh of past insecurities and failures.

While her friends sought after material things in life, Tuyen simply craved unconditional love. She longed for assurance that past mistakes would never compromise her worth. Boyfriends drifted through her world, leaving her delicate heart bruised and wilted like a trampled flower. Desire for unreachable happiness burned inside with desperate fervor.

A cruel, unimaginable life mocked her very existence. Breaking down resolve, it pierced the center of her being with barbed talons. Silent emptiness replaced the tender, innocent heart of a child with hardened resistance.

Fate’s most painful reminder proved to be her own reflection in the mirror. As time passed, Tuyen recognized the stranger staring back even less. Makeup failed to transform her features into a desirable appearance that demanded attention. Well aware of her limited beauty, Tuyen feared she would never fit in. Pretty girls walked the halls of her school every day, but none of them offered friendship. Their glances declared feelings that rendered words useless. She was unpopular. An outcast. Alien.

Tuyen cursed herself for not doing more to gain their approval. Changing her style and hanging out with the wrong boys had done nothing but attract more pain to her life. She often asked God why He didn’t make her more popular. Why didn’t He give her more talents, something to make her stand out from the normal crowd? Like impending storm clouds on the horizon, the unanswered questions continued to build.

Tuyen applied pressure and a small dot of crimson appeared. No longer merely a whisper, the voice sliced through the resistance, casting aside all thoughts of rejection and doubt.

She stopped and glanced around the darkened room as if awakened from a deep slumber. She frowned, having no memory of lighting the candle sitting on the bedside table. Across the walls of her room, ghostly shapes danced in rhythm with the hypnotic flame. The knife in her hand appeared like a viper that slithered onto her wrist unnoticed.

Tuyen shuddered. The cold, serrated edge chilled her to the core. Pulled by invisible strings, every hair on the back of her neck stood at attention. She balanced on the brink of uncertainty where the reality of life collided with the grandeur of fantasy.

Sweat beaded her brow. Shock tingled through her veins. Her pulse quickened. The possibility of merely existing in a dream entered her mind, but Tuyen dismissed the thought. The hardened steel kissing her skin anchored all perception to the realm of the living.

Unseen tears stung both eyes and she blinked them away. Panic fluttered inside her chest, but she refused to surrender. Tuyen wiped a clammy palm across her blue jeans and took deep breaths. She looked at her arm.

A small drop of blood revealed the evidence of her attempt. Invisible to her parents and friends, well hidden scars covered her legs from past moments of weakness. Defenses like a ready smile and forced laughter veiled the pain burning under the surface.

No one possessed the key that unlocked the inner chamber door. Certain the end result would only bring more pain, Tuyen built walls to keep everyone away. She didn’t want the pain. She couldn’t handle it.

Trembling, Tuyen placed the knife on a dust-covered Bible that lay unopened by her bed. A birthday present from someone at church, the book remained untouched. With so much homework and everything else life forced upon her, she had no free time. The weak explanation for not reading reminded her of the very people she almost left behind in the first place. The ones hurting her most created excuses for their actions.

On the rare occasion her father apologized for slapping her, he would argue that blind anger clouded his judgment. When Mom missed a parent-teacher meeting or forgot to help with homework as promised, she would blame a situation that came up at work. They always justified their failure to be the parents she needed them to be.

Abandonment morphed into guilt as Tuyen struggled to understand why nothing was ever good enough for them. She fell short of the unspoken mark apparently set for her. She would strive even harder to meet their expectations if she only knew what those were. Lacking her parents approval and living with the constant rejection in their eyes hurt the most.

After blowing out the candle, Tuyen flipped onto her back and gazed up at the ceiling. When she was younger, her father painted a galaxy mural complete with stars and a handful of planets. Two strategically mounted spotlights illuminated the scene. She longed to fly away, across the jewel-speckled canvas of night into the far reaches of outer space.

The idea of having her own planet thrilled Tuyen. She would abolish hate and declare love the master of everyone. No more pain. No more tears. Untouchable by the hurt she endured her entire life, Tuyen could finally move in a more positive direction. Happiness sounded so foreign to her, she found it hard to comprehend.

People just didn’t understand. They didn’t get it. Kind words meant empty promises unless reinforced with actions. She desired true, genuine love, not pity or wasted charity.

Tuyen glanced at the knife. The urge to use it moved on leaving her tired and very confused. She despised the thoughts that constantly jumbled her mind. They prevented her from cultivating meaningful relationships with other people. For anyone to see through her happy exterior and discover the aching, little girl inside frightened Tuyen.

Every day became a battle to survive her existence. She often wondered if staying in Vietnam would have been a better choice. At least there, she could be herself and feel accepted. Some family stayed behind and would have allowed Tuyen to live with them.

As comforting a thought as it was, she knew it would have been a mistake to remain in their country. Too many were being thrown into jail or even worse, murdered for no reason. The Vietnam soldiers hated Montagnard people and would do anything to make life unbearable.

Tuyen wished the answer would appear and she could stop trying so hard to figure everything out. Her life had been a journey through years of searching for acceptance and approval like an ancient quest to locate a brave new world. Just when the promise of discovery loomed on the horizon, darkness swept it away.

Not giving up was about the only thing she was sure of anymore. She would will herself to continue forward. Take each day one step at a time. Start slowly, and build momentum. That was the key. Baby steps. She could do it.

Tuyen wanted people to make an investment into her life and truly get to know her. As frightening as that sounded, she believed it was necessary. Physical and mental abuse took its toll over the years, forging walls around her emotions and feelings.

The day to tear down those walls and become open and transparent approached quickly.

That day would arrive much sooner than she anticipated.

******

While Tuyen is fictional, her story is not. She is a combination of many girls from One7 whom I have talked with. They all face the same struggles, heartaches, rejections, insecurities, and failures as Tuyen. Many have contemplated suicide. Most all have engaged in some form of cutting. They wear long sleeves and a smile to hide the unspeakable horror that lies just below the surface. They wake up each morning thankful to have survived yet another day in a life riddled with despair and often times, hopelessness. Tuyen’s life and story will be the thread that binds the pages of this book together.

One7 is a place for the broken to find healing, the lost to find hope, and the homeless to find shelter. The name comes from a verse in the Bible. Jeremiah 1:7.

The story starts with God telling a teenager that He knew him, and loved him, before he was ever conceived. Can you imagine how special we are to God that we would be on his mind before we are created? God then tells him that he was created for something important. Not to just settle for an average life, but to seek this awesome adventure that was waiting for him. We believe that all youth are called by God before they are born to do incredible things for the Kingdom. We also know that once a young person understands that God is calling them at a young age to make a difference in their world, there will be two major fears. The same two that Jeremiah faced. The fear that they don’t know what to say, and that no one would listen because they are too young. It is our job as leaders to equip youth to embrace and understand what God’s Word says to young people. Jeremiah, and many others, were young when God called them to make a stand for the Lord.

God is still calling our youth today, if they will accept His call and step out in faith, He will give them strength to embrace their destiny.

 

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Why Me?


I’m scared.

Darkness surrounds us at every moment. We are extremely tired, but we press on, believing this is what we have been called to do. Doubt attempts to creep into my heart with every step, but I fight to push it away. I know I must remain strong, but not only for myself. The man at my side has been nothing short of incredible. He didn’t ask to be placed into this situation, but he has stepped up to become the one person I can trust to help me through this. Even when I question why God has allowed these things to happen, he quietly whispers into my ear that everything is going to be okay.

There are still some things I can’t quite figure out. I guess the one, burning question that repeatedly enters my mind is why me? I’m not special in any way, shape, or form. I’m no different than any of the other girls that live near me. I’m not pretty. I don’t have a list of skills that would make anyone interested in me. I’m just a plain, ordinary teenage girl trying to find her way in this world. Am I perfect? Of course not. I just don’t get it.

There are moments when everything feels like some kind of dream. Out here now, in the dark with only the stars and shapeless moon guiding our path, the reality is beginning to set in. The feeling is similar to the ebb and flow of the tides as they kiss the shoreline and then retreat. Most of the sudden pains are bearable. There have only been a couple that made me cry out. I feel sorry for this guy who promised to marry me one day. Not only is he tasked with the seemingly impossible mission of finding us a place to stay, he also has to contend with a pregnant woman. Well, let me rephrase that. A pregnant girl.

We had planned to stop hours ago, but no one has any room for us to stay. At this point, I don’t really care where we end up, I just need to get some rest. Judging from the time between each sharp pain, this baby is coming soon. I’m so nervous, well, truthfully, I’m terrified. How will I be able to raise a baby? I have no idea what to do. I’m afraid that I will fail. And it’s not exactly a typical situation. I’m not sure if I can handle the pressure of raising this boy. My boy. My son. His son. Wow, what on earth am I going to do? I’m about to be a teenage mother, and I have no idea what it means to take care of a child.

God, are you sure you picked the right person for this job? I’m extremely honored, please don’t get me wrong. But, why me? There has to be someone else who could do a much better job than I can. Surely there are older women with more experience who would have no trouble giving birth to Your son, and raising him properly. Why me?

I hear wild animals wailing from somewhere behind us. I’m starting to feel more afraid and tell Joseph we need to stop. Whatever comes up next, we have to stop. I can’t take the pain anymore. After a few minutes, we come upon another inn. Joseph talks to the man inside, but is told there aren’t any available rooms. The man, however, does offer us the stable. I can tell Joseph doesn’t want to, but I convince him that we have no other choice. I can see the failure inside his tired eyes, but I assure him that it will be fine.

The first thing I notice is the smell. I nearly vomit as we enter the stable, but I somehow find the strength to hold it back. Joseph spends some time clearing out some of the animals and building a bed with straw. I try to move out of his way, and I step into a pile of what I realize is not mud, but excrement. The thought of giving birth in a place with such filth and dirt is horrifying. Is this really where the God of the universe wants me to deliver this baby? It’s not exactly what we pictured in our minds, but we just have to trust that He knows what He’s doing. Sharp pains tear through my abdomen, and I cry out in anguish. I don’t remember much after that moment. The pain was so intense. I may have passed out, I’m not sure, but I awaken to complete silence.

As everything begins to slowly come into focus, I see Joseph standing over me with tears streaming down his face. He smiles, but I can read his worried expression like an open book. I lift my head to look around, and a barb of fear shoots through my heart. There is blood everywhere. I try to speak, but my throat burns with dryness. I swallow several times as I fight back tears. He leans over and kisses my forehead. In this moment, I sense that everything is okay. My panic subsides, and I squeeze his hand.

“Do you want to hold him?”

I nod, and Joseph helps me into a sitting position. He picks up the baby and places him into my arms. I wasn’t sure what emotions I would feel when this moment finally arrived. Even as I hold him, I’m not sure exactly what I’m feeling. It’s so hard to describe. Such tiny hands and fingers. I gently touch his soft cheeks and little nose. He is perfect. My mind wanders as the baby boy sleeps peacefully in my arms. Will he grow up to be a carpenter like his earthly father? What kinds of things will he be interested in? He’s from God, but yet he is a part of this world now. I wonder if he will understand who he is and find purpose with his life. Will the other boys pick on him for being different? Why did God send him here? Why me?

I hear a soft gurgle sound, and I look down to find my newborn son staring directly at me. Those eyes. I can feel love, acceptance, even gratitude flowing over me from his expression. How is that possible? Newborn children can’t possibly understand any of those things. My heart flutters as he continues to gaze at me. Am I looking into the face of God Himself? When I hold his hand, or wipe the tears from his eyes, am I also touching the very One Who created me?

My mind can’t comprehend such a thing, and I start to weep. The weight of being responsible for raising God’s own Son hits me in that moment. At the same time, I feel a peace that I can’t explain. Just holding the child brings a comfort that I can’t understand. Maybe I’m not supposed to. I have to trust God.

Joseph kneels beside me and gently touches the baby’s head. “The angel told me that he would one day save the world.”

“What does that mean, Joseph?”

“I don’t know. You know what to call him, right?”

“His name is Jesus.”

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I Was There


You don’t know me, and my name is not important. I was never mentioned in the story that millions, if not billions have most likely read by now. I didn’t play a major role, nor was I involved directly with the events that transpired that day. All I know is that I have been trying to erase the memories, with no success. The things I witnessed, relentlessly haunt my dreams every night. I haven’t slept in what feels like years, although the truth is that it’s only been a few months. Forgive me if there are parts of this story that are confusing. I know I will never understand what I saw, but nevertheless, I will attempt to describe everything I can to the best of my ability.

It was early one morning, and I realized something significant was happening as the crowd began to grow larger and larger. People were running past my house yelling for us all to follow them. There had been reports that a celebrity was in town and something major was going to happen. It wasn’t very often famous people passed through, so I assumed all the commotion must be related to that. At the time, I wasn’t working on anything very important, so I decided to go have a look for myself. I told both my girls to say inside and wait for their mother to return.

I started off after the crowd not really knowing what to expect. Before I even reached the palace courtyard, I was stopped by the throng of spectators. I pushed and squeezed my way forward, trying desperately to reach the front where something was going on. As I moved closer, I could hear voices arguing. I stopped once my eyes fell upon the scene in front of me. The temple priests were arguing with someone I recognized immediately. Pontius Pilate. Beside him stood another man whom I had never seen before. His hands were bound and there was blood dripping from a cut underneath his eye, as if someone had punched him. His demeanor struck me as very odd.

He wasn’t fighting against the restraints. He wasn’t screaming defiantly at the crowd. He merely stood there silently, even as the priests shook their fists and yelled at him. Pilate spoke to the man briefly, but I wasn’t able to hear their conversation. Pilate looked perplexed as he turned back to address the crowd. He asked what we wanted to do with the man who called himself King of the Jews. I started to ask the woman standing beside me who that was when the crowd erupted into cries of “Crucify him!” She began to scream so loudly that spittle flew out of her mouth. She had the look of a wild animal on her face as she joined the crowd in chanting those two words over and over. “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

The crowd began to press in even more, and I decided I needed to get out. I fought against the surge until I was once again toward the back of the mob. The chaos went on for several minutes and then word made it to the back that they had released Barabbas because of the festival, and they were going to crucify the man known as Jesus. I knew of Barabbas. He was a convicted murderer. I had not heard anything about the other one except for the rumors that he had healed the lame and made blind people see. I couldn’t imagine that would be cause to crucify someone. Maybe there was more to the story than what I had heard. At first glance, the man didn’t appear threatening, or in any way, evil.

The soldiers took Jesus over to the area in the courtyard that would make even the most hardened criminal’s flesh crawl. The scourging post was known to all, and it was a very clear reminder that crime was not tolerated. I had never witnessed anyone being whipped, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to hang around for this one. At first, I thought maybe this was just a way for Pilate to have the man punished, and the crowd would be satisfied. Maybe just a few lashes, and everyone would go home happy. As they stripped the clothes away from his body, the soldiers sneered and hurled insults and curses at Jesus. It was soon apparent that this was not going to be a normal beating. They chained him to the post, and the horror began.

When I realized what kind of whip they were going to use, my heart sank. I heard stories of criminals being subjected to a flogging of this nature, and not surviving due to the extreme loss of blood. I should have walked away after the first lash, but I didn’t. Something compelled me to stay. At first, the crowd cheered with every swing. The soldiers took turns, each time laughing as flesh was ripped away from the body of Jesus. It was like they were competing to see who could inflict the most damage. After twenty lashes, the crowd began to look away from the horrific scene. I saw people crying. Some were pleading for the soldiers to stop. Only a handful of the mob were still cheering them on. I fought back the urge to vomit and continued to watch.

When it was over, the man that had earlier stood before Pilate had been reduced to what I can only describe as a pile of meat. Blood poured out of every part of his body. He was unrecognizable. I’ve been told no one has ever been beaten that severely since. I was hoping the torture was over, but I was sadly mistaken. The soldiers unchained him and shoved a crown made from thorns into his skull. They wrapped a purple robe around his body and continued to mock him. Even though Jesus could barely stand on his feet, the soldiers punched and kicked him unrelentingly. We followed them as they once again stood before Pilate. I couldn’t hear what was being said, but again the crowd cried out for the man to be crucified. I was shocked. They had just witnessed the most violent beating in history, and yet they wanted more.

Several men appeared carrying a cross, and I knew the day was going to get a lot worse before it got better. The soldiers picked Jesus up from the ground where he had just fallen, tore off the robe, and placed the cross on his back. I’m not sure how, but he remained on his feet even after they let go and the entire weight was upon him. His legs trembled, but he didn’t fall. It was difficult to see his face because of all the blood, but from the looks of his expression, the pain must have been beyond intense. I felt a drop of water on my hand and looked up, expecting to see rain falling. It wasn’t rain. I was crying, and I had no idea why. As the soldiers began to prod Jesus forward, I wiped the tears from my face and followed the crowd.

I could tell, with every step, it was becoming more difficult for Jesus to carry the cross. He would stumble, but stay on his feet. Solders punched him and struck his body with wooden poles the entire time. People from the crowd were cursing him and throwing rocks. Children, following the example of their parents, hurled insults and threw whatever items they could find lying along the street. At one point, Jesus fell with the cross slamming him to the ground. I could still see blood pouring from his wounds. I had no idea how the man was still alive. The soldiers grabbed someone from the crowd, and forced him to help carry the cross. I noticed two women following close behind the soldiers. They were very distraught and kept reaching out as if they could help Jesus in some way. I wasn’t sure who they were.

The closer we came to the place of the skull, the darker the skies became. I can’t explain the different emotions that surged inside my heart. I still wasn’t convinced that this man had done anything wrong. Some we’re saying he claimed to be a king, above Caesar, and that alone was enough for the death penalty. Others said he went all over performing witchcraft, and he needed to be killed. If he was such a bad person, why was he not yelling and screaming for mercy? No human being could go through such excruciating pain and abuse without at least begging for their life. Jesus said nothing. By that time, I was weeping uncontrollably, and I couldn’t figure out a way to stop. It didn’t make any sense. I was crying over a stranger, someone I had never met. I felt as if I was on the verge of experiencing something that would change my life forever. I couldn’t explain it.

We reached our destination, and the soldiers placed the cross on the ground. They threw Jesus down and stretched out his arms. Smiling, the soldier drove long spikes through each wrist. With every pound of the hammer, my body cringed. The two women I noticed earlier were nearby, on their knees, screaming for them to stop. Two other soldiers stood in front of them so they wouldn’t interfere. A man stood beside me, watching everything quietly. I asked him who the women were and he said one was the mother of Jesus. I immediately thought of my daughters and couldn’t begin to imagine seeing one of my children endure such agony. After they were finished with the wrists, they drove a much longer spike through both feet. They lifted the cross and dropped into the hole.

Two other men were crucified on either side of Jesus that day, but I didn’t know their names. I wanted nothing more than to run home, hug my wife and children, and try to forget everything I had just witnessed. An irresistible urge pulled me forward, and I walked slowly toward the cross. As the wind began to stir with increased fervor, and the sky transformed into a blackness I had never seen before, I looked up at the man they called Jesus. He hung there with his head down, his breathing labored. Blood poured from the crown in his skull and the uncountable wounds that covered his entire body. I wanted to say something, but the words kept getting lodged inside the back of my throat. What words could I possibly speak that would mean anything to this man who had been beaten so badly that he didn’t even appear human anymore.

Then his eyes opened.

A chill rippled the flesh down my spine, and my heart skipped a beat. For several seconds, I couldn’t breathe. I expected him to look at me with accusation, as if I had been the one to nail him onto the cross. I expected him to curse me for being there, for watching as he was beaten and tortured, and I did nothing to help him. I expected him to look at me with burning hatred. What happened was something I could never have expected.

I recognized love inside those eyes. Love that I had never experienced before in my life, and haven’t since. How was it possible? I dropped to my knees, weeping. Even though I didn’t have any part in his execution, I heard myself repeating “I’m so sorry” over and over. Through my tears, I saw compassion and mercy coming from the eyes of one who had every right to curse me. I see that same look every night in my dreams. I wonder what could possibly possess someone to endure everything that he did, and still give love.

You don’t know me, and my name is not important. Since that day, I haven’t been the same.

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Reflections From a Broken Mirror


At some point in our life, I believe we have all been there. Unsatisfied with how we look, act, or fit in. It’s human nature to never be happy with how we are. In some cases, that can actually be a good thing, but for now, I’m talking mainly about our appearance and how we feel about life in general. In a world where we are bombarded with millions of different looks, fads, opinions, and opportunities, it’s a miracle we even know who we are as individuals.

It’s everywhere. TV. Movies. Books. Magazines. Billboards. Newspapers. Daily, we are subjected to what the world, society, thinks we should be. What we should wear. What we should eat. What we should not eat. What is healthy. What is not healthy. The list stretches beyond eternity where no one can see an end to the madness. People are looked down upon if they don’t keep up with their neighbors. Men are degraded constantly in TV commercials. No matter where we look, sin is shown as friendly and fun.

There are lost and hurting people all around us, but sadly, most of the world turns round and round with an air of indifference. We are taught to look out for ourselves, move up the ladder of success, get the newest car, buy the largest house on the block, etc. We’re so busy chasing after the American Dream, we forget about the least of these. We forget that if we help the homeless man on the street corner, we’re helping Jesus. (Matthew 25:40) If we feed the woman standing outside McDonald’s with no money, we are feeding Jesus.

As I usually say when I publish blog posts, I am not throwing any stones. We are all broken. Your reason may be scars caused from past abuse. Maybe it’s an addiction. Or maybe we’ve been through such horrible things in our life, it’s sometimes difficult to even express in words. In my own broken mirror, the reflection I see looking back is one of heartbreak, loss, failure, hope, happiness, faith, and redemption.

In my opinion, one of the most powerful moments written about in the New Testament is the story of the woman caught in adultery. (John 8:7) The religious leaders of that time brought her before Jesus and declared that according to the Law of Moses, they should immediately stone her to death. I get chills every time I watch that scene in Passion of the Christ when Jesus draws the line in the sand and, one by one, the stones drop from their clutched fists.

None of us have the right to judge anyone else for who they are, or more importantly, for what they have or have not done.

There is only One who can repair the cracks in our mirrors. When we see broken glass, we assume it’s worthless, and toss it into the trash. When God looks at our broken lives, he sees opportunity. He sees pain that only His perfect healing can replace. He sees beauty that only His perfect love can reveal to us. He sees worth that no amount of money, clothing, popularity, or status could ever appreciate. One by one, He replaces the broken pieces with His love. When He’s finished, we can finally step in front of that mirror and realize the greatness of our God and look at ourselves through His lens to see what we look like in His eyes.

We are His children. We are His family. We are His beloved.

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Have a blessed day,