Forever Lord


Even though I have no musical skills whatsoever, I enjoy writing song lyrics. Knowing all that Christ went through for me at the Cross, I can’t help but continually write out my appreciation. I wrote these lyrics earlier this morning.

Jesus didn’t die on that Cross to point out our sin, He died to demonstrate how much the Father loves us. How much value we have. How much worth. Life can beat us up, people can say or think what they want about us, but it doesn’t matter. We were created in the very image of God Himself. That means our value and worth were already determined. Jesus paid a high price for us. Let’s follow Him.

 
Forever Lord
Copyright 2014 Chris Martin

(verse one)

The day was dark, love hung on a tree
Crimson stains, nail scarred hands
Crown of thorns that bit so deep
The look in His eyes, no one could understand

Bruised and broken, nothing left of a man
Blood stained face, eyes that could barely see
Darkened clouds, fury of a tormented sky
He paid the price for all humanity

(chorus)

He gave His life to show us who we are
Every wrong we’ve ever done
Washed away as He took the scars

Once again, the world restored
He brought us back to our Father
With open arms, forever Lord

With open arms, forever Lord

(verse two)

Three days passed, all hope was lost
Disciples in hiding, fear of the crowd
Knowing their Jesus had to pay the cost
With the blood of a lamb, soaking the ground

True to His word, the stone rolled away
Death had no power to keep a slave
Mary in tears, what a glorious day
When Jesus, our Lord, walked away from the grave

(repeat chorus)

Will the words ever stop?


Sometimes I sit at my computer and stare at a blank screen. It goes on for what feels like hours, but in reality, may only be a few moments.

I wonder if every writer feels the same way.

Will the words ever stop?

Will I sit here one day and have absolutely nothing to write about?

I believe as long as I’m alive, there will always be something to write about. Jesus took on human form and then died for me on a cross. That in itself should keep me going for nearly my entire life. Even if I can write nothing more than about being thankful for all He has done for me, that’s enough.

For a long time, I’ve had this passion for writing. I always thought I most enjoyed writing fiction, but over the last several months, I’ve discovered that desire has changed. I’ve attempted a couple different starts at fiction novels, but I keep coming back to the second collection of Bible stories I’m working on.

Earlier this year, I published I Was There. My first collection of ten Bible stories written from a first person perspective. I absolutely enjoyed writing it. In all truthfulness, it’s almost like writing fiction, because there are so many details to these stories that were not included in the Scriptures. But, even now as I read back through some of them, I am just constantly amazed at the love of Christ. It gets me excited to write stories about Him.

As Christians, we sing, pray, and talk about Jesus being our role model. We want to pattern our lives after Him.

But, do we really and truly mean that? It’s easy to lift our hands on a Sunday morning and worship with hundreds of other people, but are we willing to take the most important step of all and die to ourselves? If we haven’t killed off our flesh, it’s not possible to follow after Christ. He was love personified. 0% flesh.

He said to follow Him, so I know it’s possible for us to live as He did. To walk in righteousness. To completely put aside our self, and live in love. That’s what strikes people as being different from anything they have ever seen. The world has heard it all before. They are crying out to SEE it.

If we’re too busy boycotting everything, or picketing somewhere, how will the world know us by our love? They will know us more for what we stand against than Who we stand for.

Yes, we are to stand up for what we believe in. I get that, but it can be done from a motivation of love, and not self. If we love others as Jesus did, we won’t have to try and convince people of anything. They can’t walk away from a true love encounter unchanged. Besides, it’s not our job to “change” them or prove anything. We plant the seeds, sometimes we get the opportunity to water the seeds, and the Holy Spirit takes it from there. Sometimes, we get to be in on the fruition of seeds that someone else planted. It’s awesome and amazing the way God works.

There are a billion things I could write about on my blog. All I need to do is check Facebook or the national headlines, and I could write for hours on the hottest topics. I could start countless debates that would eventually lead into even more blog posts, but that’s not what I want to do.

I want to know that when my time on this planet has come to an end, I did everything I could to share Jesus with as many people as possible. Not so I can feel as if I made a difference. Only so people can have hope. Christ in me, the hope of glory. If you don’t agree with something I write or believe, that’s okay. You are the steward of your own heart. The truth of the Gospel doesn’t change just because someone doesn’t agree with it.

I took the comments feature off my blog a while back, because I’m not going to argue and debate with people about these things. I turned them on for this post. I would like to hear (especially from fellow writers) what kinds of things you like to write about, and what compels you to do so.

Whether you agree with me or not, I still love you. I won’t try to convince you of anything, I will love you. It changes nothing.

So, will the words ever stop? As long as I am in constant communion with my Father, they won’t. I will always have something to write about. Isn’t that cool?

My Library


Just wanted to put all my novellas, with their links, into one post. I’ve gained a lot of new readers over the past few months, and I know how easy it is for older posts to get lost. You can click on each picture, and it will take you right to the Amazon page where it’s for sale. Thank you so much for your support. I would ask that if you read any of these books, please leave a review for me on Amazon. I greatly appreciate it. God bless.

Click to purchase

My latest book is entitled, I Was There. It’s a collection of ten Bible stories written from first person perspective. To date, this is my favorite one. I love writing fiction, but there’s no real hope that it can change someone’s life. With I Was There, I believe it has the potential to help people in all areas of life. I’m truly excited to see what God is going to do with it. I’ve already started on a second collection and have the rough drafts completed for three stories.

 

 

Other Side of Night CoverOther Side of Night actually ran for ten weeks in the Kingsport, TN newspaper and the West Australian. It was part of the Newspaper in Education department where they read the story to children in school and used it as a teaching tool. Pretty cool stuff.

 

 

 

The Stranger CoverThe Stranger has been my most popular book up to this point. I started it as a serial story on my blog a long time ago, then decided to turn it into a book.

 

 

 

 

Unknown CoverUnknown is the first in a trilogy that I hope to get back to one day.

 

 

 

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.

inspiration-inspire-judgement-love-photo-sign-favim-com-54739_large

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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Have a blessed day

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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Have a blessed day

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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Dear Jennifer


Fourteen years ago today, we stood there, face to face, and promised the rest of our lives to each other. I’m not sure if we truly knew in that moment exactly what we were getting ourselves into. It’s easy to get caught up in the ceremony, flowers, pictures, food, relatives, music, and everything else that is involved with a wedding. When all is said and done, the vows we made to each other on that day become the pulse and the heartbeat of our marriage. After we said “I will”, the words were no longer merely a sentiment written on paper, but a sacred promise spoken in the very presence of God.

It would be easy to look at where we are now and talk about the amazing marriage we have. While that is indeed true, we both know the journey has been anything but easy. There are moments I look back on, and I am rendered speechless by the grace and mercy God has shown to us, even though it was undeserved. Even during our darkest, most trying times, the light of hope was never completely snuffed out. In a world where being married means you stay together until you find someone better, we have grown closer to each other and persevered for something we believe in.

I know there have been times during the last fourteen years where I came up short on being a husband, father, and friend. I want to thank you for your continued forgiveness and acceptance of the fact that no one is perfect. Unfortunately, there isn’t a handy pocket guide to mastering all of those things. It’s a constant learning process. We’ve learned lessons together, and for that I am extremely grateful. You have truly lived out the promise we made of for better or worse. Having you by my side is something I will never take for granted. You have made me a better person.

Life isn’t easy. It’s messy, difficult, unfair, and sometimes hard to understand. So many people go through all of that alone, and they don’t have the privilege of sharing their experiences with someone special. I’m one of the lucky ones, I have you. Thank you for being my wife, best friend, and love of my life. I can’t wait to see what the next fourteen years of our marriage has to offer. I’m sure we will fail, come up short, and lose our way. We can’t expect to know everything and do it all perfectly.

With God as our navigator, we will push through the hard times and trust each other to be there when we need help. I love your smile, beautiful eyes, heart of compassion, and your rock-solid presence in my life. I can’t imagine doing life with anyone else.

All the words in the English language can’t fully convey all that you mean to me. I hope you know that. Happy Anniversary. I love you.

Chris

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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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