PECAN TREE PUBLISHING
VOL. 3 ISSUE 1 APR/MAY 2010
One day plished m o c c A n Missio r. Maxwell M
y l l u f r e d n o w d n a y Fearfull Made And so are YOU
I am so
Table of Contents Volume 2 Issue 1
Publisher E. Claudette Freeman
Editor-in-Chief Carol Lynne Watson
Editorial Director Jeana Johnson
Media/Marketing Brandi Davis
Customer Service Patience Andrews
Parables Magazine is published by Pecan Tree Publishing, Hollywood, Florida. It is a bi-monthly online publication devoted to short Christian fiction, inspirational essays and devotionals. Pecan Tree Publishing is a Emily C. Freeman Holdings, LLC company. For advertising, marketing or submission information, please feel free to contact our offices at: info@ pecantreepress.com, 877-207-2442, fax: 954-272-7041.
Letter from the Editor CAROL LYNNE WATSON
Devotional: Death in Sin, Life in Christ ELDER M. J. REYNOLDS
Bonafide Woman SANDY JEAN
Cover Story: Mission Accomplished Mr. Maxwell CAROL LYNNE WATSON
Devotional: I am Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and So Are You BRENDA JACKSON
One Day DANIELLE GRANDINETTI
Respecting Her Game DEE WHITFIELD
Devotional: Don’t Get Your Hallelujah Handkerchief, Get the True Power of the Cross VERNITA C. WILLIAMS
First Comes Love SHANA BURTON
Before You Go …. Let these Words be Ministry E. CLAUDETTE FREEMAN, PUBLISHER
Letter from the Editor Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1) Faithâ€ŚThat is what the Publisher of this magazine had in me when she offered me the role of Editor-In-Chief of this wonderful publication. Vision to pull this together is what I needed to be able to live up to the expectation. Faith and Vision; that is the essence of PARABLES. The wonderful essays, stories and devotions that make up this issue are designed to inspire you and draw you closer to the Creator. Some are designed to entertain you and some will enlighten you and some may require that you look within yourself. Regardless of the impact that this issue has on you, we at PARABLES would like to know the depths of that impact and we invite you to send a detailed letter to us informing us of your feelings. We have added a special treat for you in this issue. Read Fearfully and Wonderfully Made by Brenda L. Jackson and when you finish you will come across a yummy recipe from Brendaâ€™s book, Culinary Roots. For goodness sake; try that recipe; you will not regret it. By all means, send a note to us and let us know what you think about it. If there is a writer inside of you, we want to inspire you to send us your submission. You will find the submission requirements at the back of this issue. Your journey begins now. Be blessed on your journey. CAROL LYNNE WATSON
Who would have thought? Alfred L. Cralle did in 1897. The Ice Cream Scoop, developed by Alfred Cralle, is just one of the many life-changing innovations that came from the mind of an African American. We must do all we can to support minority education today, so we donâ€™t miss out on the next big idea tomorrow. To find out more about African American innovators and to support the United Negro College Fund, visit us at uncf.org or call 1-800-332-UNCF. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Devotional Death in Sin, Life in Christ ELDER M. J. REYNOLDS
Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. -James 1:15 For the wages of sin is death: but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. -Romans 6:23 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. -John 3:16 Through one man (Adam), death passed upon all mankind. Sin carries dangerous consequences. All unrepentant sin leads to death. There is nothing but death and destruction connected sin. Sin will put you in a state of mind that it’s good or okay to enjoy the pleasures of sin. There is nothing further from the truth. It is true that God is a gracious God, but that does not mean we have a license to sin (Romans 6:1-2), because He is also a God who hates sin (Psalm 5:4-5). Where there is evil, God produces good. Where there is darkness, God provides light. Where there is sickness, God injects healing. Where there is sin, God made a way for Salvation, and where there is death through sin, God sent His only Begotten Son to give us light. Trust in Christ and choose life! Mediation:
John 3:16-18 / Romans 5:6, 8; 12-21 / Romans 6:11-23 / James 1:13-18
Dear Father, I come to You in Jesus name. I thank You for allowing Your Son to die for my sins, to provide me a way back to You. Thank You Jesus. I pray in Your Holy name. Amen.
Life in Christ means not walking in sin. Walk in the Light!
Unless Otherwise Stated, All Scripture Taken from God’s Holy Word, KJV Material © 2008 Elder M.J. Reynolds
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Bonafide Every night Anthony would dream about this lady he would call his “Bonafide Woman “. She never had a name, but she did have love; love that she only wanted to give to Anthony. He looked forward to, every night, falling asleep so he could dream about this essential woman. She wasn’t just any woman to him; when he had a rough day at work, he would go home, fall asleep, and she would sooth his soul, with her soft spoken voice, and vivacious touches. Then he could wake up with a fresh start. She was good to him in his dreams that he longed for her to be real.
personified what he believed to be his “Bonafide Woman”. Anthony was drowning in his pain, and none of those women could save him. He became a cruel man to everyone that came in his path especially the women he slept with; the agonizing pain that these women felt after being with him. He would try picturing his “Bonafide Woman” while having intercourse, but he still couldn’t see her, pushing in to penetrate these women even more deeply. They would be screaming their lungs out. But he wouldn’t care because his (in his soul) went deeper than anything that the women thought they were feeling. Time passed and instead of Anthony finally took his “Bonafide waking up happy as he usually did, Woman”, his dream, for what he he started feeling very disappointed thought she was; just a dream. He and angry that the object of his didn’t even care anymore about affections wasn’t here in person himself, let alone life. His day would to fulfill him as a man. Anthony only consist of going to work and started dating women thinking coming home to no one. Until one that maybe he could forget about night he was trying to go to sleep his dream woman; even though he early, even though he didn’t have craves for her love and attention. to. Anthony dated at least two times a week and every time he would do Anthony heard a voice say, so he would have sex; thinking they “Why did you give up love, when would become the manifestation love didn’t give up on you?” Now of his “Bonafide Woman”. But all he he really thought he was losing his was doing was hurting himself even mind from dreaming if a woman more. he could never have, now hearing voices. So he decided to take a drive The more he would be and clear his thoughts. He drove till with other women, the less he he found this lounge with live poet dreamt about the woman who performers. It might have been a 6
small lounge, but it still had a dress code. But for some odd reason the man at the door just let Anthony come right on in like he was expecting him to come there that night. Anthony cared less for the poets, he just sat at the bar giving his back to the live performers. Until, this one lady came out that was a virgin to the mic. She went by the name “No Introduction”. The title of her poem was “Your Bonafide Woman” Bone of your bone Flesh of your flesh I’m your Bonafide Woman I was created for your feelings I was mold to please your every waken need Your Bonafide woman What you crave for is a taste that I can only quench You didn’t have to search for me/ I was waiting for that day where we would be united You penetrate a spot that was molded just for you Because I am your Bonafide Woman The thoughts that runs through your mind about your special woman And not only do you have me, but you have God too Because a three stranded cord is not easily broken I am and always will be your Bonafide Woman
As soon as she gave the title of the poem Anthony turned around to put the face with voice. She looked at Anthony the entire
time while she was performing “I was never a dream,” “I am your her poem. Anthony went up to the woman, your Bonafide woman, and stage when she was done and said, I love you.” “You’re not a dream.” And she said,
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y a s s E l a n o i t a r Inspi
CAROL LYNNE WATSON
Mission Accomplished Mr. Maxwell
Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13, NIV)
against the reward of getting to the top and decided reaching the goal was more important. After he accomplished his goal, his mother When Sandra Maxwell thinks of her kept her promise to him. Jay had son, she chooses to focus on how no regrets. Mission Accomplished. he lived, not how he died. Louis James Maxwell, known as Jay to Jay’s determination was inherited. his family, was a hero in every true His great grandfather John Wesley sense of the word. Bradley lived in Rosewood, Florida with his family. Mr. Bradley As a child Jay was not the typical witnessed the massacre that took kid. As a preteen when two boys place there on January 1, 1923. got ready to fight in his yard, Jay sat While his children were able them down and had them talk it to escape by train, he was left out. As a young man in high school, behind. Mr. Bradley survived hat he walked a girl to school that was horrific season in Florida’s history being bullied by other kids. There but died in 1957 before he could was nothing typical about him. witness the state compensating the survivors and their families for Jay learned how to play the violin their great loss. Sandra Maxwell is by the time he was in second grade, the granddaughter of John Wesley determined to beat his sister who Bradley. She believes that Jay’s learned by the time she was in capacity to live above his faults and third grade. Later on when he do the right thing came from his wanted to be in a marching band, strong lineage and his strong faith he learned how to play a different in God. instrument more suitable for such. Jay was a determined child. One The ties to his family history were day his mother noticed that he had strong enough, but Sandra and climbed a tree in their yard. He was Jay’s father Louis reinforced this still in the lower branches when she strength by surrounding their son noticed but he had his heart set for with amazing people who loved the top. Sandra called him out of the and supported him. Jay had two tree knowing the dangers ahead. sets of godparents; Gloria and While she promised to spank his Andy Young and Janice and Charles bottom if he climbed back in the Smith. His godparents reinforced tree; he decided to take the chance. the standards that Sandra and He weighed the risk of a spanking Louis were instilling in Jay. Sandra 8
believes that God gave her the knowledge and wisdom to place the right people in Jay’s life. Sandra knew that there was something special about her son. Sandra recalls that when her daughter Aijalon was born. Sandra was talking and laughing with her new baby. With Jay it was different. Sandra could not figure out why as happy as she was with her son, she could only cry and pray. Perhaps on some level beyond her understanding, she knew that her time with him would be short. God had predestined Jay for greatness. If given a choice Sandra would have chosen a different path for him then the one that ended on October 28, 2009. Looking back Sandra realizes
that God had a plan for Jay’s life and his brother-in-law (a UN Security everything the Maxwell family had Official) to train him. instilled in Jay was preparing him for his destiny. Jay served his country well and when the time came for him to leave the Navy, he set his sights on the United Nations. He had knowledge of what the role of a Security Officer for the UN meant and he was the man for the job. Jay took his training very serious and encouraged the other members of his team to do the same. Jay knew that the position he sought required On October 28, 2009 Jay awoke to that he be mentally and physically the fight of his life. Members of prepared to take a bullet that was the Taliban managed to get into the intended for someone else. He was guesthouse in Kabul where several up for the task. He knew that it was United Nations staff was housed. his destiny to save others and this Jay, one of the youngest and was a young man that usually got bravest Security Officers for the UN what he wanted. managed to fight off these members of the Taliban long enough for over When Jay turned thirteen years twenty staff members to get to old, all he wanted for his birthday safety. Jay was out of harms way was to meet star basketball player when he heard a woman screaming Shaquille O’Neal. At that time for help. He ran back in to save Shaq was new to the NBA and was her. After successfully saving over playing for the Orlando Magic. twenty people, he died trying to Jay’s god-sister Lisa Smith was an save one more. Jay was only 27 intern for the Magic at that time. years old. One of Jay’s middle school teachers
recalls a phone call from Shaq to Jay the summer before he left for his new job with the UN.
Shaq was not the only person Jay met during his middle school years that influenced his life. It was during this time in his life that Jay met someone who would have a profound impact on his life. Joy Jackson, Pastor of Christian Fellowship Worship Center for All People, became like a second mother to Jay. Sandra Maxwell says that Pastor Jackson was someone Jay knew he could talk too when he felt he could talk to no one else. Jay, along with his family became members of Pastor Jackson’s church and it was through this fellowship that Jay began to understand the role of Christ in his life. Jay accepted Christ at a young age and took his walk with God serious. Pastor Jackson loved Jay as a son and thinks about him regularly. Although she misses him she knows that he has taken his rightful place at home with Christ. Pastor Jackson had this to say about Jay. “Louis was a young man of thought that he was asking for a lot integrity. He persevered and never Dedicating his life to saving others and went so far as to tell him that gave up until the job was complete. was not the life that Sandra his birthday wish was not gonna He was determined and loved his had envisioned for a son. After come true. Lisa spoke with her job.” It was very difficult for Pastor successfully completing high buddy Shaq who in turn personally Jackson to give the eulogy at Jay’s school and earning a scholarship left tickets for Jay and his godfather home going celebration because to FAMU, Jay turned it down to Charles Smith at the ticket counter. she knew that she should have go into the United States Navy. In addition to the tickets, Jay had been sitting on the front row with Sandra tried desperately to talk her locker room passes so he could the rest of his family. son out of going into the military, spend time with Shaq. In addition but Jay was determined. With his to the pictures of him and Shaq that Sandra Maxwell has a lot of mixed handsome face and his beautiful Jay proudly showed to his doubting emotions about the events that smile, he talked her into signing the teacher, Jay also made a new friend took place on October 28th. As a recruitment papers because he was and was promised tickets to as many mother who loves her son, she too young to sign them for himself. games as he could come up for. His wishes he had saved himself. Rather than sit around and wait for friendship with Shaq continued However, Sandra knows that Jay did training camp to start, Jay enlisted for many years and Sandra fondly what he knew he had to do. Sandra
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. -1 John 3:16, NIV
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has a strong faith in God and she Instead she thinks about the man has put her trust in Him. Jay shared her son was. Sandra said this about her faith and strength. Jay. “He had a lot of character, he was not self-serving. “ She went on Sandra received Jay’s personal to say, “He did not die in vain. He belongings after he died. Among had prepared himself to be there his belongings she found medals, for people he did not really know.” awards and letters of commendation “God had given him everything he that Jay had never told her about. needed to do that.” One of the commendations was for saving a man’s life. Jay was Louis James Maxwell was a man of driving on the highway and came character. He enjoyed good laughs across a burning car. There were and good food. He had a smile that people standing around watching; was contagious and he loved his meanwhile the driver was trapped family and his friends. He loved all in the car. Jay got out of his vehicle types of music and he loved God. and went to get the man out of the His mother Sandra knows that her burning car. Moments after Jay son has a strong legacy and she has pulled the driver to safety the car been entrusted to keep his legacy gave burst into flames and then alive. Sandra started a scholarship exploded. Jay never told his mom that will be awarded to a member about this act of bravery, in fact, he of Miami Central’s Marching Band never bragged about anything he and on this past Valentine’s she did. Sandra knew that her 27-year- presented Christian Fellowship old son died a hero, but she found Worship Center for All People with out that he lived as a hero as well. a keyboard in Jay’s name. Those of us who love him will never forget. His legacy of love and sacrifice continues. Mission Accomplished Mr. Maxwell.
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. -I John 3:18, NIV
When you look at the life of Louis Sandra tries not to dwell on the James Maxwell, are you able to see events of October 28, 2009. similar characteristics in yourself?
Do you have a heart to serve others even if it means sacrificing something you have? Not all of us will receive the call of self sacrifice the way Jay did, but what about material possessions? We recently heard of the devastation in Haiti due to the earthquake. Many Haitians living in America sent supplies over to Haiti to benefit the people in their country. There are so many of us that do not have family in Haiti; did we decide to sacrifice the cost of a pair of new shoes and donate that money to the effort to rebuild Haiti, or did we buy the shoes? We are supposed to live our lives in a manner that considers others. What is it that God is calling you to do?
y l l u f r e d n o w Fearfully and Made and so are YOU
I am so
MIN. BRENDA L. JACKSON
REFLECTION The familiar voice, the familiar smile, the familiar touch – why have you reared your ugly head? For the years I was there, you didn’t want a relationship. For the years I made me available where you enjoyed the benefits, but didn’t want the commitment. SOUNDS FAMILIAR - You are no longer involved with the person to the point you don’t even know each other’s phone numbers. There is a mutual venue of physical presence (i.e. church, work, political events, etc.). Subtle overtures are made to open a door that no longer exists. Now let’s be real are you a little ego stroked here? Yeah, you are and don’t lie trying to be deep and arrived. You like the fact that the
past is fishing for a catch. Do you want to be caught? Only if you done fell and bumped your head! (Grammatical errors intended). Here’s the litmus test. What has changed from then to now? Not with the familiar, but with you? Have you decided that you deserve what God has for you? Have you decided to walk in worth or to lay in compromise? Remember stepping backwards is easy as long as you are willing to fall for the same lie that YOU keep telling yourself. Know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.
blessed in being of your creation, for you do all things well. In my days of doubt and leaning to old comforts, I thank you that the Holy Spirit quickens in my soul to remind me that my relationship with you is the standard by which I know my worth. In Jesus name, Amen. MEDITATION
Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ACTION/KNOWLEDGE Today speak to your spirit of your worth, of your royalty. Be mindful of you and the beauty you are!
PRAYER Heavenly Father I thank you for your word and your will for my life. I am
Brenda L. Jackson is Media Director for the law firm of Cole, Scott, Kissane and is a minister at one of South Florida’s most prominent churches, New Birth Baptist Church Cathedral of Faith International (Bishop Victor T. Curry, Senior Pastor). She is the President of Brenda L. Jackson, Inc. which not only promotes her work as a speaker/minister and author; but provides creative services to creative people. Her first book CULINARY ROOTS will be released December 2008.
PA R A BLES
One day DANIELLE GRANDINETTI
The beauty of the day made yesterday seem like a distant nightmare. As she ran, Carlie could feel the tension fall off her shoulders. She loved nature. The beauty, the smells, and the breeze that rustled the leaves above her head. She inhaled deeply. Hackly Preserve had paths in various sized loops, equaling seven miles of trail. She jogged all seven miles five times a week. At college, she’d drive to the parking lot off Ganst, but at home, she could walk the few blocks to the back entrance and start there. That morning she had slept in, enjoying her first day of summer break. Jackson had already left, taking their sisters to school, and then stopping by the hospital to see Mom. Carlie planned to spend the afternoon there before going into to work at four. She finished the four mile loop when her phone jingled. It was her boss. She rolled her eyes. No way had she wanted to answer that call. She wanted to enjoy her run and not have it disturbed. She sent the call to voicemail and stuffed the phone back into her pocket. She reached the end of the next mile loop. Only two miles left. She pressed on, but her curiosity dogged her. What did Mandee want? She had left a message. Probably needed her to come in early today. Must be strong, must 12
say no to that, want to spend time with Mom. Carlie flipped open the phone, pressed the 1, and put it on speaker so she could keep running. “Hi Carlie, it’s Mandee. I know you’re scheduled to come in at four today—” Carlie snorted. “But could you come in earlier today—” Not a chance! “Say around noon.” For your lunch break? “I need to talk with you about this summer and scheduling—” Carlie raised the phone closer to her ear. “I’ll look for you at noon.” Carlie deleted the message. No choice in whether she could come in at noon, no, just be there at noon. She pushed herself harder, no longer just jogging. She’d arrive at four, why couldn’t it wait? Just a meeting to talk about summer scheduling? They had it all worked out already. Her breath came quickly, but she forced herself to breath normally. Perhaps Jackson was right. Perhaps Mandee did take advantage of her willingness, and desire for hours. Could Mandee not care about her and just want to use her? Carlie could not comprehend it. Could people really act that mean? She could remember in high school, people would buddy up
to her because of her popularity, her grades, and her out-going personality. But she never felt used. She enjoyed the friends, the fun times. Her face began to tingle and her side cramped. She slowed to a walk, but kept going as quickly as she could force herself. She breathed deeply and slowly through her nose, calmly letting it out through her mouth. Her head swam. She stopped, squatted and bounced back up. Her thighs burned as she did, but she squatted and bounced up again. Then she returned to walking, slowly this time, concentrating on her breathing. She rounded a bend and came to a bench where she sat, letting out a deep breath. She knew better than to allow herself to get worked up while she ran. It always caused her to hyperventilate and ruin her rhythm. But running made her feel better, helped her work through those emotions. Running in nature was the best, it soothed her, reminded her that God still controlled the universe, that order and law still prevailed in the world. She pushed herself off the bench, starting off at a quick walk, and then jogging the rest of the loop. She’d go home, shower, and then meet Mandee at the store. Then she’d go see Mom. ***** Jackson stood on the porch,
holding the screen door open with his hip. He tucked his cell phone between his ear and shoulder, held the mail with one hand, and flipped through his keys with his other. His sister was saying something about needing to be picked up at— He dropped his keys. The phone inside the house started to ring. Carlie must not be home, but her car was in the driveway. He bent down and grabbed his keys, but dropped the phone. “Ali,” he said, “Three thirty in front of the school?” “Yeah and—” “I’ll see you then.” He slapped the phone shut, stuffed it in his pocket. As he turned the lock, to find it unlocked, and the inside phone stopped ringing. He let the screen door slam behind him and he elbowed the door closed. The answering machine picked up. “Kodiaks,” Dad’s voice said, “leave us a message.” Jackson tossed the mail on the table. “Jim? Jim, is that you? Hello?” “Hey Grandpa, it’s—” and the answering machine stopped. Jackson could hear Carlie’s cheery voice continuing the conversation upstairs. Did anyone tell them about Mom’s accident? He ran up the stairs. Carlie stood in front of the bathroom mirror, phone in one hand, makeup brush in the other, and her towel wrapped up like a turban on her head. “When Grandpa?” She put down the makeup brush. Jackson tapped on the doorframe. “This morning?” She covered the speaker and mouthed to Jackson, “When did you get home? I didn’t hear you come in.”
“Did you tell him—?” “What did the doctors say, Grandpa?” She spoke as if she were coxing a child. Jackson marveled at how easily she handled Grandpa. “What, Carlie?” She waved him off. “Not broken?” “What?” She glared at him. “Grandpa, what hospital?” What now? Jackson leaned his head against the doorframe. “I’ll tell Mom, Grandpa. Don’t worry.” Carlie spoke louder. “Is there someone helping you?” She looked at Jackson and shook her head. “Ok, Gran—” She pulled the phone away from her ear and looked quizzically at it. “What happened?” “Mrs. Kodiak?” He heard the male voice through the telephone. “Let me.” Jackson reached for it. Carlie turned away. “This is her daughter. Is this Mr. Foxe?” “Carlie!” She covered the receiver. “Jack, go away, I can’t concentrate with you hanging around here!” He paced downstairs until he heard her hang up, and then ran upstairs. “What happened?” She sat down on the top step. “Grandma fell down her deck stairs.” “How bad?” “She only bruised her hip, thank God. But she can’t walk on it. She broke her wrist, she’s sore, and she can’t drive.” “Grandpa can’t either.” “Grandpa’s confusion is much worse. It makes it difficult to get the exact story.” “Who’s Foxe?” “Don Foxe. Some guy who recently came to the church. Nice man, Grandpa says. Young guy, but
Grandpa calls all guys young guys.” “Did he sound young?” “I don’t know.” She stood and unwrapped the towel on her head. “I’ve got to finish getting ready. I need to leave in…” She glanced at the bathroom clock. “Oh great! I had to leave ten minutes ago.” “Where to?” “Work, if you have to know.” She grabbed her brush and ripped it through her hair. “Work?” “Some people don’t get summer break.” He would ignore that comment. “So is Foxe helping them?” “He came with Pastor George.” “So there is someone helping them?” “I guess.” She bent over, flipping her hair over her head and bunching it into a ponytail. “That’s why I wanted to talk to them, Carlie. We need to know the facts so that we can tell Dad.” “I have the story, Jackson.” She straightened. “I just don’t have all the details on Don what’s-his-face.” “Did you tell them about Mom?” “I didn’t want to worry Grandpa any more than he is.” Carlie ran her makeup brush over her cheeks. “Are you going to tell Dad?” “Yes, Jackson.” Carlie took a smaller brush and wiped it on her eyelids. “Carlie.” “Jackson, stop.” She slammed the brush down. “I’m old enough to take a message on the phone and I’m completely capable of giving Dad all the information.” What was he supposed to say? “I just wanted—” “I know, Jack.” continued on page 16 PA R A BLES
If your life is missing that overall sense of peace and the joy that accompanies it, then Carol Lynne Watson has wonderful insight for you in her book “The Journey To Peace”. In warmly written thoughts and expressions she shares her journey to living her life authentically and in peace. Along the way she provides TAKE ACTION notes to encourage journaling of your own introduction to peace. Pecan Tree Publishing, April 2010 Phone: 877-207-2442 Email: email@example.com 978-0-9821114-3-7
A Woman’s Guide To Finding Inner Peace By
Carol Lynne Watson
continued from page 13 He raised his hands and walked away. ***** Carlie entered the little shop. A girl Carlie didn’t recognize stood behind the counter. Carlie peeked her head in the door to the back office. Mandee sat at the desk. “I’m sorry I’m late. My—” Mandee lotoked up, but didn’t smile. “Have a seat, Carlie.” Carlie’s heart beat faster. Mandee didn’t act like this. Mandee swiveled her chair to face Carlie and folded her hands on her lap. “I’ve been looking over the finances. Frankly, I’ve got too many workers for the summer this year.” Carlie swallowed and wiped her hands on her jeans. “A lot of kids have come back from college and they need their jobs back.” Wasn’t she a college kid, too? Granted she lived here year round, but why did out-of-state kids get the preference? “So I don’t have any hours for you this summer.” None? Why? Mandee turned back to the desk and picked up her pencil. “You can call back once school’s started. I might have an opening for you then, but I can’t promise anything.” Carlie nodded. “You’ll get your paycheck for this week next Friday.” Carlie searched the room for something to give her a word, a phrase, something. Mandee glanced at her. “Any questions?” “Do you, do you want me to come in later today?” Mandee sighed and reached for 16
the schedule. She paged through it. “I had you down for today?” “At four.” “There’s nothing here.” “You said—” Don’t blame her. “I confirmed it yesterday.” Mandee set the paper down and cocked her head at Carlie. “You came in yesterday?” “Yes, you asked me to.” “I know I did, but you didn’t show up.” “I left you a note.” Mandee pushed papers around on her desk but shook her head. Carlie felt her nose plugging. “Trish was here, so I assumed you didn’t need me.” “Don’t blame Trish. I had her scheduled to work yesterday.” “I know.” Carlie blinked. She didn’t understand. “I need to get back to my work, Carlie. Thanks again for coming in. Enjoy your summer.” Carlie stood and managed to whisper her thank you, though Mandee didn’t acknowledge it. Before she knew it, she sat in her car, hands on her steering wheel, but couldn’t drive because the world around her had turned to tears. ***** Carlie sniffed and dried her eyes before pulling out of her parking spot. In what seemed like a long moment, she stopped in front of their driveway, but didn’t pull in. It looked like the house was deserted, which Carlie hoped for because she didn’t want to talk with anyone. A van whizzed around her and her car shook. She shuddered, thinking of Mom’s accident. She pressed the gas pedal. She didn’t want to go home. She’d go to the preserve. She parked in the lot close to
home and started walking. Could it be only that morning when she had jogged these paths? She looked down at her shoes; she wasn’t dressed to run now. The sun was warm, she wasn’t dressed for that either. But she continued on. The path went up a rise and she could feel the warm breeze on her face. The grasses swayed in the open field and a dragonfly crossed her path. She folded her arms and closed her eyes, letting the sun warm her face. She heard a biker on the path behind her. She opened her eyes and moved to her right. The man whooshed past. A few more minutes brought her to the trees. The shade felt refreshing. She walked a little further and stopped at the bridge that went over the little creek. She rested her arms on the railing and stared at the water. Moving water was memorizing. The gentle bubbling, gurgling noise was comforting. Ever onward, it flowed under the bridge beneath her. What if the bridge was like her experience today? The water skipped toward it, seemingly without a care, just like she tended to do. And then, the shadow appeared. The water didn’t slow; it kept frolicking its way toward the bridge. Bouncing off one rock, slipping over another. The shadow became deeper, and then the water disappeared under the bridge. She hurried to the other side. Did the water change because of its trip through the shadows? She laughed at herself, of course it didn’t. What a crazy notion. It wasn’t affected by the bridge, or the shadows, or the rocks it broke itself against. It had one goal, to continually move down
its path. And still it merrily sang, the sunlight glistening through the trees, reflected in the crystal waters. The sparkles blurred and she closed her eyes. A tear slid down her cheek. She wanted to be like that little creek. So happy and unaffected by whatever it came across. She sniffed and wiped the tear away. A group of runners were coming. She waited for them to cross the bridge before she followed them. She crossed her arms and tried to make her breathing normal. But her heart hurt too much. Deep inside she could feel the pain. This summer was going to be good. Mom wasn’t going to be hurt, Grandma wasn’t going to be injured, Jack was going to be home, and she was going to have a job. She covered her mouth with her hand and pulled her arms closer to her chest, hoping to quench the sobs. Why did Mandee promise her more hours? What changed? What workers took her place? What happened with Trish? The letter, where did it go? Could Trish have taken it, trying to be mean? How could a person do that? Why would a person do that? Could Trish dislike her that much? Why was Mandee so unfeeling about it? She was always so nice and kind. What changed? There was a break in the trees and she turned down the little path. A few yards and she came to a small clearing. Disregarding her clothes, she sat on the ground and leaned against a tree, her arms wrapped around her knees. In her frustration that morning, she had told Jackson that at least she had a job. Well, she didn’t any more. Was that God’s judgment on her for not being nice to
Jackson? Or was it a coincidence? But there wasn’t anything such as coincidences, were there? God was in charge, right? Then He knew she would lose her job. Or did He ordain it? Could He be that cruel? What about allowing Mom’s accident? What purpose could that serve? Why would God let Mom be hurt? So, He didn’t let her die. Perhaps she should be grateful for that. But why did it have to happen at all? Wasn’t God powerful enough to keep them safe? Sure He was, to say He wasn’t sounded blasphemous. But then, why didn’t He keep them safe? What about Grandma? She cares for Grandpa. She’s so devoted to him and all the care he needs. Yet, God allowed her to fall. Couldn’t He have kept her healthy? So she didn’t break her hip, she still needs help now. And who would go help her? Mom’s hurt. Carlie let out a deep breath. She could go. She didn’t have a job now. Maybe getting away from Hackly would be a good thing. She liked Grandma’s house. She stood up. The pain coursed through her. She looked up at the sky. “God, why? Why couldn’t You have let things be happy? Why did You have to let this bad stuff happen? Why didn’t You stop it?” Her phone vibrated in her pocket. She ripped it out of her back pocket and silenced it. She wanted to throw it, make it never ring again. The past few days it seemed that every time it rang something bad happened. The phone beeped to tell her the caller had left a message. Her curiosity overcame her anger and she flipped open the lid. It was Dad. He shouldn’t be worried about her.
It wasn’t that late. Anyway, Jackson knew she would be at work tonight, so they should all realize that’s where she was. She didn’t have to tell them the truth until she got home. Oh, but she had planned to stop by the hospital to see Mom. She pressed the speed dial number for her voicemail and listened to Dad’s message. Mom was coming home that night. She should be happy. But she felt nothing. ***** “Is Carlie supposed to be home for dinner?” Dad asked. Jackson shrugged. He usually knew these things. Schedules were his expertise. But something was different this summer. Somehow he and Carlie were having trouble connecting. It never used to be like this. “What’s wrong?” Dad closed the oven door. “Nothing.” He knew Dad didn’t believe him. Dad said nothing, or perhaps he didn’t have time to, because Amelia skidded into the kitchen. She opened the front door. Carlie stood there looking a little surprised. “Hi!” Amelia’s happy face greeted her. Alison skipped into the kitchen. “Did you get Dad’s message? Mom’s home! Aren’t you so happy?” “Yeah!” Carlie didn’t sound as cheery as usual. “We weren’t sure if you’d be here for dinner.” Dad took the casserole pot out of the oven. “Do you need help?” “Nope. It’s all ready. Mrs. Nyham dropped it by this afternoon.” Jackson picked up the TV trays he had originally gone into the pantry off the kitchen to get. He PA R A BLES
followed the girls into the family room where Mom was enthroned on the sofa. Carlie approached Mom’s couch. “Everything alright, honey?” Mom reached out a hand. “Yeah.” Carlie smiled. Jackson shook his head. If it was obvious Dad could see through his answer to that question, surely everyone could see through Carlie’s answer. Her voice was a flat as a CD and the sparkle in her eyes was gone. “I’m glad you’re home,” Carlie said. Dad entered with the casserole. Carlie headed for the stairs, saying over her shoulder, “Let me go dump my stuff in my room. I’ll be back in a minute.” “Hurry, it’ll get cold,” Dad said. Jackson finished setting up the TV trays and the girls put out napkins, plates, and silverware. “Did Carlie go into work today?” Mom asked. “That’s what she told me.” Jackson shrugged. Maybe he was the reason she wasn’t herself. “She might just be upset about Grandma.” Dad cut the casserole. “She was coming right back down, wasn’t she?” Amelia asked. “That’s what she said,” Dad said. Jackson looked toward the stairs. “Maybe I’ll go make sure.” “Ok, son,” Dad said. Jackson avoided his eyes. He knew that Dad suspected there was more to this situation that what
appeared on the surface. He quietly walked up the stairs and stopped on the landing. He could see Carlie’s room from there. She was standing in front of her mirror. She was looking at herself, so she didn’t see him come up to the door. But he could see her face. He hadn’t noticed it downstairs, but her face looked puffy. It was her eyes, however, that gave her away. She had been crying. She closed her eyes and dropped her chin to her chest. He tapped the door and she turned, saw it was him, and looked away. Ouch. She must be upset with him. He leaned over her shoulder. “You mad at me?” She didn’t answer. He moved around her, trying to get in front of her. “I, well, I’m sorry. I—” He gave a frustrated sigh. “I’m not going to explain. I was wrong and I’m sorry.” This was always hard to say, but he knew he had to do it. “Will you forgive me?” Nothing. What could he do? Suddenly she spoke, “Yeah, Jack.” She wasn’t even looking at his face. “No worries. Let’s go eat.” She moved toward the door. “Wait.” He grabbed her arm and she stopped. “What is it?” She looked away and said nothing. He moved in front of her again and lifted her chin so she had to face him. “Talk to me K-Girl.” Tears flooded her eyes.
Had he caused this? He put his arms around her and she put her head against his shoulder. “What’s this all about, Carlie? You can talk to me.” “I lost my job.” Somehow the news wasn’t a surprise to him. He was grateful it wasn’t all about what he had said to her, but then maybe he had made the sting of losing her job worse. He squeezed her tighter, but said nothing. What could he say? “You kids coming?” Dad called from downstairs. “In a minute, Dad.” He pulled Carlie away from him so he could look at her. Her sobbing had lessoned, but tears still ran down her cheeks. He hoped his face said all that he wished he could tell her. She wiped at her face and Jackson reached for a tissue. She sat on her bed and blew her nose. “Better?” She nodded and took a shaky breath. “Thanks Jack.” He sat next to her. “Anytime. I know I can be a—” “Big brother.” She smiled. “You look out for me; it’s just sometimes I don’t like it.” He laughed. “That or I try to keep you too sheltered.” “No, you’re just an eldest.” “And you’re such an expert on the subject?” “Yup.” Carlie laughed. “I have an in-house model.”
“One Day” is a selection from the novel Danielle Grandinetti is writing for the Craftsman level writing course prescribed by the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She has also completed the Apprentice and Journeyman levels. She has been published in the first edition of Parables Magazine, as well as in The Storyteller. She lives in the Chicago, IL area where she teaches writing to local homeschool students and gives private piano lessons. 18
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RESPECTING BY DEE WHITFIELD
A E M r e G
The black convertible Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster came to a complete stop. The car door opened revealing a soft, leather, caramel, black and yellow stitched interior. She placed one long leg at a time out of the door as her $545 Stella McCartney teal stiletto straw sandal graced the concrete.
“So be it.” Tempest thought to herself, shaking her head as if to remove those thoughts.
Tempest stopped to gather her thoughts and take in her surroundings, she carefully looked to her left, and then to her right. Never missing a beat, casing the cars behind her and those in front of her. Tempest eased her body up and out of the expensive luxury car. She hesitated briefly and cautiously slid back into the driver’s seat like a graceful ball room dancer would do. Behind the driver’s seat she raised her wrist, illuminating a Piaget white gold diamond dial diamond bezel bracelet watch. A $130,000.00 gift. She remembered him giving it to her for her fortieth birthday in London. He said it was,
This was exactly the way Tempest had planned to spend the Peering through her opulent day before moving into her beach Chanel sunshades, Tempest knew front home. Her fingers squeezed valet parking was out of the the steering wheel as she leaned question. She would definitely her head back on the soft leather not be recognized. The Ritz staff headrest, her dress hiked slightly had been accustomed to wealthy above her thighs. patrons. But not Tempests’ new wealth. This wealth was the kind She needed a moment that was earned from hard work. to gather her thoughts. She was No man made inheritance. It was all home. Back where everything she from the gift her Heavenly Father loathed would be except him. The saw fit to bless her with. She did pain seemed to come immediately. not disappoint him. She had used it wisely and her rewards were Leave me alone. “I don’t pouring in like he said. “You want want to go there.” She heard the soft have room to store. “ female voice through the speakers
“Just because.” She knew the real reason why. “Sweetest love,” she sang her rendition of Anita Baker’s hit love song. Remembering her love and his, just three short years ago seemed like a lifetime ago.
The diamonds blinked brilliantly as the hands moved the time to 2:45 p.m. Tempest was rather early. She had fifteen minutes before she was to be in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton Resort Hotel.
Coming back home after five years abroad and not a soul knew she was returning. The friends and associates she left in the United States only read what they knew about her. She cut every connection she had when she got on the plane to start fresh in July 2003 and she didn’t look back.
singing. The memories flooded her heart abruptly she turned off the CD. She had lost here and gained in Europe, she was determined she would not run any more. She would get everything back the devil stole from her. Even him. She was always with him. It was his way of comforting her. She
chuckled to herself. Remembering the last time she felt comfortable with him. The last time she needed and wanted to be comforted by him, the times comfort was available to them together had been limited.
“I’m sorry to disturb you Ms. Rainey; this is Lambrecht’s Investigative Services. You hired us to work for you. I’m detective Simone. I wanted to inform you that we have an eye on another service hired to follow you and the name of the person that has hired the company to do so once you arrived in the states.”
influenced to love.
Who would ever know her well kept secret? Who would ever imagine Tempest, the self published writer who hustled her business to the top by taking it abroad and Instinctively her thoughts leaving everything behind that returned to her surroundings. meant her no good. Unloving Tempest watched everything that family members, the nay Sayers, moved around the space she held. the users and the church home she Slowly, she pressed the keyless “Thank you Mr. Simon, who is the had grown in grace and strength in ignition shutting off the car. She was individual and what information do God. Shaking her healthy head of as suspicious of her whereabouts you have for me?” curls; she thought of those days she and surroundings as a woman spent her hard earned money to having an affair. “I would much rather we meet in look decent. Paying her tithes and person, I have photo’s. I’m two cars offerings faithfully, while tragedy She laughed at herself when behind you in the parking lot. I can seemed to circle itself around her she thought of how she had actually meet you in the lobby of the hotel if financially. hired a private investigator to watch you don’t mind.” her. In order to watch anyone that She wanted to reconnect might have been hired to watch her. He cleared his throat, and said, herself back to the Messenger Smart and convinced this would be “You’ll recognize me. I’m bald and Christian Fellowship. She knew all she needed to cover her return Caucasian.” He chuckled. that was where her heart wanted to the states. to be. Remembering those days Who would have ever thought to “I’ll meet you in the lobby” she said years ago. Thinking to her, how hire a private detective to keep an and hung up. other women she heard had shared eye on yourself? It would never their financial dilemma with “her.” have been necessary until she got Tempest looked around; her The one woman all the women a heads up that someone from car was parked in the open. Next to were supposed to look up to for Florida had been inquiring of her a Mercedes Benz. It would never motherly nourishment spiritually. whereabouts. The article in Elle be easily recognized had she not which featured her on the cover of thought of switching tags. Quickly Her calloused, cold spirit the May issue revealed her life had reaching in the back seat, pulling simply stated to them, “Let it go.” changed. out a tag that read - “Tempted.” Tossing their hearts, hopes and dreams out of the door as if they Alicia Keys “No One” ring As she quickly lined her lips had no feelings are connections tone came through her cellular with gloss she smiled and said to to what they worked hard for phone as she reached inside her the air, “Whoever you are, here’s a which seemed to be slipping away. Dolce & Gabana purse, retrieving message from me to you. I’m back.” Borderline bankruptcies, evictions, the tiny hand hell phone. divorces, separations, loss of Tempest gracefully income, meaning employment. “Hello” removed herself from the car. Her That was so easy for her to say. “Is this Ms. Tempest Rainey?” The eyes searched around looking for Tempest remembered and thought deep baritone voice on the other anyone or any sign that she would out loud “So it seemed.” end asked. be not be recognized. Her heart “It is; how can I help you?” beat rapidly, not from fear, but from Tempest wanted to despise the excitement of being personally the woman. She briefly recalled PA R A BLES
how she had tried so be cordial, respectful and at one point an associate of equal intellect. She thought. Knowing in her heart that was never to be.
“God I know vengeance is yours, it seems you just don’t want to put a stop to the games this woman plays. I might have to pay a price higher than I can afford, but “I wonder if she still wears I’m moving forward and I ask you those catalog suits and oversized in advance to forgive me. I’m cried unmatched shoes. Even the blouses out.” she wore to cover everything a woman needed to expose. ” The Tempest straightened and thought made Tempest laughed smoothed out the Donna Karan just thinking about this woman’s halter dress with her hands and persona and seemingly insecure with a hippy strut, she walked ways. toward the entrance of the resort. Her thoughts made her feel like There was a time when dancing. She spun around looking enough was enough, God had at herself in the glass doubled promised her much. Needless to automatic doors. She liked what say this guerrilla warfare started she saw. A sign in front of her read when she was thought to have - “Only gold is divine. “ been invited to Washington for a “Not so” she said softly to no one in Literary Conference with many of particular, the top writers in the world. It was “Only God is divine. “ a tough decision for Tempest. Her husband who held a special place Tempest walked into the in Tempest heart was having his beautiful marble tiled resort lobby fortieth birthday bash. She wanted surrounded by tall plants and an to be there as a longtime friend to array of flowers from around the help roast him in love. The trick world. Looking around for the bald had game, but game recognized Caucasian gentleman and spotting game and an inside player gave him. Her beauty caused eyebrows up the scoop sending Tempest to to rise among the elite resort’s the party making a grand entrance patrons as she took in their looks surprising all the guest, core players with an undoubting confidence. who had played a part in trying to send her away and the First Lady as She already had an idea she was affectionately called by her who was investigating her. “Well members. it’s high time for the first lady to know her nemesis is back in rare As always, he was glad form. It’s time for her tears to flow for her to be there but the war and I want them to flow in front of had begun. Tempest knew her the multitude she has seen shed weakness and as hard as it was their hearts and tears in pain. Sistah for her to go there……..it was put So Saved, I’m going to take your up or shut up and she had to shut advice literally today and let it go. this sister down intellectually street I’m going to let go of all this passion style. in a matter of time.” 22
The thoughts had her insides flowing. Tempest sensuality had been restrained for so long. She did not need the missionary position, no rear entry position of humiliation. She had wanted uninhibited sex. She exuded sensuality. She needed to feel every bit of lust her body craved. Heat was an understatement. She thought of their meeting. He had no clue what he had waiting for him. This would truly be considered “FRIENDLY FIRE.” Her breast began to swell thinking about what was to be. The scent of her body began to rise. She hoped her nipples didn’t show through the material. Extending her hand graciously to the bald Caucasian gentleman who immediately rose from his seat. . Tempest sat down slowly in the comfortable leather chair. As he handed her the envelope with the photos. “We were surprised by the information we found. Then again, nothing surprises me in this business.” He sat waiting as Tempest held the envelope in her hands. Waiting for a response, he kept quiet. “How long have I been followed?” She asked. Still not looking inside the envelope. “Since your flight left the Birmingham England’s International Airport.” “Hmmm….they were in England for how long? Do you know?” “They arrived two days before your
departure.” Tempest stood up tall and erect. Again she extended her hand. “Thank You.” “Simon it is?” She asked him. He shook his head up and down and said “Ys, Ms. Rainey.” I’ll be in contact with you later or
when your services are needed.”
ever imagining that they would connect. This was the payback she She walked away. Never looking had spoken into existence, this back. Holding the envelope under is the pay back Tempest decided her arms. was worth every tear, every ounce of pain. This was new, this was She had been careful. different, this was a personal Cautious about her whereabouts influence and she had always from to everyone. Making sure every the beginning, respected the game. detail of her absence would be covered. Her perfect smile showed confidence. The thought of anyone
PA R A BLES
Get Your Hallelujah Handkerchief, Get the True Power of the
REV. VERNITA C. WILLIAMS
REFLECTION It seems, sometimes, like every church has a “Get your hallelujah hankie”, your “anointed scarf” and don’t forget this “extra special laying on of hands” service. It seems too many churches are advertising healings and blessings. What is the focus of your church program or conference? Galatians 6:14 says that God forbid that we should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Translated to every day terminology, that simply means, we need to focus on the glory of the power of Jesus and the Cross. The central theme of the Gospel is Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It is Calvary’s cross. This should be the focus of church programs and conferences; not the effects of or the results of believing on the cross.
focusing on the effects of the cross rather than the cross. The effects of the cross is, “Come and get your healing. Come and get your blessing, your miracles, your deliverance.” The cross is the unshakeable, undeniable, unrelenting power of the Crucifixion of Jesus the Christ. When we do not preach Jesus Christ and Him Crucified, we lose the power and the purpose of the resurrected life of Jesus. Although, the effects of the cross are often advertised and promoted to attract people to church programs, the main attraction for a sin sick world is Jesus Christ & Him Crucified. That is the central theme of the Gospel.
When the body of Christ proclaims Jesus; there is no longer a need to In spite of this, churches often advertise healings, blessings and promote the wrong thing by miracles. The proclaiming of Jesus
will do its own work. MEDITATION Galatians 6:14 PRAYER Dear Father, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ We thank you for your Word. Today we renew our focus to Jesus Christ & Him crucified, confidently knowing that the Spirit of the Lord will work the works of Salvation & healing & Blessings and Deliverance. In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ we pray. Amen ACTION/KNOWLEDGE If you want to know the energy of God, the resurrection life of Jesus, you must concentrate on the Cross.
Vernita C. Williams, is the Pastor of Stewardship at New Birth Baptist Church Cathedral of Faith International. An attorney specializing in wills, trusts and estate planning, she is completing her first book LEAVING A LEGACY. The devotional shared here is part of another work in progress, WISDOM FROM THE WORD.
T: 7 in
T: 10 in
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FIRST COMES BY SHANA BURTON
“Nana, we’re here,” called London as she and Bernard crept into the cramped kitchen through the unlocked door. “I’m at the stove, baby, just trying to finish up these greens.” London’s grandmother, Essie Harris, set the heavy lid down on the pot and turned lowered the gas on the stove. “Girl, where have you been? I was trying to get a hold of you all weekend. Come on in and have some sit down.” Essie, with her gray chignon and apron tied around her stout marshmallow frame, had a stride and way about her that was surprising spry for a woman of near seventy. “We’re in kind of a hurry,” explained London, inching into the kitchen, which was warm and humid from the both the stifling August heat and the searing stove that caused the flowered wallpaper to shrivel up and peel. “There ain’t no such thing as being too busy to talk to your old grandma,” admonished Essie. “When I’ve gone on to glory, you 26
E O V L
can do all the running around you want to do but while I’m here, you gon’ come right here and give me a hug and sit and talk for a spell.” Any references to Essie’s “going to glory” always elicited immediate guilt and compliance from London, and Essie was banking on it. “You come on and get some sugar, too, Bernard.” He hobbled over to her and pecked her on the cheek. “Nana, you were kind of cryptic on the phone,” said London, laying her purse on the countertop. “I’m not really sure why you wanted to see us.” Essie picked up a knife and began slicing onions to toss over into her turnips. “I didn’t realize that I had to have a reason to see my favorite grandbaby, a child I’ve been raising since she was seven years old…” “I’m sorry. It’s just that you made it sound kind of urgent. I thought something might have happened.” “It’s like I told you, baby, you’ve been in my spirit.” “In your spirit?” echoed Bernard. “What does that mean?” “Nothing, really, just that you’ve been on my mind, that’s all,” Essie explained and squinted her bluish-gray eyes at London with an intense, almost eerie, stare. “You ain’t in no trouble, is you?” “No, everything is great!” she lied. “Why wouldn’t it be?”
“Don’t you tell me no stories, gal! You still running around with that shifty lawyer fellow? What’s his name…Satan?” “Creighton,” London filled in. “Same thing,” uttered Bernard. “And, no, we’re not together anymore. We broke up a couple of days ago.” “Uh-huh,” grunted Essie. “I never liked him anyway. Something about his eyes wasn’t right.” Essie turned to Bernard. “What about you? You and that girl of yours still shacking up, living in sin?” Bernard laughed a little. “No, ma’am. We’ve gone our separate ways, too,” he divulged. “I decided that the next woman I move in with will have to be my wife.” London crushed his toe beneath her heel, catching the double meaning. Essie wiped her hands on a dish towel. “That’s good. Y’all didn’t have no business shacked up in the first place. I’ve been telling Lonnie for years that she’s a fool for not snatching you up for herself.” “I think she may finally start listening to you,” he alluded. “You missed a good sermon this morning, Lonnie. Pastor preached up something today! You know I don’t like it when you miss church. I didn’t raise you like that.” London lowered her head. Her penitence satisfied Essie for the time
being. “Well, y’all children hungry? I got plenty to eat. “You ain’t got to ask me twice!” exclaimed Bernard, rubbing his stomach. “I haven’t eaten since we boarded the plane.” London cringed, and he realized his gaffe as soon as the words escaped his lips. Essie halted. “Plane? Where y’all been?” she demanded. “Nowhere, we just went to do a little harmless gambling and catch a couple of shows,” covered London. “Where at?” London muttered, “Nevada.” Essie took a step back. “You and this boy went to Las Vegas?” “It was London’s idea,” blurted Bernard. Essie’s scolded them both with burning eyes. “Good Christian folks ain’t got no business being around all those heathens! What is it that they call that place?” “Sin City,” he answered. “That’s what I thought! Girl, how many times have I told you what the Bible says about the appearance of evil? And don’t try to lie to me. I know what kind of depravity goes on in those kinds of places,” preached Essie. Bernard folded his arms and shook his head, siding with Essie. “That’s exactly what I tried to tell her, Miss Essie. The only reason I went was to keep London out of trouble.” London waved her hand to dismiss his censuring. “You wanted to go just as much as I did, Bernard! Don’t front.” Essie spotted the diamond ring gleaming on London’s finger and seized her hand. “What’s all this, Lonnie?”
A heart-stopping chill rushed through London’s body. “Nothing,” she stammered, swallowing hard and using her right hand to cover the left one as she slipped out of her grandmother’s grasp. “It’s just a ring.” Essie snatched London’s hand again for a closer inspection. “That looks like a wedding ring to me. Girl, you didn’t go off and do something stupid with that lawyer, did you?” “No, I got it while we were in Vegas.” London cleared her throat and slung her purse over her shoulder. “Wow, look at the time. We should probably go. Bernard, don’t you have that thing today?” “Um, yeah, I almost forgot.” He fumbled with the keys, as anxious to dodge Essie’s prying as London was. “We better get going.” “Where you got to run off to?” asked Essie. London replied “a meeting” as Bernard said “a date.” “Well, which is it?” quizzed Essie, not about to let up on them. London opened her mouth to form another lie but stayed quiet instead, taking a cue from Bernard, who silently stared out of the window. “Something in the milk ain’t clean,” Essie balked, shaking her head. “And one of you better start talking right now!” London turned to Bernard. He shrugged his shoulders, at a loss over what to say. Only Essie had the ability to reduce him to a quivering ten-year-old boy waiting to be told to go in the backyard and pick out a switch. Essie drummed her fingers on the countertop. “Well, I’m waiting…”
London’s eyes shifted from Essie to Bernard and out the door. “Um… you know, we really don’t have to get into all this right now,” stalled London. Essie pointed a finger at her. “Lonnie, what’s going on here? Bernard?” “Tell her,” hissed London. “You tell her.” Essie was starting to lose patience. “Somebody tell me something!” When it became obvious that Bernard wasn’t going to say anything, London cleared her throat and stepped forward, mouthing some choice words to him in the process. “Well, like I told you,” she began, “Creighton and I broke up and so did Bernard and Vanessa, so we decided to go to Vegas to have fun and let off some steam.” She slowly paced the floor as she spoke, fidgeting and keeping her eyes glued to the green and yellow speckled linoleum. “And that’s pretty much it.” Essie shook her head. “I know there’s more to it than that. I want to know about this ring business and why the two of you are acting so shady.” “We were both emotional, you know? We were tired from the flight. We weren’t thinking clearly and were acting impulsively. Everything happened so fast that I barely remember even being there.” “Yes, but what does all that have to do with you and this wedding ring?” “I’m getting to that, Nana.” London glanced back at Bernard. “You see, there’s a lot of temptation in a place like Vegas and, while I PA R A BLES
know that it’s not right, but we did do a lot of drinking when we were down there, too...” “So, you and Bernard were running around Nevada drunk and acting a fool. Now, you know I taught you better than that!” thundered Essie. “I know you have, Nana. It was wrong and completely out of character for me.” Essie shook her head and moaned, “Umph, umph, umph! Go on.” “And Bernard and I got to talking, and then we saw this wedding chapel,” London continued, nervously wringing her hands together. Essie stopped her. “Wedding chapel?” “Yeah, Nana, and people were going in and out, getting married. And they just seemed so happy…” “It’s not like we planned it or anything,” reasoned Bernard. “And I guess we were just too out of it to think about the consequences.” Essie started to put the pieces together and clamped her hands onto her hips. “Are you trying to tell me that you and this boy done up and got yourselves married?!” “I know that it was reckless and stupid and never should have happened,” London professed quickly. “We’re going to fix it, though,” Bernard inserted quickly. “First thing tomorrow!” finished London. Essie closed her eyes and began humming a hymn to herself, as she often did whenever she was upset. She toddled to the sink and started rinsing dishes. 28
“Did you hear what I said, Nana? We’re going to fix this!” promised London, putting her arms around her grandmother. Essie nodded her head slowly. “Yes, I guess there’s only one thing you can do about it now.” Bernard rested his hand on her shoulder. “Don’t worry. Once we get the annulment, we can put all of this behind us.” Essie was taken aback. “Annulment? Who said anything about an annulment?” She wriggled out of their arms and stood before the two of them. “You all went before God and said that you wanted to be man and wife, and the Lord’s going to hold you to it!” London blinked, speechless for a second. “Nana, you can’t be serious. I can’t be Bernard’s wife. I don’t even love him, not like that.” “Well, how many different kinds of love do you think there is? It ain’t but one kind, honey—real love.” “No, you don’t understand—” “No, you don’t understand. You made vows to be this man’s wife.” Essie wagged her finger at London. “Now, I don’t care how drunk you were, a part of you, even it’s a part that you don’t even know exists yet, wanted to marry him.” Essie turned to Bernard. “And a part of you wanted to marry her, too, or you wouldn’t have done it. Now you owe it to each to try to work this thing out.” London formed her lips into a forced smile. “You’re kidding, right?” Essie peered into London’s face with a stiff frown. “Do I look like I’m kidding?” Bernard gulped.
“This is crazy!” said London, more to herself than anyone in the room. “Nana, you don’t stay married to the guy eloped with while downing shots of Patron in Vegas. That just doesn’t happen.” “Oh, yeah? Hand me that Bible,” commanded Essie, pointing to the old, battered New International Version that rested on her countertop. Bernard brought it to her. “Now, let’s see here.” She began flipping through the pages then set the book down in front of him. “Read it.” Experience had taught him that it was best not to defy her. Bernard took a deep breath and began reading. “I instruct married couples to stay together, and this is exactly what the Lord himself taught. First Corinthians, chapter seven, verse ten.” “Uh-huh, now go on to uh, uh, Corinthians seven and thirtynine. Let London read that one.” He passed the Bible to her. “A wife should stay married to her husband until he dies,” she rambled quickly. “Nana, I know this, but—.” “’Nard,” Essie broke in, ignoring London’s protests, “You read verse 10.” He sat upright and cleared his throat. “And a husband should not leave his wife.” He re-read the verse to himself. “There it is, in black and white, just as plain as day,” declared Essie. “The second you two took those vows and made a covenant with the Lord, He started holding you accountable to honor it.” “There’s got to be some kind of contingency clause,” argued London, flipping through the Bible. “I refuse to believe that God
expects me to stay married to man that I don’t love.” “There is,” replied Essie. “It’s called death. That’s the only contingency I know about.” London shoved the Bible into Bernard’s hands. “Nana, you’re being closed-minded and unreasonable. We need to think about this rationally.” “You can do all the rationalizing you want, Lonnie, but ain’t nothing gon’ change the fact that you married him. Now, y’all just go on home and work this thing out.” She shooed them toward the door and walked back to the sink. “Bernard, say something!” London whispered sharply. Bernard looked up from the opened Bible in his palm. He didn’t respond at first but finally said, “I think she’s right.” London whirled around, her eyes bulging. “What?” He reached for her hands. “Everything she’s saying is true, babe. Don’t you think we owe it to each other to try? It can’t hurt, right?” “We’ll discuss this in the car,” she muttered through clinched teeth. “You better listen to your husband, Lonnie,” warned Essie, scouring a pot. “He knows what he’s talking about.” Bernard placed his hands on her shoulders. “London, think about it. People are always saying that you should marry your best friend. Well, I did and so did you. We know each other better than any two people ought to. In fact, the only thing that’s been constant in all of our other relationships is each other. I believe we can do this. Babe, I know we can.”
“Bernard, do you honestly expect me to believe that you want to spend the rest of your life with me?” “I know that you can’t process the thought of being together forever right now, but what about baby steps, giving it shot for a few months? I mean, what’s six months out of about eighty years of your life going to hurt?” “I think you should at least try for a year,” interjected Essie. “A year?” cried London. “We owe it to ourselves… and to God.” London shook her head. “Don’t go dragging God into this.” “God is in it!” affirmed Essie. “And He’s watching you— you better believe that. So is your mama. You know, I sat right there in that hospital after the accident, watching that girl dying, and I promised her that I was going to raise you up right, get you through school, and see to it that you married the kind of man that they’d be proud to call son-in-law. And you know that I don’t go back on my promises!” “And look.” He picked up the Bible, still turned to Corinthians. “Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. We have to have faith that God will lead us through this.” London covered her ears. “Both of you stop, please! I can’t think with the two of you ganging up on me like this.” “I’m not trying to pressure you, London. I’m only asking that we think about this before we rush out and make another impulsive decision.” She pulled Bernard aside, out of earshot from Essie. “We
talked about this, remember? We both agreed that getting the annulment was the only thing that made sense. Don’t be taken in by Nana’s emotional and spiritual blackmail.” “London, right now, trying to be your husband is what makes sense to me. I can’t explain it, but I know that if we get this annulment tomorrow that we’re going to regret it for the rest of our lives.” “I don’t know what y’all are over there whispering about, but, Lonnie, you better not be over there trying to get that boy to change his mind.” “Miss Essie, I agree with you. I think we should give this marriage a shot, but I’m not going to force London to do anything that she doesn’t want to do,” he stipulated. London threw up her hands. “Forget it—you win! We’ll do it your way. Just don’t say anything when this whole mess blows up in everyone’s faces.” “I swear, if you ain’t the most ornery thing I’ve ever seen—” “No, Nana, I’m not ornery, I’m realistic. But if you want to play God with our lives, you go right ahead. You’re the one in control here, right?” “Don’t start smelling yourself,” warned Essie. “You ain’t never too old to get slapped.” “You can slap me and you can yell at me and you can even bring my dead mother into it, none of it matters.” London yanked up her purse. “Nothing is going to change the fact that this is a mistake, and, trust me-- things are going to get a whole lot worse before they get any better.”
PA R A BLES
Before You Go …. Let these Words be Ministry
There were several reasons for the Savior to put His teaching into parables. First, the deep spiritual truths He spoke about were hard for His listeners to understand. But a specific, colorful story based on the details of everyday life could impress the memory for many years, and a man who tried to articulate the sense of that story would contemplate it, get into the depth of its contents, and thus approach the underlying wisdom. Second, people who did not fully understand the Savior’s teachings could interpret them in their own ways and disseminate the misinterpretation. But the parables saved the integrity of Christ’s teaching by shaping its contents into a specific tale. When the concept of PARABLES was born some two years ago it was very much in line with the purpose of Biblical parables – to be able to present edification, inspiration and life-affecting teachings. As a writer, who birthed the idea with
other writers, the way to do that was clearly through – ah, yes – the written word. These words did not need to come solely from the minds that were open enough to hear God say launch out into a unique ministry; they needed to come from others like us. The call went out and writers responded!
full recognition – so the re-launch issues will feature the majority of the stories originally submitted. That means by the third issue we are going to need your submissions of: short Christian fiction, inspirational essays (not sermons) and short devotionals. For full submission information, please be sure to visit the website at www. Some may find it out hard to see pecantreepress.com. ministry through short Christian fiction. Yet, if, as Christians – the Finally, this is about ministry and Living God abides in us and us in growing in the Word of God; I Him – then what we write reflects implore you to take advantage of that relationship. It may not be the the print-on-demand option with way you would expect ministry; but PARABLES and order copies for then Jesus ministered – accordingly your book club, ministry or prayer/ – in all ways. Bible study group. We are certain something in these pages will This issue and the next issue spark a lively exchange of God’s represent the re-birthing of instructions and promises for each PARABLES. Like any young ministry, of us. we had some warfare to overcome and we had some seasons to experience. The time is now right! Abiding in His Presence, I am … We wanted to assure the authors E. Claudette Freeman, in participated when we initially Publisher launched two years ago, received
Released ‐ February 25, 2009
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Soul food dressed to the nines ‐ that best describes the recipes in this collection; flavored with stories that raised families from one generation to another. The recipes are delightful twists to the favorite dishes of an Ohio born and Florida raised cook ‐ Brenda L. Jackson. Down home meets elegant : Cornbread Casserole; Sausage Stew; Red Beans and Rice; Wasabi Spinach Mashed Potatoes; Tomato Crab Bisque; BBQ Pigs’ Feet & more.
This first issue features the emotional story of a young man who lived and died heroically surviving others, the tale of poetic love, and mo...