…stories and poetry to touch, teach, & turn the heart toward truth.


The Wedding

Preparations careful,

All intentions clear—

Anxiety is building;

Behind it follows fear.

What does the future hold?

What will tomorrow bring?

Does love tarnish like the gold

Of virgin’s shining ring?

The bridesmaids flutter busily

All must be just so.

The groomsmen saunter lazily

Grinning as they go.

This day has been prepared

With vast anticipation.

The guests arrive with giddiness.

Each usher mans his station.

Gifts are brought to start things off—

Necessities supplied,

Splurges too, desired by

The dream-inspired bride.

Vows are made to last a life.

The time has fin’lly come.

Years to follow, joy and strife—

Two becoming one.

The softest touch will leave entranced

The twosome all impassioned.

Their hands tight clasped,

Their eyes deep fastened,

Hearts pulsing like a river.

Dreams are coming true.

The mothers’ eyes soft tears deliver—

Happiness shines through.

As with all the days ‘til now,

Tomorrow soon will come.

Two singles as one couple bow

Until their days are done.



Lunch at the Lake House

Malcolm walked into the large room and lowered onto a brown, cushioned chair. He was here now. The hardest part should be over.

To this point, Malcolm had avoided eye contact, but had chanced a few unheeded glances at the backs of people’s heads. This alone provided a glimpse into the kinds of people he was among. It was the usual demographic he was growing to expect in this small mid-western town.

Malcolm hadn’t attended church many times before, but in the empty silence of his home he’d convinced himself that this would be a good way to do some networking. His other option was the bar, and that wasn’t quite the kind of networking he sought.

He hated first impressions—mainly because he usually left others in confusion. He was shy, but self-assured; deep, but self-conscious about how others saw him. In short, he didn’t fit well into society’s molds, and he wasn’t confident enough to embrace it. For these reasons, he could simultaneously appear kind, vulnerable, awkward, and aloof. When making new acquaintances he even confused himself sometimes, so he rarely wondered why others seemed awkward when trying to visit with him.

People-watching was one of his favorite pastimes, but in a small community like this it was hard to do without seeming like a creep. There were enough creeps in the world; he didn’t need to add to their numbers. Malcolm had selected his seat on the edge of the room to provide him with a view of those around him. This way he could attempt to decipher the social structure and predict who might be good to reach out to in conversation after the worship hour.

The songs were all new to him, so he mainly just read the poetry of the lyrics, listened to the melodies, and picked out the talented singers sitting around him. Much of what was spoken from the pulpit was confusing, but listening to the preacher was easy enough. Slightly over middle age, he seemed genuine about what he taught—like what he said mattered. Malcolm respected that. Many religious people—especially leaders—seemed pretty disconnected from their message. Predictably, their message remained disconnected from their lives too.

After thinking about it for a while, Malcolm guessed that being a pastor—with all of its social expectations and misconceptions—would be a challenging position. People would expect you to be approachable, yet separate. Many people go to pastors for encouragement, but Malcolm found himself wondering who pastors go to when they need encouragement or advice. Then again, he reasoned, what spiritual leader wants to feel like he needs someone else to be a leader to him?

That question occupied Malcolm for several minutes, until he made eye contact with the preacher for a brief instant and realized that he’d been staring blankly up at him for several minutes. Awkwardly, Malcolm blinked and nodded slightly to acknowledge the man. Recovered and back to the present, he turned his head to observe the rest of the crowd.

A sophisticated lady in a crimson dress sat a row ahead of Malcolm and several feet to his right. She seemed to be connecting with what the pastor was saying, and was taking notes on an iPad. Malcolm found that intriguing and wondered what she was writing. He tried to tune in to the preaching again, by realized quickly that it was futile. If he didn’t get the beginning, he would never understand the end. He would have to concentrate more in the future. If he made it through medical school, he was sure he could figure out a Sunday sermon. He was just really distracted by his own thoughts today. He told himself it was because of the move and being in a new place.

From her appearance, Malcolm guessed the lady to be some sort of businesswoman. She wasn’t wearing any rings on her left hand, but there was a large emerald on her right ring finger. Maybe she had a serious boyfriend. Her attire suggested that she had a generous income, and he wondered why she was living in such a humble community. He tried to guess where she might work in town, and decided she probably commuted to one of the larger cities nearby. He reasoned that she may have grown up here and enjoyed living near family and away from the competitive pretenses of city life. If such was the case, he couldn’t blame her.

Malcolm had just begun employment at a local medical clinic. He specialized in alternative treatment styles which sought to use natural means of medicating illnesses largely through diet, exercise, and natural supplementation. At first, he’d been surprised that such a rural community would be interested in his somewhat unconventional methods. They were beginning to catch on in certain health-conscientious urban settings, but mainstream, symptom-masking medicine was predominate everywhere.

As he’d pondered the reason for his being hired in this rural community, he’d begun a theory. He was learning that modern medicine, with its long lists of side-effects and the need to often increase dosage with longevity, was becoming trusted less and less—especially in conservative rural settings. He would be the first to admit that some ailments are only minimally affected by natural treatment methods. Much of his treatment was designed to be preventative, and only in specific cases was he able to actively combat an aggressive illness. With time and study, though, Malcolm was increasing his aptitude at understanding many of the diseases most affecting western society. When subjects were willing to work with him, he was seeing some incredible, naturally attained results.

Noticing the iPad again, he thought of his smartphone and reached for it to check his emails. Just as he placed his hand on it, though, music began playing from the front of the room and he realized it was time for a closing song. This one he recognized from some funerals he’d attended. It was an upbeat, modernized version of  “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.” It was a fun melody change, and he’d always found the words encouraging.

As the song hummed to a close, all were dismissed and the congregation began to disperse and converse with warm gusto. He enjoyed watching how much people seemed to appreciate the fellowship. That’s why he’d come in the first place. As he stood up, a few couples near his seat welcomed him and shook his hand. He thought he’d seen one of the women at the grocery earlier that week, but he wasn’t sure.

After a few more brief introductions, Malcolm decided he was hungry. Not much in the mood for more small-talk, he started for the front doors. About half-way there, a husband and wife that reminded him of his parents stopped to greet him. To his surprise, they invited him to join them for lunch at their lake cottage. They acted so calm and friendly, that he accepted their invitation before he’d really even thought about it.

Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed the attractive crimson-dressed lady walking toward them. She had a boy with her, who was maybe four or five. Malcolm hadn’t been around kids enough to know for sure. She made eye-contact with him, and smiled. She had deep brown eyes that gazed kindly into his. He smiled in return, as she and the boy walked right up to where he was visiting with the older couple.

The older woman introduced her as their daughter—confirming his prediction about her living near family, though he hadn’t expected the child—and he learned that her name was Rita. The boy’s name was Blake. Embarrassed, Malcolm looked back at Rita’s parents and apologized that he couldn’t remember their names. Brenda Sutton refreshed his memory, accepting his apology with a dismissive wave of her hand, and her husband, Garrett, asked Malcolm where he worked.

He gave a basic description, knowing they could discuss it more over lunch if interested. At a small lull, Rita turned to her parents and asked what their plans were for lunch. Malcolm could tell they were close, and she probably ate Sunday lunch with them regularly. He was about to uninvite himself, so they could enjoy time together as a family, but when Rita heard about Malcolm she exclaimed, “Great! May Blake and I join?”

“The more the merrier!” the Suttons declared, and before Malcolm knew it, he had lunch plans with one of the most beautiful women he’d ever met. He had no idea what to expect from this afternoon, but regardless he wanted to make a good impression.

The Suttons were two of the warmest and trusting people Malcolm had met, and their roomy lake house was welcoming and tasteful. Rita and Blake were kind and close. Rita had been a single mother since Blake was born, and the child had never met his father. Rita worked as a senior marketing manager at a large corporation in a nearby city, so Blake stayed with his grandparents on weekdays while she was at work. Malcolm was stunned to see how close knit they all were and how special their grandson was to them. No one would ever have guessed that Blake was a single-parent child.

Malcolm had never expected to meet such a genuine and friendly family on his first weekend in town, but they made it clear how much they wanted people to feel welcome in their church. That’s why they were so quick to welcome him for dinner. Their love for each other and even for him was openly apparent, and Malcolm found himself wondering if he had more to gain from a church like this than a simple networking opportunity. These were the kind of people you share life with and learn from; they were real.

A strange twinge brought out a longing in Malcolm. Whatever it was they had, he wanted.

Why hadn’t he ever felt like this before? This morning he would have described his life as no different from anyone else’s. Now, he was beginning to sense an emptiness in himself that he hadn’t previously allowed to surface. The most confusing part was the fact that he had absolutely no idea what to do about it.

Soaking in the sun on their large patio overlooking the lake, he looked around at the Sutton family and asked solemnly, “What is so different about you all? On the outside you’re just a normal family, but inside there’s something about you that I’ve never seen before.”

They all looked at each other with a knowing smile, and Garrett said, “Let me start at the beginning…”


Real Love Is Not Afraid to Grow

The gentle rain holds steady,

like the mercy of your heart.

Your faithful love sings softly,

as I rest in tender arms.

Your grace is what astounds me,

for I know where it was found.

Because God has loved you fully,

your love grows in depth untold.

You forgive me when I’m selfish,

your gaze soft upon my shame.

You confess when you have wronged me,

follow gladly where I lead.

Your compassion still confounds me,

but I know Who taught you love.

Because God forgave us fully,

our love grows in spite of storms.


Story of Hope, Chapter 12 – part 1

Black Tea in a Tea Cup on a Saucer on Plate

The steaming black tea tasted bitter on Monica’s tongue. She had allowed it to steep in the heated kettle a full ten minutes longer than usual, and it was strong. She felt a slight shudder at the back of her neck as she forced herself to palette the bitter liquid. She needed this.

Her heart was so dark with bitterness, that even a small outward display like the tea helped her to process it. She had allowed her heart to fully transition from resenting Oliver to despising him. She hated that man for all he had caused and allowed to happen to her.

Her emotions were soaring up and crashing down these days, so much that she felt completely out of control most of the time. She needed something to ground her, and hate had quickly become that anchor. The guilt of her own mistakes was much less severe when she focused on hating him, and that was all she cared about right now. She was tired of being guilt’s victim.

She knew she was unstable, but right now she simply needed to be that way. Her friend, Mrs. Townsend, understood that and let Monica hurt openly without reprimanding or lecturing her. Even though Mrs. Townsend didn’t know about what Monica had done in the harbor district, it felt good to know that someone accepted her without question. Mrs. Townsend was the only person Monica knew who allowed her to grieve over her pain. She was a true friend.

Conversely, Olly was the personification of everything Monica hated about her life—about herself. She couldn’t keep him in her life if she was ever going to move beyond her mistakes and regrets. She also knew she could never bring herself to forgive him for how he’d hurt her, much like she could never ask him to forgive her. That was simply how life would proceed to be.

No one Monica knew had ever divorced their spouse before, and she knew she would be severely judged—even ostracized—for her choice to permanently leave Olly, but she truly felt she had no other choice. None of them had gone through all she had experienced either. Let them judge! They could never understand.

After willfully sipping the tea for several minutes, Monica grew intolerant of the overwhelming acidity and finally disposed of it. The taste had been awful, but it had, nonetheless, strengthened her resolve to return one last time to the place she had called home for over half of her life. She would retrieve her personal belongings, leave a letter of explanation for Nina, and then return indefinitely to live with Mrs. Townsend.

With a sigh, she raised her chin and stood from where she’d been sitting.

It was time. She could do this.


The Toll of a Secret, Part 5

The passing of time allowed Daina to carefully evaluate her surroundings. She only ceased to sweat when darkness came, and by counting the times of darkness, she determined that she had been awake in this remote box of concrete for three days and two nights. From the heat and surrounding noise, she actually thought she might be somewhere in the tropics.

The sun set on the opposite side as the door, so she had the most light in the mornings. It was during this time that she took advantage of the sunlight glowing under the door to explore as much of the room as she could.

The building had a dirt floor, and at first she though she might be able to use her hands to dig under the wall. This hope was quickly dashed, though, when she realized that almost half of the wall was underground. The door actually began about three feet up from the dirt floor. She had carefully explored each wall, both windows, and the door at least twenty times to see if there was some way to escape. There absolutely was not.

Her recurring desire had been to try to dig with her hands under the wall—however deep that went—and then up and out the other side—like a dog under a fence, only worse. Once, she almost had her gumption built up to try it, but a new discovery had quickly stopped her.

She was being watched.

Hidden discretely in the left, rear corner of the room was a tiny glass dome, behind which hid a camera. If they were watching her, she would never manage to dig out of here before they came and stopped her. What would they do to her then?

After her initial shock and bewilderment at being kidnapped, Daina had realized that she wasn’t in the custody of some creep or serial killer. She felt more like an inmate, or even a lab rat! Once she had finally grown brave enough to leave her bed, she’d found military-style MREs in a box labeled, “6 Months Rations.”

The realization that she was intended to live here for at least that long, had sent her back into bed in paralyzing desperation. After crying it out for another several hours, she had simply reached a resolve.

She was thankful they hadn’t killed her. Aside from a small red dot in the soft crook of her left arm from an IV, she was unharmed and undefiled. All she had to do now was wait patiently until she discovered an escape. With that resolved, she continued to search her surroundings. She never let herself wonder if escape was even possible. Even if it was false, she needed something resembling hope.

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Come Live! (A Little Alliterative Enlightenment)

Many myriads of microscopic materials

and minuscule moments

manufacture masterpieces

of meaningful memories.

Collectively, they compile compelling creations,

combined and commingled

into a completeness of consciousness

called life, called living.

Come live!

Leave the lingering lackluster lights,

the lights of life lacking love.

Boldly, they boast of betterness,

but breed brokenness and bitterness.

Behind each beckoning beacon

of beguiling brotherhood,

waits whitewashed, withering want.

Witting their wiles

whisk willfully away.

Come live!

Wallow wisely in wonderful worth.

Follow the Father of forgiveness, freedom.

Forsake the fracas of fickleness

and find the fulfillment of full friendship.

For there is a Friend who fellowships

with paternal proximity,

paired with providential power—

propagating and proliferating

purity, pleasure, and piety.

Do not deny the depth of discovery

designed deftly to define your destiny.

Come live!

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The Toll of a Secret, Part 4

After Lex left Nana’s, he went home to his flat and began devising a plan. How would he explain Daina’s disappearance to their friends and her family? A twinge of guilt tickled at the back of his mind, but he suppressed it anew with the knowledge that the secret must never again be exposed.

How could he continue his life as before? Could Nana expect him to continue as though nothing had happened? People would ask him about her. Her family would want to know what he knew. The law would doubtlessly consider him a suspect. What was he going to do? Oh, how he hated the truth of this whole mess. Why did this all have to happen to him?

Suppressing the questions he couldn’t answer, Lex forced himself to honestly review the entire circumstance. It all went back to the secret.

Lex’s father, Myron Walton, was a scientist—a nuclear physicist. He worked in some advanced form of radiation research that could redefine atomic warfare. As a legal front, his father’s company published groundbreaking cancer treatment research.

Before Lex had turned eighteen, he had known next to nothing about what had kept his father away from home throughout Lex’s abandoned childhood. On his eighteenth birthday, Lex had been given a special gift by Nana. The gift was a book that had now been passed down in his family for four generations.

According to Nana, the book contained information about the work that Lex’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had compiled through covert research so advanced and classified, most of the world had yet to even know it could exist. At first, Lex thought his grandmother was joking when she explained to him the importance of the book. The look in her eyes and the explanation that followed sufficiently convinced him otherwise.

“Lex, the information in this book would change the world as we know it for the grave worse. You must make certain, as the next generation of Waltons, that this information is never revealed to anyone. It may seem like a joke now, but this responsibility is a great one.”

In the years following, Lex had taken his responsibilities seriously—until he met Daina. She had one of the most infectious personalities he had ever encountered. When she looked into his eyes and asked him a question, he felt he could do nothing but tell her the truth. Despite his resentment for the truth, this grip Daina had on him was intoxicating.

One night, they were out together on a quiet walk. With his pretenses all lowered, he’d been careless enough to bring up the secret book with her. It hadn’t taken her long to pull out of him the information his grandmother had told him to keep hidden.

As Lex had done, Daina initially thought he was joking. To prove himself to her, he had taken her to the book and showed her its contents. Together they were able to work out some of the mathematical algorithms contained within.

Lex and Daina were both chemistry majors in college. It was how they had met—Lex following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and so on. Grasping even a small amount of the information held within that book, both of them realized quickly the depth of information it contained. It truly would change the world for the worse if the wrong people discovered what it said.

That’s when Daina had ruined everything. She had decided that she wanted to discover how to use the secret for good. Ever the idealist, Daina was convinced that if the right people were allowed access to this information, it could change the world for the better. Lex had to threaten her to convince her otherwise. He’d told her that not only could no one be trusted with his family’s secret, but the secret was not to be shared—regardless of the outcome. He’d told her that if anyone found out that she knew, they could both be killed. When he’d said it, he thought he was exaggerating to make his point. Now, he was unsure of that.

That day, Lex and Daina had promised to never reveal Daina’s knowledge of the book to anyone. Aside from a few off-handed mentions to him of the good she thought the secret could do, Daina had kept her side of the promise. She hadn’t pushed the issue.

In the end, he was the traitor. He might have found her idealistic notions annoying, but she didn’t deserve this. The full truth of what he’d done—knowing what could become of Daina—filled him with rage. How could he have been so stupid as to tell her the secret? This really was his fault!

Lex had never asked to be born into a corrupt family. He’d never asked for the burden of the secret to be laid upon him. Nonetheless, he’d been imprisoned by the dark secrecy that had been harbored for generations. He was still paying the price it required.

Now, so was Daina. Even though he could say she was partly to blame by not leaving it alone, Lex would always blame himself. He had to. If he hadn’t given in to trusting her, if he hadn’t allowed himself to believe that the burden of the truth wasn’t as heavy as he knew it was, Daina would still just be annoying, idealistic, beautiful, smart, lovable Daina. What would happen to her? He couldn’t allow himself to imagine.

Lex left his flat for Daina’s. Marching into the cloudy afternoon, he went to find her. He couldn’t just let them have her. Even if she had been a complete pest as of late, he knew she was worth it. He had to try to save her. Maybe they could escape the prison in which his family had so mercilessly bound them. Why hadn’t he thought of this years ago?

When he got to Daina’s apartment, Lex found the door open. Regret hit him like a blast—another burning truth he would hate forever. He was too late.