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

Leave a comment

Story of Hope, Chapter 12 – part 2

As Cowboy trotted from the barn lot, pulling the small, two-person riding cart, Beulah Opalinksi grabbed her town hat and hurried out the front door of the small house she and Jamin shared. The morning was still young, but Edwin Swarth was reining Cowboy onto the narrow dirt road, just as she arrived at the edge of the front lawn.

“Whoa!” he commanded the gentle horse, pulling back slightly on the reins. Turning to Beulah as she approached the cart, he called, “Good morning! Need a ride into town?”

“Thanks, Eddie,” she replied, “I was planning to ask today if you or Elizabeth were planning to go into town soon, but I didn’t get over to your house before I saw you were already on your way! I do have some business to attend to, if you don’t mind some .”

Edwin and Elizabeth Swarth had been close friends of Beulah’s when she was a child, and they had kindly allowed her son, Jamin, and her to live and work on their farm since Jamin’s father had finally left them in the city. The blessing of their friendship was appreciated beyond what Beulah could possibly express, but they made it clear from the first day that it was their blessing to have the Opalinksi’s presence on the farm. Jamin was a hard worker, and had developed a truly delightful personality since he’d surrendered his old self to God. Likewise, Beulah’s gentle ways and motherly care were cherished by the Swarths and their six children.

Beulah aided Elizabeth regularly in the responsibilities of mother and farm wife, which was often much more than one woman could accomplish alone. From baking, cleaning, laundry, and babysitting, to feeding chickens, sheep, and cows, the women were never short on things to do. Edwin, Jamin, and two other part-time helpers worked no less diligently to manage the small dairy of nineteen milk cows and farm nearly three-hundred acres of crop land.

It was rare for Edwin to take time to travel into town, and even less usual for him not to take the large wagon to bring back supplies. Beulah inquired as to the occasion.

“Got some legal work to do in town that I wasn’t plannin’ on, and I just got supplies last week. So, I figured I could get there and back faster with old Cowboy than with the big rig. If you got something you need to get accomplished in town too, you might as well climb in. I should be in town for at least a few good hours. Will that suit your plans?”

“That would be just perfect! I promise not to hold you up. You tell me where to meet you and I will be there promptly.”

With that, Beulah climbed on board, and they circled back to the main farm house to inform Elizabeth of Beulah’s temporary absence. After hugs all around from the four youngest children, they started off to the big city. Beulah honestly had no idea how this day would turn out, but there were two things that she felt she really must do. She prayed as she rode in the gentle autumn sunlight that God would give her wisdom to carry them out with grace.



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.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

Moments of Unparalleled Sequence 6


Across an abandoned soccer field a young man runs. It is dark, but for one street light. No one else is outside tonight, and he likes it that way. At the clumsy direction of his inexperienced feet, a soccer ball bounds across the grass before him. He veers left, then dodges right. The field is empty, but his mind is full.

Questions. Confusion. Frustration. He isn’t sure how to play soccer. He doesn’t know the rules of the game. He doesn’t know the tactics. He only knows that the ball needs to into the goal. He needs to hit the net.

Silently, a bat flaps across the field, fluttering through the still night air. In the distance, a horn is honked, a dog barks, a semi engine moans. These distractions don’t matter. He blocks them out of his focus. He has to hit the net. He maneuvers awkwardly onward toward the net. His foots misses the ball. He kicks it in the wrong direction. That’s okay; he’s learning.

He swings his leg back and narrows his focus even more. Twenty feet away, the net awaits. He swings his leg forward. Twelve feet. Five feet. Into the goal! The net is thrown backward by the force of his kick.

He did it.

The real competition hasn’t come yet.  He has a lot to learn, but he did it!

‘That’s what time is for.’

 Moment by moment, day by day, he is free to change–free to be the way he was created to be by the perfect One who made him, forgave him, and saved him from his prison. These were the true moments of unparalleled sequence…unparalleled importance.

{This is part six of six. To read the first five parts, scroll down my homepage. I will post the whole story in its entirety tomorrow.}

Leave a comment

Moments of Unparalleled Sequence 5


Aln opened his eyes. Dark.  No more soccer field.  No more counter top fridge.

‘You did it.’

 Before the sleep even began to leave his eyes, tears drowned them. It hurt. Pain filled his eyes as reality stung his heart. He really was stupid.

‘I’m all in now. There’s nothing left to hide behind.’

 No more shallow. No more casual. No more feigned boldness. He’d finally crossed the line he kept redrawing. And it wasn’t even for love!  It was just another prison—just like he knew it would be. He was just weaker, even more pitiful.

Last night he told himself he was strong. Last night he said he was free. Last night he lied.

‘Now I’m just stupid. Selfish and stupid. A selfish, stupid prisoner.  Again.’

 By now his pillow was soaked. Except that it wasn’t his pillow; this wasn’t his bed. Why was he here?

The body to his left began to stir.

Experience. He had it now.

Aln’s eyes made contact with Branson’s.

Reailty. He never escaped it.

His own regret was mirrored in the eyes of this near stranger.

Love. He didn’t find it.

“I’m sorry; I’ve got to go.”

Experience wasn’t worth it.

‘God, forgive me. I need You.’

{This is part five of six…come back soon for part six! I will post the whole story as one post after all the parts have been posted.}

Leave a comment

Moments of Unparalleled Sequence 4


“What’s your name?”


“Never been here before, have you?”


“Can I get you a drink?”

“Sure, thanks.”

“Have a seat. I’ll be right back.”

‘What are you doing here? This is stupid! No, it’s what I want.  I don’t care if it’s stupid anymore—I’m stupid!  No you’re not.  You know better. Obviously not.’

“Here’s your drink.  May I join you?”


“So what do you think of the place?”


“You could say that!” Pause. “So I’m guessing you’re not much for conversation?”

“It depends, I guess.  I’m just a little on the fence about being here.”

“I understand, man.  I see a lot of that.  This is a pretty shallow joint, I’ll admit.”

“So why do you work here?”

“Well, I’m sure it’s not because I’m shallow! That would be too obvious.”

“Well, I’m just saying, you don’t come across that way.”

“Yet here I am, talking up the cute guy.”

“So you think I’m cute, huh?”

“Now look who’s being shallow!”


“So what are you planning to get out of this little…visit of yours?”

“That’s what I’m on the fence about.  I mean, why else do people normally come here?”


“Partially, I’m sure.  Company all the way back home?  Company until both are feeling a little more fulfilled? Company until self-satisfaction has all the cards?”

“Well, it’s all about self-satisfaction from the beginning, isn’t it? I mean, Jesus doesn’t usually hang out here.”

“What would you do if he did?”

“Be really intrigued.”

“So, what now? Am I being shallow enough?”

“I guess so! I almost forgot you were new at this.”

“Flattering. Thanks”

“No skin.”

“So, is it time for the next step?”

“Look at this guy! Goodbye fence!”

“Sounds good to me.”

“That’s just because you’ve had enough to drink, but who cares! I get off in twenty.”

“I’m in! Oh yeah, what was your name?”

“My bad…I’m Branson.”

{This is part four of six…keep reading for part five! I will post the whole story as one post after all the parts have been posted.}