Friday, March 13, 2009

the Peace that burns.

Written Sunday evening, March 8th, as I hung out with my family, both immediate and extended:

I couldn't bring myself to answer the phone. The little electronic device buzzed and vibrated on the table, but I closed my eyes and ignored the flashing screen like a saint resisting sin. I was reclined in the wooden glider, swaying gently back and forth, and wanted only to focus on the wind as it drove through the slender pine trees, over hill and gully, to caress my relaxed face, to rustle my already tousled hair. Wind chimes of various note and pitch were singing to me as they hung from the eaves of the house, a peaceful melody that reminded me of a garden. This vision was made even more vibrant as the scent of honeysuckle wafted up from the bushes beneath the deck. That coupled with the unmistakable aroma of a campfire burning was enough to intoxicate me on the mild Spring evening.
The laughs of my family members echoed from inside and I opened my eyes, a contented smile on my lips. Light poured from the windows, a pale yellow in the twilight, and figures moved beyond the panes within. Dessert was surely being served, a decadent chocolate truffle cake that begged a glass of milk upon mention. Still yet, I couldn't summon myself to stand, afraid that the peace of the moment would flee when I walked across the deck and closed the screen door behind me. That peace that rested on my mind and in my heart was that special calm that comes with being with family. And being outside in the nature of the Carolina woodlands made it seem to me that much more real and alive, as if the breeze itself bore testimony to the divinity of my blessings and the wonderful family I have; as if the tinkering chimes were themselves hymns of praise sung from the lips of angels, which altogether filled my ears as an ethereal rhapsody descending from on high.
As now I sit in the warmly lit living room, belly and heart full and surrounded by my very own angels, that peace remains and will surely burn through the night.

Monday, March 2, 2009


"Flight 325 to London, now boarding."
The woman's voice echoed ominously throughout the terminal, and Tristan jolted awake. He was sitting upright in a row of black chairs, a one-way airline ticket that he didn't remember purchasing clenched tightly in his fist. He blinked slowly, bringing his free hand to his forehead and groaning slightly. The bare skin beneath his hairline was swollen red and throbbing relentlessly. It seemed the more he came to the harder it pulsed, so he tried his best to clear his mind of any thoughts other than breathing. The wound was sensitive to the touch and he winced, closing his eyes tightly.
When he opened them again, he realized the presence of a rolling suitcase at his knee. Glancing around and finding himself alone on the row, he assumed it belonged to him, though he had never seen it before in his life; he didn't even remember packing it. But upon closer inspection he discovered his full name, street address, and telephone number inscribed on the the tag that hung from one of the zippers.
He furrowed his brow, quickly regretting it when his inflamed forehead erupted in a fresh bout of pain. His eyes watered and he clenched his jaw, trying as hard as he could despite the throbbing to remember. Something -- anything. He fought beyond the wall that seemed to have been raised around his mind, pushing, prodding, groping for a memory.
The lair was the last place he recalled being. Glimpses of Griffin crouching over a bleeding Elliot, tightening a tourniquet and barking instructions at him to switch back and find Ava. Some flashes of the Kennedy assassination in full color, and then blackness.
"Flight 325 to London, final boarding. One-way to London, final boarding."
Tristan ran a hand through his matted hair and let out a shallow and shaking sigh. He stood up slowly, deliberately, and gazed around the terminal. Foreign faces, glazed and indifferent, blurred as they hurried by. There was a steady buzz, a chorus of noise as people conversed, suitcases clicking as they were dragged along the tiled terminal floor. Tristan let his eyes comb the busy scene, trying to make any sense possible of his circumstance, when they fell upon a familiar face.
Fear struck him immediately. A biting, raw fear that permeated even the current numbness of his mind, shrieking, tearing, and suffocating -- and it all came back.
Without a second thought, he turned and ran, any survival depending solely on his escape.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Boating (how I long for it)

I think this was spurred by the fact that Mother Nature has been teasing us so cruelly lately! I'm ready for warm weather, for summertime -- and yet, it's oh so far away. Here's how I escape:
One warm tranquil evening in the latter part of summer last, I was out on the lake with my familly, aboard our much loved ski boat, Daisy. Each of us were taking turns being pulled through the water, which was smooth as glass but for our towering wake which formed a peaked "V" behind the yellow and white craft.
There are six of us -- four kids and the parents -- and there is always ample seat space, especially when one of us is being towed. We sit and lounge, engine humming beneath us and wind flowing freely through our hair, as we watch each family member take their turn either skiing or wakeboarding. Cries of encouragement are shouted through the spray, and cheers of victory and congratulation echo across the water when a trick is landed or a good run completed. The skier will then climb in, first onto the stained teakboard then up onto the padded back seat, smiling and half-exhausted, laughing out of joy or exclaiming in excitement at the thrill of some certain feat. All of it shared with the family members, all of it mutual joy and enthusiasm. This fades only briefly before the next rider straps up and jumps into the water.
Such is the manner of such outings, and such was the feeling of this particular evening. We'd all had great runs, and were conversing contentedly with each other as the day wrapped itself up, the sun setting gold behind us. We idled in a cove, waiting for nothing; only savoring the stillness, the peace, the emanating joy.
That was the last time we'd go out that summer. But we need not worry, for the one to come was sure to hold many such memories -- and more.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Winter shall not escape my pen.

A Snowy Scene
Snow flurries fall
From a gray slate sky that hides the sun
(Shining somewhere in the universe),
Making white-capped rooftops
Look like marshmallows melting in a mug
With children in snowsuits and hats inside.

A set of footprints
Through fluffy, downy drifts of snow
Marks someone's lone passage across the yard,
While kids free from school
Frolic far across the pond at the park
And rejoice in being together.

Sledders up the street
Race fast down the chuted hill,
While snowballs fly, fired like powdery bullets aimed in play.
A pure, pristine blanket
Has been lain across the neighborhood,
And angels fall from the sky to stamp the sheets.

Snowmen appear alongside the sidewalks --
How long before they melt?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

another Go.

Happy 2009! Another year has past and the one to come is sure to hold many blessings for each of us.

Tonight I pull something from an old journal of mine, one I was keeping this time last year. The following is an entry for New Years of 2008, and I echo the words this year.


Time truly is an amazing thing. On one hand it seems to stand still and on the other it clearly leaves the impression of flying by. I've stood as witness to this remarkable phenomenon over the past year. It's been an incredible roller coaster with all its ups and downs, twists, turns, and loops. There have been good times and bad times, solemn times as well as times of great joy and laughter. This is the way life goes. It is the enduring disposition in which life's great story plays out. And we, the characters, must trust in the Author to lead us through our lives, that we may cherish each memory, each good time -- every laugh, every smile, every tear shed in happiness.

Here I sit with my family at the end of another year. The wheels of our cart squeal to a halt on life's tracks, the fading adrenaline marking the end of another ride. And now, with light hearts and eyes set toward the future, we pull the bar back down -- ready for another go around.


Happy New Year, and many more to come.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Spark Days.

Today is one of those perfect days, a "spark" day, if you will, when everything just seems right. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and a breeze descends from on high. All I can do is smile and nod my head to the music that seems to be coming from everywhere. It's in everything; vibrant and fresh -- a jazzy underscore to my life that I just can't get enough of.
I drove home from work this afternoon with my windows down, cruising along the back roads of North Carolina and feelin' good. I sang to the wind and waved at passing cars, stopped to let a little family cross the road and continued on my merry way. No rush, no care, no problem. When I pulled into my driveway I hopped out of the car, snapping my fingers to an imaginary beat and humming aimlessly. When I entered my sunfilled house I found the windows open and my mama and little sister in the living room chatting away about their day-long shopping excursion. I whipped over to them -- hugged 'em, kissed 'em -- and sauntered into the kitchen to get a bowl of cereal.
Then, downing Honey Graham Oh!s by the spoonful, I went out into the backyard where I tossed a chewed up piece of rawhide to my peppy Chihuahua, Scooter. The sun at my back, I smiled at the simple joys in my life and offered up thanks to my Heavenly Father for everything I've been given. My family, my home, my talents, my testimony, my desire to fill life to the fullest extent possible with good people, good things, and good times. And I absolutely love and cherish good days like these, wherein my spark for life is set afire. These are my spark days.
And as always I am driven to write, to create. I wish to convey these joys in any possible way; to uplift and enlighten, to brighten and inspire. That's what writing is about for me. To allow everyone a chance to feel this bliss, this delight, and love for life. Writing, for me, is providing everyone a chance to feel that spark.

Life is good.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Reindeer Poop.

Hope it's not too late for a Christmas story!


Mitch jolted awake at 6:24 a.m. He stared at the clock for a moment to make sure he wasn't dreaming and then threw off his covers. Adjusting his tangled pajamas, he hopped out of bed and climbed to the top bunk where his twin brother lay curled beneath his blanket.
"Jimmy!" he shouted in a whisper. "Jimmy, wake up!"
"W-what?" His brother sleepily emerged, eyes half-opened.
"It's Christmas!" Mitch beamed, shaking Jimmy's shoulders.
The other twin shed all semblance of drowsiness with a gasp. "I almost forgot!"
"Hurry!" Mitch cried. "We hafta wake up Emmie and Scott!"
They scampered down the ladder, making as little noise as possible, and ran down the hall to their little sister's room. Giddy with that special excitement that only Christmas can bring, they jumped onto the pink-princess-covered bed and jostled their 4-year-old sister awake.
"Emmie, Emmie! Wake up!" they cried. "It's Christmas!"
Emmie peeped her eyes open, sluggish for only a second before she, too, remembered. It was Christmas, and Santa Claus had come! With a gasp, she stood on her bed and clapped her hands.
"Presents! Presents!" she shouted.
"Shhhhh!" Mitch put a finger to his lips. "You're gonna wake up Mommy and Daddy!"
"Yeah," Jimmy agreed, pulling Emmie down from the bed. "You don't want them to tell us to go back to bed, do you?"
"Oops..." Emmie giggled and covered her mouth with her hands. "I be soft."
"Then c'mon," Mitch said.
They trooped out of the room and across the hall to wake up their big brother Scott. They could hear him snoring from outside his door. Giggling to each other, they pushed it open and crept to his bedside. Emmie tugged on Mitch's arm in the darkness.
"Mitchie, Mitchie! Is it twoo dat Scop doesn't buhweev in Santa Cwaus?"
"Shh!" Mitch turned to her. "Yes. He's a preteen now. He's too 'grown up' to believe in anything magical. He says it's silly and that Santa Claus doesn't exist."
"But Santa does exist, don't he Mitchie?"
"Of course he does." Mitch climbed onto the bed and crouched over his snoring, 12-year-old brother. "Mama says he's just going through a phrase, whatever that is. He just needs something to make him believe again."
"I hope somefing comes, Mitchie." Emmie's voice was earnest and sweet.
"C'mon already!" Jimmy had gotten impatient. "On three."
Jimmy and Emmie joined Mitch on the bed, crouched for action.
"One..." they began to chant in whispers. "Two..... Three!"
They all at once jumped on their snoring big brother, yelping in delight.
"Scott, Scott! Wake up! Let's go see what presents we got!"
Scott groaned and fought against the tugging, the yanking, and the pulling. "Shut up..." he murmured. "Gosh, just let me sleep. It's too early."
"Aw, c'mon, Scott! Let's go! Let's go!" They started to pull away his covers.
"Hey, let go of that!" Scott cried in objection. "Guys, stop, or I'll steal all your toys and...break them or something."
Emmie stopped, registering what exactly her brother had just said. Then with quivering lip she got really close to Scott's face and said: "But Scop... You wouldn't weally do that, would you?"
"I will if you don't stop pulling on me, so cut it out." He buried his head beneath his pillow.
Emmie's voice began to tremble. "But vat would be mean, a-and no one can be mean on Chwismiss... can vey?"
"Scott can," said Jimmy, getting off the bed. "'Cause he's all grown up now. He's no fun anymore."
"C'mon Scott," said Mitch, kneeling on the mattress. "Please? We want to go see what Santa brought us."
"Pwease, pwease, pwease?" Emmie clasped her hands together.

There was a long pause as Scott deliberated. The siblings twitched and fidgeted impatiently until finally he grumbled.

"Okay," he said. "Let's go see the presents Mom and Dad bought us. I hope they got everything on my list."
"Yay!" they whooped with glee.
"Shhh!" Mitch hushed through a smile. "Remember...."
Scott rolled his eyes and led the way out of his room, across the hall, and down the stairs. The twins and Emmie followed close behind, bumping into each other in excitement. As they reached the bottom, the three younger children dashed around the slow-moving Scott.

The hardwood floor was cold beneath their bare feet, but the fire on the hearth in the living room burned bright and warm. The white lights on the Christmas tree glimmered in the dim, fire-lit room, casting a magical glow across the presents carefully arranged beneath the fir boughs. The children ooh-ed and ahh-ed as they knelt down on the rug, seeking out the beautifully wrapped packages that had their names on them.

Scott lumbered across the room, trying to keep his cool. Bending half-heartedly, he glanced around beneath the tree, spotting a few presents that were for him. The others were lifting and feeling as they went, sometimes shaking when the uniform shape of a square box gave no hint nor clue as to what was inside.

Soon, the knit stockings were being sifted through, candy and toys being strewn across the rug.

Their cries of "Oh wow!" and "Look at this!" were enough to awaken their parents above and very soon they made their way down the stairs to ensure no presents were cracked open prematurely.

Clad in bathrobe and fuzzy slippers, their father smiled and approached the tree. In a deep voice he said: "Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas, little ones!"

"Daddy, Daddy!" They laughed racously.

"Are you ready to open some presents?"

"Yeah!" The younger children danced around with glee, while Scott smirked and sat on the fireplace.

Father put his arm around Mother as they sat down around the tree to face the pile of presents before them.

The next hour was filled with the tearing of wrapping paper, shouts of excitement and surprise, and the joyful sounds of content children. Their parents sat and watched with gratitude, and the sun outside rose on a white morning.

But not a word was heard from Scott as he indifferently poked through his pile of opened gifts. He had received everything on his list - the newest iPod, a brand new cell phone, the three CDs he'd requested, and a DVD documentary of his favorite band. His parents had even thrown in some new socks and underwear. Yet he didn't understand why his younger siblings were happier with their simple toys - their Legos, Barbies, GI Joes, and plastic cars - than he was with his fancy gadgets.

His parents observed all of this with a close eye, knowing and wise, and when the time was right, Father stood and with a big, overexaggerated sigh announced that it was time to gather the trash and clean up the place so they could get on with their playing. With only some minor objections, they all began to gather the clumps of crinkled wrapping paper that had been tossed to and fro in the merry melee.

"Scottie," Father held out a trash bag to his oldest son. "You can do the honors this year."

"Gee thanks," he said. "I'd love to gather trash."

Father winked at Mother, and together they herded their children in the attempt to clean up.

Soon, with the white trash bag bulging, the floors were clear, except for the toys and goodies. Having fulfilled their duties, the children went back to playing and Scott stood by the back door with the bag. The grey trash bin was across the yard beside the shed, and seemed oh-so-far away.

"D'you want me to help, son?" Father opened the door for him.

"Nah, I got it." Scott moped.

"Hurry back!" Mother called from the kitchen. "We'll start cooking breakfast!"

Scott stepped out onto the patio in his pajama pants and socks, his breath hanging in the air, and made his way along the path that led to the shed. He hung his head and dragged the trash bag behind him. When he reached the bin, he opened the lid and flopped the bag into the stinky chasm, and without bothering to close it, he turned to run back into the house. With a few bounds, he was halfway across the yard, tromping over the frosty grass in his socks until he hoofed right into something warm and wet and squishy.
"Ugh!" He cried, lifting his foot from the brown pile. "What the--"
Poop. Fresh and steamy poop. Huge poop -- but whose poop?! They didn't have a dog, there neighbors didn't have a dog, and there was no possible way any neighborhood mutt could have scaled their 7-foot wooden fence to plop its mess by the shed. The turds were too large to belong to any furry woodland creature that could have dropped a little present from the trees, and nothing big enough to poop such epic proportions could possibly climb their little suburban tree-wannabees.
Scott was stumped. Stumped and disgusted. He held his nose, scraping his foot across the grass, fuming and musing while streaks of brown marred the whiteness of the frost.
This just crowned his whole morning in a halo of glorified waste, and from an unknown animal no less. It was like God had flung it down, like a gift, from the sky meant especially to--
The twelve-year-old boy froze in the yard in mid-scrape.
From the sky...
Visions of a jolly man in red soaring through the sky at the helm of bell-strewn sleigh flashed in his mind. The fat man laughed from deep within, a merry "Ho ho ho", and flicked a black whip over his mush of eight flying reindeer....
Scott shook his slowly, a wry smile appearing on his face. Yet, just as he expressed his disbelief, something on the roof caught his eye. There seemed to be a trail of...tracks that stretched from one end of the ridge to the next, and down the side to the eaves where, perhaps, someone or something, or both...took off. For, the ground below was unblemished, free from any trace of footprint or track.
The boy's mouth hung open as he connected the two -- the poop and the tracks.
Could it possibly be? Could a mush of...of reindeer pulling a sleigh chock-full of presents have really flown over and onto their house? And could one particularly gaseous reindeer have dropped a rather smelly load smack in the middle of their yard as they took off again into the night?
A full-out smile stretched across Scott's face, and he almost laughed out loud.
Forgetting entirely about the unpleasant smear remaining on his sock, he dashed to the back door, calling out to his family: "Guys, you'll never believe it!"
The younger kids , who were still in the living room, eagerly rushed out into the frosty yard to witness the poop-miracle themselves.
"See, Scop!" Emmie hugged his waist as her brothers danced around them. "I told you Santa's weal!"
Scott blushed, while a very satisfied and content smile crept over Emmie's litte face.
"You just had to buhweive..."

Inside the house, sitting at the kitchen table, the childrens' mother and father smiled to one another.
"I told you it'd work," Father said with a wink.
Mother smirked and took her arm from around her husband's shoulders.
"Oh, I never doubted you," she said. "The idea is foolproof. Who'd ever guess there are reindeer farms in Utah?"