Thursday, May 29, 2008

Jewelry That Means Something

A cross dangling from a chain: It was made to wear around a neck; to rest upon a chest in plain view. Is it just a piece of jewelry?
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
First Jesus was whipped, skin ripping from his back and blood draining from His body. Then He was beaten severely by Roman soldiers. They pulled hairs from His beard and pierced His head with a crown of thorns. Then He had to carry a heavy cross a very long distance until He reached Golgotha (the place of a skull). Nails were hammered into His wrists and feet, and He suffered on the cross for hours and hours. To make it plain, Jesus was tortured. He was tortured for me, tortured for you, tortured for all mankind, because that’s how great His love was and still is for each person on this earth. We were all born sinners, and He died on the cross for our sins. He paid our sin debt in full.
The cross is a symbol like no other; a symbol of the great love, the agape love, God has for mankind. Jesus was God in the flesh. (John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:14 – And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us) He could have come down from that cross anytime He wanted to, but He stayed and suffered agonizing pain so that we would have a choice to not spend eternity in hell. Because God gave His only Son, we can choose to accept Jesus as our personal Savior. People know about God, and that’s cool. But just knowing about God isn't enough. His Son Jesus is the key to salvation. “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
So a cross dangling from a chain, cross earrings, cross charms, cross tie clips, cross toe rings – these are all way more than pieces of jewelry. I see a cross and my first thought is, Jesus. I see a person wearing a cross and I think, This person is representing Jesus or at least acknowledging Him and His crucifixion. So, I’m thinking people who wear a cross care enough to conduct themselves in a way that is pleasing to God. That isn’t always the case, though, and this saddens me.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

No More Regrets

Every now and then I wonder what I would be doing now if I would have gone on to get a college education after high school. Where would I be living? What profession would I be in? A degree in English would have been a likely choice, since I write. Or journalism? No, I don’t even like to read the paper or watch the news with so much bad stuff going on in the world. So, okay, I was pretty good in accounting in high school, so maybe I’d be an accountant right now. Or a financial advisor. For a long time I regretted not going to college, but even though I wonder occasionally how my life would be different if I did, there are no more regrets. I’ve been through a bit too much in my life to waste my energy dwelling on the past. And it's not like I couldn't still go, it just doesn't matter as much anymore.
It really does my heart good, though, that my oldest son, who’s been studious from day one, has earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics degree from the University of Maryland in College Park and is about to finish up his Master’s. And then he’ll be attending a Phd program. Let me tell you, this man loves to learn! And he speaks several different languages! God has a plan for his life, and he seems to be right on track. I am so proud of him and my youngest son, who graduates high school this year and wants to enroll in college as a pre-med student.
God has a plan for my life as well. I always knew that. I get in His way sometimes, and get off track every now and then, but He does have a plan. I know that so much more now, though, because I ended up in the hospital some months ago with failing kidneys and a staph infection in my bloodstream. I could have died, but I’m still here, and I’m still here for a reason. I’m thinking because my husband and sons need me. But I’m also thinking that the stories God put on my heart will have some significance in the lives of other people.
Last year I felt so strongly about publishing Choices, even though I wasn’t too sure what I was doing, and I certainly wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for it. But I checked out articles and books on publishing and went from there. I may not have a college degree and probably never will, but that’s okay because I do believe I am anointed to write. And when there’s an anointing, lack of a higher education cannot stand in the way. So write is what I will do, and I’m sure readers will enjoy my entertaining, thought-provoking stories, but, hopefully, they will also get something good from my work; something that changes their lives for the better.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Book Reviews

As the debut author of teen fiction, I look forward to book reviews. It’s always nice to find out what other people think of my writing, and how they feel about the characters I created. A couple reviews even motivated me to work on the next novel more than I had been before I read them. To Rosalind of RAWSISTZ Reviewers and Cheryl of APOOO Book Club I say, “Thanks so very much for the very positive feedback! Your support is greatly appreciated.”
I realize that a book review is the opinion of the reviewer, but there is one review I'd like to respond to. This particular reviewer of Choices seemed skeptical of the fact that a teenager would quote the Bible, chapter and verse.
When I attended church as a teenager, not every single service, but most of the time the preacher spoke loud and fast in a sing-song voice, and people in the congregation expressed ‘Amen’s’ and ‘Hallelujahs’ at certain points when I didn’t have a clue what it was they were agreeing with. What exactly was it the preacher said that resonated with them was a mystery to me, because I barely understood any of his words. No disrespect intended, but I must honestly describe a lot of sermons I heard back in the day as loud, emotional talk with no real message.
To be able to become more like Christ, which is what God wants for every born again Christian, I need a message I can understand. I don’t need to be spoken to loudly in a chastising tone, I need to be taught. And don’t just read a passage from the Bible and then move on. Interpret it. Explain it to me, so that I can understand its meaning. I need to know the truth according to God. I need to be Bible taught.
Not every teen in Choices knows what the Bible says about the situation being faced at the time, but the characters who do quote scripture on occasion are Bible taught. I didn’t get into all of this in the story, but: They don’t just read their Bibles; they study their Bibles and meditate on the verses. And they receive lessons from educated, spiritual teachers of the Word in Sunday school.
With fiction the story is made up, but in order to be an interesting, entertaining read, certain aspects must ring true, and the characters definitely must be believable. So, are there teenagers outside of the world of fiction who can quote the Bible, chapter and verse? Of course there are, so I guess I'm really writing this is their defense. And, since many teenagers seem to be more ‘radical for Christ’ these days, they probably know the Word better than a lot adult Christians.
There are so many churches in today’s world, with males and females standing behind the podiums. I’ll never find every person who teaches the Word in a way that makes God’s ways and what He expects from the followers of His Son, Jesus Christ, very clear, but if you’re looking for someone to teach you God’s Word, I’d like to recommend Dr. Charles Stanley (, Bishop George L. Davis ( ) and Bishop T.D. Jakes ( ).

Friday, May 2, 2008


There are teens today engaging in premarital sex. This is nothing new. Teens are making this choice now, they made it back when I was a teen, and even further back than that. But why do teens make this choice? Personally, I don't believe it's always about raging hormones, and I don't believe it's always just about the sex. There are so many different reasons, and that is why I wrote my first novel. Choices is a story about five teenage girls facing difficult decisions concerning premarital sex. There are Christian and non-Christian characters. But it seems some Christians have a problem with the content. I'm sure that's because of the whole premarital sex thing and because there's a pregnant Christian teen in the story. Like that never happens. Yes, there are teenage girls and boys who have given their lives to the Lord (praise God!), but are also engaging in premarital sex. Denying that fact isn't going to make it any less true. And avoiding fiction that shows this reality isn't going to make it all go away. Believe me, my YA novel doesn't touch on the half of what a lot of teenagers are doing sexually these days. So, here's the thing: I am the vessel God is using to confront this issue in a creative way; writing realistic, thought-provoking fiction that could have a life-changing effect.
And then there are people who believe my teen novel is moralistic fiction. Believe me, Choices is not a goody, goody preachy story with perfect characters who do no wrong. The Christian characters in this story mess up like anybody else. But, okay, maybe it is a bit morally instructive as far as virtue in sexual conduct. But, as I mentioned earlier, I am God's vessel. So, tell me - would He have it any other way?
All I can say is that I wrote the story in a realistic way, creating situations and characters young people can relate to. I show choices teens can make that turn out to be mistakes and also the mistakes parents can make, and I do my best to help everyone see a better way; to learn to make better "choices". I believe teen fiction that doesn't only entertain, but teaches important lessons is necessary in today's world. And if my stories can't make a difference in someone's life, young or adult, then I don't see the purpose in writing them.
Hopefully, Choices will not only lead teenagers who are having sex out of wedlock back to abstinence, but will give parents something to think about as well.