Wednesday, April 29, 2015

WIP Wednesday

As many of you have probably heard, Denisea Kampe and I are resurrecting our characters from a previously published anthology we wrote with a few other friends which is no longer available. We never managed an ending to the sordid tale of the MARSOC team we created in our imaginations and after much brainstorming, we came up with a plan. We’ve been at it for several weeks now and we’re coming into the home stretch, so for this week’s WIP Wednesday, Denisea thought she’d share a bit of what she wrote this week from our joint project, Rogue Nation. Enjoy!
“Fifteen minutes early for everything,” Alli mumbled, making her way to the answer the door at straight up ten forty-five the next morning. “I’m getting way too used to civilian life for my own good.”
After she’d texted back a mere two words, yes, Gunny, Alli hadn’t heard another peep out of Brogan. With her jeans still unzipped, no shirt on, and one earring still in her hand, she peered through the peephole to confirm whoever had knocked was indeed Brogan. She couldn’t help but grin. There he stood looking straight at the peephole with his signature bright smile and a fresh haircut. Then he did the damnedest thing. He backed up a few feet and spun with his arms out giving Alli a full view of his tight ass draped in snug denim and biceps bulging out of the sleeves of his polo shirt. When he turned back facing the door with his hands in his back pockets and winked as if he knew she was checking him out, her middle twisted in a knot and her heart fluttered.
“You’re early,” she said, pulling the door open and waving for him to come in, vulnerability swamping her as his eyes roamed her half-dressed state. If the burning sensation fluttering over her skin was part of intimacy, she’d take it.
“Habits, babe.” Brogan came within inches of her and ran a finger along her jaw then down the side of her throat, and when she thought he’d trace a path down her breast bone, he instead reached up and fingered the delicate gold hoop hanging from her earlobe. “Don’t take it as a sign we have to hurry. We have plenty of time.”
“Foooor…” Alli raised her eyebrows and shrugged.
“Not a chance.” He chuckled and tapped the end of her nose. “Not showing my hand that easily. Go finish getting ready.”
A few minutes later, Brogan handed her into his Rover and they were on their way. To where, only God and Brogan knew and neither of them were telling.
“You look nice,” Brogan said, pulling onto the freeway and heading west. “I think you’re finally gaining some weight back. Healthy looks good on you.”
“Thank you,” Alli said over a smile. “You look nice, too. Don’t you think leaving before noon is a little early for dinner reservations? How far away is dinner?”
“You really need to brush up on your interrogation methods. Subtlety goes a long way.”
“I’m a pretty straight shooter. I thought you were, too. Why skirt things when we can cut straight to the chase?”
“Touché,” Brogan said, reaching down to switch the playlist on his iPod. “Straight to the chase it is. You all but told me I’m an anal retentive ass. No reservations. I’m winging it here. It’s giving me heart palpitations, but I’m trying to let go of an inch. Give or take.”
“Ah, I see. On a solo without a flight plan. I’m intrigued. Any clue as to how you’re going to fill the next six to eight hours before you figure out where the dinner is you ordered me to attend?” Alli kicked off her wedge heels and drew one leg under the other, turning in the seat to face him, then reached out and ran her fingertips over his freshly cut hair.
“I know where the dinner is.” He reached up and tugged her hand down, entwining their fingers. “And we’re headed in the right direction.”
“Well, at least we’re not lost.”

“Oh, I’m lost alright. You have no idea how damn lost I am.” He drew her hand up and planted a kiss on the back of it then held it there for several minutes as a gentle quiet fell between them.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

27 things...

I recently read an article that talked about the 27 item challenge in terms of spring cleaning.  The theory goes every room in your house has 27 things you no longer need, want or use that should be purged.  27?  Per room?  Surely not. 
This big purge concept isn’t new to me.  Over the holidays I read about the 40 hanger closet challenge and honestly, don’t laugh but I don’t even own enough clothing that warrants a hanger to need 25, let alone 40.  I smiled as I read the article and let pride unabashedly roll over me.  “Don’t need that bit of advice,” I scoffed.  
But when I read about the 27 things per room?  Ugh.  That was more like a sucker punch to the gut for me because as I sit here now just looking around my desk, there are at least a dozen things I no longer need, want or use that should be purged.  Just this morning I opened my vanity drawer to reach for the hairbrush and got assaulted by several items I bought thinking I’d use that are just cluttering the space:  hair clips too large to hold my still growing out style, two headbands that give me a headache when I wear them, an expired tube of Neosporin…  You get the point.  
There are days I look around the space my family occupies and I see the clutter, those things I don’t need, want or use, and the decisions seem easy.  But there are times when I feel frustrated, sad or worried that I tend to hole up—to cave myself in so I don’t have to make hard decisions.  For a fast moving, type A personality like myself, I liken this feeling to a slight paralysis of sorts.  We don’t sit still.  Type A’s like motion.  We’re quick decision makers that thrive on forward progress.  I was all set to charge ahead with reckless abandon and turn my house upside down making such progress the afternoon my phone rang. 
As Chic Denisea shared earlier over at our Script Chics blogsite, she’s gone through quite a battle with the big C and she’s come out the other side feeling better, miles healthier and sporting the peach survivor’s ribbon with pride.  That afternoon it was her on the phone. 
For those of you that don’t know Denisea personally, let me assure you, you will most likely never meet a smarter, more determined, and faith-filled woman this side of heaven.  I’ve been honored to call her a friend for nearly five years and I’ll go further to say she’s been a very close friend for the last several of those.  Throughout the journey she’s walked, I’ve been amazed that she’s never once waivered in her faith.  In fact, on days when I would send an encouraging text or silly sentiment to let her know I was thinking of her, she usually ended up cheering me up in some way.  That’s totally Denisea to a T!  
The day of her second surgery, the big one as I call it, I decided to clear my calendar and set aside dedicated prayer time for her.  I hesitate to even write about this because I think I had a couple of social media related things to do while covering for her (she’s the real techie—don’t let her fool you).  I promise, Denisea—I still got my work done that day!  Anyway, as I was praying over a particular worship song thinking I was doing a good turn for Denisea, she was actually doing the good turn for me. 
In the time leading up to her surgeries, Denisea and I talked a lot about our goals for the year, both personally and professionally, and I could tell she was really starting to get a grip with the concept of a more complete balance in all of the areas of her life.  Instead of manically working in one area then jumping to another, which is something my ever moving, brute force type A is prone to do, Denisea had a much calmer, more balanced approach.  It was this concept that hit me full force while I was praying for her on the big one day.  Some things matter in this life and quite frankly, most things don’t.  This is true of the mental clutter I tend to carry--the stress, the worry, the fear, and it’s true of the dozen or more things on my desk that I don’t need, want or use anymore.  I love my life and frankly, I wouldn’t want it any other way.  I remind myself every day that life would be boring without the push and pull. 
While the 27 thing premise might seem overwhelming at first as it relates to the physical clutter in your home, when you boil it down, the notion isn’t really that profound.  
There are 23 rooms in my house (including closets and pantries) that need purged and I’ve given myself two weeks.  27 items times 23 rooms means there are 621 things under this roof that won’t be here come Easter Sunday.  As of this writing, while Easter has come and gone, I’ve been through eighteen rooms and filled nine bags/boxes.  My item count stands at 428 and the Salvation army is scheduled to be here Thursday at 8am.  I'm determined to see that truck back into the drive and I seriously want to to find just that one more thing to push my total to 622.  I can't wait to stand in the door and wave when they drive away.
How many rooms are in your house?  Don’t know?  Then why don’t you grab a laundry basket and start counting?  If you want to live a more balanced life, the truth is there’s some junk that needs to go.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Other Direction

Jesus didn’t have to go to the cross. 

For some of you this may not be new news but to me, it’s both fresh and profound and exactly what my soul needed to hear.  Jesus didn't have to go to the cross.

Let me explain…  Jesus knew his coming death was the fulfillment of prophecy.  When he went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray, he asked God straight out—if there’s any way you can let this pass me by, please do so.  And he was told flat out he would be betrayed by one close to him and that he would carry his own death piece, the cross, to the hill where he would hang.

Let’s be honest.  Jesus wouldn’t have been the first son in the world not to do what his father asked.  He wouldn’t have been the first person to disagree with authority and he wouldn’t have been the first person to experience a fear-based response and run from danger.  He wouldn’t have been the first person to take the easy way out.  He had a choice. 

To my way of thinking, the garden was middle ground.  When Jesus looked out over the city in one direction, he saw a land filled with people that would betray him and lead him to his death.  But I what I didn’t know, what I learned just this week (I’ve been a Christian for forty-five years mind you), is that if Jesus would have just turned around and looked the other way, he could have easily slipped into the Judean wilderness and disappeared.  He could have walked away.  Prophecy unfulfilled.  Destined changed.  History altered forever.

When the call comes and it’s not a favorable diagnosis, it would be easier to run.  When the conversation starts with I don’t love you anymore, it would be easier to run.  When there was nothing else we could do is all that’s left to be said, it would be easier to run.  When we watch the people we love struggle and resist help, it would be easier to run.

Have you ever wanted to disappear?  Have you ever thought about just chucking it all and running?  I often joke that I’ve thought about running away far more as an adult than I ever did as a kid.  I think most of us have felt that way.  There are days it seems life is made up of a thousand flaming arrows headed straight toward our hearts.  If we responded how we wanted on those days, the freeways would become a parking lot as we each tried to flee to Anywhere. But. Here.  Yet for the overwhelming majority of us, we don’t run.  Why don’t more of us run?

In my opinion today marks one of the most crucial moments in Holy week.  It was tonight, Thursday night, when Jesus sat down with his disciples and shared what would be their last meal together, Jesus’ last meal on earth.  To set the scene, you’ve got men from all walks of life who’ve become best friends.  While being called together for dinner probably wasn’t unusual, as Jesus begins to explain what’s going to happen and what he expects from those that choose to follow him in the days to come, it’s obvious this meal is like no other the group has ever attended.  In today’s terms the last supper is much like the final meeting before the team is dismissed and the real work starts.  The events that will unfurl over the next few hours will blow apart this close-knit group and life will become anything but ordinary.  Some will doubt--I don’t believe what I’m hearing.  Some will stand in dismay--why is He washing my feet?  Some will deny--I never knew him.  One will betray—it is he.  To think it could have all been avoided if Jesus would have only turned around and headed less than an hour the other direction.

Jesus knew there were flaming arrows aimed directly for his heart.  He knew his place in history was to obey his Father’s will and take the hit.  If ever there was a one-for-all moment, surely it was when Jesus decided not to turn and go the other way.

We’re all going to face days when the arrows come and we find ourselves asking exactly the same thing Jesus did--if there’s any way this can pass me by, please let it do so.  Doubt is going to creep in.  Dismay is going to come.  Denial is going to settle deep and betrayal may befall us.

Tonight when we set down to dinner and talk our way through the events surrounding the last supper, I’ll use words like integrity, loyalty, responsibility, honesty, hope, faith, and love to tell my son a few of the reasons I don’t run, even when it would sometimes be the easiest thing to do.  I’ll plant these seeds deep in his heart and pray when the arrows come his way he'll follow the ultimate example, that of Jesus, and decide to stay instead of running.