Friday Fiction: People Are Strange, When You're a Stranger

>> Friday, April 30

Hello! It's Fiction Friday!!!

Today, I decided I'd finally finish off a piece I started back in 2008 for the Faithwriters Challenge to illustrate the meaning of the adage "You are known by the company you keep," without using the actual phrase. I liked this one, but ran out of steam, or confidence, or something. So you get to read something never before seen by the public! (A rare occurance for my Friday Fiction.) Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy!



PEOPLE ARE STRANGE, WHEN YOU'RE A STRANGER

I can see him hidin' behind the crepe myrtles at the back of the parking lot. Well, I guess "hiding" ain't the right word, cuz I can see him, right? He thinks he's goin to catch me doing something.

And I know he's thinkin that, cuz he's slowed his patrol car to a crawl more than once this summer to call me out.

"I got my eye on you, Son. You best be rememberin' that."

"Where ya headed, Son? Gettin' dark - ya best be gettin' home soon."

My sharp elbow in Jason's ribs succeeds in gettin his attention away from the two shapely chicks sashaying toward the gate.


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Friday Fiction: Where the Wind Blows

>> Friday, April 23

My Friday Fiction today is a repeat, but if you're fairly new to my blog, it will be new to you.

I've just started reading Francis Chan's "Forgotten God," and was prompted to repost this story, where the Holy Spirit, the forgotten, neglected, person of the Godhead (according to Chan), plays the starring role.

Be blessed,
Cat



WHERE THE WIND BLOWS

All of the Christians have gone home. The church sits empty, save for dust motes floating in multicolored shafts of moonlight, spiders weaving new webs to replace those cleared away by the custodian, and the silent Spirit, Who hovers majestically, lingering long after the bodies of the Church have departed.

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Friday Fiction: Chocolate Fix

>> Friday, April 16

It's Friday again! And that means Friday Fiction! My story today was written in 2007 for the FaithWriters challenge topic "Anger". Just warning you...

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Milk Chocolate Cookie Pictures, Images and PhotosChocolate Fix

When Mary heard the front door slam and angry feet stomp down the hall, she grabbed the pig-shaped cookie jar and stationed it strategically in the center of the kitchen table. She had made Chewy Double Chocolate Fudge Delights today, and Piggy was filled to the snout.

Her daughter, Casie, stormed in the room, threw her backpack on the floor, and flopped into a chair.

"Rough day, Casie?"

"Don't wanta talk about it." Her silvery blue eyes narrowed, daring her mother to press her.

"Pick up your backpack, hon. You know better."

With an exaggerated sigh and a groan, Casie leaned over and snagged the bag by a strap. She dragged it toward her and looped it over the back of her chair. She crossed her arms defiantly and her eyes shot daggers at the empty place across the table.

Mary pitied the person Casie imagined sitting in that chair. She lifted the back off of Piggy, releasing the aroma of chocolate into the air. "Would a cookie help?"

Casie looked at her mom. "Help what?" She turned away again, but couldn't help stealing a peek at Piggy.

"What ever it is that has you in a snit. Chewy Double Chocolate Fudge Delights...?"

"Fine. Whatever." Casie sulkily plucked a cookie out of the jar.

"Milk?"

"Mm hmm," she mumbled, her mouth full of Chewy Chocolate Fudge.

Mary set two glasses of milk on the table and joined her daughter.

When Casie had polished off three cookies, and was working on the fourth, Mary tried talking to her again. "Did you get your Lit paper back yet?" Mary asked and nibbled at her own cookie. She knew how much time and effort Casie had put into this assignment. Casie's Lit grade had been a sore subject this year. Mary knew her wanna-be writer daughter could do much better than the numbers reflected, and was glad she finally decided to take the class seriously.

Casie stopped chewing and her eyes narrowed again, some of the Delight going out of them. She took a big gulp of milk, and banged the glass down. "Yep."

"And?"

Instead of answering, Casie twisted in her chair and unzipped her backpack. She rummaged for just a second, then pulled out a thin, stapled stack of pages and flung it at her mom. Mary's own eyes flashed anger, but she saw tears swimming in Casie's, and caught herself before she exploded. Instead, she picked up the report, and looked at the big, red, circled number in the top right corner.

"This is out of how many?"

"A hundred mom, a HUNDRED."

Stunned, Mary looked at the paper again, and read the note the teacher had made.

"This is a well thought-out and well written report. You have never turned in a paper of this caliber before. 'A' -level work. After careful consideration, I am deducting 15 points; this is clearly not your own work."

"What is this, a joke?"

"Nope. I asked him that. He's very serious."

"I...I cant believe it. THIS is what happens when a student works hard to improve? How DARE he accuse you of cheating! I cannot believe this. I am OUTRAGED! I'm calling him, right now."

"No, mom! Don't do that!"

"Oh, I'm doing it. I am going to give him a piece of my mind. This is unacceptable." Mary started to get up.

"NO! Do NOT call him. You'll just make it worse!"

"How can it be worse?"

"It's just not worth it. Forget it." Tears were silently running down her cheeks now, and her voice was quavering.

"Your grade IS worth it! Your REPUTATION is worth it!"

"What would happen to my REPUTATION if my mommy asks the teacher to change my grade?? I'll take care of it - just stay out of it. I'm sorry I even told you."

"I want to help you!"

"Then STAY OUT OF IT!"

Casie sprung from the chair and the weight of her backpack made it tip and crash to the floor. She snatched up the bag and ran sobbing from the room.

Red blotches burned on Mary's cheeks, and her hand shook as she reached for another cookie.


© 2007


We'd love you to join us for Friday Fiction! Our host today is Shelley Ledfords at The Veil Thins. Pop on over and add a link to your own fiction, or just read some fiction by the best Christian writers I know.




Catrina Bradley

"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

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Book Review: The Gospel According to LOST

>> Saturday, April 10

Click on this
image to purchase this book!
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LOST
by Chris Seay

When Thomas Nelson Publishers offered a free review copy of "The Gospel According to LOST" by Chris Seay, I was at the same time tempted and repulsed. But I couldn't help myself--I requested the book.

I've been hooked on the TV show LOST since the opening scene of the premier episode, and I consider myself as one of its biggest fans. I'm also a "fan" of, and believer in, the real Gospel (according to God). I was sure this book would either reveal truths behind the mysterious and muddled plot of LOST or distort the true Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ.

I was wrong on both accounts.

Mr. Seay doesn't reveal any information that wasn't previously known; he simply (or complexly, perhaps?) takes what IS known, and digs deep into it. And he isn't sparing with using Scripture, either.

When I was reading the first couple chapters, I grew disappointed in the sparsity of Biblical relevance and was afraid my fears about skewering, or mocking, the Gospel had been realized. As I read on, I realized that it was merely a lengthy introduction--a warm-up for what was to come.

Each chapter thereon (with one exception) focuses on a single character, and each takes you deeper and deeper into the spiritual parallels and the hidden allegories woven into the storyline of LOST. Not only does Mr. Seay plunge you into the television show and its characters, he dives into scripture and reveals truths that literally make you stop reading and think for hours. (Well me anyway. I don't think I could be the only one.)

I mentioned an exception. Mr. Seay fittingly devotes a chapter in the middle of his book to the central character of a believer's life-Jesus--focusing on Chapter 15 of the Gospel according to Luke and to the "lost" parables, ably comparing them to the plight of the lost survivors of Oceanic Flight 815.

I marked too many passages in this book to quote all of them in this review, so I chose one at random, which happens to be from that middle chapter:

Christianity (that is, the devotion to following the ways of Jesus) is about love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Religion is about celebrating the knowledge that you are right, reveling in self-satisfaction, enjoying your superiority, and looking down on the unenlightened. It may seem a bit of an understatement to say that the world needs more Christianity and less religion, but it is such a valid and bold assertion that it can never be uttered enough.

This us-versus-them mentality, this adherence to segregation, is another example of the kind of duality the runs through the stories that we know collectively as Lost. It was common to the Pharisees and remains prevalent for and relevant to all of us, even to the Losties who see themselves as completely different from the Others.

I can't recommend this book highly enough for fellow LOST fans who, like me, have perceived underlying themes (whether intentioned or not) that align with Scripture. I am viewing the current, and final, season of LOST with opened eyes. I can't wait to watch the entire series again, starting with season one, to find out what I missed the first time around.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.


Catrina Bradley

"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

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Friday Fiction: I Lay Me Down in Peace, and Sleep

>> Friday, April 9

Ok, so this story isn't EXACTLY fiction, but so be it. It's my choice to post today for Fiction Friday.I don't THINK I've shared this one yet. It was my 2nd Editor's Choice winner at FaithWriters in November of 2007, for the topic "Calm". Enjoy, be blessed, and relax - Jesus is your rest.
Love,
Cat

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SleepingI LAY ME DOWN IN PEACE, AND SLEEP

I turn off the light, plunging the bathroom into darkness. I ease the door open, careful not to make a sound. My feet shuffle blindly and silently across the bedroom carpet until my toes find Lady’s doggie bed. I bend down and whisper loving nighty-nights to her as I stroke her silky fur.

My Jesus, You are the Light of Love, ever shining in the darkness. Even when I can’t see You, I can reach out in confidence to touch You, knowing You are there.

Warm and drowsy from the bath, I let the silky robe fall to the floor and I slip between the freshly laundered sheets. The cool, smooth cotton is a soothing balm to my flushed, damp skin. Musk and sandlewood fill my nostrils; the heady scents of bath oil permeate my senses.

Jesus, You are my cool refreshment, soothing me when I fall into You. I breathe You in; Your perfume fills me.

I inch upward until my heavy head finds the hollow in the pillow. With my head cradled, the tension in my neck is eased. Tendons and sinew unwind, my shoulders relax, vertebrae align.

Oh, Jesus, in You is all true alignment.

I snuggle down into the pillowy mattress. It conforms to my curves, creating a nest for my tired body. My limbs start to relax. My muscles begin to unknot.

Jesus, I am being molded into Your image, and it is Heavenly.

I fumble for the blanket, pull it up to my neck, then around my ears. Not quite warm enough, I grope for the quilt, find it at the foot of the bed, and add its comforting weight. Like a cat, I luxuriously arch my back, straighten my knees; my bare legs glide between the layers of satiny smooth cotton. I sigh in contentment.

Jesus, You are my covering. In You I am safe and warm. Without You, I would be exposed and ashamed, cold and lost.

One foot ventures across the expanse of the king-sized bed until it encounters his warmth on the sheets. My ever-cold toes are in ecstasy. Just a bit farther, and I feel his calf. I relish that simple touch.

Jesus, You are my inner fire. Burn brightly in me.

All sounds, save for his snores, are extinguished by the white-noise of the fan. I concentrate on clearing my mind of the inner cacophony resounding in the silence. I concentrate on Him.

”Be still, and know that I am God.”

The whirlwind of thoughts in my head does not cease, but does fade into the shadow of His presence

I am secure. I am at peace. As I talk with God, I drift off to sleep.

Jesus, You are my rest


”I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

© 2007


We'd love you to join us for Friday Fiction!
Our host today is Joanne Sher at An Open Book.
Pop on over and add your own link, or just read some fiction by the best Christian writers I know
.




Catrina Bradley

"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

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Book Review: Listen

>> Wednesday, April 7

Click on this
image to purchase this book!

LISTEN
by Rene Gutteridge

Listen... They're talking about you. Do you hear them?

Imagine if you could eavesdrop on the private conversations of your neighbors and friends, your city officials, and pastors, your family. Would you be able to resist the temptation?

Imagine that your own closed-door conversations were transcribed to a blog for anyone to read. What would your words say about you?

In "Listen", the residents of fictional Marlo find the answers to both questions when they discover just such a blog. The tens of thousands of hits prove that they're reading, and the sudden crime spree in this sleepy town proves how they are reacting.

Who is writing this blog? How does this person know what is said in the privacy of home and hearth? And what is the motivation behind publicizing private conversations?

Our hero is pulled into the drama professionally and personally, and, as the mystery builds, then unfolds to its satisfying conclusion, he discovers not only who and how, but why.

Rene Gutteridge explores the power that words hold over man - the power to bless, or to curse - and the effect they can have, whether spoken or not. After reading this novel, I was found myself paying closer attention to not only the words that came out of my mouth, but the ones I thought as well. "Listen" is not only an entertaining novel, it's a thought-provoking one as well.


Tyndale House Publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book for review.

Catrina Bradley

"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

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He Became Sin

>> Saturday, April 3

I started hearing this song in my head again today as I thought about Jesus in the grave, and this post I wrote a couple of years ago came to mind, also. Deep thoughts.

Cat




Now playing! in my head! Chris Tomlin!
The song playing in my head this week is “Jesus Messiah” by Chris Tomlin. The line “He became sin who knew no sin.” is on repeat.

I’ve learned to meditate on those earworms that won’t go away – well the ones worthy of my quiet time contemplation anyway. So this week I’ve been pondering the moment when “He became sin.” and what “becoming sin” was like for Jesus.

Jesus did not “know” sin on a personal level, because He never disobeyed. He never experienced the consequences of sin I'm on a first name basis with - the queasy, uneasy, anxiety that accompanies saying “no” to God, and the guilt, despair, and worthlessness that follow serious backsliding and willful sin.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor 5:21 NKJV
In a flash, this sinless Man was flooded with unfamiliar, alien emotional agitation. He must have suffered anguish as anxiety pounded on His heart and guilt rent his gut. Did the sin’s pain cripple His already beaten and bloody body?
Then, at that time Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"* Mark 13:54
He looked to His Father, as was His custom, but for the first time, God didn’t answer. At the moment of His deepest need, God wasn’t listening. His daddy had disowned Him.
And in that state of abandonment, He died.

My contemplations resulted in a revelation (yet to be fully accepted by me): Because Jesus died in that condition, separated from the Father, bearing the sins of the world IN Him, the Son of God descended into hell. (Is that different from the grave?) Because He was “uredeemed,” He experienced the death experience of an unbeliever.

Was He still fully God even when separated from the Godhead?

So many queries....

These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, "Not one of his bones will be broken," John 19:36

Was a broken heart was his final undoing? Did the emotional torture and the anguish of unforgiven sin strain His unblemished heart to the point of premature death, before those crucified with Him, resulting in His bones being left unbroken?

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. Luke 23:46

And just what does “give up the ghost” mean? Three of the gospels use those words (or “spirit” in some translations.) The phrase is also used to describe the death of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, and Jacob, and Job lamented that had not given up the ghost as he came from the womb. Was it just a figure of speech, or were those words used for a purpose?

Lord, may my hunger to know you through your word never end, but may I also be satisfied knowing I have hope of knowing all of the answers someday. Thank you for artists who drive home the truth of your gospel in amazing ways that make me stop and think of you in new light.. Thank you for giving us music for worshipping you,. Lord, help me to never take the sacrifice of your son, Jesus, lightly or for granted. In His Name I pray.


Catrina Bradley

"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

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Friday Fiction: Chosen

Wow. It's Friday. And what a GOOD Friday it was! In celebration of Good Friday, and in honor of our Saviour and Lord, I've resurrected and overhauled an old challenge entry. It was a different type of fiction for me, so bear with me. :)  I DO hope this story makes you stop and think. I know it did me when It made me write It.

God Bless,
Cat

_____


Chosen

The dark squeezed Katie like a vice. Behind her, somewhere, an orchestra of wails and screeches squalled in a symphony of terror that chased her on. She didn’t know what horror was concealed in the inky murk, what could be making those sounds, but she knew she had to escape from it. Tethers of fear constricted her lungs, but her legs propelled her. Her arms scrabbled into the black air as she careened forward over the cobbled surface.

Her outstretched hands met a wall, and her frantic fingers traced the outline of a door.

The icy doorknob burned Katie’s feverish palm, but she gripped it like a life preserver nonetheless. Her hand slipped on the metal as she twisted and yanked the door toward her. Blinding light flooded the passageway, and she threw her forearm across her eyes before lurching through the doorway. Her lungs were freed from their tethers, and she sucked in air, then released it with a groan and a whimper. In and out. Again and again, she filled, and emptied, her aching lungs. Behind her was blessed silence, her unseen tormenters banished by the light.

The door swung closed behind her.

In moments, her eyes grew accustomed to the light, and she was able to take in her surroundings. She sank to her knees and let out a wail.

She was back where she started; this was where her nightmare flight through the dark had begun.

The circular room was empty, save for the gleaming, throne-like structure in the center, and its occupant. The light permeated every corner leaving nary a shadow. She could see no source for the brilliance illuminating the burnished floor and opalescent walls, but it seemed to be emanating from the one seated on the throne. The one who had sent her on her trek through that hellish tunnel.

No, I sent you not. You chose your own way.

Katie gasped at the intrusion into her thoughts. She sprang to her feet and thrust a finger toward him. “You tricked me!”

How so? I simply gave you a choice. His kind eyes were clouded with sorrow.

“Some choice. Who wouldn’t have picked Door Number One?” she said, turning and gesturing toward the shimmering door she had just stumbled through. Light prismed off its bejeweled surface like a beacon, beguiling her, seducing her again to seek out what treasures it might conceal.

Before Katie could take a step in answer to its siren call, His hand embraced her arm, filling her body with warmth and her mind with sudden clarity.

Do you truly want to return there? I say to you again, choose wisely. Take heed: things are not always as they outwardly appear.

Her chin fell to her chest and her eyes squinched closed.

Look at me, Katie, and listen closely. How many times have you chosen that way?

She jerked her head up and she eyed Him, finally. “How many times!  What’re you…?”

This is not your first test.

“I don’t…” Her indignance was choked off by a surge of visions. Visions that didn’t make sense, but evoked familiar emotions...familiar fears. Evil chasing her through sunny, wide-open gateways and into darkness beyond, talons clawing into her, infecting her, with guilt, despair, melancholy. Hideous laughter echoing in her ears and her heart. And of herself, never stopping, never giving in, never giving up.

“I don’t remember…”

No, you remember those trials differently. You did not have my eyes, but now you see what I remember.

Katie pressed her palms to her eyes and fell to the floor. “Make it stop!”

I am able to stop your visions for you, but only you can stop me from seeing them. Only you can.

Katie’s mind was next flooded with minutiae of her past: her shunning the stuttering new girl in 7th grade in order to be popular; her not stopping her 12th grade boyfriend when he said, “If you love me you will;” her accepting the corporate position with a fancy-schmancy hotel because it came with a tidy salary and her own office, instead of following her dream to open a homeless shelter and soup kitchen.

Deep in her consciousness, Katie heard His words echo, like an unremembered memory tickling her mind.

I offer you a choice. Two doors. Choose wisely.

She turned and cast a longing gaze at the bejeweled door, then circled around to eye its counterpart on the opposite side of the circle. This door’s frame was narrow, and peeling paint adorned its weathered boards. Its doorknob and hinges were rusted from disuse.

She turned to look again at her new friend. “You said you’ll go with me?”

I’ll never leave you.

Katie took a faltering step toward the creaky old door…then another. When she looked back, for the first time, the Man was not seated on His throne.

He was standing at her side, smiling.


© 2010


We'd love you to join us for Friday Fiction!
Karlene Jacobson is our hostess today. She'd LOVE you to Pay her a visit at Homespun Expressions.
PLEASE come join the party! :) You can add a link, or just read more short fiction by some of today's best Christian writer.


He is RISEN! Jesus is risen indeed!

Catrina Bradley

"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

Read more...
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