Friday, April 24

Friday Fiction: I Wish I Were With You

Here we are again at Friday Fiction! Vonnie is our hostess this week over at My Back Door Ministry. Please come a-knocking for some great fiction! You can join the fun, too! Post your own fiction on your blog, and link up with Mr. Linky on Vonnie's blog.

I'm missing Christmas a little bit, so I'm going back to the FaithWriters Christmas quarter for this story. (To alleviate any confusion ahead of time, the first half is from the point of view one MC; the 2nd half is a continuation of the same scene, but from another character's view.)

Happy Friday to you, and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! :-D



Everything is right…but everything is wrong.

Mother's got her poinsettias precisely placed in their designated positions; this year’s Christmas Tree creation is standing sentinel in its rightful post at the front windows. Christmas never changes here.

But this year it’s surreal somehow.

Because I’ve changed. And he’s helping me.

My need for him starts like an irritating itch. A bug bite. Just a passing annoyance.

But I scratch it. I irritate it, stir it up, set it off.

I dwell on my thoughts of him.

Once scratched, the need refuses to be ignored.

I can’t sit here all prim and proper with them any longer. I’ve got to go call him. I’ve got to scratch the itch.

“Excuse me, I’ll be right back.” Our family code for ‘I’m going to the bathroom.’ We don’t make mention of our ‘business’; it’s understood.

The gold-plated doorknob is warm in my grasp. I barely hear a whispered click as the heavy door latches. They can’t hear me in here; it’s as sound proof as an isolation chamber.

I slide my cell out of my blazer pocket and hit speed dial one.

Answer. Answer. Answer! Yes!

“Merry Christmas, sweetie.

“I’m ok. I just I wish I were with you.

“They’re ok.

“I know they do, and I love them, too, but…

“You’re right. And I’m thankful I have a family to spend Christmas with.

“Yeah, and this year’s scheme is gold decorations from tip to trunk, topped with a gigantic gold bow Her gaudiest tree yet.

“No, I asked them, but mom and dad ‘didn’t have time’. It was a great service, tho. The children sang ‘Away in a Manger’ and acted out the nativity story. Thanks for talking me into going alone.

“Oh! That sounds like so much fun. I wish I were there with you.

“No, my family’s not the carol-singing type. Daddy did submit to letting me play The Carpenters Christmas cd, though.”

I muffle my phone against my chest to stifle a sob.


Oh, great! If she doesn’t quit crying, I might just cry. Man I miss this girl. If I had any doubts before, they’re gone. She’s the one.

“Did Karen sing this one, baby?

‘I've just one wish
On this Christmas Day
I wish I were with you.’

“Don’t cry baby. I don’t sing that bad.

“I know, you told me. And I think of you now whenever it comes on the radio.

“Next year, baby, I promise.

“Yeah, and every Christmas after that. No one will ever keep us apart again.

“I love you too. Now go back in there and remember why you love your family.

“No, mine aren’t better, they’re just good in different ways. Maybe if you think more on loving what you do have, you’ll stop craving what you don’t.

“Yeah, and I have you too. Forever.

“Merry Christmas, Darlin.”

I flip my phone shut and stick it in my back pocket. Gotta stop this crying. The hook on the once-white bathroom door comes free with a tug, and I shoulder the swollen door open. My sister Jan’s kid, Nathan, is out here hopping like a bunny; I had taken too long, and he had to “go bad”. He scoots around me and swings the door shut behind him.

Before I reclaim the patched easy chair, I add a log to the stove. The frosty breath on my ankles reminds me how December creeps in through the baseboards and the window frames of the old farmhouse. I poke the embers with a stick, and flames stretch and jump, chasing the chill out of the room.

I settle into my seat and take a sip of cocoa. Nathan tears across the room and climbs into my lap. The family grows still. We’re all waiting.

The fire in the woodstove and the lights on the Christmas tree spotlight Dad. He’s contemplating the flames. “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.”*

The tree in the corner is wearing a popcorn and cranberry garland and the same old hand-made ornaments as every year, winter comes in through the cracks, and the young’uns always make a racket, but I’m glad I’m here on Christmas Day.

And next year…

Next year, she’ll be here too.

*Luke 2:1 KJV

(c) Catrina Bradley 12/4/08

*Luke 2:1 KJV


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

Saturday, April 18

A Parable of Sorts: Growing Like a Weed

I'm about to lose the ambiance of my quiet-time place. My glorious, canopy-providing trees are about to come down.

Princess Trees

What are commonly (among our friends) called the "weed trees" are actually Princess Trees, the most prolificly spreading trees in Georgia. (Here is a link to an excellent web page if you just HAVE to know more about the Princess Tree :) )

Our deck faces southwest, and was unbearably hot in the summer. We installed a Sunsetter awning across the back of the house to provide shade, but it only provided shade when it was extended. Extending the awning requires expending energy - something hubby and I try to avoid.

In those years, I was also fighting a weed that refused to be beaten. It was growing under the deck and up and out of an opening. I couldn't get leverage to pull it up, but I continually broke it off. I knew what it was - a seedling from our neighbors' tree they had proudly planted a few years ago. I regularly pulled up tiny seedlings from my flower beds, but this warrior weed had grown to Goliath proportions.

Finally I gave up. The opening it had found was tailor made for a tree to grow out of, so I let it grow. I trimmed it to make it look treelike instead of weedlike, and watched it take off. Two years later, I saw another sprout under the other end of the deck, and started training it to grow toward the opening down there.

Now I have two beautiful trees, whose gargantuan leaves create an oasis during the hot, Georgia summer months. In the winter, the bare limbs let the sun warm the deck, and, if it's not windy, I can enjoy a few moments respite in God's tabernacle. Spring time brings thousands of bell-shaped, lavender blossoms.

Those trees were meant to be there, I'm sure. Now I'm mourning their imminent loss. I disparately do not want them cut down, but hubby HATES the huge mess they create. Check it out ---


This is our deck this afternoon. A constant rain of purple blossom spatter the deck, the concrete around the pool, and the pool itself. When the blossoms are spent, a rain of sticky seeds will follow. Then, come summer, the shower of those gargantuan green leaves, Autumn turns the leaves brown and crumbly and they cover the deck. Winter winds cause the dried open seedpods and stubborn dead leaves to fall. So you see, my weed trees create a year-long chore - outside AND in. Right now, purple blossoms are scattered around my house after clinging to my dauchhund's long hair. My friends lovingly refer to her as "dustmop". Each season, she brings the fruits of the tree, whatever they may be, in the back door with her.

Hubby says it's time for the trees to go. Oh, and I forgot to mention, they are outgrowing the "tailor made" openings and warping the deckwood. If we don't get rid of them now, the deck may be ruined. (I suggested cutting out more of the deck, but that suggestion wasn't met with any enthusiasm.)

So this afternoon I'm enjoying one of my last (possibly THE last) Friday afternoon in my sanctuary, communing with Nature, just one of the many aspects of our One True God. I'm complaining to Him about the loss of my quiet-time place. How those trees were MEANT to be there, how He put them there for me, and how maybe Hubby shouldn't just cut them down arbitrarily.

My Father said to me, "I give you many things. Some things are forever. Some things are just for a time when you need them. Some things I take away when you get too comfortable."

Yeah, I know. But You're not talking about the trees are You?

I think about something else that He meant to be, something that was planned in advance for me - my salvation. One day, long ago, in my childhood, a seed was planted, sown from a mature, neighboring tree. From that day on, no matter how many times I tried to ignore it or break it off, the emerging sprout kept coming back. There was nothing I could do to kill that spark of Life inside me.

Now I've grown into a tree myself - of sorts. And my husband soon sprouted from my seed. We are mature enough to bear fruit and sow seeds of our own, but we're not nearly full grown yet. But our growth spurt has caused all of this extra work, you see. Being a mature(ing) Christian instead of a stunted, nuisance of a baby, requires constant maintenance involving my time, my energy, and many times, my serving when all I want, for once, is to sit back and BE served.

Now, tell me, should I cut off the cause, the Root, of all this extra required maintenance because it requires sacrificing "my" time? "My" talents? "My" treasures?

Sure, life will be easier without my weed trees, but without them I won't be able to bask in the sights, sounds, and smells that are the background to my quiet time. It will be strange not to have to sweep clean a path to my chairs before I can enjoy my solitude.

Maybe I'll move to the front porch....its shady confines are surrounded by shedding shrubbery.

Friday, April 17

Friday Fiction: A Million Little Reasons


This week, you'll find Friday Fiction at home -
Patty Wysong is our host at her blog Patterings.
Come check Mr. Linky for more fab fiction!

My offering today is an OLD story (relatively speaking). When I joined FaithWriters in September of 06, the Challenge, my reason for joining, was on break. But I wrote anyway. This is one of the fiction pieces I practiced with. I thought I'd throw it out there just for fun. :-D


A Million Little Reasons

A flock of somber black birds perched like tiny statues, lining the telephone wire following the car endlessly down the long, desolate highway. The elms in the tree-rows were motionless, testifying to the stillness of the afternoon. An oversized shadow stretched out from the base of each one as the sun sank at a snail's pace into the distant horizon.

Daphne pressed the button to open her window. The air conditioned interior had grown stale, and she was thirsty for a breath of fresh air. To her regret, the temperature had not dropped at all, despite the latening hour. Still, she breathed deeply and closed her eyes to savor the scents of life. Somewhere out there, jasmine was blooming, grass was being cut, and farm animals were making their presence known by their distinct aroma. A fragrant breeze in her face (even if it WAS hot), was one of the few things that brought her joy anymore. She laid her head back and sighed in pleasure, basking in God’s glory.

“Heat wave!” The familiar call brought her back to her reality.

Daphne sighed again, but this time with resignation, as she closed the window. “Could we at least open the sunroof? Please?” She made an effort not to whine, but she was pretty sure she wasn't successful.

Zach’s answer was evident even before he spoke a word. His expression and his own sigh were all she needed to know what the reply would be. After 21 years together, words were seldom necessary.

'He’s going to say, "Honey, the sun is just too hot on my head." '

“Honey, the sun is just too hot on my head.”

“Ok,” she said with a false cheeriness. “I understand.” 'I love him. I’d do anything for him. Be happy so he is happy. Don’t bring him down with you.' She repeated the familiar mantra, her self-prescribed “mental health exercise.” Those mantras, and her near-constant breath prayers, worked as well as, if not better than, the anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills she had to swallow daily just to act semi-normal.

Zach knowingly gave her that little smile and, as always, it made her smile for real. “We can crack it a little.” He reached down and the sunroof motor whirred for a second, giving Daphne at least a glimmer of outside air. Her back was beginning to ache, and she shifted in the seat. Daphne was used to being on the move all day. Being an office manager was anything BUT a desk job like most people thought. She was used to aching feet, tired legs, and being exhausted by the end of the day, but three hours in the car was truly painful. She turned her face to the window and watched the quilt of wildflowers fly by in the ditch.

Daphne bolted upright. “STOP!”

“Huh? What’s wrong?”

“Stop the car! I saw…” Suddenly she didn’t trust herself; and she was afraid of being wrong and looking like a fool.

Zach slowed the car. “What? What did you see, babe?” Concern crept into his voice.

“Can you back up? I think .. there might have been an accident.”

As Zach reversed up the narrow shoulder, Daphne craned her head around, desperate, yet terrified, to see again what she thought she had glimpsed: a green car, its side peeking out of a patch of weeds. Her imagination took over, and she pictured mayhem, bloodied bodies, death. She began to tremble, and her breaths became wheezes. 'Children in the backseat, probably not buckled in; bones jutting from soft, pink skin.' As tears formed in her eyes, she felt Zach’s comforting hand fall lightly on her thigh. Caressing her gently, Zach said softly, “Take it easy, hon. Deep breaths.”

Daphne closed her eyes and struggled to draw in deep cleansing breaths. 'In through the nose, out through the mouth. In with the good, out with the bad.'

“Where was it, hon? I don’t see anything.” The tenderness in Zach’s voice helped to calm her.

“It was .. I think .. there!” When they came to a stop, what she saw was not a car, but a disintegrating pile of green trash bags; not chrome, but fading tin cans peeping through the gaps.

“Sorry, so sorry.” Weeping now with embarrassment and utter disgust at her bone-headed blunder, Daphne couldn’t even look at him.

“As long as we're stopped, wanna get out and stretch a little? It’s going to be another hour or so before we get there.” Zach seemed to know that she needed a break. Grateful for a diversion from her self-loathing, and for Zach’s non-judgmental love, Daphne wiped her face, nodded and climbed out. Zach joined her behind the car and surprised her by wrapping his arms around her and holding her tenderly. “I love you. And I’ll always love you,” he whispered in her ear.

“And I love you. And I’m really sorry.” Her eyes began to fill again.

Zach chuckled. “I know, sweetie. But, hey, you know what? I’m glad you were wrong. If we had to help anyone now, it would make us really late.”

She giggled through her tears. Zach knew her inside and out; he had a knack for turning her weeping into laughter. It was only one of the million of little reasons that she loved him.

(c) Catrina Bradley, 10/11/06


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

Wednesday, April 15

WFW: New Birth

Welcome to Word Filled Wednesday,
hosted by Amydeanne at The 160 Acre Woods



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

Don't forget to visit the home of Word Filled Wednesday for more Inspired art!

Friday, April 3

Friday Fiction: Unquenched

Friday Fiction has come home to roost this week. You'll find Mr. Linky and lots of great reading at Patty Wysong's Patterings.

Over on the message boards, one of my favorite threads is Jan's Masters Class. One recent lesson explained "Stream of Consciousness". I hadn't even heard of the term as it relates to writing until I read it in one of my comments on the story I'm sharing today. Now that I know the "thing" I wrote has a real name, and that it's a real writing-type "thing", I understand why the judges liked this one. I hope you do too!



I sure could use a drink of water. So thirsty. Mustn’t forget to ask. Water. Remember. I want a drink of water. I’ll ask him for one when he comes in. A nice cold drink of water. A tall drink of water. That’s what they used to call me. Back then…when George was … was so HANDsome. He was taller than all of the other boys, AND he was taller than I was. I loved looking up into his warm brown eyes. I was considered tall for a girl. A tall drink of water they called me. Mmm. Water. Sure am thirsty. I’ll ask for a glass of water. He’ll be back soon. I need to remember water. WATter! WATter. Oh, dear. That’s making me seasick. Like that time George and I took a day cruise to nowhere. That’s how it was billed. A Day Cruise to Nowhere. You sailed off into international waters, you dropped anchor there out for a couple of hours, then you were brought back to the dock. For those couple of hours, you could gamble. George let me play Blackjack. He gave me $50; I lasted six hands. I DID get a free drink, though. Probably what made me seasick. I sure could use a drink right now. Water would be great. When he comes, I need to remember to ask him for some. Ok, remember water. Water. Concentrate, Ruby. Don’t forget. Water. Icy cold, like it was just pumped from the well. Like from the pump at our kitchen sink. That was before water came out of a tap at the turn of a knob. What an advancement for mankind was running water! And indoor plumbing? A Godsend. I sure don’t miss those middle of the night trips to the necessary. Especially in winter. My feet and hands would be frozen when I came inside. And then I had to wash up in cold water from the pump at the sink. That cold water sure felt good in the summer, though. Oh, but that was good drinking water. I could use a drink of that water right now. I’m a mite thirsty. When he comes, I need to ask him for a drink. I’ll need to ask for ice cubes though if I want it as cold as the water from the pump in the kitchen. Of course that was a lot of years ago, back when George and I first married. My but George was handsome. So tall, too! The other girls were so jealous. Oh, look, here’s my sweetheart now.

“Well, hey, Miss Ruby, how you doin? You comfortable? “


“Naw, Miss Ruby, it’s me, Nathan, just comin round to check on you again.”

“George, there was something I wanted to ask you. Something about the pump at the kitchen sink. I can’t quite seem to

recall just what it was...”

“Your water pitcher’s dry, Miss Ruby. Lemme fill it up for you.”

“Thank you, sweetheart. You always know what I need, and you take care of it before I even realize I need it. You’re the

best husband, George.”

“Aww, Miss Ruby, I’m just the nurse’s aid. Nathan, remember?” Nathan scooped ice into the water pitcher from the cooler on

his cart, then ran water in from the tap in the small bathroom.

“George, do you remember pumping water by hand? I don’t know why, but I just thought of that old pump in our kitchen. I

haven’t thought about that old thing years. Oh, thank you George! How did you know I was thirsty?”

© Catrina Bradley, 7/31/08



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

Wednesday, April 1

WFW: Brother in Need

Welcome to Word Filled Wednesday - I'm glad you stopped by!

Brother in Need

If anyone has material possessions
and sees his brother in need
but has no pity on him,
how can the Love of God
be in them?

1 John 3:17 (NIV)

I don't feel led to add any commentary to John's words today; just to ask that you read them again, this time from The Message paraphrase, and let them sink in.

If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.

1 John 3:17 (Message)


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

For more Word inspired art, run to the
160 Acre Woods
and visit Amydeanne!!