Friday, August 28

Friday Fiction: Blighting

Welcome to Friday Fiction!!! Julie Arduini is hosting Fiction Friday today at her blog The Surrendered Scribe

If you enjoyed reading about Ralph's embarrassing moment last week, you'll definitely want to read this story of a newly wed Ralph, 20 years earlier. Also based on true life, but neither my "Ralph" nor his brother chew and spit. (Spit yes, but chew 'backy? no.)



Woody gaped at his older brother. "What'er you talkin bout, Ralph? We grew up in South Carolina. We had winter. We even had snow, fer cryin out loud."

"Nah man, you don't understand." Ralph shook his head. "I'm talkin winter. Like nothin you ever felt before. So cold you could snap your ears clean off." He turned his head and spat into the ditch. "Made me wanna get outta that state as fast as I could. Don't care if I never go back there. Course Vikki'd have a conniption fit.

"'Christmas just isn't Christmas without snow, and cutting down our own tree, blah-blah-blah.'"

Ralph's whiny Vikki impersonation made Woody choke on his chaw laughing. Ralph smacked him on the back to clear the clog, and Woody managed to wheeze out, "Ah, man, you sound just like'er." A chortle started another coughing fit.

"Plus she don't want our kids to miss out on all that, either. So, as much as I hate it, I gotta go back." Ralph shuddered. "You just don't know, man."

"So tell me. What?"

"Well, there's the whole gettin in the car thing. No such thing as a garage in Iowa, near as I can tell. You'd think these people woulda figured it out by now, but no. If you can manage to turn the key in the lock without heatin it up with a lighter first, you jump in yer car as quick as you can. Course it don't take long for the frozen seat to freeze YOUR seat."

"Man," Vern said. "Sounds colder than I ever been."

"But that ain't the worst part. Poor Vikki."

"What?" Woody smacked his brother. "What happened to Vikki?"

"Nothin, Vikki's fine. It was her house."

"What was her house?"

Ralph nudged Woody. "Keep up man. The worst part.

"So anyways, me and Vikki get to her house, and before we're even outta the car, she says to me, 'I'm sorry. It's not the Ritz.'

"I tole her, 'Quit worryin about it - I didn't marry ya for yer money.' She smacked me for that, but at least she smiled.

"So we go in and meet her folks, and she's showin me around. She's got this pitiful look on her face. 'Course I knew why; she'd told me some about growin up there, so I wasn't that shocked. Still I could tell she felt kinda embarrassed."

"That bad, huh?" Woody launched another hawker into the dirt.

Ralph shrugged. "It's an old farmhouse in the Midwest. Ever seen Green Acres? But it din't bother me like she was afraid it would. And the wood stove in the kitchen kept the downstairs toasty."

"So it wasn't the worst part? What's the deal, man?"

"It was goin to bed that was the worst part." Ralph's eyes grew wide and he hugged himself.

"Vikkie asked if I'd rather sleep on a mattress on the living room floor or in her old bunk beds upstairs. I picked upstairs; her mom and dad'd be up early, and b'sides, Vikki did it for 18 years, I could do it for a week."

"Bunk beds, Bro? Seriously? Did ya share or split up?"

"Well, we started out split up. Vikki wanted to share, but I nixed that idea. Too cramped. She asked me, 'Top or bottom?' I picked bottom acourse.

"Now Vikki'd tole me 'bout her room bein so cold she'd had to scrape a hole in the frost to see out the window in the mornings. But I didn't figure it'd be that cold. I didn't even get undressed. Just dowsed the light and zipped up into the sleeping bag her mom'd put on the bed.

"Man, my teeth were loosenin up in my head, all that chattering they was doin. Vikki warbles, 'Night hon.'

"I'm a-shakin and a-shiverin, and I chatter,'Night.'

"I swear I hear her snicker.

"So I'm tryin to git thawed out and fall asleep, but every time I turn over, it feels like my face is layin smack dab on sheet of ice. Finally I say the heck with this. 'Git yer fanny down here ... and bring yer sleeping bag.' The body heat was good'n all, but still I didn't dare move outta the spot I got warmed up."

Woody thwapped a wad of tobacco into the weeds. "Body heat, huh? Finally, this story's goin somewheres."

"Naw, man, I din't even want to think about baring any skin. I snuggled into'er and finally started thawin out enough to whisper, 'I reckon we can come back next Christmas ... on one condition.

"We're stayin at the Motel 6."

© August 19, 2009

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

Friday, August 21

Friday Fiction: Usher Sunday

Welcome to Friday Fiction!!! Lynn Squire is hosting Fiction Friday today at her blog Faith, Fiction, Fun and Fanciful.

Surprise!! A brand new, never before posted story! The topic "Winter" came up at FaithWriters this week, and I let Screaming Muse take over. She had a blast, but didn't exactly stick to the topic. So YOU benefit!! Hope you enjoy this true story. (Yeah, I know, it's supposed to be Friday FICTION, so sue me. But hey, my husband's name isn't really Ralph; does that make it fiction? :) )



My Ralph, God bless him.

I was so proud that first Sunday worship service he served as usher at our new church. And I haven't grown any less proud of him as the Sundays have passed.

His southern charm and natural charisma, coupled with that killer smile, draws everyone in. I love to watch him stride up the left-hand aisle to the front of the church, his head forward but his eyes cutting to the usher in the right-hand aisle to make sure they are in unison.

My Ralph prefers comfort over class, but he also has the proper respect for the Lord to dress it up for worship on Sunday morning. Come Sunday morning, you'll usually see him sporting a sharp Polo shirt or a lightweight button down instead of his customary baggy t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops, but on his usher Sundays, he pulls out the big guns - a suit and tie.

Mmmm, how handsome my Ralph looks all decked out in his midnight blue suit with a just hint of a pinstripe. Your eyes are drawn to his face by his boisterous laugh, and held captive by his warm eyes. Oh, but I digress.

This past Sunday was one of Ralph's usher Sundays, and it also happened to be the first real day of winter - the first snowfall of the season. It rarely even gets cold enough to snow here in our neck of the south, let alone actually bring forth flakes, so you can imagine the ruckus snow makes.

Ah, yes, snow in south Georgia! Simply the forecast of flurries is enough to jam the grocery aisles with panicked shoppers who deplete the stores of the requisite bread and milk. After the panic is over, those of us who didn't rush out to stock our shelves now find ourselves in need of bread and milk, and alas, none can be found.

I'm still searching for the moral of that particular story.

But again, I digress.

So back to Ralph.

And the first "real" day of winter.

The day the midnight blue suit was left on the hangar; and Ralph reached instead for his brand new, never before worn, silk lined tweed suit. That particular shade of charcoal gray was as becoming on him as was midnight blue. Twenty-one years of marriage and my Ralph still throbs my heart. Mmmm.

I wouldn't have been surprised if the people around me were blinded the shine from my eyes. I watched Ralph stride up the left-hand aisle, pick up a gold offering plate, and make his way back down the aisle, walking tall and proud in his new clothes.

What is it about new clothes that lifts you up and makes you stand straighter, smile more, and have more confidence? What a grand feeling.

I could see by Ralph's face that he was riding that new-clothes high. The smiles he gave the little old ladies were more confident; his back was just a tad straighter. He walked like a man worthy of being respected.

His return trip to the altar to deposit the filled collection plates, and his final walk to the back of the sanctuary, were just as confident. Ah, my Ralph. How can I help but be proud of him?

I made sure to tell him that too, after we got home and were ditching our fancy clothes for sweats and heavy socks.

He laughed.

"No," I said, "I'm serious. You were so handsome in your new suit, and I couldn't quit smiling at you. You made me all warm inside despite the cold."

"That's not why I'm laughing."

"What then? Tell me. I want to laugh too."

Ralph laughed again. "So there I was, greeting people, walking up and down the aisle, standing beside the seated little old ladies and teenagers, handing them the plate..."

I butted in to reassure him. "I know! You were awesome."

"No, wait! I go back to my seat, look down to adjust my jacket..." laughter interrupts and he can't go on.


"Honey, my fly was open the whole time."

© August 21, 2009


Don't forget to visit Lynn's blog and read more fiction! You can play along, too if you'd like. Simply post your fiction story, and add your link to MckLlinky on her Friday Fiction post.

God Bless

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

Sunday, August 16

In and Out: My FaithWriters Conference Experenience

If I told you I had an experience that was totally out of this world, would you take me literally?

Well, it’s the truth.

Last weekend I attended the FaithWriters 2nd Annual Conference, and I got a taste of Heaven right in this broken, fallen world. The seminars were great, the speakers awesome, and the lessons valuable for any writer (Christian or not), but none of these are what will stay with me forever.

I’ve never been very good at being “in the world, but not of the world”. Last weekend, I didn’t have to worry about that. I was no longer “in the world”. I was immersed in the acceptance and love of Jesus Christ. I didn’t have to mind my p’s and q’s or fret over my “witness” to the unbelieving world. The world seemed to melt away as Heaven stretched out its arms and took me in.

When I did venture out, I still didn’t worry. Where two or more believers are gathered, you can be sure Jesus is there with them. And He was. Jesus went with us to restaurants, to Starbucks, and even just to the parking lot of the hotel.

You know that bushel basket that we are warned not to hide our light under? It disappeared. My light – Jesus – was shining bright.

I found out for the first time how easy it was to heed the advice of the author of Hebrews… when I’m in the midst of true Christ-followers …

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

I KNOW that the Holy Spirit empowers me to “throw off everything that hinders”, even now, after I’ve been dumped headfirst back into the world. My prayer is that I will ALLOW Him to have power, that my fear of witnessing to the world and my worries of “what will they think?” will take a backseat.

Because you see, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

So what am I afraid of?


The Conference Crew

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

Tuesday, August 4

Destiny (part 3): It's a Relationship Thing - Guest Blogger, Lisa Mikitarian

Welcome back Lisa Mikitarian, with the belated (but well worth waiting for) third installment of her "Destiny" series.

You can catch up here if you missed the first two chapters:

Part One: When Destiny Calls

Part Two: The Truth About Destiny


It's a Relationship Thing

We left off by looking forward to the destiny Christ laid out for mankind in the New Testament. Through His ministry we learn he is a Triune God—God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Distinct yet one. In communion with one another. From this we see that God is the author of relationships. Relationship is in His very nature.

In Genesis, God says that it is not good for man to be alone. When He sent his Son for the Salvation of man, He was inviting eternal relationship.

Our Destiny in Christ

That invitation for all mankind comes through Jesus Christ. We must choose it. For those of us who answer His calling, destiny becomes simple: we will be in relationship with our Father in heaven for eternity.

The apostle Paul reveals this destiny to us in the book of Ephesians 1: 5-10 (ESV)

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

We are to be taken into the fold, adopted by the Father. When we are His, Satan has no claim on us. The possibility of sin exists, but we are no longer a slave to it. In the future we will have glorified bodies and sin will no longer be an option. The choice we make here is ratified in eternity.

A collective destiny?

Ephesians 4:1-7 (ESV) I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.

These verses changed my perspective in life completely. I was no longer wrapped up in what I
became, b
ut instead, it was all about who I am in Christ with you, my fellow Christian. Out of the window tumbled aspirations to become a gymnast, or tennis pro. These goals were for my own glory. Even when we are working within the gifts God has given us, those gifts are simply “vehicles” for His purpose. There lies not our destiny. Instead, it lies in Christ, with Christ, alongside others who dwell in Christ, pointing the way for as many non-believers as possible.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind...John Donne

This is selflessness, loving our neighbors as ourselves, laying our lives down for our brothers. This is love. This is God.

Augustine wrote that when Christians are in relationship with other Christians, they are directly involved with Christ, as Christ indwells the believer. So during my day, I’m in communion with Christ during my morning devotion. Yet, I’m also in communion with Christ when I go for a jog with my running buddy, Holly. She may not be perfected, but Christ resides in her. When we discuss problems, we are doing it in the Spirit of our Lord between us. That’s powerful. It makes me feel more responsibility in what I say and what I do.

Am I allowing Christ in me to be heard? Or does my sin nature take over everything in my world, adulterating my relationships?

Our world can be so cut-throat, each looking out for herself. I don’t want to envy you for what you have. I don’t want to think only one of us can “succeed,” and if you find success and get it there won’t be any left for me. I don’t want to try and snatch it up first and then withhold it from you. That is not part of my destiny.

But in a fallen world, it takes a close walk with God to remember.

In the last section, we’ll explore how being in relationship with others can actually help us determine our individual destinies.


Thanks for stopping in today! I'll be back soon with the conclusion. I'm looking forward to words of wisdom on relationships.

Until then, I'm keeping my eyes on Jesus, and getting ready for the FaithWriters conference August 7 & 8!!! Click here for the scoop. It's not too late to register. :-D

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

You can read more inspired articles by Lisa Mikitarian at The Blog Squad, where she s a regular contributor.