Friday, October 30

Friday Fiction: Mamma's Roses

For Friday Fiction today, I attempted to finish an unfinished story for the FaithWriters writing challenge. I've been having a hard time with this quarter's theme: "Colors". I this story wrote for the topic "Red", but I couldn't get it "challenge-worthy" enough to enter. I had three versions of this story on my computer, and today I finally saw how to connect my three ideas into a cohesive (I hope) plot. But I'll let my readers be the judge.

Mamma's Roses

Red was Mamma's favorite color. That's why I cut all her red flowers that day. The day Mamma died.

At one time, my mamma was the picture of joy. She was also the perfect mamma. That's why I never stopped loving her even when she didn't seem to love anyone or anything anymore. I knew my mamma, and this wasn't her. I knew there was something wrong with her.

In those last days, if you wanted to see Mamma smile, you brought her something red. I was only a kid, a nine-year-old girl who missed her Mamma, but I knew what made her smile. I gifted Mamma with white lace handkerchiefs I’d painstakingly outlined with red embroidery stitches; red candies of all varieties: peppermints and redhots and licorice; elaborate drawings that wore my red crayon to a nub; a collage of leaves I’d pasted on cardboard – the reddest of the red maple leaves I’d plucked from the sea of orange and yellow under the trees.

Those things all made her mouth smile, but the thing that made her eyes smile again was the red leather journal from Aunt Claire. The book was little enough to tuck away in some private hidey-hole, but big enough to really write in. Mamma kept touching that red leather cover, stroking it, with this quiet smile, and her eyes had a light in them that made me grin.

She kept that journal with her, wrote in it all the time. I didn't know where she kept it when she wasn't writing in it, but I know it made her smile.

On that last day, Mamma couldn't barely open her eyes when I came into her room to tell her good morning. I patted her hand and kissed her cheek and said, "Ill be back. Love you," and skeddadled before I cried.

I went straight to the back porch and got Mamma's gloves and clippers. I fought crying again when I realized how stiff and dusty they were. Mamma used to love her rose garden. She'd cut a fresh red rose bud every Sunday morning for Daddy's lapel, and smile that smile that warmed her eyes as she fastened it into his buttonhole.

I grabbed the basket Mamma uses to gather flowers for the always-fresh arrangements on the table. My eyes were blurry from unshed tears, so I stepped gingerly down the porch steps then dashed to Mamma's rose bushes. I frantically grabbed stem after stem with my left hand and hacked at them with the clippers held in my right, filling mamma's flower basket with only the red roses and leaving all other colors behind. I wiped away unwilling tears trickling over my cheeks.

In the kitchen I stopped to make some order of the bouquet, then I lugged it to Mamma's bedroom. I made a place for it on her dresser where she could see it. The water glass in her bathroom made a great vase for a little arrangement for her nightstand.

I wanted to forget that Mamma wasn't my Mamma anymore so I started chattering trying to pretend it was like it was back whan she was my Mamma.

"I think yellow is my favorite color, but I really like pink too. Mamma, why do you love red so much? " I wish she could have said more than she did, but I'm ok with her answer.

"So pretty. Love. You."

A blossom of roses bloomed across Mamma's bed sheet. Red red roses. Mamma's favorite color.

I begged her to open her eyes; to answer me. I had to lean in real close to hear her whisper.

"Pocket. Red book. Read. Love you"

Those were the last words I heard Mamma say. I like to think she still heard me though when I spilled my love out to her, crying on her bosom.

And I knew what the red book was. Before I went to get Aunt Claire and tell her about Mamma, I dug the little journal out of Mamma's robe pocket and tucked it inside my shirt. Afterward, after Mamma was gone and I'd told Aunt Claire I just wanted to go lay down, I read Mamma's journal.

It was one long letter to me.

And when I finished reading it, I understood a lot more than why Mamma's favorite color was red.

Red was the color that saved her. The red blood of Jesus. She wrote to me her plan of telling me all about it one day, but how it just got to be too late. She didn't want it to be too late and that's why Aunt Claire's red journal was the perfect gift.

When I finished reading it, reading all about Jesus' love and his sacrifice, red was my favorite color too.

© 10/30/09

For more Friday Fiction, Visit Christine at "With Pen in Hand". She is our hostess with the mostess this week!


Catrina Bradley

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

Coming up: November Reads and Reviews

Book Reviews coming up!

I love being a book review blogger. Just for writing down my opinion and posting them on my blog and another site, I get free books! If you are interested in becoming a book reviewer too, Christina Banks (aka Stina Rose) has posted links to three publishing houses she's working with (two of which I'm reviewing for also. CLICK HERE to read all about it on her blog!

I'm watching my doorstep for the following books to review in November:

The Sacred Meal
The Ancient Practices Series
By Nora Gallagher
Thomas Nelson Publishers 

The sacred meal that is part of our faith does more than connect us to the holy. It connects us to each other.

"I think Jesus wanted his disciples and everyone who came after him to remember what they had together. What they made together. What it meant to be together. How the things he wanted them to do could not be done alone. How the things he did could not have been done without them."

In her inimitable style of memoir and personal reflection, Nora Gallagher explores the beauty and mystery of this most fascinating of topics. Whether exploring the history of Christian Communion, taking us inside the workings of a soup kitchen or sharing times of joy and sadness with friends, the author reminds us what it means to partake of and be part of the body of Christ.

Though Waters Roar
by Lynn Austin
Bethany House Publishing

For three generations, the Sherwood women have fought for social justice. When Harriet decides to follow in their footsteps, she never imagined her efforts would land her in jail. Languishing in her cell, she sifts through her life and the lives of the brave women before her. They were fighting for their beliefs--but what is she fighting for?

In a stirring tale reminiscent of Eve's Daughter's, Lynn Austin spins a compelling generational tale of finding the courage to live a legacy.

plus one of the two following books:

...the silent gift
By Michael Landon and Cindy Kelley
Bethany House Publishing


Things Worth Remembering
By Jackina Stark
Bethany House Publishing

Be watching in November for my reviews!

Catrina Bradley

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

Monday, October 19

Book Review: "Green" by Ted Dekker

GREEN by Ted Dekker

The Weak Link In This Circle

Fans of Ted Dekker’s “Circle” Trilogy have been waiting none-too patiently for the release of his sequel/prequel to the series, “Green”. This fan has anyway, since the day I heard it was on its way to the bookstores.

Green is touted as being “the beginning and the end,” the book that completes the Circle. Readers new to the series are told they can start with Green and then read through Black, White, and Red, or start with Black and end the series with Green. Either way, the story is complete, the Circle unbroken.

This fan disagrees.

Had I read Green before the original Circle Trilogy, I would have experienced none of the magic and wonderment of discovery, the need to devour page after page, the sense of slowly losing myself to the future world of the colored forest, furry rousch, ugly shitaki, scabs and forest dwellers, heroes and villains, juxtaposed with a current-day race to save the earth’s population from destruction by madmen intent on releasing a deadly virus. The fate of both History and Future are dependant on the actions of our hero, Thomas Hunter, who travels between them in his dreams.

I cracked open Green eager to return to Thomas Hunter’s dual existence and an all-new adventure. I was more than curious as to how Green was going to begin and end the series, but I had no doubt Mr. Dekker would amaze me…again. As I read, I kept the thought in the back of my mind, “How would I like Green if I were reading it first, not having read the other three?”

Having finished, I’m afraid the answer is, “Not much.”

A good portion of Green is spent going over what happened in the first three books, plus the seven books that accompany and continue the original Circle Trilogy. For example, Chapter One opens with a beautiful, moving reenactment of the Great Wedding, only to be interrupted after just six paragraphs with a page-length review of what has happened over the past 10 years, what the Great Wedding is, and why they are reenacting it, before finishing the scene.

Reminders and rehashes of the previous books are sprinkled liberally throughout the book. Had I read Green first, I would know much of what was to come. I would even know the main theme of the allegory, having it spelled out quite clearly by a couple of characters. Part of the sheer pleasure I got from the Circle Trilogy was unfolding the story page by page, chapter by chapter, and book by book; uncovering symbols and allegories and connections. Meeting new characters and mourning deaths. Reading Green first would have robbed me of that joy.

As a sequel, it works…somewhat. Mr. Dekker has written some amazing scenes, visually and spiritually enrapturing. I did occasionally find myself weeping for Eloyn with Thomas, gasping in awe or in disbelief, and was reminded of why I was so captured by the Circle Trilogy. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough of those scenes, the novel being bogged down with going over the past (or the future, as the case may be.)

SPOILER ALERT: You may want to skip ahead if you don’t want to know too much! I’ll give you the ALL CLEAR when you can start reading again. ;)

Green slips from the symbolic allegory of the Circle Trilogy to almost-Biblical fiction, recreating John’s Revelation of Jesus Christ. There is no wondering, no mistaking at all what is happening here.

Green doesn’t end where Revelation does, though; Mr. Dekker’s ending is extra-Biblical, and conveniently crafted for the very purpose of being able to advertise Green as the beginning as well as the end. I sensed it coming and I shouted in my mind, “NO! Don’t do it! Please, Ted, don’t do it.” He didn’t listen to me. He did it.

If you’ve read Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, you’ll groan with me. Stephen did it right, though. Ted left me shaking my head with disappointment. Not only does it make no sense logically (I’d go so far as to say it’s silly,) it is unbiblical. I’ve been trying to work out how it fits theologically, but I’ve been unable.

ALL CLEAR: End of Spoiler alert.

Green might work best as a stand-alone novel, an “extra” to the series. It is too revealing to be a prequel, and too history-laden (pardon the pun) to be a sequel. I caution the reader to remember that Green is not scripture, but a novel. And if anyone can explain how the ending fits into Biblical theology, I’d like to hear it.

Catrina Bradley

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

Sunday, October 18

Monday Manna: What is Man?

Monday Manna

I've often read (and enjoyed) Joanne Sher's Monday Manna, but her verse this week begged me to participate in her meme for the first time. [Yes, I know I'm a day early, but I'm eager.;)]

In Joanne's words, "The purpose of Monday Manna is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word." Click on over to add your own thoughts, photo, artwork, song, or what ever the Spirit moves you to share on the following scripture:

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4


A moonless night in the farmland of Iowa can descend on you like a heavy blanket. The thick darkness extinguishes any trace of the city lights burning miles and miles away. From horizon to horizon, billions of stars blaze and twinkle and glimmer. The Milky Way can be seen in all its glory.

As a child growing up in Iowa, I could stare at the stars (or the clouds, for that matter) for hours, in wonderment of God's creation. I felt very tiny lying on a blanket in the yard, surrounded by its depth, its breadth, its vastness. And the pull of the heavens' majesty never lessened as I grew to adulthood.

Here in Georgia, I still stare at the stars in awe and wonder of God's Glory, and I still feel small, but I don't feel insignificant. I feel humbled.

The God who spoke the universe into existence and brought life to a lump of clay with merely a breath, the God that made these majestic heavens, created each star and planet, crafts the ever-changing clouds, and paints a unique and breathtaking sunset each and every day - He loves me. He cares for me. He hears me. He thinks about me!

He created the beauty and majesty of our world for me.

He could have made earth ugly and distasteful to man, but He chose to make it beautiful so man would enjoy it.

What an amazing God, praise His Name!

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, October 9

Friday Fiction: Zero Hour

Welcome to Friday Fiction! Karlene Jacobson's wonderfully inspiring blog "Homespun Expressions" is the new home of Friday Fiction. Be sure to click on over for links to more short fiction. Feel free to link up your own short story too!

I was stunned when Zero Hour was honored with 2nd place in the weekly Faithwriters Writing Challenge. Marta's story spilled up from the bottom of the pit of depression (we who suffer fall into it every so often). The original ending wasn't fit to share with anyone, and I forced my screaming muse to change Marta's mind, and rewrote it. In doing so, I gave myself hope also.

We are not meant to suffer the dark valleys of life alone; that's why the Body of Christ is made up of many members.

Be Blessed,



Marta pressed her palms onto the worn wood of the rocker’s arms and heaved herself out of the chair. The despair weighing down her soul infected her body as well, making the simplest task seem insurmountable.

Most of the brilliant red and gold outside Marta’s windows had faded and withered to drab, dying shades of tan and brown. Like her spirit. Like her life.

This was supposed to be their view. Their cabin. Their dream.

They had come so close.

How could she enjoy their dream without him?

What was the use in trying?

Getting out of the rocking chair was only the second effort she’d expended today, the first being dragging her unwilling body out of bed and shuffling to this rocker…his rocker. The one he insisted make the move to their retirement home with them. Settling into the hollow he left behind felt like sinking into him. She spent most of her days sitting here now, staring out at the tree-draped pond.

Marta plodded across the room and stood before the wall of windows, arms crossed over her chest.

“It’s not fair, God. He was supposed to be here. This is his house, his master bedroom on the main-floor so he wouldn’t have to climb steps when he was old, his pond so he could go fishing every day of his retirement.

“This was all for him. I mean for us.

“And where is he now? With you. And here I am, left behind.

Marta stifled the curses she wanted to shout at her Lord, and swiped at the tears and muck running down her face. She rubbed fiercely at her face, smearing snot and tears into her hair with her fingers as she grabbed hold with both fists and pulled.

“No more, God. I’m sorry, but your timing stinks.”

Marta yanked at the handle on the French door, her slimy palm slipping on the brass. She opened the door and strode across the deck, over the gravel lane, and onto the tiny private beach designed for secluded afternoon “siestas” but now a solitary sanctuary of loneliness.

Not hesitating at the icy bite of the water at her ankles, Marta kept going until only her head was above the surface of the pond. There she paused, threw her head back, and thrust a fist at the heavens, sending up a shower of droplets that rained back down on her face.

“No more!”

She started at the crunch of tires on gravel, and turned to see a green minivan pull up and her two grandsons pile out of the passenger side and run toward her.

“Grammy! Hi Grammy! Are you swimming? Can we go swimming too?” Ethan’s sweet voice carried across the water to her ears.

Nick was older than Ethan by two years, but at eight was still the grandbaby she remembered. “Hi Grammy, we saw you from the car! We want to swim with you.”

Tears streamed down Marta’s cheeks as she watched their mother, her only daughter, her beloved Alana, round the front of the van and corral the boys. She couldn’t move, just stood neck deep in frigid water and sobbed and shivered.

“Guys, go on into Grammy’s house and see if you can find her cookie jar.” Alana shushed their questions and complaints and herded them toward the cabin. Once the screen door had slammed behind them, she ran to the water’s edge and trudged through the icy pond until she reached Marta. Alana pulled her shaking mother into her arms and held her close.

“Hi, Mom,” she murmured. “We thought you could use some company.”

© 9/18/09

Catrina Bradley

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

Monday, October 5

Book Review: "Kabul24"

I'm happy to announce that I am now a Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger!  My first book was Kabul24 by Henry O. Arnold and Ben Pearson, and I enjoyed this read on so many levels.

The Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan, and they have targeted Shelter Now International as an infidel organization out to convert the Afghani people to Christianity. A trap is set; a trust is betrayed; and 24 SNI workers - eight Westerners and 16 Afghani employees - are taken prisoner.

Kabul24 is the true story of how faith and divine intervention sustained 24 innocent men and women as they suffered over three months of captivity at the hands of madmen.

This book offered an intimate look beyond what I read in the papers or saw on the news. I was invited inside the dank prison cells and into the hearts, thoughts, fears, and prayers of the 24 SNI workers held by the Taliban, never knowing if they’d live to see tomorrow.

The SNI mission workers have nothing but compassion for the Afghani people, and their love and kindness help them build lasting relationships with their fellow prisoners. I was uplifted and encouraged by their constant hope in God and their faith that His will and purpose was being fulfilled through them.

I was expecting a tell-all tale of the horrors of being held hostage by one of the most evil empires in current history. What I found instead is a tale of hope and courage. Of quiet strength and faithful urgency – a compelling combination that resulted in a book I could not quit reading.

Catrina Bradley

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

I review for Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers