Friday, January 29

Friday Fiction: Bless Me Please, For I Have Sneezed

This week's Fiction Friday is hosted by
the lovely and talented Julie at The Surrendered Scribe.
Stop by to read more great Friday Fiction.
We would love to have you join us.


The sneeze came on too fast.

My left hand clutched the resume I was about to hand to Mr. Bernard S. Burkholter, Esquire, president of the most prestigious law firm in Lansing, and my right hand was outstretched to snatch a tissue out of the box on his desk, when the powerful ACHOOO was loosed prematurely. My eyes snapped open post-sneeze, and immediately I squinched them shut again.

I hoped the groaning sob I choked off sounded enough like a cough to cover for my emotional breakdown. My unprotected sneeze had caused me to hawk a loogie clear across Mr. Burkholter's desk to land... splat ...on the right lens of his eyeglasses.

"Oh...please...excuse me...let me...I'm so" I fumbled for the elusive white tissue bursting from the slit in the box top, but my hands were shaking so badly I bumped Mr. Burkholter's tumbler of Diet Coke and sent a river of soda surging straight toward his lap.

He was otherwise occupied with getting his muck-spattered glasses off of his face and didn't see the onslaught coming. When the icy river waterfalled over the desk and into his crotch, he leapt from his chair so abruptly he banged his thighs against the desk, drawer causing the entire desk to jolt.

Evidently that jolt set off a silent alarm that signaled the security guards, because they entered post haste with guns drawn. My hands flew in the air and my pristine resume flew into the lake of soda on Mr. Burkholter's desk.

I looked at Mr. Burkholter, and he looked at the men in blue. I looked at the men in blue, and they kindly escorted me out of Mr. Burkholter's office and out off the building without even offering me a "God bless you" or "gesundheit".

Needless to say, I wasn't offered the job, either.

© 1/21/10

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, January 22

Friday Fiction: A Nobel Vessel

My Friday Fiction this week is another blast from the past. "A Nobel Vessel" placed 3rd in the Advanced level (Level 2) in the FaithWriters weekly challenge.

A Nobel Vessel

Sweat rivulets streaked Paul's dusty face; salty drops spattered the ground. He tottered as greedy animals shoved him. The stench of grimy, matted wool stung his nostrils

"Feed my lambs."

He desperately thrust his hands into a barrel of mush and scooped out a handful. Slimy meal ran through his fingers. He dribbled a scant amount into a toppled sieve at his feet, but it was swallowed by cracked earth.

"Tend my sheep."

"I'm trying!" Paul repeatedly filled his cupped hands attempting to nourish the boisterous, bleating, animals.

"Feed my sheep."

"Lord, show me the way!"

Paul sprang from sleep; his heart was racing. Those faded blue overalls, the heat, slimy mush on my hands, anxiety, disappointment. All so vivid - so real.

He raked through his tousled hair and rubbed his face. My sermon this morning had to cause this dream. Lord, am I not feeding your sheep?

Mary's palm fell gently on her husband's leg as the organist's notes faded. "Paul? Shouldn't you be...?"

"Oh, thanks, hon." The worship hymns had been merely background for his meditation.

"Good morning!"


They're lukewarm, as usual. "Ahem. GOOD MORNING!"

"Good Morning!"

"Ah, much better. I thought maybe you didn't agree with me." Paul was glad the giggles and titters had the desired affect. The parishioners stirred, and sat a bit straighter.

He made announcements, then led them through the offering, wondering all the while, Am I not feeding His sheep?

Paul sat with his family in the front pew as the choir began a hymn. His dream echoed in his thoughts. God, am I feeding your sheep?

"Feed your sheep."

The Spirit's message was clear to Paul, but it also puzzled him. Lord, they are your sheep.

"You are their shepherd."

Yes. My flock. Paul appraised his parishioners. Gilbert's chin dropped to his chest. Mr. Cowan scolded his son. Abe scribbled in a notebook. Sara rummaged through her purse. The Pastor's face fell when he realized how few of them were actually worshipping.

"Feed my sheep."

Paul sat bolt upright and his brow unfurled. With a glance at his watch, he leaned toward his wife. "Mary, I need a favor." Instructions were softly given.

Mary raised a brow, but his look said, "Trust me," and he shooed her out.

When choir's timbre was a glimmer in the air, Paul bounded to the pulpit. "Folks, let's sing that chorus! Lift it to God! Janet?" He turned to the organist with his "trust me" look. She shrugged at the choir director. They knew - stall for time. Paul's voice boomed, and the congregation was inspired to join.

Paul preached at length before communion. After his "Amen," the ushers let out a sigh. He winked at them and whispered, "Take your time."

He hunched over in the pew and sighed. 'Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.' Tell me if I've got this right. Tell me if I don't. Please shepherd me as I feed these sheep You've entrusted to my care. Mary slipped into the pew beside him as he prayed, and gently set a white bag by his feet.

"Well, folks, I had planned to preach from John 21:15-17 about the responsibilities of a good pastor. But then ... I had this humbling dream.

"Oh, and you might be wondering about this bag. Yes, I did have Mary get breakfast."

Paul grinned at Mary standing ready by the door. At her signal, a score of teenagers bearing white bags streamed into the sanctuary, and proffered their goods at the ends of the pews.

"Ok, everybody, take one and pass it down." Paul crossed to the choir with his bag.

He grinned with delight as Celia peered over the edge and cooed. "Muffins!"

Paul almost scampered back to the pulpit. "Eat, eat, while breakfast is hot. But let me tell you about my dream. See, I was a farmer." More laughter erupted. Paul had the interest of his flock.

By the time Paul finished his animated reenactment, he had their full attention. "Now, I had good food, but the sheep got no nourishment. I couldn't transfer the food. On top of that, there was no sturdy bowl to hold it.

"A good shepherd not only provides food for his sheep, he makes sure they eat and digest.

"First, he comes prepared, then he ensures there's a proper vessel for food.

"This week, I'll be preparing for a new sermon series. Next Sunday's message will be "The Noble Vessel."


John 21:15-17, RSV
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."

A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep."

He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.

2 Timothy 2:21, RSV
If any one purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house,

© 12/7/06

Friday Fiction is hosted this week by Lynn Squire at Faith, Fiction, Fun, and Fanciful. Be sure to pay her a visit, and click on MckLinky to read more short fiction or add your own link.

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, January 8

Friday Fiction: Waves of Grace

My offering for Friday Fiction today is an oldie, but I hope a goodie. I wrote it as an "out of the box" entry for the "Lifeguard" challenge at FaithWriters way back in November of 2006, but rejected it and wrote from another, more "traditional" angle instead. This was also my first attempt at Biblical fiction.

Waves of Grace

The torturous night was almost over. Sophia's feet hurt, her back ached, and she was exhausted from hours of trudging. The pack she carried grew heavier with each step. Her eyes were bleary from fatigue. Despite her weariness, she was driven by the worry in Mama's eyes and the edge in Papa's. She knew their freedom, and possibly their lives, depended on finishing this trek.

Sophia's family brought up the rear of the multitude. She chanced another look back, her eyes darting right and left, hoping to see her forbidden love. All she could see filling the canyon between the wall of water to the north and the identical wall to the south was the same unchanging cyclone. It resembled smoke, but there were no flames. The thick, dusky, column had trailed them all night, hiding them from their pursuers as they crossed the vast canyon carved into the sea. Streaks of purple and orange now painted its eastern waters as the sun eased over the horizon, reminding her of how many hours they had spent on this terrifying journey.

"Daughter! Don't fall behind. We've almost made it."

Sophia's head snapped forward. "Coming Papa." Hours spend in the mist drizzling from the raging waters had drenched Sophia's cloak, dampening her robe beneath and chilling her to the bone. "God, I don't have it in me to continue. Cleopus is there in the throng pursuing us. Please grant us both strength." Her legs found new speed and her feet caught her up with her family.

Just as she spied the grassy bank marking the end of the crossing, a stone, poking from the mud of the riverbed, caught the toe of Sophia's sandal. The weight of her pack threw her off balance; she fought to keep her footing. She lurched, tottered. The blue shawl covering her head dropped to the rutted bed of the vacated sea. Tears of frustration welled as she turned and knelt down to retrieve it. Low to the ground, she finally caught sight of determined soldiers on horseback and in chariots frightfully close to the fleeing Hebrews. Sophia's breath caught and she froze, petrified with terror.

One face at the front of the throng swam into focus and her heart leapt - Cleopus! So close to her. She floundered in conflicting emotions, and her father's voice seemed to come from a great distance. "Sophia! Do not delay!"

Sophia snatched up the sodden shawl, struggled to her feet, and turned to take the last few steps. The others had already left the sea bed and made it onto the bank; she was the last. As her feet made landfall the roar of the waters intensified, and she whipped around. The column of smoke was moving, and she beheld the sea tumbling back into place, burying their path and threatening the pursuing soldiers. Forgetting all reason, she dropped her belongings and dashed into the tumult. She could reach Cleopus and rescue him from the waters.

"Cleopus!" Frantic, Sophia screamed the name of her love. Above the thundering din, she heard his voice, returning her call. She sighted him again, much closer now. He had been knocked from his mount and was struggling to gain his footing in the knee-deep swell. Fully soaked now, Sophia reached out and grabbed his arm. "I'll help you!"

Staggering, sputtering, slogging, clinging to each other, they made it to the grass and fell to the ground as the full brunt of the sea filled the canyon. They watched, stunned, as Cleopus' fellow soldiers were tossed like flotsam.

"Thank you ... you saved me." His voice was hoarse from the long, cold, night and the choking waters.

Sophia cast her eyes down, searching for words. She then meekly turned to face her love. "Remember all I have told you about the One True God?"

"Yes. The Great I Am who sent the plagues."

"It was God who saved you. I was but a humble tool in His hands. And it was He who delivered us, His people, from bondage and parted the sea before us."

Cleopus contemplated the Reed Sea, once again level and full, considering her words. "Only a great and mighty God could have performed such a miracle."

"He has a purpose for your life. Thank Him for your salvation, and put your faith in Him. He will never fail you."

Cleopus nodded, and Sophia took his hand.

© 11/16/06

Friday Fiction is hosted this week by the sweet, adorable, and talented Sara Harricharan at Fiction Fusion. Click on over for more 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)

Wednesday, January 6

Word Filled Wednesday: Worship at His Holy Mountain

"Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain, 
for the Lord our God is Holy."
Psalm 99:9

I'm short on words today, so I'll let this picture and Psalm 99:9 speak for how I feel in His presence, and my reaction to His Holiness.

May the Lord bless you.

For more Word Filled Wednesday, run to The 160 Acre Woods where AmyDeanne will welcome you.

Catrina Bradley

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