For the Record

(3) Returning Home with Ezra, Part 1: The First Return

Beginning, or re-beginning, a relationship requires both parties to accept certain guidelines. In essence, they are entering into an agreement. What that agreement entails is not necessarily explained at first, but that is part of the growth of all relationships–learning to work within someone’s boundaries and learning to draw your own lines.

“5 Then rose up the heads of fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, even all whose spirit God had stirred to go up to build the house of Jehovah which is in Jerusalem. 6 And all they that were round about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, besides all that was willingly offered.” -Ezra 1:5-6ASV.

Two tribes of Israel accepted the invitation to return home and rebuild what they had lost. The area around Jerusalem was the territory of Judah and Benjamin, which might be why the heads of these two tribes were quick to accept. The priests and other Levites would be needed both to provide the specifications to build the temple and to reinstate the proper manner of worship.

We don’t always know what we want to get out of our relationships or how we will react to certain situations. God does know what He wants in a relationship. He laid out exactly what He wanted in His relationship with the Israelites. He described it the Israelites by setting up a covenant through Moses, establishing the Levite tribe to become his priests and temple servants. God’s design for Israel’s government had the priesthood and its order as the nation’s governing officials with God presiding as their king. The king’s throne, or mercy seat, was located inside the temple—in the holy of holies—on Jerusalem’s mountain. Long before Israel was carried away to Babylon, they expressed dissatisfaction with the agreement God made with them. Namely, they did not want God as their king. They yearned for a physical king. So, God granted them an earthly dynasty of kingship which threw them into a system that wrecked their way of life.

Why did He allow them to mess with His boundaries and deny Him as their king? Sometimes relationships have to go through a trial and error period to learn the value of the boundaries that are being set. This phase is especially evident in parent-child relationships. The parent disapproves of the child’s desire for something that won’t benefit him or her. Still, the parent allows the child to make the mistake and experience the consequences in hopes that the child will learn to value the boundaries of the relationship and trust that the parent is trying to give the child the very best. This is what God allowed to happened to Israel. They went through some devastating times when they became subjects of a human dictator. One of the negative effects of this earthly kingship was the legacy of Jeroboam, the king who set up new worship centers in Bethel and Dan to keep Northern Israel from journeying into Southern Israel to worship at God’s true temple at Jerusalem.

This division of Northern and Southern Israel led ten of the twelve tribes to reject God altogether. They did not worship in Jerusalem for many generations. They forgot where “home” really was and stopped wanting God in their lives. They chose to forget about Him. The Northern kingdom was invaded, and few souls survived from those ten tribes. Yet, Ezra says there were those “whose spirit God had stirred to go up.” God waited and watched. He looked for those few remaining souls who wanted a relationship with Him. They wanted to return home and start again.

“7 Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of Jehovah, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put in the house of his gods; 8 even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah.” – Ezra 1:7-8ASV

When the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, besieged Jerusalem, in 587BCE, he destroyed the temple Solomon built. He stole the gold and silver vessels from the temple, and, later, Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s successor, used them when he hosted a gathering in honor of his gods (Daniel 5:2-6, 30). These stolen, holy containers were inherited by Cyrus, who commanded them to be returned to the temple.

It has been more than two millennia since any human has witnessed the splendor of the first temple at Jerusalem, the golden-covered structures and the gem-studded garments. In our age, we can’t really comprehend what the return of these temple items meant to an Israelite. Cyrus the Great was fully acknowledging Who owned the treasures of God, subsequently granting rights to the nation of Israel. Going into captivity had torn the people from their God-given land, their family lines, and their identities. Their God-centered government, meant to separate their way of life distinctly from the nations around them, lost its authority. For seventy years, they had to function with caution under a pagan system that threatened and constrained them from being who they were.

Ezra reports that the stolen items were catalogued, or “numbered.” This was a transaction between Cyrus and the Israelites, and it is a characteristic act of a scribe of that time to document historical evidence of the political reinstatement of Israel as a nation.

Ezra continues his documentation by recording the returning families, found in chapter two. This is distinctly characteristic of Israel itself. This nation kept meticulous genealogical records. Recording family lineage was not only a tradition but a necessity.  The law of Moses required each citizen to prove he/she was an Israelite—of a tribe descending from Jacob—to participate acceptably both in everyday life and in the worship of God. These lengthy genealogies were guarded and kept for centuries. It is believed that Ezra continued this record-keeping of the kingly line in 2 Chronicles before beginning his history. (The documents existed until 70 CE, when Jerusalem was beseiged during the Roman reign and the temple was destroyed.)

Along with requirements for temple worship, an Israelite’s tribal lineage defined his social standing and the ability to provide for himself and his family. Large families meant a better chance of continuing a tribe’s line. This explains God’s blessing of many children repeated throughout the Old Testament. Without descendants, a tribe would diminish, or, worse, cease to exist. (Naomi, from the book of Ruth, mourns this, and God blesses her by having Boaz father Ruth’s first child in the name of Naomi’s husband’s line. See Ruth 4:13-14.)

Ezra begins his count with the phrase, “the number of the men of the people of Israel” (Ezra 2:2). He doesn’t call them “the children of Judah,” as he does in other places in this history. While most of these people are from the southern tribes, there is no longer a divided kingdom of northern Israel and southern Judah. The remnant of God’s people become one Israel again as God accepts them back into His family.

God wants all people to accept His offer to be part of His family. Today, God’s chosen nation is made up of people from all nations. The bloodline of spiritual Israel continues when one is born into the kingdom by a spiritual birth, not a physical one (Colossians 1:13; Colossians 2:12-13). This is the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham that “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 18:18; 22:18; 26:4). All are invited to enter the holy presence of Jehovah God. No one is left to stand outside; no one is barred from entering. God graciously grants all the choice of accepting this relationship agreement and entering His heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22). And God also keeps a record. Every person who chooses to return to Him—male and female, all nationalities and races—is written down in His book of life (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5).


Start Returning Home with Ezra

During this time of staying in our homes to stop the quick spread of COVID-19, it occurred to me that taking away all the busyness in our lives gives us a chance to focus on relationships. We get a chance to reconnect, reestablish,- and reconfirm who we are and what we mean to each other. This is a scary time, but it is also enlightening. Focusing on a relationship brings forward problems we have pushed aside, problems we could ignore before. Old wounds can be reopened; new issues come to light we didn’t know existed. It’s human nature to run from the past and hurry through the present, but that keeps the human spirit from reaping joy and peace in the future. One has to face the struggle to find harmony.

There is a family in the Bible that gives a detailed account of what it means to turn back and, courageously, take a look and accept the past. From this bold step, they learn to take on the challenge of what’s going on in the present and commit themselves to a better future. Ezra is a book that brings hope. It details the struggles of the children of God as they work through the phases of turning things back around in their lives to return to a relationship with their Creator and with each other.

In a psychological sense, everyone takes the same steps that these people of Ezra’s time took. Ezra’s account illustrates how to reconnect, reestablish, and reconfirm a relationship that is valued and important. Changes don’t happen immediately. Instead, one makes a series of decisions to develop strong attachments. Returning Home will be posted in four sections to break down the steps taken in relationship development and commitment. Starting with “The First Return,” Ezra will show us the breakaway from the old situation. “Reigniting” steps through the gradual change of the old way of thinking and doing. The third part, “Renewing,” follows the Israelite people as they implement a new way of thought and action.  The final part, “The Second Return,” follows the last chapters of Ezra, where a greater turning point occurs in a time when, after experiencing the new, changed state of life, God’s children have to ask the crucial question, “Will we stay committed to this relationship?”

Ezra begins his narrative when the Israelite captives are given permission to return from Babylonian capture after seventy years of captivity. The Babylonian empire has fallen, and Cyrus the Great of Persia is emperor of the nations. We’ll travel through the story using the American Standard Version of the Bible for reference. Historical references, some inspired by tidbits of information in the Zondervan Archaeological Study Bible KJV, will be accompanied by web links and excerpts from various encyclopedia and archaeology websites, as well as some information found on Wikipedia. My point is to use references that are, for the most part, well-established and, generally, uncontested in order to depict how Ezra’s account aligns with what we know in history. Below is my attempt at a timeline for context. It is my goal to post daily, so subscribe to be notified of new posts to the Returning Home series.

Israel's Captivity and Return Timeline

Forever Appeal

My grandma has gone on, and I keep thanking God that I had a short time to be with her before she died. I went to stay with her in December. I walked into her room and a potent smell practically choked me. It wasn’t a nice smell. It was laced with a strong disinfectant scent. People talk about the smell that they associate with the elderly in their last years, and how uncomfortable and unappealing it is. There were a good many things that were unappealing about my grandmother’s slow release from this life. The things that didn’t appeal to her were the hardest for me to watch her struggle through.

She was 93. So many of her friends had died already. She felt she did not connect with the younger generations who remained. She was restless to join her generation beyond this life. She spoke of death often, always with apologies and assurances to me. She knew it made me uncomfortable, but, for her, it was a subject she needed to talk to me about. She thought of death continually. She welcomed it because she had hope of what was to come. She didn’t know why God had allowed her to live to such a great age when the others of her childhood were either dead or not cognizant anymore. There were times she became despondent, wrapped up in her loneliness. There were times when she lashed out in anger, frustrated she wasn’t capable of changing her situation. There were times when she made subtle jabs, irritated with everyone and everything because she felt powerless. Why could no one do something to help her? Why had God chosen for her to stay when the people she loved were in a better place…without her?

My grandmother was a tiny, tiny woman. Not even five feet tall. The spirit in that tiny body was Amazonian. She had so much will and determination. She used to tell me stories of how she’d decide to do something, and if her husband gave the okay, she’d do it herself. She painted half of their house one day, getting a friendly neighbor to help her, while my grandpa was at work. He came home, shook his head, and grinned at her. He adored her. She adored him. I never knew my grandpa. He died when my mom was ten. My grandma never remarried. She told me many times that she’d never had the desire to remarry.

Your grandpa and I had a grand marriage. We understood each other. I thought about remarrying, but I was satisfied. That’s all.

She said it many times because I asked her many times. I wanted to hear it. For her to feel so satisfied with that one love, that one beautiful union, showed me how much a woman could be in love. She had more than one proposal, more than one opportunity to embark on a second marriage, but that had not appealed to her.

Last year, she lay in a hospital bed, day in and day out. For a woman who liked to be with people, this was the most unappealing of all. She was tortured by quietness. An entire wall and a portion of another were lined with shelves overhead, where all her books were stored. She read and she read and she read. She read until she was sick of books, sick of television, sick of that room, sick of the food and the sleep and the peace and quiet. But she could not get up and leave. It took her great effort just to shift her body to one side or to the other in the bed.

I would come into her room and talk to her. I wanted to talk to her, but it required me to speak in a strained, raised voice because she could not hear me otherwise. She ached to do something, to be involved. She hunted for anything that might be bothering me, and then she would try to fix it. It would become a matter she couldn’t let go of, regardless of my attempts to tell her it was okay. But I realized it wasn’t okay to her because she needed to be needed, and she needed me to let her help me.

When I first walked into that room, I was overwhelmed with the smell, with the things I needed to do to clean and care for my grandmother. But I’ve had children. I know that love does not spring from doing the pleasing things; it springs from doing the unappealing things borne of frailty and dependence. I began to crave the touch of her soft, wrinkled skin. I rubbed her motionless feet, so tiny and curled. And when I asked, “Do you want me to keep rubbing your feet?” her weak, muffled voice would come from the pillow, “All day long.” For a short moment, I brought her something that appealed. And now, she is in a place where she knows nothing but all that appeals to her. For that is Who God is. He is the Goodness Source. Nothing appeals without Him.

One Wednesday Night

Realm received a note the other day from a coworker who spent one Wednesday night with us months ago. This coworker—I’ll call him Alexander because I rarely get to call anyone Alexander, and I really like that name… What was I saying? Oh, yeah: So, Alexander doesn’t live here. He lives three states away. Realm, being the type of guy who doesn’t like to see another guy eating fried chicken from the grocery store deli or buying the very fresh and boring sandwich (call it a Panini or what you will, it’s still a sandwich), invited Alexander over to eat at our house.

I didn’t know very much about him when Realm invited him over but that he was from out-of-town and that he was on a diet similar to Realm’s: fresh veggies, low carbs, no sugar. He walked into the kitchen to greet me, and he was very polite. I was very nervous about what I was serving. It was my third week of making low carb dishes. I hoped the honey in my honey-mustard sauce drizzled over the baked ham wouldn’t be too bad of a diet no-no. Then I hoped my ham wasn’t a no-no! There are some religious groups, like Seventh-Day Adventists, who don’t do pork. Basically, I worried my way through the entire meal, even after he complimented me on the food.

That night, when we left the house for Bible study, Alexander rode with us. My kids fought over who would sit by him. I don’t know much about Alexander’s beliefs, but he told Realm afterward that he’d enjoyed the study.

In the weeks that followed, the kids asked repeatedly whether he’d be back to eat with us again. “He should come over on Sunday and eat, too. Then he could go to worship services with us two times!” my daughter said. I think she thought this was an offer that couldn’t be refused. But Alexander had to go back home, and he slipped out of our thoughts for a bit.

Recently, Realm learned Alexander was returning to town. He sent him a message that he should come over again for supper, that the kids had asked about him, and he hoped his work was going well. As it ended up, Alexander’s business trip was canceled. He messaged Realm, and this was one of the things he said about coming to our house that night:

“That will go down in history as one of the highlights in my life.”

Realm showed his message to me and had to explain it because I thought it was a strange joke when I read it. It completely flummoxed me. That night I’d been super nervous about whether my food worked with the diet, while Alexander wasn’t even looking at that. He was seeing our family gathered around a table, talking and laughing. He was watching us put away stuff quickly, grab our Bibles, and pile into the van. He was listening to us carry on various conversations on our way to the church building—little, insignificant thoughts and silly fights, I thought. But they were great big clues because they exposed our closeness, our regular communication, our peace.


I don’t realize sometimes what I have. I didn’t realize it when I was growing up around our family table, where my father sat at the head and we bowed our heads in prayer. The blessing of family comes from God. It is a blessing that is distorted when God is taken out of the center of it. It is a quiet haven that is destroyed when God’s words of kindness, real love, and commitment are ignored.

Alexander is divorced. His kids are almost grown, and he doesn’t get to see them often. There’s a part of him that craves the haven of home. We only have one life. That’s it. Don’t miss the haven. Even if you’ve missed it here, don’t miss the eternal haven with God. Seek Him. Pray to Him. He invites you to His table. Accept His invitation, and He will take you home with Him forever.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’
“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’
– Luke 15:17-26a

Notes from “Meeting the Commander in Chief”

He stood before me, blocking my view of the city we were to take. I did not know from which direction he’d come, he’d appeared so suddenly. His sword was drawn. The way he held himself spoke of power and authority. He was formidable in every aspect. His very presence might have made me doubt whether I could lead my men forward. But I did not doubt. Perhaps I was given the charge of taking this land for that reason: I’ve never doubted the success of my orders from the top…(Read more)

Joshua’s encounter with God became my springboard for writing the four Stories of the Valiant. Those three verses in Joshua are packed full of meaning. Joshua doesn’t know who the man is at first; but seeing he is armed as one who goes out to fight, Joshua confronts him. The reader can see from Joshua’s words that he’s not willing to assume anything, but isn’t going to retreat from the command he’s been given—to go in, drive out the Canaanites, and inhabit the land.

That’s faith. Faith is real and living. When it is planted, the believer must act upon it, changing his/her thinking to conform to what the believer knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is the truth.

In Joshua’s case, he wasn’t expected to understand who he was speaking to. He didn’t know that the One standing before him in the form of a military leader was his Lord. But he did know what God had told him to do and was going forward with that. That’s what God wanted of him. Joshua didn’t need all the pieces to obey. He didn’t need to know everything about God’s plan for removing the Canaanites to confront the man he thought was standing in his way.

What is so incredible to me about this verse is that God, the Creator, allowed Joshua, the creation, to approach and question His position. Who of us has any right to do that? Yet, God has always allowed each of us to ask, “Are you for or against me?” And the answer has always been far above us, for who are we to have a side to defend? And God explains over and over to His children, “I am on my side.” Joshua understood and knew that he, Joshua, was on God’s side, too!

God, the Father, sent Jesus, God the Son, into spiritual battle for our souls. It was fought in a physical way when Jesus took on the lower form of man to be tempted in all points as we are. The war hung in the balance as Jesus perished on the cross. Death was defeated when Jesus, the perfect, sinless sacrifice, could not be bound by eternal death—because He is God, deity, “the brightness of the glory of God and the express image of his person.” He rose from the grave! The sin He carried with Him to the grave could not condemn Him to spiritual death because He did not commit any sin. That was the victory. He removed the sin, the sin that would condemn us to an existence separated from the presence of the Source of all Goodness.

Joshua’s story shows what it is to seek always to be on God’s side, to give up the things that keep us from His presence, and to learn to do what pleases Him. Just like He did for Joshua, God welcomes us into His Presence to bow in worship and ask for counsel from Him to take on the life battles we face. To be allied with Jesus Christ, the King of God’s Eternal Kingdom, is to be assured of that victory and to expect the fulfillment of the promise of spending eternity in the presence of God. It is a relief and thrill to know that putting on Christ means never being on one’s own side in the battles that rage both in the heart and in the world.

And that’s what I came away with when I read about Joshua and his meeting with the Commander of the LORD’s army. Three little verses brought thoughts to mind that gave me a better glimpse of God’s love.

For The Last Man Standing

Story 4 – Stories of the Valiant

When you are at peace with two peoples who are at war, you must choose your side.

He came from the mountain in the plains of Esdraelon, running for his life. He came to me for refuge because of the peace between our families. I left my tent and called to him, “Captain! Come. Come in, and don’t be afraid.”

He entered my dwelling and fell upon his knees, shattered by the chase. He was out of breath, and his eyes darted about in terror. In them I could read what he was thinking: His armies were gone, every man of them killed. He was the last—their captain, he was the last!

I drew a blanket over his huddled figure. He looked up at me with his wild eyes, sunk into his drawn face, and said, “Please…Give me water. I am…so thirsty.”

I could have given him what he requested, but I placed the skin of milk in his hand instead, the cream risen, smooth and silken, to the top. He drank of the milk until his thirst was quenched, and I covered him once more.

I heard it in his sigh: His weakened body was giving way to the lulling effects of the rich cream.

“Guard the door,” he slurred, commanding, “That way if they come seeking me, you will stop them and tell them you haven’t seen me here.”

Sleep claimed him then.

I stood at the entrance as he slept and withdrew a spike that secured the cords of my house. Approaching him softly, my hammer in my right hand, I heard his heavy breathing. Nothing could have pulled him out of that torpor. Nothing.

I drove the tent nail through his temple and into the ground.

“Come,” I called to his enemy, when he came in search of the dead captain. “I will show you the man you’re looking for.”

It was I to whom the LORD sent the last man standing. To me, Jael, was given the honor of taking down Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army and the enemy of God’s people.

Sisera, the captain of the armies of Jabin, king of Hazor, went to Jael, the wife of a Kenite, for refuge. She killed him with a tent nail to his temple after giving him milk to drink when he requested water (Judges 4:15-22).  Deborah, the judge of Israel, prophesied to Barak, the captain of the Israelite army, that the honor of the battle would not go to him–that Sisera would be delivered into the hand of a woman (Judges 4:9). They sang of Jael in Judges 5:24-27, and how she killed Sisera.

Confronting the Vengeful King

Story 3 – Stories of the Valiant

“My lady! My lady!”

“What is it?” I asked the young servant who was out of breath.

He huffed out, “It’s the master. He’s yelled at the messengers of the Hunted King who came to ask that they be given food from the feast. My lady, they were a wall to us shepherds and protected us and the sheep all the season. They were very good to us, and your husband, that son of Belial, has set certain death upon our heads!”

I dropped my work and ran, telling the servant who followed behind me, “Gather the donkeys. We cannot waste a moment!”

I went directly to the baskets, loaded with food for the celebration, and took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five cooked sheep, five bags of parched corn, a hundred clusters of the sun-kissed raisins, and two hundred lumps of pressed figs. While we loaded them onto the donkeys, I prayed. Would it be enough? Would any offering to the Lord’s Anointed be enough to excuse such treason?

I knew the answer, and my hands shook as I took the reins to set off for the camp of David and his warriors. David, of whom the women sang, “King Saul has killed his thousands, but David, his ten thousands!” Was there any hope of stopping the massacre that would come upon us all?

I told the servants, their donkeys laden with food, to go in front of me. Perhaps if he and his men saw the food first, their hunger would persuade them to listen. Perhaps then their fury might be placated.

But I had no real hope. My husband had acted as he always does—selfishly and without thought for the consequences. The consequences for this would be annihilation of every male in our household. What had begun as a celebration of our bounty was soon to be a day of mourning and loss. As I rode, the tears spilled down my cheeks. What could I do? What could I do?

My heart gave way as we rounded the hill to their camp. His warriors rose up and came out to meet us, already arrayed for battle. It was everything I feared. My husband’s actions had been the ultimate insult upon this great man, God’s chosen king.

Then I saw him. David. His handsome face was hardened with wrath and vengeance, and even in those seconds I could see the toll Saul’s relentless hunt had had on him. I slid from my donkey quickly and ran to him, throwing myself at his feet. I bowed my head to the ground, aware of the heat of the fierce fire in his eyes as he looked on me.

“On me, my lord! Let this reproach be on me! And let me, your servant—I beg you!—speak to you and please hear me!”

My breath caught in my throat, but I cried, lifting my head, “Please, my lord, think nothing of this man of Belial, Nabal. He’s just like his name means: foolish, and trouble is what he makes. But I, your servant, didn’t see your messenger when he came!”

Our lives were on the brink in that moment, I knew. And I’d hidden nothing from him, my king. I’d called out my own husband for what he was in the ears of his men and my husband’s servants. I knew what this king could take from me: everything. But he would pay more than I would; before our God, his own hand would be cursed with the blood of the innocent ones in my husband’s household. And that was what I told him.

“As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, seeing the Lord has stopped you in time from shedding blood and from getting revenge with your own hands,” I begged, “now let your enemies and those who seek your life be just like Nabal.”

I raised my arms, gesturing to the laden donkeys. “And now this gift, my lord, which I, your servant, have brought, let it be given to your young men who serve you.

“And,” I pleaded, “I beg you, forgive the wrong-doing of me, your servant!”

I praised him then for following our God, for doing what was righteous, and I feared less that he would lift his sword to me. I could see in his eyes that the fury was going out of him while I spoke the truth of what I knew of him—of dethroned Saul’s pursuit of him, how God would set him on the throne to rule over us, and how he would be found guiltless this day. Perhaps my words pleased him. Perhaps the look of me pleased him. I saw the admiration in his eyes and thanked my God that He had made me beautiful to look at and had tested me in the presence of my foolish husband many an hour that I would be ready to speak words of peace to this mighty man of God. These blessings of God prevented a great massacre that day.

Abigail pleads with David in I Samuel 25 verses 14-31. The women sing “Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands” in I Samuel 18:7.

Thoughts on a Great Moral Leader

It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! MLK was an incredible public speaker. He had a profound influence on his community, his state, and his country. In my opinion, history textbooks don’t portray the essence of his message or his understanding of the innate rights God has granted to humankind. King rose up and spoke against cruelty and injustice committed against Black Americans. He believed in acting out of love, and he believed that meant never backing down when an innocent citizen’s rights or freedoms were withheld or taken away.

Martin Luther King leaning on a lectern. Deuts...
Martin Luther King on March 26, 1964 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve lived in southern states all of my life. King’s image in my formative years was that of a passionate man of hero status. Growing up, I thought everyone had the freedoms King fought for. I assumed everyone understood it is wrong to treat any man, woman, or child—created in God’s image!—as inferior to another man, woman, or child. Now I know that devaluing one innocent human life is the devaluing all of mankind as a worthless, disposable mass. King explained this within the context of society in a country: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We are all “tied in a single garment of destiny.”

MLK wasn’t a perfect man, but he didn’t let his mistakes stop him from using his influence for good. His Letter from Birmingham Jail is a chock-full example of his heart, his bravery, and his compassion. There was so much he’d seen and experienced in his life to make him bitter and angry, but he committed to acting morally in the face of injustice. His words inspired hope in his listeners, and they continue to inspire hope. It begs the question: If moral leaders inspire hope, what do immoral leaders inspire?

Monday? Again?

Yes, it’s Monday again. But it’s okay because this is not your plain old Monday. It’s “Thank God It’s Monday!” Really. Have you thanked God for Monday? Ever? Well, try it today and tell me how it goes.

I really am thankful. Without Monday, we’d have dreadful Tuesdays…which might bleed over into our Wednesdays. Saturdays would become Fridays…It would be tragic. And, if you think about it, Monday is a trooper. It takes the brunt of the bad moods every week. We wrestle with the inevitability of Monday as we get out of bed, and grumble about it to our friends and co-workers. Does it complain? Nope. It continues on its 24-hour trek like a good little soldier, and we don’t see it again for six more days.

While I thank God for Monday, I’m also glad I have a Creator of days to thank. I’m thankful He wants to be with me for eternity. I know I want to be with Him. When I envision Monday from the other side of the grave, then yes, I’m very, very thankful. It’s one more day to do things better, try a little harder, and give a little more of myself. I hope you’re having a fantastic Monday!

Stalled Pen

Just read Twistingthreads‘ post, “Deadlocked.” I sometimes find a piece of myself in the thoughts this blogger records. This particular post hit on my frustrations precisely, but for different reasons. I haven’t been writing fiction for weeks. I haven’t any real inclination to work on my story. This is insanely uncommon for me.

My husband lost his job a few weeks ago. We married while still in school. Even while maintaining a 4.0 GPA, this amazing guy worked to support us. He’s supported our family ever since. (And I’m going to stop there before this post becomes “Ode to My Husband, A Veritable Superman.”) So you see what’s at the crux of my Writer’s Block. Everything else (like the irritation I feel at myself for conforming to everyone and their dog’s blog advice for writing, to the point that my work is taking on the sheen of a Stepford wife) would fix itself but for this one issue.

So, what am I doing these days? At first, he and I were tag teaming filling out online applications. Now he’s got about fifteen hundred recruiters handling that side of things for him. (Okay, maybe that’s a hyperbolic estimate. It just feels like that.) When he was laid off, he asked if I could end the school year early. (We home educate, and I had 11 more days to go, according to my self-imposed schedule.) I knew he needed me, so we closed up shop. For the first week, I had records and textbooks and school shelves to clean out and pack up. Now that’s done, and I feel empty.

We had plans for the summer that have been either canceled or put on hold, one of which was my plan to send out a horde of queries to a list of agents I’ve been compiling. I’m in enough emotional turmoil that I don’t need to add the feelings of rejection about my manuscript to that, or, for that matter, my reactions to the initial correspondences that might lead to acceptance.

How do I describe what life is like right now… It’s like I’m in a vacuum experiencing overload. Some days I’m on a high, cleaning house like a maniac, completing the projects I couldn’t seem to get around to before, having long-overdue get-togethers with friends and family, finding ways to use all the canned goods that were shoved to the back of my pantry I bought and forgot about. Then there are the days I go fuzzy in the head and watch Korean drama until I can’t stand it and start manipulating the video to see if I can skip to where the guy is going to yank her by the arm into an embrace that looks about as comforting as hugging a dead fish.

I’ve not given up hope or anything here—about writing or about the job hunt. At present, I don’t know how to feel, or what to feel. It’s a dip in the road. I’m down in the valley, and can’t see the big picture yet. One day, I know I’ll look back and see the road behind me. The dip will hardly be visible, and I’ll be able to see why the direction we took was the right one. I have faith that God is seeing us through this transition. I have many, many proofs by the way some form of encouragement comes just when I need it most—and exactly the way I needed to know it. We have loving, concerned friends and strong family ties, not only physical but spiritual family ties. God is stretching out His hands to us through these avenues daily. Because of this, He’s answering a question I haven’t been able to voice these past few weeks. He’s letting me know that we didn’t do anything wrong. We weren’t being irresponsible or undependable. We were doing just what we were supposed to be doing, and these things are bound to happen in this economy.

I know it’s all going to work out. Right now, it’s taking everything I have just to be still and know God’s in charge. For some reason, that has stilled my pen, too.