Monthly Archives: August 2012

Soldiers Don’t Cry Pt. 4: “Sergeant Pudding Butt” the continued story…dun, dun, dun!

Photo and Cover by Bethany Brown

For parts one through three, see our table of contents from last Friday. Our apologies for never being able to get this story up last weekend. We hope you enjoy it and stick around for the next installment next month!

Still July 10, 2009:

Going to the Colonel for anything was always scary. Not because he ever raised a hand at me, but because he had a look in his blue eyes that made grown men tremble. Mom called it his soldier face, something he did automatically whenever anyone spoke to him. She claimed it was habit and that he didn’t mean anything by it. Still, it terrified me. So, imagine how scared I was when I had to approach him in his study. I would do it for Zeke. Zeke deserved my bravery.

“Colonel, can I ask you something?”

“Sure, what is it, Sarge?” He sat his silver pen down on his desk and turned to look at me, still wearing his military uniform.

“Well, I met this boy at the hospital who has cancer. His dad is in Iraq and his mom just had a baby so he’s usually by himself. Do you think there is a way his dad could come home, just for a little while?”

“What’s this boy’s name?” Colonel asked, his face unreadable. No surprise there.

“Zeke, Zeke Winston. His dad’s name is Roger Winston.”

“Hm, okay.”

“So, do you think we can do anything?”

“War is a hard reality, Sarge. I can try but I can’t make any promises to you.”

His practical tone unnerved me. This was more important than some stupid war. This was about the wellbeing of a little boy lying alone in a hospital bed! “If I was dying, I’d hope you’d be there for me!”

I stormed out of the room, knowing my actions were disrespectful but my anger overrode my sense of remorse.

The rest of the week went by pleasantly, even with Clay around. Whenever I finished my rounds, I’d hang out with Zeke and play cards or watch his favorite cartoons. I’d decided to push aside my mission to bring Zeke’s dad home and focus all m attention on just trying to make him happy while I was there.

By Friday, I was actually kind of sad to be leaving. I saved Zeke’s room for last on Friday because I knew it would probably be the last time I saw him. Hopefully he’d be able to go home soon.

When I rolled my cart into his room, my greeting died on my lips when I found his mother and baby sister sitting by his bed.

“Hi, I’m Sarge,” I introduced myself. She was a pretty woman with bright red hair and emerald green eyes. The baby had the same hair and eyes.

“I’m Tina, Zeke’s mom. Thank you for hanging out with Zeke this week,” she smiled but I could see that her eyes were almost lifeless, as if she had a lot on her mind.

“We had fun, right Zeke?” I asked him and he nodded.

There was a knock at the door and I turned to see Clay walk in wearing a huge smile on his face. He looked like he had a big secret he couldn’t wait to share.

“Hi, I was ordered to wheel one Zeke Winston to the rec room.”

There was some commotion as we all tried to get Zeke ready for the trek down the hall where all the relatively-well children were allowed to hang out and play. The room was filled with balloons and Zeke looked up at us, confused. “It’s not my birthday.”

Photo by D Sharon Pruitt, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I heard his mom gasp and turned to see a guy with short blonde hair wearing an Army uniform enter the room.

“Dad!” Zeke cried out and instantly the soldier was kneeling before Zeke, holding him fiercely to his chest, tears unashamedly falling down his cheeks. Tina and the baby somehow made their way into the hug and I stepped back, letting the family unite. I looked over at Clay, smiling so big it made my face hurt.

“You did this, Sergeant Pudding Butt,” he motioned to the family, laughing, crying, and hugging each other.

“Don’t call me that,” I rolled my eyes, trying to mask the fact that I was seconds away from turning into a blubbering female.

Clay chuckled before turning serious. “Still, you did this.”

We slipped out and I came face-to-belt with Colonel.

“Thanks, Dad,” I smiled, throwing my arms around him in a fierce hug. He’s not usually one who invites this sort of outward display of affection but I was too emotional to stop myself.

“You’re a good kid, Sarge,” he surprised me by returning my hug.

“How long is his dad going to be here?”

“He’s been granted a month’s leave. Hopefully that will be enough time.”

I pulled back and wiped away a tear I didn’t notice had fallen until then. “I’m glad.”

“I’m just glad to see you smiling again, Sarge,” he whispered before he stepped back.

Clay saluted him and Colonel saluted back. “At ease, soldier. Keep an eye on my girl, but if you cross the line, I’ll see to it that you never make it to officer rank after college.”

“Yes, Colonel,” Clay nodded.

“See you at home, Sergeant Pudding Butt,” Colonel smirked before walking out with determined steps, like he always did.

“Does everyone know about that?” I squeaked but Clay was too busy laughing to answer my question. I resisted the urge to smack him, only because I was in a good mood.

Boys.

I left the hospital with a promise from Wendy to tell Zeke I’d visit him when I could, sad to see my volunteer time come to an end. Those sick kids made me forget for at least a little while about how much I missed Beaker. And for that, I would be eternally grateful to them.

After I had dinner with my parents and took Talon for a long walk, I locked myself in my room and pulled out Beaker’s old green metal lock box with its rusted on the corners. I retrieved the envelope marked “#1” and opened it.

So, Sarge,

I’m sure you’ve learned a lot this week and I hope that somewhere in all this you’ve come to realize that there is sickness in this world and not everyone makes it. But, in all of it, there is a hope that we will get better and stronger. It’s easy to only care about yourself and what you’re going through but realize that there are many out there who are going through things that you could never even imagine, and I pray you never know those things personally.

Sarge, I know I only asked you to volunteer a week of your time but go visit and help out as often as you can.

When I was five, I had the flu and ended up spending a week in the hospital. A volunteer named Will Quinn visited me every day, brought me comic books and just sat and watched TV with me when I didn’t want to talk. He talked to me about a man named Jesus and how he came to earth and died for my sins and rose again after three days. I thought he was talking about some superhero but after that week, Will kept in touch and I realized he believed Jesus was real. It wasn’t until later that I found out just how real he was for me, but I’m leaving that for another letter. Just know for know that it was Will’s friendship and caring that brought me the source that would help me get through some of the darkest days of my life.

Whether you are a soldier or a civilian, to a child, you are just a person who cares about them. Never stop caring.

Over and out,
Beaker

This was a lot for my fourteen-year-old brain to handle. A lot of what Beaker wrote didn’t make sense, but if it meant I learned something from it and that Beaker would be proud of me for the way I helped Zeke, then I guess that’s all that matters.

 

A question…

Today not so much a post as a simple question, one that has a lot to do with our purpose here at Unfading.

What makes you feel valued?

I’m not talking about esoteric concepts like “the fact that God loves me,” though that is the ultimate sign of our value (and yes, eventually where I’m going with this). But what I mean for now is, among the people that you know, your parents, your friends, your teachers, your enemies, your siblings (oops, didn’t mean to list them last 🙂 what are things they’ve done for you, specifically, that made you feel loved? In the language of you, what says “I love you” the loudest?

On the flip side of that what hurts the most? What makes you feel the most cut down, not valuable, unloved?

Let us know in the comments. It’s something that’s good for everyone to know about themselves, but it’s also something I’d like to kn0w for an upcoming post.

Much love and happy Tuesday!

Fiction Friday postponed…again

Sorry guys, but due to some unfortunate technical difficulties, Fiction Friday is again postponed till Saturday. If this becomes a trend we may have to think about moving it completely, but Fiction Saturday just doesn’t have the same ring…

So to bide your time, spend a few minutes looking back at previous editions of Soldiers Don’t Cry, because tomorrow you’ll get to read the next installment! Click below to check it out. I have to say, this is one of my favorite series (who am I kidding, I love them all!) So I was super excited to get the next part.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

 

A Recommendation: October Baby

 

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Back in March in the confines of a theatre I had a movie going expierence. I have seen films over the years that have been touching and inspiring that were from all different genres of film including, but not limited to, Christian films. However, on that day in March I sat down and for the first time in my life had put to words what I felt concerning my own adoption.

The film was October Baby and the storyline, while not one that fit my life perfectly, did reflect the nature of my feelings toward my Grandmother who had raised me as her own. In a sense the thank you at the end of the film was truly a release for me.

On a more non-personal note I would like to recommend this film to any one, no matter their family situation. The theme of the film is every life is beautiful and while it deals with issues that are hard to swallow and often uncomfortable, the reminder of your own importance in peoples lives as well as your purpose for God really comes out in this film.

While much of the film is serious there are some just amazing movie moments with great acting and a best bud character that will have you laughing at his crazy antics throughout the journey of the young girl who stars in this film. Plus, girls the guy who helps her along is pretty much the cutest thing ever in this reviewer’s opinion. The movie October Baby will be available to own on September 11, 2012 and you should definetly check it out.

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Writing: Good Enough for God?

Photo by Bethany Brown

One thing I’ve struggled with for a long time is: how can my writing bring glory to God’s kingdom?

Of course there are always those Christian books that I could write, I’ve even thought of writing my own devotionals a time or two, but that’s not what I’m really interested in. And honestly, I find many of the Christian books and movies out there a bit corny. (I’m not trying to offend anyone who likes them, that’s just my opinion). So I realized that wouldn’t work. And just to clarify, I did write a Christian movie script, but ended up throwing it away….

What I really love to write about is murder; mostly murder mysteries or scripts about detectives solving murder cases. Another interest I have lately had has been involved in the fantasy world with mostly werewolves, but also vampires, etc., which means that there will be things in there that God may not appreciate.

Anyway, after, or rather while, writing these I often think to myself: How is this glorifying God? Are these words I’m writing for others to say raising up or bringing down God’s name? Would people be able to tell from this writing that I’m a Christian?

And honestly, many times the answer’s no.

During these times I refer back to 1 Peter 4: 10, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms”.

This means that everything I do, even in my writing, should bring praise to God, right?

I feel like many people have this conflict. After all, not all of us are called to be pastors or missionaries, and even many of them have trouble at times because the Christian walk is not always an easy one. So how are we supposed to have a have a career in such a worldly environment and yet maintain a Christian attitude?

Here’s the basic conclusion I’ve formed. I believe that God has given me writing talents and abilities for a reason and He gave me the passions and the interests that I have, even when it comes to what I’m writing about. So I’m going to use those passions and interests I have to the best of my ability and pray that perhaps I will reach those who may not be Christians; perhaps that it will attract those people who need Christ, so that when they want to meet me or want to know more about me, I can introduce Christ to them.

And of course this isn’t just with writing, but can be with any career choice. That’s why I think it’s great when Christians become or are around with things that may not be considered “Christianly” because those are the people we are called to witness to. We just have to be careful, however, that we are not pulled into that environment, but rather shine through it.

Fiction Fridays: Faith and Country Part 4

See here for a link to previous parts of this story.

I wrote Katherine almost every day, and she wrote me about once a week. We didn’t talk about Dad. Technically, Dad and I were okay with each other. Still, it sometimes felt like we were skating on thin ice. I was careful with my words.

In my first letters, I asked Katherine about preferences for her room, but she made it clear that she wanted me to do whatever I wanted. I couldn’t completely redo the room because it would cost too much. I had talked to Mom, and she was willing to give me a little money.

I was excited. I hoped to be an interior designer, and this was my first real project.

I wanted the room to feel like Katherine. After I had cleaned out her room and given away things she no longer needed, I decided what I was going to spend my money on.

Her headboard was white wicker, which didn’t fit Katherine’s personality at all.    I managed to sell it online, and I found her a new headboard. It was made of several different colors of wood, assembled together in a rustic blend.

I bought her bedding at a discount department store. It was a simple, soft blue bedspread with a white square in the middle. I found a patterned blanket with a darker shade of blue to lie across the bottom of her bedspread. Her pillows were more decorative, and I was planning to embroider one with her initials on it.

I decided to paint the walls a basic color called concord ivory, which was tan with a touch of of yellow. Painting the room would take the most time, and I was halfway done. I wanted her room to be ready whenever Katherine could come home.

 

Dear Laine,

No, I can’t come home during Basic Combat Training. The whole thing lasts ten weeks, so I have three left. Most people get to see their family at graduation, but I know Mom isn’t supposed to travel this far. It’s really not that big of a deal, so don’t worry about it. Alyssa said she could take pictures and send them to Mom. I know that will make her happy. I’m glad Mom seems to be improving. Keep me updated, and TELL ME EVERYTHING.

I used to not care about things like prayer and God, but it actually makes me feel better to know that you are praying for me. I thought this was really weird, but you know that verse you sent me in your letter that said, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you”? Well, Alyssa was telling me about it literally the morning that I got your letter. Maybe God deserves more credit than I give him. So… you better sit down for this one, but I’ve started praying. What’s to lose? If God can really do what he says, well, I could use some mountains moved.

So, we will see. Don’t get your hopes up. But thanks. Love you.

                                                                        ~Kat

I couldn’t believe it! Kat was right, I shouldn’t get my hopes up, but I was excited. It made me pray for her even more.

That night I read the letter to my parents. Mom was ecstatic when I got to the part about faith. I hadn’t seen her that happy in a long time. Even Dad was surprisingly pleased.

“Thank you, Lord. Oh, You are so good. You give us hope.” She closed her eyes, and I knew she was praying. For a moment she put her head in her hands before slowly lifting up her face. “I wish I could go to her graduation.”

I nodded my head, knowing there was nothing I could say or do that could make that possible.

“We might,” Dad spoke.

I looked at him with disbelief.

“Don’t tell her, and I’m not promising anything, but if work allows it—” he shook his head up and down— “maybe.”

I couldn’t believe that he was open to the idea, but the way he said it made me doubt his sincerity. He might just be saying that now to make Mom feel better.

“That would be wonderful.” Mom’s voice was soft and sweet, like smooth honey.

“Please try, Dad,” I pleaded. “Katherine deserves our support.”

He nodded. “I’ll try.”

 

I took a deep breath, my heart hammering into my chest. I had seen soldiers walking around all day, and now I waited for Katherine.

I looked at Dad, who seemed just as nervous as I was, if not more. He looked at his watch and swayed back and forth, breathing heavily.

We told Katherine we were coming so that she could get a pass to spend the day with us. She had agreed, but she still hadn’t said anything about Dad. I had no idea how they would react to one another. I still couldn’t believe that Dad was actually here.

And there she was.

It took me a moment to realize it was Katherine. She was… different. Her face was clear and clean, young and serious. She looked tall and thin in her uniform, and her dark hair was pulled into a tight bun at the nape of her neck. She was strong and solemn. There was something else that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. She seemed mature.

“Laine,” she said as her face lit up. I began running towards her. She walked to me, calm and composed, but her eyes and her smile were running.

I threw my arms around her and clung to her trim and muscular body. Tears came to my eyes, from which emotion I couldn’t tell. I was thrilled to finally hold her in my arms, perplexed at the change in her build and appearance and proud of the person whom she had become.

And I was grieved. After being apart for so long, I yearned for her embrace, to know that she was safe in my arms. But I knew it was temporary. I wanted to freeze time and savor the moment, put the joyous emotions in a jar and seal them tightly. I longed for her safety, her stability, and her love.

I was going to have to let her go again.

Katherine kissed my cheek and I felt her pull away. I knew she had to face Dad.

She held onto my hand and turned towards Dad. “Thank you for coming,” she said and looked him in the eye. She spoke formally, like she was addressing a stranger.

“Katherine,” Dad said. He held out his arms, waiting for her to embrace him.

My muscles tensed, and I held my breath. I hadn’t expected this from Dad, and I didn’t think Katherine had either. I let go of her hand, hoping she would go to Dad.

After an eternity of seconds, she slowly put her arm around Dad’s waist. He gently pulled her in, wrapping his other arm around her.

“Katherine,” he whispered. “I’m so proud of you.”

Katherine shut her eyes and laid her head on his shoulder. When she opened them up, tears tumbled down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry,” she said, her head still on his shoulder facing away from his face. “I’m sorry I never wrote you back.”

Wrote back? I never knew Dad had written to Katherine.

Dad tenderly kissed her forehead. “It’s okay. I forgive you. For everything, I forgive you. You’re my daughter and I love you. I always have, and I always will. Please don’t ever forget that.”

She nodded as she pulled back to wipe the tears from her face. “I’m so glad you came,” she said to Dad and me. “Please give Mom my love.”

“Mom!” I suddenly remembered. I reached into my purse to get my camera. “She wanted us to take plenty of pictures.”

“Do you need me to take a picture?” a soldier who was walking by asked.

“That would be great.” Katherine handed him the camera.

“No problem,” he smiled.

Dad and I got on either side of Katherine and smiled while the camera flashed. I had never felt so happy for her.

 

I tentatively lifted my finger to the picture frame and was relieved to feel that it was dry. Although I had painted several pictures for Katherine’s room, the frame was my favorite piece of art.

I put the photo in the frame and set it on Katherine’s nightstand, smiling at the memory. Katherine’s graduation had been one of the best days in all our lives.

Underneath the picture of Dad, Katherine, and me, I had painted the Scripture verse Matthew 17:20, “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Next to it, I had filled a clear jar with tiny mustard seeds and tied a light blue ribbon around the top.

I looked around her room, pleased at my work. I couldn’t wait to see her reaction when she came home for the first time this Saturday.

Each day I prayed for Katherine. I believed that God was working in her life and leading her to a relationship with Him. I knew that if Katherine sought God, she would find Him. I thought of the little faith I had and the miracles that God had already worked in Katherine’s life. I had confidence that He would finish the work that He had begun.

MORE ON RACHEL:

I’m a senior in high school, excited about what the future holds! Although I’m still not quite sure what that is, I’m trusting God to lead me. I love writing and performing. I’m involved in theater, where last year I played the Wicked Witch of the West! But don’t worry, that’s not the usual me. This year I’m going to be the editor of my school’s literary magazine. I love my church and am passionate about spreading the Gospel. My favorite verse is Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”


Don’t receive it in vain

Just when I was tired and at the end of my rope, God sent me something this weekend that made me even more tired, but felt like a drink of water to a soul that has been pretty parched lately. Here’s the first little tidbit from it that I don’t think she ever actually said. It was something the Holy Spirit kind of pointed out to me while she was talking:

“Working together with him (God) then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” 2 Corinthians 6:1

I’m going to rephrase it the way she did. Don’t receive God’s grace, and then pretend like you don’t have it. Don’t receive it, and then  not let it make changes in your life. There are so many ways that God’s grace changes our lives if we let it. It’s true that we would be receiving God’s grace in vain if we walked the aisle to ask him into our hearts and then on the weekdays partied, slept around, lied, swore and stole stuff. It’s true that we would receive God’s grace in vain if we received it for ourselves and then went around looking down our noses at everyone we saw as “lesser” than use because they’re sinful.

All those are true, but I want to focus on something else: what the power of God’s grace means for our identity. Fact: God made us in his image, therefore we’re worth notice in his eyes. Fact: we sinned, which separates us from him. Fact: God’s grace fixes that problem, and puts us back close to God. Fiction: we still have to feel guilty all the time over the mistakes we’re making.

Nope. No way. That’s a definite negative. To receive God’s grace and then still beat ourselves up over every mistake would be like glancing up at this gorgeous sunset picture and then glancing back down at our smart phones without pausing to admire it, to celebrate it, to take a picture of it, to let it point us back toward God. Does that make sense? Neither does living in guilt.

Now don’t hear me say never to feel any remorse over a wrong action. Not what I said. God gave us consciences for a reason. But why not repent of that behavior, hand it over to God and let go of it? We can, he’s absolved us of guilt by his grace. How amazing is that?

Easier said than done, you say? I don’t deserve his love and forgiveness you say?  The only reply I have for that is that I’ve lived there for too many years and I’m tired of it. Won’t you join me in praying to be released from guilt so we can serve God better? This isn’t something I’ve achieved, but something I’m praying for in my life. Please join me.

Our first ever music video

If you’d told me back in high school that one day not long from then, I would ask more than a dozen people for help on a project that wasn’t for school or work and didn’t stand to bring anyone but me and my closest friends any gain, I’d have laughed my head off at you. I was far too timid and self-effacing to have asked for something like that. Don’t mistake self-effacing for the Biblical and very good quality of humility and self-sacrifice. Self-effacement doesn’t just put others first in a good way, it lets you pummel yourself with negative thoughts and feelings, not the least of which is, never ask anyone for help, they’ll think you’re lesser for needing them.

That lie, thank God, is slowly diminishing from my life. It’s an ugly one. Never forget beloved that God created YOU in his image. Not just your neighbors or the guy with the locker next to yours, but YOU. Are you asked to give up things for others sometimes? Yes. Are you supposed to never ask anyone for any help? Absolutely not. Over and over the Bible calls us to live in fellowship with other believers, to help one another stand strong.

An example of the way my community of believers really came together in this way is in the video below. I’m super excited to announce our first ever music video (which I’m sure you could not have guessed any earlier in this post!). We’ll be doing a lot of material on this video and what it means to us, but I just want to kick it off by thanking those who made it possible.

To Jen for loaning us her camera, to my church for being willing to stay after and let their lunches get cold while they stood in for what amounted to just a few seconds of clips, to Tessa for her gorgeous dancing, gracious attitude and willingness to wing it, and to my daddy, who plays the best dad ever because he is the best dad ever, Tiffany and I say thank you so very much. And yes, there are all kinds of stories here, but no time at the moment to tell them. Without further ado, our video, which has been entered in the “Rest Easy” music video contest. Check with us tomorrow to see if there’s any word on our success!

Fiction Fridays: Faith and Country Part Three

Last time we got some insight into why the military might actually work out for Katherine, just maybe. Because of her love for her country she’d been dreaming of doing something like this for a long time. To catch up on what you missed, click for parts one and two.

I found Mom in the kitchen getting out pots and pans. She must be having a good day.

“Hi, Elaina,” she gave me a kiss on the cheek. “I’m making dinner tonight. How was your day?

I handed her the letter. “Katherine wrote you.”

It took Mom a minute to register what I had given her. Then she let out a soft gasp. She moved to sit down in the kitchen chair, leaning on the island for support. She quickly unfolded the letter and began reading.

I watched her scan the page, eyes moving and her mouth partly open. I could tell her letter was shorter than mine.

“What does yours say?” I finally asked.

“Dear Mom,” she read aloud. “I’m sorry I did not tell you in person. I knew that saying goodbye would make me want to stay, and I needed all the courage I had. Training is really tough, but I love it. I’m proud to serve my country. I know I’m doing the right thing. I love you and hope you are doing well. Love, Katherine.”

Mom seemed afraid to take her eyes off the paper, afraid that this dream would shatter. She finally looked at me. “She really did it.”

I nodded. I had the same mixed feeling, good and bad. I was proud of her for making something of her life, but the fear of what could happen to her was overwhelming.

Mom finally cried. I wrapped my arms around her and laid my head on her shoulder, as I had done so many times before.

“Did she say anything about Dad in your letter?” Mom asked.

I took a deep breath. “No.” I let go of her and went to get my letter off the counter. “You can read it.”

Mom read the letter several times before handing it back to me. She said nothing more about Dad. “This is good, Elaina,” she told me. “We can be thankful.”

We let Dad read the letters when he got home from work. At first he wore the same hard expression he had whenever we talked about Katherine. Then, as he read the letters, I could slowly see his face soften.

“I’m surprised,” he said as he gave the letters back to Mom. “She did it. I hope things work out for her.”

The way he talked about Katherine was so detached, like she was a stranger. I was mad at Katherine for messing up her life, but I was perhaps even madder at Dad for giving up on her. At least now she was trying.

“Maybe you should write her,” I suggested.

Dad made a sound that was almost a laugh. “She would throw it away.”

I felt anger building up inside of me. Why was he so negative?

Dad shook his head, and this time he definitely laughed. “I can just picture it now. She’d rip up the letter, spit on it, and throw it away. Then she’d start telling her friends about how awful and cruel I am, and she would make herself so mad that she’d punch through a wall. They would kick her out for her anger outbursts, and she’d be back where she started. Same old Katherine.” He laughed again.

I was in disbelief. I looked at Mom to see if she was going to say something. She was sad, probably upset, but she stayed quiet. I wasn’t going to let Katherine go undefended.

“Maybe she’s right!” I spoke sternly. Dad’s grin faded as he looked at me. I recognized the expression. For a split second, I was scared. What if he hardened himself to me like he had done to Katherine?

“What?” His voice was ice cold and carried a sharp edge.

“Elaina,” Mom breathed.

I pictured Katherine a year from now, fighting in Afghanistan, risking her life to protect my country. I kept going. “Don’t you see that she’s trying to change?”

My voice was louder and sharper than I realized. “Yes, she was ruining her life. Yes, she deserved consequences. But she’s trying to move forward and do what’s right! She’s doing what she always wanted to do! Have you grown so cold that you can’t even thank your own daughter for endangering her life for our freedom?”

I didn’t expect the tears to come, but I didn’t let them stop me. “You’re so hard on her!” I struggled on. “You have a heart of stone if you can’t acknowledge her attempt for a better life. She probably craves your support and acceptance, but she’s too embarrassed to say so. What if she dies? Dad, what if she dies?”

Both of my parents were too stunned to speak. Instead of going to my room, I stormed off to Katherine’s. Seeing her things and her furniture brought a strange sense of comfort. It gave me a feeling that she was here. I laid my head on her pillow, and waited for the tears to stop.

It reminded me of the day she left, how I cried and hugged her goodbye.

“Don’t be like me,” I could hear her whisper in my ear.

She would want me to have a good relationship with Dad. I lay there for a minute with my eyes closed, dreading what I knew I had to do. Taking a deep breath, I got up and walked back into the living room.

Dad was on the couch reading a book. I thought he heard me come in, but he kept on reading.

“Dad?”

When he set the book down and looked at me, it felt like fire dropped to the bottom of my nervous stomach. For the first time in my life, I felt like Katherine. That’s how he was looking at me.

“Dad, I came to apologize.” I stood where I was, not wanting to move any closer. “It wasn’t my place to speak to you like that. I was not respectful, and I shouldn’t have said what I did.” I was careful to only apologize for the way I talked, not what I said.

“I’m sorry,” I continued. “I was wrong, and I hope you will forgive me.”

Dad stared at the floor. “You’re right,” he said. He looked up at me. “You were wrong and out of place. I hope you understand that this should never happen again.”

“Yes sir,” I replied.

Slowly, his hard facial expression melted away. “And of course I forgive you. I accept your apology. But, Elaina, I didn’t expect this from you.

“Yes sir,” I repeated.

He gave an affirming nod and picked the book back up. I waited a minute to make sure he was through, then quietly went to my room.

I felt like everything should’ve been okay, but something didn’t feel right. When he told me he didn’t expect that from me, I felt like he meant he would have expected it from Katherine. It was like he was still insulting her, even after we resolved the argument.

Maybe I just needed time to think and get over it. I have never spoken to Dad like that. In fact, I couldn’t even remember the last time I had been in big trouble. Katherine was always the problem child.

“Don’t be like me,” haunted my thoughts.

But I wasn’t. I wasn’t like Katherine. That was a one-time event, and I didn’t plan on it happening again.

MORE ON RACHEL:

I’m a senior in high school, excited about what the future holds! Although I’m still not quite sure what that is, I’m trusting God to lead me. I love writing and performing. I’m involved in theater, where last year I played the Wicked Witch of the West! But don’t worry, that’s not the usual me. This year I’m going to be the editor of my school’s literary magazine. I love my church and am passionate about spreading the Gospel. My favorite verse is Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

 

 

Fiction Friday postponed

Just a quick note to say that due to another exciting project that has us a little preoccupied at the moment, Fiction Friday will happen on Saturday this week! Check back tomorrow for the next post in the Faith and Country series. See here for parts one and two.

Also check back on Monday to find out what secret project kept us with a video camera in a closed downtown business tonight. Fun stuff!

Much love, happy happy Friday!