Friday Fiction - Ashes to Ant Hills

I wrote this a few years ago - based on a true story of a church in Ecuador that was burned by the local resistance to the Gospel. I am glad to say that they didn't give up, but now have strong group of believers that are reaching out to their neighbors.


“Pastor! Pastor Eduardo! There be fire!”

I struggled with my boots and shirt buttons as I followed my dark skinned friend, Manolo, into the night. How can anything burn when it’s been raining for a week? …and why can’t it rain when we need it?

Lightning flashed through the sky, splintering a tree nearby. The deafening crash of thunder echoed down the valley. An eerie red glow showed through the leafy silhouettes as we pushed and splashed through the soaked undergrowth. Screeches of birds punctuated a growing roar. Bursting from the trees, we faced the sight of orange flames leaping from timber to timber of the new church building.

“Pastor, what we do?”

“Call the others! Bring buckets, pots,
…anything to carry water!”

I crashed through the thorny brush to the river bank and tugged off my rubber boots, hopping barefoot to the water’s edge. I hoped there were no crocodiles or pythons lurking nearby as I scooped up the inky water, which occasionally mirrored the sizzling electric flashes. I stumbled back to the burning building and tossed the water at the roof. The flames sputtered for second, seeming to laugh at my measly attempt.

“Pastor, they come!”

I turned to see the eyes of the villagers reflecting the ravaging inferno. They quickly formed a line to the river, chanting as buckets, pots, and skin bags passed from hand to hand. Manolo and I flung swash after swash into the devouring flames. The heat scorched my cheeks, and sweat ran down my forehead, stinging my eyes.

With a thunderous crash, the roof suddenly collapsed. The gold plated cross, a gift from my home church, was the last thing seen falling into the fire with a spray of cinders. I held Manolo’s arm, to stop his fervent efforts to save this symbol of his newfound faith…freedom from ancient traditions of fear.

“Manolo, it’s over.”

With aching arms and muddy feet, we stood and watched the flames until there was nothing left, nothing but embers. One by one, the villagers quietly slipped back into the dark forest, back to their huts, back to their sleeping families. Big drops of rain hit my cheeks, its relief coming too late.

The torrential rains pounded on my tin roof. I tossed on my cot in the sweltering humidity. Persistent doubts and broken dreams tormented me like the mosquitoes buzzing about my head.

All gone…All of it …ten years of learning the Quichua language, preaching to people who still pray to spirits…Why do I even bother?... traveling miles on deputation, asking for supplies to build a church…It’s all gone!..., transporting lumber and concrete and nails over the mountains and down the river.

I smiled at the memory of three dugouts tied together to get the piano down the lazy, muddy Zamora River. The villagers were fearful of the ‘heavy box of monkey teeth that sang’, but before long, the white ivories grew dingy with their constant touching. No matter how many times I tuned that piano, middle C always went flat.

Flat… just like my life. Why not go home? …home to a big pipe organ and full harmony choirs.

In the early morning mist, I sifted through the blackened rubble and ashes. I found an ivory rectangle and wondered if it was my elusive middle C. Squatting on a fallen log nearby, I rubbed my hands over my tired, burning eyes. Thoughts of home drifted through my mind again. It would be autumn now, with cool breezes and pumpkin pies…and no mosquitoes! I slapped my cheek.

A tiny movement caught my attention. The mixture of rotting leaves, dark humus, and now, white ashes showed trampled scars of last night’s activities. A tiny ant emerged from his damaged home, and I watched him push grain after grain into a growing pile. I wondered how long it took him to build his home. Soon another ant joined him.

“Pastor Eduardo, what you do now?
You not go away?”

I looked up to see Manolo standing before me, a red welt across his shoulder. A huddle of a few other men waited behind him. Their faces showed mingled expressions of fear and hunger…hunger for God’s truth. A beam of sunlight sparkled and danced as it filtered through the glistening leaves. It caught the gilded edge of the cross.

“No, Manolo, ‘The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’… Come, help me clear these boards away.”

~ ~ ~

For more great stories,
hike over to Pods and Ponderings.

Canaan Years -One of my Favorite Things

During my last year in Canaan,
a friend invited me to see "The Sound of Music."

It was a big thing.
First of all, we NEVER went to the movies.
(Remember, we didn't even have a television.)
We never played cards or went to dances.
(not that I wanted to...
well, I did want to try square dancing for a while.)

But I really, really wanted to see this movie
...and my father said, "Yes."

I loved it!

Seeing the Austrian Alps on the big screen made me feel like I was there.

I laughed

and cried

and dreamed.
(of love
and a big singing family of my own)

For months, I sang the songs.

Being sixteen-going-on-seventeen myself, I understood Leisel.

Over the years, I've seen the "Sound of Music" on my television set many times, but it's never been as magical as seeing it in that theater for the first time. It was certainly "one of my favorite things."

Poetry - Speaking in Hugs


A hug can cheer...
“I’m so glad to see you! I’ve missed you.”

Or calm a fear...
“Don’t be afraid. I’m here. I’ll hold you tight.”

A hug can touch...
“I know you are lonely. I’ll be your friend.”

Or show so much...
“Thank you... from the bottom of my heart.”

A hug can shout...
“I’m so happy for you! Let’s rejoice together!”

Or mend a bout...
“I’m sorry I hurt you. Will you take me back?”

A hug can cry...
“I want to share the ache of your heart.”

Or just be nigh...
“You’re not alone; I’m beside you, praying.”

A hug can cling...
“I need to hold you close just a little bit longer.”

Or sincerely ring...
“You’ll always be special and precious to me.”

Monday Manna - Nothing But Dust

I am hosting Monday Manna today, where we meet to together to study a portion of God's Word. You may link to your blog with thoughts on this verse (with the Linky at the bottom of this page), or you may add a comment.

"All nations before him are as nothing;
and they are counted to him less than nothing,
and vanity." (Isaiah 40:17)

I don't like studying history - all those dates and kings and countries! I like maps, but it gets so confusing when the boundaries and names of empires change so often. It seems like each age is just trying to be "the grandest tiger in the jungle."

As we enter another election season, I sigh at the thought of candidates trying to show that they are worthy to be the leader of our country. No one is worthy of power in his own strength. God is the one who lifts a leader into places of authority and brings them down to nothing.

The Bible says that God laughs at man's feeble attempts to be great. The greatest leader, whether it be emperor, conqueror, king, dictator, or president, is but a speck of dust in the eyes of God.

Someday, Jesus Christ will reign as King over the whole world. He will be the greatest leader of all times. Every knee will bow to Him.

Lord's Day


"Where two or three are gathered in My Name..."

I'm LATE - I'm LATE!

That's what happens when I take a break -
I lose all sense of time.

It's my turn to choose a new verse for
Monday Manna.
(July 25)

I will be hosting Monday Manna this next week. Take the time to find this verse in your Bible. Read the other verses before and after it to get the context, then next Monday, write what the Lord has taught you about Himself. Post it on your blog, and link it to mine, or just write your thoughts in the comment section, so we all can learn from it together.

All nations before him are as nothing;
and they are counted to him less than nothing,
and vanity. (Isaiah 40:17 KJV)

Fri. Fiction - Forgotten on the Back Porch

I have the honor of hosting Friday Fiction this week.

If you wish to join us, post a story on your site
and link it to ours at the bottom of my post.

If just want to read some great stories,
(which I always find a treat!)
hop from one link to the other.
Don't forget to leave some notes behind you.

I wrote this story when I first joined

It's interesting to read my early stories,
and see how I've grown as a writer.


“Be careful," cried out a tiny voice.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t see you there. Oh deary me! You are a bit young to be outside in the dark. What’s your name, Child?”

“I’m Cindy, Ma’am. I used to play with Tammy a long time ago, but she hasn't talked to me in a long time. I think she's forgotten all about me. Are you her Grammy?”

The old woman sighed and gathered the little girl in her warm arms. “So Tammy pushed you out, too? Tsk, Tsk. One of these days, she’ll wish we were back inside, close to her heart.”

“There’s lots of stuff out here on the back porch, Grammy. Be careful. I found her tricycle and storybooks and a few stuffed teddy bears. I suppose they were just in her way.”

“I see there are a few other people out here, too.”

“Yes, most of them are really nice like you, but some were angry when they got pushed out of her life. I was glad when they left. They said some bad words and said that if Tammy didn’t want them, then they didn’t want her either and weren’t going to hang around waiting for her to let them back in.”

The loud beeping of a delivery truck interrupted their conversation as it backed up to the front door. They could see Tammy ushering the men with the enormous wide-screen TV indoors. An exuberant cheer rose from inside, and the music and partying continued. Some punks with tattoos and pierced faces rang the doorbell and also crowded in the front way.

Soon the back door, with its peeling paint and squeaky hinges, swung open. A man with a black suit and a Bible tumbled out. He stood up, brushed the dust from his sleeve, and shook his head toward the closed door in pity.

As Grammy’s eyes adjusted to the darkness, she saw another man near the door. His face was sad, so sad. Every few minutes he lifted his scarred hands and knocked at the closed door. It was hard to imagine that anyone inside would be able to hear the steady knocking, but he didn’t give up. The Sad Man looked into Grammy’s face with a sympathetic knowing gaze. He seemed to know her thoughts. He turned again to the door and continued knocking.

The night grew colder and darker. Grammy found a discarded knitted blanket to wrap around Cindy and herself. She hummed “The Old Rugged Cross.” Others gathered close and joined in. The night seemed to last forever. The Sad Man continued knocking.

The next day, a shiny red Corvette pulled into the driveway. A tall, blond, tanned young man bounded up to the front door. Tammy greeted him with a flirtatious flutter of her eyelids and kissed him with her painted lips. A man’s voice thundered from within.

“What? NO! I will not allow it!”

“Dad, I’m not a child anymore!”

The group on the back porch raised their heads to listen. It didn’t sound good. The minister bowed his head in prayer. Cindy began to cry. The Sad Man continued knocking. The weathered squeaky door swung open. A man, whose face was red and sweaty stumbled backwards, a thin woman with graying hair beside him.

“I’m still your father—no matter how old you get!” he hollered at the slammed door.

The ones on the back porch stared at the couple in stunned sorrow. The woman wandered to the pile of books and toys. She clutched a rag doll to her breast and sobbed. To think that Tammy would push her own parents out of her life was not good!

Life passed day by day and the back porch became more crowded. There were teachers and aunts and neighborhood friends. They talked of times when things had been happier. Cindy sang her Sunday school songs. The minister read the Bible while Grammy prayed and prayed. The Sad Man stayed by the door and continued knocking.

Then one day, the music in the house stopped. The red Corvette left. The house was quiet—too quiet—something was wrong. The ones on the back porch waited. Time seemed to stop.

“Jesus loves me, this I know…” Cindy’s clear voice floated in the air.

“Please, Lord, bring her back to Yourself,” prayed Grammy.

The Sad Man raised his hand to knock again, but the door moved. Slowly the gap widened. Tammy looked at them with tears on her face.

“I’m so sorry.”

~ ~ ~


Ordinary Lives. From a 2 z 4 u & me

Peej suggested that we tell about ourselves for "I"

Who am I?

I've lots of different roles.
I'm an only daughter (2 brothers, no sisters),
I'm a wife (married 34 yrs.),
I'm a mother (to 8 grown children),
I'm a grandmother (to five cuties),
I'm a teacher (for 12 years and now tutoring),
and I'm also a writer,
Sunday School teacher,

I'd rather eat fruit than ice cream.
I'd rather sail than ride a jet-ski.
I'd rather be alone than host a party.
I'd rather sweep than vacuum.
I'd rather defend than be on the offence.
I'd rather listen than talk.

ugh...enough about me!

I'm excited over my new adventure.
I am now the proud owner of my first E-Book!


Until July 31, you may download it FREE!
(use this code: DJ22L )

Lord's Day

"Serve the Lord with gladness;
come before His presence with singing."

H is for Helpers

Ordinary Lives. From a 2 z 4 u & me

A 2 yr. old wants to "Do it all by myself!"

A 12 yr. old wants to be the star of the show.

A 22 yr. old challenges the world on his own.

When do we finally grow up
and realize that we need help?

Yes, we say that God is our Help,
but He gives us other helpers, too.

Our church, Lighthouse Bible Church in Searsport, Maine, is small... very small. On a good Sunday, when everyone is there, we might have about 50 people at church. We have a handful of teenagers, and less than ten younger children in our Sunday School, so...

...when it's time for our VBS daycamp, we may have up to fifty super-excited, never-been-in-church-before, glad-to-be-with-friends, scatter-brained kids for 5 hours each day for a week.

God sends the helpers that He wants to be there. A few teens came from a neighboring church. Many young people in our church took vacations or arranged their work schedules to be there.

It's a marathon of juggling several jobs
each day for a full week.

Our helpers...

- take attendance
- show newcomers where to go

- lead songs
- fill water balloons

- man the various carnival games
- find someone's big sister

- sit next to a wiggly one
- help with crafts
- take a little one to the bathroom

- serve Kool-aid and snacks
- listen to Bible verses
- bandage cuts

- spend hours doing puppets
- calm unruly situations
- act silly in skits

- keep the slide wet and slippery
- get soaked with water balloons

- pick up hundred of broken balloons
- clean bathrooms
- pick up forgotten underclothes
- sweep and vacuum wet floors every day

Some were helpers by being patient.

I am so grateful for the helpers
that God brought to us last week.

Lord, let me see Your helpers in every area of my life. You have brought others along-side to make the way easier for me, for You know I cannot do it alone. Let me also see where I can be a helper to someone else, so I can make the way easier for them. Amen

Friday Fiction - The Girl in the Back Row

Every year it surprises and saddens me to see kids that have never heard about Jesus. There is a whole generation of children who are not being taught about the Lord. Two young girls accepted God's gift of salvation today, but there are others who show the bitterness of sin on their faces. How will they know peace and joy and love unless they know about Jesus?

"Lord, may these children see You in me."

In the midst of our church's VBS this week,
I thought of this story that I wrote last year.


The girl in the back row had her fingers in her ears. Fifty kids wiggled and waited for the missionary story, so they could slip down the big water slide. I might not have noticed the new girl, but her scrawny elbows stuck straight out, as she poked her fingers in her ears.

I had never seen her at summer day camp before. Most of the kids knew each other from school or church. They squished together in clusters – forming cliques and excluding others – like the girl in the back row – the one with her fingers in her ears and the scowl on her face.

Her bangs were too long. Occasionally, she tossed them out of her eyes – until someone spoke to her. One of the leaders sat next to her. She scooted to the other end of the pew and hid behind her curtain of hair.

Her eyes met mine as I opened my missionary book, and I smiled at her. Her eyelids narrowed, and she pretended to be interested in something outside. I tried to focus on the story I was telling, but I continued to watch the girl in the back row.

“Since there are new kids here today, can anyone tell me where we left little Tifam?”

Arms waved like a bed of sea anemone. I chose one. A young boy said,
“There was an earthquake. Tifam’s mother hurt her foot, and they had to go the mission house.”

I showed the page of Tifam and her mother at the mission house. The girl in the back row stood to see the picture better. She still had her fingers still in her ears. I sent up a quick prayer. Lord, give me the words to reach into the heart of this girl.

“Tifam was frightened.
What would her Papa say?
He was the witch doctor.
He might put a curse on them.”

The girl’s elbows sagged. Soon her hands dropped to her side.

“Tifam clutched her magic charm.
The spirits would keep her safe.
Where was her mother’s charm? …”

Now the girl was sitting on the edge of the pew. I caught her eye, and she slumped backwards and ducked behind her hair again.

“The missionary opened her book.
Tifam didn’t want to listen.
She covered her ears and closed her eyes.
She whispered, ‘Lies! Lies! Lies!’
Tifam could still hear the missionary’s words.
‘God loved you so much that He died for you.’
The missionary read, ‘For God so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in Him,
should not perish, but have everlasting life.’
Tifam had never heard of a God that loved her.”

I turned the page, and the girl in the back row leaned forward to see the picture again.

“Tifam’s mother said,
‘I’ve stolen and lied and hated others.
Why would this God love me?’
The missionary said, ‘God loves you
and wants to forgive you.’ “

I looked at the rows of faces - especially the face in the back row.

“We have all sinned – every one of us – me, too.
We have disobeyed our parents. We have told lies.
We have gotten angry. We have stolen things.
All of those are sins, and God hates sin.
He is holy and can’t let any sin in heaven,
but he loves us and wants us to be with Him.”

I saw the girl rest her forehead on her arm. Lord, speak through me.

“God wants us to go to heaven,
so He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth.
Many people did not like Him.
Some arrested Him and beat Him.
They nailed Him on a cross to die.”

I paused, and there was silence. The girl in the back looked up for a second. Her eyes were wide and sad.

“Jesus wanted to die, because He loved us.
The punishment for sin is death.
He wanted to die for all our sins,
so we can go to heaven.
He died for my sins, and He died for your sins.”

I pointed to myself, to a few of the children, and to the girl in the back row. She looked at me. There were tears.

“God can forgive your sins, too. Bow your heads.
Pray with me. ‘Lord, I’m sorry for my sins…”

As the director announced the team points, I walked past the girl in the back row. She looked up to me with tears still in her eyes and smiled.

For more great stories,
go to Karlene's blog


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