Dec 15, 2016

Preview of "Surviving the Night"

     It had been a long time since they had been out of the city. As they drove down the two-lane highway, Arthur could only think of comparing the towering heights of the pines to the city skyline. They seemed just as indomitable as those steel and glass constructions. This was what the trip was about wasn’t it? Arthur thought. Getting away and finding some perspective away from the grind of town?

     A small hand touched his and he took it. He leaned over and kissed his girlfriend, Jenna, on the cheek. She smiled at him. “What do you think so far? My coworkers aren’t driving you crazy yet?”

     Arthur twisted in his seat to look at the rest of the passengers. There were twelve of them in total, six couples on this nature retreat. He and Jenna were behind the driver’s seat in the 15-passenger van. Some of the others dozed, they’d all been up before dawn to load their equipment and get on the road. He couldn’t remember all of their names, but he was sure he would figure it out by the end of the day when they were sitting around a fire making marshmallows. “The day is still young.” he said.

     She elbowed him playfully and turned back to the conversation she’d been having with Cheryl who sat beside her. Cheryl’s husband was snoring slightly just behind her. In the driver’s seat sat Mark, his wife Beth beside him in the passenger seat. She had a map spread over her lap at Mark’s behest, but was trying to use the GPS function on her phone. Arthur checked his own. No service. Oh well.

     The outskirts of a small town came into view and Mark directed the vehicle into a parking spot in the back of a small shopping center. “All right,” Mark said, turning around, “We’re going to split up and get some last minute supplies. People in the front we’re headed into the sporting goods store and the back half is going into the grocery store. I have lists.” He passed one to Mark and the other was handed back to... Dave, Arthur thought his name was. Everyone filed out and entered their respective stores.

     Jenna and Cheryl seemed to have the list covered so he wandered the store. This tiny family-owned place was so different than the shining stores back home that hawked subzero sleeping bags and palatial tents. He was perusing the fishing gear near the back of the store when he noticed an old man sorting through flies. “You fish?”

“Not really. This is the first time I’ve been camping since I was a little kid.”

“Where are you headed?”

“Well, we’re renting horses from Elk Ranch and headed up Jim’s Peak.” The old man was silent and Arthur looked up from the expertly tied flies. The old man’s face had gone pale, his gray eyes wide.

“You don’t want to be doing that, son.” he said.

“People go camping on Jim’s Peak and never return. There’s a monster up there. They say it’s half-man and half-Grizzly.” The man said it with such serious that Arthur couldn’t even bring himself to laugh at the absurd idea. Did the old man take him for such a city slicker that he would believe a campfire tale like that?

“Uh, thanks for the warning.” he said, turning to leave the odd old man.

     “It’s not worth the risk, boy!” The old man called after him as Arthur rounded up his companions at the cash register and out of the store. Arthur climbed back into his seat, half afraid that the crazy man from inside the store would pursue them into the parking lot. He could see him now, standing just inside the glass door. He watched them. Arthur looked away.

     “What’s wrong with you?” Jenna asked, laying a hand on his arm, “You look like you saw a ghost or something.”

     “It’s nothing. There was just this really weird guy in the store. He kind of freaked out when he heard where we were going.” Her brow furrowed, but before Arthur could tell her anything the rest of the group climbed noisily into the van laden with bags and the rest of the supplies from the grocery store.

     “Hey,” said Beth, “While we were inside we asked for a recommendation on a good place for lunch. There’s a diner up the road a few miles. It’s on the way to the stables. I figure we can all eat and then head up for our weekend of roughing it!” Everyone agreed, followed by mutterings of how hungry they were and how tired they were of being in the car. Jenna got pulled into a conversation with Cheryl, the odd nature of Arthur’s statement apparently forgotten. Arthur looked out the window and tried to forget the strange man and his absurd words. There had been something though, a twitch in his face that told Arthur the man believed the story. Rural people were strange.

     They pulled up outside of the little diner and walked in. They were the only customers aside from a pair of burly men at a table on the other side of the restaurant. They were dressed in hunting garb, their rifles propped next to their chairs.

     “Do they think they are going to get attacked by Bigfoot in the restaurant or something?” Dave said to Arthur, tilting his head and rolling his eyes at the hunters. Arthur shrugged. They sat down and the waitress appeared within seconds. She was a middle-aged woman and she took their orders down without pen or paper. Arthur really hoped she was able to remember the orders of fourteen people.

     The food was moderately good, nothing spectacular, but hearty. Arthur was scraping his plate of the last of his french fries when the pair of hunters stood up and headed for the door. He was nearest to the cash register and heard the waitress speaking to them. “You going after it?” she asked.

     “Someone’s got to take it down. We’re going up to the cabin to join the others, we haven’t heard from them in a few days.”

     “Well, be safe.” she said. The look of worry stayed on her face as they went through the front door, setting the little bell tinkling. She smoothed her apron with her hands and came back to ask if anyone needed refills or more food. Arthur waved her over, leaning away so Jenna wouldn’t overhear him.

“I couldn’t help but see those gentlemen with their guns. A little late for deer season isn’t it?”

“They ain’t hunting deer. There’s a monster up there on Jim’s Peak.”

“A monster?” It was too weird that he’d talked to two people in this town and they both insisted there was something off.

“I don’t want to say much.” she said, hurrying away and into the kitchens so he couldn’t follow. A monster. A grizzly bear. Men who hadn’t been heard from in several days.

     Arthur was getting a bad feeling about this trip.

Dec 4, 2016

walk in silence

For let us not walk in silence, let our voices be heard.

 Let's cry out to those who are lost and hurting.

 Walk in the love that we shall see vision and bring rejoice to our hearts.

 Let's stand together and bring peace and tranquility in the hearts of those

 struggling to find a voice to speak out against the silence.

Dec 1, 2016

Surviving the Night- Thriller plot.

Beginning of the story-   A group of 12 people on horses decided to go camping in the mountains.  There were six men and six women on the camping trip.  They stopped in town to gather up supplies, and gear they will need at a sporting goods store.  The store keeper asked the group of people where they were going.  One of the guys said they were going camping up in the mountains for the night.  The store keeper warned the group to stay clear of the mountains because there has been rumors of people going camping and never return.  They heard about a creature that lives in the woods that is part man and part grizzly bear.  Afterwards they stopped in a small cafĂ© to eat before they headed to the mountains.    When they arrived they crossed a small stream and continued on into the woods they discovered a hunter’s cabin and behind the cabin there was a river and on the other side were trees and mountains.  The cabin had hitching post in front with a wooden porch.  The door had claw marks and the windows were broken.  There were all types of traps hanging on the wall outside.  They placed the horse in the coral next to the cabin.  When they entered the cabin to get set up for the night they noticed the inside of the cabin was in disarray.  The table was tipped over and everything that was on the shelves was smashed and broken glass on the floor.  The beds were ripped to pieces, there were claw marks all over the inside of the cabin.  The only communication was a broken radio that was on the shelf.  They soon discovered partial remains and blood all over the inside of a room.  They assumed it was a grizzly bear that attacked the cabin because of the claw marks.  They managed to fix the door, radio, and the windows because of the animals getting inside the cabin.  The men gathered up the firewood that was stacked outside and started a fire.  The weather was calling for rain, and will be very cold in the evenings. 

Middle of the story - they started hearing strange sounds outside.  They also noticed strange foot prints by the river.  Then they begin to see the creature that the store keeper told them about.  The creature was about seven feet tall had black fur and stood on two legs. It had the body of a man but the head was like a grizzly bear.  It had two arms with long sharp claws.  The eyes were blood shot red like devil eyes.  It looked like it would weigh about 1,000 lbs.  The creature began attacking the horses that were in the coral.  Then the creature started clawing at the door trying to get inside the cabin.  Couple of guys managed to grab their guns and started shooting at the creature and was unsuccessful.  The creature broke the door and tearing up the inside the cabin.  It grabbed hold of one of the guys with the gun and tore him to shreds.  Then it continue attacking everyone else.  Another guy fired several rounds and still was not able to kill the creature.  It just took one swipe of its paw and sliced the guy in half.  Then the other ten people split off into the other rooms and began placing heavy objects against the door to keep the creature out.  The creature managed to break through one door and managed to kill another person while the others escaped out of the windows and started running towards the river.

End of the story- there were 9 people left and they were able to leave the cabin.  Three people tried to swim across the river to the other side but the creature caught up to two of them and the other was lost in the river.  Only six made it across the river in couple of canoes they found near the river to try and get some help.  They soon discovered an old abandoned mine shaft and they were hoping to find something they can use to kill the beast.  They managed to find some boxes of dynamite deep inside the mine.  The creature followed the small group that escaped the cabin and started to attack the others before they can get help.  One guy and two girls found a way out of the mine and planted sticks of dynamite near the exit of the mine.  The guy and one girl was wounded by the creature.

The three that survived the night managed to kill the creature and was able to get out the woods alive.  They headed down towards the river and started building a fire to keep warm. They were rescued by a forest ranger in a helicopter that spotted them by the river.   

Sep 4, 2016

Draw near to me

My Children draw near to me, my message I have for you.  Stand firm in the light

For the light will be your invitation to come into the light.  The light we endure

will give you strength to share my divine with others.  The admiration is our

calling to draw near to me for my love for you is great and will dwell in your life.

Allow  our love to grow in our lives as we shall walk in the light of those who

dwell in the Spirit.  My children I shall be with you always.  The light we endure

 will be shown through our faith.

Jun 20, 2016

The Divine Calling

For this you are called to be my messenger and my divine servant. For your divine heart and

compassion to serve you shall walk in truth and bless others by your words and love for others. You

 shall apply your gifts and your talents to be use for the glory of the kingdom. You shall follow the

footsteps that I have laid out for you. For this you are called out to be my messenger and my divine

servant. Have faith as I shall give you the ability to walk in the things you are gifted in. Have faith in

your ability to teach in the knowledge that shall be laid out for you. You are a great and faithful

servant for many years and now you shall find favor in the things to come. Trust in your

understanding of the words of which I will give you through my messages. You have great

compassion for others and a great desire to teach others in the glory of your faithfulness. For this you

were meant to be my messenger and my servant. Speak forth the truth and knowledge of the things of

 the kingdom of heaven in which you have many gifts and hidden talents that are not yet be known to

 you. As you walk in the gifts more talents will be revealed to you through your faith in the

knowledge and the teaching through the messages and words.

Jun 18, 2016

Chapter one - Gathering at the Pole

Chapter 1


Gathering At The Flagpole


            The Hanson family had prepared for the first week of school to be a challenging and emotional time.  Last year they lost their twelve-year-old daughter, Stephanie, to suicide.  After the incident they moved from Cartersville, Missouri to a midwestern suburban middle-class, two-story house in Millisville, Missouri after tragedy had struck their household.  Brian Hanson is not your typical youth minister at the United Methodist Church in his community.  The middle-aged man is on a mission to solve the problems with today’s adolescence.

          Pastor Hanson woke up on a lovely, sunny Monday morning on the first day of school.  After taking a warm shower, he gazed into the mirror only to realize the signs of aging with a few hairs turning gray and wrinkles on his face.  The slight aging of his appearance reminds him he is pushing forty.  He then got dressed and walked over to the children’s room where they were still sleeping.  Brian approached their sixteen-year-old son’s room when he overhears the jarring sound of the alarm ringing out at 6:30 in the morning.  As Pastor Hanson knocks on his son’s bedroom door he can hear the rustling noise of Patrick kicking the covers.  “It’s time to get up, son.”  Patrick asked, “Dad, can I hit the snooze button for just five more minutes?”  Brian opened the door and said, “You’d better get up. You don’t want to be late for school.”

          Patrick woke up, rolled out of bed and walked towards the restroom to get ready.  Brian approached Gloria’s room when he heard the sound of running water coming from the bathroom and knew their seventeen-year-old daughter was getting ready.  Gloria is a brilliant, cheerful, spunky, beautiful teenage girl on the Junior High cheerleading squad.

          The Hansons are like any other typical middle-class couple struggling to get their teenagers up and ready for school, a task that can be a real challenge sometimes.  Then he casually walked down the stairs and asked his wife Susan, age 38 and a brilliant tenth-grade history teacher, what she was preparing for breakfast.  Mrs. Hanson said, “Pancakes, eggs, and bacon.”  The smell of bacon sizzling on the stove filled the kitchen as he walked into the room.  Susan said, “Brian, can you go upstairs to check on the children?”  Mr. Hanson reached the top of the stairs when he heard Patrick pounding on the restroom door and yelling, “Dad, Gloria is taking too much time in the bathroom!”  Brian said, “Patrick, stop banging on the door.  Gloria, you need to hurry up in the bathroom and come downstairs for breakfast.”  Gloria replied back and said she was almost finished drying her hair.  Brian said, “All right Gloria. Would you hurry up so Patrick can get ready?”  He then headed back downstairs.

          At 7:00 a.m., Brian heard the kids running down the stairs into the kitchen and sitting down.  Brian blessed the meal and they ate breakfast together as a family.  Pastor Hanson asked the children if they were excited about their first day of school.  Patrick was concerned about making friends and Gloria confided she was a little tense about her classes.

          Brian said, “Don’t burden yourself about being nervous on the first day, Son.  You’ll make new acquaintances and meet new classmates.  The important thing to remember is to be yourself and it will take time to make new friends, just be patient.”  Pastor Hanson turned and looked at his daughter and said, “Gloria, I’m sure you’ll be okay in your subjects because you are a smart young lady.  Don’t worry about your studies.  You will be all right.  However, I’m proud of both of you for being honest.”

          The Hanson family had just finished eating when they were interrupted by a telephone call from the school principal.  Mrs. Jackson was calling to tell Pastor Hanson that he had permission to speak to the students every morning around the flagpole.  After Brian had hung up the receiver he helped the kids gather all their supplies and finish getting ready.

          Pastor Hanson arrived at the flagpole on the morning of the first day of school.  While he was getting ready to speak to the students, he glanced over and saw a boy sitting on a bench next to the front entrance of the building.  The young boy was wearing headphones and drawing a picture of the group of students gathered around the flagpole.  Brian observed other classmates talking with each other and walking by without speaking to or even acknowledging him.  The boy was slender with brown hair and thick glasses.  The youth was wearing a t-shirt ripped in several places, baggy stained jeans and weathered tennis shoes.

          After they had sung a few songs, Brian began the morning’s devotional.  Pastor Hanson said, “Good morning students. My name is Pastor Brian Hanson.”

          “I will share a devotional today on life’s directions and I’m glad everybody can support each other around the flagpole!  First, I would like everyone to please bow your heads to pray.”  After this introduction and prayer Pastor Hanson continued with the message,  “When you think of lifetime’s direction, what comes to mind?  I believe the course God wants every person to follow is the way that leads to salvation – to Jesus.  Yet we Christians sometime stray away from wholehearted dedication to Christ in the salvation we enjoy and not from deliverance itself.  To avoid this, we need to focus our eyes on Jesus and keep going in the way God wants for us.  Think of a way in which we, as believers, can live our lives by allowing God to direct our path.”

          “I believe the only way to achieve the right direction is to continue moving forward while trusting Jesus to lead us. Whatever our own goals may be – whether it is graduation, reaching out to other students, finding a job, attending college or even getting married and having a family – we must trust in God.  No matter what direction or path you are pursuing at the moment, put your trust in God to lead you and direct you.”

          “Everyone should ask themselves where this road would take us.  If your answers to this question are - to Jesus Christ, to salvation or to heaven, you’re on the right track.  If your answers are - I’m not sure or to destruction, you may need to change the direction in which your life is going.  Only you can answer according to what’s in your heart.  The time to change course is now before time passes you by and it’s too late to change.  God wants the best for you and He loves you very much.”

          “When we take our eyes and focus on something else besides Jesus, we may have tendencies to sink deeper into our sin until we turn our eyes back to Jesus.  Christians may not see what God is planning for us.  All we can do is to love one another and stay on the right path in the direction he intends for us.  The way God expects us to take is the path to salvation.”

          “Christians can’t allow Satan to distract us and lead us away from our destiny, which is to reach out to one another.  Christians have a choice to make - to take the broad path, which leads to destruction or the narrow path, which leads to Jesus.  The choice is yours to make.  Only you can decide for yourself to follow Jesus and ask him into your heart to help find your life’s direction.  This morning you can make the first step, walk God’s path for yourself and turn your life around.”

          “In closing, I would like you to find someone you don’t recognize and invite him or her to come and join us around the flagpole.  Help them provide direction for their life and discover how God’s love can change them and how the decision you make can change you.  The power to change lives is your choice to make if you allow Jesus to work through you.  Let’s ask God to enable us to continue to follow our life’s real direction and become leaders in this school.  Let’s be a positive influence upon other students.”

          The next morning the same boy scrutinized us as we gathered around the pole.  This time Pastor Hanson walked away from the group in the hope of finding out his name and asking him to join them.  Alysia Sanders said, “Pastor Hanson, where are you going?”  Pastor Hanson turned around, glanced back at Alysia and replied, “I am going to talk to this young boy and invite him to come and join us.”  Pastor Hanson casually approached the young boy when he witnessed some students teasing him because of his appearance and his clothing.  The pastor got closer when they scattered leaving the boy with his head hung low as other students passed by laughing.  The pastor explained, “I am constantly amazed at how cruel kids can be to their peers.”

          Pastor Hanson walked over to where he was standing and asked the young man his name.  He responded in a soft low tone, “My name is Johnny Goodwin.”

          The boy wiped the tears away and Pastor Hanson asked him if everything was all right.  Johnny said, “I’m fine.”  Pastor Hanson knew he was not fine.  As he walked away he remembered that he forgot to invite him to join the group.  Pastor Hanson called out and asked Johnny if he would like to pray with them.  Johnny turned his head and responded, “I’m not interested.”  Pastor Hanson turned to leave and said, “I understand, but you are welcome to join us anytime.”  Pastor Hanson thought about his daughter Stephanie, who had previously taken her own life as he walked away.  The pain and suffering she had endured because of others must have been unbearable.  Pastor Hanson soon realized what Johnny was going through and the pain he was experiencing.  The youth minister needed to help guide him in the right direction and give him a reason to smile again.  The pastor couldn’t bear seeing another child hurt by other students.  Pastor Hanson thought to generate a challenge to help Johnny before something bad happened and it would be too late.  Mr. Tom Blackford and Mrs. Sue Rawlings walked over and asked if everything was okay because Pastor Brian Hanson must have looked worried.  The pastor had a blank look on his face when he told them everything was fine.  Pastor Hanson explained to them that he had been thinking about their young daughter Stephanie and how much he missed her.  Pastor Hanson rejoined the group for a final prayer, adding a prayer for Johnny.  Afterward he asked the group why other kids were teasing and laughing at Johnny.  Patricia Miller, a sweet yet outspoken student, informed the pastor that none of the students liked him because he was strange and different from other students.  The teenagers noticed that he didn’t keep himself spotless and he wore the same clothes every day.  Pastor Brian said, “Johnny is in need of a friend.  I would suggest each student take a minute to speak to Johnny and invite him to join the group.  The youth pastor also told the group of teenagers how important it was to stand up for others such as Johnny who was being bullied.  Also, they should let school officials and the principal know what is taking place.  All the pupils agreed with nods as the pastor scanned the gathering.

          Pastor Hanson arrived to gather with the teens the next day.  Johnny was in the same area as the day before only this time he wasn’t alone.  George Dillings from our group was typically shy so speaking to Johnny was a milestone for them both.  George came rushing over and he told us that Johnny didn’t say anything to him.  The boy seemed to be disinterested as he sat on the bench and lowered his head while watching other students pass by.  Pastor Hanson told George not to give up, but to please keep talking to him and inviting him.  The pastor also told George how proud he was of him for taking the first step.  George said he would continue to ask Johnny to worship with them around the flagpole.  The youth pastor also encouraged the other kids to invite Johnny to join them and be their friend.  George was determined to make sure someone would care.  The others agreed to help George and continue to encourage Johnny.

          Pastor Hanson and a small group of students gathered to sing songs and listen to a message of encouragement.  After speaking, Pastor Hanson became even more proud of his son who wished to share his touching and heartfelt testimony. 

          Patrick started his testimony by introducing himself and said, “My name is Patrick Hanson.  I’m on the sophomore soccer team in the left wing forward position and I’m a sinner.  I struggle with being truant from school and skipping classes.  Also last year I was charged with possession of marijuana for being at a friend’s party when the police came and arrested everyone in the house.  I was released because I didn’t smoke the pot, but I was with some of my friends who did.  When my father arrived at the police station, I looked up and saw the pain on my dad’s face and how disappointed he was in my behavior.  I was put on probation and did community service for six months.”

          “While sitting at the police station, I realized I needed to change.  I gave my heart over to the Lord on that night at the police station.  When I got home my father and mother lectured me and grounded me for a month.  I turned my heart over to the Lord and was baptized the next Sunday.”

          Pastor Hanson was almost in tears as he listened to his son talk about what he’d been through.  Listening to his testimony was refreshing, a promise of knowing that God was looking after him.  Pastor Hanson and the group of students said a final prayer around the flagpole.  They asked God again to look after Johnny and to continue to be in every sinner’s heart.

          Patrick came over and gave his father a hug and thanked him for allowing him to share his testimony.  Then he also thanked his father for loving him and his sister.  As we broke our embrace, Gloria rushed over and poured herself into her father’s arms.  Pastor Hanson told them he loved them both and said, “You need to get to class.”  After everyone had left, Pastor Hanson took a trip back to Cartersville to visit Stephanie’s gravesite.  The youth minister left a message at the school office for his wife to call him during her lunchtime.  Then he stopped by the florist to pick up yellow carnations to place on Stephanie’s grave.  Pastor Hanson also called his previous pastor, Jim Walters, to ask him if he could come by for a visit while he was in town.  The youth pastor was planning on getting a few ideas about how to help Johnny.  Later that day Pastor Hanson arrived and met Pastor Walters at a diner.

          “How is your family, Pastor Walters?  And everyone at church?”

          “Fine, fine.   And how are you and your family doing?”

          “Well, thanks.  I’m a youth pastor and the high school has allowed me to share devotions around the flagpole every morning.  There’s this one boy, Johnny, who seems to be an outcast.  How might I encourage Johnny to take part with the other students?”

          Jim Walter said, “Try to connect with him and get better acquainted with him as a person.  Another suggestion could be to talk to the school and ask permission to share your story with the other students at a school-wide assembly.”  Walter also said, “Keep trying to encourage the students to be friends with him.”

          After we had finished eating, Pastor Hanson stopped by the cemetery to drop off the flowers and remembered special times he shared with his daughter Stephanie.  The pastor took Stephanie’s picture out of his wallet and kissed it.  Pastor Hanson said, “Remember when I took you out on your twelfth birthday for a father and daughter day?  First, I took you to your favorite restaurant and gave you a locket.  Stephanie, your eyes and smile just sparkled and you hugged me in front of everyone.  Next I took you to a movie then bought you this pink, red and white dress with flowers and a white bow around your waist for your birthday party.  Then we did our father and daughter dance at the party to your favorite song.  I remember the smile on your face and all your friends at your party.”

          Pastor Hanson placed her picture back into his wallet and dropped to his knees and cried.  Pastor Hanson was angry and upset as he reached up to God with both arms stretched up to the sky and said, “Why did this happen?  Why didn’t I realize she was hurting?  Why, God?”

          Pastor Hanson got up off the ground, lifted his head up towards Heaven with tears pouring down the side of his face and said, “Stephanie, you don’t know how much I love you and miss you.”  The trees began to blow and Pastor Hanson felt a cold breeze come over him.  He then felt at peace.

          On his way back home Susan called.  Pastor Hanson explained, “Susan, I visited Pastor Walters and then went to Stephanie’s grave.  Would you like to go visit my parents for the weekend to commemorate Stephanie’s passing?”

          Mrs. Hanson took a deep breath and said, “Yes, of course I would.”  So Pastor Hanson called his mother, Emily Hanson, to confirm a visit with her and to let her know they were coming.

          On Saturday morning around 8:00 a.m., Pastor Hanson loaded everything into the van and they left to go to his parents’ house.  The children were excited to visit their grandparents.  The Hanson family spent most of the morning sightseeing and shopping along the way.  When they arrived Gloria and Patrick jumped out and rushed over to hug their grandma.  While Emily Hanson and Susan were in the kitchen fixing lunch, Brian and his father, Richard Hanson, were watching the football game.  The children were playing outside in the backyard. 

          While sitting on the couch Brian and his dad were having a discussion talking about a student being bullied at school.  Brian and Richard also discussed Stephanie and why he linked none of the signs that she’d been having problems.  Pastor Hanson wondered that if he had examined her behavior closer maybe he could have stopped her from killing herself.

          Richard turned his head towards the window and asked Brian, “What do you detect out the window?”

          Brian responded and said, “I can view my children playing tag in your backyard.”  Richard asked, “Do you love your kids?”

          “Yes!”  Brian replied with a hint of disbelief in his tone.  “Where is my father going with this?” Pastor Hanson thought.  “I love my children.”  Taking Brian’s right hand, he looked straight into his eyes.  The aging eyes of Richard were full of compassion and understanding.  “God our Father loves you in the same way.”  The words hung between them for a long moment and Brian didn’t know what to say.  Richard then patted Brian’s hand and said, “My son, you need to give your problems to God.  God will help you work through the issues you’re dealing with.”  Mr. Richard Hanson smiled and perhaps he detected something outside of the window.  Brian remained unconvinced.  “Let’s take a walk.  I’d like to show you something else to help you understand.”

          Brian and Richard walked down a path in the woods and Pastor Hanson listened to his father talking as they were walking.  Richard and Brian sat down on a bench in an open, grassy area surrounded by trees. 

          Richard turned his head towards his son and explained what Brian didn’t understand about the view from the window.  Richard said, “Son, I know how much you love your children.  The time you spend with your children reflects on you as a father.  I want you to take a hold of this Bible and show me where it says life is going to be easy.  Brian, we can’t focus on what we did in the past because we can’t change what has happened, only that we can learn from our mistakes.  The view from the window resembles the reflection of your life as a man.”  Brian looked at his father and said, “Why didn’t you tell me at the house instead of out in the woods?”  Richard said, “My son, we are only here a short time and it is important to take the time we have and spend it to share God’s love with our children.  The Bible has all of the answers to your questions,” Richard said.  “I knew the message I shared with you would be more meaningful if we talked with no interruptions.”  Richard took Brian’s hand and said, “Let’s pray together and ask God to reveal to you what you need to know as a father.”  After they had finished praying, they headed back to the house and Brian reached over, hugged his father and said, “Thank you, Dad.”

          On Sunday morning they all got ready for church and ate breakfast.  The Hansons attended their respective Sunday school classes.  Before the church service their pastor asked, “Pastor Hanson, would you be willing to play special music on the piano for the congregation?”  Pastor Hanson told Pastor Walters that he would love to.  After the service they stayed for a potluck luncheon.  While the Hanson family was having a wonderful time of fellowship, they visited with other people from the community.  Pastor Walters prayed over the meal and all the children ate first taking their food to various classrooms, followed by the adults who ate in the fellowship room.  Susan and Brian ate with the pastor and his wife.  Afterward, the men played games such as cards and dominoes.  They then took down the tables and chairs while the women took care of the dishes.

          The members of the church would leave the fellowship lunch by around 3:00 p.m.  But today Brian said, “Mom and Dad, we want to go to the cemetery to take flowers and we will meet you back at your house.”  When they arrived at the gravesite, Brian and his family placed flowers on the grave and hugged each other.  Susan put the flowers in a vase as they cried and talked with Stephanie, telling her how much they missed her.  Gloria walked over, kneeled down and put a rose on her grave.  She started telling her sister how much she missed her.  Patrick walked over and placed a rose and told his sister how much he missed his little sister.

          Afterward, they piled back into the van and headed back to Brian’s parents’ house.  Brian again loaded the van as they said their goodbyes, while hugging and kissing each other.

          When they got home, they unloaded everything and went inside the house.  After the kids had gone up to their rooms to do their homework, Brian turned on the TV for a while and Susan went into the kitchen to fix the evening meal.  After they had eaten they went into the living room and did Bible study time as a family.  Then they played Monopoly, Trivia and Clue.

          While Brian was setting up the board games he asked Patrick and Gloria, “Did you have fun at your grandparents’ house?”

          “Yes, we did,” they both said in unison.

          Pastor Hanson asked, “Is there any indication I’m making a difference around the flagpole every morning before school starts?”

          Patrick said, “Yes and we’re excited about it.”  The children reinforced their father with compassion by putting their arms around him and hugging him.

          Gloria spoke up and said with enthusiasm in her eyes, “Dad, you must realize you are creating an impact and if we’re patient with Johnny, he’ll change his life.”

          After they had finished playing the games, Pastor Hanson gave his kids a kiss on their foreheads and hugged them.  Pastor Hanson gathered all his documents, took the time to study the Scriptures and wrote any previous notes down before beginning work on his next flagpole devotional.

A Friend I Didn't Know I Had


A Friend I Didn’t Know I Had

A novel by

Harel Lawrence

Pastor Brian is a youth pastor with a mission; to educate people on the hazards of
bullying, especially for children. Having lost his own daughter to suicide brought on by
bullying, he has a unique perspective on the problem, and a calling to end bullying and
save lives.

Set in Midwestern suburbia, Pastor Brian actively guides youth to Christ and Christ-like
behavior by praying with them in front of the high school every morning, as well as
 holding a weekly Bible study. His wife is a teacher at the school, and his two remaining
 children attend classes there.

Johnny is an outcast among the students. He watches from afar as they gather to pray
each morning.  He is taunted and bullied in school in the hallways, and is tormented
 at lunchtime in the cafeteria. He is fixated on the most popular girl in school,
Patricia, captain of the cheerleading squad and homecoming queen, who happens to
be going steady with Alan, quarterback of the football team. Each attempt at asking her
 out results in more ridicule for Johnny.

 One morning, Johnny is so despondent he joins the students at the flagpole for prayer.
 He pulls out a gun. He tells Pastor Brian that he wanted to kill himself, but after the few
 Christian youth who reached out to him, and the hope that an anti-bullying campaign
 in the school just might work, Johnny wants to turn in his gun. Of course, this causes
 a major school lockdown, and the police are summoned. Johnny is arrested.

Pastor Brian helps Johnny get into a six-month program which, upon completion, could
result in Johnny’s criminal record being cleared. The program is rigid, but Johnny
completes it and returns home. His mother has divorced his abusive father and plans
 to marry a policeman.

After the homecoming football game, Patricia and Alan are at a drinking party.
 There are no adults present, and Alan has had too much to drink. Patricia’s best
friend Christine tries to get Alan to stay and sleep it off, but he and Patricia leave
in his car.

A few hours later, Pastor Brian gets a call from Patricia’s parents. She has been
in an accident caused by Alan’s drunk driving. She may never walk again. Alan
dies from internal injuries.

Johnny and Christine visit Patricia at the hospital nearly every day. After seeing
 how caring Johnny is, Christine falls in love with him. When Patricia is well
enough they tell her that they’re dating, and she is happy for them. She considers
 them her two best friends.

After graduation, Johnny and Christine marry and start a family. Patricia asks
them to join her on speaking engagements in schools to demonstrate what can
 happen due to misbehavior; Johnny went to jail over bullying, and Patricia is
confined to a wheelchair due to drinking and driving. They make a strong impact
with the students, and hopefully will save many lives by sharing the story that Pastor
Brian influenced.