Advent: Where Are You?

     Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
     He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
     And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
     The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
     Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
     The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
     So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all livestock
    and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
    and you will eat dust
    all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:8-15

Christmas treeI sit here in the chaos of the morning having fought through standstill traffic to drop my husband off at work an hour away and listening to my girls who right now are dancing on the edge of anger in their words and their actions and I desperately seek the Truth that too often seems elusive in the day-to-day living of this life.

When life is at its fever-pitch of crazy and chaos and so many moments testify to the messiness of living in the world, I sometimes lose sight of the Truth. In fact, that tends to happen to me more readily during December with its busier schedule and hustle and bustle. I tend to lose sight of the miracle of God with us and find myself seeking God more desperately, often crying out, “Where are you?”

And then I read the words of Genesis and I pause to consider how these can be part of an Advent journey. This reminder of sin and deception and the enemy that prowls around seeking to steal our God-delivered joy, our Christmas joy. I contemplate these words and this scene and know that this is the very reason for Christmas. If not for this moment, there would not have been the years of God’s people asking, “Where are you?”

But what strikes me even more than this obvious connection of the Garden and the manger is the connection of Jesus and the serpent. Not the one mentioned here, where Jesus will crush the enemy, but the one from before the existence of the garden, of the man and the woman, of the world itself.

The enemy, the serpent, knew Jesus before the creation of the cosmos. This serpent was an angel who gathered around the throne of Jesus praising Him with singing and glorifying Him with all the Heavenly Host.

Did Jesus foresee the moment of the enemy’s departure? Did He notice the enemy’s voice missing from the Heavenly Host gathered around His glory? Did He mourn the loss of this once-beautiful creature who chose to leave His presence for darkness and lies and his eventual demise and defeat?

And what of this enemy who sought to be equal to God? Did he understand the words the Lord spoke to the woman in the Garden, the prophesy of the coming of Jesus and the victory that Jesus would have over him? Surely this lowly serpent realized the Truth for God’s plan for redemption was put into place before the things ever went wrong in the Garden.

In the shadows the serpent slunk, enjoying the breaking of the bond, the relationship, between God and His creation. How he must have reveled in the moment when the man and the woman hid from God, beginning a history of hiding and darkness and of God calling out to mankind, “Where are you?” And all the while God’s people answered with their own plaintive plea, “Where are you?”

Until at last another man and another woman of God’s choosing journeyed through the darkness to reveal God’s great Love. Until at last as God’s people cried out, “Where are you?” God replied, “Here I Am.”

The great I Am born in Bethlehem to bring the final answer that burning question of our hearts, “Where are you?”

Victory proclaimed in the cries of a babe in a manger. No more hiding. No more darkness. No more fear. No more having to cry out, “Where are you?” because He is here.

Advent: I Know Him

O Zion, messenger of good news,
    shout from the mountaintops!
Shout it louder, O Jerusalem.
    Shout, and do not be afraid.
Tell the towns of Judah,
    “Your God is coming!”
Yes, the Sovereign Lord is coming in power.
    He will rule with a powerful arm.
    See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd.
    He will carry the lambs in his arms,
holding them close to his heart.
    He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young. Isaiah 40:9-11

Christmas treeFor as long as I can remember, part of my Christmas celebration during December almost always involves favorite stories and movies. We read an Advent Storybook each night before bed to our two girls who are almost seven and almost five. My husband and I like to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas and at least one version of A Christmas Carol.

In recent years, we’ve added a new favorite that we try to watch at some point, Elf. I don’t know if you’ve seen Elf starring Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf, but there’s a scene in which Buddy is working at Macy’s during Christmas and his supervisor announces that Santa’s coming to their little North Pole set up the next day. Buddy just about explodes with the anticipation of Santa’s arrival (if you haven’t seen it, you can watch the clip below):

Buddy’s reaction makes me think about the above verses in a whole new way. Think about it, God’s people have been waiting for Him for a long time. Anticipating Him, looking for Him, waiting for Him to show up. And then comes a prophecy about a messenger who appears, a messenger of good news shouting from the mountain tops, “Your God is coming!”

Imagine the sense of shock and expectation that this prophecy must have brought with it.

“Your God is coming!”

But then, for them, there was more waiting. More waiting and more wondering. When? When is He coming?

We don’t have that same long wait. In fact, we get to celebrate His coming each year all the while anticipating His returning, His coming again.

But in the meantime, Advent is that time when we celebrate the end of the waiting the Israelites endured and anticipate His coming. Advent says, “Your God is coming!”

How do you respond to that? How do I?

Honestly, for me, much of December tends to get swallowed up in the doing and the planning of lots of things: planning meals, baking cookies, wrapping gifts, trimming the tree, making memories. In fact there tend to be more things to do than there is time to do them. Advent becomes a December of squeezing things in and rushing from one thing to the next in order to fit them all in. And one of those things I end up trying to squeeze in is Jesus.

This year, I don’t want to just squeeze Jesus in.

“Your God is coming!”

This year, I want to be like Buddy the Elf; I want to embody and display that absolute abandon and joy at the announcement, “Your God is coming!”

I want my response to echo loudly: Really? God? He’s coming? Here? To this place right here? God is coming? Wow!

But even more than that, I want to exclaim with even greater conviction: “God? I know Him. I know Him.”

And I want to celebrate with great joy the Good News that Jesus isn’t only coming, He’s staying. He’s here. He’s ruling and He’s leading and He’s guiding and He’s feeding His sheep. In Him is hope and love and mercy and grace and victory. In Him I live and move and have my being.

“God? I know him!”

And that is definitely worth shouting about and celebrating.

Advent: Cries of Victory

How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of the messenger who brings good news,
the good news of peace and salvation,
    the news that the God of Israel reigns!
The watchmen shout and sing with joy,
    for before their very eyes
    they see the Lord returning to Jerusalem.
Let the ruins of Jerusalem break into joyful song,
    for the Lord has comforted his people.
    He has redeemed Jerusalem.
The Lord has demonstrated his holy power
    before the eyes of all the nations.
All the ends of the earth will see
    the victory of our God. Isaiah 52:7-10

Christmas treeGood news shouted, celebrated, sung with great joy and enthusiasm. Can we even imagine such a thing today? In this age of heart-wrenching news stories and anger and protests and hatred and poverty and conflict and disease and death. I don’t know about you, but I can barely imagine a fleet-footed messenger bringing news of comfort and peace and salvation.

But it’s what I desperately crave. And it’s what this world desperately needs.

It’s what this world has desperately needed throughout its existence, from the moment that Adam and Eve left the Garden and life became messy and broken and filled with darkness and pain. And it’s the very need for which God planned even before the beginning of the world. Comfort, peace, good news. His Good News.

Not something temporary. Not something that would appease only for a short while before the world caved in around us once again. Not something wrought by the hands, or the minds, or the strength of men.

This Good News is confined by neither time nor space and was wrought through the hands of Jesus. And it is a gift.

But can we truly grasp that? Do we want to?

Or does it feel like utter nonsense in the midst of a world of hurting and hatred and pain and anger?

At first glance, I admit, it seems ridiculous. Absurd. Abstract in a world of concrete needs.

But consider the Truth of it. Consider the Truth that He embodies: hope, redemption, love, victory. Absolute and complete victory.

This is something for which I yearn. Victory. Not just for myself, but for those I have never met. For the struggles they face and the circumstances that threaten to oppress the, even bury them in the cracks of our culture until their needs and their lives become invisible.

How is possible to rejoice?

Because He comes. And their needs, their lives, their hearts are not invisible to Him. In fact, it is why He comes.

And so I will be a watchman upon the walls of this world and its circumstances who brings good news and comfort and hope. I will be one who shouts with the songs of joy and victory raised for a hurting world to hear and to know.

Despite the messy brokenness of this life, I will wrap myself in the comfort of the Holy power of the Lord whose mercy and justice I do not recognize but for which I yearn and in which I trust.

Here, in this place, the breath of heaven brushes my ear with a promise that God will enter this fray and reveal Himself to those who seek the miracle of heaven here in this world. For it is here. Indeed it comes each year at this time if we but journey to that little town of Bethlehem in search of our King and Creator who entered our world as helpless as we too often feel.

We have not been left alone.

We have not been abandoned.

Yes, this world will wrench us to our cores and will incite us to anger and sometimes hopelessness; the world can seem as if nothing will ever change and that nothing matters.

But God says otherwise. And He said it pretty powerfully with the birth of a baby on a cold dark night to a young teenage mother. Angels sang. Shepherds fell on their knees. A Savior came. Watchmen shouted and sang with joy because hope was born and victory was proclaimed with those first cries of a newborn babe in a stable.

Advent: The Path to Christmas

“Comfort, comfort my people,”
    says your God.
“Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.
Tell her that her sad days are gone
    and her sins are pardoned.
Yes, the Lord has punished her twice over
    for all her sins.”

Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting,
“Clear the way through the wilderness
    for the Lord!
Make a straight highway through the wasteland
    for our God!
Fill in the valleys,
    and level the mountains and hills.
Straighten the curves,
    and smooth out the rough places.
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
    The Lord has spoken!”  Isaiah 40:1-5

Christmas treeComfort. Forgiveness. A path. The glory of the Lord. What an incredible invitation God offers us.

Advent begins a season of waiting and expectation and preparation and I find myself thinking about the Christmas story, God’s story about how He came into our messy world and our messy lives to invite us into something amazing. I don’t know about you, but every year December arrives and the days pass in breakneck speed and it seems I can barely catch my breath let alone prepare my heart for Christmas.

This year I refuse to repeat that pattern of hustle and bustle and running and racing around in an effort to create something special. This year, I choose to find the quiet of Christmas and to open my heart to the glory of the Lord and to bask in the joy that comes with the birth of Love. The amazing, unconditional, overflowing love demonstrated by a God who gave up His place in paradise to step into my messy life in this broken world.

This Christmas I choose to follow the path through the wilderness and through the wasteland. I choose to walk the filled-in valleys and the leveled hills, the straightened curves and the smoothes rough places. This Christmas I choose to find my part in the Story into which God invites us all.

This Christmas I choose to draw near to Mary during the visit from Gabriel and to listen to the words of her faith-filled prayer.

This Christmas I choose to marvel at the prophesies that foretold of a Savior’s birth.

This Christmas I choose to gather with the shepherds in the field when the angels sing of the glory of the Lord and to travel with them to Bethlehem.

This Christmas I choose to seek the star and the babe in the stable, snuggled in His mother’s arms and held in her love.

This Christmas I choose to prepare my heart and to draw near to the God who was Emmanuel and treasure that miracle in my heart.

There is a path that beckons us and a God who invites us and a Savior who welcomes us.

There is a Story that each of our stories is intricately connected to and this year I choose to seek and to discover the ways my story unfolds into God’s greater Story. Perhaps you’d like to join me and together we can weave our stories into the revelation of the glory of the Lord.

Day 20: Rewriting Destiny

my nano photo

A Note about NaNoWriMo: Despite the joy and the draw of this story, my writing efforts have been quite often derailed by life and motherhood. There is still perhaps an opportunity to complete the story, to reach 50,000 words and to meet this personal goal. However, no matter what happens in the pursuit of winning NaNoWriMo by finishing 50,000 words, Willow and Poppy have grown too dear to my writer’s heart for me not to follow them to the end of their adventure. And, so, here is more of there journey.

Greed and Power

Without hesitation she turned to the back of the book, seeking to see what illustrations were included in the way of the rest of her journey and was disappointed to find that there were no paintings in the final chapters of the book. She turned to the words, hoping that she would find something to which she could cling, something that would offer her some sense of what came next, but it was nothing more than the familiar story. But the story must hold some meaning, she thought.

“You cannot see what has not yet been written.” It was Judah’s voice from just outside the mouth of the cave where she sat.

“This book is about me?” said Willow.

“That book is about truth,” Judah told her. “It is about what is happening and as for what has yet to be, it is about principles and hope.”

“My mother,” she began.

“What you suspect is true, young Willow,” Judah replied.

“I do not understand,” Willow said.

“You do not yet understand,” said Judah. “But the time is coming when you will see what you cannot see in this moment.”

“Surely the Elders knew the true cause of my mother’s death,” said Willow, “and yet they said nothing. They did nothing.”

“Fear is not the only factor that motivates men,” Judah said. “There is also greed and power.”

And with those words, Judah left her.

Willow let the words, greed and power wander around inside her mind as she recalled the Elders who guided her village in its daily happenings, and she considered each one in light of the idea of greed and power. She wondered how greed and power influenced a group of men entrusted with the well-being of entire populations and their course in life and community.  What more power could they require, she wondered, but it did not take too long for her to consider the power that the angels of darkness offered such smaller, lesser men. Her mind’s eye pictured each of the men that she had grown up with in her village, each one participating in the festivals around the fire and sharing stories or those who gathered each year for the Ceremony of the Fates.

Her mother had been such a gentle spirit and had been adored by everyone in the villages, not just their own, but in all of the surrounding villages as well. How could the elders have allowed the angels of darkness to take her away for nothing more than her love of her daughter, her love of Willow. Willow’s breath caught in her throat as she considered the idea that she was in some way responsible for her mother’s death. Her mother’s face appeared inside her mind and she felt weepy with the loss of her mother’s gentle spirit and love. Her sadness turned quickly to anger as she considered her mother’s funeral, the outpouring of sadness from the village, including the Elders. She considered how the Elders dared to feign such sadness and loss though clearly some of them were a part of the conspiracy that resulted in her death.

She squeezed her eyes closed and drove the images from her mind. She had too much information that she still needed to review before morning. She turned to Poppy’s book Beyond the Legend and left her mother’s journal for another time, perhaps tomorrow morning or perhaps later. She could not bring herself to consider her mother’s warning, the secret message her mother had obviously painstakingly created within the pages of her journal and she wondered what the truth was. Was it Poppy or was it something else?

With tired and weary eyes, she picked up Poppy’s book and began to thumb through the pages, wondering where she fit in to its story. For a moment she considered waking her friend who knew the story of this book so much better than she, but decided that she would do well to read the pages herself, scanning through some of the detail to discover what she might about her role in this battle against the angels of darkness. She could not recall any part of the story in the book that involved angels of darkness and hoped that her efforts were not a waste of time. She wondered briefly what her mother would tell her to do if she sat here beside Willow in this cave: would her time be better spent sleeping or reading?

With little else to go on but her instinct, Willow chose to read at least some of the book in hope of discovering at least some semblance of help for her journey. She held the book in her hands and decided to let it fall open where it may. With it open in her lap she peered down at the passage on the pages in her lap and began to read.

Kiera looked out over the horizon and steadied herself for the journey. Her mind swirled with too much information and she could not discern which of it to believe and so she chose to take all of it at its word. In the darkness she sought the speaker of Truth but she found him not and so she opted instead for whatever instinct she could muster in light of the challenges set before her. Despite the dire circumstances, young Kiera smiled and found that she uncovered a confidence that she had not expected and she stood boldly facing the darkness before her. Up until now she had traveled by the light of the day, but tonight, she steeled herself to head boldly into the night and to face down her doubts and fears.

Above her she saw the shadow of the beast as it flew back and forth above her in the light of the moon. It cast an ominous shadow and its presence caused Kiera to tremble, but she refused to be lowed into fear and doing nothing. She watched as the dragon-like figure circled above her and drew closer to the ground where she stood. Though she was sure that it could destroy her in a single breath of its fire, it did little but circle above her in the night, reflecting the light of stars that shimmered in the distance.

Kiera walked slowly and steadily, her hand poised upon her sword and her eyes upon the circling dragon of darkness.

Willow paused in her reading and looked to the sky, expecting to see a dark figure circling overhead and her breath caught when she saw a winged figure cast a shadow against the moon. For several moments she sat, holding her breath and watching the figure loop through the sky. She wondered how far away it was and if it knew she was bedded down in this cave. She squeezed her eyes shut and took a moment to picture things that gave her joy and when she opened her eyes once more she saw nothing above her in the sky. She turned her focus back to the book.

The eyes of the dragon glowed a fiery green against the darkness of the night and the moon gave its scales and its wings a luminescent shimmer. Kiera stood firm beneath its circling figure, her sword now ready in her hand. Behind her she heard the deep breathing of yet another darkened figure, but she dared not flinch. Instead she stood ready for either of the dark figures to draw near, her heart never missing a beat as she watched with her feet firmly planted and her courage steeled against whatever danger threatened.

Willow grew weary and found that she could read no further. She acquiesced that the book indeed told her tale as well as Kiera’s and she hunkered down into her blankets, her best friend barely a breath away and her thoughts circling far above with the angels and the stars. She stared into the heavens and sought the One who had called it all together, including herself and the angels of darkness. Certainly, she thought, the Ruler had ways of protecting those who sought to free the realm from darkness.

(Day 20 word count: 1150 for a total of 26,253/50,000)

A Faith Too Small

 

photo credit: fergus currie

photo credit: fergus currie

The other day I was spinning my wheels on Facebook, pretty much just scrolling through but not really seeing much of anything except that there are so many things I’m not doing compared to others. Have you ever had a day like that? A day where you feel like you are made for so much more but you can’t put your finger on what that is, and so you spend your time looking at what others are doing and what you’re not. A day where your dream feels small and your faith seems even smaller.

And then I read this from Jon Acuff:

Just because other bloggers blog a certain way, doesn’t mean you should.

Just because there’s a “right way” to write, doesn’t mean you should.

Just because peers dream one way, doesn’t mean you should.

We don’t need you to photocopy who someone else is and try to live out of that picture. We need your picture. The one that’s messy and doesn’t fit in and doesn’t make sense to anyone else but you.

We full up on other people trying to be other people.

We’re currently missing one you.

Be that.

And then I watched this video from Louie Giglio, How Great is Our God:

And I realized that my faith doesn’t just feel small, it is small. In fact, too often, it’s too small.

Too often it’s too small for me to dream big.

Too often it’s too small for me truly to trust God.

Too often it’s too small for me to be thankful in all circumstances.

Too often it’s too small and I forget that I am fearfully, wonderfully, uniquely made by the Creator who breathed the cosmos into being.

Too often it’s too small and I forget that I am unconditionally loved (and behave as if my actions determine my worth and the Creator’s love).

Too often it’s too small and I stand frozen in my Egypts rather than follow God into the desert and then into my Promised Lands.

Too often it’s too small that I live trapped in my worry and the fear that I will do nothing more than exist.

Too often it’s too small that I forget that this life that I’m living is not about me or my accomplishments or my goals or my list of things to do before I die. This life that I have been given, that was gifted to me by the God whose greatness I cannot even fathom, is so that I might know God and bring Him glory.

And that sounds really cool, but you know what? I have no idea what that means. I have no idea what it means to glorify God in my choices and my words and my actions and the daily life I lead.

But I am all too familiar with what it means to fritter away my time in search of meaning and purpose and acceptance and accolades and retweets and likes on social media. And the motivation behind that frittering is not what it may seem. It comes from a deep need to be accepted, to be connected, to be deemed worthy. And as I sat and watched the video by Louie Giglio and then another with a similar message, the Spirit of God cracked open the hardness of my heart and dripped its life into mine with a new understanding of the ancient Truth of God.

This understanding is not yet words as much as it is a deep conviction and leading that causes my heart to beat faster and chill bumps to inch across my skin and my breath to catch in my throat. As if this understanding of the ancient Truth of God is a glimpse of the Creator Himself breathing life into the stars, a glimpse of the Son of God sitting upon His throne in dazzling light, a glimpse of the Spirit moving through the world and the brokenness and calling wandering hearts to know the One who knows them by name.

He called my name today, like He has on so many other days when I have not heard Him or chosen to ignore Him.

He called my name today and today, I caught my breath and realized anew that God is too big for my faith to be too often too small.

Day 14: Rewriting Destiny

my nano photo

A Secret Message

Willow ran a hand over the front of her mother’s journal and she called to mind all that she had learned in just the few days on this journey. Something inside her told her that her mother’s words held an even deeper bit of truth than what she had come to know from Judah and the lores of the land. She could not quite define what it was inside of her but it had something of uncertainty to it, something of foreboding and she hesitated several more moments before diving into the words that were scrawled across the page in her mother’s writing. She decided to read the entries in reverse this time hoping that she might pick up on something she had not before.

Not more than three pages into her reading, she began to piece together a cryptic bit of information that stood out based on the way her mother had written certain words. She had not noticed it before and she carefully scrutinized each entry searching for the strange printing of certain words. From her rucksack she dug out a pencil and began writing the words down on a blank page in the back of the journal. Dear. Willow. There. Is. Danger.

Willow stopped reading and stopped writing and took several deep breaths as she realized that her mother had left her a coded letter. Although she was desperate to know its words, she found herself hesitating and fearful of what she would discover with each word from her mother’s journal entries.

“Willow, are you okay?” Poppy crouched beside her, looking into her friend’s eyes.

“Oh. Yes. No. I will be,” Willow told her. She did not want to tell Poppy of her discovery until she knew all of what her mother had hidden in this message to her.

“Shall I sit up with you?” asked Poppy.

“Thank you, my dear Poppy,” said Willow. “But that will not be necessary my friend.”

Poppy bedded down not too far from where Willow sat with the small torch that Galeal had affixed with a few rocks to allow Willow to read without holding the light over the book. She watched Poppy as she began to fade into sleep and into her world of dreams and she yearned to know what it was that Poppy held that threatened the angels of darkness that sought to stop both of them on this journey. When she was certain that Poppy had drifted deeply into her dreams, Willow continued putting her mother’s message to her together.

Dear. Willow. There. Is. Danger. Everywhere. Trust. Truth. Always. You. Cannot. Quit.

Willow felt the tears building and erupting from deep inside her chest and inching their way to her eyes. She had begun to consider her mother’s death in the last 24 hours and now she found herself considering it again. Considering it as not quite the natural death as it had first appeared. She saw her mother as a threat to the realm of darkness and the angels of darkness because she saw what they did not want anyone to see. She saw truth and she saw what people could do and what they were able to do. It was no wonder that her mother had never left on her own journey, Willow thought. Her mother’s destiny was too tightly tied to those who would walk with her on this journey.

She returned to her mother’s journal and wrote out t=more of the words.

Dear Willow, there is danger everywhere. Trust truth always. You cannot quit thought you may find the journey difficult. You travel alone, but you are not alone. Poppy holds the truth that you need. Always protect the truth.

Willow looked over at Poppy who slept peacefully not more than two feet away from her. What did Poppy know that Willow did not? And did Poppy know what she held that threatened the realm of darkness? Or was Poppy like Willow, ignorant to what she had been given and with what she had been entrusted. Willow shivered in the darkness, wondering whether she would indeed be able to protect her friend, protect the truth and do what she was called to do. Her eyes grew heavy and she longed for sleep, but she also longed to know again the story contained in the book, Beyond the Legend. She wondered if there were things within the words of the story that held meaning in a way like her mother’s journal entries. And she knew that if she did not at least take time with the book tonight, she would miss the opportunity for she knew that tomorrow the journey would begin in earnest.

With care she opened the cover of Poppy’s book and traced the words with her finger. How many times had she and Poppy read this book together since they were young girls, she wondered. Suddenly, she found herself wondering where the book had come from, who had given Poppy the books she treasured. With some trepidation, Willow turned the pages, studying each word on each page, wondering if they contained some kind of message that she was intended to decipher for this journey. Beside her Poppy stirred in her sleep and became restless, as if her dreams were vivid and causing her some uncertainty in sleep. Willow was not used to such things with Poppy for never had Poppy recounted dreams to Willow; it was always the other way around with Willow telling Poppy about the dreams that kept her running and hiding as she was pursued by unseen evils.

“I pledge that there be truth beneath the Rock of Balance,” Poppy mumbled in her sleep.

Willow wrote down her friend’s words in her mother’s journal and wondered about the Rock of Balance.

“Never quit,” Poppy said as she tossed and turned. “I shall never quit.”

Willow wrote this down also and then laid a hand on her friend’s forehead, shushing her as she did her younger siblings and as her mother had often done when she had bad dreams as a young girl. Poppy whimpered and fussed in her sleep and Willow considered waking her, but before she could decide, Poppy fell back into silence, leaving Willow to wonder what visions Poppy’s dreams held.

Willow turned back to Beyond the Legend turning pages and glancing at the words and the painted pictures that were so vivid and filled with energy and color. As she peered more closely at the picture on the page before her, she realized that she what she was seeing was familiar. It was of the small lake by which they were camped and it included the rocky crags of the surrounding mountains. Where had this book come from, Willow wondered. She turned each page, studying the words and seeking the ones with illustrations and painted pictures. As she made her way from the back to the front of the book, she saw that many of the illustrations in the beginning of the book were of the places she had traveled. She found the Bridge of the Angels and the meadow where she had seen all of the amazing wildflowers and the hillside that she had climbed with Poppy and the rocky area where she had met Sentiary. Her mind could not entirely grasp the meaning of what she was seeing within this book.

Without hesitation she turned to the back of the book, seeking to see what illustrations were included in the way of the rest of her journey and was disappointed to find that there were no paintings in the final chapters of the book. She turned to the words, hoping that she would find something to which she could cling, something that would offer her some sense of what came next, but it was nothing more than the familiar story. But the story must hold some meaning, she thought.

“You cannot see what has not yet been written.” It was Judah’s voice from just outside the mouth of the cave where she sat.

“This book is about me?” said Willow.

“That book is about truth,” Judah told her. “It is about what is happening and as for what has yet to be, it is about principles and hope.”

“My mother,” she began.

“What you suspect is true, young Willow,” Judah replied.

“I do not understand,” Willow said.

“You do not yet understand,” said Judah. “But the time is coming when you will see what you cannot see in this moment.”

“Surely the Elders knew the true cause of my mother’s death,” said Willow, “and yet they said nothing, did nothing.”

(Day 14 word count: 1438 for a total of 25,090/50,000)