The Man in the Mirror

Writing Wednesdays & A Writing Sprint link up

Because I’m a writer & storyteller and enjoy weaving words together into tapestries of stories both real and imagined, I’ve dedicated Wednesdays to my novel writing. I am currently working through the revision of The Dream Quest, a story about a young man named Daniel who embarks on an incredible quest based on a series of dreams he has involving people he’s never met.

And because writers need to hone their craft, it’s the Writing Sprint link up. The Writing Sprint prompt appears at the end of this and offers a writing prompt that encourages you to freewrite for 15 minutes without the alleged help of your inner critic. No overthinking. No stopping. No editing. No worries. No inner critics. Daily writing exercises help writers grow, improve and free their writing. The only rule is that you must leave a comment for the person who linked up before you. That’s it. Other than, free yourself from your doubts, your fears and your inner critic and have some writing fun with us!

serving God & others through writing

serving God & others through writing

Chapter 6: The Man in the Mirror

“What are you doing here?” Daniel exclaims.

“It’s good to see you, too, bro,” Peter says and smiles.

Daniel shoves his hands in his pockets and takes in the desolate surroundings. “What happened to you on the plane?”

“Why don’t we step in here,” Sara says, gesturing towards the warehouse behind her. Daniel looks from Sara to Peter and back to Sara.

“Sure,” he says after a moment. He follows them inside the warehouse. It’s bright but mostly empty. Only some remnants of wooden pallets and a few broken chairs. Sara heads toward an office area. At least in here there are a few comfy chairs and a space heater. From the looks of things, someone’s been here for at least a little while. The office is pretty toasty and Daniel guesses that the heater’s been running for a few hours at least. There’s also an empty pizza box and the office still smells like pizza, so he knows that it’s not something left behind from previous tenants.

He sits on the edge of the desk and lets Sara and Peter take chairs opposite him.

“So, what exactly is going on?” Daniel looks at Sara when he says this.

Peter attempts to speak, but Daniel waves him off and looks at Sara intently. “When I asked you where my brother was this morning, you said I was the only guy on the plane. You said you wished you could tell me my so-called dream was real or true or whatever word you used. Either way, you lied. Why?”

Again, Peter starts to say something but Daniel cuts him off.

“I really want to hear what she has to say.”

Sara and Peter exchange a look and Sara takes a deep breath. “The timing wasn’t right.”

“What do you mean?”

Sara looks at Peter. “Because of Jonas.”

Daniel sucks in his breath and lets it out slowly. “What about him?”

She hesitates but before she can look over at Peter again, Daniel leaps off the desk and positions himself between them.

“What about Jonas?”

“He wanted you to think it was a dream.”

“What?”

“That’s all he said.”

“Why?” Daniel presses, “why would he want me to think that?”

“He didn’t say.”

Daniel turns toward Peter. “And what do you know about this?”

“Danny, listen–”

“You go missing on the plane and now the two of you are here telling me nothing.”

“We don’t have a lot of information,” Peter explains.

The good feelings of reconnecting with Peter earlier begin to fade as Daniel stares at his brother. “I really shouldn’t be surprised, should I?” he says.

“Danny, don’t–”

“I asked if you knew Jonas.”

“I couldn’t say anything to you on the plane,” says Peter.

“That’s why we met you here,” Sara explains.

“I need to get back to the plane.”

“What?” Sara looks at Peter. “But–”

“I’m going to see what Jonas has to say.”

“Peter,” Sara says.

Daniel’s phone buzzes with a message from Lucy. “It’s Jonas,” Daniel says.

“He needs to go,” Peter tells Sara. Her eyes widen as Daniel heads to the door. Peter falls into step next to him. “Look, Danny, I don’t know what’s going on and I don’t know Jonas. Sara approached me early this morning about doing this.”

“And you just agreed to it.”

“After the way we left things last night, yeah,” Peter says. “Yeah, I did.”

“I have to go.”

Peter grabs Daniel’s arm. “Danny, what’s going on?”

Daniel shrugs. “That’s the million dollar question.”

Sara approaches the two of them and addresses Daniel. “I work for Jonas and he needs to trust me. But Peter’s your brother. So we met you here.”

“I’ll see you on the plane.”

Peter takes a step closer. “Are we good?” he asks.

“I need to go,” says Daniel.

“Danny.”

Daniel turns to face his brother.

“Why don’t you keep the ring?”

“Call Lucy. She’s worried about you.” Daniel says and ducks into the limo. He twists the ring on his finger and looks out the back window as Peter takes Sara’s hand and the two grow smaller and smaller.

___________________________

Having checked in with the pilot in the charter plane passenger lounge, Daniel makes his way to the plane. Jonas is sitting in one of the chairs listening to Waiting on the World to Change by John Mayer and seems surprised to see Daniel.

“Back so soon?” Jonas asks.

“Well, time is of the essence, right?”

Jonas smiles his big, warm smile that conveys so much joy. “As always,” he agrees. “I just wasn’t sure how long you’d need with Michael Atkins.”

Daniel toys with the ring and realizes that the text about leaving within the hour wasn’t from Jonas after all.

“Where’s Sara?” he asks.

“Ah, yes. Sara said she was hoping to meet a friend while we were in Pittsburgh. Apparently, she has a friend in the city. So I told her she could take a couple of hours while you were gone. Heck, we might even spend the night here, you know, so everyone can get a good night’s rest.”

“I thought time was of the essence,” Daniel says.

“Well, yes, that’s true,” Jonas replies, “but we still need our rest. Besides, I hadn’t really planned on you getting back so soon.

“So, do we stay on the plane?”

“We can. Or we can stay in a nearby hotel. This is your quest.” Jonas smiles at him.

“It doesn’t feel like my quest, Jonas.”

“What do you mean?” Jonas looks at him intently.

Daniel shrugs. “I don’t feel like I have much control over anything.”

“Does anyone ever really have control over things,” Jonas says with a knowing laugh.

“You know what I mean,” Daniel insists.

“Why don’t you tell me.”

“I don’t know what’s going on let alone what I’m doing. I don’t know why I’m even doing this,” Daniel says. “What do I have to do with any of this?”

“Well, let’s see if I can provide any light for you.”

“We’ve tried this a couple of times.”

Jonas smiles. “Well, yes, but maybe there’s something I can offer nonetheless. What’s your most pressing question?”

Daniel thinks about this. His most pressing and most obvious question involves Peter: Why was he here on the plane and why did Jonas want Daniel to think it was all some kind of dream. What’s Peter’s role in all of this. Any number of these questions could easily be his most pressing, but he doesn’t completely trust the answers. He taps his toes against the floor in time to the music and looks at Jonas, meeting those blazing eyes.

“Okay. What are these dreams all about?”

“I think you know that already,” Jonas replies.

“What do I know?” Daniel raises his voice a little. “I know that I have crazy dreams that involve people I’ve never met and that they seem real. Like I can’t tell the difference between my dreams and my real life.”

“Exactly.”

“But that doesn’t tell me anything,” Daniel insists.

“Doesn’t it?”

Daniel slumps against the the back of his chair in disgust. “See, this is what I mean. You’re not telling me anything at all. This is just more of the same.” He glances at Jonas.

“Tell me about where you were today,” Jonas says.

“Don’t change the subject.”

“Is it changing the subject?”

Daniel rolls his eyes. Sometimes he feels like he’s talking to a yoda character instead of, instead of what? Daniel asks himself. “I met up with a guy named Michael Atkins.”

“So, who is this Michael Atkins?”

Daniel looks at him for a long moment, narrowing his eyes. “Do you know who Michael Atkins is?”

“It doesn’t matter what I know,” Jonas tells him.

“Fine. Michael Atkins is someone I realized I knew from at least one of my crazy dreams.”

“What makes them crazy?” Jonas asks.

“Never mind.” Daniel says. “So I’d met Mike before. Of course he had no idea who I was.”

“Did he think you were crazy?”

“I didn’t say I was crazy. I said my dreams are crazy.”

Jonas winks. “I know what you said.”

“No, he didn’t think any of it was all that crazy. In fact, he was pretty reassuring.”

“So then what do you need from?”

How about how do you know Peter? Or who is Sara and what is her role in this?

“How about where I can take a shower.”

“Back that way, if you go through the galley, you’ll find a couple of showers. Just beyond that, there are sleeping quarters. Or, like I said, we can stay in the airport hotel.”

______________________________

Daniel kicks out on the bed and breathes in the quiet, the peace, the silence. He can’t believe that Jonas put him up in a first class suite at the hotel. Jonas is somewhere in the hotel, too. Daniel figures he wants to keep an eye on him. Of course, where would he go? Despite not knowing much about what’s going on, he feels strangely and strongly compelled to keep going. Whenever he questions or doubts, he feels a strange sense of urgency followed by a weirdly overwhelming peace when he decides to continue. That said, he tries to piece together what he knows and what might come next.

He thinks back to when the dreams started. He remembers his first one; but he doesn’t remember exactly when it was. Because it was the first one, he didn’t really think much about it except for how real it seemed. When he woke up that morning he half expected to see some of the people from that dream during his day. Of course, he hadn’t. It had just been another regular day doing photography, playing basketball out with the guys, having dinner with Isabel. That’s what has him so puzzled. There’s nothing special about him, so why him? It’s a question he comes back to regularly.

He remembers the first time he met Jonas in his dreams. It was almost an ethereal experience. As if he had taken some kind of mind-bending, mind-altering drug. There were colors and music and voices all around, but none that he could actually make out. They met on a street. An old street that was made of stone. There was a mist that floated around them. It was almost like the place where he met Jonas the other night. The church where they met and Jonas walked out of the shadows. But the dream was so much more vivid. The sound. Especially the voices. It was like a chorus and it was faint but also everywhere all at once.

And the moment he met Jonas it was like Daniel knew him. Even in the dream Daniel knew that he’d never even seen the guy before, but it didn’t matter. There was something familiar about him. He inspired a sense of calm in Daniel instantly. And he invited Daniel to come and walk with him and talk about things that would change the world. Those were the actual words that Jonas used: things that would change the world. Just like he and Peter often talked about.

He still doesn’t really get that part of it. He certainly doesn’t feel like he’s changing the world. He feels like some kind of errand boy. And yet, there’s that something in his gut the tells him to keep going. Something that tells him Jonas is trustworthy.

He wonders if he’s as good a judge of character as Michael Atkins claims to be. He thinks back over the people he’s known in his life. Does he have a good track record of judging people? He reaches for the hotel writing pad and begins a list of the times in his life when he was messed over because he wasn’t such a good judge of character. That list could get long, he thinks, but I’ll start with the obvious names.

He writes Lucy at the top of the page. He thinks about when she first became a part of their family. He was a junior in high school and she was a sophomore. Peter was already in college. He had no idea, Daniel thinks, but he still stuck up for her although he wasn’t even around. She came to them as a problem and she brought a lot of them with her.

He wonders what on earth possessed his parents, mainly his dad, to consider bringing Lucy into their family. For a moment Daniel considers his conversation with Michael Atkins. His dad, he thinks, was a lot like Mike and his wife where troubled teenagers were concerned. But Daniel’s mom didn’t share his dad’s dedication and Daniel still wonders how his dad convinced his mom to adopt Lucy after all the trouble she caused as a foster kid when she was a freshman and she played everyone. His dad. His friends. His brother.

That’s what he hated more than anything. Lucy had torn him and Peter apart. She’d come between them. It was Peter who stood up for their dad about adopting Lucy even though their mom was not on board with the idea. The stress that Lucy brought to their family and to their parents’ marriage was almost surreal. And eventually, Daniel’s mom couldn’t take it. She left. She left them all.

Life wasn’t the same after that. His mom was gone, Lucy was now officially his sister, and Peter was at college. Yeah, he and Peter hung out still from time to time, like that time when Daniel crashed on his couch after they drank that bottle of tequila. But it was never quite the same.

Once he could leave, Daniel left and never looked back. So much of what he’d planned for himself sort of just fell apart. He never finished his portfolio for his photography program applications and after two and a half years in college studying pre-law because he and Peter were going to open a law firm together he dropped out and decided to go figure out his photography dream.

For years now, Peter has tried to bring Daniel back into the family. To get Daniel and Lucy in the same room and create some kind of reconciliation. The only person Daniel wishes he were able to do that with is his dad. And now, apparently, it’s too late for that. Yeah, maybe Lucy’s changed. And maybe she “owns” that, but that doesn’t matter to Daniel, because she screwed up so much before she “owned” her mess, that her change is a little to0 late for Daniel.

Daniel lays the pad and pen aside and closes his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose to stave off the dull ache he senses in his temples. As a reflex, he takes up his camera and heads out on the balcony. The moon is full overhead and there is a plane shadowed against its brightness. He clicks off a series of shots and lowers his camera, breathing in the crisp night air. Feeling slightly invigorated, Daniel takes his camera and heads downstairs to get something to eat and maybe a find a few shots for the show he’s hoping to book in Boston. On his way to the door, he catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror and pauses, studying himself for a long moment, taking in the dark curls, his blue eyes, his set jaw. Just an ordinary man, he thinks, then lifts his camera, captures himself just left of center in the frame and releases the shutter.

 

This Week’s Writing Sprint: Dreams

Write a scene, a poem or a story that involves a dream. Give us what you’ve got with as much detail and dialog as you can muster in 15 minutes. And most of all, have fun. Free your writer from your inner critic.

When you’re done, come back and link up what you’ve got! And remember to give some encouragement to the person who linked up before you.

The 38-Year Instant Miracle

Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”

“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”

Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”

Instantly, the man was healed! John 5:2-9

There he was, lying by the pool of Bethesda, hoping for a miracle. History tells us that the name Bethesda means House of Mercy and that tradition indicated that an angel stirred up the waters of the pool and that those fortunate to reach the waters at that time were healed. And so the crowds gathered in search of healing.

And there he was, in the midst of the crowds of those who were blind, lame, paralyzed, hurting and in need of healing. Waiting for his turn. Waiting to be healed. Waiting for a miracle.

But when the waters moved, he never made it. Thirty-eight years he waited for a miracle. Can you even imagine? In this insta-culture of texting, tweeting and Insta-gramming in which we live today, can you even imagine someone waiting 38 years for something?

Did he spend all 38 years at the pool? Maybe it was his first day or week or month there, but I’m guessing maybe he’d been there for a lot longer. If there were no one to help him into the pool when the water bubbled up, could there have been anyone to help him get back and forth to the pool from somewhere else?

And can you imagine how discouraging it must have been, watching others come and go, getting healed, celebrating their miracles right there in front of him? Maybe he tried to be happy for them, you know? To celebrate with them in their victory. But don’t you think that a small part of his heart muttered his continuing disappointment to God?

Because 38 years is a seriously long time to wait, to yearn for something and not lose faith, to not lose hope in a miracle.

Or did he? Did he lose hope? Did he lose sight of God and his promises? Had he become so discouraged or so numb from the wait that when God showed up and offered him healing, he didn’t recognize the offer?

Do you want to get well?

Rather than a resounding, Yes! Oh, Yes, I do, I do, I do want to get well. Help me! He explains why it’s not possible, why it’s just not going to happen for him.

I can’t.

I have no one to help me.

Someone else is always gets there first.

Yes, but do you want to get well?

I’ve been here for so long.

I’ve given up hope that I will get well.

I don’t think it’s in the cards for me.

But do you want to get well?

cactus bloomHave you been waiting for a miracle and given up?

Are your finances so tight and bills piling up that you don’t think it’s possible to get out from under it any longer?

Is your marriage so broken, your relationship so screwed up, your heart so shattered that you don’t think it’s possible to redeem it?

Does your dream seem unreachable, too big, too hard, too far away?

Jesus has but one question for you: do you want to get well?

I know I do. And I’m tired of giving him excuses, tired of plying him with a long list of reasons why that’s just never going to happen.

Jesus isn’t asking you something that he can’t deliver on; he’s already told us that: With God all things are possible.

You can’t? God will.

You have no one to help you? God will help you.

Someone always gets there first? Not today they don’t.

Maybe the man had been waiting so long he didn’t recognize God when God showed up. But God knew him, didn’t he? Jesus saw the man and knew that he’d been sick for along time. And even when the man offered excuses, Jesus offered him healing.

Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!

And the man did. Immediately he was healed. Not several hours later. Not 38 more years later. In that moment.

Because there were no more excuses, no more reasons why he shouldn’t. Jesus stood before him and said, Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!

If he didn’t recognize Jesus before that moment, he definitely did in that moment. Because without another moment of hemming, hawing or hesitation, he walked away from the healing pool having never set foot in the water.

Instead, he has an encounter with the Living Water, with the living God. And what could be better than that?

A Longing for Story

This life we live is a story. Our story and God’s story.

When I stop and think about the fact that my story is an intimate part of God’s bigger story, I cannot help but whisper my overflowing heartfelt gratitude into God’s ear.

But, even so, there are times when my story is chaos and messiness and pain and longing, bone-deep longing. Times when it seems that there are far more valleys than mountaintops and that those valleys are deeper than I can climb out of alone.

But I am not alone. Because I am never alone. The Author of this story is with me, though the enemy wants me to believe otherwise. Though the enemy whispers that there are more valleys and that I am alone, I am too familiar with his lies. Because I have believed them before.

But I will not believe them this time.

This valley is mine to walk, but I do not walk alone.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, the shadow of fear, the shadow of doubt, the shadow of loneliness, you are with me. You light my way. You whisper truth to my heart.

He is with me.

God's beauty

And so I trust him. I trust his truth. I trust his presence. I trust his promises.

So, if your story involves bone-deep longing, longing that causes your breath to catch in your throat or tears to linger just behind your eyes, hidden from the rest of the world.

If that’s where you find yourself right now, know that the One who created you knows your longing. Cry out to him. Let him fill you with his presence. Let him cradle you in his love. Let him whisper his promises to your heart.

And if He that created you knows your longing, believe that he will meet your need. It may not look like you anticipate. But know that it will be far greater than you anything your can ask for or imagine.

Because that’s who He is and that’s what He does.

Trust him. Trust him with you longing. Trust him with your heart. Trust him with yourself.

Trust him.

Planting Words, Growing Stories

{this post is part of Five-Minute Friday at Lisa-Jo Baker}

Five Minute Friday

How it works: Write on one word for five minutes. No editing. Then link up your post with the rest of the brave writers on Five-Minute Friday and encourage them by reading and commenting on what they’ve shared. {All the details for how to play along are here.}

Today’s word: Bloom…

{Go}

I sit at the dining room table with my fingers poised on the black keys of my laptop, earbuds tucked in my ears, my favorite writing music pulsing through my mind and blocking out the chaos of my life. I’d prefer a coffee shop. Perhaps a porch swing at the edge of the shore, overlooking the waves. A nook with windows and light and books.

But this is what I have. If I am going to write, this is where it happens.

The ideas swirl, mixing with the rhythm of the music and in my mind I see the story form like movie images on a screen. They must be captured before they slip into the ether of my busy mind, or into the chaos of motherhood.

creativity is messy

creativity is messy

Ideas like seeds fall into the fertile creativity of my soul and bid me come and sit. They need me to dig the rows of words in my mind, to plant them with my tapping fingers in the world. To tend them and to water them with boldness and with courage. To let them bloom into the story that I need to tell. To bloom into the story that my characters need me to share with the world.

writing

God has planted in me a talent and a love for words and story. For writing. For storytelling.

And so I sit in the midst of my life, clamoring demands, little girls, dirty dishes, cluttered counters and all, and I write.

I plant the seeds of new stories, new adventures and watch them grow. I watch them bloom to life. A life of their own. Characters that take off in their stories that I am given to tell. The conduit. The gardener.

I am a gardener of stories.

I am a writer.

{Stop}

Impossible Odds

Now it was told the king of Egypt that the people had fled, and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people; and they said, “Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” So he made ready his chariot and took his people with him. Also, he took six hundred choice chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt with captains over every one of them. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel; and the children of Israel went out with boldness. So the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon.

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Exodus 14:5-9; 21-22

There they stood at the edge of the water, the shadow of their fear swallowing them in the darkness despite the nearness of God. Behind them the Egyptians pursued them with vigor. Before them the moving waters of the Red Sea. Surrounded by seemingly impossible odds, but actually surrounded by God.

And he was about to reveal his presence in a mighty way.

Standing there at the edge of the sea, Moses stretched out his hand, raised his staff, and waited for God to show up.

Now, I’m not sure what was scarier in that moment. The looming presence of the Egyptians with their chariot army or the presence of God in the form of gusting winds strong enough to clear a path of dry land through the Red Sea. There are researches who suggest that the wind speed had to be at least 67 mph in order to create and sustain a path through the waters. And the Israelites were going to walk through the sea, walk through those winds.

And even though Moses told them not to be afraid, can you imagine that first step into the sea? Can you imagine the four-hour journey that some scientists believe it took the Israelites to cross the expanse of those waters? Every step echoing loudly with the racing, non-stop wind gusts. Every step sloshing through a narrow corridor of walls of water looming overhead on either side, the spray a constant reminder of the nearness of the rushing waters being held back by the breath of God.

Consider that four-hour journey. Consider what went through the minds of those newly-freed slaves. Do you wonder if maybe for a few moments they yearned for the comfort of where they’d come from? Do you think perhaps they longed for the safety of what was familiar even though they hated every moment of captivity?

crashing waves

Every step of that journey had to involve a step of faith, one after another. In spite of the fear. In spite of the circumstances. In spite of the reality that surrounded them. In spite of all of these and more, their journey demanded a deep trust in the God who was calling them out of captivity and into his promise. No matter how sweet that promise, they needed to endure the journey.

Maybe that’s how you feel sometimes about the journey you’re on right now.

Just because you have a vision, just because God is calling you toward your purpose, don’t think it’s going to be easy. You’re going to face strong winds of opposition. You’re going to face armies of naysayers and doubters. You’re going to face a journey that calls on you to trust God deeply. You’re not only going to need to step out in fear, you’re going to have to defeat that fear with every step.

But it’s worth it, right? Because wouldn’t you rather be in the promised land of dreams than in the captivity of fear and mediocrity, living according to somebody else’s rules and expectations?

I’m guessing that each one of those Israelites contemplated giving up, going back, giving in. I certainly would have. In fact, I have. I’ve longed for my Egypt and, in the words of Sara Grove, left out what it lacked. But all that does is keep me stuck in my fears. And that’s a tiresome, uninspired place to live.

Remember, my friends, if it seems like you are facing impossible odds, nothing is impossible for God. Nothing. He’s still in the business of miracles. He still shows up. The breath of God still blows away the shadows of our fears and lights our way with his power.

Trust Him. Trust God deeply and take the next step and the next one and the next one.

It’s What’s Inside

Writing Wednesdays & A Writing Sprint link up

Because I’m a writer & storyteller and enjoy weaving words together into tapestries of stories both real and imagined, I’ve dedicated Wednesdays to my novel writing. I am currently working through the revision of a story about a young man named Daniel who embarked on an incredible quest based on a series of dreams he had involving people he’s never met.

And because writers need to hone their craft, I’m adding a new weekly feature: the Writing Sprint link up. The Writing Sprint link up will appear at the end of the weekly post and provide a writing prompt that encourages you to freewrite for 15 minutes without the alleged help of your inner critic. No overthinking. No stopping. No editing. No worries. No inner critics. Daily writing exercises help writers grow, improve and free their writing. The only rule is that you must leave a comment for the person who linked up before you. That’s it. Other than, free yourself from your doubts, your fears and your inner critic and have some writing fun with us!

serving God & others through writing

serving God & others through writing

Chapter 5: It’s What’s Inside

The door to the pilot’s cabin opens and there stands Jonas.

Daniel leaps to his feet and strides toward him. “Where’s Peter?” he demands.

“I would guess that he’s at work about now, right?” Jonas replies. “Billable hours start early and run late.”

“He was here!” Daniel yells. “We drank together. We talked about changing the world.”

“That must have been a mighty fine dream, my friend.” Jonas squeezes Daniel’s shoulder.

“It was no dream!” Daniel shouts and pushes Jonas’ hand from his shoulder. “He sat right there, he told me this was his company’s chartered plane, he had my dad’s wedding ring on his middle finger.” Didn’t he? Daniel finds himself wondering. He thinks about all of his other dreams that were so vivid. So real. “He was right there.” Daniel points to the love seat. “Wasn’t he?”

He looks from Jonas to Sara and back.

“Wasn’t he?” His voice is barely a whisper.

Daniel falters slightly and drops into the closest chair, rubbing his temples hard. Sara hands him the water and two Tylenol. “You didn’t see him?” he asks her. “You didn’t bring us a bottle of tequila and buffalo wings?”

“I’m sorry,” she replies quietly. She touches his arm briefly.

He takes the pills and hands the glass back to her. “Thank you.”

Jonas smiles a big, warm smile. “Sounds like you miss your brother, Daniel.”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

He turns to Sara. “Could I get the Pittsburgh paper? I wanted to bring it with me.”

Sara retrieves the paper and he scans the front page. Nothing but the usual stories on the economy and jobs and healthcare reform and overseas actions. Not a word about the Three Sisters being damaged in a freak, powerful storm.

“Where’s the paper with the story about the freak electrical storm?”

Sara stares at him for a moment then casts a glance at Jonas. “That’s the only copy I have on board,” she says.

Daniel stands. “None of this makes sense.”

“You will get answers as you complete each leg of your quest. Things do not make sense just now,” Jonas explains in a quiet voice, “but they will. Right now you are looking through a dark window, but soon there will be light enough for you to see how all of this is working.”

Daniel breathes out an exasperated sigh. “That’s nothing but more riddles.”

“Perhaps. But for now you must focus on your objective. Time is of the essence.”

“So you keep saying. Except I don’t have any idea what my objective is.”

“You will,” Jonas assures him. “I am here to point you in the direction you need to go to find the first of the ten people you are searching for.”

“Yeah. That’s another thing. Who are these ten people? Why do I need to find them at all?”

“That will become clear.”

“Of course it will,” Daniel says. He collects his things.

“You can leave your duffle bag here though you may want your messenger bag.”

Daniel slings his messenger bag over his head and checks to make sure he has his phone, grabbing it from the charging station (Sara’s idea that he make sure it was charged up before they arrived). He nods at her as he pushes the phone into his front pocket. It gets caught on something and he searches his pocket. He fingers a cold metal ring and strongly suspects it is the one Peter was wearing.

“Ready, Daniel?” Jonas watches him closely, studying Daniel as if he can read Daniel’s thoughts.

He remembers taking the ring from Peter earlier. When Daniel came back from the bathroom, Peter was sleeping and he held the ring between two of his fingers. Afraid Peter might drop it, Daniel took it and put it in his pocket, planning to return it to Peter when he woke up.

So, he was here, Daniel thinks.

“Daniel?” Jonas narrows his eyes.

“Sure. I’m ready.” He pushes the phone into his other pocket and heads for the door.

“So where am I going?” He looks hard at Jonas, who hands him a photo with an address printed on the back. “This is it? Just show up at his door and say what, exactly?”

“You’ll know when you arrive.”

Daniel shakes his head. “Whatever, man.”

He stalks off the plane and heads into the airport. He studies the face in the picture and wonders why it seems familiar. Does he know this guy? Then he remembers the ring. He pulls it out and slides it onto his middle finger; it fits perfectly and he twists it a couple of time for good measure. Right before finding the ring he considered punching Jonas square in the mouth and heading back to Boston. But now. Well, now he needs to figure out what happened to Peter.

He checks his phone. It’s about noon, so still plenty early enough to track down this guy’s address and maybe look around Pittsburgh and see what he can find out about this quest, about Jonas, about the electrical storm or about Peter. His phone buzzes. It’s Isabel. There’s still three hours before he’s supposed to arrive at the airport, so he ignores her message.

There’s a crispness to the day and he can feel fall seeping into the air around him. He’s glad he’s got a jacket and zips it up. He takes a deep breath, breathing in the smell of the leaves, of the fall around him. He’s always loved this time of year and he remembers times he and Peter sat outside on the front porch watching the leaves swirl around the front yard as they planned where they’d live once they left their parents’ house. A nostalgic wistfulness settles on him with each memory and he pushes it aside. He needs to focus.

He sits down on a bench and calls up Google maps on his phone and plugs in the address from the back of the picture. It’s somewhere downtown. Pretty close to one of the three bridges, actually, so he heads off to an ATM and gets some cash and then hunts down a cab. He’s curious to check out the bridges and grabs a paper on the way to the cab line.

“Downtown,” Daniel tells the driver.

“Anywhere specific downtown.”

“Yeah. I’ll let you know in a minute. Just head that way.”

“You got it, buddy.”

Of course the paper is the same as the one Sara handed him just before he left the plane. And life in Pittsburgh seems to be moving at the regular pace of a back-to-work Monday.

He looks up at the cabbie. “I thought I overheard folks talking about some crazy electrical storm surge here last night,” Daniel says.

The driver glances at him in the rearview mirror and shrugs. “Nah. Weather Service issued some watches and we got some lightning, but it didn’t amount to much, ya know?”

“Right.” Then, “Around what time did the first watch come in?”

The driver shrugs again, shaking his head. “Don’t know. Sometime around two or three this morning? Why?”

“Just curious. I got a message about possible flight delays early this morning. Wondering if the two things were related.” This time Daniel shrugs even though his mind is working on the connection to the story he read and what the cabbie described. “So, hey, you can drop me at the corner of 7th and Taylor Street.”

“Sure thing.”

For the rest of the short ride Daniel scans through the pages of the paper quickly and sees little of interest until page 13. There in the community interest section is a picture of the guy he’s supposed to meet. He pulls the picture out to be sure. Yep, that’s definitely the same guy, Daniel thinks.

He reads through the story three times, trying to glean anything worthwhile. It’s basically a short write up touting the guy’s most recent marathon finish. At least now he knows the guy’s name. But what is he supposed to do when he meets this guy, this Michael Atkins? All he learns from the caption beneath the finish line photo is that the man is 67 years old and this is his 3rd marathon, his first being the Pittsburgh marathon just a few months ago, in May.

Daniel’s phone buzzes with a text message from Lucy. How in the world did she get his phone number? He clicks on the message.

“Hey, Daniel. This is about Peter so I hope you’ll read this all the way through. He was supposed to meet me at the airport this morning. That’s why I was on the shuttle.”

Another buzz and the rest of her message.

“He and I were supposed to meet at his company’s plane. He had a meeting in Philadelphia and then we were going to head to New York to catch a show and grab some dinner.”

Another buzz.

“He never showed up. Have you heard from him? If you do, will you let me know?”

Instinctively, he begins twisting the ring around his middle finger. He’s not sure what to tell Lucy and, even though his gut tells him Peter is okay, he doesn’t have any details for her. Besides, right now he needs to focus on Michael Atkins. He stands for a second on the front porch of the 1960s style bungalow and wonders again how he’s going to explain why he’s here. He scoffs slightly at the idea that he’ll just know when he meets him, but he knocks anyway.

No answer.

He knocks again and waits. Just when it seems like no one will answer the door, he notices an elderly gentleman coming through the gate at the end of the walk way.

“Can I help you?” the man calls out.

“Ah, yeah. I mean, yes, sir.” Daniel sees that the man is carrying several bags of groceries and heads down to help him. “Let me get that for you.”

The man lets him take two of the bags out of his hands. “Thank you, young man.” He smiles a genuine, warm smile.

They head up onto the porch and Michael Atkins unlocks the front door. “If you don’t mind taking those into the kitchen for me,” he says.

“Sure.” Daniel marvels at the trust the man has despite having just met him. And he’s pretty sure that he looks pretty disheveled from his plane trip and having not changed out of yesterday’s clothes. And he probably wreaks at least a little of tequila. He briefly wonders if the charter plane has a shower as he follows the gentleman into his kitchen.

“You can put those over there,” the man tells him and motions to the counter next to the oven. The man then proceeds to put his bags on the dining table, and turns back toward Daniel; he extends his hand. “I’m Michael Atkins,” he says with a warm smile, “but you can call me Mike.”

“Nice to meet you Mike,” Daniel replies, shaking Mike’s hand. “I’m Daniel. Daniel Martin.”

“It’s nice to meet you Daniel Martin.” He smiles again then turns back to the bags on the table. “So, what can I do for you today, Daniel Martin?”

“That’s a good question.”

Mike places a few more things on the table and turns to look Daniel in the eyes. “How’s that?”

“Well, it’s a long story.” Daniel smiles and averts his eyes.

“Ah. I see.” Mike turns and rummages through the bags, pulling out a skinny loaf of bread, some tomatoes, some cheese. He lays these on the table and clears the bags, then moves toward the cupboards where he pulls down some olive oil and several small plates. He looks at Daniel with a twinkle in his eyes. “A long story can only be told over a breaking of good bread and the sharing of some fine cheese. Oh, and, of course,” he pauses and pulls open the fridge, taking out two cold beers, holding one out to Daniel.

Daniel can’t help but smile when he looks at the label. Sam Adams.

 

Daniel and Mike sit down at the table that is now spread with sliced tomatoes, kalmata olives, sliced gruyere cheese and fresh bread along with a plate of olive oil and balsamic vinegar sprinkled with a special mix of herbs Mike created himself. Daniel is thrilled with the opportunity to eat something real. It’s been a little too long and his stomach feels slightly unsettled. Obviously, some of that is due to the tequila, but it didn’t help much that he hasn’t eaten an actual meal since yesterday morning. As hard as it is, Daniel waits for Mike to go first. Mike bows his head and whispers under his breath a moment and then looks at Daniel and invites him to dive in.

“So, tell me your long story,” Mike says, relaxing in his chair and dipping some bread in the olive oil and vinegar.

“I’m not quite sure where to start. It’s all a bit, well, surreal and strange. To say the least.”

“Well, you’re here and that’s a start. And we’ve got plenty of food in front of us. Why not just dive in.” Mike’s smile invites Daniel to start talking. For Daniel, it’s like sitting across from his grandfather, also a warm person always willing to sit and talk a spell. He loved to listen to a good story as well as weave one himself. It’s a gift that Daniel certainly inherited from him.

“You remind me of my grandfather,” Daniel tells Mike, then frowns. “I hope that’s okay to say.”

Mike laughs. “Absolutely. At sixty-seven, I could most certainly be your granddad.”

When Mike laughs, there is a familiarity to the sound. Daniel looks at him for a long moment. Really looks at him. The way his bright blue eyes crinkle up at the edges when he smiles. The way his smile crookens on the left side when he isn’t smiling the big warm smile Daniel has already grown used to. There is something familiar about Mike and yet Daniel has never been to Pittsburgh before.

“Have you ever been to Boston?” Daniel asks him.

“Afraid not. At least not yet.” He smiles and his eyes crinkle. “I’m planning to run the marathon up there, but I don’t know if I’ll be ready to go next year.”

Daniel nods. “That’s right. I read that you ran your first marathon just this year. Here in Pittsburgh.”

“That’s right,” Mike says with a bit of pride. “Turned sixty-seven in February and ran my first one in May.”

“Impressive.”

“Thank you.”

“Mind if I ask you why you did it.”

Mike pauses for a few moments, dipping more bread in the oil and vinegar and chewing thoughtfully. Daniel finds himself holding his breath and isn’t quite sure why. He edges slightly forward in his seat.

“Well,” Mike begins, “if you think about it, we’ve all got a race to run, you know. It’s set out before us and, well, mine’s closing in on the finish line in a lot of ways. My wife died last year, completely unexpectedly just after I retired. I’m entering a time of being able to give more and volunteer more.” He pauses and takes a drink, looking at Daniel over the bottle.

Daniel nods, leaning forward a little more.

“Anyway, I woke up one morning and decided I wanted to run a marathon, not just to run it, not just to challenge myself. But to make a difference. To run the race with a purpose that was bigger than me.”

“Room to Grow,” Daniel whispers, his voice barely audible.

“That’s right,” Mike says. He looks at Daniel quizzically.

Daniel looks at him intently. His face is more than just vaguely familiar now. Daniel realizes he knows Mike. He’s met him, talked to him, been mentored by him. In his dreams. “I’ve worked with you and Room to Grow.”

“I didn’t think you’d been to Pittsburgh before,” Mike begins.

“I haven’t,” Daniel agrees.

“Then you couldn’t have –”

Daniel interrupts him. “Remember when I told you it was a long story that was surreal and, well, strange?”

Mike nods and now it’s his turn to lean forward in his chair, his eyes more intense than they’ve been since Daniel first walked through the door over an hour ago. Before they’d chatted like old friends.

“Have you ever had an incredibly vivid dream? One where when you wake up you could swear it was real? Like you’d just lived what you’d dreamed. You met the people, you talked to them. You were there, wherever there is.”

Mike slowly shakes his head. “Don’t believe I have.”

“Well, I have. A lot and all pretty recently, like over the last six months. Dreams so vivid I can’t tell them from real life. They tend to involve people I’ve never met, but after the dream, I feel like I know them. LIke I’ve spent time with them, you know?”

Mike nods. “And you said these dreams happen often?”

“Yeah. Sometimes more than one a night and almost all of them are single dreams.”

“Single dreams?”

“They only happen once,” Daniel explains. “And then, I don’t see those people again. But there are a few dreams or people from those dreams who show up more often.”

“I see.”

“I sound crazy, right?” Daniel’s voice is hoarse, his throat tight, his breath coming in short bursts. He pauses a moment as he rubs his temples.

“No, son, you don’t sound crazy.”

Daniel looks Mike in the eye for a long moment. “Even if I tell you that you were in one of them.”

“Me?”

“And that’s why I’m here.”

“Go on.”

“You and Room to Grow,” Daniel croaks and nods. His mouth is dry and his throat so tight he can barely catch his breath. His eyes go dark on the edges and his head feels light. Daniel twists the ring on his middle finger. Doing this makes him feel connected to his dad, and for the first time in a long time, he wishes his dad were here to help him. Help him make sense of what’s happening to him.

Mike leans forward and grasps Daniel by the shoulders, holding him firmly. “Daniel,” he says softly. “Daniel, can you hear me? Are you okay?”

Daniel looks at him and nods slightly. Mike steadies Daniel against the back of his chair then gets up and pours Daniel a glass of water.

“Drink this,” he says, handing the glass to Daniel.

Daniel’s hands are shaking and Mike helps him guide the glass to his mouth.

“It’s okay, Daniel Martin. You’re okay.” Mike talks gently to him then sits down beside him, pulling his chair closer. “Why don’t you tell me what you remember from your dream and we’ll work it out together, okay?”

Daniel nods. Mike has that grandfatherly tone again and he finds it reassuring. He takes another sip of water and then several deep breaths.

“Room to Grow,” Daniel begins. “It’s a really cool idea. It’s something I wish I’d had access to when I started college, well, probably even before that.”

Mike nods. “Why’s that, Daniel?”

“I’ve always loved photography. Since I was a kid, you know? And I knew I wanted to do that, be a photographer. An artist, really. But I never really talked about it once my dad brought Lucy, that’s my sister, home for good. I was angry. And so much changed when I was a senior in high school.”

“Change is hard,” Mike agrees. “But it can be a good thing.”

“Yeah, I guess,” Daniel agrees. “But it certainly didn’t seem like a good thing at the time. Sometimes, it still doesn’t.”

“So, where would Room to Grow have fit in for you?”

“Well, I was a became more of a loner. Broke away from my friends, my family. Stopped taking pictures and started making trouble because I didn’t like what was going on. And Lucy was causing problems for my parents with her choices.”

They sit in silence for a few moments. “I think a creative mentor would have helped,” Daniel says finally. “Maybe I could have expressed some of what I was feeling with my camera.” He pats his messenger bag where his camera is safely stored.

Mike nods empathetically. “Maybe,” he agrees.

He takes in a deep, shaky breath. “You talked about how we’ve all got a race to run? Well, most of my life I feel like all I’ve been doing is running. But not to anything. Always trying to get away.”

As he talks, Daniel turns and twists his father’s ring repeatedly.

“We all feel that way at times, Danny,” Mike says.

“You called me Danny.”

“You look more like a Danny than a Daniel to me.”

Daniel smiles wistfully.

“I have no idea how or why I dreamed about Room to Grow. You just showed up one night. You and I were in line together at a coffee shop near the Rachel Carson Bridge, and you started talking to the barista about how excited you were about getting it started and this week was the real test. This was the week you were getting your first class of troubled teens who were going to get all kinds of exposure to the arts and opportunities to explore their imaginations and creativity.

“I thought it was the coolest thing I’d heard about in a long time. So, after you got your coffee and left the shop, I skipped my coffee and followed you. You weren’t put off in the least at being followed.” Daniel pauses and looks at him. “Sort of like today. You had no idea who I was or what I wanted but when I asked if I could help you, not only did you accept, but you invited me to follow you into your home. I was amazed at that kind of blind trust. Especially with how the world is, you know?”

“Maybe it’s not so much blind trust as a strong faith.”

“I don’t see the difference.”

Mike rubs his chin thoughtfully. “Maybe that’s why you’re here. To understand that difference.”

“Seems more like splitting hairs,” Daniel says.

“How’s that, Danny?” Mike asks.

“People are just so selfish. And mean, like to the point of violence. Personally, I don’t think I’d trust some guy  who looked like me, disheveled and in need of a shower, standing on my porch. And I certainly wouldn’t let him into my house.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Mike says. “I don’t think the world is so bad. A few bad apples and all that.” He laughs a long, deep laugh. “And after sixty seven years, I like to think I’m a pretty good judge of character. It’s more about what’s inside,” he says, looking at the ring on Daniel’s finger as he twists it around and around.

Daniel’s phone buzzes in his pocket. He pulls it out and sees another text from Lucy, one from Isabel and one from an unknown number. “Would you excuse me?” he says to Mike.

“Take all the time you need.”

Daniel steps out on the porch and sets himself on the weathered porch swing, falling into a comforting rhythm as he goes through his messages.

Lucy still sounds concerned about Peter: “I still can’t reach Peter. Will you let me know if you hear anything?”

As he swings, he wonders what he can tell her. He doesn’t really know much, only that he and Peter took off together this morning and now he’s gone missing. From a plane in flight. He composes a short message: “No word here. I’ll let you know if that changes.”

The next message is from Isabel. Actually there are three from Isabel: “Your plane touches down in less than 20 minutes and I can. not. wait. to see you <3”

Then: “I’m at the bottom of the stairs so I’ll be the first person you see :)”

Finally: “Where are you? Did you miss the plane? Is everything okay? Let me know. I’ll stay here for now.”

Daniel knows he should probably call her, but he has no idea what he’d say to her, so he opts for a text: “Hey. Sorry I didn’t let you know that I ended up catching up with Peter and decided to take a little longer before heading home. It was a last minute deal. I’ll call soon.” He hits send before he can change his mind.

He moves onto the message from the unknown number. He wonders if it’s from Jonas, and, if it is, why his messages never come in on the same number. If he didn’t trust him, he’d wonder what was up with all this stuff. That trust is beginning to wane a bit, though. It’s true that Jonas has been the single most repeat visitor in his dreams and that Daniel feels like he knows him as well as he knows anyone in his actual life, but that doesn’t take away the game of riddles he’s now playing. At least right now.

He opens the message. “Time is of the essence. We need to be heading on to our next destination at the end of the hour.”

“Seriously?” Daniel doesn’t feel like he knows anything more now than he did when he arrived. He calculates how long the drive to the airport will likely take so he can talk to Mike a little more before he has to get back to the plane.

Mike sticks his head out the door. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah.” Daniel moves over and invites Mike to join him. “I’m going to have to head back to the airport in a few,” Daniel tells him. Mike nods. “Can I ask you, before I go, why Room to Grow? How did you come up with the idea?”

Before Mike begins speaking, Daniel pulls out his camera and asks if he can shoot some photos while Mike talks. Mike agrees with a smile.

“Room to Grow,” Mike begins, “that would be my Marie. My wife. She had a heart for teens, especially troubled ones.” He seems to drift into his own world as he speaks. His eyes take on a brighter sparkle to them and Daniel snaps off several shots capturing him in his musings.

“And a supporter of the arts? You never saw such a fierce defender of funding the arts and for making sure kids had access to them as my sweet Marie,” Mike says. “She believed, rightly so, that art was a wonderful way to connect people. To themselves. To God. To each other.” He wipes his eyes just as Daniel clicks the shutter. That will be a great photo, Daniel thinks, lowering his camera to peer at Mike..

“Oh, she and I talked for years about how to put something together like Room to Grow.” He smiles at the memory and at Daniel.

“So, how does running marathons fit in with all of that?”

“The idea is two-fold. I recruit teens from various rehab programs or who are on probation and in order for them to be accepted into Room to Grow they need to commit to a rigorous training program with me. Not the running unless that’s what they choose, but something that challenges them, that makes them work hard and shows me they can stick with it. They are expected to work out every day, like I do, and they are expected to have something to show for it. I run 26.2 miles, they need something concrete: a journal, a project, hours of service. Something.”

“Wow. Pretty cool,” Daniel says, then adds, “I may not have gotten in.”

“Oh, I have a pretty good suspicion you would have.” Mike winks.

“Thanks,” Daniel says, and stands. “For everything. The food. The trust. For listening to my rambling crazy story and not calling in the guys with the nets.”

Mike extends his hand and the two shake. “I’ve heard crazier things in my life, Daniel Martin. Much, much crazier.”

“Maybe one day you can tell me some of those stories,” Daniel replies.

“I’d love the opportunity.”

“Thanks, again.” Daniel nods.

“Good luck to you on this quest.”

As Daniel approaches the gate, a black limo inches along the curb and idles in front of the house. Daniel shakes his head and turns to look at Mike. Deftly, he lifts his camera and captures Mike on his front porch bathed in the late afternoon light just as he lifts his hand in a quick salute.

“I don’t guess that’s here for you?” Daniel says.

“That’s got some style right there,” Mike replies. “Must be some quest you’re on young man.”

“Just another part of the strange,” Daniel tells him and shakes his head again, wondering if Jonas is here to escort him back to the plane. He waves one last time as the driver comes around and opens the door. Daniel climbs in and is physically relieved to find the car is empty. He melts into one of the seats and takes a deep breath, in, then lets it out slowly, closing his eyes and soaking in the silence. Absently, he twists the ring on his finger.

The driver tells him to relax and he’ll have Daniel at the airport shortly, depending on traffic. “And, not to worry,” he assures Daniel, “I know a few short cuts if need be.”

Daniel nods absently. It feels good to sit back and not think about anything in particular for a few minutes. He glances through the photos he took of Mike and selects his favorites.

“You got any decent tunes back here,” he asks after a few more minutes of flipping through his photos. The driver points him to a cabinet under the television. Like the plane, the limo is loaded with a state of the art sound system and thousands of playlists. He randomly selects one and hits play. Inside by Sting fills the car.

As the word, inside, repeats with each line, he has a flash of Mike saying it’s about what’s inside that matters as he stared intently at Daniel’s ring as Daniel twisted it around and around on his finger. He can’t help but wonder as the lyrics come around again and he slips the ring off his finger and peers closely at the inside. He can see a faint imprint of some kind and reaches up to turn on the light over his head. He brings the ring closer and squints slightly. There, he can see there’s an inscription. Slowly, he turns the ring and reads the words:

Beware the wolf that roams about

What? Daniel wonders. He reads it again and thinks there’s no way this could possibly be his father’s wedding ring. What sort of inscription is that? he thinks. Certainly not something you’d put on a wedding ring. He reads it several more times, wondering what it means.

Beware the wolf that roams about

He looks out the window and realizes they are not heading to the airport.

He sits quietly for another moment, taking in the scenic route along the river, and wonders if this is something Jonas arranged. In that moment, Daniel’s phone buzzes. Sure enough, it’s from Jonas’ unknown, unfamiliar number.

He opens the message and gets yet another surprise. It’s not from Jonas. It’s from Sara: “You should be in the limo right now, but, as I’m sure you realize, you are not going to the airport. Not yet. Sit back and enjoy the ride. I’ll meet you when you arrive at the extra stop and explain.”

Daniel slumps back against the seat and twists the ring a few more times, the ring’s phrase echoing in his mind: Beware the wolf that roams about.

Finally, the limo pulls up in front of a warehouse on the river. The driver opens the door and Daniel steps out to find Sara and Peter waiting for him.

 

This Week’s Writing Sprint: Secrets

Write a scene that involves a secret. Consider what’s at stake if the secret gets out and who knows or doesn’t know and why. Give us what you’ve got with as much detail and dialog you can muster in 15 minutes. And most of all, have fun. Free your writer from your inner critic.

When you’re done, come back and link up what you’ve got! And remember to give some encouragement to the person who linked up before you.

At the End of the Day

For the days that test my resolve and try to steal my dreams.

For the days that come that challenge my faith.

For the days when the enemy’s snares are greater than my trust.

For the days when the lies of the world and the voices in my mind are louder than the Voice of Truth.

For the days when I am tired from all the busyness and To Do items.

For the days that are one of those days.

For all those days that seem less than, this is my prayer. These are the words I will whisper in my soul, that I will whisper to God:

The day is done and my God has been faithful. That, by its very nature, makes this a good day.

Despite the uncertainties.

Despite the struggles.

Despite the sense that I could have done more.

Despite the part of me that continues to doubt or to fear.

God has been faithful. God is faithful.

God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Today is a good day.

Tonight is a good night.

God is faithful.

Surely goodness and mercy pursue me even now as I contemplate sleep.

Surely the promises and the blessings of God flow over me.

Surely God is my rock and my refuge and my safe harbor.

Surely God loves me.

Because God is faithful.

God is faithful.

And he loves me.

There is nothing else that I need right now. Nothing.

I am blessed because I am loved by the Creator.

I will rest in his arms tonight.

I will dream big in his arms tonight.

I will sleep well in his arms tonight.

God is faithful.

And I am his.

beauty