Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Quick Snippet and Updates

*Sigh* (It's never good to start a post with a sigh.) It has been a while, I know. I apologize. Those who know me best know that I have been working very hard on The Heart's Journey Home. I was all set to make a post a few weeks back on New Year's resolutions, and maybe I still will, in a week or two. I thought about posting my thoughts on the changes taking place in our nation, but, really, everyone has their own opinions on that so who wants to hear mine??? I need to make this quick and get back to work. As a reward for your patience with me, I decided to post a snippet of The Heart's Journey Home that I've recently worked on, and then update my list of prayer requests. I wish I had more to give you, but time is short and valuable for this wife/mama/teacher/writer. So, without further ado, let me set up what you are about to read.

This is PART of the unedited scene that I mentioned in my last post. I struggled with this scene because in order to write it to the best of my ability I had to "get inside the head" of a non-believer. I don't know how to not believe in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But anyone who writes understands that all of my characters are real and they are all a part of me, so I spent a considerable amount of time pondering the questions, "What would my life be like if I didn't believe in Jesus?" and "How could I, an adult living in today's messed up society, ever wrap my brain around the idea that someone loves me so much that they would die for my sins?" I wondered what questions I would have. I also wondered who I would seek answers from when I reached the "seeking" point - someone nonjudgmental, someone that I could relate to, but was NOT relation, someone who would teach or coach me to a state of believing and then to an actual relationship with Christ without being "preachy", ya know? I have to acknowledge two people who helped me with this scene: Pastor Bob Maier at my church and Daon Johnson, a teacher at our school who is also a pastor. They really helped me with the question, "What do you say to someone who just doesn't get it, but who just might be searching for it?" The unexpected blessing in all of this (because there is an unexpected blessing in everything, ya know) is that doing the research, talking with Pastor and Daon, and meditating on the "What ifs" have deepened my faith and love for my Savior in a very special way. In this snippet, Adam Sullivan, one of the two heroes in this book, is searching for answers from a sweet, wise 87-year-old man (Who I absolutely LOVE. Really.) Grandpa Clayton is, coincidentally, the grandfather of Kate Sterling (the heroine). Obviously, I can't tell you the outcome of this scene or what role this scene will play in the further development of the storyline, but I am very, very interested to know what your opinions or critiques are on this scene. Is it effective? Did it move you? Or did you feel, eh, just indifferent? Or, did you completely hate it? Remember, this is just a part of the scene and also keep in mind that it is unedited. Okay. *Holding breath* Here ya go!

“So, Adam, how can I help you?” Grandpa Clayton asked lifting his coffee cup to his lips with a shaky hand.

“Well . . .” Adam swallowed hard. Since when did water become so thick? He laid his hand on his grandfather’s Bible. “I need to know what this is all about.”

“I’m not a theologian. I can only tell you what I believe based on eighty-seven years of experience.”

Adam’s gaze swept across the table to Kate and then fell to his grandfather’s Bible partially
hidden under his hand. “And I can’t promise that I’ll believe it.”

“Think you can have an open mind?”

“I’ll try.”

“Fair enough.” Grandpa Clayton took another swallow from his coffee cup. “Welp, what I know about the Bible is what it says in John 1.” He opened his large print Bible, flipped a few pages, and adjusted his strong bifocals. “Verse one says, ‘In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.’ It goes on to say in verse fourteen, ‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.’”

Creases formed on Adam’s brow as he considered what Grandpa Clayton had said. “What exactly does that mean?”

“It means that the Bible is more than just a book of stories. It’s Jesus coming to earth, fulfilling all of the promises in the Old Testament, so that we could have an actual relationship with God.”

Adam looked down at his grandfather’s old, worn Bible. All he saw was a plain, ordinary book. Nothing special. Certainly not Jesus. “I’m sorry. That doesn’t make sense to me.” Adam shook his head and sighed. “I’m just wasting your time. I’ll get Chloe and go.” Adam scooted his chair back.

Kate jumped to her feet and held a hand out to him. “Wait, Adam! You haven’t even given it a fair shot.”

Grandpa Clayton chuckled. “And don’t worry about wasting my time. I got nuttin’ but time.”

“Alright then.” Adam picked up his Bible, held it out, and shook it. “Explain to me how this is Jesus.” Adam didn’t mean to be disrespectful. He certainly didn’t want to make a bad impression on Kate’s grandfather, but his frustration was becoming unmanageable.

Grandpa Clayton very calmly flipped a few more pages. “In my Bible, John 1:1 is cross referenced to 1John 5:20.” He pushed it across the table to Adam and pointed at the verse. “Read it for yourself.”

Adam stared at the page for a moment, numbers and words all mingled together. It was very befuddling, but he began to read where Grandpa Clayton indicated. “‘And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.’”

Grandpa Clayton pointed at his Bible. “That is what it’s all about.”

Adam didn’t know how to respond. He silently read the verse twice more. The passage was a nice thought, but it didn’t seem to apply to his life, his circumstances. He gently closed the Bible and pushed it back across the table. “It’s a pretty tough concept to grasp. Logically, it doesn’t make sense.”

Grandpa Clayton picked up his coffee cup and studied the design around the rim. “That is the case with much of God’s Word, but when a person makes the choice to believe even when it doesn’t make sense, he suddenly sees things in a whole new light.” Grandpa Clayton looked at Adam, his eyes gleaming from the fire burning brightly in his soul. “It’s called faith.”

PRAYER UPDATES: My first update, unfortunately, is not exactly happy news . . . at least not for us here on Earth. On January 8th, Kimiko Bryant "graduated to Heaven", in the words of her daughter and my friend, Rika. The family has such a positive outlook that it is impossible not to be moved by Kimiko's passing. But, that doesn't mean that there won't be moments of grief and loneliness for Kimiko's family. Please, in the days, weeks, and months ahead, please keep Kimiko's family in your prayers. Our friend, Kristin Miller, is preparing for surgery on January 28th. She is nervous and understandably so. If you remember in my last post, her previous surgery was much more difficult than they anticipated. I have access to her patient website and will be able to give you updates as soon as Kristin or her husband updates the site, but in the meantime, please lift Kristin and Jason up. Pray for peace. The kind of peace that instantly happened during that raging storm when Jesus simply said, "Peace, be still." The kind of peace that only Jesus can give. Lastly, for now, Jennie and Garth Griveas, parents to premie Nicholas is thrilled to report that they are expecting Nicholas will be coming home within a few weeks. He's almost 4 pounds now (That still sounds SO small to me!) and learning to drink from a little bottle. He has to have hernia repair surgery next week, but apparently it is a very common procedure with premies. And after that, he'll be ready to go home! Of course that's a good thing, but there will be some adjustments for Jennie and Garth at that point, too, not having that safety and security of the hospital and hospital staff. Pray that it'll be a very smooth adjustment for Jennie and Garth and that everythign will fall into place in a way that it will be evident it could only have been orchestrated by the Lord! Also, please continue to pray for sweet, little Nicholas, that he will continue to grow and develop beyond even the highest expectations. I got pictures of Nicholas today. What an absolute angel! Maybe I can get permission to post one. It's always nice to see who you're praying for. :)

That's it for now. Time to get back to work. Always remember, if you or someone you know has a prayer concern (even if it is unspoken - God knows all of our needs after all) please email me personally through my profile and I will be more than happy to post it. There IS power in prayer! There really, really is!


Anonymous said...

Hi Sis,
First, I have to say that I love the music feature on your blog. When i sit down to read your blog,, I just sigh and listen and read and all the events of the day suddenly don't matter. It's just me and you and God! I love our meetings. Second, you're right, what a difficult thing to try to know what it is like to not believe. I just can't fathom my life, my heart, our house without Christ. Having said that, I think you did a good job illustrating the confusion and the abstractness of it all. It is also quite scary to let go and sit in the passenger seat while God drives you to your destination. Sometimes, even as a believer, I still find it hard to give up that steering wheel. Fortunately, for me, I have someone like you, to kick my booty over and remind me that God is the best driver of all but man, what a ride! You slow me down, you keep me grounded, and above all, you remind me where I am going and how I am getting there. Thank you! Too bad there aren't more Grandpa Claytons to go around. There are so many people that could benefit from a meeting with him like the one you described. You are awesome! Love ya!!!!

Jen Riffle said...

Dontcha just love Grandpa Clayton??? He is one of my favorite characters. He brings me peace with his calm personality and simplicity and wisdom without an air of righteousness. He reminds me of what Daddy might've been like another 30 years down the road.

It's amazing to me some of the things that have happened as a result of my writing. I got two emails just this week that just blew my mind! I've never considered my writing extra special - it's just something I've done because I love doing it. The idea that it has touched, is touching, or will touch anyone at all is astonishing to me. I know I've always had your support and will always have your support but I don't remember the last time I thanked you. I love and miss you so much! I miss Clay, Paige, and Mia! I can't wait to get together again maybe over spring break and just chill. (Maybe by then this ms. will be done and I'll be able to just chill!)

Thanks for your vote of confidence, your support, your love, but most of all, thanks for being my best friend ever!

Love ya lots,

Krista Phillips said...

Hey Jen! I didn't ignore you, it was the later, lack of time!

You're right, this WOULD be a hard scene to write. It's tricky to write something without seeming too 'preachy' because even in real life, the moment it sounds preachy is when the non-christian tunes out.

I think you did a great job, but I preface that with needing to know what led up to this. *most* non-believers have a huge motive for taking a risk like asking what the Bible is all about. They've hit bottom, they need to grasp to something anything and realize that one thing is God. So it works as long as Adam is at his low point right here. I'd also maybe show that desperation a little bit more too. I don't know, it's really hard to critique and say if it works or not with out knowing truely the context of if.

Anyway, I do think it's a great snippet and you did a wonderful job! Missed you at our meeting today!!

Jen Riffle said...

Hey, Krista! Thanks for your comment. Yeah, that's the trouble with posting "snippets" there is a ton of back story that you don't know. I think the lead up is believable. Adam's had a lot of crap (pardon my french) happen to him that's he's tired of shoveling, if you know what I mean. I guess you'll have to tell me what you think of it after you've read the whole thing! ;->


Anonymous said...

Hey Jen,

I do love this scene. I do think even as a believer, it is great because I think all of us during our lives, go through things that make us have questions. It would be great if we all had a Granpa Clayton in our lives. I know I have often thought to myself what certain passages mean and why things happen. What I have read in all of this, I do feel my faith growing more.....Thanks! I look forward to reading more and more. Your words have inspired me to want to learn more. I can feel myself connecting with the people you write about.


Jen Riffle said...

Sha', you have just made my entire week! You validated every single reason why I want to write this book! Thank you so much! I needed that tonight.

I, too, believe that Christians go through peaks and valleys. As you know that others wouldn't Kate is trying to get out of the valley. I know it's not the same as losing a husband by any means, but I took a lot of what I went through spiritually when my dad died and applied it to this situation to hopefully make a more intense connection for my readers. I'm SOOO glad it did for you!

I'm typing as fast as I can!!! ;->