This Thing Called Hate

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(Photo by Gerome Viavant on Unsplash)

 

Please, don’t hate.

Just listen–and care.

Even if her pride is unbearable,

the walls you’re creating

are unfair.

 

I judge and you judge;

we say a man isn’t worth enough,

when you and I are just us–

we’re just dust.

 

Is this righteous anger?

Am I right to think you’re wrong?

All the world’s a stage,

and I’m aching for change,

for the good in people to be brought out of this hate.

 

People hurt–left and right.

Deep inside

we’re in pain from the lack of grace

we give ourselves.

Your slander opens their wounds wider,

and I can’t help but wonder how you’d feel

if they died.

Would you cry?

Would you realize who they were behind their dusty eyes?

 

Please–don’t gossip.

Listen and care.

Replace walls with bridges

and stop being unfair.

We’re all only humans in need of God’s mercy and grace.

The last thing we need is this thing called hate.

 

“Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.” — James 4:11

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” – Titus 3:1-5a

 

 

 

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Sandbox: How You Might Feel About My New Novella

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(Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash)

Warning: Spoiler Alert! I will be posting the chapters week by week, so don’t read this if you don’t want the story spoiled. 😉
This assignment was to imagine someone opening your completed novella and describe how they might think and feel about it.

Trinity Peters browsed the bookshelf at the library. Her eyes caught onto a colorful book with the title, The Healer of Istagun. She slid it out, examined the back cover, sat down in a comfy chair, and read it carefully.

The book took her on a fantasy journey with a young girl named Dahlia, who was trying to find her sick sister. Trinity thought about her mother who was in the hospital with breast cancer and understood the scary unknowns of illness. She found the powerful healer Gesu quite fascinating, and she wished there was some quick cure in real life.

Prima the fairy was always jabbering on about whatever, which got Trinity to chuckle a bit. That fairy and Dahlia seemed to be in some love-hate relationship. Trinity wished Dahlia would realize how much Prima was helping her.

As Tarquin showed his ship in the basement that he had built in hopes to sail away from this land of enslavement, Trinity couldn’t help but want Dahlia and Tarquin to end up together in the end. But Dahlia kept shoving his kindness and special attention aside. Why wouldn’t this girl give the poor guy a chance? She read faster, wondering how Dahlia’s heart was going to change.

Andrea was a bit annoying, Trinity had to admit. Dahlia had a point about bringing misery on her children if she got married, since the parents and children had to be separated immediately after birth. Those evil fairies were certainly evil! And Andrea seemed absolutely clueless, wanting Dahlia to just have fun with her life and marry somebody.

The story world naturally intrigued Trinity. Queen Hazina was a powerhouse, wanting all the age groups separated into never-ending seasons. If Trinity never saw her parents or didn’t know anything about them, she’d be totally confused and lost in the world. There wouldn’t be older people to give advice. Now that she thought about it, she’d probably do a lot of foolish things if only peers surrounded her. She couldn’t imagine the pain of being separated from children she had as soon as she gave birth. And with working as a slave all the time to that wicked Queen, she knew she’d be infuriated by the injustice of it all!

As the book approached the climax, Trinity wondered how Dahlia and Tarquin were going to help the hundreds of sick people, if Gesu was really dead. She watched as the two got his blood and fed it to the sick. Ew! Were these people actually vampires? But no, Gesu’s blood actually turned out to magically heal the sick and give them extraordinary power. Wait, was this some allegory thing? Trinity thought. Did Gesu represent Jesus saving us and giving us the Holy Spirit, after His blood was shed for us? These thoughts confirmed in Trinity’s mind the power of Jesus’ death.

The book ended with Tarquin the King of Istagun, asking Dahlia to be his wife so they could venture to the land across the sea to take the Treelanders home and to explore the new land. Clearly, the spirit of Gesu was with them all.

Trinity set down the book, realizing the library was just now closing. Great. Just in time. She went home pondering sickness and healing, the relationship between age groups in society, and the power of Jesus’ blood, which brought her life in abundance.

Well, this might be an idealized version of what I hope readers will get from my novella. But with God’s help, perhaps I can give you something worthwhile and meaningful for you to enjoy and think about.

NPO: True Friendship

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(Photo by Dương Hữu on Unsplash)

This is a pangram story, where each new sentence begins with a new letter in the alphabet. Enjoy!

A sharp wind cut through my jacket as I strode homeward, eager to lose myself to the rhythm of my footsteps. Boots had a special way of letting me forget. Clomp, clomp, clomp. Don’t remember. Even if you loved him, even if he was all you had—you have to forget.

Friendship. Goodness, what a silly word! Haven’t you learned by now that no one will stick with you forever?

I stomped louder in the puddles, splashing my brand new jeans with the murky rainwater.

Just then, a streetlight pole met my face, jarring me.

Kind features met my eyes, but I was no longer on 42nd St—I was lying on a warm, full bed with a familiar lavender smell.

“Lucy?”

Mom looked at me, concerned.

Not willing to tell her about what happened, I just mumbled a polite greeting, as if she were a stranger.

“Oh, honey, Xavier was a good friend, wasn’t he?”
Perplexed, I nodded slowly.

Quietly, she whispered, “His mom called and told me everything.”

Realizing she knew everything, guilt gripped me, sending my heart breaking into finer pieces.

“Shouldn’t have called him that,” I murmured.

Taking out my dusty Bible from a nearby bookshelf, Mom opened it in the middle. “’Unless the Lord builds the house’—or friendship—’the builders labor in vain.’”

Viciously, I tried to ignore her words, to block it out, but suddenly my selfishness, like a carefree, blazing comet, hit the rocky ground of truth.

Whoever the person, whatever the friendship, if God wasn’t there in the center of it, it was absolutely meaningless. Xavier wasn’t the right person for me if Jesus played no part in our interactions.

Yearning for comfort, I fell into my mother’s arms, crying softly.

Zooming out on the big picture of my life, I realized my truest friend—my mother—had been right here with me this whole time.

SA: Story Analysis of The Healer of Istagun

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(Photo by Bobby Johnson on Unsplash)

Introducing a new novella I’m starting with the prompting (and requirement) of my Creative Writing class! I never though I’d write a fantasy story, but here I am, writing a fantasy story. 😉 Each week I will post a new chapter. To see the prologue, click here. Hope you enjoy this story analysis! 

Title: The Healer of Istagun (you may find it interesting that “Istagun” means “seasons” in Maltese)
Author: Grace Caylor
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Middle schoolers and high schoolers

Characters
In order of appearance:
Dahlia – Resides in Summer. Eighteen years old. Tall and thin, curly brown hair, and brown eyes. Compassionate and hopeful yet stubborn nature. A human slave who must work in the fields of Summer for the evil fairies. She is determined to save her younger sister Hollis from dying from sickness.

Hollis – Resides in Spring, later transported to Winter. Thirteen years old. Golden blonde hair, small frail figure, and very pale skin due to long-term sickness. She’s not as innocent as she looks. She understands things her older sister, Dahlia, doesn’t want her to understand.

Andrea – Resides in Summer. Nineteen years old. Black thick hair, medium brown skin, black eyes. Extremely bubbly and friendly to everyone. A human slave who must work in the fields of Summer for the evil fairies. Disagrees with her serious friend, Dahlia, on many things.

Gesu – Resides in Summer, later transported to Winter. Thirty years old. Tall and broad-shouldered, tan skin, shaven face, and dark brown hair. An extraordinary healer that people come to so he can cure them. Silent and brooding, yet also thoughtful and kind.

Tarquin – Resides in Summer. Twenty years old. Tall and thin, brown skin, black hair with scruffy beard. Works on mines between the lands of Summer and Autumn. Impulsive, yet passionate about the right things, such as finding Gesu the healer. Dreams to escape the island of Istagun and sail to the land beyond the sea.

Prima – Resides in Summer. Older than the trees. A small green, fragile fairy who talks fast and curtly. She is a servant of Gesu and loves him very much.

Queen Hazina – Resides in a palace in the center of Istagun. Older than the trees. The evil fairy Queen of Istagun. Giant sparkly rainbow wings. Cruel and demanding. Wants all humans dead so she can replace them with the strong species, the Treelanders, to toil for her instead.

Minor characters: Dahlia and Hollis’ parents and grandparents, mud wall monsters, Treelanders

Point of View

The story is told from Dahlia’s point of view.

Setting

Throughout the story, Dahlia transports to the lands of all four seasons. At the end, every land turns to the season of summer, showing that that was true time of year all along.

Plot Outline

Eighteen-year-old Dahlia’s younger sister, Hollis, is surely going to die—if she’s not already dead. Unfortunately, the evil fairies of the island of Istagun don’t allow young adults to travel back to the land of Spring, where only children live. When Dahlia discovers a remarkable healer, Gesu, in the land of Summer, hope springs within her. After asking Gesu for help, she travels with his fairy servant, Prima, to find her sister and bring her back. But when she can’t find Hollis and Gesu gets missing too, Dahlia must seek the help of Tarquin, a young miner who has secrets of his own hidden in his basement. Will Dahlia find both Hollis and Gesu in time before the Queen of Istagun completely replaces the humans with a stronger species?

Conflict

Woman vs. fairy Queen – Major conflict. Dahlia is trying to find both Gesu and Hollis, who are taken to Winter by the queen’s orders. This is a conflict because it makes it harder for Dahlia to find them.
Girl vs. sickness – Major conflict. If the sickness wins over Hollis, she dies and all of Dahlia’s efforts to find he are in vain.
Woman vs. woman – Minor conflict. Andrea and Dahlia disagree about marriage. Andrea thinks it’s the greatest thing and that you should do it, but Dahlia doesn’t think anyone should marry, because she doesn’t want her children to experience the misery of slavery and being  separated from their parents.
Woman vs. man – Minor conflict. Tarquin is in love with Dahlia, but she doesn’t want to consider him.
Woman vs. fairy – Prima wants Dahlia to go to Winter to find Hollis, but Dahlia is too optimistic and goes to Summer. Prima also wants Dahlia to seek Tarquin’s help, which after some debate, Dahlia agrees to.

 

Theme

Sacrifice brings life.
Love covers over a multitude of sins.

 

Literary Devices

Allegory – Gesu’s blood heals the sick. This represents Jesus’ death healing sinners.
Ceasura – Prima stops abruptly in between sentences: “Get along, ladies—I’ll do the work—you know you can’t be seen.”
Prologue – I include a prologue so that the reader gets more of an insight into the story world, as well as the relationship between Dahlia and Hollis.

Feedback

Dahlia and Hollis’ sweet love for one another is one of my favorite parts of this book. I also love how level-headed Hollis is even though she’s so young. Fantasy is usually not my favorite, but because this is a spiritual allegory along with some ideas that can be transferred to the modern world, it intrigues me. I love that this story is more about the characters and emotions than the story world, even though the story world is naturally a part of it. Speaking of story worlds, my younger sister actually helped me come up with the idea of four seasons separated into four different lands—and clearly, I think this is an intriguing idea this story has to offer. 😉 Another part of this story I enjoy is Prima, a fairy that chooses not to follow the evil queen but chooses to serve the healer Gesu. She’s innocent and quick-witted all at once. Finally, Tarquin is just way too cool. *Spoilers* He builds a ship underground in hopes to one day escape Istagun and sail to the lands beyond the sea.

 

Have you ever written or begun writing a book? Or do you have an idea for one you wished you had time to write? I’d love to hear about it! 🙂

 

Through Prayer Comes Life

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(Photo by Diana Simumpande on Unsplash)

A thousand voices echo in the night:

“I feel like I’m the only one trying.”

A girl falls to her knees at dawn.

Through praying she fights

for the people she loves.

 

Everything is intentional–

Walk the walk, don’t just talk.

She finds every corner of brokenness

and tries to fix it

but no one knows it.

 

Her tears breathe life

in the mother’s womb,

her prayers

move the heart of God

when all hope is lost.

 

She wrestles through the night

and fights the fight every day,

Smiling to the people she cares for.

She gives away the kindness stored up within her,

the Holy Spirit’s earnest, searching concern.

 

When she comes home,

she cries out to God in the silence:

“I feel like I’m the only one trying.”

But one whisper fills her with faith in the night:

“Your prayers have resurrected the dying.”

 

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” —  James 5:16

 

 

SA: Story Analysis of Frozen

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For my creative writing class, we were assigned to write a story analysis. I chose the story/movie Frozen! So before I let it go… enjoy! 😉

Title: Frozen
Directed and written by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Children

 

Characters

Elsa: The stunning blonde young princess-soon-to-be-queen of Arendelle. She has dangerous ice powers she doesn’t know how to control. She’s a very reserved and refined character who does everything she can to do the right thing, if she knows what the right thing is. She tries to hide her powers so she doesn’t hurt anyone, especially her younger sister, Anna.

Anna: The charming red-headed young princess of Arendelle who is very bubbly and excited about life. She doesn’t understand why she can’t see her older sister, Elsa, anymore. She is innocent of the world and falls in love easily. She loves Elsa very much, and tries to understand her and give her second chances.

Hans: The well-built, handsome young Prince Hans of the Southern Isles. He is a charmer who tricks people into thinking he is good, when he is plotting evil schemes behind their backs. His pleasant manner deceives Princess Ana herself, yet when he finally admits he doesn’t truly love her, the dark side of him comes out.

Kristoff: The down-to-earth iceman who sells ice for a living with the aid of his reindeer, Sven. He has an assertive, independent manner, yet also a very gentle and funny side. He plays the lute and loves Sven very much, but due to his isolation from other humans, he needs a little work overall, according to his friends the trolls.

Sven: Kristoff’s reindeer who doesn’t talk. He serves as a best friend to Kristoff and helps pull his sleigh. He (literally) nudges Kristoff to do the right things.

Olaf: A talking snowman, created when Elsa’s ice powers are unleashed. He has a silly, bouncy sense of humor that amuses everyone. He wants to see what summer is like, but he doesn’t know that snow melts when it’s hot.

Minor characters: Anna and Elsa’s parents, the Duke of Weselton, and Oaken

 

Point of View

The story is mostly told from Anna’s perspective, but it’s also told from Elsa, Hans, and Kristoff’s perspectives.

 

Setting

Summertime in Arendelle (probably in Scandinavia).

 

Plot Outline

At a young age, Elsa the ice princess freezes her younger sister, Anna’s heart. After trolls heal Anna, Elsa and Anna’s parents lock Elsa in a room to protect Anna and the rest of the world from their daughters’ seemingly uncontrollable powers. By the time the princesses’ parents die at sea and Elsa’ coronation takes place, Anna is so overjoyed to meet new people that she easily and quickly falls in love with the charming Hans. When she pleads to Elsa to let her marry Hans, Elsa accidently releases her ice powers, and then flees Arendelle, leaving the kingdom completely frozen. Anna proceeds to find her sister, with the help of the iceman Kristoff, his reindeer Sven, and the snowman Olaf. After she finds her sister, as Anna discovers that Elsa doesn’t know how to melt the ice, Elsa freezes her sister’s heart. Kristoff takes Anna to his friends the trolls, who eventually tell them that only true love can melt her heart. At this, they set off to find Hans, but will Anna’s fiancé prove to truly love her? And will Elsa ever discover the secret to controlling her powers?

 

Conflict

Woman vs. Woman – Elsa doesn’t think she can control her ice powers, but Anna is sure that there must be some way for her sister to melt the ice in Arendelle.
Woman vs. Woman – Elsa wants to protect Anna from her ice powers, so she hides away, but Anna wants to play with her sister.
Man vs. woman – Hans wants to take over Elsa’s throne.
People vs. environment – The people of Arendelle are taken by surprise that winter comes upon them in the dead of summer
Woman vs. herself – Elsa struggles with controlling her ice powers.
People vs. monster – The monster, Marshmallow, who guards Elsa’s ice tower, scares Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf away.

 

Theme(s)

True love melts away fear.
Don’t trust people just because they are nice to you.

 

Literary Devices

Metaphor: Elsa releasing ice powers = Elsa releasing her fear
Metaphor: Elsa melting the ice = Elsa’s love triumphing over her fear
Irony (dramatic): Olaf sings about when he’ll finally get to experience summer, while Anna and Kristoff along with the audience knows that snowmen melt in the summer.
Foil: Elsa and Anna are foils of one another. Elsa is quiet and withdrawn from the world, while Anna is outgoing and excited to see the world. Elsa is pessimistic throughout most of the movie, while Anna is optimistic.

 

Feedback

Frozen is one of my favorite movies. No matter how many people get tired of it, I continue to adore it—the characters, the music, the plot. Everything about it. I think it’s a pretty remarkable story that manages to trick you into loving Hans, to make you laugh at Olaf’s never-ending jokes, and to make you cry when Anna tries to save Elsa’s life at the expense of the ice freezing herself. I remember my heart aching as Anna sang, “Do you wanna build a snowman?” when Elsa refused to come out of her room for the sake of protecting Anna’s life. The variety of emotions this story gives me is so entertaining. I love how Elsa learns that true love conquers over fear, which is something I’ve learned in my own life. Frozen is one of my favorite movies, because it makes me feel deeply, it makes me burst into laughter, and the music fills my heart and imagination.

CW17: My Media Autobiography

The creative writing assignment was to write about ten different books and/or songs that really connect to some aspect or event in my life. I hope you enjoy!

Be Yourself Printable | Day 5 Kids Prints Series - The Girl Creative

“Reach the Sky” from American Girl
This song is about being yourself. Throughout my life, my mom has encouraged me to be myself. I’m a quiet person, so this is something especially hard for me to do. This song has such a beautiful, encouraging little melody—and, admittedly, I heard it, because of my younger sister who was listening to the American girl, Tenney’s, music.

“Insane in the Membrane” by Cypress Hill
My family loves this song… at least the tune of it. At dinner time, if my mom sees the lights on in the hallway, she’ll sing, “Lights on in the hallway” to the tune of this song, so us kids will turn the light off… XD

“The Twelve Days of Christmas”
I used to sing this song over and over during the Christmas season, annoying my siblings a bunch, I’m sure. I was always eager to get to the exciting “Five Golden Rings” part.

Hymn Art. Christian Art Print - Amazing Grace - Watercolor Print - (8x10) Hand Lettered:

“Amazing Grace” by John Newton
Because my name is Grace, you can imagine people relate me to this song a lot. I always love to sing it, too.

Animal Farm by George Orwell
My choir sang at a dance show, where they portrayed the story of Animal Farm in a very emotional, memorable way. The weirdness of this story was strangely made very meaningful to me.

The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch
Okay, you really should read these books for middle schoolers if you want to laugh–even if you’re not in middle school anymore. These were the funniest books I’ve ever read. My cousin and I read the first book of this page-turning series aloud to each other during a vacation in a cabin in the mountains. It was such memorable time of laughter and excitement to find out what happens next.

“Silent Night” composed by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr
So many memories are attached to this song. My choir sings this every Christmas while doing hand motions.
My sister and I sang this years ago at my brother’s ukulele show.
I sang this song when I first auditioned for my choir.
My mom bought me a movie called Silent Night about how the song came into existence.
This song is so calming… And maybe I like it so much because I have a generally calm spirit.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

The main character of this book, Tris, has inspired the main character of my book, Siri, to be pretty, well… stubborn. The ideas of selflessness, bravery, kindness, knowledge, and honesty being in separate factions was also very intriguing. I want to be all of these things, by the grace of God.

“The Two Lost Sons” by Caroline Cobb
This powerful song is (right now) my favorite song in existence. I so resonate with the older son in the Prodigal’s son story. I need to remember that I’m not just a servant of God, I’m also His beloved child.

A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers

My favorite book besides the Bible. The main character, Hadassah, has inspired me to grow in my relationship with God, and to pray for the lost. It’s such gripping, realistic Christian fiction that I’ll never forget. And of course once you read this one, you have to read the sequel. 😉

What books or songs have really been a part of your life?

 

 

 

 

J17- A Meaningful Legacy: How Journaling Helps You and Helps Others

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(Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash)

Today my Creative Writing assignment is to answer these questions: In your opinion, what is the value of regular journaling, if any? What is your favorite way to journal? How often? Do you think you will maintain your writing blog when class is over?

Journaling is an art that keeps your life breathing when your lungs have ceased to breathe. The world craves for honesty, wondering what’s behind a person’s masqueraded smile. It’s so hard to dig out the truth of a person sometimes. Inscribing the details of your life lets people of the future (including yourself) learn, laugh, and cry at your own real-life ponderings jotted forth from pen to page.

I prefer to journal whenever my emotions or ideas particularly press on my heart. I admit it’s not a regular habit. I probably write 3-5 times a year, but that’s okay. Journaling is about your life, and what you want people to remember. I esteem those who journal on a daily basis, but I also believe journaling is much more than a report on your life. It’s your heart and soul. Your true smile. Your genuine tears of heartache.

Even if no one ever sees your journal, the process is so refreshing. Sometimes I realize things I didn’t realize before I started writing. Maybe it’s God helping me make sense of my life and filling me with peace.

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:33a

When my creative writing class comes to an end, I still plan to write on this blog whatever God places on my heart. The hurting people in this world need writers more than they realize. Writers entertain, inspire, and teach people.

And when it comes to journaling, we testify to the God who is working in us for our greater good, and we show them that they are not alone.

Joseph’s Story

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Photo by Dan Kiefer on Unsplash

I know Christmas has come and gone, but here’s a snippet of the Nativity story told from Joseph’s perspective, because when does he ever get any attention? 🙂

I tapped on the wooden door five times, eagerness pulsing through my veins. I hadn’t seen Mary in weeks, busy as I was trying to sell my carpentry in Jerusalem. I needed to make enough money for the stones to build the house we would begin sharing in the spring, after our wedding celebrations.

The door opened slowly, revealing Mary’s mother, Hannah, with a pale and withdrawn face as she looked up at me. Sighing, she opened the door wider to let me in. “Come in, Joseph, but prepare yourself…”

I rushed in the house, looking for Mary in earnest, yet concerned by Hannah’s glumness.

I ached at the sight of her gentle figure working the dough on the counter, with her long dark hair wound in a braid behind her. She was so beautiful. When she saw me, her face lit up with a warm glow.

She hurried towards me. “Oh, Joseph…” Suddenly, she dropped her hands to her sides and stared at the dirt floor.

Puzzled, I reached for her small hand. “Mary.” My voice was tighter than I wanted it to be. “I’m sorry I took so long. Jerusalem’s marketplace is competitive.”

“I imagine.” She didn’t look at me, but she squeezed my hand.

I searched her haggard, tear-stained face. My dear Mary. A woman of surpassing beauty… and fierce devotion to the Lord. Whatever was bothering her, I longed to comfort her, to wrap my arms around her and encourage her that everything was going to be all right.

“What’s the matter?” I asked, desperate to understand what she was hiding from me.

She turned her body away. “You wouldn’t believe me.”

“That’s right–and you shouldn’t believe her, for that matter!” Hannah yelled from where she sat across the room, grinding flour with a stone.

Baffled, I spoke hesitantly to my fiancé. “Mary, you’re one of the most trustworthy people I know. What is it that you don’t think I’d believe?”

Smiling feebly, she sank to a chair. “Sit down, Joseph.”

I obeyed, yet eyed her uncertainly.

She tucked a tendril of her thick hair behind her ear. “I’m not sure how to say this, but I… I saw an angel. His name was Gabriel and he told me–”

“–Wait a minute. You saw an angel?” I tried to keep my voice steady, yet I was overcome by the news of this wondrous event.

She nodded meekly.

“An actual angel–straight from God? What did he look like? Did he blind you with heavenly light?”

Mary didn’t even smile. “That’s not the point, Joseph. He told me I was pregnant.”

Her words jolted me out of my humor. I stood up. “You’re what?”

“I’m… I’m pregnant. But it’s not what you think, I–”

“–Mary, you know why I stayed in Jerusalem a week longer? So I could make money for our future together. Our future, Mary!”

I fumed with anger, wanting to set the whole world ablaze. During all those weeks of hard work, she’d been sneaking off with another man. Was I not good enough for her? Mary, sweet Mary… I adored her, but this? This was unacceptable!

I paced the floor, raking my hand through my tousled brown hair.

Mary stood up and pulled on my sleeve. “You don’t understand! I didn’t do anything wrong, Joseph. The angel said–”

“–The stupid angel!” I roared, yanking her hand off my sleeve. “What a pitiful excuse!”

Though I grimaced inwardly at my words, I couldn’t help but feeling betrayed.

Mary fell at my feet and sobbed. “You’re just like the rest of them. I thought I could trust you, Joseph!”

“The whole town is going to think it was a scandal–between you and me!”

“You have to trust me!” Mary cried. “The angel said that I conceived this child by the Holy Spirit. This child is the Messiah, coming to save the world from sin. Do you hear me, Joseph?”

I scowled, hurt that she would make up such a devious lie. “Yeah, I hear you. But your mother’s right–I’d be a fool to believe you!”

I stormed out of the house, trying to make sense of the lies spewing out of dear Mary’s beautiful lips. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t. I couldn’t blind myself from the reality that her display of goodness and love was no more than a false mask, covering a sinful, faithless person. And as I trudged home, tears streamed down my cheeks for the loss of the woman I’d thought I could trust.

***

That night I lay in bed, making plans to secretly divorce Mary in the morning. Continuing on and marrying her was out of the question. Her pregnancy would start to show before we wed, causing rumors to flood the whole town.

I had to admit I had been harsh with Mary. Perhaps spending time with some man was a mistake she regretted, a mistake that would bring a lifetime of shame upon her shoulders.

Whatever the case, her pregnancy would ruin both of our reputations, especially hers. However much she had hurt me, I loved her too much to let her become a disgrace to the town. Though she would probably end up one anyway, breaking off the engagement would at least put some of the rumors to rest.

As I drifted off into a fitful sleep, a voice called out to me in the darkness.

“Joseph, son of David…”

The gentle voice echoed in the night, until before my eyes appeared a shiny figure. An angel? My heart pounded in my chest. For a second I wondered if this was Gabriel, who had supposedly spoken to Mary.

“Joseph, son of David…” I was startled that he knew my name and the name of my much-respected ancestor. “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

I stared at the angel, who illuminated heavenly light, but I did not go blind.

Then I woke up with a start. Sunlight poured through my small open window.

Jesus. The name pounded in my head like a small hope at the end of a tunnel. I was reaching for the light. Oh, Jesus, dear, dear Jesus. The baby boy inside Mary’s womb, the promised One of Israel, the Anointed One–the child… conceived by the Holy Spirit.

This wasn’t Mary’s fault. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. God gave Mary the baby. It was the greatest blessing a person could desire.

I shot out of bed, suddenly wide awake. Mary, my poor, sweet Mary. Regret gripped me for how I had treated her the other day.

I fled out of the house, determined to stand by Mary no matter the cost, along with the infant Messiah that grew within her.

Gabriel’s words taken from Matthew 1:19-21 (NLT).

Let this be a lesson to us– when someone claims they’ve heard from God, take them seriously. God does speak to us even today. And Jesus is the greatest miracle we’ve each been given to discover more and more throughout our lives.