My new novel that was on the Amazon Vella’s favorite list for a number of weeks is now available in print at a discounted price. This is a emotionally powerful and epic fictional novel that may not be appropriate for everyone. Read with caution. It took me 10 years to write this story, and I’m thankful to finally see it in print. Enjoy, and be encouraged.
Book Release on Amazon Vella
My grand novel, which is young adult literary fiction, is now finished and published on Amazon Vella. This was a 10-year project that I poured my heart into through the changing years of life. I truly came to recognize the notorious artist’s curse of having a calling to finish a seemingly impossible project, but I am now proud to share it with the world.
This novel is titled The Red Fairy’s Tale.
Its sequel is finished and published too, titled Big City Lights.
Please consider reading the first three chapters for free from the link. Any “likes” help get my novel recognized and shared to others, so I already thank you all in advance for being so supportive of my creative writing, my stories.
A Little Every Day
One of the best kept secrets in life is that you can accomplish anything if you just do a little every day.
Consistently wins over speed, skill, and even talent.
But you need time on your side, so plan ahead, and be prepared to practice patience. Most people can’t see past tomorrow, let alone five years from now. Trust that God has good plans for you, and do your best to be ready for the future, but hold onto those plans with loose hands because we are not ultimately in charge; we submit to the will of our heavenly Father.
It’s always easier to start something new than to continue in being faithful to something your have already started.
Don’t let the excitement of new ideas override the commitment of old goals.
The ordinary person starts many things but finishes only a few.
Don’t be the ordinary person.
The Cost of Commitment
Commitment to anything requires cost. It requires sacrifice. Some people say yes far too often and over commit themselves and then have a difficult time paying the cost and making the required sacrifices. But some don’t ever want to commit to anything because they don’t know if it’s worth the sacrifice.
If you are a true follower of Christ, you have the Holy Spirit guiding you.
Meditate on Scripture, and spend time in prayer. Also, seek wise counsel from your church body.
Rely on God to show you what is worth the cost of your commitments, and don’t sign up for something unless you are willing to sacrifice for it—your time, focus, and finances.
Pledging to commitments provides you special opportunities that add significant value to life, and those who always run from commitment will miss out on many of those deeper blessings.
Contentment comes when our goals and our callings line up. Work hard, but do not neglect good, innocent fun.
Seek after it.
The older you become, the easier it will be to quit chasing fun.
Somedays you may prefer rest over fun, but if you give into rest too often, rest will over take your life.
Rest begets rest, and fun begets fun.
There will always be pressure upon you to work more and harder, but life is not just about your work. Your identity is not within what you do or what you will do.
It is in who you are—child of God.
And every good father wants his child to enjoy the things he gives him while practicing wisdom and having a thankful heart.
When people think about meditation, they often think about yoga or some sort of new age spirituality where people meditate to clear their minds of everything. As Christians we don’t meditate to think about nothing but to think about truth—Jesus. We are called to the practice of daily meditation upon the Word of God.
It may be challenging to have a daily in-depth Bible study where you look up the original Hebrew and Greek with several commentaries laid out all over your desk, so here’s a practical strategy for younger people to get into the habit of opening your Bible everyday.
Search online for a good source to get a list of the top Bible verses to memorize. Print them out. Every morning start your day with looking up one verse. Mark it up in your Bible—make it messy. Read the verses that come before and after it. Then deeply think about what it means.
This is meditation.
Continue to think about it all day.
Hide it in your heart.
A lifetime of this practice will grow into a powerful spiritual discipline and branch out into other areas of your life as well.
Don’t ever be the guy who just sits while others dance. Don’t congregate around the punch bowl attempting to logically weight out the pros and cons. Don’t sit out to make small talk with some neighboring friend. And definitely don’t stare alone into the endless void of your glowing phone screen.
Don’t even think about it. Yes, you probably aren’t good at it, but it doesn’t matter. Be the guy who is secure enough in himself to simply have fun.
Make life fun.
Some will see your personality light up the floor and come join you. Others will want to but not have the confidence. They may applaud you afterwards in friendly encouragement or try to tear you down in deep jealousy.
But no matter how tired, underdressed, or not in the mood, never let your girlfriend or wife dance alone. And especially don’t persuade her to sit it out with you.
Your body was created to move. Use it. Don’t care what others will think about it. It is one of the greatest gifts you ever been given, and believe me or not, it’s fading quickly.
It was when I was a little boy. I remember looking at the enamel pins that were attached to a black cardboard. Some were sporadically missing, but many were still left. It was the first time I can recall seeing a skull with wings attached to it. I remember these pins because they did not fit in with my family’s style or character. Later, I found out why.
My nanny and papa used to rent and operate a small restaurant near the bottom of the Grapevine. If you’re familiar with driving through California, you’ll probably recall the dangerous highway as it descends down from the mountains into the valley where Bakersfield resides. The difficult drive is infamous to truckers, and there are a few emergency pull-off areas for when trucks burn through their brake pads.
My nanny told a story about a trucker who came in hollering that he wanted to buy the best steak in the house for another trucker who pulled in front of him when he lost his breaks and slowed down his big rig with his own truck, saving his life—a selfless hero who would go his own way on the road and soon become forgotten.
My nanny told another story that stood out to me even more. One day she looked out the restaurant’s door to see three men standing out in the cold. She could tell that they were migrant workers and hungry.
She hollered out, “You guys want to come in for some food on the house?”
The three men nodded thankfully and followed her in.
My nanny went in the back and prepared three large plates overflowing with food. When she carried them out and sat them on the table, the men’s eyes stretched in hungry anticipation. She noticed that one man was missing.
She asked, “Is your friend in the restroom?”
The men looked at each other a little confused. One apprehensively answered, “What friend, miss?”
My nanny replied, “There were three of you. I saw three of you come in. That’s why I made three plates.”
The same man replied, “Sorry, but there’s only two of us.”
My nanny continued, “No, I saw a third man with you.”
He responded a little confused and maybe even a little spooked, “It has just been me and my friend here the whole time.” The friend nodded sincerely.
My nanny believed she entertained an angel that day. I believe it too. I know it’s odd to talk about seeing angels when we are encouraged to be critical thinkers bound to the realm of whatever is directly in front of us, which is normally our cell phone, but we really must speak and live as if Scripture is real, because it is.
There’s a spiritual realm that’s just as real as anything we can see.
We have likely entertained a few angels and certainly have been in the presence of many.
Let’s give them something good to watch—some quality entertainment as we demonstrate how awesome the love of God is through our daily lifestyle worship.
The Prophetic Dream
I’ve always had very visual dreams, and I usually remember them. As a little boy, some could even be classified as night terrors as I would wake up screaming, and my dad would rush in and hold me during such frightening episodes. Other dreams were just oddly nonsensical, and some were good, but a select few were prophetic.
During my MFA program in visual art, an older, black woman named Tamara asked me one day after class, “Terry, do you have dreams?”
I answered a little interested in her question, “Yes, I do.”
She said without hesitation in her long, calm voice, “You know some are prophetic, don’t you?” She seemed to have a supernatural confidence about her words.
“Then why don’t they all come true?” I asked with polite scholarly criticism.
She answered, “Some dreams take a lifetime to come true … some after that.”
When I went back to my dorm area—they were called the mods at APU—I thought about the dream I had as a beginning undergraduate student. If any dream had ever been prophetic, that particular dream felt like a real vision from God.
In between misguided college relationships while searching for the one, I had a dream. I was invited to my friend’s wedding, and it was out of town. Dressed up in wedding attire, I got into my car and pulled onto the highway to begin the distant journey to a location I had never heard of before. About an hour or so later, I followed the card stock printed directions from the wedding invitation and pulled off the highway to a regular road surrounded by more agricultural land. I followed the directions turn after turn until I found myself further away from anything that would resemble a wedding venue. I double checked the directions and continued to follow them apprehensively. Thousands of trees hid any sign of my location as they surrounded both sides of that two-lane road.
Then I slowed as the asphalt faded into a dirt road.
I stopped my car.
Something had to be wrong.
I pulled out my directions and recounted every turn. This was before GPS or smartphones, so I only had the card stock printed directions as my guide.
I looked all around me, and due to the trees, I couldn’t see anything.
There was no way my friend would have his wedding in the middle of nowhere, I thought. The logical thing to do would be to turn around and try to find where I messed up, where I missed or misread some sign or turn.
But something deep inside told me to just trust the directions and have faith in something other than myself.
I started up my car to move forward on the dirt road. It wasn’t bad at first, but then my car began to feel each little divot and hole as I was jerked left and right.
At this point I thought, well, I’ve already gone this far. I might as well keep trusting the directions.
And I did, even though it was completely illogical. It made no sense. There was no way my friend would have chosen to get married way out here where people would have to take a dirt road that made you feel like you were on the King Kong ride at Universal Studios.
Then … I saw a turn come up. It was the next and last turn printed in the directions.
I took it.
The thousands of trees opened up, and before me was a small lake, a large pasture of green grass, rows of white folding chairs—the wedding venue.
I parked and walked up to be greeted by friends with excited smiles ready to celebrate a special occasion. Behind the flower-covered altar was the setting sun casting a radiant orange to pink gradient glow through the sky and reflecting off the water. It was the kind of sun that didn’t hurt to look at briefly, the kind that welcomed the cool evening and the awaiting stars.
I felt a special presence outside at that venue. It was God. And I already considered the analogy of following his directions even when life gets confusing and difficult, even when things don’t make sense.
My lonely natural self thought how nice it would be to have a girlfriend in such as setting, someone to just sit next to me and share such a glorious scene.
But I decided to be thankful for what I had. I was there in the presence of God, in a holy place for a holy reason.
Then I sense someone coming up behind me. I heard a voice behind my right shoulder say hello. It was one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard.
I then felt an inaudible voice from within say, “This is her, Terry. Here’s your future wife.”
I turned to my right as I widened my eyes to see her with the most eager excitement.
It was my bedroom.
I was awake now.
And all I had was the sound of her voice still in my head developing into a lucid memory.
Even if I tried, I knew I couldn’t go back to sleep. It was unlike any dream I’ve ever had, and I knew no one would understand if I tried to explain it to them. I walked around my room for a bit, and then reached for my Bible for some sort of answer.
I normally never condoned such Bible reading practices, but I opened it up to a random page desperate for a heavenly answer. I immediately read the first verse I saw. Proverbs 3:8: “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
Fifteen years went by of private mental battles about the authenticity of that dream until on a regular Sunday morning I heard the same voice again when she walked into Bible study.
This time, it wasn’t a dream.
The Christmas Tie
There was an excitement in the crispy, cold air as students hurried through the halls of my junior high in their California-thin jackets the week before Christmas break. The two-week break was practically an eternity for us young teens. And there was also the excitement of the anticipated Christmas presents. Christmas always seemed to be the time when the best video games were released with the newest gaming consoles.
I was in the 8th grade, and it was my first year in band. I was a drummer. And although many would say that it should be illegal to give junior high boys drumsticks, drumming was a great passion of mine, but since it was my first year in band, I wasn’t very skilled yet.
The top band students got to leave school early the Friday before Christmas break to perform in a musical Christmas concert off campus, and boys had to wear ties and girls, dresses. Some of the nerdy band boys got all dressed up in tight dress pants tucked in too much, exposing their awkward transitioning junior high bodies. But not the drummers. They wore their dress shirts but tucked them into lose jeans, and their ties hung a little more casually and were bright with fun colors, some even rebelliously featuring cartoon characters. So somehow it became the cool thing to wear a tie on that last day of school before Christmas break.
The night before the last day of school, I asked my mom around 8ish at night, if she would take me to get a tie to wear.
Yes, I was one of those kids who waited until the last moment to tell my parents anything—my mother hated science fair projects.
When I mentioned my tie request to my mother, I didn’t expect her to be all for it. I didn’t really need to wear a tie; I just kind of wanted to. My mom responded with enthusiasm, and we hurriedly hopped into our family’s minivan and drove to Mervyn’s because they were open later than most of the other clothing stores.
She and I searched the large store as elevator Christmas songs placed in the background. It was the same Mervyn’s she used to take me to for back-to-school shopping when I was little, and I would hide inside of the giant clothes racks, the circular ones.
My mother and I eventually found the perfect tie. It displayed the Looney Tunes characters with a Christmas theme. My mom bought me a dress shirt to match it too, and the next day at school, I was one of the cool kids … well, maybe not “cool,” but I stood out in a way that I liked.
As a grown man today, happily married and with my own son, I understand my mother’s eager excitement during those short hours of late-night shopping, and to this day, that Looney Tunes Christmas tie still hangs in my closet with all my others.
In many ways I have learned about God’s character through my mom. I didn’t need that tie, but she still blessed me with it. God does the same, and we need to remember all the blessings we have been given in our life—all the ties.