Thursday, April 30, 2009

is txtng 4 u?

Do you do any texting on your phone? What about your kids? Do they text? I have to admit I'm conflicted about it.
On the one side, it's an abbreviated phone call. Before texting you might call up friend to find out what time they're coming over. You have to go through the whole "Hi. How're you?" "I'm fine. How're you?" "Doing good." You know, all that polite small talk before you get around to saying what you called for. "What time are we meeting tonight?" With texting, you just send a message: "wht time 2nite?" Saves a lot of time.
Bt there's also a downside. In fact, there's several. First off, you end up throwing out the window everything you ever learned about punctuation and grammar. That may not be much to you, but it drives me absolutely nuts. If you read a note from most teenagers, you have to really struggle to decipher what they're trying to say.
You can also kiss spelling good bye. Vowels are almost nonexistent, and almost all words are abbreviated. When I was teaching high school English, I made a point on the first of informing my students that texting-type abbreviations and spelling would not cut it in my classroom.
Another drawback is the fact that most teenagers seem to think that texting is an acceptable activity in any situation: church, school, while talking to someone, while doing homework. It's rude.
One of the biggest problems though is accountability. Our kids are allowed email, but my husband and I have access to everything coming in and going out of their account. They're allowed to talk to friends on the phone, but they can't be off in a room by themselves to do so. It's just a matter of accountability. You're much less likely to say or write something you shouldn't when you know someone else can see it.
But texting is a whole different animal. There's no way to keep track of all the messages going back and forth. Messages are deleted easily.
Besides, whose thumbs need that much of a workout?
What about you? Can you take it or leave it or are your thumbs permanently attached to your cellphone keypad?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Comfort Zone

Our Walmart is remodeling. On the whole, I think that's a good thing. Clean things out, freshen things up. The last time Walmart went through a nationwide remodeling phase, the stores were much better when they finished.
Of course, getting from the old Walmart to the newly renovated one is a pain. Every time I go in there they've moved something else. First they took out all the material. Now, I didn't sew that much, but still--I liked having the material there for the times I needed it. Then they cleared out the lawn and garden section and put furniture there. Tonight they moved all the pet food and supplies from the front of the store to the back. one wonders if their plan is to rearrange everything so that it is in exactly the opposite place from where it was before.
It takes a little longer to get through Walmart now, with everything jumbled and out of place. Apparently it is disorienting as well. I went there tonight and saw people wandering through the store with a dazed look on their faces. If they were talking at all, they were discussing where something used to be and where something is now. They were moving slowly, doublechecking the shelves and glancing behind them as though afraid they might have missed what they were looking for.
Isn't it silly how the littlest thing can shake our settled little worlds?

And They Say We're Difficult To Understand

Pilar wrote on her blog yesterday that she didn't understand men sometimes. I totally agree. They say we're totally confusing creatures. But how about these confusing signals?

I come home from work to find the kitchen a disaster area. They all manage to cook and find themselves something for lunch. None of them seem to grasp the concept of cleaning up after a meal.

They insult each other (and me) by calling each other "girl", "little girl", etc. But at the same time they see and appreciate the differences between me and them.

They "surprise" me by completely rearranging the furniture in their room, but they still manage to have the same amount of discarded clothing, shoes, toys and debris as before they rearranged the furniture.

The garbage in the kitchen can pile up on the floor and any other available surface without them even noticing, but they gross out at the thought of drinking out of the same cup as each other.

They can fight off bugs and bad guys with reckless abandon for their own safety, but a small cut on the foot is reason for them to whimper in pain and limp for the rest of the day.

They can be too full to finish their vegetables, but they suddenly regain their appetite about 10-20 minutes after dinner when they remember that ice cream is in the freezer. As Luke says, "The dessert side of my stomach is always empty."

They can be called back three different times because of a bad or incomplete job in cleaning a bathroom. But they can surprise Mom by completely cleaning out the refrigerator, including washing the dishes and wiping down the shelves.

Boys--can't live with 'em, can't keep things clean with 'em. But I gotta love 'em. Thanks for being a part of my life, guys. And don't forget to make your beds!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Not Enough Time In The Day

So, would you like a glimpse into my day?

7:00 a.m. wake up. (I got to sleep in this morning.) Wake up the boys, change the wash around and grade some tests that I didn't get to this weekend.

8:00 a.m. devotions, shower, get ready for work. Help the boys get their things together so they can spend the day at the church with their dad. Wash their swimsuits.

10:00 a.m. Arrive at work.

3:00 p.m. Leave work. Head home, check the mail, dry the boys swimsuits, change clothes and head over to the church to pick the boys up.

4:00 p.m. Pick the boys up and head over to a friend's house. The boys swim for a couple of hours while we plan out details for the Mother-Daughter luncheon next month and our VBS in June.

7:30 p.m. Frantically put dinner together while supervising the boys cleaning up the house.

8:00 p.m. Spend an hour with the family, eating dinner and watching a movie.

9:00 p.m. Dishes and cleaning up the kitchen. Check emails, change wash around and do general pick up.

10:30 p.m. And now I'm writing to you. I'll take a breath and grab some sleep before starting the whole cycle all over again tomorrow.

And so goes the merry-go-round. How was your day?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cell Phone Convenience?

There are certain things that I just like about cell phones. I like the convenience of being able to contact anyone anytime I want to. I like staying in touch with my husband and kids. (Most of the time, anyway.)
My husband needed to update his phone. His old one was still good, but he needed to upgrade to some sort of a PDA. I've tried to get him daytimers, etc. He loses them. Or he doesn't keep up with them so they're no longer current. He has a huge wall calendar in his office, but he's not always in his office when he needs to schedule something. After he scheduled two different events while we were supposed to be away on vacation, I knew we had to do something.
I researched different types of phones. I took him to the store and had him check out different types of Blackberrys. I wanted him to get something he would be comfortable with, and something he would use to keep himself organized.
He finally decided what kind of Blackberry he wanted. When I went to our cell phone carrier's online store, they were offering Blackberrys at a buy one get one free deal. So guess who else was going to get a new phone! : )
The problem was this: Matt's phone was due for an upgrade. So we decided to buy a phone on his upgrade, and then switch his and Terry's numbers. Then we found out that my phone was due for something called an early upgrade. So I was going to get the free phone. That's where the trouble began.
The store we went to said my phone didn't qualify for the bogo deal because it was an early upgrade. But then I called the 800 number for our carrier, and was told that, yes, I did qualify for the free phone. But they told me I would want to place the order online because their online store had an instant rebate. Sounded good.
Unfortunately, the online store would not give me one of the Blackberrys for free. They kept wanting to charge me. A chat box popped up for talking with a representative, so I asked her the question. She said yes, my phone qualified, but since it was an early upgrade I would need to order it over the phone.
So back to the phone I went. I explained what I wanted, and the customer service rep said yes, indeed, I could bogo the Blackberry, but because my phone was an early upgrade, I had to do it online.
"I talked to Sharon on the phone said I needed to do it online. I chatted with Yecenia online and she said to do it on the phone. Now, Pamela, you're telling me to do it online again?"
The woman gave me a different 800 number and said that they could help me get this straightened out. Except that it was Friday night and the other 800 number had closed down until Monday.
I was getting dizzy from the runaround.
Monday morning I call the new 800 number and spoke to Connie. I explained what I wanted and she said, yes, I could do that online without a problem. But I did have a problem, I said. After explaining what I had been through, she agreed to go online with me and walk me through it. When I got to the checkout stage, I was still being charged for both phones.
"Interesting." She commented. "My screen is saying you get the second one free."
"My screen is charging me," I countered. "And I don't want to pay for both."
The rep finally came up with the idea that I should pay for both while she waited on the line. Then I could give her my confirmation number, and she would go in and credit my account for the price of one phone.
The good part is, overnight shipping was free. I got the phones the next day. Immediately I went online and activated my new phone. I started playing around with it and learning the new features. When Matt and Terry got home, I started to activate the other new phone to Matt's line. Then once it was activated, I would call the customer care line and have them switch numbers on the phone.
Only the other new phone wouldn't activate.
Of course not.
I decided to have someone at the store take care of this for me personally. You know, the old, "I'm not leaving until we get this right" concept.
Guess where I spent most of Wednesday afternoon.
I walked into the store and held out all three phones: the new Blackberry, Terry's old phone and Matt's old phone. I explained what I wanted to do and the guy said, "Why didn't you just do a switch upgrade and upgrade the phone to your husband's line?"
You can do that?
The guy seemed confident, and I almost believed him. That is, until it took him over an hour to get the phones switched around. He actually had to call the company's 800 number (twice!) and have me talk to someone there in order to get things worked out. The first time the woman that she would transfer me to the automated activation line. That's what we'd already tried and it didn't work. Again.
But finally everything got straightened out and we are now enjoying our new Blackberrys. Matt will get to upgrade his phone in November when Terry's upgrade comes due. Of course, that means activating the new phone on Terry's line and then switching it to Matt's and then ... maybe he can just use one of our old phones.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Credit Cards...

I'm warning you right now that today's post is a rant. I am not happy with my credit card company. (Who is, really?)
The thing that gets me about credit cards is that they're needed--or at least used--by a majority of people. They are big money makers and they have been around for a long time. Credit card companies earn money when they charge you interest. That makes sense because they are basically loaning you the money for that purchase.
Interest rates are supposed to be competitive. But then again, companies are supposed to strive for excellent customer service as well. What I don't get is this: why are some companies still in business when they have no desire to please a customer? When their actions actually suggest that they don't want the customer to remain a customer?!
Enough generalities. Here's what happened to me.
About a year ago we applied for a credit card that was advertising 0% interest rate until...well, I think it was supposed to be until the end of this summer. We use it when we need one, and we carry a balance that is less than 10% of the credit limit. I usually make payments to the card several times in the space of a month. I make a regular monthly payment that is always more than the minimum payment required. Then as we get other money in, or if we have some left over at the end of the month, I'll send in another payment.
So what happened? I guess I got comfortable. The last payment I made was definitely "extra". The problem is, I made it right before the March due date instead of after it. So instead of it putting me ahead on April, once the due date passed I had a whole new due date with a minimum payment. Then the credit card company did something that I know those companies do. They bumped my due date up by about five days. Every once in a while credit card companies will do that. Because if you miss the due date, that's a fee they can charge you. THEY'RE ALREADY MAKING INTEREST OFF OF ME! WHY DO THEY HAVE TO NICKEL AND DIME PEOPLE LIKE THIS?!!?
I knew another due date was coming up. What I didn't know was that it already passed. I found out when my husband tried to use the card and was denied. He was not happy. I got online and discovered that, not only had the due date been moved up, but now we were late in paying and they had suspended activity on the card until they got their money. Plus, they had raised our interest rate to 29.99%!!! Thirty percent, people!! I made our account current over the phone and then explained the "mistake" I had made by missing the due date--which was almost a week earlier than last month's due date. And I politely asked them to lower our interest rate. They refused.
Big surprise.
They said I needed to keep the account in good standing for at least four months before they would even consider changing the interest rate. I pointed out that I had kept the account in good standing for a lot more than four months prior to this.
Didn't matter.
I asked for courtesy. I asked for someone to work with me. I asked to speak to a supervisor.
They remained polite and I remained polite, but they didn't budge.
I finally pointed out that their actions were basically saying they didn't want me for a customer anymore.
They didn't care.
In the end I told them I would be paying the balance off as soon as humanly possible and that, in the meantime, I would be looking for another bank with which to do business.
They didn't even acknowledge the threat.
Here's the kicker. When all was said and done, the supervisor said what I'm sure is in their script.
"Thank you for calling. We appreciate your business. If there's anything else we can do, please call again."
And that's where I quit being polite.
I said, "Sure. So you can refuse to do absolutely anything at all to help. Thanks a lot."
I feel royally abused.
As a side note, Terry and I just had a conversation as to whether or not I could tell you which bank did such terrible things with our VISA card. I'm not sure I can mention the bank name. But let's just say that it started with the name of our most northwestern state. And it went under recently and was bought out by another bank. Hopefully that will give you a few hints.
As for me? I'm now shopping around for another credit card. Interest rates will be a big factor, but I will also be looking for a bank that appears polite. That is known for customer service. That actually seems to want my business.
Who am I kidding?

Tomorrow's rant: cell phones.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I love shoes

Did any of you get a new dress for Easter this year? That was a given when I was growing up. My sisters and I got a new dress every Easter. I did that with Stephanie when she was smaller; in fact, last year she got a new Easter dress too. I started out getting my boys new suits, but then I had so many of them I couldn't keep up. So I ended up making sure they had a new shirt or tie and good shoes for Easter.
For myself, I don't really remember the last time I got a new Easter dress. We either didn't have the money, or I couldn't find something I liked. (That's not unusual.) I could usually buy a new blouse or skirt or something and pull together a look I hadn't done before.
But one thing I always seem to do is to buy new shoes for Easter. Somehow I can't start that spring/summer season without a new pair of shoes. And I'm not talking white ones. I can't remember the last time I bought a white shoe. I like them--I just like color better. Last year I went with pink. I'm not much of a pink person, but I found a really gorgeous pair of pink sandals. So I wore pink jewelry, tied on a pink scarf and wore my pink shoes. In truth, I don't remember which dress I wore. But I liked the shoes.
This year, you guessed it! I went with green. I loved these sandals as soon as I saw them at Catos. I had a green skirt that I was pretty sure matched the darker green in the shoes, so I decided to wear a white blouse and green jewelry to complete the outfit. Problem was, I didn't match up the shoes with the skirt until that Sunday morning. The skirt was a dark, forest green--definitely a "winter" look. It didn't match the shoes. There were plenty of other things I could have worn, but not so many that would match the shoes. I finally wore a white blouse and a black skirt. Not exactly a pretty spring outfit, but I got to wear the shoes and tat was the important thing. Green jewelry helped pull the shoes into the mix.
So do you have any spring traditions? Are you a white shoes only after Easter person?
As for me, I'm already thinking about next spring. I'm thinking lilac shoes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Thanks and Things

First off, I want to thank all of you that stopped by to read the excerpts from my book, and a special thanks to those who left comments. You all can actually have a hand in my getting published. One thing that publishers look for is a web presence or a "following" if you will. That means potential buyers for books. So keep stopping by my blog and leave an occasional comment. You make me look better! : )

Second, not long ago I wrote a post listing seven blessings. One of the blessings was that I wasn't born blonde so I wouldn't look stupid. I hope you all realize that I was not implying blondes are stupid. My coloring is such that, if I were to dye my hair blonde, it would be obviously not my natural color and I, personally, would look stupid. No snarking at blondes intended. (Although I am considering doing a blog full of blonde jokes.) : )

Third, my friend Pilar Stark is hosting her first giveaway on her blog. Head on over here and check it out.

Fourth, I'm very proud of myself because it has taken me two days to figure out how to set up a link to Pilar's site through my blog post. It's not just that I'm technologically challenged. It's also that my computer was blocking the feature without telling me. But once again I have triumphed! (I know that's pathetic. I lead a very small life.) : )

Tomorrow's discussion? Easter shoes.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

And Finally ...

“Such colorful hair and white skin will not be well hidden by a robe,” Jamal said. “Even with a veil, many will look at her two times.”
“This is truth.” Hamad nodded. “Trying to hide such a look behind a veil and robe would only color more attention to it.”
“Would only draw more attention to it.” Steel’s tone gave away his impatience. “And her looks don’t matter. She’s a woman. Even if she looked as Ugandan as you two do, she wouldn’t be safe on the streets right now.”
“He’s right, Mom,” Marc said. “If you let him hide you for a while, I’ll head back to the compound with Jamal. It’ll be okay.”
“My children are home alone.” Jennifer spoke through clenched teeth. “I can’t possibly—”
“Why are they home alone?” Steel frowned. “Where is Brad, Jennifer?”
“How do you know his name? Who are you?”
Silence filled the room. The distant sound of screams and gunfire indicated the riot was still in full force.
After a moment’s hesitation, Marc cleared his throat. “She doesn’t know,” he said to Steel, his voice low. “I swear to you she doesn’t know anything. Dad never told her.”
“Never told me what?” She stared at her son.
Steel turned a skeptical eye to Marc. “He told you?”
“I know why you’re here. I know his part in helping you. And I know he never told my mother anything. Ever.”
“Marc.” Jennifer swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry. “What are you talking about?” The tone of her voice demanded an answer, but Marc never took his eyes off Steel.
“I guess you didn’t know,” he said, “but my dad is dead.”
No one moved for a long moment.
Finally Steel turned to Jennifer. “There is no way we can get you home right now. No woman is going to be safe on the streets until the rebels have settled down a bit.” He stopped and cocked a questioning eyebrow at Jamal.
The large Ugandan nodded in agreement to the unspoken request.
“Jamal will take Marc home, and will stay at the compound until we get there. No one will get past him to get to the children. Is that acceptable to you?”
She blinked. “I guess we don’t have any other choice.” Jamal would be much better protection against the rebels anyway, and valuable time was being wasted while she argued. “Please be careful.”
Marc looked relieved that she gave in so easily. “I will. Don’t worry. We’ll be okay.”
“We must leave now.” Jamal pulled Marc toward the door. “The rebel activity has moved to the outside of town, but the doorframe of opportunity will not be opened for long.”
“That’s the window of opportunity,” Marc said with a laugh.
Jennifer frowned at his light tone, certain that his thrill of the adventure far outweighed the danger involved. Before she could say anything, he dropped a quick kiss on her cheek. “You can trust Steel, Mom. Stay close to him and he’ll protect you. Remember, ‘What time I am afraid …’ ”
“…I will trust in thee,” she said weakly. Her heart sank as Marc disappeared through the doorway.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chapter Three Continued

The man called Steel barely moved in the small shop, and yet he was now blocking their exit.
“I am afraid you are still not safe, Mrs. Mercury,” Hamad said from behind her. “The rebels know that Americans were in the marketplace. They are still looking for them. You would be caught before you reached the main road.”
“My name’s not Mercury,” Jennifer said. “And the rebels are gone now. If we’re careful—”
“You’ll still get caught.” Steel turned back to Hamad. “Is Jamal around?”
“Ndiyo, Steel.” Hamad rummaged through a pile of cloth near the door. “His motorcycle waits in the alley.”
“Good.” Steel grabbed a bundle from Hamad and tossed it to Marc. “Put that on. And use this to cover your head.”
Marc pulled the robe on over his clothing and arranged the turban on his head. His hair curled across his forehead and his brown eyes twinkled in a deeply tanned face. It was obvious he was enjoying the action in which they found themselves.
“How do I look?” he grinned.
“Wait a minute.” Jennifer grabbed Steel’s arm. “You can’t involve my son in this.”
“Looks pretty good, doesn’t he, Hamad?” Steel ignored Jennifer as though she didn’t exist. “With his dark coloring and that clothing, he could pass for Indian at a casual glance.”
“And in the company of Jamal,” Hamad said, “no one will look at him two times.”
“No one will look at him twice. And I think you’re right.”
“We will be moving quickly through the brush.” A man spoke from the back of the shop. “Many will not even look at him one time.” The man entering the shop was even bigger than Hamad, if that were possible. His voice was deceptively soft, belying his massive chest and arms.
Steel motioned toward the newcomer. “Marc, this is Jamal, Hamad’s cousin-brother. Jamal works with your father in the same way Hamad assists me, and he’ll take you back to your family compound.”
“I am honored to meet the son of Mercury.” Jamal bowed. “I have given my word to Steel that all care will be given to speed you on your journey.”
As Marc shook Jamal’s hand, Jennifer glared at Steel. His success in hiding them from the rebels did not give him authority over them. He had a lot of nerve, expecting them to obey his every command. Her protests were ignored, and his attitude was a vivid reminder of the problems she had faced with Brad. “We don’t need your help. We’ll find our own way home.”
Something about their rescuer made her uneasy, and she wanted to get Marc out of his presence as soon as possible. Her son appeared to be enjoying their situation way too much. How could a man they just met have more influence over her son than she did?
“There’s no way we’re both going to fit on the back of Jamal’s motorcycle,” she said. “So we just—”
“You are right, Mrs. Mercury.” Hamad laughed. “Jamal has always been large. When we were children he was a poor player for the seeking game.”
“Hide and seek.” Steel grinned as he corrected him. “I told you, the game is called hide and seek. You’re going to have to go separately, Jennifer. If they’re looking for the both of you, it will only buy us more time if you’re separated.”
“I don’t know who you are or how you know our names, but Marc is my son. He’s not going anywhere without me, and we are both going home together!”
“Use your head, Jennifer.” Steel’s amused tone irritated her as much as his familiarity did. “We need to split you both up. Marc will be perfectly safe with Jamal. If Brad trusts him, you know you can too.”
She sucked in her breath. How could this stranger speak of her husband in such a casual way? And how did he know who they were? “I have no idea if Brad even knew Jamal.” She seethed, planting clenched fists on her hips. “I’ve never seen this man before, or you either for that matter. Why should I trust any of you?”
“Maybe because we just saved your life.” His voice carried a hint of iron.
She felt her face flush as she was brought up short by the reality of the man’s words. “I–I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to seem ungrateful. But you don’t understand. I can’t … my children—”
The set look on their faces finally made her stop. With a sinking heart she realized there was no way they were going to let her and Marc leave together. It would be foolhardy.
“I guess you’re right,” she finally said, no doubt surprising the men with her sudden capitulation. “So where is my disguise, and how am I going to get home?”
All three men shook their heads.

And one more link!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chapter Two Continued

Marc’s impatience grew until dirt rained on his head. The sudden spray sent adrenaline coursing through his veins. The sense of danger brought no fear, but an incredible rush of excitement at the thrill of trying to outwit the men looking for them. He was almost fooled by the sudden quiet above them, but Steel’s warning hand on his arm made him refocus all his senses on detecting movement in the shop.
His mother’s hair brushed against his cheek, and his thrill dulled as he considered his mother’s safety. Her presence scared him, and he was suddenly glad Steel found them in the marketplace. If anyone could get them out of this predicament, Steel was the man to do it.
He greatly admired the confidence and strength both Steel and his father exuded. More than anything he wanted to be like them. These men were silent soldiers for their country. Their actions saved countless lives and many international interests, and they made a difference in the world few people could claim. It didn’t seem to matter to them that no one knew who they were, that no one would ever know their contribution to the world around them. The fact that they had an impact on the ways of the world—that was enough for them.
Another hail of dirt broke into his thoughts. Scuffling sounds came from near the door, and he sensed Steel tensing in anticipation. He held his breath when Steel pulled his gun. He eased back the hammer as the door opened. Marc blinked in the blinding light.

Chapter Three

“So.” Hamad grinned as he saw Steel’s drawn gun. “You would shoot your friend without a hesitation, yes?”
“Where have you been?” Steel holstered his pistol and glared at the man hovering above them.
Jennifer ignored Steel’s words and pushed past him, eager to escape their cramped quarters. Her legs trembled as she climbed the ladder, but she forced herself onward, knowing freedom was just above her. Hamad reached a hand down to help her and in seconds she was stepping from the ladder back into his dingy shop. Unable to bear the cellar for another second, she moved as far away as possible. She cast a quick glance out the door, noticing that the rebels for the most part had moved further east, heading away from the direction of the compound. Heather and Joey were alone with no one to care for them other than Moses and Elizabeth. Both of their Ugandan employees were devoted to the family, but they were elderly and would be of little use if the rebels should attack the compound. Fresh waves of panic washed over her, and she turned back to the men standing in the middle of the shop.
“We’ve been down there for ages.” Steel stepped from the ladder and allowed the trapdoor to fall back in place. “You know I was supposed to be out of here hours ago! What took so long?”
“They left a guard.” Hamad shrugged. “For some reason they do not trust me. So I went home to eat the noon meal.”
“You left us down there while you took a lunch break?” Marc frowned at Hamad.
“I could not rescue you while the guard was here. If Hamad does not hesitate to leave while the guard is here, then they know that there is nothing here which Hamad is hiding. And if Hamad fears not to go home and eat, then they know there will be nothing to be gained by suspecting him.”
“Quick thinking.” Steel slapped him on the arm. “Not only did you save us, but you probably regained their trust as well.”
“This is true, Steel.” Hamad grinned. “It always pays to cultivate the trust of those in power.”
“So now what?” Marc sounded eager for the next part of the adventure.
“Now we go home,” Jennifer said. “Thank you.” She dismissed the men standing before her. “We really appreciate your help.”

Want to read more?

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Little More

So sorry to leave you hanging! We were traveling towards the end of last week and I had no opportunity to blog. Several people have asked for a little more of my book--and I'm happy to post a little more. Hope you enjoy.

Steel tucked his gun back into his waistband, but kept one hand poised on the grip as he listened to the sounds over their heads. Faint shouts and gunfire drifted down to them, but the rioters had not yet entered Hamad’s shop. They wouldn’t find the cellar. But if the worst happened, he was prepared for whatever it took to protect Brad’s wife and son.
He shook his head over the position in which he found himself. He should have been miles from here by now, but when he spotted Jennifer’s red hair gleaming in the marketplace, he couldn’t leave without getting them to safety first. Why in heaven’s name were they in the market today of all days anyway? Brad had known what was coming, and he was supposed to have gotten his whole family out of the country before this. Why were they still here?
A small sound drew his attention back to the two he was protecting. “Quiet,” he whispered. The woman’s breathing was shallow, and he could feel her trembling from head to foot. She had reached out and grasped his hand just after Hamad closed the cellar door. He hoped his firm grasp reassured her, but now he realized her panic was building. With slow, calm movements he stroked her hair until she rested her head against his chest. If she didn’t get some control, she was going to blow their hiding place. She stood rigidly for a moment, but then he felt her slowly relax against him. Apparently she decided to trust him. She wrapped her arms around his waist and clung to him, trembling.
Dirt shifted down on his head. The rebels were in Hamad’s shop. The rebels wouldn’t harm Hamad because, although he was secretly working with Steel, he was publicly known as a follower of the rebels’ cause. He was safe unless they caught him hiding Americans.
Brad would be frantic with worry for Marc and Jennifer. Unfortunately, now it would be hours before either could hope to return to the relative safety of the compound. Why hadn’t he moved his family as planned, and why on earth had he allowed these two out into the market? What had gone wrong?
The walls of their hideout vibrated as a truck rumbled by. The noise of shouting drifted down, but he couldn’t make out the words. No doubt Hamad was complaining about them wreaking havoc in his shop. Jennifer shuddered, but Steel wasn’t sure if she was shaking from fear of the rebels or fear of their hiding place. Eventually the tramp of boots told him the rebels left the shop, but still Hamad did not raise the trap door. Had the rebels taken him with them?
As quiet settled once again, Steel sensed Marc’s restlessness. “Steady,” he whispered. “Not yet.”
Total silence reigned when the sounds of the riot disappeared. Marc started to move again, but Steel stopped him with an outstretched hand. It isn’t safe. If Hamad hasn’t released us there is a reason.
The trio made no further movements as the minutes ticked by. Brad would have trained his family well for such an event as this. Both Marc and Jennifer knew enough about Brad’s activities they wouldn’t take a warning for silence lightly.
A slight shower of dirt rained down on his shoulder, snapping him to attention. Someone was still in the shop. Was it Hamad? If so, why didn’t he open the trap door? More dirt, followed by footsteps. Those weren’t the sliding sound of Hamad’s sandals, but the tramp of boots. Was a rebel still waiting above, hoping his silence would draw them out?

Here's some more!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The End ... of Chapter One

As their rescuer pushed her toward the yawning hole in the floor, she pulled back in protest. “I-I can’t! I won’t go down there. The dark—”
“We don’t have time for you to be afraid of the dark.” The man gestured at the escape. “Hiding down there is your only hope. Get going.”
“It’s the only way, Mom.” Marc gave her a pat on the shoulder as he stepped past her. “I’ll go down first. It’ll be okay.”
Being claustrophobic was only part of her problem. Hamad’s small flashlight did little to light Marc’s descent. The hole was just over eight feet deep, and the ladder filled most of the available space. It was going to be a tight fit for all three of them.
“Mom, please!” Marc’s head and shoulders were still above the ground, and he reached for her ankle, pulling her closer to the ladder.
The sounds of the riot crept nearer. Jennifer took a deep breath and stretched a reluctant hand toward the ladder. With a last frightened glance toward the noises outside, she began her descent. The little cellar smelled of musty damp earth, and she felt the walls closing in on her as her feet touched the ground. Marc pulled her away from the ladder as their rescuer slid down after her. Quickly Hamad kicked the door shut. They heard him shuffling back and forth as he replaced his wares. Small showers of dirt rained down on them as he moved around his tiny shop.

Chapter Two

What do we do now? Jennifer’s heart was pounding in her chest until she was sure Marc and their rescuer could feel it too. The space was so narrow she stood wedged between the dirt wall and the rough edge of the ladder. Marc pressed a reassuring hand against her shoulder, and she was uncomfortably aware that the buttons on their rescuer’s shirt brushed against her cheek when she moved her head.
Sounds from above ground were muffled and the cellar seemed fairly well insulated, but the man still cautioned them against any noise. The darkness was complete and smothering as far as Jennifer was concerned. If she was so scared, she could imagine the fear Marc must be feeling. She reached out and fumbled for his hand, trying to reassure herself as well as him.
Marc’s grip was firm, and he gave her trembling hand a comforting squeeze. She marveled when she felt the strong, steady cadence of his pulse beating through his fingertips. Willing herself to calm down, she drew a deep breath and filled her nostrils with the damp, cool scent of earth. It didn’t work, and nauseating fear welled up inside her.

Click here to read more of chapter two!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Continuing with Chapter One

Jennifer nodded, but where could they go? A large hand clamped over her mouth and she felt herself being pulled back against a muscular chest. Hysteria filled her and she fought against her captor, but her arms were pinned to her sides.
“Quiet.” The low voice resonated in her head. “I’ll get you both out of here.”
As the hand on her mouth loosened, she whirled to face the man behind her. To her surprise, he was American. Not only that, but he looked vaguely familiar. He was tall, almost as tall as Brad, with dark blond hair and rather intense blue eyes. His dirty khakis notwithstanding, he had an air of authority about him and was apparently used to taking charge of a situation. Without another word, he grabbed her hand and took off running for the other end of the alley. Jennifer managed a wild grab for Marc as she was dragged away by their rescuer. When he reached the end of the alley he paused and peered into the clothes market. Mass confusion reigned here as well. Shops were abandoned and people ran for safety before the rebels reached this part of the marketplace.
Jennifer’s shoulder protested the abuse as their rescuer yanked her across the deserted square. Instead of heading to the main road, he ducked into the half-closed door of one of the shops. Marc and Jennifer slipped in behind him, gasping for breath.
“Hamad!” The man’s tone carried clearly above the riot, although his voice was still low. “Haraka. Nina haraka!”
A large Ugandan emerged from the back of the crowded shop. Without a word he swept aside the bolts of cloth piled high on his counter and bent down behind it, pulling open a trap door seemingly from nothing. Set into the floor and concealed by the counter, the dim light revealed a ladder leading down into darkness. After a final glance out the door, the American left Marc guarding the entrance and led Jennifer over to the counter.
“We haven’t got much time,” he said to his friend. “Are we prepared?”
“Ndiyo,” Hamad shrugged. “We are safe, but you must go down now. They must not see you here with them.”
“Marc, let’s go.” The man yanked a pistol out of his waistband.
How does he know our names? Jennifer desperately searched his face for some sign of recognition. Who is he?

Here's the next part.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Chapter One

Chapter One begins three days after the prologue ends.


As gunfire ripped through the marketplace, Jennifer found herself face down in the dirt behind the banana stand. Marc pressed down on top of her, causing her to gasp for breath. How could a fifteen year old weigh so much?
Pain shot through her legs as people trampled on them in their haste to get away from the shooters. Squirming out from under her son, she shouted for him to follow her and crawled through the dirt until she was out of the direct path of the panicked crowd. She turned and pulled Marc toward her, startled at the sticky ooze on his hands. Had he been hit?
“I landed on some tomatoes.” He showed her the smeared fruit on her shirt and then shot a quick glance around. “We’ve got to get out of here!” He didn’t wait for her to agree, so she followed him in a crouching run, skirting the earthen counters of the market before dodging into a small alley leading from the vegetable market to the clothing shops. Marc shoved her down behind him and then peered cautiously back into the marketplace.
People fled at the first shots, and now the rebels swept rapidly through the empty marketplace. Jennifer peered over Marc’s shoulder at the people lying unmoving on the ground at the far end of the market. He tried to push her back, but there was no turning away from the carnage. Screams of the dying tore through the air as the rebels worked their way through the vast marketplace, looting and killing. A wounded man cried out for mercy. His answer was a spray of bullets to the chest. A woman lay a few feet from where they hid, her blank eyes staring up into the sky, blood flowing in a widening pool beneath her head. With a rush of panic, Jennifer recognized her as the vendor from whom they had bought tomatoes not five minutes ago. Choking terror robbed her of her ability to think, almost of her ability to breathe. She fought back the urge to get up and run blindly.
As though his thoughts had run on the same track, Marc turned to her and whispered hoarsely. “They’re working their way down to this end, and we’re sitting ducks here! We’ve got to find another place to hide!”
Jennifer nodded, but where could they go? A large hand clamped over her mouth and she felt herself being pulled back against a muscular chest. Hysteria filled her and she fought against her captor, but her arms were pinned to her sides.

Here's the next installment!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Beginning

And here it is: the beginning of my book, What Time I Am Afraid. I can use honest feedback. (It doesn't have to be positive comments.)

Prologue ...

The rebels were coming.
Jennifer watched as Brad escorted Phillip back out to his jeep. The men shook hands and then Brad swung the gate of the compound open as Phillip backed out. Jennifer held her breath. She knew the rebels were not here yet, but she half expected to see them surge into the compound through the open gate. When it slammed shut, she felt no relief. The rebels might not be here yet, but they were coming. She heard Brad’s step on the porch and turned to face him as he strode through the open doorway.
“Where are our tickets?”
He turned to face her. “What?”
She swallowed the fear in her throat. “You told Phillip we had airline tickets for the end of the week. Where are they?”
He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. “I’ve got them tucked away safely.”
But was he showing love or was he avoiding eye contact? She pulled back. “I want to see them.”
“I got the tickets, Jennifer.” His jaw clenched.
“I-t’s not that I doubt you. I just need to see them. For my own sake.”
He turned abruptly and headed for the small room he used as an office. She followed, determined not to back down. He went straight to his desk and pulled open the top drawer. Picking up a travel folder he tossed it on the desk. It was embossed with the British Airways logo on the front.
“I can’t believe it.” She opened the folder and stared at the tickets inside. “All this time you kept saying you couldn’t leave your work yet. There was more to do with your ministries. And then out of the blue you tell Phillip we’ve got tickets. When did you get these?”
He shrugged. “I’ve had them for a while in case we needed them. They’re opened-ended so they can be used on whatever flight has available seats.” His chair creaked as he sat down and leaned back. “I knew the time had come when even Phillip says he’s getting out.”
The corner of her mouth tipped up, although she couldn’t bring herself to smile. “I imagine he’s seen a lot of frightening things in fifteen years of missionary service.”
Brad wiped a hand over his mouth. “And yet nothing made him leave until now. Even losing his wife to cancer didn’t make him go home. If he’s getting out then it’s time to go.”
“Brad, I’m so relieved!” She pulled the tickets from the folder. “I’ve been so scared that we would be trapped here and— ” She stared at the tickets in her hand.
“Jennifer.” Brad rose and came around the desk, but she stepped back from him as their eyes locked.
“There’s only four tickets here. How could you?”
“I told you all along I couldn’t leave yet. I was hoping we could get out together, but maybe this is for the best. You and the kids will be out of harm’s way, and I’ll follow as soon as I can.”
She could hear the blood pulsing through the veins at her temple. “You hoped we could all get out together? Then why are there only tickets for the kids and me?”
His hands were gentle as he pulled her closer. “I wish it didn’t have to be this way. But I have work to do here still. You fly out this weekend, and I’ll join you in a couple of weeks. You know I want to keep you all safe.”
She pushed against his chest. “It’s not safe here for anyone. Why can’t you see that? You need to come with us.”
He shook his head. “I can’t. I’ll join you by the end of the month. I promise.”
Empty promises. The words echoed in her head. She couldn’t bear to hope in empty promises any longer. She picked up the tickets. “I’m going to pack.”
He grabbed her hand. “Jennifer, I swear. I’ll be home by the end of the month.”
She looked him in the eye. “I can’t promise we’ll be waiting for you.” She pulled her hand away and left the room.

“I can’t promise we’ll be waiting for you.” The last words she said to her husband reverberated through her head. Brad hadn’t live long enough to break another promise to her. His vehicle had crashed into a ravine, leaving her alone in this remote town with no way of getting out, and no means of contacting help. The rebels were closing in, but she no longer worried about them. Even her grief was secondary to the guilt that stabbed through her heart. If she had told him the truth, would they all be back in the States safely already? Had her secret been the one thing that would have motivated him to reevaluate his priorities?
How could it be that Brad had died without knowing that she was pregnant?

Thanks for reading! Click here to read the next part.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

7 Blessings

I was tagged to give seven blessings for which I am thankful. Here goes!

1. I'm thankful we live in Florida. It's like having a vacation year round!

2. I'm thankful I have friends who appreciate sarcasm. (Or at least aren't offended by it!)

3. I'm thankful I'm not a blonde--because I would look really stupid with blonde hair.

4. I'm thankful for chocolate, even if I'm not supposed to eat it.

5. I'm thankful for nail polish--because otherwise toes would be really boring.

6. I'm thankful for modern technology. There's a reason why God had me come into the world during the twentieth century!

7. I'm thankful for cell phones. How did we ever get along without them?

and one serious note ... I'm thankful for my husband. We have the same sense of humor, the same desires and goals in life, and the same love for the Lord. I love you, honey!
Related Posts with Thumbnails