It can be found here:
In addition to my writing website, I also maintain a healthy lifestyle blog.
It can be found here:
My friend Zechariah and I sat by the road and cried for mercy. All day, Everyday. Born blind, the only way to eat is to beg. The only place to beg is by the people. And the people, are on the road.
It’s a dusty, horrible existence. The roads in Jericho aren’t paved they way they are in Rome. And people pass all day, kicking up dust. It gets in your mouth and your nose. When I would wash myself in the evenings, I would find dust in places I didn’t know I had.
Some days, you do ok. Someone gives you a few coins, a piece of bread, a little fish or some lamb. You make due. Most days, you get nothing but crumbs. You wake up hungry, you spend all day hungry and you go to sleep hungry. Hungry and dusty. And tired. And sunburned.
People are interesting. Some people ignore you. You are no more than a rock or shrub to them. Some people want to ignore you, but they can’t. But they also don’t want to give you anything so they stop talking and pass real quiet. They don’t realize that you can still hear their feet. Some people are cruel. They believe that you must have done something to deserve being blind. They call you names and spit at you. Of course some people are kind. Joshua, the little boy that lives in the house next to us, he’s the one that brings us to the road everyday. If he finds berries or honey, he always brings us some. He was also the one that told us about the healer.
He said there was a man. A man of great wisdom who was teaching in Jericho. He told us that the man had God’s gift to heal all kinds of things. He took us to the road they day the healer was leaving town. When we heard the healer passing, we cried for mercy. Others tried to quiet us but we cried louder. He heard us and he approached us. He asked what we wanted and we told him we wanted to be healed. I could feel him looking at us. Studying us. I could hear it in his voice when he spoke to us. Compassion. He touched my eyes, and when he moved his hands, I could see. My friend Zechariah and I danced by the road and we cried for joy.
Today, they dragged the healer through the street. He was beaten so badly that I don’t know that I would have recognized him if I hadn’t been told it was him. He carried a big wooden cross. He was so weak. He could barely stand. Zechariah and I stood by the side of the road and watched the soldiers parade the prisoners through the town. Three men were led through, but he was the only one who was beaten like that. He was the only one who left a trail of blood. If there had been anything, ANYTHING, we could have done to help him we would have. But armed Roman soldiers held us back with the rest of the crowd. The healer was led out of our sight and my friend Zechariah stood by the road and we cried.
I was pregnant with my daughter, Jordan, and doing the dishes and I was thinking about things like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. I was discussing with myself what I thought I wanted to tell Jordan about that kind of thing.
Then I started thinking about monsters. Even as an adult, and I believe this is true for many people, I am occasionally made nervous by noises in the night. Particularly noises I can't identify and especially if I am home alone. There have also been times when I would swear I heard footsteps in the hall and it is only the grown-up part of my brain chanting "There is nothing in the house there is nothing in the house there is nothing in the house." That keeps me from springing from my bed, grabbing my cell phone and either going to investigate or hiding under the bed.
Now if I'm wrong and it is only me that has these moments. . .
well y'all just got a frightening peek inside my brain and may better understand why I write children's books.
So, back to my story, I was washing dishes and contemplating the monster under the bed and wondering how I would ever convince my daughter that there was nothing scary under her bed or in the closet, when I couldn't even fully convince myself.
The answer is- I don't think I can. I think we as a species are naturally afraid of the dark. I think this is innately a good thing as it keeps us from traipsing down dark alleys and from plunging unprepared into caves.
So what do I tell my kid? I use the fear as a teaching opportunity for one of the basic lessons about fear that we all need to understand: Just because something is unknown, doesn't mean we should fear it. Perhaps we should be cautious, but not afraid. We have to discover things that at first seem frightening. That is how we learn and grow.
Put simply: If there is a monster under the bed, what makes you think it's a bad monster?
And that question became the basis for my book, Boomsnickle. If you could be brave, despite being afraid, maybe you would learn something new about the world, something new about yourself and maybe even make a new friend.
I hope Boomsnickle helps Jordan be less afraid. With any luck, it will help other kids be brave, too. And, as a mommy, that is what I really want.
There is a dark hall in Emily’s house. As long as she can remember, there has never been a bulb in the fixture. She and her brother play a game. They always get through the hall as quickly as possible. They walk very fast. Running is not allowed in Emily’s house.
The darkness holds secrets. Emily and her brother know that, for sure. The floor is treacherous and the walls whisper. Probably, a ghost lives in the hall. Probably, a troll lives under the floor.
Mom says there is no ghost and no troll. Dad says he has two silly-monkey children who watch too much T.V. Of course, Emily and her brother realize that Mom and Dad are too old to know the truth. You forget what is real when you get married. Mary Hingle, who lives next door, says “Parents don’t know what’s real because sex boggles their brains too much.” Emily and her brother aren’t quite sure what that means, but it sounds just about right.
Mary Hingle says she is very brave. Mary Hingle won’t walk down the dark hall. Mary Hingle isn’t very brave at all. She isn’t like Emily and her brother. Not only are they the bravest, smartest children in the neighborhood, they are “aloof and calmly aware.” Emily read a book once about a secret agent who was “aloof and calmly aware.” Emily told her brother all about it. He agreed that it was very important to discipline themselves in the art of aloofness and calm awareness. They spent the next week devoted to becoming “aloof and calmly aware.” They felt they had pretty well mastered it.
It is summer vacation. The days are long and hot. Emily and her brother are getting bored. They have finished the puzzle books they got last Christmas from their kissy-faced aunt Anna. They have beaten every level of “Ghost Buddies II: The Haunted School” and even the bad guy at the end. They have watched every single episode of “M.A.R.K. 2.0”.
It’s a Tuesday afternoon. Emily is sitting upside-down on the overstuffed couch with her head hanging down and her hair on the floor. Her brother sitting on the step stool he still needs in order to reach the bathroom sink. He is playing “Jep’s Lettuce Factory” on his game console and sucking because he won’t listen to her and buy a tractor with two towing things. He is not as aloof as her.
As Emily sits there, being aloof and annoyed, she realizes the terrible mistake. Quickly, she rolls off the couch and hurries to the colorful bookshelf in the corner of the room. Her eyes scan the titles until she finds the book she is looking for. She carries the book to her small white desk and flips it open. Her mind spins as she sees the magnitude of the terrible mistake.
Emily calls to her brother to pause the game. He does and she brings the book over and flops it open in front of him on the floor. He looks at her expectantly and she whispers into his ear. His eyes grow wide as he realizes she is right. There is a terrible mistake.
It is inconceivable that such brilliant and calmly aware children have not realized it before. Emily feels dumb. Her brother feels irresponsible. Both children are painfully awarw that they musst take action. The sit together for several minutes and convers in hushed tones. Together, they come up with a plan. Emily makes a list of all the supplies they will need to fix the terrible mistake. Her brother goes to find duct tape, a magic staff and fresh spring water, while Emily searches for find a rough bit of canvas, bedrolls and some vittles.
After gathering the supplies, the two wonderful children stand poised in the kitchen. Emily aloofly looks at her brother. Her brother calmly and awaredly takes her hand. Together the two children take a brave, purposeful step into the dark hall. This time they do not hurry. Hurrying is the mistake they have made all along. The two siblings are shaky, not because they are afraid, of course, but because of the fierce wind that is blowing about them. The two stalwart heroes move slowly to the middle of the hall.
This is about where the ghost must live. Very bravely, they use the canvas and the tape to build a shelter and crawl inside. Emily puts out the bedrolls and the children sit close together for warmth. After sitting in silence for a long, long time, the two children, who are starving and freezing to death crawl inside the bedrolls and eat the provisions they have gathered.
Just as they are finishing up it happens. The ghost begins to moan. Then the shelter collapses and the frightened children scream as something huge and heavy drops on them from above. Emily, thinking quickly, grabs the magic staff and waves it at the ferocious thing. The ferocious thing growls and sits up looking right at Emily .
“Emily Elizabeth Nelson, what on earth are you doing?” Emily’s mother grabs the broom that Emily has aimed at her. She struggles to free herself from the bed sheet she is tangled up in. “Why did you tape a bed sheet to the wall?”
Emily knows her mother will not understand about the terrible mistake. She tries to explain the brave plan in simple terms, “We had to lure the troll out so the ghost would eat him.” Emily’s mother stops frowning. She begins to laugh instead.
“Did it work?” She asks. Emily nods her head. “Good. Take your sheets and blankets back to your bed, and I will make you a lunch that consists of more than dinner rolls and bottled water.”
Emily and her brother exchange confused looks. Then, quietly they take the bedrolls and canvas to the storage facility and trudge back to the kitchen for lunch with the craziest mom ever.
Write Within the Lines (portfolio Version)
The words were pushed through presses
Then made stand in lines.
In stanzas neatly organized
With carefully crafted rhymes.
The words were given marching
Orders and structured stringently.
Pressed and tidy, spit and shined
They stood for reveille.
Soon all were ordered perfectly
And ready to advance.
Pen was put to paper and
Penmanship (portfolio version)
Her hand with the pencil is an ice skater.
gracefully sliding over the ice
circles and figure-eights
Languorous spirals, effortless turns
Spinning and gliding along
Tracing beautiful shapes.
My hand with the pencil is an idiot child
It stumbles and twists.
Blundering, bumbling, bungling about.
Tripping and spasming
And making a mess.