The Least of These

The following is a short story that I penned shortly after the unrest in the nation began. If you enjoy it, feel free to share it with others.


Jamal Carter, 20, checked his phone for the dozenth time as he waited in his car on tenth street. The protest would start shortly. The cops had killed another black man, George Floyd, in cold blood. The video of his death was all over the internet. What started as a protest in Minneapolis, Minnesota had quickly led to a riot that left the town in ruins. Now protests were springing up all over the United States. Even Ellicot City, Jamal’s hometown in Maryland, had one scheduled.


Jamal pulled up his messages. Ronnie was here. It was time to get out and meet him. They’d walk over to the courthouse together.

Just as Jamal locked his car, a tall white man walked across the street, heading in his direction. Jamal stiffened, keeping firm hold of his keys and phone as he studied the stranger. It was a cop. A white cop heading toward him, minding his own business.

Great. Just great.

Jamal calmly put his keys in his pocket, kept hold of his phone, and started walking toward the courthouse. You haven’t done anything wrong. Stay calm.

The cop paused after he crossed the street, looking over the intersection. Jamal tried to ignore him. No such luck. “Good evening, young man.”

Jamal nodded. “Officer.”

“Where are you headed today?”

He stopped, facing the cop. His face seemed somewhat familiar. The man’s gaze was not troubled. This cop wasn’t mad…yet. “Protest at the courthouse.”

The man nodded. “Nasty business going on…Peaceful protest, right?”

Jamal held the cop’s gaze. Just about everyone he knew was angry enough to do something violent. Ronnie was sure the protest would not stay peaceful. But this cop didn’t know any of that. “Yes, sir.”

“Good to hear. Stay safe, son. I’ll be looking out for you tonight.”

Jamal nodded and turned away from the cop. Whatever happened after the courthouse protest would just happen.


Keith Smith was sitting in his patrol car, staring at the empty road. He was supposed to be writing tickets. There had been little traffic, and only two people speeding. This wasn’t the best spot for tickets. Captain Williams knew that. Keith was over on the west side of the bridge tonight for the same reason that Newton and Granger had been here for the past three nights – the protests at the courthouse. There was “unrest” everywhere, according to the captain. In order to keep the streets safe, cops were not only stationed by the protesters, but others were placed close to the courthouse. In case the protests were not so peaceful, as had been the case all over the nation. Keith had been reviewing proper procedure for crowd control, non-lethal methods that were the best options, and the appropriate gear to take “just in case” for the past week.
Helen, Keith’s wife, had been worried since the protests began. Keith tried to shrug it off. His partner, Louis, understood Keith’s ambivalence toward the protests. Louis was at the hospital with his wife, Marilyn. Their long awaited baby boy was on the way.

One reason that Keith was on this road within blocks of others was because his partner was out for a few shifts. The department was stretched thin these days, so Keith was alone…for now. If something happened, squad cars would be on the way within moments.
The radio crackled to life. Keith snapped out of his reverie, focusing on the words. “…Crowd growing restless at the courthouse. Backup requested.”
Keith sighed. He was going to go in and assist, but it wasn’t something he would do lightly. As he radioed in that he was on the way, Keith muttered aloud a prayer. “Dear Lord, protect me tonight…and everyone else.”
Keith drove the short distance, parked his car just four blocks from the courthouse, and got out, radioing his position. He debated between walking quickly or normally. According to the radio, the situation wasn’t out of hand…but it might get there. Speed was probably his best option.
He popped the trunk and pulled out his bag of gear – his bulletproof vest with POLICE emblazoned on the front and back, his face shield. Should he get dressed now, out of sight of the crowd? Would that provoke anyone? Anything? The captain had been telling them for a week not to make a bad situation worse. Well, duh.
Keith kept hold of the bag, closed the trunk, and walked toward the courthouse. He rounded the corner of the old antique store. A man with olive skin was walking toward him. The man was in his thirties, and seemed to be unruffled by the sounds of unrest behind him. His shirt proclaimed a message that Keith was already tired of, “Black Lives Matter.”

“Good evening, officer.”

Keith nodded, intent on moving forward.

“I trust you will keep the peace, yes?”

That did it. Keith whirled around, still holding his bag. He gestured with his free hand. “Does that sound like peace to you, sir?”

“No…that is why you are here. To help de-escalate the situation.”

Keith let loose a pent up breath. “That’s my intention, sir. Sorry. Tensions are high right now. I’ve got friends out there.”

“I do, too.”

“Understandable…sounds like it might be a good time for you to head out, sir. There might not be peace tonight.”

The man smiled and nodded. “Do your job, Officer Smith. Keep the peace.” He turned and walked away. Keith walked toward the courthouse, praying with every step. Hopefully tonight wouldn’t worry Helen too much.


William Tulley watched the crowd of mostly black people pass by his diner. Most had signs that made him want to roll his eyes. Silence is Violence, I Can’t Breathe, and the ever popular Black Lives Matter. None of these people had visited his shop in the hours leading up to the stupid protest. Granted, his son had pointed out that his comment online regarding the riots hadn’t helped the diner. William knew he should have left computers alone and let his son and grandchildren worry with it.

William had three customers right now, and all were staring out the store front window at the crowd walking down the street. Scott, James, and Chris had been faithful customers for years. William started giving them the family discount five years before due to their loyalty. When the diner business declined in the past few days, these three had taken to coming every day, ordering periodically, and providing some company during the hours that should not have been dead.

“More of them,” Chris announced from his perch on the bench closest to the window.

“The same stupid signs. This group have kids with them! The kids have signs, too. ”
William moved with the others to get the best look of the sight that Chris had seen. A small bell rang. William turned, eager for business. He paused, taking in his newest customer. An Arab lad. Hair was too long. Beady brown eyes. The customer was at least not a teenager, but did not seem very old. His shirt read, “Red, Yellow, Black and White.”
William turned back to the window, rolled his eyes, then turned back around. He needed some business. “Yes, sir?”

“You’re still open, I take it?”

“Sure am.”

“May I sit anywhere?”

Not close to my friends. “At least one table away. Social distance blah blah blah.”

The Arab nodded. “Where is your menu, sir?”

William pointed to the upper portion of his back wall. “It’s all right there. Let me know when you’re ready.”

The man studied it for a moment. “I am ready.”

William walked over. “What can I get you, sir?”

“Roast beef sandwich, chips, and some water.”

“You got it. Be right up.”

By the time William had served the man and walked back over to his friends, the others were all hiding smiles and giving him knowing glances. “Wanna have some fun, Will?” James whispered. “It’s our word against his. No one will ever know.”

William looked back at the man quietly eating his food. He was unsettled by the Arab. He wasn’t sure why. “Knock it off, James. My boy Terry says if I want to save this place, I need to shut up on the internet and just take people’s money.”

Scott nodded, swatting James across the shoulders. “Shame on you. We need to wait until he’s leaving.

They had been joking about what the blacks deserved for days. Now an Arab was around, which was probably “close enough” in his friends’ minds. William was uneasy. Maybe they weren’t serious. Maybe they were. He should change the subject. He nodded to the window. “This is their second lap around. Anyone gotten violent yet?”

“No, but they’re yelling all the familiar things. It won’t be long before the cops show these boys their place.”

Chris left the booth and walked out of the store, holding the door open. “Go back to where you came from, then!” He retreated inside, rushing toward the window again, the smile clear on his face. The crowd was yelling now and running, though thankfully not at them.

The action had begun.


Honk Honk!

Jamal smiled. The cops had tried to drive on the streets that the protestors had occupied. But the group just stood in the middle of the road, daring the cops to harm them. They just stopped and honked at the crowd. The protestors yelled in response.

Honk Honk!

Another patrol car was driving up beside the first.

Someone in the crowd threw something smoking toward the vehicles.

Brakes squealed. The second patrol car swerved to avoid it. CRASH! Jamal stopped to assess the damage. The car had run into the outdoor seating of Gary’s Hot Dogs, crashing into the corner pillar that supported the second story patio. The police hopped out of the car, looked at the damage, then began ordering everyone in the vicinity to get out from under the patio.

Jamal started to walk on, but his eyes were drawn to a cop that seemed to be walking against the flow of humanity on the streets. He wasn’t with the line of cops. He was walking away from where most of the protestors were heading. And no one seemed to notice him. Jamal studied the man as he got closer. It was the same white cop that had spoken to him before the protest.

Ignoring the oddity, Jamal walked away from the restaurant. He did not get far, watching as the white cop walked toward the building with the cop car at the pillar.

Creak. Jamal and the cop looked up. The patio was likely coming down.

“Look out!” The cop shouted, facing the bystanders. “Back up! Out of the way!” He urged them back with his hands.

Eeee. The patio moved of its own accord. Jamal was glued to the spot, watching the strange phenomenon.

Suddenly a white girl brushed past him, focused on her phone. “Hey!” he called, “Get back!”

Eeee. The patio lurched again.

The girl ignored him, intent on getting a good shot of the destruction.

“Back up!” The cop called, holding out his arms to the crowd, standing nearest to the pillar. But the girl did not listen. Jamal, focused on the patio, stepped forward and grabbed hold of the girl’s arm before she moved too much closer. “Watch out!”

The girl paused for just a second, giving him a disdained look of superiority, pulled her arm out of his grasp, and walked forward determinedly.

Only seconds later, patio fell. As everything toppled toward the crowd, Jamal lost sight of the cop and the girl. Jamal ran forward, certain the girl was hurt.


Keith was standing on the street a block away, focused on keeping the crowd contained. When he heard reports of the car hitting the patio, he raced toward the scene.

He rounded the corner just as the patio moved of its own accord. We have to get an uncooperative crowd back that is intent on filming it. Great.

Before he had a chance to figure out how to do that, someone raced past him. The man turned back for a moment. This looked like the protestor he had seen leaving the courthouse just as Keith had arrived. The same olive skin, the same Black Lives Matter shirt, and the same look on his face as if the surroundings were of no consequence. Keith kept running, turning his focus back on the patio.

People had left the immediate area where the car had hit, but the patio kept moving and making noise, drawing more of a crowd.

The protestor that Keith recognized took a protective stance in front of the patio. “Look out! Back up! Out of the way!”

At least the guy was helping. Most were listening…except one girl who was too intent on filming with her phone. Someone beside her tried to get her to back up, but she ignored him and walked forward Keith kept walking, hoping to stop someone from being hurt.

“Hey, get back!” the bystander called.

“Back up!” The protestor urged, backing up dangerously close to the damaged pillar.
“Watch out!” the bystander tried to stop the girl, but she ignored him and walked forward, focused on the scene.

The patio gave way, and things began falling. Keith’s view of the protestors was obscured by the debris. When the dust cleared, they were nowhere to be found. Keith ran forward with a few other bystanders, hoping this night had not proved fatal.


Jamal and Ronnie moved yet another table out of the way. Nothing. They righted it and set it to the side.

“Over here!” Jamal looked to his right. Another cop was digging through the rubble, and he had called. Jamal walked over with Ronnie. The three of them lifted a piece of flooring and set it to the side.

The girl with the phone was visible now. Ronnie pulled out his phone while the cop moved forward to rouse her. “Ma’am?”

Jamal moved more junk out of the way, listening.

The girl moved and groaned, touching her head. “Ow.”

“I need to make sure you’re okay, ma’am. Can you tell me your name?”

“Kelly. Kelly Tulley.”

The cop radioed in, “Found one survivor in the rubble. Need an EMT at the corner of 5th and Main. Gary’s Hot Dogs.” He focused on the girl. “Let’s move you out of the way of all this mess, Kelly. You think you can walk?”

She nodded, but winced. “Yeah.”

The cop led her to one of the tables that Jamal and Ronnie had righted. Jamal looked around. Ronnie had left. He’d broken more than a few windows that night, so Jamal understood. Jamal moved more debris, not willing to leave just yet. He looked at the ground, surprised. That looked familiar. He picked up a phone with a white case. The screen was cracked, but it came on at his touch, miraculously. Jamal walked over and sat at the other side of the table. “Here you go. I think this is your phone.”

Kelly took it. “Thanks…I feel silly now. Shouldn’t have gotten that close.”

“You were lucky,” the cop said.

Two EMTs arrived. As Jamal backed away, the cop walked resolutely back to the wreckage. Jamal followed. “You looking for your friend? That cop that was warning people?”

The new cop whirled around to face him. “Cop? No…there was a protestor warning people. Wearing one of your shirts.”

Jamal shook his head. “Nope. White guy. Your uniform.”


An hour later, the wreckage was cleared. The girl was fine. Keith was relieved. But the protestor he had seen was not there. He didn’t understand it. He seemed to be the one of the only ones nearby that had seen someone else close to the wreckage, warning of the danger. A young protestor had seen the same thing…but he swore it was a cop. All the precincts on site had done a head count. Everyone was accounted for.

Kelly thanked Jamal profusely for his help as he walked her over to her grandfather’s diner. “Grandpa Will probably didn’t know I was here. But I know he’ll want to meet you. If you hadn’t grabbed me, I could have been hurt worse.”

“I didn’t do that much. I…I don’t have to meet anyone.”

Kelly smiled and took his hand. “You might have saved my life. I insist.”


The ruckus over the overblown hot dogs six blocks away had turned the protestors away from the area. Everyone was fine, the news said. One local girl had walked away with no serious injuries.

William looked back at his lone customer that was nursing his third refill of water, reading from a pocket sized book the others were sure was a Quran. Scott had joked he would start bowing toward Mecca any moment.

Before William was ready for it, the customer stood and walked toward the cash register. William hurried over and accepted the money for the meal that had taken him a long time to eat. Aware that his friends were watching, William asked politely, “Did you enjoy it?”

“I did. Thank you. It was quite filling.”

William handed over the change. “Thank you for dropping by.”

The man accepted the coins and met his gaze. “I know what you think of me, Billy. But you’re wrong. And if you turn Kelly away, your life will never be the same.”

William stared in disbelief. No one had called him Billy since grade school. “What…what did you say?”

The Arab met his gaze. “You heard every word.” With that authoritative statement, the man left the diner.

William was still absorbing his words when the bell dinged again, announcing someone else was there. Kelly, his oldest granddaughter, had arrived…holding the hand of a black young man. “Grandpa, I want you to meet Jamal. He just saved my life.”


Jamal finally made it out of the diner and walked back to his car. Ronnie and his mom had texted a dozen times. He’d responded briefly to let them know he was fine, but wanted to talk to them about Kelly in person.

He’d just made it to his car when someone approached his side. Still on alert, Jamal turned. He relaxed. The same cop he’d seen before the protest was back. He was smiling.

“Hi,” Jamal managed. “Glad you made it out okay.”

The cop nodded. “I’m glad you made it out okay, too…You made your Grandma Josie proud tonight, Jamal.”

“What…what did you say?”

The cop turned and walked away, ignoring Jamal’s questions.


Three days later, Jamal was at his grandmother’s house, regaling her of the events the night of the protest. “He…he mentioned your name, Grandma. Out of the blue. Knew my name, too. I thought we didn’t know any cops.”

Grandma Josie smiled and cocked her head to the side. “Oh, honey. I don’t think you saw a policeman that night. I was praying for you, knowing you were down there and probably itching to do something foolish. I think the Lord was keeping His hand on you in the midst of all that mess. Maybe you saw an angel. Or even Jesus.”

“Jesus isn’t a white man, Grandma.”

“No…but God invented color, Jamal. And the One who invented color can probably show up any way He likes. You may not always see Him the way you wish to. At least, that’s how I read my Bible. Jesus was stirring things up back in His day.”

“Well…he did know your name. And mine. I don’t have an answer for that.”

Grandma Josie picked up her Bible, always stationed on her end table. “Jesus did a lot of things like that. Let me read you one of my favorite passages…”

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Don’t Lose Your Voice

There are several things going on right now. I haven’t made a lot of progress writing wise because my personal life has been busy, the nation is in distress…and I haven’t wanted to focus on writing. There are other reasons that I’ve also been discovering during this quiet period.

I didn’t really notice my feeling on the matter until one of my childhood mentors released his own self-published books. I applauded him and went on with my day. But it didn’t take long to notice that his release went very well. In fact, I sort of got upset with how well he did (and is still doing). It’s a different genre, different audience, and honestly, it appeals to a broader range of people than my books. Not to mention that my mentor has a much bigger circle of influence than little old me. But, still, his success bothered me.

And it kept on bothering me…until I figured out why. We know a lot of the same people. And the ones who were begging for a copy from my mentor were the same ones that just smiled and ignored me when I talked about my books. Their indifference hurt.

Once I figured out why it bothered me, I was able to smile at his success and move on…for a bit. Then I was confronted with the other part of this odd equation as I tried to make progress on my stories – what’s the point? No one reads it anyway.

I’ve been working on a new short story that might be posted here. As I did my best to get the new words down, I was bombarded with feeling of inadequacy. I’ve usually had a lot of confidence in my stories, but the past few were hard to write, hard to edit, and hard to publish. When I did release them…crickets. I felt like I wasn’t speaking to anyone. It was sort of hard to go on and get the next chapter out when it felt as if I was writing to no one.

But the TRUTH of the matter is that God gave these stories to me. He gave them for me to write, for me to wrestle with, and for me to share with the world. He didn’t give these stories to the best sellers of the Christian Fiction world. He gave them to ME. He wanted my voice to tell Jasmine’s stories. He didn’t give them to me for me to keep them only on my computer. He wanted me to reach people I have never met with Jasmine’s stories. How do I know all that? Because God gave me my own unique writing voice. And regardless of who is listening, it is my duty to share what has been laid on my heart. Would I like for it to be a tad more popular? Of course. Until that time, though, I will continue to write what God has laid on my heart. He has given me a unique voice, and I will continue to use it to spread His message.

So the next time you feel invisible or useless, tell the devil to go take a hike. God has created you in HIS IMAGE. You ARE NOT useless. That is the LIE of the enemy. Don’t be silenced, even if it feels like your voice isn’t making a difference. Keep on using YOUR VOICE for HIS GLORY.

**Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.** 🙂

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Honor the Sabbath

Today, we’re going to talk about a commandment in the Bible that you likely know as a Christian. But this season of our lives is stripping away a lot of the unnecessary paint from areas of our lives. I was just thinking about making myself leave the house long enough to grocery shop. We have to record a sermon tonight, and getting that video onto the internet may take hours. It left me wondering if I should just leave the grocery run for tomorrow. And this Scripture was placed in my Spirit.


“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 10:8-11

How do we honor the Sabbath as Christians?

Because Jesus rose again on a Sunday, the Christians honor Sunday as our holy day. We meet on Sunday mornings in churches.

church window

I’ve grown up in a Christian home. I’m the daughter of a children’s pastor. I’m married to a pastor. I’ve done church all my life.

Sadly, Sunday is not a day of rest for anyone involved in church services. Take your typical church. The kind people who directed you in the parking lot, the ones smiling as you enter the doors, the Sunday School teachers, the musicians, the sound people, and the pastor – all were there anywhere from an hour to half an hour before you arrived. They will likely be there for half an hour to an hour after you leave. It takes time to do things at the church. That, and church people love to chat. By the time you are done with church and lunch, it could be 1:00 pm or later.

Don’t get me wrong – church is awesome. Some of my best friendships have been formed on church grounds. I’ve learned so much within the walls of the church. I know that church is important.

But during this season of social distancing, virtual worship services, and stay-at-home orders that are statewide, everyone is doing church just a tad differently.

And as I was trying to get myself ready for a grocery run, the thought hit me – am I honoring the Sabbath? Maybe God is using this time when our focus is constantly being realigned to remind us of the simple things. Everyone needs a day of rest. The weekends, for the vast majority of people who work on weekdays, are their days of rest. For Christians, Sundays are rarely days of rest. It’s a day to get up, get dressed, get there at a certain time, do your duty, and go home. And if your church has multiple services in a single day, you might decide to dedicate more of your day to these other services. There’s not much time left on Sundays beyond services. That leaves Saturdays for family activities or special outings – when you’re not preparing for church.

People need rest. God has told us to have at least one day of the week where we just rest. A day to recharge our batteries. And while we do that on occasion, was anyone properly resting before this pandemic hit us?

My husband and I are both essential workers, so our work week has been uninterrupted during the shelter-in-place order. The weekends are our only free time. And with most of our services being online since this mess began, our weekends have become a time to rest. We have been able to have a Sabbath again.

It’s sad that we have to take church out of the equation in order for that to happen. But the rest has tremendously helped both of us.

One day, we will be running to church on Sunday mornings again. Our days will be filled with church necessities.

But perhaps God is using this time to remind the Church of what is really important in our lives.

During this season of waiting, let us take back our Sabbath. Let the Christians remember that we are commanded to honor the Sabbath. That doesn’t necessarily mean going to church on Sunday. We should not abandon Sunday services. But we should remember to take time to rest.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Thoughts from a Drive In Service

Today was a pretty day. Our congregation arrived…and sat in their cars. We had signs directing them to the right radio frequency. We handed out tithe envelopes. Music today included a CD player and a headset. It was REAL basic.

2020-04-12 12.24.24

But it was church. My husband preached about the resurrection of Jesus Christ – and how that truth is the foundational doctrine upon which our faith resides.

There was no meet and greet. There was no worry about whether the words were legible. There was still worry about the sound system, because what worked the day before did not work today. There was no long conversation in the parking lot after church. Alas, there were no discussions of lunch plans. There was no children’s church. There were no Easter eggs. There were no comments on outfits. There weren’t even any “tell your neighbor” prompts.

This was not anyone’s typical Easter. Instead of a carefully planned program, specials, and a sermon to top things off, we just had a few songs and a sermon. Like everything else about this season, God has removed the extra from our lives, leaving us with the basics. We were given the Word this morning and none of the frills. All we need is Jesus. Everything else is just extra.

Yes, one day the honks of the cars in front of the church will be replaced with the “Amen” of the parishioner. The doors of the church will again be open, and we will not have to worry about social distancing or overly sanitizing everything. And when that day comes, those who have missed the church will return…along with others who are hungry for the truth.

2020-04-12 11.11.33

Don’t miss this opportunity, Body of Christ. Now is the time for the Gospel message to reach those who are hurting. Now is the time to BE the Church. Be a representative of Jesus Christ to everyone, regardless of whether or not you have the all the answers. This world is dying and going to Hell. We have the Truth that can change their whole life. Don’t be stuck up about it. Reach them where they are with the Jesus who got down in the dirt to lift those hurting to a better place.

Church is a place to meet and learn about Jesus. But it’s also not where we are meant to stay. It’s where we are equipped to meet the rest of the world with the Truth.

This simple form of church might be all we need to remind us right now with what is really important. Jesus is the only message – not what technique we’re using to draw people in. It’s not about lights, music, or singers. It’s not about who is preaching or how many are coming. It’s about being intentional of going to the House of God because we need an encounter with a Savior – so we can reach a lost and dying world.

Drive In church is different, but it’s still making an impact on the congregation. It did for me.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Finding Time

Once upon a time, time for my books was easy. I’d write when I got home from work, or waiting to go into work. I’d write while supper was being prepared. I’d write while I was waiting for the laundry to finish drying. I’d save my favorite shows on DVR and just watch them when I wanted. I’d write or read during an ER trip, something that happened with alarming regularity in my family. Dad had kidney disease, and his health was usually okay, but never great.

Several things happened to change all of these factors. I was living at home at the time, and I took full advantage of those opportunities. Dad received a kidney transplant, which literally gave him a new lease on life.

I also met the man who is now my husband. My free time in the evenings became invested in spending time with him. Writing and working on my books took a back seat for a bit.

I was also unemployed for a vast amount of time leading up to my wedding. I made the decision to self-publish about six months before I got married. I had oodles of time to do everything related to my book, and also plenty of time to relax from that.

To everyone’s great relief, I finally found a job in late September of 2014, a month after I published my first book. It was a part time job back then. I was thankful to have anything, so I took it. Just after Thanksgiving, my job extended me to full time hours, which I desperately needed.

In February of 2015, I married the love of my life and moved in with him. Now my free time is spent doing a variety of different things, little of which have to do with writing. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but life is different, and finding time for writing also has to be balanced with spending time with my husband, doing the household chores, taking turns with supper, and going to bed at a decent time so I can wake up rested and go to work.

I’ve mostly managed by setting out blocks of time to focus on writing. When that time was over, I’d move on to something else that needed my attention.

My work schedule has recently switched my hours around for the first time in nearly two years. I go in a bit later, which means I stay a bit later. I made the decision after a week or so of enjoying my freedom in the mornings to use my new time to work on my books. But waiting until my hubby left to start working on everything wasn’t going to work.

I’ve made the decision to keep getting up at was my normal wake up time for work, get ready for the day, and then sit down at my computer and start working on my books (well, this morning, it was writing this entry). I’m still grumbling about it, but it’s working. I have a quiet time every day that still leaves time at the end of the day to spend with my husband.

This worked well for a while, but I got out of habit of doing it, which leaves me back with little time left. It is a constant balancing act, but I’m working on it.

While I figure out everything related to that, I have a book to edit, and two stories that need finishing up. I haven’t started on any of that yet. I also told my husband after I put out my fourth story last year that I wasn’t allowed to release anything before May. So expect a summer or fall release, loyal fans.

5 book series

Since there will be a bit of time before the next release, I highly suggest you pick up a copy of the newest book to tide you over until then.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

…And I’m Back!

As you can see from previous posts, my blog writing has not been a priority for a while. I did good with weekly posts. Then I didn’t. Life has been a little hectic.

I obviously like to write about the process of writing, but I’m also trying to be more transparent and relatable, and write about the other things that comprise my life. So, here is my random post that will hopefully lead to consistency. We’re going to sort of restart things.

Jenny ta da pose

Ta-da! Hi, everyone. I’m Jenny, and you’re reading my blog. My full name is Jennifer, but I go by Jenny. My “professional” name is Jennifer.

This is my husband, Bobby. We have been married for four wonderful years.

Jenny Bobby front porchNew Year Date

Do we have kids? No, we do not have children. They would certainly be welcome, but they have not arrived just yet. However, we DO have some pets. We have four animals.

Stairstep kitties


Shadow Door

This is Shadow, our first baby. She came to us after being in a home with 17 other kittens. Understandably, she was a bit lonely at first. She wanted our attention AT ALL TIMES. When our next cat arrived, she got all the company she wanted. Shadow is now our stand offish kitty. She wants attention on her terms, and ONLY her terms. She will grace us with her presence, but it’s her choice. She does not like being picked up. She does meow when she wants us to rub her. Every morning, she demands to be pet as Bobby is putting on his socks. She’s a weird kitty, but we love her.

2015-07-11 18.13.30

This is Mario. When we got Shadow, Bobby wanted a tabby cat. But the house we went to in order to claim our kitten did not have any tabby cats that had not been claimed. We wound up with Shadow, but Bobby still wanted a tabby cat.

Three weeks after getting Shadow, I woke up to a cat meowing. I was startled, thinking Shadow was hurt. But, no, she was curled up and asleep on my shoulder. Just as I was about to dismiss it altogether, Bobby woke up, asking about Shadow. He had heard it, too. We both got up at 4am and walked outside to investigate the sound.

A tiny kitten that may not have been old enough to leave his mama was underneath our bedroom window, meowing for help. We took him inside. That afternoon, we walked to all the neighbors in a good walking area, asking if they had lost a kitten. They had not. We originally thought the kitten was lost. But when no one claimed him, we realized he had been abandoned. Our house is right by a road, and someone had nothing better to do in the middle of the night then abandon a cat. So, we kept the kitty that we eventually named Mario (once we figured out he was a boy).

Mario Laundry

Mario is an apt name, for he is the one that is forever jumping where he should not, and always the one on an adventure of some kind. I will have more posts dedicated to Mario’s stories, I’m sure.

Pepper toy

Next, we have Pepper. Though she is now two years old, she’s still our puppy. When Bobby and I got married, I had an outside dog named Starla. She was a wonderful, caring dog. My great protector. The only way I could have a dog at the time was for her to live outside. By the time I got married and moved, Starla had lived outside for ten years. There was no point in changing that dynamic.

Starla passed away at the ripe old age of 13. She was very much loved by our family, and her absence was apparent immediately. Bobby and I decided that when we got another dog, it would not live outside as Starla had. I originally intended for the dog to only be outside when we were away at work. But my husband had other ideas.

This is Pepper. She lives inside with us. She has a crate filled with various things she has chewed up. These are her soft things to lay on/root under when she is inside. Pepper is a border collie. She is incredibly smart – mostly. She can only open the bedroom door from the outside, and has yet to figure out why hitting the door when she is inside the bedroom slams it shut.

Pepper is a bundle of energy. She loves to run and she loves chewing. She also dearly loves our cats. Shadow is not thrilled with her attention. Recently, Shadow finally communicated to Pepper that she doesn’t want to play all the time. Pepper has kept a wide berth since that unfortunate meeting with Shadow’s claws.

After we got Pepper, nearly a year after Starla’s passing, we were done collecting animals. We were full on fur babies. Life was good.

Bobby and I came home after a dinner with my family on my mother’s birthday. Bobby heard something nearby. We followed the sound to the trees on the abandoned lot beside us. We spotted a tiny orange kitten, meowing incessantly. We also saw something else that first night – there was a large area on the kitten’s tail that had no fur. That first night, it was bright red. We knew it needed help.

Simba Kitten

We spent the next few days contacting various people about the injured kitten while also trying to catch it. I finally heard from animal control that since it was not on our property, they needed permission from the owner of the lot before proceeding.

Three days after first spotting the kitten, after three nights of trying to coax it toward us, Bobby spotted the kitten sitting out in the open on the lot. I came over and sat down, waiting for Bobby to join us. The kitten didn’t run away. I was able to get close enough to grab the kitty. We rushed him inside and called our vet.

When we got to the appointment, we explained that we didn’t have a ton of money, but we had a stray kitten that was hurt. They basically gave us a flat fee for the visit and gave us medicine that had been donated. The vet told us the tail had to be amputated. By the time we got to him, the injured part of the tail was black. We asked about how to do that, since we had no money. The vet told us that their sister clinic, where she would be working on Monday, had a charity fund. It could be used for the surgery. She also suggested asking for donations online. I was part of a local pets group. I posted pictures, asking for help. We received donations to us and to the vet’s office where the surgery took place. We took the kitten in for surgery on Monday, and walked out without paying a dime.

That first vet visit, the techs had to take his temperature. The tiny little kitten that hadn’t eaten well, had likely lost his family, and may have been intentionally injured started meowing, then growling. When that didn’t stop the techs from moving the thermometer, the kitten growled louder. He let loose a full blown growl worthy of a grown cat. Everyone in the room laughed. When our vet came in, she said, “I heard this kitty should be called Simba, because of his growl.” We laughed. But she had picked the correct name.

The shelter was full when we got Simba some help. By the time he had recovered from his surgery, we had fallen in love with the kitty, and we kept him. Simba is a bundle of boundless energy. His best friend is Pepper. When we chide Pepper for playing too rough with the kitten, Simba will intentionally do things to make her start playing again. He loves it.

Simba lights

So, that’s my family.

Wedding pic

While this post has been long enough, I would also like to point out one reason that I haven’t had a blog entry in a while. I’ve been very, very busy. I usually churn out one book a year. Last year, I made the decision to bring four stories out. Two novels, and two novellas.

5 book series

All are available on Amazon, and you should check them out here!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Snow: Why the South Freaks Out

I know that the state of North Carolina is a mystery to the North every winter. My friends that live up north in New York, New Jersey, or any place that sees snow on a regular basis might not understand the state of panic that grips the hearts of the southern citizens when they hear that we might be getting snow. Unless you’ve lived among us, you might not understand. And even then, it still might baffle you. So let me clarify what goes on.

Snow is a novelty down here. Sure, we usually see a snowfall that sticks about once a year. But we usually see it fall, take pictures of our tenth of an inch on our immediate surroundings, then go back inside where it’s warm. By the next day, our snow is gone. Three days later, we’re out in flip flops and halfway forget that the calendar still insists it’s winter.

Two weeks ago, my area received a significant amount of snowfall. We got 6-8″ of snow. Snow fell late Wednesday night, and kids went back to school (with a delay) the following Wednesday. It snowed, it stayed cold, and we had to wait for it to melt away. We waited for the back roads to be clear, since the back roads never see snow plows.

2018-01-05 08.43.47

This was my road a day and a half after the snow came.

My city has a total of six snow plows. They do salt the main roads when winter weather is expected. But the back roads, where half the residents reside, are left untreated. Half the time, though, the city shuts down when snowflakes stick to the ground.

Let’s not forget the other part of the snow equation that still baffles outsiders – the run on break and milk. Once snow is predicted, the masses run to the grocery store and grab a loaf of bread and some milk. They get other things, but those are always high in demand.

Why, you ask? I’ve lived here most of my life, and I’m only halfway sure of the answer. I’m guessing it’s this area’s occupation with snow cream (though you need condensed milk for that) as well as materials to make sandwiches. Why do you need to make sandwiches when it snows outside? Well, that leads to the main point of this entry: we’re bracing ourselves for disaster.

Okay, I’ll wait while you stop laughing. Snow on the ground does not equate disaster to you. But in this area, it does. Why? I’m so glad you asked.

In my opinion, it all goes back to the Great Snow Storm of ‘89. Granted, it could have been the big snow of 1980 or even before, but I’ll use the one in ‘89 because I actually remember that one.

Remember back in the olden days, when our phones didn’t tell us what the weather was going to do? Back before the internet, when research meant using library books? Back then, people relied heavily on the TV weathermen.

My grandmother, every winter, would tell us the same story. The weatherman, one particular day, put his arms in front of him in an X and motioned outward as he declared, “It’s NOT going to snow!” We got snow up to my grandmother’s waist.

2018-01-04 09.49.07

This was our back yard during our last snow.

From that encounter, my grandmother learned to never trust the weatherman. Never mind that predictions change, technology has improved, and forecasting accuracy has gotten much better in recent years. My grandmother would warn us every time they predicted snow, ice, or wintery mix that the weathermen didn’t know what they were talking about. She would tell us the story. I’m certain that all across the region, people learned the same lesson from their elders. Never completely trust the weatherman. Always prepare for the worst.

“Oh, they’re only calling for a dusting.”

But the weatherman could be vastly wrong, like they were that one time. Let’s go prepare for three days without power and being stuck inside the house.

“Okay, we might get an inch. School will be cancelled again.”

But we could get more. Prepare for five days inside. Get sandwich materials, just in case.

“They’re predicting three inches. We can make a snowman!”

You will not be able to leave your home for a week. Hit the stores now!

The weathermen have gotten it wrong more times than I care to remember. When I was dating my husband, the weathermen on every channel told us with certainty that not only were we going to get snow, but we were going to get A LOT of snow. 6″+ was originally forecast. We got two inches, since the weather patterns shifted and Alabama got all the snow that was forecast for us.

Several times, snow has been predicted and we have gotten nothing but ice. Our region is more familiar with sleet, freezing rain, and the dangers of black ice.

Sure, we get snow that sticks about once a year. But snow that accumulates only happens every few years. The last snowfall of significance was eight years ago, the day after Christmas. We got about six inches.

I have a friend who has a five year old. Our snow two weeks ago was the first time the child had been able to make a snow angel.

Yes, we call off school and shut down the town over snow. Yes, we tend to panic when it’s predicted. Blame it on the Great Snow Storm of ‘89 and the weatherman who got it wrong. We’ve been trained since that time to prepare for more. Just in case it happens again.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Greetings from the Mines

Hello, readers. I’m sorry that I fell off the face of the blogging world for more than a year. There are several reasons, but the main reasons were I ran out of material, life was crazy, and I was distracted with other projects.

I won’t bore you with all the details of what kept me away for so long, but I will describe what has been a standing project for more than a year – editing Book Three, whose official title is ‘Till Death Do Us Part.

2017-09-28 09.14.21

I don’t like editing. I struggle with it. The details take time to correct, and I feel like I’m being mocked by my inner critic the whole time. I had started a detailed edit over a year and a half ago, consulting the notes of my beta readers. Life happened, work was crazy, and I needed some sanity, so I chose to set down what I was working on and write a new story.

That new story ended up being the start of a trilogy. And then the first story and the last ten chapters of the second story were accidentally deleted when my computer was redone. All of my documents were supposed to have been saved to the flash drive. Some of them were not. I am still sad, but it was a complete accident, and I have enough notes that I can reconstruct what was lost. But this post is not to talk about that writing project. It’s to talk about Book Three.


I’ll be honest – Book Three was tough from the start. It took me twice the time to pen Book Three that it normally takes me. Part of that was due to breaking a finger, having to write by hand, then being well enough to type again. And part of it was due to the fact that it was just a tough story.

When I met my Princess Jasmine, she was already a jewel, she just needed polishing. I feel like all I did was pick up something pretty on the ground, rub it a bit, then put it back where it belonged. I struggled with the darker parts of Jasmine’s story, but for the most part, it was relatively easy to write.

Book Three follows Jasmine’s daughter, Isabel. Though I was in the same kingdom, following the same family, Isabel’s story was much harder to write. Isabel was not a jewel from the start. I had to haul raw material out of the mine with her, and keep working with that same hunk of rock until something started to shine back at me. And this editing project had not been just rubbing a jewel, it has been picking at this rock with a hammer, trying to find that glimmer. It’s been hard. I’ve put it down a lot. And I’ve kept picking it back up.

Though I love Jasmine’s story, Book Three begins Isabel’s journey. And Isabel has become one of my favorite characters. There is a lot in Isabel’s story, I will warn you. One of my beta readers even expressed concern with how God’s role was treated. All I can tell you is that sometimes, it takes time before answers are revealed.

I know with certainty that not every awful thing that happens to someone is necessarily part of God’s plan – but He can use everything to work together for good, if we will let Him (Romans 8:28, for those of you saying “that sounds familiar”).

Trevor’s rock solid faith is still a staple in Book Three. But the other characters who have a leading role in this story also present a healthy amount of doubt as the story continues. But God, why is this happening? I suppose it would have been easier to put something near the end, where God answers the continual questions. But it did not happen, and that’s more true to life. Sometimes, God answers our questions. But more often than not, we just muddle through, and God eventually shines a light on our path, and we see how Problem A led to Point B, and down the road, that led to a resolution around letter J. There’s a lot of questioning along the way. Trust me, I was in a particular corridor of questions for about ten years. Pretty sure I used up the whole alphabet more than once on my journey.

While my editing of Book Three is finally complete, I will need to format the book for epublishing, and also contact my cover artist about a design. I am hopeful to release this book sometime in October, but that’s only if things move quickly.

I am hopeful that my time in the mines has produced something worthy of putting on your shelf. But I will let you be the judge of that.

Updates coming soon!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Focus and NaNoWriMo

A happy event took place in the Conway household almost two weeks ago. Our female kitty, Shadow, was fixed. Having lived with a cat in almost constant heat for over a month, we were ready for her to have her procedure.

Once we picked her up, the vet suggested having a special collar so she wouldn’t lick her incision. We decided against it at the time, resolving to see how she did first. By the end of the week, the incision was red and didn’t look right, so we brought her back to the vet. She was fine, but the vet decided it was time for her to wear the collar. We agreed.

Poor Shadow has been slowly adjusting to the “cone of shame,” though it throws her off balance terribly when she shakes her head.

2016-04-07 16.26.04
I was watching my poor kitty yesterday, and looking at her and the collar. It forces her to only focus on what is ahead of her, and it prevents her from hurting herself (in this case, brought on by giving herself a bath). It’s annoying, but overall useful.

I realized at the same time that Shadow and her collar sort of correlates to NaNoWriMo. During the NaNo season, participating writers don their respective cones and get to work. Yes, they look slightly ridiculous. Yes, regular life is interrupted. But it’s for a purpose – to get the story done. Once we reach that mark, we can take off the collar and celebrate.

Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch. But you have to focus in order to complete NaNoWriMo, and that’s what Shadow’s collar made me think of.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hollywood, Jesus, and Superman

****This post contains major spoilers for Batman vs. Superman. If you have not seen the movie and wish to be surprised, DO NOT read this post!!****

My husband and I are huge super hero fans. We’ve watched pretty much every super hero movie that Hollywood has produced in the last ten years – Spiderman, X-Men, Superman, Batman, Iron Man, Captain America, even Ant Man. You name it, and we’ve either seen it or intend to see it.

When we heard about the Batman vs. Superman movie, we made plans to attend. We were even able to watch it on opening weekend. Both of us were excited.

I knew from the previews that Batman and Superman were going to spend much of the movie fighting against each other. When I saw the first trailer, I was shocked that they didn’t like each other. My patient husband explained that they didn’t start out as friends.

Though between the two, I like Batman more, you spend most of the movie rooting for Superman, who hasn’t really done anything wrong beyond showing up and trying to save people. A lot of people want to destroy him, and a lot of buildings are destroyed while he’s trying to fight bad guys. The movie focuses on Bruce Wayne trying to save the people who were in a Wayne building that collapsed in the middle of a Superman fight against the Kryptonians.

I am a patient moviegoer. I waited through some weird dreams that Bruce had, endured an absolutely pointless bathtub scene with Lois Lane, and watched as Lex Luthor proved he was just a little cuckoo. Oh, I finally thought. They’ll come together to take down Lex.

No, Lex decides to manipulate them into fighting each other. Batman steals the Kryptonite that Lex smuggled into the country, and makes weapons out of them in order to take down Superman. Just in case he’s going to end up being a bad guy. That’s not the super-smart Batman I grew up with, that’s a guy with too many toys focused on revenge and blind to all reason. However, it fit with the Batman character, so I went with it.


In the middle of the fight between Batman and Superman, they realize they have to work together to defeat a common enemy. Batman throws away his Kryptonite spear, and the two take off to save their cities from destruction. Enter other villain that was created to kill Superman. Even the appearance of Wonder Woman doesn’t stop the villain. The three work together to stop the creature, while Lois dives for the spear, which she threw into the water.

batman superman wonder woman

I personally loved Wonder Woman in the movie.

Superman stops fighting long enough to save her from drowning, then dives back into the water to get the spear – knowing it’s poison to him – because it’s the only thing that can kill the monster.

Superman is able to use the spear to kill the villain. But it costs him his life.

The movie theater was rather silent as the characters gathered around their dead hero. It switches to an elaborate funeral for Superman, and a much simpler one for Clark Kent. Everyone is mourning the loss of Superman.

I knew enough about the comic books to know that Superman did die at least once, and he came back. I kept watching, knowing that any moment the sun would restore him. The funeral kept going. My husband (and others) kept whispering, “you can get up now.”

Finally, Lois Lane sprinkles a handful of dirt over Clark’s coffin. She walks away, and the scene cuts to the dirt on top of the coffin.

I knew, without a doubt, that Clark was coming back. But as the dirt moved of its own accord, shaken by something beneath it (very awesome ending), a rather depressing thought hit, ruining the movie ending for me. That’s why they released it Easter weekend. He doesn’t stay dead.

I enjoy movies. I love good storytelling. Hollywood, for all its faults, tells a pretty good story. They keep you coming back, wanting more. But if growing up watching movies has taught me anything, it’s that Hollywood doesn’t understand my faith. According to Hollywood, I’m either a hypocrite that hates everyone who’s different than me and doesn’t attend my type of church, or I’m a backwoods Christian who isn’t educated enough to know better than to believe what the Bible says. If I’m really lucky, they’ll show a devout Catholic, who actually attends church every week, but the devout person usually don’t apply that faith to their life outside of church. That’s it.

People who believe what the Bible says, in Hollywood’s eyes, are idiots. We either don’t know any better or are worse than they are. There are no other good representations of Christianity available on a consistent basis. That’s why I am so hard on Christian movies – while they show our faith and regular life, they lack the storytelling needed to make Hollywood notice much of anything.

Going back to the movie, I left the theater unsettled. I recalled when Man of Steel came out a few years ago. One of my friends shared that Hollywood had purposely created their Superman character to parallel Jesus. Clark goes to a church and talks to a pastor. You can see a window of Jesus praying in the background behind him. He makes a statement that he’s 33 years old. Hollywood went beyond that and reached out to churches, offering them clips of the movie to use as devotionals, gave them topics to discuss, and so on. On the surface, that’s great. But as one who doesn’t trust Hollywood to deliver a faithful message, I was a bit leery that the movie giant had decided to make connections from their movie to our faith for us. It’s fine when Christians do that, because we know the material. We understand it. More importantly, fellow Christians will give a faithful interpretation of the Bible when relating it to the silver screen. As I’ve just explained, Hollywood doesn’t understand my faith. Should I trust that what they try to give the Church is going to be a good representation of our faith?

I felt like Hollywood had spent half the movie trying to demean my faith, and I was gullible enough to pay to see it.

Let me be clear – the movie didn’t do that. It presented a good and evil battle, and you were constantly rooting for the good guys. Evil fell. Justice was administered. The plot was left open for the next chapter of movies. It was a good movie. It was a great ending.

But my husband and I left the theater disturbed. We’re unsure what Hollywood will try to do next with Superman, who they’re trying at every opportunity to compare to Jesus. While Superman is a great character, he is not Jesus, and they need to stop trying to make him seem like he is. Superman has faults and is not perfect.

batman vs superman logo

Will I see the next movie? Yes. But am I leery of what Hollywood will do next concerning their greatest super hero? Absolutely. Hollywood has yet to understand my faith, so I am left to believe they are going to do something to ruin Superman’s character – defaming Jesus in the process. And that, my friends, is exactly why I left the theater upset. The next chapter might not be pleasant for Christians. And that ruins super hero movies for me, my husband, and other Christians who enjoy them. I hope I’m wrong…but I’m pretty sure that I’m not.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized