Friday, September 16, 2011

What Does It Mean to Walk Blameless?

Genesis 6:9 “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.”

What does it mean to walk blameless? I think it means to be a person of integrity who walks in a manner worthy of those who call themselves saints or believers of Jesus Christ.  To be blameless is to live in such a way everything you do and think is held up to the standard of Jesus Christ.  You become Christ-like.  You hold your thoughts and actions to his way, the truth and the life. No one can live a perfect life, because we are sinful and not perfect, but that is certainly the goal.  Each day we live, we should become a little better at being blameless, thinking of others first, living out the Word of God, the truth and serving others on his behalf.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hope Restored: Chapter 1, Pages 1-4

Chapter 1
Page 1
Although Hope Johnson had been away from home for four years, the Victorian two-story where she had been raised seemed frozen in time. Granted, her mother had repainted its dark, depressing, steely blue exterior. Now a lemony yellow, the home appeared warmer and more welcoming. Gold and regal purple pansy boxes lined the stone walkway. A new bronze fountain graced the center garden, she noted, framed by the large bay windows that overlooked the sprawling lawn and circular drive. Most likely these improvements could be deemed a success in reinventing the home’s curb appeal.
            Yet as Hope’s car came to rest in the drive of 5918 Maplecrest Road an overwhelming sense of loss enveloped her. The house might have looked different, but the feeling had not changed. Hope thought about leaving before her mother could discover she had arrived. Running away had become so commonplace for Hope that it was not just an option, but a way of life. Even when she had managed to transform from small-town, image-conscious schoolgirl to confident college woman, she had never really revealed herself to another since childhood. While her exterior had undergone major renovations just like the house, its dysfunctional interior had barely been touched. No matter how far she had tried to remove herself from the house and her mother, Gloria, she still reflected the house to her core. Hope was so lost in her thoughts that it took several taps at her window before Gloria startled her back to the present.

Page 2

            “Are you staying?” she asked tentatively, no hint of sarcasm in her voice. Hope’s lack of quick decision-making had left her unable to flee. Forcing a half-hearted smile to her face, she spoke politely to Gloria even though she knew that her mother wanted desperately to embrace her.
            “Sorry, I have a lot on my mind with my student teaching assignment beginning so soon.”
            She exited her car and passed by Gloria quickly, though not without guilt, motioning to her loaded arms filled with her bags. How fitting, Hope thought to herself, that the hug was not offered due to baggage. At twenty-four years old, Hope felt empty and had little to give.
            Once inside, the mess took Hope aback. Scaffolding took the place of walls and furniture. The rooms reeked of sawdust and drywall. The formerly boxy foyer was now boundless, and the main level, which had housed many choppy rooms, had become roomy. Before Hope could ask, she heard a male voice from behind what had been the kitchen bar.
            “Like what I’ve done with the place?”
            His voice was jovial, not arrogant, and his looks were undeniable. Hope felt herself freeze; she could not go forward with his casual conversation. Unchecked anger rose from her middle to her face as her cheeks flushed from the burst of rage that was forthcoming. How could the site of such devastation be so abruptly made over? She had worked tirelessly and independently of her mother to restore her broken life. How dare her mother fix the house and not her?
            “How could you do this?” she shrieked at Gloria who appeared as shocked as Hope suddenly felt. Hope dropped her things and bolted out the back door. She gave a silent thanks that the back door had not been moved or else both Gloria and the stranger would have seen the fat, sloppy tears that streaked her face.
Page 3

She ran down the hill behind the house, through the trees and through brush, falling once, but not stopping to acknowledge the pain in her ankle. She ran until she reached the old oak with the branch that stretched across the pond. Hope stopped only when she felt herself falling into the cool water of spring below.
            When she emerged from beneath its surface, she felt the water washing away the explosion of uncontrolled emotion. Hope breathed heavily at first, but then her heaving began to smooth itself into a steady rhythm, Her mind began to comprehend what had just happened, and she grew frightened by her own behavior. The one truth Hope had come to rely on was that she was in control despite her tempters or surroundings. How could she have embarrassed herself in front of Gloria? Hope would wait as long as she needed for this obvious contradiction in her self-image to be reconciled.
            The weather on this early April afternoon was perfect. The temperature was unseasonably warm in the upper seventies with a warm, steady breeze, which tickled her skin. The soft chirping of distant robins and the delicate rustling of the tall grasses carried Hope back in time. She could vividly recall the days she wasted playing at this pond with Susannah, her little sister, in tow. Those lazy summer days were spent skipping stones, catching frogs and swimming carelessly. The girls would sing silly songs, dream of distant places, and giggle incessantly, These were the happy memories of childhood here, when Grandma Ruby would babysit them through the days when Gloria worked as a nurse at the local hospital. Hope was four years old and Susannah only two when they had moved to Morganstown to be near Grandma Ruby. Their father had left them years before, but Gloria had refused to relinquish hope that he would return or that she could survive on her own. While returning to her hometown lightened Gloria’s child-rearing and financial burdens, the move had also crushed her spirit.

Page 4

Ruby could see the fire dying in Gloria’s eyes: therefore she had remained silent when Frank Price began pursuing her daughter.
            Because Ruby was not the object of Frank’s affection, she was immune to his charms. “He seems too perfect,” she would once complain to Gloria. Hope recalled how quickly and fervently her mother had flown to Frank’s defense, proving that Frank had won her mother’s heart.
            In the first years as a family, Hope was thrilled to have a father again. Frank’s charisma influenced Gloria, her girls, and the community as a whole. He was a businessman, but his popularity grew as he rose to the head coaching position at the local high school. Friday night games were still the greatest source of the town’s pride, entertainment, and the Monday through Thursday water cooler conversation. Frank was at the center of it all, handsome and traditional, and Gloria always felt unsure as to why he had chosen her. Had she not been so insecure from life’s earlier mistakes, she would have known how truly beautiful she was.
            Gloria Price was a classic beauty with hazel eyes, rich auburn hair, and smooth radiant skin, which was a bit tan even in January. Her smile was warm and gracious, and despite life’s curves, hers had remained voluptuous. Hope’s looks closely resembled her mother’s, but she had more freckles and less shape.
            Until this time Hope had never really though about Gloria as another woman. Nor had she realized that she had been younger than Hope when she had moved the three of them back to southern Missouri from Florida. Could she have done any better with two small children alone in the world at such a young age? This train of thought was cut short… what was she doing?  She could not afford to cut Gloria any slack. Hope had blamed Gloria for so long, and who would Hope be without her buried rage and resentment?