Aug 22, 2014

Photo Friday

For the last year and a half, I've been taking part in a photo-a-week photography challenge. I'd like to share some of those photos with you.
Theme - Shadow
Theme - Sunrise
Theme - Monochrome
Theme - A Short Exposure

Aug 19, 2014

How to Become a Book Review Blogger

I'm blogging at When Readers Write today about my experiences as a book review blogger.

Six years ago, all the novels I owned fit onto a meagre three feet of shelf space. I loved to read Christian fiction but, due to finances, I borrowed books from family and friends instead of purchasing my own.

Getting married and moving to Canada changed everything.

Suddenly, I had time on my hands and all my normal avenues of borrowing books were 500 miles away. To complicate matters, my new husband was still job hunting and our local library's selection of Christian fiction was laughable at best.

I longed for something new to read without having to pay exorbitant Canadian book prices.

Then I discovered book review blogging as the ideal solution to my novel-reading problem.

Aug 15, 2014

Photo Friday

For the last year and a half, I've been taking part in a photo-a-week photography challenge. I'd like to share some of those photos with you.
Theme - Black
Theme - On the Shelf
Theme - Something You Made
Theme - Masculine

Aug 11, 2014

Pilfering Pete

Pilfering Pete
By: Christina Banks

There had to be some mistake.

I turned to the front of the leger and started again. Column after mind-numbing column, I reworked the figures. I was sure I’d missed something somewhere, but the numbers didn’t lie. I felt sick. Uncle Peter was stealing from Grandma. There could be no other explanation.

My accounting assignment seemed so trivial now. Thousands of dollars were missing from my grandma’s account, taken out in small withdrawals of a few hundred each, all marked with my name. I’d never seen a penny of that money.

The sterling image I’d constructed of my uncle crumbled as I grasped his hypocrisy. As a pastor, he should help orphans and widows, not rob them. How could he do that to her? To us?

Anger boiled within me. I slammed the leger closed and started to pace. How I wished my father was still alive to guide me. He would have known what to do.

One thing was certain; Uncle Peter’s embezzlement must be stopped. But I was just a kid. He’d never take me seriously if I confronted him alone. I needed to expose him in front of the whole family.

Slowly a plan began to take shape. I was going to throw a surprise party for Uncle Peter. It would be a surprise that no one would forget.

I mentioned the party to Grandma, after she woke from her nap. She loved the idea and immediately made the calls. The date was set for after church. Even with the short notice, we were going to have a full house. My plan was coming together perfectly.

Sunday morning I dragged myself out of bed after a night over elusive sleep. It was hard to act natural around Uncle Peter when he picked us up for church. I felt like I was going to throw up, but I knew Grandma would cancel the party if I got sick. I ground my teeth all through Teen class as Uncle Peter preached. I used to enjoy his sermons, but today his words meant nothing. The hypocrite. Did he honestly think he could steal and not get caught?

“You’re awfully quiet today, Pipsqueak,” Uncle Peter said on our way home.

“She’s had a lot on her mind.” Grandma winked at me.

There was more on my mind than she realized.

“Anything you’d like to talk about?” He pulled on my braid and grinned.

I shook my head. Now was not the time.

Uncle Peter was thrilled with the surprise waiting for him at Grandma’s house. The air was festive and I almost hated to end it. But this had to be done. I gathered everyone in the living room.

“For your birthday,” I said when it was quiet, “I wanted to give you something that you probably don’t deserve.”

“I’m ready, Pipsqueak. Bring it on.” Uncle Peter grinned at me in anticipation.

“I’m giving you the opportunity to tell the truth.” I pulled the leger book from behind my back.

“The truth about what?” The confused look on his face was almost genuine. He was a better actor than I thought.

“I know about the money that you’ve been stealing from Grandma.” The whole room seemed to hold its breath. “The evidence is all here. Thousands of dollars are missing. What do you have to say about that?”

“Oh, Pete,” Grandma groaned.

Uncle Peter swallowed a few times, working his jaw as he thought. Finally he looked at Grandma. “Sorry, Mom.” His eyes were misty when he finally turned to me. “It’s not what you think.”

“Sure it’s not.” I shook my head. Of course he wouldn’t tell the truth.

“When your Mom and Dad died, they left you some money in trust. I don’t know if you remember, but Grandma got real sick not long after and ended up in the hospital.”

Grandma nodded and laid a hand on my shoulder. “I borrowed your money to pay the bills.” There were tears in her eyes.

“She’s been paying it back as she was able.” Uncle Peter looked around the room. “We’ve all helped as we were able.”

Heads nodded and I knew he was telling the truth. All the anger seeped out of me. I felt like such a heel. With a guilty look at the leger book in my hand, I gave it back to Uncle Peter. How had I doubted?

“I’m so sorry.” I muttered.

“Me too, Pipsqueak.”

The truth was a surprise I’d never forget.

Aug 8, 2014

Photo Friday

For the last year and a half, I've been taking part in a photo-a-week photography challenge. I'd like to share some of those photos with you.

Theme - Fruit

Theme - Looking Down

Theme - Winter Fun

Theme - Posed

Aug 1, 2014

Photo Friday

For the last year and a half, I've been taking part in a photography challenge. I'd like to share some of those photos with you.

Theme - Love

Theme - Happy

Theme - Guilty Pleasure
Theme - Mismatched

Jul 28, 2014

God's Will Be Done

God's Will Be Done
By: Christina Banks

“Master you must leave,” Thomas urged. “It has been two days since Justinius was arrested. They will have tortured him to find you.”

Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, sat silently at the table, studying the scroll before him.

“How long will you wait here for the soldiers to take you away? Did you not hear what happened at the arena only weeks ago? The crowd was calling your name. Your life is in danger, master.”

The older man looked up from his reading. “Were we not told? Did we not know? Christ Jesus, our Lord, said that persecution would come. Should I run away? Nay. Though they kill my body, they cannot touch my soul.” He rolled up the parchment. “Now, I shall sup.”

Thomas commanded the meal be brought. The faithful servant longed to convince his aging master to leave Rome. But it was clear that the Bishop of Smyrna was not going to go. For weeks Thomas had pleaded with the older man, but the master remained resolute. His answer was always the same: “God’s will be done.”

Heavy pounding on the front door sent Thomas rushing to answer. Four soldiers pushed roughly past him and headed for the back room where his master was eating. Thomas followed close behind. The soldiers circled the old man where he sat a supper.

“Polycarp, you are hereby arrested under order of the proconsul for being a Christian. What say you?”

The master glanced from his meal. “God’s will be done.” He looked at Thomas. “Bring these men meat that they may eat.”

Thomas nodded to a nearby servant, who rushed to do his bidding. Keeping his place by the wall, Thomas watched as the master addressed the soldiers again.

“Sirs, would you grant me an hour of prayer?”

Much to Thomas’ amazement the soldiers agreed to Polycarp’s request. Two hours later the aged man finished his prayer, and went peaceably with the soldiers. Thomas also prayed. He prayed for God’s strength for himself and his master. He prayed for the souls of the heartless proconsul which persecuted those who did not follow the old ways. He prayed for the quick return of the Lord.

After a sleepless night, Thomas followed the crowd into the arena. The proconsul sat, waiting for his prized prisoner. Near the proconsul sat Philip the Asiarch, keeper of the lions. Thomas shuddered to think of his calm, kind master being torn apart by the savage beasts. He sent a prayer to heaven as he caught sight of his master’s bent form coming through the crowd. The area resounded with the cries and jeers of the Roman spectators.

The proconsul silenced the masses as the master stood before him. He urged the master to reproach Christ. Thomas could hear his master’s voice clearly.

“Eighty-six years I have served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”

“Swear by the fortune of Caesar and you shall be free,” the proconsul promised.

“Since you vainly think I will swear by the fortune of Caesar, as you say, and pretend not to know who I am, listen carefully: I am a Christian!”

Thomas wanted to cheer, and cry at the same moment. His master’s faith was strong despite the trial. Still, Thomas prayed for deliverance for the beloved gentleman.

“I will throw you to my wild beasts if you do not repent,” threatened the proconsul.

“Call them! I cannot repent from that which is better to that which is worse.”

Thomas watched the large purple vein protrude from the proconsul’s forehead. “I will have your body burned.”

“You can threaten me with a fire that burns for an hour, but do you not realize that there is a fire that burns for eternity, which is the coming judgment for the ungodly. But why do you delay? Do what you want.”

Thomas could see the anger in the face of the proconsul as the herald made his announcement to the arena. Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, was order to die for his faith. As they led the elderly man roughly away to the marketplace to be burned on a pyre, Thomas could almost hear his master say in his calm, quiet voice, “God’s will be done.”