Thursday, August 28, 2008

Not heaven bound

No sooner has we walked into the tiny living room then we were handed beautiful demitasse cups filled with thick sweet Cuban coffee. Rosa led me to their front desk, where we settled into chairs for conversation, sipping espresso. She spoke English well and so we discussed children, her job, and the neighborhood.

Soon her husband poked his head out the door. “I would like to show you our back yard.”

So we set down our cups to step through the tiny house and view his backyard, which was little more than a large deck with some potted plants. The wood was scrubbed clean and the plants were strong and healthy.

A few pieces of clothing hung on a line across the deck and Rosa pointed at the little washing machine wedged under a corner of the roof. “That’s where I wash,” she said.

“Our driver is here!” my husband said suddenly. “We need to go.”

And so we quickly said goodbyes and headed for the street. Then I remembered the espresso cup. It was a beautiful piece of china that I didn’t want left on the front step.

I scurried over to find it and hand it to Rosa. “I didn’t want this to get lost. It is so beautiful!”

She smiled gently. “It’s OK,” she said to me. “It doesn’t matter. It won’t go to heaven.”

And in that moment, I felt stripped of much of the American materialism I had brought with me.

So that’s my new motto: “Will this go to heaven?” If not, it doesn’t matter. I might enjoy it for the moment but it needn’t have a hold on my life.

Jesus said it simply:

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

An average view of the Christian life is that it means deliverance from trouble. It is deliverance in trouble,
which is very different.

Oswald Chambers

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The state of greed

Charles did enough international travel to be familiar with US customs procedures. So when he was pulled aside in Dallas for an interview and a search by a customs official, he was curious.

“Why did you pull me out of line?” he asked the official.

The man shifted a little uncomfortably. “Are you sure you really want to know?”

“I wouldn’t have asked,” Charles told him, “if I didn’t want to know.”

“Well, as you came through customs, I heard you say that you were a Christian. I find that Christians lie more often about what they bring back into the US.”


This is a true story. What can we make of it?

I’ve talked with waiters and waitresses who dread the Sunday after-church crowd for these are the most likely to leave a pittance for a tip along with a brochure on how to get to heaven.

I suspect a thoughtful tip might convey something of God’s love, too.

I know of churches who nurse along a healthy savings account, calling it stewardship when I wonder about their trust. For some reason, I think about five loaves and two fishes turning into food for over 5,000 – with leftovers. Couldn’t God re-fill the savings account?

King Nebuchadnezzar was reduced to an animal state because he used his wealth and power to live a life of ease, taking pride in his own abilities rather than submitting to God.

Are we a greedy group of followers?

Job said it well:

If I have made gold my trust, or called fine gold my confidence; if I have rejoiced because my wealth was great, or because my hand had gotten much... this also would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges, for I should have been false to God above.

Job 31:24-28

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ruth: kinsman-redeemer

In ancient Israel, a kinsman-redeemer had specific legal responsibilities. Always male, the kinsman-redeemer was a blood relative who had the duty of protecting his weaker relatives.

He had to redeem land that his relatives were forced to sell and was expected to defend the relative.

Redemption was the process by which people, property and prestige were restored to a family that has lost them. The redeemer was the designated family member who was expected to recover that which was lost.

We see the picture of the blood relative helping those who are unable to help themselves.

Redemption also included the levirate, which is key to our story in Ruth. A levirate redeemer was expected to beget and raise a child with the widow of his dead brother in order to carry on the brother’s name.

Tamar, in Genesis 28, invoked this right in demanding Jacob provide her with a levirate. Read Tamar’s story this week, because it is important in our understanding of the book of Ruth.

In Ruth, our storyline makes a quick change as we, and Naomi, realize that Boaz, who has generously shared his harvest abundance with Ruth, was a kinsman-redeemer for Naomi.

Naomi, at the beginning of chapter 3, began a plan to restore her husband’s name. She herself was too old for children but Ruth was not. So Naomi hoped to convince Boaz to provide a child.

She may not have been angling for a marriage for Ruth, but simply a levirate meeting in the night might be enough to provide the child needed to carry on the family name. Notice she says to Ruth, “he will tell you what to do.” (Ruth 3:4)

Ruth had vowed “where you go I will go.” In other words, what happened to Naomi happened to Ruth. And vice versa. They were united. And now Naomi sent Ruth out as her representative to a kinsman-redeemer, hoping for a levirate meeting to produce a harvest – a child.

Next time: at the threshing floor

Friday, August 22, 2008

Repossessing America

Britain is Repossessing the U.S.A. ----A Message from John Cleese

To the citizens of the United States of America:

"In light of your failure to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately."

"Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas ,which she does not fancy)."

"Your new prime minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed."

"To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. "You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary, then look up aluminium, and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

2. "The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'favour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix -ize will be replaced by the suffix -ise. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').

3. "Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of -ize. You will relearn your original national anthem, 'God Save The Queen'.

4. "July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday."

5. "You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns,lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.

6. "Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

7. "All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and this is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.

8. "All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

9. "The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline)-roughly $6/US gallon. Get used to it.

10. "You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

11. "The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting Nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of British Commonwealth - see what it did for them.

12. "Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie McDowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

13. "You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will,in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies). Don't try Rugby - the South Africans and Kiwis will thrash you, like they regularly thrash us.

14. "Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

15. "You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

16. "An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

17. "Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 pm with proper cups, never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; strawberries in season."

"God save the Queen."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A heart checklist

When I wonder how I’m doing on my journey with Jesus, I sometimes look at others who journey as well. I can usually find someone who is stumbling more than I am, and then I can feel better about my own journey.

Have you ever done that, too?

I don’t think it’s wrong to evaluate my walk but I think it’s not helpful to look at others who are on the journey. I think I need a better evaluation tool.

Here’s what I came up with, out of the book of Romans. I think these are marks to compare myself to. These reveal my heart and show me where I need to grow.

I don’t think these are burdens we should place on those who are not following Jesus, as though checking off this list will make them followers. This list is for followers of Jesus, to check our heart condition.

See what you think of the benchmarks:

    Is my love genuine?
  • Do I hate what is evil?
  • Do I hold fast to what is good?
  • Do I love other with mutual affection?
  • Do I outdo others in showing honor?
  • Do I lag in zeal?
  • Am I ardent in spirit?
  • Do I long to serve the Lord?
  • Do I rejoice in hope?
  • Am I patient in suffering?
  • Do I persevere in prayer?
  • Do I contribute to the needs of the saints?
  • Do I extend hospitality to strangers?
  • Do I bless, rather than curse, those who persecute me?
  • Do I rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep?
  • Do I live in harmony with one another?
  • Am I too haughty to associate with the lowly?
  • Do I claim to be wiser than I am?
  • Do I repay anyone evil for evil or do I do what is noble in the sight of all?
  • As much as it is possible, so far as it depends on me, do I live peaceably with all?
  • Do I seek vengeance or allow God to protect me?
  • Am I overcome by evil or do I overcome evil with good?

(Checklist courtesy of Romans 12:9-21)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Panic or inspiration?

It is much easier to do something than to trust in God; we mistake panic for inspiration. That is why there are so few fellow workers with God and so many workers for Him. We would far rather work for God than believe in Him.
-Oswald Chambers

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

August forgetting

Dust hung in the air, held motionless by the August heat but broken by the gang of four tumbling into the dining room. It’d been a busy morning of adventure behind the garage and we were hungry.

As I slammed into my chair, I saw a birthday cake in the middle of the table. Were we having company?

“Whose cake is that?” my brother piped up.

My mother was still bringing dishes of hot food to the table but she stopped for a moment. “Well, it’s mine. I thought I ought to get a birthday cake this year.”


I was 9 at the time, the oldest of the four who were enjoying summer freedom. We were too young to worry about insurance and phone bills. And calendars.

We all spent the afternoon working on birthday gifts. I don’t know how she felt about pictures drawn on brown grocery bags with crayons. Maybe the stack of chicken feathers warmed her heart.

I’m a mother now and I remember those days of zealous children, selfish in their quest for exploration. I suspect Mom wasn’t devastated by our forgetfulness. But I was.

That day I made myself a promise that I would not forget her birthday again.

I’m a little older than 9 now, but so far, so good.

So, today I’m taking my mother out to lunch. Happy birthday, Mom!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ruth: different fields

Last week we looked at how Naomi and Ruth returned to a bountiful harvest in Bethlehem. Their emptiness matched the fields of Bethlehem back when Naomi left. But now they came back (remember our discussion of “shub”) to a rich harvest.

There’s a parallel between those fields and the women. The womb of these women were like a field; their barrenness caused by a lack of seed. Their “fields” remained barren as long as they lacked husbands, who would provide the “seed” for the harvest.

We see the dangers to Ruth in the field. Presumably, there was some possibility that she might be molested as she gathered in the fields.

But she just happened to start in the field of Boaz. We learn quickly that he is of the family of Elimilech and we start to anticipate. But Ruth did not. She asked for permission to gather in this field, working hard since early morning to provide for Naomi and herself.

Boaz agreed, calling her “my daughter.” Although scholars think he was a generation older than Ruth, his words indicate that he accepted her into his family to watch over her like a daughter. And his immediate concern was that she not gather in any other field. She need not fear the young men in his fields, implying that she should fear the young men in other fields.

Suddenly our barren young widow was surrounded by fertility and sexuality: of the fruitful harvest and also of virile young men who might take advantage of her. It mattered where she gathered. There was the danger of her going to the wrong field and her emptiness filled by the wrong man.

As the story unfolds, Naomi realized that Boaz offered hope to restore her lands: He was a kinsman-redeemer. In other words, he had the legal right to redeem Naomi’s land.

We’ll look at that kinsman-redeemer process next time.

Friday, August 15, 2008

New Birth or Rebirth?

Ever wonder what Jesus would say to Hitler or Buddha or Krishna? Ravi Zacharias has written a series of books based on that curiosity. Zacharias, a well-known author and speaker and scholar, has examined the teachings of spiritual philosophers and then written a fictional conversation between Jesus and the philosopher.

Zacharias has already published the first two books in this series and his latest will come out in September, dropping Jesus and Krishna into a conversation about Hinduism.

Often in these kinds of conversations, the positions are not fairly presented. It’s easy to knock down a caricature of a philosophy, but Zacharias does not present Hinduism unfairly. He probes the complex teachings of Hinduism, examines its sacred texts, and presents the points in context.

Hinduism is the world’s third-largest religion, behind Christianity and Islam. Depending on whose statistics you believe, there are anywhere from 837 million to 1.2 billion people in the world who practice this faith. Though Hindus currently make up only 0.5% of the U.S. population (approximately 76% of the population considers itself Christian), their number and influence on Western society are growing, as notions of Karma and reincarnation, the practice of yoga and books on topics like tantric sex have been co-opted by popular culture. In recent years, much has been made of a supposed Krishna-Christ connection, leading many to wonder if, aside from the obvious differences in dietary practices (Hindus revere cows, while most Christians enjoy them grilled to perfection and served with a baked potato), these faiths are, in essence, preaching the same message.

In his new book, New Birth or Rebirth? Jesus Talks with Krishna (Multnomah, 2008), Zacharias takes readers on a journey into India's holy city of Mathura. This is the birthplace of Krishna, the name revered and worshiped by millions of Hindus. The teachings of Krishna in the Gita are often referred to as being closest to those of Jesus. But as you walk through the streets and visit the temples, you will be a witness to an imaginary conversation between Jesus and Krishna you will soon see where the message comes close but where the differences lie.

Questions of human dignity, Karma, and reincarnation are faced head-on. What is the teaching of this most popular of Hindu books? How does the Gospel differ? New Birth or Rebirth? gets to the heart through the mind of these two, both of whom claimed to give the ultimate answers. Jesus and Krishna will engage your intellect and emotions in life's soul- searching struggles.

“My premise is that the popular aphorism that ‘all religions are fundamentally the same and only superficially different’ is simply not true. It is more correct to say that all religions are, at best, superficially similar but fundamentally different,” Zacharias reflects. “Both Christianity and Hinduism claim to be true and legitimate. This rationally implies, then, that it does matter what you believe.”

With three doctoral degrees under his belt, Zacharias is clearly qualified to teach on comparative religion, particularly the Christian faith he practices and Hinduism, the majority religion of his native India. His creative approach to the topic is far more user-friendly than any textbook. A gifted writer, Zacharias peppers the philosophical intricacies of the discussion with moments of wit and humor.

New Birth or Rebirth? is an excellent evangelistic tool. As the characters converse, Zacharias presents the truth and beauty of the gospel of Christ against the backdrop of Hinduism’s complexity. The book is also a helpful resource for Christians who have asked questions like: Who do Hindus worship? Why do they revere cows? Why do they believe in reincarnation? Most importantly, readers will find the answer to this question: Who should I believe?

New Birth or Rebirth? is the fourth installment in the Great Conversations series, an innovative line of apologetics that includes previously released titles The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha, The Lamb and the Fuhrer: Jesus Talks with Hitler, and Sense and Sensuality: Jesus Talks to Oscar Wilde on the Pursuit of Pleasure.

New Birth or Rebirth? Jesus Talks with Krishna by Ravi Zacharias

Multnomah Books/June 2008/ISBN-13: 978-1-59052-725-2/hardcover/90 pages/$11.99

Thursday, August 14, 2008

You'll be blown away by this

You'll chuckle at this new outreach idea. Go over to Ben Witherington's blog and see a new way to reach out to our friends at the beach.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The greater hunger

Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.

Mother Teresa

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Several months ago, I asked for prayer for my friend, Donna, who was battling cancer. After a courageous fight, she is now celebrating with Jesus. She went home on Friday. Thank you for your prayers. She was dedicated follower of Jesus and our lives are better because God allowed us time with her.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ruth: harvest

Last week we talked about how empty life looked for Naomi. She’d endured a famine, a move to a foreign country, and the loss of her husband and sons. She returned to Bethlehem angry with God, certain he had been unduly harsh to her.

But as our story rolls into chapter 2 of Ruth, we see the harvest. I asked you to look for the harvest words you could find. You should have seen words like “field” and “glean” and “ears of corn.” There’s a wealth of harvest terms in the second chapter. This is no accident.

In chapter one, we saw emptiness and death. Now, in chapter two, we see fullness and harvest, the gleaning of the abundance.

Harvest for a farmer is the culmination of the season’s work. A farmer plows and prepares the soil, plants the seed, tends the plants, pulls weeds, waits for rain, and then harvests the crop. The harvest is the fruit, the completion, the abundance that comes from the work.

Into that picture of abundance came our two empty women, Naomi and Ruth.

Once in Bethlehem, Ruth went to work. She headed out to the harvest field to pick up the leftovers. The custom of the day allowed widows to gather what grain slipped through the reapers’ grasp. It was hard work but it yielded food. Ruth, the young empty widow, was now gathering barley grain in a harvest so plentiful that there were leftovers. She was an empty field entering a field filled with the seed of abundance. We can sense the changing winds here.

What Naomi could not do for herself, Ruth did.

Next time: different kinds of fields

Friday, August 8, 2008

Over in Malta

People once saw illnesses cured and a man survive a poisonous snake bite on the island of Malta. If you'll take a peek at Acts 28, you can read the story, where Paul was shipwrecked on the island and spent three months there, along with all the people on the ship.

This was a ship of prisoners being escorted by Roman soldiers to Rome. They had started too late in the season and gotten caught by the winter storms, forcing them to stay at Malta until spring.

Shortly after the bedraggled group from the ship crawled ashore, Paul was bitten by a snake. In that pagan culture, such an event was evidence that Paul was some sort of evil person being punished by the gods. "Maybe he's a murderer," was the idea of the islanders. They assumed that, although he had survived the shipwreck, justice would be done anyway.

However, Paul lived and soon was invited into the home of Publius, the main landowner of the island. When Publius became ill with dysentery, Paul prayed for him and laid hands on him. Publius was healed.

During the three months that Paul was on the island of Malta, many others were healed as well. When the Roman entourage headed for Rome in the spring, the Maltans gave them many honors and send along all the provisions they'd need.

Knowing Paul, I am sure that he spent those three months telling the Maltans about Jesus. I suspect he left many believers behind when he sailed on to Rome.

I tell you this because my friend, Angela, is in Malta right now. She is part of a prayer team walking through the island and participating in the International Day of Prayer there. Please pray for her daily if you can.

There have been believers on Malta since the days of Paul, but these days I'm told their faith has tilted toward formal traditionalism with little life. Angela is on the front line there, trying to pierce that apathy. Let's support her with our prayers.

She'll be in Malta 10 days and will be posting updates to her blog. Please keep her in your prayers.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The bar

“We started praying that the bar would close,” Harlan confided. Harlan had purchased the seminary building a few years before and, with sweat and muscle from many volunteers, has seen it transformed from a crumbling dump into a functioning, shiny, tiled building.

In Merida, Yucatan, the streets are narrow with the concrete buildings pressed hard against the thin sidewalk. The bar was only a two car widths plus maybe two people widths from the seminary.

The bar disturbed Harlan, because he saw the drunkenness and shattered lives as people staggered out. It was noisy, with broken people sometimes lying on on the sidewalk or singing obscenely to the stars.

The seminary students were disturbed as well and they began praying. One day, Harlan wandered over to have a chat with the owner of the bar. Before the visit was over, the owner of the bar had become a believer.

And he became convinced that a follower of Jesus would not operate a bar. He closed it himself and is now remodeling the place into an apartment. He’s going to church and starting to recruit others as well.

Sometimes we don’t pray for enough. I’m reminded of the believers praying fervently for Peter when he was in jail. Remember how surprised they were when he was released? That’s because they weren’t praying for his release – would you have? – but more likely for strength and protection.

God answered beyond what they prayed. And he did the same for a seminary in the Yucatan.

Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.

Eph 3:20

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Whose desire?

Think of the last thing you prayed about -
were you devoted to your desire or to God?

-Oswald Chambers

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Photos from Cuba

Here are a few photos from our trip to Cuba. I hope you enjoy.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ruth: the dawn's coming

When purpose is lost, powerful emotions surge through our veins. We are angered, numbed, stricken. The loss may possess our waking moments, consuming us in the passion of reconciliation. Or we may buckle under the weight, crushed by the hopeless of recovery.

For ancient Israel, the concept of the blessing was a powerful one, wrapping them in a warm cocoon of protection. From the time of Abraham, they had trusted in two parts of the promise from God: land and offspring.

God came to Abraham with a promise and a blessing. In Genesis 12:2, God promised to bring a great nation from Abraham’s line and to bless all the people of the earth through Abraham. This great pledge sustained the people who descended from Abraham. Their greatest desire was for offspring. Their children represented their greatest yearning for God’s purposes and blessings.

The land was closely linked to offspring. God, after his tremendous blessing in Gen 12:2, made a second amazing promise: I will give this land to your offspring. Thus came the dual promise of land and offspring. They were linked through God’s promise to Abraham.

Imagine Naomi. She was an empty woman who had lost all of God’s promises. Her family had left the land during the famine and now she returned, without family and without land. She was barren, a widow in a culture that treasured land and offspring, not old used-up women.

The author of Ruth weaves those two desires – for children and offspring – and pulls the threads tight in his story. Naomi accused God of failing her, of forgetting his promises. She left Bethlehem with the land barren. Now she returned, barren herself. We are to understand that the lack of seed forced her to leave Moab and she returned to Bethlehem with lack of seed – or offspring. However, she failed to notice that the land is no longer barren, a foreshadowing of the fertility coming.

Notice the number of farming or harvest words that appear in chapter 2. From the second verse, where we see “field” and “glean” and “ears of corn,” to the end of the chapter, we see a wealth of harvest terms. This is no accident.

Read chapter 2 of Ruth and notice all the harvest words you see there.

Next week: the abundance of the land

Friday, August 1, 2008

Romancing Hollywood Nobody

It is August FIRST, time for the FIRST Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

Today's feature author is:

and her book:

Romancing Hollywood Nobody

NavPress Publishing Group (July 15, 2008)


Lisa Samson is the author of twenty books, including the Christy Award-winning Songbird. Apples of Gold was her first novel for teens

These days, she's working on Quaker Summer, volunteering at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, raising children and trying to be supportive of a husband in seminary. (Trying . . . some days she's downright awful. It's a good thing he's such a fabulous cook!) She can tell you one thing, it's never dull around there.

Other Novels by Lisa:

Hollywood Nobody, Finding Hollywood Nobody, Straight Up, Club Sandwich, Songbird, Tiger Lillie, The Church Ladies, Women's Intuition: A Novel, Songbird, The Living End

Visit her at her website.

Product Details

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 195 pages
Publisher: NavPress Publishing Group (July 15, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1600062210
ISBN-13: 978-1600062216


Monday, April 30, 6:00 a.m.

My eyes open. Yes, yes, yes. The greatest man in the entire world

is brewing coffee right here in the TrailMama.


“Morning, Scotty. The big day.”


“And this time, you won't have to drive.”

I throw back the covers on my loft bed and slip down to the dinette of our RV. My dad sleeps on the dinette bed. He's usually got it turned back into our kitchen table by 5:00 a.m. What can I say? The guy may be just as much in love with cheese as I am, but honestly? Our body clocks are about as different as Liam Neeson and Seth Green.

You know what I mean?

And we have lots of differences.

For one, he's totally a nonfiction person and I'm fiction all the way. For two, he has no fashion sense whatsoever. And for three, he has way more hope for people at the outset than I do. Man, do I have a lot to learn on that front.

He hands me a mug and I sip the dark liquid. I was roasting coffee beans for a while there, but Dad took the mantle upon himself and he does a better job.

Starbucks Schmarbucks.

He hands me another mug and I head to the back of the TrailMama to wake up Charley. My grandmother looks so sweet in the morning, her frosted, silver-blonde hair fanned out on the pillow. You know, she could pass for an aging mermaid. A really short one, true.

I wave the mug as close as I can to her nose without fear of her rearing up, knocking the mug and burning her face. “Charley . . .” I singsong. “Time to get a move on. Time to get back on the road.”

And boy is this a switch!

All I can say is, your life can be going one way for years and years and then, snap-snap-snap-in-a-Z, it looks like it had major plastic surgery.

Only in reverse. Imagine life just getting more and more real. I like it.

Charley opens her eyes. “Hey, baby. You brought me coffee. You get groovier every day.”

She's a hippie. What can I say?

And she started drinking coffee again when I ran away last fall in Texas. I mean, I didn't really run away. I went somewhere with a perfectly good reason for not telling anyone, and I was planning to return as soon as my mission was done.

She scootches up to a sitting position, hair still in a cloud, takes the mug and, with that dazzling smile still on her face (think Kate Hudson) sips the coffee. She sighs.

“I know,” I say. “How did we make it so long without him?”

“Now that he's with us, I don't know. But somehow we did, didn't we, baby? It may not have always been graceful and smooth, but we made it together.”

I rub her shoulder. “Yeah. I guess you could say we pretty much did.”

The engine hums its movin'-on song. “Dad's ready to pull out. Let's hit it.”

“Scotland, here we come.”

Scotland? Well, sort of.

An hour later

This has been a great school year. In addition to the online courses I'm taking through Indiana University High School, Dad's been teaching me and man, is he smart. I'm sure most sixteen-(almost seventeen)-year-olds think their fathers are the smartest guys in the world, but in my case it happens to be true.

Okay, even I have to admit he probably won't win the Nobel Prize for physics or anything, but he's street smart and there's no replacing that sort of thing. Big plus: he knows high school math. We're both living under the radar. And he's taken our faux last name. Dawn. He's now Ezra Fitzgerald Dawn. After Ezra Pound, one of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Lost Generation friends.

I'm just lovin' that.

“Your mom would have loved the name change, Scotty.”

He told me about his life as an FBI agent, some of the cases he worked on, and well, I'd like to tell you he had a life like Sydney Bristow's in Alias, but he probably spent most of his time on com-puter work and sitting around on his butt waiting for someone to make a move. The FBI, apparently, prefers to trick people more than corner them in showdowns and shootouts. The Robertsman case was his first time undercover in the field and we know how terribly that worked out for him. And me. And Charley. And Babette, my mother.

I pull out my math book and sit in the passenger seat of the TrailMama. “Ready for some 'rithmetic, Dad?”

“You bet.” He turns to me and smiles. His smile still makes my heart warm up like a griddle ready to make smiley-face pan-cakes. I flip on my book light.

It's still dark and we're headed to Asheville, North Carolina for Charley's latest shoot. A film about Bonnie Prince Charlie called Charlie's Lament. How ironic is that? The director, Bartholomew (don't dare call him Bart) Evans, is a real jerk. I'm not going to be hanging around the set much even though Liam Neeson is Lord George Murray, the voice of reason Prince Charlie refused to listen to. But hey, that's my history lesson. We're still on math.

I finish up the last lesson in geometry . . . finally! Honestly, I still don't understand it without a mammoth amount of help, but the workbook's filled and that's a good thing.


I set down my pen. “Finished!”

Dad gives a nod as he continues to look out the windshield. You might guess, despite the tattoos, piercings, and his gleaming bald head, he's a very careful driver. And he won't let me drive like Charley did.

“So . . . driver's license then, right?”

He's been holding that over my head so I'd finish the math course.

“You know it. After the film, we'll request your new birth certificate and go from there.”

“What state are we supposedly from?” The FBI has given us a new identity, official papers and all that.


“Are you kidding me? Wyoming? Why?”

“Think about it, honey. Who's from Wyoming?”

“Lots of people?”

“Know any of them?”

“Uh. No.”


“Okay, Wyoming it is, then.”

“You realize you'll only have my beat-up old black truck to drive around.” The same truck we're towing behind the TrailMama.

“I'll take it.”

So here's the thing. The rest of the entire world thinks my father was shot in the chest and killed when he was outed by a branch of the mob he was after. This mob was financing James Robertsman's campaign for governor of Maryland.

The guy's running for president of the United States now.

I kid you not.

Wish I was kidding.

We thought he was after us for several years because Charley knew too much. But then last fall, we found out the guy chasing me was my father, and Robertsman is most likely cocky enough to think he took care of everything he needed. I say that's quite all right. Although, I have to admit, the fact that a dirtbag like that guy may end up in the Oval Office sickens me to no end.

Thanks to that guy, we had been running in fear from my own father.

The thing is, I could be really mad about all those wasted years, and a portion of me feels that way. But we've been given another chance, and I'll be darned if I throw away these days being angry. There's too much to be thankful for.

Don't get me wrong. I still have my surly days. I don't want Dad and Charley to think they have it as easy as all that!

Okay, time to blog.

Hollywood Nobody: April 30

Let's cut to the chase, Nobodies!

Today's Seth News: It's official. Seth Haas and Karissa Bonano are officially each other's exclusive main squeeze. The two were seen coming out of a popular LA tattoo parlor with each other's names on the inside of their forearms. How cliché. And pass the barf bag.

Today's Violette Dillinger Report: Violette has broken up with Joe Mason of Sweet Margaret. She wanted you all to know that long-distance romances are hard for any couple, but espe-cially for people as young as she is. “Joe needed to live his life. I'm on the road a lot. It wasn't fair to either of us.” Sounds like she's definitely not on the road to Britney. I'm just sayin'.

Today's Rave: Mandy Moore. The girl can really sing! And her latest album is filled with good songs. The bubble gum days of insipid teen heartbreak are over. She's finally come into her own. (Wish some others would follow her example, but I won't hold my breath. And man, are we on the theme of bratty stars today or what? Well, there are just so many of them from which to choose!)

Today's Rant: Crazy expensive celebrity weddings. What? If they spend more, will they be more likely to stay together? I have no idea. Mariah Carey's $25,000 dress pales in comparison to Catherine Zeta-Jones's $100,000 gown. What are those things made of?

Today's Quote: “Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today.” James Dean