Monster Hunting

Who is this monster everyone keeps talking about? I mean, it shoots up our schools, it ravages our kids with staggeringly high rates of depression and anxiety, and it has families running for cover.
I found myself ridiculed the other day when discussing the monster. My crime? I send my kids straight into battle aka public (charter) school. Before you read on or move on, this is not a public school vs. home school blog. It’s about our mission field.

Not everyone is called to the same mission field. As far as schooling goes, sometimes we have the liberty to orchestrate our kid’s education, sometimes we have little choice, but right now as parents argue on social media about the “right” way to protect our kids and to give them the best education, there are young feet walking within the mouths of the monsters’ jaws.
My two are there. Yes, they’ve dealt with bullies, they’ve had classmates whose families couldn’t afford to feed them all three meals, they’ve dealt with the privileged (interpret that as you will), played with kids who go home to single parents, etc. Many of these kids are pretty great, and their teachers are as well– teachers who care—and they receive a very well-rounded education, better than I could give them which is one reason why they attend school away from home.
A few years ago, a former student almost shot up their school. Thankfully, some brave people were proactive in stopping it before it happened. Is this terrifying? Of course.
They also get exposed to all those things the rest of us did: bad language, topics way to mature for their ages, poor examples. Yes, I send them into this, but they don’t go in alone.
Recently, my daughter told a friend about Jesus. Yes, right inside the monster’s playground, she said the J word. When she learns of a classmate’s hardship or family troubles, she prays for them (the power of prayer, friends). Where would this help be without kids of faith to know who/what to specifically pray for?
My son reminds others that Jesus still heals. And he’s shown forgiveness—maybe more than some kids would see if all parents of faith decided to do a mass extraction of their children.
When my kids make their own mistakes, they see the effects, and get the opportunity to learn from them firsthand. Christians screw up plenty, I know, that’s why we love the Great Forgiver.
Just to be clear, this is not a billboard against homeschooling—because there are certainly good reasons for choosing that direction—this is just a message for those who deny support to those called in the other direction.
So yes, some will criticize this viewpoint, regardless. But who would rather they got on their knees and prayed for our youth? Parents send their kids into this battleground every day. Thank goodness. Public school is not a thing to hide from—it’s a mission field. Parents—our kids can’t easily band together when they see us constantly fighting over our differences of opinions. Distraction is dangerous.
Bless those praying from home, and those still walking the halls.

Here’s a little tidbit from the generation who constantly receives criticism.

Millennials crave relationship, to have someone walking beside them through the muck. We are the generation with the highest ever percentage of fatherless homes…We’re looking for mentors who are authentically invested in our lives and our future. If we don’t have real people who actually care about us, why not just listen to a sermon from the couch?Sam Eaton


Who lives in Arizona? Fancy a trip to Tuscon this weekend? I’ll be at the Tuscon Festival of Books on March 10th, 2:30-4:30, in the Indie Pavilion on the U of A campus. I’ll be signing copies of WAKE, WILD, and I might just be doing a giveaway of ILLUME, the third book in the City of Light Series due out this fall.

BOooOo To Me

When I got off work, midnight reigned and I was exhausted. It was one of those nights where the darkness infused the city so deeply it nearly swallowed my headlights. A few streetlights did just enough to throw around strangely angled shadows of giant oaks and retirement homes. Even the coyotes lost their howls to something in the darkness, their voice clipped and desperate.

A small creature stepped onto the road in front of me. A raccoon? Javelina? Normally, Ifull-moon-1668805_1920 can tell by the crest of the back, but for some reason, it hid beneath my beams and the shadow of the brick office standing near the road. Nice of the little fellow to use the crosswalk.

Woa! By the time it had gone three quarters of the way across the street, it grew arms and legs. With a stooped back, it looked less like an old man and more like a teen although we were in the midst of an aged community.

I widened my eyes, thinking I was so tired, I was seeing things. It probably didn’t help that I had just read chapters of Hollow City, and When Godly People do Ungodly Things.

Is this an illustration of the power of the written word or of the ever increasing spiritual warfare morphing into a beast right before me?

Maybe both, or my Dr. was wrong and I do need more caffeine.

Either way, it will go into my ever increasing collection of unexplained stories. Happy Halloween to you.

The Making Of…

Sometimes I don’t have a blog because Pounce eats it.

Quit blaming me.

Quit blaming me.

But this time, I’ve been busy planning and making my book trailer for Faith Seekers (out soon). Of course, I had a lot of help.

Here’s my proof.

My bro Kenny, the filmster

My bro Kenny, the filmster


Me and Cheyenne, My "Hannah". One Awesome Teen.

Me and Cheyenne, My “Hannah”. One Awesome Teen.


Why are we filming in the creepy woods? Because I love stories with a good dose of creepy. Happy Monday, and see you  next week.

Raised on Books

The first book that made me cry was Bridge to Terabithia. I held the thin pages in my pruned hands, dampening the corners as I soaked up every last bubble in the bathtub, sobbing as the water turned cold.bridge to terabithia photo

I was mad at the author for killing off Leslie. It might have even been the first book I threw across the room, though certainly not the last. I anguished over the loss of a beloved character, wondering what would happen if I were to lose someone dear?

Weren’t books supposed to be for entertainment?

I had my own friend, just a trot through the scrub brush, who liked to climb trees and swing across the dry creek bed on a frayed rope swing. He and I spent hours combing through the caves and trails of the scraggly west—his mother kept boxes of chocolate bars in his kitchen—he liked to race and swim and dream, just like I did.

As I returned that book to the library, I felt an even closer kinship to my friend next door, knowing that the fun we had was not just kid stuff—it was precious.

I craved more books and wanted to know how they held such power. Little Women taught me that living with grace outweighed the shallow demands of society. Anne of Green Gables taught me that family goes beyond blood ties.

Frank Peretti’s books walked me through my high school years, opening my eyes to spiritual warfare and the root behind what makes us do what we do. Piercing the Darkness was one of the most powerful books I discovered, as far as how it helped shape my worldview and why it was okay to be me.

When people lump books in with the entertainment section, I always do a double take. Yes, they certainly entertain, but not mindlessly, not in a way that wastes time or hinders a reader’s creativity.

They have the power to change lives. To Educate. To make a child think beyond summertime swinging over a dry creek bed.


Is there a book that impacted your life? Tell us about it in the comments.


Last week I talked about failure.  This week, I’m taking a step forward.100_2425

As I was in the midst of writing/illustration The Guardians a few years ago, an idea came to me that would not leave me alone. I mean, I had planned to write stories for my children as they aged, but this idea kept haunting me  (was it you, God?). So… I wrote it down and now I’m stepping into a whole new genre. Rook Publishing has offered me a contract for this book and I couldn’t be more excited.

So gather your teens, your college-age readers (yep, and I know a lot of older adults who read YA fantasy incognito) and prepare them for the story of an adventure across the brokenness of America. And of course, there’s a little romance. And beauty. And lots of other secrets.

Has your path ever changed, despite careful planning? Tell us in the comments.

Show, Don’t Tell

There’s a technique that writers use to help draw a reader into a story. It’s called showing vs. telling. Of course, this is a universal truth. I could tell my kids to eat healthy or I could show them by doing it myself.

I could tell you Jane is angry at me, or I could show you how she tore into my driveway, banged on the door until I let her in, and then leaned into my face with balled fists, face hot-poker red, staring me down until I asked, “What?”image007

A great story will stir something inside you that makes you add it to your kids inheritance, it’s that powerful.

This is how we know Jesus is real, friends. How many religions tell you nice things? Mind-provoking things, even; things that you discuss for hours at a time? How many have enticing arguments against everything you thought you knew?

Now, make a list of all the “gods” that let themselves get beaten to a pulp, spit on, mocked (to this day), and literally crucified – showing you He is the real deal?

It’s Jesus, people. You won’t find that kind of love anywhere else. The generic versions are nothing but one-dimensional talk.

This blog was brought to you by the letter T for Truth.

Wrapping it up

There she was, in white silken glory, engulfed in my wedding dress. The protective cedar bag lay ripped open on her bed and my little sweetie had collapsed in tears because the dress didn’t fit her. “Fix it, Mommy.”

After explaining the importance of waiting until she had grown up to fix it, she calmed down and gave me most of a smile for this photo.100_3206

So, like Chloe, I’m trying to make my own work-in-progress fit just right. Chapter 38 is about to be re-written for the third time, so the blog got neglected this week. I’m in the final chapters, though, and can’t wait to wrap it up in a beautiful, fully hemmed bow.

On the same Friday that I found my little girl in bridal froth, I write about The Bethlehem Star on Life Upside Down. You can read it here.

Happy gift-wrapping, crazy shopping, cookie baking week! See you next Monday!

Memories in perpective

There was this rock shelf down at the creek where the bones of mice rested. My friend, Mike, and I could play for hours going through these bones, making up stories, wondering if the mouse captor was lurking behind the cat claw bushes, waiting for us…
It was the type of graveyard where kids can play without bringing home nightmares.

Around the corner and down the dry creek bed was our rope swing, frayed and hovering over nothing but rocks and sand. Oh, how we loved to swing. We saw the frayed bits as a sign of a loved thing — danger was a word we left home with our parents.

Dream, swing, run and play, these things that filled the childhood treasure chest.

As I outgrew the bone cave and understood frayed as may break and let you fall onto the rocks I found that girls made good friends too and who didn’t want to look like Molly Ringwald?

Leah invited a few of us friends to her place for a party. Her life was gloriously mysterious. Leaving the traditional life behind, her family lived in their RV, spending three weeks in a Thousand Trails campground to move to another local camp until they reached their maximum stay. Back and forth, from a valley to a park, all under the Arizona sun. It was on one of their Thousand Trails rounds that we had our party.

It was hot.

It was amazing. We got ready in their tiny bathroom area, poofing our hair to 80’s standards and venturing out with kids of the road. The recreation room was stuffed with chaos. Noise, play and the kind of games that could produce a bloody nose or two.

Bounce, bang and none stayed down for long.

It was awesome.

Leah wore an outfit that could have been in Pretty in Pink. It was a thrift store find which disappointed me only because I knew it was the only one. I’d have to check out Sprouse Rietz for some pink fashion when I got some birthday money.

Back home again to a house of bricks, secure in the ground. Until the forest called…

Kindling works best when it’s nice and dry, and cooking over it makes for the best food in the world. It was cowboy camping with my family with no bathrooms but the shadows of juniper trees. The pine scent that inspired millions of air fresheners filled the blue skies of summers and I never felt dirty until we got home and I permeated the space around me with the perfume of campfire.

I brought my skills inside and built a fire in our woodstove that some people find 100_2621primitive. It made for cozy holidays and reminders of the ancients who brought us this far.

Ramble and vroom we went in my grandparents motor home to get a taste of comfy camping.

The black and white TV played my grandpa’s favorite Ernest movies and I slept on a bed that has no home but the landscapes of America. Carrots and potatoes were peeled in the campgrounds, McDonald’s a chicken nugget feast when we were in between destinations.

It was always world class travel when I got to see bits and pieces of America.

Time to do some stitching.

I could sew a beautiful quilt out of all the ragged bits of fun I’ve had or I could just write a book. So here I am, putting in scraps of truth into a bit of fiction that penetrates deep with the life experience of me and those warriors of rope swings and RV’s. It digs deep into the bloodline of America, passing from the fingerprints of all of us into one giant quilt of a story.

What do you do with your memories? Do you paint them, teach about them? Tell us in the comments.