My heart holds a cup full of sorrow; ’tis beyond what my mind comprehends. For the cup is so full that a single deft nudge— and the cup overflows into tears pressing hard ‘neath my eyelids. Continue reading →
Theoretically, I write because I have something worthwhile to say. Or at least I publish for that reason. I can write just for the sheer delight of piecing words together to mean something. But part of the joy in writing, for me, is to share it.
Of course, in order to write something worthwhile, you should probably know what you’re talking about, right?
And of late, I have discovered just exactly how much I don’t know. Part of growing is discovering how much you have yet to grow.
I look at myself and wonder what business I have writing anything to try to help others. Sweet stars, I can’t even help myself half the time. There is so much I have yet to figure out.
And then I hear a pastor in his sixties say, “I hate to break it to you, but I still don’t have it figured out!” So encouraging. 😉
I don’t have the training of a pastor. Just a very busy brain, a deep respect for God’s Word, and a passion for written communication.
All these thoughts bubble up within me, and I want to write them and share them here. But I don’t.
It’s not about the number of people who read. It’s about whether it makes a difference. And more to the point, what kind of difference it makes. What if I write something here that is patently wrong?
I’ve written some pretty strong stuff here in the past. I find myself much less confident of the accuracy of my perceptions these days.
Yet that word “perceptions” is key. When I write my thoughts here, I am sharing my perceptions. My point of view. Yes, I endeavor to align my perceptions with the Bible. I seek to match them with reality.
But the fact is, I’m sharing things as I see them, in the hopes that my perception will be a blessing to someone else. Either because it’s relatable or because it’s something new. But it’s not like I’m writing the Bible. Anyone who reads what I write can take it or leave it, weigh it against the Word and see how it holds up.
I am responsible to do my best, and it’s up to my reader to discern the Truth in what I write—or if Truth is lacking.
And when it comes down to it, I write because that’s what God has given me to do. I’m so afraid it sounds pompous to say that: “God called me to do this.”
But it’s just a job I’ve been given to do. Happens to be a fun job many times. Fun or not, it’s always fulfilling. Nothing like doing what you’re supposed to do for giving you that feeling of purpose.
So I shall endeavor to continue sharing the things that come into my life and grow me, encourage me, and change my perspective.
My goal is to encourage, uplift, and challenge my fellow creatures. To hopefully be an outlet for the Light.
To everyone who reads: thank you for valuing my words, at least enough to give them a try. I appreciate it so much. I hope you find something that blesses you.
And while we’re talking about what we’re supposed to be doing: Do have something you’ve been given to do that you find (or have found) difficult to embrace? Feel free to share in the comments if you feel comfortable, or click on the “Connect” tab and shoot me an email if you want to chat.
Every Christmas (yes, I realize it’s April; calm down), my family watches It’s a Wonderful Life. Last year, a very familiar line struck me anew.
George Bailey and his guardian angel Clarence Oddbody are wandering around in the world that exists because George was never born. Although Clarence warned him of the current state of affairs, George just can’t get it — even when the two of them are thrown out of a bar that’s nothing like the almost homey bar George is used to.
Standing in the snow, utterly confused, George demands, “Well, if I wasn’t born, who am I?”
“You’re nobody,” Clarence replies. “You have no identity.”
And George replies, “What d’ya mean no identity? My name’s George Bailey.”
My name is…
Not, “I run the Building and Loan.” Not, “I’m a husband and father.” Not, “I’m a 4-F guy who couldn’t go fight with my brother in the war.”
Not even, “I’m breathing cold air into my lungs. I can feel my heartbeat. Of course I’m someone.”
No, the instinctive reply at being told he doesn’t exist is to cite his name.
Think about it. If someone came up to you and asked politely, “And who are you?” (or not so politely, “Who in blazes are you?”), how would you answer?
In movies, they come up with something smart. In real life, we give our name first.
“My name is Darcy.” Because my name somehow answers the question, “Who?”
Or simply, “I’m Darcy.”
“I am” — speaking of the very essence of my being.
If you ask about me, I’ll tell you I’m an author, a soprano in my church choir, a Narnia enthusiast, oldest of three sisters, resident of such-and-such place. But if you ask who I am, I’ll give you my name.
See, I can describe myself many ways. What I do, how I look, what I love. Some things I have in common with others, some things are unique to me.
But no one thing is me. I’m all of them, and more — a soul created unique by God. There’s only one way to sum all that up.
But why is it instinctive to hold our name as our identity?
A name change can even be referred to as “changing our identity.”
Sometimes we give ourselves names other than what our parents gave us. We might choose to go by a nickname, or give ourselves a pseudonym that also becomes our identity.
People may name their children (or themselves) based on what the words mean in their root language. My name means “dark” in the Irish. It’s also the name of a fortress in France.
Names may be a nod to other people who bore them. My name is a nod to a very proud, noble person who discovered nobility wasn’t worth much without humility.
Names may be chosen simply for the way they sound, or for other associations. My name is associated with classic literature.
Sometimes we don’t even like our names, but we still use them. Somehow it doesn’t feel right to try to change them, even use a middle name, because how could we be anyone other than what we’ve been called all our lives? I have a close friend who says this.
Names are an important matter to God.
He often named people and, in some cases, renamed them.
The most famous example is probably Abram, whose name meant “father.” That was a hint at his legacy, but not enough. God gave him the name Abraham — father of a multitude — so that his very name would testify to what God would do with his life.
But sometimes it isn’t about the name’s literal meaning.
Take the man Jabez, whose mother sorrowed when she bore him and so named him “grief.” Jabez went straight to the Lord with the problem of his name and begged God to bless him and keep him from evil, that grief and pain would not be the hallmarks of his life.
And God granted his request. He didn’t change Jabez’s name, but he changed the meaning of the name, as it were. The word still meant grief; but the name Jabez referred to a man God had blessed. In a very real sense, Jabez now means “blessed by God.”
You could say my name means “dark fortress.”
Can we picture Maleficent’s Forbidden Mountain?
Yeah, I’d rather not have my name mean that.
But a fortress is a stronghold, a place of safety, something that endures. I can dig into that. Dark can mean “mysterious” or “secret.” That sounds pretty cool.
More than that, if Darcy refers uniquely to me — writer, INTP, Christian, etc. — then, by simply living, I get to make my own meaning for the name.
Suppose I’m the first Darcy someone meets. Will they associate the name with kindness and understanding? With honesty and trustworthiness? With true Christ-following?
Will they smile when they hear the name?
(You know we all have those names we just don’t like because we once knew an incredible jerk by that name.)
So I perceived that nothing is better than that a man should rejoice in his own works, for that is his heritage. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?
-Ecclesiates 3:22 NKJV (emphasis mine)
We tend to think of heritage as what we receive from those before us. And it is.
But heritage is also what we make of ourselves. For that is what we pass to those who will come after us.
In a very real way, we are our names.
Humans were created to name. God gave Adam the privilege of naming the animals, and of choosing what to call his wife.
We’ve been naming things ever since.
Which brings up the dark flip side to this name-equals-identity phenomenon.
We sometimes stick each other with names meant to devalue. And those names have the power to crush us.
Unless we fight them.
If we are told we’re worthless, or a failure, or like that horrible person no one likes, and we believe it, we will begin to act as if those names are ours. We will treat ourselves as worthless. We will expect to fail and stop trying to succeed. We will believe that no one likes us and be unable to trust anyone.
But if we tell ourselves the truth, call ourselves the names God gives us, we can overcome the false names.
God calls us sinners. But He also calls us beloved.
When we choose Him, He calls us redeemed. He also calls us His heirs.
He calls us warriors, ambassadors, chosen, His.
They’re descriptive names. And they matter.
More than that, the God of the universe knows your given name.
He pronounces it with a native accent, the way you do. He gives it meaning — it means you, who He created you to be.
At my church’s Good Friday service, they handed out twenty-eight penny nails for us to hold as we prayed, sang, and meditated on Jesus’ death on the cross.
As I held the cold metal in my hands until it warmed, I gripped it to feel the unbendable hardness. Poked the point against the inside of my wrist. Twisted it every conceivable way as a tactile connection to the Cross.
And I discovered how easily it slipped into the position of a pencil in my fingers.
It fascinated me.
For surely the nails wrote a message that day.
Before, at many other executions, they had written messages of despair and defeat, of agony and shame. But underneath all they usually said was a very quiet message that no one could see that day.
“Nothing is stronger than the King’s love.”
Love that will carry an undeserved cross. Love that will willingly stretch out upon it. Love that will scream in anguish, hang for hours gasping for breath, and still not back down from doing what must be done.
Even though many of the beneficiaries of this sacrifice will reject it.
It’s not a proud strength. Not showy, not even obvious. The Man was killed brutally, after all.
Yet a love that could walk steadily forward through blood and shame and pain to death, for the sake of the one beloved, cannot be anything but strong.
And that is the same love that holds me two millennia later. Me, Darcy Fornier, insignificant though I am by so many of my culture’s standards. That unconquerable love holds me.
I’m still meditating on it almost two weeks later. Because I need to know deep in my soul that if Jesus did THAT for me, I can trust Him with anything I face today.
May His powerful love enwrap us, my friends, and strengthen us to live this life well.
Anyone who knows me well (or maybe not even that well) knows I greatly admired Ravi Zacharias. So when I saw the report in December, saying an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct had turned up evidence to confirm the allegations, I knew I’d be writing this post. I’ve waited a while since the final report was released to give myself time to process.
Before I go further, I want to say that I have seen several people talking about if this is true, if he did this, and so forth. And that’s fair. Such behavior is in no way congruent with the Ravi Zacharias we knew. But after reading the full report, I do not doubt that he did engage in sexual misconduct. I find the electronic evidence—photos, money trails, etc.—to be very convincing and corroborative of the victims’ testimony.
I have long respected Ravi’s intellect. His mind was absolutely brilliant. His command of language, especially a non-native language, could hardly be matched. I was inspired by how he taught that everything centered around the person of Jesus Christ, that even our deepest pain and hardest questions could find answers in Jesus and His Cross.
But my favorite thing about Ravi’s apologetic style was his skill at answering the questioner behind the question. Sometimes he barely even touched the question at all because a question can be a veil for the real dilemma in a person’s heart. And Ravi was always gracious and respectful, even when he preached with challenging honesty.
I’m nowhere near as smart as he was, but as someone who loved the field of apologetics, I respected, admired, and sought to emulate him. “Imitate me as I imitate Christ,” Paul said, and we Christians are always talking about finding good role models. I thought he was one.
When I first learned of the allegations, part of me was rolling my eyes. “Of course, now that he’s dead, let’s try to smear his good name and destroy his ministry. He’s not even here to defend himself!”
But the apologist in me said, “You believe that the truth should always be upheld, always sought, never concealed. It’s only in finding and acknowledging the truth that you have any hope of doing anything about it.” So I was glad for the RZIM board’s decision to hire the investigators and encourage them to pursue whatever leads they uncovered.
I was angry back in December at the probability of sexual misconduct. I was furious when it was confirmed.
What happened to “all of our pain and all of our longings can only be satisfied fully in Jesus”? What happened to “humans have intrinsic, inviolable worth because they are created in the image of God”? What happened to “I couldn’t ask for a better wife than Margie”? (And, no, these are not direct quotes. They are summations from my comprehension of his writings.)
Even as I read the report, part of me wondered, “What’s the point? He’s dead. He can’t even repent. Why speak up now?” And then I got to the part where someone had spoken up while he was alive. Someone had even brought charges while he was alive. And instead of repenting, Ravi sued the woman for extortion and protested his innocence. So he had his chance, after all. (And no wonder no one else spoke up while he lived.)
My mom is a registered nurse with a minor in psychology. It was helpful to talk things over with her, as she graciously said there may have been an explanation for why this behavior suddenly appeared ten to fourteen years ago. There’s no evidence for it prior to that, so why all of a sudden? Maybe his back pain got to him, and he found that massages were a lot more effective with some of those intoxicating brain chemicals from sexual behavior. Maybe once he started, he became addicted to the thrill of getting away with it. And maybe once he was in it, he knew he’d be crucified if he tried to repent, so why bother?
We’ll never know for sure how or why it started. We can take a pretty good guess at why it never stopped.
But, even if we did know, ‘twould be only an explanation. Not an excuse.
He sinned against numerous women. Exploited them for his own personal satisfaction. Did a really good job of it, grooming them as a mentor before he asked favors. Kept his online doings very secretive for “privacy” so he could continue his sin undetected.
It was deliberate.
And I’ll be the first to say the devil can mess up your mind badly. Sometimes before you know it’s happened. And Jesus said sexual sin happens in the mind, and we aren’t even supposed to let that happen.
But this wasn’t just in his mind. It was physical, between him and other people.
He didn’t cross a line. He crossed a twelve-foot concrete wall with barbed wire running along the top.
Some things in life are complicated. One I’ve wrestled with, for instance, is “Where is the line between kind support and enabling?” That one, and many others, are easy to handle wrongly.
But sexual sin? Like, physical sexual sin? The kind that actually involves the other person? Baby, that one is as clear as a cloudless winter sky.
If it’s not between a man and his lawful wife, you don’t touch. You don’t look. You don’t open your mouth (or your keyboard) and harm the other person with whatever sexual struggle is in your head.
It’s that simple.
And no, I’ve never been in love, never even had a serious boyfriend. But I’m a healthy twenty-something with hormones. I’m not completely blind.
God has put it really, really clearly in His Word. We might be all kinds of messed up in our heads, struggling, sinning in our minds, even enjoying the effects of that sin. Maybe unable to discern anymore the difference between the temptation and the actual mental sin.
But even so, there’s still that concrete wall. You don’t touch. You don’t look.
That’s what makes it hard for me, why I was so angry. All his life, this man preaches that following Jesus is the only way to satisfy the human heart, soul, and mind. And he deliberately trespasses one of the plainest commandments of Jesus.
Sexual sin is almost the oldest in the book. But it still works. Oh, how it works, brother. The devil doesn’t have to be creative, coming up with new ways to tempt us, because the old ways still work flawlessly. A man and a ministry and an unnumbered amount of victims wounded and destroyed by sexual sin. Beautiful war tactic, you have to admit.
So now that I’m furious because I feel betrayed by someone who taught one thing and lived another, do I just write him off?
I’m tempted, believe me.
But then there’s that whole David and Bathsheba thing. Kill a guy so you can steal his wife, whom you’ve already impregnated. Wanna talk about sexual misconduct?
But David repented and God still called him “the man after God’s own heart.” Maybe Ravi repented before he died.
A former pastor made a very thoughtful post on Facebook about this. He points out, fairly, I believe, that the Church has a tendency to do a lousy job in the area of sexuality. It’s like we think that after salvation, bang! no more sexual desire. And since we think we’re not supposed to have it, we have no clue how to handle it when it pops up in the wrong place. “What’s this? Oh, no! Suppress it, quick!” Then we’re shocked and shamed when it blows up and plunges us into sin.
(And don’t tell me the Church is a safe place to find help for this particular struggle. Sure, some close Christian friends, maybe. But get too honest with those nice folks filling the pews, and you’ll get tarred and feathered. But I digress.)
I don’t want to be guilty of crucifying Ravi Zacharias. I don’t want this to negate, in my mind, all the good he has done. I know we all sin. I know Ravi is God’s business way more than ours. The man has already faced God, for that matter. “To his own master he stands or falls.”
There is grace. So much grace from a God who sacrificed Himself to redeem us.
And yet sexual sin is such a massive trust-breaker, due to God’s design for sexual intimacy. It feels so big and vile and slimy.
What is there to say? The whole ugly mess may bring good if it turns our attention to how to prevent things like this. Starting with our own lives.
In the meantime, I grieve. And try not to think of it. And ask God, “If it could happen to Ravi, how can I stop it from happening to me?”
It’s not like this shakes my trust in the God Ravi preached about. For one thing, I worship God, not one of his followers. And even if Ravi did turn out to be a Pharisee for the last decade of his life, that doesn’t mean he didn’t know and speak the truth. God knows I don’t always live the truth I speak.
I probably won’t be too keen on reading his teachings from that decade, at least for a while. I’d have that suspicion in my mind that untruths were starting to slip into his teaching. But his earlier stuff, I think I’ll be able to read that. And the other great members of RZIM have phenomenal resources I will continue to enjoy.
But it hurts. It hurts badly. I believe with all my heart that sex and sexuality are sacred. If Christians can’t even get this sex thing right, who on this earth can?
I had a lot of fun with this video. If you’ve ever wondered which scenes are my personal favorites in The Crown and the Axe — or which ones had me yanking on my hair in frustration — this is for you. 🙂
Can you believe it’s been a year since The Crown and the Axe set out to seek its fortune? While this year itself has been crazy-long, somehow it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to self-publish a novel. 🙂
So in honor of the occasion, my book is on sale this week! 99c for the eBook, 25% off for the paperback.
I’ve featured a couple of Amanda’s books on my blog before, but this time I’m asking questions of her instead of one of her characters! (I love getting a peek into other writers’ lives.) Amanda Tero writes Christian Historical Fiction for young adult readers — and for adults who remember what it’s like to be young. Her latest release is A Strand of Hope, one of four interconnected novellas featuring packhorse librarians.
Who was your childhood hero?I actually wasn’t much into hero-worship as a kid. I think I just had a solid respect for people who did the hard things and stayed steadfast. Maybe Joseph in the Bible? He went through extreme hardship yet was always one of my favorite Biblical accounts to read, because he just lived so uprightly!
What was your favorite childhood book(s)?The first set I remember reading was the Little House books. Mom had assigned them for me to read a chapter a day as my first “chapter book,” but before long I was begging to just finish the book instead of waiting until the next scheduled read. 😉 I embraced historical fiction because of those books. I loved not just Laura’s story, but learning about life in a different era. A close tie would probably be The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare, for very similar reasons. Plus, it was an action story.
Ooo, love both of those!
What would you wish to have written on your tombstone? (Feel free to be either funny or serious!)Oh, hmm… I’d like my birth and death date written on there. 😉 But seriously, I hadn’t thought of that. Something about glorifying God… trusting God… yeah, not sure.
Now give us a peek into your writer’s brain!What’s your favorite historical period to read and/or write?The 1800s! I prefer the country/western side than the city side.
Ah, one of my faves!
What does your story-spinning process involve? (We want to hear about it all, either in general or for a specific story.)Well, it’s semi-different for each one, but I’ll talk through A Strand of Hope. The idea initiated by my sister sharing a Facebook video of packhorse librarians. As soon as the three other authors and I decided to band together to write a series, I had to find my story. I knew I wanted a girl who adored books to the point that she used them as an escape from reality. So then, I had to give her a harsh reality she’d want to escape from. Enter her mom, a single, unwed mother of the early 1900s who blamed Lena for being distanced from her family. The story was stuck there for a while. I just wasn’t sure where to go with it. So I had some brainstorming sessions while driving. I put my phone on to record and just talked through the characters, the plot, the theme. I asked questions, answered them, told myself why that would or wouldn’t work. That really helped me. I also brainstormed a lot with my friend and author of another book in the series Anita (A.M.) Heath.From there, I drafted the rough cut. I’ve just grown to accept that I’m a panster and I’m being one, I have to write the story to discover the story—but then, I’ll have a major rewrite to do. This time, I really didn’t have that major rewrite. By God’s grace, it was a solid story from the start. I think that was just God smiling down on me because I was trying to do this while attending college full-time and teaching music part time.And yeah, the rest is just hours of hard work (whether or not I felt like it 😉 ), putting it all together.
Do you consciously create your characters, or do they seem to come to life on their own?It’s really a mix of both. I do have to work to make my characters less perfect. Anita told me once that I make a great person but a boring character because I’m the type that when I do something wrong, I instantly regret it, pray, seek restitution, etc. But if my characters lived that way, there wouldn’t be as much conflict. So I have to purposefully make them choose the wrong thing and keep driving down that road. It makes their lesson more impactful.
What was the most difficult part of writing your latest book, A Strand of Hope?Haha… remembering the small details. Faith Blum, A.M. Heath, Alicia G. Ruggieri and I all helped create the town of Willow Hollow, it’s surrounding areas, library routes, and town characters. I was forever messaging one of them with questions on details. In a way, having the team was super helpful because I could just ask and get an answer when I forgot something rather than try to dig and find the answer myself.
What are 1-4 of your all-time favorite fiction books—ones you love to reread?I need to reread more than I do… but ones I have read several times and want to read again are: The Bronze Bow (Elizabeth George Speare), The Last Sin Eater (Francine Rivers). And I have a whole list of books I’ve read once that I want to reread… but my TBR is totally unending.
Love your answers, Amanda! 🙂 Thanks so much for joining us on the blog today!
I confess I haven’t read Amanda’s latest book yet. But I’m bringing it on vacation next week, and I can’t wait to explore this little-known piece of history. 🙂 Take a peek at it below!
Journey with a horseback librarian into the hidden crevices of Kentucky mountains. Feel her pain as she struggles not only to barely make ends meet, but as she also attempts to connect the pieces of her own life while her mom continues to make selfish decisions.
Lena Davis is the daughter her mom never wanted.
But she survived. Through stories. Because books didn’t judge. Books weren’t angry she was alive. Books never expected her to be anything but who she was.
As she grows up, her beloved library becomes her true home. So when the library is designated part of President Roosevelt’s Packhorse Library Project, Lena is determined to get the job of bringing books to highlanders, believing she’ll finally be free of her mom forever.
But earning the trust of highlanders is harder than she imagined, and her passion for books might not be enough to free her from her chains.
The Packhorse Library Project was part of President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration to encourage education in the remote parts of the mountains. “A Strand of Hope” is a historical fiction novella based on real events but set in the fictional town of Willow Hollow in the Appalachian mountains.
See why I’m looking forward to it? Check it out on Amazon. And be sure to check out the whole series, too. I have it on good authority that some of them are only 99c this week. 😉