Through Blood and Shame

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.

-Miss Darcy

Thoughts on the Ravi Zacharias Investigation

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?

–Miss Darcy

Five Favorite Books

I guess being a bookworm comes with the whole writer thing. 😉 Today I’m talking (read: gushing) about five of my favorite books. Hope you enjoy!

That said, what are some of your favorite books — and what do you love about them? (Because my TBR pile may be rivaling the Eiffel Tower, but it’s not tall enough yet.) 😉


-Miss Darcy

My Book’s First Birthday!

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.


All the other eBook platforms

And just for fun, I’m doing some little behind-the-scenes videos this week. Hope you enjoy!

Have a lovely weekend, my friends! (Maybe even have some ice cream to celebrate with me.) 😉

–Miss Darcy

Interview with YA Author Amanda Tero

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.

So please help me welcome Amanda Tero!

Amanda Tero is a music teacher by day and a literary guide by night, creating stories that whisk readers off to new eras and introduce them to heroic but flawed characters that live out their faith in astonishing ways.

First, three vitally important questions. 😉

Favorite season? Fall!

Favorite color? Green.

Favorite ice cream? Only one? Uh… chocolate chip cookie dough. 

“Only one?” — That’s my kind of answer. 🙂

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. 😉

And don’t forget to follow Amanda on your favorite social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, Pinterest, and Bookbub), and visit her website, where you can also find her blog and newsletter.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into a writer’s life, and I do hope you’ll check out Amanda’s books!

–Miss Darcy

Allowed to Take Comfort

I don’t know if it’s my personality.

I don’t know if it’s the writer in me, determined to experience any pain that comes my way because “all of life is research.”

I don’t know if it’s my desire to fully acknowledge painful things because ignoring them can create an unhealthy mental state.

But for some reason, I sometimes don’t allow myself to accept comfort.

And I’m not really talking about comfort from other people, although sometimes I just nod and smile and refuse to let their words sink into my soul, or even to ruminate in my mind.

Actually, I often find myself unwilling to take comfort from the deepest source I have—God’s Word.

If I take comfort, am I being fair to the honest questions of others—and myself?

If I take comfort, can I still deal with my painful emotions in a healthy way?

Most of all, if I take comfort, will I somehow sell short the Truth I need to learn through this?

But I’m learning that I’m allowed to take comfort.

When my brain is spinning with all these incredible, deep questions about theory meeting reality and I can’t quite seem to grasp the answers, I can take comfort in the One who knows every answer. Some of the answers I will find in time, and some I won’t discover until He tells me—either on this earth or when I see His face.

It’s okay. After all, I serve the God who commands the morning, and causes the dawn to know its place (Job 38:12).

When my heart is broken and floundering in pain, I can take comfort in knowing that my God has walked through every kind of pain there is—even death—and will walk with me through mine (Isaiah 43:2).

In my hardest suffering, I may even envy a stillborn child (Job 3:16), as long as I also remember that my Redeemer lives (Job 19:25).

And surely, when I turn to the Truth of the Word to find comfort, then the only Source of Truth—Jesus Christ—with not allow me to be misled.

He is the one whose wisdom set the courses of the stars (Job 38:31-33).

After all, what is comfort but hope and rest? And I am supposed to find hope and rest in Jesus.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

-1 Peter 1:3 NKJV (emphasis mine)

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

-Matthew 11:28 NKJV (emphasis mine)

Jesus Christ is my greatest comfort.

And, yes, I am allowed to accept His comfort without doing a disservice to either my emotions or my intellect. He offers a transcending comfort. It doesn’t remove the pain or the questions.

It’s simply stronger than they are.

-Miss Darcy

P.S. Anyone else noticed a similar phenomenon in your life, this inability to accept comfort and rest?

What We Really Want

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ve probably seen me write about the power of God to transform a life—any life. No matter how far we’ve fallen. Or how far we haven’t fallen (or don’t think we’ve fallen).

The grace and mercy of God, His power to redeem, are limitless. (If you’re looking for proof, check out the lives of Peter and Paul.)

The thing is God doesn’t force His redemption on anyone. We have to choose it. Because if there’s no option to choose, there cannot be love, and God is the essence of true, powerful, life-altering love.

But when we choose God’s redemption, it’s not a one-time thing.

We choose first to be redeemed from sin and its eternal consequences.

Then we have to choose over and over (and over) to be delivered from the power of sin in our lives on this earth.

So no, I don’t doubt God’s power to transform a life. But I also have great faith in a human’s ability to wreck His work.

Because sometimes we don’t really want to be delivered.

Oh, sure, we say we want freedom from this sin that’s causing havoc in our lives. We say we want all the blessings God has to offer.

But maybe we don’t really, truly mean that.

Because sin has its attractive side. That’s why we fall into it in the first place.

  • We say we want deliverance from an explosive temper that hurts our family and friends. But the rush of power that anger affords—well, we like that feeling.
  • We say we want contentment in our season of life. But we don’t want to forgo our fantasies about “someday, when something we want will make our lives perfect.”
  • We say we want freedom from lust in our daily lives. But a little bit of pornography is so thrilling. And the sexy stuff in R-rated movies doesn’t even count as real pornography, right?
  • We say we want peace that passes understanding. But worrying and fretting about something offers a feeling of control, and how could we cope without that security?
  • We say we want good physical health (and why doesn’t God give it?). But we don’t want to deny ourselves the pleasure of eating whatever we want whenever we want it.

We say we want complete freedom in Christ. But we don’t really want to sacrifice any pleasures at all.

We’d rather lament our unwinnable battles and shame ourselves for our failures.

Believe me, I’ve been there. Still am there, to an extent. (You know I’m always preaching to myself on my weblog.)

We sin, we regret it, we castigate ourselves for being such wretched followers of Christ, and then when we’ve properly chastised ourselves, we allow ourselves to believe He forgives us.

And then we do the same thing again.

Because self-loathing is cheap.

Oh, sure it’s painful.

But not as painful as changing our behavior.

Changing will cost us.

Changing requires us to see our sin, even the pleasant parts, for what they are.

Changing requires us to deny what our flesh wants in favor of what Christ wants.

Changing requires us to stop justifying ourselves and start believing what God says.

Changing requires us to “put off the old man and put on the new” (Colossians 3:9-10). And that’s hard. Really hard

Of course we’ll never accomplish that without God’s Holy Spirit working in us. But the Holy Spirit won’t accomplish it without our participation, either.

So what do we really want? The abundant life Christ offers? Or the temporary enjoyments of our folly and sin?

Maybe we need to do some soul-searching. (Frankly, I hate self-analysis, but it’s a very necessary thing.) Maybe we need to find out what we really want. And whether what we really want needs to change.

-Miss Darcy

Unprofitable Servants

I read the book of Luke back in December. And I’m still clinging to one verse. I say it to myself almost every day. I think it’s going to be my verse for the year.

Jesus’ disciples have just said to him, “Increase our faith.” And He starts by telling them that faith the size of a mustard seed can uproot a mulberry tree and plant it in the sea.

Then He goes on with a little story about a servant who works all day in the fields, comes in, and still has to prepare and serve supper to his master before he can eat himself. And does the servant receive any thanks? No. He’s just doing his job, and why should he get thanked for doing what was his to do? 

Then Jesus says:

“So likewise you, when you  have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'”

-Luke 17:10 NKJV

I find enormous comfort in those words.

I don’t have to do anything grand and wonderful. I don’t need a spotlight. I don’t have to be the smartest, or best, or most magnificent anything.

Every day, I just get up and do the things that I am commanded.

  • Servanthood takes the pressure off. I don’t have to call the shots or plot great strategies. I just have to listen to what part I play in the plans.
  • I’m not responsible for how things turn out. If I do what I’m told, the outcome’s not my fault. The result of my dutiful performance is His business.
  • If I do the things I’m commanded, I don’t have to worry if I’m doing enough or not doing enough–just follow the instructions. There’s a sweet accomplishment and rest when I can simply do my duty.
  • If my Master commands me to do something, He will also equip me to do it. I don’t have to worry about whether I’m “able” to do something. I have His resources at my disposal.
  • And of course I’m unprofitable. Jesus spent His own blood to redeem me. No amount of service could ever in a million billion years repay what He spent, let alone more. So I don’t have to try.

Yes, I believe God sometimes gives us “large” things as part of our duty. But what’s big for me might not even look big to you. And that’s fine. It’s not about us.

It’s about getting the King’s work done.

When I love my family and friends (or strangers), when I wash the dishes, when I write another scene for a story, when I volunteer as a “gopher” at church, when I take vitamins to keep my body in good order, when I give my best effort at choir practice, when I read my Bible, when I pray for a friend’s prayer request on Facebook, do I get thanked? Of course not. Why should I?

But even so, these little things matter.

The English Standard Version, which I’m reading this year for the first time, calls us “unworthy servants” in Luke 17:10.

Which is another beautifully accurate descriptor. How in the world could we be worthy to serve the King of Kings?

We’re not.

But He is worthy. Of our service, our praise, our adoration. Of our love.

And this Master of ours, who is worthy of all glory, became a servant Himself.

The night before Jesus was crucified, He washed His disciples’ feet. Then He said,

“You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

“For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.

-John 13:13-16 NKJV

Our Lord both lived and died on behalf of His servants. Why should not we be willing to go as far?

Is there not joy in following the footsteps of our glorious, humble Master?

And what does all this talk about unprofitable servitude have to do with faith anyway?

Well, if you’re a servant with a good master, you can trust him to take care of you, to give good orders, to provide what’s necessary for carrying out your tasks successfully.

In other words, if we’ll quit looking at ourselves and look at our Master, our faith cannot help but grow.

Because He is worthy.

-Miss Darcy