The Front Row Resolution


The following post was inspired by a poem that can be found here: called The Front Row

We have one life, limited time, and limited resources. We also have people in our lives for whom we are bound to care.  For example, I have children who I love dearly and with whom I am charged the task of raising.  In this life, however, we receive lots of messages about ourselves, and in order to do and be for those we love what we need to do and be, we need to choose the messages we receive.  And sometimes that means being choosy about where we choose to show up and receive them.


If you are like me, you probably tend to be your own worst critic.  I examine things I have done, things in the past, sometimes worry about the future.  When I send a writing job off, even if I KNOW I did excellent work, as soon as I hit “send,” a part of me wonders if I should have changed “just one ore thing.”  All of this thinking and evaluating and judging, especially if we find ourselves wanting, can be draining.  It can also hinder our ability to do better and our command to see ourselves as God sees us.


I confess, I have spent much of my life worrying too much about what various people think of me.  Now don’t get me wrong, I do not subscribe to the idea that “I will do what I want and everyone else’s feeling be damned.”  I should care what God thinks of me, what my children think of me, what various people whose lives and values and viewpoints I admire think of me (to a point).  BUT…..


That can be a weight that becomes hard to carry, and in carrying it, we can find ourselves wasting energy would be better used living.  So I have made a carefully thought out and considered decision.  I will not only carefully consider who to invite to sit in the front row of my life, I will also be selective in who gets tickets to the show at all. And should my life become a traveling play, I will choose my venues wisely.  I cannot control what others think of me.  I cannot control which box they insist on keeping me in, which commonalities they choose to draw between me and others based on odd similarities that have nothing to do with actual data.  I cannot control who believes me, who believes in me, or who sees me as I was or how they are afraid I might be.


I can, however, control how much time I spend with them.  I cannot make them see me in a certain way, but I can control how much they see me period.  That sounds logical, but it is a tough thing to decide.  It is tricky to implement, no doubt.  But with at least half my life behind me, it is past time for me to select my audience with care and choose the messages I receive.  And sometimes the only way to stop a negative message is to distance oneself from the messenger.

I am choosing my audience wisely, and I am choosing my theaters wisely.  And I believe it will make me better.


He Remains Faithful: Re-release on February 25, 2014

Kelly´s life has turned out differently that she thought it would. Almost forty, she finds herself restless, frustrated, and lonely. Her marriage is stale, she feels isolated, and she has begun to look within herself rather to God for her answers. Mike knows that all is not well in his house. He feels the distance that stretches between himself and Kelly, but he isn´t sure how to build a bridge. So he builds a wall instead, hoping that things will eventually work between them. Andrew is a success in the ad game, a partner in the same agency for which Kelly works as a consultant. He is a man of character and integrity, and he always makes the morally honorable choice. Always.




Chapter 12


Christmas was very busy for the Bowling family.  Kelly’s aunt, uncle, and three cousins were all home on furlough from the mission field.  They had spent the last four years in China, and the entire family was excited about seeing them and hearing all about what God had been doing.  The Christmas plan was to spend a few days before Christmas at Kelly’s parents’ house. Then they would go after Christmas to Mike’s, then back to Kelly’s parents’ for New Year’s.  It didn’t leave much time for being home, but it was a special holiday.  Kelly was especially looking forward to seeing her aunt.  She and Kelly had always shared a special bond.

They arrived in Roswell, Georgia on the 22nd of December.  The driveway was lined with cars.  Kelly looked at Mike, her eyes shining.  “Let’s worry about the luggage later.  I want to get inside and see everyone.”

“I figured you would.  You go on in, and I’ll take care of all the luggage.”

Kelly kissed him quickly and bounded out of the car and up the side steps.  She opened the door to her parents’ house, and the smells and sounds and sights of Christmas enveloped her.  She quickly spotted her aunt, wove through the sea of relatives, and gave her aunt a hug.  “I am so glad to see you!”

Aunt Judy returned her hug.  “You look wonderful Kelly.  Your mom said you had lost lots of weight.  Where’s that husband of yours?”

“He’s being chivalrous and bringing in all of our luggage.  He should be done in a few minutes.  I can’t believe you all have been in China for four years!  Are you glad to be back in the states?”

“Yes, we are.  But it’s funny.  We already miss China too.  It’s become a part of us.”

“So does that mean you’re going for another four years?”

“Yes, we are.  We’ll be home this year and go back in 2003.”

Kelly admired her aunt and uncle so much.  Uncle John had been a successful architect when he and Aunt Judy felt God calling them to the mission field.  They sold his part of the business to his partner, went through training, and were sent to China.  It had been a real sacrifice.  Kelly had received several letters from her aunt, and God seemed to really be blessing their work.  Their oldest daughter, who was sixteen, had already surrendered her life to missions as well.

“Oh, there’s Mike,” Kelly motioned him over.  “Hey Mike, we’re over here.”

Mike reached them and gave Judy a hug.  “It’s so good to have you all back.  Kelly’s been bursting to see you.”

“It’s good to see you two.  Where are Mikey and Sam?”

“They’ve already found some of the cousins, and they are all playing in the second den.  I think someone brought a board game.”

“So,” Aunt Judy said.  “What have you two been up to?  Is the full time ad job going well?  Is the business going well?  Are you two still madly in love?”

“My business is doing better every quarter.  I think that by next year it will practically be running itself, and I can be there more for Kelly and the kids.  Kelly’s really taken on a lot the past couple of years to allow me to do this.”  He put his around her.

Kelly smiled somewhat stiffly.  “Work is great for me too.  We just landed a big account.”

“That’s wonderful!”

“Kelly’s leaving out the most important part,” Mike interjected.  “She helped write it.”

Judy punched Kelly playfully in the arm.  “Well, what do you know?  An advertising genius in the family!”

Kelly laughed and waved off the compliment.

Judy waited, looking at both of them.  “Well, what about the last question.  You two lovebirds still starry eyed?”

There was a pause, and then Kelly answered.  “It’s a little busy for a honeymoon right now.  But hopefully things will settle down one day.”

Mike nodded.  “I think I’ll get a glass of tea.  It’s actually hot in here.”

Judy scrutinized Kelly for a moment.  “Is everything okay?  You seem to be leaving something unsaid.”

“It’s nothing Aunt Judy.  We’ve just been busy, that’s all.  And we’ve been married over ten years now.  You can’t stay starry-eyed lovers forever, right?”

“Well, I guess John and I are just two of the lucky ones then.  Sometimes I get weak in the knees just looking at him.  I have to go help your mother with dinner.  But I want us to talk later.”

Dinner was wonderful that night, even if the large crowd made it somewhat chaotic.  The house was filled with talking, laughing, praying and singing.  Judy and John told stories about China and the people they had met and worked with there.  Kelly noticed that Mikey seemed particularly enthralled.  He never took his eyes off them as they described the country, the people, and the way God was working.

Finally, one by one, relatives began to leave to go to their homes or hotels.  The only people besides Kelly and her family who were staying in the house were Judy, John, and their daughters.  After all the children had gone to bed, Kelly went downstairs to find Aunt Judy waiting for her. 

“Here, I made you some hot chocolate,” Judy said.

“Thanks,” Kelly said.  She sipped it slowly.  She would let Judy guide the conversation.

“Kelly, we’ve been close for a long time.  In many ways, you are more like my sister than my niece.  I saw something in your eyes tonight, there’s something you’re struggling with.”

Kelly sighed.  If there was anyone she felt comfortable talking to, at least about her and Mike, it was Judy.  “Well, things have been really hectic the last couple of years.  It was fine at first, but the last year or so…I don’t know.  I feel restless, unhappy somehow.  I’m so moody sometimes.  I feel isolated from Mike, like I take last place.  I know I haven’t been exactly kind to him at times, but I can’t seem to help it.  The truth is, Aunt Judy, I don’t think he feels anything anymore.  I don’t know if I can live that way.”

“You’re thinking of divorce?” Judy’s voice was not full of rebuke, but concern.

“No, of course not,” Kelly responded quickly.  “It’s just…I need to be important.  I want to be touched, to be loved.  I am lonely.  And the more distance I feel, the more distant I become.  It isn’t all Mike’s fault.  I just feel out of control somehow.”

“And…how about your walk with God?”

Kelly shifted uncomfortably.  “I know my Bible study isn’t as regular as it should be.  And sometimes I get so frustrated when I pray.  I don’t understand why life seems to be taking this turn.  I’m just not satisfied with the way things are, but I don’t think I can change them.  I’m not sure it’s possible to change them.  To be honest, I feel more happy and fulfilled being at school and with my colleagues than at home or with Mike.”

Judy searched Kelly’s eyes thoughtfully.  She didn’t say anything for a moment.  Then she asked softly, “Kelly is there anything else you need to talk to me about?”

Kelly colored and looked away.  “No, that’s it.  I just think Mike and I are not ever going to be really close again.  And it makes me sad.  I know you’re tired.  I’ll let you go to bed now.”

Kelly stood up to leave, but Judy caught her arm.  “Kelly, please be careful.  I sense that you are shutting Mike out, shutting God out.  Please don’t try to find your own happiness.  It can be very dangerous.”

“That’s not going to happen.  I know what’s right.  I just have to hope life will change.”

“Before you go to bed, I’d like to pray for you Kelly.”  Kelly nodded, and Judy bowed her head.  “Lord, I ask you to wrap your arms around Kelly.  She is feeling lonely and confused.  Help her to find contentment in you and to purpose in her heart to love Mike as she should.  I ask that you work in Mike’s heart also.  I fear he is neglecting Judy in his desire to provide for her financially.  Guard them both Lord.  Help them to look to you for their joy and satisfaction.  Guard their hearts, and help them to resist temptation.  We love you Lord and thank you that with you all things are possible.  Amen”

Kelly hugged her aunt, willing her eyes to stay dry.  Then she went up to bed.  As she lay there, she felt conflicted.  She knew that what Judy had said was true, and she squirmed as she thought about how perceptive Judy had been.  She felt a pull to get on her knees, confess her confusion to God, and learn to be content.  But another voice in her heart spoke up too.  She was entitled to feel valued.  It wasn’t her distance that started these problems; it was Mike’s priorities.  Even if she was moody at times, it was because she felt so alone, and she had no recourse for relief.  She rolled over and went to sleep

The rest of their holidays were like a blur.  Kelly noticed Aunt Judy watching her closely, and for the first time in her life, Kelly found herself trying to avoid her aunt.  After they returned from the new years’ visit, Kelly felt relieved.  Her aunt’s words still made her uncomfortable.

On New Year’s, Mike and Kelly went out to dinner alone.  A girl from down the street took care of the kids.  It had been a long time since they had been alone anywhere.  They went to a local family type restaurant.  For the first few minutes they chatted about the kids, the holidays, and the specials.  Then they fell silent.  After the waitress had taken their order, Mike looked at Kelly and sighed.  “Kelly, can I ask you a question?”

“Sure, Mike.”

“Have I done something wrong?  Have I hurt you in some way?  You seem angry at me lately.”

“No, why do you ask?”  Kelly answered, guarded.

“Kelly, we’ve been married a long time.  I can tell when you’re not okay.”

Kelly felt a surge of irritation.  “Isn’t it hard to do that while you’re working all the time?”

Mike looked hurt.  “You said you supported my going into business.  You said you understood the work load.”

“I do…I did.  But we’re still married, Mike.  I still need you.”

“I try to help out when I can.  Maybe I’m not doing enough, but I do try.”

“Mike,” Kelly struggled to keep her temper in check.” If you think my main problem is how often you wash the dishes, then you really don’t get it.”

“Then what?  I don’t know of anything else that could be wrong.”

Kelly was seized by an anger she couldn’t explain or control.

“Good God!” She spat.  “Are you blind?  You don’t love me.  I can feel it.  Or maybe it’s what I don’t feel anymore.”

Mike’s eyes grew wide.  “What are you taking about?  Of course I love you.”

“You are committed.  You are going to fulfill your duty and be obedient.  But you don’t feel anything anymore.  You don’t touch me.  You don’t want to be with me.  We only made love five times last year.  I feel so lonely, and you don’t even know I am there most of the time.”

Mike seemed stunned.  He folded his napkin and looked around, trying to compose himself.

“Why haven’t you told me any of this?  You haven’t been around much for me to be in love with you.  Going to dinner with friends, working on big presentations, staying at the office for all hours   And if you need me to touch you, you can always ask, not that it’s easy now that you have made the guest room your own.”

Kelly closed her eyes; she was not going to cry.  “Why should I have to ask?  You’re the man.  You’re supposed to be the pursuer.  You’re supposed to want me.”  As soon as she said it she realized she had hurt Mike deeply.  She knew she should apologize, but the unexplainable anger she was feeling kept her from doing so.

Now Mike was angry.  “Kelly, I try to be what you need, and I try not to upset you.  Lord knows that’s not the easiest thing to do lately.  You are so unpredictable.  One day you’re in a frenzy, either happy as a clam or on a rampage.  The next day you’re too tired to even do a load of laundry.  I get home from a long day, trying to provide for us, and I can’t even find a place to put my briefcase.”

“Well, maybe you should have married a wife who was a neat freak with no sex drive.  Then you’d be happy.”

Mike looked away, and Kelly thought she saw his lip trembling.  “If you really don’t think I love you, there’s nothing I can do about it.”  He threw the credit card on the table.  “I’ll be waiting in the car.”



“Magnolia Secrets” Excerpt






Lillie pressed her fist to her mouth to keep from crying so that she could hear her parents’ argument.  Though she did not dare leave the bed, knowing they would hear her footfalls, she was determined to hear their discussion, especially since it was about her.


“We have no choice, Dorothy!” Her father’s voice was half an octave above its normal pitch.  “She must go live with Dorcas.  It is the only way.”


“But, Samuel, please,” her mother pleaded.  “We don’t even know if it is true.  After all, the Giles boy said -”


“The Giles boy will say anything,” Samuel cut her off. “His family’s reputation is at stake as well.  And Thomas Steele is a business associate.  His daughter is to be wed to the son of the Judge.”


“You believe this girl over your own daughter because of business connections?” Dorothy sobbed.  “Please, Samuel, darling, please give us time to find out the truth.”


“Do not call me darling.  I have all the truth I need.  Just as I always have.  We will leave tomorrow.  Perhaps living with my sister will undo some of the damage your daughter has done to herself.”  And with that, heavy feet stomped across the floor, and the front door opened and then closed loudly.


After a moment, Lillie heard softer feet coming up the stairs.  She quickly dried her tears and turned her back to the door, covering herself with the quilt.  She closed her eyes and tried to breathe deeply so that her mother would think she was asleep.  When the door opened, she stiffened slightly but remained quiet, inhaling in out and in a regular rhythm, willing her eyes to remain still under her lids.  The bed creaked and moved, and she knew her mother was sitting on its edge.  Lillie could hear soft sniffling, the remnants of her Dorothy’s tears in the kitchen.  A warm hand stroked her back, but still she did not move.  A moment later, her mother rose from the bed and left quietly, closing the door behind her.  After counting slowly to ten in her head, LIllie sat up and scrambled as quietly as possible to the window and looked out at the sky, letting the tears fall freely.


Her father had been so angry; he had looked at her as if he hated her.  Though Samuel Freeman had never been a warm man, he had never been as cold as he was that evening.  And now he was sending her away to Louisiana to live with her taciturn aunt Dorcas.  Her life was over.  And all because of her petty neighbor’s jealousy and lies.





Chapter One


Two Weeks Earlier




Lillie ignored the noise at her window and kept reading the book of poetry she had just received from her friend Lydia.  She was lost in the verse of Robert Burns.




Sighing, Lillie placed the marker in the book and flounced off her chair, going to the window and raising it in irritation.  She scowled downward to look for the source of the irritating tapping.


“Took you long enough Lilliegirl,” a loud whisper came from behind the large oak tree.  “Thought my arm would fall off before I got your attention.”


“Alexander Frederick Giles, what are you doing?  You cannot be out here under my window at night.  We aren’t children anymore!”


Alexander stepped from behind the tree and snorted.  “It isn’t even dark yet.  And besides, I waved at your mama on the front porch on the way back here.”


“Did she wave back?”


“Nope, but maybe she was thinking of something else,” Alexander grinned up at her, tapping his temple with his forefinger.


“You scamp, you know she falls asleep in that rocking chair.  I’m going back to my book, which I was enjoying before you started trying to break my window,” LIllie reached for the window to close it.


“You close that, I’ll just keep throwing pebbles.  I’ve got news to tell you.  So stop acting like a stodgy old spinster and come down here.”


With another frustrated Huff, Lillie held up a finger to indicate she would be down momentarily.  Then she fastened her full length coat around her high necked dressing gown.  No sense in getting all the way dressed, as it was nearly dark.  She locked her bedroom door and then gingerly made her way down the trellis beside her window.  As she was about to jump from the bottom of the wooden feature, she felt Alexander’s arms around her waist, and she allowed him to set her softly on the ground.


“What in blazes are you doing with a coat on? It’s July,” Alexander smirked at her.  “It’s not like I never saw you in a dressing gown before.”


“I think I was twelve years old the last time that happened, Xander.  It isn’t seemly for you to see me that way anymore.  Daddy would kill us both.”  Lillie brushed the hair from her face.  “Now what is this news you had to tell me?”


Xander offered her his arm.  “Let’s sit.  I heard my mother and father talking earlier today about a party to be given this weekend at Sarah Jane’s house.  Practically the entire town is invited.”


Lillie sat down and tilted her head at Alexander. “That was you big news? A party?  We’ve been going to parties practically every weekend since the spring.  And who cares about a party at Sarah Jane’s, especially me.  You know I won’t be invited.  She can’t stand me.”


“Oh, you’ll be invited to this one,” Alexander said knowingly.  “This isn’t just any party.  According to my parents’ conversation, it’s an engagement party!”


Lillie’s mouth dropped open in surprise.  Sarah Jane was getting engaged?  As far as Lillie knew, she hadn’t settled on a specific suitor yet; she tended to flit from boy to boy.  Besides, Lillie knew that Sarah Jane had had a crush on Xander since they were children.  At that thought, Lillie stood up and whirled around to look directly at Alexander.  “Not you??”


Alexander’s eyes grew wide, and then he made an exaggerated face of horror.  “No ma’am.  I’d sooner be a confirmed bachelor.”


“That isn’t a very gentlemanly thing to say,” Lillie flinched.  Even though she didn’t care for Sarah Jane, she was surprised at Alexander’s tone.


“Sorry, Lilliegirl,” Alexander said, flushing a bit.  “I forget my manners with you sometimes.”


“So, do you know who she is marrying?”


“That’s the thing.  My parents didn’t say.  I have no idea who her fiancé is.  I guess I’ll have to wait until Saturday to find out who the lucky man is.”


Suddenly Lillie hoped Alexander was right about everyone being invited.  She didn’t want to miss the news and have to hear about it later.  She sat back down and toyed with her hair, thinking through the long list of young men who had appeared at Sarah Jane’s door over the last several months.


“And what about you, Lillie?” Alexander said, sitting beside her.  “Anyone sniffing around the Freeman place?”


“Sniffing around? That’s certainly a romantic way of putting it,” Lillie raised her eyebrow.


“I know Matthew Sloan was a bit interested this spring.” Alexander’s face clouded.


“He was?  I never noticed.  Why didn’t he come to call, I wonder.” Lillie said the last part more to herself than Alexander.  She wasn’t particularly interested in Matthew.  He was short, and he talked of nothing but fishing.  Still, while Sarah Jane had hosted a regular parade, Lillie had had very few callers.  Marriage was the last thing on her mind; after all, she was only nineteen.  But it did make her wonder what Sarah Jane had that she lacked.


“What about me?” Alexander asked.  “I come close to every day to see you.”


“Oh Xander, you’re sweet, but you’re hardly a suitor.  After all, we’ve been like brother and sister since we were still in baby clothes.”


Alexander’s face shadowed for a moment, but Lillie didn’t notice.  “So, in case you don’t get an invite to snobby Sarah Jane’s party, would you like to accompany me? That way you could hear the news firsthand.”


Lillie smiled and leaned forward to give Alexander a kiss on the cheek.  “You think of everything.  I’d love to Xander.  And now you better shoo off.  As much as Mama likes you, they wouldn’t like knowing I climbed down the trellis to talk to you, whether we are courting or not.”  And with that, Lillie walked back to the wall of the house and began climbing up to her room.




Sarah Jane frowned as she stood behind a magnolia tree in her backyard, watching as Lillie and Alexander talked.  She couldn’t hear what they were saying, but she couldn’t help but notice how close together they sat, and she scowled when she saw Lillie lean forward and give him a kiss.  Alexander sat up as Lillie climbed the trellis, and Sarah crouched lower behind the tree to make sure she wasn’t seen.  Her heart pounded.  She had always liked Alexander, but he had never seemed to notice her; his attention was always on Lillie.  She had done every subtle thing she could think of to garner his favor, but he couldn’t be wrapped around her finger the way so many of the boys had.  And now time was running out for Sarah Jane.  She knew her father wanted her to show some genuine interest in his friend’s son.  But the man was so much older than she was, and he was hardly what she would call handsome.  Besides, when he had reached for her hand once, nothing had happened, no spark at all.  As she watched Alexander walk to his horse, she shook her head.  Her parents had told her everyone in their circle was to be invited to the party on Saturday, but Lillie’s invitation would get lost.  Sarah Jane was going to have to work harder to gain Alexander’s interest, and Lillie would only get in her way.

Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go…Including in Song of Solomon: The OTHER Ungodly View of Sex


“4 Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.
13 My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh
resting between my breasts.
5 Your breasts are like two fawns,
like twin fawns of a gazelle
16 Awake, north wind,
and come, south wind!
Blow on my garden,
that its fragrance may spread everywhere.
Let my beloved come into his garden
and taste its choice fruits.”
Now now, before anyone goes adding me to a prayer list or accusing me of being E. L. James…..Those are not my words. Those are the words of the writer of Song of Solomon, which is…wait for it…inspired by God (II Timothy 3:16). And for those who understand history and exegesis, you know that Song of Solomon is NOT a symbolic allegory.
Of course, Solomon had his problems at times, so let’s go to the man who is regarded as the most sexually strict writer of the Bible: Paul:
“Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
I Corinthians 7:5
Yes, its true. God does not think sex is “bad” or “dirty” or “shameful.” And for those who know anything about the physiology and biology of the body during this created and designed by God act, you know that it was NOT just designed for the function of procreation.
Now, the Bible is clear that the place for sex is within the bounds of marriage. So all of those purity campaigns, the Josh McDowell book I had in college, the “wait for marriage” studies have that part right. But, when does purity become…a psychological problem? And why is it that except for money, sex is THE biggest cause of marital discord and divorce, even among Christians?
Because in our quest to keep our sons and daughters pure, we have promoted an ungodly view of sex. When we think sex is something that should never be discussed directly, something that we “must” do only in order to be “fruitful,” an annoying phase to be endured until “the honeymoon is over and we grow up”…..we are bestowing upon our children an unbiblical view of an act God designed to be the one flesh bond between a man and wife. And let’s just get honest. It isn’t just about our kids. WE have hangups that we don’t want to address, so we just pass on what we learned.

Actually to say “we” is unfair. I grew up with the model of a loving and, yes, dare I say it, romantic marriage. I even saw my parents kiss — the horror. (Smile). Without being undignified on their behalf, I will just say that I knew my parents loved each other in every sense of the word. And I was thankful, even in the midst of cringing. They showed me more than contractual friendship – they showed me marriage. To put a finer point on it….they showed me the TRUTH of God’s Word, as told in Song of Solomon.
When a husband or wife lives in constant frustration because they have a spouse whose cultivated view of sex is one that lies in shame and repression and fear, that grieves God, I believe. When a spouse chooses to violate Paul’s tenet in I Corinthians 7 because they were never shown the TRUTH that within the bounds of marriage God not only smiles on sex, he inspired His man, Paul, to command couples not to deprive each other, we need to repent and apologize to our children and to their lonely spouses.
Yes, we should encourage our children to guard their hearts and their bodies. Yes, we should teach our teens that every date IS a potential mate and that every part of ourselves we give away prior to saying “I Do” is something we cannot give exclusively to our spouse. But once they have a spouse….God’s design is that they give it, and not just until they “grow out of that silly phase.” How it must sadden God, who gave us this precious gift of intimacy, to hear His children tell THEIR children – in word or in deed – that His gift is shameful, silly, something to be endured and to toss aside with relief.
So….have we told our children the WHOLE truth about sex, or are we stuck in our own unbiblical comfort zone?