The Runaway Christmas Tree

The Runaway Christmas Tree
D. Washington-Jones
“The Runaway Christmas Tree”   
E-Book by 
d. washington-jones
Book Launch:  November 27, 2012

It’s a fine day in the grove,” Nick said to the tree’s mother and father as they watched the family get closer and closer.

“Stand up straight!” The tree’s mother said. “You’ll never be chosen this Christmas if you continue to slouch.”

“He’ll never be ready,” the tree’s father told Nick as the family got even closer.

“Oh, I think he will,” said Nick, giving the little tree a loving pat on his back bristles.

“And what about the code?” The tree’s father persisted.

“He’ll do just fine,” Nick retorted. “Don’t worry. And I’ll be here if he needs me.”

“Why do I have to become a Christmas tree any way?” The young tree asked with a sigh.

“Because it is what you were grown to do,” his mother whispered, straightening out his bristles.

“Douglas Elmwood Pine the 3rd, I won’t have such talk under my sky, young man,” his father said sternly. “Your grandfather was an extraordinary Christmas tree, and although I have never been chosen, I have always wanted something better for you.”

Journey To Fulfillment

Journey To Fulfillment
Author Theresa Franklin

Inspired by a Teacher
One year during an in-service at the beginning of school, the administration showed a film called The Zero. It was about a middle school boy who stepped off the school bus, laid down in the snow, and died. Not one teacher remembered him, even though he had gone to the school since kindergarten. Watching that film, I saw myself. I was a barely above average student even though I was far more capable. It never occurred to me that if I studied, my B average could be higher. My behavior was appropriate. I was quiet and reserved. The only thing I was reprimanded for was reading in class instead of completing an assignment. I doubt that any teacher would remember me. The only teacher conference my parents had was in the fourth grade. Their concern? I was not interested in anything except reading. The teacher’s answer? “She will be fine. Don’t worry.”
I have very few memories of school. Basically, school was uneventful for me. I moved from grade to grade almost in a fog. I remember being nervous to go to junior high school, but other than that my only significant memory was going to the library.
Junior high was as uneventful as elementary school until the ninth grade. The ninth grade math teacher, Mr. Mettetal, noticed me immediately. He liked me as a person and a student. That was the first time any teacher had noticed me. He greeted me when I walked in the room and took the time to talk to me when I completed my assignments. The tone of his voice was different when he spoke to me. I felt special for the first time.  He recognized that I was not working to my potential and proceeded to encourage me to do better. Placing a test on my desk, he would say, “I expect a one hundred, Theresa.” At that point my mind would go completely blank, and I would forget everything he had taught. I wanted to please him and looked forward to going to his class. For the first time a teacher’s opinion of me was important. I excelled in his class, understanding all but one concept. When he taught negative numbers, I could not comprehend the concept. In my mind there was nothing below zero, so how could there be negative numbers? The other students could not understand why I didn’t get it. I tell my students that it was before I opened a checking account and now I understand it perfectly. The following year I returned to the campus on Parent/Teacher night to visit Mr. Mettetal. He said, “Are you making straight A’s? You could, you know.” I thought, No, I didn’t know that. No one had ever told me that. No one had ever recognized that I had the potential to make more than average grades.
I proceeded through high school the same way I had gone through elementary and junior high school. I did excel in cosmetology my junior and senior year. I received my state cosmetology license the week before graduation. Graduation was on Friday night, and I went to work on Saturday morning, never intending to go to college. A few months after graduation, I enrolled in a private cosmetology school to obtain my teaching license. There I discovered how much I enjoyed teaching.
Through a series of events, I enrolled in a small Baptist college in January of 1972, majoring in education. College was a struggle at times. If I did not understand something and asked a question, I was told, “You should have learned that in high school.” How could I explain that I went through school in a fog and everything I learned was incidental? I learned to hide my ignorance and research my questions in private.
In January 1973, I left college to get married with the intention of entering the local university where we would be living. My husband was not comfortable with the idea of me attending the large university, and to keep peace in our home, I decided not to enroll.
When our oldest son was in the first grade, he told me about an incident that happened at school that day. I felt that the way the teacher had handled the situation had humiliated the other child. The Lord spoke to my heart it was time to do for other children what one teacher had done for me. The next September I enrolled our younger son in kindergarten, placed our daughter in daycare, and went back to college. I had a desire to teach first grade because I wanted to help children begin school on a positive note and feel good about themselves and their accomplishments. The thought of a child being in school for nine or ten years before feeling special was too difficult to bare.
College was much easier this time. I was in classes three days a week. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, after my husband left for work and the boys left for school, I cleaned house and then began studying. Our daughter was a very quiet child. She would lie on the floor coloring with crayons while I studied. By the time everyone arrived home, I was finished being a student and ready to be wife and mom again.
While I was in college, the company who employed my husband conducted its second workforce reduction in two years. This time my husband lost his job. To support us after the job loss, he worked construction for a much lower rate of pay than we were accustomed. We struggled my final year of college. I had been given a scholarship from American Business Women of America for one semester. However, every time I sat down in class to take a test, I would think, ABWA paid for this. I can’t let them down. The added stress was not worth the scholarship, and I did not apply for it my final semester. When I completed college, I was offered a job teaching Early Childhood in Special Education. It was not the job I wanted. But we needed a steady income, so I accepted the position.
Every year on the first day of school, I prayed, Lord, let me be an encouragement to at least one student this year like one teacher was for me. Every year I seemed to fall in love with the student no one else liked. I once read a thought in Our Daily Bread that so inspired me I wrote it on a piece of paper and kept it on the wall behind my desk. It said, “If they deserved our love, they wouldn’t need our love.” I tried hard to live by that and show love to the most unlovable child in the room.
The first year of teaching was horrible. A kindergarten teacher decided to “help” me by telling me exactly how to teach my class. Some of the things she told me to do did not work with my special needs children, so I abandoned her ideas. She was a person who felt the need for control and did not appreciate my lack of enthusiasm. She began to make my life miserable by undermining my authority with students and telling the staff incorrect information about me. , I was a first year teacher who needed a lot of guidance, and went to the principal’s office often to ask questions. Each time, after I had finished talking, he would ask, “Is that all?” I would say “yes.” He would ask, “Are you sure?” I never could understand why he asked me that. I wondered if my facial expression was giving him the idea that I had something else to say and tried not to look as confused as I felt.
The week before Christmas break, I had reached my limit with the lies and cutting remarks. I determined that when the students left at the end of the day, I would notify the principal that I would not be returning after the holidays. At noon I told one of the students that it was time to go to the nurse’s office for his medication. As he got to the door, he turned to me and said, “Mrs. Franklin, I love you.” He opened the door, took one step out and turned back to me and said, “Mrs. Franklin, thank you.” Conviction gripped my heart. I felt like the Lord was saying, “I didn’t put you here for the teachers or administrators. I put you here for the students, and you cannot leave them.” People have asked me why the student was thanking me. I say, “I don’t know. It didn’t matter. It was the Lord’s way of letting me know that I was where I belonged.”

The Reading Section: The Oldest Enemy

The Reading Section: The Oldest Enemy: The Oldest Enemy The Oldest Enemy by Michael J Webb Prologue Dresden, Germany February, 1945 “Your name! Te...

The Oldest Enemy

The Oldest Enemy
The Oldest Enemy
by Michael J Webb


Dresden, Germany
February, 1945

“Your name! Tell me your name!”

Father Michael Lighthouse’s hoarse voice betrayed his exhaustion and his pent-up frustration, a potentially disastrous mistake. He swallowed several times, but his mouth was as dry as the Sahara and lent nothing to soothe his raw throat. The bound man lying before him writhed in agony as thin streams of grey-white mucous leeched from his flared nostrils, and bubbles of pink saliva dribbled from his contorted mouth.
A thick layer of fear wrapped itself around the young priest as the room grew colder and darker. His breath puffed white before his face. The administrator had cut off the heat in this room two days ago, but this cold wasn’t natural. Father Michael drew his heavy cassock tighter over his lean frame and shivered. Over the cassock, he wore a waist-length white surplice. A narrow purple stole hung loosely from his neck.
He was on the second floor of the city’s largest hospital, located across from Wettiner Station, in the Friedrichstadt. Behind the hospital, in the direction of the river, were the stadiums where he had played soccer in his younger, happier days. Beyond the stadiums, at the edge of the Grosses Ostragehege, a large area of wild, undeveloped land, was the Public Slaughterhouse where the prisoners of war were housed. The SS barracks were located further north and west, in the direction of Heller, on the outskirts of Neustadt. To the immediate west of Wettiner Station was the Hofkirche, where his small office was located, and beyond that was his beloved Opera.
He wished he were there now, listening to Wagner.
He frowned, refocusing as pressure began to build around and in him.
Father Werner, the Jesuit priest from Hamburg with whom he’d consulted, had warned him about this moment. “If you get that far—and many don’t—you must press on relentlessly,” the aging Jesuit had said during a static-filled phone conversation. “You gain the advantage by forcing as complete an identification as possible. Succeed, and you will have assured the domination of your will over your adversary.”
“And if I fail?” he’d asked.
“Remember, my son,” the older man said, “the evil spirit you are about to engage has found a consenting host. It will not depart without a fight. It will claw at you, deceive you—even risk killing its host. Once cornered and exposed, the spirit will attempt to lure you into a field of battle filled with tempting traps. Do not think for a moment you can circumvent them with your own intellect or logic. Rely upon our Lord and Savior, and you will not fail.”
The conversation died in his head, and Father Michael grimaced. Part of him was repulsed by the man before him—who he was and what he represented—yet the priest in him had compassion for the young man’s torment. No one, no matter how evil, deserved what this man was going through.
The young patient with striking blond hair and pale-white skin was skeletally thin, as if he were being consumed from the inside by some sort of ravaging disease. His face was gaunt, and there were dark circles under his blue eyes. When the two Waffen officers now stationed outside the room had brought him in, he had worn the rumpled uniform of the dreaded Schutz-Staffel, the SS. Now what was left of his shirt hung in tatters, exposing his hairless chest.
Father Michael rubbed his eyes then glanced at the small table next to the bed.
Between two burning candles, the only light in the room, lay a crucifix, a vial of holy water, now half empty, and his prayer book. He moved closer to the bed and table. He should have been accompanied by at least one assistant. Father Werner told him three was the usual number. And he was only half the age of the typical exorcist. By all rights, he should have been the assistant, not the one conducting the exorcism.
The flickering candlelight danced across the frost-covered, chipped concrete walls and cast wraithlike shadows.
For a moment, in his mind’s eye, he thought he could see the city in the midst of the flames.
His heart constricted. His beloved Opera must not be destroyed. That would be unthinkable. Yet wails of people engulfed in flames tormented his ears.
He blinked several times and shook his head, then wiped stinging sweat from his eyes. The candlelight must be playing tricks with his mind. That, or his lack of sleep was getting the better of him.
Dante, be damned.
He returned his gaze to the man on the bed.
Sister Evangeline had given him the man’s name when she’d called, but that wasn’t the name he’d been demanding to hear. No, he needed to hear the name of his adversary—the demon who now possessed Josef Rauch.
Only then could he cast the demon out.
He picked up his prayer book and opened it to where he’d left off. “I must know your name,” he commanded forcefully, drawing upon a reserve of strength he had not known he possessed as he splashed holy water over the man’s exposed chest.
Suddenly, Josef lunged against the thick leather straps that bound him to the bed. The straps groaned but held. The young man opened his mouth wider than seemed humanly possible. “You!” screamed a guttural voice. “You want to know My name?”
Father Michael staggered as the words pummeled him. He grabbed the edge of the small table for support as the blood drained from his face.
“Get out of here, you impotent eunuch,” continued the evil voice. “This one is Ours. He’s been Ours from the womb. He asked to be a part of Us. You have no power to stop Us. There is no power anywhere that can stop Us. Leave now—before it’s too late for you as well.”
Praecipio tibi!—I command you!” Father Michael shouted in Latin, drawing himself up straight and gulping air. “Praecipio tibi, quicumque es, spiritus immunde, et omnibus sociis tuis —I command you, unclean spirit, whoever you are, along with all your associates who have taken possession of this creation of God, by the mysteries of the Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ—”
Josef wailed in his own voice, “Please—help—me—” He strained at the straps that bound him, raising thick red welts on his wrists and ankles.
Father Michael ignored the man’s plea. “Eradicare, et effugate ab hoc plasmate Dei—Depart and vanish from this creature of God,” he continued as he made the sign of the cross over Josef. “Ipse tibi imperat, qui te de supernis caelorum in inferiora terrae demergi praecepit—For it is He who commands you, He who ordered you cast down from the heights of heaven into the innermost pit of the earth.”
Josef’s body arched with a spasm, and, without visible cause, deep scratches appeared on the exposed skin of his chest. Each mark produced a line of glistening blood.
Father Michael caught his breath and groaned. The ruby-red lines spelled three words:
Trembling, Father Michael renewed his prayer.
“O God, Creator and Defender of the human race, who has formed man in Your image, look down with pity upon this, Your creation, Josef, for he has fallen prey to the craftiness of an evil spirit. The ancient adversary, the archenemy of Earth, the oldest enemy, enshrouds him in shuddering fear. He renders his mental faculties confused, and he holds him captive, striking terror within him. Repel, O Lord, the power of Evil Spirit! Dissolve the fallacies of its plots. May the unholy tempter take flight. May your servant be protected in soul and body by the sign of Your Name.”
Father Michael made the sign of the Cross on Josef’s forehead with his thumb, careful to keep his hand clear of the man’s mouth. He repeated the gesture on the young man’s chest three times. “Preserve that which is within this person, rule his feelings, and strengthen his heart,” he prayed. “Let the efforts of the Enemy power be dispelled from his soul, Lord, because of this invocation of your holy Name. Grant the grace that he who has inspired terror up to this moment now be put to flight and retire defeated through Christ our Lord.”
Josef spat on him, then cursed him. “You will die tonight in agony, My poor, castrated priest. The fires of hell and damnation will burn your flesh from your body. They will turn your bones into grey-white dust before the cock crows. All who live in this place will die in the inferno. All will join Us in the kingdom.”
“Tell me your name!”
“You think I care what you want? You are less than nothing. I know you well, priest. You prefer boys to girls, don’t you? Your perversions abound. You think you have power to save souls, but you only delay the inevitable.”
Father Michael ignored the lying taunts. “Who—are—you?” he rasped.
“Fool! We are all ONE. Never anything else. Always the same. One. You and your prayers are nothing against the One.” Harsh laughter erupted from Josef’s mouth. It grew louder and louder until it filled the small room with its nauseating sound.
Father Michael covered his ears. He must regain control. Finally, he cried out, “Tell me what name you will respond to. Now! In the Name of Jesus—I command you!”
Abruptly, a new, more coherent, voice rolled from Josef ’s mouth.
“Who dares command the Lord of All Knowledge, the Unconquered One? Who dares intrude into My kingdom? By what authority do you claim the use of the name of the Unmentionable?”
Father Michael’s heart thundered against his ribs. It was time to finish. He began a final prayer.
“O God of heaven and God of earth, God of the angels and God of the archangels, God of the patriarchs and God of the prophets, God of the Apostles and God of martyrs—”
The building shook, and the window exploded inward. A hail of shattered glass, like the onslaught of a swarm of maddened bees, drove Father Michael back. His face stung. He reached up and touched his cheek. His hand came away wet, red with blood.
Josef cackled. “How magnificent this is going to be” came the voice from the bed. “I feel the flames caressing Us. Can you feel it, my impotent little priest? The fire cleanses and purifies Us. And the smell—it reminds Us of the ovens. Burning flesh always makes Us feel so—alive!”
Behind him the door flew open, and Sister Evangeline entered the room. She was short, much older than Father Michael, and her once-dark hair had gone completely grey. “We must leave—now—Father,” she cried.
He shook his head. “I can’t. It’s not over.”
The sister brushed past him, headed toward the bed. “The entire city is on fire,” she said over her shoulder. “We need to find shelter. I’ll help you with the patient.”
Fire. Just like Hamburg two years earlier. Almost fifty-thousand people had been killed there. What had the demon said about the fires of hell and damnation? And what about the image he’d seen flickering in the candlelight, and the wailing voices he’d heard? Was the horrific vision coming to pass?
A piercing scream filled the small room then choked off abruptly.
Father Michael turned and gasped, his limbs suddenly as feeble as an old man’s. Sister Evangeline had attempted to release the patient. She’d gotten one of his arms free and then Josef had grabbed her by the neck.
“Welcome to the kingdom, Sister,” the demon growled. “We’ve been waiting for you a long time. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.”
A sickening crack lashed the air as Josef snapped the nun’s neck like it was a thin sapling. Her lifeless body collapsed to the floor. The possessed man grabbed the leather strap that bound his right hand and ripped it from the bedpost.
Now only Josef’s legs remained bound.
Father Michael grasped his head with his hands, groaned several times, then opened his mouth to scream. All that came out was, “I must know your name!”
“Fool!” cackled the voice. “I am the Father of Cain. I am the Ruler of All. I am the Destroyer of Worlds. I am Legion!”
Outside, there was a thunderous roar. The concrete wall behind the bed shuddered, then collapsed outward in a ball of flame. It dragged the bed, and Josef, with it.
Father Michael stumbled over to the precipice and gaped down in shock at the huge pile of rubble ten feet below him.
Immersed in fire, trapped by the crushing concrete, Josef screamed—not in agony, but in wondrous, rapturous ecstasy—as the flames consumed him. “I am stronger than Death,” he bellowed. “I—AM—DEATH. I have always been, and I will always be. We are the One. We are the king—”
The howling explosion of another incendiary bomb cut the demon’s words short.
The force of the blast knocked Father Michael off his feet. His hair and clothes were on fire, but he made no attempt to put out the flames. Instead, he muttered, “I failed—God help me, I failed.”
The room began to spin as consciousness faded.
A pair of strong hands grabbed hold of him, and a comforting voice whispered in his ear, “You called in trouble, and I delivered you. I answered you in the secret place of thunder. I proved you at the waters of Meribah—”

A Love Story

A Love Story
How God Pursued Me
by Sammie Chandler
A Love Story
I write my story from a place that God took my hand and led me down a path. I do not regret the horrors I have experienced nor do I want to do them again.  I am profoundly changed by every turn in the road that I did not choose to go down. I speak of massive acts of unfairness and perfidy.  My writings give great insight and hope to anyone that has encountered wrongs in life that are out of control. This would encompass anyone that has ever taken a breath. To all that have encountered childhood abuse, I give you courage. I pray that all that read this will gain optimism for their own future. If a skinny girl from Nowhere, Louisiana with unnerving circumstances and totally stuck on ignorance can rise; then all can rise.
My background is life.  My qualifications are that I have had more happen to me than Hollywood would ever think of to write about. If I had not lived it, I would not believe it. I have been quite poor and only gazed at wealth. I have experienced poverty to the point of wondering where my next meal would come from.  This has happened in more than one cycle of my life.  I also lived within the walls of the privileged having dined with two United States presidents, governors in their mansions, and invited to dine with President Mitterrand at Versailles. I am a voracious reader and cling to self-help books. I have yet to see one written from the “privileged” world spelling out what greed is capable of doing. Having run in the circles of the very wealthy, I have witnessed the destruction of marriages when the wealthy husband does not want to share the revenues of many years of marriage.
I co-founded a not for profit children’s ministry that is now international. I have appeared on television and many newspapers have interviewed me. I have modeled.  I have read the Bible eleven times and with fifteen years of Bible study.  Nothing  had prepared me for the life I lived.
Ignorance is fixable; stupidity is terminal.  I was ignorant for much of my life. My narrative has colossal betrayal, distortion of truth, vulnerability and true love. I started with the challenges of growing up to a pagan abusive Irish mom that dallied with a spirit table. I chronicle events showing God’s hand in my life even when I was without a clue who He was. It is a journey He takes me down many paths and then prepared me for the fight of my life…marrying a man worth in excess of 100 million dollars and then to culminate with the annihilation called divorce.
I write of seeing an angel three times, God’s hand holding mine once, and peering deep into Satan’s eyes filled with fire that was endless in capacity.
My book is filled with scriptures and God given promises. God has taken me to the place that if He said it….it is done….the boldness of David. I have become David bold. I pray with his boldness expecting no less than what is written in scripture. I have often said if Samantha says it, then it’s possible to be negotiable but when our Lord says He will….it is not a suggestion but facts.
I tell of many places where God intervened in miraculous ways and His relentless pursuit of me. My book comes with a guarantee that the reader will laugh out loud as well as cry between a verb and a vowel, all coming from the same sentence. You then will feel happy and grateful you were not chosen to walk in my shoes.
Samantha Ryan Chandler
Amazon Best Selling Author
2012 National Indie Excellence Book Awards - Finalist
Contributing Author: Southern Living Magazine
A Love Story...How God Pursued Me and Found Impossibly True Story