Not My "Pride and Prejudice"

I stumbled upon a book the other day, another Jane Austen "Pride and Prejudice" fan-fiction novel, to be exact, that just really made my blood boil. This one, like many others, is nothing but a glorified bodice-ripper featuring Jane Austen's beloved characters (it's main question was "what if Darcy and Elizabeth decided not to wait for marriage to consummate their relationship?"). What really grated on my nerves was their claim that it mimics Jane's style and characters. Really. Really?! Hmm. I don't remember her characters having sex in the books (well, except for naughty Lydia, but we certainly didn't have to read about it in detail). For crying out loud, Jane Austen was a minister's daughter! Why should I be surprised, however? It seems people want to sexualize or make sexual relationships where there was never intended to be one. Like between Frodo and Sam in "The Lord of the Rings", for example. Or even with Jesus and Mary Magdalene! Good grief, people. There is more to life than sex, and not everything in life is about sex.

Darcy and Elizabeth would never have considered a premature roll in the hay because morally upright people in those days--like our two characters--would never have done such a thing. Fast women were looked down upon. One of the things about Darcy that everyone loves is his devotion and commitment to Elizabeth. As a man devoted to the woman he loved, he never would've put her in a compromising position. Never would've even considered it. Writing stories that detail their sexual acts--married or unmarried--really detracts from the romantic story. As a man, would Darcy have had an improper thought or two of his bride-to-be? Probably. But he was too much the gentleman to ever act upon it. And as passionately as this couple loved each other, we don't need someone to draw us a picture to know they enjoyed a fulfilling sex life after their marriage. Writing about it is really nothing more than glorified porn.

I honestly don't mind the continuations and the "what ifs". But making the characters do and say things they would never do or say is a desecration of the beautiful story Jane Austen wrote and that many of us cherish.

If authors insist upon incorporating such trash into their novels, I heartily wish they'd choose other characters. Show some respect for the classy, tasteful, timeless romance that "Pride and Prejudice" is.


The Story So Far

As of tonight, I've completed the first eight chapters (including the funeral chapter). Yay! I'm thrilled to be past that point of the story, free to focus on other issues that appear in Emma's life.

Thus far, I've completed the first eight chapters, as I said, plus an additional six chapters that were completed during my "jumping around" in the story phase. All combined, there is just under 47,000 words in my story so far! I'm well on my way to accomplishing the goal I set for myself of reaching 80,000 in this first go-around.

There's a long way to go still, but tonight I'm thankful for these first eight completed chapters.


Unexpected Lessons, Unexpected Blessings

As I've mentioned before, I think, there was not room campus for us after March 2. So, after staying at a very nice place that caters to folks in ministry (they don't charge, but operate solely on donations) for a week, he and the kids brought me back to campus Sunday night and went on back to the cabin. They were going to pick me up Thursday. Well, early in the week the van started acting up, so on Wednesday, Troy ended up taking it to a mechanic the manager at the cabin had referred him to. They were delayed a couple days and weren't going to be able to pick me up until Friday.

Friday, they picked up the van and were on their way back to the cabin to get our stuff when it started smoking and leaking oil. Thankfully, a sheriff pulled in behind where Troy had pulled off the road and radioed for this mechanic to come out with his tow truck. It was the transmission, unfortunately. I am very thankful for this mechanic, however. He’s an honest guy who wants his customers to get the best deal. He told Troy that he’s in the diagnosis business, not the “fix it at any cost” business. He wants to make sure he figures out exactly what the problem is and then do his best to fix just that at the lowest possible cost to his customers. We are both so thankful that the van did not break down on the road--that would’ve been the absolute worst scenario possible. Troy’s actually also thankful that it happened here, where we had a reliable mechanic, and not in Jackson. While he’s skilled enough to do the job himself, it’s not the sort of job one can do alone. And unfortunately, our more mechanically minded friends have all left Jackson. Nor does he know a reliable mechanic in the area he could really trust.

At that point, I would've had someone drive me out to join them if not for a certain voice mail I received on Wednesday. A woman from the Medicaid office called as a "courtesy call" (although there wasn't ANYTHING courteous about her tone) to let me know that I'd missed the kids' re-certification appointment and had until Friday at noon to appear for it or my case would be CLOSED. In a panic, I called her and explained that it's pretty hard to show up for an appointment that (1) you didn't even know about, and (2) when you're in a completely different state. I told her the absolute earliest I could appear was Monday. She gave me grace until Monday, but no more. And with Tayler's procedure scheduled for April 5, we could NOT afford for them to close our case! Especially since it takes them a MONTH to process the paperwork.

Since the van wasn’t ready, I went ahead and booked a flight home. I was able to find a one-way flight from Indy to Jackson (through Houston) for about $325 (all fees included). Not too bad! This is even about $200 cheaper than the flights were when I looked into flying up for my training session way back in February! And that was with less than 24 hour's notice! God definitely had His hand in that, I believe.

The problem was that I have an insanely ridiculous fear of flying (not the actual flying part. It's the GETTING to the airport and dealing with connecting flights that freaks me out. I really don't mind flying, except that takeoffs and landings always hurt my ears), but God really helped me. I was able to be calm and ask questions when needed. I mean, the last time I flew was back in '99, so things have changed a little since then.

Everyone on campus and here at home have been so good to me. One of my Hope61 co-workers drug her kids out of bed on Saturday to pick me up and take me to the airport at 7:30. Our director's husband is personally calling area churches asking if they can help us out with costs. A friend drove 30 minutes out of her way to pick up the rest of the stuff I couldn't take and then drove it out to where Troy and the kids are staying (an hour from her) so that they don't have to backtrack and pick it up once the van's fixed. A man from our church here at home picked me up at the airport and helped me put the relays back in Troy's Jeep and get the tire aired back up so it would be ready for me to drive. As he left, he even gave me a little gift card for the Kroger so that I could get myself some groceries. It ended up being just a few dollars more than what I needed to restock the house with groceries after almost six weeks away! The cabin place told Troy and the kids they can stay as long as they need to--and are even allowing them to use their personal washing machine and dryer (as there is no laundry facility on site), as well as giving them rides to and from town when needed. The wives of the managers (there are two couples managing the property) have provided several meals for them and one even sent over some “new” games for the kids to play. One of the couples had Troy and the kids over for dinner Sunday night and they all sat around and played our “Apples to Apples Family” game. So glad I brought it! A dear friend of ours even offered to give us a van and find a way to get it to Troy in Indiana!

So many other things that I can't even mention. God is providing and working out snags for us. This has been a great lesson for us on faith and trusting God for His provision. Troy told me that it's sparked some really great conversations with the kids about this, and he's thankful for all the one-on-one time he's had with them the last week. This is literally the most time he's spent with them alone, and he's loving it. I thought Mama would love it too, but I miss my family. I'm going to use this time to get some writing done (as I wasn't able to get much done while we were gone), get some cleaning done, and just enjoy having the house to myself. That’s another gift from God in itself, actually. I was disappointed that I really didn’t have much time to write, and now God’s given me all this time by myself in a quiet house to do some catching up!

There have also been some frustrations along the road. Monday morning when I went to pick up our mail, as we'd expressly asked them to hold it at the post office until we could pick it up, as they often do, they disregarded my request. I drove all the way over there only to have the woman tell me it was out for delivery. And it was a lot, too. I shudder to think about what would've happened if I hadn't come back in time. Of course, there was the usual mail that didn't belong to us mixed in with it, one piece a package for the 722 WEST Northside Drive address (we're 722 EAST Northside Drive. We get mail for them, a daycare center, A LOT). I hope they weren't waiting for that long.

Then, I arrived at the Medicaid office and had barely sat down before my case worker informed me that they closed my case on Friday. Even though we'd spoken and I'd told her I couldn't appear until Monday. She said she had no control over it, but I think she could've gone to bat for me if she'd felt like it. I was angry, but tried to calmly explain that while the rest of my family was still stuck with a broken-down vehicle in Indiana, I'd flown back over the weekend specifically for this meeting. Then I explained WHY this was so urgent. She thawed and expressed some sympathy for Tayler at that point, promising to do her best to push the paperwork through. We'll see. She also had more paperwork that she surprised me with -- I had to go to the seminary and get someone to write a letter showing the dates Troy had been employed there. Even though it's been over six months since he last worked there and TECHNICALLY, they are only supposed to need your most current paycheck information. I went to the financial officer at the seminary, Mrs. Leigh, and started crying before I could even explain what I needed from her. I've submitted all required information. Please pray with me that she will indeed push the paperwork through and Tayler's appointment will not need to be rescheduled.

This was not at all how we anticipated the end of our time in Indiana going. By any means. But God has been faithful to provide in ways both little and big. We continue to trust that He will provide the needed funds for the transmission, that He will give the family traveling mercies as they drive back to Jackson (hopefully either Friday or Saturday), and that He will work out all the details surrounding Tayler’s heart procedure and our Medicaid status.

Exodus 14:14 - “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

1 Samuel 12:16 - “Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the LORD will do before your eyes.”


Remembering Andrew

Today is the day I've long put off, long dreaded, long anticipated. Today is the day I write about Andrew's funeral. Having never experienced the death of a spouse, I'm a little at a loss as to know what to write. But as I believe God gave me this story idea, I believe He'll give me just the right words to say.

The house is void of the sounds of children--my family is still in Indiana, waiting for the van to be fixed. And so I find myself with almost an entire week in which to do nothing but what I want to do. No school. No training (all of my books are still in Indiana). No errands--other than a funeral I'm attending Thursday and a women's conference I've been invited to speak in over the weekend, I have absolutely nowhere I need to be. Maybe God knew I would need this uninterrupted time for this chapter and that's one of the reasons He's allowed me to be here without my family. (The details are best saved for another blog entry.)

At any rate, I'm thankful. Hopefully by the time my family returns home, I'll be finished. Please pray for me.


A Great Deception

(In our anti-human trafficking training, we were each given an article and asked to summarize it for the class. My article was a copy of an actual New York Times article from 2002, about a forced-labor ring that had been busted in upstate New York. Migrant workers were promised one thing in Arizona, taken to New York, only to discover they'd been lied to. The article impacted me so much, that I wrote a fictionalized account based on the facts. The following is that fictionalized account.)

It is unbearably hot in the back of the van. We can see the blue sky through the windows, but we cannot open them to receive even a bit of the fresh air. My legs are cramping from sitting in one position for hours at a time. The men on either side press against me, jostling me with each bump of the road. We have been jammed into this space like sardines. There are 30 of us in this van.

The men driving make many stops to buy gas or food for themselves, but we are not allowed to get out to use the bathroom or stretch our legs. Instead, we must wait until it grows dark. Once night comes, they will find a secluded place to stop--away from any prying eyes. They give us brackish water and some food. Not much, but more than some of these men are used to back in Mexico or Guatemala.

We are on our way to jobs in New York. Good jobs, they said, that pay $500 a week, with our rent and utilities included! With this money, even after buying our own food and paying for the things we need, there should still be enough to send home to our families. More than enough.

The man next to me thanks the Lady of Guadalupe for this blessing. "If we can make it through the long drive across the country," he says, "we will be all right. Think of all we will be able to do for our families back in Mexico!" I give him a sad smile. He does not know what I know.

During our last stop, I overheard the two men laughing and talking to each other. About how they tricked us. Tricked us all. There will not be much money to send home to the families. These men know that our new bosses will not pay $500 a week, or give us a house for free. They will pay $5.15 an hour and will charge us $40 a week to share a small house with other men. Three beds among eleven men. This is not what we were promised. This is not what we agreed to. And what little money we might have leftover has to go to pay off the $1,000 they will charge us for the trip from Arizona. How are we to pay for so much with so little? Our families are counting on us to send them money.

I thought about running away. But I crossed the border illegally, and I am afraid I will be sent back. Then what would my family do for money? Some is better than none, no? Even if this were not so, one of the men has a gun. If I tried to run away, would he shoot me? I do not know. There is nothing I can do.

The other men in the van do not know this. I do not have the heart to tell them. Our journey to New York is almost over. They will find out for themselves soon enough.


Spiritual Low to a Spiritual High

(Written on Friday, March 9 - Just so you're aware, it's a long one.)

This week, I’ve been on a break with my family while the rest of my training group completes their orientation training sessions. We’re snugly, if not comfortably, ensconced in a tiny cabin in a hilly region of southeast Indiana. It’s absolutely beautiful here. If I don’t look at a map, I can almost convince myself we’re somewhere in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains--my absolute favorite place to be. My only complaint is that it’s been too cold to really enjoy the beauties of nature around us. Too cold and windy to settle with a good book in the adirondack chairs overlooking a serene pond on the upper portion of the property. Too cold and windy to lay in the grass at the edge of the stream that runs along the lower portion of the property, listening to the babbling brook while idly watching the clouds drift by overhead. Too cold to sneak the two horses--Little and Smoke--snacks of apples, carrots, and sugar cubes. (Although, as this sort of thing is actually encouraged by the proprietors, I guess it’s not really “sneaking” them a snack, is it?)

I really anticipated doing a lot more writing than I have been. Last night was the first time I’ve actually opened the file that holds my novel-in-progress. And even then, it was only to re-read what I’d previously written.

Anyway. Before we left for “the country”, I borrowed Joyce’s copy of “Renting Lacy” with every intention of reading it during this week away. But between our physical yesterday, trips to town to run laundry (because I wasn’t paying close enough attention, I didn’t realize that there are not laundry facilities for guests on the property), and helping Troy with school, there hasn’t been much time for writing or homework. Well, okay, maybe that’s not entirely true. Let’s just say I haven’t made the time for writing or homework. Today, Tayler’s 12th birthday, we rushed the kids through a couple subjects each, then took off for town for her birthday lunch and to run another couple loads of laundry. While waiting on the loads, I began reading “Renting Lacy”. I didn’t even get very far in it--not even out of the foreword--before tears were running down my face. (I’m not going to attempt to describe the book other than to say it’s about the child prostitution side of human trafficking--partly told through the perspective of a child “prostitute”. You need to read it. Period.) I just can’t seem to separate my children from these other children. I read about a 12-year-old girl....and immediately think of my now-12-year-old daughter.

Every instinct within me as a mother wants to grab my children, whisk them to a far away “safe” place, and never again let them out of my sight. But I can’t do this. Besides. Where would I go? Where in this world is there any safe place? We may tell ourselves that our towns are safe. You may think of us taking our children to Mexico and shudder....or worse---judge us...for taking our children to such a “dangerous” place. But the truth is, we are deluding ourselves if we think there is any safe place left in this world. My husband confided in me that the enemy has been trying to instill fear into his heart with regard to our children. He’s been telling Troy, “Okay. If you’re going to actively work to set children free, others free, I’m going after your children. I’m going to enslave them.” When he told me this, I confess I nearly lost it. I’m honestly not sure how I was able to remain standing. Especially when everything within me felt like it would crumble. Jesus! Not my children! Satan can’t have my children! We are just going to pray against that!

But here’s the kicker. Are my children more important than any other children? Greater is He who is within me than he who is in the world. This we all know. Hallelujah!! But what if the unthinkable happens and I have to choose? Will I hold onto my children in fear, or will I surrender them to Jesus’ care? I remember hearing a missionary from the remote areas of Bolivia sharing about a similar conversation he had with his wife regarding their children. This missionary family lived near a big river. He used to take his children and the other children of the village on rides down the river on a large raft. There were sometimes rapids on this river, and when the rains came, they swelled the river to many times its usual size. He told his wife that if the worst ever happened and the kids were accidentally swept overboard, he was going to rescue the village kids first....before his own. Even if this meant that his own children died. His own children knew Jesus as their Savior....the village kids didn’t. I remember hearing this story and thinking, despite that fact, that the man was a cold-hearted man. Those village people would certainly understand his desire to save his own children first. That’s what being a parent is about. But how powerful a testimony would that have been if he had "sacrificed" his own children for someone else’s? Didn’t God sacrifice His own Son for me? For you? Thank God the worst never happened, and he and his wife were not called upon to make that choice.

All afternoon, since Troy’s admission, this story has been playing in my head over and over again, along with the thought, "please God, I don’t ever want to have to make that choice."

I am reminded again, even now as I write, of Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” Or how about:

For I know the plans I have for TAYLER, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper her and not to harm her. Plans to give her a hope and a future.

For I know the plans I have for CLAYTON, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper him and not to harm him. Plans to give him a hope and a future.

For I know the plans I have for TORI, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper her and not to harm her. Plans to give her a hope and a future.

For I know the plans I have for CODY, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper him and not to harm him. Plans to give him a hope and a future.

Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world!!!

Thank You, JESUS!!

YOU CAN’T HAVE MY CHILDREN, Satan! No! In Jesus’ name, they are His and His alone! You almost made me despair, didn’t you? But I choose to trust in the plans the Lord has for my children. Plans to prosper them and not to harm them! Plans for a future and a HOPE! There is no hope in despair. I CHOOSE HOPE.

And we won’t let you have the other children, either! In Jesus’ name, we will fight you! Whatever it takes! WE WILL FREE THOSE ENSLAVED IN YOUR BONDAGE!


There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to post this. But I think it’s important for you to know the battle we are waging here. (And for me to remember it later on.) There is so much darkness associated with issue. Darkness that can weigh down our spirits if we’re not careful. And for me, one of the greatest tools my enemy has is fear. Fear of what might happen to me. To my children. Fear that I won’t be good enough. That what I do won’t matter. That I’m only one person in a sea of broken lives. So I’m going to post this. And I want you to read about my spiritual ups and downs today because I desperately need for you to pray for me.

I am reminded of the story in scripture (Exodus 17:9-12) where Aaron and Hur had to literally hold up Moses’ arms for the Israelites to be victorious in battle. When his arms lowered, the tide of the battle turned and their enemy was winning. As long as his arms were raised, the Israelites were victorious. How tired his arms must’ve been. How sore. How achy. How desperately he must’ve wanted to lower them. Even for just a moment’s relief. A moment’s respite. It was in those moments, he completely relied on the strength and support of those literally holding his arms up. Think about it--didn’t their arms get tired? Didn’t they want to put their arms down, too? But they didn’t.

There will be times I’m tired of the battle. Tired of the spiritual and emotional attacks (like today). There will be times I want to quit. It is in these moments I will need to rely, not only on the strength and support of my Father, but the strength, support, and encouragement of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as well.....you, friend. As the men holding up Moses must’ve tired of their task, you might tire of the task as well. I will pray for you as you pray for me. I will do my best to encourage you as you encourage me. And more than ever, we need to rely on Jesus.

He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.

Praise the Lord Almighty.

And then this evening, tangible proof that God's plans are to prosper my children, to give them a hope and a future......as well as the answer to a long-standing prayer...

On the way home from Tayler’s birthday supper (in a restaurant that had a statue of Mary), the kids were full of questions about the difference between the Lady of Guadalupe and the Virgin Mary statues we’ve seen in this predominantly Catholic town (there is both a large monastery and a large convent not 10 minutes’ drive from our cabin). At the end of the conversation, Cody makes a statement about “all of us” having Jesus in our hearts. I froze and Troy and I just looked at each other, uncertain for the moment what to say. The problem is that Cody thought he’d accepted Jesus into his heart because he’d heard everyone else talk about doing it. Kind of like, "I live in a Christian family, so that makes me a Christian, too." But it was not a decision he himself had yet made. Troy gently explained this to him and asked if he’d like to accept Jesus into his heart. Cody’s answer was a quick and definite “yes!” He didn’t even want to wait until we’d arrived back at the cabin, but as we were almost there, he did. No sooner did we walk in and divest ourselves of our coats and various belongings, than Troy was leading Cody in the “sinner’s prayer”! So now all of my children have personally accepted Jesus into their hearts.

They are no longer “mine”; they are His. Praise God!