Happy Mother’s Day! What I’ve Learned From my Mom

My mom and me at my wedding

So in case you, the reader, were unaware, I have a mother. In fact, I have an incredible mom to whom I owe much of my character and personality. Although she was most certainly the smartest of everyone in the family and probably could have been some high powered lawyer somewhere, or a leading scientific researcher, or an astronaut, she decided to pour all of her intelligence, passion, gifts, and time into raising me and my 3 siblings. I am truly blessed to have her, I don’t tell her enough. So, in honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned from my mom over the last 26 years.

1. Your past doesn’t have to define your present – Without going into detail, my mom didn’t have the ideal upbringing. The main issue was her dad, who didn’t find Jesus till much later in his life. Christianity was not present nor encouraged. This made her home life challenging in many ways. I’ve met quite a few people in my life with similar histories, and for the most part, all wear the scars to prove it. Whether its a lack of trust in people, debilitating insecurities, indiscriminate affection, or just unhealthy distancing, people raised in a hostile setting show it in their lives.

If my mom has scars from childhood, they are not visible now. She is confident, unbelievably gracious, elegant, trusting, and secure. She has not allowed any of the hostility experienced as a child play out in her own life as a mother. I had a great childhood, but there are even times when I am tempted to let my past mistakes define how I act today. I’ve learned from my mom, and the example of what Jesus did in her life, that my past doesn’t have to define my present.

2. Unique memories are worth the effort – For most of my childhood, we had an extra storage unit to store Christmas decorations. That’s right, we had so many decorations, we needed an entire storage unit! We now have a giant shed in our backyard for storage, but regardless, it is overwhelming. Growing up, the day after Thanksgiving was always dedicated to making multiple trips back and forth from the storage unit to the house bringing our THREE Christmas trees and boxes back to our house. My dad, my brother, and I would do this, not always cheerfully, because my mom loved decorating for Christmas. She loved listening to the music, making the house look beautiful, and maintaining the traditions surrounding the holiday. We all knew what to expect at Christmas time because my mom and dad worked very hard to maintain consistency with regard to tradition.

I didn’t appreciate all the work my mom put into Christmas time until I went away for college. I was surprised how much I missed the decorations, the schedule, and the Mariah Carey Christmas album being played ALL the time in our house. I even downloaded that album one year to secretly play in the car so I could remember home. It was a lot of work on my mom’s part, but she created a unique memory that I will always carry with me. Mariah Carey’s “Silent Night” reminds me how much I am loved. So many events and holidays, especially now, are haphazardly approached. I’ve learned from my mom that good memories take work, but have incredible lasting effects.

3. There is wisdom in talking less – The first time my wife, Lauren, had a meal with my whole family, she was shocked by how loud it was. My family is very close, but we’re all pretty loud and opinionated. So our meals together usually consist of debating politics, theology, philosophy, or just trying to one up each other on jokes. In the course of events, all of us end up saying at least one stupid thing that we wish had never come out of our mouths. All of us, except my mom. Like I said before, my mom is by far the smartest and most eloquent one at the table, but instead of talking too much and putting her foot in her mouth, she just sits back and watches the trainwreck of a conversation crash in front of her. This is a lesson I have barely learned. But any restraint I show in conversation, I learned from my mom.

4. Grace is beautiful – It probably won’t surprise many people, but I did a lot of stupid things growing up. I embarrassed myself and my family and I have no doubts there were times my mom would have rather wrung my neck than hugged me, but she didn’t. I was never shamed by my mom, I was never guilted. Despite the stupid things that I did, I always felt safe in talking to her about them. Now my mom is a beautiful and elegant woman, but a beautiful person without grace can quickly become ugly. My mom has grace, and it makes her beauty all the more incredible. I have learned the power of grace in the way my mom treated me growing up and the way she deals with my idiocracy still.

…….

I know this is cliche, but the list could definitely go on and on. I’m very blessed and I hope my mom has a great Mother’s Day. I love you, mom.

On another related note, the example my mom set for me made the standards for who I married incredibly high. Lauren has exceeded them. If you want to read more from another incredible mom, check out Lauren’s Little Blog Book or my wife’s newest blogging adventure, Dallas Moms Blog.

Family in Flagstaff

Karis, Lauren, Mom and me in Flagstaff, AZ

Advertisements

A New Project I Don’t Have Time For (But I’m doing anyways)

For the last month I have been working on a side project with two other good friends of mine, Trey Low and Mason King. It is a writing consortium called The Eternal Footman.

This blog came out of all of us having dinner together about a month ago. While our wives were talking on the couch, we decided to start a blog together. Starting a blog together felt a lot like starting a band together. Before a single post was written, we decided that all of our energy should be poured into naming the blog instead of actually writing material for it. Being the dork that I am, I proposed something from TS Eliot, (which is strangely similar to a band from my earlier days), and we decided on The Eternal Footmen.

Here is a copy of the About section of the new blog:

I am no prophet–and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid. -T. S. Eliot

This blog is a consortium of writers, thinkers, pastors, and most importantly, friends who are writing in a spiritually exhausted epoch. Our world is a world of questions, and our faith is a faith fraught with doubt. We love a God we can never understand, and we serve a church we can never truly reform. We are writers stuck between the messiness of earth and the holiness of God, and we are afraid.

The eternal footmen’s desire is to call men to the only death that leads to life. We are the bloody fists knocking at the door, the rusty scythe tapping on the window, the imbecilic watchmen heralding in a storm everyone should see coming. We are the idiots telling tales of sound and fury, all with the hope that somebody somewhere will wake up from their slumber, wake up from this post-everything world, and step into the rest of the true Eternal Footman, Jesus Christ.

We are also lovers of the word, hoping to become true writers telling the one true tale. Thus, this.

I am so excited about sharing thoughts and words with these dear friends and pastors. These are men I trust with my life and I cannot wait to see how God uses them to impact his kingdom for the gospel.

 

5 Reasons All Writers Should Blog (Why I Harass You With My Writing)

Back in the Dark Ages before social media and the internets were such a normal part of life, I remember hearing about blogging and thinking it was the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Why would anyone write a journal that everyone could read? Who would want to read other people’s diaries, (except of course for my sister’s diary in middle school)? I asked cynical questions about the trend of vanity in American youth culture. I vented and ranted to my friends, family, and strangers, none of whom probably cared what I thought about the topic. I couldn’t imagine who would be arrogant enough and insecure enough to write their thoughts and musings online for other people to read and comment on.

I am now one of those people. I blog. I am a blogger.

Obviously, a lot has changed in the blogging world since it first began and I definitely believe the blogging medium is becoming recognized as a legitimate platform for writing. All that said, since I’ve been harassing you for over a year and a half with this blog, I felt I at least owed you an explanation for why I harass you with my thoughts (and why other writers should harass the world with their thoughts as well.)

5 Reasons I blog

1. You’re Not a Writer if You Don’t Write

In college if you asked me what I wanted to do when I graduate, I would have said one of three things: be an inventor, a rockstar, or a writer. The first I would say as a joke. I even had business cards that said my name and “inventor.” Most people didn’t get the joke, which is the case with most of my humor. The second I would say half seriously. I am a singer/songwriter and I am still playing, writing, and occasionally performing. I don’t actually want to be a rockstar in the traditional way it is meant, but it got my point across, it was more glamorous to say, and usually people wouldn’t ask anymore questions about it afterward. The third, being a writer, was the only one I meant completely seriously. I love writing, creating images through syntax and vocabulary, crafting timeless phrases together in such a way that make you laugh, cry, and question the very foundations of your self all within the millisecond it takes to go from one synapse to the other.

Once people got over how impressed they were with my aspirations (read sarcasm here), the next obvious question was what have I written lately. My freshman year of college, I ambitiously set out to write the book that would change the face of Christianity as we knew it, a book which instead never got published and is sitting in a box.net folder for anyone who wants to try and sweat their way through the hackneyed prose and ambitious hermeneutics.

So that endeavor kept me going for a while. And then there was the occasional poem, song, article that no one wanted to publish, and school papers that I would try to describe in a way that was far more interesting than they ever actually were.

It took me years to finally realize that it wasn’t enough to say that I wanted to be a writer to actually make it so. If one doesn’t garden, he isn’t a gardener. Desire doesn’t equate to actualization. In the same vein, you’re not a writer if you do not write. After reading some of Ray Bradbury’s short stories about two years ago, I started to Google him and came across some YouTube interviews with him on the importance of writers writing persistently. Shortly after, I decided to start blogging.

If you are a writer, or want to be a writer, then do everything you can to write frequently. Blogging provides a platform for you to write in short bits and pieces, consistently and often, and get feedback from others. It really is a no-brainer.

2. Not Every Great Idea Needs a Book to Go With It

There is a trend in the publishing world, especially in the Christian publishing world, to take a simple idea, as profound as it may be, and kill it with a book that is too long, redundant, and watered down with anecdotes to pack a significant punch. I’m not saying that books are never warranted. There are definitely books that should be written and I hope one day to write one. However, there are some ideas that just don’t need 200 plus pages of explanation to be fully developed.

One of the advantages of blogging is that it provides a format for you to share the great ideas that should never become books. Blog posts range from 500 to 1000 words. Often times, this is all an idea needs.

Furthermore, when you do come across an idea that should become a book, a blog allows you the freedom to test, explore, develop and get feedback on the material that will one day become an important, publish-worthy book.

3. Blogs Have the Capacity for Conversation

As a writer, especially a developing one such as myself, good, honest feedback is incredibly important for improvement. Knowing what ideas connected and what needs further explanation is invaluable. Of course, there are ways of getting this kind of feedback without having a blog, but the advantage of blogging is that the platform not only supports it, but encourages it.

I have to be careful here because sometimes the comments section of the blog, if not managed well, can hurt the writing process more than help it. The internet is not the wild west of information and credibility, so feel okay with managing what comments are posted and which ones are not. Just because H32K-alpha thinks you’re blog is the worse string of crap the internet has allowed since its inception, doesn’t mean H32K-alpha is in a position to make that kind of judgment or deserves to be a part of the conversation.

4. People Read Blogs

In a 2009 study on The Future Buzz, there were roughly 346,000,000 people globally who read blogs. At that time, 77% of internet users read blogs. These numbers have undoubtedly gone up since this study. This means that people are reading blogs!

Whether or not people are reading your blog has more to do with SEO and SMO factors, which are well worth investing time into understanding. However, blogging as a a medium, has become a significant source of information in the online age.

5. Writing Changes the World

Okay. This is where I get a little idealistic and nostalgic. The thing that drives me more than anything to write, more than the fun of turning phrases and creating clever quips, is the knowledge that when things get written down, history starts to change. One of my favorite examples in history is the year 1848 in Europe. In 1848, all but 4 European countries had a political revolution. Obviously there were a number of things that attributed to this phenomena, and as a historian, I would be irresponsible to diminish historical events of that magnitude to being caused by one thing. History doesn’t work like that. With that being said, it is important to note that in that same year, a short pamphlet was published that became an active part of almost all of the revolutions. This pamphlet was the Communist Manifesto.

Regardless of your personal feelings toward this small book, the effect it had on the course of 19th, 20th, and now 21st century politics is undeniable. History changed because someone had the foresight of writing things down. The Protestant Reformation was significantly fueled by the prolific writings of the reformers, especially Luther and Calvin. Christianity itself, the consistency and longevity it has endured is due to the fact that people wrote down what they heard, learned, or experienced from God. If a religion doesn’t write its tenants down, it typically doesn’t last very long.

Jesus is described as the Word. Jesus is God’s writing!

I believe I’ve made my case. Too much of history is what it is because someone had the courage to write their thoughts down on paper and share it with others. In this day and age, blogs are a medium where the words written can change history. Granted, sifting through the dense wasteland of the blogosphere can be a lot like searching for pearls in a field full of empty oysters. My hope is that if I keep writing, if I stay courageous in writing things worth reading, that someday something I write might become the sand in the oyster of your mind, irritating you to grow a pearl that changes your life for good.

This my apologetic for why I harass you with my thoughts. Now go and do the same.

The Parable of the Practical Pharisee

Background Info:

To the first century Jew, particularly those of the Pharisee sect, temple worship and participation meant everything. As is laid out in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament), there were a number of laws and rituals surrounding the participation in Temple, particularly on the Sabbath. These were called the Laws of Purity and and Defilement. Of the types of things that would defile a Jew, blood and dead bodies bore the greatest consequence. If you came in contact with either of these throughout the week, you had to separate yourself from the rest of the people and not participate in the temple for a week. Inevitably, everyone came in contact with those things at some point in time, so the laws of purity and defilement were not meant to be seen as issues of sin. It was not a sin to be defiled by a dead body or blood, but it did mean separation for a week.

It wasn’t until recently in my life as a Christian that I began to really dive into the implications of the Old Testament on the New Testament. I am now convinced that the modern American Christian misses most of the full teachings of the New Testament because of a lack of knowledge of the Old. I don’t say this to insult. The Old Testament takes time and without guidance through it, can be almost impossible to tackle in a meaningful way.

One way that I really saw this was in Jesus’ parables. Specifically in the parable of the Good Samaritan. My tendency was always to try and see myself in the Samaritan man and see the priest and the Levite as cold and heartless men who were too busy to care for the needs of the man on the road.

But what if the motivation of the priest and Levite was not callousness or busyness. What if their motivation was religious? I believe it was.  Although it’s not wrong to want to be like the Samaritan man who gives everything to care for this stranger on the road, but I don’t think that is the force of the Parable. The implicit question is not so much how are we like the Samaritan, but how are we like the priest and the Levite? How are we like the Pharisee? How does the very thing we think makes us pure actually make us sinners? Below is the parable re-written from the perspective of the priest in order to get us seeing the application of the parable in a different way, the way Jesus initially meant it.

The Parable of the Practical Pharisee:

“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”” (Matthew 9:13 ESV)

A certain Pharisee was going down from his home in Jerusalem to visit his brother in Jericho. The Pharisee had just finished a week of required cleansing as a result of an unfortunate but unavoidable incident. One of his neighbor’s cows had drifted onto his property and then died. He helped his neighbor remove the carcass. This left the Pharisee ceremonially unclean; thus the week of cleansing.

Since he had been out of pocket from his temple duties for a week, he was excited to connect with his brother before heading back to Jerusalem for Sabbath. He played a very important role in burning the excess of the sacrifice, a key part of the sin and guilt offerings, and he didn’t want to disappoint the people by not being there again.

On the road down from Jerusalem, the Pharisee saw in the distance a man who looked to be beaten, lying on the side of the road. He wished this kind of sight on the road was uncommon, but it unfortunately wasn’t. Although Roman law did bring a certain element of stability to the road system in Judea, it wasn’t perfect, and there was usually some sort of violence. As he approached the man, he felt conflicted. . He wasn’t heartless and truly felt sorry for his fellow traveler. But he also knew that if he helped the man, he would be exposed to the impurity of blood and would be excluded once again from his duties at the temple.

The Pharisee knew what he had to do. Despite the pity he felt for the man on the road, he couldn’t let himself be defiled. He did not want to let the people down who faithfully come to sacrifice at the temple every Sabbath. To ensure his purity, the Pharisee went to the opposite side. He decided it best not to look at the man as he passed him.

As he got into Jericho, he met his brother and had a wonderful week. Although the journey back from Jericho to Jerusalem was tiring, the Pharisee made it back in time for the Sabbath. Before entering the temple, he went to wash himself, as was customary for priests before sacrificing. He was so glad to be back. As he walked into the temple, he thanked God for the fortitude in the last week to remain pure and undefiled. The Pharisee burned the excess of the sacrifice with much joy that Sabbath, knowing that God would be pleased by the aroma of undefiled offerings in the Temple of the Lord.

The Anonymous Man’s Second Coming

The Man looked through his window.
street cars, street sounds, street smells,
a pitter-patter of rain

The Man stared through His window
why send me for this?

Abraham walks to the Mountain of God afraid

In the city, all are anonymous
rain unique and then crashing upon asphalt
evaporating invisibly into the sky

The Man scribbles into the wood
“Everyone was expecting me, but nobody noticed.”

Abraham shivering raises the knife
But doesn’t see the ram

The Man crashed through the window
street cars, street sounds, street smells
the pitter-patter of pain

In the sky he was finally noticed, but not for why He came

Abraham treks down the Mountain of God
a murdering man ashamed

Hosea’s Son: A Short Story

The grass was more yellow than green as it lined the farm fences along the highway. The trees had lost most of their leaves and the whole earth seemed to be covered in snow and ice and cold…but there was no snow. There was just fence post after fence post, yellow field after yellow field, gray sky followed by more gray sky. Winter surrounded the little car speeding down the country road, a cheap and half-hearted winter at best, but still a winter. Somewhere North or West or East of them, maybe even South, people were shoveling snow off the bottom of their boots, children were lying on their backs making angels in the ground, and cars were being spun into poles and trees by ice. But here, everything was just kind of dying, or at least momentarily giving up on looking the way it could. Jess, who had been looking out the window with one of those smiles that only comes when you’re completely content, looked over at Ammin and sighed, “Isn’t it beautiful outside?”

Ammin hadn’t noticed the outside but out of convention and a sincere desire to trick Jess into thinking that he was fine, looked over at her and said, “Oh yes, very beautiful.”

Ammin and Jess had been driving for over four hours and the conversation and excitement had begun to wear off. They loved each other though. It was the deep kind, the kind that doesn’t need to be excited to be content, the kind that could sit in silence next to each other in the middle of a disappointing winter and not be worried that they couldn’t think of anything to talk about. It was a real love, not like the winter outside. Jess just smiled looking through the car window, enamored by the yellow and gray, and Ammin just looked ahead, fearing the truth of what lay in front of him.

Ammin knew that as long as Jess didn’t say anything and maybe dozed off or something that he wouldn’t have to bring it up, or at least be able to put off talking about it for a little while longer. He just kept driving, kept being boring, kept putting on yellow and gray music to lull Jess into an uninterested and un-inquisitive haze. Ammin had feared this trip from the moment he knew he was in love with Jess. He knew it had to happen and that everything resting behind his name and his family and his horrible mother needed to come out and that Jess would want to know everything, but he was still afraid. And so they drove in silence, the faint sound of wind dancing through the fence posts, the occasional cow disinterestedly looking up at them, the yellow fields and gray skies rising and falling with every hill their little car sped over.

To Ammin, the trip was going perfectly, no questions asked, no secrets revealed, no pain, no anger. Jess was beautiful as she looked out the window, beautiful in the way she loved Ammin, beautiful in the way she hoped and continued to hope in the future that Ammin feared so much. Her delicate eyes were closing as the yellow atmosphere moved her into sleep, and just as Ammin thought she was asleep, Jess rolled over to face him, looked up with her wet and sleepy eyes, her rose shaped lips smirking just enough to show her dimples, and asked, “Do you think people can stay in love their whole life?”

Ammin responded quickly, “I’m sure they can.”

“I mean,” Jess went on, “I know people can love each other their whole life, people choose to do it, I know my parents have. But, I mean, can people be in love their whole lives? I see it in movies, and read it in books, and I know I can’t possibly imagine feeling anything but in love with you,” she blushed and smiled as she said this, “but I don’t know, sometimes I get scared that we will someday wake up next to each other some morning and love, but not feel in love.”

Ammin didn’t know what to say. Does she know what his mother did? Does she know about the nights he spent searching through the neighborhoods and bars with his dad? Does she know the tears he shed hearing his mom upstairs with other men? He would turn the music up to drown it out, or call his dad, or scream into his pillow. He hated his mom for cheating and he hated his dad for loving. How could she possibly ask that? To be in love? The fact that he was even capable of love at all was a miracle. Ammin couldn’t love anything, couldn’t feel anything, until he met Jess outside of his 9:10 class. Jess was everything his mother wasn’t—faithful, beautiful, honest. He was in love with her, but couldn’t face his fear. Couldn’t face that God could be fair and let people fall in love and be happy. All God has ever done was tease and coax his father into a life of miserable love. He didn’t want to think about it. He wanted to think about the yellow winter, the gray sky, the rolling hills, anything but love.

“Are you okay?”
“What?”
“You haven’t said anything for a few minutes. Have you even heard me asking you if you were alright?”
Ammin looked over at Jess, his eyes afraid of the tears forming, and said, “Jess, there is something I need to tell you.”

Jess looked confused. “I didn’t mean to upset you Ammin, it is a stupid thought to think we can’t be in love forever. It was just a silly question and I feel really bad for bring it up and…”

“Don’t, it’s not…you didn’t say anything wrong. Jess,” Ammin took her hand, “I need to tell you something.”
“You said that already. Now I’m really nervous.”
“I haven’t been honest with you about my parents.” Even though the car was still driving and the engine still running and the wind was still screaming through the fence posts, everything became silent. Jess looked at him confused, not sure if she should be hurt or mad or scared. Her hand became lifeless, her pouty lips became firm, as she braced herself.

“I want you to know that I’m sorry for not telling you all this sooner. I do love you, I’ve loved you since I spoke to you. But I guess I was afraid that you wouldn’t love me back if you knew the family I came from. My parents are not traveling around the world. I just made that up so you wouldn’t try to meet them sooner. I don’t know, I don’t even know where to begin. I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.”

At that Ammin’s eyes couldn’t hold back the growing tears, he let them go. It was the first time he had cried since his mother left. His soul cried. The years of pushing back the memories, the hate, the confusion, the fear, everything was falling through his eyes onto his shirt. His hand squeezed Jess’s as he tried to fight back the tears, but he couldn’t, Ammin wept. Finally, Ammin looked over at Jess, she was crying. She didn’t know why, she wasn’t mad, or even sad yet. She just knew that it was the time for tears, and she cried patiently with Ammin as he slowly calmed his heart and finished his tears.

The car was silent for a while. Ammin was embarrassed. Jess was concerned.

“Jess, my Father is crazy, and my mother is a whore.” Ammin broke the silence.
“What?”
“My older brother and sister tried to check him into a mental hospital when we were teenagers, but they wouldn’t accept him, or he would just check himself out.”
“Oh my God! That’s terrible. What was wrong with him?”
“He hears God.”
“What?”
“He hears God. Like, God tells him to do crazy things and he does them. That’s how I got my name. My name means some lame thing in Hebrew that my Father claims is supposed to be a prophecy for the world.”

Jess did not know what to say. She was shocked. This is not what she was expecting.
“And probably the craziest thing my father did was marry my mother.”
“This is too much. How can your dad marrying your mom be crazy? What is that supposed to make me think about us? I love you and now you’re saying marriage is crazy?”
“No, no. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that the marriage itself was crazy, just that my dad chose her.”
“Why, what was so wrong with your mother?” Jess was beginning to get angry, even though she still wasn’t quite sure why.
“I told you my mother is a whore. I mean, she was a prostitute—an actual prostitute. And my Dad married her because God told him to. I know you probably think I’m crazy and I’m sorry for everything. If you want me to turn around and take you home I will. I’m just so, so, so…ashamed.”

The car became silent again. Jess wasn’t mad anymore, but she couldn’t look at Ammin. She didn’t know what to say, or even if she should say anything. So she just waited, she knew Ammin wasn’t finished yet. After a few minutes of looking at the yellow grass, Ammin continued.

“She never stayed faithful to my dad. I can remember her bringing guys home when I was in kindergarten. She didn’t even care I was there. She did that as long as I can remember, and my dad never did anything about it. He would just treat her as though none of it happened, and just cried whenever she wasn’t around. At first I felt sorry for him, you know, but when it kept happening without him doing anything, my pity ran out. You know, people do have a choice in the matter. He is just so weak. Finally, the day before I graduated high school, my mom ran away, or was bought or started working for this guy, or something, I don’t really know. And after I graduated, I left, and until last week, I hadn’t heard from either of them.”

The sky had turned from a gray to dark orange and red. The clouds and mist diffused the sunset so that only a shadow of sunset broke through. The yellow grass grew darker and the fence posts began to disappear but for the few that reflects back the light of the headlights streaming from the car. The air in the car felt profound. Something had changed, not necessarily for the worst, but everything felt different and new. The engine on the car hummed as it went over hill after hill, and Ammin could feel the warmth in Jess’s hand again. Ammin didn’t feel afraid anymore, if anything, he felt vindicated. Jess was still there and somehow, he knew that there love was deeper now. There was still so much to explain, but at least there’s was a love without secrets. Jess sat waiting through the sunset, sad, but content. She was always a quiet processor. As always, it was Ammin that broke the silence.

“Do you still love me, after all that?”

Jess looked up at Ammin, her eyes wet and warm, her lips filled with red, and said, “I love you more now. I can’t explain it, but I just love you more now.”

Ammin smiled. Jess smiled.

“So why now? Why did they call and why are you taking me home to meet them?”
“My dad bought my mom back. He wanted me to come home and celebrate and when he found out about you, he insisted that you come.”
“What about your mom? Did she want you to come home?”
“She said she was in love…for the first time.”

Jess sat there for a long time, her heart thumping along with Ammin’s like poetry from a book. She reached her hand up Ammin’s arm and pulled her body in close to kiss him on the cheek.

“That’s beautiful, Ammin. Truly beautiful.”