Friday, March 30, 2012

Media Madness


of, pertaining to, or characteristic of one race  or the races of humankind.
arising, occurring, or existing because of differencesbetween races  or racial attitudes: racial conflict; racial motivations.


Today there is a major media firestorm over Florida all because of an incident that happened over a month ago.

A police officer shot and killed a 17 yr. old young man.

This, unforuntately, happens all over the country, however, the main reason we are even reading about it in the mainstream news is because the 17 yr old victim was black and the police officer was not. 

We are hearing so much about the case because the police officer was not charged with a crime.

We are hearing about this case because it fits the narrative.

But I want you to take a look at the photograph of the young couple above.

Have you ever seen them before?  Do you know their names?

If you live outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, you probably have never seen or heard of them.

But I have. 

I know their names. And the only reason I know their names is because I read blogs and not newspapers. I read blogs and it was the bloggers who spread the news of what happened to this young couple on the night of January 6th, 2007.

Murder in Knoxville

The girl was Channon Christian, 21, and the man next to her was her boyfriend, Christopher Newsome, 23. 

On January 6th, they were driving around Knoxville on a date. Their SUV was carjacked by five suspects who kidnapped them, took them to a house, repeatedly raped both of them, beat them, tortured them, then murdered them. 

Christopher was taken to the railroad tracks. He had been bound and gagged and shot in the head execution style. They poured gasoline on his body and set it on fire. It was found by a passerby. 

Channon was kept inside the house for four more days where she was raped and beaten until her body was stuffed into garbage bags inside a garbage can. She suffocated to death.  Her body was found two days later  inside the house. 

So why wasn't such a brutal crime reported all over the country? You'd think such a case of car-jacking would be reported, right?

It would seem the main reason this case was never reported outside of Knoxville was because all five suspects were black and the victims were white.

Racial Profiling?

I have been keeping up to date on this case since 2007. Most of the defendants were sentenced to death for the crimes and yet not one mainstream news story has covered this crime.

Yet there was major media coverage of the Duke "fake" rape case against the lacrosse team in 2006 and now we have major media coverage of the crime in Florida.

So, why hasn't there been one story about this poor couple since 2007 outside of Knoxville? Oh CNN covered it briefly in May 2007, but they claimed it was White Supremacists who probably committed the crimes.  

Is there media bias? Is the mainstream media racially motivated? 

You tell me.

I believe there was media black-out because Channon and Chris's case doesn't fit the Liberal media's narrative. It's taboo to point out when an African American commits such an egregious crime, right? Reporting on such a crime might cause riots. 

We aren't supposed to talk about such things. 

What about the feminist outrage? Channon was brutally raped over four days. Why didn't the N.O.W. feminists cry out for justice for Channon?

Imagine if the roles were reversed and five white men committed this crime against a young black couple.  It would have immediately been called a hate-crime.

Five Years Later...

Almost all the trials in the Christian/Newsome murder case have been completed. There is one more to go because of one reckless drug abusing judge who presided over one of the trials. 

Now the poor families must endure the trial one more time. All that testimony, the photographs...the reliving it over again. 

And I am not the only blogger who noticed the lack of media attention to this horrendous crime. 

LaShawn Barber blogged about it

Michelle Malkin blogged about it

Hot Air blogged about it

I was reminded of this case over this past week with all the media coverage and protests in Florida.

I long for the days when the media was objective and wanted to report the facts to inform the people.

Am I naive?

Did those days ever truly exist?

I'm beginning to think no. They never did exist. 

If you can, take a moment to pray for Channon and Chris' families to endure through all the pain. 

Pray for the murderers too. Pray for their souls. 

Pray for our country. We need it.

Your turn: Does the Media have Racial motivations? 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spiritual Disciplines: Prayer

“LORD, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.”
 2 Chronicles 14:11

The Power of Prayer

As one of the youth workers at church, we have been praying to the Lord to help us teach our youth about the power of prayer and the other spiritual disciplines. 

I have seen the power of prayer many times in my walk with the Lord. 

What is the best way to teach this discipline?

For me, the best way to learn about prayer is to DO IT then stand back and watch the Lord work.

Prayer Journal

When I was in prison ministry, we used a prayer journal that the female inmates wrote in each week. They would write down their prayers and then, when the prayer was answered, they would write in the answer.

After a couple of months, we had concrete evidence to show these ladies how the Lord heard them and answered them.

It was a wonderful way to teach them about prayer and show them who God is: the God who hears. 

Prayer and Meditation

Another way to learn prayer is to spend time alone with the Lord praying and listening. Perhaps a walk around the block or in a park? Maybe just a sit out back in the quiet. Any chance you get to be alone with the Lord is a good one. 

Find a set time during the day, get alone, and pray. Then listen as He speaks to you. 

Prayer Groups

I had the awesome opportunity years ago to join a group of moms from my son's school in prayer one morning a week. 

We would meet and pray for our children, the school, and the teachers, It was so amazing to see the Lord work among us and our children. We saw many prayers answered as we learned to pray, let go, and trust in the Lord. 

These are all effective ways to learn the spiritual discipline of prayer. 

We have the most powerful God to help us in our daily battle. Have you tapped into that strength? He is there for you when you have no strength. 

The enemy will not prevail against you. 

How amazing is that?

Talk to God today.

Your Turn: How do you tap into the power of our Mighty God? Have you learned the spiritual discipline of prayer?


Monday, March 26, 2012


I had the awesome privilege of attending a writers conference for middle grade and YA Fiction writers over the weekend led by Martha Alderson. I wanted to share something I learned from the conference with you today on my blog...


As I complete the rewrite of my manuscript, I ran into a road block. There was something missing from the end of the second act. I knew what my climax would be in the third act, but the second act wasn't ready to end.

I needed another obstacle for my protagonist to face before she reached the third act when it all comes together. 

But I had no clue what I was missing. I knew I was headed for the writers conference, so I decided to wait and see what the speaker had to say about plot development. 

Boy am I glad I waited!

Crisis Within a Plot

Ok, so she mentioned crisis. A light bulb went off in my head. That's what I was missing! The crisis point in my plot where the protagonist is at her wits end. 

Think Katniss in The Hunger Games when she's in the cave with a mortally wounded Peeta. Think Harry Potter in the last book when he is struck down by Voldemort. Think Aslan being killed by the White Witch and her demons in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Think the final climb of Mount Mordor by Frodo and Sam in Return of the King in The Lord of the Rings.

Martha Alderson explained that the Crisis point in your story is where your protagonist has lost everything. He has been stripped down of all his defenses and he thinks he cannot go on any further...not one more step. Or perhaps your character has lost everything and wants to continue, but doesn't know which way to go. Or maybe she has been abandoned by her friends and doesn't want to go on alone.

The point is, the Crisis is that moment of truth for your protagonist.

The Antagonist

Martha Alderson also stated that the Crisis is the Climax for the antagonist. That made all in attendance think, huh?

But she explained that the Crisis is when the antagonist is at his strongest point. It is when the antagonist has all the power on his side and it appears that our hero is so stricken that she can't go on. 

So picture the antagonist standing there victorious over the wounded body of the hero. 

What Happens Now?

In the story of Christ Jesus, the Crisis moment was when He died on the cross. The enemy thought he was victorious as the body of Jesus was buried in the tomb. 

But what happens next is the pivotal moment in the story....the way to the Climax and ending. 

Remember, the Crisis is NOT the Climax of the story. Our hero lies in the tomb. The people are weeping because they think He is dead forever. 

But wait!  

The stone is rolled away and our hero rises again having defeated death once and for all!

In your story, what happens after the Crisis is what takes your readers to the Climax. In my book, The Dragon Forest, the Crisis is when the King and his soldiers are about to be killed by the Black Dragon. Prince Peter realizes that something drastic is about to happen so he tries to stop it. There is a moment between father and son right at the end of the second act....and then the Climax of the story happens in the third act.

You, as the writer, take the reader on this amazing journey. The Crisis of your story is when that moment of truth happens for your protagonist. This leads to the rise in action to the Climax of the entire story...and then down to a satisfying ending to it all. 


What a great conference!  Now I have my Crisis point in my story. I knew it was lacking something and now I know what it is!

This is the joy of writing: when you realize that moment of truth in your story and how the message you wish to convey will come to fruition. 

I hope this has helped you. I recommend Martha Alderson's book. But most of all, I hope you have fun writing your story as you uncover more and more about your characters. 

But most importantly...just write!


Friday, March 23, 2012

The War on Women

In the political arena lately, the media has used the phrase "War on Women" ever since Sandra Fluke testified before congress demanding that tax money pay for women's contraceptives.


Is this the fact that some women in America have to drive over to Planned Parenthood to buy cheap contraceptives because we tax payers don't want to pay for them an actual War on Women?


It's just political rhetoric used to cause trouble for political candidates.

The Real War on Women

Nearly 1,000 women were killed in Pakistan honor killings last year alone. Women in Muslim countries have to wear Burkas that cover their entire bodies.

Sharia law allows for women to walk behind their husbands, not be able to drive, and not to vote. 

In Morocco, a 16 year old girl commits suicide because her father and her religion forced her to marry her rapist.

That is the real War on Women.

And where is the outrage from Sandra Fluke and the other Liberal women out there? I still hear the silence.

Although at times all I hear is the ridiculous outcries from American women about how they should be able to get free contraceptives and federally funded abortions.

TRUTH seems to be the casualty in this War.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love...
Ephesians 4:1-2


My son prayed for humility this week. I was impressed by his prayer. That's one prayer the Lord answers immediately!

I then realized I haven't prayed for humility in quite some time.

It is wonderful what the Lord can teach you through your children!

That was Sunday night. The next day at work, my morning devotional was on...humility. Do you think the Lord is trying to tell me something?

Like Christ

My devotional was about how the humility of Christ was shown when He stepped off His throne and descended to earth...not as a King or Prince or mighty Ruler.

No, he descended and became a servant

How many of us are truly servants to those around us? How many of us are willing to leave behind all the comforts of home, roll up our sleeves, and wash someone's feet for them?

That's what Jesus did. 

He took off His crown, stepped off His throne, and rolled up His sleeves to wash His disciples' feet. Why? To leave us a perfect example of what to do. 


We are told in the letters of Paul to the Philippians to be like-minded. We are told to have the same humility of Jesus. We are told in his letter to the Ephesians to walk worthy of the calling with all humility. 

Why? Because this is the example that Christ gave us.

But how many of us truly have the mind of Christ and put other's interests ahead of our own? 

Humbling, isn't it?

When I look in the mirror, I see someone who needs to be in God's word more than I am. I see someone who lacks patience and compassion at times. 

I see someone who needs to pray for humility.

I am so grateful for my son's prayer!  And I am so grateful for my Savior's example of humility for me to follow.

I look forward to seeing how the Lord answers my son's prayer...and my own prayer for humility!

Your turn: In what areas do you lack humility? Have you prayed for humility lately?


Monday, March 19, 2012

Far, Far, and Away...

In the book, Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French, there is a most valuable chapter on setting and what it means to the story. I'd like to share some insights I learned from this chapter....


"Your fiction must have an atmosphere because without it your characters will be unable to breath." -page 176

Most writers of fiction understand the idea of setting, but as a new writer, I didn't understand the idea of atmosphere.

When writing the setting, it is most important for the writer to engage the senses. What is the weather? The historical period? The time of day? Why does this matter at all? It matters to the reader. 

What is the tone of the setting? Does that truly matter? Well, consider a murder mystery. Would it be beneficial to describe the setting of the murder as dark, sinister, solemn...or bright, sunny, formal? Who knows? It's YOUR story. You tell the reader!

A sinister atmosphere might be best with a mystery. Think Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" where the day is described as dull, dark, and soundless. Those words grab the reader and immediately reveals the atmosphere. 

Notice the trees in the foreground, the green grass in the middle ground,
 and the trees in the background. By doing this form of layering, the painter forces your eye
deeper into the painting...

 "If character is the foreground of fiction, setting is the background, and as in a painting's composition, the foreground must be in harmony or in conflict with the background." -page 177

Ahh, yes...painting. To me, I see exactly what this sentence is saying because I am a painter and I also teach visual art. I often would tell my students to keep in mind the foreground, middle ground, and background of the works-in-progress whether it is a painting, graphic piece, or drawing. The human eye doesn't just see one thing. The human eye sees many things.

Think of your mind's eye. 

Your readers want to know how the background works into the story or character. You must decide whether the background will be in harmony or in conflict with the foreground. For instance, what if your story is a murder mystery and you want the murder to occur on a gloriously sunny day. Perhaps you decide this because your murderer is a little old lady who loves to garden. See how this works with the foreground? 

"One of the most economical means of sketching a character is simply to show readers a personal space that the character has created..." -page 178

This aspect of background is always a challenge for me. But this is a great piece of advice for the writer. Want the reader to know who your character is? Show us their living space. Are they meticulously or obsessively clean? This may tell us volumes about the character. Is she a slob? Show us why. 

How would you describe a dorm room? Think of the posters on the wall, the computers on the desk, the desk itself...the bed, the carpet, the clothing. How does this room look, smell, feel? Show the reader. 

"In some rooms, you are always trapped; you enter them with a grim purpose and escape them as soon as you can..."-page 180

Your setting(s) should have some emotion involved. Why? Think about the settings you encounter on a daily basis. Do you enjoy coming home? Why or why not? Do you have a favorite restaurant? Why is it your favorite? How does going to work make you feel? What about the dentist?

Emotion plays a most important part in your fiction because it plays an important part in your readers' lives. Think about it. Think about your character. Why doesn't he enjoy going down to the basement? Why doesn't she enjoy going to work?

Show us!

Well, I hope you have learned a few things from just a few aspects of setting I learned from this fabulous book. I highly recommend it for the writer of fiction. It has helped me add much depth to my writing and I still have so much more to learn!

Your Turn: How do you add emotion to your settings in your stories? How does atmosphere add depth and interest to your Work-in-Progress?


Friday, March 16, 2012

"Go making disciples of nations..."

"Go therefore and make disciples of nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:19-20


When Jesus gave the disciples the great commission, He was specific on what He expected them to do.  Does this command also apply to those of us interested in missions?


Notice how Jesus told them to go to other nations. Imagine how these former fishermen must have felt! They probably had never left the region ever in their entire lives.

I know for me, leaving the United States to go on a mission trip to Slovakia in 2009  was a difficult decision. I had left the U.S. before for a vacation, but this was different. Why? I found that heading to an unknown land to meet up with strangers was scary! 

But, as with all things, the Lord took over and all was well. 

During our missions conference, our teacher spoke about being willing to go...and willing to stay.


There is work to do on a mission trip. That's the one thing I did expect...and I was not disappointed. 

I would collapse into bed each night from exhaustion! I never imagined we'd have so much to do, yet it made the days fly by. 

When Jesus told His disciples to "make disciples..." one can infer that He meant it would take work. God calls people to Himself, but we believers need to go and teach others about the Word of God.


The next verb the Lord used was "teach". Not everyone knows how to teach or is called to teach. Does that mean that not every believer is a missionary?


Every believer has been called to go! Sometimes it means going across the sea or going across the street. But go we must...

And one thing I have learned is that you cannot teach what you do not know. If you are called to teach God's word, you must learn God's Word and one way to learn it is to READ it.


Cross-cultural contextualization is a process that all believers must learn. This process means we, as American Christians, must know how to take that Gospel message to other cultures.

You're thinking Africa, right?

Could be.

But what about San Francisco? What about Little Rock?  How would you approach a teenage boy who lives in Oakland and has been prostituting himself out to men for drug money?

His culture is apparent. How do you go, make, teach this young man the Gospel of Christ?

How do you approach a young woman sick with HIV?  How do you approach a young woman in a Hispanic culture? Do you approach her the same way as you would approach a white middle class teen girl?

These are all aspects of cross-cultural context that each Christian needs to consider. Not only for other nations, but for people right here in the USA.

Jesus is With You

Perhaps the most comforting part of the commission was Jesus telling them that He would always be with them. What a blessing!

Jesus commanded us to Go...we must be willing to stay....and most of all we must be ready to work!

As I prepare to go on a mission trip, I am keeping all these aspects of mission work in mind. 

My prayer is that you will too!

Your Turn:  What aspects of the Great Commission concern you? Do you consider yourself a missionary with a mission field? Why or why not?