Charlottesville, 2017

“The light of the righteous shines brightly,
but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.”
Proverbs 13:9

Jesus tells me I am the light of this world;
so let my light shine.
There’s a glow outside my dorm room window.
I dare not go to it—
won’t be a moth to the flame.
The spirit of fear consumes me.
I cower in a corner, wedged between bed—
sheets damp with sweat—
and wall—cool to the touch.
I hear their voices rising — “White Lives Matter” —
demons behind them chanting, White is Power.
These are not lights of salvation;
theses torches seek to light crosses in front lawns,
to set ablaze nooses that string up bodies,
bodies broken like my Christ’s, and I pray—
God, why have you forsaken us?
Sealed us in a world so consumed with sin and hate
that even at high twelve noon all I see is darkness;
my own hand, extended in front of my eyes, becomes invisible.
A lake of fire flows outside my window.
Skin white as alabaster turns blacker than my own.
Hearts hardened like stone.
There’s no pumping of blood, no echo of life.
A flat beat, a solid stomp, a marching in unison,
like the rigid motions of a rusted metal machine,
like the recurring lashes of the whip.
In my corner I hide, like a lamp doused by shade.
Tested by fire, my works amount to nothing
and my world will be encased in a blackness more
cursed than the skin I wish to shed to the knocking
at my door. The devil and his angels wait for me,
beckoning with their false light
too dim to pass the crack in the threshold.
Today is the day I decide whose shame I will bear;
if I will pick up my cross and
deny my life for light’s sake.
Planted on the top floor where all can see,
I lift my covering off my Head and release
a brightness so incorruptible it expels the darkness
from my door, my window, my campus, my town—
miles away. Blinding like sun reflected
in glass, even from space.
Let it shine, I hear my Jesus whisper,
Let is shine.

—Nortina


Some words I strung together in response to the horrific scenes coming out of Charlottesville, VA this week.

S is for… [S]cripture #AtoZChallenge

Thank you for tuning in to another planning session for Lost Boy! The novel is quickly coming together, and I’m so excited for November, when I will actually begin writing it for NaNoWriMo.

Throughout this A to Z Challenge, we’ve talked a lot about the contents of the novel—outline, character sketches, backstory, and more. Today I want to dive into the structure of the novel, specifically how I plan to open each new chapter.

I love epigraphs in literature. An epigraph is a short poem, sentence, or quotation from another work that appears at the beginning of a piece of literature. An author may use an epigraph to introduce a reader to the themes on context of his or her work, similar to a preface.

I love epigraphs because they are like quick previews or summaries to the stories or poems I am about to read.

In my very first A to Z Challenge, I began work on a novel/novella (still not sure how long it will be) entitled Love Poetry. As the title suggests, I wanted to incorporate the use of love poetry (written between the characters) throughout the story. After the challenge was over, I decided to put the poems at the beginning of each chapter in the form of an epigraph (although the thought of ending each chapter with a haibun has crossed my mind also), as a way to introduce what will happen in the chapter.

In a similar fashion, I want to introduce each chapter of Lost Boy with an epigraph. Because the novel has very strong Christian themes, I thought it would be a great idea to begin each chapter with a quote from scripture.

“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 hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

One thing I love about reading the Bible is that no matter what situation you’re in, there is always a bible verse that speaks to that situation and helps you get through it. Even for those bible verses you’ve read a million times. On your one million and first time reading it, a new revelation will come to you that you never even thought of, and you will see the verse in a totally different light. It’s true! I can’t tell you how many times it has happened for me. It’s that power of the Holy Spirit—He convicts the world of sin, and He leads and guides you into all truth.

The purpose of using a bible verse as an epigraph at the opening of each chapter is to show, especially in Leslie’s case, that there is help in the Bible for every situation. There is help, hope, a lesson to be learned, guidance, conviction, etc. There are 66 books in the Bible, over 1,000 chapters, and thousands more verses—there’s no reason why you can’t open it up and find one that pertains to your particular situation, which is why Leslie reads hers twice a day.

I haven’t decided which ones I’m going to use yet. The verses about the Prodigal Son is an obvious choice since this entire novel alludes to that parable. The above quoted Jeremiah 29:11, is also an option, maybe for one of the earlier chapters.

But I also want to use verses that most people don’t know. We all have those memory verses and scriptures we were taught growing up in church, like John 3:16, Philippians 4:19, and Psalm 23, just to name a few, but what about James 4:3 (“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your own pleasures.”), 1 Samuel 16:7c (“People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”), or Exodus 22:22 (“Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless.”)

There are so many other bible verses that could help the characters of Lost Boy get through their problems. I guess I need to open up my own Bible so I can get some of those verses in my arsenal!

Until next time…