Oh man, oh man! I’m so excited, guys. It’s time for another short story! This one takes us back to the very beginning—back to when Elizabeth and Ferryl first met, when their friendship first bloomed. You’ll find out a little more about how Elizabeth came to Navah, about her mysterious past. And you’ll find out what the world looked like through her five-year-old eyes. Not to mention you get to meet a whole slew of new characters, including Ferryl’s surly brother, Derwin.

It was such a blast to get into my characters’ heads as children. I’ve been living in their minds, viewing the world through their eyes for so long that it’s surreal to start sharing it with the real world. But I’ve fallen in love with Elizabeth and Ferryl (and SO MANY more characters you’ve yet to meet). So I hope you’ll enjoy reading this second short story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

As a site note: I’ve read/heard some comments from those of you who are thinking these are chapters of the book. I want to make it clear that these are NOT chapters, but short stories. They are stories in and of themselves, and serve as prequels, if you will, to the main story, which is forthcoming. So in case you’re thinking, “Okay, this is a little disjointed and doesn’t follow any kind of timeline,”  you’re right. Think of these as little 0ne-shot opportunities to get to know the characters whose world I am building and will soon release in the full-length version. Hope that clears things up!

Happy reading!

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I am so very thrilled to share with you something I have been working on for a long time (and consequently, something I’ve been *dying* to tell you about). I’d like to officially introduce you to the world of The Promised One, a fantasy series I’ve been writing since 2015.

I’m currently immersed in the writing/editing/writing more/editing more life that is novel creation. It’s a crazy world that I NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS thought I’d ever want to be a part of. But something just clicked in me one day about two and a half years ago, and since then, I’ve penned six (yes, SIX) full-length manuscripts, with plans for MANY more.

That being said, this is the very first work I’m sharing with the world. It’s set in the world of the series I’m writing, but it is not part of the major work. It was originally the prologue for the first book in the series, but as editing goes, it made its way to the cutting room floor.

But then one day I had this crazy idea that it might make a good short story. And that it might make a good introduction to this world I’m creating. And that you might like to read it as a little appetizer before the main course.

So I’m releasing it. *bites nails nervously*

I’ll say this: in the hours after I quietly released it to a select few, I was shocked at the amount of strangers who commented or contacted me to let me know that they wanted MORE, MORE, MORE. It certainly whetted my appetite for this whole world of online writing; and it gave me the gumption to say that perhaps I’m on to something. Maybe you’ll agree.

So without further ado, I am proud to introduce you to “The Promised One: The Fall”, a short story. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed creating it.

So every once in a while, I dabble in my artistic side with a brush (or wacom brush, that is). I thought maybe you’d like to see what I do and maybe even purchase prints and more for yourself, if you’re so inclined. So I set up a Society6 store.

Nothing fancy, just a fun way to get some of my work out there. Hope you enjoy!

Sometimes the most profound lessons come from the most unexpected places.

If you’re paying attention at all, you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t posted a blog in a long time. Like, more than a year. There’s a reason, actually. Not one about which I will go into much detail at the moment, but suffice it to say that I have a reason for my absence, one that I hope will be something you enjoy. (Annoyingly cryptic, I know.) But not now, soon…

That being said, I’ve recently gone through a rather profound chapter change in my life that I felt worth sharing, so I’ve decided to take a brief hiatus from my hiatus (did you see what I did there?) to regale you with a little peek into my life of late.

You see, yesterday was the first day of school (collective eye roll, I know. If you’re on Facebook at all — and especially if you don’t have kids — you’re choking on first day of school pics). But for me, it was the first day of kindergarten for child number one. In other words, it was a big day in the Farris household. People kept asking me if I was ready for it and I, too, rolled my eyes. “Yes,” I would say emphatically. “Why ever would I not be?” After all, he had been to preschool last year. It was fine. I didn’t even cry. Neither did he.

But yesterday, as I dropped him off, kissed his little cheek still plump with the last vestiges of baby fat, and walked away, I realized I was indeed NOT READY for this next chapter. Not at all.

I was mercifully able to hold it together until I got the parking lot. God knew that if I fell apart in front of him, he very well would have been scarred for life and never gone back. My husband too, was a little misty-eyed on the car ride back home. The quiet, rainy car ride. Fitting, I thought, that it should rain on his first day of real school. Fitting for my contemplative soul, anyway.

It was my husband, of course, who poured wisdom into the moment. “It’s moments like these,” he said, “where I feel sorry for people who don’t have children.” An odd observation, I thought. “Why?” I asked. “Because it’s not until you’re faced with something like stepping away from your kids that you realize just how much you love them. How much it hurts to be away from them. And it’s in those moments that you realize that if God loves us even an iota as much as we love our kids, we’re going to be okay.”

Well then.

Well said, husband. Well said.

We started musing about our little first born — how he tends to be so tender-hearted and sweet. How when he messes up, the first thing he asks either one of us is, “But do you still love me?”

Of course, I always want to yell. What a ridiculous question! Of course I still love you, son! I’ll never stop! The question often exasperates me until I realize — don’t I do the very same thing to God? Don’t I think, in my flawed view of His love for me, that when I mess up, He’s waiting to waggle a finger and say, “I told you so. I don’t love you as much anymore.”

And so it was, on the first day of school for my little kindergartener that I learned one of the most profound lessons I’ve learned in a long time. That our love for our children, like so many of the wonders of this miracle we call Creation, is such a sweet portrait of the Creator’s love for us.

So as you send your babies off to school, as you rock your newborn at 3am and wonder if you’ll ever sleep again, as you send your oldest off to college and wonder if they’re ready, remember with me that He loves us even more than that. He’s jealous for us even more than we are for our children. And He’s waiting with open arms for when we return home to say, “How was your day, my love? Tell me all about it!”

Today, my heart is truly broken. Today, I mourn. Today, I feel betrayed. Flummoxed. Bamboozled. Duped.

I didn’t see this coming. Not for a thousand miles.

Today the world found out that Josh Duggar is not quite the repented soul he had purported himself to be.

I am going to step up to the plate here and admit that I was one of the first to jump on the defensive for the Duggar family, Josh being no exception. I believed him when he said he had made mistakes as a kid and had repented. I believed it because I believe in the power of repentance. I believe in what Jesus can do in the hearts of the willing. I’ve seen it. I believed it because I had no reason not to.

So when I found out I (we all) had been had, I was utterly devastated.

How could he do this? How could he lie so blatantly? How could he? How could he?

He could because he is human. Just like me. And while I don’t condone what he did–in fact I’m repulsed by it–I do know full well that we are all susceptible to a great fall. It comes after haughtiness. Just like destruction comes after pride. None of us, no not one, is above it. It can happen anytime. It always starts small. Insignificant. Harmless, we tell ourselves. And then one day we look up and our world has crumbled around us.

But as I’ve prayed about this, as I’ve kicked it around and asked myself why this hurts my heart so much (considering I don’t know the man personally), I’ve realized something. I think the mistake we made–Christians and non-Christians alike–is that we put the Duggars up on a pedestal. We said, “See, they’re what Christians look like! They’ve set the standard!”

Now I recognize that not everyone did. I recognize that they had plenty of haters on both sides of the aisle. I recognize that even among those who didn’t mind them, there were plenty who didn’t look to them as the pinnacle of faith. But I did. I admit it. I sang their praises regularly. “Say what you want,” I would say, “but they’re doing something right. Look at their kids. They’re so well-behaved!” And while I will grant that just because Josh has fallen doesn’t mean all their children are deviants, I must confess, I fell prey to an idea that I think many Christians do when shown someone who has “got it together” (whatever that means)–we create a formula in our minds.

The Error in Formulaic Faith

That’s why I’m upset. I see it now. I thought there was a formula and the Duggars had figured it out. I thought, “Okay, if I homeschool. If I hyper-focus on modesty and character development. If I limit TV time to no more than thirty minutes a day. If my kids have X amount of Bible verses memorized by the time they’re five. If they eat at least three vegetables at every meal. If. If. If.”

I bought the lie. And my friends, it’s a lie of the Devil himself.

Don’t get me wrong. Those things are good. And in a balanced environment, all of the above can be beneficial. But it’s not one thing. It’s not a formula. It’s not a checklist. Faith is living and active. It is evolutionary in that it grows with us as we grow. It deepens as we learn. It thrives as we feed it. It is not a formula. It is NOT something we should carbon copy from another man. If our faith is not our own, it is not faith, it is religion. And if our faith is not from an authentic place in our souls, it’s not faith, it’s religion.

And therein was my problem.

If our faith is not our own, it is not faith, it is religion.

I was looking to man for the standard, not Jesus. Isn’t that the crux of the problem with religion to begin with? So in essence, I was following the religion of Duggar. I was setting them as the standard by which the American family ought be measured.

Wow.

It actually scares me when I realize it. It puts that feeling in my stomach–call it nausea, call it disgust. How did I do that? I was always the first to say that there is nothing real about reality TV. And yet there I was, idolizing a family who it turns out is as broken as the rest of us. They have nothing more or less figured out than I do. And they need forgiveness, redemption, revival, reconciliation, and deliverance. Just like me.

So it turns out I’m much more like the Duggars than I thought.

And in the end, we all need Jesus. That’s it. He’s the standard. If I’m looking at ANYONE ELSE (and that certainly includes those who seem like they’ve always had it together–our pastors, that oversaved friend, Billy Graham, for goodness sake), I’ve already missed it.

And on the same note, if we hyper-focus on what Josh did instead of focusing on Christ, we’ve missed it. He needs Jesus. So do I. I pray to God with all sincerity that I won’t fall prey again to the notion that there’s a formula–that someone other than Jesus has it figured out. And that I, too, can live on cruise control.

There is no cruise control in a life of faith. There is fight or die. End of story. Just ask Josh Duggar.

morganandkariSome of you may have already heard, but something crazy amazing happened this Easter. As part of the Gateway Worship team and choir, it was mentioned that it would be awesome to have a choir descant to sing with Kari at Easter. I took it as a personal challenge and sat down at the piano one afternoon to see if the Lord had anything He wanted to write through me.

He did.

In the bridge of this song (at the 3:32 mark), you’ll hear the descant that I wrote to Kari Jobe’s amazing anthem, “Forever.” (ProTop: You might even get to see my mug singing and crying like a baby somewhere around the 5:14 mark.) 🙂 I will never, in all my life, forget the moment during sound check when Kari heard the descant for the first time. She cried. Our worship pastor, Thomas Miller cried. I cried. Like a little baby, I sobbed. It was a Holy Spirit moment like no other. And all nine times we had the privilege of worshipping this song with the Gateway congregation, it felt like Christmas morning. No, it felt like Easter morning.

For He is risen, He is risen indeed!

Enjoy this, my friends. The Holy Spirit is all over it and I dare you to listen without crying.

Love you all!