Monthly Archives: March 2016

No Exceptions

IMG_4927I drove through Campus Town in Ames today. It’s always fun to see kids starting their lives, rushing from class to class. I don’t miss those years at all, but I do like watching from a distance.

As I drove past a church, two handwritten banners hung in their front windows. The first read: ‘God Loves You’ and in the next window, ‘No Exceptions.’

No exceptions.

My mind was absorbed for the rest of the drive home. This is exactly what the Kingdom of God should look like here on earth. No exceptions.

As we journey from the cross to the Resurrection this weekend, those two words take on more significance. No exceptions.

God’s son did not die on the cross for some of the people. He didn’t die just for the Jews or for Christians; for people who go to church on Sunday mornings or those who seem to live perfectly holy lives. He didn’t just die for Americans or Catholics or Protestants, or for those whose belief systems – political, religious, or philosophical – line up with ours. He didn’t just die for white folk or rich people, those who can afford health care or who have a good work ethic. He didn’t just die on that cross for those who have their lives all together and whose children are brought up the way we believe they should behave. He didn’t just die for those with no mental health issues, or the families who can afford homes.

No exceptions.

Jesus Christ’s life on earth, his death, resurrection and his living presence are for everyone – no exceptions.

My heart aches at the ugly behavior and talk coming from those who proclaim their Christianity louder than they live it out. Mom always told me that actions speak louder than words. But we scream and yell our hatred and bigotry in the name of Jesus so that the words will seem louder than actions, and those who are as angry and hateful can hear the nasty words and support those ugly beliefs.

When Jesus was asked which commandment was the most important, he gave a simple response. Summed up, he said: Love God. Love Others. He didn’t place any exceptions on that. He didn’t tell people to love God and then love only some of the others. Jesus stated that we are to Love God and Love Others. No exceptions.

We’ll move past Holy Week and Easter Sunday and return to life as it always has been, giving little regard to the incredible passion that changed the world. The passion that came about because of exceptional love for all of humanity.

We are called to perfection as Jesus is perfect. That perfection comes from love. God’s love. When we live out that love, we find that we no longer need to scream and shout; our actions will be louder than our words and no one can drown them out.

Let this be the moment you decide to love, knowing how much God loved you.

No exceptions.

Bellingwood Vignette – Book 13, #3

TB loves the heating pad under my desk. Apparently he was plenty warm!

TB loves the heating pad under my desk. Apparently he was plenty warm!

Vignettes are published in the newsletters that come out each month, but every once in a while, I will write one that comes out before the 25th.

The vignettes are very short stories that fit within the context of the books, but aren’t necessary to the story. They might enhance something that you’ll read  in each book, but generally are just a quick look at some of the characters from their own perspective rather than Polly’s.

Book 13 is just around the corner (Friday, March 25th – only a couple of days away) and while you’re waiting, here is a quick look at what the kids are doing after school one day.

And They Call it Puppy Love

“Wait up, you guys,” Kayla yelled.

Mr. Smith stepped in front of her and she pulled up short. “No running in the halls, Miss Armstrong.”

“Sorry,” she muttered.

Rebecca had stopped in front of the girls’ bathroom to wait for her friend. “Slow down, Andrew. We have to wait for Kayla.”

“Whatever,” he muttered. “I’ll just be at my locker. Find me when you’re ready to go.”

She turned and watched him walk away. “What’s his problem?”

“Where’d Andrew go?” Kayla asked.

“I don’t know. His locker, I guess.” Rebecca shook her head. “What did Mr. Smith want?”

“Told me not to run.” Kayla huffed a laugh. “Like I run. I hate running. Why would I run in the halls when I don’t even like to run in gym?”

“I know, right?” Rebecca said, laughing. “Let’s get rid of some of this stuff.”

The two girls walked down the hall and turned the corner. Andrew was at the far end, leaning against his locker, watching them come his way.

Rebecca stopped in front of hers. “You go on. I just need to get my coat.”

“I’ll be right back,” Kayla said.

“Stupid boys,” Rebecca groused. She opened her locker and put books on the shelf and shoved things around so she could get her coat. It made her laugh. Polly was always complaining about how messy her room was. If she could see this, she’d go bananas. Kayla’s was way different. It was clean and really cute. She had Disney paper on the inside of the door and a sweet little white board and even a calendar hanging there. All organized and neat. Rebecca yanked on her coat and pulled it out from under the books she’d jammed in there all day, then dug around for her scarf.

Even there, Kayla was smarter than her. She always pulled her scarf through the sleeve of her coat so that she could find it right away. There it was. Polly would have a cow if Rebecca came home without it. No, that wasn’t right. She’d have the cow in the morning when Rebecca tried to leave without it on. She wrapped it around her neck twice and shoved her hair out of her face.

“Are you ready?” Kayla asked.

“Not hardly. How’d you get your stuff so fast?”

Kayla just laughed. “You should let me do up your locker for you.”

“You’d have to do it every week. I’ll just make a mess again.”

“Why don’t you hang any pictures up? Or even some of your drawings? Those would be really cool,” Kayla said.

Rebecca bent over and dug around on the floor of the locker, underneath a pile of folders. She pulled out a bent and broken corkboard. “Because everything breaks. I don’t even know where the pins are for this. Polly bought me some cute cat pins and they’re somewhere.”

“You should just throw that away.”

“Here, throw it away.” Rebecca shoved it at her friend.

Kayla took the three steps to a trash can and lifted the corkboard high, then let it drop. “See how difficult that was?”

Rebecca looked down at Andrew, still standing beside his locker. He was doing his best to ignore them. He spoke to some of the boys who were putting coats on, but kept a steady eye on what she and Kayla were doing.

“What did he do to you?” Kayla whispered. “Did he say something stupid? Are you guys breaking up?”

“No. He didn’t say anything stupid and we aren’t breaking up.” Rebecca kicked the bottom of her locker. “I hate this thing. I can’t find anything in here.”

“You really should let me clean it out for you. I could at least get you organized,” Kayla pleaded.

“I’m just going to throw everything away.” Rebecca bent over and picked up a stack of paper.

When she started toward the trash can, Kayla jumped in front of her. “No. You’ll be mad if you throw away some of your drawings. And there might be pictures in there and some of your stories.” She pulled out a piece of music. “And was this supposed to be turned in before Christmas.”

“They don’t care.”

“Yes they do. I was in the band room when Lisa and Sheena were sorting things. They were missing a bunch of parts. How are we supposed to play that again?”

“Then take it back.”

Kayla held onto it. “I will. Is there more in there?”

“Here.” Rebecca held out the stack, waiting for Kayla to extend her arms. When she did, Rebecca pushed everything at her friend. “You do whatever you want with it. Throw it out, color on it. I don’t care. Just get it out of my sight.”

“Why are you in such a bad mood?” Kayla asked, following Rebecca back to her locker. “What did Andrew do?”

“Who said he did anything?”

“I said. You only get like this when you and him are fighting.”

Rebecca shot a glance down the hall, turned her back on Andrew and bent into her locker. “It’s embarrassing when he gets all lovey-dovey,” she said in low tones, checking the hallway around them. Most of the kids were gone by this point. “I don’t want people teasing us because he’s always trying to sit beside me or…” she kicked the bottom of the locker again. “Whatever.”

“I wish I had a boyfriend try to get all lovey-dovey with me,” Kayla said. “You’re lucky. You shouldn’t be mean to him. What if he breaks up with you because you aren’t very nice.”

“I’d still have you,” Rebecca said.

Kayla didn’t respond, but looked down at the stack of papers in her hands.

“I’m mean to you, too. Is that what you’re thinking?” Rebecca asked.

Shaking her head very slowly, Kayla just smiled at her friend. “You’re never mean. Just a little volatile.”

“Where did you get that word?”

“Stephanie’s word-of-the-day calendar at home.” Kayla laughed and then looked worried. “But I didn’t think of you when we talked about it the word at breakfast. I promise.”

Rebecca took the stack of papers back from Kayla and jammed them into the bottom of her locker. “You can fix this up if you want,” she said. “But not tonight. Everybody else is gone. We should go.”

“Are you taking this?” Kayla asked, holding out Rebecca’s sketchbook.

“Yeah, I better.” Rebecca pulled her coat on, slung the backpack over her shoulder and then took the sketchbook from Kayla. She reached back into her locker and picked up her pencil case and kicked the door shut. “We’re leaving, Andrew. Are you coming?”

He trotted down the hall toward them. “Are you going to be mad at me all night?” he asked.

“I’m not mad,” Rebecca responded. She shook her head when she caught him giving Kayla a look. “I’m not,” she repeated. “Let’s just go.

They walked out of the front door of the school and she shivered as they hit the cold air.

“It’s cold,” Andrew said. “Let me hold your hand.”

Rebecca held up her hands, one with the sketchbook and the other with the pencil holder. “I have stuff in my hands.”

“You could put it in your backpack.”

Kayla laughed. “No she can’t. There’s no more room. Will you let me clean that out sometime, too?”

“At least let me button up your coat for you,” Andrew said.

“Fine.” Rebecca stopped in the middle of the street, planted her feet and turned to face him. “Button my stupid coat.”

“It’s really hard work being your boyfriend,” Kayla said. “He needs a medal.”

Rebecca watched her two friends try hard not to laugh and she shook her head. “I’m high maintenance?”

Andrew and Kayla looked at each other and then turned to look at her, innocence pasted on their faces.

“Of course not,” Andrew said.

Kayla spoke over him. “Not all the time.”

“But I don’t want to be high maintenance. I hate high maintenance girls.” Rebecca slumped her shoulders in defeat. “I’m sorry. You guys are my best friends. Here.” She handed the pencil holder to Andrew.

He took it and frowned at her until she held her hand out. “Oh.” Andrew smiled and took it in his.

“But just until we get to the highway,” Rebecca said. “I don’t want Polly to see it.”

He nodded. “This is good enough.”