ISBN 13: 9780999635339
adult content, Bridges, darkness inside, featured, Marriage Issues, protecting our children, redemption, rethink

The Elephant in the Room

Contemporary fiction

Tammy

A quick glance in the mirror said the two cups of coffee had done nothing to remove the dark circles that swelled below my eyes.  “It’s hopeless,” I thought, now staring at my blonde hair hanging in frazzled clumps around sallow skin, an outcropping of my weary soul.

Dragging myself into the bedroom of my six-year-old son, I was startled, as always, at seeing row upon row of breasts peeking out of sequined halter tops on the calendar hanging beside Henry’s bed.  Long legs extending from tight shorts became a line of slithering snakes, injecting poisonous venom into my withering self-confidence.

Anger pounded against my temples the way it had on the day my husband, Jack, gave our son the calendar of these famous cheerleaders.

At six, Henry still thought girls were gross.  No matter how much Jack insisted this calendar was for Henry, it wasn’t.  That’s what made it worse.  How could I argue with a gift from a father to his son and interfere with their “male-bonding”?

“It certainly is interfering with our marital bonding,” I said, yanking at Henry’s crumpled bed sheets the same way I wanted to yank the shimmering, blonde hair from the head of the cheerleader in the front row.  My face grew hot and flushed, a stark contrast to my marriage bed that had remained cool and distant for some time now.  I smiled.  Jack could have his calendar, but he couldn’t have me with it.

“Why don’t you want it anymore?”  I could hear Jack’s ongoing question that never got answered as I folded a load of laundry or while we shopped together, even on a date night, I could hear Jack’s accusation.

I thought about last night when I lay on my side of the bed, facing the wall, wishing he would just leave me alone.  The kids were finally asleep, and I was exhausted as usual.  I just wanted to meld with the bed.  Jack kept kissing my neck, so I finally turned over and looked at him in the dark.  All I could see was the silhouette of his tousled hair outlined against the moonlight streaming in through the bedroom window.  His face, a shadow and, for a moment, I tried to pretend he was someone I didn’t know.  Maybe then I would want him.  His hand reached out and slid across my hip, moving upwards under my breast.

I grabbed his hand before it reached its destination and told him I didn’t feel like it.

Jack couldn’t understand what had changed from when we first got married when I wanted sex all the time.

“Me,” I said, collapsing against the pillow.  “I’m different.”  That’s when Jack rolled over and said with disgust, “That’s for sure.”

I was too tired to care that he was angry.  Besides, I was angry most of the time, so why should I care?

The ice storm that had begun in bed the night before fell in full force this morning.  Even my youngest child noticed the invisible glacier that stood between Mommy and Daddy.

“Mommy, is Daddy mad?” Molly asked, rubbing the sleep from her big, brown eyes as she dragged her blanket across the kitchen floor.

“No baby.  Daddy’s not mad.”  Jack dropped his briefcase and scooped her up into his arms.  “But he is hungry.  You look like a tasty treat.”

Molly giggled as Jack pretended to nibble on her ear and then her tummy.

The smile that eased its way across my face while watching Daddy and his little girl faded as soon as he looked at me.

“I’ll be home late tonight Tam.  I’m going to stop and have a drink with Rick.”

I knew what he was doing.  This was my punishment for being the ice-maiden in bed.

“That’s fine,” I said, trying to sound like I didn’t care.  “I’m taking the kids over to Sandy’s house after dinner so I can shop for a new dress for your company Christmas Party.”

Jack was already headed for the door before I finished my sentence.  “See ya,” he called without looking back.

“Just go to hell,” I muttered under my breath and then yelled, “Tell Rick I said hi,” before he slammed the door.

Jack

Rubbing my eyes, I looked at the clock on my desk and couldn’t believe it was already ten to six.  I was supposed to meet Rick in ten minutes.  I didn’t really feel like going for a drink.  What I really wanted was to go home and lay down.  I’d been processing loans all day, eating lunch at my desk, and could hardly see straight.  I stared at Tammy’s smiling face in the family photo on my desk and felt angry once again at the thought of her rejection the night before.

How could she treat me this way?  I was a great provider.  We had a beautiful home and nice cars.  I coached my son’s soccer team and went to all of Molly’s ballet recitals.  It wasn’t like I was a dead-beat dad or a husband that was never there.  What was so hard about saying “yes” once-in-a-while, about giving me what I wanted for a change?  She was lucky I didn’t have an affair.  Half the guys in this office already had.  Tammy didn’t know how lucky she was.

I looked at the clock again.  Five minutes to six.  Grabbing my coat and briefcase, I rushed out the door to meet Rick.  Maybe Tammy would appreciate me more if I wasn’t around so much.

Rick was already sitting at the bar when I walked through the door of the local pub ten minutes late.  I hadn’t seen him in over a year.  Ever since he’d gotten a job with another mortgage company, we’d lost touch.

Surprised when he called me last Friday, we chatted hellos, and then he invited me for a beer after work.  I had turned him down because Tammy already had plans for us to go Christmas shopping.  So, today I was glad Rick was willing to meet when I called him on my way to work.  I needed an excuse to stay away from home, especially after telling Tammy I would be home late, I needed to find a quick solution to the empty hours that awaited.  She needed to learn a lesson.

Rick waved from where he sat at the bar and motioned me over to join him.  Shaking his hand, I was shocked to see how much he had aged in a year.  There were large swathes of gray in his hair, and above his eyes carried a deep furrow I didn’t remember.  Rick was my age, thirty-two, but he looked like he was pushing mid-forties.

“So how’ ya been buddy?” Rick asked as I took a swig of beer and handed the bartender a tip.

“Oh, you know, I can’t complain.  Work is crazy right now, but it keeps the bills paid so what can I say?” I shrugged.  “How’s your job at Loan Builder?”

“Same ol’, same ol’ except the pay is better than what I was getting at Myrons.  There’s a new secretary; short skirts, tight sweaters.  She keeps work interesting.”

“Still making the rounds huh?” I said, smiling and touching Rick’s glass with my own.  “Here’s to the ladies man.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Rick said, grabbing a peanut out of the bowl on the bar.  “I can snag them but I can’t seem to keep them.”

“You and Carla are doing okay, aren’t you?”

“Carla left six months ago,” Rick said looking off into the distance.  “She took the kids and they’re all living with her parents right now.  She served me with divorce papers last week.”

“What? Er, wow! I had no idea.”  I gulped down half my beer, wishing I could drown the words that had opened this can of worms.  “I’m sorry to bring it up, man.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it, buddy,” Rick said, forcing a smile.  “No big deal.  Things were going sour long before she left.  We were fighting all the time and things were ice cold in the bedroom if you know what I mean.”

I know exactly what you mean, I thought, nodding at Rick.

“I don’t understand women.  They’re red hot for you in the beginning and then one day you’re their worst enemy.”

“I know.  Before Tammy and I got married, some of the guys at work warned me that women change.  I never believed them about her, but it turns out they were right.”

“Carla told me she was tired of feeling second best.  She said I made her feel like she was never enough by the way I treated other women.  Now, okay, I’ve done my share of flirting and I’ve had my subscription to Playboy, but I never fooled around on her, honest!  I always made sure we had a nice lifestyle.  So, what the   ̶  I just don’t think she knew what she wanted.”

Tammy’s cold eyes flew to my mind’s eye as if bringing home Henry’s calendar was yesterday.  Tammy had been furious, and when I told her she was being ridiculous, her furry popped a cork.  It wasn’t like I gave our six-year-old a calendar of naked women, for crying out loud.

“I miss my kids,” Rick said, bringing back to focus. He took another gulp of his beer. “That’s the hardest part.  I guess I miss Carla too, but it’s too late now.  She’s made up her mind and I can’t reason with her.  So, I’m a wild and free bachelor again,” Rick said, smiling and raising his glass.  The smile didn’t reach Rick’s sad, lonely eyes.

What is Your Next Must-Read?

Tammy

I stared at my reflection in the dressing room mirror.  Turning from side to side, I pushed up on my breasts to see if a pushup bra would make the top of the dress fit better.  Dresses lay in piles around my ankles.

“Arghh!” I cried, pulling at the zipper in the back and wiggling out of the little black number as if it were a straight jacket.  “This is impossible!”

“Is everything all right in there?”  It was the sales lady who had given me a key to the room.  I looked down at the floor covered in satin and sequenced fabric and knew I was way over the six-item limit.

“I’m fine; just trying to decide what to get.”

“If you need any help, let me know,” she soothed.

“I’m beyond help, lady,” I muttered hearing the clicking of the lady’s high heels as she walked away from the fitting rooms.  Wiggling into my jeans and sweater, I opened the door, looked both ways, and then practically ran toward the front door of the store.

“Forget the party,” I cried, jamming the car key into the ignition.  “It’s just the same crap year after year.  I have to act friendly with Jack’s co-workers and pretend I don’t notice the exotic, bimbo receptionist in her high strappy shoes and slinky dress. Last year, the slit up the slide of her outfit nearly collided with every eye in the office, man or woman!  I sit and wonder whether Jack is having an affair with her, but I can’t act jealous or Jack will say I’m being ridiculous.  That’s it.  I’m not going.”  The decision made, I was relieved to re-center my head and see the parking lot was mostly empty.  Thankfully, no one saw me ranting and raving inside my otherwise empty car.

I backed out and headed towards the babysitters’, then the kids and I limped home.

Shocked to see Jack’s car already parked as I pulled the minivan into the garage, the older kids ran ahead.

“Daddy! Daddy!” Molly cried from the back seat.  “Daddy’s home!” Everyone else was already inside by the time I reached the door with Molly in my arms.

“Hi Tam,” Jack said, taking Molly as she wrapped her arms around his neck.

“You’re home early,” I said, trying to sound nonchalant.  “I thought you’d be late. Weren’t you meeting Rick?”

“I decided to cut it short,” Jack said, setting Molly on the floor and watching her as she ran to join her brother in front of the T.V.  Was he avoiding my eyes? “It’s been a long day and I’m tired.  I didn’t sleep very well last night.”

Was he really tired or just trying to make me feel guilty?  I decided to ignore the comment.  “Are you hungry?”  I asked, hoping he would say no.  I was bone-tired too.

“No, I’m fine,” he said, jamming his hands into his pockets.  It was strange how awkward it felt to be with him sometimes, even after ten years of marriage.

“I saved us some mon-”

“I’m sorry about this morning, Tam.”

I frowned, wondering what was going on.  Jack never apologized.  “I’m sorry too,” I said, glancing down at my watch, so I wouldn’t have to look at him.  I could handle the angry husband that left the house this morning.  That was easy.  How could I be the angry, bitter wife when he was apologizing?

“I’ve got to get the kids to bed,” I mumbled, walking towards the living room where the kids sat glued to the T.V. “They had chicken strips on the way home.”

Jack tucked Molly in while I put Henry to bed.  As I folded the covers down over his chest, I noticed something different.

“What happened to your calendar, Henry?”  The heaving bosoms and microscopic shorts were gone.

He shrugged.  “I don’t know.  I didn’t do anything with it.”  For a moment I had the strange sensation that I was in the wrong house with the wrong family.

Jack was already in bed, staring up at the ceiling when I walked into the bedroom.

“Are you all right?”  I had never seen him act so strange.

“Yeah, I’m fine.  Why?”

“Well, you’re acting weird.”

“I’m just thinking.”

“About what?”  I was almost afraid to ask.  Was this the calm before the storm, before some earth-shattering news was delivered?

“About my life and the way I’ve been insulting to you. I realized this as Rick was telling me about how he and Carla got a divorce.”

“You’re kidding?!” I said, sitting on the bed beside him.

“I know.  I was shocked too.  I guess she got tired of the way Rick was sexually about other females, and she up and left him.  He hardly ever gets to see his kids.”

“That’s awful.”

“It made me start thinking about us.  Are we okay, Tammy?  I mean, are you glad you married me?”

I lay back on the bed beside him and stared up at the ceiling.  “Did you take the calendar down in Henry’s room?”

Jack looked over at me.  “I don’t think Henry needs a calendar like that.”

I smiled, feeling some invisible burden suddenly lift from my shoulders.  “Yeah, I’m glad I married you,” I said.

“Wow!  That was easy.”

“I’m not cheap but I am easy,” I said, laughing.

“Easy on the eyes,” Jack said, pulling me against him as he kissed the top of my head.

“Thank you, Jack,” I whispered, trying not to sound like I was about to cry.

“For what?”

“For doing that.  For understanding.” And, then I couldn’t keep back the tears.

“I want you to know you’re number one, Tam.  I don’t want you to ever feel like you’re second best.”

I closed my tired eyes and, for the first time in a long time, rested in my husband’s arms.

“I went shopping for a party dress tonight,” I murmured against his chest. “I felt so awful in everything I tried on that I was going to tell you earlier how I’d saved us some money for Christmas by not buying a thing, and I wasn’t going to go to your party this year. You aren’t having an affair with that voluptuous receptionist, are you?”

“Heck, no!”

“I’ll save you some more money then.  Taking down that cheerleader calendar was the best Christmas gift you could give me.”

Jack kissed me and I didn’t turn away this time. The calendar that had made our marriage bed so cold now ignited a flame. This day of snow and ice was transformed and we surrendered to the fire.

Charmayne Hafen
Charmayne Hafen is a Capture Books author concerned with marital health and the welfare of children. She facilitates art workshops for groups and grief therapy through art and photography. She holds a B.A. in journalism from John Brown University and an M.A. in counseling from Denver Seminary. Her youth books and children’s books are clean reads, full of adventures, compassion, and mystery.

ISBN 13: 9780999635339Princess Wren feels like a lost bird wandering a huge castle where her mother has disappeared and now even her father, King Belodawn, has abandoned her.
But, things are about to change as the princess matures.With the aid of the cook and the cook’s son, Wren discovers her unknown dexterity and honing it, believes it will open up new paths for her.

Little does the young woman know that a step to the right or to the left will plunge her into a life of horror.

What is Your Next Must-Read?

children's literature, Darling Hedgehog, halloween, op-ed, protecting our children

Is It a Good Idea to Scare Little Kids?

Would adults change their behaviors in the jokes they tell or in their scare tactics with children if they knew how little children absorbed horrific events? Would it make any difference to you?

The professionals and parents are divided. Some say horror can permanently scar a child’s conscience. Others say for a child to experience a series of frightening events at a young age can strengthen a child in a variety of ways.

Let’s take a vote.

DO YOU BELIEVE AT AGES FIVE, SIX, AND SEVEN:

  1. children should be protected from all frights because fright might scar them spiritually, emotionally or psychologically;
  2. children should be scared (occasionally) for the fun of a joke with them or for rites of passage such as in Halloween, sitting on Santa’s knee, taught about the police or the courts or jail, or riding a bike or a motorized skateboard;
  3. children should learn that fright exists to teach us important lessons which can be learned about together;
  4. children should learn about the sometimes frightful powers of God and the differences between evil frights and wickedness in human nature as appropriate.
  5. children can learn courage and problem-solving creativity at young ages if they can learn to analyze a frightful situation the best of which was seen in the Home Alone movies.
(Please post your answer in the comment section below)

The cat is out of the bag. I’ve authored a scary story for children. It was recently published by Capture Books. So, I have a dog in the fight, or a hedgehog, rather.

In the first draft, Darling Hedgehog was not able to save all of the other animals due to the time crunch of escaping the danger. Several beta readers, however, suggested that this fact would not go unnoticed by their first graders. Honestly? I wrestled with the question of whether it was important to be realistic in a fantasy picture book. Silly me.

Children develop empathy when they read about another’s problems.

Not too many know this about a girl, Auralee Arkinsly, who’s been called sweet for many years, but when she was in fifth and sixth grade, she’d sit on her neighbor’s porch with a gaggle of children from their house, and the rest of the neighborhood who had all come by to hear the scary stories that she’d happily created for them. The problem was, she frightened herself. She gave herself a fear of going along to bed alone in my room way down in the dark basement.

This is the simple reason my scary story times ended.

For years afterward my laudable storytelling experience, I stayed completely strawberry and vanilla in my taste for stories, jokes, movies, and literature. It was due to an introduction to two classical authors in my 30s that I was inspired to rethink my vanilla beans ideals.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

This 1962 dark fantasy novel by Ray Bradbury is about two 13-year-old best friends, Jim Nightshade and William Halloway, and their nightmarish experience with a traveling carnival that comes to their Midwestern home, Green Town, Illinois, on October 24th. Since it was eventually made into a movie, I sent it to my niece and nephew one October when they were preteens.

Particularly, the clever, atmospheric writing Bradbury used when he painted late summer windstorms and dawdling days with falling leaves and evil intent made me feel like All Hallows Eve inside. All of this desire to fast and pray for protection is happily explained when… well, I won’t give away the fabulously moralistic tale in case you haven’t yet read Bradbury.

The Short Stories of Flannery O’Conner

The other ingenious author, Flannery O’Conner, introduced to me at a writers group, typed her twisted tales from the south. Due to her subject matter, i.e.: fraud, criminal minds, and human ignorance, her stories could almost be transported to any place. Perhaps it was the nature of things she read in her local newspaper. Perhaps she was only highlighting a sinful lack of imagination when she invoked the perfect storm for a family traveling on an isolated road, or a Bible salesman in a barn, or a nuclear bomb at our front door.

Of course, great themes of any adult or children’s book have intrepid and surprising settings that morph with the characters. These are the stories that teach readers and viewers about life and personal values.

It seems that night terrors can be developed at any age given a 3 a.m. pounding on the door and intrusion to a person’s bedroom, or due to war experiences. Night terrors are not limited to the fears of little children.

But is it right to purposely frighten kids?

It’s easy to see that Halloween and Trick-or-treat are right around the bend.

This year, a house in my community has skeletons crawling all over the house, mixing a zombie like activity with the bones of the picturesque dead. Another house on the same street has a half dozen wild-haired witches flying from the low hanging branches of their trees. The wind helps them stir up fright.

Several other houses have graveyards with chained skeletons, and voice boxed startling movement detectors. Apparently, most people think that given the right season, yes, it is just fine to frighten children.

Babies and toddlers in the arms of their fathers

Young children, who visit Santa Claus for the first time in a shopping mall, who are told to sit on his knee and tell him their secrets, well – parents think this is funny. Just fine. A rite of passage, they say.

Given it’s Halloween, babies and toddlers in the arms of their fathers come knocking on our door.

The saying, “That’ll put the fear of God in ya!” is ancient. You’ve heard it. The fear of God can be conjured in trying to stand in a forest of redwoods in the midst of a monstrous wind storm. Suddenly, one feels like Jack and the bean stock, having climbed up to the house of giants and seeing them thunder after you. Where does one hide?

There may be a kind of healthy fear that comes as a sense of awe or as a warning such as a careful look over the edge of a precipice in the Grand Canyon, or in diving out of an airplane with a parachute on for the first time.

“In ancient days,
There dwelt a sage called Discipline,
His eye was meek, and a smile
Played on his lips, and in his speech was heard
Paternal sweetness, dignity, and love.
The occupation dearest to his heart
Was to encourage goodness.
If e’er it chanced, as sometimes chance it must,
That one, among so many, overleaped
The limits of control, his gentle eye
Grew stern, and darted a severe rebuke,
His frown was full of terror, and his voice
Shook the delinquent with such fits of awe
As left him not, till penitence had won
Lost favor back again, and closed the breach.”

Samuel Philip

An artist who paints the potential of Venetian floods does so with both goodwill and warning. I realize there are warnings, opportunities, to learn introspection and courage at every age.

Any season is a good season to be goaded towards stronger mental analysis.

So, I went ahead and wrote my picture book about what happens between a fox and a hedgehog family living in geographical proximity. This story does have a sincere model of courage, quick thinking, and Darling-to-the-rescue in it. But, how much mental analysis can a child conjure at ages five, six or seven?

In a climate of it never being okay to confront a child with possibilities of an existing dark side in life, my first review, always to be Darling’s first review, pasted a one-star nasty put down for scaring little children. Yet, it never has been a child who’s been frightened by Darling Hedgehog.

Poor Darling!

It’s funny that fear of a book’s content is often combated by a snarky deed, a single evil star. So it was that I learned how Book trolls can play overly-concerned, conscientious adults snuffing out a book before it sees the light of day. That’s a little twisted, though. Book trolls playing overly-concerned, censoring adults – why they are considered book trolls? Here’s what I believe about that.

I believe that book trolls are begotten accidentally from genetically normal, avid readers who skip meals. Then, around midnight, when they become voraciously hungry, they hastily eat spider sandwiches in the dark under dim reading lamps.

These are the foxes who run through the fields of Amazon books ready for harvest with firebrands tied to their tails.

Maybe it is just Gremlins passing as sweet, innocent influencers begging for a new deal. But we must remember that Gremlins have rules.

The grandson secretly sells the mogwai to Randall, warning him to remember three important rules that must never be broken: do not expose the mogwai to light, especially sunlight, which will kill it, do not let it come in contact with water, and above all, never feed it after midnight.”

Gremlins rules

Hey, I don’t mind that the reviewers liking my picture book may include a caveat for an adult to be available to answer some questions. Not at all.

I agree. Picture books are best when a child sits down with an adult who preferably reads to them and talks them through the story with questions. Aren’t they?

The question still makes me queazy.

Is it a good idea to scare little children at all?

When I was very young, I came across the story of Scuffy the Tugboat at a doctor’s office. Scuffy thought he was made for more important things than swimming in a bathtub. When his little boy took him to swim in the river, the current carried him far into a gushing flood zone and then in the sea. I remember feeling so frightened to see the huge tugboats and ships and to hear their horns through the eyes and ears of poor Scuffy.

Thankfully, Scuffy was saved by the little boy who had come to the sea just that day.

The Brothers Grimm believed it was not only okay, but good to frighten children about the wolf in Red Riding Hood. Was he the woodsman? Who was he? But, that’s the point, isn’t it – to beware of strangers?

Chris Roberts, the author of Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind the Rhyme, tells Debbie Elliott in an NPR interview, “Childhood is a relatively recent phenomena, certainly over the last couple of hundred years, that children are seen as very separate from adults. So there would be no reason in the past not to have what would now be considered adult themes in rhymes that children could hear and sing.” (All Things Considered, October 2, 2005)

Apparently the publishers of Grimm’s Fairy Tales also believed the books would sell because wise parents and avid readers of well-written entertainment would buy.

“Plants raised with tenderness are seldom strong;
Man’s coltish disposition asks the thong;
And without discipline, the favorite child,
Like a neglected forester, runs wild.”

Samuel Philip

From first grade on, my teachers joined my mother in warning me not to talk to strangers. Even if they offered candy. Even if they offered to give you a ride home from school. My teacher had us memorize the phone number of the local police station. I hope it was helpful to someone.

Nearing the end of a favorite children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbit, on the night before an expected trip to the sea, the rabbit is thrown into the trash heap and overhears that he is destined for destruction by fire in the morning, making a tear roll down his face.

I’d forgotten how frightening that story became!

Parents should probably never allow the fear of God to come near their children. Neither should children be told that God’s Son died on a cross for their sins because they would not understand the gruesomeness of the good news – sins being separated from their beings – nor the idea of their own misbehaviors at age five, six, or seven being layered for punishment. Though love and fear do not go along hand in hand easily, I personally, had parents who embodied deep love and also a much feared anger.

As Walt Disney understood, isn’t it the point of a good scare to remind us that evil and opposites exist in the same geography? That there can be good news in the land of the living and in the land of the dead? Yes, a bit of sweet salvation goes a long way when we are frightened.

Enjoy the fall holidays, everybody. Enjoy the election season terrors. Enjoy reading and discussing great children’s literature with your own littles. May you reach for a tassel of wisdom, and may you keep your hand.

Darling Hedgehog Goes Down a Foxhole Book Launch Tour

©Capture Books, 2020

Contributing author, Auralee Arkinsly, speaks to parents and little children about writing stories, the value of stories, and specifically the value of good humor in storytelling. Book her now here.

https://www.amazon.com/Darling-Hedgehog-Goes-Down-Foxhole-ebook/dp/B07X534T28/
Preteen Fantasy by Charmayne Hafen
The Zealots, coming soon. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08L9HMQCJ

Advice, analysis, Charmayne Hafen, election season, featured, journey to twilight, op-ed, protecting our children

Keeping a Head Above Election Quicksand

Charmayne Hafen, children’s author

Did you also hear?

The scandalous election season report of an assault carried out on a 12-year-old boy holding a political sign in Boulder, Colorado set me off. The father of the boy, Jesse Rosales, “told officers his son came home from a bike ride early Monday afternoon and told him a woman had assaulted him.”

If I allow myself to watch the news, I hear of a new shooting or beating almost every day. Evil seems to be erupting everywhere.

I find it difficult to know how to respond to evil as I strive to uphold my belief that all people are created in God’s image. I want to live out the truth of the Imago Dei while keeping my head above the sand. Denial helps no one.

Charmayne Hafen, Children’s Author

Maybe it’s partiality to protect the innocents, but I’ve been in a mild rage over the last few days as I see our country imploding. I know intellectually that I cannot control the actions of another person. Emotionally, I want to scream out negativity. The only thing I can control is my reaction to the insanity. How do I respond as a Christian to what I see going on around me?

I love to memorize verses and passages in the Bible. Romans 12:21 has been in the forefront of my mind for at least a month now. I asked God what my response needs to be in the face of evil. He told me very clearly how to handle it. “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”

The more I focus on the evil so rampant in our country, the more violent I feel inside. How strange a turn! I want to take action and lash out. When I ruminate on all that is wrong, I find myself spiraling downward. In a short time, I’m having thoughts about doing things I so vehemently oppose.

“Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” I’ve heard true-life stories of good overcoming evil. It’s late at night and a man standing in a subway station is accosted by a robber. The robber has no jacket and so the man offers him his coat. He offers to buy the criminal something to eat. In a short while, the thief gives his life to Christ.

I have a story from my life. I worked with someone who liked to slander and gossip. She eventually got around to calling me a choice name to a mutual friend. Only by God’s grace did I decide to talk to her in private instead of saying something negative about her to the mutual friend. I told her I heard she had called me a choice name and wondered if I had offended her in some way. She apologized, said it was a joke. There was never an issue again.

How do we overcome evil with good? Here are some practical ways to live this out.

  • Be kind to people I encounter daily
  • Get out and meet people
  • Make a priority to give
  • Spend time loving my family
  • Invest time in the gifts God has given me
  • Actively listen to other people

In Return To Twilight, the second book of my Land of Twilight trilogy, Sam must face the challenge of overcoming an evil influence on his best friend, Lorna. Lorna is not acting like herself. She follows the lead of Jenny, the new girl in the neighborhood, and treats Sam poorly. He has to decide how he will react to her bad behavior.

Return to Twilight is the second book in the Land of Twilight trilogy by Charmayne Hafen.

My focus must be on the good God has placed in my life. I have a precious and priceless family and friends. I have the gift of writing which brings me so much joy. I have resources and the ability to influence other people. When I think about these things or ponder “whatever is true… whatever is lovely,” (Philippians 4:8), evil shrivels in the light. I’m still aware of what is going on, but I am not overwhelmed and I do not become part of the hatred.

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

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