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Several times in the last couple weeks I have been asked by people if I’m writing anymore books.  Others have asked how many books I have written.  To answer the first question let me say that I am in the process of writing a book.  This one is nonfiction and requires me to do a great deal of research.  It’s one of the big reasons it’s taking a long time to finish this book.

Other reasons are that after completing and publishing the last novel, “After the Last Game”, I took some time to get inspired about what to write next.  First I thought of writing another novel.  I even had come up with a title that appealed to me thinking I should write a mystery story and call it “Beyond Redemption”.  Then the idea of writing a nonfiction book began to appeal to me more.  I have not attempted to write one in that genre so far, and I like trying new things.  And to be honest, yes, I have had days when writer’s block kept me from the keyboard. It has all added up to no new book for quite some time. But I have finished a good third of this book I’m writing now, and I hope to be able to publish it in late spring.  So far I have leaned to title the book “Against All Odds”, but by the time the book is finished I may well settle on some other title.

As to how many books I have written, the number is six.  Two are historical adventure stories, two are love stories and two are a combination of detective and love stories.  Two condition I have set for myself in writing all novels are:  They are to make the stories lifelike and to keep the language clean.  Happy endings also appeal to me.  Although for the book I had thought of writing before the current one I had tried to imagine a protagonist for whom redemption would be out of the question.  I’d love to hear from those of you who have read some of the novels to let me know if I’ve been true to those conditions.

Secrets of Hawking Manor Storms_copy (1 use) Beyond the Breaking Point Cover

Beyond the Law 6 cover-2-of-in-joy after-the-last-game-2

 

 

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Will the World End?

Will the world end once all the dust is settled after the US presidential election?  Probably not.  But I have no illusions about the world being a better place once the new president is sworn in.  While I only believe a fraction of what the media reports, the debates in which the two candidates running for president had an opportunity to shine shed a lot of unfavorable light on each of them as well as the media.

Most of the issues each of the candidates addressed were accusations of the other individual’s shortcomings. They pointed to terrible, if not criminal activities.  When we see smoke are we wrong to assume there is also fire?  Scary!  If only half of the accusations they leveled against each other is true, then the world is in for a rough ride.  Ineptness, fraud, greed, disrespect, lies and an unwillingness to go by the rules, all bared by the debates, will be the lesser of the evils heaped on this world by the new leader of one of the most powerful nations in the world, in my opinion.

As to the media, will the guardians of the truth, our news outlets, come to the rescue?  What have they reported about the debates that is substantial and informative to give us any hope?  We heard conjectures about who won the debates from them.  We learned how one candidate sometimes snorts into the microphone.  They commented on dress and missing handshakes.  They analyzed little if anything about what the candidates said about what they would do to make sure no child in this world goes hungry, what strategies they would employ to achieve world peace, what specific measures they would support for the people of this world to able to breathe clean air and a host of other topics that would make this world a better place.

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Two new titles

After months of editing, proofreading and formating I have published the next two of my novels in eBook form, “In Joy and in Sorrow” and “After the Last Game”.

In Joy and in Sorrowcover-2-of-in-joy

Life is good for the Claremontes.  Danielle is a talented teacher and Douglas an outstanding and successful pastor.  When their future appears the brightest, they are called to go through the fire of suffering.  Danielle is diagnosed to have cancer.  Joshua, a boy the Claremontes had taken into their home and heart has a fatal accident. Douglas is unjustly accused of enticing other men’s wives.  At the same time, Jack, an old enemy, secretly surfaces and plans revenge for a past incident he believes Douglas is responsible.

In her suffering Danielle’s faith remains strong. She is able to maintain the family’s routines, but she struggles with the thoughts of having to leave her small children motherless.   His many prayers for Danielle’s healing appear to be unanswered. The new trials heaped on to the bereavements he had experienced in his childhood and youth leave him vulnerable and shake his confidence.

Half a world away Lois, Danielle’s sister, serves in a mission hospital in outback Zambia.  The great distance from home she hopes will help her deal with a secret she believes she must never reveal.  She is committed, talented and beautiful.  An acquaintance in the nearest city in Zambia is secretly infatuated with her and sends her anonymous, unwelcome notes.  Threatened by these notes she tries to discover who her tormenter is.  Before her final term at the hospital ends he pretends to assist her in finding the man who had sent the many threatening notes, but in reality he lures her to an isolated cabin where he attempt to seduce her.

Danielle’s hopeless condition, Jack’s revenge and his kidnapping of the couple’s daughter, the accusations levelled against Douglas, Lois’ trials and her return home from Zambia unite in a maelstrom and threaten to shipwreck even the strongest faith and heart.

After the Last Game 

after-the-last-game-2

Michael is a professional hockey player. He has played the game for as long as he can remember.  His father was his first coach.  On the frozen pond eighty-two steps behind the farm’s machine shed he learned to skate.  There his father taught him the basic skills of the game before he was old enough to go to school.  There he practiced to stickhandle and shoot for hours and played many games with his friends for the cup until darkness ended their games.  After years of playing at the hightest level he still loves the game.  He loves it more than all the riches the sport has given him.

It’s the last game of the season.  He and his teammates are the underdogs competing in a best of seven games series for the ultimate prize, the coveted cup.  At thirty-two Michael did drink from the cup once already.  He knows what it will take to lift it again.  He is in the best shape of his career, and he wants to hoist the trophy once more.

Yet, when he is alone in his mansion after the game, he feels in his heart that something important is missing in his life. He has more worldly goods than most men, a good education that will provide him with a profession when his plarying days are over.  He loves his parents, the rest of his family and his many friends.  They provide him with strong roots.  To others he appears to have everything a man can desire.  They know nothing of the silent longing in his heart.

After the last game, a sweet victory on the ice, at the team’s fan appreciation day’s ceremony he and his teammates present bouquets of roses as a token of appreciation to fans who have come to celebrate the team’s victory.  As Michael hands a bouquet to Rachel, a young woman he has never seen before this day, he realizes instantly that she would fill that silent longing in his life.  But how can he meet her again?  He knows nothing about the lady or her friends with whom she came to watch the Falcons fight for the cup in that last game and to the fan appreciation ceremony.  All he knows is that he must find her and meet her again.

Rachel was instantly smitten by the tall player who smiled at her and handed her the delightful bouquet of roses.  She is beautiful but shy around strangers.  Her heart always beats faster whenever she thinks about him.  As the days pass, she realizes that she never felt what she feels for this stranger for any other man.  As much as she would like to get to know him she does not dare to try to contact this man who captained his team to the ultimate prize and captured her heart handing her a bouquet of roses after the last game.

 

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We have had a few days of spring like weather, but the weatherman tells us it will rain for several days now.  So I hope this little story below will make you smile even with that kind of forecast.  532

An American I’m going to call Donald (For some reason that name sticks in my thoughts these days.) decided to write a book about famous churches around the world.  So he hopped on his jet and flew to Orlando deciding that he would start by working his way across America from South to North. On his first day he stepped inside a big church there to take photographs.  While snapping away he noticed a golden telephone to the right of the main altar with a sign above it that read “$10.000 per call”.

Donald was intrigued and asked a priest getting ready for mass what the telephone was used for. The priest replied, “That’s a direct line to heaven and for $10,000 you can talk to God.”  He thanked the priest and flew on to Atlanta.  There at a large cathedral he saw the same golden telephone with the same sign above it.  He asked a nearby nun lighting candles who could use the phone and was told it was a direct line to heaven and he could talk to God on that phone.

He thanked the nun and soon traveled to Indianapolis, Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York.  In each cathedral he visited the same golden telephone and $10,000 sign hung on a prominent feature wall.  Finally, leaving Vermont he decided to fly on to Canada to see if Canadians had the same phone in their cathedrals.  In the first huge church he entered in Canada sure enough there was the golden phone, but a sign below it told him a call would cost him fifty cents.  Disgusted he meant to leave, but asked a priest kneeling at the center alter about the sign.  “Father,” he said, “I’ve traveled all over America and seen this golden telephone in many churches, but each call to heaven there costs $10,000.  Why in the world is this call so cheap here?”

The father rose.  He smiled at him and answered,  “You’re in Canada now, my Son.  It’s a local call.”

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Sunrise over the strait

Sunrise

 

 

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To all who read this, Happy New Year.  Have a blessed and prosperous 2016.  And when you look back and think about this year 2016 once it has passed, you can say, “It has been a good year.

For my family and me 2015 was a good and an eventful year.  Our children and grandchildren and we had been blessed with health and good fortune.  We have downsized putting our house of 36 years up for sale and purchasing a much smaller house.  I had my first vehicle accident in 60 years of driving, but on the plus side managed to get three of my novels published as eBooks with another one, “Beyond the Law”, to be published soon.  Best of all we were able to celebrate the Christmas season together with most of the family.

 

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I think many of us often fail to celebrate the little gains, successes and occasions that come along every day even on rainy days.  Meeting an acquaintance you haven’t seen in years, shedding one pound of belly fat, finding an unforeseen bargain at the store things like that all seem so insignificant in the scheme of the universe.  Thinking about this I decided to celebrate today.  I just learned that my new novel Storms Over Hawking Manor was accepted into the eBook “Premium Catalogue” at Smashwords.  This means the novel will be distributed to Kobo, Barns and Noble, Amazon and all companies that sell eBooks.  A first for me, and reason to celebrate is that I managed to get the book listed as “pre-order”.  It will be in these company’s catalogues before October 15th when it will be released.  I’ve also decided to start it off with a great special of $2.99 seeing we’re approaching the Christmas season and it’s the season of giving.
Storms_copy (1 use)Storms Over Hawking Manor is a continuation or sequel of Secrets of Hawking Manor.  I had a lot of fun writing it and had decided to give it a surprise ending.  For anyone wishing to get a feel for what the story is about I’ll include the first few pages of the novel.

Part of Chapter 1: The Trial

The momentary silence in the courtroom hung like a swollen cloud over the men seated opposite the prisoner’s box.  A battle raged within Henry Carstairs’ heart.  He sat near the front of the room next to his brother, Benjamin, and Simon Lawson, Christopher’s father.  Henry stared across to the man, his former friend, seated in the prisoner’s box.  This man had poached for months in the woods of Eagleridge, part of Hawking Manor’s estate, and he had shot Christopher, Eagleridge’s manager’s young son.  The youth had been Benjamin and Henry’s dear friend.  He had come upon this poacher suddenly not realizing who he was.

Henry, along with Christopher and Simon his father, had set out on a cold, wet day a year before this trial to catch the unknown man who had come regularly into the Eagleridge woods to poach.  It was Christopher who had sighted the poacher first.  He had wounded the man who was in the act of gutting a deer.  The thief had refused to heed the youth’s warning.  Not knowing the poacher was Eugene, a former Dragoon, an expert with various weapons; Christopher did not realize how dangerous this thief was.  Although the poacher bled profusely from Christopher’s bullet, he had fired a shot in return that had mortally wounded Christopher before Henry and Simon had been able to come to assist the youth.

Now, seated in the courtroom all the grief that day, now months past, had brought into his life crowded back into Henry’s heart.  As he had done many times he wondered again, if he had not planned the capture of the thief carefully enough back then and was in part to blame for Christopher’s demise.  He recalled again the hours he had sat with Simon and Christopher and mapped out strategies to catch the poacher.  “What could I have done differently?” he silently lamented again.

Henry and Benjamin had expected the judge to pronounce Eugene Fairham guilty as charged.  But hearing the judge’s words, “An eye for an eye, a life for a life, Eugene Fairham this day of our Lord, the fifth day of November 1854, I condemn you three days hence to hang by the neck until you are dead,” chilled both young men to the core.  Henry glanced at his former friend.  He saw none of the man’s prior spirited energy, his disdain for problems other men deemed insurmountable, his unbridled, sometimes callous humor, nor his unveiled love for life.  Now he sat in the prisoner’s box and appeared to be a man drained of self and bare of the will to live.  He sat motionless with his eyes cast to the floor.  For a moment Henry wondered if Eugene was cunning enough in that fashion to try to gain the court’s mercy.  “He’s play acted persuasively many times,” Henry murmured silently, but slowly shaking his head he banished the thought.

Muffled coughs in the back of the room and the suppressed sobs of a woman seated behind the prisoner’s box broke the silence.  It was then that Simon turned to Henry and Benjamin and whispered, “It will not bring my son back, men.  Your former friend, Henry, also is the son of a mother.  I ask you to plead for your former comrade in arms.”

Simon’s words touched Henry.  He and Benjamin had testified against Eugene, but after hearing the sentence pronounced, he wanted to shout out, “No, Your Honor, not that!”  But the remembrance of holding the mortally wounded Christopher in his arms and hearing his last words again, “I saw his face,” as the youth had dreamed the night before losing his life had sealed Henry’s mouth.  Now pity for his former friend welled up inside of him.

Henry saw Eugene turn to glance at the sobbing woman seated behind him.  He stared at her for a long moment.  Then in the stillness of the room the people heard him whisper painfully, “Mother – please don’t cry for me.”

Seated near the entrance to the courtroom and hidden from Eugene’s view Benjamin noticed a young woman, elegantly dressed in black, her face hidden by a dark veil, weeping silently.  Benjamin wondered who she might be and why the verdict touched her so deeply.

Henry saw Eugene turn and face the judge again.  He looked at a defeated man, one without hope, a man he had known to be full of life and energy, willing to lay down his life in the service of Her Majesty and his country.  He also noticed the woman dressed in black holding a white handkerchief in her hand weeping silently.  He too wondered who she might be.  She wore a veil, and he could not see her face.

Slowly Henry rose from his seat, “Your Honor,” he stammered.  “On behalf of the father of the youth who lost his young life by the hand Eugene Fairham, the condemned man, I plead for mercy for the prisoner.  My former friend and comrade in arms in our monarch’s service once served this nation with valor and distinction.  The horsemen had none more fearless than he was.”  Henry’s eyes fixed on the judge were filled with sadness.  He repeated once more almost in a whisper, “I plead for mercy for him.”

The judge, who was Samuel Carstairs, Benjamin and Henry’s father’s, friend was also a distant relative of Rebecca’s mother, Lady Lydia.  He stared at Henry for a long moment.  He muttered words Henry could not understand.  Turning quickly and casting a stern glance at Eugene the judge accidently dislodged his wig.  Righting it he turned his eyes to Benjamin.  His Lordship held Benjamin in high esteem.  He had met him at the christening of Henry’s son at Hawking Manor.  At that meeting with Benjamin he had learned of the young Carstairs’ years in North America, and how he had come to be on that faraway continent.  The story had intrigued him.  He, therefore, had sought Benjamin out during the christening festivities to learn all he could about the New World.  Now he commanded, “Stand, Benjamin Carstairs.”  Benjamin stood up quickly.  With his blue eyes, blonde hair, tall and trim youthful figure he looked handsome and strong.  “How say you?” his lordship demanded.

“Thank you for hearing my brother, Your Honor,” Benjamin began.  “The father of my friend, forever young, wishes that the blood of the one who took his son’s life will not be laid at the feet of his departed son.  Like my brother, I too plead for mercy for Eugene Fairham.”

“What would you have the sentence be then,” the judge called out leaning forward toward Benjamin from the bench above.

“Banish him, Your Honor,” Benjamin replied respectfully.

Mumbling to himself the judge addressed Henry again after considering what he had heard for a considerable time silently.  “At your behest it shall be done,” he finally said to Henry, and he banished Christopher’s murderer to the far away continent of Australia with this warning.  “Eugene Fairham, murderer of Christopher Lawson, should you ever set foot on Brittan’s fair soil, henceforth know you this, you shall receive mercy no more.”

Once Eugene had been led away the three men made their way from the courthouse to the market square and the nearby inn where they had quartered their horses while they were at the courthouse witnessing the trial.  They had stayed each night with Henry and Benjamin’s relative, Hannah, and Sydney, her husband, at their estate on the outskirts of Nottingham.  The men had said their goodbyes in the morning wishing to ride homeward soon after the end of the trial.  Once they were ready to depart from the inn and make for home, one of the stable hands approached them cautiously.  He gave a cough and began, “If I may be so bold gentlemen to give ye a warning, ye may do well to keep a sharp eye out fer a pack of knaves hereabouts.  Dey robbed travelers in de forests of the county.  The sheriff and his men been looking for de robbers fer days now.”

With their coats drawn tightly around them to keep out the chill of the wind the three men set out through the streets of Nottingham.  Five Oaks lay more than seven hours away by horse.  Leaving the city behind, they rode into the countryside silently.  Each man appeared occupied with his own thoughts, thoughts they all deemed too private to broadcast or share.  Beads of water slowly dripped from the fur of the animals from the rain falling mist-like from the darkened sky.

Simon, for much of the time, thought of Christopher, his beloved son that Eugene had taken ruthlessly from him.  But with the sight of the countryside before him his thoughts in time turned to his wife.  She had been his strength in the days following of his son’s murder.  He could almost feel her hand on his cheek again when she came to stand beside him at the window from where he had often watched Christopher teach his dog new tricks.  Before departing from Eagleridge to ride to the trial he had stopped and had stood there for a long moment, as if to see his son appear in the yard again.  His wife had placed an arm around him, stroked his cheek with the other hand and had whispered to him that she was sure she was with child again.  In his thoughts he heard her words again, “I pray to God, my dear husband, that when the sun shines hot again, I will be able to make you a present of a son who will be as dear to you as our Christopher was.”  A fleeting smile crossed his face.  In his heart he knew a son or another daughter would be a delight to him.

Henry’s heart and mind had been in turmoil during the trial.  Leaving the city his thoughts still remained greatly troubled.  He recalled holding Christopher’s lifeless body in his arms.  He saw again the hopelessness in Eugene’s face once the judge had condemned him to the gallows.  Sylvia’s words scribbled on a small piece of paper, “I was delivered of your daughter some few days ago,” punched into his thoughts also.  The knowledge that Louisa had fled from Hawking Manor, because of his unfaithfulness cried out in his heart and tormented him.  He longed to take his wife into his arms, to kiss her lips and neck tenderly, to caress her, to beg her to forgive him and wipe away his guilt.

He had dreamed on many now lonely nights of holding his son in his arms again.  He recalled the words of his father.  They still echoed in his thoughts and tore at his heart.  “Your wife and son have left you, but you may take some comfort in seeing your daughter and the woman who bore her.”  He remembered too that now on his return to Hawking Manor he might have to face David, Sylvia’s husband.  For a moment he wondered what David would do, if he found out that he, Henry, was the father of Sylvia’s, his wife’s, second child.  Having to look into David’s eyes weighed heavily on Henry’s thoughts.  He was numb to the cold of the day, but his thoughts chilled him to his core.  He glanced over to his brother riding silently besides him.  Benjamin’s nearness seemed like the only ray of light in his life at the moment, but even that light shone dimly within him, as he briefly recalled how as a youth he had often tormented him making his brother’s life unpleasant.

Unlike Henry’s face no clouds stood stamped on Benjamin’s mien.  He still rejoiced in his long sought after homecoming from the endlessness of the North American continent.  The nearness he now felt to all his loved ones that he had missed greatly while searching for Clarissa, his uncle’s daughter, among many tribes in the New World for several years still delighted him every waking moment.  That Clarissa and his friend Albert had discovered special feelings for each other pleased him greatly.  Most of all Rebecca and Willowdowne Park occupied his thoughts and started him dreaming.  In his mind he saw Rebecca ones more in Hawking Manor’s garden stretching up to a branch of the tree under which she stood attempting to reach some of its pink blossoms.  She had been a girl when he had been taken away from home by the ship the Fortune Four.  That day in the garden after his return, when he came upon her he saw a beautiful young woman.  He had realized at that moment, when he had greeted her, had run to her and had embraced her tenderly, that he now loved her not only as a young friend, but also as a man loved a woman.

“I love you, Rebecca,” he silently whispered riding along.  Her sweetly angelic face swept into his daydream.  Smiling to himself he wished he could touch her soft lips with his own.  He had never done so, but it had not been from lack of wishing for it.  He thought of the day when Lady Lydia with Rebecca and Victoria had come to Hawking Manor, and Rebecca had hoped to go riding with him alone, but on the spur of the moment many others had decided to accompany them.  To Rebecca’s chagrin Anne, Louisa’s sister, had ridden along Benjamin’s side glued to him from the outset.  To change her fortunes Rebecca had spurred on the horse she rode and wildly bolted past Benjamin.  He could not help but see the mare charge away with her.  He had feared for her safety.  Galloping after her in an attempt to rescue her, he quickly found that she had planned the horse’s flight.  Thinking of it Benjamin’s smile widened and inwardly his heart sang.  “Sweet and angelic with a touch of mischief thrown in she is.”

For a moment his thoughts turned to Nelson the good friend he had left at the American River where they had mined gold together.  They had travelled on a clipper ship from Boston to San Francisco.  From there they had ridden horses to the river where Nelson’s uncle had claimed gold could be found.

Benjamin had not only found gold at the American River, but at a chance meeting with Lord Chandler’s son, Reginald, he had acquired that family’s estate, Willowdowne Park a beautiful, old estate only hours removed from Hawking Manor.  Reginald had inherited the estate, but found it a burden.  He had come to the New World to seek adventure, and had offered to sell the estate to Benjamin.  Thinking of Willowdowne brought another smile to his lips.  “One day it will be home to Rebecca and me,” he whispered.

As the three riders rode along in the countryside in silence the rain lessened, but the clouds remained swollen.  Late in the afternoon the three men stopped at an inn in the small village they had entered.  A sign much blighted by the sun and weather announced the establishment to be the Fair Country Inn. There they intended to rest the horses and refresh themselves for an hour.  Seven other horses were tethered under the roof extending out from the inn.  Two surreys stood not far removed from them.  “We shall not be alone here,” Simon remarked as they dismounted and secured their animals.

Inside the inn five rowdy and unruly fellows came immediately to their attention.  Three small groups of other patrons appeared to have distanced themselves from these men.  These five were giving the innkeeper a great deal of trouble with their boisterous demands.  They also took liberties with the two barmaids. The women tried to keep out of their way, but the scoundrels grabbed at them every time they came near or past them.

Henry, who at first had advised Benjamin not to interfere, finally grew weary of the men’s mistreatment of the females and of their coarse speech.  He rose and slowly made his way to the table where the five sat.  The tallest and loudest of the bunch had reached out his big hand to the barmaid passing his table, and catching her pulled her onto his lap before Henry arrived.  Disregarding her squeals for freedom from his roving fingers he was about to slip his free hand into the top of her dress.

“My good man,” Henry began, “you will do well to give the damsel her freedom.  Her shrieks will rouse the dead and bring the sheriff before long.”

The tall man bared a grin that showed several of his teeth missing.  Those remaining were stained an ugly brown.  “Men, did yer ‘ear the gentleman?  A noble man ‘e is.  ‘E wants to rescue the wench,” he snarled.

While all five of the unruly group of men grinned at Henry, their eyes remained cold with distain.  “Yer might show ‘im, Tom, ‘ow we deal with gents,” one of the men growled.

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Almost two month have passed since I added a post to my blog.  Yes, I have been busy working on a couple of my novels, trying to keep ahead of the grass and weeds in the yard, starting to get ready for our move to a smaller house.  Yes, life will always provide the excuses to leave things for tomorrow to do.  I should mention that we also did an eighteen day Panama Canal cruise, but there were all these things to do on board the ship and all those sights to see at the eleven stops along the way to do what could be done tomorrow.Panama Cruise

I know, I know I could have just dug into my files and posted one of the many pictures there or posted a poems I had written in past years, poems I also had left to look at for tomorrow.  This morning I decided to take a quick sneak peak into my past written work, the poems,short stories and so on, but I only got as far as this poem, because there were other things begging me to do just then and I could always take time to look at that work tomorrow.

You Would Not Let Me Go

Your mercy was new each morning,

Even though I walked my own way.

You nudged me and directed my going,

Even though I took no time to pray.

I wandered and played without caring,

Even though you had a claim on my soul.

Life in the fast lane suited me better,

Even though you longed to make me whole.

My goals were to search for fortunes,

Even though you gave your life for me.

Choosing to chase the wind, I found no meaning,

Even though your blood could have set me free.

You loved me long before I knew you,

Even though I had willed to stray away.

You called me, touched and sought me,

Even though I still refused to obey.

Then one day you showed me Golgotha,

Even though my sin nailed you there.

Your last breath was to forgive my transgression,

Even though I had not asked for your prayer.

You rose and returned to the Father,

But you asked me to be still and know

That you chose me to share in your glory,

And that you would never let me go.

                                    (WHM )

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