(Up)current Events: The Enemy Has No Real Power

The Lord gave me another dream about (up)current events. Holy Spirit just gave me that phrase, lol. It means revelation regarding world events in the not-so-distant future. It’s like we’re all traveling together down the river of life, but sometimes God gives me a little boost and throws me above the water, and while I’m in the air, I can see a little bit downstream to what’s coming up ahead.

This particular dream began in Southern California. This was where I was born and raised. I was with my family and we were flying over a long strip of beach which bordered the busy So Cal neighborhoods and freeways. Tsunami waves suddenly started rising from the ocean. Each wave was very high and frothing with foam, and it struck terror into my heart and the hearts of everyone in the city. People started running away, fleeing from the tsunami in whatever means they had available. Some construction workers were caught along the beach in the middle of their workday and they tried to flee on their tractor.

But the strange thing about these waves was that they were disconnected from the flow of the ocean. They were strips of waves, like sheets of paper that were pulled up artificially from the water. They were rising by themselves; they were unnatural. Kind of like how a bear stands up on its hind legs and roars. And as much as I was running away, I never actually saw one of these waves crash on the shore. They rose up and caused fear, but no one was harmed.

Still, my family and I fled from the tsunami. There was a very large church standing on a cliff overlooking the ocean. It was a megachurch, modern and classy, with a large silver cross on top like a beacon. And I knew if we made it to the church-fortress, we would be safe.

Then my dream shifted locations. Instead of Southern California, I was now in Colorado. My sister was with me and we were driving together along a particular highway which skirts the foothills of Denver. The sunset was behind us and it was a beautiful evening, but I wasn’t sure what our destination was, so I pulled over. My sister and I sat together, waiting, on some public benches. Snow appeared on the ground. It was winter.

We were suddenly approached by a Latino woman, and I knew immediately that she was going to try to con us. (Disclaimer: I believe all people are created in the image of God. All races are beautiful. But there will be an important detail here that I believe is relevant so that’s why I identified her as she showed up in my dream.)

The woman asked for my gun. How did she know I had a concealed weapon in my purse? But she wanted it and I refused to give it to her. Because why would you turn over your gun to the person who is trying to rob you? When I wouldn’t comply, she started attacking me with martial arts. I thought this was rather useless, since I’ve been trained in Tae Kwon Do. Her attacks were slow and weak. I wasn’t sure whether I remembered my training well enough to be effective, but I did catch her ankle and I twisted it to throw her off-balance. I was angry and tempted to break her knee, but I slowed down and warned her instead: leave, or I’ll break your knee. She ran away.

She ran to fetch her partner. Husband? Boyfriend? I warned my sister there was a more powerful attacker coming and I said we need to be ready to shout for help. Also, I was angry because if anyone had filmed me attacking a Latino woman, they might accuse me of being racist, even though she was the one who attacked me. I was frustrated at the injustice of it.

A green van drove up. Her partner climbed out and approached us with an automatic rifle cradled in his arms. He was also Latino. He was cocky and self-confident and he asked us for our gun. But the gun he was carrying was plastic. It was still strapped with zip-ties to its colorful cardboard display mount. I was confused and a bit insulted: why was he intimidating me with a child’s toy? Did he think he was threatening?

The man kept asking me details about my gun, like what the license number was, what the caliber was, what the firing mechanism was. I’m not a gun guru and I didn’t actually know the answers. But I told him he had no right to ask me these things. My gun was my private property and it was none of his business. Eventually, he went away. When he left, I thought to myself, why do we have gun registrations in America? Is it so that they know exactly what they can take away from you?

My sister and I ran for help. In this whole situation, I had much more clarity and presence of mind than I feel I normally would have in real life. I wouldn’t return to my personal vehicle because I could see the man watching us from his parked van. I didn’t want him to get my license plate number. We came upon some other citizens who were out in the snow. I told them what happened and who they needed to watch out for. We came together as a unified group, and when the attacker saw the group, the van drove away. And the dream ended.

You may have already felt the message here. There was a recurring theme in both scenes. The enemy was trying to threaten, rob, and destroy, but he had (and has) no real power. The bullying tactics he is using instill fear, but they are anomalies in the current of life and they are as insubstantial as a child’s toy. His threats and fear are not in alignment with the current of God’s will.

God’s will is not for you to be afraid, or cower, or to let the enemy walk over you. There are times to love your enemy, and there are times to fight back. Like King David, like Joshua. This is an hour and a day to fight back. We do not need to be afraid of the enemy or comply with his threats. He’s trying to take away our power and our ability to fight him, but he will flee if we stand together.

When I use the term “enemy,” I’m talking about the unseen enemy, the devil and his minions. But I’m also talking about people who are defying God and are willfully doing evil. People whose actions and choices bring destruction, death, and chaos, and who are intent on taking away freedom and prosperity.

Also, I believe there is a time coming in the not-so-distant future where those who sit in power will attempt to take guns away from private citizens. Their threats will be intimidating, but as the Lord showed me, they have no true power. The threats also may come through the guise of social justice. They may use fear of legal retaliation and racist accusations to bolster their threats. Because of the presence of snow in this part of the dream, it may occur in the winter. But again, when we stood up to him, the enemy fled. He did not win in this dream. I have never seen the darkness win in any of the dreams the Lord has given me.

To wrap things up, I asked the Lord to give me a Bible verse to share with you. This is what He put on my heart. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NASB)

A War on the Church

The Lord gave me another dream on March 23, 2021. He had me write it down in the middle of the night and told me to post it immediately. This is to strengthen and encourage, and give you answers to what you’ve been seeking.

In the dream, I was visiting a friend’s house. Her house was very beautiful. It was in this large-scale apartment building and it looked very modern: I felt like I was seeing a future style of apartment building that was white and clean, but also filled with plants and flowers. Not the ugly modern apartments that you see today, but sorta Star Wars vintage-retro with a Bohemian flair to her decoration style. I loved it.

We were together and she was showing me her house and her rooftop garden. I was taking pictures. In her garden, she showed me exotic, colorful caterpillars on the flowerbeds. I knew these were the caterpillars of the future: new breeds to be discovered but once discovered, named and common. She told me I could hold them, so I took them out of the water in my hands, but they were stiff and dead and I thought I killed them because I put unpurified water into their bowl. But then the caterpillars came to life—they were just hiding from the shock of being lifted—and started transforming into butterflies. These butterflies transformed into four children. I especially remember the youngest boy. He was exuberant and red-haired, and he came to life out of the cocoon and held up a toy car. I knew that was his special gift that he had been born with from the womb: a love of cars. So I played with him and built him a little race track to develop his gift.

Then suddenly a crisis hit. The power was shut off all over the world. A hand went into the electrical gird and intentionally turned off the power, and I knew the hand was a Chinese Communist hand. I could watch the power indicator glow decrease on the dial.

The apartment building I was visiting started flashing with high alert. The building transformed into a blue, 3-D computer model. Certain sections of the building flashed red, indicating the location of private bunkers. Fall-out shelters. The bunkers were equipped and stocked with enough food and supplies to last fifteen years. Some were clustered together and some were isolated. They were inside and part of the apartment building, and I thought to myself those aren’t hidden very well. The Communists know right where they are at. There weren’t very many of them, and they were privately owned.

As I’m writing this, I believe the Lord told me those bunkers are the Church. I believe the power shut-off was the Coronavirus scare, and instead of taking a stand, the church fled into its bunkers and left the rest of the people to figure themselves out. In the dream, I knew there were millions of other people who had not been equipped with bunkers, but I never saw what happened to them. They were left free-range to do what they would, and as I’m writing this, I feel a great heaviness in my heart for these people. I sense the Holy Spirit’s indignation and anger at the suffering of all these people who have been left to the wolves in this crisis. He has not forgotten them and he has not ignored the blood that has been spilled. You are not forgotten. You are being set free and redeemed, and the Lord’s vengeance is coming not only for the Church, but also for you. Because you are special and precious in his sight and he has his eye fixed on you, for good.

The family I was visiting had one of these bunkers. Since I was visiting with them, I was told to join them inside the bunker. The family consisted of a father and four children, a grandmother and grandfather. They were all running around the house in a panic. The father especially started waving me urgently into the bunker. I looked down in there and could see the tiny space, and thought there was no way I was going to live in a tiny, confined, cramped bunker for fifteen years.

I told the father, “I can’t go with you into the bunker. I know myself, and left with nothing but time on my hands my brain will go in circles. I will literally go crazy. I’m not going down. And we don’t need to go down. A fifteen-year bunker is overkill: the crisis won’t last that long.”

The family listened to my words–they seemed pleased to hear them–and they elected to stay out of the bunker. So we either locked ourselves in the apartment for a week, or we were confined for a week. It was a combination of the two: some of the motive was compelled, but part of it was voluntary. I believe the Lord is telling me he holds the Church partly responsible for allowing themselves to be made captive, but he has mercy and compassion and he is forgiving. He does not blame the children. The young are innocent in this. He does not blame the Church for causing the crisis, either. We were uninformed and unequipped, sleeping, but no longer. That is about to change. The ones who are to blame will be brought to justice.

At the end of a week, we were stir-crazy. The house was an embarrassing mess and I thought if we were to be inspected by the Communists now, because the Communists were running inspections of the bunkers, they would think we were slobs. (Writing this, I don’t know why I cared what they thought, but it was laced with fear over being caught and found out and exposed.) We were itching to go outside. But we knew there were evil people in charge outside, so I decided to spy on them, first.

High up on the wall inside the apartment was a square opening the size of a ventilation grate. I climbed up and looked through the window into a council chamber. It was the high council chamber of the world, and it was meeting in session, and all the councilwomen were there.

The meeting was made up entirely of women. They were wearing feminine clothing with lace and bright colors. Dresses. No one was wearing a business suit. Also, no one was smiling. They had sharp, mean faces. Expressions like sharks. But I recognized some of the women there: Nancy Pelosi was the head. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was among them, and I remember thinking I had never taken her seriously, but these people had decided to give her a position anyway. She looked very young. Now I don’t watch a lot of news or politics so I don’t recognize political figures by their faces. I believe the Lord revealed their identities to me. There were other women among these people that would be easily recognized by anyone in the public. One stood out to me in the center: a Caucasian women wearing square, black-framed glasses. She was sitting in something that looked like a children’s school desk. It was a tight fit.

I got the impression that these people were the ones who wanted to take over the world and become the head of the new world order. They wanted to rule over all the nations, not just America.  

On the whole, my first thought was this group was a coven of witches. They didn’t look like witches–they looked like normal, unhappy people. Even though they were all together, I did not sense any real power coming from the group. I also marveled that my apartment building/Church was literally on the other side of the wall of this high council chamber. I could punch through the wall and walk in if I wanted. Nancy Pelosi saw me looking through the wall and she marched over and slammed the window closed. “No peeking in,” she said. Again, I marveled that I had been allowed to witness this and had escaped unpunished.

Later, after the meeting had ended, the window on the wall opened into a huge space like the front of a store. The grandfather of the family brought out a bunch of toys that he had made during captivity and people started congregating around the window to buy them. They looked like fishing rods. One of them was a fishing rod that made music as you flicked it, like a conductor’s baton that played different notes. A man approached the window. He was bowed over and looked like Severus Snape from Harry Potter: he was clothed with a tattered, raven-like black robe but he was very interested in the musical fishing rod.

“This will help me to fly better,” he said, and he bought it. Then he left the council room and started walking outside, flicking the fishing rod to create different notes. He created a tune with the fishing rod and walked around the corner of the building. I followed him. He was very fascinated with the rod and he kept flicking it and playing the song over and over. Even after I woke up, the melody of the song was still in my head: I could sing it if I wanted to.

As I was writing this, I believe the Lord told me that these toys are gifts to the world the Body of Christ has been creating while in captivity, and because they are fishing rods, they are meant to “catch fish” for Christ. The toys have been infused with the message of the gospel. They are inventions and novels and songs and all sorts of things the Lord will use to captivate the hearts and minds of people and share the love of Christ.

He went off into the distance and I stopped following him and turned back to return to the apartment building. At the corner of the building, I suddenly ran into God the Father and Holy Spirit.

They were dressed in layered, gauzy, flowing white robes. They had the faces of Gandalf and Saruman the White (when he was good), with the faces of the actors Ian McKellen and Christopher Lee in those screen roles. They had long, white beards like the wizards, and I knew they were very powerful. They were also very grave and serious. But I knew they were Holy Spirit and God the Father dressed up like wizards to illustrate a point and I thought it was to have a bit of fun with me because I like Lord of the Rings. Not that the wizards were God. I’m not saying the actors are God, either. No. But now that I’m writing this and trying to dismiss it, God is telling me no, he meant to show up like Gandalf on purpose, not just to play with me. He’s being serious and there’s a deeper meaning.

(10/5/2021 Update: I believe the Lord revealed to me why the Father and Holy Spirit showed up like this. It was because Americans picture God like Gandalf: an old guy with a beard who has a lot of power. So when God shows up on the scene, it’s going to be in a way that is immediately recognizable to Americans as GOD. And they also showed up on the corner, the turning point of the building. So when God shows up, he’s going to be very obvious about his identity and it will be at the moment when things are going to change.)

Anyway, I ignored them. I ran past them and ran back to the apartment/Church. They let me go because I was kind of mad at them for not stopping everything, and well, that’s not my finest moment, but it happened.

When I got back to the apartment, I was shocked to find the grandfather had been attacked. Both his hands had been cut off in the middle of the forearms and the stumps of his arms were cauterized.

“She [the enemy] hates music,” one of the family members said, and I knew he had been wounded for selling the toys and that Nancy Pelosi had done this as retaliation to prevent any more toys from being sold. I think she was mad about how fascinated the raven-man was with his musical fishing rod.

“We have to flee,” I said. “Right now. There’s no time to wait.” It felt like the Israelites fleeing Egypt in the middle of the night. I gathered the family up and started giving instructions to pack and wear clothes you don’t mind sleeping in for several days, and the grandmother looked at me with sorrow but I told her you have to get ready for a flight into the wilderness. I felt sorry for her to endure this in her old age, but I knew she could make it and she would be okay. The children were still there as well. Writing this, it reminds me of the last part of The Sound of Music, where the VonTrapp family flees the Nazis taking over Austria by crossing the mountains into Switzerland.

I knew we had to flee because the grandfather had his hands cut off and the Communists were coming back to finish off the rest of us. I worried whether the grandfather would have the strength to make the journey, but when we were finished packing, I looked back and saw him lying on the couch, looking peaceful. He was dead. The Lord had taken him home as a mercy. As I’m writing this, I wonder whether this man was a pastor or a warrior for the Lord in the last generation, like Billy Graham or Rush Limbaugh, or maybe if he symbolized the last generation.

It’s interesting that I urged the family to flee in the dream, but I never actually saw us run.

Then I woke up.

If I had gotten this dream without any preparation, it would have scared me out of my mind. But I didn’t feel afraid on a deep level in the dream. I felt anxious on a surface-level at certain points, but my emotions in the dream were reactionary to the situation and they did not carry an undercurrent of Truth. Like even though I felt scared at the time, I didn’t need to be Afraid. It did not feel like anything was chaotic or out of control, out of the hands of God. Though the power was shut off and people were running around in a panic, the feeling of panic did not persist through the dream. It was temporary and a human reaction.

A couple days ago, I watched a video online where Timothy Dixon shared a dream God gave him about the enemy’s intentions for the future of America and the world. How the Communists literally want to destroy America and turn it into a place of horror. Bibles and were being burned in the street, along with anything that gives hope, and young girls and women were being taken to camps and young men were being shot in other camps. Where people were lining up to get government-rationed cereal boxes from Costco-style warehouses. He said the vision he had in the dream was an alternate reality which the devil was trying to bring about within the next couple years, here, in America. Not Germany or China, but here. BUT he also said that the Lord is going to prevent this from happening and he is going to make a mighty move on the earth to defeat the devil and spare us from this. So don’t be afraid!

But I believe this is a warning. It’s an illustration of what has been going on and what the Church has done in response to the crisis in the world. We have not been the arms and feet of Christ in the Coronavirus crisis. Some have, but we have allowed ourselves to be trampled on by the enemy and it has allowed the devil to cause a lot of suffering.

No more, the Lord says. But it starts with each person in their heart. In the dream, I ran from God and Holy Spirit when they showed up. My disappointment caused me to turn from them and I never saw the work they were about to accomplish. After I ran from them, that’s when the church was attacked, when I left the presence of God. When he showed up and I dismissed him.

However, he still showed up. There’s another message. God arrived on the scene in person (in costume, but in person). I believe they want to say this is how much they care about what is going on. They are going to resolve this personally, no matter what reaction I have to them. It’s about God’s plans for the world and His Holy Name. And it’s going to be very cinematic and thorough. The enemy has no power and the One with the real guns (being figurative here: spiritual guns) is about to show up. Holy Spirit especially is very excited about this, eager and wiggling, like a child.

Finally, I believe the Lord wants to leave you with a Bible verse:

Exodus 14:13 “And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.” (ESV)

Glory to God! Amen.

Rallying Cry

I believe God gave me a word that he wants to share with you, the body of Christ. His warriors, his elite army.

Last night, January 27, 2021, a big storm swept through California. As I’m writing this, the storm is still raging outside with high winds, rain, and power outages. It’s unusual for California to have an intense storm like this. They call it an AR3.

In the midst of the storm, God gave me a dream.

I was in a bunker with hundreds of other people—peers. We were all sleeping, safe and sheltered, through the night. I was on watch duty and I was half-dozing as I was waiting, then a giant television screen lit up and I saw a security camera image of the outer chain link fence which encircled the compound. A flash bomb hit one of the posts of the chain link fence. The fire from the bomb burned at the links and caused the metal to glow, but it did not break through. I thought to myself, good. The enemy isn’t strong enough to break through, and I laughed at him.

However, I remembered something as I was looking at the fire. I remembered there had been a time in the past when the enemy did break through. He cut through with a sword like a lightsaber. I saw his sword melting through the fence and I knew when he broke through last time, the destruction had been very great. That’s why we had watchmen posted, to prevent it from happening again.

As I remembered this, a second bomb hit the fence in the same place as before, where the fence was already softened from burning. A figure appeared beyond the fence, coming out of the woods on the other side. It was a man like Darth Vader. He marched toward the burning fence with deadly purpose, firm, resolute. He was gripping a weapon, but the weapon was not yet illuminated.

So I sounded the alarm.

All at once, these elite soldiers dropped from the ceiling and landed in the center of the compound. They were men and women, armored in thick, black, sci-fi armor and wielding giant weapons. They were intense and responded immediately. They rushed out first to combat the enemy.

Then the people around me began to arise. The men and women who were sleeping with me in the bunker jumped up from bed and started falling into rank, clothed in armor and bodysuits, the kind you see in super hero movies. They were all matching each other because these were uniforms. And as I watched them assembling, there were so many people, I knew the one enemy at the fence didn’t have a chance.

Then God spoke over the loudspeaker in my dream and his voice echoed through the compound.

“Charlene, I need you to defeat the enemy and claim your destiny.”

Then I woke up.

When I looked at my bedside clock, it was flashing 12:05. The power had been out in my house, but it came back on at the moment God spoke to me in the dream.

I believe the interpretation of this dream is pretty straightforward, but I’ll share what I believe God is illustrating.

There was a time in your life when you were asleep. God was sheltering you, preparing and training you for His purpose. Maybe it has been years. You have been faithful to follow Him down the road He placed you on, through the trials and the joys and the drudgery of training, not knowing where it was leading, but trusting it was somewhere good because you believe God is a good God and He has plans for your life.

Those plans are greater than anything you can imagine.

Now, he is calling you up to arise, to put on your armor, and fight. There is an enemy at the fence who is intent on destroying the Church, and God needs us to rise up and be the warriors He made us to be.

Maybe you, like me, are asking God how do I fight for you? What do you want me to do? This is what He told me.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4 (ESV)

This is the moment God has been preparing you for. Awake, Church, and rise up! The enemy has no power against the Lord and his sons and daughters. When we assemble and work together as one—there was only one uniform I saw among the body, one color and pattern—the enemy doesn’t stand a chance. But he isn’t stopping this time and he won’t be scared away. He needs to be defeated once and for all.

God will infuse you with the power, the strength, and the guidance you need through His Holy Spirit. God is moving in a mighty way on the earth now, in our generation. He is performing great and powerful works like we’ve never seen, and he invites you to be a part of His work. He commands it. His voice when He spoke in my dream was forceful and intense: a warrior and a lion. He isn’t angry at us and He isn’t blaming you or condemning you, no. His intensity is directed in His purpose and the work that He is accomplishing. Right now, I would not want to be in God’s way. And I would definitely not want to delay on something He told me to do, because He’s a man on a mission.

Praise be to God, who gives us the victory!


Beautiful Day

It’s a beautiful day. The sky is periwinkle blue. Across a cornfield lie the brown hills of the coastal range, the ridgeline so clear I could cut it from the sky with a scalpel. It’s hard to imagine just two weeks ago, the sky was so orange with smoke that people were recreating scenes from Blade Runner in downtown San Francisco.

This year has been set up to mean so many things. In January, it was a year of promise, a phenomenon this world won’t witness again for a thousand and one years. “Will you do something for me this year, God?” That’s what I prayed. Take some action, move my life forward. I tried not to be specific, but there were things I’d been waiting for: a house, a career, a book, a car, a man. I had put in my time. I felt like I had been faithful and patient. And slowly, like steady drops in an empty bucket, I had begun to see results.

In the beginning of 2020, I felt I had grown to be more trusting. More loving toward who God made me. More beautiful, more at peace. I won a scholarship to attend a writing conference and I was having dreams.

And then, March.

I actually don’t remember the week all hell broke loose in our country. When skyscrapers were collapsing all around me, coming down like the Twin Towers. One then the other. Things I had been hoping for, praying for, suddenly gone. And voices in authority telling me it was all for my own good.

So I rebelled. I fought against the taking of things: freedom. Common sense. Community. I found myself surrounded suddenly by tape marks on the pavement, masks, and shuttered windows. Nauseating mantras were slung around: “we’re all in this together,” “stay safe.” For a week, I hid, too. Then when my adrenaline expired, I was left standing alone in the ashes of a changed world.

But has it changed?

I walk into a forest. The trees stand mighty in the wind. The river flows steady by my feet. Out here in farm country, the melons and the pumpkins are growing. The almonds have been harvested–it’s a strong crop this year. Outside on my new back porch, my morning glories are blossoming, moon-discs of purple among the heart leaves. The plants haven’t heard of the Coronavirus.

Neither, it seems, has God. In July, He gave me a house. In August, He gave me a car. Fourteen years of waiting, and in the midst of fires and riots, He gave me blessings. So I asked Him about it. Why now, God? Why 2020?

He answered.

“This year is what I say it is.”

Not politicians. Not doctors. The narrative we’re living is still God’s story, and while we scurry around like ants on a hill that’s been flooded, He still holds the pen. And he’s always writing.

Now it’s September. There are still three months left in the year.

I can’t wait.

Living History

Circa 2013, Winner of the Nonfiction Award in CCU’s literature anthology, “Paragon”

The bridge over the dammed pond climbed north, but I leaned west over the railing at the highest point of the arch. On either side of me, the short walls of a ravine widened like legs opening towards the ocean beyond. Stamped through a ground cover of seaside daises, a trail led down to the beach, past a stagnant pool. It’s rotting, tongue-coating smell puffed upstream: a combination of freshwater runoff from the pond and saltwater from high tide. Beyond, waves thrust themselves on the shore, and sharp black birds picked through the kelp carcasses on the sand.

Below my position on the bridge, fat koi circled beneath the pond’s gray-green surface. Orange, gold, and white, some floated in the shallows, translucent fins waving lazily. I watched as one by one they poked up their sun-starved lips and gulped in a breath of air. The ripples spread like concentric sound waves, interrupting each other. I was waiting.


In third grade, my homeschool group took a field trip to Riley’s Farm. My mother, siblings, and I drove in our blue minivan two hours from the chaos of Southern California, far enough into the hills of Oak Glen to feel like country. The instant we parked, I scrambled from the van and my tennis shoes touched down on loose gravel. The air wasn’t cold, yet it still carried the baiting mystery of autumn.

The nineteenth-century-costumed interpreters guided our tour around the seven-hundred acre farm. We were turned loose in their infamous apple orchard, whose trees broke from the ground like gnarled skeleton hands, clustered with fluttering yellow leaves. My brother, sister and I picked their fruit with long-handled harvesting poles. We brought the apples to a cider press: a bearded man helped us turn the iron crank and crush them. The frothy juice dribbled from the chute, clear as liquid sap, and collected in a wooden tub. Into this we dipped sticky tin cups. It was good.

Above the reconstructed general store, up a steep hill at the edge of a field stood a tiny cabin. Inside, I was offered a pioneer girl’s dress to wear—complete with matching peach sunbonnet and white apron. When I emerged grinning from within, my mother gasped.

“You’re so beautiful!” she exclaimed. “Let me take your picture.”

I posed on the cabin’s porch, hands caressing the railing’s wood posts, grained with age. My calico sleeves puffed above my shoulders and my bell-like skirt ruffled in the wind; I breathed in the valley stretched below, the deep earth. I felt beautiful and firm, planted by my leather-bound feet, through the worn floorboards into the brown soil. I straightened my spine, standing tall in my prairie dress, thick and happy with the weight of dreams brought to life.

These people—the buckskin-clad frontiersmen who lived in the forest, the reenactors teaching me to dip candles, the smiling man with the apple press—these were my people. An anchoring came to me then as I stood on the porch, dense as an iron lance driven into the earth.


Beauty is a target for destruction. That’s why fish hide in algae-infested ponds—why I rarely see them leap from the water. I watched from the bridge for an hour. Maybe once, and only then out of the corner of my eye, did I catch the quicksilver flash of scales and the slap of a body against the water. It’s cold and dry above the surface. If they stay out too long, they won’t die from lack of oxygen—they die because the enormous weight of gravity slowly crushes their organs.


One summer, I visited a water park with some of my closest friends. They wore bikinis, I a navy one-piece from my swim team. They giggled behind their hands at the shirtless teenage boys, I hid behind them and prayed no one would notice my flat chest.

During lunch on the particle-sand beach, they spoke to me between delicate bites of five-dollar hamburger. 

“There’s this new ride called the ‘Fearsome Threesome.’ We really want to go on it, but it like, has a super long line and we don’t want to like, leave our stuff here that long.”

I swallowed my egg salad sandwich. “No problem. I can wait here.”

“Really?” Their awkwardness smoothed into relief, like they’d been running across burning concrete and I’d given them cool sand to leap to. “That would be like, so cool. Thanks.” They gathered up the remains of their meal and pranced away.

I waited, finished my sack lunch. I sucked dry my CapriSun juice pouch with the abstract surfer printed beneath the flavor: ‘Fruit Blast.’ Lounging on my beach towel in the shade of an umbrella, I watched the people in the aqua-blue wave pool bob up and down. Their bodies hung through the center of their floaty donut-tube holes like shark bait, their legs a kaleidoscope of shadow beneath the crinkled surface. After an hour, I joined them. I appropriated one of the yellow rings floating in the deep end and let the water bear me as it would. My eyes flickered between the families in the pool, hoping they wouldn’t notice a twelve-year-old alone in the adult section, but my gaze always returned to the abandoned umbrella and beneath it, our towels. I waited, fingers and toes pruning, arms burning, stretched across the hot rubber. Frustrated, I dragged my body out and air-dried in the sun. I asked an employee where the ‘Fearsome Threesome’ ride was.

“We don’t have a ride called ‘The Fearsome Threesome.”

I thanked him and left the beach, into the shadows of the eucalyptus trees.


I learned to exist then, to float beneath the surface. The sunlit shallows, where the territorial battles were fought among the most worthy, no longer permitted me. Instead, I circled above the black depths of the pond’s center. Weeks became months, became years. With time, the maddening redundancy of life as a merry-go-round severed any remaining nostalgias I kept for the surface. I explored the canyons and trenches of the deep ocean—the last frontier, that sun-starved no-man’s land. Super-heated vents scalded my face as I passed. Crimson tube worms fanned me with their ribbon-like tendrils. Overhead, twinkling lights became my own personal stars—other fish who, like me, had forsaken the disillusionment above and embraced blind darkness.

But, water pressure crushes as irrevocably as gravity. Feelings have an odd way of bobbing to the surface, despite how desperately I held them under. For me, they erupted in panic attacks and anxiety disorder; my toxic pit of refuge struck violent and hard. When nothing remained, I ventured to the surface and sniffed the changing air—it tasted of salt, of freedom. So I left.

The concrete slab damming the pond received drops of water from my tailfin as I leapt over it. I wiggled downstream: the trickling current pushed me onward. At the end, a sandy puddle received me.


My family moved three hundred miles north during the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. We came to the country: to “aa’mond” and peach orchards, dairy farms and oak trees. In March, a neighboring town hosted their annual Civil War Reenactment at a covered bridge. The Stanislaus river ran below short, steep hills. Across it was built the historic bridge—a warm, long tunnel planted in gray rock.

Seated in the grass on the north hill, I watched the battle begin below me. From across the river, a prelude of artillery thunder pounded into my chest, accompanied by orange fire snorted from the cannons. From my right, onto the battlefield marched a row of comically fierce Yankee soldiers in baggy red pants and white turbans. Gold tassels swung behind their heads, attempting to keep up with their march. Their commander formed them into a skirmish line and they dropped into the grass. From my left, a column of gray Rebels marched down the dirt road towards them. The sharp crack of rifle fire popped in my ears, and my eyes stung with sulfuric gunpowder. A larger column of blue soldiers emerged from the bridge’s tunnel, coming to reinforce the red men. The skirmishers counted their loses—three out of seven dead—and rejoined their battalion’s ranks.

After the battle, my mother sought out the soldiers in red: we found their tents in the Union encampment. They were Zouaves, esteemed for their berserker-like ferocity.

“You might say the Zouave style, at the time of the Civil War, was very dashing and suave,” one of the soldiers joked. “You look like an able young body. How would you like to join the ranks? We’re always in need of more fresh meat—I mean defenders of freedom.” He winked.  

When I came home that night I sought out my father.

“Guess what, Dad? Your daughter joined the army.” I was on the battlefield the next day.


 I didn’t know I was waiting for the tide until it found me. In the stagnant tributary pond a salty concentration infused my gills. There was something familiar in its sting—something I didn’t remember I’d forgotten. The seawater rushed, fluid, around my face—I surrendered and let it carry me out to sea.


One reenactment was along the coastline north of San Francisco, near Duncan’s Mills. We set up our three camps on opposite sides of an L-shaped clearing: Union, Confederate, and Sutlers—traveling merchants who serviced the armies. Beyond the oaks hovering along the tree line, the forest leaned towards the clearing. Pungent eucalyptus and silent redwoods watched and waited for the briefest moment of inattentiveness to creep forward, return to their land.

In preparation for battle, my unit marched with the rest of the battalion into the shadow of the trees. The redwoods which outside had seemed stern as living stone became vibrant columns. Gathered cities of broad, green ferns huddled like chicks beneath the redwoods’ branches, encouraged into lush vulnerability. I breathed deep, and it infused my blood with sweet pine and dense, rotting bark. 

The forest’s intoxication remained in me still when, after a late-night dance, I made my way alone across the moonless battlefield. The Union encampment contentedly climbed an uphill section of the clearing. Authentic to the nineteenth-century, only candles and kerosene lanterns lit the camp. They’d been hooked on any convenient projection—dog tent poles, curved stakes—or sat happily on boxes and tables.   

Crossing the field, my leather brogans whispered silently on the cropped brown grass. The camp’s lantern lights appeared as golden stars. The hill was dotted with them—warm beacons among the white tents—tiny against the blackness of the trees. Suddenly, for a lightning-brief second, my vision narrowed like a hawks’ and I felt every detail: the scratch of woolen blankets against my grimy cheek, the rusted metallic taste of hot water from my canteen, the deep peace in the night before the chaos of war. I was there, marching across the rising field to the brothers I would die beside tomorrow, to the world—my world—of 1864.

It was beautiful.


In the eyes of a single fish, the ocean is small. A fish knows only her crevice in rock, the best place to feed, where the predators are. Even the migratory fish keep to the trail. Breaking from tradition earns rejection: the banished morph from fish into sea anemones and anchor their malleable bodies onto rock, withdrawing their delicate tentacles into themselves. They wait, they starve. Some die. Their eyes grow weary with searching until, somehow, they find another.

The miracle is in the finding. Sea anemones do move—they creep over coral and sand slowly, slowly. That two such creatures would simultaneously pass is exceedingly rare; that they would extend one or two feelers and acknowledge the other is astounding. When they do, if the shock doesn’t exile them back into hiding, just meeting another of their kind becomes enough. They aren’t alone. Buoyed on encouragement, they rise together to the surface. Perhaps, even, they scratch at their anemone skins—peel them away—and, pink and raw, rise from the surf into the sunlight.

March 2020

Right now, looking out the window you see chaos. Empty shelves, long lines. Locked doors and six-foot isolation zones. It feels like the world’s being torn apart, but I see people coming together.

At Rite Aid, I see a family holding up the checkout line with a cart full of Coke and a notebook of coupons. Six of them, arguing in Spanish with the cashier, but arguing together. Friends are riding their bikes along the quiet neighborhood streets. I see a family of five walking together on a spring afternoon, the brother and sister holding hands.

People are talking now. Strangers in line. Isn’t this crazy? I’ve never seen anything like it. And they laugh. The girl behind the print counter at Staples (Asian) laughing with a customer (black) about how to make hand sanitizer with vodka and aloe vera, and them both glancing at me in line (white) to see that I’m laughing, too. The cashier at Target asks me how I’m surviving the end of the world and I say she has cute glasses. Because they are cute, but maybe before, I would have swiped my credit card and she would have called “next,” and our stars would have touched shoulders for a moment, then drifted on.

It’s spring. It’s a beautiful spring. The cherry trees are blooming, the tulips are unfolding. I saw a mother hen with eleven yellow chicks in the grass on the side of the road. In the driveway in a neighborhood, two men were home from work, sitting in lawn chairs and talking in the sun.

It’s a blessing. Time. Days to be still. Hours to sit on the porch and read, to pick up the paintbrush, to call your cousin in Texas and ask how are things over there, are you okay? I just wanted to hear you’re okay.

It makes me think of World War II. I wasn’t alive then, but was it a little like today? All of a sudden people fighting the same enemy, caught in the rapids of things they can’t change. Weddings, flights, birthdays, conferences, home groups cancelled, everything bound up and reigned in with a jolting halt. Because we’re all in this together. Our enemy is the same, and it isn’t each other.

In the end, the fear will mist away. The sun will rise, the dream will end, and we’ll sweep up the shattered glass and the broken chairs. We’ll scrub the smoke stains from the walls, button on the suit, and go back to work. But maybe we’ll take something with us. A memory of three weeks of stillness when the Corona virus came to town and we survived and got the t-shirt. Do you remember March 2020? They sent me home from school, I played video games for a month and my mom almost killed me. Those were some good days.


This is for anyone who doesn’t know what is going on. You’ve done everything right. You’ve checked all the boxes. You went to college and made the honors list. You buy organic groceries using your own bags. You give coffee to the homeless guy standing on the island in the center of the street. You’ve gone to church since you were in your mother’s womb. And God doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo.

You know he doesn’t work like that. He’s not a tame lion. But you were hoping. It seemed to work for other people. There was a woman in my church who prayed for her student loans and she received a check in the mail for $30,000, and she brought it to church and held it up, crying, saying God answers prayers. But my student loan account is still full, and I’ve been on income driven repayment since graduation. At this rate, I won’t pay it off until I die.

Does it feel selfish? Asking for a miracle? Asking God, I’ve been the other son. The non-prodigal. The one who stayed at home and tended his father’s flocks while his brother ran off to Vegas, and you haven’t given me a lamb to celebrate with my friends. Why do other people get married, have kids, have boyfriends, and here I am in the corner, a shadow on the wall. I’ve never kissed a guy. No one’s ever asked.

Then here it comes, the guilt. Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow. Oh, praise the one who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead. Oh, praise the one who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead. Jesus.

It slaps you across the face. Who am I? Who am I to demand a little respect, a little golden sprinkle down from heaven once in a while? What has all this been for, all these years, dragging myself to church, writing the ten percent checks, raising my hands in worship, trusting God will make all things work together for my good? That he has a plan for me, and his plan is good, and I have a hope and a future. Where is the hope? Where is the future he promised?

Is it right now? Am I living in the future now, is all this part of his plan, or was it right, what that man told me who said God loved Jacob because Jacob put in the sweat and he put in the time. God honored Jacob for asking seeking knocking searching striving after God, shaking the pillars of heaven until letters rained down from God’s desk, secret notes that slipped from the surface and dropped through the clouds. Blueprints no one had seen, not even the angels, because they were still just sketches in God’s mind. But Jacob shook and he asked and he wrestled with God, because that’s what God really wants, someone who can throw a punch. Not some whining crying little girl in the closet with a pile of snotty tissues, begging God please please please listen to me. Hear me. I want to know you. I don’t care what you do for me or don’t do for me. I just want to know you. Be close to you. Why aren’t you here?

I know it doesn’t matter. The little things I see each day, reminders that I’m still on Earth. But I am still on Earth. This is where I live, because this is where God began my story. And I’m here, with the dust and the smog and the blossoming almond trees and the Corona virus, and the orange and purple sunset smeared across the watercolor sky. And on Earth, it matters when you gain twenty pounds. After you signed up for the gym and pushed through the pain went on that boring diet and what do you know, it worked! You lost twenty pounds. And then two years later, you have too much birthday cake and gain it all back. But every time I look in the mirror, I see that cake pudging out from my belly and the fear crawls over me like a spider, saying now you’ve gone and done it. And it grins a wicked smile.

That’s not God. I don’t know what he’s doing up there in the yonder. But it’s not him, the voice that’s sneaking over my shoulder saying you’re not good enough, you’ll never be good enough, did you think he was paying attention? He’s too busy for you. He’s got wars and starving orphans in Africa and the untouchables in India and the underground churches in China. He’s got the whole damn world in his hands. What are you? Little miss disappointed American.

But God sees me. I know it. Because last weekend I sprained my ankle in the parking lot outside of In-n-Out, just walking off a curb. And while my brother was driving me home, when I still couldn’t think because my ankle was throbbing and how am I going to pay for this and I’m not going to get to go backpacking this summer, I heard a little voice. A nudge in my chest, like God’s hands reaching down through the filaments of heaven and encircling my heart, saying he’s here.

That’s all.

He’s here.

And sometimes, I think that’s all he needs to say.

Mercy Snows

Denver is a curious place. Here, the saying goes, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” It’s winter in Denver: earlier this week, it was sunny and sixty outside. I went hiking. The next day, it was snowing. I like to think there’s a magician who lives up in the mountains, practicing his weather control. He gets away with it, you see, because people attribute the weather to the mountain range messing with air currents. I digress.

A few days ago, I was sitting quietly in the morning watching the snow fall–fat, white, conglomerate flakes drifting down from thin clouds. I’ve been feeling lately that I’m in a sort of winter. I’m in a quiet time of my life, waiting for the seeds I’ve planted to take root, watching the world exist and move around me. But me, I’m here–waiting like a solitary, bare tree in a field. From what I can see, very little seems to be happening to move me forward into the next active phase. And I’m not sure I want to move there.

The interesting thing about the winter, though, is its stillness. It’s in the winter that snow falls, accumulates. This snow builds up a store of water which nourishes the world for the rest of the year to come. In the west, most of our water supply comes from snow melt. In years with a dry winter, the west goes into a drought–again. 

Winter is beautiful. It is rest, quiet. I don’t have to do so many things. Because of the cold, I am drawn inside to the intimacy of fellowship with God and with other people. Each snow flake is a unique raindrop of His mercy, frozen in a delicate shape just for fun, packaged in ice for the long haul. They fall in the coldness of grief, or pain, or weariness. Yet there is a shelter from the cold: Christ, and houses with heaters and cozy blankets. And even while God is sheltering me, He’s building up a snow pack within my heart: truths learned in the quietness, moments of simply resting in Him and enjoying His presence.  Long conversations with good friends. Standing by the window watching the snow fall, allowing myself to watch the world with the eyes He gave me. God is a fantastic multi-tasker.

I saw all this in the flakes falling outside my window: individual miracles, and so many thousands of them. My toothbrush. Light particles. Fingernails. When I go brush off my car, I’m scooping blankets of mercy onto the ground. 

Thank you, Lord, for your mercy snows. For stillness, and for my toothbrush. 



The Beginning

And so it begins: a single letter becomes a word, a word joins a sentence, sentences compile into paragraphs, and somehow you’ve written entire pages, and you have a blog. Blog…that’s an interesting word. I believe it’s short for “web log,” but I haven’t researched it. If you know the background of that word/term, please feel free to enlighten me. Do you ever wonder about words? Where did it come from, why do we use it instead of another combination of syllables and sounds: a rose by any other name, right? Does that work with names, too? If I were named Angelica instead of Charlene, would my life be any different? My parents considered naming me Angelica. I don’t mind that name, but I’m glad they picked the one they did. I don’t feel like an “Angelica,” if stereotypes are allowed.

Hello, welcome to my blog! I have this crazy idea that someday I’d like to be a writer. But then I learned that “someday” won’t come unless I get out and start working to make it come. That’s why I’m in college at Colorado Christian University near Denver working on my BA in English, with an emphasis in creative writing. I’ve hoped to be a writer and novelist since elementary school, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I had the brilliant idea to work harder at improving my writing, and college was a good place to do that! Funny how those obvious things don’t really hit you until you’ve rolled through the sandpaper of life and sit up, blinking and rubbing your skinned knees, realizing Mommy can’t kiss and make this one better. You have to push yourself up. It’s tough and cold, but I think those times make the warm ones sweeter, gives them more substance.

And so I acknowledge my own audacity to hope. I work, play a bit, and work some more. But always there’s this songbird of hope, like in Emily Dickinson’s poem “Hope is the thing with feathers.” Sometimes I shoo the bird and fume when it insists on staying. Hope is so unreasonable. Maybe that’s why we hold onto it so tightly, because it insists on belief in the miraculous. What do you think?