A new update regarding my live readings days and times:
I will be doing Facebook Live readings on the following days each week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday
The planned time right now is 10:00 AM Central Time/11:00 AM Eastern Time. However, these times may need to change. If that happens, I will let you know as close to 24 hours in advance as possible. I will also post a reminder the day of the reading.
The order of reading is still the same:
MINDFIRE (Chapters 3 through 5 starting Monday March 23, 2020)
Jordan's World (Chapters 1 through 5, starting Saturday March 28, 2020)
Jordan's World (Chapters 1 through 5, starting Monday April 6, 2020)
A surprise bonus reading (possibly in two parts)
All of these videos will remain on my Facebook feed and the full series will be on my YouTube channel.
Starting tomorrow March 21, 2020, I will read a chapter from my books every other day at 10:00 am Central Time (11:00 am Eastern Time). It will be a Facebook Live video which I will then post to YouTube and Twitter. I may do separate Instagram Live readings, but I haven't decided that yet.
Below is the order in which I will read:
Chapters 2 through 5
Chapters 1 through 5
Chapters 1 through 5
This will provide thirty days’ worth of book reading (with breaks in-between) and give you a feel for each book.
If we’re still dealing with COVID-19 social distancing/stay home issues after a month's time, I will see where the Lord leads me. I’m happy to read to y’all and I hope you enjoy my stories.
The entire series will be available on my YouTube channel. The first video in the series is below (and on my Videos page).
I interviewed Ariel Paiement, an author of Christian speculative fiction (including fantasy and science fiction). She tells us about her life, her faith and her new novel On Twilight's Wings in the video below.
Her social media:
The following is an excerpt from the Prologue of Jordan's Deliverance, Book 3 in the Jordan of Algoran series.
FIFTEEN YEARS AGO ON EARTH
Kayla Lewis stood at the bottom of the stairs and looked up at her husband, Mark, with some concern. He was carrying two stacked and very full moving boxes in his arms as he carefully descended the stairs. And he was obviously straining.
“Mark, put one of those boxes down! You’ll throw your back out again,” Kayla warned.
“I’m using my legs. I’ll be fine,” he answered.
Neither impressed nor persuaded, she walked over and grabbed the top box. She angled her lips and blew a long strand of brown hair out of her face as she walked past him towards their minivan. The rest of her hair was pulled back into a long ponytail.
“You’re not twenty anymore, Mark, and you don’t have to impress me.”
“I wasn’t trying to impress you, honey. I just thought I could do it.”
“My point is you don’t have to. I’m right here. I can help.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied with a hint of sarcasm. They’d had this conversation more than once before.
Kayla Lewis was forty-eight years old and her husband was a year older than her. They had been married for twenty-eight years and owned a graphic design company called Markayla Designs. She was the artist while he managed the business. It had been profitable enough over the years, allowing them to buy a house, own two vehicles, pay the bills, and provide for three daughters.
But maintaining and growing the business had been very stressful. Kayla had barely kept it together when Mark suffered a mild heart attack at the age of thirty-nine. Her own vision had suffered from her habit of working late into the night with less than ideal lighting. She ate when she remembered to, though it was at irregular intervals. That had been fine when she was a teenager. But time and having children had altered her metabolism, causing her to steadily gain weight.
Still, Kayla was more concerned with her husband’s well-being than her own.
The back hatch was already open, and their storage area was half-filled with boxes. The vehicle hovered a foot above the ground using magnetic propulsion technology which hummed quietly. Virtually all transportation had been clean, electric, and wheel-less for over a decade. The van was slightly oval-shaped, large enough to accommodate up to six passengers with room to spare for hauling items.
Kayla put her box on top of one of the others. Mark put his next to hers, but it slipped from his grip. Falling to one side, its lid popped off and she heard him sigh in frustration.
“What’s wrong?” Kayla inquired, pushing her glasses back up her sweaty nose. She knew his sigh was about more than a moving box. She was beside him now, one hand resting on his left arm while observing his wistful expression and furrowed brow.
“I just can’t believe they’re both gone,” Mark lamented. “First Mom...now Dad. They lived together in this house ever since Mom...got back.”
“I know,” Kayla replied, nodding in understanding. “Your dad was a father to me a lot longer than my own. But they had a long life.”
“At least they got back together,” Mark added. “That was the best decision they ever made.”
“And they got to know their grandkids,” Kayla remarked with a sad smile.
Kayla decided to grab the moving box that had fallen to the side and lined it up with the others. Grabbing its lid, she glanced inside the box and something caught her eye: a gray, metallic shoebox-sized object which looked extremely old.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“Hm?” Mark turned to look at her.
“This metal, um, container. I think I’ve seen it before—”
“Oh, that? It was Mom’s. She kept it on the mantle above the fireplace with the family pictures.”
“What’s in it?”
“I don’t know. I thought it was just an old jewelry box or something. I’ve never looked inside it.”
“It looks sealed or something.”
Mark nodded. “Yeah. Mom and Dad both tried to open it a few times over the years but never managed to. I think I even attempted it once. But there’s such a long family history with it, we kept it.”
Kayla picked up the old plated box and looked at it with fascination. She smiled.
“Seems a shame to put an old keepsake like this in storage. I doubt we could sell it if we don’t know how to open it,” Kayla noted, looking at Mark. “Do you think your mom would mind if I held onto it?”
Mark paused and then made a slight shrug. “Knowing Mom, it would probably make her happy for you to have it. Go ahead, keep it. Where do you want to put it?”
Kayla held the box close to her chest. “For a family heirloom like this? Your mom kept it on the fireplace, so I guess I’ll do that, too!”
Mark smiled. “Sounds good. Now, let’s go get those last few boxes and take all this to the self-storage facility.”
“You go on up and get one of the boxes — and I mean only one!”
She put the family keepsake on the front passenger floorboard of the vehicle. As she exited the passenger front seat and stepped onto the driveway, she paused to watch her husband enter the house.
“I’m gonna call Jo and have her meet us to unload this stuff,” Kayla stated.
“Won’t she be studying for midterms?”
“This is our oldest daughter we’re talking about. She’ll either be gaming, eating pizza, or writing a new song.”
“Right. Then she’ll cram the night before and probably ace it.”
“Exactly,” Kayla answered with a proud chuckle.
Kayla pressed a button on her wristband as Mark went back inside. A holographic interface appeared.
“Call Jo Lewis,” Kayla told the device.
While the holo-interface on her wristband was attempting to contact her daughter, Kayla looked towards the front of the van. She was surprisingly captivated by the idea of that ancient artifact. Just then, the holo-screen flickered and displayed the words “Connection Established.”
Kayla’s daughter appeared in the waist-up holo-display. She was twenty-three years old and a junior in college, working on her Bachelor of Arts Degree in History. She was tall and average-sized, wearing a dark blue t-shirt. Her hair was shoulder-length, frizzy, and half of it was covering her eyes. The apartment, which she shared with another female student, was only lit by the small amount of sunlight peeking through the blinds of one window.
“Oh, hey, Mom!” Jo smiled in recognition. “Sorry, I just got up.”
“It’s two in the afternoon,” Kayla replied with measured patience.
“Izzit? Oh, wow. We went to see Eventually Watermelon in concert last night. After we got home, we binge-watched a bunch of sci-fi.”
Kayla pushed her glasses back up her nose again. This time, it was more to show her annoyance than to be functional.
“Your Dad and I have been packing up stuff from Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We’re about to take the boxes to storage. Can you help us unload? I don’t want your Dad doing too much.”
“Oh! Um, which storage place?”
“The one at Milea and Condor.”
Jo looked unenthused, so Kayla gave an insistent stare. After a moment, her daughter gave a surrendering shrug.
“I can be there in twenty minutes. Is that okay?”
“Sure. Thanks, Jo! Love you.”
“Love you, too, Mom.”
Kayla pressed another button on her bracelet and the holo-interface dispersed. As she walked inside to see if her husband needed any assistance, she couldn’t help but reminisce for a moment. She thought about Mark’s parents, memories with them in that house. And then suddenly, Mark’s older sister came to mind. It had been over thirty years since she’d last seen Jordan. Sometimes, she still wondered how her sister-in-law was doing on that faraway world of Algoran.
I have recently done some redecorating at my YouTube channel, rebranding basically. I've also consolidated quite a few short videos into combo videos, editing them together, adding music as well as the intro/outro segment above.
Please feel free to check out my channel below. Like and share the videos and subscribe to the channel. There are plenty of new videos, too, and I'll be adding more content soon!
Allen Steadham's YouTube Channel
On January 4, 2020, I wrote an article for LinkedIn which shares detailed information about my histories in work, not-for-profit, and more!
I'd prefer to direct people to the original article instead of just copying the text here. The link is below. Please feel free to check it out.
Who Is Allen Steadham (and Why You Should Care)
Ilsketh Jartaf did not choose to be the leader of the Gulstaa. A daughter among eight other male siblings, she was the only one born with the Clansign, a long red birthmark on her pale-yellow right cheek, roughly the shape of a scythe’s blade. She was taken by members of the Ruling Council to be educated and trained when Ilsketh reached the age of four. Her parents were well-compensated for their sacrifice.
The rulers, governing factions, and warriors lived separate from the rest of the Gulstaa. They resided in a harsher, more difficult to reach region named Kamethla. It was there that the Ruling Council devised elaborate strategies while the warriors forged their strength and increased their prowess in the art of battle.
Ilsketh spent most of her childhood in Kamethla. As future leader, she had to learn the thousand cycle history of the Gulstaa and their many laws. She also was required to sit in on tactical sessions with the Council. Furthermore, she was expected to become a military leader and the fiercest warrior among their people. As a result, Ilsketh went through more stringent mental and physical training than anyone else.
For fifteen years, she endured a punishing schedule which began before daylight and went well into each evening. She held the title of Heng Da or “High One” in the Gulstaa language — but absolutely no disobedience was tolerated. Any signs of rebellion were quashed immediately. And under the guidance of the Ruling Council and the Warrior General, Ilsketh was molded into a tempered, perfect sword: their beloved future leader. Outside of the Ruling Council itself, she was the most powerful person in the region.
One morning, as she was finishing some stretches, a scout ran towards the village, his feet kicking up pebbles, dirt, and snow as he approached. His uniform was torn and disheveled from the long trek. Intrigued, Ilsketh walked towards the front gate, her dark brown bangs blowing into her eyes by the icy winds. Observing the scout’s short, lean stature and bald head, he appeared to be in his late twenties to mid-thirties. In contrast, while the back of Ilsketh’s hair was short, even severe, it was shorn in line patterns demarking her position. She was tall for a Gulstaa, reaching about six feet, athletic but trim. She had grown accustomed to seeing the dark yellow circles beneath her incredibly sharp eyes, which were the color of lavender. In front of her, the short and thin scout was panting, clearly exhausted from traveling far. His bulging eyes declared his fear, haunted and unsure. The imposingly strong guards helped him remain on his feet and catch his breath.
“The battle — did not go well,” the scout gasped. “The Leader took four squads . . . but it wasn’t enough!”
“What happened?” one guard demanded.
“The Leader fell . . . so did most of the squads,” the scout lamented.
“Only a few warriors made it back . . . to tell of the battle before taking Final Sacrifice. The last of them sent me.”
The guards nodded with dire certainty.
“You did well. We will alert the Ruling Council,” one guard told the scout.
“Thank you. I request Final Sacrifice,” the scout said, eyes lowered.
Only warriors could perform the task, either for themselves or anyone else.
“For your service, I will grant your request,” the guard landed a killing strike with his sword.
The scout fell to the ground, relief frozen on his face. Both guards gave a slight bow.
“I will go inform the Ruling Council,” one guard said. “When I return, perform the death rites for the scout.”
“It will be done,” his counterpart acknowledged.
Ilsketh saluted the guard as he neared her. He returned the gesture.
“Heng Da?” the guard asked.
“I will accompany you,” she said.
“Yes, Heng Da.”
The Ruling Council was in a state of chaos that Ilsketh had never witnessed before. She sat in the Council Chamber, a circular hall hundreds of cycles old, built with large gray stones and having wooden pillars throughout. At the center of the room was a long, wide and sturdy table crafted from the same rock as the walls. A bright fixture resembling a timbered, candle-lit chandelier was suspended from the ceiling. Fresh air permeated from two small bay windows, one on the eastern wall as well as its opposite.
Normally reserved and deliberate, the eighteen members were loudly arguing with each other, following the news delivered by the guard. Most seemed to be in shock while others were clearly vying to increase their own political power. Anger and disgust rose from within Ilsketh.
She went and grabbed the ceremonial war hammer from its honorary place on the northern wall. She took its hilt firmly in both hands and slammed it into the middle of the ancient stone deliberation table.
“ENOUGH!” she screamed. “I will have order in this room!”
She succeeded in getting everyone’s attention. They turned and faced her, stunned by her audacity and display of authority. However, she was Heng Da. Legally, she was the only one with the right to command them, especially now. But they had not expected her to do so.
“I know I have seen only nineteen cycles and have much to learn,” she growled, pacing the room like a cat, occasionally looking at various council members. “But even I know that now is not the time to fall apart.”
“Heng Da is wise!”
That voice belonged to Segim Artol, the Chief of the Ruling Council, an elder who had presided since before Ilsketh’s birth. Tall and stout, he appeared astute but weary — and perhaps wary as well.
His hair was long, gray, and well-groomed. Like the rest of the Council, he wore a midnight blue robe and ornamental jewelry made of local crystals and refined metals.
Ilsketh looked at him with contempt but kept her speech respectful.
“Who were we fighting?” she said.
“The Mountain Mokta,” Segim replied.
“I had heard that the Mokta were good fighters,” Ilsketh affirmed. “Did our people die well?”
“Their Chieftess offered them the chance for peace, to retreat.”
Ilsketh made a low murmuring sound, her expression twisting into one of disgust.
“That is not our way,” she demurred coldly.
“Yes, Heng Da. Our people fought to the last warrior, including the Leader.”
Ilsketh knew Segim was not one to miss an opportunity and was clearly still upset by the Heng Da embarrassing the Council. He cleared his throat and looked her in the eyes expectantly.
“You are now Leader, Heng Da. What shall we do?” Segim asked.
“Do?” Ilsketh repeated.
“I will explain. Should your people punish these Mokta for their arrogance or should we set our sights on new territories?”
His tone had been splendidly reverent but Ilsketh had participated in enough Council meetings to see the trap he had laid for her.
Fortunately, she had anticipated his actions before entering the chamber and devised a plan of her own.
“The Mokta acted within the confines of their laws and traditions; they were not arrogant,” she uttered slowly, even defiantly. “However, I will not let our people — and our former Leader — go unavenged. In the Early Days, did we not learn from the example of Daltath? Her father, Kintosh, surrendered four provinces to the Wendana to wage peace. The Wendana returned a cycle later and attempted to take all of the Gulstaa lands.
“But Daltath, also born with the Clansign, slew Kintosh and took command. Her cunning and savagery not only repelled the invaders but she spent the rest of her life hunting them down. Now there are no more Wendana. Daltath taught us that surrender is never an option. So, do not ask me if I will act in a way that sounds or looks like surrender. If I ignore what the Mokta did, it says we are weak and invites them to attack us, to believe they can conquer us. Obviously, that is not so!”
It was sickening to see Segim smile at her. Did he believe he had snared her? They both knew a battle now would not go well. The warriors would still be demoralized by the death of the previous Leader.
They also would not have much good will or rapport built with Ilsketh. Following this path would force her to rely on the Council more. It would increase Segim’s influence over her future decisions. And Ilsketh would not be so easily manipulated.
“But now is not the time for renewed conflict,” Ilsketh continued, addressing the entire Council and making eye contact with each member as she turned. “We will bury our dead and heal from this loss. We will grow our forces and properly prepare for battle. I will show you that your efforts in training me have not been in vain. We will attack in overwhelming numbers from all sides, striking down their defenses and use their own people as hostages. When we take the Mokta Mountain, it will be they who surrender — or die!”
Segim’s expression burned with indignation at the ease with which Ilsketh had evaded him. She had actually turned the situation to her advantage. Her words were met with praise and thunderous applause from the Council. Not only that, but she knew her plan was sound.
She could tell he knew that too. And he was not happy about it.
Seventeen-year-old Jordan Lewis was forcefully roused in the middle of the night with no warning. Sound asleep one moment, she next felt powerful arms grabbing and picking her up. Unsure whether this was real or a dream and terrified regardless, Jordan resisted with all her strength. Using both hands, she pounded against her abductor’s chest, which was covered with armor of some kind, and head, which was protected by a helmet. Trying to twist out of their grip, she kicked and screamed as loudly as she could, but it did no good.
Her assailant apparently could see in the dark, never turning on a light nor having any illumination on his or her protective suit. They never said a word, either, as they stole Jordan away from her home in Colorado.
“What do you want? What are you going to do to me?” Jordan shrieked. “Let me go!”
Silence continued to be their only response. In her panic, Jordan wondered if it was even human.
“Someone! Please help me!” Jordan cried.
Passing through the living room, Jordan’s kidnapper sidestepped the couch and exited through the open front door, walking over the cobblestone path to the driveway. Her eyes adjusting to the brighter moonlit sky, Jordan beheld her assailant’s companion, a second abductor, who held her mother, Janice, struggling in its arms. She looked like she was screaming, too, but Jordan heard no sound.
No one can hear us, Jordan thought, horrified. Somehow, they’re blocking the sound! That’s why no one has tried to help us!
One of the kidnappers pressed a button on its wrist and a circle of bright light erupted in mid-air. It was about eight feet wide by eight feet tall. They calmly walked through the portal with their captives. Jordan’s senses were nearly overwhelmed by the jarring sense of motion within this phenomenon. She didn’t know how fast they were traveling or in which direction. It seemed like every direction simultaneously.
It made her feel sick and extremely anxious at the same time. Would it ever stop? Were they going to die?
Seconds, or maybe minutes, later, the abductors emerged on the other side of the anomaly, still holding Jordan and her mother just as tightly as before.
They seemed unphased by the experience. Unlike Jordan, who felt shaken and dazed.
Almost immediately, her assailant gently set her on the frigid, snow-covered ground while its companion did the same for her mother. Jordan remained emotionally spent and fought to orient herself.
“Wh-where have you taken us? What do you want??” Jordan shouted with as much strength as she could muster.
Her kidnapper pointed at a light in the distance. Was that a fire? Jordan watched her foe launch some kind of flare from its wrist, using another technology she was unfamiliar with. Then both assailants walked back into the pulsating portal of light before it closed behind them. Jordan crawled on her elbows and knees to reach her mother, who had fainted. The last thing Jordan perceived before passing out was silhouetted shapes approaching them and shouts of alarm in a language she had never heard.
Jordan woke to the light from the distant twin stars Hylot and Ghorot, “The Brothers” in the Mokta language. She rolled to her side, half-tempted to go back to sleep. But icy winds forced open the flaps of her tent and made her squint, holding close the furs covering her until the gust ceased.
Whether she liked it or not, she was awake now. As with most mornings, she dragged herself out of her tent, stood up and stretched. The frigid air bit into her lungs as she took a deep breath. She then exhaled slowly. Moisture from the snow-covered ground and the smells of the nearby tall, slender trees and fall flowering plants greeted her. The scents of the rest of her hunting pack, still sleeping in their tents, mingled with the freshness of the morning. She ran her hands through her long, soft dark brown hair, untangling waves as she went, and then secured it into a braided ponytail.
Looking at the mountain in the distance, the birds and clouds in the sky, Jordan smiled at the wonder of another day. Soon, she and the other hunters would be pursuing a giant Sasstonn, an animal that looked like what would happen if a woolly mammoth crossbred with a cheetah, or two. It was their job to secure a meat supply for the coming months.
She performed additional stretches to loosen up her limbs and to ready for the coming challenges of the day. A tent’s flap rustled, and footsteps crunched through the thin soft snow.
“Will you be performing the fire dance for us soon, Jorr-Don?” Zoska asked in the Mokta language. “Or were you intending to break your spine to avoid the hunt?”
“Neither. The stretches loosen me up,” Jordan replied in Mokta. “I do them every morning and they help me.”
“I eat a hearty meal every morning. That helps me!”
“Are you saying I do not eat well?”
Curious, Jordan turned to her friend. Zoska tilted her head slightly and raised an eyebrow.
“You eat well enough now. You used to eat like an insect. That is why it took so long to train you.”
“You were a good mentor.”
“I am still a good mentor!”
“Yes. But I do not understand why you parent me so much. You are only two cycles older than me.”
“You are a handful, darkhair,” Zoska said with a smile. “Maybe you need a second parent!”
“Maybe,” Jordan said, returning the smile. “Shall we start the morning meal?”
“Why should we do that?” Zoska replied. “Let the other member of this pack make it!”
“You have tasted Reiban’s cooking, right?” Jordan grimaced.
Zoska stared at Jordan for a moment. She wrinkled her nose in dismay.
“Yes. Yes, I have,” Zoska said. “I will get started on the food.”
Jordan pulled some kindling wood from one of the bags and started a fire for the cooking. She caught a glance of Zoska entering her tent to get ingredients. Jordan then returned her attention to maintaining the flames.
Zoska befriended me when I still did not want any friends, ties or connections to this world, Jordan thought. She helped me out of my despair and self-pity. She listened to me and then reached out and told me what I needed to hear. I will always owe her for that.
“Do you remember when we met, the night I arrived on Algoran, four cycles ago?” Jordan asked as she started the fire.
“Yes, I was the first to find you. You had such thin clothing and were shaking from the chill.”
“Even the coldest nights where I grew up were warm compared to here,” Jordan said.
She wasn’t feeling frigid at the moment, but the memory made her involuntarily shiver.
“You were hurt from going through the, what did you call it —‘porr-tahl,’”
Zoska added. “Reiban and I were not sure you two would survive.”
“I could not understand a word you said but I could tell you were worried about me and Gemta,” Jordan replied, using the Mokta word for mother.
“You were strange-looking, with your light skin, brown hair, and white eyes,” Zoska said. “But Chieftess had told us that your kind might be brought to us. And that you would not be prepared for life on this world. I knew I had to help you, even if you did scare me.”
“I scared you?” Jordan chuckled. “I would never have known.”
Jordan had never been frightened of the Mokta. She considered them a handsome people, with their red skin, black scleras instead of white, amber irises, pointed ears and white hair. They were about a foot shorter than Jordan and her gemta, but they were stronger and faster than any human.
“I could not tell you that. It would have been a sign of weakness,” Zoska replied.
“I would not have seen it that way.”
Jordan added a little more kindling wood to the small fire, watched the flames and smoke build along with the heat.
“I did not know you well then. I could not take that chance,” Zoska continued.
“I am glad you told me now,” Jordan replied.
Zoska smiled in response.
“It surprised me that you and your mother learned our language so quickly. It made things … easier.”
“Gemta has always been good at languages. I guess I am, too. At least learning the Mokta language gave us time to adapt,” Jordan said. “Once we could understand what you were saying to us, your gifts for storytelling helped us learn Mokta culture, history and the importance of this mountain we live on. How do the Mokta remember all those details? The Mokta have no written language.”
Jordan watched as Zoska tied her own hair into a ponytail. Jordan had observed that younger Mokta kept their hair in longer styles while elders kept theirs short.
“Once we hear or see something, we always know it. We can see it in our thoughts and recite it the way we experienced it.”
“Then I was right. It is a gift,” Jordan said.
Zoska smiled. “I suppose you could say that. I had never given it much thought. It is a normal thing to the Mokta, like living in the village.”
The Mokta tribe occupied a mountainous region which was relatively easy to defend from invaders or rival tribes. The hunters wore tough animal hides and furs. Those in other village professions wore more elaborate clothes made from woven fibers and colored with dyes.
From inside her tent near the flap, Zoska was still pondering which ingredients to use for breakfast. She looked into one of the bags and called out to Jordan.
“Do you want wibb eggs, wibb eggs, or wibb eggs?” Zoska asked.
“Wibb eggs are fine,” Jordan smiled. “Oh, tell me you still have some of your spicy lahna to go with it.”
“Fortune smiles on you this day, my friend!”
“Yes! Your lahna is so good, you could sell it at the market.”
“My torkomm does sell it at market,” Zoska said, alluding to her father.
“And for a good price, too.”
Jordan’s smile faltered as she suddenly felt wistful and lonely. Zoska had stopped gathering eggs and Jordan could see the concern in her eyes.
“You mentioned your torkomm and it reminded me of mine. I miss him,” Jordan answered her friend’s unspoken question. “I was angry with him right before my gemta and I were taken. I regret not making things right.”
“Forgive, Jorr-Don,” Zoska said. “I did not think about my words.”
“No, it is okay. I am okay. I know my family is here now … with the tribe.”
“Tribe is family but not like blood,” Zoska said.
“No, not like blood,” Jordan repeated. “I miss my torkomm—and my younger brother, Mark.”
“Do you sometimes wish he had been taken with you?”
Jordan shook her head nervously.
“No. At least he is still on Earth with my torkomm,” she said. “I do not know what I would have done if he had gotten sick with the Shilvaba like Gemta.”
Zoska nodded. “You are the reason she survived.”
“I only stayed with her. Healer Latas gave me good instructions: when to give her the medical salve, how to handle her fever and tremors—the loss of her sight. I would not have been able to watch my brother also.”
“Chieftess Kitranor would have told the tribe to help with him. And your gemta still would have lived.”
Jordan put her hand on Zoska’s shoulder and smiled at her.
“Thank you. I noticed you did not say you would have helped with my brother?”
Zoska grinned. “No, I did not. I had to parent you.”
“You did. And so did Chieftess.”
Zoska’s expression turned sympathetic. “Your only blood relative on Algoran could have died from the Shilvaba. Many have, even during my cycles,” she said. “You were so … lost during that first wintertime. I feared you might perish from sadness.”
Jordan felt older than her twenty-one cycles. “I had to live,” she said. “It was the only way she was going to make it.”
Zoska nodded somberly. “But she did recover. You were able to learn the hunt, as all young ones do. And your gemta helped in the harvest fields.”
“Yes. She can use her other senses well there—touch, hearing and smell. Sight is not as important.”
“And because of my training, you are a decent huntress,” Zoska added.
“’Decent?’” Jordan raised an eyebrow in mock offense. Zoska laughed in response.
Reiban had arisen and approached his hunting companions. He was lean for a Mokta but strong and fast. He had almond-shaped eyes, a long and thin nose and somewhat small mouth. He had his own share of hunting scars on his arms and legs.
“This hits the spot,” Jordan said in English as she savored her eggs.
“Dizz hitz thah spaht? What are these words you speak, Jorr-Don?” Zoska asked.
“I think she said something in her old language,” Reiban added.
“I am sorry. It, um, lost something in translation,” Jordan said. “I was saying I really enjoyed the meal. Thanks.”
“We will need to go soon,” Reiban said. “The Sasstonns will be stirring and it is best to catch them unaware.”
“For once, Reiban is right,” Zoska deliberately provoked an irritated glare from the young man. “We should go, Jorr-Don!”
“Pack up your gear then, I will be right behind you,” Jordan allowed the last of her eggs, which were smothered in lahna sauce, to slide off the stone plate into her mouth.
“What a beast!” Zoska taunted. “Perhaps we should be hunting you!”
The trio laughed at that as Reiban attended to the rinsing of the plates. Zoska began packing gear.
Jordan drank some water from the stream and organized her hunting gear within a handful of minutes. She looked at the silver ring on her right hand, which had a sapphire gem embedded at its center. It had been given to her by her father a year before her abduction.
Dad, Mark, I have not given up hope! I may not know where Algoran is or how The Abductors brought us here, but if there is a way for me and Mom to come home to you, I swear I am going to find it!
The following is a devotional article which I wrote for Ambassador International this month. It was made with Christians in mind, but it can be "food for thought" for anyone.
Words in black are scripture from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV).
Words in red are Jesus' words from KJV.
By Allen Steadham
"IT IS A GOOD THING TO GIVE THANKS UNTO THE LORD, AND TO SING PRAISES UNTO THY NAME, O MOST HIGH: To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound. For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep."
- Psalms 92: 1-5 (KJV)
November is well-known in the United States for the celebration of Thanksgiving. And while times, cultures and beliefs have changed since its humble beginnings, the original sentiment behind Thanksgiving has not...and neither has God. What I want to discuss is how every day should be Thanksgiving.
I’m not talking about expanding the existing holiday. Instead, I’m focusing on the meaning behind Thanksgiving: literally giving thanks to God for all the blessings He has bestowed on us throughout the year. It is wonderful that we have a special day to bring attention to this. But as Christians, shouldn’t we offer praise and thanks to Him daily?
I know holiday months are not a jolly time for everyone. Many face loneliness and depression while others are dealing with burdens, personal trials, illnesses, and even tragedies. We may feel alone. But we can be assured that we are not alone. The Lord is with us and He knows what we are going through. He helps us, even when we can’t see it. Our Savior did not promise we would never face challenges. He said He would go through them with us.
John 14: 18-21 (KJV) - "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."
John 14: 25-29 (KJV) - "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I."
Even if we are not going through hardships, I believe that we can still show gratitude every day to God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Certainly, we could give thanks for our yet-spared lives and the Divine Gift of Salvation. Jesus is our solution to every problem. He has promised to be with us, no matter what we’re going through. He loves us and understands us. All we have to do is call upon Him. If we think about it, we should have plenty to praise Him about on any given day.
And yet, it is easy to get distracted. Whether it’s our schedules, our kids’ schedules, work, entertainment (including the internet, which I tend to use too much), paying bills, having a social life, politics or any number of other things, these take our attention away from what’s important: our Salvation. It is personal, individual and priceless.
Hebrews 2: 1-4 (KJV) - "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?"
We don’t just have distractions; it’s also easy to complain. We all do it occasionally (sometimes more than occasionally). Things and people’s actions impede us from accomplishing whatever it is that we need or want to do. It’s irritating. And it’s so simple to blow off some steam by grumbling about what bugs us. But the Bible warns us against it.
1 Corinthians 10: 10-13 (KJV) - "Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
If we knew all the things that God, Jesus and the heavenly angels do to shield us from harm (and sometimes our own selves), we would realize that our complaints are actually a sign of being ungrateful. We should be more content with our lives. Things truly could be so much worse than they are. We serve a good and Holy God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
November may be the month which contains the holiday of Thanksgiving in America. But we have reasons to celebrate all year long.
In May 2018, I wrote a blog entry called Why Do I Believe In God? This is a follow-up to what I expressed then.
Being a Christian seems to mean different things to different people. Some people see it as good and others see it as bad, for a variety of reasons.
I’m just one man. I can’t possibly represent all people who call themselves Christian. I can only share myself with you. These are my feelings and views.
As a Christian, it is my nature to care about people — all people — regardless of race, gender, age, nationality, ability, belief system, sexual orientation, financial status, immigration status and any other qualifying factors. I don’t hate anyone. That all changed when I gave my life to Christ. I wasn’t a bigot before my conversion but I did hold grudges and there were individuals whom I hated. I left all that behind, the way I abandoned cursing, lying, manipulating, drinking alcohol and abusing illegal drugs.
I don’t judge any individual. That is not my responsibility nor do I desire to do so. But I can dislike any act or behavior, whether legal or illegal, that deliberately inflicts suffering and loss on self or others. In other words, I don’t like sin.
That said, I know I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years. I’ve unintentionally caused hurt and pain. When I’ve been made aware, I’ve tried to make amends, though I haven’t always succeeded. I’m always learning and trying to grow, both as a person and as a Christian.
Why did I write that just now? Because God didn’t make those mistakes. Jesus Christ did not make those mistakes. I did. I believe sometimes people blame God and Jesus for the shortcomings of fallible human beings. I think that's especially true for those who cause harm to others while hypocritically proclaiming their Christianity.
Jesus warned of this in Matthew 7: 13-20 (King James Version)
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Matthew 7: 21-23 (King James Version)
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
God does not change. His love is inexhaustible. He and Jesus exist outside time itself and can see and understand all things. They are not limited by people’s perceptions of them. They do not and will not fit into what people want them to be. They are who they are, regardless of who believes in Them.
So here’s why I’m proud to be a Christian. My life has dramatically changed since I accepted Christ in January 1996. My conscience was cleaned by the Holy Spirit.
I was given new purpose, hope and potential. I learned how to be a better husband, father, and person. My wife and I joined a Christian band called First Light, so I developed as a musician and singer (and so did she). The Lord altered the direction of the comics I was creating. And eventually, He sent me down the path to becoming a Christian fiction author.
I’m not ashamed of who I am and who I’ve become. I have a wonderful African-American wife. We cherish and love each other equally. We've been married since 1995 and have three children together. I have family in so many ways. I have friends all over the globe. I can write Christian fiction stories that people have started buying. It's very exciting!
I don’t have to be a millionaire to be rich. I am most content with all that I have. I am wealthy in love, peace, and joy.
I know this world is filled with an incalculable amount of sadness, heartache, bitterness, loss, and hate. People suffer every day, they are suffering right now, for so many reasons. People lose hope all the time.
But no matter what people are going through, there is an answer. Hope is out there, it can be renewed. And there can be peace, a love to see anyone through any ordeal. A love that surpasses limits and understanding. It may not stop the hurt, but it can give people strength to endure another minute, hour or day. It can offer stability where none exists.
That’s why I’m sharing this. I was compelled to write it. I know it can’t reach or please everyone; that’s impossible. But even if it helps one person in any way, then it’s worth it.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian, happily interracially married since 1995. Father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
The Allen Steadham Newsletter
Signup to get the latest news and updates.
Get a FREE short story just for subscribing below!
You have successfully joined our subscriber list.