Feb 24, 2010

The Chimes - Sneak Preview

The chimes on the clock tower clanged three times and stopped. Wind rustled the barren branches of the cottonwood outside the window. An old clock ticked in the hallway. Nora thought she heard voices outside and realized it was only joggers passing by the front gate. Passing by, never stopping.


Air came in ragged gasps as Jenna checked her heart rate monitor and slowed her jog to a walk.

Bryce glanced at her. “Getting tired?”

“Nope. I just like looking at this house.” She motioned to the Victorian architecture. “I imagine the brick must get cold in the winter, but I can’t help loving it.”

“You do realize that this ‘house’ probably has at least seven bedrooms, right?” Hands on hips, he frowned at her. “We can’t afford something this big.”

Jenna shrugged. “I just wonder sometimes about the people who live inside. It looks so lonely.” She peered through the iron bars of the gate. “A huge yard like that should be filled with children climbing up the trees, garden parties, or at least a dog. I never see anyone outside – only that old Chevy parked in the garage. And the same light turns on every night at eight o’clock.”

Tugging at his water bottle, his frown deepened. “You sound like a Peeping Tom. People get arrested for knowing stuff like that about other people’s homes.”

“Just because I know what time the light comes on in a house across the street from our apartment does not make me a creep.” She took one last look at the house. “We’ve lived here for a year and have never met our neighbors. I just sometimes wonder when we became so solitary.”

Bryce rolled his eyes. “If you’re so concerned about our social life, why don’t you go and introduce yourself?”

Jenna could feel her muscles starting to cool. “Come on. We need to finish this last mile before dinner.”


Stay tuned for the conclusion of "The Chimes" - coming soon!

(c) 2010 Erica M. Holle. All Rights Reserved.

Feb 22, 2010

Comfort Zone Wars - Article

My life has been a series of waiting: waiting to grow up, waiting to go to college, waiting to get married, waiting to have children, waiting to discover God’s plan for my life . . . Oftentimes, I have felt like Moses and the Israelites as they wandered through the Desert, waiting for God to lead them to the Promised Land. I felt a little cheated at times, since the Israelites at least knew where God was taking them, whereas I had no idea what God was doing with my life. I simply wanted to know where God was leading me – and all the steps involved in getting there.

Everyone who knows me will tell you that I hate change. I am the type of person who will always use the same stall in the same restroom just because I know exactly how the door latches and that I don’t have to jiggle the toilet handle to make it flush. I always order the same item off the menu at restaurants because I know how it will taste. I take the same route to work every day because I know exactly how many minutes I will be driving, in spite of the fact that other routes may be shorter. You will never see me bungee jumping or sky diving.

Allow me to fill you in on a little secret: God does not operate within the walls of our comfort zones. In fact, He breaks them into tiny pieces until it forces us to step outside the boundaries and discover new territory.

This concept is something with which I have always struggled. I find myself making excuses like, “I’ll wait to pursue my dreams until my life settles down a little bit” or “I’m just not sure where God wants me to minister.” I essentially put my life on hold until I reach whatever goal I am working on at the time. It seems safer to live that way. I keep telling myself that I will be able to make new friends, pursue my dreams, and live life once all of my goals are reached and God tells me where He is leading me. I found verses like Psalms 27:14 that seem to validate my theory on waiting: “Wait on the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”

Recently, I was reading through Deuteronomy as the Israelites journeyed through the desert. As I read, one verse caught my attention. “Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north.’” [Deut. 2:2-3] I felt God tugging at my heart as I read, telling me that I had been waiting to use the gifts He gave me long enough, and it was time for me to get on my feet and ‘turn north.’

As I read through the passage and tried to convince God that staying in my comfort zone was safer, He responded with: “The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.” [Deut. 2:7]

It was difficult, but in the end I allowed God to lead me out of my comfort zone and discover new territory. I still don’t know exactly where God is leading me, but I do know that He will be with me all the way. I think sometimes that’s all God wants of us: trust.

(c) 2009 Erica M. Holle. All rights reserved.
For more information about this article and others, please email erica.holle@hotmail.com.

No Place Like Home - Short Story Preview

The roof of the old farmhouse was going to collapse at any minute— it was bound to happen. It must happen.

Penelope “Penny” Brewster stood outside her grandparents’ farmhouse, battered suitcase in hand, staring at the gray jumble of boards that must have resembled a house at one time, but now merely looked like someone’s idea of a joke. The once-yellow siding had faded beyond recognition. One side was painted bright red, as if someone had become bored before they finished. The shingled roof had been patched over with boards and tar paper so many times it looked like a child’s playroom scattered with toys.

Frozen in the same spot she had been standing since she stepped out of the cab a few moments before, Penny gaped at the house in disbelief. Surely her parents didn’t actually mean for her to spend Christmas here. The house looked like a prop from a horror movie!

She glanced at the rest of farmyard. A dilapidated building that might possibly have been a barn leaned a few yards from the house, its sagging roof shaped into a strange half-smile. Rusted trucks and cars sprawled over the field with a blanket of snow covering them. It looked as if they had become too tired to run anymore, and decided to take a long nap for the winter.

Penny shook her head, taking a few steps backward.

There was absolutely no way her parents could make her spend a whole week here just so they could have a holiday in the Bahamas. It was bad enough they had shipped her off to crazy Aunt Roberta last year for New Years, but this? This was so much worse.

“I’ll bet they don’t even have indoor plumbing,” muttered Penny under her breath. Realizing too late she had spoken out loud, she turned toward the road, determined to hitchhike all the way back to New York.

“Penelope?” The screen door creaked open, protesting its old hinges. “Is that you, child?”

Briefly eyeing the road for any signs of a passing bus, Penny sighed and slowly turned around.


Herman Brewster sat in his old armchair, nervously tapping his feet on the yellowed linoleum floor. Granddaddy of hammers, it was taking Peaches a long time to bring his grandson inside. Not that Herman could see him once he was inside. His eyes had failed him years ago.

He automatically pulled his pocket-watch out of his vest pocket, and then hastily shoved it back in its compartment, remembering that he couldn’t see the time anyway.

Straightening his Sunday tie, he wondered if Peaches had remembered to check his socks before she cooked breakfast this morning. He’d had several experiences lately where he had gone out in public wearing mismatched socks, and hadn’t found out about it until later.

His alert ears caught the sound of the screen door closing. “Peaches, is that you?” he called, tweaking his white mustache to make sure the ends were curled properly. It simply wouldn’t do to have a crooked mustache on his first meeting with his grandson.

“I’m here, Herman.” A dim form moved to stand in front of him.

“Peaches?” asked another female voice. “I thought your name was Geraldine.”

Herman could hear the grin in his wife’s voice when she explained, “Well, it is. But you see, when we were first introduced, it was at the church picnic and there was noise from the kids playing in the creek, and the three-legged race . . . .” Her voice drifted off, before she caught herself and blinked rapidly. “Anyway, Herman misunderstood the preacher when he introduced us, and thought he’d said my name was Georgia.”

She laughed at the memory. “It took me the longest time to figure out why he kept calling me Peaches. Somehow, though, it kinda stuck.”

Herman tugged at Geraldine’s apron impatiently. “Well, where is he, woman?” he demanded. “Where’s my grandson?”

“Now, Herman,” began Geraldine with exasperation. Herman could almost picture her wrinkled hands going to her hips in the familiar stance she always took whenever they were having an argument. “I told you Penelope was our granddaughter—not our grandson. Now stop saying that – you’re scaring the poor child half to death.”

Herman rolled his eyes. “You said we were going to have our grandson spend the holidays with us. I distinctly remember you saying that.”

“I did not,” she argued, the fire coming into her voice now. “But we’ll just forget about it, because Penelope is here now, and you haven’t even met her yet.”

Herman sulked for a moment. It was bad enough to be nearly blind, but for Peaches to start losing her memory was much worse.

“Hello…Grandpa,” said the young voice, hesitating.

His face brightened. He hadn’t heard himself called by that name in a long while. “Well, howdy, Granddaughter,” Herman beamed, holding out his hand. “It surely is nice to meet you after all these years. How old are you now? Nine? Ten?”

“I’m fifteen.” She sounded slightly offended.


There was a moment’s silence.

Herman wondered what to say next. Maybe he should give her a hug. But then, he couldn’t see her to hug her, so that probably wouldn’t work. And what in the world was that strange burning odor coming from the oven?

“Shouldn’t you check on that pie, Peaches?” he asked hesitantly. “It smells kind of burnt.”

“Land sakes,” she cried. “I forgot all about it!”

Herman waited for the girl to say something after Peaches trotted off to see if the pie could be salvaged, but she just sat down on the chair across from him and was silent.

He sighed. This was going to be a long week.

(c) Erica Holle, 2005. All rights reserved.
Written for Young Adults, ages 8-12
For more information about this story and others, please email erica.holle@hotmail.com.

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