A Season

I absolutely adore the spring time in northern Virginia. As a Texas girl, I didn’t grow up seeing an abundance of flowers. I seriously don’t know if I was aware of the change in seasons until I moved away. After all, Texas has two seasons: hot and cold.

However, Virginia has them all and it’s truly an amazing thing. I’m reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:1, every time the changes begin.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…”

There is a purpose to spring. As we watch the flowers bud and then bloom, I’m reminded that the dreary, dormant state of winter is gone. That God is working and something new is appearing.

I can’t help but correlate it to my writing. God gives me a seed, it gets planted, watered, and eventually it blooms. The process starts every single time I start a new book.

And when I read and hold another author’s finished product, I wonder what they went through to get it in my hands. What season did God work in them through the writing process? What did He break down? Build up?

Because even if some just see a book, I see the sweat, tears, and labor of love that went into it. I know that the author learned something just as surely as I will learn something reading it.

Reading is a gift just like Spring. So this season, I look forward to the blooming flowers and the gift of reading.


Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of ACFW and the president of the Virginia chapter. You can find her on her website.

Flash Fiction: A Dream by Toni Shiloh

martin-luther-king-jr-2028448_640Penny stared down at her patent leather Mary Jane shoes. They were shined up bright, gleaming blacker than the pavement. Her white socks rose above her ankles. Mama had used bleach to make sure they would gleam in the sunlight. Her blue-and-white plaid dress was starched, fanning out at the knees. Even though it wasn’t Sunday, she had her best outfit on.

Mama said she had to look nice because they were going to hear Doctor King speak. She wasn’t so sure how he could be a doctor and a king. Mama had laughed when she asked her. Said his name was King and he was a doctor.

He had to be a very special doctor. Whenever he spoke, all the grownups would gather around the television afraid to miss one single word. She didn’t know anything could be better than cartoons. Her brother Johnny called her stupid and said lots of things were better than cartoons.

Mama said to pay him no mind because teenagers were odd, whatever that meant.

“Penny! Johnny! Time to leave.”

Penny took one last look at her outfit and walked out of her room. Johnny came out at the same time. He had on a tie. She giggled.

“What’s so funny?”

“You look like Daddy.”

He puffed up his chest. “That’s cuz I’m a man. You don’t no nothing.”

“Johnny, that’s no way to talk to your sister.”

Johnny frowned at Daddy’s words. I gave him a hug. Johnny called me a daddy’s girl. He always said it mean like, but I don’t know why. He was my daddy and I was a girl. Why wouldn’t I be his?

We walked down the sidewalk. Lots of people were out, all dressed up like we were. Daddy smiled at Mama happy we were all going to see Doctor King. Daddy said history was being made and one day, we’d be proud to say we heard him speak. Johnny smiled at Daddy, like he knew something I didn’t. Sometimes I wished I was older.

When we got there I was surprised to see how many people were there. I thought it would be a lot of people from out neighborhood, but it looked like the whole wide world came outside that day. We weren’t really close but Daddy said Doctor King would use a microphone.

The principal used that on assembly days. Finally, something I understood. Daddy put me on his shoulders so I could see. I stuck my tongue out at Johnny. He was too big to sit on Daddy’s shoulders and kept jumping up trying to see. He stuck his tongue out right back. I covered my mouth, trying to hide my giggle.

There was silence and then I heard him speak. I would know his voice anywhere. Like I said, the grownups were always listening to him on the television. But there was something different in his voice today. It rose up and down, kind of like the swing does when you’re high up and low down.

I leaned forward, gripping Daddy’s head. I wanted to get closer. Hear what he had to say. He was talking about freedoms. About all of us being friends. I nodded and noticed everyone else doing the same. They were probably tired of getting spit on like me. Some of those white kids sure were mean. It was the only time Johnny was nice to me and he would even defend me.

I wonder if his dream came true, would I be able to go anywhere I want. Sometimes I wished we could sit closer to the screen in the movie theater. Daddy always said we had to sit up top.

His speech seemed to last awhile, but everyone clapped and cheered when it was over. I even saw some white people there. They must be the nice ones. When we got home, Daddy and Mama couldn’t stop smiling. Everyone seemed so happy. I knew Doctor King was a special kind of doctor.

***

doctormartinlutherkingjr“Grandma, why are you crying?”

Penny looked down at her granddaughter. “Doctor King was a special man, Penelope. I got to see him when I was around your age.”

“He was a real person? Why they make him into a statue?”

Penny looked at the white marble statue of Doctor King. Faces of all ethnicities snapped photos of the monument in their nation’s capital. She looked at the granddaughter named after her. “Well, Penelope, he was a great man. Wanted all people to have the same freedoms. Get the same education regardless of their color.”

“Ohhh,” she intoned. “We have lots of kids in my class that are different colors, Grandma. Is that what you mean?”

“That’s exactly what I mean.”

She stared at the statue once more. Daddy always told her they witnessed history. Funny how clear things became once you hit a certain age. Never in a million years would she have imagined having a Black man in the White House and a statue of Doctor King in the same city. Guess some dreams come true.


toniToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of ACFW and the president of the Virginia chapter. You can find her on her website.

September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month

One thing I love about God is that He can use all things for good. It seems like a platitude at times, but when you’ve been in a situation where bad has happened and you’ve seen firsthand the good that comes from it…you can’t help but praise Him.

When I was pregnant with my youngest son, I was overjoyed with happiness. I couldn’t wait to see how he would look. What his personality would be like. But then I had an invent…a “threatened miscarriage” is what the doctor termed it.

I tell you blood is never a welcome sight when you’re pregnant. But through tears and prayers my little one was born a couple of weeks before his due date. 10 fingers. 10 toes. Beautiful and healthy.

That is until our pediatrician called to inform us he has hemoglobin SC, a milder version of sickle cell. I felt punched in the gut. Although I always knew I had sickle cell trait, I failed to realize my husband had the hemoglobin c trait.

Nevertheless, I was intent on not worrying. To cross the bridge if we ever had to deal with sickle cell complications. After all, the doctor said it was a milder version.

My little one is 6 now and has a nice sized medical folder of sickle cell complications. At 21 months, he had his first spleen sequestration (red blood cells get trapped, spleen swells). He was in a tremendous amount of pain. Was given morphine and a blood transfusion. All before he turned 2. This happened on Mother’s Day and he left the ICU 4 days later.

Fast forward to the winter he was two. He visited the ER every month for a pain crisis in his leg. We’ve also had overnight stays to monitor his breathing (trying to prevent acute chest syndrome). Swelling in his arm, which was accompanied by pain crisis in arm. And a few months ago for the removal of his spleen.

It reminds me of the Scripture:

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” – 2 Corinthians 2:3-4.

That’s the good that comes from his disease. It’s made me more compassionate to others. I no longer assume everyone has it easy, but remind myself that they may be going through their own trials. And for those who are worried over their children’s health…I’m able to offer comfort. The same comfort that has seen me through ER visits, hospital stays, and watching my son in pain.

Better yet, my son believes that God listens to his prayers. He’s quick to pray for healing until it happens. He doesn’t question the timing, simply continues to pray until the hurt goes away.

Have you gone through a trial that has allowed you to offer comfort to others?

*If you wish to find out more about sickle cell, hop on over to SCDAA’s site http://www.sicklecelldisease.org/about/sickle-cell- 101/


toni

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Before pursuing her dream as a writer,
Toni served in the United States Air Force. It was there she met her husband. After countless moves, they ended up in Virginia, where they are raising their two boys.

When she’s not typing in imagination land, Toni enjoys reading, playing video games, making jewelry, and spending time with
her family.

Attributes of a Father by Toni Shiloh

Father’s Day is a joyous occasion. It’s a time to recognize Dads and all they’ve done for their children. Whether those Dads are birth fathers, adopted, mentors, etc. It’s also a time that I like to reflect on our Heavenly Father. He’s the perfect example for earthly dads to imitate and the One all can look up to.

In Ezekiel 34: 15-16, it reads, “I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice” (NIV).

Such a beautiful Scripture to describe our Heavenly Father. He tends to us, providing our every need. He provides rest and a place to lie our heads. He searches for the lost. what a promise this is! But even better are the following, “bring back the strays.” Our Heavenly Father will not leave us where He found us. No, He will restore us and bring us back to the fold. Where we belong, under the security of His watch.

He heals our wounds.

Gives us strength.

And will not let anyone have victory over us.

Our Heavenly Father is the best father. One we all can imitate as we shepherd over the responsibilities He has given us. So today, Dads, wherever you may be, may you look to the One who leads by example.

May He bless you with the attributes necessary to love your children on earth. May you provide for your children, allowing them to rest in your arms, and always let them know they have a home with you, wherever they are.

Happy Father’s Day.


toni

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Before pursuing her dream as a writer,
Toni served in the United States Air Force. It was there she met her husband. After countless moves, they ended up in Virginia, where they are raising their two boys.

When she’s not typing in imagination land, Toni enjoys reading, playing video games, making jewelry, and spending time with
her family.

Memorial Day, Flash Fiction by Toni Shiloh

He stared at the flag shadowbox. Today was the day. The day his mom would take down the shadowbox and tell him of its importance. It represented freedom. Freedom from oppression. Freedom from dictatorships. Freedom to follow your heart and achieve success.

But more than that, it represented all his father had died for.

He glanced down the hall. It was still dark. His mother was probably still sleeping. Would she get upset if he woke her? Maybe he should watch more tv instead. His foot tapped impatiently. No, he would take his chances. If his mom was upset, he would just have to deal with it. He wanted to hear the stories now. Hear about how brave his dad was.

Carefully, he placed his foot on the ledge of the bottom shelf. If he was careful, he could climb on top of the bookshelf and not fall. From there, he would maintain his balance on his bare feet as he reached for the shadowbox.

After a few tense moments, the bookshelf stopped wobbling and he held the shadowbox safely in his arms. He knew he wasn’t supposed to climb the shelf, but his mother would sleep the day away if he didn’t wake her soon.

Why did girl grownups always take so long to wake up? His Grandpa Jake woke in time to see the sunrise. It was supposed to be quiet time, but he could never maintain silence very long. There was just too much to ask about.

The colors. The noises in the air. Even the smells.

He padded down the hall praying his mom wouldn’t be angry when he woke her. Her job as a nurse was a very important one. It helped put food on the table. He wasn’t sure how since she never bought food from the hospital. All he knew was she said it gave her money to buy food.

He supposed it was a good thing, but he wished he had more time to play with his mom. She was always busy. Thank goodness Gran still played with him. They lived in the old farmhouse with his Gran and Grandpa Jake. His mom said it was because his dad died.

Mom said the military had needed him. Needed him to stand century…no that wasn’t the right word. He shrugged. It didn’t matter what the grownup word was. He’d seen the pictures of his dad in uniform holding a gun with sunglasses shading his face.

He pushed against the door softly, careful not to drop the shadowbox. He stopped on his mom’s side of the bed. He wasn’t sure why she needed such a big bed. Maybe it was for when he was sick. She always left a spot for him. She’d rub his hair and back and let him watch cartoons until he was all better.

It was awful being sick, but it was nice watching cartoons. Before he could wake her up, she opened her eyes, then gasped.

“Jay Three, what are you doing awake already?”

He grinned. She said that every day when he woke her. Jay Three wasn’t his full name but a nickname. He was a third. His mom told him that mean his grandpa, his dad, and him all shared a name. So she called him Jay Three.

He held up the shadowbox.

“Oh, son, did you climb that bookshelf again?”

“Sorry, Ma. I just couldn’t wait any longer.”

She patted the bed and he dove in, hitting her legs.

“Jay Three!”

“Sorry, Ma.” He wiggled under the covers.

His ma ran her hand over the shadowbox. “You know the importance of this box, Jay Three?”

“Yes, ma’am. It means freedom.”

“It sure does, sweet boy. And why do we have one?”

“Cuz Dad died fighting for freedom.”

She ran a hand over his hair and he snuggled deeper. “That’s right. He followed in the footsteps of his dad, his grandpa. As far as the Miller men know, there’s been a Miller man every generation to fight for freedom.”

He wanted to ask her if he could fight too, but last time he asked, she cried. Cried so hard he had to get Gran. It took an awful long time for her to step, but when she did, she gave him a sad smile and the tightest hug ever. He didn’t complain because she gave tight hugs whenever she cried.

“Well your daddy enlisted in the Army to fight for freedom.”

“Where did he go again, Ma?”

“Afghanistan.”

He nodded, but he didn’t know where that was. It reminded him of a blanket but his mom said it wasn’t the same thing.

“And he fought the bad guys, right, Ma?”

“That’s right, Jay Three.”

“I wish I could have met him before he died.”

“Oh, baby, so do I. He used to tell me all the time, being a dad was the best thing ever.”

“Better than being a soldier?” He always asked just to hear the answer.

“Better than being a soldier.” She squeezed his arm. “And do you know why today’s special?”

“Yes, ma’am. Cuz we ‘member all the soldiers that died.”

“Not just soldiers, but Airmen, Seamen, and Marines.”

“But soldiers are the best, right Ma?”

“Depends on who you ask.” She laughed.

She told story after story. Then She opened the picture box. It had pictures of his mom and dad at their wedding. There were some of his dad when he was young. But the best one was when his dad kissed his mom’s big belly. His mom said they took the picture the day he left for that blanket place. It was the last time his baby ears heard his dad’s voice.

He liked to imagine he could hear his dad, but instead all he had was the shadowbox and picture box and Memorial Day. Always Memorial Day. To sit and talk about how brave his dad was. It was the best day ever as far as he was concerned.


toni

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Before pursuing her dream as a writer,
Toni served in the United States Air Force. It was there she met her husband. After countless moves, they ended up in Virginia, where they are raising their two boys.

When she’s not typing in imagination land, Toni enjoys reading, playing video games, making jewelry, and spending time with
her family.

God’s Best Gift, by Toni Shiloh

On Mother’s Day, the focus is always on the mom. Commercials advertise flowers, chocolates,homemaking tools, and other things that the mother needs or wants. Mothers get accolades, phone calls, and gifts from the ones they love. They’re herald as superwoman, strong, and resourceful.But as important as mothers are that is not my focus in this post. Instead, I want to focus on the children. The reason there is a Mother’s Day.

Without children the title of mother would not exist. It is the children that inspire us (all women) to mother. To nourish, cherish, and love with our whole heart. To put someone’s needs above our own. To encourage and act in the patience that only mothers have. It is the presence of children that gift us the title of mother, mom, mommy. Whether we are birthmothers, adoptive mothers, step mothers, mentor mothers is of no consequence. All the child cares about is the love and affection they receive.

Psalm 127:3 tells us that “children are a heritage of the Lord” (KJV) or as The Message translates, “God’s best gift.” Being a mother is a gift from God. A blessing. Having the responsibility over a little one is no small feat. It can be daunting, stressful, and full of heartache. But one smile, one hug, one compliment from a child and all the negatives fade away. All you can see is your heart connect to theirs.

It’s in those moments that we are offered a smidgen of feeling that God must feel for us. We understand the sacrifices He has made. The grace and forgiveness He offers because we are willing to do the same for our children.

So this Mother’s day, please take a time to love on the children who make this day possible. And whether you’re a birth mother, adoptive mother, step mother, guardian, or mentor I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day.


toniToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Before pursuing her dream as a writer, Toni served in the United States Air Force. It was there she met her husband. After countless moves, they ended up in Virginia, where they are raising their two boys.

When she’s not typing in imagination land, Toni enjoys reading, playing video games, making jewelry, and spending time with
her family.

Child of the Heart — Flash Fiction by Toni Shiloh

Jennifer stared at the crib. A giraffe stood guard, leaning against the back corner of the crib. The empty crib. It had taken her three weeks to ready the room. The walls had been painted a pale yellow accented with a star wallpaper banner. It went with the sheets, pale yellow with stars all over it. The rocking chair situated in front of the window was empty. Waiting to welcome the weight of mother and child.

She shivered as doubt and worry swirled around her. Was she going crazy? Her mother and sister certainly thought so. She hadn’t planned on telling them about the nursery, but a surprise visit had let the cat out of the bag. Now they were probably at home planning an intervention for her. It wasn’t everyday an un-pregnant woman turned an empty room into a nursery.

But didn’t she hear His voice? Hadn’t He told her to ready the room? Wasn’t that the voice of God? She wiped at an errant tear. Didn’t the Word say, “My sheep hear my voice?” Maybe it was mistaken. No, of course not. Maybe she truly was crazy. Maybe the multiple miscarriages, infertility treatments, and general pokes and prodding had taken their toll. Maybe she was slipping away from reality. Her mother had cautioned her not to get her hopes up with adoption. Her sister told her to be content without children. But what did she know? She spat out kid after kid without working up a sweat.

Each and every time her sister wanted another child, she had one. It was crushing in its unfairness. But instead of letting the green-eyed monster rule her heart, she embraced the role of Yet one quiet moment with God had turned her world upside down. Had convinced her that God was about to grant her heart’s desire of motherhood. She heard His voice.

Didn’t she?

She shifted from foot to foot, trying to prevent them from going numb. What time was it? How long had she been standing there longing for a little one to settle in the ebony crib? Even the changing table seemed lonely. As if it knew it wasn’t able to perform its duties.

With a groan, she whirled away from the door. Ben would be home any moment. She couldn’t let the day pass the same as yesterday. He had been horrified to find out she had stared at the empty room all day. It was a miracle he had agreed to let her furnish it in the first place. She couldn’t let her obsession cause him to doubt her too.

At least she had started the crockpot. The aroma of cooked chicken in salsa greeted her as she entered the kitchen. Grabbing some plates, she began to prepare for dinner. Thankfully, her sister had left homemade tortillas when she came over earlier. They would be the perfect complement for the chicken. She took out sour cream, guacamole, cheese, tomatoes, and the rest of the fixings. Her mind operated on auto pilot, remembering the condiments she and Ben loved to top their chicken tortillas with.

A quick glance at the wall clock had her wondering if she had time to go back to the nursery before Ben came home. Ten minutes before he came home. She could be up and down again before he crossed the threshold. But what if she wasn’t? Pity had filled his warm brown eyes yesterday when he found her in front of the nursery. In fact, she had been startled by his presence, lost in her own thoughts. If she didn’t lose focus, five more minutes in the nursery was possible.

Bolstered by the thought, she headed back up the stairs. She paused at the threshold, wondering if she should go in. Maybe it wouldn’t look so lonely if she took up residence in the rocking chair.

No, she thought with a shake of her head. She had promised not to enter the room again until she held a little one in her arms. Until she was a mother. Standing there, she took in the extra details she had added. The star covered night light. The wipe warmer to keep little tushies warm. The star mobile hanging from the ceiling over the crib. Wouldn’t her child enjoy it? She had names ready to go. Abigail if it was a girl and Sebastian if it was a boy. It really didn’t matter if the baby was boy or girl, as long as the baby would be hers. Hers and Ben. A Jennings by love and later by court decree.

A honk of a horn startled her out of her reverie. With a quick glance at her watch, she grimaced. She’d been up there for ten minutes. Was it Ben who had honked? Hurrying down the stairs, she smoother her hands over her hair, hoping there would be no
flying strands to suggest she’d been upstairs and down in a hurry. She grabbed the doorknob and forced a grin on her face.

She’d show him she was fine. That she had done more than stare at the nursery like a woman slowly slipping from reality. With a deep breath, she opened the door…and froze.

“There’s Mommy.”

She gasped for air, stunned by the sight of Ben holding an infant wrapped in a blue blanket.

Her husband’s grin took over his face and love shined from his eyes. “Karen called me yesterday with the news. I wanted it to be a surprised.”

“He’s ours?” Her voice quivered.

“He’s ours. Mommy meet Sebastian Jennings, the child of our heart.”


toniToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Before pursuing her dream as a writer,
Toni served in the United States Air Force. It was there she met her husband. After countless moves, they ended up in Virginia, where they are raising their two boys.

When she’s not typing in imagination land, Toni enjoys reading, playing video games, ​making jewelry, and spending time with
​her family.