Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Broken Cisterns - Ordering Info

Broken Cisterns is now available through Lulu.com. You can purchase a 6x9 physical copy for $12.99, or download the PDF file version for $5.99.

I hope you enjoy the book, and I look forward to any and all comments you might have!

Be blessed.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Broken Cisterns, the first copy

Finally, Broken Cisterns is here! Here are a couple of pictures of opening and looking through the very first hard copy. Easily one of the prettiest things I've seen all day. (Special thanks to the artists who helped make that prettiness possible!)

The information for ordering the book will be available in a couple of days. The pricing for a 6x9 physical copy will be $12.99, while a downloadable file will be $5.99. Save up your pennies! :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Research, Pt. 2





Tuesday, August 16, 2011


In the bright green and yellow fields
Where the lion had compassion on the lamb,
The children danced something new
To the sound of harps playing a song—
A song to which they all knew the words.
Truth played a melody that sang
Through the leaves on the trees,
Over the forest and into the valley
And through the mountains that were moved
To cry, 'Holy! Holy! Holy!'
Because the river of life quenched every thirst,
Bringing to bloom the tree and the fruit,
With the leaves singing harmony,
Healing every wound that a broken heart could endure.
And the children danced more.
They danced until they looked up with joyful faces,
Laughed, and said, "Father, let us dance a little longer!
Please, may we dance with you?"
And the answer—oh, the answer!—
Can it possibly be imagined?
Could it be heard with an eager ear?
Because the look on the children's faces
When they heard their father's approval,
Has never been witnessed before.
And so they danced and sang something new,
With the sound of their laughter flying.
And they were free.
They were brilliant.
They left behind the old paths of life,
Set sail for great beauty,
And found a powerful but familiar light.
They found that the light persisted,
Even as they danced,
Even as they sang,
Even as they laughed in their father's arms.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Research for my new book, Pt. 1

Broken Cisterns: The Book, and other, etc.

Well, the writing and revision process for my first book of short stories is complete. Now it's just a matter of formatting the book, publishing it, and letting whoever wants to buy it...do so. It's plenty exciting to be this close in the project to finishing.

Just for fun, here's a link to the Facebook page for the Broken Cisterns.

And beyond that, please let all of your friends and family know about the book, and if you're up to it, beg them to buy their own copy instead of letting them borrow yours. Even though I don't really believe in that kind of thing, because books ought to be an open source of knowledge and ideas, etc.... I'd still really appreciate it because, you know, it helps me out. You know, me...the poor college kid who is almost done with college kid and then will be a poor college graduate who will almost definitely need all the help he can get. *Tries most convincing smile*. :)

And hey, just for the fun of it, as I just realized I unintentionally referenced it:

Also--and because this is the formerly secret purpose for this post--now that Broken Cisterns is nearing completion, I have now begun "research" on my next book. This time it will be a novel. Exciting stuff. Look for behind the scenes footage of the "research" process, coming very, very, very soon. (Perhaps even by the time you get around to viewing this post.)

May Yahweh bless you all!
Jared Leys

....P.S. I just thought up this quote: "You see the dark circles under my eyes? They are caused by staying up half the night reading quotes by famous men, both Atheists and Christians alike. And instead of finding a list of answers, I only discovered a list of questions." What do you think? A little long, maybe... but a true story.

P.P.S. Not very suprisingly, C.S. Lewis was the winner of the quote debate. Well...actually, no...because, see....

P.P.P.S. Nevermind, I'll explain later....

In the Great Field at Mount Holyoke, Under a Dome of Stars by Greg Rappleye

This is one of my favorite poems, so I figured I would upload it.

(Click on image to enlarge.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Let's write a blog, shall we?

In the absence of a proper job, and having the self-imposed job of writing a book, I find myself with plenty of time or free thinking. I've had the opportunity to think about life, love, and all that is pre-shrunk and cottony. (Congratulation to you, if you got that reference.) Lately, for whatever reason, my mind has turned to some of the deeper considerations concerning human experience and the relationship with our Creator.

The other day, I read the following quote by C. S. Lewis: "You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body." Take that quote as you will, but it got me to thinking about what it means to be here on this earth and in this time. I find myself asking questions about who I am, what I am, where I come from, and what it means to be alive. With just one life to live, what do I live for? With only one life to give, whom do I serve? Am I living life as if there is something beautiful waiting for me on other side? Am I living life as if the life I have right now is worth living? In all of these things, I am well aware that I am without a complete answer.

The simplest answer I can come up with is to choose, above all, life. A few years ago, I came up with a saying which goes, "What is the point of life? To live." It still bothers me to know that Buddha or some such bloke came up with the idea first, even though I thought it up quite independently, but more importantly than that, I find that I must question whether I live up to my own saying. Yahweh gave us life. He gave me life. And on top of it all, he sacrificed his own son so that even if I deserve death, I can and may still live. Who am I to deny any of that?

And if that is the basis for what I believe in, then what other basics can I confidently tell to the world? Well, I believe that Yahweh created the entire world, all of the stars and galaxies and beyond, and all of life. I believe that his son Yahshua came to this earth and gave his life for mine. And I believe that with the sacrifice and subsequent resurrection of Yahshua, we have been granted a possibly incomprehensible freedom. In this freedom, in the willing service to my Creator, I may find the fullness of life.

But what does this fullness of life entail? That is a question to which I may not have such a confident answer. I have been presented with many ideas in my life, but none of them stick very much other than to allow my Heavenly Father to guide the freedom of my life. But at the same time, I worry that I may get lost in the simplicity of that statement. I am concerned that if I simply say, "Father, take my life and do with it as you will," then--even with as vital as this statement is!--I may quickly find myself staring at a life full of a lot of faith but with little accomplishment for the Kingdom of Heaven, the new home I look forward to inhabiting some day. Indeed, my freedom comes with a responsibility. I can have faith all day long, but faith alone can be worthless. As the scripture says, "You believe that Yahweh is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!" (Jam. 2:19). Surely I am better than that. In fact, I know I am. So then, what is the proof of my faith?

Some say that faith is proven through obedience. There is undoubtedly merit in this answer. Some say this obedience is proven through keeping the torah of Yahweh, his instructions, and with this I must agree. There is immense value in keeping the ordinances of our Creator, the things he has had written down in the scriptures for us to read throughout the ages. These are the things I believe in. But when these things become the end-all of my faith, then I know my faith and my freedom is failing. The keeping of the written law is never the greatest fulfillment of my faith. And to be told it must be done, it is religion. And as religion, what can we say but what James has also told us? "If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our Elohim and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world" (Jam. 1:26-27). If you tell me what to do, know that you have given me religious practice. If you tell me how to believe, know that I may have listened to you, but that is not between you and I, that is between me and my Father. (And as a side note, I hope that none of my words cause any unnecessary conflict...I just hope I'm being honest.)

So with all of that swirling through my head, I must admit that I feel very little need to defend my faith. In defense of my religion, I may have a word or two of my human insecurity, but that is to be expected. When someone questions why I believe, I pray that I have enough confidence and enough unity of spirit to share with them any or all evidence I have been given, knowing full well that their belief is a question of their relationship with their Creator, which is not directly a part of any relationship I share.

I have my doubts, I am a confused soul at times, and perhaps that is why I desire for faith to be built upon things that are sure, and not things that need to be proven. I just pray that my Father has mercy on me as I contend with this flesh which both aids me and betrays me.

I want my life to be built upon the grace and love of our Master and Savior, our High Priest and King, our brother and friend, Yahshua the Messiah. Perhaps some day I will be able to see love and practice love just as he did. In that day, even as today, I will know that I am an abundantly blessed individual.

And of course, that brings us to the point where I talk about love. It's such an interesting thing, this concept of love. It goes between here and there, and between everything and everyone in some way, and yet what it exactly is, we all have trouble saying. I believe that the strongest physical example of love in this world is between that of a husband and wife. There is no stronger bond that literally represents our relationship with Yahshua and with our Creator. That's a discussion for another time, but it sure gives me the opportunity to think, Well then, why don't I just go ahead and get married? That's a good question, and lots of people I know have opinions on the matter. The conversation might go...

Them: "You really have to wait and let Yahweh bring the right person into your life."
Me: "Yes. Yes, I suppose so; I know you're right."


Them: "How are things going on with you and your girl?"
Me: "Uh...well...that kinda ended a few weeks ago, so...."
Them: "Ah, I'm sorry. Well, you'll find the right one soon enough."
Me: "Yeah."

or my personal favorite,

Them: "I just looked on your facebook page; it still says you're single. What's taking so long?"
Me: "I guess I just haven't gotten around to it yet."
Them: "Ah, well.......no rush."
Me: "No, I suppose not."

And while I write these conversations here for amusement, I nonetheless appreciate them and know they all come from a good place. Clearly, most everyone I know understands, at least on some basic, instinctive level, that the love of marriage is something to be cherished. It is something beautiful. It is something, unless we are called to something greater, that is the epitome of love in our lives. And so I wrestle with this idea of love, both amused and frustrated that we must play the games of romantic love in order to obtain truer love--all the while considering the verse and the man who said, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." What great love this man had, that he was willing to die daily so that all men, women and children in the world could have the opportunity to call him friend.

Love. If only I had such faith.

Earlier I mentioned that I am writing a book. This book, full of short, ficitonal stories, is largely based on the phrase, "Broken Cisterns", which is also the title of the book. The story for which the book is named is one that I wrote a couple of years ago. At the time, I was contemplating thoughts of life and love, what it means to be broken and what it means to be healed, and how we are both capable and incapable of dealing with a life that does not always make sense. Indeed, I must have had quite the similar mindset that I do as I am writing this. The concept of 'broken cisterns' comes from Jeremiah 2:13, which says, "For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water." It also comes from a song I was listening to at the time by Jon Foreman, called "The Cure for Pain", the opening verse of which says, "I'm not sure why it always flows downhill/ Why broken cisterns never could stay filled/ I've spent ten years singing gravity away/ But the water keeps on falling from the sky." My story about broken cisterns is just another example of the struggle found in both of those quotes.

The story is about a young man who has written a letter to a young woman he loves, and yet finds himself inpatient and insecure when a reply letter is long in coming. All he is looking for is something soothing in this hurt and burning world, and yet with hope fading, he feels that he must turn to other means to fulfill his calling to live a life worthy of service to the King of heaven and earth. So he starts a bible school, which is successful for a time. But as with anything man-made, it is just a broken cistern that can hold no water without the mercy of Yahweh, and indeed, the dilemma is increased, as the mercy of Yahweh is that very water which trickles through the cracks.

And so what do we do? In life, we continually make for ourselves things that we know will not last. We face pain and search for ways to chase it away, cry out to heaven for something--anything!--to heal what we cannot heal ourselves. And so we try, day in and day out, to make for ourselves methods to overcome the pain when the pain continues.

We cannot escape the pain until we understand that it is just our dark, short-sighted resistance to the compassion of our Savior, who joined us in our pain and suffered with us, and continues to suffer with us. If only I had enough faith to not run away when he holds out a helping hand.... If only I had enough faith to take his hand and find freedom from everything I hate.... If only I had enough faith to love as he has shown us how to love....

But I do have enough faith, if only I believe.