Category Archives: Writing

After Three Days

It’s not often I get inspired to write a fictional story, but when I read through the gospel of Luke and came across the passage below, a story jumped out at me, begging to be written. Sometimes the Bible can be very unemotional–it was written by men. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the characters in the Bible were real people with real emotions, doubts, fears and questions. My hope in writing this short story is to connect emotion to the characters and situation so we may experience a deeper connection to an age old passage, and feel closer to Christ.

“After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts” Luke 2:43-46

After Three Days

She pointed to the sky. The clouds bled red and orange, edges trimmed in gold like the temple dome we left behind this morning. The beauty of God’s creation was never lost on Adinah’s five-year-old mind. I nodded and smiled. Our caravan made good time for the day, but it would be time to stop for the night soon. Thoughts of dinner preparations and settling the children for the night, drained my last stores of energy. I glanced behind me to find Yosef, but I could only see the line of mules waddling under their heavy loads and the throng of my beloved family and friends, seventy in all, who made the trip for the Passover this year.

Turning back to the painted sky, I replayed the last week in my mind, filing away the memories as years past. The feasting, dancing, and singing were more enjoyable this year without a small child strapped to my back, as was the ease of the five day journey from Nazareth. Everyone seemed to enjoy each other. Yeshu`a seemed especially tuned to the ceremony and traditions this year. He was quiet, somber, and watched the men with a learner’s eye, no longer a rambunctious child running around like the others. He was growing up.

The pounding of hooves kicked up the dust around us as the rider sped by. I knew he was carrying the message to the front leader to stop for the night. I was grateful. My feet and legs ached.

We began to set up camp for the night, Adinah unpacked the pots, while I picked up the stray sticks to start a fire. The sun set and the hue of dusk rested on our busy crowd as fires start up down the line. I heard Yosef and turned to see my boys gallivanting back and forth between him and each other. I looked for Yeshu`a but he was not with them.

“And where is Yeshu`a?”
Yosef looked around our circle, “I thought he must be with you.”
“Up here with the women?”
“He’ll find us,” Yosef said taking the sticks from my arms and preparing the fire.

Darkness fell quickly as we prepared the meal. I stood up from the fire once dinner was done and still no Yeshu`a. I shot a worried frown to my husband, “Yosef?”
He nodded, “Iakobos, and I will go look for him. Eat while it is still hot.”

I could not eat, my stomach in knots as the night wore on. The other children had finished and wiped the dishes clean. They were settling in their sacks for the night. I kissed them goodnight without revealing my worry.

Quick footsteps quickened my heart. I looked for Yeshu`a among the returning.
“No one has seen him,” Yosef said, out of breath from running.
My eyes widened,“Was he with you when we started out this morning? Where could he be?”
He placed his hands on my shoulders. “I thought he was. Maria, we will just have to go back and look for him in Jerusalem.”

I did not want to leave my other children with relatives but Yosef was right, they would only slow us down. Oh Yeshu`a, where are you? Are you afraid? Are you alone? I wiped a stray tear, feeling the pull of sleep on my eyes as the caravan became small specks of light behind us. There was only darkness before us. Though it was dangerous to travel at night we did not feel we could stop to sleep.

I kept my gaze on the flicker of flame held by my husband, lighting our path. I wrapped my shawl tighter around my shoulders, and allowed my mind to wander to another time a similar flame lit our way to Bethlehem almost thirteen years ago… It was then when the discomfort I felt in my swollen belly slowly turned to pain. It started while we could only see Bethlehem in the ravine. We started down the steep road that led to the entrance of the city, but we had to stop every few minutes so I could lean on the donkey and pant through another pain. Yosef didn’t know what to do until I showed him to press on my back to help me through it. It was slow progress to the city gate but we finally made it just as a gush of water left my body. “Yosef, he is coming now.” Every place we stopped told us the same. No room. The town was packed with sojourners here to register, the same reason we were. “I don’t care where we go, but we have to find a place now,” I panted, after the third place turned us away. The next inn keeper took pity on us and showed us around the back of his establishment. He shoveled fresh hay over the floor of his half-roofed barn where his animals stayed. “I’m sorry.” His only reply as he left us. The pain was blinding. “Yahweh, help me!” I cried, on my hands and knees, remembering why I was in this situation to begin with. Memories flashed in my mind. An angel. His ridiculous words. The shame. Embarrassment. Yosef’s anger and finally his acceptance and love. Of course no one believed me and I’m not sure I believed myself at certain moments, but when my belly started to grow, knowing I had never been with a man, I was shocked and scared, awed and excited.

This life ripped through me with another rush and Yosef laughed with shock. Finally the pain subsided and he placed my son in my arms. I wrapped him in my shawl weeping, remembering the name the angel had given me. “Yeshu`a… Oh Yeshu`a”

Day 1

The rooster’s crow woke me from my thoughts of his birth. The early morning light broke above the horizon in the east and we could see Jerusalem’s city gates opening for the overnight travelers who slept outside. My mind felt drunk with sleepiness, my body numb.

“We’ll start back at the Bekhorath house,” Yosef said, “Surely he went back there to wait for us.” But he was not with our friends. We went up the block of homes knocking on doors and asking if anyone had seen a lost twelve-year-old boy. No one had. The streets were not as busy as they had been the past week and shop keepers were still cleaning from the festivities of the Passover. I could smell the roasting fires start up and felt a lump of tears crawl up my throat. “Yosef… I” I buried my face in my hands and wept.
His arms encircled me as we stood in the street. “Let’s go back to the Bekhorath’s. We will make a plan.”

My plate sat untouched and cold on the table at the Bekhorath’s, our long-time friends we stayed with when we came for the Passover. The men left hours ago to continue the search. I could not argue with my husband about staying behind, but I felt helpless sitting here. I prayed, Yahweh, show us where he is. Please do not take him from us. I cannot bear it.

I jumped at the latch lifting on the door. Yosef and Uria came through, but no Yeshu`a. IIana came in from the kitchen to trim and light the candles, bringing with her the smell of supper.

“No, Yosef, no,” I whispered, his image fading in my tears. He came to me. “Maria, we must eat and rest. We will do Yeshu`a no good exhausted. We will continue our search at first light.”

I pushed the food around my plate, but none touched my lips. The nausea came in waves as did the tears. After dinner Yosef led me upstairs to the roof where we would sleep. I felt delirious and stopped to vomit before he picked me up and carried me the rest of the way. He laid me on the mat. I grabbed his tunic, “Where is he?!”

“Shhhh…my wife. We must sleep. Perhaps in a dream Yahweh will reveal his plan as he has before.”

Yes. Surely Yahweh would lead us to him. From before his birth Yeshu`a was not like any other child and though many did not believe our story, Yosef and I knew he was special to Yahweh in a way no other person was special. We didn’t fully understand it. The years surrounding his birth were scary and chaotic as we moved from place to place, but one thing continued to ring true. The prophecy. More than a handful of people confirmed it along the way, but we never discussed it with anyone and only told Yeshu`a Yahweh had chosen him for a special purpose. After he turned four-years-old everything seemed to settle down. Until now.

Yosef laid next to me, letting out a long sigh. “Maria… Yeshu`a asked me something strange at the beginning of Passover. I… I didn’t know what to say.”
“What did he ask?” I turned to him. He wrapped his arm around me and I laid on his chest.
“It was right after we killed the lamb and began to prepare it for the meal. He was so quiet, I asked him what was wrong. He said, ‘Papa I am the lamb, aren’t I?’ I… I didn’t answer him.”

“Oh, Yosef, I do not know what to do with him. He knows things I do not understand. What are we going to do?”
He kissed my head, “I don’t know…. I don’t know.”

Day 2

My sleep was restless. Images played in my mind. Blood. So much blood. The bleat of a lamb echoing through flames of fire, Yeshu`a calling for me, but I could not get to him and then the earth shook.

“My love,” Yosef’s voice cut through the fog. He shook my shoulder. “It is morning.”

I rose and washed, finding everyone downstairs for the morning meal. I sat next to Yosef and whispered. “Has Yahweh visited you in your dreams? Do you know where Yeshu`a is?”

“No,” he looked down. “You?” I shook my head. We discussed our plan with Uria and IIana and decided I would go with Yosef this time to the upper region where we had distant relatives, and they would canvas the outskirts of the wall where the squatters village sank into the muddy streets.

I felt more focus today after having slept but didn’t mention my dream to Yosef for fear of speaking words of death out loud. The gleam of the sun glinted off the gold dome of the temple as we traveled up to the region that overlooks the city. The town bustled with movement but quieted the farther north we traveled. We stopped a few times along the way asking shop keeps if they had seen Yeshu`a. No one seemed able or willing to help unless we were buying. I saw Yosef clench his jaw, his beard moving slightly each time, when yet another owner shook his head and offered us his merchandise.

We arrived at the house of Eliakim, the servants washed our feet and set an elaborate meal for us before we even saw Yosef’s father’s distant cousin. I ate a few bites of bread and dates at the urging of my husband and wondered what Yeshu`a was doing for food. I swallowed the food and my tears.

The men discussed their options. I stayed quiet. My eyes followed the curves of the embroidery on the table cloth. What had the prophets said when Yeshu`a was born? It felt so long ago, and yet, just like yesterday. I shifted through my memories of the first couple years of Yeshu`a’s life. It had all been so strange. The shepherds came only hours after his birth. We were sleeping when we heard them approach. They told us the heavens opened before their eyes and told them about a Savior. It matched what the angel told me only ten months before. Later, the Magi with their gifts, the multiple warnings Yosef received from Yahweh’s messenger to keep us safe… all confirmed that I hadn’t dreamt the crazy story of this child’s conception. But nothing else had happened since.

We left Eliakim’s with our next step. Contacting the Roman Guard. This plan did not appeal to Yosef, but it seemed the only course of action now. “They won’t do anything. We are not important enough,” he said on the way back down into the city.

I walked behind him. “Yosef, what did the prophets say? When we brought Yeshu`a to the temple for circumcision, after his birth? Do you remember?”

Silence remained constant until we reached the bottom of the hill. He turned to me, pensive. “One was Shim’on. He said he had waited his whole life to see the salvation of the Lord and now he had. He said… he said Yeshu`a was a light to reveal to the Gentiles and a glory to Israel.”

“There was more,” I said, my voice trembling. “He told me Yeshu`a would cause many to fall and many to rise… that he would be spoken against; that he would reveal what is in the heart of all men. Even my own…. and the old woman? Remember?”
“I think she might have been crazy,” Yosef said.
“No, she was respected. Everyone listened to her when she stopped us. ‘the redemption of Jerusalem’ that’s what she said.”
Yosef looked toward the setting sun.
“What does it mean, Yosef?”
“It means they thought Yeshu`a was the Messiah.”
His words stunned me to silence. I considered him for a moment. “What if he is?” I grabbed for his arm. “Is this it? Has the Lord taken him? Why would the Lord give him to us just to take him away? I do not understand Yahweh’s plan…Yosef, what if… what if he’s gone? What if we never see him again?”
He grasped my hand, “Maria, that is what we will do. We will go to the temple at first light in the morning. To make a sacrifice and pray.”

Day 3

Yosef dropped two denarii in the hands of the priest working behind the desk at the temple gates. I remained close to my husband as the crowd thickened for the morning sacrifices. I secretly examined the faces of every child and saw Yeshu`a in each one. I kept thinking at any moment he would materialize in front of me. I willed it to happen. The priest took down our name and noted our contribution for our sacrifice. He gestured us forward with the waiting throng of worshipers. The line of people pressed against us. We shuffled along until we reached the inner courtyard and had a little more room to walk around and breathe until we found our separate places for the morning services. I scanned the crowd again from my spot in the women’s court, seeing small groups gathered around each other. The hum of voices seemed to vibrate my whole body.

A grouping of priests caught my eye. They seemed engrossed in conversation, their robes creating a curtain as they stood close together. Two stood hovering over two others who sat on low stools. They were speaking to a child who sat on the stone floor. The child had the same inky hair flecked with gold as Yeshu`a’s.

I heard the cry of anguish before I realized it came from my throat. “Yeshu`a!, Yeshu`a!” Yosef caught my stunned eyes from across the rotunda. It’s him. I see him! I screamed internally, pushing past the other women around me. I felt a strong hand grasp my arm and allowed Yosef to take the lead to where I pointed out the group of priests. I saw it on Yosef’s face now too. His distress dissipated with visible relief and he blinked away tears.

We made it to the other side of the rotunda and approached the priests with respect. “Yeshu`a?” The boy looked up from his place on the ground. “Mother.” His voice was calm, his demeanor placid. He got up and walked toward us. I knelt, gripping him with all the strength that came rushing back into my body. I wept into his dirty hair and felt Yosef’s arms wrap around us both. I released my first born and held him at his shoulders, my relief turning slowly to frustration. “Yeshu`a why have you done this to us? Do you not know your father and I have searched for you for three days? We feared the worst. We did not know what had become of you!”

PERDUE64440 TEMPLE

“Why were you searching for me? Did you not know I would be here,” he gestured around the temple, “in my Father’s house?”
A long breath escaped me, “Oh Yeshu`a.” I did not understand what he meant. Sometimes I felt as if he were a stranger and not my own son. I hugged him close seeing Yosef speak to the priests before they dispersed for the sacrifice.

The trumpets began to play and Yosef took Yeshu`a back to the men’s court for worship and I returned to the women’s court overlooking the ceremony. My heart felt heavy despite the relief of having my child returned unharmed. What child is this? What am I to do with him? I felt a foreboding in my spirit as the priests sang. The Levite priests slit the throats of the bulls and lambs brought to be sacrificed. Their blood spilled around the alter, filling the basin. As the sacrifices were made the Holy Scriptures were read aloud by the high priest.

“See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted….” my eyes rested on Yeshu`a, my cheeks suddenly wet as I tried to focus on the reading. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering…. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

We left the temple and after taking provisions from the Bekhorath’s we set out for the five day journey back to Nazareth. Yosef and Yeshu`a walked ahead. I kept at a distance so I would not breathe the dust kicked up by their feet. I worshiped Yahweh for the safe return of my son, pleading that I would never have to endure such pain again. I felt in my spirit this would not be the last time I would lose this child, but somehow it was part of a bigger plan.

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Help Me Choose My Book Cover

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Spilled Milk

I’ve cleaned up spilled milk three times this week. You know the saying, “don’t cry over spilled milk,” but it’s happened THREE times in three days. Instead of crying over it I decided to write about it instead.

I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. At an early age I discovered a love for words and the ease to which they came to me. Then I grew up. I still want to be a writer, however now, writing scares shizz out of me for reasons perhaps only other writers can relate. Of course the reason is because nothing I put down on paper or screen sounds remotely as melodious as it sounds in my own head and therein lies the frustration. The problem with always wanting to be a writer is you soak up every life experience you’ve ever had, like a rag you mop over a puddle of spilled milk, and then squeeze every drip of inspiration out of those experiences until, frankly, you can feel dry. Unless you keep spilling milk.

The problem I run into sometimes is that I haven’t spilled a lot of milk in my day. I’ve lived a basic and blessed life which makes me feel disadvantaged to be able to pull from those juicy moments in life that scream to be written about. Too bad I didn’t grow up wanting to be a nurse and a writer. Or a politician and a writer. Then I might feel like I had more stories to pull from. Right now I’m a mom and a writer and sometimes the most exciting things that happen around here are, you guessed it, cleaning up puddles of spilled milk. I suppose I could exercise my imagination and start writing fiction…. Then I could be anyone I want.

However, over the last few weeks of diving into writing with a new perspective, I’ve really come to see that true writers can write about anything. Yesterday, I was reading a lesson on the lyrical essay and the writer wrote about bread for 500 words. Bread. Homemade yeast bread. And it was beautiful.

Too often I get tripped up in thinking big things need to happen in order to have real meaning. Lately I’m learning the small, seemingly insignificant details of life is where the real beauty lies, as long as we have eyes to see them.

Yes, even spilled milk.

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Sky Blue Eyes

My writing exercise for today was to write a short poem of an event that I feel deeply about, and then from the poem write a piece of creative nonfiction around the same subject. (I’m working through a book right now called “Writing Creative Nonfiction”)

I’ve never been a fan of poetry. I have not studied it, I don’t write it very often, and I don’t particularly enjoy reading it. However, after completing this exercise I have a much deeper appreciation for the beauty and value poetry is to writing in general. If forces you to choose your words wisely, using only those that make the greatest impact and evoke the most powerful emotions. A sort of “twitter” of the prose. (I’m sure real poetry writers would cringe if they heard me say that.)

I penned around in my journal and here is what I came up with for the poem.

Sky Blue Eyes

Sky Blue Eyes
Cloudy with fever
Plead without words.
Her body melts into mine
Wrapped in a blanket.
My arms hold her
The rocker holds me
Soft melodies falling.
Her stillness, soaking in my hug
As if it were medicine to make her well.
Nap time and virus bring busyness to a halt,
Hers and mine.
Arms forgot the fullness,
Completeness, fulfilled purpose of their making
Holding babe of
Sky Blue Eyes.

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Write–What I do When I Can’t Raid the Pantry

I’m reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird right now, (I know I’m late to the game, but better late than never) especially because reading her book as given me hope again in being a writer.

She encourages her students to write at least 300 words a day, no matter what it is or how bad it sounds. That is such a relief. Sitting down and making a habit of putting 300 words on paper or screen without it having to be perfect–just honest. I haven’t done this since finishing my manuscript. I’d like to blame it on my kids because the second I sit down to get anything done, my kids know. Like a beacon going off on their internal radars, when mom sits down to work, attack the mom. Of course I could write when my children are napping or sleeping, but for the brief moments that I’m actually awake when they are sleeping, all I want to do is stare at the wall and remember who I am. I love my children. But sometimes I want to not be around them. I think that’s ok to share and if it’s not, oh well.

Sometimes when I know I need to sit down and write, I will just go to the pantry or refrigerator instead and eat until something more pressing comes to my attention and then I have a real excuse not to write. But I’m on a six-month eating plan right now, and every meal is already planned and accounted for. There is no room for mindless eating, so I can’t even use that excuse to get me out of it. Especially now since I have to start being honest with my trainer… I mean who’s actually honest with their trainer all the time? It’s like every comfort I’ve used to assuage my conscious of the pressure to produce has been stripped away and I’m left with nothing except having to actually sit down and write. (or stand up… I’m standing at my kitchen counter writing this right now. I’ve found that if I stay standing the invisible kid radar is less sensitive.)

My husband said something today that made me cry. Not in a negative way, like he told me I look fat, (he knows better than that) but in a truth telling way, like he hit the nail on the head and told me exactly what I’ve been feeling and I didn’t even know he knew. You see, I’ve been waiting for my first book to come out for… well since I was about twelve, but literally I’ve been waiting for a cover design since August. Ok, I know that’s only two months, but it feels like a lot more. The problem is I’m afraid for it to finally be done. That’s what my husband told me. He said I’m afraid of it to be done because then I will have to take the next step in getting it marketed and OUT into the world, where people will read it (I hope.) He’s right. Because once I have it, I can’t blame anyone else for it’s future success or failure. Just me and my writing and if I’m honest, I don’t feel like a very good writer most of the time. That’s what scares me. That other people will read it and think the same thing I think about it myself. That it’s not good enough. That it could be better. That someone else could’ve written it better than I could. But my book is about overcoming insecurity so in writing it I have actually written myself into a corner and shouldn’t think or feel these things, and especially I shouldn’t share them with other people. If I still feel insecure, after writing a book about overcoming insecurity, how good could it possibly be?

I guess we’ll find out when it finally comes out… I wrote 600 words just now… does that mean I get to take tomorrow off?

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Book Cover Qualms

I found a gray hair the other day. Just one, thankfully, but still…  It was long and coarse and completely white/gray. I’m only 28 (for another two weeks) Should this be happening already? I plucked it out and pretended I never saw it.

Everything about writing and publishing takes twice, if not three times longer than you expect. It’s a feat in itself to actually sit down, write, and sort-of finish a manuscript. (I say sort-of because no form of creative process ever feels finished–unless you’re God.) But there comes a time when you have to stop adding content or tweaking sentences and give it away to someone else to finish the process.

Enter book cover artist. I’ve been so blessed to work with my long-time friend and mentor Scott Williams and his team at Next Level Solutions to turn my dream into reality. But when you allow another creator to take your baby and design its skin, it can leave you with graying hair and stubby, nail-less fingers.

After one disappointing mock-up (which was totally my fault due to my lack of knowledge in leading an artist) my sister-in-law, who is a freelance graphic designer, suggested I write up a design brief. She sent me one which I found most helpful in pointing my guy in the right direction. If you ever work with a designer for anything, I suggest taking the time to write out a design brief. Here is what I sent him.

This book is about overcoming insecurity and breaking free from the lies that hold us back from our full potential. The goal of the book is for people to be inspired to break free from fear, rejection, doubt, negativity and low self-esteem.

When they look at the cover I want them to feel a fierce passion welling up within to fight against the enemy that wants to keep them bound. I want them to feel strong and capable, or at least intrigued to find out how.

I do like the idea of a bird—but less peaceful—more fight. Show the struggle of breaking free. Simple, yet intense. I do like the strong typography.

For colors, think passion, bold, eye-catching. It needs to pop off the screen at readers and stand out above the rest.

30 Words I associate with the book: Freedom, overcome, insecurity, security, passion, fierce, fight, desire, persistence, growth, self-awareness, leadership, truth, scripture, faith, belief, trust, determination, grit, boldness, confidence, power, life, rise, live, blood, sweat, tears, uncover, reveal.

A few photos for inspiration:

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I cannot wait to see what it will look like in the end. When everything is ready I will share how you can get the book. For now, thanks for praying for me, encouraging me and sharing with me in the journey. Gray hair and all. 

Anna

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Why I Write

writing

We finally merged my two blogs into one spot. It feels so nice to have all my posts together again. It’s like all my children came home for the holidays and we’re all under one roof again. I’ve been blogging about 7 years now and every once in a while I have to remind myself why I write.

I write for me.

When I was 15 someone bought me my first journal. I was just starting to discover how much I loved writing and those around me even told me it was a gift. I cannot tell you how that encouragement began to shape my identity and who I was becoming. I started writing everyday in my journal, the highlights of the day, and how I felt about them. Looking back now, I can honestly say journaling is the only way I made it out of my teens alive. No joke. I suffered depression, anxiety, insecurity and fear to a dramatic degree. (Don’t all teenagers?) Journaling was my outlet. It helped me sort through my emotions and understand what and why I was feeling things so deeply. I wrote to discover what I knew. I have everyday of my life on paper from 15-21 years of age.

Nothing has changed. My blog is a sort of journal to help me remember what I know to be true. It’s a reminder of God’s faithfulness and a way to capture the stories of our lives, like this one “Holy Griswold! The Adventures of Thanksgiving Day Weekend” and this one “A Swimming Pool in Our Living Room.” 

I write for you.

While reading yesterday I came across this scripture in 1 Peter 4:10

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as a faithful steward of God’s grace in it’s various forms.

If writing is my gift, I am to use it to serve others. I’m self-aware enough to realize that just because my mom tells me I have a gift for writing, doesn’t necessarily mean I do. When I started venturing out on my own and submitting my work to impartial people, that’s when it started to confirm to me that yes, I am a writer, God has given me the love and gift for writing, so I must steward it well.

This has been harder said than done. Sharing my writing is like sharing my heart. If I’m not in the right mindset or have the right attitude I don’t write. If I listen to the lies of the enemy that tell me “this is junk! No one will read this. Why do you even try?” I will bury my talent just like the evil servant did in the parable. So instead, I share it and multiply it and improve it and if you’re inspired along the way, then, well, I’ve done my part. But then I’m reminded (through writing) that I don’t just write for you…

I write for Him.

The old movie “Chariots of Fire” comes to mind when I think about writing. We’ve all heard the quote before,

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast, and when I run I feel his pleasure.”

–Eric Liddell, “Chariots of Fire”

Why do we love this quote so much? Because it puts into words feelings I’m sure we’ve all had before. For me, when I write I feel his pleasure. I feel as if I’m fulfilling one of the callings for which He’s put me on this earth. If you’ve never experienced what that feels like I pray you find that calling and plunge head-long into whatever it is He’s gifted you to do and never look back. There is nothing like feeling God’s pleasure, doing something you love to do, something he’s gifted you to do.

Writing is my worship and I only hope and pray that someday He will use it in big ways to make much of Him.

So that is why I write. Thank you for the reminder.

I want to hear from you. What are you doing when you feel God’s pleasure? Have you been burying your talents? It’s time to share your gift to serve others.

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Writing Prompts–The One That Got Away

Day 2

The One That Got Away

You bump into an ex-lover on Valentines’ Day—the one whom you often call “The One That Got Away.” What happens? 

 

I knew it was him when he walked in. I saw him out of the corner of my eye before my friend asked me a question about which coffee she should order. I looked up at the calk-board-drawn menu not really seeing the selections of java.

Someone had told me he was in town and I figured we would run into each other eventually. I knew I was heavier than the last time we saw each other, but for good reason. The kick to my abdomen made me smile. The line was long, and the coffee grinder whirred to life in the background. He walked up behind me, but I pretended I didn’t notice.

“I’m getting the decaf vanilla,” I said to my friend. We chatted a bit and I laughed—probably a little too loud for proximity, but I was sure he knew it was me.

I heard him whisper my name, still I waited. He whispered again, a little louder this time as if he was making sure it was really me and not embarrassing himself by tapping a stranger on the shoulder. I turned and saw his surprised expression.

“Julia!”

“Greg?” I asked, with perfect practiced surprise. I watched his eyes move to my protruding belly and saw even more surprise.

“You’re… with child!”

I laughed. Yes I was with child, at seven months and glowing. I was glad I had put on make up this morning.

We embraced and it felt strange to be in his arms again after all these years. It was foreign and awkward with my bump in-between us. Nothing had changed about him. Still wearing the tattered clothes of an artist, he held his motorcycle helmet in one hand. His hair was a too black fohawked mess that looked damaged by the frequent coloring chemicals. His face still dotted with a few pimples and lots of stubble. I used to think he was hot. I used to ride on the back of that motorcycle and dream about the adventures we could take together.  Oh how I had prayed he would be the one.

“What are you doing here?” I asked, knowing all too well why he had come back to town. He explained everything someone had already told me, that he came back to help his friend open a new restaurant where he was getting to manage his own kitchen and be head chef. His dream come true. How many nights did we spend wrapped in each other’s arms talking about our dreams and goals. He was living his now and I was living mine, except separately.

I listened as if it was the first time I was hearing the news. I asked questions in appropriate places but my mind was else where. How much pain had this one person caused me? How many tear streaked nights I had spent wishing he could’ve loved me the way I wanted. We had so much fun together. And though it was short, the time we spent together was intense and full of love and adventure. I wanted it to work so bad but it hadn’t and now I knew why. I listened as he continued, and realized his appearance wasn’t the only thing that hadn’t changed. He was still the insecure kid I had thought I loved. It had been over six years since we had been together, but I had grown up and he hadn’t. He was still bouncing around, trying to spread his wings, proud of the fact that—how had he put it?—that he had “nothing to tie him down.” A selfish wanderer that led me on and then dropped me when we got too close. I shivered inwardly as I took him in. I can’t believe I used to love him. How naive I was!

He pointed out the window saying, “The place is just around the corner… you should come in sometime and see what we got going on.” He glanced at my hand and I can only assume he saw the rock that sat on top of my ring finger. I placed my left hand over my belly.

“We’d love to… I’ll bring my husband sometime for a date.”

He nodded his head, his lips in a taught line, as if realizing he’d missed out on something. I felt a strange sense of victory in our encounter. I no longer felt the ache of heartbreak at seeing him. My life now was so blessed. My husband the perfect match for me and the excitement of a new baby rose me above the hurt of the past.  The conversation came to a natural close, and I heard my friend ordering her drink behind me.

“It was really good to see you, Greg”

“Uh, yeah, you too.”

We embraced again and I turned to order my tall decaf vanilla latte, thanking God He didn’t answer my prayers all those years ago.

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Writing Prompts–Dear Writer’s Block

Day 1

Breaking Up With Writer’s Block

It’s time for you and Writer’s Block to part ways. Write a letter breaking up with Writer’s Block, starting out with, “Dear Writer’s Block, it’s not you, it’s me….”

 

Dear Writer’s Block,

It’s not you, it’s me. Which really means it’s you. You’ve taken over my mind so much I wouldn’t have even called myself a writer anymore. Life has gotten away from me, and I have stopped doing what I love, what makes me come alive. You’ve taken the place of creativity, with your sinister yet subtle plot to steal time, replacing beauty for fear and progress for complacency. I’m done. I am inspired yet again, and I know I’ve ignored the call for far too long.

You won’t give up easy, of that I’m sure. Your talons have sunk in deep and the surgery it will take to remove them is consistency. Everyday, I must sit. Everyday, I must write. It is the only way to sweep the cobwebs from my muse so that it can shine once again.

Don’t take this personally. I just can’t stand you. I’m pre-dispositioned to fall into your trap. Add on my tendency for laziness and you have a disaster waiting to happen. Actually more like nothing happening at all. I’ve hushed the writer’s voice for too long. Its whisper barley audible in my mind. I can’t keep living like this. I want to be free. Free to be me. You smother me. You control me. You sabotage me.

We’re better apart. I see this now. You never treated me the way I deserved to be treated. It was always your wants, your needs. You never took the time to ask me what I really wanted. You lured me in with your promise of tomorrow, putting it off, creativity on hold. You work really well with procrastination, laziness is your brother, but I’m breaking up with all of you. I don’t want you around any more. I’m better than that. I deserve better.

I’m sure you’ll find someone else, soon enough. Let’s face it, you never really cared for me to begin with. I was convenient. So much change in my life in a short amount of time, no one would blame me for taking time away from my craft. But you took advantage of me and I played the fool. Well, no longer. I’m standing up for myself now. I know what I’m willing to take and sorry, sonny, you’re not it.

I hope I never see you again. I’ll be much happier when you’re out of my life for good.

Sincerely,

A Writer.

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The Dusty Golf Shoes

When I was younger I wrote an essay called the Dusty Golf Shoes. In celebration of Father’s Day, I would like to rebirth the high school essay in honor of my dad, who I affectionately call “Daddy-Honey.”

The Dusty Golf ShoesGolf Shoes

My siblings and I always loved to play outside. Whether it be HORSE on the basketball court, or skating with our old worn out, blue roller skates on the bumpy drive way, being outside was the best. One hot summer day in particular I remember pulling out our old roller skates. Matching the sizes was always an issue, with six to seven different pairs that we had on hand.

On this day, my sisters and I had all the skates pulled out of the shelf that was in the garage. When I went back to get the rest of them I noticed another pair of shoes I had never seen before. They looked like they were once white, but a thick layer of dust covered their leather face. They were smashed from living under the weight of roller skates for who knows how long. The tassels on the top of the shoe looked chewed, maybe from a mouse or another critter that found the leathery texture tasty. I pulled them out and dusted them off a little. They were big. Much bigger than my feet and the laces were stiff and brittle. I took them out to my sisters who were already putting on their skates.

I ran around to the back yard where my mom was planting some pots and pulling weeds out of the flower beds.
“Mom, look what I found!”
She turned around and wiped the sweat off her forehead with the back of her hand, “Oh, those are your dad’s old golf shoes.”
“I didn’t know dad played golf.”
“Well, he used to.”
“Why doesn’t he play anymore?”
“Well, it’s usually pretty expensive, plus your dad likes to spend his free time with you kids.”

I can honestly tell you, at that moment, a lump formed in my throat. I don’t remember how old I was, but I was old enough to realize my dad’s sacrifice. I got a funny feeling, almost an embarrassed one, like when you walk into someone’s serious conversation and you don’t realize it until they ask you to leave. But dad never said anything about us kids interrupting his life. He never talked about how much he missed his life before us, or how much he’d love to do the things he once did.

I thought about him, working out in this heat, to provide for all us kids. Working hard so that our mom could stay home with us, homeschool us, and take care of us. The thought stopped me dead in my tracks. What other things has dad sacrificed? Do I even know what he likes to do in his free time? Does he have a hobby? Something he does just for himself? I wracked my brain but came up with nothing. I looked at the dusty gold shoes again and felt overwhelmed with thankfulness for my daddy.

To this day, I have remembered this moment. This was the moment I realized that a true man is one of self-sacrifice. A true, Godly man is one who will lay down his time, his hobbies, his life for the ones he loves. It has been the guiding light that led me to my own Godly, self-sacrificing man in Cody.

The Dusty Golf Shoes are just a picture of the sacrificial life my dad has led, and whether he knows it or not his life has taught me more than I can say in words. So this is a tribute to my Daddy Honey. Thank you for giving up your life to be the best dad in the whole wide world. I love you so much.

Happy Father’s Day!

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