Hey Words

Hey words I can’t carry you around anymore, you’re getting too heavy.

I need to dump you all out on this paper words but I don’t know if I’m ready.

You words can say things so many ways now and still be misunderstood.

And I think that if I could just hold you in a little bit longer words then everything will turn out good.

Maybe I could just put you down words, one at a time.

I won’t worry about making you pretty words, and maybe I won’t even rhyme.

Maybe words you won’t be witty.

Maybe words you won’t be grand.

But maybe words you just need to be nitty gritty.

Maybe then words people will understand.

They might see words that we have stories that don’t all read the same.

They might see words that we look a lot like each other but that none of us go by the same name.

I hope words that since we’ve all kind of been held back, that we might slow down to really read words and maybe cut each other some slack.

Can we give grace words and make more room?

Can we put ourselves in their place words so that redeemed lives can grow out of this and bloom?

Because the new normal doesn’t have to stay words, we can decide what we want to do.

But we have to come together words if we want the best world for me and you.

Goodnight, Mister Man

Sunset so pretty mama,

says my little man nodding his head.

It’s beautiful baby, I say to him,

now let’s go to bed.

We run and chase upstairs

to brush our teeth and snuggle again.

It’s so hard to put him down sometimes.

I just keep singing his song

and breathing him in.

He’s growing so big now

and getting harder for me to carry.

But I’ll hold my arms out to him always,

be right there even when it’s scary.

We say our prayers now,

his little heart learning.

Now go to sleep my mister man,

I’ll see you in the morning.

Don’t shut door, he says

so I leave it open just so.

We say goodnight again as I go downstairs,

and soon to sleep he’ll go.

I can’t believe I get to love this boy,

with his smiling dimple face.

I thank God for what joy he brings,

and for giving his mama unending grace.

Airboats & Anxiety

Not much has changed for me during this unsettling time and I know I’m one of the lucky ones. But what this time has shown me is the power of fear and the sovereignty of God.

We took an airboat ride in Florida recently and I felt fear pretty much the whole ride. You know the feeling when you’re pushed to what you think is your limit? Like we really can’t go any faster than this on our side can we? We aren’t really going over that huge mound of mud are we? And then yes, we can! Yes we are! And hey look, we are fine and it’s actually kind of insane and fun at the same time! That’s what an airboat ride feels like. But do you know why we could do those crazy awesome things on that ride? Because the captain was driving the boat and we were not. Because when I was clenching my teeth and my babies, preparing for the worst, the captain never stopped driving the boat.

I wasn’t in control of that boat, and I hated that. We aren’t in control of this pandemic and we hate that. We may all go over on our sides so far we think we’re never coming back upright. We may go through messy muddy bumps in the weeks to come. But the captain is still driving the boat.

I didn’t know what I was getting into going on that airboat, but it turned out to be an incredible ride. And even though this virus wasn’t what we asked for, maybe our captain is taking us through this to lead us to somewhere better than we’ve ever been.

Isaiah 41:10

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Hurry Up and Slow Down!

Have you ever responded to someone or something out of anger? Out of emotion? Out of bitterness? Have you ever said something that you didn’t really mean, but only felt at the time? Have you ever hurt someone because you hurt?

My sermon on Sunday was from James as he was talking to the twelve tribes about listening and doing.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

James 1:19-21 NIV

Sometimes as I read stories from the Bible I feel far from them because they were so long ago, but you know what? These people struggled with the same things we struggle with today. These people threw fits of rage, lashed out at others, shut down, and wrecked lives and relationships all because they responded without truly hearing what someone else was saying.

As I think about the instances in my life when I’ve been quick to respond with humanness instead of prayerfully constructed answers or actions, it ain’t pretty. In fact, it’s true ugliness that I often regret as soon as it’s all spilled out.

The common denominator in each of my own fits is that I wasn’t really listening. I was in such a hurry to respond that I didn’t slow down to listen. I didn’t take the time to understand what the other person was saying, feeling, or dealing with because I was too wrapped up in my own fear, hurt, or selfishness.

People can be broken. They can say things that bring us down, but we don’t have to fall apart. People can be awful. They can be cruel and say things to intentionally set us off, but we don’t have to blow up. As James said, it’s not worth it. In fact, it’s evil and produces nothing good.

So instead let’s start to…

Listen.

Breathe.

Pray.

Respond with grace and truth instead of wrath and emotion.

Just hurry up and slow down.

When less of me feels like the best of me.

Do more things that make you feel like you.

Making something out of white space is what we all crave isn’t it? To put a little bit of ourselves into something that was nothing and then watch it come alive.

But what I’ve realized about myself is that too often I compare my picture to someone else’s, and think I’d better stick to a color by number so it all turns out right.

But even then, I am never able to stay inside those lines. I love the obscurity of smudges and drips and colors running into each other, and that’s sort of just how life goes for me.

It’s really hard to stand out, stand up, and be who God’s called me to be when it doesn’t look like what everyone else is doing. But, I’m learning that I can do it, and it feels painfully right, and it feels like me.

And I think the more we feel like we are where God’s called us to be, the less like other people we will look. Maybe as we get closer to where God’s called us to be, we will look a little odd, misunderstood, and full of something people just can’t put their finger on. Maybe if I keep doing the things God’s called me to do then I’ll look less like you, less like them, and hopefully even less like me. Maybe I’ll look just a tiny bit like Him.

I love what Paul says while chained in prison:

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:20-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Paul was different. He stepped outside the lines and talked about his God’s love that was so deep, no one could believe it. The people sent him to prison for preaching the gospel, yet he still rejoiced and witnessed in his chains because God was good!

I don’t want to be afraid or ashamed of my difference anymore. I’m praying to have the courage to live a life that is not about me, but about glorifying the only one who can save us all. And maybe that’s weird. Maybe that’s obscure. Maybe that doesn’t fit into the lines we’ve all drawn around ourselves. But friends, we weren’t ever meant to stay in the lines.

So if you’re teetering, with one foot in and one foot out over the blank space, will you take that step with me? Will you give up control and conformity to see what God has for you? Maybe it will be hard. Maybe it will be terrifying. And maybe we will end up in prison (kidding…probably kidding)! But maybe when we get out of our lines, we will see that less of you and less of me looks more like God using the best of you and the best of me to set us all free.

Cut It Out

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Cut. It. Out.

So we have been back for a few weeks now from a week long “vacation.”  I say that and laugh but still wince a little bit because it was actually just a really ugly test in our survival skill sets. But we made it! Isn’t it funny how we think things are going to go a certain way and then they don’t at all. And then what do we do? Well some of us can just go with the flow and that’s really great, but I am not some of us. I am an Enneagram 3 wing 2 and I like order. So when things fall apart, I pout. I snap at the tiniest things. I shut down. I get jealous. I get bitter. And I don’t think I need to go on because I think you get it, I am just not keen on things that don’t go like I think they should.

But something happened to me on this trip. I had a real moment with God in the most awkward way. I was selfishly trying to squeeze in time to get a sun tan and read my book because that’s what I wanted. Coming home with a tan and half finished fiction novels was all I envisioned for his trip, and now I was angry because the most unreal things kept happening, keeping me from my goal.

But finally I’d made it to the lido deck on the cruise ship and found a chair in perfect line with the sun. And you know what happened? I couldn’t get my darn swimsuit coverup off! It wouldn’t go over my head and it wouldn’t go over my tush and I was stuck. Ok, so it didn’t go on quite so easy either, but we made it so I didn’t imagine being in the state I was currently in. I was way stuck and super embarrassed, but still determined to get a tan. I went back down to my room to figure this out without an audience. Apparently the strings on the side of the coverup were not actually adjustable, but thanks be to a Tinkle razor, they could easily be cut, freeing me from the awful thing. I looked in the bathroom mirror and could not believe I just had to cut myself out of a swimsuit coverup with my mustache razor. And then I looked at myself a little longer. It was in that humiliating moment that God said,

“Cut it out!! Stop giving so much power to things outside of your control!”

There was nothing I could do about my poor dad getting sick on the trip and having to fly home early. There was nothing I could do about both the kids getting sick and not being able to sleep at night. But even though there was nothing I could do, I still felt jipped and even responsible for what had happened. And that’s when I realized I’d let devilish lies creep in and I was starting to believe them.

Why didn’t I bring more medicine for the kids? I’m a bad mom.

Why didn’t I do this? I was wrong.

Why didn’t I do that? I am a bad person.

Now I can’t relax. Now I can’t rest.

Those were the lies I gave power to, and they spoke over the rest of my vacation.

Because I let them.

Now that I’m back to reality and the everyday grind, I can’t let that continue. I’m not saying I’m going to push through every bad day now wearing the full armor of God because I’m human and I’m going to fail. But I do not want to cut myself out of another swimsuit cover up because I’m too caught up in my own agenda to realize I’m going to get stuck.

Things are going to happen that throw us off. Things are going to happen that hurt our hearts and break our spirits. And sometimes there will not be a thing we can do about it. But it’s in those moments that we have a choice. Will we jump in the pit of lies and get stuck in our coverups, or will we heed the warning signs that something is not quite right and that we need adjustable straps?

I know now that I need to adjust. I need an adjustable heart that can be molded and shaped by my experiences, but that relies on God to hold me together. I don’t want to believe the lies anymore. I have to cut them out.

Does anyone else need to cut it out?

Snow Emotional Trees

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Snow falls silent, marshmallow hemlocks bear the weight. Tears slide down faces, hearts bursting open. The wind picks up and drifts emotions of breathing lives until the walls are high and the paths are all narrow and jagged. The snow seems content to fall silent and sometimes devastatingly still. Yet, the trees stand ready with wild ragged limbs, just longing to be filled.

 

The trees stand in waiting and let the flakes build up on top of each other. The flakes are but miniscule, why give them trouble when they fall? We can make room for all of these life things, say the trees. We have nothing to hide. We can carry the load that life brings; let none be set to the side. Yes, we will love hard when life stings, always and forever with heavy branch arms open wide.

 

Because the snow doesn’t ask where it may sit, and emotions, neither do they. Snow just falls wherever it hits, and emotions will shift on you day after day. There is no question of reason. No rhythm you might be able to time. And still the tree will shift to carry every emotion and season. Telling each one of them, I’ve got you, you’re going to be fine.

 

I settle in my corner of the couch now and just watch the snow fall. I ask the sky, are the flakes really going anywhere but down? Are they missing their call? Because I don’t want to miss what’s ahead for me. I don’t want to be the snow piling emotions on others. Gosh, I just want to be the tree. I want to make things better than how I found them. Let everyone with a story come and be told. I want to usher in understanding, and never condemn. I want give hope without commanding. To tell others be heard, be seen, be bold.

 

I’d tell them it’s okay to feel the snow all cold in your hands. It’s okay to feel things and let them melt in your palms; catch them on your tongue even and swallow them down. Feel them inside and sort them out. Because once you know the things that you know, you can catch others on their way down. And when you know what you know, because you dealt with how you felt, then you can be a rescuer in the midst of doubt.

 

And isn’t that why we’re all here anyway? Because God’s son gave his life for us on a tree on a Friday? He didn’t cower or hide from the spitting skies, he didn’t call Heaven’s angels down when accused of ugly lies. He let God’s will take over so we could be free. He died arms open wide and rose again so the truth we would see. And now that I know what I know, I just want to tell everybody. No, I can’t settle for being the snow, I just want to be the tree.

Hiding Howard

Prompt: write a story about a character that is desperate to solve a problem. Write 4 possible solutions that become more absurd as the story progresses, but none of which will work.

“Well, then where do you think we should put him, Emily?” Meredith was exhausted and ready to get out of the car and off of this dirt country road. They’d been driving for hours it seemed to Meredith, but they still hadn’t found the perfect place to lay dear old Howard to rest. “Look at this place! Let’s put him here.” Emily said. They got out the car and looked around. There was a thick tree line that hid a deep waterway between two vast fields of corn. “We can just dump him in there,” said Emily as she pointed toward the waterway. Meredith thought for a minute and almost agreed, but, being the wife of a farmer, as brief as that was, she knew this would never work. “It’s October, Emily, farmers are going to be out here picking corn soon. Someone will find him.”

 

They kept driving and Emily couldn’t stop thinking about how much she hated Howard and wanted him gone. No more reminders of what she had become. With each baby she bore, came the addition of ten extra pounds that wouldn’t budge. Howard had scolded her sharply every morning as she got ready for work. “Things weren’t too bad after Sarah and Ben,” she could hear him say. “But David and Chloe really did you in.” Meredith and Emily were pulling up to an old cemetery now. It looked like whoever had been buried here had long been forgotten, their names worn off of their stones and weeds grown up all around. “We’ll just bury him! I brought a shovel!” Emily was already out of the car heading to get the shovel she’d placed just so next to Howard in the trunk. “Emily, you just have one shovel? It would take us hours to dig a hole deep enough so that nothing would come dig him back up. Even with two shovels….” Meredith didn’t even get to finish her sentence before Emily slammed down the trunk and got back in the driver’s seat.

 

“Just take him back and put him in the basement, Emily.” Meredith said. “Who is going to come looking for him anyway? It’s dark down there, he can just suffer in the musty depths surrounded by Christmas ornaments, baby Bumbo seats, and bassinets.” “I will know he’s there!” Emily exclaimed. Emily knew no one would really miss Howard. No one would even know he was missing. But he can’t come back to the house, he would haunt her forever. “Meredith should know better,” Emily thought.

 

As they were pulling away Emily was seething mad. “Let’s just tear him into tiny pieces and scatter him along the way as we go back to the house,” she said. “Look, I’ll put a piece there behind that old barn. I’ll lean the tiniest bit of him against that fence row. And then we’ll just toss the rest out the window into the fields as we head back into town!” Meredith listened to this tirade and tried to keep herself from laughing. “Just decide! This is your bathroom scale we are talking about, Emily, not your husband!”

Anastasia White – Fairytale Adaptation

This story was actually for my Children’s Literature class, not my writing class. We were assigned to take a classic fairytale and put our own spin on it, and then had to record it as we told the story.

I told the story of Snow White

“Anastasia White”

I once had a mother that I very much wish I knew. But if she was still here, I probably wouldn’t be telling this story to you. You see my mother died right after I arrived and that was that. My father moved on, married another woman, and forgot my mother all in a drop of a hat. You see, this new mother was beautiful, but it was all a game. She would never be a mother to me, all because of my name.

 

Anastasia White is what my mother deemed me right before she passed. I had beautiful black hair, ruby red lips, and porcelain skin just like she’d asked. Anastasia means resurrection in Greek I’m told, but we’ll talk about that a little later. Let’s get back to my step mother and I’ll tell you how I came to hate her.

Gazing into the bathroom mirror my step mother would stand for hours. Marveling at her beauty I suppose as if the mirror had some special powers. I walked by one day and thought I heard her speaking.

 

“Mirror, mirror,” I snickered, but just maybe the truth was leaking.

 

My step mother never liked me, but as I got older her temper had become much worse. She could no longer bear to look at me, for when she did my father would have to buy her a more expensive purse.

 

“You sure have grown to be beautiful,” my father said just once.

“Your mother would be proud.”

 

Indeed, I was very beautiful, but not the way my step mother was. My beauty didn’t have to be so loud.

 

On the day I turned seven my step mother started mentioning boarding school.

 

“Let’s send her away to Europe,” my Father agreed. Assuming his role as the mesmerized fool.

 

So off I went to boarding school that offered seven prestigious courses. Each one helped the other one to make me wiser than the next, possibly wiser than my step mother’s evil forces. I thrived as I learned with a mind that now matched my beauty. A servant’s heart I now had earned as I made friends and helped others as if it were my unspoken duty. But when summer break arrived and I was all set to go home, my step mother had found me a summer camp where I would be sent all alone.

 

At first her depictions were cleverly sweet and I thought that camp might be exciting. But once I got there I found that it was for troubled kids and it was more terrifying than inviting. I asked myself what I’d done to deserve this marooning. Little did I know she’d been feeding my father stories of skipping classes and failed grades, but that she had found a special school perfect for my pruning.

 

How did she pull this off you ask? Was my father just that blind? Well her beauty served as her mask, you see. And somehow it made my father lose his mind.

 

School days went on and summers at the camp did too. But having me away wasn’t enough and my step mother’s hate still ensued. She had received all of my A’s, my accomplishments, and my dazzling school pictures. I knew she had hidden them all from my father and imagined her again in front of her favorite bathroom fixture.

 

“Mirror, Mirror, show me one more fair.”

 

And in the mirror again I appeared with my ruby red lips, porcelain skin, and my flowing black hair.

 

She tried to take my life from me. She hid my success and trap me in her little glass case. She tried to keep control of me, and then tortured me because she was jealous of my face. Years went by and I felt like I was fast asleep. I had no real mother that would hear my cries, not even a shoulder on which to weep.

 

One day along came a young man. He was smart and kind and he supported me and then he asked me for my hand. We planned to marry as soon as we could. I told him all about my step mother’s evil schemes and we both wanted her gone for good.

 

We invited her to the wedding not knowing if she would come. She couldn’t stand to see my face anymore, but she still had a battle that must be won. We knew she would try to steal this day for her own glory. And that’s why we planned very carefully, so that we could give new life to my life story.

 

She and my father arrived with the other guests and the wedding was truly grand. We turned to face the world together as husband and wife, my hand in his hand. The night went on and the other guests started to leave. Now it was time to make our move, a new breath of freedom I would soon breathe.

 

“Father, Step Mother come here, we’ve planned for you a special treat. Sit down now, he’s coming over, I just can’t wait for you all to meet.”

 

We all sat down with Doc, a professor from my college. He was a professor of English and we’d asked him to share some knowledge. We told him of my step mother’s game, and he was the one to show me the meaning of my name.

 

“You may think you’ve lost your life to her, Anastasia, but you have just begun. Your name means resurrection my dear, and your new journey is going to be so much fun.”

 

Doc told my father and step mother a story of an evil queen. The queen tried to kill a princess who was more beautiful she. Eventually the queen was caught and everyone saw her for what she was and what she was not. The queen’s life rightfully ended and the princess had prevailed. The evil queen was made to dance on hot coals until she died, no matter how she wailed. My step mother couldn’t sit still, as the story set in. She knew I was not so dumb, and that this battle she would never win.

 

We said goodbye to them that night, and it was the last of them we would see. I thought my life had ended as Anastasia White, but now I was free to just be me.

B Writes Fiction

Hey, I’ve missed you readers! You haven’t heard from me in awhile, but not because I haven’t been writing. I’ve been writing a lot! More than two thousand words a week actually! And now I actually feel like a writer! A for real writer!

This semester one of my classes is a fiction writing class, and you know what? I LOVE IT!!! Each week we are assigned to write the first page of a short story while following a prompt with narrative crafts we learned that week. It is actually the most fun I have had while writing in, well, ever! So…I decided to share some of my fiction writing with you! Love it, hate it, read it, delete it, do whatever you want with it. It doesn’t matter because, it ain’t even true!

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Story one prompt – Juggling Craft: The setting should be a physical activity you are familiar with. Use 3 terms specific to that activity. Switch back and forth 3 times from physical activity to internal emotion. Include a flashback and a song lyric.

“Silly Rage” 

“Jab, jab, cross.”
“Jab, jab, cross.”
“Switch feet.”
Jericho’s commands ricocheted through the temperature-controlled, modernesque, yet somehow still musty smelling gym. The other housewives and I wipe our sweat with our overpriced custom boxing gloves as Jericho torches us through another warm-up. This is the Thursday class. It goes unsaid, but you have to be accepted into the Thursday class and everyone knows you can be dropped to Tuesday in an instant. For the Thursday class, we all arrive in our white Mercedes’, a Louis bag on our shoulder, and our perfectly peaked high ponytails swish back and forth just so as we kick and punch and spar for an hour and a half. We were all one failed marriage, one bankruptcy, or one bad year away from Tuesday. I dare them. I really think I belong in the Tuesday class with the working mom’s anyway. Maybe I will try and switch. Let the gossip start flowing like their pinot after dinner.
I don’t have to listen to the commands anymore; I’ve been taking this class since the kids started school. I needed something to do while the house was so quiet, and someplace to get out this silly rage.
“Hook, uppercut.”
“Hook, uppercut.”
“Now move to your bags for kicks.”
Silly rage. When was the first time he used this fun little phrase? Oh, that’s right, it was right after I backed into his brand new Chevy truck when he told me I was too outspoken at his company Christmas party. Silly woman. Silly rage. Driving home that night he was different than I’d ever seen him. It doesn’t take long for someone’s true colors to start showing.
“A little chatty tonight weren’t you, babe?”
He didn’t wait for an answer but said let’s make sure that doesn’t happen again. He dropped it, expecting that to be enough of a warning. The warnings worked for his first wife, didn’t they? I’m sure he thought I’d straighten right up and enjoy my pretty new life.
Bless his heart, he didn’t know then, but I couldn’t just let that go. And that’s when it started to come out. Silly rage.
“Alright ladies, let’s take it to the center for sparring. Get a partner.”
I picked Autumn again because she was about my size and about my speed. We could feel each other’s rhythms and she pushes back hard. Jericho gives us time to shake off the little nerves that come with throwing punches and taking a few. She glances up at the clock waiting for the secondhand and then gives us the go ahead.
“Begin!”
Autumn and I start our sparring bout. I’m in my head today, and am not ready for her fast right hook. I don’t duck and she catches me right across the face. The feigned concern is thicker than the extensions in their hair as the housewives rush over to see the blood pouring from my nose. I catch the music playing over the gym radio and Taylor Swift was reading my mind. “You need to calm down, you’re being too loud.”
“Would someone please get me a towel?”