Friday, June 29, 2018

Go In!

NOTE: The FICTION story below is a change from the kind of writing you normally find here. For an explanation...see the previous post (“Going in Circles,” posted on June 25, 2018).

I wrote the piece below while learning more about how to write “fast fiction.” As instructed, I typed the rough draft of that "short short" story in only 5 minutes and then edited it extensively before posting it here. I based the story on a photo I’d taken recently while running errands in town. (I added the word WELCOME to the photo.)

Enjoy! Please leave a comment to let me know if you like the change.

I am a black wrought iron bench with lovely designs. Day after day, I sit in front of a white marble wall and to the left of the entrance to what folks around here call Opportunity House.

Not everyone notices me. But I notice them. Some people stride confidently to the door and hurry in. Others approach Opportunity House slowly, or, I should say, timidly. Others sit on me for a few minutes to catch their breath and do some deep breathing. But they finally do go in.

Some folks linger but then leave. As I watch them walk away, their shoulders stooped, their faces dejected, and their heads bowed with shame, I feel sorry for them. I want to cry out, “Come back! Come back! Go in! If you leave now, you’ll never know what you could have been and what you could have done.”
" strong and courageous. 
Do not be terrified; 
do not be discouraged, 
for the LORD your God 
will be with you 
wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9, NIV

Monday, June 25, 2018

Going in Circles?

I feel as if I've been going in the same circles again and again, especially in regard to writing. Since 1984 I've followed the same general format for the inspirational columns I've written for newspapers, magazines, and my blog. If you've read my writings through the years, you've noticed I usually begin each piece with an experience or with an idea I picked up somewhere. As I reflect on that, I recall a verse of Scripture that speaks to that topic. Sometimes, the reverse process happens. I read something in the Bible that rivets my attention. As I reflect on that, I recall an experience or a quote, etc. that goes along with it. So, I write those "reflections."

In order to become a better writer, I've honed my writing skills and experimented with word count and so forth. Even with those slight variations, I'm feeling the urge to do something a bit different--at least for a while. Because of that "stirring," I am trying my hand at writing short short stories. I also love writing poems, though I know next to nothing about the "rules" for writing poetry. Occasionally, I may post one of my straight-from-the-heart poems. may see changes on this blog. 

You can be a HUGE help to me if you'll take time to leave a comment (or send me an email) to let me know how you feel about the changes. As always, if you like what you read/see, please share the link with your family and friends. Thank you!

However, the biggest help you can give is to pray that I will be open to whatever direction God wants me to take. After all, He's the One who called me to write. He's the One who equips me. Thus, I write in obedience to Him. As always, the promise I return to again and again as I seek His will is found in Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Learn a Lesson from the Ruins

Like a city [or a building] 
whose walls are broken down 
is a [person] who lacks self-control.
Proverbs 25:28

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Behold! Believe!

The heavens declare the glory of God; 
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
~Psalm 19:1, NIV

When my husband and I take a walk in the neighborhood, I'm awed by the beauty of the skies. On the evenings we stay home, we miss seeing grandeur like that in this photo. Yet, God faithfully creates awesome skies whether or not anyone notices them. But, oh, what a blessing it is to behold them and to worship the One who created them.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Parent’s Delight

To wish her son a Happy Father’s Day, my friend Betty posted (on Facebook) a picture of him and his daughter. After describing Jeff as “the best father a child could have,” Betty concluded the message by saying, “We love you,” something she and her husband had surely said many times to Jeff.

I commented immediately, saying, “What a thrill to see Jeff and his daughter!!! I’m so happy he’s such a wonderful dad—but I am not the least bit surprised that he is. I wouldn’t have expected him to be otherwise. Please tell him hello for me and that I am so proud of him.”

I haven’t seen Jeff since he became an adult, but I remember how he delighted me when he was one of my third grade students. He never gave me one minute’s trouble. He was diligent, well-behaved, always prepared, polite, kind…Thus, I was not at all surprised to hear he was a wonderful dad. 

As I thought about Jeff and his proud parents, I recalled what the Bible says about a son (or daughter!) who turns out well.

The father of a righteous man has great joy; 
he who has a wise son delights in him. 
May your father and mother be glad; 
may she who gave you birth rejoice.
~Proverbs 23:24-25, NIV.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

I Love That Flag!

While riding in a car with my husband, I often say, “Oh! Oh! Oh! Slow down if you can. I love that flag!”

As he checks the rearview mirror to make sure we won’t get hit if he slows down or pulls over, he says, “How many flag pictures do you need?”

“I never get tired of taking photos of flags. They are so beautiful, especially when they are being unfurled by a gentle breeze.”

Indeed, I have no idea how many flag photos "live" on my various hard drives. Flags lining the streets of small towns in America. Flags proudly displayed on front porches. Flags in vast grazing lands in the foothills of snow-capped mountains. Flags draped across coffins of American soldiers. Small flags flanking tombstones. Oversize flags looming large against a beautiful sky filled with cotton-candy-like clouds. Flags flapping wildly in strong winds generated by an approaching storm. Flags carried by people in a parade....

Perhaps I love the flag because of all it represents. I love it because it reminds me how blessed I am to claim America as my “home.” 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Do Not Give In To Them!

Doctors have never said, “You have attention deficit disorder,” but I think I do since I’m easily distracted. For example, one morning after I finished writing in my journal, I took a “stand up break” before beginning to write a blog post.

As I re-settled myself, I thought, I loved the Gordon McDonald poem Elisabeth Elliot read last night. I’ll search for it on the internet before I forget about it. Although I didn’t find it, I did discover videos that featured him. I watched one for a few minutes before I reluctantly hit pause (in order to write).

Then I thought, I need to get “caught up” on reading one chapter a day in the Book of Proverbs. While I read and jotted down insights, the minutes designated for writing slipped away as silently but as surely as sand in an hourglass. 

When I glanced at the clock, I thought. Oh, no! My writing time is gone. I’ve gotta get up and get busy.

Suddenly, the “Do not give in to them!” warnings I’d read in Proverbs 1:10-16 took on an expanded meaning. Although they warned me against giving in to enticements to do evil, I realized I must also resist giving in to distractions—even “good” ones—if they keep me from doing the work (writing) God asked me to do. Clearly, I must break my lifelong habit of letting GOOD things keep me from the BEST ones.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Little Glories

...transform me, Father,
by the
little glories
of this day.

~David Hazard, p.139 in
I Come Quietly to Meet You