Tuesday, August 30, 2011

To Know

He could not open his eyes.  He wasn’t sure he felt any need to.  He lay completely still in state, hypnagogic.  No, he had no choice other than this, could not stand or even sit but for the moment he felt peace, even as he heard voices from two worlds. 

                When he had first awakened, only to realize his current state of imprisonment, he had panicked, though, invisibly.  He could not speak but cruelly could hear.  And what he became aware of were the voices of his wife, his brother, the doctors, talking about him in hushed and solemn tones and then to him, pleading with him to hang on, to please not leave them.  He had tried desperately to respond, to move but could not.  It was torment.  But when he had finally ceased his attempts in utter fatigue and sad defeat he had heard the other voices.  He had seen that proverbial light somewhere in the distance.  And he had strained to make out the words of that world.  They were difficult to decipher but oh, how he desired to understand.  He felt as though he had never wanted anything in his life so badly.  Indeed, he began to think he wanted to know that language more than he wanted even to live.  And then with that thought,  he had apparently, unintentionally fluttered his eyelids because the voices on this side became excited, calling for more voices, and soon the Heavenlies were drowned out.

                 Eventually, he had slipped into another deep sleep of nothingness and when he awoke again and was again awake merely in consciousness but not in body, the voices were still floating.   And he found that the voices fluctuated and, at times, those which came from one realm were louder than the others.  In the earthly realm, where he was not quite sure he wanted to stay, the voices were frantic and miserable.  The heavenly voices were indescribably beautiful, luring him with song.  He had no feel of time, no idea how long he had been in between two states, listening to these voices, deciding, perhaps. 

                But no, there was no decision.  He knew what he wanted.  He wanted to be in the light. He wanted to forever listen to the singing.  His limbs seemed to cry out for this.   Though his wife wept, and for her, he felt something akin to sorrow, he knew the glory waiting.  He suffered no physical pain but experience an especially sharp spasm somewhere deep inside him when he determinably, in his mind cast away the earthly voices.  He had seen a hand extended and when he grabbed it, he knew he was making a choice.  It was a hand only, he could not make out the rest of what belonged to the warm fingers grasping his.  He saw a tunnel and he was led a ways down.  And then he was stopped.  The figure halted and so he had no choice but to cease as well.  It was then that he heard the whisper.
“It is not time,” came a compassionate voice and he felt as though he’d stopped breathing.  He wanted it to be time.  He had come so close to glory. 

And then just like that, his eyes opened against his will and he saw his dear wife’s face.  She gasped and her hands covered her mouth as tears ran down her face and she took steps toward him.  And yes, he loved her.  He smiled as best he could because of this love.

  He was called to stay for now.  And he tried to listen as she talked, her voice speeding over some story of his bravery, his sacrifice, the boy on crutches in the parking lot but he didn’t really get it and he didn’t really care.  He knew what sacrifice was.  He would tell her someday soon, what he had seen and how wonderful it was, of this certain great expectation he would now hold so dear in his heart with patience in his remaining days.  

Monday, August 29, 2011


I dreamt I was in love with you again.  In the clouds, my eyes
                     saw nothing of the pain you caused me.   My
 heart yearned for you, not in the aching way it practiced toward
       the end but in the anticipating, longing way of our beginning.  I chased you through a field of passion, and you turned to
 me, to let me catch you.  Playful
                                                poppies sprung all around
                                                                     us, the sun of our youth shining down on all that once was new. 
                                                                                                                                                                                We lay like that sun would never set but when I woke, I returned to the
 barrenness you left me with and the quiet resignation I’ve learned to live with.

Where the hope still lies.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Grace of God

                I write this now, with my grown daughter laying in the next room, her childhood room.  It is the day after Christmas and she is home to visit.  She’s newly married herself and expecting her first child.  She is so beautiful and has grown into such a wonderful woman, thanks to the grace of God Who did the larger part in her rearing.  I am so grateful that I found the Lord and only wish I had sooner.  She was nearly seven before I cried out to Him one night asking Him to save us both from the destruction that was wreaking havoc on our lives. 
                I was so young when I had her.  Only seventeen and I had no idea how to be a mother.  I’d grown up in a home with a mentally ill and abusive mother and an absent father.  I didn’t want to be a child anymore because it was too painful, so on a quest to enter adulthood and begin my own life, I married the first guy I thought I was in love with.  We ran off to another state and shortly after we eloped I became pregnant.  Not only did I not know how to be a mother, I didn’t know how to be a wife and the marriage disintegrated before Sarah was born.  I was too far along to have an abortion.  I know that sounds horrible but it’s the plain truth.  That’s where I was in my life.  Scared, confused and totally without a savior.  I couldn’t go back home so I tried to do things by myself, get a job, make a life for my daughter, but it wasn’t long before the pressures wore me down.  I was lonely and still immature, still in a teen-age frame of mind.  I had never been healed and I had nothing to offer Sarah.  Though I loved her, I wasn’t healthy and I was still a child myself in many ways.  Before long, I met some friends at work that I began partying with, leaving Sarah with baby-sitters.  I hate even thinking about that time.  It makes me feel so ashamed.  Things got even worse and I began using drugs.  Of course, my baby suffered many of the consequences.   We were moving all the time, because we were always getting evicted.  Strange men were coming in and out of our house.  There aren’t even words to describe how badly I was failing.  I don’t know if I cooked one meal for my child in those seven years.  I don’t know how she survived.  So many things are a blur.
                I don’t know what would have happened if God hadn’t intervened.  I won’t go into the details about what brought the CPS worker to my door but it was the day that changed our lives.  This woman shared with me her faith because she saw that I was hungry.  I was starving.  Literally and spiritually.  I was at the end of myself and had been waiting for someone to introduce something to me that could save me from myself.  Looking back, I’ve realized that she probably was breaking rules by sharing her faith with me.
                 I sobbed as she explained to me that Jesus had died for my sins and that He wanted me to allow Him into my life.  At my dirty kitchen table, I said the sinner’s prayer.  God performed a miracle on me that night and I was able to begin the process of turning my life around.  It was a long road back to any semblance of a normal life but with God by my side we got there.
                Then I met John and we took our time getting to know each other.  He was a Christian as well and we made a commitment to keep God at the center of our relationship.  Seventeen years later we are still doing that.  He never looked at who I used to be.  He always saw the new me and this was an example of God’s love for me as well.  He has been a father to Sarah in every sense of the word and she would say she’s lucky to have him in her life.
                I’ve prayed and interceded for Sarah since that day I was born again.  She was born into confusion but the Lord had a plan for her.  I know beyond a doubt that He did.  He watched over her when her own mother would not and kept her safe during all those years of chaos.  I never have regretted having her.  Not once.  I would never take that back. 
                But I’m so glad it is different for Sarah.  She loves the Lord first which enables her to love her husband and the baby yet to be born.  She knows who she is in Christ as a woman, a daughter and a mother.  I get to watch my baby raise her own babies the right way.  And I’m now a mother who can help her in her own journey through motherhood.  We grew up together in a way and today we share the same loving Father.  His grace is all together amazing.

Friday, August 26, 2011


                Grady and Max were cousins, born to sisters, only two weeks apart.  They were two peas in a pod - at first.  Their mothers, both single, lived together in a tiny, ramshackle house on the edge of a small town.  The women had shared pregnancy symptoms and then similar labors.  The boys both had their mothers white blonde hair and green eyes.  They shared not only a room, but a crib for the first six months of their lives.  When they learned to jabber, they would jabber at each other and people were constantly asking if they were twins, not knowing whose mother was whose.  They got along like brothers, but did not fight like brothers. If one wanted, a toy, the other, was always willing to share.  Tantrums were rare and it was a peaceful household.  Maybe too peaceful.  By two, certain signs began to illuminate a major difference in the boys, but nothing was spoken of that which would soon become obvious.  These boys were quiet, not much for rumble tumble play, and were stuck to each other like glue, speaking to each other in some sort of code that not even their mothers were able to decipher.
                When they entered kindergarten it was only one month into the school year and both sisters were summoned separately for a meeting with the teacher.  The teacher spoke to Grady’s mother, of how impressed she was with this boy, said that he showed outstanding potential and in her humble opinion, should be moved immediately to the first grade - of course after some testing.  The teacher then, at a later time, sat down Max’s mother.  She said he was very sweet, he seemed to want to learn but that in her humble opinion, he should not yet be in kindergarten - of course, they could decide this after further testing. 
                Max was soon after placed into special education classes and Grady, sad to leave Max behind, went on to the first grade.  Max was diagnosed with mental retardation and by fourth grade, Grady had been administered IQ tests, which marked him at a genius level.  He was placed in certain high school classes by the sixth grade, while Max could barely read.  And yet, the two felt no division, or rather, allowed no division to separate them.  After school, they would spend time together, doing normal boy things. They’d work on tree houses or science projects.  Grady seemed to be the gentle leader of the two, and yet what no one understood was that Grady felt more challenged and more stimulated when with his cousin that with anyone at his school, even those in the accelerated classes.  Grady felt a strange commonality with Max that went beyond blood.  The sisters would stay up talking late into the night, both worrying that Grady may be spending too much time with Max, not wanting him to be held back in any way.  But they didn’t quite feel it right to discourage the relationship, either. 
                The boys went down different paths, but continued their brotherly bond.  Although, Grady graduated high school early before Max had even learned to write his name and went to college a couple of towns away, he came back every weekend to spend time with his family.  He was serious about his work but lacked a social life.  He poured most all of himself into his studies.  His special interest was in mathematics, which he found captivating.  He had always had the ability to solve complex problems in a short period of time but by the end of his freshman year at college, had proved a theorem, which propelled him into honor and recognition in the academic realm.  He had a bright future ahead of him. While he was busy performing extensive theoretical research in Algebraic Number Theory, he was being courted by Harvard, Princeton and Duke.  But something was missing
                One visit home from college, he was introduced to something far more captivating than numbers.  Max had been attending church with an old woman from down the street, and had come to know and accept the Lord.  He was anxious to share his salvation with his cousin.  Somehow Grady knew, if his cousin, who did not seem to have a sin bone in his body, was in need of a savior, how much more was he.  He was led in the sinner’s prayer that night by his cousin Max, who had the intelligence of a five year old.  When Grady returned to college, he joined a Bible study and became passionate for Jesus.  When he would come home, he and Max would talk in their way, about God and Grady somehow knew that their level of understanding on this was the same.   One of them brilliant by the world’s standards, the other clearly not, yet both equally hungry to understand their new Father’s mysterious ways. 
                People thought Max strange because he was not intelligent enough to connect with others.  They thought Grady strange because he was so intelligent that he neither could connect with others.  But they were connected together by the Lord and then drawn to Him as co-heirs and as brothers.  

On a side note:  Kristin Lamb wrote a great article, which had me laughing out loud.  It's called "Top Ten Reasons To Become a Writer.  I think my favorite was number 10.  Has anyone read her book, Are You There Blog, It's Me Writer?  I have not yet, but intend to.   

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cookie Cutter Houses

 Two cookie-cutter houses sit side by side, in a suburb, somewhere in America.  Identical from the outside, both boasting manicured lawns and 2011 minivans.  Each home belonging to a family of five, consisting of a hardworking dad, a stay-at-home mom and three small children. 

What, then, is the difference between 102 and 104 Fifth Street, besides the numbers?  Upon entering each home, a visitor would see in both, immaculately housekeeping, furnishings reminiscent of Better Homes and Garden, and children at play.  They might see Patty or Sherry, the woman of these homes, cooking dinner for their families, folding laundry or picking up the endless slew of toys all over the house.  They might see them on the phone to each other, though they could just as easily take the children outside, to their backyards which are not separated by fence and chat while the kids play on the playground set the families happily share.  This would not be unusual.  Patty and Sherry are best friends, and this scene occurs often. 

But the woman are different, and despite the outward similarities of their houses and lives, so are their homes.  If a visitor were to stay for an evening, much more would be observed than is obvious.  Let’s stroll for a moment into each of their lives:

Entering Patty’s house, we notice, on a plaque, in the entryway, the verse, “As for me and my house, I will serve the Lord.”  Praise music can be heard on the stereo, as Patty hums along, hand washing dishes.  The children at times, sit quietly playing together. Other moments they rowdily race down the hall.  Patty calmly tells her children to wind down, daddy’s coming home soon.  Amazingly, they obey her.  When daddy does come home, he’s greeted with a kiss, and dinner is placed on the table, for the entire family to sit down at together and enjoy.  The meal is commenced with a prayer, and they then share stories about their day.  It’s a peaceful evening, ended with a reading from the Bible.

Sherry’s house is sadly different.  When we enter this home, though it appears that everything‘s in order, if we stay a while and pay attention, we will notice that Sherry strives.  She is tired.  And lonely.  Her kids bicker and she, most days, wants to scream.  When she’s finally done with her daily duties which seem never ending, she might flip through that Better Homes and Garden magazine, desperately looking for more ways to “keep up with the Jones’. When her husband comes home, he also is weary.  He barely looks at his family, before he plops in front of the television, so he can tune out from the responsibilities he secretly feels he cannot bear.  When the kids are finally threatened into bed at the end of the night, Sherry goes online, and wishes for a connection with her husband.

Sherry’s never admitted to Patty that she feels not good enough, that her strength is waning and she feels that this was not the life she signed up for.  She wonders why Patty always seems to have a peace about her, why Patty never complains about how hard it is to raise children, why Patty’s husband always plays with his kids outside, and her’s refuses to even tuck their kids in at night. 

If Sherry were to talk with Patty about these things, she’d find that Patty is not without her own struggles.  However, Patty has a hope and strength that comes from somewhere outside of  herself.  On her own, Patty would strive as well.  Yes, there are hard days where things don’t go well, and Patty does not have a cheerful heart.  But because Patty knows the Lord, she takes all these things to God.  He renews her strength, saying “Do not strive, child.  My strength is sufficient for you.”  Patty submitted herself long ago, to the Lord, and he has His hand on her life and on her home.  Her life is not always a bowl of cherries, but that’s okay.  She praises God during the rough times, too.  And He blesses her. 

Maybe someday, Sherry will be bold enough to ask Patty what that difference is, she sees in her. 

But maybe someday, God will put on Patty’s heart a desire to share these truths with Sherry without being asked.   Maybe Patty will put her fear aside and witness to Sherry, not waiting for her friend to approach her first. 

 Maybe…. He already has.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


                Concentrate, she told herself.  Sitting at her laptop, her fingers poised yet nothing at all came to mind.  She hadn’t written in weeks, was now experiencing for the first time, writer’s block.  She’d always been able to write at will.  She loved to write.  What was going on with her?  She’d tried everything; writing at different times, giving herself mock assignments, even planning rewards if she typed at least a few sentences.  But nothing was working.  She’d type those few sentences, but then read them, realize they amounted to nothing worthwhile, and delete them. 
                And the writer’s block was leading to another type of block.  An emotional block.  She realized that even when not at her computer, she’d find herself, staring off into space, unable to gain the energy toward anything productive.  She was definitely in a rut.  And she didn’t know how to get out of it.
                 At least, she was still trying despite the fact that by this point she felt like completely giving up, throwing her laptop away, actually, for all the frustration it was now producing.  That was the only thing it was producing.    This inability to release what was inside her, unidentifiable at this point, had her in a zombie state.  Life was going on without her participation, her experiencing of it.  In the past, she had possessed a fine ability to keenly observe the people and things around her, consistently taking mental notes of interesting or funny things she saw or heard to use later in her writing. Poetically she could describe the mundane.  Even stuck in traffic she could be inspired by metaphoric thoughts.
                  And then one day, it was just gone.  She had nothing.  She didn’t realize it at first, continued on with her normal routine, but then suddenly felt that lack.  Realized, that nothing was standing out to her anymore, nothing mattered.  Now every time she sat down to write, she’d inevitably only write about the inability to write, about the dreaded writer’s block.
                 Like she’d done yesterday and the day before, she finally closed her laptop in frustration.  She left her desk and went instead to the couch, where she laid down.  She closed her eyes, thinking about how writing was always what had gotten her by.  She’d started in junior high, recording in a journal the details of her life, and from there, the writing had taken on a life of her own.  She’d begun to create stories, almost as therapy, the words weaving a comfort as she read and reread them.  And she’d become skilled, written papers in college that had been praised, so then gained confidence to enter contests, which she often won.  It was her life.  What kept her going.  Yes, she had a job, friends, a social life, but none of it had mattered to her as much as her writing.  What would she do without it?  It seemed she couldn’t feel without it, or maybe couldn’t process her feelings. 
                Ashley sat up then, working out exactly what it was she just had realized.  Her brow furrowed as this new thought hit her.  She wasn’t in an emotional block because of the writer’s block.  It was the other way around.  She couldn’t write because she wasn’t feeling.  She’d shut down; pent it up.  This epiphany, so simple, forced her to her feet.  She walked back to her desk, very slowly and deliberately opened up her laptop again.  She needed to write about what had happened.  The thing she hadn’t been facing, dealing with.  The thing, she’d been pushing out of her mind for so long, she’d come to believe it might one day go away.  And maybe it almost had, these last weeks but so had everything else, including her writing.  She had to get rid of it, even if that meant putting it on paper, seeing it in print, giving truth to it and making it real.  She hadn’t even known she’d been afraid to do that, but now saw that it had been exactly that.  Fear.  So now, she put her head down, preparing. But not thinking.  In fact, not concentrating.  Not thinking ahead  just mentally encouraging herself to go ahead and look up, begin the process.  And when she did, it began to flow.  She let go of concentration, of trying to make sense out of sentences, of analyzing her topic, she just gave it up to the paper, her fingers gaining speed, to catch up with her now opened mind.  She didn’t let herself stop because she knew there would be the temptation to go back and read what she’d written, and she wasn’t ready to do that yet.  So she just wrote and wrote, everything that came to mind, no matter how horrible or scary the thought was.  She’d kept it in too long, and when it had threatened to rise up, in order to tune it out, she’d tuned out everything else.  So now out it came.  The evening turned to night and she stopped only to flick her lamp on, but then returned her hands to the keyboard.  
                Finally, spent, near the middle of the night, she’d written it all.  She’d come to closure.  Done now, she wiped her eyes.  She hadn’t even been aware of the tears as she’d been writing.
                 She still did not read it.  But she printed it.  The fifteen single spaced pages spewed out of the printer, somewhat ominous.  She picked them up, in order, but face down.  She didn’t want to read it.  She knew what she had written.  Not knowing yet what she would do with this document, she placed it under her laptop and got ready for bed.  Already, she felt lighter, new again.  She slept peacefully, not afraid of her own thoughts this night.  And when she woke in the morning she knew what she was to do.  She retrieved the document from underneath her laptop and still not looking at the words folded it in two.  She then walked to her hall closet where she kept her envelopes.  She carefully placed her writing inside one and then sealed it.  She walked back to her desk, pulled from the drawer a black permanent marker and wrote three letters on the envelope.
 It would go to who it belonged to; God.  And she would never read it.  She would delete it, because now it was His.  She’d been released.  So now she could concentrate on moving forward. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


                Athena woke, surveying her surroundings, taking a moment to recall where she was, the legs of her mind stumbling across last night’s events.  Mornings were always like this; peppered with confusion.  Many times she was hung over or even still drunk, trying to gauge if she was still at some party or possibly in the bed of a strange man. 

                But it came to her now.  She sat up, an umbrella of fear forming above her.  She was in a hospital in a very comfortable room.  Rather, it wasn’t so much a hospital as a spa for celebrities and the room was more than comfortable; it was plush.

                She’d been at a premier last night and had passed out . She remembered falling.   Wisely, they’d thought to bring her here, where she might have a few days before the media tracked her down.                              

                And the press were experts at tracking down.  She’d been in the spotlight, since she was five when her mother had found her an agent.  Her career had taken off immediately, and she quickly became America’s sweetheart.  Now at twenty-nine, she was still in the spotlight, but recently, the media had begun to turn on her, reporting dirty truths and untruths alike.  Recently divorced for the second time, the press now picked her apart.  And it was as though they had access to a personal diary.

                 But she kept no diary, living day to day with not much contemplation or analysis, her life a blur of movies, interviews, the occasional Broadway production, and much partying.

                She shook her head.  She didn’t want to be thinking about these things.  Thankfully, she was rescued by a nurse entering the room only to announce that Athena was merely suffering exhaustion but that she was welcome to stay as long as she’d like.  Athena nodded, then drifted back to sleep, thinking some rest wouldn’t hurt, and that she did have a break between films. 

                Those few days of rest turned into weeks, as she found that she didn’t want to return to the chaos of her life.  This was the first time she’d really had alone time, and though her discoveries hurt, she’d begun to recognize that she needed them.

                  No one came to visit and she now realized that she had no true friends.  She understood that she herself had been fickle, switching friends to match each next cast.  It had been the same for them.  Fair-weather friends who‘d enjoyed her company for as long as was convenient but then could toss her aside as easily as she could them. 

                She was almost thirty, with yes, a successful career but no real relationships.  She was afraid of living the rest of her life this way, with no actual grasp on who she was.  She’d grown up, not being her own person, putting on whatever mask the cameras wanted.  Who was she?  Who was her true self?  She’d been molding herself into other’s ideals for so long, she’d never developed a genuine personality.  She didn’t even know what she found important.  She didn’t know if even her craft was important to her, or if she’d just never thought about a life without it.  She was good, very good, at acting, but it had melted into her, stealing whoever she might have been.  Now she grieved for that which she’d lost, or rather, never had.   And a fear of returning to play the role of someone she was now certain she was never meant to be kept her inside what she’d found to be a haven.

                And so, through her solitude, she one night whispered in the darkness to no one that she knew, asking if somehow she could be restored, if she might find out who she was meant to be.  Every night she did this, until one night she heard a response from a still, small voice.

                 “You are my daughter.  That is who you were made to be.” 

                Athena recognized the voice as if she’d been waiting to hear it all her life.  It was God. The God, she’d heard of many times, in letters from fans and critics alike, letters which she’d thrown away, not wanting to be preached at, but letters that sometimes haunted her in sober times with both their conviction and their promise of purpose.  Had she been seeking and not known it?  Had He been seeking her?  Was He answering a question she hadn’t even known she was asking?  Or was He her answer?  

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Call on Me

When he finally came to, he found himself on the dirty floor, panting.  With all the strength he could muster, he crawled to the phone, which was buried under a pile of reeking laundry covered in food crumbs. He scanned the room, for the first time viewing the disgrace he was living in. He knew there was an eviction notice on his door, his electricity was one day from being turned off and the entire span of the small studio apartment he called home was covered in filth.  He let his head fall to the floor in defeat.  Then, summoning his energy, he picked up the receiver.  He pushed the speed dial of his dealer.  No answer.  He’d never been this far gone before.  Never run out and felt this close to death.  Where was Eddie?  He needed him.  A voice pushed through his clouded mind, saying, “That’s not who you need.”
                Yeah, he thought.  I’ll call Kyla.  She’ll have some she can spare. He picked up the phone again but as he went to dial he heard, “Matt?”  Crap, it was his sister.  He couldn’t talk to her right now. 

“Matt, are you there?”

“Yeah,” his voice croaked. 

“Matt, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing.  I’ll call you back.” 

“You sound really bad.  I’m coming over.” 

“No” he protested but she’d already hung up.  He knew she knew.  She’d been trying to get him to go into a program for months now but he wasn’t ready.  He needed to talk to a friend.  Someone who would understand.  Then he’d feel better.  Maybe he could just hang out with someone from his crowd.  Just being around them might lift his spirits, he didn’t even have to use.  Yes, he would have someone come pick him up before his sister got here, before she started in on her lecturing.   He called Eddie again but still no answer.  Then he called his girlfriend, Kyla.  She picked up on the first ring.  “Hey, Baby.” she said, her voice high-pitched.  He knew she was loaded.

“Kyla, can you come get me?” 

“Yeah, we can go to the party at Jim’s.” 

“No. Can we just hang out? I’m not feeling so great, but I need to try to get through it this time.  If I can.  I have a job interview in a couple of days and I’m supposed to get my daughter this weekend for a supervised visit.  I blew it off last time,” his voice sounded weak and unconvincing, even to him.

“Oh, babe.  Um, yeah.”  Her hesitation was clear.  “Why don’t I call you then when I get back from the party?  Love you,” and then she hung up. 

Why was this happening?  Every time he needed them, they weren’t there.  They were there when the party was at his house, when there was fun to be had, but they didn’t seem to care about helping him get his life in order.  He remembered when his friend, Carl had quit using drugs a couple of months ago.  Matt had intended to call him, see how he was doing but had kept pushing it aside.  He’d kind of looked at it like Carl just didn’t know how to have a good time anymore. 

 He’d never intended for his life to turn out like this.  Had just been experiencing a lonely patch after the divorce.  He was only twenty-eight.  He’d started just going to the bar after work with a buddy.  Then partying more and meeting really cool people.  Or so he thought.  They seemed to have the life.  They slept in every day, didn’t worry about responsibility.  How they took care of business and paid bills, he didn’t know, but it sure had seemed they were living large.  And then he met Kyla.  She was so free-spirited.  She’d gotten him to loosen up, have a little fun himself.  He’d never realized it would spiral out of control.  He thought he could handle it.  But now here he lay, shaking on the floor for a fix, not one of his friends willing to help him out.  He closed his eyes; he’d figure it out.
“Matt?”  His sister’s voice rang in his ears like the voice of an angel and he hung to a hope that there might be something that could save him.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My History

When I was young I heard You say my name,
Easily I answered and so You spoke,
I talked and walked with you until I woke.
I heard You say You came to heal the lame
When I was young I knew not yet of shame,
feared not Your zeal wrapped as in a cloak,*
saw not the day, Your anger I’d provoke,
longed earnestly that I, You would inflame.

And then somehow, I forgot my first love,
Your promises eluded me, I thought,
Until desperate, searching, I looked above,
Read Your word, found that for me You had fought,
You sent Your peace, resting like a dove,
Like a lover, You chased, and I was caught.

*Isaiah 59:17


There is a bridge
                between you and me
                                      and I could come to you. 

But this chasm
             creates the need for the bridge 
                and it is
                  a long way down,
should I fall.

 Gazing down at
                        the depths,
I lose my breath
                   and my courage. 

  I hear you beckon. 

You prompt me to take that first step,
 You tell me to look only into your eyes
which shine so far across the distance.

 But what I really want
                is Your hand to grab me,
pull me across in one brief second. 

I don’t want to slowly, teetering walk this bridge.
 I don’t want
        this journey. 

I am too afraid.

And I know the valley below is my mind. 
A barren, endless, valley. 
Thorn bushes, jutted cliffs and desert.

and this space of land I sit on now,
far less glorious and beautiful than yours. 

Your space of land too, is vast, but is endless paradise. 

And I know too,
                    that your hands are already
they are the bridge. 
That they
   are that big. 

But it’s still
    the stepping,
it’s still
 the action. 
And I am woozy.

 So I close my eyes.
      I sit and wait until the situation changes.
 Maybe when I open them,
                      I will be across. 

Your arms are love,
         are sacrifice,
         are sturdy and ready to withstand all weight. 

Had I only courage,
             You’d be the strength. 

The air is still,
       it waits for my decision. 
         It holds its breath
                               as I gasp for mine. 

And then I run.
Keeping my eyes forward
              my body in a race against time.

 I don’t dare
 look down. 

I stay the course,
and run much longer than the bridge is.

 When at last I slow,
and my so too my heart beat,
I realize I ran much further than I needed. 

So now I turn. 
surveying what I’ve surpassed.

  The bridge now does not look so long,
the valley not so deep.

And your side is stunning.
 I don’t know what took me so long to come.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mine for a While

Slippery and wet,
Indignant yet
At the perceived indignity of birth.

Soon, wails die,
You’re resigned to sigh,
As I whisper to you of your worth

And I’ve waited so long,
To hear the song
That I know your life will compose

Only your arrival,
That cry of survival,
Could inspire such glorious prose

But for now just rest,
Knowing the best
Days, are so well before you

I will hold you tight,
And if I have to - fight
To give you all that’s true

For there were months I prayed
Fearing you’d fade
Before you came to be

But I held on to hope,
And he helped me cope
And now through you, it’s Him I see

Only His glory,
Could weave such a story
Of miraculous answered prayer

That’s why now,
I kneel and bow
And place you back in his care

He sent you to me,
And now I can see
Life holds no more meaning than this:

That you are His child
But mine for a while
So I promise, not a moment, I’ll miss

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Love Trumps Apathy

Being in love feels good.  I had forgotten.
                          Forgotten that heart contracting, flashing lights thrill.  And yet pronouncing proves hard, application of words, trite.  Might, I jinx it?
I had barely recalled these sensations, scorned
  all sentimentality and now know not why.
                                                                                What had hardened
My heart
                to these
 possibilities?  Now grabbing pleasure, this privilege once again, I clasp tight.   Love trumps apathy.
                                  All is well, healed, new.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Beginning and End

                I remember so well that beginning.  Our beginning; the day I was formed from my husband’s rib.  In the glory of the Lord, I watched Adam sleeping.  And when I came to be, he was the first thing I saw.  And for all the beauty of the garden that God had given us, it was Adam who mesmerized me.  He slept so peacefully, unaware that when he woke, the Lord would present me to him, as a gift and a helpmate.  I studied him; the beauty of his face, his body.  I stared at his strong arms, and his mouth, slightly parted in sleep.  And I remember, I couldn’t wait for him to open his eyes, to see what color they were, what they would reveal of his inner being.  Would he be glad to meet me?  I must have stared for quite a while before he woke and we were formally introduced.  As his eyes slowly opened and I was presented, joy overtook his entire face and I knew that he already loved me as I already loved him. 
                It was a perfect beginning.  One created by the ultimate creator.  And our beginning certainly was bliss.  We were surrounded by supreme beauty and we reveled in each other’s beauty.  The Lord took great care of us and His love completed our love.  Without Him, none of this could have been.  I cherish those days of our innocence, the days when we were nothing but trusting and obedient.  Oh, how I wish that hadn’t ended. 

How it did end, how we came to leave our paradise, is a story well told, one that you have heard and one that I do not wish to retell.  But not only did our life of blessing in the Garden of Eden end, so also, did many aspects of our stainless relationship with one another.  When we chose not to listen and to disobey God, we sacrificed our bond. 

When we had to leave the elegance of the garden and the bliss of life as we knew it, we were aware that we faced ahead of us much different times; times of hard work and toil, times of labor and sweat.  But we did not know that everything as we knew it had ended.  Nothing was carefree any longer.  The simplicity of only enjoying each other’s presence became something of the past.   I began to see Adam differently and I know how differently he must have viewed me.  I longed for those days when he would gaze deep into my eyes with wonder at my womanhood, when I could see in his eyes that he admired and adored me.  But how could he ever look at me the same again? 

Now when I watch him sleep, I see that rest never fully envelops him.  His face is etched with lines of worry and his mouth stays clenched even in the dead of night, in the safety of where we lie.  During the day, I sometimes still watch him, if I have a moment.  I see his strong, tan arms, which used to embrace me for hours now work the hard ground.  I see that his body is wearing out, that he is growing old before my eyes.  Unaware, he wipes the sweat from his brow, returning to his work, and I wonder if he resents me.  If he could ever love me like he did in the beginning.  Or if too much has changed.  We have both changed so much.  I never meant for it to end this way.  Could we ever begin anew? 

Monday, August 15, 2011

I want
     To go back to eleven before I was marred,
learned that no man was pure,
only a lure toward a cure, false by its very nature
for sure.

In the before,
you were a friend, nothing to mend,
just a trust before the lust made me pay, stole me away to a boy, not a man. 

To him, I ran,
 made a choice for a voice I could hear that was near,
 or so I thought.
And you,
 I fought,
                Took on shame, forgot my name,
for a touch
wasn’t much and You disappeared as I feared. 

I miss our walks, our talks, Your embracing love that came from above.

My dress is torn, my heart forlorn.  Can you take me back with all I lack, wash me clean, show me I’m seen
   now the Eyes of grace,
reflect a shining face,
 a new countenance, a chance to dance where all is new and all
          Is True, and the water pours and my heart soars and again
          It longs
for only Your Songs to right my wrongs?  To rest in the best with You
 never lonely, made pure with the only cure that is sure.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Time

                It was the longest snapshot in my life.  What I mean, is that I didn’t have enough time, could never have had enough time with her, but when she was here, I felt the days were long.  I was weakened and weary most of the time.  Each day, a roller coaster of emotion.  When the evening would at last give way to night and she would finally settle into a peaceful sleep in my arms, restless no more, I would sigh and feel contented, accomplished, and of course, so full of love and pride, my angel baby, breathing deeply on my chest as I rocked and dozed. 

                The days themselves, hectic, and seemingly unending.  I was not a new mother, having two older children.  So, I was busy.  Too busy to hold her for long enough, too tired to fully appreciate the bonding when it happened, duties and responsibilities weighing on my mind, so that I could not just simply absorb the moments of her small coos, her mile-wide smiles.  Oh, yes, I loved them.  I recognized them but never knew these moments would be even more fleeting than for most.  Never knew, that I would one day wish so much for a true unending day.

                And these days of hour to hour changes from frustration to peace, from silly laughter as we all would play to an inside screaming because I desired space, pales now in comparison to that crash from love to loss, the noise of her silence I hear every day.  Joy to sorrow, hope to despair, a light so bright,  in a mere moment of all moments …extinguished. 

In the many, many truly long days after her death, I changed in ways indescribable.  At the hospital, when she was handed to me in all her newness, still wet, but so beautiful, and I held her, I knew as I did with the others, that she was a gift.  Though spent from labor, I knew that the work was the Lord’s and not mine.  Only He could create such lovely a creature.  Her eyes shut, and still instinctively, she knew me, desired me and what I could give her. And I was undeserving of that, so unworthy to have such a great wonder placed in my arms.  That I knew. I never, ever doubted that. 

And so, how when once so certain of His kindness, cannot even the soundest mind become confounded upon what it perceives as the ultimate betrayal?  He gives and takes away, but why?  If the giver once exalted as so good for bestowing such undeserved a gift can now He be viewed as good no longer?  Those thoughts, unavoidable, are what make up your hell in that beginning of the end.   Nothing will wrench your heart more, than to know about never again.  To have experienced the utmost joy, to have held in your very arms tangible hope, to have seen in one’s eyes a light, so long gone in you and then to weep, to mourn, to see no more, may crush faith, will certainly allow in doubt.

But some questions don’t have answers.  The human mind can’t comprehend the heaviest weight.  But it is said, there is a time; a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to be born and a time to die.* And in time comes a time of comfort for the soul, for the seeker, for the believer, in He who is good, whose ways are not our ways, who both gives and takes away. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Prompt: If you had the opportunity to throw a dream party for your closest family and friends, describe what that would look like.

A Christmas party.

 High on a hill, rests my house.  The biggest house in town.... this is how my dream goes as a child....

And every year, neighbors anticipate their invitations to the Christmas Party.  The invitations are written on fancyshmancy cards, penned in calligraphy, tied with gold ribbon announcing the annual black tie affair which everyone will speak of for months after.

The women will all buy new dresses.  They will be gorgeous dresses but mine will be the most gorgeous.  Probably something velvet in deep forest green.  The men will be forced to wear tuxes.  The children will be shined up and they too will come to the party.

The snow will lightly fall on the evening of.  Women will spend hours on their makeup and hair.

I open the huge front door, smiling, bustling, taking coats, offering cocktails.

We mingle.  We dance in the ballroom.

 The ballroom with chandeliers and black and white tile floors.  The children dash around, up and down the winding stair case, in an out of the library.

Maybe we venture outside in the cold to the gazebo where lights are strung about.  There is laughter and gaiety and no one wants the night to end.  It is a fairy tale here.  Tomorrow will be back to routine.  So people linger long into the evening, conversing.  The men begin their talk of politics, the women of fashion.

The kids then ring a small bell.  Their eyes are beginning to droop but there is too much excitement and besides the play is about to begin.  They are the cast.  It will be a classic Christmas story; "A Christmas Carol", "The Velveteen Rabbit", some beloved children's tale and the adults will ooh and aah, the mothers will put their hands to their mouths taken by the sheer talent their children possess and the fathers will chuckle proudly.

Finally, finally, the night must come to an end for it is now the wee hours.  Children can no longer fight their sleepiness.  The daddies carry them to the running cars and the women stall with long goodbyes.

When at last everyone is at home in their own beds, they will dream about the wonderful evening they had.

They can not wait for next year.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011


                Once upon a time, there lived a boy named, Earnest. 

                You don’t like that name?  Neither did Earnest.  He especially hated it when people called him Earnie.  But Earnest was his name.  And though he didn’t like it, his parents did.  This, of course, is why they gave him this name.  And do you know what Earnest means?  It means; sincere.

                 Earnest had an older brother named True.  Now, that was a name Earnest liked.  Why couldn’t he have been given that name, he often wondered.  There were a lot of things Earnest didn’t necessarily like about himself.  He was a very solemn child, giving serious thought to such grave matters as the problem with his name as well as to the problems he believed existed in his village.

                 See, he lived in a beautiful village called Wisdom.  But surrounding his village were other villages which Earnest had visited.  Intellect was to the west of Wisdom, Folly to the east.  Just south of where Earnest lived was Wealth.  There was another village Earnest knew of; the village of Glory.  Earnest had heard of it, but had not yet traveled there.  It was so far north that it would take several days travel to arrive there.  So, of the surrounding villages, it was the first three mentioned where Earnest most often played when not at home. 

                It should be mentioned that although Wisdom was not a said enemy to the three villages of Folly, Intellect and Wealth, neither could Wisdom consider them allies.  Ernest was encouraged by his parents to stay in his own village to play, yet not exactly forbidden from doing otherwise.  So, when finished with his required reading, sometimes he made his way to these other villages, where he had friends.   

                Now, Earnest loved his home.  His parents were very good and kind.  The villagers, too, were people of honor.  And the village of Wisdom was, indeed, beautiful.  But the other villages were, well, glamorous.  The houses were bigger (if not sturdy), the buildings shinier, even the grass, fluffier, although Earnest suspected it might not be real grass. 

                But the real discrepancy between his village and the others was in the way the villages were governed.  In the village of Wisdom, it seemed that many of the important duties were reserved for the elders but in the villages of Intellect, Wealth and Folly, age was of little importance.  And so Earnest’s friends had responsibilities which Ernest didn’t.  For example, in Wealth, Earnest’s friend, Edward was given the job of money counter, Peter was a teacher in Intellect and Henry, from Folly was a soldier already.    Now, granted, Wisdom did not engage in warfare and neither was money much needed but still, Earnest longed for the day his services would be required.  He wanted to feel important.  

                He once expressed this to his father who had merely replied that Earnest was indeed important but that currently he was not ready for all that would be eventually asked of him. 
“Keep reading our book,” instructed his father.  “You’ll need it one day.” 

                Earnest was encouraged to hear that someday he would be called upon (though he knew not yet in what way and fairly doubted that his readings had much to do with anything) but was still a little disappointed that meanwhile, he seemed to lead an unfortunately less exciting life than that of his friends.  

                Yet, good boy that Earnest was, he followed his father’s instructions, diligently reading the sacred book, meditated on it day and night.  As the years passed, Earnest found himself hungering for more of the book.  He had read it from cover to cover but was astonished to find that each time he read, more was revealed.  He also began to play less and less with his out of town friends yet he was never bored.  He was learning such a great deal.

                One day when he was by now full grown, Earnest’s father called for him.

                “Earnest,” he said.  “I am very proud of you, for you have hungered and thirsted after righteousness.  You have lived up to your name.  Now you will see why we have asked you for diligence.  The job you will be given will require much of it.  You still have a lot to learn.  In fact, you will never cease to learn.  But today you are ready to begin sharing with others what has been given to you.”
“What is my job, father?” 

“You, Earnest, are to be a writer.”

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Daddy, why do you and Mommy fight?
Daddy, why are you leaving?
Daddy, please don’t go.

No, I barely remember that day.
Such a long time ago. 
Really, it’s not a big deal.
I’ve moved on.
Too much ado about nothing.

Mommy, does Daddy still love me?
Mommy, was it my fault?
Mommy, please don’t cry.

I don’t believe in marriage.
I don’t believe in God.
Really, I’m fine on my own.
It all amounts to
Much ado about nothing.

I don’t hear from my father.
I can’t talk to my mother.
God, are you there?

Yes, I once believed
But I’ve grown past that.
Really, I’m over it.
Those childhood games-
Much ado about nothing.

Father , is that You?
Lord, I’m on my knees.
God, please take this pain.

Child, I’ve heard you.
I’ve never once left.
Please believe Me,
Though there’s been pain,
I can make something from nothing.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A New Thing

She could remember everything- in a stunningly, vivid way, the memories playing in her head like old movie reels, over and over.  She’d always had a memory such as this.  She could recall details from her childhood with an exactness that shocked her family.  These memories would flood her, especially at night, when she was laying in bed, bringing her either comfort from the past or haunting.
                 And now that she’d been giving nothing but time to them, unable to return to her normal life after what had happened, she was being tormented by them.  They’d taken on a life of their own, robbing her of her present. 
                How could she forget his face?  How could she move past this?  She’d held his still, tiny body for only a moment in the hospital before they’d taken him away, but still she saw each beautiful feature perfectly.  And she saw everything that had happened until his birth or death, those two the same, replaying in her mind.  She even heard her own sobs from that particular day, wrenching, though her tears had long since dried up. 
                And then, over a period of time, her mind had traveled further back from losing her child to her own childhood, to remind her of both good and bad, all that had happened.  But she had no one to share these recollections with, and they became twisted so her perception betrayed her, and even the good no longer seemed pleasant. 
                And high school and college, every wrong path she’d taken, popping back up, when she thought she’d left all that behind, bringing her back to such commanding, overwhelming feelings of failure and despair and hopelessness which matched what she currently felt while now suffocated by the past.
                They had to stop, or she knew she would be driven to the point of insanity.  So finally, she’d cried to Him whom she knew could save her. 
                She begged, “Heal me.  Purge me.  Take these things from me.”
                 And  then miraculously, in the night, after wrestling once again those commanding memories, she dreamt as though she were dying.  Meaning, while fast asleep, she literally saw her whole life pass before her.  Yet the visions did not seem to pass quickly but as if in condensed real time.  They started from her first available memory and slowly journeyed to current. 
                And then, she woke.  What had happened,  she wondered.  She lay silently, analyzing what was different about those memories replayed, those that she’d seen countless times before.  Yes, never in succession, but still there was something more.
                 And then she realized.  There had been no emotion attached to any of the memories.  Memories that before had woken her weeping, were this time viewed as a mere onlooker rather than participant.
                 She’d been delivered from their power.
                Today she still is able to recall things from the past. Yet now she chooses which memories to focus on and which to leave behind.  Nothing has been entirely forgotten.  She can certainly remember each moment in her life that God has been good to her, and smile gratefully, enjoying that reminder.  And of course, she does not suffer from amnesia, so those things which were bad, yes, she is aware that they occurred, but if a memory threatens to rise up, attack, she takes it captive, sees with clarity that she no longer needs to identify with it.
                And her son.  She never will forget him.  But God has healed that anguished memory and replaced it with a vision for the future, a vision in which she is reunited with her child in God’s kingdom. 
                As for now, she has no regrets.  She is not a slave to the past.  She looks forward because God is doing a new thing.