Lean or Anorexic

In the last few years, I’ve noticed writing styles have changed. They are now like our society. Life is mad dash from morning to night with little time in between. Less is more, publishing houses insist. Tighten, tighten, tighten. As writers, we are forced to adapt. But is this a good thing?

As a reader, I’m not so sure. Perhaps it’s the countless books I’ve read, or had read to me, over the past sixty-nine years, but I struggle with these new guidelines. My latest peeve, the one that prompted me to write this post, was a book written by four of the most popular writers in Christian fiction. I was excited when I saw the book on Amazon and put it to the top of my reading list. The story had to rock. These authors are as popular as snowflakes in winter.

But shortly into the story, my snowball burst.  Except for the last section, written by an author who delighted me, it was one of the hardest to “keep reading” books I’ve ever read. In the first three sections I felt like I was dangling in that zone between sleep and awake. Nothing anchored me anything or anyone. I remember the characters only because they were the same as those in the final section. Which brings me to my pondering. Where does lean end and anorexic begin?

The first section, that should have anchored me into the story, read like an outline. Whoever’s pov I was in felt like a pine box. Try as I would, I could not find a comfy spot to curl up in and let the story take me to some far and distant land. Instead, I was in a world that sped past me faster than my surroundings when I’m riding the tilt-a-whirl at a local fair.

To be fair, some of the old classics can describe a flower in a field in so much detail, I’ve forgotten why I’m in the field by the time I see exactly what the author saw and felt. And who really cares if it’s a coffee or a tea stain on the white tablecloth, unless it’s a mystery you’re reading. But, fluff gives me an option. Over the years, I’ve become very good at skimming. But in this day and age, that’s not practical either.

What I need is something in between. I want to know my protagonist, where she lives, what she likes, what she doesn’t, and what she wants bad enough to write a book about. I want a subtle description of her that allows me to fill in the blanks with my own imagination. I don’t want a block of white houses described, but if one is brown with a red horseshoe on the door, my interest is peaked.

I understand how age and time can dictate writing styles, but for me, they have gone bi-polar. Older stories tweak my skimming abilities, while many newer ones leave me frustrated because I can’t find the link between the dots. When I find a story that flows like a river, ripple after ripple, around and over obstacles and finishes in a waterfall, my toes curl up in delight, right back to my heels.   

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God Moments

Every day, all around us, small insignificant events take place. Most go unnoticed, but others are life changing. God moments, I call them. My interpretation of be still and know that I am God.
Ten years ago, my husband, Alex, was diagnosed with cancer and given five months to live. Shock waves shot through our family, neighborhood, and church.
Alex shared his time and resources with everyone. He had a marvelous sense of humor that lightened even the heaviest situations. So many people wanted to say goodbye and spend time with him. The phone rang constantly. Our front entrance became a revolving door. Our daughter came home to help me with Alex’s care.
One day, a month after his diagnosis, our daughter left for the day to spend time with her brother. By mid afternoon, several friends dropped by, and our daughter phoned, saying she was spending the night at her brother’s. Unusual, I thought, but realized siblings can comfort each other in a way no one else can. I pushed the unusual from my mind.
I was exhausted, and deep shadows on Alex’s face bore witness to his weariness. With much effort, he pushed out of his recliner saying, I’m going to lie down. Please come with me. I glanced at all the dirty dishes in the kitchen, left behind by constant company, and opened my mouth to ask for fifteen minutes. But my words stopped.
Since it was too painful for Alex to lie down, I collected pillows from the beds around the house and made our bed into a giant recliner. As we snuggled together, warmth flowed through us, much like an electric blanket on a cold winter night, and nothing around us existed. Alex’s pain ebbed. We talked about the fun things we’d done, the places we’d been, the people we’d met, the mistakes we’d made. We laughed about the shenanigans our children had done. The wonderful adults they’d grown to be. Evening turned into night. Still we talked and laughed. With no warning Alex’s mind softened and he returned to Bosnia, where he’d served as a military engineer years ago. I held him until he calmed, then we drifted off to sleep.
The following day, Alex’s pain returned and he was admitted to the hospital. Within hours he was gone, but stories pierced my darkness.
The night before, Alex’s cousins were coming from Edmonton to visit him, but a tire on their car went flat. By the time AMA changed it, it was too late. Friends were coming from Calgary, but a sudden blizzard closed the highway between Calgary and Red Deer. And our daughter chose to spend the night at our son’s home.
Wonderment filled me. God used blizzards and flat tires and sibling love to give Alex and I that last evening by ourselves, to lie down in green pastures. Even now, ten years later, when I find myself in darkness and see no way out, I remember that night and am filled with hope for tomorrow.

Praise in the Storm

This morning I awoke to a Neuralgia flare-up, a neurological condition that has taken up residence in my brain for many years. My head throbbed, feeling like a giant pimple not quite ready to be popped, but regardless, something or someone was squeezing it. Waking up in this state is not new or surprising, but what makes today is a trifle different is, I must write a blog post on thankfulness.

As I stared at my screen trying to gather my thoughts the letters and icons across the top turned into bright stars doing a square dance all over the page. My eyes drifted closed and I leaned back in my chair. Within seconds a beautiful old hymn floated into my thoughts—I see the stars—I hear the rolling thunder—Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Immediately I was reminded of how small and insignificant I am, yet my Heavenly Father took time to nudge me into refocusing my mind. Gratitude overflowed from within and I recalled a few of the many blessed moments in my life.

It overwhelms me knowing that our great and mighty God gave me the privilege of growing up in a home where godliness was a way of life. Sunday School was not an option, and I am thankful for those Sunday afternoons because it was in that small group I committed my life to Christ.

I am grateful for my children and grandchildren, my brothers and sister, my church family and my writing family. I am thankful I live in a country where freedom is a reality. It may be cold at times, but I have a warm house and my cupboards and fridge are always full. When I’m lonely, friends or entertainment are only a click away. My eyes don’t work very good anymore, but I have an active imagination that can fill in details I can not see.

 It would be nice to say that throughout my mini praise the pain in my head lessened but that is not so. It hurts big time but it no longer controls my feelings. For this I’m grateful because by changing the direction of my thoughts I was able to complete this post. I am also grateful for my soft comfy bed I’m about to curl up in until my head returns to normal. While I’m being thankful for big things, I’m reminded of the small day to day blessings I find myself taking for granted. For example, my four kitties, Beebins, Oliver, Athena, and Bentlee who will curl up around me, their soft purrs and unconditional love always bringing me comfort.

Satisfied I’d done all I could for this post, I clicked on the save icon and that beautiful old hymn once again filled my thoughts. Then sings my soul—My Savior God to Thee—how great Thou art.

 

 

No word can describe…

Aside

My Saturday was one of those days that demanded 48 hours of work and offered only 8 hours to accomplish it. As in that old farm expression, I made like the plow horse. Lowered my head, grasp the bit between my teeth and pushed onward. By mid-afternoon, I felt as if some over-weight giant stood on my chest, my legs trembled, and if I’d have attached tambourines to the inside of my knees, it would have given rhythm a whole new meaning. My arms weakened to the point that half of what I lifted slipped from between my rubbery fingers. I leaned against the wall and took stock of what I had left to do. The result was overwhelming. “Father God,” I prayed, “please infuse some umption in my gumption, or I’ll no longer be able to function.”

As I was about to slide down the wall onto my butt and indulge in the world’s biggest pity party, my niece walked in. A shot of umption zapped my gumption, and in a couple hours we finished everything that needed doing. Now, rested and thinking back, I am so humbled. The God of heaven and earth heard the desperation in my blubbering jingle, and not only renewed my strength but sent me help. And that I struggle to wrap my head around. And…I am so thankful for my niece. For her compassion. Her willingness to help others. Her ability to see the sun through the clouds. To make me laugh when I want to cry. Thanx, Jenn. You’re the best, and I love you tons….then a wee bit more…

A Time to Grow

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As I jogged along the trail today only one thought came to mind. Spring is here. Yes, snow still covered the landscape but beneath it, water poured into ponds and low-lying areas. Naked trees still shivered in the breeze, but the breeze no longer bit. I slowed down as I jogged passed the willows, noticing tiny buds on their stems. A promise of pussy willows. A bright yellow sun shone from a cloudless sky turning my hoodie into a sauna. I removed it, tied it around my waist, and without the extra weight on my shoulders, my speed picked up.

Thoughts zoomed through my mind as if on steroids. The Easter story rose above the rest. What Jesus did for me all those years ago. Sure, I was a good girl. Going to church on Sunday was what we did. Do for others what you want them to do for you was not an option. Yet, my life wasn’t much different from the snow banks hugging the trail I jogged upon. On the outside I was like the clean white top layer of snow that glistened in the sunlight. Those millions of snowflakes huddled together, suggesting softness and purity. They begged me to lie down in the midst of them and make a snow angel. But the wisdom I’d gained from living through many springs dismissed the invitation. These snow banks, like many other things in life were not what they appeared to be.

Beneath that pure white surface, skulked layers of deteriorating snow and filthy water. As the water flowed across gentle inclines in search of a place to pool, debris of all descriptions hitch hiked a ride, changing its course, slowing its progress, making it filthier. A far cry from the sheet of driven snow it started out to be.

My heart ached. |Tears blurred my vision. I had been born pure and clean as a fresh snowfall, but years of disobedience and wrong choices made my life personify a March landscape. Until I met Jesus for whom He really is. The Savior of my soul. The forgiver of my life-threatening sins. The healer of my aging body.

I stopped jogging, my gaze sweeping my surroundings. It came to a rest on a small knoll rising above its frozen surroundings. Brown grass and dead leaves covered it, making it appear drab against the snow. Almost unsightly. Picking my way through the snow, I walked toward it, and squatted. Beneath the rotting foliage tiny, green blades of grass reached for the sun.

A small discovery as seen through my human eyes. But my spiritual eyes saw so much more. It reminded me of how often Christ had brought something fresh and beautiful out of situations I had written off as wasted.

For me a walk/jog is not just an exercise to keep my physical body in shape. It is a time I meet with God. Sometimes, through earnest prayer, but more often, small things like new grass, dandelions and melting snow whisper to me How Great is my God.

He is High and Lifted Up

Early this morning,I left for my daily walk/run, my thoughts in a turmoil. Regardless of my struggle to keep postive, yesterday plagued my mind. I'd been helping my 35 yrear-old son who has MS.His words, brimming with anger and defeat still burned in my head. The sight of him clinging  to railings, cupboards, and walls to navigate around his home haunted my heart. As a mother, I wanted to cradle him as I did when he was two years old. To tell him tomorrow will be better. But he's no longer little and I know tomorrow might be worse. I needed to blame someone, something. To scream. To demand why. Was this punishment for some wrong deed? My fists clenched. My throat ached and I looked up.  Only God had  the answers. Peace like a warm blanket swaddled me and He is High and Lifted Up floated into my thoughts and as if to prove it, as I sprinted around the next corner the rose high enough to to set aglow a clump of trees. Humbled, I slowed my pace. In spite of my negitivity, God had taken time to remind me even in the midst of dispair, He is with us. He is High and Lifted Up, and will give us the strength and wisdom we need in the moment we need it. Early this morning, I left for my daily walk/run, my thoughts in a turmoil. Regardless of my struggle to keep positive, yesterday plagued my mind. I’d been helping my 35 year-old son who has MS. His words, brimming with anger and defeat, still burned in my head. The sight of him clinging  to railings, cupboards, and walls, to navigate around his home haunted my heart. As a mother, I wanted to cradle him as I did when he was two years old. To tell him tomorrow will be better. But he’s no longer little and I know tomorrow might be worse. I needed to blame someone, something. To scream. To demand why. Was this punishment for some wrong deed? My fists clenched. My throat ached and I looked up.  Only God had  the answers. Suddenly, peace like a warm blanket swaddled me and the song He is High and Lifted Up floated into my thoughts. As if to prove it, when I sprinted around the next corner the sun had risen high enough to set aglow a clump of trees. Humbled, I slowed my pace. In spite of my negativity, God had taken time to remind me even in the midst of despair, He is with us. He is High and Lifted Up, and will give us the strength and wisdom we need in the moment we need it.

Veiled

Veiled
All is not as it appears.

On first impression, these glimmering waves threatened to lull me into a state of tranquility. Moments before I yielded to its temptation, I took a closer look.

Beneath the glossy surface, darkness rules. Hunters pursued the hunted. Roots struggled to remain attached. The environment shifted and swayed, constantly changing. Only the strongest survived. Not unlike that which  lurks behind my face. Thoughts come and go. Some passing almost unnoticed, while others overshadow all else.  Like a living organism they polish and tweak, constantly expanding until they dominate my mind, becoming the foundation on which a story builds.