Month: October 2015

Bacon – Five Minute Friday

baconThis week, the WHO placed bacon on it’s list of carcinogens. I was shocked and a bit frightened until I discovered that most food is listed as an actual or probable carcinogen. The only way to avoid cancer and, perhaps, live forever is to starve oneself or, at the very least, forego delicious food. It’s a glum world and I have better things to do.

So I’ll eat bacon and chocolate and eggs and cream and all sorts of other goodies that may hurt me. Everyone’s life comes with an unsurprising surprise, death. And death, for those who follow Christ, is a doorway from the initial experience of eternal life that begins in this world to the never ending experience of eternal life that will be filled with bacon and so many other joys.

I doubt heaven will the pig of Eden. Then again, Homer may be onto something here:

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On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Image source: http://www.fwweekly.com/2013/02/11/bacon-enough-already/

Daunting

I’ve been asked how, after all I’ve suffered, I not only believe in God but love Him more because I’ve suffered. My response to therapists was always, ‘God didn’t hurt me. People did.’ Certainly, there have been occasions when, like Job, I’ve demanded answers. God always answers. And not with dismissive self-righteousness, but by making me more and more human, by showing me that those who hurt me are also human though I’d like an us/them dichotomy.

Would that I could say my us/them perspective no longer exists. Would that I could more clearly see me in them. Them mostly consists of those who hurt me when I was a child. And though I pray for them and hope those who are dead sought and accepted forgiveness before they died, I’m so grateful they are no longer in my life: I’ve escaped the lions’ den and have no desire to go near it again.

Except there’s my writing assignment this week. I’m asked to write from each character’s perspective. And what I need to write is a conflict with the minister from my perspective and from his. Many writers struggle to give their characters flaws. I’m struggling to give the minister humanity. Somehow, I must step into his shoes and see how it’s human to try to thwart and control others. It’s a daunting proposition.

Still, in the midst of this monumental exercise I see an opportunity to forgive a bit more. If the minister was a severely broken human, he was like me and I am like him. If he was a monster then I have the ability to be a monster too. So for the moment, I must put aside my high-pitched objections that insist, ‘I’m not like that!’ For the moment, I must acknowledge that, at the very least, I could be like that. For the moment, I must imagine how I might be if I pushed away the grace of God. Without His grace, I’d be an angry, vengeful, spite-filled, controlling child who demands that life go my way. No matter how uncomfortably, those shoes fit my feet. God saves me from being that person many times each day.

Please pray for me as I complete this assignment. I’ll post the results here.

Joy: Five Minute Friday

I know I’m a good writer but…

I’ve doubted myself. And then I began the University of Iowa course, “How Writers Write Fiction,” and learned that I’m a better writer than I thought. It’s a scary bit of knowledge. A bit of knowledge full of joy. I never thought I’d be able to commit all that goes on inside to paper so that it makes sense.

in the oceanThe surface of my life is only a tiny part of reality. I’m like that line in A Horse With No Name: “The ocean is a desert with it’s life underground and the perfect disguise above.” We see all that water but don’t recognize that there is a huge ecosystem we can’t live in. There’s so much more under the visible surface.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some of my completed assignments. It would be sheer joy to have my readers’ comments.

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On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Image source: http://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-6171821-stock-footage-ocean-underwater-scene-with-sunlight-coral-and-fish-scuba-diving.html

Trust – Five Minute Friday (a day late again)

Flanner O'Connor stampI’m participating in the University of Iowa MOOC, How Writer’s Write Fiction. MOOC, is an acronym for “massive open online course.” Many, such as this one, are free. Flannery O’Connor (whose picture will be on a stamp) studied writing at the University of Iowa’s Writing Workshop and I’m honoured to be in such great company. My hope is that the course will help me develop the complexity of characters and situations in my work-in-progress-but-nearing-completion book, Loved As If.

I went into the course with a great deal of fear and dread. How can I trust my work, which proceeds from a solid Christian worldview, to those who have little or no grounding in Christianity? How do I trust that what I write will even speak to those whose initial points of reference are so antithetical to mine? For some time, anxiety has buzzed just below the surface: What is God expecting of me? How can I possibly deliver? Won’t this be like university where I had to find ways to write about faith without mentioning any actual experience of faith?

I find God is only expecting me to do my best. Thus far, the instructors, mentors, and other writers perceive my work not as religious but as writing. Some may get it, others not. But they respond to well-written characters and situations. Two weeks in and I’ve already discovered that I can express a character’s anxiety or joy or anger without using adverbs (anxiously) or telegraphing action (she felt joy rise within her and said…) or being the narrative voice that explains what the characters are doing (“I hate you!,” she screamed in anger.) What matters is that I can trust God even when He sends me into hostile territory.

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On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Image source: http://aleteia.org/2015/05/28/flannery-oconnor-to-be-honored-with-us-postage-stamp/

Family – Five Minute Friday (a day late)

Another rewrite:

guardedNancy heaved her bulging bag onto her narrow bed and began pulling out stacks of neatly folded garments that smelled of biting sweet detergent. “How was Thanksgiving?” she asked.

“Okay,” my said in soft, small tones. My forehead wrinkled, my voice grew stronger “The houses are so close together. I thought that was only in Manhattan.”

Nancy laughed, “That’s the way it is in New York. Everywhere except the suburbs.”

“Oh,” I sat up straight on the hard, wood chair, held my legs out, and pointed and flexed my feet.

“It must be hard for you to be so far from home,” Nancy continued.

I pulled in a deep, cautious breath, “I guess.”

“What was your home like?”

“More land, bigger gardens. There’s a barn and playhouse… and a kitchen garden” I replied. “The vegetables here are like plastic,” my voice rose, cutting the quiet of the room, resounding off the hard surfaces of the floor and the iron beds. “I miss tomatoes that taste like sunshine.” The words tumbled past the censor that had stood stiffly at her post since the day I woke with my mouth pressed against the rusty, dusty screen door.

“Do you miss the family you lived with?” Nancy, her folded laundry now stored in the solid utilitarian bureau or stacked in her closet, sat on the edge of her bed, her chin resting in one cupped hand.

Images of the world which the man inhabited rose in my heart. I pushed most of them away before speaking, “I miss Matthieu.” I paused to review my feelings. “He’s the youngest.” I added. Internally, I scanned the remaining images. “I miss the mountains and Lake Mirren. And swimming everyday and my sewing machine.”

As I spoke, mountains, large green lake, my body slicing through chlorine water, the whir of my sewing machine presented themselves. The censor nodded. Each might be allowed public viewing.

Nancy sat gazing at me. Her patient, gentle attention hurt but there were no more images fit to be shared.

“What do you miss?” I asked trying to redirect her to herself.

“I miss my horse,”she told me.

“You have a horse?” I asked, my eyes wide, my heart rejoicing that she owned one of those magnificent beasts.

“Yes,” Nancy’s face held a small, wistful smile.

Then silence hung in the room. Something more seem expected of me. My voice faltered as the sentence left my lips, “I – I guess I’m looking forward to Christmas.”

She nodded her head. “I miss my family too.”

Nancy sighed, stood up, took her shower basket and one of her still fresh from being laundered towels and left the room.

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On Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

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