Category: Resurrection

All Along You Were Trusting Me – Assignment 3


Rage. That was the worst thing. Seeing Grandpère murdered was brutal but the rage that flooded my soul was worse. Ditto Ti Eduardo’s murder. And being raped. And Marmar’s and Papa’s murders. And the neglect and abuse by the minister and his family. And all the abandonment. None of that compares to the rage.

I have so much rage. Rage against myself, I tried to commit suicide so many times. Rage against others, I tried to kill the minister.

He survived only because Charles was inept. Had I been old enough to get drugs, he would have died. But all I could do was use my voice and words to convince Charles to kill his father. When he stirred the contents of the capsules into the milk, I assumed it was a lethal dose. What does a nine year-old know? I was so full of arrogant rage, I would make the horror end.

And all along You were trusting me. Me!

All along You were trusting me to bring my heart with it’s huge load of arrogant rage to You and let You heal me. I deserved to be zapped out of existence. I’m dangerous. Look at the way I treated that security guard. He said I called him ‘a leech, a lowlife, and a non-entity.’ I didn’t call him any of those things but I made him feel that way. He crossed the line and I crushed him.

I ought to have loved him. You love me so much. I ought to have loved him even though he was being a jerk.

When Jesus is in our handsNow You have me praying for the soldiers who murdered Grandpère and Ti Eduardo. Last week, I wanted them dead. Today, I pray but I’m not trustworthy. The arrogant child who wanted the minister dead, who wanted the soldiers and whoever murdered Marmar and Papa to die still lives within me. She’s old enough to know murder is wrong but there are other ways to annihilate people. (Remember Cade?) On some future tomorrow, I will probably try to annihilate someone else. And You will still be trusting me.

You take immense risks. That’s the way You are. This is part of Your plan. This is You putting Yourself in my hands letting me choose whether to crucify You or be crucified beside You. I hate pain!

(This does make beautiful, horrible sense. You get us to love the unlovable by using what You’ve given us. You use the curiosity that has helped me survive in this crazy world. And You make me indebted to murderers and abusers because praying for them leads me to love them in ways I would never imagine.)

You shouldn’t trust me.

Please. I may not be curious about whether an enemy will see me in their children’s eyes. I may go on fuming about some slight and not attend to You showing me how I was rude and annihilating. I’m not worthy of Your trust. The ugliness in my soul is the same ugliness in the world; I so want to make the world in my image. And I only want the salvation of those who cross the line when You hold my feet to the fire. You are not safe in my hands.


The assignment is to write about something that is both beautiful and horrifying, sustaining and devastating.

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Surprise – Five Minute Friday

Death is always a surprise even though it’s always the toy prize at the end of life. It’s nearly unbearable. Only the perfect love that casts out fear makes it to go on living with such so much loss. Of course we neither love nor accept love perfectly, but love is perfect and makes it possible to live in the shadow of death.

surprised by joyMy life is evidence of what perfect love does for us, of how God cares for us in the particulars of our lives even when those particulars are horrid. But it’s hard to express. When I feared I’d mourn forever, God surprised me again and again. He has more surprises than I ever imagined. Eventually, I even encountered the surprise of discovering that I don’t want to go back to the far off halcyon days for which I longed. I’m happy and so, so grateful to live without rancour because of all that I lost.

So please pray for me as I struggle to complete my rewrite, as I struggle to give voice to joy.


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.

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First (The Christmas Card I Wanted To Write)

“[S]eek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

God reveals the beauty in us.

Pieta, The C.1498 Buonarroti, Michelangelo (1475-1564 Italian) Marble Sculpture St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

First, it hurts. Like warm water on frozen fingers. Like Michelangelo chipping away at a block of marble because he knows the Pieta or David is within. Chip. chip. Chip. God is plying his little hammer and chisel. First, it hurts.

Then I remember that first, my parents gave me to God in baptism and entrusted me to His care.

And first, I chose to risk my life on the belief that He really meant, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” If that promise is a lie, then all the other firsts are meaningless.

And first, He has always made it possible for me to withstand the chiseling and so I remain and let Him work. He loves me. I know that. There is no why. I’m not worthy. There is only love.

And first, there are my friends who share in community I hoped for but could never really imagine. They’re the biggest surprise. They wait with me as God warms my frozen flesh and brings me back to life. They wait as He chisels away. They wait in expectation even when I can’t turn my eyes in hope that there is something glorious in me that He is releasing. They wait even when I can’t find words to say “thank you” for loving me. So I will wait with them. I will have faith in their faith.

First, it’s a glorious new year.


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.

Yes! – Five Minute Friday


I want to say “Yes!” to you every day, every moment, every time You call me to follow You. At times I don’t. I don’t when I feel I’m being inspected, weighed in the balance, and found wanting. I don’t when I feel I’m being improved, molded. Like Bertie Wooster, “I don’t want to be molded! I’m not a jelly.” There may be good reason for my reluctance and fear but reluctance and fear are never reason enough not to say “Yes!” to You. I would face anything for You.

But this is one of those things I can’t do myself. I keep trying and failing. I fill my time with distractions when I could be finishing my book, studying, vocalizing, engaging in activities You’ve given me, activities I really want to do. A huge, solid block of fear bars my way, pins my wings so that I cannot soar. I don’t know how to move it. And just telling myself to write or study or anything else anyway isn’t working. This is one of those things I need You to do.

Just as You made it possible for me to forgive the unforgivable, You can make me able to write about what You have done for me. You can give me the strength to let the light you’ve given me shine. You can work what ever must be worked in me so that I get past the block or even discover that block is nothing more than an ephemeral mist, not worthy of my concern. So whatever I need and whatever it takes, work it in me so that I may give You my unreserved “Yes!” I’m not asking You to make it feel good. I only ask to do Your will – I don’t think hiding is Your will. Let me say “Yes!” in thought word and deed. Let my life be the song of “Yes!” The dance of “Yes!” A total “Yes!”

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Follow – Five Minute Friday

I’ve wanted to make “Loved As If” my magnum opus and answer all those who are amazed that I follow Christ even though my life has often been “solitary, poore, nasty, [and] brutish.”

Among other things, I’m a student of literature and especially of the stories we call myth and legend. Originally, they were simply the stories one generation handed down to another. Until fairly recently, humans weren’t interested in empirical proof of the facts. We wanted to pass on truth. Aesop and Gilgamesh pass on immense truths that have been part of what it means to be human since the beginning.

“The Epic of Gilgamesh” is one of my all time favourite pieces of literature. It’s also one of the oldest known to man. I’ve always been struck by Gilgamesh’s lament when he first realizes he will die. He prays to the god Shamash because he sees the bodies floating in the river; and realizes this too will be his lot. All that is left is to make a great name for himself. He and his dear friend, Enkidu, undergo many trials and adventures and win great renown. Then Enkidu dies and Gilgamesh loses himself. Death can do that to us.

jesus-and-child-10When I lost my parents, I lost myself. I did not know who I was or to whom I belonged. Knowing that I didn’t belong to the minister, that I gained no identity from him gave me a bit of information about who I was not but none about who I was. That knowledge came from my Friend, from Christ. He condescended to follow me and lead me through the horrifying labyrinth of my childhood. But eventually, I had to choose if I would follow Him. It made me cranky that I had to choose. Then I understood, Christ could not be a beloved magical teddy bear to comfort me, perform miracles when needed, and provide wisdom. He had to be my God as well as my Friend. I had to be willing to follow Him even if my life never became the image I had conjured in my mind and contained more heartache and pain.

He has always been so gracious to me. He has always been there. And I want to follow because of His graciousness and generosity but also because in Him, I know who I am; Christ gives me identity. It doesn’t matter if the identity I have now is the one I would have had my life had been different. This is me. It is the Lord’s doing and it is astoundingly marvelous in my eyes.


Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results. 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. Kate Motaung at  Heading Home provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Five Minute Friday: Tomorrow

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” (Matt 6:34)

tomorrowAs a child, I looked forward to tomorrow. By the time I was six, I knew Matthew 6:34 by heart and wanted so badly to “let the day’s own trouble be sufficient.” But each day held so much trouble, a surfeit not a sufficiency. I needed tomorrow.

And then it came. And was different but so much like yesterday — still the surfeit and not the sufficiency. Then came the therapist who told me, “You don’t want to be an ordinary person.” I was confused.

But he was right. I thought tomorrow held the extraordinary and that was what I had been reaching for: I knew I needed extraordinary healing. But today holds the ordinary people and activities that God uses to bring extraordinary healing.

Today holds the friends who are only doing what is ordinary for them but is extraordinary for me. Today holds the smiling face that pierces my heart when I awake from anesthesia: on too many yesterdays, I had awakened alone. Today holds the priest who offers to make an appointment with me and does: on too many yesterdays, priests had dismissed their own suggestion that we should meet and dismissed me.

Today holds ordinary that pierces my heart and heals me. I won’t find that in tomorrow. It’s not over the next hill, nor down in some hidden valley. It’s right here in the midst of a world that so often holds a surfeit of trouble instead of a sufficiency.



Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results. 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. Kate Motaung at  Heading Home provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

L is for Love The Unlovable

Words were stuck somewhere between my mind and my mouth; my lips would not open.

“How are you,” Dr. Vogwall inquired.

I looked back at him in silence. My brow furrowed. I closed my eyes for a moment. Neat printing appeared across the screen of my mind. I breathed in, “I’ve been writing songs.” Something had reduced my voice to a soft, flatness.

“I know,” he replied.

I cleared my throat and tried again, “These are new songs, different songs. The others are about comfort. These are about…” my voice trailed off. I took a deep breath and tried again, “They’re about the minister and his family.” My eyes opened wide to catch the response on Dr. Vogwall’s face. My ears stained for the words that might fall from his lips.

His face remained impassive. I looked towards the ceiling and then down at my hands against my grey skirt. “I wrote lyrics about the man, the minister,” pleading filled my voice. I sniffed. Was that a tear? “I don’t know where they came from…” my voice trailed off.

“Would you like to share them?” Dr. Vogwall inquired, his face still impassive.

For a moment, I probed my heart and mind, Do I want to share them? Then, “Maybe some of them.” My voice became clear though it remained soft and flat, “‘You never knew you had struck out already, there was no way you could win. How could I love you when that would betray him, I hated you most for who you weren’t’ that’s part of one verse…” my voice trailed off.

“What does that mean to you?”

“I don’t know,” I whimpered and scratched my chin. “Well… I suppose I do,” my voice was a squeaky, almost whisper. “I think I loved him,” though I sniffed, the tear that had been hovering in the corner of my eye ran down my cheek. “How can that be?”

“How do you think it can be?” Dr. Vodwall’s impassiveness continued.

“I don’t know. He did horrible things to me. He was unlovable. But when I found out he was dead, I wasn’t happy. Why wasn’t I happy?” I pleaded.

“Why weren’t you?”

“I don’t know. A nun once told me a story about a man who died and didn’t know Christ. In the story, Christ invites the man to come be with Him. At first, the man demurs but then he accepts because Christ is so loving and gracious. I know Christ invited. I think I hope the man accepted. I think I want to see him in heaven,” my voice was a puzzled snuffle. “But how can that be? How can I love the unlovable? That’s really what the song is saying. How can all the horrible things he did to me mean less than that he wasn’t my father.”

The flood of tears surpassed my ability to hold them back. My arms across one another in a shivering self-hug and I rocked myself in the leather chair. Dr. Vogwall waited.

“He was unlovable,” I announced when my tears had abated.

“When you were a child, yes. But now?” Dr. Vogwall inquired.

“How can he be lovable now when he wasn’t then?!” I demanded.

“What do you think?” he asked.

“I don’t know.” I propped my right elbow on the arm rest and eased my forehead into my hand. The ticking of a clock filled the silence. “I guess…” I began. After a deep breath, I began again, “I’ve changed. He didn’t change. He got worse. That’s why he’s dead. But I’ve changed. I think praying for him has changed me.” I looked up to see Dr. Vogwall slowly nodding his head.

“I can love the unlovable,” I told him. “And…” my breath became a whisper again. I forced more volume, “And I think I can see him as a man instead of a monster.” Tears trickled down my cheeks. “He was a monster. He really was. But he was also just a man.” I sniffed and daubed at my tears with a fresh handful of tissues. Then words tumbled from my mouth, “It hurts so much that he never gave me the chance to love him. It hurts so much that I have to love him in absentia.”

G is for God Meant It For Good


Lent has been brutal. I cried every single day. It’s a liquid Lent. Sharon was so concerned but she laughed every time I said it was just dross removal; I have so much dross to be removed. The tears seem to be abating; the sun shines sometimes.

The soldiers, the man who raped me, the ministers, the cruel children in that house, even the minister’s wife, all those who did horrible things to me, though some of them would say they were helping me, they all meant to hurt me. Some of them weren’t even singling me out. I just happened to be easy prey.

But I was right when I told that therapist that people hurt me, You didn’t. But You didn’t protect me from people and that hurt so much; I’ve been so angry. But the liquid Lent showed me a different perspective.

I’ve begged You to pull a Deus ex machina, to undo my suffering and loss, to exempt me from the consequences of the sins committed against me. You don’t. To do so would have been to give me my fantasy world. That would be truly cruel. My fantasies aren’t real even if they’re prettier than reality. Reality has real people and real consequences. The bullets that killed Grandpère and the rest of my family did have to be real. If not, life would not be real.

God meant it for goodBut the liquid Lent has been showing me that Grandpère’s body slamming against the wall, his blood smeared on the white paint and pouring out over his immaculate, pale blue shirt need not be the end. While You won’t exempt me from what it means to live in a world we broke but don’t know how to fix, You will let me be like Joseph telling his brothers, “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.”

You will use our suffering for good, if we choose. You do that with for me.

You know how much I can talk, mostly to fill the space. But when I visit Andrew, I become silent. I wait. I watch intently and let him communicate in his own time. It takes all my energy and more. But I believe we can communicate and we do.

I know that’s You. People terrify me. But somehow, Andrew, and AIDS patients, the sick and hurting, and little children call from me the ability to listen and love. I no longer stand on the sidelines waiting to be invited. Their pain calls to me and I find myself just loving them. From my suffering, You’ve created the ability for me to do for others what wasn’t done for me. I never asked for it. I thought I was content just to hang out with You; You’ve got other plans.

Today, I’m like Joseph. Today, I can say, ‘God meant it for good.” Today, I know that You intend to use evil others have committed against me to do very good things in and for me. But on some tomorrow, I will forget. I’m not as smart as I think. Something will hurt or frighten me and I will forget. Please remind me. Please help me continue to see the truth: God meant it for good. Yes! You did.

Leviathan Flees

For six weeks, Spring had been bringing fresh, mild days to New York but my body was hunched in the chair, my arms wrapped tightly around me as if to ward off a winter that refused to relinquish it’s hold; the warm sun had not penetrated the thick, chill fog that hung about me. My eyes had been red and swollen for several days… Ever since I’d written the letter to God… Ever since the words had spilled from my pen: ‘They lied to me.’

best woman crying sad sketchThe letter ended there. Its preamble had merely been an ineffective delaying tactic. And before the ink seeped into the paper, misery unleashed its power, left me with little except wet, salt-stung cheeks and eyes gritty with sand. Warmth fled. Laughter was unthinkable. Only fog remained. It penetrated to my depths, filled every empty space; I was a heavy blob of tears.

“How are you?” my therapist inquired after my hand reached for a wad of tissues to dab at dripping eyes and nose.

My lower lip trembled. The tissues made a quick swipe at my nose. My head shook. My nose sniffed damply and loudly. “I know what it is,” I whimpered. My face screwed itself up. The stream of tears burst its banks. Two more damp quick sniffs and then, “I know what I’m so afraid of.” My throat swallowed, my chest heaved up and down. “They lied to me,” my voice was a hoarse whisper.

My therapist leaned forward, “What do you mean?”

“When they sent me away,” more swallowing, more damp sniffs. Pained composure descended for a moment. “Papa sat me on his desk. I’d drawn some maraschino cherries for him. He took the drawing, told me it was beautiful, tacked it to the cork board above his desk,” the sniffing came again in short, sharp, moist bursts. My chest heaved out clicking breaths: huhnh, huhnh, huhnh, huhnh, huhnh!. The wet, shredded tissues scrubbed at my eyes and nose.

“He told me they were sending me away.” My face scrunched up as the words left my mouth. “He said they wanted me to be safe while they found the bad man, the man who hurt me.” My hand raised itself up to wipe at the liquid running from my nose. “I told him, ‘But I will never see you again.’ Papa pulled me against him and said, ‘Of course you will. You will be home before you know it.’ I shook my head against his chest and cried. My tears soaked through his sweater. I can feel the wool against my cheek. The warm, wet, woolly scent is in my nose,” my hand stroked my cheek where it had pressed against Papa’s chest.

After another loud sniff, I continued, “I told him I needed him. That I really would never see him again. He said, ‘You must be my brave little girl. And I will be right here if you need me.’ He held me away and looked into my face, ‘If you need me, draw maraschino cherries for me and ask Siobhan to send them. I’ll come right away.’ He held me close again, ‘We must make sure you’re safe. And as soon as the bad man is found, you will come right home.'”

My body shook. My hand reached for a wad of dry tissues. My chest tried to pull air into my blocked nose. My arms hugged my body tighter as it rocked to and fro.

“But what do you mean that they lied?”

My forehead scrunched. Why didn’t he understand? I took a deep breath, “He sent me away from the danger but they stayed and the danger killed them. He knew he was staying with the danger. He knew they would be killed. But he lied and said I’d be home before I knew it. He told me to send the maraschino cherries but he was dead and there wasn’t anybody to receive them. He’d never be able to come,” my voice tried to scream through the dampening tears.

When my breath eased “And Marmar knew too. She cried when I left. I can see her there. She cried so hard, Papa was supporting her. I had told her that I would never see her again just like I told Papa. But she said, ‘Don’t worry, my Lyssa. God will take good care of you. You’ll be home soon.’ But when I left, her heart was being ripped away and she knew it.”

My chest shook out breaths in short clicks: huhnh, huhnh, huhnh, huhnh, huhnh! Except for the wet, clicking noise, the room remained silent.

Finally, my therapist asked, “Did Professor Cumberlan learn when they died?”

The tears, though suspended, waited just within my eyes to burst forth again. With a loud sniff, my nose attempted to pull a breath past the congestion, “About three weeks after they sent me away. Probably a little less. They were walking in the park near our home. Someone shot them.” My forehead scrunched itself, “It’s as if I can feel what happened to them. Papa was shot in the neck. My head wants to snap to the side the way his must have. Marmar was shot in the abdomen. I can feel a big wound in my body.” Leaking tears quickly reverted to a torrent that weighed my head down and pulled me into a deeper slump.

“Small children often have a close connection with their parents,” he told the top of my head. “It’s not unusual that you would feel your parent’s deaths. But I think you’re wrong. I don’t think they lied to you.”

My head raised itself. My eyes examined his face. Another loud, wet sniff brought in enough air to whisper, “What do you mean?” Tears spilled over leaving salt tracks on my dark cotton skirt.

“You’re looking at it from a child’s perspective. You were afraid you’d never see them again. Somehow, you may have had a strong sense that you would never see them again. But they didn’t know. Three weeks isn’t a very long time. If your father knew they were in danger, he would have left just as he left South America.” My therapist took a breath and shaped each word clearly and precisely, “Your father loved you. He wanted you to be safe.” My mouth shaped itself into a small O as my head nodded slightly in agreement; the tears had subsided once again. “He didn’t set you up to be disappointed. He did what I would have done. He made sure you were safe and that you had a way to contact him.” My mouth widened itself to a pained pout. “He didn’t know. Neither did your mother. They believed you were in danger. But there was no reason for them to believe that they were also in danger.”

A hoarse squeak left my mouth, “Really?”

He leaned forward and looked directly in my eyes, “Do you believe your father deliberately set you up?”

Several moist sniffs pulled in air and pushed back tears. “No,” it came out in an almost voiceless whisper. My eyes widened. A pout pulled my lips out. Another sniff came. A few tears tumbled down. My voice sounded high and breathy, “But… I thought… I thought they lied.”

“You were wrong,” my therapist told me.

My mouth twisted itself into a confusion. Tears brimmed my lower lids.

“You were wrong,” he repeated.

My eyes narrowed, my neck twisted my head to one side as if my ears had caught a sound that was nearly, but not quite, audible. The almost sound coursed into my heart. “I was wrong,” I whispered. My barely audible voice released more tears, different tears, tears that washed long-caked debris from my heart.

After repairing my skirt and rinsing my face in the bathroom, I stepped out into the warmth of the Spring afternoon. There was a delicious, green scent in the air. The growing leaves seemed newly cut — laser cut — sharp, clear, in shades of green richer than I had seen before. The late afternoon sky had been washed with clear, soft blueness. Puffy white clouds, tinged with pinks lounged about. My body wanted to float alongside them. My legs, longing to dance, rejoiced in the swishing fabric of my long cotton skirt. My feet raise my ballet black flats in little sweeping kicks. “Is it always this beautiful?” I softly asked my Friend. “Why have I never seen it before?” I breathed in another draught of the sweet air. Hailing a taxi, I settled myself in the back and pressed my forehead against the cracked the window. The taxi’s wheels against the asphalt sang to me with each revolution, They didn’t lie.

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Five Minute Friday: Gather

Once He gave me a lightening bolt.

Mt Saviour MonasteryAs I walked up the mountain to the women’s guesthouse from the chapel at Mount Saviour Monastery just outside Elmira, New York, I happily chatted with God. The week of silence and exquisite beauty had left me giddy with delight. Silence clears the heart and mind. And at Mount Saviour, silence is respected so much, those on silent retreat take meals separately from visitors who want company with their rest.

Walking up that mountain on the late-spring day when the rain came and went, my senses were filled with “what God hath wrought.” Each chipmunk, each deer, each bunny, each terrifying wasp spoke to me of the immense glory of God. At that moment, after evening prayer, I had only the inane chatter of an overwhelmed child who longed for the right words to say, “I love You.” I knew myself to be an infant in His presence, without words to express the depths of love my heart longed to sing.

Christ holding up childThen, in the misty evening, a lightening bolt creased the air and struck the path just in front of me as if God had gathered me up and swung high. The experience reminded me of times when Papa had caught me up when I was a little child. Back on the ground, back in this world, my feet were a little unsteady; my joy… In this world, how can I ever express my joy?

My breath caught in my chest: “You can do it again,” I asked/offered.

He declined.

Internal as well as external silence filled the remainder of my journey to the guesthouse. What could I say to the One who gave me a lightening bolt that didn’t terrify me when I am so terrified of being hit by lightening? I read eight languages and know, we just don’t have the words to respond when God gathers us up — at least not on this side of heaven.


Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then publish the results. We don’t edit or engulf ourselves in concerns about whether our writing is worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers. Kate Motaung’s, at  Heading Home, provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

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