Category: Uncategorized

S is for Songs

From childhood, I’ve made up and sung little songs to myself for comfort, cheer, and to try to find ways to express the inexpressible. Here are a few of them for which I’ve not yet found a place:

When I hold Your Hand
Where are You?
Where are You?
Though I’ve tried my best, I can’t stand alone
I need Your love to still the fear inside of me
There’s no terror I can’t face
When I hold Your hand

Am I blind?
Am I blind?
Am I in Your arms? Are You really here?
And if it’s dark only cause I’ve closed my eyes to You
You’ll restore my sight again
When I hold Your hand

I’ll make it through the night
Through the angry raging storm
When I hold Your hand
And though my dreams may be a long time coming true
I can see the rising sun
When I hold Your hand

s is for songsSuddenly
I’m the one who always sees light hiding inside the darkest rain
I’m the one who can always find joy waiting inside the deepest pain
I’m the one people travel to hope hope
A journey they have never made in vain
But suddenly, the sky has gone all grey
I don’t want to be here any more
Suddenly, the stars have all gone dim
The sun won’t shine like it did before

Can it be that I’ve taken on the world?
That the earth’s weight is on my head?
I’d heard love makes the sun shine brighter still
Makes stormy seas grow calm instead
But I guess those were only pretty words
That lured me into crushing waves of dread
And suddenly, the sky has gone all grey
I don’t want to be here any more
(2nd voice) Hold tight there is a ship upon it’s way to you
Suddenly, the stars have all gone dim
(2nd voice) You’ll be alright
The sun won’t shine like it did before
(2nd voice) Hold tight you’ve got the courage to wait out the dawn
The sun won’t shine like it did before
(2nd voice) The sun will soon shine

These last two songs are comic rhyme. I’ve written other songs about the mice the exterminator rang, getting frozen dinner for my birthday, and many other subjects. At one time, I sang indexing, programming, and coding to the tunes of the arias I was learning. (Made the day more interesting.)

My Favourite Foods (to the tune of My Favourite Things)
Baked potatoes and scrambleded eggs
Knockwurst and noodles and fried chicken legs
Pizza, spaghetti, and cold salmon mousse
These are a few of my favourite foods
When I’m hungry and I’m starving and my stomach growls
I simply cook one of my favourite foods and then stuff it in my mouth

Oh You’re Now A Whole Year Older*
Oh you’re now a whole year older, yes indeed!
Oh you’re now a whole year older, yes indeed!
Oh you’re now a whole year older, there’s a hump upon your shoulder
Yes you’re now a whole year older, yes indeed!

Better do your celebrating, oh yes do
Better do your celebrating, oh yes do
Better do your celebrating, by next year you will be ailing
Better do your celebrating, oh yes do

Better hope you get a walker, yes you should
Better hope you get a walker, yes you should
Better hope you get a walker, fore your knees begin to totter
Better hope you get a walker, yes you should

*A co-worker about to be 27 complained that she was getting old. I warned her not to tell me such thing and told her of previous songs. She continued to complain. This song came to me complete while I was in the shower the next morning.

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M is for Maybe

“I’ve been thinking that maybe…” I said.

“Yes?” Dr. Vogwall prompted.

“Well, the woman,” I began. My head tilted forward, my eyes strained as if I searched for something.  “When she was alive, things got done.”

“What sort of things?” he asked.

“The bills were paid. There was food in the cupboards. We weren’t allowed to eat it,” I emitted a snorting laugh. “But it was there. Whenever the cupboards were open, even on Saturday morning before they went shopping, there was food.

“The kids had school clothes and coats. Even my hand-me-downs were clean, pressed, and mended. And the housekeeper came every week day; I was never kept out of school to take care of the younger kids.”

“And after she died?”

“Chaos,” pain seized my face. I pushed it away. “The power was cut off several times because he didn’t pay the bill. We nearly lost the house when he didn’t pay the mortgage. The cupboards were empty until I was caught stealing. He went through housekeeper after housekeeper. Just chaos.”

“Maybe he didn’t have enough money,” Dr. Vogwall suggested.

“He had enough before she died,” I replied shaking my head. “She never worked.”

“You think the woman kept things stable?”

“Maybe,” I said. “Maybe she made sure things were done. Maybe, just by being there, she made life better for us.”

“So what does that mean to you today?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I answered. My forehead furrowed, “Maybe she took better care of us than I’ve thought. Maybe she mitigated his craziness somewhat.”

I pushed my hair away from my forehead and pulled up my sleeves, “She should have taken me to the police. That was a serious failure: you can’t just keep a child. I don’t know if he prevented her but she found ways around him — like with the ballet lessons. But maybe, just maybe, even with her own craziness, she did her best to give us a normal life.”

Dr. Vogwall nodded, “Maybe she did.”

G is for Grieving

“How are you feeling?” Dr. Vogwall asked.

Tissot, James Jacques Joseph (1836-1902): Healing of the woman with the issue of blood

Tissot, James Jacques Joseph (1836-1902): Healing of the woman with the issue of blood

A cough sent pain through my chest and back. “Better,” I replied wincing.

“That cough still sounds bad,” he said.

Nodding, I winced again then held my head still until the pain subsided, “It is.” Then blurted, “I’m not contagious any longer. If I’m up to it, I’ll return to work on Monday.”

Dr. Vogwall smiled, “I’m not so concerned about you being contagious. You do need to take it easy until you’re better.”

“I will. I’ve been through this before.” I told him. “This is a bad bout,” I mused.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“I’ve had strep every year — sometimes twice a year — since I was about five or six,” I said. “I get sick three times every year.”

He furrowed his brow, “Every year?”

“Yes,” I gently lowered my head in a brief nod. “Usually in May, I get strep but sometimes at Christmas too. Conjunctivitis near my birthday. If I don’t get strep near Christmas, I usually have flu, an ear infection, or bronchitis. Once in a great while, the strep becomes bronchitis, like this time.”

“Doesn’t your doctor suggest any long term strategies? Tonsil removal? Ways to bolster your immune system or nutrition?”

“He’s done all that. I’m often anemic. I have some markers for autoimmune disease but nothing specific.” I shrugged, “I just get sick.”

“And always at the same times every year?”

“Yes.” The tone of my voice rose so that it was sibilant squeak.

“Why those times?” he asked.

I shrugged, “I’m not sure.”

“Do you recall being sick when you were a young child?”

A smile spread from my mouth down into my body. My shoulders relaxed, “It was almost Christmas. My throat was terribly sore; my body hurt. Papa wrapped me in a duvet and carried me into the lounge. He was decorating the Christmas tree and placed a shivery, silver ornament on the palm of my hand. ‘Gently. Gently.’ he told me. It was of some sort of glass fiber like a star.”

“You look happy,” Dr. Vogwall said.

“I was,” I replied.

“What about your birthday?”

“I ate his sausages and toast. And I went to see Marmar and ate sausages and toast from her breakfast tray.” A tear threatened to escape my eye. I blinked it away.

“And May?”

My head gave a gentle shake. I winced.

“What comes to mind?” he asked.

Fog descended about me. Tears threatened a downpour. In a small voice I said “Maraschino cherries. I made a picture of maraschino cherries.”

“That’s when they sent you away.”

“Yes.”

“Your birthday, Christmas, when your parents sent you away. Does that mean anything to you?”

Again in the small voice, “Important times.”

Dr. Vogwall laughed, “To a young child, very important.”

I blinked at him. My lips pulled themselves into a small pout.

“I think you’re grieving,” he told me.

“Grieving?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“I’m sick, not sad.”

“You’re sad all the time. You just don’t realize it.” He continued, “When you’re as sad as you are and don’t grieve, your body will do the grieving for you.”

A small laugh broke through, “Are you saying I’m sick because I have a broken heart?”

“Pretty much,” he replied.

“But I can’t just stop my heart from breaking,” the shrillness edged my voice.

“But you can grieve,” he said.

Wide-eyed, I stared at him. The pout reshaped my mouth. “How?” The word burst forth of its own volition.

“That’s what you need to learn.”

Image source.

Weary – Five Minute Friday

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

Rev 21It must be very difficult to believe that God will really make a new heaven and a new earth, that He will wipe away every tear, that He will dwell with His people, that He Himself will be with us. Difficult, at least, for those who don’t believe in Him and even for some who do. Life goes along pretty much as it always has. Nothing changes very much, at least not dramatically. There may be an unexpected illness or a catastrophe, but then, we get back to normal; there is life, there is death.

But we can dwell with God. Right here. Right now. We can discover Him remaking us and our lives each day. We can experience His power in immense ways: Being healed when life shreds our hearts, having the strength to go on when it’s the last thing we want, discovering community and friendship and family where there was none, clinging to God even when He keeps saying ‘No’ only to discover that holding fast to Him, dwelling with Him was the important thing in the first place.

Cling to Him. Dwell with Him. Trust that He dwells with us. See God’s new heaven and new earth taking shape today.

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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

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/

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/

Find – Five Minute Friday

“How do you walk through it?” Her unlined forehead furrowed softly. “I mean when you find yourself in that powdery desert?”

Her boss’s face resolved into puzzlement as he searched for the word.

“There is no how,” I replied after a time. “You just do it.” Her boss nodded. “If you waste your time worrying about how…”

“You’ll die,” her boss completed my thought. Our eyes met for an instant. Though we had different experiences, we both understood finding our way through the desert.

find desertBut so many I know don’t understand what to do if they find themselves in the desert. So many have never been told that it’s not an intellectual exercise; there’s often little time to plan. Mostly, one just begins and prays for strength to continue walking while continuing to walk. Mostly, the “how” has been implanted in our hearts by the day to day work of self-sacrifice and faith. Mostly, it’s just the ongoing work to find ourselves or be found. Beyond that, there is only placing one foot in front of the other.

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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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