Saturday, May 28, 2016

Converting


For as long as I can remember, I have been consumed by passions, an over developed sense of responsibility, and the desire to be in control. Sound familiar?

I planned each minute of every day, adhering to a strict schedule devoid of any spontaneity. I went as far as to begin each morning planning not just that day’s schedule, but contingency plans for every conceivable variation. Well, I tried. I was the teachers’ darling, the exemplary employee, the most responsible mom, a devoted wife — and I was miserable. 

Jesus’ admonishment to be “converted, and become as little children” puzzled me. How could I be like a child when I was a responsible adult, carrying the world on my shoulders? I couldn’t just drop out. I had a husband and children to care for, a boss to obey.

Retirement removed most of my responsibilities, and yet I still kept up the paranoid plotting and planning, believing if I planned enough and worked hard enough, I could control everything in my life. It gave me a false sense of security. I had a deep faith, but I trusted my own strength first, only giving God the heavy stuff, when I felt backed into a corner. 

When I recently re-read the passage from Matthew, I finally understood the message. All the needless planning and plotting created an old soul, weighed down by burdens God never intended that I should carry. 

Yes, I can plan, but casually without going into every possible contingency. This revelation gave me a get-out-of-jail card. By relinquishing control, I became as a child, trusting a loving Father to consul me, as well as to supply my needs. 

The old thought patterns still arise, but I shoo them away. I don’t want to be trapped in the old lie again. I doubt I need to worry about suddenly becoming an irresponsible or foolish senior. My sense of responsibility is far too ingrained for that, but I can certainly work harder to be a dependent, obedient child, accepting God’s guidance, freely and cheerfully performing the tasks he sets before me.

What is on today's agenda? Other than the usual basics, I haven't a clue...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

I Wish


I wish I could reach out and heal others. I wish I could take away their physical pain and their emotional suffering. I wish I could find the cure for cancer, for leukemia, for Multiple Sclerosis, for Schizophrenia, and Bi-Polar disorders. I wish I could stop world aggression, poverty, and injustices. I wish I could stop abortions and change sex offenders. But I can’t.

However, if I could persuade one confused soul to turn to God, I will not only “save his soul from death, [but] shall cover a multitude of [my] sins” as well. James 5:20.

I wish I knew exactly how I could go about doing that. Yes, I know I should live the Gospel and not preach it. I know that if I change my heart and live accordingly, others will see it. I know all that. Yet, I wish my small life would be enough. I fail far more than I succeed.

Then, I recall a few kind acts that made a big impact on the lives of the recipients. They seemed small to me and I was surprised at the impact they had. I wish I could do more.

I wish for a closer union with God. I wish he were the center of all my thoughts and actions. I wish it wasn’t a struggle to go to church. I wish I had tons of money to add to the collection. I wish I felt like volunteering more. I wish I could simply make more of a difference. 

I can wish all I want, and nothing will change. Only through practice and prayer will I tighten my relationship with God. It might not make much difference in the lives of others, but it would definitely change mine. That would be a start, a beginning. Who knows where it might lead? 

A meditation in, Good Morning Lord, by Joseph T. Sullivan reminded me I am not too old to pursue my dreams and share my talents. I will have to make the necessary effort to hone my skills through study and practice. Even so, I may not become the next Rembrandt, Hemingway, or Steinbeck, but my small efforts can help color the world with beauty. Maybe even add a touch of magic, an opening for the divine to plant a seed, to change a heart, and maybe even change a life. That I can definitely wish for.

Friday, May 13, 2016

According to Alice




Once in a while, a writer creates a character so delightful the author wonders how, and from where, this creation emerged. In my newest manuscript, Without Strings, Alice Nash springs onto the page in all of her spirited glory, seemingly without any effort from me. Every detail of her spinster life was instantly there. Yet, what amazes me the most is her wit. 



No one has ever called me witty. Once in a lifetime, a great line will come to mind, usually around midnight when it does little good, and then it’s gone. So, where on earth did this witty character come from? I have no idea.



Regardless, I am enjoying writing this character more than any others to date, and I am curious to see what she will say next. 



Since this is an auspicious Friday the 13th, with a full moon no less, I thought I’d liven up the day with a few of Alice’s quips. Enjoy! 

                                                                      

                                                                       ***

  Alice gave him her special glare, the one that could melt asphalt.



***

Alice in regard to Mary's generosity:  “She practically gives the flower shop away every day. In fact our mice are so poor they’re standing out on the corner with a please-feed-me sign.”



***

Mary: “Who would want to kill Lloyd?”

Alice: “Honey, they’re standing line.” 



***

Alice: “Yeah, and the only one who will attend the funeral is Mary. Anyone else who might show up will only be waiting for them to fill in the hole so they can set up the dance band.” 

                                                  

                                                                      

Alice is a delight to write, and I hate to think of letting her go at the end of the book. Maybe I won't have to. I am toying with the idea of a sequel. 



This is the short synopsis of the current manuscript, Without Strings:



“Give and it shall be given to you: good measure and pressed down and shaken together and running over shall they give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be measured to you again.” Luke 6:38



Mary nodded. “What do you want on the card?”



Paul shrugged. “Something mushy.”



“You don’t have any idea?”



“I don’t really care.”



“I see. Then why bother with the flowers?”



“She expects it. Besides, it doesn’t really matter what the card says. She just wants something big and impressive to show off to her friends.”



 “A real gift isn’t like that.”



“And what is a real gift, Mary?”



“One wealth can’t buy, something given from the heart, without strings.”



Mary’s abusive ex-husband, Lloyd Patterson blames Mary for his rotten life, and wants her to pay up what he believes she owes him – in any way possible. His threats and actions affect everyone around Mary, even Paul. When bodies appear, Mary understands how deep Lloyd has drawn her into his dark world.

Paul has a few of his own challenges to face. While their survival depends on independent choices, those choices will determine who will be the survivor, and who will be the hero. Can they be both?