Writing 101, Day Eleven: Size Matters

Blond_Swim_Girl

Writing 101, Day Eleven: Size Matters

Today, tell us about the home you lived in when you were twelve. For your twist, pay attention to — and vary — your sentence lengths.

I have envied people who lived in one place for their childhood, then simultaneously been grateful that I lived the adventure of multiple moves as a child.  My mom always made an eager attempt to make us feel special that we were going to move again.  It worked.

But the year I was 12 would be one of the most difficult ones I would endure.  It was the year my parents divorced, and my mom and I moved to an apartment complex where suddenly I was surrounded by people doing drugs and choosing an immoral lifestyle.  By the grace of God, I did not get involved with those pitfalls, but moving again two more times that year due to remarriage and another subsequent divorce by the time I was 13, I was confused and hurting.

The grounds of the apartment were covered with cockroaches.  At night, my friend and I would make it a game and challenge one another to see who could kill the most.  We were going to rid our environment of these critters we detested.  Not so much.  It seemed the more we squashed, the more they flourished.  Nonetheless, we felt useful in our occupation.

Once inside on the second floor, I felt safe that perhaps none of them could climb to my home.  The air was stale in our two bedroom apartment.  My mom worked, so I would come home and make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  If we had extra quarters that were not needed for laundry, I would walk across the street to a Pic-Quik and get a snack.  My bedroom was messy, but it was pink.  What girl is not happy with that?

The walls and carpet were plain, but this was not our home.  It was where we lived, where we wept, where we stayed while we waited to see what would come next. The kitchen was small, but my mom’s food made it seem larger somehow.  The most important thing in that apartment was my mom, and that was all that mattered – we had each other.

Outdoors was what I liked best.  There was a swimming pool, and when I went swimming with my friend, there were no problems, no worries.  Just green hair from too much exposure to chlorine, and laughter.

Writing 101, Day Ten: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!

Image

 

Writing 101, Day Ten: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!

Today, be inspired by a favorite childhood meal. For the twist, focus on infusing the post with your unique voice — even if that makes you a little nervous.

 

The aroma of the barbeque filtered through the air and embraced my nostrils.  Tantalized by the thought of savoring the tangy sauce, my mouth waters in anticipation of this favorite meal of mine – barbeque chicken.  Perhaps it is reminiscent of camping trips and campfires that endears me to this fare, but the hint of spice softened by sweetness and tangy vinegar draws me to the table. 

The fond feelings for grilling are increased by the fellowship to be had when we cook outdoors.  Something about being out in the open air surrounded by God’s beauty lightens the mood.  The staple side dishes of baked beans, broccoli and potato salads compliment the main dish and make me savor the meal all the more. 

Representative of carefree seasons in my life, cooking outside removes the boundaries that a kitchen provides – freedom in cooking and dining, not the same atmosphere.  If love is the food of life, then barbeque is the love of food.  (o:  Ok, I am hungry now.

 

Writing 101, Day Nine: Changing Moccasins — Point of View

Image

Writing 101, Day Nine: Changing Moccasins — Point of View

For today’s assignment, write a scene at the park. Up for a twist? Write the scene from three different points of view.

 

The air was hot and still.  Persistent perspiration was stinging my eyes and fogging my glasses.  I wiped my brow and glanced around.  Young people laughing carelessly and running like deer, seemingly not a care in the world.  I remembered when I could move like that.  Even though the temperature is uncomfortable, I am grateful that I have another day to live.  My aching bones remind me that I better think twice about walking the hiking path, but I do it anyway.  Life is good.

It’s so humid and miserable today – the air condition cannot cool me off.  Why did we have to come outside on a day like this?  I am missing my favorite television show and have to suffer heat exhaustion instead.  That old man over there is crazy for walking in this heat.  I can’t wait until we go home.  I wish I were that squirrel over there, climbing up the tree into the shade.

More humans to frolic at the park today!  This means more food left behind and cleaning up after them.  I sure hope they do not leave that nasty potato salad behind again – it made my tummy hurt last time.  Maybe I will see if that girl has some food to share.  She does not seem happy, though.  Maybe she ate the potato salad, too?  I must hurry and catch the old man – he seems nice and might give some food to me.

Writing 101, Day Eight: Death to Adverbs

NoAdverbs

Writing 101, Day Eight: Death to Adverbs

Go to a public location and make a detailed report of what you see. The twist of the day? Write the post without adverbs.

The dog sniffed the edge of the rugged, splintery-filled bench and lifted his leg to relieve himself.  Marking yet another new-found territory,  Cocoa pressed on, searching and yearning for another conquest.  The park in the pristine countryside offered many such opportunities in which Cocoa could demonstrate his prowress.

Panting and leaping, he spied a lofty tree with a large trunk – success!  Only this time, an over-sized bulldog was on the other side, slobbering at the sight of Cocoa, who was a mere Lhasa Apso.  Wagging his tail side-to-side like a wind-up toy, Cocoa thought it was time to play.  Not so much.  Well, that depends on the definition of “play”.  The bulldog no longer viewed the tree trunk as his prize – but a small dog, well that was much more fun!

Spinning and diving, the two wrestled and leapt, whimpered and barked.  Onlookers traded looks of concern and hilarity, unsure of whether the spectacle was one of fun or torture.  Perhaps the bench was enough territory for Cocoa, but now it was too late.  The blooming flowerbed was crushed underneath their spurious tackle, insects were buzzing in anger, and the owners were shocked in dismay.

All of a sudden, a long stick with a net grabbed Cocoa and dragged him.  Putting up a fight, Cocoa expressed relief that the excitement was now over.  Pretending he wanted to stay and play with his friend, Cocoa jerked back and forth, resisting the capture.  The bulldog, too, was taken and brought back to his owner.

Peace was once again restored at the park, and Cocoa vaulted his leg one more time on a Boxwood at the exit.  At least for this moment, Cocoa dominated and the world was his.

Writing 101, Day Seven: Give and Take

Image

Writing 101, Day Seven: Give and Take

Focus today’s post on the contrast between two things. The twist? Write the post in the form of a dialogue.

Over the nighttime clamor of the city, wisdom achingly cries out, “Seek wisdom!  Though it cost all you have!”

Folly’s reply is brief and thoughtless, “It’s too hard!  It’s too costly!”

“Which is more costly, to pay now or later?”, queried wisdom.

“I don’t ever have to pay”, retorted folly.

Then wisdom cried out, even louder, “Open your eyes, fool!  All that is around you is temporary!  What you feel is too difficult to do now, the pain of folly will make you pay in time…”

The fool did not understand and went on his way.

Over the countryside, calm and serene, wisdom called out, “Seek wisdom!  Walk with God!”

“We are fine just livin’ our peaceful life.  Don’t need no religion,” said the fools.

“But wisdom is the greatest peace and joy you will ever have, a treasure for those who find it!”, wisdom begged.

“Go share your message somewhere else, we don’t need it here”, the fools sarcastically whined.

Over the thorn-infested desert, wisdom persisted aloud, “Seek wisdom!  Leave your sinful ways!”.

The fool retorted, “you calling me a sinner?”

Wisdom replied, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Savior.”

The fool spoke thoughtfully, “Will walking with God mean I don’t have any more difficulties?  What good will wisdom do me now in this suffering?”

Wisdom gently said, “It is walking in wisdom that gives you understanding in those difficult times, and relationship with God that will sustain you.  The world does not have this help in their sorrows and God longs to give it; but we must ask.”

The fool answered, “So I must ask for it?  Why?”

Wisdom gently answered, “God is a Father who longs to give good gifts to his children.  If anyone of you lacks wisdom, He promises to give it to him.”

The fool deliberated, pacing back and forth, chewing a piece of straw between his lips.  “This makes sense.  What do I have to lose?” he chided.

Wisdom reflected, “Thank you, God, there are still those who hear your still, silent voice and hear wisdom’s cry.”

Writing 101, Day Six: A Character-Building Experience

Liz

Writing 101, Day Six: A Character-Building Experience

Today, you’ll write about the most interesting person you’ve met in 2014. In your twist, develop and shape your portrait further in a character study.

I first encountered Liz on the phone as she was seeking to join our home education cooperative.  Her voice was melodic and cheerful and her expressiveness gave away her devotion for her children.  Meeting her the following week confirmed my initial observation – as she gently held her youngest daughter and smiled lovingly at her, somehow everyone in the room felt comforted.

Her eyes were soft and round, tender and expressive.  Her passion for her children was obvious – attentive and gentle in her care for them.  But what astonished me was not just her care for her own, but her compassion for a friend’s son who was diagnosed with stage four cancer.  Rapidly she would convey the need for prayer for Trevor and made t-shirts for her family to support her friend. Weeping for his healing, she became a spokesperson to get as much support for him as she could.

She embodies bravery and honesty; her recognition of her need for God humbles me.  Stepping out of the boundaries of the religion she was raised in, she willingly faces persecution to seek out the truth.  No longer content to accept the traditions handed down to her, she is continually on a quest to find truth.

She is generosity personified; she contemplates how to pray for anyone who comes across her path or help them in some way, materially or emotionally.  Her casual way of talking puts you at ease, and she makes you feel accepted with her wink of her eye and easy smile.

Teachable and open, she imparts joy and an openness to all around her and I am thankful to now call her friend.

Against All Odds

Image

By: Denise Pass © 6/10/14

Judges 7:2

“The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to hand Midian over to you. Israel might brag, “Our own strength has delivered us.”

A deep look of satisfaction crossed my son’s face. The crooked smile said it all; he was proud of the work he had done. “I did it!” he boasted loudly, with a hint of superiority. I marveled at the detail in his building, constructed and sculptured from magnetic pieces. But victory was short-lived, for along came our rowdy dog who thought the newly formed vessel needed to be knocked down. Tears ensued – how brief life’s victories can seem. Certainly delighting in things does not bring lasting joy, nor boasting in our efforts or possessions, for either we tire of them or the thing we treasure is destroyed or fades away. That’s life in a temporal world.

But what if we offer a different scenario – one in which we are asked to do an awe-inspiring deed of which we know we are incapable? Trembling in our boots, even the living God comforting us seems insufficient to calm our souls. That is how Gideon must have felt. He began with 32,000 men, but the Lord told him 300 was enough. To defeat an army. Why? Certainly it makes sense to have as many men as you can – according to human wisdom.

God’s economy is so vastly different than ours. He desires relationship with us and to demonstrate His ability to rescue us. We participate in this endeavor, but He is the One Who enables us throughout. I love how it turned out for Gideon and the Israelites – they played the trumpet and broke a clay pot and victory was theirs! Sometimes it might seem risky and not make sense. Sometimes in this world of craziness, God might call us to do something seemingly odd in our own eyes, but His wisdom confounds the wisdom of this world.

Almighty God, how amazing You are! Thank you for delivering your children and doing the impossible, over and over again! Help us to be obedient and to follow You, even when things don’t make sense.

Judge Not

Image

By: Denise Pass © 6/9/14

I Corinthians 4:3-5

“So for me, it is a minor matter that I am judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not acquitted because of this. The one who judges me is the Lord. So then, do not judge anything before the time. Wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the motives of hearts. Then each will receive recognition from God.”

You know the feeling – it’s a stare and sudden looking away that leaves you with a distinct impression that you are being shunned. You are not adequate. At once you remember the guilt of your actions, or perhaps are aware of the slander spoken about you.  In that moment you can feel inferior and labeled.

The problem is, you don’t really know for certain that the individual is in fact judging you, but you act as though it were fact.

Well, what if it were fact?  What if instead you acknowledged whatever conviction (not guilt) that you were feeling?  What then?  Instead of denying even the false rumors, perhaps real freedom comes from humbly admitting that while their perception might not be true, certainly there are some things in me that are not praiseworthy.

Then comes liberty. There is no longer judgment in my failures. No more worrying about other people’s perceptions or judgments. We are aware of some of our shortcomings, though we are all myopic and incapable of seeing them all. Our Lord knew that man’s opinion was not trustworthy. ”  But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people.”  There is amazing freedom when we know we are guilty and not perfect, but accepted in His sight!  I am free!  I am not condemned.

We all know we are not supposed to judge others, but how about ourselves? Isn’t it liberating that we are not qualified to judge even ourselves? We can think ourselves righteous or a martyr when we beat ourselves up for our weaknesses, but, in fact, it is legalism which is not godly at all.

Lastly, if we can realize that focusing on the perfect One instead of focusing on trying to make ourselves look perfect to everyone else, it is liberation for our souls. Replace the description of us with God’s description of us.

Let go of worrying about false perceptions and thinking of self and lay that burden at His feet.  He is your Defender and our lives are hidden in Him.

Lord, help us to stop judging ourselves or others and to not allow anyone to judge us but You alone. You are the perfect, righteous Judge and I thank you that you shape my weaknesses to make me more like you.

Delivered by Affliction

Image

(c) Denise Pass 6/7/14

Discomfort. Pain. Momentary or prolonged afflictions. No one typically wants to volunteer for difficulties or sorrows. Yet they can be the very tool that God uses to shape our character and use in amazing ways. Sometimes, afflictions even deliver us. Had you told me everything that would transpire in my life, I would not have believed you. In fact, I would have thought you had me confused with someone else. Those tragic circumstances happen to someone else who maybe did something to bring it upon themselves. Oh, shudder that I ever thought such a thing. Evil falls on the good and the bad. The big difference? Those who trust in God can cry out to Him for aid and see modern-day miracles manifest in their lives. As I gaze behind me and see both the wreckage and the beauty of what lies behind, I am in awe. It’s true – God did use those moments of horror for my good! When I clung to what I thought was life and what I cherished was ultimately peeled from my fingers, God had something better in store. We are not forgotten or forsaken when trouble comes knocking on our door; no, in fact, we are loved and watched over.

 

Thank You, Lord, for the afflictions that You have allowed to visit me. Thank you that we never have to walk alone.

Writing 101, Day Five: Be Brief

10144150-close-up-of-a-hand-holding-blank-crumpled-note-on-white-background-with-clipping-path

You discover a letter on a path that affects you deeply. Today, write about this encounter. And your twist? Be as succinct as possible.

Eyes focused on the path ahead, a white shape stood out amidst the crisp leaves.  “Probably just trash someone left behind – ugh, but it ruins the landscape, better pick it up,” I told myself.  Panting from the sudden cessation of running, I leaned over and spied this seemingly unimportant scrap piece of paper.  “Prayer” was written in dark marker on the outside.  Intrigued, I opened the note and found written inside a prayer written messily, probably by a child.  Engulfed by the message inside, I realized it had been written by my own child’s hand.  Hidden out here in the forest, the intent of the note was now clear . . . and now those words remain forever etched in my heart.