Tag: writing

Fiction Friday: He Leadeth Me, Part 2

There is aliteration, Fiction Friday, so I’ve chosen Fridays as my days to share some fiction, if I have any to share a particular week. This is the second part in a story called He Leadeth Me. To find the first part, click HERE.

He Leadeth Me Part I


Part 2: Dancing in the moonlight

“Have you yet had the chance to dance in the moonlight in India?”

He was standing in front of her with one hand out toward her.

His uniform had been replaced with khakis and a plain white button up shirt like those commonly worn by the Indian men.

“I can’t say I have,” she looked nervously at her feet, unsure how to react to this pivot in their conversation.

“Well, come on,” he said with one corner of his mouth turned up. “Let’s be brave and see what happens.”

“There’s no music.”

“I can hum a tune or two.”

His hand was warm, the palms rough from days of working hard to build hangers for the Indian Air Force planes. He gently pulled her closer and placed his other hand lightly against her waist but pulled it back again.

“My apologies. Is it ok if my hand rests there?”

She immediately felt embarrassed and looked down at her feet.

“Um… yes? I guess so.”

She was ashamed to admit she had no idea how to dance and had never had a man ask to dance with her.

His hand barely touched her as he began to sway and gently guide her movements.

“Over in Killarney

Many years ago,

Me Mother sang a song to me

In tones so sweet and low.

Just a simple little ditty,

In her good old Irish way,

And l’d give the world if she could sing

That song to me this day.

 

“Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,

Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, hush now, don’t you cry!

Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,

Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, that’s an Irish lullaby.”

 

She couldn’t look up as he sang.

Her heart was pounding and her head felt light.

What would her father think if he knew she’d come to India to care for orphans and tell others about the love of God but now she was dancing in the moonlight with an Irish airmen? And if pastor Franklin saw them? What might be said? Thoughts raced fast through her mind but she couldn’t seem to pull away, reveling in the feel of her hand in his and the smell of his cologne. She’d met him only a couple weeks ago before at the market, looking for vegetables and lamb for the mission and orphanage kitchen, and now here she was letting him lead her in a dance in the heat of the Indian summer.

He stopped singing, leaned back so he could look into her face and she looked up to see his blue eyes staring into hers.

“Tell me Emily Grant, the American girl with the very Scottish name, have you ever thought that God has made you for something more?”

The muscle in his jaw jumped a little as he started talking about what he expected for his future, not waiting for her answer.

“I mean, I grew up with my family, on a farm, thinking ‘There must be more to life than this.’ My brother loved farming, the shoveling of manure, and rounding up cows, but I just knew there was something more for me and I knew when I saw those children at the mission, my something more was here in India or at least in helping others.”

“Does it sound arrogant to say I believe God has a plan for me? A plan to show others His love not by what I say but by what I do? Is that what brought you here to India with your mission group? Did you think God would do something grand? That life could be something more and beautiful; the more you showed love and felt it back?”

 

Emily didn’t know what to say.

 

She felt her face growing warm.

 

She knew exactly what Henry meant but she’d never known how to explain it. Her parents couldn’t understand why she had signed her name to the list to travel to India with the missionary who had been visiting. They were worried for her safety, terrified she’d be killed by people her father called “Devil Worshippers” and “dark skinned heathens.” Emily had read the Bible. She believed God had created all humans and if that was true, then he had also created the Indian people and He loved them as much as he loved a white-skinned American farmer’s daughter.

 

“It doesn’t sound arrogant,” she said. “It sounds true and real and wonderful. I believe God has a plan for me, but I truly don’t understand it yet. All I knew was something inside me said I needed to follow Pastor James and Margaret here.”

 

Henry was still looking at her, eyes intensely focused on hers.

 

When his eyes glanced to her mouth as she spoke she tensed, suddenly self-conscious.

“Maybe God meant us to be here at the same time. For us to experience all this beauty together, ” he said.

His voice had slipped into a whisper.

He was too close.

Her heart was pounding too fast.

And when his lips touched hers it was too soon.

They’d only known each other two weeks and she hadn’t come to India to fall in love. She’d come to learn more about God’s will for her life.

She pulled away from him quickly and looked quickly at the ground.

“I’m past curfew at the mission. They’ll be concerned about me.”

She walked into the darkness before he could speak.

“Let me at least walk you home,” his voice followed her. “It’s dark and dangerous here at night.”

She paused and nodded an acceptance of his offer.

He fell in step beside her, silent as they walked. When they reached the gate of the mission she placed her hand on the gate and he reached out and wrapped his fingers around hers.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to overstep. I’ve never been so bold before. Will ya’ forgive me, Emily? I’ve enjoyed our time together. I hope you won’t disapprove of seeing me again.”

“It’s okay. I’m just – it’s – I’m here to be a servant to the mission. I shouldn’t get distracted. I don’t know – I just – wasn’t ready.”

She felt foolish as she spoke.

Wasn’t ready for what? To be loved? To let this young airman who spoke of wanting to serve God love her?

“I have to get to bed. We have open clinic in the morning for the village women. Thank you for the dance Henry.”

She pulled her hand from his and rushed through the gate, closed it and walked down the path toward the mission.

In her room, with the door closed behind her, she touched her fingertips to her lips, closed her eyes and remembered the warmth of his mouth on hers. She breathed deep, shook her head to clear her mind of the memory, and reached for her Bible to take her mind off the distraction she felt God didn’t want her to have.

 

 

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Risen 3

For the first part of this work in progress click HERE. For the second part, click HERE.


The busy sounds of people rushing by to complete their daily chores quieted as Jairus pushed the door to the synagogue closed. He leaned against the door and closed his eyes for a moment as he tried to quiet his racing thoughts.

Jairus focused on the words he had said to Josefa the night after the teacher had healed her.

Healed her? Brought her back to life?

Is that really what had happened?

Even now it was all too unbelievable to him.
He wondered, did he really believe this man, this Jesus was the true Messiah as he had told Josefa?

Maybe he had been wrong to say so. He’d spent his whole life studying the scrolls, learning of Moses and Elijah, about the prophesies of the Messiah. Now here he was almost completely convinced the man he had followed in the street, begging for him to come and heal his only daughter was indeed the Messiah. He knew he was being ridiculed behind his back by the other leaders of the synagogue for asking for Jesus’ help but he couldn’t deny what he had witnessed that day.

He remembered Josefa’s fever and how she’d no longer been able to stand. Miriam, his wife, had soaked cloth and laid it across Josefa’s forehead, hoping the cool water from the stream would revive her. For days they sat by her cot, holding her hand, Miriam weeping as Josefa moaned and faded in and out of consciousness.

 

“You know I told you about this teacher, this man they call Jesus? Miriam, are you listening? He’s been healing people. I saw him heal a man’s hand in the synagogue last week. The leaders were upset because it was the sabbath, but I saw the man’s hand. It was diseased, scarred, withered but Jesus held it, touched it and the hand was whole again.”

 

Miriam dabbed her eyes with her shawl as her husband spoke, barely listening as she watched her daughter’s breathing become more and more shallow. Dark circles were now under Josefa’s eyes.

 

“I will go to him, ask him to come,” Jairus was speaking again. He was pacing the floor, rubbing and pulling at the hairs of his beard as he always did when thoughts overwhelmed him.

 

“Do we now believe in such men who call themselves healers?” Miriam asked, weary from worry.

 

Josefa’s body shuddered with a convulsion. Miriam rushed to her, held the girl’s small frame against her chest. Josefa’s breathing became labored, shallow. Jairus saw the panic in his wife’s eyes and felt it rising in himself as well.

“We are losing her! Go! Go to this teacher and ask him to come!” Miriam’s voice was filled with fear. “He’s our only hope now!”

Jairus’ heart pounded as he ran from the house, out onto the crowded paths, pushing his way through travelers and locals and animals being led to market. He could see a crowd around a man in front of him. They were all moving one direction, calling out “Jesus!” Questions were being asked, some voices mocked, some sounded hopeful.

An image of Josefa’s pale frame flashed in Jairus’ mind and he tried to move faster, pushing more people aside. His chest felt tight, his breath more labored. Was this man he was trying to reach a heretic as the synagogue leaders and other rabbis said? What if he was crazy like the man who was called John the Baptist, who was covered in dirt and smelled and had spoke of a healer and prophet who would come to save the Jews?

Jairus’ foot caught a stone and he felt himself falling. The sand flew into his face and pebbles cut at his palms. As he pushed himself up he felt tears hot and stinging his eyes. He would never reach Jesus now.

He saw sandal clad feet before him and looked up.

“Let me help you,” a man with kind eyes and a smile held a hand out to him.

Jairus took it and stood slowly.

“Thank you,” he barely looked at the man, instead searching the crowd to see where Jesus had gone.

“Do you seek Jesus?” The man asked.

“Yes,” Jairus said, breathless.

“Come. I’m one of his followers. I will help you to him.”

Jairus looked at the man, noticed his unkempt beard and slightly frayed clothes. He nodded at him, seeing kindness and concern in his gaze.

The man gently touched the shoulders of those around them and people began to move aside. Ahead of them Jairus saw Jesus had paused and turned to the crowd. His eyes focused on Jairus who suddenly felt unsure, uneasy. Jairus dropped his gaze to the ground, overwhelmed with worry for his daughter and overwhelmed with the presence of a man who had performed so many miracles. His body felt weak from running, from being awake for so many days watching over his daughter.

He felt his knees give way and he fell to the ground before Jesus.

Sobs wracked his body as he lost control of control his emotions.

“Jesus,” he gasped out the name.

A sob choked his words and he thought he wouldn’t be able to finish.

“Jesus, my little girl is dying. Please. Come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”

He felt tears rush down his face and he was startled by emotions he usually tried to keep locked inside.

He felt a hand on his head, on the covering he wore there.

“Come, rise and let us go to her,” Jesus voice was calm, gentle.

 

His followers helped Jairus to his feet and Jesus motioned for him to lead the way to his home. The crowd surged around Jesus and they all began to move with him, as if one combined force, following Jairus. Several moments of chaos followed and Jairus felt a rush of frustration as the crowd pushed between him and Jesus.

“Jesus! What does God ask of us?”

“Jesus, what happens when we die?”

“Jesus, will I find wealth?”

People cried out as they walked. They pushed against each other, each person wanting to get closer to the man so many were talking about.

“Who touched me?”

Jairus faintly heard Jesus’ voice over the noise of the crowd but he could barely hear what he was saying. He tried to push forward in the crowd, looking over his shoulder every few steps to see if Jesus was following.

 

“I felt power go from me,” Jesus spoke louder to one of his followers. He stopped and turned to look behind him. “Who has touched me?”

The people in the crowd murmured and grew quiet.  Jairus stopped to see why Jesus wasn’t following.

“Master, there are people all around you and you are asking ‘who touched me?’” one of Jesus’ disciples laughed slightly as he spoke. His tone was incredulous, tinged with annoyance.

Jairus knew this was the man called Peter – a local fisherman who now followed Jesus. Many whispered surprise Peter, known as brash and abrupt, was following a teacher of God.

“Somebody touched me, for I perceived power going out from me,” Jesus said.

His eyes scanned the crowd around him but no one answered. They looked at each other confused and unsure why Jesus was concerned.

A woman’s voice could be heard softly, barely above a whisper.

“It was me.”

“Who is speaking?” One of Jesus’ disciples asked. “Please, come forward. Answer the teacher.”

The crowd moved aside and a woman, head down, moved toward the front. She dropped to her knees, her head bowed low, her clothes tattered and stained. She clutched her hands before her and tears dripped off her face and into the dirt.

Jairus felt anxious. He wanted to grab Jesus by the arm and drag him forward, back to his house and his daughter, but at the same time he was entranced by the scene unfolding before him.

The woman glanced upwards at Jesus.
“It was me,” she said softly.

“I knew if I could just touch the hem of your robe…”

Her gaze fell again on the ground.

“I’ve been to every doctor. I’ve been bleeding for 12 years. No one will come near me, teacher. I am unclean.”

Some in the audience winced and a few stepped away from her, covered their mouths.

Tears continued to stream down her face.

“I have tried everything. I heard of your miracles and I knew – if I just touched the hem..”

Her fingertips grazed the edge of his robe again. She could barely speak as she sobbed.

“Master, the bleeding. I can feel- it’s stopped. Something is … something is …..different.”

Jairus felt his heart pounding heart and fast. If this woman was sure she had been healed, if she was saying simply touching the hem of his garment was enough to heal her then he was indeed a powerful man, a messenger of God. If healing flowed from him so easily then there was hope for Josefa.

Jesus kneeled before the woman, reached out and took her hands in his. He touched her chin and lifted her face toward his.

“Daughter, your faith has made you well.”

Jesus kissed her forehead gently and wiped the tears from her face. He stood and helped her to stand with him.

“Go in peace.”

A sob escaped her lips and she kissed Jesus’ hand as she held it. She backed slowly away.

“Thank you. Thank you.”

A hush had settled over the crowd. Some of the women dabbed their eyes and men talked quietly to each other, shaking their heads with furrowed eyebrows.

Jairus felt a sense of urgency rushing through him, tensing his muscles. He needed Jesus to hurry. He felt at hope at what he had seen and he wanted the same for his Josefa and his family.

“Jesus, my daughter… please …”

Jesus turned toward him and nodded.

“Of course, let us go…”

Jairus felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see Josiah, his servant from home, standing next to him, his face stained with tears and dirt.

“Master, there is no need to hurry now. Josefa-“ his voice trailed off and Jairus began to shake his head.

“There is no need to bother the master now,” Josiah said. “She’s – “

“No! No!” Jairus wouldn’t let him finish.

He felt bile rushing up into his throat and his hands began to shake. He pressed his hands to his head, as if trying to wake himself from a dream.

“Josefa…” he felt the tears hot on his face and he clutched his robe against him as pain seared through his chest. “Oh God. God help me.”

He looked up as Jesus touched his arm.

“Do not be afraid. Believe.”

Jesus’ eyes were kind but Jairus’ mind was reeling. If only Jesus had moved faster. If only that woman hadn’t stopped them. Josefa would still be alive and her laughter would still fill their home.

“She’s gone,” he told Jesus. “We cannot save her now. You can not heal her. If only – ”

Jesus looked over Jairus’ shoulder, his gaze moving above the crowd.

“Come, lead me to your home.”

Jairus did as Jesus told him but his legs felt as if they were weighted down. Before they even reached the corridor where his home was he could hear the wailing and knew mourning had already begun.

 

Mourners were outside the home, trying to comfort Miriam, who was clearly in shock as she pulled at her clothes and repeated “no. no. no.”
Jairus rushed toward his wife, grasped her by the shoulders and pulled her against him. She clutched at his clothes and shoved her face into his chest.

“She’s gone. She’s gone. Oh, Jairus. Our little girl is gone.”

Jesus pushed forward in the crowd. He laid his hand against Miriam’s back to comfort her.

“There is no need for tears,” he said with a gentle firmness. “The girl is not dead. She is merely sleeping.”

An angry voice shouted over the noise of the crowd.

“She’s dead! You give these people false hope!” a man shouted.  “You are a liar and a fool! Like all who have come before you!”

Other voices joined in agreement.

“You say you can heal but you only bring hallow promises to these people,” a man sneered.

Jesus stood with his back to the crowd, kneeling down beside Miriam and Jairus.

“Send these people away and come inside with me,” he instructed. “Peter, James, John, come with me.”

Jairus opened his eyes to the sound of someone moving inside the temple, interrupting his thoughts and memories of that day.

“Jairus? Is that you?”

He recognized the voice of Ezra, another leader in the synagogue.

“Yes, Ezra. Good morning.”

Ezra walked toward him holding scrolls.

“Have you come to help me organize these for the scribes?” his mouth lifted in a wry smile.

“I did not but I am glad to help,” Jairus said returning the smile.

The men laid the scrolls on the table next to a bottle of ink.

“I do not know how so much has become in disarray in here – and outside,” Ezra said.

He looked at is friend and noticed Jairus was pulling at his beard, as he often did when deep in thought.

“Tell me, Jairus. How is Josefa recovering?”

Jairus smiled. “Well. She is well. It is – dare I say it? A miracle indeed.”

Ezra nodded but his expression grew serious.

“Jairus, I must ask you – I’ve heard many talk of what happened with Josefa. Is it true, what they say? Was she dead before Jesus arrived?”

Jairus felt his muscles tense. He was unsure what Ezra hoped to learn with his questions. He pondered how to answer, but knew telling the truth might encourage Ezra to help him understand more what had happened.

“Miriam and her hand maiden said there was no breath. She was cold when I entered the home and I felt no heartbeat beneath my hand. Her skin –“ he felt his breath catch in his throat and he paused to choke back emotion. He shook his head as if to shake the image from his mind. “Her skin was pale, tinged with blue. And… so cold.”

Ezra put his hand on his friend’s arm and squeezed it slightly.

“You’ve been through much, my friend,” Ezra said.

He opened a scroll to read it’s contents, rolled it again and stuck it back in a space in the temple wall.

“What do you believe happened that day?” Ezra asked.

“I don’t know, friend. I truly don’t. All I know is she was gone and when Jesus came she arose at his bidding. He took her hand and instructed her to rise and live and she did.”

“After all you have seen .. .” Ezra paused in stacking the scrolls and turned to look to Jairus “After meeting this man who calls himself the Son of God – who do you say he is?”

Jairus realized he didn’t know how to answer. He had seen Jesus do miraculous things and heard of even more. He believed his daughter was still living because Jesus touched her, but was he truly the son of Jehovah or was he simply a great teacher, so holy Jehovah used him to heal.

He looked Ezra in the eyes, opened his mouth to answer and then closed it again.

“Ezra – I wish I could say, but truly, I do not know what to believe about this man.”

Wrestlers, degenerate reporters and a president on this week’s reading list

This post is part of the Sunday Salon, which is a group of bloggers who join together one day of the week to share what they’re reading, watching or simply what’s up in their life, although it’s mainly about what they are reading.

I’m finally finishing some books I started months ago and either wandered away from when a new and shiny book caught my attention (squirrel!) or simply filed away in the Kindle because it didn’t hold my interest.

shawnFirst up this week to finish was something I don’t normally read – the autobiography of a professional wrestler. Shawn Michaels, also known as the Heartbreak Kid, or by his real name of Michael Shawn Hickenbottom (no, really, that’s his real, non-showbiz name), wrote this second autobiography, “Wrestling for my Life: the Legend, The Reality, and The Faith of a WWE Superstar” several years after his first (that’s what you write when you’re too lazy to look up the date of his first autobiography)  and after becoming a Christian.

The book goes into some detail about how Michaels got his start as a wrestler, but not as much as a first autobiography would. Instead, this book is more about how his faith changed him and became the focal point of his life, seeping into every pore of his being, including professionally.  He writes about his struggles to learn what it means to be a man of faith, the stumbling steps he took toward kicking an alcohol and pill addiction and becoming a better man for his devoted wife, a former wrestler herself, and his children.  This is definitely “light reading” but as a practicing Christian myself, I see a lot of depth in Michaels’ words about his Christian walk.

lincolnA book I’m still plowing through, but haven’t yet finished is The Last Trial of Lincoln, which is about – ummm – the last, um, trial, of Lincoln. Hence the name.

But seriously, it’s a book about the final trial Abraham Lincoln served on as defense attorney before running for president. The basic plot is that Lincoln is defending a young man accused of murdering another man during a knife attack. The question is if it was premeditated or accidental. Much of the book is seen through the eyes of scribe Robert Hitt, the real-life scribe to the trial, whose handwritten manuscript of the trial was discovered in 1989 and is the basis of the book.

The full name of the book is actually “Lincoln’s Last Trial: The Murder Case That Propelled Him to The Presidency.” The author is Dan Abrams, chief legal analyst for ABC News and the book is often as wordy as his book titles (according to Amazon his last book was titled, “Man Down: Proof Beyond A Reasonable Doubt That Women Are Better Cops, Drivers, Gamblers, Spies, World Leaders, Beer Tasters, Hedge Fund Managers, and Just About Everything Else.”)

The book is good, but it’s so chocked full of words and legal jargon and flashbacks that help to paint the picture of who Lincoln was as a lawyer, that I’m finding myself needing breaks from it to rest my poor, less-intellectual brain. I don’t want it to sound like the book is so deep it is unreadable, however, because it is actually entertaining. It’s simply that there are so many flashbacks that I am halfway through it and wondering if we will ever get to the end of the trial before the book ends. I’ll let you know if that happens or not.

A book I just started and read when I want something a little lighter, with quick to the point sentences, is the second book in the Fletch series, Carioca Fletch by Gregory McDonald. Technically, according to my husband, who really should be writing blog posts about books, this is not the “second” Fletch book but it is the book that follows the first book chronologically. In this book, Fletch is in Brazil, having escaped from his past adventure with his life and some money (I won’t spoil that book for you) and is confronted by an old woman who believes he is the reincarnation of her late husband, who was murdered. Now Fletch’s new Brazilian friends, if not Fletch himself, want Fletch to solve the murder and release the soul of the already deceased man.

Since I just started the book, I’m really not sure where it’s going to go but I have a feeling, based on the first Fletch book, it’s going to be a twisted tale where Fletch’s lack of empathy and humanity is going to be showing.

The people in it are pretty sad and without feeling so far, but for some reason, I can’t tear myself away, maybe because Fletch is a crooked journalist and I worked with a few of those during my time as a small town newspaper reporter at four newspapers in Pennsylvania and New York.

When I really need light reading, I turn to something very simple and lighthearted that doesn’t require any intellectual capability at all and for the past few months that has been the Paddington Bear series. Thank you, Michael Bond, for transporting me into a second childhood late at night when I’m trying to take my mind off of the screaming outside word. I’m currently on my third Paddington book – Paddington Abroad.

x400Writing this I am now realizing I’m, again, reading about a British bear, though the other book (Enchanted Places, the autobiography of Christopher Milne) wasn’t necessarily about the “bear” but the boy who was a friend of “the bear” (Winnie the Pooh). I guess there is something comforting to me about bears and the British, maybe because I still have the Teddybear I had as a child and … I have no idea about the British thing since I have no British family members.

So how about you? What are you reading this week? What’s inspiring you? What’s comforting you? What’s making you think?

Dying ways of life and why we fight to hold on to them

When local farmer Scott Walrath recently told me farmers are stupidly in love with farming, I totally got it, maybe more than others who aren’t farmers would. For a long time I was in love with print journalism and now it, and farming, are two dying ways of life. I say ways of life because that is what both are. They are not occupations. They are something you live and breathe and that runs in your blood, dark like the ink in a press. .

DSC_8896DSC_5712-Edit_1In farming there is never a day off, always a cow to help birth or equipment to fix, or fields to work. In print journalism my brain was always working and thinking of the next story. Even if I was not at the office I seemed to always have my ears open to a tip or a feature story idea. Every person I met or place I visited had the potential of a news story or art for the front page. Art, in newspaper lingo, is essentially a main photo to anchor the front page and grab the readers attention so hopefully they will buy the paper.

More and more today, though, people aren’t buying the newspaper and even if they were, the paper to produce the newspaper is so expensive many papers are either raising prices or laying off employees.

New tarrifs on newsprint coming into the United States have raised prices more than 50 percent in some cases. The increase in expenses is leading some papers to drop the size of their papers down as they try to balance the decrease in demand, the rising prices and the difficulty with employing a staff. Small, privately owned newspapers, much like small, family owned farms, are being hit the hardest by the changes.

45bc5-lisar-howelerlisar-howeler58c50-lisar-howeler2ccopyrightlisar-howeler2ccopyrightI find myself trying hard not to think about a world without a physical newspaper to hold in my hand, one where scrolling on a computer or phone replaces the turning of the page. One where we no longer close our eyes and smell the ink, for me the smell of stories yet to be told. Similarly my brain often fights to silence the thoughts and frightening visions of empty barns dotting rural Pennsylvania’s landscapes of open fields, filled with corn or wheat or simply lush green.

Ah, those dying ways of life that a few of us still fight for, maybe because we are stupid, maybe because we are stuck in the “good ole’ days” or maybe because it runs in our blood and we can’t imagine doing anything else.

Less is more – why minimalism is a great idea for an over thinker

Less is more.

Less is more.

These words have popped up in my head a lot lately, maybe because of blog posts like this one from Rachael at Our Beautiful Adventure.

To quote Rachael “This gave me serious pause for thought. How can it be that those classed as rich don’t feel rich, but I, classed as poor, do feel rich? To be frank it is because it is just that, a feeling. Not a fact. To be rich you only need to feel it.”

And maybe it isn’t only the blog posts I’ve been reading but because some weeks finances are tough to balance and having less forces me to remember that having more isn’t always better.

Minimalism. 

Having less to see you have more. Having less so children imagine and appreciate more.

It’s a concept I love.

So this week I’ve concocted a plan to rid our life of clutter and “too much” stuff.

Go ahead and laugh.

It’s ok.

I’ve been laughing too. Doubting myself and doubting I can even do it.

Still I’m soldiering on with plans to declutter in many ways – physically, emotionally, and mentally and from materialism.

Emotionally will be, of course, the most difficult.

Physically I will be opening closets and hauling out anything and everything we haven’t touched in months and preparing it for a yard sale or goodwill.

As for the mental decluttering I have reduced my social media and internet usage this week to try to unclog my mind. I have added morning devotions, though I’m not batting 100 percent on that front. I’m also trying hard to carve out a few moments a day to myself, but this is difficult being a stay at home mom whose husband has a full time and part time job and does yard work in some of his spare time. There are days I can sneak away for a break but a clingy 2-year old adds to that challenge too. The more her attachment moves from mama and to daddy, the easier finding a break will be.

I’d love to say that my mind is already clearer because of the Facebook fast but in reality I’m finding my thoughts bouncing all around my insides because I no longer have the mind numbing distraction of scrolling through the newsfeed. Instead my mind is racing through what I can do, what needs to be done, what I want to do, and what hasn’t been done. 

Now the task at hand is to slow my thoughts down, stop them from fluttering from subject to subject. In many ways the mental buzz social media creates with all its various subjects scrolling by brings harm to an over thinker like me. Not only does it create thoughts at a thousand miles per hour, interrupting sleep and daily tasks, but when it is turned off the brain is still left racing through all the subjects that were just read. 

Now, though, the brain has to focus on all those things it could avoid while sucked into the social media drama or brainless distraction, whichever void the newsfeed filled on a particular day.

With social media placed on hiatus my mind slides to what I’d imagine God knows I need to focus on and some He wishes I wouldn’t dwell on: the reoccurring theme of rejection in my life; health anxiety; financial concerns; personal loss; past betrayals; broken family relationships; lost dreams; hope for new dreams; worries about the children; an overwhelming desire to cook more but the fear I’ll fail like I’ve failed at so much else. 

Slowing down the incessant mental chatter in the over thinker is definitely a challenge. For me yoga, editing photographs, listening to sermons, watching cooking or traveling shows, reading, journaling and taking photographs are some ways I achieve this. It’s in the dark of night when the chatter grows louder so I often fall asleep listening to a comedian or a hopeful pastor like Joseph Prince. If the subject matter is too heavy or deep it will spin my thoughts off into other directions and I could lay awake in bed for hours, jumping from deep thought to deep thought.

My one hope is that by physically decluttering our living space we will also declutter our thoughts in some way. It’s like having hundreds of cable channels. When you have so much to choose from you become overwhelmed and don’t know what to choose. Sometimes you have to turn the TV off because it is simply too overwhelming. 

The same is true when your house is full of material items you don’t need. There is so much to focus on you don’t stop to focus on what is important. When you have less dishes to clean you have more time to spend with your children. When there are less clothes to choose from your mind can focus on what activity you can do together as a family instead of what shirt matches which skirt. When your children have less toys they can focus on developing their imagination with the toys they do have or with other objects in the world around them. 

Mentally decluttering is a supernatural process that I believe only God can accomplish.

By focusing on His word and His promises it is often easier to slow thoughts down and rest in his care. 

I’m not sure how far I’ll get in my physical minimalism goals but I intend to work daily on the mental minimalism effort because that is definitely one of my most difficult tasks. 

 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

– 2 Corinthians 10:3-6

I used to be a writer. . .

I used to be a writer. I used to be able to string words together and have them make sense. Now my brain is jumbled in my head, mixed with toddler demands and elementary basketball and dinner and karate classes and nap time. I won’t even mention all the rest of the mess Facebook pours in there time and time again, which is one reason I’ve begun enacting long Facebook breaks. 

Once upon a very different time I wrote columns for the paper and they were filled with stories of my son. Mothers and grandmothers loved the stories. Someone didn’t and let me know in black permanent ink scrawled all over my column and shoved in the front mail slot. They didn’t care about my stupid teddy bear and no one cares about my kid they told me. I always thought it was nice of my co-workers to share that with me. I suppose they were subtly letting me know they didn’t care either. After all, one of my bosses let me know no one cares too. We had a closed door meeting about it and it was suggested I find other topics to write about. I suppose if I had rambled about politics it would have been more acceptable. It’s weird, though, years after I stopped writing and left the paper I’d have strangers tell me “I loved your columns. It made me think of my children when they were you .” 

Still, those comments, though they only reflected a few, were enough to finally send me into hiding. I hate to admit that the haters got me but each time I start to write a voice whispers to me, “no one cares.” If I try to ignore it I here “no one cares about your teddy bear and your kids.” Which is sad really, because I care about my kids and someone else cares about their kids and maybe together we can find some common ground, but only if I write something and they see it and they “get it.”

So, I’m trying to write again. Sometimes I’ll write about dumb things that someone out there doesn’t care about. I’ll probably write about my kids. I’ll probably ramble on about my old teddy bear. I doubt I’ll ever write about politics because it stresses me out. Sometimes I’m sure the voices will get the best of me and I won’t share. But sometimes I plan to shove the voices behind a closed, locked door, blast some TobyMac or Needtobreathe, and write even if I feel like no one cares.

 

“I got dreams that keep me up in the dead of night

Telling me I wasn’t made for the simple life

There’s a light I see, but it’s far in the distance

I’m asking you to show me some forgiveness

It’s all for you in my pursuit of happiness.” 

– needtobreathe