The Story behind the story….

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“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” Isaiah 53:3

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7

There’s a young woman on the street corner. She twirls fingers through threads of black hair that reach her bikini topped breast. Her other hand holds a cigarette, the red ashes falling in the dim light. Her black boots click, click as she walks. Her elbows rest on a grey sedan’s open window ledge. She opens the passenger door and she gets in, rides away.

There’s a teen on the driveway. She twirls fingers through threads of black hair that reach the lettering on her t-shirt across her breasts. Her other hand holds an over-flowing bag, the red sequins on the straps flashing like diamonds. Her white converse runners squeak, squeak as she walks. Her elbows rest on the red mustang’s open window ledge. She opens the passenger door and she gets in, rides away.

There’s a child in the house. She twirls her fingers through threads of black hair that reach the collar of her pink sweater. Her other hand holds a blonde barbie, the doll’s clothes laying on the bare floor unseen in the darkness. Her bare feet tap, tap, as she walks. Her elbows rest on the bedroom’s open window ledge. She hears a door open behind her, closes her eyes and dreams of a white car and she gets in, rides away.

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There’s a 17 year-old woman, her name and picture flashed up on my television screen. A public risk, they say, charged for aggravated sexual assault for not disclosing her life-threatening STD to consenting sexual partners. She is hand-cuffed, chained, behind bars.

She is bad, people are told, for having HIV.

Her story today, as told by others, is all that anyone sees, knows.

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There’s a baby in the crib. She twirls her fingers through threads of a pink blanket that reach her tummy. Her other hand holds a brown teddy bear, a red ribbon around it’s neck highlighted in the moon light. Her toes wave as she giggles. Her elbows rest on the mattress. She hears a door open behind her, her eyes open wide and she waves, waves her innocent tiny fists and feet in the air, ready to be embraced.

In today’s headlines, do you question “What is the story behind the story?”

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There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you–who are to judge your neighbour? James 4:12

(first published at Connecting Stories)

Spinning To Grace

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It started when I was about 10 years old. I’d come home from school, grab a snack, and then open the door to the basement. I’d stand at the top of the stairs, nimbling on a Dad’s oatmeal cookie, and listen. Was she down there?

Yes. And if just starting, I’d hear first a sound like a hand clap, and then a whirling, like a spinning ceiling fan.

Sometimes I would take the 12 steps down, deep into the basement, red shag carpet soft on my bare feet. I’d see her, in the room off to the left, wearing hush puppy slippers to protect her feet from a cold concrete floor and the clay that splattered.  A scarf held her sand curls away as she leaned over the wheel, her hands moving up and down the spinning, wet clay. The clay would rise with her gentle hands. Sometimes, after dipping a hand into a water pail beside the wheel,  she’d press on top of the tower of clay, to decrease it, bring it down. And then, her encircled hands applying perfect pressure, she’d restore the clay into recognizable forms of mugs, bowls and vases.

She’d spin up the clay, my mother, and then flatten it down on the potter’s wheel, spin and press down, until the clay mixture was the perfect consistency to hold the mold she knew it could.

I didn’t see it then, this parallel, when watching my mother’s skilled hands,  yet isn’t that what God is doing with us too? Even in our battles, our trials, our hurts and betrayals, when we are in the depths of the valley, God is molding us and restoring us. His hands hold us, and His words are living water, replenishing and nurturing. His grace spins us from destructive habits, from shame and condemnation toward strength and redemption.

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Turn to God! Give up your sins, and you will be forgiven. Then that time will come when the Lord will give you fresh strength. Acts 3:19-20

You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

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And He rights our path and restores our soul.

He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name sake. Psalm 23:3

My prayer for you today, my friend, is that you know  He will lift you up from any depth, restore you, and satisfy you with His presence.

Can you feel Him today, encircling you with His grace and love? 

 

 

 

So many miracles

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“It defies the world’s logic,” he said. “It’s something only God could reconcile.”

I nodded in agreement, thoughts swirling through my mind, however I couldn’t format any words into a coherent sentence.

So all that came out of my rounded mouth was “Wow.”  I twirled my tea cup, peppermint aroma gracing my senses. The sun from the cafe window warmed my hands, and imprinted tiny white stars in the blue eyes of my companion.

Sometimes there are just no words to describe what seemed impossible becoming possible. Sometimes, as in this case with my friend, there are just no words to describe a reaction from a story shared of a relationship that seemed irreconcilable becoming reconciled. Or that miraculous open door to a new beginning.

Sometimes there are just no words to describe God’s miracles.

Continue reading “So many miracles”

Seeing with the sea turtles

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On my recent trip to Maui I was blessed to see these creatures of the sea–the sea turtle. Sometimes I’d spy one alone napping on an empty beach.

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Sometimes I would spy a few rollicking in the waves, their heads poking above the waters for a mere second before disappearing again into the ocean.

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Sometimes I would spy one bathing on the rocks of an ocean cove.

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And other times I would see many huddled and resting together on rocks warmed by the tropical sun.

Whether napping as one on the empty beach, or riding with others in the waves, or huddling with many sunbathing in the coves, they seem to follow the natural order of things, I begin to see.

Continue reading “Seeing with the sea turtles”

Meet Terri

terriheadshotupdated15Today, (as I explore the island of Maui) I have a guest post from author Terri Tiffany. I met Terri 6 years ago (time sure goes fast) when I was blogging at my other place, Connecting Stories. I’ve always been inspired by Terri’s writing and her tenacity! She’s also an excellent photographer and she picked up guitar around the same time that I purchased my first one! I’d say we were meant to connect. Her first novel, The Mulligan, was lovely and I’m looking forward to reading her latest release, The Bend. Enjoy, my friends. 

Ever receive a challenge in the middle of the night?

Two years ago, I opened a fresh document and typed one sentence: “She was perfect.

My tenth novel. Would this be the one I’d free myself to let go and write the story I wanted to write? Until that time, my novels always carried a hint of people and situations I knew first-hand. I had never pushed myself to write a story from pure imagination.

The Bend became that challenge.

But first I needed a main character with a trait most people don’t have. Since my hobby is photography, I gave Kate Snow that occupation. With a twist. She could see details in her photographs other people couldn’t. Then I needed a place where her gift, curse or blessing, might transform her and those around her. The town of Bend became reality. I also wanted the town to come alive as much as my characters. That’s why I called it The Bend instead of Bend. It’s a place most of us wouldn’t want to spend a night.

Continue reading “Meet Terri”

Wrestling Surrender-Guest post by Joy

As I rest away in Maui this week, I have a special guest to fill the page! Meet Joy, a friend and writing comrade who opens her house each month to our Christian writers group, Writers Cafe (and must also say provides the sweetest treats as well my favorite brand of coffee)!  Version 3

There’s been something niggling to get to the forefront of my mind all week. Something I keep shoving back.  It’s a No-I-don’t-want-to-do-that! kind of shove.

But then an email from a friend arrives:

“Have you surrendered your role as _________________ to God? Are you willing to let it go completely and allow that His plan may be different, and not just resign yourself to that, but embrace it with anticipation?”

Rats! Way to bring up the elephant in the room. Now I can’t shove the niggling thought – the conviction from God – away. There it is, staring me right in the face.

God’s plans are not syncing with my plans. And I’m not happy about it!!

Continue reading “Wrestling Surrender-Guest post by Joy”

Changing times

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“Patience,” she says.  “After all, Niagara Falls wasn’t formed in a day.”

Niagara Falls?

“Mom,” I say, my ten year-old self feeling smug and smart. “The saying is Rome wasn’t built in a day, not Niagara Falls!”

She doesn’t stop pinning the hem of a dress I am to wear to my eldest brother’s wedding. We’d pick the material and pattern out on a shopping trip to the fabric store in town about a month before. And this was at least the fifth time I’d had to stand on the step stool in our kitchen as she tucked, pinned, and chalked the paisley printed cotton.

“Rome or Niagara Falls…great things take time,” she say. “Now straighten your knees or your hem is going to be as crooked as the tower of Pisa.”

I straighten in obedience. Anticipation of the new dress had me excited but irritable with the time it was taking. Yet, with each fitting there was a new piece added, stitched thoroughly. The dress changed to be suited perfectly for me, with my mother’s skill and with time.

Continue reading “Changing times”