God Help Me Not Help Them

Five-Minute Friday: Try. A single word prompt. Write without overthinking or editing. And go:

I am a fixer. Perhaps it is more honest to say that I am someone who likes to be in control (okay, I’m a control freak). But, really, I am a recovering control freak. Please, God, help me not help them today.

Nothing, not even that prayer, changes the fact that I cannot help myself: I want to help them (read: I want to control them, or at least try to).

IMG_4824When someone in my family is trying to do something and it’s not going as smoothly as I think it ought: opening a jar, zipping up a jacket, tying a shoe, replacing batteries; really, it doesn’t matter. Whatever someone in my family is trying to do, I want to help. And by help, I mean, I want to do it for them.

But I mean it in the best possible way when I reach in and take over.

I mean it in the best possible way when they look at me with that look.

I mean it in the best possible way when I step in and don’t allow them to figure it out for themselves, when I don’t allow them to try.

In some ways, I think this is what I want God to do for me.

I want Him to step in; I want Him to intercede and to take over before I have the chance to screw things up. Again.

Yes. I want to try. I want to do it myself. I want to figure it out. Because that’s who He created me to be in some ways. But I know my track record. And I know He does, too, you know? We both know I’m probably making the wrong choice, not doing it right, making a mess of things.

I want Him to stop me.

I want Him to protect me from myself. I don’t want to learn. I just want to be able to do it right the first time.

So I want Him to be more like, well, more like me. To be a fixer. To be the One who steps in and stops me before I make such a mess that the clean up will take far longer than either of us can anticipate.

But, that’s not how God works. He’s the God of free will and choices.

And, slowly, oh-so-slowly, that’s what He’s teaching me.

I’d be lying if I said I’m not a slow learner.

IMG_4450God doesn’t work that way – stepping in and taking over – and He doesn’t want me to, either.

And so I take deep breaths and let my husband be the one to handle the task at hand and let my seven year old try and try and try until she gets things the way she wants them. I stand by and let my five year old try to measure the flour or the salt or the vanilla; I let her try and break the egg; I let her try.

I try to let them try when I want to do.

But instead, I wait. I watch. I itch to step in, but I let them try.

And when I step in too soon? God gives me another chance to try again.

Stop

(This post is part of Kate Motaung’s Five-minute Friday at Heading Home. She gives us a word and we write for five minutes. This week’s word: Try)

Writing Sprint: Portals

Writing Sprint Wednesdays & link up

The Writing Sprint prompt appears at the end of this post and offers an opportunity for you to freewrite for 15 to 45 minutes without the so-called help of your inner critic. No overthinking. No stopping. No editing. No worries.

{a quick p.s. If you’re joining the link up, please grab the Writing Sprint logo below and include it on your blog post, along with a link back to this page. Thanks!}

laptopWriting Sprint Prompt: Portals

C. S. Lewis used a wardrobe, J. M. Barrie used the second star to the right, and Lewis Carroll used a rabbit hole—each a gateway to another world. This week, pick an object that is important to you and transform it into a portal to an alternate world. Write a story about someone discovering the portal and adjusting to life where everything is foreign. Take into consideration where this secret passage is located and what it feels like to pass through it. 

To this prompt, I would add that perhaps the Portal is an object – like a ring or a medallion or a pair of glasses that your character finds and puts on or touches (as in Tomorrowland). Be creative & have fun.

{Before I get started, I will say that in order to keep my writing within the 15 to 45 minute time, I have created a playlist on Spotify that allows me to put together songs that come close to 45 minutes. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing}

{start}

The Book of Poems & Legends

“Mia, have you seen the Book of Poems and Legends?” Henry called from the small extra room they both referred to as the library. He began looking over the shelves one more time. “Mia? Mia? Where in the world did she go?” Their apartment was what realtors described as cozy, which translated in Henry’s mind into the square footage of a postage stamp, so the fact that Mia hadn’t answered him meant she must have left without telling him and that’s not how they tended to operate. Henry wandered outside to see if perhaps his sister had taken up her usual garden spot in the hammock, but there were only the growing shadows of dusk.

“Mia, is that you,” Sophia called when she heard the sliding door open next door. She laughed to herself because it was really Henry that she hoped to see, but she almost always asked for Mia rather than Henry. It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy Mia’s company. In fact the two had become quite close in the two years that they’d lived next door to each other. But she felt such a deep connection to Henry that she couldn’t quite explain, and she was going to miss him terribly.

“It’s Henry,” he called over. He peeked his head over the fence. “You haven’t seen Mia have you? Maybe heard her go out?”

Sophia shook her head. “But I’ve only been out here for about five minutes or so,” she said.

“So unlike her,” Henry said.

“I can keep you company while you wait for her,” Sophia offered and Henry smiled at her.

“Absolutely,” he said.

“Where do you suppose she is,” Sophia asked once the two were nestled in the cushions of the garden swing. Henry shrugged. With Sophia so near, his worry about where Mia had disappeared to was overshadowed by the anticipated loss of this closeness and connection he shared with Sophia.

***

In the library, on the shelf where Henry kept his favorite books, Mia stood, hands on hips and just half the size of the spine of the worn out NIV translation of The Bible. She knew she’d left the Book of Poems and Legends on the back of the shelf behind the line of Henry’s most-read books because she knew it was the one place that he wouldn’t look for it. Other than The Bible, Henry has cycled through each of these books recently and had moved on to some newer selections from the public library. Still, she couldn’t imagine where the heavy volume had gotten to in the short time she’d been gone. And why was Henry looking for the book anyway, she wondered. But that wasn’t nearly as important right now because without the book, she was stuck as she was, the size of a pen and a great distance from the floor without some ingenuity and perhaps some assistance. She walked the length of the shelf once more, acknowledging the gap where she’d removed the volume and moved behind the line of books that stacked like steps from tallest to shortest until they reached The Bible laid upon its side.

A shadow passed through the room and Mia hugged her arms around herself against a strange and sudden chill that started in her bones and moved up through her spine. She crouched behind the copy of the old worn Bible and held her breath for with Henry and Sophia swinging in the garden, and no other way into the apartment, there was only one other being she could imagine in the library at this moment. One being who could pass through time and space and realms and visions as he pleased and without detections or opposition. She whispered a familiar chant of verse for strength and protection and waited in silence.

The shadow grew darker and closer to the shelves and she was certain she felt the cold air of his breath and fought against trembling that he might not detect her presence. Further along the shelf came a thump and then a sliding and shifting of books and then the shadow lightened and seemed to evaporate. Even so, Mia stayed crouched behind the NIV Bible for several minutes before venturing back along the shelf toward the row of Henry’s favorite stories. Sure enough, just as she had suspected, the thump and the rearranging of books was the returning of The Book of Poems and Legends. Although she hadn’t seen him, Mia felt sure that the One had taken the old volume, but for what reason, she wondered, if he could pass through visions and dreams and time without the help of a portal?

As she pondered this, she wrestled the old, thick volume from its hiding place upon the shelf and let it fall open to the story about the Legend of the Faerie of the Isle and then, as quickly as she was able, she jumped into the painted print of a meadow that bordered a shadowy wood on one side and a cozy cottage on the other. In the cottage the illustrator had drawn with painstaking detail a woman at a piano looking out at the meadow while the blue and gold lights of several faeries danced and played under the falling dusk. As her toe touched the feathery grass, sketched with such vivid strokes, Mia disappeared.

{Stop}

This Week’s Writing Sprint: Portals

C. S. Lewis used a wardrobe, J. M. Barrie used the second star to the right, and Lewis Carroll used a rabbit hole—each a gateway to another world. This week, pick an object that is important to you and transform it into a portal to an alternate world. Write a story about someone discovering the portal and adjusting to life where everything is foreign. Take into consideration where this secret passage is located and what it feels like to pass through it.

Give us what you’ve got with as much detail and dialog as you can muster in 15 to 45 minutes. Most of all, have fun. Free your writer from your inner critic. When you’re done, come back and link up what you’ve got! And remember to give some encouragement to at least one other person in the link up community. You can post to the link up party until next Tuesday night. Hope to read you there!

Free for a Time

IMG_6589Five-Minute Friday: Free. A single word prompt. Write without overthinking or editing. And go:

This is to all the haters, the critics, the naysayers. Specifically, this is to the ones that live inside my head.

Your time here is done.

You are free to go.

If you are not willing to go in your own power, then I will help you.

But today?

Today is your eviction day. Consider this your notice.

What’s that you say? You don’t think I can do it? You don’t think I have the power, the strength, the ability to call you out and dress you down right here, right now?

You’re right. I probably don’t.

But that’s okay.

I’m not working alone. In fact, I’m not doing this at all.

This is all in His power and His strength and His mercy and His calling.

He made me free.

But even so, I continue to live in fear and doubt.

I continue to live as a slave to you: to the haters and the critics and the self-doubt and the self-proclaimed naysayers.

But today is my Independence Day. (again)

Today, I am liberated. (again)

Today, I am free. (still)

I am free from doubt and from worry and from cowering and from giving in.

I am free from the voices – all of your voices – that try to control me and tell me every day that I am not enough or that I don’t have anything to say or to contribute.

You’re wrong.

I am worthy.

In the words of Mercy Me, I am flawless because the Cross has made me flawless.

I have something to say.

I have words that God gave me and that He wants me to share with others. And maybe even with me.

But I am no longer accountable to you.

Today I am living a life worthy of the Gospel.

And so this is my beginning. This is my moment to break free and to do the things for which God created me.

Your time here is done.

This is my time.

God created me for such a time as this.

Stop

(This post is part of Kate Motaung’s Five-minute Friday at Heading Home. She gives us a word and we write for five minutes. This week’s word: Free)

 

Writing Sprint: Cream and Sugar

Writing Sprint Wednesdays & link up

The Writing Sprint prompt appears at the end of this post and offers an opportunity for you to freewrite for 15 to 45 minutes without the so-called help of your inner critic. No overthinking. No stopping. No editing. No worries.

{a quick p.s. If you’re joining the link up, please grab the Writing Sprint logo below and include it on your blog post, along with a link back to this page. Thanks!}

laptopWriting Sprint Prompt: One Moment, Please

The detective saw his opportunity. He grabbed the waitress’s arm and said…

{Before I get started, I will say that in order to keep my writing within the 15 to 45 minute time, I have created a playlist on Spotify that allows me to put together songs that come close to 45 minutes. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing}

{start}

Cream and Sugar

The detective saw his opportunity. He grabbed the waitress’s arm and said, “Cream and sugar.”

“You can do this,” he added. She had large brown eyes that appeared even larger as she watched the man with the 9mm currently standing by the window and peering through the blinds at the growing army of police surrounding the diner.

“Remember, cream and sugar, Phoebe,” he repeated almost under his breath as the gunman turned around. He pushed his way through the two-tops still cluttered with the morning breakfast rush dishes. He hoped that she’d heard him and wouldn’t freeze when the time came. So far, she’d held up well given all that they’d been through so far. Her name tag and uniform was smudged with the cashier’s blood, the first casualty of the day.

“Get up,” the gunman told her and grabbed her under the arm, shoving her in the direction of the counter. She glanced back for only a moment and met the detective’s eyes briefly. “Turn around,” the gunman said. “Coffee.” He gestured to the empty pot behind the counter with his gun.

Without a sound, Phoebe poured out the burnt remnants from the pot. Within minutes, the smell of fresh coffee filled the air and, with it, a sense of calm seemed to settle on the girl and the diner, giving Detective Miller a few minutes to think. The gunman sat on the stool closest to Phoebe, his head leaning tiredly against the hand holding the gun. “Coffee,” he said as the brewing slowed.

Slowly, carefully, Phoebe took a cup from the shelf that held several towers of brown and white striped mugs. With only a slight hesitation, she placed the coffee in front of him and then slid the sugar across the counter. When she reached under the counter, he started and cocked the pistol, “Don’t!”

“Creamers,” she told him, her gaze steady.

“Black,” he replied.

“Sure.” She took some napkins and held them out to him. “You’re brow,” she said. “It’s bleeding again.”

He took the napkins from her and pressed them against his head. Even from where he was sitting Miller could see that she was blinking back tears and he willed her to hold on.

“I’d love some of that,” Miller said from his table, and the gunman started again, aiming his pistol at Miller’s head. “Just coffee,” Miller said. He raised his cuffed hands as high as he could from the side of the chair. “Long day.”

Phoebe watched the gunman who gave her a slight nod and finally lowered his gun. As she poured the coffee Miller called out, “Cream and sugar.”

This time, Phoebe started, glancing over at him and then back to the gunman. He was off his stool and around the counter in seconds, pushing Phoebe out of the way. “Where?”

She stood, frozen, and he turned on her, waving the gun again and she flinched.

She opened her mouth and nothing came out. She cleared her throat. “Second shelf,” she said at last and shoved her hands deep into her apron pocket. The gunman leaned down and time seemed to slow down as Phoebe pulled out Miller’s revolver and raised it to the gunman’s back. The gunman’s hand was just coming up over the counter with a large handful of creamers. Phoebe looked over at Miller and back to the gunman. She grasped the gun with both hands, her index fingers on the trigger. Miller closed his eyes willing her to squeeze.

The gunman turned. Phoebe gasped. The gunman’s arm swung up with his pistol. Phoebe squeezed the trigger. The explosion echoed in the metal confines of the galley area.

“Why?”

The gunman fell back against the counter. Coffee sloshed from his cup onto the counter. The question fluttered in the air and Miller wondered if it had been Phoebe or the gunman. Phoebe squeezed the trigger again and the gunman fell forward. His hand grabbed Phoebe’s hair. Miller yelled. Phoebe screamed. Glass broke and windows shattered.

Phoebe grabbed the coffee pot behind her and swung it at the gunman. He let go of her and she dove past him toward Miller who was standing, dragging the chair with him. Cops swarmed in, a tide that pulled Phoebe away from him as the diner filled with chaos.

He couldn’t see her, but he knew the tears she’d been fighting were flowing from her brown eyes. In the uproar he heard her crying and he closed his eyes again.

{Stop}

This Week’s Writing Sprint: One Moment, Please

The detective saw his opportunity. He grabbed the waitress’s arm and said…

Give us what you’ve got with as much detail and dialog as you can muster in 15 to 45 minutes. Most of all, have fun. Free your writer from your inner critic. When you’re done, come back and link up what you’ve got! And remember to give some encouragement to at least one other person in the link up community. You can post to the link up party until next Tuesday night. Hope to read you there!

A Hope for the Ages

IMG_6048Five-Minute Friday: Hope. And go:

The things I hope for have changed through the years.

There were the hopes of my childhood:

I hope we go to the amusement park this weekend.

I hope my mother makes chocolate pudding for dessert.

I hope my friend feels better soon.

There were the hopes of my teenage years:

I hope he likes me.

I hope he’ll ask me to the dance.

I hope there’s no quiz in algebra today.

There were the hopes of my youth:

I hope I make a good impression.

I hope I make a difference some day.

I hope nobody finds out about this.

Now, there is the Hope of my daily life. A Hope born of grace and mercy and love and sacrifice; first in Christ, now through me, as a wife, as a mama, as a woman, as a writer. I hold it out and up and hold it fast because without it I would sink beneath the brokenness.

It is a Hope that burns in the dark valleys and the shadows of shame and guilt and doubt and fear.

It is a Hope that came as a gift more than 2000 years ago when God sent His Son into this broken and fallen and hurting world. It is a Hope born of blood and tears and agony and woven with the threads of Truth and pressed upon altars of stones and souls laid bare who have long waited in faith for the promises only Hope can bear upon its shoulders.

Stop

(This post is part of Kate Motaung’s Five-minute Friday at Heading Home. She gives us a word and we write for five minutes. This week’s word: Follow)

The Ebb and Flow of Dreams

IMG_6476God-given dreams and purposes will ebb and flow. Their rhythms will include rests among the beats of building and refining and tinkering.

Consider the moment when Jesus comes upon Simon (Peter) and his brother, Andrew and the building rhythm as Jesus prepares them for what He is about to do.

Simon and Andrew are exhausted; they are cleaning their equipment so they can get some rest. But Jesus has other plans for them in this moment:

“He climbed into the boat that was Simon’s and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Sitting there, using the boat for a pulpit, he taught the crowd.” (Luke 5:3, The Message)

Things start small. They are in the shallow waters and close to the shore. Simon’s role is simply to keep the boat steady and a safe distance from the crowd on the shore that was probably creeping into the waters to their ankles, their shins, their waists, wanting to be close to Jesus.

We don’t know what Simon is thinking, but given that he’d been fishing all night, he may simply have been lulled into restfulness with the rocking boat and the sound of Jesus’ voice.

And then Jesus steps things up, turning His attention to Simon:

“When he finished teaching, he said to Simon, “Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch.” (Luke 5:4, The Message)

It’s time to move out to deeper waters. I’m guessing that this is the last thing Simon is expecting and the last thing he wants to do. At this point, if I’m him, I’m ready to head home and have some breakfast and maybe even get a nap.

But that’s not what Jesus wants from him. And Simon gets to choose: put out into the deeper waters or refuse:

“Simon said, “Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I’ll let out the nets.” (Luke 5:5, The Message)

Have you ever thought anything like this? Lord, I’m tired. I don’t really want to. Do I have to? Can’t I just get a break? Haven’t you seen how hard I’ve been working?

Maybe Simon thought similarly. Even so, he relents. It’s Jesus and there’s something about Him, so Simon does what He asks.

“It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch.” (Luke 5:6-7, The Message)

Though Simon and Andrew fished all night, they caught nothing. Their efforts brought no reward. But when Simon follows Jesus’ advice, when he heeds what Jesus tell him to do, Simon reaps a catch greater than anything he and his brother hauled in.

Simon and his friends were awed by what happened. And who wouldn’t be. What had just happened? Who was this man and how had they reaped such an overflowing bounty?

Eventually, they return to the shore. Eventually, Jesus calls them to follow Him. Eventually, they are no longer ordinary fishermen; they are disciples.

And their lives as His disciples will ebb and flow with the same rhythm of work and rests.

We are not meant to work tirelessly always everyday.

We are meant to rest. To sabbath. To get away with Jesus to be renewed and readied for the next task.

Sometimes we will be on the shore.

Sometimes we will be in the shallow waters, keeping the boat steady.

Sometimes we will put out to the deep waters where the bounty of blessing is overflowing.

And we will always need to return to the shore to rest and to fellowship with Jesus over a meal as we look out over the sea and discuss what comes next.

Where are you today? Me? I’m on the shore for some much-needed time with my Savior.

Writing Sprint: Rebuilding Time

Writing Sprint Wednesdays & link up

The Writing Sprint prompt appears at the end of this post and offers an opportunity for you to freewrite for 15 to 45 minutes without the so-called help of your inner critic. No overthinking. No stopping. No editing. No worries.

{a quick p.s. If you’re joining the link up, please grab the Writing Sprint logo below and include it on your blog post, along with a link back to this page. Thanks!}

laptopWriting Sprint Prompt: Creative Writing Prompts for Fiction

Write a story entirely made up of letters. These letters could include letters exchanged in the mail, emails or even lengthy text messages. Who is writing the letters? Why? Ensure your writing is reflective of the medium of communication you choose. For example, emails may contain emoticons, short abbreviations and common phrases such as lol (laugh out loud).

{Before I get started, I will say that in order to keep my writing within the 15 to 45 minute time, I have created a playlist on Spotify that allows me to put together songs that come close to 45 minutes. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing}

{start}

Rebuilding Time

April 27, 2027        Dear Ella,

If you are reading this than we have missed each other yet again, but I dare not give up the hope that we will be united once again. I yearn to hear your words of truth and to walk with you along the wooded path where we explored as children and to visit the old willow tree where we kissed that first time as young lovers. My heart aches at these memories, fearing the worst, but, again, I will refuse to relinquish the hope to which I cling as my lifeline through this journey through the worlds. 

Oh, Ella, how I long to share with you my next destination in this letter, but to do so would be to risk both of our safety. Please know that as we agreed, I am staying to the shadows and seeking refuge by day from only those that are known to support the Rebuilding and are willing to take time and do what seems impossible this day.

Tomorrow is fast approaching and so I must not tarry with these words but rather must move onward, pressing ever forward to what is to come. I know not what to expect but that will not keep me from my duties. I will not go back, my love. Never.

you have my love, my dearest.        Miles

April 26, 2027      My dear sweet Miles,

Has it really been 16 months since we were together in the New City of Angels? How I wish that it were possible to make time stop so that I could find you in these worlds through which we journey together though we are separated by such distance. Oh to uncover the secrets that time has hidden in its hands so that we were once again able to exchange ideas in our present rather than through these words that wing their way through the distance of time.

I have so much to tell you that these quick scrawls no longer allow. I fear that there are dangers too close even now and strangers who are seeking to discover our whereabouts and the secrets of the Circle of Time that we have gathered so far.

Trust no one, my love. There are more who would do us harm than those who are willing to assist us in these times. Know this, my love – I will find you and we will see each other again. You are right to cleave to the hope of the promises of our words, spoken then and written now.

My time in this place is coming to an end. The stays are shorter now for me and I wonder if it is the same for you where you are. The journey is far more difficult and dangerous. Time is yet another enemy, but I, too, cling to the hope of finding you somewhere in the midst of these worlds through which we travel. You are never far from my thoughts or my heart, my dearest.

Seek me in the circles of time and not space, my love. I will be waiting at the Gate where time stands still.

June 16, 2027     Dear Ella,

We are to cross paths soon, I sense it. Those who seek to find us are unrelenting, but I trust that we will find each other before they do. Stay strong, my sweet Ella and know that I hear you even as I move through the shadows of harm and sense the threat that surrounds us. We will rebuild the Temple of the Holy Lands. As you have discovered, our stays in these worlds are shorter now and the journey more dangerous, but our purpose is a timeless one. If the Slayers are to be stopped, we must not quit. Time is an enemy indeed, and yet, it is also our best ally.

Watch for me soon in the place of the Sands of Time of our younger days. The Gate will open to allow our passage and our reunion. Be strong for our time is coming.

June 16, 2027   Miles, I have switched to this voice mode, hoping to reach you through your alias because the Slayers are closing in on me and the Circle of Time. There is no time to explain. Know that I will remain at the Gate until either you or they arrive. I am done moving through the worlds and through time. It is of no use to continue in this way. I must find you. Find me. Ella.

June 16, 2027   Ella, I’m here. Where are you? M.

June 16, 2027  Miles. Help me. Find me. They–

June 16, 2027   What has happened to you my love? Would that I had arrived before you. The gate is destroyed and all around is nothing but burning ruins.

June 16, 2027

You will cease your pursuit of the girl or we will kill her and all she represents.

You will cease your attempts to rebuild the Temple of the Holy Lands or we will kill the girl and destroy all that you seek to save.

(journal entry June 17, 2027)  My sweet Ella, I know not where you are, whether in this world or in the Circle of Time, but I am gathering the Rebuilders so that we may set forth to the Temple of the Holy Lands. I have collected a small group of my own so that we might secure your release from the Slayers. I fear that their threats to harm you and to destroy the Circle of Time hinge not upon my efforts. They will destroy everything if we do not stand up now.

{Stop}

This Week’s Writing Sprint: Tell It with Letters

Write a story entirely made up of letters. These letters could include letters exchanged in the mail, emails or even lengthy text messages. Who is writing the letters? Why? Ensure your writing is reflective of the medium of communication you choose. For example, emails may contain emoticons, short abbreviations and common phrases such as lol (laugh out loud).

Give us what you’ve got with as much detail as you can muster in 15 to 45 minutes. Most of all, have fun. Free your writer from your inner critic. When you’re done, come back and link up what you’ve got! And remember to give some encouragement to at least one other person in the link up community. You can post to the link up party until next Tuesday night. Hope to read you there!