Tag Archives: Writing 101 WP

To Whomever May Relate

 

communications

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COMMUNICATION


To Whomever May Relate

Errors in communication have been the source of many a problem for centuries. At times they have caused down-right disasters. But in the Bird household they are often just a source of irritation, inconvenience, and sometimes laughter. And they often produce stories that are passed down from generation to generation.

The following conversations show just a small sample of the result of mis-communication. All of the incidents are true, but names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

Ice Cubes

MOM – (all set for a cold drink on a hot day and now agitated)”Who took the last ice cubes and didn’t replenish them?”

SALLY (teen age daughter, seemingly oblivious to Mom’s agitation) – “I did.”

MOM – ( more agitated) Why didn’t you put the ice cube trays back in the freezer to make more?

SALLY – (seriously trying to defend herself) “Because they were empty and you told us not to put them back in the freezer empty.”

??????

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Out of the mouths of Babes

After a discussion where my husband and I were complaining about paying taxes our daughter, a kindergartner at the time, asked what happens if you don’t pay the taxes? We responded, they will take away our house.

SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER – “Does anyone have any prayer requests today?”

NANCY – “I do, if we don’t pay our taxes they are going to take our house away from us.”

After the service: We were approached by the Pastor.

PASTOR – (Very concerned)”We would like to offer some assistance to help you financially.”

ME – (very confused) “Well things have been tight but we are ok, really.”

PASTOR – (Very convinced) “I know it is hard to accept help but your daughter shared the concern that you can’t pay your taxes and may lose your home with her Sunday School teacher.”

I tried to explain but I’m not sure I ever really convinced him it was a mistake?

???????

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He Said, She Heard – She Said, He Heard

ME – (to spouse) “I need your help getting the garage cleaned today, winter is coming and we need to be able to out the car in.”

SPOUSE – “We can do that tomorrow.”

ME – “If we don’t do it today it won’t get done.”

SPOUSE – “Remind me tomorrow.”

Next day:

ME – “Don’t forget we are cleaning the garage today.”

SPOUSE – “I know, you don’t have to keep reminding me.”

???????

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BEST OF ALL! Telling on myself.

SPOUSE – (out of town/on the phone) “Don’t forget to check the oil in the car.”

ME – “I don’t know how to check the oil in the car!”

SPOUSE – “You just pull the dip stick out, wipe it off, put it back in and then pull it back out and look to see how many marks the oil is below the full line. Then put that many quarts in using the spout that is by the oil.”

ME – “What is a dip stick?”

SPOUSE – Hesitates, then explains where it is and what it looks like.

ME – (later in the day on the phone to spouse) “Something is really wrong with the car.”

SPOUSE- “Why? Did you put the oil in?”

ME – “Yes, but it wasn’t as easy as you said. The spout you told me to use was way to big and some of the oil spilled. It wouldn’t hold the quart of oil the stick said it needed. And when I started it to go to the store it started smoking under the hood terrible. Something must be wrong with it.”

SPOUSE – “Have Joe (our mechanic) look at it.”

JOE – “There is oil all over the motor.”

ME – “I know, the oil spout thing was to big for the opening where the oil goes and some spilled.”

JOE – “Which opening did you use?”

ME – “Well the one where the dip stick is. That’s where the oil is, duh!”

JOE – laughing uncontrollably

“Was it something I said??????”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What About Bob?

What about Bob

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to a new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.”
― Flavia Weedn

 

For a writing assignment I was asked to do a character study of the most interesting person I had met in the last year and to shape that study into a portrait, not with paint on a canvas but with letters forming words on paper. As I searched my memory, which would resemble searching a card catalog in the library at my age, I thought of those I have met. There was the past president of World Hope, the missionary couple from Sierra Leone, Africa and a well known Fox News contributor, but my heart and mind kept saying, “What about Bob?”

I have picked the pseudo name, “Professor Bob” to protect the privacy of this individual.

I actually have never had the pleasure of meeting Professor Bob in person. I had signed up for his correspondence course on Christian Education as my last requirement for my studies in the ministry. As in all the course work I was given his address, email and phone number and been invited to call or email if I had any questions or concerns about the course. But it wasn’t until that first phone call for help that I really met Bob.

When he answered the phone I could sense in his voice there was a smile on his face. When I told him who I was he responded with the excitement he might have had when hearing from an old friend he hadn’t spoken to for years. Now, I have never had an instructor be unkind but this extravagant greeting caught me so off guard I almost forgot why I called.

As I explained to him my questions and concerns about the assignments he listened intently interrupting only to encourage me to continue. He thanked me for calling and responded by reiterating what he felt I was saying, validating my concerns. His voice was pleasant, caring and cheerful. He set me at ease immediately as he asked me a few questions and then went on to explain just what he was looking for in the assignment. He also shared some of  his own experiences in Christian Education, both his success and failures and what he had learned from them. Professor Bob took time to listen to my struggles and promised we would work together so that I would not just pass the course but would be able to develop an effective Christian Education program as a result. After that first conversation, I believed his promise!

I could tell that this man was dedicated to going above and beyond his duty to help his students. Though I had never actually seen him, his voice gave me the picture of a man who had it all together and was fulfilling his dream of doing what he loved, teaching. A jolly fellow of sorts. His words assured me I could feel confident in my abilities to succeed. He was, in my mind, full of life and joy and was living out his dream.

What I didn’t get from at our first encounter, but found out later, was the fact that Professor Bob had some struggles of his own. He did indeed have a passion for teaching and in fact had worked in youth ministry for many years teaching young people, he had become a leader in Christian Education and now was teaching at a college level. But his passion had been sidelined to some extent by some extremely difficult physical challenges due to an incurable illness. He felt he had been “put on the shelf” for a time but then shared positive lessons he had learned while sitting on that shelf.

In later conversations he  related some of those physical challenges to me. And as time passed he also spoke of some of his struggle and fears because of them. But he would always finish the conversation on a positive note by touting how much he had to be thankful for and how many opportunities his illness had given him to encourage others in their faith. And always at the end of the conversation I went away encouraged by him.

My course work took nine months to complete and over that nine months there would be many conversations where we would share our victories and our defeats, both professionally and personally. In that nine months we became friends. We connected on Facebook and I would finally get to see and know my friend even better in photos posted of his family and hobbies and through the post made by other friends, and there are many. But never once did he voice complaints and often I would see where he encouraged others in their struggles even though they paled in comparison to his. There were many, including me, who thanked him for taking the time to listen and encourage them over the years.

Professor Bob remains a friend and we continue our conversations even though the course work is completed. I am inspired by this man who, in the midst of physical struggles and uncertainty, puts others ahead of himself. How in spite of his physical limitations and uncertainty about his future he still finds joy in living and serving the Lord as he seeks to reach out to encourage others.

This man has “moved my soul to dance” and awakened me “to a new understanding with a passing whisper” of his wisdom. He has left his “footprint” on my heart.

Thank you Professor Bob!

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

 ~Author Unknown

 

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Trashed to Treasured

 

trash can & papersI love walking the path through the city park on an early fall day. The trees are alive with colors of bright orange, red and gold. Some leaves are stubbornly clinging to the branches against a blue sky, but some are brave enough to let go and dance with the wind over a, still green, carpet of grass.

As I walked along the path my tranquil mood was interrupted as a gust of wind formed an eddy that lifted a piece of white, rumpled, lined notebook paper from the wire basket meant to be the home for unwanted items of those passing by on the path. The bright white paper landed directly at my feet and as I bent over to retrieve this rogue piece of paper and return it to it’s rightful home the greeting at the top of the paper, “My Dear Charlie” in beautiful cursive writing, seemed to beckon me “continue reading”.

The message to Charlie seemed to be a farewell message. Not like a “Dear John” letter but one of painful defeat, frustration and retreat into solitude by someone who wanted to “disappear”, to “go where no one even knows my name.”, to “not have to get up one more morning and be looked at in disgust by you (Charlie) and be told I am a worthless. I want to go to a place where I am not made to feel unworthy to be taking up space in this world.” As I read the letter I could feel the anguish, fear and doubt. I could see the tears and hear the questioning as to whether these labels were valid. However, this letter revealed a spark of courage, a desire to be free of the verbal battering of self esteem on a daily basis.

But, the letter was unfinished, in the wire basket, not signed and never sent. It was torn from the notebook, crumpled and tossed. Did the writer ultimately buy into the lies and manipulation by one who made himself judge and jury, condemning another to  a life of defeat and feelings of being worthless, hopeless and void of any self esteem? Is there a soul wandering somewhere convinced this is the final analysis of their life, not worth keeping, to be torn, crumpled and tossed in the garbage. Or is there another letter, signed, sealed and delivered?

I long to find the author and to let them know there is value in their life. I want to tell them “Charlie is wrong!” I want to tell them how God sees value in every person. I long for them to feel loved, appreciated for who they are and valued.

I will be walking in the park again and I will enjoy the beauty of God’s creation but I will also be watching for someone with a notebook and when I find them I will encourage them to write another story. A story of hope, strength and healing. And then I will be writing another story written in my own notebook!

 

 

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“Music For the Soul”

This is my story 9 21 14Writing 101

Each piece of music tells a story. Even if there are no lyrics the melody, crescendo and tempo tell a story. The stories may be about an emotion or and experience; about the person writing the music or the person listening to it, one connecting with the other. We all have a story,  more than likely we have many stories. Songs often help us express our experiences in life situations in ways we are not able to otherwise. When I listen to a song that speaks to my soul I find myself saying, “Yes, Yes, that’s my story!”

The three songs most important to me tell the story of my journey from isolation, fear and rejection to forgiveness, peace and joy.

The first song, Amazing Grace by John Newton,  is a well known song among both the secular and Christian communities. The song is well know but, not as well known is the history, the “story”, of the writer.

Newton had a very painful childhood when at age 7 his mother, who had nurtured him in the Christian faith, died. He became bitter and angry and by age 11 boarded a ship to become a sailor.  After years of hard drinking, moral abandon and struggles of many kinds  he became a slave trader.  “I sinned with a high hand,” he later wrote, “and I made it my study to tempt and seduce others.” Finding himself on a ship during a sever storm, that threatened to destroy the ship and those aboard, Newton recalled the teachings of his mother and. believing his life was ending cried out to God for mercy and forgiveness. After finding himself safe at the end of it all he committed his life to Christ. After  his conversion he wrote the words to many hymns and not the least of which was Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

His story, like mine, is that forgiveness and redemption are possible no matter how far one has journeyed into the depth of depravity. It was my story in 1978. I was in the midst of a storm in my soul. I  was in the middle of a spiritual storm of regret and guilt of the past. There was a heaviness of heart and I cried out to the God I heard about as a child. In His grace and mercy, he rescued me and from the storm and lifted a heavy burden of guilt as I committed my life to Him.

The second song, It Is Well With My Soul by Horatio Spafford, is another well known song but, again, not many know “the story” of the author of the song.

Spafford’s story is much different than Newton’s, although both their stories took place on a ship. This man had lived out his faith and was blessed with a family and a successful career. However over a period of about 3 years he lost his only son from scarlet fever, his 4 daughters in a ship wreck and his business. Spafford’s wife was spared and not long after losing his 4 daughters while on his way to meet his wife, as he passed over the area where his daughters were lost he wrote this song, his story.

It Is Well With My Soul

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

His words describe in a way I never could my story after my commitment to follow Christ. Life didn’t suddenly get and stay wonderful. There have been many blessings but there have also been many challenges over the past 36 years. Some of those challenges carried heartaches, frustration, pain and anxiety but as I leaned into the one who loved me and changed me it was and still is “well with my soul.”

The third song, I Love To Tell The Story was taken from the second half of a poem written by Arabella Katherine Hankey, daughter of a London banker and set to music by by William G. Fischer, the son of a german immigrant.

Hankey had a place in her heart for the poor and hungry people in the poorest parts of London. She and her father were devout Christians. She organized Sunday School classes through out London and taught each week while also publishing poems, and tracts to hand out in her classes. Her hear for missions prompted her to volunteer to go to Africa as a nurse to assist her invalid brother who was a missionary there.

Fischer had his own story. Because of his love for music he practiced, played and eventually taught music at the university level. And eventually started his own music store, featuring the best made pianos in the world. He built his business up to become one of the most properous piano stores in the country.

Verse 1 I love to tell the story Of unseen things above, Of Jesus and His glory, Of Jesus and His love, I love to tell the story, Because I know ‘ tis true; It satisfies my longings As nothing else can do. Verse 2 I love to tell the story, More wonderful it seems Than all the golden fancies Of all our golden dreams. I love to tell the story, It did so much for me; And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee. Verse 3 I love to tell the story, ‘Tis pleasant to repeat What seems, each time I tell it, More wonderfully sweet, I love to tell the story, For some have never heard The message of salvation From God’s own holy Word. Verse 4 I love to tell the story, For those who know it best Seem hungering and thirsting To hear it like the rest. And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song, “Twill be the old,old story That I have loved so long. REFRAIN: I love to tell the story, ‘Twill be my theme in glory To tell the old,old story of Jesus and His love.

This is my story, about His glory and the wonder of His love!

 

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View From a Room

breakfast nook mt view

Where would I go if I could go anywhere? This was a difficult question for me and it took me most of the day to decide.

I thought of all the places I had been, where my favorite places were, and which places I might want to go back to but none of these places inspired me to write about them. You see as an adult, I have tried to go back to some of those places from the past and each time I did I was disappointed because it was never the same. Oh, there were memories and some feelings of nostalgia for a short time but also some sadness when reality reminded me those days were gone and can’t be retrieved. And in some respects I am thankful for that for some of those places weren’t places I would want to go back to. I have grown up and moved forward and life changes as we move from one season to the next. I read somewhere, a few years ago, it is good to look in the rear-view mirror occasionally but better to spend the majority of your time looking at what is right in front of you.

As a child in a dysfunctional family, secondary to my father’s alcoholism, we moved many times.  I never had a permanent place I could call home or a home town. The longest we ever lived anywhere was eight years. Now I am not saying this to complain because I made many friends along the way and even remain friends with a few of them, but I say this as my explanation why I don’t have any real attachment to one place.

After I was married my husband and we did live in the same small town for 43 years. WOW – culture shock,  but we did move to eight different houses in that little town. The town was in a valley and the mountains surrounded us. This was the first place that I really felt secure. I’m not sure if it was the mountains that made me feel secure or just being in a place where I could put down roots.  It was the place we raised our children. It was a place where our children would go to the same schools from kindergarten to 12th grade. So as adults they would be able to talk with friends about “remember when we were kids” and share the stories of growing up together. The conversations that I have never been able to be part of. It was the place where I learned God loved me and where I committed my life to Him. It was a secure place, a “home town.”

The view from the room I prefer is one in the future. This room would be in a little bungalow with a breakfast nook, a picture window and a view of the mountains, I love the mountains.  Mountains make me think of God’s strength and majesty and because I’m His child, that makes me feel secure.

A bungalow where in our retirement our children and grandchildren will come and visit Papa and I. We will tell stories about our kids growing up years and read to the grandchildren from the same story books that I read from to there parents. We will have Sunday dinners together when they visit after church. And in  the quiet time when everyone’s gone home, while my wonderful husband is playing games on his computer and watching TV,  I will continue writing so that all our memories are preserved for generations to come.

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Early Birds & Night Owls

“Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. and God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.” Genesis 1:3-5

“Then God saw everthing that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31

Are you someone who is up with the sun or are you just getting going when the sun is setting?

An early bird is a person who usually gets up early in the morning and goes to bed early in the evening and the opposite is a night owl, someone who usually stays up late and may feel most awake in the evening.

I happen to be an early bird (pun intended)  and enjoy being up ahead of everyone else to enjoy some quiet time. This love for mornings most likely began when we had six children at home and I would get up an hour ahead of them in order to have a cup of coffee in peace and quiet before starting the days routine, which was usually anything but routine.

I love the idea of a new day, a fresh start. I love the sights and sounds of a new morning, the sunrise, the birds chirping, and in the winter a fresh new fallen snow that has not yet been spoiled by tires, boots or shovels. I love that first cup of freshly brewed coffee as I communicate with God through His Creation, His word, and in prayer. This has to be the best part of the day!

Over the years I have developed some attitude about those who sleep past 6 am. I would sit up on my lofty perch and tell them “You are sleeping through the best part of the day.” I just couldn’t understand those “night owls” who were out on a limb and missing out on the beauty of early morning.

Recently one of our granddaughters (who is a “night owl”), unknowingly,  opened my eyes to my limited view of the beauty and blessings in creation from my perch.  She shared with me how her most productive and creative times were in the evenings and reminded me how inspiring the sites and sounds of the night can be, like a beautiful sunset, an orange harvest moon or the sound of the Whip-poor-will’s song. And what about a clear night sky with a host of stars brightly lighting up the darkness.

Yes, I was reminded that all of creation was made by God for  His pleasure and ours and He said it is all good. Whether we are early birds or night owls He has something for us. He does not slumber or sleep and we can come see His handy work any time of day or night.

By going out on a limb and leaving the comfort of our own perch we enlarge our view and have a better understanding of those who have a different view than ours.

This “early bird” grama will be setting up an evening with her granddaughter to hear and see more from the “night owl’s” view for sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unlocking the MInd

This is my first assignment for WP writing 101. Write whatever comes to your mind, unedited for 20 minutes.

The reason I am taking this course is to learn to be a better writer. I have been writing in journals for about twenty years and am so insecure that I even edit my journal writing for fear of what others might think if if there is no filter on what I write. The odd thing is that for years there was no filter on anything I said and I didn’t put anything in writing because I feared it would come back to bite me in the butt. d

I know now that my boldness and mouthy behavior was a cover-up for my own emotional insecurity. Now I don’t blame anyone for  that but I know a lot of it came from the way I was treated as a child and teen. I came from a home where dad was an alcoholic and mom worked all the time to get by ( and probably away from Dad). I decided as a teen that I would “do to others before they did to me”. Since I was only 4′ 11′ and 92 # the chip I had on my shoulder weighed me down significantly.

By God’s grace and mercy I lived through those teen years and did mellow with age, however went from bold and brassy to meek and weak. Man there had to be a middle road. Over the years the school of hard knocks  and a maturing relationship with the Lord Jesus I began to gain a bit of insight into who I was and how to deal with the things of the past that brought out undesirable behaviors. Not undesirable by others but by me. Your see I am my own worst critic! I double and triple check everything I do and therefore don’t do as much as I could or should in my perspective.

I love to learn and read and get excited about putting all I learn into practice but when the course work is done and the lessons are learned I seldom take action because of the fear of failure. The prompt for today’s lesson was about information overload and that is how I feel after taking a course. I have to have a step 1,2,3 to go by and be told just what to do next because I don’t trust my own thinking. I don’t feel I have anything of my own to offer so I live off the wisdom of those other bloggers, Christians, authors and teachers.

I have a lot of ideas of what I would like to write about and I love analogies but it is just like the writer of this assignment said, by the time it gets to putting it on paper or at the computer keys it just doesn’t seem as important or impressive and I delete or wad it up and throw it out. I have a whole box of analogies and stories I have jotted down that I would like  to expand on but there they sit in the box. The minute I pull one out and begin to try to expand on it my mind goes blank and I determine “it wasn’t such a good idea anyway.

Well my 20 minutes are almost up and I am surprised that I haven’t stopped once to change anything. So these random thoughts are there for all the blogosphere to see. And to my friend Lori who got me started blogging I say thank you. My filters are off and it has been a very liberating experience.  I have one confession to make though I did do a little spell checking. So take away my birthday, no please take it away, I’m 66.

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