Monday, March 31, 2008

Puzzle in Progress

Last night I managed to pound out about 1,000 more words for Rose Hill. It was nearly 2 a.m. when I finally cast the old laptop aside and went to bed, the story still strong and fresh and beckoning me. When this urge hits me, I find it almost impossible to ignore, despite the need for sleep. There is an urgency to spill the words from within onto a page, to see them in concrete terms, to be able to read them aloud for once. Until then, they seem to be just a jumble of disconnected scenes popping up into my subconscious. I know what I'm supposed to say. The puzzle lies in how to say it.puzzle

And I've always been one to love puzzles. This time it is taking shape a bit awkwardly. Instead of fitting all the border pieces first and filling in, I am finding many of the missing middle pieces that match and putting them together. The first novel was written from beginning to end in sequential order. Rose Hill seems to be coming in scenes, none of which follow the outline. But, I tell myself, that's okay. The important thing is to get it all out and into files. Then I can rearrange it and play with it and put it into some semblance of a novel.

If you've followed my turtle-like progress over the past year, you know I have fought my feelings of inadequacy. You know I have struggled with subject matter and whether to deal delicately with the demons or just proclaim all out war on them. This one is going to be a long labor, but I'm hoping that when the "dust" settles, there will be something left worthy of the craft. I will keep you posted. Thank you for not giving up on me. Smile****

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Excerpt from Rose Hill

I finally had some time last night to drag out Rose Hill again. I've been away far too long. But looking back over what I've written, it seems the writing is of much better quality, so I will just keep plugging along, be it ever so slow. I am up to about 10,000 words, but I have approximately 2000 more that I have not formally put into a file.

As I was reading back through some of the scenes last night I began to doubt myself and my ability to fully expand this story into 90,000 words. The material is there, though, and I just need more time. Sadly, that is the commodity I do not have a surplus of at the moment. I admit that my committment to the work has faltered as I spend most days typing other people's words. Most days while I am at work I am feeling the tug to get back to my baby, but what can I do? The light bill has to get paid. The Internet has to stay connected. The boy still needs his lunch money. Still, I find myself thinking that these are all just excuses, that a true writer would find the time. Make the time.

Things have been rough here the last 2 years. God is taking care of us, though, so I try not to let worry get to me. He is still working in me on the need for complete trust in Him. Perhaps the stripping away of everything else is just a way to emphasize my dependence on His care. That's all I can do, is trust that He has a plan. And let Him work it out. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Below is a small excerpt. Any thoughts/critiques/musings would be welcome.

Spring 2006

I hadn’t been back in town long, just long enough to catch a cab to the house and hug my mom. It was good to be back, to see green trees and grass and blooming flowers--good to be able breath air that did not scorch the lungs and smell of spent ammo and charred flesh. I remember thinking how vibrant and alive and beautiful the old neighborhood was, a welcome relief from the unspeakable scenes I had encountered in Iraq. I was relieved to have left the realities of war and death behind me.

I surprised her in the backyard last Tuesday morning. She had on that same blue housecoat she always wore over her gown to go the mailbox and was bending over her flowers, I suppose to pluck away the withered blooms and admire God’s handiwork.

You should have been there when I tapped her on the shoulder. Startled, she screamed, hands flailing right and left. Until she realized it was me. And then it was all joy and smiles. My mom had the prettiest smile. I always thought she resembled Natalie Wood, though of course, my mom was the prettier one, and I can’t imagine her ever playing the part of Deanie Loomis in “Splendor in the Grass.” There was never a stronger woman than Ellen __________ .(Last name?) Living with Dad would have utterly broken a lesser woman, but not mom. Not even living with cancer could do that. But as I said, Mom was different than most.

“Oh Sonny, you startled me. Why didn’t you call? I would have put dumplings on and made a coconut cake.”

“You don’t know how good that sounds, Mama.” Her short pudgy arms squeezed the breath from me. “There’s plenty of time for that.”

Mama pushed me back to arm’s length.

“You definitely could use a few pounds. Oh, Sonny. How long are you home for?”

“Just a few days. I wanted to surprise you.”

I remember walking past the flower beds, the picnic table, the tree with the bright blue bird house. I remember thinking that some things never change. Mama was jabbering about who all she would need to call, her blue fuzzy house shoes almost racing to get to the back door. And then everything seemed to happen at once; she was down. And my first thought was that she had tripped. Over the water hose maybe. Or the cat Bojangles. I didn’t even have time to catch her.

“Mama!” I remember kneeling beside her. She was too still. Visions of the Iraqi woman lying on a gurney beside me blipped across my mental radar. I turned Mama to face me. Her eyes were blank.

“Mama, can you hear me? Mama!” I knew the look; I had seen it too many times. But still I felt for a pulse. I checked her airway and began CPR. But Mama was gone. I knew she was gone. And still I pumped. I pumped until my arms ached and my throat burned from screaming for help. Finally Mrs. Harper appeared on her back steps and upon seeing us gasped in horror.

“Call 9-1-1. She’s had a heart attack.” My mind was reeling. This can’t be happening. Mama don’t go. I just got home. Mama I need you. Not now, Mama. Oh God, don’t let her be dead. I couldn’t even cry. Instead I brushed the grass and dirt from her cheek, closed her eyes, and covered her with my camouflage jacket. I couldn’t cover her head. I had done this on the battlefield more times than I had cared to, but this was Mama. My mama. I didn’t even have time to tell her the news.

I found out later from her oncologist that Mama’s heart had been damaged by the chemotherapy she had taken to combat the cancer. I blamed myself for exciting her so with my surprise visit home, but Dr. Gamble just shook his head.

“Son, your mom has known about this for a couple of months now. We discussed it, and your mother felt it would be better not to tell anyone, that she would live out her last days at home and have some quality of life. There was nothing I could do for her. She was worn out, Sonny. She was tired. It’s not your fault.”

Hearing him say the words did not make me feel better, not really. I mean, I knew Mama wouldn’t live forever. We had faced her mortality so many times during her bout with cancer. I thought I had come to terms with her dying. We had talked about the cancer returning and that that was probably how it would all end, finally metastasizing to other places in her body. I was the one who had gone with Mama to the funeral home to make pre-arrangements. She had insisted it all be taken care of beforehand. So we all knew the day would come. But a heart attack? That never crossed my mind. And it certainly wasn’t on my mind today when I returned home.

I had so much I wanted to tell her that I never got to say. War will do that to you. Make you realize what’s important in life. Make you say the things you never had the courage to say before. It made a man out of me in more ways than one. And I needed to tell her. I needed her to know that something good had come out of my life. I needed to tell her that I never forgot the lessons she taught me, that the scriptures and little Bible songs she taught me carried me when I couldn’t walk, carried me in the desert when I couldn’t see for blinding sand and raining artillery. She needed to know that before she died her son had found his way to the Cross and the blood of Jesus had saved him. She needed to know I had found forgiveness--that I had finally been able to forgive Daddy.

I sat on her big four-poster bed in shock for the longest time. I should have called my sister Gwen right away, but I just couldn’t deal with her drama at the moment. She was probably still sleeping off a night of partying and drugs. Besides she didn’t even care about Mama. It was all about Gwen. I lived the same life she did growing up, but Gwen had always made it sound like she was the only one that got hurt. I always figured that she stopped eating to get attention. I can’t tell you how many times she’s been in the hospital getting her stomach pumped. And at a hundred pounds soaking wet, it doesn’t take many of those little pills to put her out. I guess that’s when the drugs started, when Daddy got killed. Again, it was all about Gwen. When Mama got cancer, it was all about Gwen. It was always someone else’s fault.

For a moment I thought it would almost be better if she didn’t even show up, if I didn’t call her until it was over. I mean, Mama didn’t deserve to have Gwen throwing herself at every man at visitation in weeping hysterics. But Mama would say to call her. Mama loved Gwen in spite of all the terrible things that Gwen had said and done to her. I guess that’s the beautiful thing about a mother’s love. Yes, I guess I would have to call her. Problem was, I didn’t have Gwen’s number.

We hadn’t spoken in two years, not since that last round we had about her borrowing money from Mama. And you know Mama, she would give it to her. And Mama trying to live off of Daddy’s Social Security. It wasn’t right. And I told Gwen that. She had told me to go to hell, and that was basically when I had written her off. I mean, you have to draw the line somewhere. She was the one on a fast track to hell. God, how did Gwen get so messed up?
Mama would have her number somewhere.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

WW Brilliant Character

I once heard it said that "character has to do with what and who you are when no one is looking". If one truly possesses Christian character, he or she will impact others like a candle lit in the darkness. The following paragraphs are excerpts from a book entitled, "Portals to Power". It was written by Louis K. Dickson in 1957.

The central factor in the development of a Christian character that can stand the tests of our time is the increasing of the spiritual brilliance of our lives.

The most essential thing about a true Christian life is the hidden power which springs from knowing Christ so intimately that the spiritual radiance and warmth of His life will emanate to others and draw them into a dominating desire for Him.

No power of Satan can withstand the assaults of a Spirit-filled life. Our hope is found in an unabated emphasis on real fellowship with God and a growth in spiritual power of apostolic quality.



10And if you pour out that with which you sustain your own life for the hungry and satisfy the need of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in darkness, and your obscurity and gloom become like the noonday.
11And the Lord shall guide you continually and satisfy you in drought and in dry places and make strong your bones. And you shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not. Isaiah 58:11 (Amplified Version)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Update

I have queried to an agent over the weekend who claims to respond within 3 weeks. I got an email back within 20 minutes saying she would get back with me as soon as she had time to review it in detail. This is another small step for me, but at least it is a move forward, however small.

Chase is recovering very nicely from his surgery and is on Spring Break. He is having his frieind, Timmy, over today. So far, no loud crashes, broken bones, or blood. Actually they are getting along great, which is helpful to me because I am trying to work and get caught up from being off taking care of him. Thank you for your prayers for him and us this past week.

March has blown in and managed to blow a section of the metal facia off the top eave of the house. I suppose we now have a another project to work on, but thankfully no other damage. I was watching the news earlier about all the flooding in our region, and I am grateful that we didn't float away.

I know I have been scarce with my son recovering, but hopefully I will get back into the swing of things. Seems I am forever apologizing for not keeping up. Blogging is one of those things I love to do but have to make time for. Thanks for being here.

Technically Challenged.

We tried to post a video today, but neither Sista Cala nor myself could get it going. I am still working on it, so check back later. LOL. Sigh........
video

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

WW Planting Season

All my life I have been taught the Word of God. With age, I have found great fulfillment in the study of the Bible. Its depth and richness inexpressible. I find fresh bread every time I read it.

In Mark chapter four, Jesus shared with the multitudes a parable about a sower. Then he turned to the disciples and explained its meaning. He went on in verse 24 and exhorted them to hear the truth and meditate to understand it.

Most of the time preachers focus on the various places/soil that the seed fell on. Others will hammer on the fact that the seed is the Word. Still others who care not for true exegesis will turn it into a message on money. But there is one fact that I have rarely heard anyone give more than a mention.

A sower sows. For the seed to be sown it has to leave the sower's hands. It is essential for each Christian to keep the Word close to their heart. But they also have to be willing to share it in order to reap its full benefit. Saints can carry nothing with them to Heaven but souls that they have won along the way.

That's why I write these posts each week. I'm sowing the Word. Someone will bookmark or digg it. Sometimes a hungry soul will search for this site and receive the seed. At other times my efforts may ricochet off of a heart of stone. And even if a soul stumbles upon this seed of Truth and embraces it for only a moment, it is well worth the effort. And what of the Seed that is eaten by the birds? It will serve to fatten the bird or it will be deposited upon another plot of soil and have yet another opportunity to sprout.

That's why I wear a lighthouse pendant. It is a great door opener. When people ask about its significance I reply, "Jesus is the Light and He lives in my house." Sometimes they are speechless, sometimes they fall all over their own words trying to avoid talking about Jesus, and others just smile and say, "that's nice". Oh, but there is so much joy when there is that one with a genuine interest in learning more about my Savior.

"...For whatever a man sows, that and that only is what he will reap." Galatians 6:7b

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Snow Fun



I know Diane and the rest of you are probably sick of the snow, but we rarely get enough to actually play in, so I posted some of my boys fun. Now that that's over, bring on the Spring!!!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

WW: Stay on the Wheel


The Book of Jeremiah is a weighty presentation of prophecy concerning the nation of Israel. As such, it is often overlooked by the casual Bible reader. My intent is not so much to deal with the prophecy, but rather a few simple observations found in Jeremiah 18:1-6.

The Lord commanded Jeremiah to go down to the potter's house. There He would speak to the prophet and use the activities of the potter to illustrate His message. 1) We often need to be in a certain place to comprehend the fullness of what God is speaking to us.

Jeremiah obeyed. 2) Obedience is essential to receiving all that God has for us.

There he found the potter doing what exactly what a potter does. 3) God is a God of order. He speaks within the confines of order and never confusion.

Verse four states that the vessel of clay was marred. It had never left the potter's control, yet it became flawed. 4) One can be right in the Master's hand and still sustain hurt/damage.

5) As the vessel is repaired, it may be changed in appearance and/or function/purpose.

6) As long as the vessel remains in the potter's hands it will be fashioned as he sees fit. And it will be good just as God made man good in the beginning. Genesis 1:31

7) God has control of every situation and the power to shape us in every circumstance.

We may tire of going round and round in circles, but we must stay on the wheel. The pressures of this life may bruise or nick us, but we must remain pliable to the Master's touch. Even the heat of the kiln will serve to strengthen us if we stay as long as the Potter deems necessary.

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. II Timothy 2:20,21