Showing a Story Character With Poems

He lay,
a thinking quiet,
a listening, feeling,
the rhythm of blue,
the color of absence,
the downcast of soul,
and still he chose a smile.

I had the odd thought of using poems to write the petal collector’s side of the story. This is a bit of one.


Writing Prompt: Key

While listening to a Dodger game, I decided to be prudent with my time and do some practice writing between innings. I chose “key” as a writing prompt. Here’s a quick write from the prompt. Nothing great, but the exercise was a lot of fun.

She counted the times the old lady had visited that shack: nineteen since the day Wesley had died. The trunk she dragged out, the blue linen cloth that covered its contents, the crystal perfume bottle, the delicate necklace that carried the key — none of those interested Jade anymore. The trick to getting an invitation inside was convincing Millie Shepherd, town matriarch and her mother-in-law, that Jade knew the reason for the frequency of the visits — and that she knew where Millie had hidden the shoes she wore that ugly night.

Sounds intriguing. I might have to return to this one.



In Mother’s Place

The essence of Mother has been in the air this week, but I don’t think the memoir I’m about to begin is going to show me the sweet side of motherhood. Mama’s Girl (1996), a memoir by Veronica Chambers, has this quote on the back cover: “If we learned nothing from this book but the power of forgiveness, that is enough … and thank God for wondrous healing.”

Thank God. Yes. Life with my mother was dreadful after it got to a certain point, but God did heal my heart in a wondrous way.

I stumbled upon a Bible verse one day, shortly after I had given birth to my son, almost 30 years ago: Psalm 27:10 — “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.” The words were a gift. I had never thought about asking God to take me in because I had never seen God as a person. Prior to reading that verse, God was a High Being who existed in a place called Heaven where, if I was good, I would live one day. Mom told me that this God created the world and sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. His Bible contained amazing stories about floods, lions, and what the Israelites did. That was about it. I had no connection with the fact that God cared personally about what I was going through, as I and my siblings dealt with things no children should have to endure.

With this verse, God offered to put an end to my orphanhood, my greatest desire, which would also turn out to be the end of my insecurities and constant bad choices.

God became my Mother — and my Father — that day, and I was finally a member of a healthy home.

Physical abuse. Emotional abuse. Shame. Neglect. All of this I received from my mother or from someone she allowed to get close to me and the rest of her children. Yet these ugly memories of Mom — she died almost 20 years ago — no longer hold me back from being the whole person God created me to be. I gave up the memories when I gave up her position to God. And the amazing thing? I began to love Mom again, not with the warmth that a good relationship brings, but with a love provided by God that goes beyond feelings and expectations. Once I accepted the fact that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), I could better understand her and bring myself to forgive her — a great exchange of a burden for an amazing grace.

Do you have unpleasant thoughts or memories of your mother? Does the Mother’s Day celebration cause you to cringe? Get to know this personal God and let him stand in her place.

(Image of Mama’s Girl from my Instagram feed)



Grandma Dee and Tea

In a new scene I’m writing, Rose recalls her grandmother‘s jar collection and the story Grandma Dee had for each one of the jars. They would have tea together as Rose listened. It was during one of these times that Rose learned about a God who loved her. Rose eventually  rejects this God — her childhood pains required this, she told herself — but, thankfully, He doesn’t reject her.

I did not know either of my grandmothers. I met them both, but I was too young to remember feeling a loving touch or having a conversation that might influence the course of my life. I do have fond memories of my Grandma Mamie. She lived in Ohio and her long-distance phone calls were highly anticipated by her six grandchildren. She would regularly send us gifts and one of these has stuck in my mind since I received it when I was no more than five years old: a transistor radio, which was the coveted piece of technology in the mid-1960’s. A vivid memory I have is laying on the grass in our backyard, staring up at the clouds, my transistor radio at my ear,  and listening to Sukiyaki, a song sung in Japanese.

Story writing is the method I use to create what I missed out on in life or to change my experiences into how I wished they had been for me — a super power I own that has healed many emotional wounds.

My grandmother will visit with me, in a way, through my stories.


Nighttime Writing Tools


Nighttime writing tools: Mac, coffee, Scrivener, chewing gum, and anything from my garden that smells good.