October Story of the Month: Through the Dirt to the Son

I find myself drawn to the “pen” when I experience emotional pain. Writing a fictional story helps me to turn the pain into something that I hope will help others who may be experiencing the same. This is one of those stories. 


For Inez, clearing her mind of the ugly words was the hardest part. Prayer, verses, sweet worship with friends. Nothing seemed able to displace what Yola had said. The words hung there, accompanied by a heaviness inside that weighed down her soul.

The cup of tea didn’t bring its usual comfort; the flavor only reminded her of a better day.

Sweeping, rinsing, folding, scrubbing. The pain outlasted it all.

Then, through the window, she noticed the trees swaying in the breeze, like a dance of hallelujahs. “Sweater weather. Finally. Glad summer is over.” She felt her cat rub against her legs. “Come on. Let’s get outside.”

She stepped out to her backyard. The fountain soothed with its liquid sound while a lone cloud sat in the blanket of blue. Inez loved her backyard with its plentiful garden — a place of rewarding work, leisure, and talking with God.

She bent down to sift the soil through her fingers, imagining the activity below that would soon come to a halt for the winter. She loved the fall season. The shorter, cooler days meant soups and baked bread, leaves to collect for mulch, early turn-ins, and cozy nights of reading or chatting on the phone. Winter — not so much. Though she knew that the cold and darkness were necessary for growth, she only tolerated the season. Thin, leafless trees made her shiver. God certainly knew what He was doing, she often thought, when He created the seasons. In her eyes, she saw a clear picture of His redemption story.

“Yes. Come, Spring. Luz y vida,” she whispered.

The apples were ripe on the tree, so she picked one to go along with her peanut butter and honey sandwich. Glancing at her phone, she let the caller go to voicemail. Leticia meant well, but another conversation — gossip, if they would be honest with each other — was a sure way to make the matter worse.

She spread a cloth over the garden table and sat down. Sounds of dogs and neighborly noise were pleasant. She thanked God for her meal, tore a piece from the bread, and lifted it to the sky. “Lord, I’m handing it over to You.” She tossed the bread to the cat and smiled at his enjoyment.

And she prayed.

The pain, for a time, was gone.


That evening, Inez reached for her journal and wrote, “Heavy heart? Well, this too shall pass. A seed has to travel through the muck and mire. If I must do the same, I’ll push my way through the dirt while I reach for the Son.”

She picked up her phone and tapped in the number.

“Hey, Yola. It’s Inez.” She fought back the tears. “Can we talk?”

And she began to make her way.

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11)

I Met an Angry Lady at the Check-out Line Today

Happy Anniversary, Angry Lady! Five years ago this month (July 2016), I posted on my previous website an encounter I had at a grocery store that became the most popular story that I have ever shared. The story took several weeks for me to write, so the original readers received the story in three parts. Here is the full story in one post.

Fran the Angry Lady. I met her at the check-out line. We had a conversation. This is our story.


Part One: Darla Overhears an Angry Lady at the Von’s Check-out Line

When I arrived at the mall, I found a parking spot close to the grocery store, a feat which confirmed this truly was a glorious, work-free, weekday morning.

I entered the store and worked my way down the aisles. A bag of cat litter. A jug of water. A pack of gum. Done. I pushed my cart towards the “Express” check-out. There must have been ten people waiting.

So I steered my cart to Checkstand Four, which had one person waiting. Much better.

The woman in line had a full basket, so I prepared for the wait. I opened my purse to get my phone, but the words I was hearing distracted me. Angry words from an Angry Lady.

A Super-Loud-With-Her-Angry-Words Lady.

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Think of the Butterfly

Written for a friend in despair


It is amazing to me,

a wondrous endeavor.

Think of the butterfly:

Its plain beginnings,

its ragged shell,

its captured wings.

Has it gone unheard?

The lilies and the sparrows know:

He cares with a cupped hand.

He stoops down with a lift

as sure as the first Day.

He was, He is,

He will.

And so,

my love,

live your struggle while fixed to Him,

a holy silk.

And emerge,

this time,

ready

to fly.

Matthew 6:25-34

A Teen’s Questions for Me After the George Floyd Tragedy

Last year, during the height of the George Floyd tragedy, our Facebook feeds were full of posts that expressed the anger, frustration, and guilt that people were feeling.

That was to be expected. However, I quickly grew weary of seeing it.

So I wrote a post:

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Ode to Bandit (And Beloved Animals Everywhere)

One year ago today, I made the sad announcement that my beloved Bandit had died.

Journal Entry, 2/27/19 AM: “Bandit is not doing well. Please take him, Lord, to end his suffering.”

February 27, 2019. The day was cold, and it was raining hard. Bandit was 14 years old, had lost a lot of weight, and could barely walk. But that morning, while he was outside — he did love to play in the rain — Bandit found the strength to make his way through a fully-fenced backyard in search of a solitary place to die.

When I arrived home from work, the rain was still coming down, as it had been all day. Then, I heard the news. Bandit had not been seen since 10:00 that morning.

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Children, Cookies, and Frank in Uganda

I was sweeping the front sidewalk when three boys approached me.

“Hi! Would you like to buy a cookie to support Frank?”

Who??

They presented their “Support Frank” flyer. No misspelled words. Good grammar. Neat handwriting. And the boys were so polite and well versed as they told me about Frank and his dire circumstances. They even had a bowl of cookie bites for me to sample before buying. Genius!

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But Now She Sees

I had the privilege of singing “Amazing Grace” this afternoon at the memorial service for a dear woman and longtime member of my church. Rosemary was 97 when she died. Her losses of hearing and sight began when she was in her fifties.

To end the hymn, I planned to repeat the first verse, the last line being “Was blind but now I see” — a reference to the author’s spiritual change after becoming a Christian.

But it turns out that God wanted something different. For when it came time for me to sing that last line, the words we all heard instead were — through no prior thought of my own — “She was blind, but now she sees.”

My voice shook and tears fell as I sang those words directly to Sue, Rosemary’s daughter, from whom I sensed a beautiful peace. I cannot adequately describe this precious moment, but I hope you get at least some idea from what I write here.

Rosemary sees. After 40 years. Now. In heaven gazing clearly at her God with love and awe.

I tell you, there is no greater joy for me than singing the Truth.