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)

Creative Cooking in Lean Times

The cool evenings of fall always bring out my desire for lingering in the kitchen, after a summer of quickly-prepped meals to avoid the heat. Recently, I decided to have spaghetti, and as I cooked up a batch for dinner, memories of my mother and her creative cooking came to mind.

Creative, not in how she cooked, but how she stretched what she cooked.

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InSight

I sensed that I wasn’t the only one with my gaze directed toward her. She was not easy to ignore.

A young woman — beautiful face, clothes casual and colorful, long hair swinging as she made her way to the corner. She carried a loaded backpack, but its weight didn’t affect her happy gait. A man passed by her with a lingering look that might have caused discomfort for others.

But not this woman.

She was all confidence, with a smile that told a story of grace.

The light was red in my direction at one of the busiest intersections in town. Five o’clock traffic. I watched as she approached the corner and heard myself say, “Careful. Be careful.”

She was a few steps from the curb, and she wasn’t slowing down.

Then, with perfect timing, she stopped, turned, and flipped her cane against the traffic pole. She stretched out her arm and found the crosswalk button.

And she waited.

I wondered what thoughts others had as they observed the young woman for those moments at that bustling intersection. Did any of them:

  • decide to put aside their bad moods; 
  • make a mental note to count their blessings; 
  • vow to volunteer at Braille Institute; 
  • change their minds about holding a grudge;
  • memorize kind words to say to their spouse and kids when they got home;

Or, like me, were they reminded to be thankful for the ability to see?

As I watched her listening to the tap of her cane, using her senses to get where she needed to go, dealing with life without one blessed gift — what a contrast, I thought. What a contrast to the way I often handle difficulties in my life. Complaints and pitiful musing. Woe is me.

But there was a living example before me.

Continue with that steady walk forward, step by step, along the path that is right. Listen well. Be confident that God, my trustworthy Walking Cane, will lead the way. He will be with me as I walk through the dark valleys. Thoughts like these came to mind as I watched a remarkable young woman on her journey.

The light turned red, and I continued home, taking a last glance at her as I drove by.

Before I entered the house, I looked up. The clouds were fantastic against the orange, blue, and purple of the coming evening, washed in the colors of the sunset.

I can see.

I hurried inside, grabbed my camera, and took my opportunity to capture the gift.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)

Fiction: Filling in the Blanks

The badness and sadness of this world can be overwhelming. As a writer, my aim is to create uplifting stories of goodness and hope and make them available to those who visit my website.

With that in mind, I want to bring you in on a story I’m writing. The working title is OK, Boomer, and it is one of the Story of the Month stories that I am writing to fill in the earlier months I missed. My “new and improved” website was launched earlier this month, and I’d like to have a story for January, February, and March, too.

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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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What Moved Me the Most About Hidden Figures Didn’t Happen on the Screen

The man at the box office appeared unsure when I told him I was the guest of a VIP.

“Hmm. What’s your name?” He checked his list, found my name, and gave me a look that conveyed “Should I know you?”

I played along and gave him my best movie star smile. “I have a friend on her way. Please be sure she is given a seat if I’m inside when she arrives.”

The December day was gorgeous — sunny and warm as usual in this part of the country. As I waited in front of the theater, I noticed a woman staring at me. After an awkward few minutes of smiling at each other, she approached me. I did not recognize her, and my mind started doing that “going through the faces file” thing. Nope. She was not there.

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