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Braking Points

Exploring the Adventure of Aging

Month

May 2019

My High School Reunion has Thinned

I wrote this a while back, but with all the graduations around me I felt the urge to share it. To all the grads from kindergarten to Doctorate Live don’t just Exist.

My high school reunion has thinned

There aren’t quite as many as there were back then

My high school reunion has thinned

My high school reunion has thinned

Our paths to this moment littered with sins

My high school reunion has thinned

My classmates have grown quite old

So have I, if I believe what the mirror unfolds

We were young and now we are old

My high school reunion has thinned

We are and we aren’t who we were back then

My high school reunion has thinned

My classmates like I have experienced loss

Parents, spouses, children, health some of the cost

We are who we are because or in spite of this loss

My high school reunion has thinned

Paths diverged have merged, once again friends

My high school reunion has thinned

Our faces hold stories that beg to be told

Our faith has been tested, refined like gold

Memories compiled that long to be told

My high school reunion has thinned

We notice whose missing not like back then

My high school reunion has thinned

We are the survivors, torchbearers of then

Who remember most of it with a grin

My high school reunion has thinned

If you read this and you are still young

Don’t let a song in your heart go unsung

Believe me you won’t always be young.

My high school reunion has thinned.

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Organizing the Unmatched Sock Drawer that is My Mind

How can a drawer full of white socks not match? These are questions that often occupy my thoughts in the moments early in my day. It takes a few minutes to pull them together into pairs, choose a pair and put them on my feet.

It is the same scenario with my mind. How can a brain that floods with streams of consciousness be unable to construct one clear sentence? Organizing my thought patterns takes a bit longer than a few minutes in my sock drawer. And that is just so I can put a few sentences on a page, so you can imagine what happens when I need to verbally respond.

Let’s just say, I trip over my own tongue more than I trip over my own feet. This does not happen as often when I am fully engaged in a conversation, going with the flow, responding and listening. No! This tripping usually occurs when I am asked a question that requires forethought.

Truth is, I am a writer not a speaker. I can speak. I have spoken–even at national conventions. I enjoy speaking to audiences. But that type of speaking has already been filtered through and sorted out. I do not do a manuscript because I find my speech patterns hampered by being tethered to podium or script. Nevertheless, mental structuring does happen. I do insert it into a file in my mind.

However, in front of an audience or in casual table conversation, when asked a question that requires a quick construct, I babble a bit–ok, sometimes I babble a lot. Last night I was asked by a friend what I was writing now. Now, I know what I am writing. I know what it is about. But give a synopsis off the cuff. Did not come out clear at all. I wasn’t even sure what I was writing. Old people, chickens, murder–let’s just say my newest attempt at a novel, Fowl Play left a foul taste in my mouth and baffled expressions on my dinner companions. Now I know I need to plan out a synopsis, file it in my brain, in case I am ever asked that question again.

How do you organize your thoughts to write or speak? I always begin with a bottle of water, a cup of coffee, and my quiet time with God. My devotional today explored, believe it or not, James 1:19:

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:19‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I kid you not. And that verse got me to these few blogging words. How do you organize? I am always looking for new ideas that might help me clear the clutter of unmatched thoughts in my head.

My Laundry Basket and My Brain Overflowth

From Prayer Warriors Thanks to Donna Sidle for Sharing

We just returned from a three day trip to Oklahoma. We experienced the

hospitality of friends–thanks again, Jeanne and Eddie. We celebrated our

granddaughter Gabby’s graduation from high school. We had a much

Needed visit with Terry’s brother and sister-in-law. And we made it back to

Kentucky ahead of the storms.

During that three days we stuffed our dirty clothes into plastic trash bag

Which I have now stuffed into our bathroom hamper–not a pretty sight, it

Kind of looks like it is oozing out over the sides. But, hey! I was one tired

Old hen by the time we got home.

During those three days, our mail stacked up, our routines changed, and our

hearts experienced a deepening of love with all its nuances. From the

celebration of accomplishment and young adults with all their

potential setting out in life to the recognition of how the experiences of life

shape the lives of us on the other side of the mountain of life, we stuffed it all

in.

Our life hamper overflows.

On top of that, we ate differently and we ate more, SO my body overflowth.

As I contemplated how best to reset my physical being, God gave me the

path and outcome for resetting my whole system.

This morning my devotional pointed me to Isaiah 58:6-11

The path:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58:6-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The outcome:

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58:8-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

And THEN on FACEBOOK my friend Donna shared the image you see with this

post. AMEN

And so these thoughts came:

When life gets out of control

When the hamper of life overflows

When the brain goes chaotic

When the body bulges

When the spirit sags

Get up, Get out, Go, Go, Go

Reach out to friends

But don’t stop there

Orderly life comes one clean sock at a time

Healthy eating requires more than dieting

Abundant life comes

from abundant giving and forgiving.

And

It’s the ones who won’t cross a puddle for you who need it most.

Not an easy path, but the right one.

Mystery Dwells in Every Story

At least that is my experience.  E.L. Doctorow had it right.  The story being told often surprises the author.  You round a curve, headlights on, only to discover a divergent sequence of events unfolding.  I think for me it is God’s way of humbling me.  Oh, you thought, Max was headed to Knoxville.  Where did that log truck come from?  

Writing this I realize that if you’ve met one writer, you have met one writer.  Not all, maybe not any, experience writing a short story or novel, like I do.  Some authors exercise precise control over characters, plot, setting, the whole design set before putting the story into words.

I plan, but I glimpse only a twinkling light at the end of the tunnel.   I plan, but the story finds new characters who deserve attention, perhaps more attention than I care to give them.  I plan but the most joyful experience happens when the words, images, characters carry on as my fingers tap the keys.  With Braking Points daily I printed the new pages and read them to my husband.  Together, he and I, for he is a far better editor than I am, eliminated words, corrected grammar and awkward sentences.  He was and is my greatest encourager.  Watching him react to the plot kept me going for it said at least one person on earth liked the story.  A sprinkle of magic happened in those times. We both became involved with the characters, often discussing them as if they were real.  And therein lies the mystery and the magic of writing fiction.  Truth emerges, even in make believe.  The stories around us fuel the imagination and fire up the engines to create.  So that, what we write like what we read takes us places that are as real as the air we breathe.

Let me encourage you whatever your method of prep and writing to look for the stories, listen to the stories already blooming in your mind, and WRITE them down.  Go with God and discover the mystery that is writing.

 

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Where Stories Dwell

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First, Stories Dwell in the Lives of Others

Recently, with the published copy of Braking Points In my hands, I sat down and reread it.  That may seem odd to some, but it refreshed me and it reminded me of the  bits and pieces of others’ lives lived on those pages in the lives of Max and Lily, Amanda, Millie, Sophia.  Why?  Because in listening to the stories of friends and acquaintances over scores of years and sometimes even writing them down, I had a vast treasure trove that I barely tapped writing the novel.  I woke up this morning filled with gratitude for the experiences of others that tap into my imagination and fuel my expression of those in words.  I especially was thinking of my friend Judy, who has a gift for relating every day events in ways that never cease to make me laugh.  In my early morning meandering a story, she told me over lunch last week, brought a smile to my face, then a chuckle and then diabolical as I am I started to think how I could use it in my current novel.

Second, Stories Dwell in the World Around, in the News, in Books

Beyond the political news or maybe sometimes even in the midst of that, there are stories that beg to be told.  Writers tend to be observers.  Not all are introverts who watch, listen, read and turn it all over in their heads.  Some are extroverts who jump into every fray, expounding of every issue, gathering others around them, but it is in their approach to life that stories later to be transferred into words on a page or these days words on a screen are conceived.  There are folks who scour news stories, magazine articles, and travel guides finding kernels of ideas,  ‘what if’s’, that beg to be fleshed out and written.  For me, even a turn of phrase in something I hear or read will set my writer’s wheels turning.  I recently read the following quote in my morning quiet time from a devotion by Christine Caine:

“Our race would be easy if God kept us in the “strength zone” in our lives, but instead, he consistently pushes us into our “weakness zone,” because it is in our weakness that he is made strong” Christine Caine

What caught my attention was her use of the words, “weakness zone,” which started my thoughts rolling around in my head.  With that as a starting point I began to create a story, with setting and two characters to start, a mother and a daughter–always a complex situation.  Later that day, I read on Facebook about what a Rainbow Child was, the child born after a miscarriage, stillbirth or early demise of a sibling.  And I began the construct of a story I wanted to jump into and write.

Third, Stories Dwell in Who I am, in My Faith, My Worldview, My Backstory

I read a lot, both fiction and non-fiction, and usually it doesn’t take me long to get a feel for the author’s worldview.  I learn a great deal that way, even from worldviews widely separate from mine.  I find at the core we are all more alike than different.  I find life stories similar to my own but told from a point 180 degrees out from my own.  I seek to understand others by reading a divergent crop of material.

However, when I write, I cannot adopt another worldview and have words, thoughts, conversations flow onto the page.  I do at times include characters with different worldviews.  My reading and conversations with friends, family, random folk do, I hope, allow me to portray other views truthfully and with empathy of our shared humanity.  Even then my faith in God and Jesus Christ guides me.  Above all else to love.  Want to know what books I discard quickly, books that bleed animosity and hatred onto the page, especially toward people groups.

Stories dwell everywhere.  Stories that long to be told.  In everyone there lies a true story of their life, and in everyone’s story there is also a novel to be written.  I may have started later than others but I long to tell the stories that will capture even a few readers’ hearts.  And I intend to read all the stories others write as well–at least as many as I can.

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