My hope is to offer encouragement to writers as well as to those who simply love to read. You will find snippets of things I am working on and special announcements here as well.
I'd pluck a flaming orange hibiscus flower and place it in my upswept chignon I wore that summer I lived in Hawaii--that summer I was twenty-one.
I'd left my home in Texas with one suitcase and flew alone across the ocean to join a group of college students for Bible training in Honolulu. My faith was new, and I'd been apprehended by the lure of adventure--go to Hawaii, and receive training from renowned Bible teachers. I was fearless.
It's a good thing I was. The assignment was to live at a girl's school closed down for the summer, get a job by day and go to Bible school in the evenings. I had simple faith I'd be able to do all that, was excited by the challenge. And sure enough, I got a job handing out fliers for a Filipina hair dresser on a busy street corner in Honolulu. The salon owner paid me cash every day. God gave me favor with the young man hired to drive all us kids around the island. The driver took me to work every morning and picked me up every afternoon. Sometimes he'd even drop me off at secluded beaches he found where I'd snorkel or find troves of gorgeous shells--my introverted self totally alive in the solitude of the blue sea and smell of salt. And the Word came alive to me those nights of study. Every Sunday I went to a church that was so relaxed there were no sermons. The church members happily greeted us students each week and placed leis around our necks. We sang worship songs for two hours, the fragrance of flowers filling the sanctuary.
The complexity of death is like a thousand rooms, difficult to accept--memories of the one gone like narrow lines of light at the bottoms of doors, locked for eternity.
This is how I feel as I stand in front of those locked doors grieving my colleague who died this week. Over the last year he'd been having some medical problems, but he'd been back at work, and we'd been finding a rhythm again--a rhythm that we'd forged for over a decade. I grew to know what he was thinking before he even spoke. He knew when I was likely to forget an item or two and completed the task without criticism. We did not socialize outside of work, but I knew details of his family and he mine. He had a way of listening to everybody, really. But he listened to me too. He'd place his hand on his chin and provide full attention, his gray-blue eyes locked on mine. When I finished speaking, he might sit quietly and nod, or say something so salty or funny that I instantly felt better. He could read the moment and knew what to say. Some days we were so busy, I hardly ever saw him. Other days, we worked side by side. We could be quiet together without saying anything. We trusted each other.
One regret, dear world, that I am determined not to have when I am lying on my deathbed is that I did not kiss you enough.~Hafiz
I felt surprise. I posted a "tweet" on my Twitter page that drew a volume of "likes" and "retweets." The tweet simply read: We should all kiss more. I'd even believed the tweet was slightly dumb, and thought of deleting it. Yet I had tweeted it for two reasons. The first is that I so enjoy a lovely kiss from my husband, the warmth and affection of his lips welcomed, especially after a heavy day spent in the halls of duty at work.
The second reason is that I do believe that God's affection toward me is so like a pleasurable kiss. He makes His presence known to me and I feel the velocity of His affection revive and invigorate me on the pilgrim way that is my life. And I do believe that He wants me to feel His affection in my emotions. My relationship with God is not merely a cognitive, robotic alliance. My relationship with Him is filled with experiences that I cherish.
Every now and then I share an excerpt from the book I'm currently writing. The working title is The Intensity of Romantic Gestures. (I've found that working titles are often subject to change,) The book picks up where An Ocean Away leaves off. While the new book continues to reflect my experience in marriage, it much more chronicles a spiritual journey, God's gestures, too, mysteriously, uncannily romantic.
It's all so beautiful--the spring--and books and music and fires--why aren't they enough?--Kathleen Norris
I awakened to the incessant beeping of my alarm. Was the night's rest already over? Could it be that those seven hours had evaporated so quickly? The clock face did not lie. I lay there in my darkened room not filled with happy expectancy for the day. Instead, my mind began to enumerate all I had to accomplish at work; the "what ifs" and worrisome thoughts soaring like deadly arrows straight for my heart. "What ifs" in my life usually come in the form of fear of the future: "What if I really don't have what it takes to retire and move abroad with my husband?" "What if I never get good at the language?" "What if I run out of money?" "What if I can't handle missing my children and grandchildren who remain in the States?" "What if I get some horrible medical problem and I can't explain what's wrong with me in my second language?" The "what ifs" began to spin into a cacophonous blur. I had to face the day.
Gratefully, I'm learning to better manage episodes of the "what ifs." My most helpful coping skill is allowing God to speak to me by words that He has provided over the years and months. I keep them tucked away in journals, on scraps of paper, underlined in my Bible. It's almost as if I just need to get to the staircase that I know leads to the light. I can almost hear the light at the top of the stairs. I simply need to begin climbing up toward that sound--that sound of His voice that I recognize...