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.
I stood in line to pay for my groceries at Walmart, the items already on the black belt that would send the eggs and baby spinach and balsamic vinegar to the cashier. I sensed someone behind me and turned around. A brown-skinned man held the smallest bike I'd ever seen--a pink and white Minnie Mouse bow nestled between the handle bars. Petite training wheels were attached on each side of the back tire. The man beamed, his smile as bright as the little white bike seat. I smiled back and motioned for him to go in front of me. He hesitated, then put the minuscule bike on the floor and rolled it down to the cashier. As he passed me, he said, "For my daughter." The man reached into his pants pocket and pulled out his wallet and paid cash. I couldn't help but overhear the cost. It was more than I'd have guessed. But this gift was perfect and gloriously pink. Worth every penny. The man picked up the bike and cradled it in his arms. He then turned to me, and we looked at each other for a brief moment. I was close enough to his face so that I could see smile lines etched around his shining eyes. He said, "Thank you." I replied, "Merry Christmas."
Later in the week, I sat with another man in my counseling office. A professional man, with an expensive haircut. I could see lines around his eyes too--worry lines. Words and tears spilled simultaneously. For the first time in his life, the man spoke of a father who had neglected him, been absent from the home. The man looked at me and asked, "How can I still be so emotional about my father decades later?" We processed many of his feelings, and he'd never considered the perspective of that brave boy who survived the pain--the resilience of that little boy who'd had to muster enough resilience to make it to adulthood. "I guess I just never looked at my childhood that way," he said. "This changes everything. I wasn't about me. It wasn't that I was unlovable. It was more about my dad than me." I could alost see the light bulb blinking in his head. He was getting it. The man smiled through his tears. "This is great. This is great. But, Priscilla, what if I get stuck? Start going backward and blaming myself for the mess in my life?" I said, "I know you are a man of faith in God, so when you get stuck, think of crossing the border into a new territory. It is a safe place, the place of laughter and remembering. It's a geography where God is laughing and smiling because He is so delighted with you. He's remembering all your milestones and rejoicing over you, his beloved boy. The new thought when you are stuck is to remember that you are the much-loved child."
The blue, gold, pink and green string of Christmas lights shone in the darkness of my living room. I wanted to feel festive. Surely the display should make me glad, should fill me with joy, this season full of reminders of God's goodness, the celebration of our great King, come in that paradox of humility and majesty. Yet I was not thinking these thoughts I sat on my red-cushioned sofa, a leopard-print throw draped around my shoulders, feeling fear. I felt so well physically, I wondered out loud, "Could this good feeling last? What if the cancer returned?" I couldn't even remember the name of the wretched type of tumor that invaded my body. Stupidly, I got on my phone and found the tumor's name, the memory of experiencing chemotherapy seeming to choke me. Why had I done that? Dredged all that up? Now the grim name seemed to cast shadows in my living room filled with the vintage-colored lights.
Then, like always, the beauty and power of Scripture rescued me. I remembered that each time before I entered the chemo treatments, I read out loud Psalm 18. It is the Psalm that David wrote and sang to God after being saved from all his enemies and Saul. I needed rescue from my enemy. Each time I read David's words, I was revived with courage, with hope, with strength. I got out my Bible, its pages awash with a pink glow from the Christmas lights, and began to read out loud.
~This was the skin that protected you from the world--this loving of another person you shared your life with.--Elizabeth Strout (From Anything Is Possible)
I opened the app on my phone to see a photo I looked at for a time. I observed my husband gently spooning warm broth to his mother who lay in a hospital bed. Giovanni's strong hand gripping the spoon stood in stark contrast with his mother's vulnerable posture. I noted the silver bracelet he wears around his right wrist, his only adornment, like a symbol of royalty.
Giovanni's mother fell. She needed bed rest. His first response was to go to her. He had just returned from a trip to his homeland in Italy. Yet he decided to go back immediately. This response to serve courses through his DNA. I liken this trait to a vast blue sky that lives within him, that inhabits him and drives him to serve others. When I looked at the picture, I felt the brilliance of that sky well up within me too.
My study is like a bench of contemplation this morning. The rain streams down the window pane so that I cannot go outside to think and ponder. Yet this warm office suffices as a room to contemplate, a candle burning, its winter pine scent permeating the air. I hear the ticking clock--like the heartbeat of time, patiently marking my life--moving forward with each beat.
I pause to ask myself some questions as 2018 nears its close and 2019 hovers just ahead.
I like taking inventory--making adjustments. What do I keep? What do I add? Where do I let go?
I wondered if perhaps you might like these questions too...
Autumn is my favorite season. I enjoy orange pumpkins for sale in the grocery store, pots of gold and yellow chrysanthemums sitting on porch steps. The crunch of leaves underneath my feet. I like to sit outside and write in my journal, relishing cooler winds and changing colors. At times, I go back to my journals and pick out phrases or paragraphs that remind me of thoughts and feelings I'd like to remember. Prayers for help. The following is an eclectic collection I've written this fall...
~The morning feels as if summer found autumn. The air is cool, the sun bright, the day beautifully imbued with freshness. I am hanging onto my own "freshness," slicing through the chaos and hubbub of the morning at the clinic. I am getting more skilled at being patient with people. Letting go of resentments. Letting go of my own expectations of how life "should" be.
~Abiding is on my mind this day. Staying in the light. I am tempted toward negative thoughts about writing. "How will I ever figure out this book project? People are moreso attracted to audible books now than they are to paperbacks...but I won't obsess about this. I'll keep taking the next right step. God, what is the next step?"
~Another morning where my weight is up, and I regret the way I have eaten. UGH. More important, it is a new day with new mercies. I will not live inside shame. I will trust God and receive His peace and wisdom this day. I will apprehend His joy and favor. I will expect that because I am deeply loved and experience intimacy with Him, I have no need for thoughts that bode toward unease and fretting. I will adopt this way of thinking. I can practice a new thought process because God provides the grace that I need. Thank you. I am grateful. I rejoice.
~Your peace, Lord, is what I lean into today. Your peace. Your kindness. Your gentleness is a weapon in my hand. Help me, Lord, to stay and abide in the light. I trust you. Your favor. Your ability to assuage my fears. You are good. You are good. You are good. Your yoke is easy. Your burden light. Your kingdom ways so diferent from the world's ways. Continue to renew my mind with your peace and poise. Your wisdom. I know I can count on that, Lord. I know I can. And I do.