“Call Mercy!” (five minute friday)

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Two dusty little boys, scrambling in the dirt. All arms and legs and giggles. One pins the other down and says, “Mercy? Do you call mercy?” The one with the blond curls shakes his head from under the bigger, brown haired one. “Call Mercy.” Brown says again to blond, who finally squeaks out, “Mercy!” And the hold is released.

 

I remember this scene from childhood—brother, cousin, friend. Different faces in the mix but they would always wrestle until one of them called for Mercy.

 

Some days I feel like I’m in a wrestling match and someone is waiting for me to call mercy. But then perspective knocks on my door. I get the email update on a friend who’s battling breast cancer and just had her last chemo treatment before surgery. Or the text asking for prayer for a father who’s at death’s door. Or I read the article about the couple who lost their thirteen-year-old daughter to a peanut butter laced rice krispy treat. And my heart aches. So much pain and sadness. At any given moment, cries for mercy are going up to heaven.

 

And I realize, that on this day, I have much more reason to thank God for his grace than I do to beg for mercy. I may need that “mercy call” one day, so I’m going to save it. And for now, I’ll just be praying for those who are hurting all around me. Knowing that the God of All Comfort hears their cries, and mine.

 

 

**Five Minute Friday. This post is part of a link up of hundreds of writers who take five minutes and write with inspiration from the same prompt word. Today, that’s Mercy. Lisa-Jo Baker is the conductor of this writing orchestra. You can check out her blog here. And here are the rules, if you want to join in!

“No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.”

 

Photo Credit: jmayer1129 @ creative commons

 

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What’s Your Story? (Five Minute Friday)

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When I saw the word, story, as the Five Minute Friday prompt for this week, I was excited. I thought, “Now there’s a word I could probably write several 5 minutes posts about.” First, because I’m a novel writer. I love stories. I think we sometimes learn the best lessons through stories because they touch a part of us that lectures and sermons don’t. I think that’s why Jesus told parables, to reach the heart and the head all at once. I love being a story-teller.

 

But I also love the word story because I think we are all telling a story with our lives and I’m passionate about helping women, in particular, learn to embrace their story. I think, as women, we do ourselves a disservice when we compare ourselves so often with others. We think other people’s stories look better than our own. So instead of making our stories something to get excited about, we waste time wishing we were living someone else’s. It’s such a shame, really. Because each of us has a unique voice. A special part to play in the world around us.

 

I read Donald Miller’s book, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” a few years back and it blew me away. It was the first time I really thought about my life as a story. And that I had a choice in what kind of story it was. I decided I wanted to make the most of the opportunities I was given. To open doors that might seem, at first glance, to be closed. To try new things, even if they scared me.

 

Some days, I have to remind myself of these things or I get caught up in the boring parts between the chapters. I get overwhelmed with the mundane details. But mostly, I can look back over the last few years and see that I started living and enjoying my story. Since reading that book, I’ve been to Africa three times, the Dominican Republic, Italy and most recently, Ireland. And I met some amazing new friends on each of those adventures. Before that, I hadn’t been out of the country in 15 years. I’ve published a novel and begun work on a second one, started a blog and taken a fiction course, online. I’m not sure I would have done any of those things, if I hadn’t been challenged to pay attention to the story my life was writing.

 

So, now I’m challenging you. If you find yourself comparing your dry pages to someone else’s highlight reel, stop it. Take a look at your life and decide what you can do to tell the story you were created to tell. If you get the chance, pick up Miller’s book. It’s a good story. And it will help you embrace your own.

 

(This message was brought to you by Five Minute Friday. An exercise in free-writing that is very liberating and I highly recommend. Every Friday, Lisa-Jo Baker publishes a prompt word and hundreds of bloggers take five minutes to write whatever comes to mind from that prompt. I usually try and get to my Five Minute Friday post by Saturday at the latest. This week, I’ve been away working on my second book and didn’t want to get distracted. But I also didn’t want to miss this prompt word. So, this is my Five MInute Monday post, for what it’s worth. To find out more about Five Minute Friday, click here!)

 

Photo Credit: Magenta Rose on Creative Commons

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Living in the In Between (Five Minute Friday)

Five Minute Friday prompt for this week: In Between

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Five minutes of free writing. Ready, Set, Go!

I suddenly remembered a song that I used to sing over and over when I was a teen. It’s called, “The Now and the Not Yet” by Amy Grant. And when I think of “In Between,” the opening lyrics of that song come to mind: “No longer, what we were before, but not all that we will be.” True.

We are on a journey. It’s all a process. The work God is doing in me and in you…it’s continually evolving. We are no longer what we were…but we are not yet all that we will be. He’s still forming and shaping us. There is something comforting in that.

 

It settles on me like a warm blanket. Or like a deep breath. Like Jesus is saying, “Darlin, it’s okay. Stop thinking about all the things you need to do better and just rest in me a bit. You’re in the In Between. You haven’t arrived yet. But you know what? You’re not stuck where you used to be either.”

 

It’s a good reminder, to remember how far we’ve come rather than focus on how far we have to go. Regardless of which part of the journey we’re talking about. It may be that you’re trying to lose weight and it seems like a huge goal. But each day, you’re a little closer and you can look back at how much you’ve lost rather than feeling overwhelmed by how much you have to go.

 

Or maybe, you’ve quit drinking and you think about the weight of staying sober, every day, for the rest of your life. But your journey is not all ahead of you! Even if you’ve been sober for just 21 days. Take comfort in that. You’re in between the old and the new you. And you’re making it happen.

 

Or maybe you have that same old habit that you trip over, whatever it is. I guarantee you, if you are a person who is seeking to grow and change, you are not in the same place you were ten years ago. Give yourself some grace and know that if you keep working on it, you’ll probably look back in ten years and see that you’ve conquered more obstacles than you ever thought you could.

 

The key to all of this…to living in the In Between and looking forward to the Finish Line is in trusting your Maker to finish the work He started. He won’t leave you half done. He’ll complete the work He began in you. Give yourself grace…you will mess up. But keep your heart open toward the one who picks you up, dusts you off and points you back in the right direction. And occasionally, take a look back and celebrate how far He’s brought you.

Time’s up. Stop!

 

Today’s post was inspired by Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. Each week, hundreds of writers, from all walks of life, take five minutes to write a post with from the same prompt word. No re-writing and editing. Just five fast minutes of whatever comes to mind. If you’d like to join us, click here to get the info!

Photo Credit: kellinahandbasket on CreativeCommons

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Listen Beyond the Words (Five Minute Friday)

A peaceful Sunday morning coffee had turned into an unpleasant argument. My hubby and I are very excited about the prospect of removing the ugly dog fence that adorns the back of our home and turning the space into a lovely patio. We’ve been here, in our first house, for about 9 years. And that eye-sore out my back window has always bugged me.

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For years I’ve pictured a sweet little love seat on my patio, where I can sit in the morning and read my Bible in peace. A cozy chair I can curl up in, with a blanket in the evening, reading a new novel…maybe a string of Christmas lights for ambiance.

 

So, when hubby handed me the Sunday Paper circular ad, pointing to the patio furniture section, I dove in. He pointed out a pretty table and chair set and I pointed to the picture next to it. A “conversation set” complete with two chairs, coffee table and a love seat.

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That’s when it started.

“We don’t need that. We need a table,” he said, in a very dude-ish, matter of fact way.

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Huh?

I answered in a calm voice, “Well, if I had to choose, I’d keep using this old table and get a conversation set.” It just made the most sense to me. We already had a table, even if it wasn’t pretty…it was functional. And the love seat set cost a couple hundred less than the dining set. I should get points for that!

 

But he didn’t budge. He said we’d have no place to store it. We didn’t need it just because our friends had one. On and on it went until I “gave up” and said…not so sweetly…and quite sarcastically, “Fine, pick whatever you want since I’m sure you will be the one out there the most.” I picked up my coffee, my computer and stormed away. In a huff. Like a two-year old.

 

Then, as I obsessively scrubbed my kitchen counters, just for something to take my frustration out on, I began to think it through. My husband is a loving guy. Why is he not listening to me? But I realized I wasn’t trying to listen to him, either. It came down to the story beyond the words (as it usually does). I had been planning what I wanted on that patio for years. But I’d never shared that with him. And vice versa. He likes to entertain…to have people over for dinner. So he’s been picturing a nice large table where we can sit with friends, having dinner…a glass of wine…and maybe play a card game or two. But he had never shared that with me. His rational thoughts were hidden behind quick, dismissive words.

 

When I realized all this, I apologized to him for my huff and he apologized for being dismissive. I learned I was right about what he wanted and why and I explained to him that I had been thinking about a set like that for years.

I’ve thought about this more in the last week. How many times do tempers flare in relationships because we aren’t listening to the heart that’s behind the words? Because we’re not bothering to listen to the true story that’s found beyond the words?  I’m trying to be more careful about really listening to what is motivating my family members when they act out. And I’m learning to better communicate what I’m feeling as well.

 

In the end, I decided he was right; we should get the dining set.

 

And he decided I was right; we should get the conversation set.

 

He “won.” And so did I.

(I’ll update with a picture when the project is done :))

Click here for the UPDATE: One month later…

 

 

This post was inspired by Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday prompt word: Listen. I’m usually very strict with myself about the five minutes. But today, that timer went off and I was only half-way through the story. So…this is more of a ten minute post. (Sorry Lisa-Jo!) If you’d like to join the hundreds of bloggers who participate in Five Minute Friday each week, click here for the details. It’s a blast…join us!!

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Brave (Five Minute Friday)

I wish I had written down this beautiful woman's name when I snapped her pic. She was precious...and I'm sure she was brave. She had seen so much.
I wish I had written down this beautiful woman’s name when she asked me to take her pic. She was precious…and I’m sure she was brave. She had seen so much.

Five minutes…Go!

Brave.

When I think of brave, I think of something I hope I am. I’m not really sure because I don’t know that I’ve really been tested. When I hear of what people in third world countries have had to face, I wonder how I would hold up.

I’ve spoken with women who watched, helpless, as their families were scattered and killed when rebels invaded their small african village.

I’ve listened to a very brave man recount the time he had to hide his entire family in a stream to avoid detection by those bent on killing just because they could.

Many of my friends in Sierra Leone, Africa, endured unspeakable things when the rebels came through their villages. And yet those who survived have an enduring spirit. They are still moving forward and caring for their families. They are still showing love to their neighbors. They have even shown forgiveness to those who caused them harm.

That’s brave. I hope that if I’m ever put to such a test, I will do whatever God asks of me and I will do it regardless of what may happen to me. I hope I’m that brave.

Stop. Time’s up.

How about you…have you had an experience where you discovered you are brave? Please share in the comments section. I know others will be encouraged by your story!

Note: This one was hard for me not to edit. There’s so much more I could say…but I’m going to be brave and just hit publish, anyway. (And the first thing I actually thought of when I heard the word brave was the fantastic Scottish accent of Merida in the movie Brave…but I had no where else to go with that one ;))

It’s five minute friday again! Each week, hundreds of bloggers take Lisa-Jo Baker‘s weekly prompt word and write for five minutes…no editing, no over thinking….just writing. To find out more, click here!

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Friend (Five Minute Friday)

It seems that lately…with much traveling…all I’ve been able to get to here is my weekly Five Minute Friday post. But I love doing it and I’m glad I’ve been able to join Lisa-Jo Baker and hundreds of other bloggers every Friday. Here’s how it works. At 12:01 a.m. every Friday morning, Lisa-Jo posts a prompt word. And then we set a timer and write for five minutes on that word. Whatever comes to mind…no editing…no stressing…just writing. It’s very freeing. Even if you don’t have a blog, I recommend trying it. You can use any word you want or use the same prompts I am but just set a timer and write for 5 minutes. You’ll be surprised at what comes out! For the details on Five Minute Friday, click here.

Today’s prompt: FRIEND

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photo credit: Nono Fara, Creative Commons

Five minutes…Go!

Friend.

That’s a power-packed word. (I could easily write for 30 minutes! But I won’t…promise) I immediately think of the amazing women God has brought into my life, both here, in Buffalo and across the country through previous moves, etc. I love them all, dearly.

A friend is someone who can stop by when you’re sick and she doesn’t care that your house is messy, laundry is piled up, and the kids are arguing. She’s just there to bring you some love in the form of chicken noodle soup.

A friend knows you well enough to give you the benefit of the doubt…never assuming the worst of you…only the best.

A wonderful friend of mine just sent me a text this week. She had seen a sign at a yard sale that said, Friends are those rare people who ask how you are and then wait for the answer.” She said it made her think of me. What a precious thing to say…I think the same of her 😉

I think about the small circle of amazing friends I have and I just want to be the kind of friend to each of them that they need. I want them to know that I’d do anything for them and I know they’d do the same for me.

I have a larger circle of friends too…many of whom would make great close friends but time or circumstances haven’t made that possible thus far. So I’m thankful that they are there and that there’s always the possibility of us growing closer. But I also know that we can really only handle a handful of truly close friends. And that’s okay.

Those who are in my close circle…they are a joy to me and I am immensely blessed by them and thankful to God for them.

I hope you have that close group of friends. And if not, ask God to show you who you can bless with no strings attached. If you bless enough people without expecting anything in return, eventually, you will find exactly who you’re supposed to 😉 

Stop. (confession…I was still finishing my thoughts at five minutes…might have gone a minute or two over today ;))

P.S. If you have the kind of friends I’m talking about today, maybe tell them this week how much they mean to you? Smile

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Just Jump! (Five Minute Friday)

Five minutes…Go!

Jump.

Jump is scary to me. I think of standing on a cliff…water below, crashing against the sides of the cliff. And for some reason, I’m supposed to jump. But I’m scared to take that leap. I can even feel the butterflies in my stomach as I write.

There’s a part of me that is outgoing and loves change. But there is another part that doesn’t like to put myself out there to try new things. I don’t want to look foolish so I don’t want to try whatever it is that people are telling me to do. It’s usually physical things.

I was clumsy and awkward as a kid. I was the one picked last in gym class. I excelled in things that required writing or singing or anything academic or artistic. But physical education, coordination, any of those kinds of things…just didn’t come naturally.

I don’t know when I realized it but it was some time in the last year or two…I still avoid those things that I think will make me look foolish….like I’m back in gym class with a red face cuz no one wants me on their team.

So when my eight year old asked me to jump on the trampoline today, my first instinct was to say no. But then I decided…why not? I need to do more of those kinds of things with my kids. They need to see me laughing and having fun. So we jumped together…we laughed and I think that was the first time I was ever picked first for someone’s team 😉

photo credit: Charlotte.Morrall on Creative Commons
photo credit: Charlotte.Morrall on Creative Commons

Stop. Time’s up!

This post is inspired by Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Fridays. The idea being that one prompt word is given on Friday and hundreds of bloggers take 5 minutes to write on the subject. No editing…no perfecting. Just five minutes of writing. (If you’re one of my blogging friends, why not join in?)

love,

rebekah

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