Friday, August 27, 2010

To Every Season Turn, Turn, Turn

I stepped outside this morning and I could not only smell it, I could feel it. It's the turning of the season. We're on the fringes of summer but the beginning of fall is calling out "make room for me and I'll cool your spirit". The breeze announces that the woods are more fragrant and the tune of their leaves deepen as they mature on the limb. The night air lingers into the morning saying goodbye to the summer heat and the birds find respite in the change of season.

Is your favorite season the one in which you were born? Coincidence or not I was born in October and fall is my favorite time of the year. Autumn is not a subtle season. You see it coming with the changing of the leaves; you hear it in the trees; and you feel it in the air. Fall brings memories of sitting in the bleachers as our son played football for six years, traveling to other towns around the state. Now our football games will be sitting together watching the Mountaineers play in the Kidd Brewer Stadium where fall comes earlier.

We were in the mountains last weekend moving our son to college once again; a season of life change. The air there was excitement. Excitement as the students returned to campus and anxious freshmen arriving for their first college experience. On Saturday we were walking on King Street with our son and his girlfriend to enjoy lunch together before our departure. I witnessed something that I wish I could do it justice in words but I'm not sure I can.

We parked our car and as we walked down the sidewalk about 20-25 feet away stood a slender young man just shy of 6' with his back towards us and his mom facing us in an embrace on the narrow sidewalk. The petite mother had to stretch upwards to hug her son. The patient dad was sitting in the driver’s seat of a late model F250 pickup with the passenger door open. As I looked closer tears were streaming down the mom’s face and her eyes shut as tight as the hold she had on her son. We walked past them and I had an urge to stop and tell them they would survive. The son, probably a freshman would soon fill his time with friends, activities and classes and mom would be lucky to get a phone call or an email. And mom would adjust and learn to let go by allowing him the space to become an adult. But I refrained, mostly because my husband and son were with me. :)

As we walked past they were still embracing oblivious to those around them. We were about 10 feet away and we all turned and looked back to see tears flowing down this young man’s face which made my son’s girlfriend and I both say “aawww” southern for isn’t that sweet! It was very moving. I didn’t cry when we left our son last year for his freshman year I saved my tears for home. And I dare say my son hasn’t cried over my departures since his daycare years. My tears hit me around Tuesday when I glanced at my son’s high school graduation photo on the refrigerator. It will take a few days before I’m ready to clean up his abandoned room because it still looks like he’s home or just gone for a few days. Enjoy the season you’re in!

Ecclesiastes 3:1 "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven"

Friday, August 13, 2010

Another World

If you grew up in the 60's you'd remember there was a soap opera by that name. I remember because my mom was a fan. To those in the mission field 'another world' could be China, Turkey or India. Our friends, the Croslands start their journey today to another world called Papau New Guinea. They are leaving SC and traveling with their five little ones on five different flights to get to their new home which will take a couple of days.

As their Gatekeepers we were able to spend some time with them and learn what their new life will be like in PNG where they will work for an organization that does translation. There are over 800 languages in PNG. Their oldest Mae, age 9 is very excited about moving and in four years I suspect she will have a few stories to tell. Did I mention that Mae is a writer? She writes their newsletter from the children's perspective which I enjoy reading.

I admire them for their adventuresome spirit and their spiritual faith as they exchange the comforts of living in the states for a modest home; a diet of kou kou (yam) and tropical fruit in a new country. They ask for prayers as they adjust and particularly for traveling with their five little children the youngest under 2.

Their faith has reminded me that I need to rely more on my faith in my writing or any endeavors. With the Lord leading me I know his way is better than my own. As a writer I have found other Christian writers to be the most encouraging and supportive to those of us just starting on the journey.

I'm reading "Writing for the Soul" by Jerry Jenkins whom I met at the Blue Ridge Conference. As a kid he had aspirations of becoming a professional baseball player. Because of injuries he turned to sports writing in high school and then for a local newspaper. He eventually published several biographies of sports figures as well as others before writing the infamous "Left Behind" series. He was a keynote speaker at the writers conference and I found him to be genuine and a humble man who has accomplished what other writers only dream about. Like the Crosland's he puts his faith in the Lord and follows His lead.

Make the best of the world you're given and follow the One who knows the Way!
(Flamingo Photo by Daphne)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Writing Lesson 101

My computer died back in May just days before attending the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. After months of fretting over whether to repair or buy new I finally ordered and received my desktop computer this week and now can easily access Internet and my photo collection to update this blog. My son graciously shared his laptop during the interim. Working on a laptop is like the time my church wanted me to switch from playing the piano to playing a digital keyboard. They sound similar but have a different feel. Desk top computers are more to my liking. But I’ve learned to appreciate the portable convenience of a laptop and convinced my husband to purchase a mini notebook for my use. On with writing lesson 101!

I was excited when my first story was in print in the local newspaper on July 22. Like any good writer I did my duty and supported the local economy by buying multiple copies :) The overall experience of my first publication was extremely good. I knew going in, the editor would possibly change the title and actually I liked his title better, “Running for a Higher Cause” which hinted at its spiritual connotation and was more fitting than “Volunteers Take the Heat”. Except for a couple of words the body of the article remained as written including my headings.

I sometimes prepare myself for disappointment but I don’t like disappointing others. I realized that space in newspapers are subject to change and the staff chose to use one photo versus two and therefore one of the young male runners photo would not make the issue. The lesson is never promise or indicate to someone their photo or quotations will be included because it is always subject to change.

I’ve learned that you must edit, edit and edit some more. It’s true that after you write your story; put it down for a day or two then you easily see needed revisions that appeared invisible at first. Your editor will thank you and not run the other way when you bring the next story or manuscript. My article was just under 800 words and I revised it about thirty or forty times as well as getting input from hubby. With experience I expect that revisions will be fewer but always necessary.

As an artist I view things from the camera's point of view or how my art would look on canvas to be most appreciated. As a writer I am training myself to write stories with a reader’s point of view to ‘show’ an angle that brings interest. The words should have balance and easily draw the reader into the story with appreciation for having spent their valuable time reading and come away with a positive emotion, a thought provoking experience or to be entertained.

Writing is an art that must be studied, developed and practiced by the writer to be appreciated by the reader.