Jazmyn’s Journal

Prologue: Before the month of April slips away, I feel compelled to write something. My writing inspiration has waned this past month, even with encouragement from friends, my writing mentor and the wonderful writers group I attend. So now, I have decided to “free-write.” Let’s see where my imagination takes us.

Jazmyn’s Journal

Saturday June 15: It’s 2041 for gosh sakes! Why aren’t we flying in our own personal transport instead of tied to the earth in one of these ancient four-wheeled machines? My mother resists change and refuses to  invest in a sleek new (I’d even settle for a used one) Zephyr 2000 in crimson red with gold flames that can lift up and be off in 3 seconds. I’ve downloaded the info on her notepad, but NO…”We’re just fine on the road, thank you,” she says.

Jax and her mom pick me up for school in their flashy sunset orange Atmosphere Flyer sometimes. You can hardly believe you’re even moving it is so smooth and quiet. And it is so much faster weaving in and out of air traffic that we get to school in under 10 minutes. The old pickup truck takes almost an hour and we have to drive over the rough and rutted roads that no one takes care of anymore.

When Dad died ten years ago, when I was only six, Mom brought us to the country to live with Grammy and Granddad on their farm. She got really sad for a long time. Now she just works hard in the olive orchard and vineyard all day and hardly talks to Jimmy and me before she falls into bed at night. Granddad says she just needs a little more time. Grammy takes care of us, but I miss my dad and I really miss my mom the way she used to be, at least the way I remember her before the flaming air machine screamed into the office building where my dad worked for the government.

Jimmy is my little brother. He loves the farm and even does chores with Granddad without being told to do them. I have to help. Its okay when I spend time with the horses, but I would rather be reading or talking to my friends or spending time at the city center where everyone hangs out. I feel trapped here. Most of my friends live in the city. I only know one other family that still drives a road-bound transport. Grammy understands…but she reminds me that she is not my mother and Mom needs to make decisions she thinks are right for all us. I know she has enough money from the settlement after Dad died, but she’s put it away somewhere and won’t touch it.

It’s a good thing Jax lives in her big house just a mile away. We ride our horses together sometimes. But she is busy with her mom developing their perfume business. Jax is already earning her own money by helping to harvest the flowers that they use for their perfume making. I think her mom is really outrageous. She and Jax work hard but they enjoy spending their money on modern things and like to go to shows and on selling trips sometimes. I wish my mom was more like Jax’s.

June 16: Unbelievable! I forgot that today is my birthday. Granddad and Grammy knocked on my bedroom door early to get me up for chores. I grumbled, but I know if I don’t get up and go, Grammy will have to collect eggs and feed the chickens and horses. With everything else she does, I always hate it when she covers for me. She is getting tired easily lately. Mom, I knew, was already out tying up the grapevines that are starting to put on fruit in the vineyard.

But that’s not what happened this morning. After I gathered up my mess of curly black hair into a sloppy mound with a hair band and washed the sleep out of my eyes, I raced down the back stairs into the kitchen where everyone shouted “Surprise!” I almost fell over in shock. I don’t think I even breathed for a minute until Mom walked over and pulled me into an unexpected bear hug. I could feel a wet film between our smooshed cheeks. She was crying! It was all so…surreal …I burst into tears and we just stood for a bit until we could both breathe.

A big stack of my favorite pancakes sat on a plate in the middle of the table with candles making a circle around a small rectangular gift box on top. Grammy’s hands were gripped tightly together under her chin and Granddad’s eyes couldn’t have shined any brighter. Jimmy jumped up and down with excitement and finally couldn’t stand it any longer. “Open it, open it!”

I could feel my mom’s calloused and work-worn hand pressed into my back, sort of shoving me toward the table. I looked up at her and saw, for the first time in a very long time, the full-lipped mouth that I had inherited smiling at me with with tears still streaming down her cheeks. I started to reach for the box, but looked back at Mom. “We’ve been saving this for your sixteenth birthday. It’s something your father planned when you were just a babe. You have to share it with all of us for awhile, but it is yours.”

Now, this part seems so unreal that I still blink several times while thinking back on that moment. I didn’t have time to ask all the questions like,”What can we all share in that little box, but it’s mine?” Or “How could my father have thought about something special for my sixteenth birthday when I was still wearing diapers?” Or, “What has happened to my mother?”

No, I just reached out and took the box. While everyone watched, I carefully lifted the lid. I might have blacked out. I don’t really know. It just…well, next thing I knew I was sitting on a bench with my mother holding onto me and rubbing my arm and saying,”I love you so much Jazzy. Your daddy loved you so much. I’m sorry I haven’t shown how special you are to me.” It was a long speech about becoming a young woman and that she’d missed out on so much, and so had I and it was time to change some things.

Anyway, what I found was a button control. I knew what it was for. It seemed like everyone was dragging me out the back door and down the sidewalk to the driveway. There it was…oh my, there it was, resting on a silicon hover pad. Not crimson red, but just as beautiful. A NEW sunrise yellow Zephyr 2000 with golden highlights. Room for six, soft synthetic seats with high backs…My mother stepped into the pilot’s seat and patted the seat next to her. We spent the next hour flying through the countryside, just the two of us, making a quick stop at Jax’s house where I got to show off our new personal transport to her and her mother. Mom explained that it was mine, but I wouldn’t be allowed to take it out for awhile without her or Granddad. Jax was actually jealous. I could have leaped over the moon.

Later, after chores, we took everyone out for a trip to the city where we ate lunch in the city center. I couldn’t take my eyes off my own Sunrise yellow Zephyr 2000. My mom even put on a dress and nice shoes for our trip to town. And she smiled all day. I think I might smile for the rest of my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Slice of Life

She closed her eyes against the dust blowing up the canyon. Windy swirls of sand and dusty debris bit against her skin through the flimsy shirt she’d thrown on at dawn when her uncle yelled into her half-awakeness. “Time to get moving. The cows ain’t waiting’ for you to get prettied up.” Her horse shimmied a bit under her as he navigated the rocky trail.

End of summer…back to school, back to the city and her family in another week. What a wild time she’d had learning to ride horses, getting up early to help with the chickens and other chores. Her muscles ached for weeks and her butt…well she still didn’t think she’d toughened up enough to call herself a cowgirl.

As the canyon opened and sandy soil replaced the rock-strewn wash they’d just ridden through, Sandie rubbed her eyes clear and took in the bluffs far in the distance. The herd grazed on sparse patches of grass, some looking up as the cowboys and city girl spread out to encircle the cattle. This was her first and last cattle drive.

She followed her cousin Wally, a year younger and as cowboy as they come. He was put in charge of her initiation and taught her in his teasing, sarcastic way, how to saddle and bridle Pete. Wally thought it was pretty funny as he watched Sandie’s misadventures through the rough and tumble (major on the tumble) first weeks.

One of the yearlings ran in the wrong direction, so Sandie started after it. Pete tore out faster than she expected making her hold tightly to the saddle horn as she leaned into the gallop, butt bouncing too much for comfort. Uncle Kirk shouted after her in his gruff voice to come back. Sandie felt her face flush. She was trying to help. “Don’t chase her and run her down. She’ll come back on her own to join the herd. You’ll tire her out too early and we have a long ride ahead.”

The summer rolled back in her memory as she turned to rejoin the others, moving the herd to open ground and the journey home to the ranch pastures.

Grandpa took her to town whenever he did the grocery run. The two day round trip on dusty graveled roads was probably her favorite part of the summer. They talked some, but the open window air conditioning made the drive pretty noisy. She loved the smell of the summer heat and the animal smells that she was sure her city friends would pinch their noises at.

Miles City was a real western town, boots and hats on most of the men and a lot of the women. It was nothing like Tacoma. Her grandpa took her straight off to the western shop to buy her jeans, shirts, boots, a hat and belt when Sandie first arrived by train. He smiled as she emerged looking like she fit right in. She smiled remembering how proud he looked.

It was the rodeo in Billings that she loved most. Her older cousin George was team roping. She loved to watch as the cowboys worked together to rope and tie up three legs of the calf. She did feel a little sorry for the calves. But they ran off happily when the rope was released, so she got over it. Best of all, though, was the storytelling, the joking and the cribbage games with Uncle Lee and Grandpa and the others back where they set up their little camp. They were right in the middle of all the other campers who  were competing in some event. Old friends stopped by to talk about the rodeo and life back at the ranch. There was a lot of spitting between stories. It was pretty gross.

Sandie stood in her saddle and rubbed her sore bottom. They had another four or five hours to go. She snacked on some jerky as the summer sun baked the dust into her skin. It didn’t help to try to wipe it away. Her hat sheltered her eyes a bit, but she felt the dryness of the air in her eyes and sweat plastered her hair against her forehead under the hat band. The cows seemed to herd themselves, she thought. All she had to do was ride along beside them.

The one time she put on a dress that whole summer was for the dance at the grange. She was sure her grandpa was hoping she’d fall in love with a cowboy and return to Montana someday. That’s the only reason she could imagine that Tom asked her to go with him to the dance. He barely knew her. He was pretty handsome, though.  She remembered sitting shyly up against the truck door on the long ride to the grange hall. It was out in the middle of nowhere. But, it seemed like the whole country came for the party.

It was kind of a disaster. Tom was a lot older and Sandie had never dated. He tried to get her to learn the two-step, but she kept stepping on his toes  and felt uncomfortable in his arms. He finally asked someone else and left her sitting alone at the table. When the evening ended, he was kind, but eager to leave her at the gate. She was glad the evening was over.

Late in the day as the sun’s  halo left everything golden and sort of glowing, the last gate was opened and the cattle seemed to know they were almost home. They hurried through the opening, pushing and bawling as if in fear they’d be left behind. Sandie closed and fastened the gate as the others shouted their hee-yas and swung their coiled ropes to keep the herd moving toward the home pasture closer to the ranch house and barn. The grass here was greener and more plentiful. The cattle began to find their dinner spots as cowboys swung down from their saddles at the gate before leading their horses to the barn and hay and a good brush down.

Sandie sat on Pete for a bit watching the cows, watching the cowboys, knowing she would soon be on the train for home. It was her first and last round up, her first and last summer on the ranch. She didn’t know that at the time. She did know she loved being related to this family and sat for awhile in her saddle on her horse Pete remembering the summer.

 

 

Old Dog, New Tricks

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Millenials think and write so differently than the classical writers whose stories fed my soul as a young reader. Music evolves and changes through the decades and so does writing style. I enjoy current trends, but love when things that entertain us run full circle as with Lady Gaga singing an old tune with Andy Williams. As I tackle my current writing projects I am looking for that perfect blend, perfect balance of what pleases my soul and what will appeal to a new generation of readers.

As a “well-seasoned” writer, the witty, sharp and sometimes irreverent work of emerging younger writers challenges me to consider my audience in new ways and to learn from the fresh voices that appeal to a broad audience of readers. My complex sentences need to be shortened, the language less flowery and more succinct, and the dialog more provocative and fast-paced. Whew…I have a lot of rewriting ahead of me as I explore these new principles of marketable writing.

The process sometimes overwhelms me. As others have shared, I HAVE to put my volumes of ideas into readable form. I have to. It is who I am. I am a woman of words. I have stories to tell. I have waited too long to do this. So, here goes.

 

Whence Comes Inspiration

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A recent writer’s group meeting challenged my big picture view of the craft and processes of writing for publication. The presenters spoke about specific tools and techniques (text formatting and setting goals for completing projects), while  conversation around the topics rolled around those and more personal ideas (building platforms through blogs). I appreciate those whose personal efforts and advice reflect discipline and determination as they set and pursue goals. They have published books and articles (and received some rejection slips) to show for their hard work.

Rose-colored glasses have been set aside as I plunge in to do the hard work of putting thoughts down, following the outline, writing and revising. Progress seems slow… the end far, far away. Each month the adrenaline injection from meeting with other writers entrenched in their own processes energizes me and pushes me forward again. They have given me permission with their encouragement to follow a tangent, to write a related article as a break from the larger project. Part of creating credibility as a professional writer requires submitting writing for a broad audience. After all, what good is writing if not to be read?

Long ago the publisher of my high school yearbook for which I was a co-editor inspired us with pithy sayings. One has stuck in my head ever since: “If you want to be remembered, do something worth writing about or write something worth reading about.” I am aiming for the latter.

Honing my skills gives me courage to keep writing with an end in sight. As other writers have acknowledged, we never know it all. Humility comes naturally for those of us who in our later years are FINALLY doing what we said we would do in our prideful and starry-eyed youth. I have a book in process, articles scheduled and writing to be done. The time has come and now is…

 

“Live Well for the Master”

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I’m on the downhill slide of life at the age of 64. A friend recently responded to something I wrote in a note to her regarding this stage of life thinking that I meant I was coasting from here on to the end. The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) The transition from one place of active duty to another does require reassessment. I am in a period of asking God for His wisdom and guidance. So, no, I’m not coasting, just spending time listening and waiting for a vision of what is ahead…before picking up speed on the downhill slide.

My husband will retire this year (well, semi-retire as he still has much to contribute in the industry where he has grown and thrived for over forty years). I’m excited about the idea of spending more time together in the garden, around the house, traveling, serving others, and even collaborating on some writing projects. The question remains: what is my vision, my mission statement, my high calling for the days ahead? How, Lord, will you use my gifts and talents, my life experiences and relationships, to “…not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9 (KJV) Admittedly, weariness has set in. Lack of clear vision may be a contributing factor. So, I am spending time communing with My Abba Father, talking and listening, reading and meditating on His word, hesitating from moving ahead until He says go.

I am praying for myself and my husband just as Paul prayed for the church in Colossae. “Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.” Colossians 1:9-12 (The Message)

What an encouraging prayer. I want to “live well for the Master.” I love the upbeat tone of this plea…asking for “glory-strength” that “spills over into joy.” Just reading this passage and writing it here inspires me and lifts my spirit to new heights. This deserves attention. These words declare a future of purpose, not without challenges, and promise.

Onward, Christian Soldiers

(Last Stanza)

“Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud, and honor unto Christ the King,
this through countless ages men and angels sing.”

 

Serendipity

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Defined once as “one surprise after another,” serendipity punctuates all of our travels. We are not world travelers like some of our friends and relations, but we have taken wonderful vacations all over the northwestern hemisphere. We’ve enjoyed road trips, cruises, rustic camping and luxury accommodations. And there is that one big adventure that took us over land and sea to Norway, some of the north Atlantic island countries, and home by way of Boston before arriving a month later back on the west coast. During every adventure we have been surprised by something that stands out as the pinnacle of the trip, a highlight that we love to share with willing listeners well after we’ve returned home and fallen back into the routines of life. Serendipity: a joyous and unexpected surprise.

Perhaps the fact that we are both friendly people, I more than my spouse, but he as eager to engage in conversation with friendly others, has invited the surprising benefits that come from offering and receiving a smile between strangers. I have always been a fairly self-confident person, but have not always been comfortable with straight on sustained eye contact. As a journalist I have had to write as I interview, thus have had brief eye-contact. As a traveler, I love the eyeball-to-eyeball attention I can give to others. It seems to unlock doors and gently deconstruct walls that we all so often erect. What a joy when suddenly a heart connection blooms and relaxed conversation reveals something, well…serendipitous.

That leads to our “Great North Atlantic Adventure.” At the tail end of a ten-day New England fall colors cruise in 2010, we briefly enjoyed time in New York City where we ordered lunch at a restaurant in the basement of Macy’s. I am a west coast country girl, way out of my element and enjoying the crazy crowded sensory experience of the city. The original wooden escalator in Macy’s tickled me like a child traveling down by magic for the first time.

There we sat in close proximity to other diners of all colors, cultures and languages. Of course I spoke to my nearest neighbors. As it turned out they happened to be visitors to the city as well, on vacation from their home in Oslo, Norway. She had emigrated to Norway from Asia and spoke very little English; he spoke it very well with a wonderful accent. My eyeballs glued themselves to his listening intently to their vacation story and their apologetic inability to help direct us to the subway station for the trip back to our hotel.

We, the older couple, they the young newlyweds, made a friend connection that lasted through email and phone conversations until Vidar surprised us by attending our 40th anniversary party two years after our chance meeting. His wife was unable to join him, but we entertained our Norwegian “son” for a week. Another two years of long-distance communication led to our month-long trip to visit the couple in Norway in 2014. Oh the stories of serendipity I could tell from that trip!

Fast Forward to December 2015.

Recently we drove through a coffee kiosk on our way to visit relatives over the mountains for another weekend adventure. My husband bantered with the young man inside while we awaited our order. Something clicked. Daniel is now another “son” we’ve decided to adopt. He has been over for dinner and plans to bring his girlfriend next visit. His family lives in Alaska, far from where he now lives and goes to school. He so very gratefully accepted our friendship. What fun!

Now it is 2016. Let serendipity reign!

Christmas 1962

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Christmas by the river that year held magic in every snowflake, expectation in every new day leading up to that one wonderful morning when the wrapping paper would fly and giggles and hurrahs would erupt. We were a budding young family, still full of innocence and uninhibited joy.

We moved a lot while growing up with our wonderful wanderlust dad. Our mom learned early not to feather her nest too completely for it was inevitable that she would have to pack whatever treasures she accumulated before too long. In 1962 when I turned eleven, we moved with all our worldly possessions packed into a small U-Haul trailer, to Trinity County in Northern California. The two bedroom house (cabin, really) that we rented was perched on a high slope overlooking the raging Trinity River. We moved there in early summertime.

All through the hot months of freedom we kids learned how to respect the rapids and undercurrents while imagining ourselves to be water and wood nymphs. I am the eldest of our troupe of adventurers and as daring as the boys and little girl who followed close on my heels. (There were four of us born in four and a half years, a built in play group.) Our parents spent a lot of time with us, Mom often more observant while our dad splashed and wrestled like one of the kids.

Dad began teaching at the little country school that year. I was a proud girl who sat in the front row, a sixth grader who adored her dad and loved to learn. The other three spent the year together in the lower grades. Dad rose early every morning to drive the school bus, then taught the fifth through eighth grades. It was a creative and challenging time for him, an idyllic time for all of us. I loved getting up early to ride the bus route along the river with him, especially when he’d let me jump out at Junction City Store to buy a treat.

Snow began to sugar-coat our world right around Thanksgiving. Our parents let us play outside until our noses ran and our ears and fingers turned red with the cold. Dad took us on hikes in the woods across the highway where we tromped through the snow with dead branches crackling under our feet. I remember coming upon a sight that inspired my young faith. While the others headed in another direction I stopped to ponder the three red holly berries poking through a snow-covered cross of branches. Yes, it was the season of Jesus birth. I knew about His earthly sojourn. I knew He was the son of God, that He came as a baby out of love for His creation. In that brief moment, I spoke my recognition and affirmation of His love for me.

The lower grades teacher played the piano and prepared us for our Christmas program. Oh how I loved to sing..loudly, enthusiastically. We sang “Oh Holy Night” for the program, I in the chorus and some other lucky girl the solo. It was a joyous occasion. And Christmas would soon arrive.

Every four months while we children grew steadily out of our clothing my mother received an inheritance check. One wealthy grandfather whom she had never met, had left her a sum of money from which the estate doled out quarterly interest checks. New clothes, new toys, a freezer load of food and all was well with the world. And every December first when her check arrived, our mom took great delight in shopping for Christmas.

I remember that Christmas morning unwrapping my Barbie and Ken dolls. I remember that the big package contained a new TV for the whole family. Dad fried Lefse (a Scandinavian flatbread made with potato dough) on the wood stove and we rolled it with butter and sugar, letting the greasy sweetness dribble down our chins. It is a good memory.

My dad is dying this Christmas, my mother gone now for 37 years. I love to remember the good times from those years that we grew from inheritance check to inheritance check, from one adventure to another, one school to another… until it wasn’t fun anymore and life became tense and difficult at home.

I love to remember the times, and they were many, when God gave me a glimpse of His faithful presence, His constant care and love for me. He showed up in the good times and the hard times. I love to remember my parents at their best, in their prime, and how they loved to spend time playing with us. Now, as my dad lingers in his last days, I remind him of those times, those sweet memories when he built in me a deep knowing of the love of God.

Water for the Soul

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One wonderful season of our lives, my husband and I loaded up our country kids and moved to the city for six-months. John and I determined that his short-term work assignment out of the area would be a perfect opportunity to give our 5, 8 and 11 year-old children a taste of life that was completely different than our very rustic, woodsy life to that point. Rather than dad being away from us five days each week, we chose to tag along and make an adventure out of it.

The six months rolled out one surprise after another. We learned to keep our garage door closed when the skateboards disappeared. We held our breath every day as our seventh grader found his way along busy city streets to navigate the social structure of an enormous middle school. We learned how to meet and greet our other two on different bus schedules. Life simply was not simple in the city.

We loved living in our condo elbow to elbow with a diversity of neighbors, young and old, foreign and flavorful. We rode our bicycles everywhere that was somewhat safe, through local green spaces that didn’t even resemble our familiar open fields and woodlands. The library only blocks away became a favorite biking destination, and Dairy Queen $1 blizzards a regular attraction in the other direction.

As the children learned what it was like to be city-kids and dad went off to work each day, I began to develop a new circle of friends from the church we had found to attend. One of the women, younger by a few years than I was, intrigued me with her traditional Indian attire, the colorful saris of her homeland. Even more intriguing was her quiet, yet confident demeanor. She walked with head high and shoulders back, a ready smile on her face and eyes that sparkled with a sense that something rich and wonderful waited to be teased out of her.

And so it was. Padmini agreed to let me “sit at her feet,” in a manner of speaking. We met almost weekly for several months at her home where we talked about our faith, our families and about life. Padmini taught me the lessons she had learned about “living water” from the Bible, about the streams that flow in the desert and the trees whose roots go deep and continually bear fruit, even in a season of drought.

I chose Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV) as my life verse. “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. {She} will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

The six months passed too quickly for me. I experienced a season of spiritual abundance at the city church and under the tutelage of my new friend. Just before we moved back home to the country at the end of the school year, Padmini presented me with a ceramic pitcher with this inscription, “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning.” She had poured out living water from her full cup into my thirsty heart.

God gave me a refreshing gift during that brief sojourn that has carried me through many periods of both abundance and drought ever since. I have learned and continue to grow in the knowledge that God is the source of my refreshment, His word is water for my soul.

 

 

Moving Forward

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Writing can be an isolating experience. As a very social being I find the discipline of my writing schedule sometimes difficult to maintain. Though I am committed to complete my manuscript by mid-spring, the challenge of sticking to my assignment and shutting out distractions sometimes give way to a desperate need for human contact. I am realizing how important it is to have a community of writers and friends who spur me on to complete the project. So, I am finding people and opportunities where my social needs and my writing inspiration intersect.

A recent Quills of Faith Christian writers meeting introduced us to the creative, fanciful, thought-provoking words and stories of people in the room who bravely read aloud from their own work. Some shared from already published material and some read fresh thoughts penned that day. The meeting included instructive advice from a much published writer.

Sharing aloud in a large group setting what has been written in the quiet of home gives life to the words that flow from head and heart to the computer screen. Hearing the response of others (in this setting it was all applause, no critique) really does inspire courage to press on. I do need cheerleaders. I do need to know that others care about not just the end result, but the process as well.

The presenter also added reality to the fluttering dreams of all writers… that any publisher would be a fool not to snap up what we have labored to lay down for the world to read. Layers of intention and purpose drive us on as writers. Of course we want to be published, but as one writer said, “This is my passion, I have to write.” So we write on, out of our own need to say  our words aloud or on paper (computer screens); we research, we learn, we dig deep and we write.  Then…

My cousin, Thonie Hevron, has proven to me that beyond the writing follows a whole other journey to become published. She continues to pursue “building her platform” and networking with other writers, editors and publishers, growing in her craft through attendance at writers conferences and with the sturdy support of her local writers’ group. Thonie has found her way and now helps others like me to discover how to press ahead through the process of writing, and then…

Realizing the need for community support has begun to create a hunger in me to move on…to write and be heard, to share what God has placed in my heart and drawn out in my life experience and from what I have gleaned from the lives and messages of others. I need the social contact, the “iron sharpening iron” as the Bible says, to accomplish the solitary task.

 

Thoughts on “Wisdom”

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John stands fast on the small platform of people I know who possess wisdom. He’s my spouse, my partner and my friend, my counterpoint and my complement. We have lived life together with all the bumps and bruises to show for our sometimes rough and rugged journey. Above all, John has kept us centered with his good common sense and wisdom gained through a lifetime of vigorous physical and mental labor, as a leader of leaders, as “an ambassador of hope” for families in crisis.

Perhaps the hallmark of wise men and women is their ability to listen. Ernest Hemingway said, “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” This is true. I’m reminded often of that old commercial for an investment firm, “When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen.” Listening well is a defining quality of the wise, for when they finally speak, their words and ideas inspire and motivate others to think and behave differently.

The Bible says, “Is not wisdom found among the aged?” (Job 12:12-13) In other verses  elders are instructed to teach the younger and that the younger should respect and honor their elders. At work during one day in John’s 40-year career, one of his co-workers called him Moses to much head bobbing from  others nearby. John leads with care and a wealth of knowledge, but most importantly from a well of wisdom. John listens.

Listening requires patience. Listening demands discipline. Listening takes time. Listening takes self-control and humility, the desire and ability to believe that others have something valuable to contribute, and have a need and right to be heard. Then, having listened well, having considered carefully, having weighed the many points of view and well-spoken thoughts, the wise one speaks, or doesn’t.

“Grey hair is a crown of splendor,” says Proverbs 16:31. I have known some very wise young folks to whom I give undivided attention. And it is worth stating that not everyone with grey hair possesses wisdom. But, wisdom does present itself more often in those seasoned seniors who have chosen to pay attention, live generously and compassionately, enjoy listening to the ideas of others, and who continue to learn as they grow older yet.  John wears his regal crown while he listens well; and then, when necessary, he speaks…and others listen.