Sam.

I used to have a best friend named Sam.

She lived on the other side of the forest, a few blocks down. We spent a lot of time in that forest, imagining trouble, and sometimes actually causing it. Sam was bolder than me. She had what my mom would call, a glint in her eye. She wasn’t afraid of adults and she wasn’t afraid to get in trouble. I, on the other hand, earned the nickname Miss Goody Two Shoes quite early on in my childhood, so I always envied this quality in Sam. For instance, when we were about ten, we sent my mom into a tizzy when she couldn’t find us one afternoon. We were on the other side of the forest enjoying some lemonade with some strangers who invited us in for a cup. Without Sam, I wouldn’t have dared, but with her… I was invincible. My mom was not pleased.

sam3Sam gave me Porkchop at my 8th birthday party. I insisted on inviting every girl in the 2nd grade class. It was probably one of the most disastrous experiences of my childhood; however, I still have my gift from Sam. I actually passed it down to my son. A tiny lion, called a pocket pal, filled with beans. I slept with it from the day I turned 8 until the day I turned 18. Since he was easy to conceal, I had him stashed in my college dorm room. Then, I had him stashed in a keepsake box. Now, I have him stashed in my son’s closet.

Sam may have been a bit of a trouble maker, but she eradicated more trouble than she caused. I remember one particular example quite well, another birthday party. I was turning sixteen and was squeezing every minute out of it in my green, cement basement with a large collection of friends—some may have only been acquaintances. Things took a negative turn when two rough looking boys showed up unannounced. Miss Goody Two Shoes was not impressed with some stunts they were pulling in my basement. Sam found me crying in my parents’ exercise room because they had ruined my birthday. She released me from any reason to cry, with her impeccable ability to listen and make things right. It is even more impressive that she pulled this off, since she is the one who invited the boys in the first place.

Sam had a quality about her that I could never quite put my finger on. I always thought she was rather nosey, but I never had any qualms about letting her put her nose wherever she wanted. It was because she cared for me, even when we began to grow apart in high school, I knew she really, genuinely cared for all of us. Not only that, Sam was the girl to seek out when you were looking for gossip. She was the queen of knowing everything. I loved that about her.sam4

Some of my most exhilarating memories from my childhood have Sam in them; she is the leading lady in most of them. Sam and I spent an entire summer with our feet hanging off a handsome boy’s tailgate as he did circles around our Podunk town. It would be late and approaching my curfew, but it was hard to care when I was sitting next to Sam singing “Too Much Fun” at the top of my lungs.

Even though my parents believed her to be a rather negative influence on me, I never got into any real trouble with Sam by my side. I mostly just had the time of my life. She always took me home when I mentioned my curfew, and she never rolled her eyes at my inability to disobey my parents. The only time I remember her genuinely “corrupting” me was when she double-dog-dared me to yell the f-word at the top my lungs. Don’t forget my nickname. It took a lot of persuading, but Miss Goody Two Shoes eventually stood up on that dugout (I have no idea why we were sitting on a dugout) and yelled it. This was just another moment that Sam made me feel free, like I had some invisible shell that only she could see.

She eventually moved even closer to me, just a few blocks down the street across from the railroad tracks. I can’t imagine how boring my high school experience would have been had she not been right down the street. Her basement was the location of many unusual, yet always legal and, more importantly, God-fearing activities. Without Sam, I think I would have conversed with two boys during all four years of high school. But in Sam’s basement, I had more boys to flirt with than I ever had in English class. Sam was a great flirt; I sucked at it. The point is, Sam always made me feel like I could flirt, like I had nothing to lose. She made everyone feel like that.

I learned a lot from Sam. Most of the life lessons she shared with me were discussed on the top of a grain elevator. We thought we were such rebels. I didn’t find out until later that nearly every teenager in our town spent a good deal of time on the elevator, but still, we were trespassing and we felt dangerous. One morning, around five a.m., Sam and I snuck out of her parents’ house and walked to the elevator. We weren’t trying to break every rule in the book, we simply wanted to watch the sunrise from the highest point on the grain elevator, and we were determined.

I have thought back to that moment many times in my adulthood, sitting atop a grain elevator, discussing every topic from the most shallow to the most profound. I had seen countless sunsets with Sam, but this was the only sunrise I ever watched with her. I can still see her silhouette against the soft glow of the horizon, but what I didn’t know in those moments, was that I was taking her for granted, that one day she would not be there and I would only have the memory of everything she taught me.
sam5Despite growing apart as we became teenagers, I still remember spending so much time with Sam. She was my first friend, and she was the only one who never completely went away. We were so proud when we would tell people we’d been friends since we were two: We thought we had accomplished some impossible feat. The impossible feat would have been for us to continue to speak after high school—we didn’t.

Sam was not perfect—she’d be the first to tell you that. She knew her imperfections and she had plenty of insecurities, but she was an incredible friend. I would give anything to go back to our college years and somehow stay in touch with her. Even though she’s gone now, I am always surprised by how often I think of her and how often I catch myself mentioning her to my husband, who never knew her. I didn’t realize how big of an impact she had on my life, until the chances of her impacting it again became impossible. I wish I could share every memory I have of Sam—I can’t believe how many there are.

She was extraordinary, and she took away any chance of me ever hearing “Too Much Fun” by Daryle Singletary without lifting my eyes and asking Sam to sing it with me.

I do know one thing. I know she knew the Lord. I don’t know how much she knew Him in the days before her death, but if I know Sam, she never stopped seeking Him.sam

Advertisements

No Applause Necessary…

Happy Anniversary to Pursue Peace Blog!

Hmm…. For those of you who are wondering how I feel about writing just one year into blogging. The only thing I can really say is the following:

I love writing.

I love writing.

I love writing.

And sometimes I hate writing just a little bit.

When I started this blog a year ago, I had an incredible and, dare I say, unrealistic vision for it. I dreamt of being the next famed blogger, getting paid bucket loads of cash just for jotting down my ideas. I dreamt of people from all over the world drooling over my syntactically dazzling sentence structure and my even more exceptional and superlative word choice. In fact, I often considered that perhaps so many people would be begging me to write for them that my husband would retire from his job roughly 30 years early and we could buy ourselves a 10-bedroom house and raise 9 to 12 babies in it. I would write and parent and my husband would build things out of wood and parent. Life would be grand!

That’s just living the dream and I assumed it would be easy enough to achieve.

20161122_132536Alas, after 365 days of pure writing bliss, I have achieved not 1 million or even 10 million followers but a whopping 100. After I publish a post that I truly believe will change the world, only for it to be read by about 10 people, I am baffled. However, after I publish a post that was painstaking and served no real purpose other than just to publish a post, I don’t blame one soul for ignoring, or even avoiding, my artistic endeavor.

Blogging is full of ups and downs. I often wish more people would spend time reading my posts. In fact, my most frequent daydream involves the publisher of Focus on the Family giving me a phone call and begging me to write more short stories for their magazine. I promise I’m not the most arrogant person around—I just have enormously unrealistic expectations.

All I want is to be the next Flannery O’Connor, and for those of you who have not read her brilliant words: DO IT NOW. She is top-notch.

I do not even come close to taking pride in every one of my posts. There is nothing I hate more than publishing a post that I just could not perfect. I know it is not up to par, but I have no idea how to get it where I want it to be. So, eventually I just give in, hope for the best, and publish it anyway.

I often lie awake at night thinking of past posts and how they could have been made better: I should have said this, this word would have been better, I can’t believe I actually said that, etc.

All joking aside, I regularly pray that I will not forget all of our gifts are given to us by our Father and we should use them to glorify Him—this, of course, includes my writing. I have prayed countless times in the past 365 days that my blog would become as popular as the Lord wills, and that its main purpose be to encourage people in their faith. Whether God allows one million people to read my posts or just one, I know I can trust His plan for my writing and I can rest in knowing that I am doing it to serve Him, despite my desire to be the next Flannery O’Connor. It is so important to remember that we do nothing for our own glory, but for His.

Countless frustration abounds in writing a blog. A lack of motivation or inspiration is a constant battle. Negative comments must always be dodged. Frequent disappointment after receiving less than stellar feedback.  The list goes on…

Many have asked me in the past year why I write. More specifically, they have asked me why I write the things I do. I write because it is a gift I am trying to cultivate. I write because it is therapeutic. I write because it strengthens my faith. I write because I love it. I write because I just can’t stop.pencil-147130_1280

And there you have it: One year of blogging and my 60th post. Here’s to many more… J Thank you to all who have supported me!

Maybe Focus on the Family will call me during year two…

Dress Shoes and Loneliness

It strikes her as odd that he is always alone. He walks by her house every single day at the exact same time, always on the opposite side of the street, like he has some sort of aversion to her sidewalk and prefers Carl’s, even though Carl’s aversion seems to be with shovels. That fact always makes her roll her eyes as soon as she gets through waving amiably to Carl—she just can’t get over his laziness. What she probably doesn’t realize is that Carl can see her loose eyeballs from across the street; she has yet to fool him.

She figured once winter descended upon the neighborhood, she would stop seeing the walker, but the only thing that changed beside the color of the ground was her inability to see his blue suit jacket beneath his bright red coat—making him look a lot like a cherry flavored mushroom.

Prior to the addition of the coat, the man never seems to change clothes. Normally, this would cause her to make all sorts of assumptions about the character of the man, except for the fact that he dresses like the sidewalk demands his best—black tie not optional so to speak. No matter the temperature, a blue suit jacket is always draped around his small frame with a black and white checkered button up peeking out from beneath it. She would generally be quite irritated at such a person’s lack of fashion sense, trying to blend navy and black–it’s practically sinful. However, to her surprise, and a bit of dismay, the walker manages to pull it off.guy-690751_1280

His faded blue jeans lower her estimation of his social class just a bit, but what really concerns her is the shoes he chooses to sport—black, lace-up dress shoes; the light from the sun glints off them like they are made of diamonds. It unnerves her. She has no idea where the man lives or where he is going, but she often considers meeting him on the sidewalk on any afternoon and explaining to him that his feet would thank him if he bought himself a proper tennis shoe. She refrains from doing so, as it is rarely received warmly when Alice generously offers her two cents.

menswear-952833_1280Besides his peculiar clothing, Alice notices very little about the man, except the fact that he is very little. Everything about him seems little except for one noticeable protrusion. She has deduced that he is not walking to lose weight, as months into his routine, his stomach still pretentiously overhangs above his belt—perhaps he simply carries a basketball under there.

Despite this annoyance, the man is very small. His eyes sit close together and rest on the bridge of his nose as if someone had once taken a vice and squeezed his face together. His head sits like a marble upon his thin, protruding shoulder blades, like a sucker on a stick. His short arms swing at his sides in an unnerving fashion, almost like they are detached from his body—Alice thought that perhaps there is no room for his arms since his stomach is taking up so much space on his torso.

He never got anywhere too quickly since his legs seem about the length of a small child’s, although the man does not seem to be in any hurry. This also unnerves Alice, such a curious creature should find another sidewalk to tread upon for she is downright tired of wondering about him.

At the very least, he could consider walking on her side of the street once in a while. Her side of the street had a better view anyway, and the children never trampled her lawn on their way home from school like they did Carl’s. Alice has considered all sorts of scenarios as to this man’s motives. He is not dressed appropriately to simply be out for a daily exercise routine. He is not walking to town to run errands as his return trips never reveal shopping bags. He is not going to visit someone—she has no evidence to support this fact other than she is just certain of it. She has also decided he is unmarried, since she assumes a woman in his household would never allow him to put on such miles with a shoe like that.

She often wonders if he has someone to make him dinner. Always an excellent cook, Alice considers maybe that person should be her. Shortly after this thought surfaces, however, she quickly dismisses such a ridiculous notion. She is sure he would not even thank her for going through so much trouble. She has no evidence to support this; she just knows it. Despite the fact she always dismisses this making-him-dinner notion, it never fails to return a few days later, only to be dismissed again with a bit more vehemence.

***

It was a Tuesday, another ordinary day. Alice awoke at 5:30. She had never awoken any later or any earlier since the birth of her first child, who decided early on in his life that 5:30 was the new 7:30. He never thanked her for spending so many dark, lonely hours entertaining him when the rest of the world was sleeping. She determined long ago he never would thank her. Alice read her paper and sipped her coffee until 7:00. She did not like coffee; it always gave her a stomach ache. She only drank it because her husband never enjoyed it without her enjoying it too. It never mattered to him she was faking it. He never thanked her for sitting with him every morning of their 40-year marriage drinking a beverage that, to her, tasted a lot like cough syrup blended with motor oil. She determined long ago he never would thank her.

After she’d showered, Alice messed with her gray hair for over thirty minutes, demanding that each strand find its correct location like a mother demands for a chore to be completed. Once satisfied, Alice headed for the door to embark on her weekly grocery run. As she reached for the door handle, she hesitated for just a moment—a hesitation entirely invisible to someone who does not know to look for it.

She barked at the deli attendant as he dilly-dallied with her ham and turkey. This was a weekly routine for Alice and the deli attendant. The fact that he never served her any faster was more of an act of will than it was his old age, which Alice never failed to mention. He was sure he was not more than three or four years older than her. Spending a few extra minutes with her was so worth it when he had the pleasure of witnessing her haughty little tantrums as she huffed away from him—skirt hiked up so far he could see the top of her pink socks, which landed immediately below her knee.woman-441415_1280

Never taking his eyes off the cracks in the sidewalk, the walker was venturing across Carl’s driveway when Alice arrived home, slightly later than usual thanks to that damn deli attendant. She eyed him suspiciously in her rear view mirror—the way he meandered really unnerved her. The way his head bowed low to the ground when he walked reminded Alice an awful lot of the way she walked the aisles at the grocery store. She did this to avoid speaking with anyone, as she really saw no purpose in conversing with a stranger. He was unlikely to meet anyone else on the sidewalk in the middle of winter, so she wondered why he walked that way.

She briefly considered walking across the street and confronting him. He ought to know the irritation he was causing her. As she reached for the door handle, a familiar hesitation occurred—one that no one knew was there but her. She took a deep breath, glanced across the street to the walker who had just reached the corner. Pushing away the urge to follow him in her ostentatious 5th Avenue, she removed her two bags of groceries from the backseat, walked into her silent house, and sat down in her recliner.

She could still catch glimpses of the walker’s head between the trees as he wandered down the street. She watched him until he was no longer in sight, and with a significant amount of disappointment that no one knew was there but her, she continued with her Tuesday and went to unpack her groceries.

A Room of Lying Shadows

Her breath caught sharply in her chest. The old grandfather clock in the corner of her dining room had just chimed once again–3:00 am. One more hour had passed since she had moved. She was not sure how many hours she had been there. Maybe only two… but perhaps much more than that.

 

She forced her eyes to move off the bed and look over her quaint bedroom. The moon cast a lonely shadow throughout, causing her belongings to bend and twist in an intolerable mixture of the shadow and the tangible. She enjoyed looking at the jewelry box in the corner, least of all. He had given it to her on their 35th anniversary and she had always cherished it; of course now it seemed to mock her in the faint moonlight, its shape sickening.

 

She lowered her gaze once more to the frail body lying in her bed. She did not need to check to assure herself, she knew it no longer embodied life. The strange form before her and the belongings around her were all that remained of 78 years together.

elderly

She briefly allowed her thoughts to wander to the neighbors. Once word of her dark, lonely night in a room with her dead husband got out, they would be all talk. They had always been all talk–assuming they understood her life. She could just imagine what they would say about her. The teenager in 1504 would call her a “creepy, old lady” to his friends, and the chatterbox gossip in 1512 would pretend to pity her but call her a “sad, pathetic old wretch” when she was alone with her friends.

 

It should be her lying in that bed. Everyone assumed it would be her. But it was him. The man she thought couldn’t die was just that.

 

“Lily… Lily, c’mon! Go out wit’ me jus’ once. I’ll  git you some iced cream. Your favorite… Rocky Road.”

 

“Carl, I’d rather eat dirt then eat iced cream wit’ you!”

 

“Aw… c’mon now…ya know that ain’t true. I seen the way you were lookin’ at me in schoo’ yestidee.”

 

“I’s lookin’ at you wit’ pity, Carl. Tha’s all.”

 

“I saw a who’ lot mo’ then pity, Lily.”

 

Her eyes crinkled at the faded memory. He started chasing her in the 4th level, but she held him off all the way until the 8th grade when he quit to work on his daddy’s farm. She couldn’t remember why now. Everyone told her to play hard to get, so that is what she did. Now that it was over, she could have added four more years to her life with him, if she’d played easy to get instead. He had her all along, anyway.

elderly

He was all she had. She didn’t know where she would go now. She could not remember the last time she swept the floor, made dinner, or washed the bedding. A woman like her couldn’t possibly get along alone. Maybe if she prayed hard enough tonight, the Lord would take her home too. The remainder of her years without him seemed unbearable.

 

She tried to calculate how many years she must have left of her life, although technically her life was lying in the bed in front of her. She was 96. No one lived until 100 nowadays. She would surely be taken before then. Four years. The irony of the significance of that number before their life together and after their life together failed to make an impression on her.

 

“Four years without you, my love,” she whispered into the shafts of silver light.

 

Her heart flitted with hope when she thought it might be shorter than that. Her breath was short now and she could hear her heart pounding in her ears all the time, drowning out all logical thought. She was aware of the weakness of each beat. It used to scare her, but now she relished the thought of death.

 

“How could you do this to me, my darling?” she imagined briefly that his hand moved in the direction of hers, shaking her head at the foolish turn her thoughts were taking.

 

The world outside her shades was beginning to lighten now, and she could hear the birds chirping in the Spruce tree at the corner of their lot. He had hated that tree, every year having to trim it back, trying desperately to control his world.

elderly

“We have no control…” she said this to no one in particular; she certainly did not want him to hear her, still following the habit of being his optimism.

 

She desperately wanted to not see him in the light. It would be all too real in the light. His lips would be blue and his face ashen. The warmth of her hand would no longer be enough to conceal the coldness of his.

 

She must get up. She must make herself move…pick up the telephone…call the police…

 

“Um…hello. My husband has passed away. Can you come retrieve him immediately?”

 

It would be easy. Pick up the phone. Pick up the phone. Walk away from him and pick up the phone.

 

It took her a moment to realize the phone was ringing now. The silence of her husbandless home had enveloped her eerily, so her ears did not immediately register sound.

elderly

She tried reaching for the receiver without taking her hand from his, the weakness of her body failing her. She still felt his hand in hers even after they were separated. Reaching for the telephone was an act of heroism while the stiffness of her body and desolation of her heart worked against her.

 

“Hello,” her voice came out in a whisper.

 

“I woke up worried about you. Is everything okay?”

 

The voice, at first, seemed unfamiliar and distant.

 

“Mom, are you there? I’m worried about you. Please tell me you’re okay.”

 

Ah, it was Carol. How could she have forgotten Carol? The only thing that remained of her life with his, their daughter.

 
Perhaps, there was hope after all.

Humbled, yet Psyched

Well, I am humbled, as well as super psyched, to be nominated for the Liebster Blogging Award (TWICE!). After working diligently on my blog since November, it is so nice to receive some recognition. Although it is not at all necessary: Writing is my thing, my calling, my favorite hobby, so recognition or not, I’m not going anywhere.

20160410_152000

I want to thank Saturated in Seattle (saturatedinseattle.wordpress.com) for nominating me and being such an awesome source of encouragement. She never fails to leave me the most uplifting comments, and I just know we would be great friends if given the chance to meet in person. Please, check out her blog if you haven’t already. She challenges me in my faith with each post she writes. She talks about some extremely difficult topics, but you will only grow closer to God through her stories, as well as develop an immense amount of respect for her.

 

I also want to thank Gospel Isosceles (https://gospelisosceles.wordpress.com/) for nominating me for this award. She has been such a loyal follower; I get so excited when she comments on my work. As for her blog, just WOW. Her writing is top-notch. Plus she deals in prose and poetry, which I have not discovered many bloggers that do both. I also haven’t discovered any blog poetry that I like, except for Gospel Isosceles. Her faith intermingles challenging and thought-provoking material. Excellent stuff!

 

To both of these ladies: I would no doubt be nominating you if I was allowed! You are superb.

 

Now, I’m going to attempt to answer the 11 questions Saturated in Seattle asked me to cover on this post.

 

  1. How did you come up with your blog name?

Peace has always been a very difficult concept for me. Despite my tight relationship with Jesus, I have never fully experienced the way in which he calls himself the Prince of Peace. It is lost on me because I am not only a constant worrier, but I also suffer from anxiety. Anxiety has plagued me most of my life, but it has been more present in my day-to-day within the past three or four years, I suppose we can blame adulthood for that. It finally occurred to me one day that I do not have to live with anxiety. My children don’t need to know me as a mom who gets really anxious sometimes; my husband doesn’t need to take on the task of calming me when I need it. Instead, the Lord can and will heal me from this. Since adopting this belief, which I should have adopted long ago, I have gained an immense amount clarity , and even though I still have anxiety, I know the Lord will sustain me through it.

 

  1. Favorite thing about blogging?

I absolutely, positively love to write. I used to be an English teacher, before becoming a stay-at-home mom, and my decision to get an English degree really centered on my love for writing. However, I lost my passion for it when I got busy with college, and became even busier in my career. This stage of my life gives me ample time to nurture my passion, and it has come alive like never before. I can’t stop. I write in my sleep, while I do dishes, driving my son to the library. It can sometimes be quite torturous to be honest with you. My husband caught me the other day with my computer in the garage when I was SUPPOSED to be staining some wood for him. Whoops! I’ve no control.

 

  1. Hardest thing about blogging?

The hardest part about blogging is definitely the feeling that I should be reaching more people. I have a tendency, like all Christians, to follow God’s call and assume I know what He intends for it. He never fails to throw me a couple curve balls. It is hard not to become consumed with the number of likes, shares, and comments. It seems as though the posts that I am most confident in receive the least amount of feedback. It can be discouraging. It is easy to forget that I write for myself and for the glory of God. I tend to get caught up in writing for other people. However, I have learned that this is a HUGE no-no. It takes all the fun away when I’m just in it for the glory, and a word to the wise, there isn’t an immense amount of glory in blogging. So, I strive to maintain my passion and continue to post, ignoring my feedback for the most part (although it is so appreciated). I still get a huge thrill when someone likes my post. I’m sure my fellow bloggers can relate.

 

  1. Go to music?

I am a country girl through and through. I’ve known siblings and friends who have bounced between loving country and hating it, even betraying it by listening to–dare I say–mainstream pop (Ick). I can honestly say I have never not liked country. I like the new country and I like the old country. The lyrics make me happy. Also, when I do need a break from country on occasion, I will turn on KLOV, although, Christian music tends to drive me crazy. I know that makes me sound like a Heathen, but hey, it’s the truth.

 

  1. Who do you admire most? Why?

This is a tough question because there is so many answers depending on what avenue of my life I need mentoring. My go-to answer would absolutely be Jesus Christ. I strive and fail each and every day to model his behavior and love for other people. He is pretty much a rock star, and He is the best writer around. His words give me life every day, keep me going, and the imagery cannot be matched, even by Steinbeck. However, for those who want a more personal answer, I would have to say my husband. I know this is going to sound cliché, but seriously, trust me when I say: He is the most patient human being like EVER. I am an incredibly difficult person to live with and I have hardly ever seen him angry, at me or anyone else. This is not because he locks up his emotions; this is because he is honestly just a man at peace, something opposite of his wife, a woman at chaos. I can’t get him angry even when I try. He loves his family and provides for us in ways that I am abundantly thankful for. He has a faith in the Lord that inspires me every day. His knowledge of the Lord is also hugely inspiring, something I really strive for in my own life. He runs a store of 50 employees with ease, and comes home with a smile on his face and time and energy for his family (even when he has no time or energy). He’s the best.

20151121_191509

  1. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

Tulfes, Austria. Tulfes sits above Innsbruck, tucked into a mountainside. At least, this is how I remember it. I stayed at a hotel in Tulfes when my History teacher took a group of high school students to six European countries in 10 days. I have gained a lot of respect for this teacher since becoming a teacher myself. It was an incredible trip, but Tulfes, Austria calls to me. I will absolutely go back there someday.

 

  1. Would you rather live in the city or country?

This is a tough one. I grew up in a small town and hated the big city of Fargo, ND. However, now I live in Bismarck, ND and I absolutely love it. I have no desire to live in a small town anymore, which is more of a surprise to me than to anyone else. However, Bismarck, ND is more like a small town than a city to most parts of the country.  I suppose I could be happy anywhere, except on a farm. I do not want to live on a farm.

 

  1. Favorite meal?

Tacos. Tacos. Tacos. Tacos. Tacos. When I am sad or sick or crabby or have any other type of ailment, my husband immediately jumps in the car to go get me a taco from Taco Bell. I’m not kidding. It has magical powers. Speaking of, I may need one tonight, since my son has basically cried all day long. 

 

  1. One piece of advice you would give to a new blogger?

Hang in there. Blog often. Cultivate your passion. Don’t blog for other people. Write for yourself and for the glory of God. Celebrate when you receive feedback, but don’t depend on it. Don’t give up. It takes a while to gain any followers, but if you are consistently solid in your writing, they will come.

 

  1. If you had a free afternoon, how would you spend it?

I would spend a free afternoon reading at Barnes and Noble. It is one of the things I miss most about being childless. I used to spend hours and hours on end just hanging out in Barnes and Noble, or any other coffee shop for that matter. It is the most relaxing thing in the world to me. One day, I would love to find a tiny, quaint coffee shop and make it my office, spending day after day there writing a book. I think this is what I will do when my kiddos leave me.

 

  1. What is the last book you read? Would you recommend it?

The last book I read was I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. It is a nonfiction story of a girl who grew up in a Taliban ruled nation, Pakistan, yet had the courage to stand up for education. She was shot in the head, but survived and continues to fight for what is right. Although it took me awhile to get through and bored me a bit at times, it was an excellent book. I would absolutely recommend it. This is what inspired my post Living Outside the Cocoon (https://pursuepeaceblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/living-outside-the-cocoon/).

unnamed

The next thing I am to cover to accept my award nomination is 11 Facts about myself.

 

Fact #1

I love to hunt. I love to bike. I love to drink Dr. Pepper in extravagant amounts. I love pigs. I love to ski. I love people.

 

Fact #2

I won 8th place in a greased pig wrestling contest when I was roughly 13 years old. I had a partner. She did most of the work. I’m slightly petite. Not much of a pig wrestler.

 

Fact #3

I rode a pig through a pig barn for WAY more than 8 seconds when I was a kid. I broke my foot, but gained a lifetime of pig showing glory.

 

Fact #4

I am a freelance writer for a local magazine, and I am constantly on the prowl for more opportunities.

 

Fact #5

I used to be a pretty good runner. I’m not anymore. Although the worse the weather, the better my run, every time.

 

Fact #6

 

I am attempting to start a ministry titled Casseroles for Small Souls where a group of women would provide dinner for any woman who has lost a child through miscarriage. The casseroles would be provided for a week and contain enough food for her family. She would also be assured that we would be praying fervently for her during this time. If you’re interested in knowing more, comment below 🙂

Fact #7

My favorite Bible verse is Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

 

Fact #8

Before I met my husband, I used to hang out regularly with 60-something couples and play Farkle. Yes, I do have friends my own age. In fact, one such couple (his grandparents) introduced us through a set-up disguised as a game night.

 

Fact #9

The greatest thrill on this earth is a snow day. Hands down. Who’s with me!?!

 

Fact #10

I have the absolute, most horrifyingly unique dreams of any one on the planet. I scare my husband nearly every day with my renditions of them. I don’t know what this says about me, but man, I am never bored when I’m sleeping.

 

Fact #11

Jesus is my Lord and Savior. He is the King of my life and my absolute go-to guy for (nearly) everything. He gives me rest. He quenches my thirst. He provides me with wisdom. He has saved me over and over and over and over. Without faith, I would be unsure of everything. My life would have no meaning. I would have no hope. I don’t understand how anyone in the world functions without it.

 

The following blogs deserve much more recognition than my own. Each post is consistently chocked full of wisdom, talent, and entertainment.

  1. Missing Eden (https://missingeden.wordpress.com/)–She never fails to inspire and equip me with wisdom and tips for being a good stay-at-home mom. She faces trials herself, yet is so insightful concerning the trials of other moms. Every time I read a post, I find myself taking a sigh of relief toward the end. Excellent!
  2.  Beauty Beyond Bones (https://beautybeyondbones.com/)– This girl finds some crazy interesting things to write about concerning her faith and how to incorporate it into the world around her. She has struggled with an eating disorder, but her posts are for anyone who seeks the Lord. She always introduces me to a new perspective that I have not considered, but I’m so glad she opens my eyes.
  3. Accidentally Single Blog (https://accidentallysingleblog.wordpress.com/) — I basically respect the crap out of this particular blog because for a long time, before I found my husband, I thought I would have to face the world as a single gal. She has such a positive outlook, and the humor she incorporates keeps me reading.
  4. Fire and Ink from the North Dakota Plains (https://stephenarthurlarson.wordpress.com/) — Although I may be cheating a little (since this particular blogger attends my church), this is a man after the Lord’s heart, not to mention His truth. Stephen writes about very difficult topics that all Christians should be seriously considering. He is knowledgeable and will challenge you to consider your Christian morals in reference to the struggles our nation faces. His witty personality shines through in each post, however, and he is quite exciting to read!
  5. Jessica Buczek (https://jessicabuczek.wordpress.com/)— I just discovered this mom blogger and haven’t had a ton of interaction with her. In fact, she’s probably going to wonder who I am when she sees I nominated her. However, her humor and positive outlook make each post awesome to read. She faces the challenges of any mom with faith and she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She has really impressed me so far with the writing I’ve been able to consume.

 

Nominees, if you are interested in accepting your nomination, please email me at pursuepeaceblog@gmail.com 

To all my readers: I’m sorry this was so long-winded. One of my not-so-good qualities is that I love to talk about myself, when given the opportunity, although I do try to keep it in check when people don’t ask, so don’t get the wrong idea about me. I hope Saturated in Seattle and Gospel Isosceles know how thankful I am for the nominations, and I hope those I nominated know how much I appreciate their blogs.

A World of Words

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” ~Mark Twain or Samuel Clemens, pick your poison.

 

How do I love words? Let me count the ways– courtesy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s 43rd sonnet. Words have played an exceedingly vital role in my life for as long as I can recall. Written or spoken, they have always had a unique way of getting me into trouble, and an even more unique way of getting me out of it–sometimes the same group of words doing a combination of both.

 

I haven’t always been aware of words being a strength in my life, but I did begin to notice an aptitude for them in middle school, which is when I, without question, found my voice, writing and speaking. Ask any one of my teachers from 6th grade on, I spoke a lot. I should probably call to apologize. At the risk of sounding cliche, words really can accomplish anything. They can motivate, encourage, tear down, transform, frustrate, infuriate, calm, etc. Don’t take my word for it; ask Martin Luther King Jr. how powerful words can be, and then ask Hitler the same thing. Words have power. It’s important to keep them in the right hands. An unelectable individual with a gift for locution, one whom naturally rearranges words to make them appealing to even a trained eye, could very well become undeniably electable. If one stumbles over words like they are literal cracks in the sidewalk, it is unlikely he will achieve what he might be fully capable of, if he could only rid himself of the necessity of words. The language employed in any matter has the ability to make a falsehood true or the truth false. I did not say this was fair, but it is indeed fact.

 

I’m a talker. Always have been and everybody knows it. I tend to overwhelm people who aren’t talkers, disturbing them with my apparent unapologetic hubris. Get to know me and I assure you this is not (usually) the case. I dislike people who are talkers, constantly battling them to get a word in. My best friends are generally patient listeners and my worst enemies are inclined to talk and talk and talk. Nothing grinds my gears more than a person who knows how to talk as well as I do. This, I am aware, is more my problem than it is the fellow talker’s.

 

Since I talk a lot, I do often find myself inadvertently offending another person or biting my tongue. Some might even say I suffer from foot in mouth syndrome. On the contrary, despite my big mouth, I am usually able to fancy talk my way out of any hole I have dug. Pontification is my game. In the same breath, I manage to pontificate my way right into trouble and expound my way right out of it. I determine which strategy is most necessary by skillfully observing the facial expression of my listener. My husband is especially aware of my capableness for grandiloquence as I have been convicted on more than one occasion in our marriage for manipulation to achieve my own way. I promise you, it is done almost completely without my knowledge (almost), requiring a full internal reflection of my wayward ways. Just because I have the ability to manipulate with my rhetoric, does not mean I should. The spoken word is nothing, however, compared to the written word.

 

I collect books, old books mostly. I don’t read them very often. Most of them aren’t classics or page-turners, as much as I wish I had a library full of valuable first-editions. I just like to hold an aged book in my hands, turning the pages, pondering who else in its long history has gazed at those very words. Tinted-paged books are much like gray-haired people, some hold a lifetime of wisdom while others haven’t bothered to open all that often, leaving them empty, with nothing to offer.  On a few occasions, I have found keepsake notes slipped within the pages of an old book. A more intimate, less renowned collection of words, usually meant for just one, tucked away in an ensemble of pages meant for the masses. There is something mysterious about this irony that always leaves me burdened with questions–usually regarding the identity of the writer and the reader of the note.

20160219_135757

A note, or letter, I found in the pages of a Literature textbook from 1905.

20160219_134946

A very small portion of my book collection.

Contemporary novels have their place in my world of words, as well. As I read, I find myself writing down sentences that I find undeniably, perfectly formulated. A quality sentence can make me gaga with glee or, as was often the case as a teacher, a second-rate sentence can cause me to dissolve into despair. John Steinbeck, in my opinion, is the king of syntax. He knocks the breath right out of my chest with almost every painstakingly detailed sentence he writes. If you cannot create his settings exhaustively and without question in your mind as you read, then you are not paying attention. Because of this, his books can be tedious to read for some. It is sometimes more fun to read a book with less detail and more storyline, similar to the abundance of Young Adult fiction available today. These books can satisfy my need for words as well, because when I come across a perfectly formulated sentence, it is somewhat of a surprise.

20160219_135007-1

My oldest John Steinbeck book from 1952, a second edition of the East of Eden.

20160219_134903-1

A sentence that caught my eye from the book I am currently reading, The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

 

I have to say the most common way my life has revolved around words would have to be those in the Holy Bible. Despite my love for the words of a talented writer or the thrill I feel when I write my own words, the word of God is the only lexicon that has never let me down. It is the only constant, the only truth, the only unblemished collection of words around, and this goes for us all, not just the word gurus. When I am looking for an easy and motivational pick-me-up, I turn to the words of David in the Psalms. When I am looking to connect with my Father’s character, I turn to the pages of the Old Testament, reminding myself again that God is and always will be faithful. When I am confused and wondering about my Christian journey, I turn to the words of Paul in his epistles. When I realize my complete lack of success in the loving of my husband, Solomon always helps me out in Song of Songs. When I am at a complete and total loss, I just open it, trusting the Holy Spirit to lead me. God’s words are like inhaling the first real breath of spring air after a long and grueling winter. They can flood us with delight or overwhelm us with conviction. Either way, no word spoken or written would have any place in this world at all, if it weren’t for the words of the One who spoke first.

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. ~John 1: 1-3