When Sister Mary Prays

 

 

Never take your prayer for granted.

I’m at my computer praying right now for God to write through me. I often pray that it will be what He wants me to write, not what I want to write.

To ask Him to write through me simply means that because I’ve accepted Christ,  a part of God lives in me. Not that I’m a “small god” or anything like that. His  love and His power through His spirit is in me to help guide and protect me while I travel through this thing called life. I’ve accepted Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. He died in place of me because I’m not holy enough (no matter how many sacrifices or good works I do for God on my own) to deserve His forgiveness. The thing is, Jesus came to die for me and for anyone on this earth who desires forgiveness because He is the only perfect and holy sacrifice. He is worthy .He came to give us the news that God loves us enough to save us through His son. We don’t have to earn His love, or to be good enough to go Heaven. None us can ever be good enough. It sounds much too simple, and it is to a point. See, when I accepted Christ in my place and was forgiven by God, I was given His grace and mercy. Not to mention eternal life. God’s mercy, His grace, and the fact that I will someday die physically, but will live eternally with God and not apart from Him in Hell,  is a HUGE THING. And I can’t just go on living willy nilly,…being the same old me. If you really accept Christ, you no longer want to be that same old me….or you. God’s love in you gives you a desire to love others, to do good works, to obey God…not to get to heaven, but because He is changing you to be more like Christ. One of those changes is to ask Him continually to live His life through you. And to get where I want to get in this blog ( finally) I did some explanation before getting around to the reason for this specific post.

But it’s all for good, because I wanted you to understand why things happen when Sister Mary prays.  She has faith in the power of prayer because  she accepted Christ. She prayed for the suffering and the sick people of her community. God’s love inside her gave her a strong desire to pray. Because she prayed, thousands of people in her village in South Asia were led to Christ and their lives were transformed in many different ways. It started when God healed Sister Mary’s of a painful stomach disease. She experienced God’s power to heal and she just had to tell others. And…to pray for them. She didn’t take her prayers for granted. She knew God heard them all.

Mary, a simple wife and mother, tells her exciting story in the video below. I invite you to hear how God works in His people.

“When Sister Mary Prays” Video:

http://www.gfa.org/pray/when-sister-mary-prays/

Your prayer can also transform lives. Pray for the peoples in Asia who are widows, orphans, children. They need your prayers and your help. Remember, too, if you have never accepted the simple Gospel of Jesus, along with living a not so simple life on earth for Him, you can come before Him at any time, and anywhere you are. Ask for His grace and mercy by admitting that like me, you are not holy enough and that you need Jesus. He will be Holy in your place!

Find out more ways to pray for South Asia at http://www.gfa.org/pray/people-ministries/when-sister-mary-prays-4

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Prompt for SOC Saturday

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SOC Prompt for 2-28-15:acquaint and/or friend
The Saturday SOC prompt is from the blog of lindaghil

http://lindaghill.com/2015/02/27/special-edition-friday-prompt-for-socs-february-2815/
Please Join in the Fun! Rules are on her blog…link above.

I had no idea where this was going, and I don’t think I got there!

It’s always hard to acquaint myself with someone I really want as a friend…and on the other hand, it’s easy for someone I don’t think I want as a friend to familiarize… rather quickly … themselves with me.

Am I a snob? I have to really be honest and say that at times, I am. There are certain qualifications I have at the top of my list for choosing a friend. Humorous, loyal, fun, and I want a friend who” gets me” and who I “get.”  Or is that whom? I don’t know and I don’t want my friend to know either. Maybe it’s more like I want my friend not to care. I especially want my friend not to point out any bad grammar, unless I’m asking for a proofread on my writing. No way do I want a friend to correct me when I’m speaking even when we’re alone. To correct me in front of others … most offensive and qualifies for a punch in the nose. There’s no right or wrong grammatical application to my fist flying into a part of the body. OK, I’d never do that, but I’d imagine it in full color.

So there I was at my “chosen” friend’s tea and book discussion. I tried hard to acquaint her with my amazing personality by commenting on how I once entertained royalty at a tea held in my home. It was a lie, but I  wanted her to have a complete realization about how many people…truly qualifiable people…enjoyed the way I told stories that lifted one into another world and could hold my own conversationally in any company. Her response wasn’t exactly what I desired.  I don’t think she believed me because it looked as if she was trying very hard to hold back laughter. When she asked me to name the royalty, I blubbered around a bit and came up with the “Earl of…  oh, what’s that kingdom’s name.”

So much for the hold on laughter…. and  embarrassed looks from several women.  I was avoided during the rest of the tea and whenever I tried to add to the discussion of the book of the month, someone interrupted.

Yet, there was this one lady.  She wasn’t much in the way of “fun to be with.” The entire tea, she hadn’t said a word. Just as  I was leaving, I felt her give my arm a gentle tug. She asked, with a straight face and seemingly in all sincerity, for advice on entertaining. royalty. She told me how impressed she was that I had entertained an Earl. I stared at her, waiting for a punch line, but none came.  My list of friend qualifications, aside, I asked her to come over on Saturday for lunch.

 

 

 

Girlhood ( after Billy Collins)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                   claras_dollhouse10

I’ve  always loved Billy Collin’s poetry. One of his poems, Boyhood, haunted me for a long time after I read it. It dawned on me that it brought back emotions related to my own childhood. I wrote the following poem for one of my MFA classes. I used a lot of Collin’s form and style. My critique group enjoyed it and gave me good feedback, but I never sent it off for publishing. Writing a poem after another poet is done in the poetry world as long as the poet gives note that it is “after” and then the poet’s name. I felt my poem was too similar to his, so I didn’t want to send it. However, I was looking through some of my old papers and there it was hidden beneath sheathes of free writes!  Again, it brought back feelings I’d left behind. It was as if I’d found an old friend.

I’ve decided to share it on my blog as a tribute to Billy Collins and as a tip for writers. It worked for me. and I hope others will find it a helpful tool in their writing toolbox. I was taught that it is a good thing for poets or writers in general to find a poet one likes and actually copy their style and form and even voice for while. I’ve done that with many poets I love. What I’ve found is that after awhile, I began to develop my own voice, my own style, and my own form of writing. Like I was taught…It’s Good Thing. So here’s my poem written after Billy Collins.

Girlhood
( After Billy Collins)
Leigh Mackelvey

I would lie beside my dollhouse in the attic
and level one eye against the largest window
to watch the plastic suited father sit downstairs

on the tiny sofa while the mother rocked
the pink-gowned girl in the  nursery upstairs,
an imaginary lullaby
filling and soothing the house
and me.

There was something about that time
before I reached my hand into the house
and moved the family
into other rooms.

It wasn’t the dishes the size of  my thumb,
unwashed in the pretend sink,
the miniscule posies on the nursery walls,

nor was it the sparkle of the silver-balled
evergreen on it’s round stand.
Not the orange glow of the battery-

lit logs in the wee fireplace.
What I wanted
was to be
calmed over and over

by that lullaby as I let it
drift slowly downstairs to the
father, then let it

melt  into
me
until there was
nothing left

but a softly sung song.

 

Now this is Billy Collin’s Poem! Much more gorgeous than mine.

BOYHOOD

Alone in the basement,
I would sometimes lower one eye
to the level of the narrow train track

to watch the puffing locomotive
pull the cars around a curve
then bear down on me with its dazzling eye.

What was in those moments
before I lifted my head and let the train
go rocking by under my nose?

I remember not caring much
about the fake grass or the buildings
that made up the miniature town.

The same went for the station and its master,
the crossing gates and flashing lights,
the milk car, the pencil-size logs,

the metallic men and women,
the dangling water tower,
and the round mirror for a pond.

All I wanted was to be blinded
over and over by this shaking light
as the train stuck fast to its oval course.

Or better still, to close my eyes,
to stay there on the cold narrow rails
and let the train tunnel through me

the way it tunneled through the mountain
painted the color of rock,
and then there would be nothing

but the long whistling through the dark –
no basement, no boy,
no everlasting summer afternoon.

— Billy Collins, past poet laureate USA

 

 

 

Widow To Sin or Die

Her husband has abused her for the last time and left. He meant to leave her alone with her scars, bruises, hurt and pain. But Geeta is not alone. She faces a struggle to survive and stay faithful to her Christian faith. Yes, she was relieved she would no longer face his physical and mental abuse, but she was not prepared to face life in Asia where many widows and their children are left in despair with no means to earn or live with nothing. But Geeta was strong in Christ. He was her comforter, her guidance, her protection through everything and she knew He wouldn’t fail her. Gospel of Asia ministers to the thousands of widows and children in the regions of Asia. Watch her story on the video below and then find out more how GPA reaches out to her and other women and how you can help too by clicking the link. Prayers are needed!

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Watch the video of Geeta’s story

http://youtu.be/mQ5wa3Hgf2Q

Find out more about ministry to widows and abandoned children:

http://www.gfa.org/ministries/widows-abandoned-children/

On Writing: Revision is Good for the Soul

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REVISION IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL

“This morning I took the hyphen out of Hell-bound and this afternoon I put it back.”

                                   –Edwin Arlington Robinson

 

THE ART OF WRITING IS THIS SIMPLE, YET THIS HARD:

You have to get the words right. EASY? HARD.   Right?

In order to get the words right, revision must become an integral part of your writing process. Experienced writers understand that writing is not all luck and talent. The turning of early drafts into worthy works requires a certain power. The power that lifts those early drafts off your desk and raises them into published poems or best-selling books is …you guessed it…revision.

I love the definition of revision that was given to me by a writer I admire. I’m sure he got it from another successful writer. He told me that revision is re-seeing. It’s taking a new look at your work and trying to see it a different way. It’s seeing the problems and solving them. It’s taking a good page of prose or a stanza (for poets) and seeing it better. Do you want to start with that first paragraph or do you want to start with the third paragraph instead. The first paragraph is well written, but is it necessary? Maybe it was good for the scaffolding of the piece, but can it be torn down now because the real structure begins with the third paragraph? You needed the scaffold in order to build. Just like the scaffolding you see around houses or buildings. When the house is ready to be sold, the scaffolding is torn down. The scaffolding of your writing was necessary, but go ahead and tear it down to make the writing a finished product.

I find it hard to eliminate words or paragraphs or even whole parts of my writing.  I’m primarily a poet. When I ask someone to give me constructive feedback of a poem I’ve written, I cringe when they suggest that I really don’t need that first stanza or that extra word in the second stanza. I don’t think  writers really enjoy getting suggestions of change, but we know critique is critical. You take the feedback with you back to the revision table and weigh it by re-seeing your writing as you use the feedback. Does it help or not? It’s the writer who, after trying out the feedback, decides…not that fabulous person who was so kind to read your work and give you suggestions. It is always great when you can find someone you trust who is willing to read and give suggestions and I always thank them. Most of the time I see that they were right, thus making my poem more powerful or more lyrical or clearer than it was.

It’s okay to revise as you write. Unless…you’re freewriting first. Freewriting is for jotting down all your thoughts and words without stopping to revise. I free-write using pen and paper, not the computer. I will post about freewriting another time, but just briefly this: My bachelor’s degree and teaching certification is in Special Education. Many of my students have learning disabilities. I was trained in the left brain/right brain functions. I learned a technique that calls for a student using the right hand (of left, depending) to stand before the chalkboard or white board and write circles, then letters by taking the chalk (marker) reaching from left to right or vice versa. The point of this is that something in the motion of writing using your hand and arm causes stronger, more creative writing to occur. It acts on the language portion of your brain and strengthens it. So when I free-write using pen and paper, I am somehow subconsciously strengthening language and creativity. I will revise or write my first draft on the computer.

Lots of writers think awhile before they start. This is where revision occurs before words are written. By thinking, the writer is trying out lines and paragraphs in their heads. They think while they lift weights, wash the dishes, read books or talk to friends. They gain and throw-out ideas and structure before they even write one word. This is the also a part of the revision process. I do this, but I also do it after I have written a first draft. I wait for a few days or even a week by putting aside my draft. I continue to revise in my head while doing daily chores. Sometimes something wonderful in the way of language comes while I’m making my bed!

“I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first draft. But I’m one of world’s great rewriters.”      -James Michener

How many times does one revise? I know writers who revise at least 15-20 times before they are satisfied. I don’t have the patience, but I’m working on it.  If you have a beauty of a first draft, maybe you don’t need to make a lot or any revisions. But you need to at least re-see your work. It’s also best to find someone you can trust to read and give feedback. Perhaps it’s not going to be a family member. Sometimes family will look at what you’ve done, and love it every time because they love you. If you know a writer you respect and admire, maybe you can partner up and read each other’s work. A writing group is a great way to become a member of a writing community weekly or monthly. You will learn to know who in your group will give valuable critique and to filter out.

“There are days when the result is so bad that no fewer than five revisions are required. In contrast, when I’m greatly inspired, only four revisions are needed.”     -John Kenneth Galbraith

Hemingway: I rewrote the ending to Farewell to Arms 39. The last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.
Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had you stumped?
Hemingway: Getting the words right.

Yes, it’s that simple, yet, that hard.

Following are some things to consider when revising a piece.(adapted from Writing True  by Sondra Perl and Mimi Schwartz)

*Adjust the Voice: Read your piece aloud to detect an inconsistent or unconvincing voice.
*Face the dragon: Is there a dragon, a conflict, a critical revelation, that you’re avoiding Do you skirt around the central issue instead of facing it?Have you tacked on a happy ending rather than clos with a truer sense of ambivalence or argument
Sharpen the focus: Does your piece have a central focus, or does it split into fragments. What is the is piece really about?
*Tune your language: look for clichés and truisms and reach for fresh, originals ways of saying what you mean.
*Write for your toughest reader: Imagine a reader who is discerning but fair, curious and rigorous. (I have been told that when you think of whom your audience will be imagine that they are a least as intelligent you are—this from me, not the authors above.)
*Copy-Edit with care: use spell check or have someone proofread. Pay attention to subject/verb agreement, correct punctuation. This line-by –line editing should come after more substantial revision is finished. 

Advise to writers from George Orwell (From Politics and the English Language)

*Never use a metaphor, simile. or other figurative of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

*Never use a long word where a short one will suffice.

*If it is possible to cut a word out, cut it out.

*Never us a passive where you can use the active.

* Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

*Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

*Never use a metaphor, simile. or other figurative of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

*Never use a long word where a short one will suffice.

*If it is possible to cut a word out, cut it out.

*Never us a passive where you can use the active.

* Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

*Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Finally, learn to enjoy the revision process. Writing is a process. There is much research among scholars on exactly how we process our writing. Learn what works best for you, what gives you the most satisfaction while writing and leaves with a “knowing” that you have created, in fact, MADE something creative. Writing is a made thing, just like a painting is made by an artist,  pottery is made by a potter or a house is built by a contractor. It never “just happens”, does it? Well, it doesn’t for me. We discover tools to use when we make our writing. Best of all, we discover ourselves through our writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hunt

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The Hunt

He follows the trail of scents. He was trained to discover drugs, bodies, and just about everything that needs discovery. His sense of smell is at least 100% stronger than a human being, this canine police dog. Reggie is given a one cent copper penny to take in and remember as dogs can only do, and sent on the trial. This time he is looking for a body. He begins slow, then stops. Looks back at his handler, Tom, for reassurance. Tom nods, says “ Go ahead Reg, you got it , boy.” Reggie turns in a circle, then runs on. Every once in a while the conscientious dog slows down, paws at the ground, then cocks his head as if to say, “nope, not here,” and starts back on the trail with his nose to the ground. The soil smells different as he moves on to new places. Smells that a human can’t distinguish from one to another. The woods are ahead. He whiffs the scent of the wood’s soil, and begins to whimper. Though his whimpering tells Tom that Reggie know what’s ahead and it may not be good, the dog to runs hard through the trees. He is a pack dog and will work for his pack until the work has been done. Reggie is whining and running faster than ever as Tom tries to keep up. Reggie runs straight up against a large tree. Pennies are scattered as if someone spilled a bottle of pills and left them as a clue of suicide. This was no suicide. Reggie stops, paws the ground and uncovers a few more coins. He Is calm now and runs around to the other side and stops.Tom peers around to see a small child under its leaves. The child is breathing, alive. The pennies from his pocket had spilt when the kidnapper had knocked him around and left him for dead. Tom called for an ambulance and sat by the child. Reggie curled up beside him and Tom hugged him and praised his great work. Reggies’s pack was happy; Reggie was happy. Tom fingers the cross he wears around his neck, looks at the one attached to Reggie’s collar. He was reminded to give a special thanks.

Please Join us every Saturday for the Stream od consciousness prompt. Linda puts  the prompt and the directions on her blog on Fridays!

http://lindaghill.com/2014/11/28/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-november-2914/.  This week’s prompt is sense/scents/cents/sent.