Five Minute Friday: Secret #FMF

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My almost-five-year-old is still figuring out her groove with the swing.  When do you bend your legs and when do you straighten them?  How do you go higher?  If I make a face like this, will it help?  What is the secret?!

When we’re learning something new, it will take some time to figure out how to do it, how to do it well and how to do it in our own way.  I know I felt like this when I came to the missions field.  I felt pressure to be as extroverted as my teammates but after a few years I discovered something: I had to learn how to serve the Lord in the way that He had created me and gifted me.

Growing as a writer is the same.  How does the Lord want me to communicate what He’s putting on my heart?  How does He want me to use the unique gifts and life circumstances He’s given me to write?  How can I remain true to myself and God as I pursue this new journey?


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Emily is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author who loves talking to writers about writing.

Click here to save your spot for Tuesday night’s free masterclass!

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Day 22: Light #write31days

There was minimal lighting in my Mom’s room in palliative care.  With the curtains open and the overhead light on, you would still need the light in the corner to satisfy Mom’s light quota for reading.  There was one more light in the other corner but it couldn’t be plugged in for the last month of my Mom’s life.  The electrical socket now was employed by the alarm for her bed if she fell off the bed or stood up without assistance.  It was a loud and stark reminder of Mom’s decline.  And the lack of light was both troublesome and sad every time Mom asked for more light.

Mom also had a headlight, for night time when the nurses turned out her lights and if she couldn’t sleep and wanted to read or colour (yes, she had some lovely, therapeutic colouring books).

The world seems more dim without Mom.

Return to Thailand

We (the girls and I) arrived back in Thailand last night.  Those were some long flights with lots of crying (none from me this time, thank goodness!).  I am so glad to have that travel done with for now.  The Lord provided lots of help at just the right time.

The week and a half prior to flying back, my youngest was sick.  We had two visits to pediatric emergency and we’ve had lots of doses of medicine each day (including while we were flying, which proved tricky with considering multiple timezone changes).  
But I have fallen behind in my #write31days challenge.  So, here’s to jet lag and catching up on many things, including sleep (even though they say you can’t actually catch up on sleep).  Let’s hope this next season in life is filled with as much grace as ever and keeping our eyes on Him.  Let’s run with endurance this race marked out for us!

Day 16: Read #write31days

One of the ways that we spent time with Mom in the hospital and the palliative ward was reading to her.  She requested a long-time favourite of Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe stories (of Dave and Morley and family) and we continued to bring in all of his books.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with Stuart McLean but his stories of Dave and Morley invoke a lot of emotion.  Sometimes you find yourself nearly in tears but usually loud laughs would escape from your mouth (and heart!) before you could even stop it (but why would you want to?).  Sometimes Mom would start laughing so hard that it would bring on a coughing/asthma fit and it would take her a while to catch her breath.  But she would say it was worth it.

Of course we read other books or passages of Scripture to her, but Vinyl Cafe stories were the main staple.  Oh the joy they gave my Mom!  Oh the spirits that were lifted!  Oh the gift of stories and silliness and laughter in such a dark period and place!

Day 14: Try #write31days

In Mom’s last month of life, after she had recovered from a very low point at the end of August, she kept saying something that made me cringe inside.  “I’m working on getting better.”

I mean, I appreciated that she was trying to voice a desire to heal, to improve, to have more energy, to be able to eat better, to maybe even walk again, but the reality was that she wasn’t getting better.  She was dying.  We all knew it.  She understood it.  And yet she would say periodically that she was trying to get better.

My heart would crumble with feelings of sadness and love and a desire for my Mom to not have to say those words.  I longed for a different ending to her story.  I longed for my Mom to feel that she didn’t have to please us – her daughters and sisters.

Day 13: Invite #write31days

“May I sit up there with you?” I asked my Mom.  She moved the pillow from beside her and I took my shoes off and shifted my way up on her hospital bed until we were sitting side by side.  We locked arms and we tilted our heads until they were touching and we lay back against the propped up bed and closed our eyes and rested.  A PSW came in to change the garbage and sweetly commented about the two of us and asked if I wanted a picture of us.  Of course I said, yes.

A little while later, after another ten or fifteen minutes, Mom started rummaging in her table drawer.  She produced a large Dairy Milk chocolate bar.  She pulled over the tissue box and grabbed one for my lap and then hers.  And finally, she broke off a square of the chocolate and put it on the tissue on my lap.  “Cheers,” she said as she touched her square with mine.

Day 12: Write #write31days

I had really hoped that Mom would write down her life story.

As a small child, she would recount stories of when she was a little girl growing up in Truro, Nova Scotia and then in St. John’s, Newfoundland.  She shared harrowing tales of playing in the river where there would be a tidal bore – and how did she ever survive her childhood?! – and of picking up elephant dung from the circus that was temporarily set up in the field across from her house on Culback St.  She also told stories of segregation in her primary school and when it was that she realised there were different water fountains and bathrooms for different children depending on their race.  She had wondered as a small child, “where is that little girl going when the bathroom is right here?”

I know there were painful memories too.  Like when her mother died at such a young age.  Did those memories prevent her from writing down her story?

In sorting through her things in her house, I discovered a book that is meant to be used to help you write your life story.  So I know the idea of it wasn’t too far field.

In the last few weeks, I’ve also discovered bits of her writings in notepads, or journals or sometimes just scribbled on bits of paper.

A fragmented history.

Maybe someday pieced together.

Day 8: Truth #write31days

There were many truth things that my Mom said in her remaining months.  Some were serious, and some were totally out there.  Some caught me off-guard and some made me outright laugh.

Maybe a week or so before my Mom passed, I had been up visiting her and we had gone outside to enjoy the garden behind the hospital building.  After touring all the pathways, avoiding the goldenrod, and inspecting each plant that we would’ve normally passed by, we went up to the chapel on her floor and sat side by side in silence.  I gave her a hug, like a small child would their Mom, and she said, “You know… You and your sister aren’t so always great with your grammar.”  I couldn’t help to contain my laughter, and she simply said, “Well, it’s true!”

I will forever wonder if my sentence structure is correct and whether it’s supposed to be “me” or “I.”  My gentle grammatically correct Mom.

Day 4: Hope #write31days

“I remember after my Dad died,” I told a friend at the Mom’s Bible Fellowship this morning, “that the depression was so bad and it was so hard.  And I’m afraid of that happening again…”

I went on to tell her that I wanted my people back in Thailand to know that we will need support for the days ahead, and I can’t go back without that in place.  When we live in a small village, with few close friends nearby, I barely can think about going back.  But yet I know we have to go back.  And get on with life and live the life we feel called to live there.  And I know Mom would’ve wanted that. But it’s still hard to go back. And I desperately hope that my grief journey is different this time round.

I want to permit myself to feel what I need to feel as I grieve, but I really want to keep the perspective that I KNOW, without any doubt, that my Mom is in heaven rejoicing, is fully healed and is with Jesus for eternity.

Day 3: Create #write31days

My Mom created a community.  It became a combination of puppeteers, musicians, potters, neighbours, friends and family.  She was a calm force in the midst of it and was 100% unaware and unbelieving of how vital and life-giving her presence was in our lives.  She was smart, funny, thoughtful and was such a night owl that I knew I could not only Skype her from Thailand while I ate breakfast, but also while we ate lunch (if we really wanted to).

Sometimes the things we create are done with purpose and sometimes the lives we live creates something special without us actively trying.  Mom’s life did both.  She wanted unity in our family (and especially between my sister and me), but she also opened up pathways for deeper connections between her friends and her daughters that was like a by-product of how she lived her life.