Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Receiver/Responder

I mentioned in my post last week that I found my "gratitude meter". Thankfulness raised the volume on my awareness that all we have in this life is gift. This in mind, I finished Bill Hybels' book, The Power of a Whisper, and got a shout. 

This week, I have seen the beauty of a tree whipped in a windstorm, sunlight sparkle the face of the river, a full moon melt the darkness, and a baby's cooing antics. Rev. Hybels talks about not just hearing God but responding. When we receive a gift from a friend, our desire is to respond. Sometimes all that's required is a simple thank you, but if the friend needs something, it would be harsh to smile and say, "Have a good day." 

I'm active in prison ministry, going into the jail every week. I see the plight of the underdog and abused, the just and the unjust, both by family and the judicial system. I've been resting in the knowledge of my role as volunteer, patting myself on the back. But in the book of Matthew (25:14-23), Jesus tells us to those who have been handed a small amount, more will be given. A BIG SHOUT HERE: he's not talking about more money, but more responsibilities. God is nudging me to get up and serve. 
For those who have guts, let them readThe Power of a Whisperwww.billhybels.org/resources.asp

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Humming My Frequency

Last week I publicly challenged myself to ask God daily to whisper in my ear. Asking Almighty God to speak to me everyday seems a bit presumptuous or needy. Of course I know we all need God in our daily lives, but I'm no Isaiah, and frankly, I don’t want the job. Prophets are unpopular and never make the bestsellers list.

Reading Bill Hybels’ book, The Power of a Whisper, www.billhybels.org/resources.asp he suggests that God wants a personal everyday relationship where we dialogue with God and expect to be answered. Being more in tune this week, I realized, I received whispers, but I left my gratitude meter in the closet. I hauled it out and dusted it off. To my surprise, the volume rose as my attitude took a one-eighty to the right. Looking at my circumstances through grateful eyes makes every day a blessing. Even in the hard places, the Rock sings to me.

My Mom grew up when telephones were uncommon and required party lines and an operator to transmit. Around the age of ten, I received a transistor radio for Christmas. This little miracle (about the size of 3 decks of cards and weighing a pound) could be held right in the palm of your hand. Mom was fascinated.

I remember a conversation with her after the advent of microwaves and satellite TV, she marveled at the idea of invisible waves that transmit so many different technologies we take for granted. “Think of all the invisible waves that pass by unseen to our eyes.” She was right.


Why doubt Mom now? I’m convicted. I need to create the right device inside me, to receive God’s wavelength. Prayer and gratitude are the starting point. How about you?  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

God Whispers

I'm reading a book called, The Power of a Whisper, by Bill Hybels, a well known pastor and author of a plethora of inspirational texts. This powerful book cultivates the idea that the Christian God is personal and wants to be involved in every aspect of our lives. Bill gives extensive examples how God communicates to us in a variety of ways when we daily stop, ask, and listen.

The idea of God talking to me is not news. I've been on his wave length more than once in my life. The notion of hearing God is a strange concept for my husband of forty years. He glances over the rim of his glasses with a wary look when I assure him that the thought I awoke with was inspired, or the niggling to call someone I haven't talked to in twenty years is a God thing. However, the concept of daily asking God to speak and intentionally listening is a fresh thought for me.

My first faith teaching came from my mom. Her story of a middle-of-the-night visit from God filled me with wonder. After ten years of marriage, she had not conceived and was devastated. Mom loved to tell how God spoke as my father snored. "Don't be downhearted, Lois, you're going to have children." Nine months later my brother was born. I never doubted Mom.

Many times I've wanted a clear voice to pierce the darkness, but I've never experienced anything so dramatic. Like the Bible story of Elijah on the mountain (1 Kings 19), God usually comes to me as "a still small voice", one that needs to be discerned as His or the cacophony in my head. Many times God whispers to me through scripture reading, an inaudible ah-ah thought, and several times he's revealed himself through dreams.

How about you? Has God whispered a word of assurance, a word of warning, or nudged you into action? I'm going to take the next few weeks to cultivate some quiet space and ask God to whisper to me. I'll be sharing my experience along with more about Bill Hybels', The Power of a Whisperwww.billhybels.org/resources.asp


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Celebrating Life

It’s been awhile since I indulged my blog. This past summer, I visited family in Michigan and Arizona. July was busy with a Leisure Learning writing course at McNeese State that spurred my creative juices. In between I researched markets and contests, learning Duotrope idiosyncrasies and submitting some short fiction pieces.

I’ve written before that I’m time challenged. For those of you who have an orderly mind, it’s a gift. For the rest of us, time is slippery. Today, as I wrote the date in my journal—Aug. 20th, it hit me in the face. It’s our son, Clay’s, birthday. He would be thirty-seven.

I do remember that hot August in ’77. My mom and mother-in-law both traveled from Michigan to take care of our three-year-old son and me after the baby’s birth. There was a huge rain storm that week, and I recall watching a man paddle a canoe down our street while I stood at the window and watched, cradling Clay. Our first flood together.

There were other storms: twenty-some stitches down an arm after scaling a chain link fence, broken down cars, no date for the prom, the only grade below A in typing, normal life with a sensitive over-achiever.

Twenty-three-years old, Clay lived and worked in Houston for only a few months before the city was devastated by a massive flood. I remember anxiously watching scenes on TV of highway underpasses clogged with water. A familiar ten lane freeway reduced to a drainage ditch. Clay survived the high water, but a few weeks later we were summoned to Houston for another storm.

Encephalitis was the diagnosis, but with no known cause. The doctors treated the symptoms for 2 ½ months before we were forced to concede. His flood was over.

It’s been 13 years – where does time go? Many good memories packed away, many life experiences richer. Thank you, Clay. Happy Birthday. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Cuban Missile Crisis

Where were you October 1962? I was in the third grade - almost 9 years old when Kennedy went toe to toe with Russia's Prime Minister Khrushchev. A few nights ago, I watched a PBS presentation, The Man Who Saved The World. It seems a Russian submarine commander refused to go along with his comrades. It took three keys to program and fire a nuclear missile aboard the subs prowling the waters off the coast of Cuba. The commander spurned the idea. 

It would be many years before the truth concerning the sub’s nuclear capabilities were acknowledged by the Russians. Loaded for bear with atomic warheads the Russians were ready to do battle, while the oblivious American Navy threw depth charges trying to force the subs into submission. One missile would have taken out the U.S. Naval fleet poised in the Gulf. This act of war would have Kennedy launch atomic weapons pointed toward Russia and visa-verse. 

I admit I can't remember much. My poor memory necessitates my being a fiction writer. We lie. However, I do remember the "fall-out shelter" born in our shallow basement as fear melded my mother's heart. Each week a few cans and provisions were added to the larder in our cellar. A first aid kit, jugs of water, but what set our bomb-shelter apart, we had a Geiger counter. 

Purchased through a magazine offer, the 10" square box had a plastic hose running from one side with a metal wand supposedly used to detect radiation. The face of the box sported a V-shaped window. When the switch was on a red pointer flipped from one side and back, indicating the battery was good. No one knew exactly how to use it. Of course, there was no way to test, and if it didn't work, there was no getting your money back. For the longest time we weren't allowed to touch "the box". But as I got older, I remember sneaking down the cellar with friends, pointing the wand and making guttural sounds, going crazy with radiation beams wafting from the lone window, and falling down convulsively. Poor Mom.
I wonder how her fears affected a third grader, and then I remember my report card from 4th grade. It showed I gained 60 lbs. in one year. That's another whole kid.
Bun candy bars aside, I think it was the radiation.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

At the Blog Hop

Sounds like a 50's tune with a millennium twist. Thanks goes to my friend Linda Todd, "Incurable Itch of LF Todd"  http://lindaheberttodd.blogspot.com, who tagged me to answer some questions that burn in the minds of my readers...

Questions:

1.  What am I working on? 

I'm putting together a query package for a children's book I wrote a few years ago and just recently revised, Al-lee Alligator and the Big Fat Lie. This is a step away from novel writing which is what I wanted. Short fiction seems like a relief after writing two novels. In this process my creative juices have spawned some fresh poetry and a flash fiction idea.

2.  How does my work differ from others in my genre?

That's a trick question. I attempt to write my thoughts, my voice. As writers we're told over and over to be unique, but publishers really don't want too different. It's a tightrope that I'm trying to learn while juggling quirky. Unfortunately, my chartreuse tights keep falling to my cankles.

3.  Why do I write what I do?

It is impossible for me NOT to write. It is what makes me happy, solid, human. Writing is a gift, and I follow my heart.

4.  What is my writing process?

The process differs depending on the genre. I love poetry. It usually surfaces when I'm at my most creative. Always in longhand first. Short story ideas I write down the bones longhand, then head to the word processor to fill out, cut and paste. Novels are another world. Lots of Post-its and scratch paper before I get out the newsprint sketch pad. I plot scenes and organize while I jot character dialogue longhand. I'm trying to learn to write fast and revise after, but I'm a sick perfectionist that has a hard time ignoring even the red lined spelling errors. I'm hoping the third time is the charm. There's a mystery jangling around my head, or is that the ice cream truck?

Sorry for my slow response. I'm in the process of creating a new website! www.chrisbaldauf.com
Improvements are forthcoming as I figure out where I left my tights.


Next on the BLOG HOP check out another member of the Bayou Writer Group - Peggy Borel at  www.peggyaborel.com/BLOG "Aspire to Inspire."

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Frozen Kingdom

Recently, freezing rain shocked our south Louisiana sensibilities. As I sat warm in my living room, I watched some brown finches duck under a leafy green bush near the porch to escape the icy drizzle. While I pondered the small birds plight, white accumulated on the wood planks of our wharf. Mist rose from the chilled river in buffs that scurried across the ripples from the North Wind's breath.
Twice in sunny weather, I've spotted a bald eagle taking flight from the trees on the far bank. It prompted me to write this poem:

Frozen Kingdom

Where is the eagle?
Where does he roost in an unlikely storm?
The sparrow hops beneath the evergreen,
but not his majesty.
No cover for the king, whose wings require space.
Free to rise above his realm—
glide the frozen pathways of the wind.

Around 10am, hoping to glean some warmth through osmosis and a familiar laugh, I called my aunt in Phoenix. As we spoke I looked out the window and perched on a dead pine, 150 feet in the air sat my eagle. I ran to get the binoculars. This is my third sighting and the first time I've seen him perched. His backside towards me, he glance over his shoulder to reveal that magestic white head and hooked beak, and I saw his eye close. From this direction, I'm not sure if he was blinking or if that was a wink, but with that he took wing and was gone.
What a writing prompt—what motivates you?