Category Archives: Creative Writing

4 AM Thoughts: Light against Darkness

Soaking myself in gospel-centered books (like “Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full” that I have been reading lately) is helping teach me to look at my life through a gospel lens.

Last night around 4 AM, as I was trying to get back to sleep, letting thoughts spin around in my head, this thought occurred to me–really, a perspective change, a rearranging of ideas that I needed: How can my particular kind of suffering act as vessel for God’s redemptive work to shine through?

It really stopped me in my tracks. I obviously haven’t been doing a good job of shining lately in my particular circumstances.

But then again, that’s the point.

Where does God OUTshine me in this? That is really the question I should be asking–for ALL of life that goes wrong. How does God outshine this? How does the person of God shine out against the background of our circumstances? How or why or where can we place our hope in Him instead of in our circumstances?


 

Trying out some of my 4 AM thinking–this is going to take some practice.

Tonight as I listen to the sound of my overtired, refluxy baby as my husband holds him, I remember that God holds us in our storms, too.

That’s the best I got.


 
There are two struggles that I have related to BJ’s hard times at night. One, I have always struggled to believe God cares about little details in life. That struggle comes straight up to front and center when BJ can’t get to sleep.
 
Two, I struggle to believe God will take care of M for me when I am too sleep deprived to take care of him. This is very hard to say and leaves me very broken. One of my other lifelong fears has been that if I ever became a mother, I would absolutely screw up my kids. When I got pregnant with M, that struggle came to front and center and since he was born
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Careers

Careers I Could’ve Pursued If I’d Only Known:

-Counseling

-Home decorating

-Scientific research

-Preschool teacher

I was a florist before I was a stay-at-home mom. I’m so glad I got a chance to do something creative like that.  Maybe one day I’ll go back.

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Ashes and Gold Statues

(Things to note down and elaborate on later.)

Flowers between the cracks

Broken vessels

Life from the ashes

Stained glass windows

Jars of clay

Seedling

Flower in rain

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Filed under Nonfiction, Writing Prompt

Rewriting that Testimony – RD3

Most testimonies are conversion stories.  Having grown up in church, I don’t really have a conversion story.  I do, however, have stories of how my faith has changed over my life.  The most dramatic change happened in college.

Growing up, even though I attended church, I didn’t know what faith or grace were.  I only knew that there were things you did, and things you didn’t do, and they put you in one of two camps: saved or not saved.  It wasn’t until I was 17 that I got my first inkling that there was more to Christianity than rules.

I was always hungry to know more about faith, and went to a Christian college partly to dig into it.  I expected going to a Christian college to help me define my faith more.  But instead, it blurred everything.  Instead, I was sent on a downward spiral that I can trace through classes and professors.  My professors had told me, in so many words, that Christianity was really just one of many ways humans design to get closer to God.  This shook and shattered me, because if there was one thing I absolutely knew about Christianity, it was that it was exclusive and that it was real, not just a construct. But I trusted my professors’ word as I did any authority figure or mentor.  What they said had to be true. Everything I had ever been told or believed was a lie.

It was in this place that I met my future husband.

In a place where I wasn’t even sure if God existed or if Christianity was real, I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that God had brought me S and that I was going to marry him.

Our dating was lightning fast, our engagement swung madly between blissful and dreadful.  So many of our conversations were fights, because an angry young woman trying to burn bridges with the world was deeply aching for a lasting relationship.  Because a young woman who wanted to throw Christ in God’s face was desperately looking for reasons to hold on to Him.

Toward the end of our engagement, we had a particularly brutal, at least for me, session of premarital counseling. Our counselor was a pastor from a church S used to attend. He was a stranger to me and I had no desire whatsoever to open up to him about my spiritual state.  I threw up as many hedges and walls and deflections about it as I could muster.  The pastor obliterated them.  He shoved them all aside and demanded to know point-blank if I believed in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for my sins.  It had been years since I’d cried about my spiritual bankruptcy.  Sobbing, I said, “Yes.”

It was all I had.

But I had thought I had nothing.

And somehow I still had Christ; or rather, He had me.

He had me.

College had destroyed what faith I had.  But in the way things happened with S, God showed me that He was still at work.  Because of that, deciding to marry Stephen wasn’t so much a self-determined proclamation that S and I would “make it work” no matter what, as it was a quiet statement that, yes, I did believe God was still at work, even in the middle of the darkest spiritual night I’d ever seen.  I did still believe He was real, somewhere on a level I didn’t even know existed before He brought me there.  It reminds me of Psalm 139.

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”

Psalm 139:7-12

Our marriage for the first 3-4 years basically consisted of me rebuilding my faith from the ground up.  I did it very slowly, deliberately, and analytically, weighing every brick separately many, many times, before finally deciding to plaster on the cement and press the brick in.

By 2012, I had planted enough bricks for a foundation.  And this was the foundation: Christ was sacrificed in my place as an atonement for my sins, so that I can stand before and dwell within the presence of a holy God.  Nothing intrinsic to myself led God to do this for me.  It was purely His grace and mercy.  “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Exodus 33:19

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Rewriting That Testimony – RD2

I grew up in church, but I didn’t know what faith or grace were.  I only knew that there were things you did, and things you didn’t do, and they put you in one of two camps: saved or not saved.  It wasn’t until I was 17 that I got my first inkling that there was more to Christianity than rules.

I was always hungry to know more about faith, and went to a Christian college to dig into it.  I expected it to help me define my faith more.  But instead, it blurred everything.  Instead, I was sent on a downward spiral that I can trace through classes and professors.  My professors had told me, in so many words, that Christianity was really just one of many ways humans design to get closer to God.  This shook and shattered me, because if there was one thing I absolutely knew about Christianity, it was that it was exclusive and that it was real, not just a construct. But I trusted my professors’ word as I did any authority figure or mentor.  What they said had to be true. Everything I had ever been told or believed was a lie.

It was in this place that I met my future husband.

[Pause for dramatic effect.  Actually, I just always get stuck there because what comes next is so weird to write in a testimony.]

In a place where I wasn’t even sure if God existed or if Christianity was real, I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that God had brought me S and that I was going to marry him.

[Another pause here, because remembering this always serves as a huge blow to my pride.  Everything leading up to this point, I always seem to be find myself feeling, Look at the trials I suffered through at the hands of {my college}.  Shame on them! How dare they! Make war on Christian liars! And then I get to this part, admitting the undeniable and that entire feeling evaporates into shame and humility.]

Of all the ways to bring me back, God chose the one thing I had always craved. A loving, stable relationship.

Our dating was lightning fast, our engagement swung madly between blissful and dreadful.  So many of our conversations were fights, because an angry young woman trying to burn bridges with the world was deeply aching for a lasting relationship.  Because a young woman who wanted to throw Christ in God’s face was desperately looking for reasons to hold on to Him.

Toward the end of our engagement, we had a particularly brutal, at least for me, session of premarital counseling. Our counselor was a pastor from a church S used to attend.  He was a stranger to me and I had no desire whatsoever to open up to him about my spiritual state.  I threw up as many hedges and walls and deflections about it as I could muster.  The pastor obliterated them.  He shoved them all aside and demanded to know point-blank if I believed in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for my sins.  It had been years since I’d cried about my spiritual bankruptcy.  Sobbing, I said, “Yes.”

It was all I had.

But I had thought I had nothing.

And somehow I still had Christ; or rather, He had me.

He had me.

College had destroyed what faith I had.  But in the way things happened with Stephen, God showed me that He was still at work.  Because of that, deciding to marry Stephen wasn’t so much a self-determined proclamation that S and I would “make it work” no matter what, as it was a quiet statement that, yes, I did believe God was still at work, even in the middle of the darkest spiritual night I’d ever seen.  I did still believe He was real, somewhere on a level I didn’t even know existed before He brought me there.  It reminds me of Psalm 139.

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”

Psalm 139:7-12

Our marriage for the first 3-4 years basically consisted of me rebuilding my faith from the ground up.  I did it very slowly, deliberately, and analytically, weighing every brick separately many, many times, before finally deciding to plaster on the cement and press the brick in.

By 2012, I had planted enough bricks for a foundation.  And this was the foundation: Christ was sacrificed in my place as an atonement for my sins, so that I can stand before and dwell within the presence of a holy God.  Nothing intrinsic to myself led God to do this for me.  It was purely His grace and mercy.  “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Exodus 33:19

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Sometimes Your Son Hits His Head

Sometimes your son smacks his head on a kitchen drawer and it’s your fault and you’ve had such a hard couple of days that when he cries all you can do is sob with him.

Sometimes you’re astonished and thankful to remember a pitcher of cucumber-infused water sitting in the fridge this week, because that’s just what you need to control the swelling bump.

Sometimes you hold a washcloth to his head, still sobbing while he sobs.

Sometimes you realize you have to pull yourself together because your crying is making him panic, and you know from experience that crying hard creates heat, which makes you feel worse when you’re hurt.

Sometimes all you can think of is that you were watching a Daniel Tiger episode on asking for help when you’re frustrated, and it burns because that is supposed to apply to grown-ups, too.

Sometimes you let him have a binky when it’s not night-night time.

Sometimes you breathe, “It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.” to calm both of you down.

Sometime you sit with a tear-streaked face, rocking your son gently, thanking God that your son isn’t panicking anymore and that you’re holding much steadier than you should be able to.

Sometimes you marvel that your son wants to be in your arms even though your impatience is what got him hurt.

Sometimes you remember why you’ll never ever give up on God, even in the middle of a dark week, because you feel Him there in the worst of it.

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Filed under Creative Writing, journaling, Nonfiction

Pen Names

Heidi Weston

Dani Winchester

Dana Winchester

Diane Winchester

Kate Spanner

Rebekah Stein

 

TXTSTORY idea:

Favorite author’s last name + street where you grew up

 

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