Putting My Camera Down

An organization that I belong to holds a gathering every July at one of the member’s homes. Last weekend, it was in Pioneer, Ca, at the end of a mile-long gravel road where there is zero traffic and lots of space to roam. Or get lost.

The house had a deep wrap-around porch overlooking at least six garden rooms. I wanted to take more pictures, but the sun wasn’t cooperating and getting acquainted with the members’ spouses was more important.

I can go crazy photographing nature. Photographing nature can steal time from friends or listening to presentations or the heartbeats of another’s story.

I learned from one member’s spouse, an elderly lady, that they had five children and at present, 126 grandchildren. Imagine my response. She talked about the daughter they lost to a brain tumor when she was a young mother of two boys. The soft-spoken lady went on to tell me that one of her sons lives in the small community of Hughson (population currently under 10,000), close to where my husband and I grew up. I remember, as a little girl, going with my mother to the only grocery store there. I was around eleven or twelve when a cute teenage male bagger pushed our grocery cart to the car. I was walking in front of him when a gust of wind blew my circular skirt above my thighs. Already feeling awkward and homely in my gangly body, that unexpected act of nature left me mortified.

It’s good to listen and learn with our minds, and our hearts about another’s life. Everyone’s story matters. Story is the link that connects people. And you never know what memories of your own will creep up. (No pun intended.)

That evening, on the wrap-around porch, I received the story of an elderly woman with compassion and appreciation for the life she lived, grieved, and loved. I’m glad the sun wasn’t cooperating. I’m glad I put my camera down and instead sat with this woman to embrace her story.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25



Storytelling is Simple, but Writing…

Recently, I sat at one of the dining tables in my friend’s cozy B&B carriageway to discuss my sequel. Afterwards, she asked about my writing process: if my stories are composed at the computer or primarily longhand and if I sit down and start writing. I glanced sideways for a split second, thinking about storytelling. Looking back into my friend’s curious eyes and beautiful smile, I replied, “I write at the computer.”

She nodded and we moved on to another subject.

When I got home, I thought about how simple the process must have sounded. Storytelling is simple, but writing…well,

there are no keyboard strokes, mouse clicks or cursive exercises to make writing easy.

But, there is prayer. No matter how difficult a scene or an awkward sentence stumps me, prayer calms the anxiety within so I can hear the Holy Spirit deliver a solution.

God cares about every aspect of our lives.

He wants us to be the best we can to glorify Him through our endeavors. It’s through those diverse avenues and hard work that our faith and skills are oftentimes stretched. And boy, have my writing skills (and faith) been stretched.

After learning much about proper grammar usage, punctuation, sentence and paragraph length, befuddled sentences or sections, clarification, theme, tightening, plotting, twists, pacing, timeline and organization, point of view, hooks, transitions, dialogue and emotional tags, internal monologue, narrative flow, conflict, element of mystery and surprise, character creation, consistency and believability, fresh descriptions, setting, symbolism, clichés and repetitive usage, backstories, showing and telling, research, proofreading, and attending writing classes, workshops, webinars, finding a compatible critique partner and/or group, beta readers, and an editor followed by more rewrites…the writing process—and this is the short list—is catching up with the ease of storytelling. But it still isn’t as simple as sitting down and just writing.

Likewise, living a life for God isn’t always simple. But, if we stay on the right path, He gives us plenty of past victories to revisit, to encourage and keep us moving forward, assured that:

In time, our endeavors will be less challenging. Maybe even simple.