Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Story of Inspiration within an Aspiring Writer's Group.

Have you ever "signed on" to a commitment with just the'd give it a try and see what happens?  Starting in Spring of 2009, the writing group I co-lead with my partner and friend Linda B. was just that; Linda  had an inspiration, a challenge within her soul,  and she asked me to partner with her to form a writing group at our mutual home church, Chino Valley Community.  This is our story, a story of  RESTORATION, PURPOSE, STEADFASTNESS, STRENGTH, UNITY, VICTORY, MIRACLES and DESTINY brought forth in a tangible publication, "Christmas Inspirations."  

First, let me tell you a little about my friend, Linda.  A transplanted midwesterner, Linda attended San Diego State Univ, graduating summa cum laude with her degree in journalism in 1993.  It is there she met Gary, her husband.   Linda would go on to work as an Intern/Researcher for San Diego Home Garden and Lifestyles magazine where she continued to hone her skills as both a writer and editor.  After graduation she was promoted to Copy Editor/Proofreader.  She also had the opportunity to write the film column, special events, and restaurant reviews.

It was in 1979 when things took a turn for her.  Diagnosed with a intestinal condition called "Chronic Idiopathic Intestinal Pseudo-obstruction,  "I spent the next seven  years on total Parentral Nutrition and an additional three years on hydration therapy," writes Linda in our on-line quickie interview.  In layman's terms, she could not eat as others and her physical health  was very compromised. After gaining some stability, Linda suffered two major setbacks in which she came close to losing her life, once in 1995/96 and again after moving to Chino in 2000, a major setback in  2007/08.  Even though I had never met Linda; I was praying for her .  We shared a mutual friend, Cathy.   It is in this last block of time that I would hear her name through this  friend, a special person in both our lives,  who was ministering to both of us. I met Linda when she started coming to my small group.  By then, I was beginning to explore my own writing possibilities, expressing my grief (after loosing our son in Feb. of 2007)  and comfort from God in journaling and writing devotionals and stories for  I was only sharing with a few "safe" friends.  Linda had buried her idea of becoming a writer again, discouraged for many years with her illness,  God continued to bring miracles of survival to her life and she knew God was telling her, through many encouragements from our friend Cathy, that she had more of "her story" to tell, that God had a plan for her.  (Do you see God at work here?)  

Not long after our son passed away, we moved.  I quickly learned that my new friend Linda, her husband Gary and beloved dog, Kindu,  were neighbors.  One day, Linda approached me with a  crazy idea.  "Would you like to start a writing group with me at the church?"  

"A writing group?  Who would join?...most people like Bible Study on Wed. nights...

Yep, those were my thoughts...not really negative, not wholly positive...just well, OK...we will give this a try.  If anything, we will have put forth the effort to try something different.  So, Linda and I, with the blessing of our ministry director, Jan, added "Aspiring Writer's Forum" to the calendar of Chino Valley Comm. Church. on Wed. evenings.  August  2009, the table went up for Fall class sign-ups.  We were to meet in our church library, and Linda and I started to plan class outlines and writing exercises and purchase journals. To our amazement (and why are we so amazed at what God does...after all, He is God!), we had several sign-ups.  We would start each class after prayer with a thought provoking "journal question."  Usually this question had something to do with the previous Sunday's sermon.  Everyone journaled, and then we shared...well not every one at first...but as more became vulnerable and began to share...the unity and trust began. This is how the walls came down...the ground work began...the dirt sifted and the Trust framed up in a new restorative process through the lives of those special people who took the risk and signed on.  Each will tell you of their own reluctance to be in a class as this.  Each will tell you of the weeks each kept walking back in, amazed at what God was doing amongst us, each will tell you of the Joy this class has brought to their lives. Chino Valley Community Church's Aspiring Writer's Forum had a greater purpose than we could have ever imagined in those first few weeks.   

We wrote and self published a book in nine months!  The DNA of nine aspiring writers created a booklet of Advent Stories, one for each day of December, culminating in THE Christmas Story as told in Luke 2.  Christmas Inspirations began as a "Kingdom Assignment" : a challenge from our pulpit, to take something little,  whether it be money,  talent or just sheer will and GROW it for God's Glory and to serve others. (  After all classes took a break for the summer, we continued on, learning all we could about telling powerful stories, editing, --humbleness, graphics, art --and personal taste, about copyrights and public domain,  disappointments and new opportunities, about pagination, collating and book binding.  Through all this we prayed, and we kept evil far away.  

On Saturday, Oct. 16th, we came together for our final effort to bind this work of Love together--500 books.  Bringing the two binding machines to Irene's' house was someone else very important in this effort,  Mark, Cathy's husband. He  is a supervisor at a large industrial printing company.  While their company could not print our books for us, we decided the best way was to print on our copier at church in off hours, (with their blessing,  but not free).  Mark also helped us with a discount on paper.  Towards the end of summer, Mark had a very serious accident at work, nearly losing his hand. Without going into detail here, Mark never wavered on his effort to help us see our project to the end, despite his traumatic hand injury.  

"Christmas Inspirations" is now available for purchase.  The proceeds are designated for scholarships to  benefit children in our area to attend summer camp; this "Kingdom Assignment" now reaping the profit.  In these difficult economical times, we can see the multiplication of a "few loaves of bread  and some fish" and God's provision.  We are thankful and blessed.  Enjoy now the pictures of this effort and please, don't hesitate to purchase your own copy.  

P.S.  This September's sign-ups saw all original writers return plus we have added some new "rookies" to the mix. We  moved to a bigger classroom, the excitement looms  and although we are not ready to take on another project right now, we continue to encourage each other in our writing goals and inspire each other to their "writing destiny." 
working this summer at my house
Carl, the serious one, Rose, the college English prof and Irene, a world-wide missionary
Linda, our fearless leader, Gary, her sidekick husband, myself, and Kaela, are Hawaiian princess
Kaela and Barb, putting the back and front covers together.  

Carl,  our mid-term edition to our group, always inspiring!  
Mark, despite his mangled hand, working the hole punch machine.  
front cover and back cover, artwork by me!  

The "Double Wire O's" and the machine that "Binds"  Thank you L.G. for your effort here.  

This is L.G.  He is a new member this year and anxious to learn how to express himself in writing in English,  He is from China.  We had a lot of fun with idioms in the English language while working that afternoon.  

Linda, my partner and friend.  
Thank you Irene for your great hospitality and always positive attitude and wisdom.  
Cathy, responsible for bringing Linda and I together, Linda and Irene
Gary, carefully counting and packaging our books when complete.  

A Season of Harvest for both of us!  
Barb, our graphics expert.
Forty in each box, ready to sell  

Our group: new member L.G., Gary and Carl
Kaela, Rose, Julie, Linda, Barb, Coleene, supportive friends, Cathy and  Mark, missing member,  Sarah.  
Jesus says:  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matt. 11:28  ( NLT)

A Rooster Leads A Chorus, A Baby In The Womb Leaps For Joy,  Tears Reflect a Blessed Life, A Camel Is Missing In Action, Mice Create Music...Read These Stories And More in "Christmas Inspirations", An Advent Compilation Of Chino Valley Community Church's Aspiring Writer's Forum


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Timmy Day Thoughts and Words

Timmy's first Birthday
September 25, 2010 would have been my son Timmy, 30th birthday.  It has been 3 years, and 7 months since God took him to Heaven.  When I allow my mind to drift to those last days spent with my son, it truly could have been yesterday and then again sometimes it feels like a place in time I visited in another life.  It still is so surreal.  My husband and I have talked about this, and we both feel the same.

On his birthday, we take a day off--off school, off work, and we have "Timmy Day".  The three of us (Ted, Corey and I) leave town and spend a whole day or sometimes overnight together and have a nice meal, celebrating Tim and how God's grace sustains us.  We take a lot of pictures, have a "toast" and just have a good time.  It is something we now look forward to instead of regretting. 

This year, since "Timmy Day" fell on a Saturday, we took Friday off to work on the car, then left very early Saturday morning and drove up to San Francisco.  We didn't have anything specific planned.  We didn't have a lot of time.  We just were going to go, take in some different sights then the every day walls of our life, view some of God's creations in California, and maybe enjoy some clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl.  (mmmmm)...Well, down South where we live, it was the hottest day of the year, hitting 114 in Chino.  San Francisco...the most beautiful I can ever remember.  It is always overcast and cold.  Not this time.  Warm but pleasant and CLEAR!. Thank you God. 

                        View from our hotel

You may view my whole pictorial story on my Facebook page.  What I thought I would do here is something a little different.  There were many unique and fun  words we came across in our travels.  These words were posted on signs along our scenic route. These were words that are funny, words that are foreign, words we may not use in our every day speech.  Of course, with my journal always near, I jotted a few of these down, thinking maybe I could create something of interest from these words.  So here it goes, my attempt to inform and educate with the three I have picked here.   

CHUMASH  (Chew---mash).  No, this is not what you do with the crab. ...well maybe....  

The Chumash Indians were some of the first people to inhabit North America.  Evidence was found, showing that they have had settlements on the Channel Islands and Santa Monica Mountains as far back as thousands of years ago. 

I noticed many signs as we drove through the Santa Inez Valley, reminded of fourth graders and California Mission studies.  While reading on-line of their history and background, I came across something interesting our family could relate to. 

The Chumash had a rich spiritual heritage, most of which has been documented through their magnificent pictographs and petroglyphs, songs, dances, and legends.  The Chumash also enjoyed games and they often played against other tribes in friendly Shinny Hockey tournaments.  In addition of sports, the Chumash also gambled, having developed several variation of dice games. Gaming was as educational as it was entertaining, as it served to teach the young about diplomacy, ethics, and life skills.

In Timmy's later years, he loved to play Texas Hold'um.  I am thankful for this because he developed a bond with several of my husband's friends and it distracted him from his daily pain.  The Chumash Indians "blogged", played sports and knew their Creator from observing nature. word

Artichoke  I remember every once in a while, my mom would boil my dad some Artichokes.  What a wierd, strange vegetable.  My dad just loved them.  He would peel off each leaf and dip it into the melted butter and scrape the "meat" as he called it,  off the back of the leaf with his teeth.  To me it was messy and disgusting.  Today, what's one of my favorite things?  Artichoke spinach dip...and I also have a great recipe for artickoke/spinach pizza.  In our travels around the outskirts of San Francisco, driving towards Santa Cruz were fields and fields of artichokes.  In my research I found out, Artichokes have their own ...


Did you know the artichoke is a "thistle"...a weed?   Isn't it amazing with careful consideration,   planning and  patience,  how a weed can turn into something sustaining, something that brings nutrtion and purpose?  Isn't that just a picture of what God does with us?  When we get into the "meat" of what  God has to tell us, we just may find it delicious and satisfying. 

The Dutch introduced artichokes to England, where they grew in Henry VIII's garden at Newhall in 1530. They were brought to the United States in the 19th century, to Louisiana by French immigrants and to California by Spanish immigrants. The name has originated from the Arabic al-kharshof, through a Northern Italian dialect word, articiocco.[7]

California Crops

Slough   (slow)  -noun,  Def.:  1.  An area of soft, muddy ground, swamp, or swamplike region.  2,  A hole full of mire, as in a road.  3. A marshy or reedy pool, pond, inlet, backwater, or the like. 4.  a condition of degradation, despair, or helplessness.

Every definition gave me a yucky feeling, a negative connotation.  Somewhere  a creature from the Black Lagoon, or Swamp Thing might be lurking, or a million mosquitos for that matter. 

Our discovery?  The Slough in picturesque Moss Landing, Calif.  We decided we want to come back and check this place out , discover more of what nature has to offer here.  Instead of murky darkness, we saw sea otters frolicking in the waters, many sea birds foraging for their daily fill of shellfish, and kayakers leisurally paddling with the seals at play.  Over the hill surrounding the slough, was the breathtaking Pacific, uncluttered with surbanites and their umbrellas and coolers, just the sand, the sea, and the sounds and smells of  our beautiful coastline. 

God came to bring us out of our own despair and helplessness.  We can become mired in the everyday muck of this life and miss what lies just over the hill.  There is purpose for this slough, it's a protected area for a species of birds called the Snowy Plover,  it is their breeding ground.  New birth and and a new generation come to life here.  Within the mud and reeds is sustenance--lessons to move on to great expance of the deep ocean of destiny God has planned for us. 

The Snowy Plover and her chicks

Well, I hoped you enjoyed this little tour of Northern Calif, and it's interesting linguistic revelations.  Please feel free to stop on over to my Facebook page and enjoy the beautiful coastline along Hwy. 1.  I am going to add two more pictures here, both a memorial to Timmy. 

For further reading, Study Ephesians 3.  CV

The links at Pebble Beach

"You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn’t have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.”