1 Question Poll for Readers of Fiction and Creative Nonfiction and an Excerpt from My Book

Author James Patterson says, “I try to leave out the parts people skip.” Of course, I read this just after finishing a section in my book where I narrate the same scene twice – once as my main character’s wife (girlfriend at the time) saw it and then again from his point of view. I did this to show the different mindset each had at the time and also how that mindset determined which details of the event stay in their memory. I found it quite fascinating, but Patterson’s advice has me second-guessing my decision. I know, too, that we writers often fall in love with our own words and fail to cut things that are of no interest to the reader. So, I thought I’d throw the question out to you. Do you/would you enjoy reading the same scene twice from different perspectives? (I’ve included an excerpt from the scene in question below the poll if you want to read that before answering.)

BOOK EXCERPT

Note: Names and other identifying information has been blacked out since the true identity and location of the main character will not be revealed until the book is published.

She said:

The day I finally found out everything about TEXT HERE‘s past began as just another one of those times when he was being evasive and turning my questions back on me. I was still asking the simple question, “What’s your real name?”

He gave one of his standard put-off question-answers, “Where you think I come from?”

But this time, I wasn’t in the mood for his games, so I told him, “I think you’re in the Witness Protection program or something.”

He went silent for a second and took a step back. Then he asked, “What makes you say that?”

“Because you’re insanely fanatical about your privacy. You have all these rules about what I can and can’t know, where we can and can’t go together, and what I can and can’t do with you. I know you’re dealing drugs. All the time, you’re leaving me alone all night and I don’t even know where you are. I’m sure that must be the kind of thing you were doing in your past life, too. I get worried sick. I don’t know if I can do this anymore.”

“You’re right. TEXT HERE is not my real name,” he said, and started pulling out pictures of his former life in TEXT HERE. That was interesting and all, but it still didn’t really tell me who he was. Eventually, he said, “I tell you what. I’m going to leave, but I want you to look this over.” He got out a cream-colored photo album he had not shown me yet. “You should also search the Internet for the name TEXT HERE from TEXT HERE while I’m gone. There will be a lot of news articles to read over, besides the ones in this album, so take your time and go through it before I come back.”

As he was leaving, he asked if I would swear to secrecy what I was about to find out. I said I would. I was honored that he had finally entrusted me with the information he had guarded so fiercely. I kind of liked the idea that I would be the only person in TEXT HERE who knew his secrets. But, when I read those articles, the gut wrenching part of it was finally realizing that I didn’t know TEXT HERE at all. He was a figment of my imagination. A made up character out of some book.

Dealing with him was so exhausting day in and out. He never wanted to spend holidays with my family or me. It hurt to think he was always with that other family during those times. I took some comfort in thinking he was our little secret. I wore that like a badge of honor, until I found out later I was one of several people he had told some portion of his story to.

It was a weird situation and we had a strange relationship. It was like he held me to the highest expectation of loyalty and faithfulness but I dared not hold him to the same standard. All I can say is that I was a young girl with no self-respect. I could not see my own potential. I thought this was just how life was.

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He Said:

I remember vividly the day TEXT HERE came to my house on TEXT HERE Lane. This was a different house than the one we lived in together. I told her to meet me there because I needed to see her. Prior to her arrival, I was in deep meditation over my real life and the great affection I had for TEXT HERE. I really cared about her and trusted her, but I felt a deep guilt because I was living a lie. She didn’t even really know me. She had stole my soul and I wanted to advance our relationship. But before we did, I had to be honest with her about my past.

I was so tired of lying. I needed someone to accept me for me, so I was ready to tell her regardless of the consequences. I cried so bad before she got there because I wanted to be free and the pureness of her life and personality had made me begin to believe I could be.

I made the decision to tell her after calling my surrogate mother, TEXT HERE. I said, “I must tell this girl who I really am. If something would happen to her while she’s dealing with me … or if she put either me or her in danger because she’s unaware, I wouldn’t want to blame her. And I wouldn’t want her to blame me. Plus, I want someone I can trust to call my family if I get killed while running the streets here in TEXT HERE.” Mom had been saying I should tell her even before this, so she encouraged me to do it.

Once TEXT HERE got there, I started by describing different situations and asking her would she still deal with me if I done those sort of things. We was in my living room and I started showing her pictures of me from my past life, just to see how she would react and what questions she would have. At first, she asked simple questions, like how was I surrounded by so many celebrities and what my real name was. I was surprised when she finally said something about thinking I was in Witness Protection, but I thought, “Okay, now she’s ready to hear the rest.”

I took her into my office and showed her some of the newspaper articles about the organization I had been in and the trial. After telling her the so-called good part of my life (drug dealing, fame, fortune), I told her the story of my best friend TEXT HERE, and how much I loved and missed him. I explained that I had revenged his death and that’s what led me here to TEXT HERE. Then I told her that I was separated from my family because of that.

She had a look of bewilderment but she still seemed okay. She said, “I don’t care. That’s not bad. You’re good now, getting your life together. It’s no big deal.” That’s when I told her I wanted her to read some things, because I felt she didn’t understand. I must not have explained things fully. I reached in the file cabinet and pulled out my documents from the Witness Protection Program. They had all the information about the crimes I committed and so forth. I left the room. I was scared but it felt so good to finally tell someone everything about my life. It really didn’t matter if she accepted me or not, because it felt so good just telling her and handing someone else those documents.

I went back in the room later and asked her, “Now do you see who I am?” She acted like she was not fazed! I then told her all the details that wasn’t in the articles and paperwork. She stood there listening, showing no emotion. Like a judge, I thought. I was shaking inside, but it felt like I was in a Catholic confession booth being cleansed. Like a faucet turning on, the water of my story was running out my mouth and I didn’t stop until it was all drained.

She was not shaken afterwards. She hugged me and made me feel like she accepted me. I cried and, for the first time on this journey, I felt a sense of freedom.

I gave her the option to leave me, but she said not to worry about that. I felt she didn’t fully grasp what I had revealed, but it didn’t matter. What mattered was I finally let it all out.

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The Beauty and Imperfection of the Bride of Christ

To wrap up this month’s Encourager’s Devotional thoughts on The Wedding Checklist, I thought I’d share a few poems I’ve written as I’ve reflected on the beauty and imperfection of the Bride of Christ. Be encouraged. Though we struggle to be what we should be, our Lord continues to sanctify us and bring us closer to His image.

We can rejoice in the fact that our Bridegroom is a loving one, who not only asks us to prepare but promises to help make us ready!

We can rejoice in the fact that our Bridegroom is a loving one, who not only asks us to prepare but promises to help make us ready!

Who Are We

We are now, we are then

We are growing, we are faltering

We are grieving, we rejoice

We disagree, we have one voice

Full and empty, frail and strong

Stuck in the past, and moving on

Marching in, storming out

Full of faith, full of doubt

More than we know, less than we can be

Spirit wrapped in humanity

Anticipating someday, but afraid to die

Hoping to walk on water, but afraid to even try

Wanting to draw near, but straying too far

Longing for the day we will be

Who We Are

 

Encourager’s Devotional Series – June Bible Study Answer Guide

Here are the answers to the June Bible study for the Encourager’s Devotional Series. If you have not already read the devotion for June, you may want to do that before proceeding with the study as it explains the connection between “the city” and “the bride.”

Information

Read Isaiah 62. What are some of the characteristics of the city before the Lord “saves” it or “establishes” it? Hint: In addition to other statements, look at what the city is called.

forsaken, desolate, foreigners eating and drinking from the labors of the city inhabitants

What will the characteristics be after the Lord establishes it?

His delight, sought out, married, a praise in the earth, holy, redeemed

What promises does the Lord make to the city?

Salvation comes! And your reward comes with it.

Read Revelation 21. What will it be like for the Bride, the inhabitants of the Holy City?

no tears, no death, no pain, God’s presence and glory

When Paul speaks on the marriage relationship in Ephesians 5:22-33, he says in verse 32, “This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church” (all Scripture references are NIV)

From verse 26, what does Christ use to cleanse us?

Baptism (“washing with water”) and the Word

Read John 17:6-21. Use verses 14, 16, and 18 to fill in the blanks. The world hates us. We are not of the world, but we have been sent into the world.

Verses 20-21 explain one reason we are sent into the world. What is it?

that the world may believe that Jesus was sent by God

According to James 1:27, we are also sent into the world to take care of other people. But while we are ministering to the world, we are warned to stay “unspotted by the world.”

In 2 Corinthians 11:2-4, what does Paul say we must guard against if we want to be a “pure virgin” when we are presented to our “one husband, to Christ”?

false gospels

Read 2 Peter 2:12-3:18. What kind of people are described as “blots and blemishes”?

blasphemers, creatures of instinct (like animals), adultrous hearts, seducers, deceivers, greedy, people who use empty and boastful words, slaves of depravity, scoffers, lawless

Note, from 2:1, that these people are not people outside of the church, they are “among us.” Yet from Revelation 21:2,27 we see that the Bride, at the final presentation, will be “beautifully adorned” and that nothing unclean, and no one who does what is abominable or lies will ever enter the city. What does this say for those people who are “spots and blemishes” on the Bride right now?  Continue reading

At Last: The Trailer for Many Beautiful Things

I am so excited about this. I loved reading the life story of Lilias Trotter (it was partly responsible for the opening of The Merge Coffeehouse https://lisawomble.com/2014/05/24/how-we-ended-up-with-a-coffeehouse-the-merge/). Her artwork is so inspiring. I hope many more people are made aware of her legacy through this film.

Lilias Trotter

Lilias_Portrait_Build_01 (1)

At last:  a glimpse into the film, Many Beautiful Things, via the trailer.  A taste of things to come!

http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/06/exclusive-watch-trailer-for-art-doc-many-beautiful.html

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Encourager’s Devotional Series – June Bible Study

This Bible study corresponds to the June devotion for the Encourager’s Devotional Series.

Information

Read Isaiah 62. What are some of the characteristics of the city before the Lord “saves” it or “establishes” it? Hint: In addition to other statements, look at what the city is called.

What will the characteristics be after the Lord establishes it?

What promises does the Lord make to the city?

Read Revelation 21. What will it be like for the Bride, the inhabitants of the Holy City?

When Paul speaks on the marriage relationship in Ephesians 5:22-33, he says in verse 32, “This is a profound _____________ – but I am talking about _____________ and the ____________”1

From verse 26, what does Christ use to cleanse us?

Read John 17:6-21. Use verses 14, 16, and 18 to fill in the blanks. The world ______________ us. We are not _______ the world, but we have been ___________ ________ the world.

Verses 20-21 explains one reason we are sent into the world. What is it?

According to James 1:27, we are also sent into the world to take care of other people. But while we are ministering to the world, we are warned to keep “from being ______________________ by the ________________.”

In 2 Corinthians 11:2-4, what does Paul say we must guard against if we want to be a “pure virgin” when we are presented to our “one husband, to Christ”?

Read 2 Peter 2:12-3:18. What kind of people are described as “blots and blemishes”?  Continue reading

Encourager’s Devotional Series – May Bible Study Answer Guide

Here are the answers to this month’s Bible study for the Encourager’s Devotional Series.

Information:

For information on Timothy and the relationship between Timothy and Paul, see the following passages. Make notes on Timothy’s background, Paul’s expectations of Timothy, things Paul did for Timothy, and signs that Timothy was growing in the faith as a result of Paul’s influence. You might also think about how Paul’s investment in Timothy’s life brought rewards to Paul’s life as well.

2 Timothy 1:2-14

  • Paul prayed for Timothy daily.
  • Timothy’s mother and grandmother were believers.
  • Paul reminded Timothy to use his gifts and remember his calling.
  • Paul reminded Timothy that living a holy life is important.
  • Paul reminded Timothy of sound teaching and encouraged him to live by it.

Acts 16:1-5

  • Timothy’s father was not a believer.
  • Paul took Timothy with him on his missionary journey. This gave Timothy opportunity to develop his ministry skills, and also brought much joy to Paul as he watched his son in the faith grow into maturity.

Philippians 2:19-23

  • Paul praised Timothy and gave him his endorsement as he went out to the churches.
  • Paul sent Timothy out to minister to others and served as his “job coach.”

In the book Groups: The Life-giving Power of Community, authors Ortburg, Pederson, and Poling list some of the “forms that encouragement takes.”[1] Read the texts related to their list and make any notes that come to mind as you read. Also, as you read, if anyone comes to mind as needing any particular form of encouragement, write their names down in the space provided in the “Application” section.

*To believe in someone, to see their giftedness and ability to contribute:

1 Timothy 4:12-15

  • Paul calmed any fears Timothy may have had about being so young while in ministry.
  • Paul set high standards for Timothy, with confidence that Timothy could meet them.
  • Paul again reminded Timothy to be diligent, to watch his lifestyle, to be devoted to God’s word, and to persevere.

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Let me tell you about a few of my writing friends’ projects …

As you may have read previously, I go on an annual writing retreat with a few of my friends. It started with a group of four in 2012. It has been fun watching their works progress throughout the time we’ve been together. We’ve had some new friends join us more recently. They’ve added to the excitement and motivation of the event (as well as to follow-up discussions on a private Facebook page we share).

I’m happy to share the most recent publications of two of these friends.

Mombarded: A Devotional JourneySusan Lawrence has a new book out called Bombarded: A Devotional Journey. Susan was the more experienced writer in the group our first year, so she has many other resources as well. I have so appreciated her patience and encouragement to us newbies over the years. (I’m also thankful she’s willing to share from her stockpile of candles when I burn through mine in my all night writing sessions.) Susan is a beautiful woman of God with a heart full of joy and a countenance of peace that is contagious. You can find more information on Susan and her writings here.

 

Across the Miles by Rhonda JamesRhonda James joined our retreat for the first time this year. Like Susan, she was already a published author. I had the privilege of seeing her work with great passion on the final phase of her new book Miles Apart. She stays with her characters and story throughout the process (even in her dreams) in a way I had never witnessed. Rhonda is a sweet and fun-loving Christian woman. I enjoyed our time with her and look forward to getting to know her better. You can learn more about Rhonda and get a copy of her new book here. The page of her website I chose to share says the book is due out in June, but of course she finished before deadline. Still, it has a great excerpt from the book I thought you would enjoy.

Seeing their work in print has motivated me, so I’m off to my writing cave. I do believe I will have the complete draft of my book finished by mid-summer. Here’s to the joy of writing, and to the joy of knowing these wonderful writers.

 

The Wedding Checklist – June Encourager’s Devotion

My beautiful daughter-in-law, Haley

My beautiful daughter-in-law, Haley

Ah, June! The month the bride’s been waiting for. She’s made sure everything on her checklist has been taken care of and she is ready for the big day. Her desire is to be the most beautiful sight her bridegroom could possibly imagine. The thought of something being left undone, or of her glorious gown being anything less than spotless, is horrifying. She has worked diligently on the plans, and one adoring look of approval from her bridegroom will make it all worth it.

We Christians, too, have a wedding day to look forward to. We are called the Bride of Christ and we anticipate the day we are presented to our Bridegroom. Isaiah 62 and Revelation 21 both use a mixed metaphor for God’s people. In both, we are described as a city and a bride. The Isaiah passage indicates that some work needs to be done for the city/bride to be ready for presentation, while Revelation depicts the glory of the completed work.

So, how do we get from the one image (needing “a little work”) to the other (a completed work)? How do we make sure that we stand before our Lord “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing” on our wedding dress? How are we ever going to be completely “holy and without blemish”? According to Ephesians 5:22-33, we do this by submitting to Christ and allowing Him to work in us. We become one with Him, as a bride becomes one with her husband, and we allow Him to “nourish and cherish” us. We let Him complete the work of cleansing us and sanctifying us, or setting us apart, to be a people who reflect His glory.

I don’t know what your experiences have been with weddings, but I have found it is rare for the bridegroom to be very active in making the preparations. That duty falls mostly on the bride. It is quite a relief to know that in our marriage to Christ, the Bridegroom takes on most of the responsibility for getting us ready.

A key element in this preparation of the Bride is the Word of God (Ephesians 5:25,26; John 17:14-19). We must learn to live by it and not by the world’s standards. When we do the Bible study for the Encourager’s Devotional Series this month (next Wednesday), you will notice how often the importance of the Word is highlighted.

In the study, you will also see how often speech is an indicator of godliness, or lack of godliness. How important our speech is as we strive to become encouragers. Not only must we try to increase the output of encouraging words, but we must also be careful to stop ourselves from being involved in speech which tears down and discourages. All our acts of encouragement, all “religious” deeds are useless if we do not control our negative speech (James 1:26).

The Bride of Christ is a corporate image, much like the Body of Christ image in scripture, a body made up of many individual members. We will stand before our Bridegroom together, so our relationships are vital to our “appearance” as we present ourselves to Him. The “spots” mentioned in several of the texts we’ll study are actually individual people who help make up the Bride. Only a spotless Bride is acceptable on that great day. We must take seriously our individual responsibility in presenting a holy, unblemished Bride. And we can rejoice in the fact that our Bridegroom is a loving one, who not only asks us to prepare but promises to help make us ready!

For ways to encourage someone this month, let’s take a look at that bridal checklist: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Since the Bride of Christ is the focus here, I have revamped the list a bit to focus on people instead of things.

Someone Old – This could be the physically aged, or those older in the faith. The aging need encouragement as they begin to feel isolated and less useful. They want to know they have value and are still important to the family of God. Those who are “mainstays” in the church, who’ve been around a while and serve as anchors, should be encouraged to keep up the good work. Or maybe you just need to thank an old friend for always being there.  Continue reading