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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

It's been ages since I blogged. No, I mean AGES...
But today I was thinking about God and all things we attribute to Him and I wonder how He feels about it if he didn't really send it, but rather it was just a natural coincidence. I know some folks are appalled at the thought that God might not be super-sovereign. And I truly believe in the sovereignty of God. But sometimes things just happen because we're stupid (like running out of gas) or lucky (like winning six bucks in the lottery).

But I digress... It's like stepping outside to find a perfect, blue-sky sunny day and thanking God for the perfect walk-in-the-park weather. Then 45 minutes later a storm rolls in with angry clouds, sky to ground lightning and thunder that jiggles the fat on your thighs and sends you running for your car. Which is it? Did he send the blue sky or the storm minutes later? That kind of thing always makes me feel stupid. So I just thanked God for a perfect day and He sends a storm? WHAT? Should I also thank Him for the tree-splitting lightning that races my heart and pulls in a little screamy breath? I just never know...

Or does it even matter if He's the one who sent the sun then the storm? Cloudy days eventually give way to blue skies anyway--unless you live in the Northwest part of the country--I've seen Sleepless in Seattle.

The last couple weeks I've been really wanting to just buy this book. We've been in a stormy season around here and it's been forever since I could do the "Buy with one-click" thing and watch a book magically download to my iPad Kindle App, let alone go out to eat sushi. And don't even get me started about the jealousy and self-pity I've been feeling while everyone is on vacation. :) But today I got this email from Amazon about some credit I got because of a settlement I didn't even know I was part of. I know thousands of people got the same thing, but I have been in such a long, hard season it was a refreshing mist of rain on my face. Like the spray of the ocean when the wind picks up (now I'm thinking about that vacation again--sigh...)

It started this morning when I got a reminder from my hairstylist about an appointment. You see, I had a long standing hair appointment for today. I need the cut, the facial wax (don't get me started on that either), but I had to cancel. I was so bummed, so tired of the battle--I mean, who doesn't have $40 to get a cut and have the unfortunate genetically induced mustache removed?  I don't praise well in the storm--and actually, Jesus rebuked the storm anyway so I don't see why I should have to. Living in Missouri, I always figure if there's a thunderstorm, a tornado isn't far behind and that scares the heck out of me. Dread can suck the happy right out of the soul. Just like hope deferred makes the heart sick. Dread of the future can send waves of nausea through me. People have asked me why I'm losing weight lately. I keep saying "good livin'" but the truth is...well, that's not the truth.

Rusty and I were talking about gifts on the way to church Sunday. Some people give gifts that THEY want you to have even if it's not something you're that in to. Like parents giving kids books about finances for the student. :) It's practical and would benefit, but if you wrap it up and give that as a gift, it's really more about you than the kid. I mean, yeah, we should be grateful when people think about us and want to bless us. but some things elicit excitement and other things just sort of make you think..."Hi, I'm Tracey. Clearly, you don't even know me." Like don't buy me tickets to a football game even if the seats are super cool and I get a locker room pass to meet the quarterback (if they even do that). It might be expensive and a gift you would praise Jesus about, but I'd just give it away rather than waste three hours of my life that I can never get back.  Or I'd go and take a book. :)

But God knows the gifts that please us. And He's a great dad who cares about blessing our hearts.

So I get this email about the Amazon credit. I can't help but feel like the luckiest girl alive. If you love me and want to get me a present, coffee and books are the way to go. Always. Or sushi...but coffee and books are less likely to spoil in the bag. I was skeptical at first. Because you know...spam. Then I went to my amazon account and lo-and-behold it was there! I actually started shaking it's been so long since something really good has happened. And I really, really needed something good to happen to me. God knows us so well. He knows what blesses our hearts and He speaks everyone's love language to perfection. So I was riding high on the great gift of books. Then the storm clouds rolled in and covered the blue sky again.

I guess it's like this...thank Him for the blue skies, then try to ride out the storm with as much grace as you can muster in His presence. God is still God. He's still good. Eventually, seasons DO change. And there is a lot to be grateful for. Kids who love and serve Jesus and are doing well in their big kid lives, grand babies, friends, a super awesome church where I feel loved. The ability to do what I love doing--writing.

So, thank you Lord for not letting me win free tickets to the Super Bowl, thank You for coffee and books and kids and love. I am so blessed.

Oh, and tweezers, God. Thank you for those.

Friday, September 6, 2013

What I learned from My Kid: No Excuses


This was just so good I had to repost. My son is bigger, better, stronger and playing more this year. He still struggles, but still determined to finish the race... 

Last night, after a grueling, hot, painful three-hour football practice, my 14 year old son came in drenched, grimacing, almost in tears. Told us a little about practice and went to take a bath. I could see his discouragement. Not being the best. Not getting praise for his hard work. Missing out on three hours of video games. (smile). I prayed. I know he doesn’t like the hard things any more than I do. But I’d never force him to play a sport if he wants to stop. As a matter of fact I tried to talk him out of football in 7th grade because quite frankly, I saw my next six years of sitting on butt-killing bleachers, trying to drum up some go-team enthusiasm for a sport I think never should have been invented in the first place. In my opinion, kids should read and play the piano, but I know I’m in the American minority. For sure I’m in the Lebanon, Mo. minority.

But I digress...

So, my fourteen year old came out of his bath, still drenched, this time from the bath—because fourteen year old boys don’t have time or inclination for towels—and he said, “So, I was trying to think of any excuse to quit football”

My stomach dropped. Because, football is his dream. He’s not great... YET. He’s not in the best shape. YET. He is way too smart to get his brains knocked around in a violent sport, but it’s his dream. And dreams are a big deal with me. Any kid who will sit and watch the text of a football game as it comes in because we don’t have DISH anymore, is committed.

I’ve been telling him for years, “God drops a dream into our heart and then waits to see what we’ll do with it. What are you going to do about your dream?” God definitely partners with us. He is the only one who can make the impossible, possible. But He wants to see that we will believe that the bigger the dream, the bigger the goal, the bigger the opportunity for God to flex his God-muscles and show us how awesome and powerful He truly is.

So my stomach dropped when my son said he was trying to think of any excuse to quit football, and I said, “Really?” GULP

“Yeah,” he said. “But then I picked up the shirt I was going to wear.”

I was wondering if he got it from the clean clothes or just grabbed a dirty shirt, which isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.

“And on the back it said this…”

And my wonderful, funny, too-smart-to-get-his-brains-knocked-around-in-a-violent-sport kid, showed me the words: NO EXCUSES.

He grinned. “God told me not to quit.”

And I believe him. I believe with all my heart that God said, “Will, I gave you this dream. What will you do with it? It’s you and Me, Will Bateman. Will you believe me for the impossible?”

It’s not about being the best, finishing the strongest, or being hoisted onto shoulders with fans screaming your name. It’s about being faithful to the dream. Getting your brains beat out and coming back for more. Flexing thigh and calf muscles against impossible hills, and getting to the top, knowing you’re one hill stronger than you were before.

No excuses, no quitting, climbing to reach the goal against impossible odds.

For better or worse, that’s faith.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Writing and publishing books of my Heart

Hey folks. It's been awhile since I blogged. But I have a really good reason for that. I've been busy writing, editing, and self-publishing two of my older titles. Books of my heart that didn't really do that well when they first released in 2006 and 2007. Publishing straight to Kindle has given me the opportunity to bring these books back and so far they've reached approx 15,000 awesome readers like you!

I've had a passion for the rights of African Americans since I discovered very early in my life that my ancestors owned slaves. I don't know why I took this upon myself, but I've always known I wanted to write about the plight of African Americans. When I was a little girl, I wanted to write the sequel to Gone With the Wind and talk more about Big Sam, Dilcey (who didn't make it into the movie), Prissy, and Pork, and possibly Mammy.

When I started writing, my first book (rejected) was a southern historical focusing on the Civil War and Underground Railroad. It didn't make the cut, and shouldn't have! I wasn't ready to write it.

When Barbour agreed to publish The Color of the Soul
and subsequently the sequel The Freedom of the Soul,
I was suddenly gripped with fear. What if I didn't do the topic justice? What if I offended African Americans with my too-realistic portrayal of the bigotry and brutality? What if I offended my Christian readership with references to violence, rape and out-of-wedlock intimacies? But there was a way these stories were meant to be told, and I can only tell the truth as I see it. Finally, I had to begin to trust that for some reason, God had called me to write these books and He would deal with any fall-out.

Here is a letter I wrote to my readers at the beginning of The Freedom of the Soul book two in the Penbrook Diaries:

Dear Readers,
My family history tells of a young man, my great-great-great-grandfather’s brother, who fell ill and was sent by his father to be nursed in the slave quarters. While recovering, he fell deeply in love with the young slave girl who cared for him. After he was well again, he took her to Mexico and married her. Their many descendants are still in Mexico today.
That story of deep, abiding love has always struck a chord in my heart and imagination, and I knew, while writing a series that explores racial tensions and relationship, that I’d have to include that scenario. This book is entirely a work of fiction. All I know about that true-life love story is what I have told you here.
One thing I’ve learned while researching and writing The Penbrook Diaries is that love (in all its forms) transcends race.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Secret and the Prosperity Faith Message

Rusty and I watch a lot of Netflix. Mostly, we just watch Fringe and other Sci Fi-ish kind of shows. We used to watch a lot of Stargate until they took it off streaming (Don’t get me started on that!).

Anyway, last week, for kicks, I clicked on THE SECRET because I was curious and figured I could easily shut if off if I felt uneasy inside--which I eventually did. But as Russ and I got into the show, we looked at each other with a sort of bewildered, stupid grin and started quoting all the scripture that actually coincides with the principles that so many people are into—The Secret people and Prosperity message people.

I’m not going to list all the components of wealth, health and relationship happiness from The Secret. Watch it if you want, but do be careful, it’s pretty narcissistic. And while I do believe that God delights in the prosperity of his people, as the Word says, I also think he should be the one getting the glory.

I told Rusty, “What they’re saying is pretty true to scripture. The difference is, God isn’t given the glory, so it sets man up as god-like in his ability to bring these things to himself.” Rusty agreed, because he almost always does, and plus I think he was dozing off (because it’s a very long show) and I woke him up with my incredible insights.

I think God set up universal, natural laws that work no matter who works them. Prosperity is one of those. We’ve all heard the stories of non-Christians who tithe and are blessed because of it. The law of sowing and reaping comes into play just because God made laws for humans. He wants to be involved, but even if we choose not to involve him, it is what it is. It’s pretty sad when the Universe that He created gets the credit instead of the Creator, but people will do what they’re going to do and believe what they’re going to believe.

The Secret is starting to work its way through the church even. I kid you not. There are the popular “dream boards”, which I actually think are not a bad idea when kept in perspective. Even the Bible says we are to write the vision and make it plain. We heard a preacher talking about the Law of Attraction a few weeks ago and he said,
“Be thankful. Thankfulness attracts to you that for which you are thankful.” And maybe it is another universal law that God set up. So I’m being very careful what I’m thankful for. My dogs, for instance. We already have five. Don’t want to be too thankful and get more.

What The Secret and The Prosperity message neither take into account are the powerful lessons learned from hardship. Peaks without valleys. Without those seasons we’re a bunch of spoiled, entitled kids sitting in our parents’ basements playing video games and eating all the Doritos. It’s not about who has enough faith or who is walking in disobedience. Sometimes it’s just a really great Dad who says, “I’m going to teach you something. Pack your bags and get out of my house and get a job. Oh? You don’t have money for your own place? I see you have an iphone, video games up the wazoo, a flat screen TV, Blu ray player. And also, there's that fancy computer with the 25' screen. That oughtta get you a month’s rent.”

In other words, as good parents, sometimes we have to stop making it easy on our kids and let them go through some things in order for them to understand how to take care of themselves. I think God does that too—lets us go through hardship for various reasons. It doesn’t make us bad people for God to force us to discipline. It makes him a good and loving God.

That’s the thing I don’t like about the Faith message. It sets people up for guilt and condemnation when that’s just not what God intended. And Christians play into that. One time a woman asked me what on earth I was doing to displease God that Rusty hadn’t found a job yet and I didn’t have a contract. SIGH. We've gotten a lot of that sort of thing the past two and a half years.

The truth was, we were trying really hard to be good and do everything right. We had favor with man but I was miserable because I knew I couldn’t bargain with God. His ways are just way higher than mine. When I got over it, repented for trying to work my way into his favor, that’s when my career turned around ever-so-slightly. And look, there was nothing wrong with the “works” I was doing, I enjoyed aspects of serving. My motives were just wrong.

To be really clear, I don’t think God made Rusty lose his job or took away my ability to write a sellable idea, I just think during this time of not-so-many peaks and a little more valleys, He’s taught me how faithful He is to provide daily bread.

Honestly, if I did what The Secret suggests and wrote myself a ten million dollar check and envisioned it into something that wouldn’t actually bounce, I’d be ruined. I’d buy useless things, do too much for my kids and that ten million would be gone in a year. No kidding. One million I could work with. (smile). After the IRS took half or more, I’d pay all my bills including the house, tithe of course (although I’m not sure where, because my membership status is a bit iffy right now due to some unfortunate ticking off of some people lately) and give my brother $10K because we have a deal that with my first check for $100K or more I give him that amount. I’m not sure what his part of the deal is, except the other day he gave me a package of pork steaks from his freezer when I didn’t have anything to cook for supper. I think that makes things pretty even. ☺

Anyway, if you’re a prosperity through faith person, don’t be offended, I’m not saying God doesn’t prosper His people. Just don’t let anyone make you feel as though you’re displeasing God some way IF you are struggling with finances, health, in a relationship. We can never be righteous enough to earn his favor. We already have it because of Jesus. And really try not to get full of yourself when God does swing the (non new age, just a metaphor) pendulum back in your favor.

So, it’s not really a secret. Ask, seek, knock. It’s God who gives the power to get wealth (which includes health and good relationships). And if he gives it to you, don’t take the credit. ☺ But don’t get mad at Him if this is the season for Him to love you through his faithfulness. He’ll keep his promises. Your needs will be met.

Just ask me how I know.

Friday, April 26, 2013

What Would Jesus Blog?

I think if Jesus were alive today he’d have a blog and Wordpress (because He would use Wordpress as Michael Hyatt says it's the best blog site to use) would likely go down every day due to overload as he’d have more followers than Justin Beiber. Mary Magdeline would probably edit it for Him and the disciples would most likely “share” it on their Facebook pages. And all the Pharisees would take it personally and might even crucify Him for the words he wrote. But I think more than all the things he might tell us brought tears to his Father’s eyes, he would tell us how much we are loved. How strength comes from weakness, honesty breaks up pride, and maybe even how He never meant for us to hurt one another in His name.

One of my mentors has told me several times that I have to use my words carefully because I have influence when I write Facebook and Twitter posts, Blogging. Jesus gave me my gift to be a GOOD influence, she says—with a straight face. Personally, I’ve always laughed when she says this as I have about 100 readers and none of them think I have an ounce of brains. They know I’m almost always kidding around or making long, elaborate posts that eventually point to why I was wrong to think that way in the first place. I can start a blog post having one position on the topic and talk myself out of my original thought by the time I finish the blog. It’s the way I work out my issues and thoughts and also proof that I'm way too easily influenced--even by myself.

But, here’s the thing: Writing is a type of cathartic self-indulgence that pulls out what we are thinking in a way that makes sense to us as writers. That’s why most writers journal—well, until we start writing for a living, then we no longer have time to journal, we mainly just watch TV to distract ourselves from the fact that we should be writing.

All the greats (Ray Bradbury, William Zinsser, Robert McKee, Stephen King, James Scott Bell) say you must write every day if you’re a writer. Just vomit the words onto the page and go back later to clean up the mess. I think that’s the problem with working out your thoughts and feelings into a blog, or twitter, or Facebook. The self-indulgent spewing just goes out there for people to read, get offended, and break relationships and there’s no way to go back and clean it up (well, there is, but it’s unlikely we will). ☺ It’s also a great way to find out who really gets you, as if you didn’t already know. It would be much better to stick with the kind of writing that keeps you out of the fray. Like Amish novels or cookbooks.

The other day I was reading some facebook posts, and thought, “Wars could be started this way and I could start them.” I read two facebook posts that ticked me off a little on two back-to-back days and also made me want to punch out words of dissent on my own page. One from a teenager who had an accident a few months ago. He’s been praying for healing—and I truly believe God wants him healed. He wants this kid to play his sport of choice and rise to the greatness that he’s obviously already showing. The thing was. The kid said, “I have to do my part if God’s going to do his.” And this is what I wanted to put on my own wall “Why are we teaching our kids if they're good, God will reward them, but if they're bad, they won't get healed? Is righteousness a bargaining chip to get what we want?”

Seriously. I think if this boy just loves Jesus very much, works hard in rehab, and learns that grace is not merit based, God will give him this desire. And if He doesn’t, then loving Jesus very much will make it okay that he misses one season. Without relationship, when it’s all about working it out and forcing faith and trying to be good, then disappointment leads to bitterness and rebellion. I’m praying very, very hard that he gets to play.

The other FB post talked of praying for someone with “undeserved grace”. It was a pretty audacious statement—and a little asinine I thought. And then I thought about how asinine I can be and also maybe that particular FB-er was just having a bad day and didn’t really believe that there could ever be someone out there so horrible that Jesus stamped "No-Grace-For-You" on their forehead. I also thought, If they don't deserve grace, why waste your energy praying for them. It's pointless. Like praying for the devil to get saved. SHRUG.

I like social media in general. It’s such a great way to interact with all sorts of people you’d never know otherwise—which is why I think Jesus would have a blog and be on Twitter and Facebook. I’m not sure about Pinterest as I have never been able to figure that one out and I always think Jesus only likes the things I like—like The Walking Dead and Cajun food.

So, I decided today, I’m going to try to be more careful. WWJB (What would Jesus Blog?) In my honesty, I’ll try hard not to be too asinine (can’t promise I won’t be just a little), keep my sarcasm to a minimum, try not to offend the majority of people and more than anything really care if I’m using my words as a weapon or oil.

Let me know how I’m doing…I can take it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Writing and the Body of Christ

This past week I watched a documentary about a German theologian who lived and died during Hitler's reign. He came from a family that barely attended service, so he started out not thinking church was very important. But he ended up speaking about Christ's body--how the church as a whole is likened to His flesh. The exerpt from one of his writings went through me as I realized that just by being so full of my own ideals and dislike of the modern church, I had been discounting the body of Christ as it exists as a whole--not one church, but the entire body of Christians throughout the world, and possibly in outer space--I'm not convinced there is no life on other planets--just saying. But the truth is, there's a part of the body I (and you too) am supposed to be. Not just contribute to like adding a tattoo. But an actual arm or leg or brain cell. And I started thinking of myself, of course.

Writers hold our talent as a sacred thing. I suspect in much the same way artists, filmmakers, and musicians do. We simply want to use what we have for a greater cause. Whether in fiction or nonfiction. Sometimes that greater cause is entertainment, sometimes a truth as we know it, anarchy :) But the long and short of it is that our gifts are given for a higher purpose. One that we MUST fulfill or something inside dies. and this is true, not only for Christians, but all weavers of words. And as I watched that documentary and made the connection that I'm a valued (by God) part of the important work of Christ through the body on earth, it made me spend the whole day just thinking. Praying. Asking God to show me the best use of the part of the body I'm to make up. I mean lets face it, a hand can do good things like stroke a baby's head and offer comfort, or it can squeeze into a fist and punch someone in the face. We have to learn not only what part of Christ's body we make up, but also to use it effectively for HIS purposes on earth--or Mars.

Miss Linda writes long, beautiful emails that come from her years as a Jesus Follower. Wisdom, understanding of God, and truth that runs so deep in her heart she refuses to be deterred in any way from her belief that God is who he says he is, will do what he says he'll do and we better get our behinds in line with His ways. Sometimes I read things I disagree with and really, really just want to agree because her writing is so beautiful, and she's the only person in the world whose approval I care anything about. I just want to read her words all day and then go over to her house and move in and wash all her dishes and mop her floors while she sits with her feet up and talks to me about Jesus. In short, her writing is powerful, beautiful, and a gift that comes deep, deep from inside of her. I feel the same way when I read a novel by Angela Hunt. I just want to bottle the gift and drink it. These women are effective, useful parts of the body.

I've been thinking a lot about my wrting this past week as I start the process of a new book and also as I've gotten back to a blogging schedule.

I've been thinking of the wasted writing I've done this past year. The hours spent writing things for others that have been tossed aside as useless as though my gift and time are meaningless. I feel like my mom's legs, atrophied by months of disuse. A body part doing no one any good. It hurts and it makes me sad. But then, I think about the times I haven't valued the gifts inside of others either. Criticizing (maybe only inside, but still...) a missed pitch, a painting I thought was not very good, misspelled or misused words on the screen at church, someone else's writing.

I had a conversation with my pastor friend, this week about starting a monthly writers group in our town. He mentioned a poetry group that meets at the library. My response? "Poetry group: Kill me now."

This may come as a surprise to my nonwriting friends, but not all writers are moved deep in our souls by poetry. I gag on most of it. But for the poet, it's deep calling to deep. God's handiwork inside put onto the page in beautiful, rythmic tones. And as I thought about our conversation later, I remembered that my pastor friend has sent me poems he is writing to be put into his novel. I gave myself an slap on the head. Seriously? I diminished one of his loves the very same way my efforts have been diminished this past year. I'm such a slug sometimes.

And honestly, he wrote and framed a poem that he gave me for Christmas that I love and have hanging on my wall. And he has the same one hanging on his office wall. And now I sort of wonder how many other people have that framed poem on their walls. :)

The fact is, when we focus only on the parts of the body WE think are important, we cause a cut deep enough to bleed the soul.

A friend posted this poem to a writers group this past weekend. I found it so moving and beautiful, in a way poetry never has touched me before. Which is why I started thinking about my pastor friend and the whole poetry thing and also why I slapped myself in the head and wondered how many people he gave that poem to for Christmas.

I made a little adjustment inside, determined to value every gift in the body.

A Little Gift
by John Milton Edwards

A little gift I have of words,
A little talent, Lord, is all,
And yet be mine the faith that girds
A humble heart for duty's call.

Where Genius soars to distant skies
And plumes herself in proud acclaim,
O Thou, let plodding talent prize
The modest goal, the lesser fame.

Let this suffice, make this my code,
As I go forward day by day,
To cheer one heart upon life's road,
To ease one burden by the way.

I would not scale the mountain peak,
But I would have the strength of ten
To labor for the poor and weak,
And win my way to hearts of men.

A little gift Thou gavest me,
A little talent, Lord, is all,
Yet humble as my art may be
I hold it waiting for Thy call.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Words, Language, and Chocolate Puddy

It’s easy to hang with people who speak the same language you do. Who enjoy the same hobbies, movies, books, sports, whatever. Otherwise, it’s work and sometimes more work than we’re really willing to put into it.

Last night my blind/mostly deaf brother came to me while everyone else was gone and spelled out the word “puddy”. Jack is quite the handyman, but also frustrating because sometimes his projects go awry, what with not being able to see and all. So with wary generosity, I asked him, “Puddy? Why do you want puddy?”

“Yes,” he said, “Puddy.”

Sigh. Okay, we need a different approach. “Yes, Jack.” Trying to be patient because I’ve told the kids and Rusty not to get irritated, just listen even if he makes no sense, which is touch and go, to be honest. He lives in the dark, mostly silent world. Give him a break. “But why do you want puddy?”

“Yeah, puddy.”

After five minutes, of him saying, “Yeah, Puddy.” And me saying. “Why do you want Puddy?” I finally gave up. “I gotta go, Jack.” And his disappointed, “Ok.”

I’m not proud of it, but I went back on the deck with my book to be alone in the warmth of the wind blowing in the storm front for the few minutes I had left before the family returned from church. I settled into my chair, drinking in the smell of the fresh-cut grass and probably too much pollen, and picked up my Ipad to read another book about writing by a writer. I read a ton of books by other writers, artists, musicians, and actors because I understand the language. The self-deprecating, pointing the finger at me, kind of humor that cracks me up and I identify with. Some of the most profound concepts lately have come from Penny Marshall’s memoir, “My Mother Was Nuts.”

Only I couldn’t read, all I could think about was that stupid puddy and what does my brother want with puddy and what needs to be fixed? But mostly, I was thinking about how I didn’t understand my own brother and that I know he’s frustrated and also wants to puddy something.

I think a big challenge with finding and maintaining healthy relationships is a simple breakdown of language. We figure if we all speak English, what’s the problem? But it’s like this, we hang out with our own kind, missing out on a lot of great friendships, because we don’t have the patience to understand the subtext behind what the other person is saying. Honestly, we don’t get the private jokes and that makes us feel less valued by those who don’t bother to give it up. That’s why writers like to hang out with other writers. There’s a well of understanding that goes deeper than words. Writers conferences are notorious places to plot murders, solve world problems, create new worlds, and feel the agony of lost love all at one table of like minds, all in a three hour period with copious amounts of wine, nachos, and music so loud you have to shout these solutions across the table. It gets funny when the waitress hears the murder plot and starts to get nervous.

But we get each other. We understand there are plethora of wannabe writers who use plethora a plethora of times and we laugh because plethora is so yesterday. Those three hours fly by like they’re nothing and it’s worth arriving blurry-eyed at the next morning’s class. Soul-restoring understanding. And when the writing instructor uses the word “plethora.” We dissolve into eighth-grade boys who smell something.

And we all do it. No matter what group of like-minds you fit into. It’s like the pastor at one of the churches in town posted a video this morning with a football theme and called his wife, Aimee Hill. I thought it was an autocorrect fail. The video was awesome. She’s awesome, but I think there was more to the “Hill” part than I understand. I didn’t get the joke.

So I sat there, rolling “puddy” over in my head a thousand times, trying to think what Jack might need to fix, and finally I just went back inside, set my Ipad on the counter and tried again.

“Jack, you need puddy?”

“Yeah!” he says.

“Why do you need Puddy?”

“Yeah, Puddy!”

My chest is tightening. I wonder if puddy can fix a heart attack. Okay, lets not start the same conversation. The language has to change. One of us needs to hear what the other one is saying. Deep breath.

“Jack, why do you need puddy?”

“Yeah! Puddy.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, puddy. But show me what you want to use it for.” And then louder. “SHOW ME.”

“OH! Okay.” He stands up and takes my hand and walks me to the fridge.

Confused frown. Do you even use puddy to fix fridges? Weird.

He opens the fridge and touches a four-pack of chocolate pudding.

“Oh! You want pudding???”

“Yeah!” He pulls out a plastic container and shoves it toward me. “You want puddy?”

“No, Jack. But you can have it.” Take it all, for all I care. I was too relieved at the simple solution.

Jack got his pudding and I took my blood pressure to make sure I wasn't going to have a stroke.

And that’s the way it is. A meeting of minds, an understanding of souls. Caring enough to push past the language barrier.

The reward at the end of it all?

Chocolate pudding. And really, what’s better than that?
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