Saturday, November 30, 2013

The 2013 Advent Blog Challenge

a coming into place, view, or being; arrival: the advent of the holiday season.
( usually initial capital letter ) the coming of Christ into the world.
( initial capital letter ) the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, observed in commemoration of the coming of Christ into the world.
( usually initial capital letter ) Second Coming.

So says Modern Americans might revise definition #3 to begin mid-October and run through the after Christmas sales.

I’m going with definition #3, unrevised, and challenging myself to put up a new blog post each day of Advent. It might be prompted by a scripture verse, a Christmas memory, whether funny or poignant, a line from a favorite carol or poem, or who knows what. 

I’m still on industrial strength painkillers for my fractured and fixed ankle, so expect some random creative thinking. I promise to kiss and tell under the mistletoe, reveal what turned my brother’s skin red, relive caroling in Park Ridge, NJ., and occasionally offer insight. 

Please suggest any topics you want me to cover. And feel free to join me in the Advent Blog Challenge on your own blog.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Laney's Song

I absolutely love the song “Come to Jesus,” more correctly—and ironically—titled “Untitled Hymn.” I learned it a few years ago with the rest of the Wuppets at Watsontown Christian Academy. We performed it in front of the curtain with movement and wearing neon gloves, usually with tears streaming down my face. Yeah, it’s that kind of song.

Last November when I wrote Surviving Meemaw, “Come to Jesus” grabbed Laney’s attention as she sat in a back pew doing her homework during one of Meemaw’s puppet shows. It was the annoying tune she couldn’t get out of her head, the lyrics that became her prayer when she lit candles in the church. 

So when God brought everything together for Surviving Meemaw to be published, I assumed He would also get me past this last glitch:  Acquiring permission to use Chris Rice’s song. My colleagues at WCA and church family at Watsontown Baptist Church joined their prayers with mine. 

My editor, Marsha Hubler, had another thought. She had once been granted permission to use a song in a novel—for $1200. (Ouch.) She advised me to do what she did:  Replace it with my own original song, which at this point would be titled “Unwritten Hymn.” 

Meanwhile, Helping Hands Press publisher Giovanni Gelati said he would get to work on contacting Chris Rice, as my own attempts had failed.

We continued to pray.

After some time, I deduced that Chris Rice’s ability to compose a tear duct-assaulting masterpiece came from his status as a hermit. The man is in hiding and does not want to be found. 

How hard could it be to write a song that would affect Laney (and me) as Hermit Rice’s song had? I brought my first attempt to West Branch Christian Writers. They pretty much let me know (in that kind, uplifting way we help each other during critique) that I had failed miserably. They gave me lots of suggestions; one member even wrote a pretty good poem during the meeting. But it wasn’t the song Laney and I were hearing in my head.

I kept praying and pondering phrases and snippets of lyrics. The song needed to deliver the message of Rice’s song without being derivative. Two crucial scenes in Surviving Meemaw depended on it. 

The melody came together while I was driving on a Saturday morning. I parked in a bank lot and attempted to record myself on my phone. Though I’ve recorded puppet videos on the same phone in Jamaica, I couldn’t make it work, so instead I kept singing the song over and over until I got home. I didn’t have time to sit at the piano with staff paper and pencil, so I used the house phone to call my cell phone and left myself a voice message. Whew.

If you have read Surviving Meemaw, you have already encountered “Laney’s Song,” although you haven’t heard its simple puppet-able tune. Did it work? I think so:  Since my ankle-breaking accident, I have used it as a soothing reminder that I am in the care of a God who loves me very much.

Hopefully during my recovery time, I will get “Laney’s Song” on lines and spaces and add ukulele chords. Then I will play and sing it for you.

Laney’s Song

Merciful Lord, ruling above,
Just like a baby, I’m wrapped in your love.
Just like a baby, I’m wrapped in your love.

Beautiful Lord, worthy of praise,
Just like a child, I grow in your grace.
Just like a child, I grow in your grace.

Powerful Lord, stronger than fears,
When I am weeping, you dry all my tears.
When I am weeping, you dry all my tears.

Jesus my friend, Jesus my guide,
When my life’s over, I’ll fly to your side.
When my life’s over, I’ll fly to your side.

Jesus my Lord, of all kings, King,
When I’m in heaven, I’ll dance and I’ll sing.
When I’m in heaven, I’ll dance and I’ll sing.
Ever in heaven, I’ll dance and I’ll sing.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Everywhere I look I see in bold caps CALL DON’T FALL. The remainder of the message is modified depending on the location of the sign. On the bulletin board across from my bed, it encourages me to call for help to go to the bathroom. In the bathroom, it encourages me to call for help to get off the commode.

I’m in a rehabilitation hospital wearing a bright yellow wristband that says FALL RISK. They’re a week too late. I have repeatedly answered the question, “What happened to you?!” with “I stepped off a high curb and broke my ankles.” (Yes, plural.)

While it’s true a few adventurers injure themselves trying to jump a motorcycle over twelve cars and through a flaming hoop, I got hurt doing something ordinary. Walking and talking at the same time. I have been most diligent to prevent falling down our huge staircase at school. I always cling to the handrail with a firm grip. I prevented the injury I anticipated, but failed to anticipate the damage of an eight inch fall.

Experiencing a physical fall and its consequences makes me consider spiritual falls and their consequences. I would no more think I’m headed for a spiritual fall than I thought I was heading for a physical fall, but Paul warns in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.” (NLT) 

The truth is, none of us is sin proof. We are all fall risks.

Which makes me really like the CALL DON’T FALL signs. They go on to promise, “Your safety is our priority and we have time to help you.” I am blessed with a network of Christian sisters and brothers at church, at work, in my critique groups, and on Facebook. They live Galatians 6:2, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” It’s like they’re all wearing tee shirts that read, “I have time to help you.”

As believers, let’s make it our priority to look out for each other, physically and spiritually.

UPDATE:  I have had my second ankle surgery and will soon be home, When I am back on my feet, I'll return to rehab and punctuate those signs.