Thursday, October 12, 2023

The Difference

The Difference


The question I get asked most about my writing is why my style has changed and moved in a different direction. People comment that my recent stories don’t contain as many biblical scriptures as my early writings did. Why is that, they ask? This honest question has led me to ponder on this for several months now. I mean, when I’m writing I still listen to the same Hillsong, Jenn Johnson, and Bethel music. 


Hold on a minute, let me take a break and listen to “Broken Vessel” by Hillsong, one of my favorite writing songs. It takes me to a place of brokenness and gives me beautiful thoughts of His amazing grace. I always listen to music as I write. This surrounds me with the deepest escape possible from this earth and brings a story that is forged out of a love emotion. We call it amazing grace. As writers, we all have triggers that take us to a place where we discover the most amazing stories and transform extraordinary visions into words.


So, what has changed in my writing style and why I don’t surround the story with Bible verses and encompass it that way? I have asked a few of my closest friends and even explained this in therapy. What I have discovered in searching this out is that my early stories were ghosted around certain Bible verses to give a direction to the truth and take the story that was so full of pain, my pain, and redirect it to a place of solace. In other words, I wrote out of whatever pain I was experiencing at that time. The Word set me free in so many ways. It was His life in me that was being written about. The pain was too unbearable to deal with, so I ghosted the story of great pain and deepest depressions with His word, hoping that He would just take it all or even take me. I had often asked God in these early stories, “Why do I have to live out every story of people that I meet?” It was hard for me to walk down the street and not see the pain of people. My favorite question in writing was, “So, what’s your story?” I was like a sponge, absorbing every emotion, suffering, and destruction of every human I met. It was so painful; I would live their suffering and heartaches. 


Now would be a great time to ease into Hillsong, “With Everything,” live in Israel. That’s another one of my greatest writing songs. Lift your hands and give Him praise! Got to take a break and listen to Taya Smith vocals kill this song of praise. I’m back now. 


So, with that said, what’s the difference between my early writings and now? Writers are always developing our styles and our developmental content. This is not a simple question to answer as a writer. After much thought, I came up with this conclusion with help from my sweet Lisa. I wrote my early stories with the hope of relief from the pain I was experiencing and used the Word of God to cancel my pain. That worked for me, but that ended up not being enough. The plan was always to focus on the Word and not me and what I was experiencing. I wanted to show that our God was able to take away everything. We have to be willing to give up that part of our humanity, the emotions and the pain, and give it all to Him!


Years later, love would enter into the mix. Pain and love really don’t mix that well. So, what was I to do? Love would win! So today I write from the emotion of love and not pain. I would love to bring the Word into every story, but the reality is that love is the Word—the creation, the love, the everything. That’s the difference. My early stories were written from so much pain and now my stories are written in His love. Love Him with everything! It’s a beautiful exchange! 


www.sandwestedit.com

 

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

To My Girls

 To My Girls


I love you!


So, with that said, that could be the end of the story. The truth is, though, my love for my girls is only the beginning. For the past few stories, I have focused on the memories and emotions that come along with all that. It’s been happy and sad all at the same time. I have been able to navigate these new waters at my age with the help and guidance of some unique people in my community. 


A good friend came by recently and we talked about a story I am writing in parallel with this one; she encouraged me to focus on the one that is most pressing in my mind. She told me she was happy that we were a part of her community. Life is about community if you think about it. That’s another story. 


This story has been brewing in my mind for several months now and it’s finally time to escape the boundaries of my mind and enter my thoughts into words. 


I remember when my sweet Lisa told me she was pregnant with our first girl. I was scared to death, thinking, what are we in for here? How can I raise a girl in this world? I need guns and bullets! Then, a year and a half later, we had another girl! Oh, Lord! What was I to do? We were just barely making it financially, working three jobs most of the time, but loving every minute. 


Providing for my family was ingrained in my being. Being removed at age five, I was determined not to repeat history. My girls would see a life that was full of love and joy. Not necessarily things, but just love and joy; knowing they were loved was the most important.


To be quite honest, I have been running from these emotions that are brewing in my soul for months now; just the thought of writing this has become so difficult. I wake up every morning with thoughts of finishing this story, but something always comes up that prevents me from engaging in it. I’m now in week eight, and I’ve only written a few words here and there. That explains all the rambling in the front end of this story. 


With everything in me, I love my girls! We have been blessed to have a wonderful relationship and a bond that is like no other. To My Girls was born out of the last two stories, and I don’t want them to read this story until I am no longer on this earth. I’m sure that won’t be the case.


I love you girls. All I ever wanted was for you to be loved and for you both to live a beautiful life, full of joy, happiness, and love. I believe God has blessed me with that for the most part. My beautiful, sweet Lisa (my wife) has endured so much in this life and is worthy of such a blessing of peace and harmony. I’ve asked God so many times to take whatever blessing He has had for me and give it to you and my girls. I don’t truly understand what love means, but given life or death, I would take the place of my girls if I could. So, here we go.


Girls, I want you to know that my heart has been so full over the years; raising you both was the most amazing and beautiful event in my life. Nothing compares to that. 


Lisa, you know I have done everything possible to mess this up, but you have fought for us, and for that I am so full of the newness of your love every single day. 


Girls, I want you to know that the joy and love you have brought me has extended the days of my life; you have been instrumental in the healing process of my mind and soul. 


Lisa, the love you have rained down on me has brought me great strength and focus to be the best I can be. Your love has forged a straight path that has given me hope and a promise of tomorrow.


Girls, your existence has brought me overwhelming love, feelings of pain, and feelings of great joy. All I ever wanted was to show you love and teach you how to love, and I believe I have done that. No matter how far from the shore I went, I could always see you; I could always feel you and experience your pain and joy.


Lisa, we have experienced so much over the past forty years. In the midst of intense attacks and extraordinary togetherness, love has prevailed. We have been desperate at times, and we have been on the mountaintops at times. Through it all, we came through that season. Sometimes we had to dust off the ashes, and sometimes we came out looking brand new. That has always made us who we were, ready for the next season. The storms and the beautiful calmness of the water have taught us to trust.


Girls, you are now grown, and I can only hope that I have given you all you will need to make it through each and every season in life—the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. I pray that this life is more kind to you than it has been to me. Life may not be fair at times, but always keep hope in front of your eyes. I hope that you see the good in all people, and understand that everyone needs a smile, a hug, a kiss, and just a kind word. I love you girls with all my heart and soul. This love I can’t explain. 


Lisa, I have gained this tremendous knowledge over the past two years that love has no boundaries, and that when our love is expressed, it can overcome all things and climb insurmountable mountains. You have sat so patiently with me for so many hours as I discovered these new truths and the emotions that I have kept hidden for so many years. 


Girls, what I will miss the most is your kisses and the beautiful hugs you give me every time we see each other. I will miss the dinners we shared, the laughter we shared, and the cries we shared. I will miss the looks you give your children, and the instruction you give them minute-by-minute. I will miss your husbands and the conversations we have had over the years. I will miss you getting old and experiencing this beautiful change in life. I will miss my grandchildren and seeing the wonderful impact they will have on humanity. I will miss their beautiful hugs. I will miss being loved by you.


Lisa, with everything, I will miss your beautiful awaking each day; looking at you as I wake up every day has been a wonderful blessing. I will miss the sun shining on your lovely face and the calmness and tranquility you have brought to my soul. I will miss the sunrises and the sunsets we have shared together. I will miss the boat rides, the ski rides, the conversations about life, and the conversations about the life to come. We have traveled an extraordinary journey together. There has to be a word larger than love that can describe the emotions I am feeling; the tears that are streaming down my face right now are soaking my shirt as I write this. I will say, I love you!


So, now that you are reading this, I may or may not be here on this earth. I’ve worked hard to keep this story hidden in a safe place. By now, I’ve already told you all this, anyway. There is something about words that live forever and that is the point of this story. I want you, my girls, and my sweet Lisa, to go back and see my words and experience them over and over. When you get lonely or sad, or just need a word of encouragement, come here. You will now be able to see that I cracked the door to the emotions I kept inside of my soul, deeper that even I knew existed. You are my girls and I’m thankful and blessed. I have surrendered everything that I am to your love and to your beautiful grace. I love you! 


www.sandwestedit.com





 


 


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