Friday's Fiction: Hermanas

Welcome to our first round of Friday's Fiction! I'm so glad you could join us, whether you're posting or reading--or both. If you're posting, at the end of this story there's a Mr. Linky box for you to add your name and url address to. If you're reading, enjoy the stories!

And a humonous THANK YOU to Kristen for making the button for us!!

If you'd like to join the fun and post the button, too, here's the code: (Just remove the three sets of astericks to make it work.)
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This is a fictionalized true story from Ecuador...


I laid out another batch of trim boards on the sawhorses and studied the stack I still had left to do, wondering if the pile was growing when my back was turned. At this rate, I'd never get done by the end of today. My sawhorses were set up along the edge of the church courtyard and people would pass and wave, sometimes stopping to talk, but when they realized I didn't understand Spanish they'd smile and move on. Lord, what am I doing here? Anybody could be staining this trim and I could be home taking care of my children and getting ready to teach my Ladies' Bible Study. What on earth am I doing here? Why am I here? Did You really want me here?

While mulling over why I was on this mission's trip, thousands of miles from home, one of the church ladies came over, picked up a paint brush and said something, but I had no idea what. I flashed her my best smile and shrugged. “I'm sorry, I don't understand Spanish.”

She smiled, dipped the brush into the can of stain and began working with me. After a moment she put a hand on her chest and said, “Sonya.” Pointing to me she raised an eyebrow.

I might be slow with a paint brush, but I caught on to her game fast. I pointed to myself and said, “Rebecca.”

Sonya raised her left hand and showed me her simple wedding band, then pointed to my own ring. We grinned at each other and then, through a series of pantomimes, we discovered we both had three children and even their ages. Sonya's eyes were warm and glowing with a joy that could only come from knowing Jesus, and I marveled at the connection I felt with her, even though we could only communicate through mime. The silence that fell between us was comfortable, but it didn't last long—Sonya began humming as she worked.

I immediately recognized the hymn “Trust and Obey” and knew she had given me the answer to my 'why am I here' question. I was staining trim in a church courtyard where I was one of the few that didn't speak Spanish because God had told me to. It was all about trusting and obeying God. Tears welled up and I blinked fast to keep them contained, but Sonya noticed and gave my hand a squeeze as she continued humming.

Clearing my throat I joined her on the chorus. “Trust and obey for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” We sang the rest of the song together, alternating lines. Sonya would sing a line in Spanish and I'd sing the next in English. We finished the song together, laughing at how we sounded, but pleased we'd found another way to connect.

I wrapped my arm around her shoulders for a squeeze. “Thank you!” I knew Sonya wouldn't understand me, but hoped she'd hear my heart. “Before you started helping me stain the trim I was feeling sorry for myself, wondering why I had come here, to a place where I couldn't even communicate with people. I thought that God could've used me more at home, or at least someplace where they speak English. But now I see that my being here is about me trusting and obeying Him. He'll take care of the rest. Thank you for reminding me of that.” We shared a smile and I knew she'd understood my heart. Thank You so much, Father. Help me to obey You and to trust You at all times.

After a few moments of quietly working Sonya began talking to me, much as I had to her. Even though I didn't understand her words, I understood her tears and her heart, and I hurt with her. Just as she had done for me, I held her hand, squeezing it when tears clogged her voice.

The missionaries' daughter passed by and Sonya called her over to translate for us. “Her husband is an elder of the church and feels that God is calling him into the mission's camp ministry, but he's struggling. They live with the rest of his family, in an apartment off his mother's courtyard, but his family isn't saved. They're giving him a hard time about it because he has a good job here with the electric company. They're making it hard for Sonya, too, saying she's stealing him from them.”

Our translator was called away, but Sonya continued on, finally wiping her tears and smiling. After another hug I dug in my backpack for my Bible. I turned to Ephesians and showed her. Her eyes lit up and she ran for own her Bible.

With much laughter we got both Bibles to the same place and I pointed to Ephesians 1:15-19 in her Bible, hoping she'd understand I'd be praying those verses for her. They were underlined in her Bible, just as they were in mine, so I knew she was familiar with them. With more tears Sonya hugged me then turned a page and pointed. I didn't need my Bible for that one.

“Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”*

Sonya beamed a smile at me. “Hermanas,” she said as she pointed first to herself and then to me.

Somehow, I remembered what that word meant. “Sisters.”

*Galatians 6:2 (NAS)

Freedom From Fear

Stepping out of my comfort zone is never easy, and last night I was waaaaaaay off my comfy, cozy little perch. In real life I am not a very assertive person. At church functions I'd rather wash dishes and wipe tables than be the one holding the microphone or making the calls to set things up.

Last night I found myself papering the town with announcements, bulletins, blog posts, emails, everything I could think of to let people know about Fiction Friday. At one point I sat back and thought, What on earth am I doing? I began to panic and almost didn't finish what I felt should be done, but before I hit the bailing out point, I got back to work. I changed my focus to the task at hand. What was the task? Oh, it wasn't announcing Fiction Fridays nor inviting people to participate, it was obedience.

My life was characterized by fear, up until a year and a half ago when I quit running and started submitting and following God. The only way I could find the courage to follow the path He was pointing me toward was to give it all to Him. I finally realized that my responsibility in life is to simply obey God. God, the Lord of the harvest, is responsible for the outcome and results.

That means that I'm responsible for writing to the very best of my ability, and obeying His leading, whether I understand the why or how of it, and God is free to use it however He wants. I don't need to fear failing in my writing because the whole reason I write is to obey God. By laying it at His feet I'm no longer afraid of making a fool of myself—it's His to use as He wants, if He wants.

What we, as people, consider personal success might not be what God would call success for us. By simply obeying God, He became my safety net. If He asks me to walk across a tightrope, He's my safety net, ready to catch me and keep me safe . If He asks me to swing on a trapeze, He's my safety net, ready to catch me and keep me safe. There have been times I've felt like I was on the tightrope and there have been times I've felt that what He led me to do was like performing stunts on a trapeze, with a live audience watching me.

But it wasn't about my performance. It was about my obedience. God's goal for me might not have been a perfectly executed back-flip into my partner's outstretched hands. His goal might have been to demonstrate His faithful ability to catch His flying and falling daughter.

It boils down to obedience. Obedience to do the things He calls me to—even if I don't understand why, or how, or if I'll succeed or not. Am I willing to fall on my face—for God?
If I'm willing to fall on my face before God, then I should be willing to fall on my face for Him.

Whether I succeed at anything, as the world defines success, is not the issue. My obedience in following my Lord and Savior is. If I'm obeying Him, He's free to use me, however He wants—even if that means that I end up looking foolish or silly to the world around me. As long as my goal and focus is obedience to God then I'm on the right path. Besides, being flat on my face isn't a bad place to be. It's the perfect position for praising God.

Tomorrow is...

Our very first Fiction Friday and I'm so excited!! Anyone who wants to join us is more than welcome to!! The more the merrier! Invite everyone and anyone--there's room for everyone that wants to participate!

*Simply post a piece of fiction on your blog sometime on Friday. Let everyone know you're participating in Fiction Friday and post a link to here at Patterings so they can follow the link trail.

*Then come here and at the bottom of my Friday post, which will be fiction, simply add your name and paste in the url of your blog (there will be a Mister Linky's auto-link widget) and viola! We'll have our very own Fiction Friday.

This is just a fun way to post some of the fiction so many of us have written, and a fun way that maybe we can share our fiction with people who like to read, but not necessarily write, so tell your friends!

Oh, and one more thing: This does not have to be hot-off-the-press fiction! Pull something you like off your shelf and post it! (Like an old Faithwriters entry. *Grin*)

I hope you can join us—whether you like writing fiction or just reading fiction!

Get a Fiction Friday Button!

An Addition is Coming Soon

No! No more babies—Lord willing. We're in the season of life when we're looking forward to adding to the number of cars in our yard, not kids.

I love watching the change of seasons, but this isn't really a change—this is just an addition to Patterings. I love writing, and I especially love writing fiction. Well, since Friday and fiction both start with the letter F, I decided to team them up, so I'll be doing Fiction Fridays here. It sounded like a fun idea as I drifted off to sleep after a day of wrestling with technology, and now, in the light of day when my brain is supposed to be working, I'm thinking about inviting some of my friends along for the fun, because we all know life is more fun when you have friends along for the ride.

For those that missed the address change: Please notice that the Patterings' address has changed--but it's only an address change, not a change in direction.

You Found Me!

Life is a journey, and so is this blog. My husband and I were talking, which is something we do quite often, and he finally told me to just make the change to this new address. Now. Before any more time passes. I listened to him, and here I am, praying I didn't miss anyone or lose anyone in the move.

If you hadn't noticed, I changed my blogspot address, so it's now my name, not a reclaiming of my nickname (I'm also known as 'Peej' to many of my friends). I know some of my friends have my linked or bookmarked—could you update those so we don't loose touch? My friends are special to me and I'm so glad you're one of them!

In today's constantly changing society it's easy to lose contact with people, and I shudder to think of all the people I've lost through the years. But you know what's comforting to me? God has never once lost me. In fact, He's kept me as the apple of His eye. And it's not just me—it's His children. I'm also safely engraved on His hands. Changes can come and go in my life, but God is my consistency. He never changes. His love endures forever.

Turtle Crossing

It's the time of year when the turtles come out and we often see them crossing the road. Just the other day there was a little box turtle three-quarters the way across the road and he was just sitting there, hiding in his shell. He was so close to safety, but he couldn't know that with his head pulled in like it was.

So many times I do the same thing--I get three-quarters the way through the hard time or problem and then pull into my shell in an attempt to forget what's going on or to protect myself from perceived danger, when actually all I'm doing is making myself sit in the situation longer, and leaving myself in a place where I'm likely to be run over.

If that little box turtle would just come out of his shell and get back to walking, he'd have a better chance of making it across the road safely than he does all pulled into his shell.

Weeds or Crops?

When the farmer started spraying the field next to our house yesterday, we ran to close windows and make sure all the kids were inside—I just don't like the idea of farm spray floating into my house and having my kids caught in it. The farmers are getting ready to plant soybeans, so they have to kill out the weeds that are currently growing, to make space for the new plants. Many times the over-spray has drifted and killed good fruit trees and other plants, but there's not much you can do about it. They need their crops, and they do try to spray on calm days.

There have been times that I've felt like I was caught in a cloud I shouldn't have been in, a cloud of weed-killer and that it was killing off all my good plants. Later I've been able to see that it was God preparing me for the seeds He was going to plant in me. He wanted those seeds to have plenty of room to grow without being choked out by weeds so that He could reap an abundant crop. If I were to cling to those plants that I thought were good, I would have an ugly field full of weeds, I wouldn't be living up to my potential, either—the potential of bearing fruit for God and His kingdom.

I want the field of my life to bear not just a crop for my Father, but an abundant crop for Him. That means allowing Him access and submitting to the weed-killers, as well as any discing and plowing God wants to do in my life to ensure a good crop. It means letting God plant anything in my life that He wants.

“For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13

Father, do whatever You need to in me so that You can reap a bountiful harvest from my life. I know that the process may be uncomfortable and difficult at times, but I trust You and want what You want for my life. I love You, Lord, please work in my life for Your pleasure.

Catching the Creepy Crawlies

One of the things I like to do in the spring is to wander through the old cemetery that lies in the corner of our property. Why spring? Because it's my favorite season and I love looking for the little spring plants that flourish in the old stand of trees. The cemetery is no longer cared for, in fact, when we bought the property we cleared out the underbrush, making it accessible. It's very peaceful up there and in the summer, if there's any breeze to be found, you'll find it there.

This year I was late visiting and I missed all the violets blooming. If I time it right, there's a carpet of purple blossoms, but this time there was only lush green leaves. Because we live so far out in the country, ticks are everyday pests—especially with my two younger boys, and I'm constantly telling them to stay out of the woods and the tall weeds. I now remember why. About an hour after returning to the house I was washing my hands and I noticed a dark speck in my hair. I pulled it out and found it was a tick. I'm not squeamish about bugs (it's a good thing, too) but I instantly felt creepy-crawlies all over my body and had my daughter check the rest of my hair.

I hadn't even stopped to consider ticks before going into the cemetery. But like I've told my kids, 'you can't go into tick country and expect to not get ticks on you.' I know there are things you can do to protect yourself, but I didn't take those precautionary steps, I just waltzed in .

There are many times in our lives when we have to enter tick infested areas—many of us are in those areas on a daily basis, and being there isn't always an option. These are places where sin runs rampant and is even lauded as being 'normal' or 'hip'. You can't just waltz in and think you won't be affected by it, you will, whether you realize it or not--just like I carried home that tick hiding in my hair. If I hadn't spotted it, it would have crawled right up that curl and onto my scalp and fastened itself there, living off me freely—at least until I found it and pulled it out.

Have you ever had a tick fasten itself onto you? It doesn't feel nice when you pull it free, in fact, it hurts. When sin goes undetected in your life it's free to attach itself to you, to become a part of you, and when you go to remove it, it hurts. Just like some ticks can hold on tighter than you thought possible, so some sin holds onto you--it burrows under your skin and doesn't want to let go.

It's really much better to prepare yourself before going into places where ticks run freely. 'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound cure' really fits here. There are many things you can do to keep the ticks from getting to your skin, even if it means looking silly or odd.

But you don't even have to look different—you just need to spray with bug spray. Connecting with God and maintaining closeness with Him is the best way to repel the creepy crawlies that are all around. Saturating yourself with Him also makes you super sensitive to pests that would like to attach themselves to you. He heightens your sensitivities, allowing you to do away with the invader before it fastens itself to you.

Ticks are just part of living in the country just as sin is part of living in this world. We just need to make sure to prepare ourselves so we can catch those creepy crawlies before they sink their teeth into us.

Weedy Deeds

Driving into town the other day I spotted some of the last bearded irises of the season. I never would've seen them if I hadn't known where to look because the weeds were all around them and as tall as the blossoms. What a shame to hide such pretty blooms! I thought as I whizzed past, my mind going back to the tension between me and my husband.

As much as I didn't like to hear it, let alone admit it, he had a valid point: I had been neglecting my responsibilities. While he had been pointing out my irresponsibility my mind had been busily refuting him. Yeah, well what about all the things I have done, and done well—so you didn't have to worry about it? What about all those things? You never seem to notice all that until I mess-up and then you notice the screw-up.

The little birdie that constantly whispers in my ear said, “Yeah, well this was a big screw-up and he's making a good point. You'd better listen-up.”

You know, sometimes I'd really like to muzzle that birdie. But it's good that I didn't because as I watched for the next place that has bearded irises growing in their yard, the birdie started talking to me again. She pointed out to me that sometimes the good things that I do are much like the bearded irises that were hiding in the weeds. I let so many weeds and bad things grow up in me and around me that it's hard to see the good and beautiful things.

I decided right then that it was time for me to start doing some weeding so that others, especially my wonderful husband, could see the good things in me.

God's Binoculars

When I saw a flash of scarlet and gold in the trees I went on high alert and wished I had my binoculars handy. The bright colors of an oriole are guaranteed to brighten my day and I'd love to see one and start feeding it. By the time I got my binoculars out of the front closet the bird was gone, so I placed them beside me so they'd be handy for the next time.

Soon a hummingbird came to the feeder right outside my window and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her close up and crystal clear. Next a flicker visited the yard light pole and I was amazed by his intricate detail that I had missed all these years. As I studied and enjoyed the birds in a new way I couldn't help but praise God for His awesome craftsmanship. What a God of detail and style we serve!

With the binoculars at my eyes I realized the Holy Spirit is similar (but much better than!) any pair of binoculars. When we read or meditate on Scripture through the lens of the Holy Spirit we see things more clearly and in greater detail. Prayerfully approaching God's Word allows us to understand it better...the Spirit clarifies our sight.

Just like my binoculars are now near my chair so they're close at hand, I want to be in close communion with God so His Spirit can can be my binoculars and help me see things clearly.

My Other Boys

March and May are bittersweet months for me. I love Spring—everything about it, but as the daffodils bloom I'm reminded of two precious little ones I have waiting for me. They're safe in Jesus' arms. Here's my journal entry from 9 years ago in March:

“Elijah is his own special miracle. Just 14 weeks after conception and Elijah was so perfectly formed. I was able to count his little fingers and his tiny toes as I held him ever so gently in my hand. With his eyes beginning to open and his mouth open there was no mistaking his identity--he was my son. So longed for. It didn't matter that he was Baby #5 for us—we knew the joy children bring with them and we couldn't wait to get to know this special baby, with the unique personality God had given him. Each baby is unspeakably special and so cherished.

Elijah was a gift from God...but for some reason God sent him over five months early and as I held this precious child in my hand, I sat in awe of God. Just 14 weeks and he was so perfectly formed. His little ribs and plump belly reminded me of all I would miss in the coming months and years...

We only had Elijah with us for 14 weeks, and then, as even now, we treasured him. His absence is felt deep within us, and we know there will always be one more than is with us here. Elijah is his own special miracle. He is forever imprinted on our hearts.”

The following year, almost 14 months to the day, we miscarried another little one, this one at 18 weeks. This is what I wrote in May, 2000:

“...'Safe in the arms of Jesus' has taken on a whole new meaning for me and resting in God's sovereignty has kept me securely anchored. Reading God's Word has truly been a balm to my ragged spirit. In the midst of my grief my Bible reading brought me to Habakkuk and I found my spirit crying out with him, 'Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice int the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds' feet, and makes me walk on my high places.' (Hab. 3:18-19).

Through the blackness of my grief I saw the candlelight of God shining through. As I turned my focus from my loss to God's light the blackness began to recede. Yes, there's still grief, but grief without blackness is bearable. I long for my two boys who are safe in the arms of Jesus and I weep for them, but God's light and comfort are here, surrounding me. As a result I was able to sing through my tears 'My God how great Thou art!!' and mean it with every fiber of my being! Worshiping God has made my feet sure and steady as I climb this rocky path, and this rocky path is bringing me into the Sonshine.

'...Then sings my soul, my Savior, God to Thee,
How great Thou art—HOW GREAT THOU ART!!'

Just so you know, 8 months later we learned I was pregnant again and when fear threatened to choke me I had a verse to cling to—one I had found right after singing 'How Great Thou Art' that first Sunday back at church. It was Isaiah 41:13 “For you are the LORD my God who has declared, 'Do not fear, I will help you.'” Throughout my 36 week pregnancy I clung to that verse, knowing that even if we lost that baby too, He would help us through the grief. But there was only joy when Isaac was born 4 weeks early. And he's still a joy—just as our four other children here are.

The Master Decorator

How is it that some people can take a room, fill it with spare parts, old parts, new parts, odd parts and all kinds of other things and make it beautiful?!! I have never been able to understand it. I could take the same parts and pieces, arrange them, and have a...garage sale. It just doesn’t work for me.

I’ve studied Better Homes & Gardens for years, dreamed, schemed, plotted and planned, and my house still looks like a collection of yard sale and auction finds, which it is. What’s the missing link? If I hang a curtain like the masters do in BH&G, it’d look like a sheet hung with strips of rags instead of the cool curtains they ended up with. What am I doing wrong?

I just don’t have that magical touch of a decorating master’s hand. Some hands create beauty out of chaos, mine create more chaos out of chaos. How I wish I could create an environment that invited people to enter, relax and visit and unwind, but I struggle with keeping the living room presentable enough so my husband doesn't groan when he walks in the door at night!

But just because I don’t have a decorator’s touch in my home doesn’t mean I’m not touched by the Master Decorator. He’s willing to decorate my soul if I just give Him access to it. Am I willing for Him to dig through the attic of my life, looking for antique treasures I had tucked away and buried? What about those basement corners in my life? Just because I think something is junk and have it hidden in my basement, doesn’t mean He doesn’t want to pull it out, touch it up, and add it to my living room, that ‘public’ part of my life.

God, the Master Decorator, is able to pull all the parts and pieces of my life together, even the seemingly ugly parts, and create a place of comfort, a haven from life’s storms. But I need to give Him access to my hiding places. Am I willing to have Him pull out the ‘uglies’ hidden in my life and create beauty from those? Am I willing to invite people in to see how He has decorated my soul? It means exposure. It means allowing them to see the uglies. But those uglies, once touched by the Master’s hand, are not ugly any more, they’re worked into the whole and they create a picture and a place of His beauty. If I allow Him access and invite Him to decorate my soul.

Please, Lord, be the Master Decorator in my life and soul. I give You the keys to my attic, basement, closets, shed, and garage--every hiding place in my life. Take these parts, even the ugly ones, and touch them and arrange them to create a place of beauty in me--a place of refreshment and peace. Be the Master Decorator in me.

A Sheep in Mule's Clothes

Not too far from my house a man has a pair of mules and they're fun to see as we zoom past on our way to town. We've seen them scratching each other's backs, whispering sweet nothings in each other's ears and even just resting companionably in the sunshine.

This time past I noticed one was lying down resting and the other was nearby grazing, and I saw the evidence of their consistency. Where they lie down is worn down to bare dirt in an almost perfect circle, but beyond that circle all is green. I really wanted to stop and scratch their ears and tell them that if they would move their resting area over just ten feet they'd have nice soft, green grass to lie on. Do you think they'd listen to me and move? No, probably not. In that I'm just like those mules. I'm so stuck in my rut that I don't want to move even just a few feet to a nicer place.

God has provided me, and has offered me, a beautiful place to rest, but I stubbornly insist on staying in the same place I've aways been. I have a lot of mule in me and it's not how God meant me to be. He has green pastures and still waters for me, not just a small, hard packed circle of dirt. Maybe it's time for me to stop acting like a mule and remember that I'm a sheep listening to my Shepherd's voice and enjoy the good He has for me.

“The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.”
~Psalm 23:1-3 (NASB)

Ten Reasons I Blog

My dear, darling Laury of In My Daddy's Arms tagged me this morning, so now I have to figure out 10 reasons why I blog. Oh my.

The best reason I could come up with is that I'm bored and need something to do and blogging seemed like an easy no-brainer thing to do. (So not!) *phew* There's one. How many reasons do I need? Ten! *Yikes *

Blogging the nuggets God gives me is a good discipline for me.

I need the writing practice.

It's given me a focus—a theme-- to write to. (I'm a writing junkie if you haven't noticed. LoL)

I started blogging to keep in touch with family that's spread around the country. (a different blog)

Places that have accepted my stories asked if I have a link to include in my byline—so I obliged. *Grin *

It's encouraging to hear from people and to see that others visit my blog. It'd be even more encouraging if they'd say 'Hi'. LoL *pant, pant* How many is that?

It's making me learn more computer skills than I ever thought I'd need or even want. (It's been good mental exercise.)

I've met some wonderful new friends. *Hi Annette!*

So I can tell my kids I'm working on the computer and not just playing. *winkums*

*wipes sweat from forehead and leans on keyboard* That was hard work!

Now, to pass on the blessing I tag Laura and one of my best friends from high school, down in Ecuador, Heather in Madrid. Have fun ladies! (hehe. It's only 'cuz I love you!) *grin*

Not Just Green

My trips to town now are full of color--the fields are not just green, they're a vibrant green from the rain and warmer weather. But it's not just the fields, it's the flowering trees and spring flowers that add a bright beauty to everything. Everything is refreshed and restored after the winter—the months of drab barrenness.

Looking through my life, I can see times of drabness, and times of greenness--even times when my life has seemed lush and vibrant. Those were the times I was closest to God. Times when I lived from the overflow of my time spent in communion with my Savior.

I've found that worship and praise can turn the nice, green landscape of my life into a lush garden that sparkles with splashes of vibrant color. And that's what I want—lush and vibrant. Green is good, but why settle for good when gorgeous is just across that bridge of worship and praise?

“Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation,
And sustain me with a willing spirit.”
~Psalm 51:12

“Bless he Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me,
bless His holy name.”
~Psalm 103:1
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