Blogging

Consistent Blogging

I’ve shared in the past how I really struggle with consistency on my blog. Part of this is due to the fact that I’m a homeschooling mother of five, I lead a weekly cell group of ten other women, and I also happen to have other commitments and personal outreach times on the side. But, can I be really honest for a second? Part of it was that I simply hadn’t come to the conclusion that blogging was useful and when I don’t see the point of something, I tend to let that area slide in my life.

This is something I’ve alluded to before, so for those of you who have followed me for a while, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise. I haven’t always really known why I’m blogging. It’s something that comes up from time to time and then I reflect and think about quitting. Sometimes it’s because of my lack of followers, or the discouragement of too little feedback. Other times it’s because of my busyness and lack of time. But every single time I do this, I always come to the conclusion that I can’t quit this. I just can’t.

I started this blog back in December 2016.

In those days, I was healing from some very personal and painful church wounds. Writing was my outlet; feedback was my push to keep going. I was on Facebook and Instagram in those days and the majority of my views were from sharing each post on those platforms. In 2019, I felt God calling me to delete my social media accounts (except for this one) and so I did and literally I watched my views plummet and smash into the ground. Feedback consisted of select family members and a handful of likes from strangers. Sometimes I found that I only got feedback if one of my readers took personal offence to something I wrote.

This helped me to develop as a writer. First off, I became extremely sensitive to my audience, realizing that my writing tone was everything. I could literally make a blunt point and hurt those in my life. OR I could choose a different angle, make the exact same point and help others to grow. Knowing this was life changing for me, literally, because I began to realize I could do the same thing in the way I talked to others. I could choose to build up or tear down my readers, not by changing my message, but by changing my tone! Amazing!

Secondly, blogging without the constant fame, likes or feedback made me realize that I loved writing. Period. I always will. For me it’s not about being recognized or about pleasing the crowds. It’s not about money or compliments. It’s not about going viral or one day becoming a best selling author. Sure, those things are great when they happen, but it’s about far more to me.

Writing is about being understood. It’s about expressing my thoughts and ideas in a way that helps those around me to understand me better. It’s about communication. It’s about giving others a window into my heart, to see that there’s more to me than just the person they may see on the outside. This was imperative for my healing process years back, when I felt so misunderstood, misjudged, and chucked aside by people who I thought knew the real me.

Finally, I have improved leaps and bounds in my writing over the past four years and I give credit to this blog and to the many other bloggers and writers I’ve met in the process. Five years ago, before starting my blog, I was writing a fiction book and I thought it was just so good. A few months ago, I read through it again and had to shake my head at how boring it was! Blogging has given me profound insight into what others want to read and what keeps them reading. I know what keeps me reading to the end of each post, so I try to incorporate those things into my posts as well. It has also helped me to learn how to proof-read. I hate proof-reading… I’d FAR rather just post instantly. Yet, proofreading is absolutely essential to writing well.

These thoughts have brought me to the conclusion that I want to continue be a part of a writing community even though I don’t know exactly what that will all look like in the future. I know this will probably be a long process involving many little steps on my part, however, I believe the only way to truly start something is to jump in and take a step. For now, my first step is simply just going to be consistency:

  • Sunday’s will be my posting day.
  • Monday’s & Wednesday’s will be my reading others blogs/feedback days.

We’ll see where it leads.

As always, thanks for sticking with me on this journey.

-Heather Dawn

Authenticity · Blogging · Faith

The Things I Won’t Write

I love quiet, dark mornings when the house is silent and my family sleeps in late. It is my resting place, my time to do what I love: read & write.

I start off with devotions, sitting in the council of my Heavenly Father, who I once only read about, but now have grown to know and love. I journal my thoughts and some scripture that touched me, then say a few prayers.

Afterwards I write other things. Sometimes I send personal notes and encouraging messages to people around me. Other times I write another page or chapter of my book.

Or today, a blog post.

2021, as every year for me, starts a chapter of something new. It’s not looking much different in terms of freedom or peace than 2020 did, but I always appreciate new beginnings for myself. I love the chance to start fresh.

I honestly considered shutting down my blog this year, especially since it had lately taken on such a political tone, but I thought about it more and can’t get myself to delete it. I have learned to appreciate the people in the blogging world. WordPress has become a sort of haven among some very dark social media and I truly do love the people.

I have met so many writers here. Some with similar stories to mine. Some very different. I have met people halfway across the world that felt like sisters. I have even met people close by who I now know in person.

It is a wonderful thing, to have friends that appreciate words as much as I do.

But today, as I look forward to 2021, I am committing to one thing for this blog: I will not be another voice that brings such depression as to only focus on the restrictions, the turmoil, and the negative world around me. I am not going to speak of that thing which seems to consume us all. I just don’t want to be that place anymore. We get enough of the doom and gloom by reading our daily news and the argumentative comments that follow.

In 2021, I want to be an uplifting voice, however small that voice may be.

So if you need a more cheerful place than the news and the constant noise of all the different opinions – please, stick around. I’m sure this world isn’t getting any better, but there are still so many good people in it and I’m not waving my white flag just yet.

Authenticity · COVID-19 · Faith

Preparing for 2021

I admit I’ve been quieter this past month. It seems like all I think to write about is that “thing” we all seem stuck on, and quite simply, I’m just tired of talking about “it”.

But we’re approaching 2021, so I believe an update on my life is fitting.

Some exciting news: I’ve been asked to help out the families in our church by contributing regularly to the family ministry blog in the New Year.

Our church is going through some very difficult times, as are many, and I believe supporting families in this way is incredibly important now. Especially since we haven’t been allowed to meet in person much of 2020. As a result, most of my efforts in writing these days are being poured into future blog posts on the topics of parenting, families, leading our children, bringing them to Jesus, having joy in our homes, etc.

I also lead a moms group of nine incredible women.

However, I’ll admit, emotionally I just feel drained with this.

How is one to support and encourage these young women over a Zoom call, when all they need is a morning out with other women and someone else to hold their baby for just a couple minutes?

How do you comfort someone from afar when they just need a hug and to be prayed over?

How do you assure these precious women that they can keep going and raise children in these uncertain times?

It’s so very difficult.

Are my long distance messages and those few words over video chats doing anything? Is it worth the effort? So as I approach the New Year I’m crying out to God for an olive branch; a small sign to see that this year of separation, of long distance relationships and of far too many Zoom calls is coming to an end.

I hate Zoom.

I wish I were bold enough to say that I would never use it again. But, then, I realize that God has used even Zoom in this troubling time.

A sad piece of news to end the year: My only remaining grandmother is now in the hospital.

And my heart mourns that I haven’t seen her for almost a year. A few months ago we started having weekly phone calls which I SO enjoyed. Our last call was rushed and I promised to call her soon.

Now she is isolated and I have no way to reach her; to tell her that I am praying for her. A full year of “protecting” her by staying away. Of keeping her “safe” in isolation.

It wasn’t right.

No one deserves to suffer alone.

It is with a cautious approach that I state these things. But if I were to be truly honest with those around me, I would say it simply: I disagree that we are protecting seniors in all this. I think it’s wrong that we are not giving them the choice whether they want to keep on seeing their loved ones in their final years on earth.

They should have that choice.

However pro choice seems to only apply to woman who want to end another’s life instead of sacrificing nine months of theirs. And the irony hits me that we’ve all had to put a “nine month” pause on in 2020 for the sake of “life” – A much more inconvenient and painful pause than any pregnancy, I may add.

Where are the “pro-choicers” now?

But my voice seems to be unheard, unacknowledged, and ignored. I have felt for years that care homes are no place for our beloved parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, friends.

They deserve to live with family.

I feel this as strongly as I feel orphans need a home and not an orphanage: A place to belong and be loved. A place to be apart of something bigger. To contribute and to be given much in return.

This year has opened my eyes up to this more than ever before. So much so, that I’m looking at my future path with a very different set of eyes: What do I need to do now, so that I can be in a place to care for the elderly in years to come?

What skills do I need to learn? Should I pursue a nursing degree? Are there legalities that would prevent me from doing this? What other obstacles may I face as I consider these things?

And so, I turn my face to my Father, and say:

“Lord, in 2021, may your will be done. In me. In your church. In the world. Our systems may fail us, many hearts may grow cold even as others are being purified through the trials, but my eyes will stay trained on you – the One who holds it all together. May your kingdom come. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

God holds it all together… and because of that I have hope.

No, I don’t believe 2021 will hold all the relief from 2020 that so many are dreaming of. As a matter of fact, I think it may be an even harder year.

BUT if God is allowing this, I know it’s for a good reason.

Hearts are being revealed as they are: Innocence is all the more sweet. Kindness shines a bit brighter. Friendships are all the more precious in such dark times.

Humanity is so fragile that a simple virus could cause such calamity.

Many voices are screaming to be heard. People are watching the world events carefully, wondering what this is all coming to. Some think the world is forever changed. Others seem naively hopeful that by summer life will be back to normal. The “tolerant” are more intolerant than ever before, ready and more than willing to destroy anyone who thinks differently then they.

Evil seems more evil. Good seems more pure. The words of the book of Daniel come to mind: “…many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.”

2020.

What an altogether horrible and beautiful time to be alive.

COVID-19 · self-control

My Silent Protest

Ok, so I’ve been silent. Blame it on what you may: busyness, weariness, speechlessness. Any of the above would be true.

But my silence has been more than that. It’s been reflective. It’s been intentional. At times, I’ve been tempted to start a post based solely on my opinions, my frustrations, and viewpoint on current world events… but as I type, I wonder, “What can I say, that hasn’t already been said?”

What can I write that not a million other souls have expressed in various ways on social media, news commentaries, or other outlets? And all speaking with such certainty, such passion.

They KNOW things. And they share these things eagerly. Because they know that everyone on the opposing side is wrong, and they alone have the right point of view.

The only thing I know without a doubt, is that I don’t have a hot clue what is true or not anymore. Everyone has an argument and a professional who backs up their points. And who has the wisdom to say which of them is right?

Opinions aside, I feel quite tiny as I watch the world: Grasping desperately for some sort control, instead of facing the facts… there is nothing about our current world that is IN our control.

Is staying home, locked away and fearful, really “having control”?

Is “staying safe” actually within my ability to control? Can I ever guarantee my own safety or the safety of those around me?

Is a mask a fool proof way of keeping the virus out? Just ask the many healthcare workers who’ve worn mask day after day, only to test positive.

There are no absolute safe guards. Eventually one has to come to terms with the fact that COVID-19 and the passionate responses of everyone around them to the pandemic are completely and utterly out of our control.

The governments rules and regulations are out of our control.

Is the virus serious? To some, it is.

Has it been overblown? To some, it has.

Are we doing the right things? Are we making mistakes?

Not even “the professionals” seem to know.

Still with all that we don’t know, people are shouting things with more conviction and force than ever before.

And I’ve been silent.

Quietly protesting an overly vocal world. My silence is my protest. It says: I’m tired of being one of the screaming voices who wants to be heard, I want to be one who listens.

Ha! Actually listening… There’s an old fashioned concept! Listening to both sides; stopping and considering before forming a response.

Not responding when I disagree.

My focus these COVID days?

Treating others as human beings. Learning that I don’t have all the answers. Realizing that most of life is out of my control.

And then coming to terms with it.

Today my son, my precious son, made me so angry I could barely breathe.

He flooded our new, almost finished, basement that we’ve been working on for the past few months. Plugging the upstairs drain and forgetting to turn off the tap, the water ran… down the particle board vanity, onto the floor, into the floor vent.

Drip, drip, drip. Into the ceiling tiles, the light fixture. Pouring down the wall onto the laminate floor. Swelling everything that was not made to soak in water.

A simple action out of my control.

Had I taught him better? Of course.

Had I been working 12 hour days to finish the basement before October? Absolutely.

But, the mistake that was made was completely out of my control.

And it’s funny what humans do when they suddenly find themselves out of control: They turn to anger.

Anger, as we all know, is actually the polar opposite of having control. It makes us out of control. Anger is a false sense of control.

Of course, I exploded. Of course, I lashed out in anger. But in the end, it did nothing for my situation. My basement was still damaged. The only control I could have in the matter was to fix the damage that had been made: Both the external damage of my sons mistake, and the internal damage of my angry words.

The only control I really have, is self-control. But do I have it?

Control, then, is not my angry or fearful responses, but my rational ones.

In order to find peace with this crazy world, I have to choose to accept that things I can not change, change the things I can, and have the wisdom to know the difference. (Paraphrased from Reinhold Niebuhr).

Silence is control.

Listening is control.

Humility is control.

Asking for forgiveness is control.

And so my silent protest is a plea: “Humanity: Let’s take back control… of ourselves.”

Creative Writing

Sometimes I Observe

A writer is often telling a story within their own scene.

Let me paint mine:

Though the forecast called for sun and unbearable heat, it was a cloudy day. The wind felt steady but not chaotic. Just a soft, consistent cool from the humid haze.

I sat, aware of the family beside me speaking overly loud to catch the attention of those around them. Exaggerating stories, ever glancing at their imagined audience. As if those around would care, be impressed, about the tent that collapsed on their holiday and the amazing burgers they made for supper the previous day.

I observe, my heart melts, at the innocent, awkward motions of the younger swimmers, trying desperately to follow the detailed instructions on how to perfect each stroke. They try to correct those crooked legs. Oh, how they try!

It looks exactly the same as before.

Aware of the self conscious woman, who hides her body under the water, even though the water where she stands is knee deep. Who by society’s standards is overweight, but her son smiles at her as if she’s the most beautiful person he’s ever seen.

She’s gorgeous.

Far more so than the tanned, chiseled man across the pool, who stands out – as a movie star would stick out in a soup kitchen. He looks… flawless. He beams his perfect white teeth and flirts shamelessly with the woman beside him.

Though he’s married. I saw his wife here yesterday.

I also notice the corner perv, who stares at his phone as if intently interested in it, but he’s watching the lifeguard through his camera lens.

People.

They’re a funny sort, wherever I go.

All so different. Also, the same.

Sometimes, it’s too hard to see it all. I notice things. I see too much. So I duck my head and close my eyes, I hide behind a book.

I write on my blog.

Sometimes I observe. But usually, I prefer to ignore.

Writing

Late Night Ramblings of an Insomniac

I’m not tired.

I probably shouldn’t even call myself an insomniac at this point in my life because I rarely have bad nights anymore. And really, I’m just awake right now because I drank too much coffee, but that’s besides the point… for years I did have insomnia, and this reminds me of it and sounded like a great title, so it is what it is.

You are probably thinking that I should stop writing now, because I’m rambling about nothing.

You are probably correct.

But my husband prefers me talking to the internet right now than having me whisper, “Are you still awake?” every minute or so before entering into a rapid one-sided conversation at a speed that would rival any auctioneer. Or worse. Trying to stay silent while my eyes blink so rapidly that you can hear them.

So, I left the room to blog and now you will have to suffer. But, on the bright side, my marriage will be saved.

I’ve been in the mood to write more lately. This means my book is being worked on again. YAY!

Yes my finished book.

That I printed off… and then decided to change a character which meant deleting him out of half the book and entering a better version. So my “finished” book is now only 32,000 words and I now am at the halfway point… again.

BUT, oh, it’s SOOO much better! It WILL be worth the time I’ve spent on it. Plus, I can now enter in some really neat, post “COVID world” material which makes the book even more believable. I haven’t written or talked much about the book at all, mainly because I’ve been terrified at the thought of someone else stealing the idea I’ve worked so hard on and beating me to the editors. But, never fear, lucky readers… I am in the mood to share, so you’re in for a treat!

“Project Slone” was written as sort of a healing process to me after a very painful season in my life. Writing was my therapy. Poetry became my outlet. One of my objectives in the story was to awaken the love of poetry in young people and to expose the dangers of abusive leadership.  So, I dove in and created a fictional story set in a world not so different than our own, dominated by a tyrannical genius with a deeply flawed philosophy. The hero? A talented young writer and victim of the man, named Macy Grale, who becomes a uniquely poetic and modern-day Nellie Bly. To start, here’s a bit of an overview of the story, the ‘back of the book’ pitch, so to speak:

Macy Grale, has lived her whole life moving from Unit to Unit with her twin brother Sam. Knowing no other way of life – Sam embraces the community and thrives underneath their many caretakers. Macy, however, just can’t seem to fit the mold, feeling deep down that something is amiss in this strange place where talk of family is hushed and creativity is frowned upon. The peculiar community is actually one of many and was founded by the powerful and deeply admired Dr. Jacob Slone. It was built upon his Five Foundational Truths to stop “The Coming Catastrophe”. Only upon her Transition years, when Macy meets the doctor who brought her into the city, does she unlock the past secrets that haunt her dreams and discover for herself why Slone City must be abolished forever – but first, she needs to get the rest of the country on board. With irresistible courage and wisdom far beyond her years, Macy uses her gift of writing to open the eyes of the world around her to the horrors behind Slone’s walls, reminding them of the importance of love, family and beauty.

The book addresses culturally relevant topics such as the value of human life, leadership abuse, government involvement in society, broken families, and healing from past wounds that cannot be undone. 

Someday, it will be published… someday. But until then, I will patiently wait for bits of inspiration and write at times like this, when the house is quiet and my mind is alive. Which has now inspired me to say “goodnight blogging world!”

A book is waiting to be finished.

Canada · Vulnerability

A Fragile World

Coronavirus. I don’t even need to blog about it, because everyone else has.

Schools are shut down for three weeks.

Sport events are too.

Church is cancelled.

Lineups pile outside of doors before the local grocery stores even open.

Isles are packed with people, void of food…

The world pretends to panic, I sit here and write. It seems surreal. I’m in a book; a doomsday movie.

I run… from the insanity. Breathe in the cool country air.

Real panic is still low, I believe.

Why? Because most people are smiling, letting others ahead in line. Shaking their heads in wonder while they make jokes. Texting pictures of line ups and empty shelves. Kindness is still abundant, violence and aggression are low. This tells me it’s not so bad. We are still a people who have plenty, we don’t know what it’s like to go with out. So far we haven’t seen the desperation of Venezuela.

Real fear is at bay.

I’ve succumbed to the pressure of preparing for something… not sure what. Other crazy shoppers emptying the shelves?? We have food to last us a while. We’re fine. I’m fine. I’m not worried.

Should I be worried?

I feel amused and calm.

Calm because it’s not the end. I think we all know it.

Amused because it’s like we’re all rehearsing for the real thing. We’re not so much afraid of the virus, of halting our lives. But we’re afraid of being helpless. Unprepared. So we prepare ourselves for something much bigger, something completely out of our control.

An illusion of control, in a very fragile world. The world hangs in a balance that we don’t even notice from day today. Movement of small, intricate parts:

Work and school.

The stock markets.

Our health.

Border crossings.

Truckers bringing in supplies.

Smallest changes that tip the scale.

We know this isn’t the end. Yet we live in a fragile world which holds on by a thread. What will be the final tug that pulls this civilization apart?

History doesn’t lie: no “kingdom” lasts forever. All eventually come to an end.

And I think instinctively we know this. So we hold on and rehearse just a little while longer. Each year becoming just a little more paranoid. Live as if death stalks behind us.

As I sit here and watch the desperate gain their illusion of power and control, I wonder, if the end finally does come… will we know it?

Or will we casually laugh at another false alarm?

Writing

Quick Thoughts

This post will be short, as I have so little time these days, but rest assured, I’m still writing. I’m just mostly working on my book and putting thoughts too private to share in my journal.

However, I’m in a good place these days.

Sometimes I worry about those who go silent online, so I just figured I should say something about my recent silence. This is just for a season… I really want to get my book finished.

To be honest, I have four books going at once. One is almost done. Two are half done. The fourth is just barely started. They are all so different from each other. They are geared to different audiences, age groups, and written for entirely different reasons. I do this so I can keep writing. So that when I’m in a magical world sort of mood, I can write. When I’m in a spiritual moment, I can write. When I am thinking of political and culturally relevant matters, I write. When my heart is heavy, I write. When I’m feeling silly, I write.

No matter how I feel, there’s a book to be written.

So, you can see why I’ve been quiet here lately. I apologize to those who’ve missed me. Regular posting and reading others blogs will resume in a month or two. I do miss those I’ve connected with on WordPress.

Keep writing, your words matter. And your perseverance inspires many. We need each other desperately. Thanks for sticking around.

Love Always,

Heather

Christmas · Creative Writing · Published

Another Published Piece

Two years back, I entered in a short story competition in our local city paper. I won the $75 prize (staggering amount, I know…)

So this year I thought, “Hey, why not try again!”

I wrote a short story, which ended up becoming a medium length story… a tad longer than I had anticipated but I couldn’t bear to shorten it. It was a fictional piece, which a first for me I might add. Today once again, I found my piece published in the paper. This year I didn’t win, but I was runner up. Nothing huge, I know, but it does put a smile on my face.

Here’s the story, for those of you interested:

Tobias’ Letter

It was mid-November and the first snowflakes of the season were falling in graceful swirls, melting as quickly as they hit the ground. Tobias Williams shivered as he walked past Mardee’s Marvelous Toy Shop on his way to school. Glancing through the window, he saw exactly what he had begun to dread every single year. There, through the glass, he could see the extravagant holiday display of toys and decorations that were being set up along the shelves and a familiar knot began to form in his stomach. Tobias turned and began to run as fast as he could toward the school, willing his legs to carry him far away from the innocent display that would torment him for the next few weeks.

Having just turned ten, Tobias enjoyed many things that the other boys his age did. He loved candy, model cars, video games and Lego building sets. He enjoyed new baseball gloves and ice skates. He even liked comic strips and hockey cards. But there was one thing, which every ten-year-old boy loves, that he simply dreaded each year.

Tobias hated Christmas.

Not that he had always hated it. Although now a distant memory, Tobias could recall a time when he too had written long wish lists and awoken early on Christmas Day to open up a stack of brightly wrapped presents. He remembered trekking out into the wilderness with his family to find that perfect tree and kneeling together in the snow as they all took turns with the saw until the evergreen finally fell to the ground with a soft thud.

He still smiled when he remembered his parents despair upon bringing it into the living room, discovering that their perfect tree was leaning slightly to the left and had needles missing in patches all over. The tree had caused quite a disaster in his house that year when it had tipped over as they were decorating. Ornaments came crashing down around them and his father had had to turn the tree so that it leaned against the wall for support. His mother had been so embarrassed about that tree, lamenting about it to all her friends that they should’ve just bought an artificial one.

But to Tobias it had been perfect.

When the evergreen had finally been re-decorated, with its stunning tinsel, lights, and candy canes; magnificently topped with a glittering angel, he had been sure that a more beautiful tree could not possibly be found. On those days, early in the morning before anyone else in the house was awake, Tobias had snuck ever so quietly into the living room to plug in its lights. There he sat, gazing at the tree, in awe of the magic of Christmas. Little had he known that the crooked Christmas tree would be his last.

The following year Tobias’s life changed forever. That first week of January, Tobias had been staying at a friend’s place for night while his parents were out of town. Around midnight the call had come: There had been a devastating accident.  His beloved mother had been killed instantly. His father was critically injured. The doctor had been clear: Mr. Williams desperately needed surgery if he ever wanted the ability to walk again. However, with the funeral costs and the care he had already received, the bills had mounted. Though many of their friends had reached out to help, without insurance coverage or family around, the boy and his father were forced to go on government assistance and try to survive without the much-needed surgery. At the tender age of seven, Tobias had been left motherless and felt in many ways responsible to care for his crippled father. He tried his best to help out with the daily household chores but, alas, there was only so much a small boy could do.

For two years in a row, he had poured out his heart in his annual letters to Santa, explaining about how since his Mama had died and his Dad was hurt, they just couldn’t afford the things they used to. He had explained that toys didn’t matter much to him anymore, but how he missed having a Christmas tree with its sparkling lights. He had told Santa that it didn’t need to be much, even a new pair of boots would be nice, as his had holes, leaving his feet cold and wet at the end of every recess.

And each Christmas, as the holidays had come and gone, all his friends returned to school with their lists answered. Some had brand new video games and iPads. Others had received large building sets and expensive RC cars. In fact, they had received every single item on their wish lists. And for the second year in a row, he had received nothing but a hand-me-down sweater and a pair of socks.

The truth had been painfully clear: Santa Claus simply didn’t care about poor children like Tobias. This year he wasn’t going to waste his time. He would NOT be writing a letter to Santa.

The next few weeks flew by. When Ms. Hannah Patterson announced the Christmas writing assignment to her classroom, the children got right to work making their elaborate letters to Santa. She had just settled into her seat and began to mark the ever-growing pile of papers on her desk, when, turning around she looked into the eyes of a young boy who was speaking so quietly she couldn’t make out his question.

“Can you repeat that please, Tobias?”

“Ms. Patterson,” the boy repeated a little louder, but still softly enough that she had to lean in to hear, “Would you mind if I would write to someone other than Santa?”

“What do you mean Tobias?”

“I mean, I don’t mind writing out my wishes, but can it be to someone else?”

Ms. Patterson smiled knowingly. Of course, the boy had probably found out the truth about old Saint Nicolas and felt foolish writing a note to a fairytale man.

She shrugged. “Sure, write a different name at the top if you like, but please make sure you still do the assignment.”

“Thank you, Ms. Patterson,” said the boy, the relief on his face evident. The teacher stared at the unkept boy for a moment thoughtfully, then shook her head and chuckled to herself before going back to her marking.

Later, long after the students had been dismissed, Hannah sat at her desk looking through the stack of letters her students had written. She had always loved giving the “Note to Santa” assignment. It was one that few kids complained about. What was not to love about listing off all your favorite toys and wishes to a lovable, gift-giving, old man?

Today, however, she scanned for a different letter. Tobias Williams was a quiet child and though she had heard a bit about his mother’s death a few years prior, she knew very little about the boy who rarely said a word in class. But his strange request earlier that day had caught her off guard and now, as she searched for his letter she found herself feeling rather sorry for the young lad.

Ah, yes. There it is. Hannah thought to herself as she began to read the carefully written child-like print:

Dear Jesus,

I don’t know if this letter will do any good, because my ones to Santa didn’t, but I thought I’d try anyways because I heard someone say that you were also poor so I figured that maybe you’d care. Also, I have to do this for school. And I’m NOT writing to Santa. My Mama died three years ago, but then, I suppose you already know that because she lives with you, right? Or is heaven made up too? I hope it’s real, because I miss her a lot. I even miss that tree she hated. Could you get me another tree like that? I’d even like it if it were crooked, with candy canes, and that sparkly angel. Also, could you help my Daddy? I sometimes hear him crying at night. I think he’d be happy if we had a special dinner, like Mama used to make. I know it’s a lot to ask, but if you could also make a way for my Daddy to get that surgery he’s been needing, that would mean more to me than anything else I could get. I just want things to be the way they were, when my mom was around and he could walk. I think that’s enough things to ask for. Thanks.

Sincerely, Tobias Williams

Hannah’s vision blurred as she finished the letter and thoughts began swirling in her mind. The tears kept coming as she gathered her things to go home for the evening, as she locked up her classroom and on her drive home. When she lay in bed that night, her mind could think of nothing else but Tobias’s letter.

By the next morning, Hannah had made up her mind and, reaching for her phone, she made three important calls. The first, to Tobias’ father, who tearfully listened to his son’s words, reluctantly giving his consent for her to share them. The second was to the local pastor, who after hearing the note, agreed wholeheartedly to help with her plan. As Hannah dialed the last number on her list, she breathed a silent prayer as the phone rang on the other end.”

“Hello, TCC News, how may I help you?”

“Hi, my name is Hannah Patterson. I’m an elementary teacher at the Stoneville Academy and I have I story that I think your station is going to want to hear…”

 

Tobias stirred and opened his eyes a crack as the morning light shone into his window. It was Christmas day. He exhaled slowly, painfully. Though he had waited all week, his letter had proven as useless as the ones to Santa. There was just no reason to hope anymore. Life would never be the same. He sadly turned over, pulling the blanket over his head and had just started drifting back to sleep when he thought he heard a funny sound. He lifted the blankets and listened. Muffled voices. A soft chuckle. A loud scraping noise.

What in the world was going on?

Slowly, cautiously, Tobias crept out of his bed and down the hall. He heard a voice hushing the others. More giggles. Coming around the corner, Tobias could hardly believe his eyes. There, in the middle of a living room full of smiling people and reporters with cameras, was the most beautiful – and slightly crooked Christmas tree he had ever seen. His gaze drifted to the base of the tree. Presents! He turned around, scanning the kitchen countertop which was usually bare. Now it was overflowing with Christmas food, homemade baking and delicious store-bought treats, enough to last for the rest of the month! Maybe even the month after. Finally, his gaze rested on his father’s smiling face in the middle of the room.

“Whaa..what’s all this for?” Tobias stammered in astonishment.

His father wheeled across the room and took Tobias into his arms. “Merry Christmas son! Wasn’t this your Christmas wish?”

The young boy stepped back and once again looked around at everything in disbelief.

“That’s not all,” his dad gently motioned to the large crowd of people who filled the small room, “The community has heard about your Christmas wish…” Mr. Williams swallowed hard and his eyes grew moist. “Tobias, they’re paying for the surgery.” Overcome with emotion, the man put his hand over his face and his shoulders shook with sobs. Tobias rushed into his father’s arms and a hush fell over the room as the pair wept together.

Finally pulling back, Tobias searched his father’s face for answers, “How could this be? I mean, how did they…” His voice faded out as Hannah Patterson stepped forward, and suddenly Tobias knew.

“You read my letter?” Tobias murmured, looking up at her through his tears.

Hannah’s eyes grew moist and she nodded, adding with a whisper, “But more importantly Tobias, Jesus heard your prayers.”

 

Authenticity · Blogging

Blogging Popularity

I was naive when I started blogging.

Early on, when I still was in the Facebook world, I got a lot of views. In fact, sometimes hundreds of views a day. I figured that starting off with such popularity was a sure ticket to my success. After all, my writing was still pretty rocky at first. I had a long way to go and a lot of improvements to make. Nevertheless, deep down, I truly believed one of my posts would one day go viral and I would have an easy path to becoming a famous writer.

Call me a quitter.

Call me a pessimist.

Call me impatient.

But I’m loosing all desire to blog for numbers.

In fact, new followers mean very little to me. Unless, of course, I get to know them through their blogs and comments. In that case, there’s nothing that delights me more than a person who actually reads and responds thoughtfully to my posts. I love reading the posts of these authors as they seem to have a depth that much of the blogging world is missing.

So the question is why, in a mostly positive community of writers, would I feel a lack of passion and drive to keep growing my readers?

I guess you can say I’m realizing a lot about WordPress. Somethings are good. Some are not so good.

Good, like for instance, I have never once had a negative comment on one of my posts. In fact, I believe every single comment on WordPress has been encouraging, uplifting and positive. It’s as if this world of blogging still believes in the magical words we used to all try to live by: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

I definitely can’t say the same for the comments I got on Facebook.

But there are still some things that are frustrating to me. Am I wrong in noticing that the people with the most followers on WordPress aren’t the best writers? They are merely the writers with the most quantity? Multiple, mindless posts a day, just to gain more, more, and more followers.

As a lover of good writing, this saddens me.

There also seem to be far too many people who scroll down and follow everyone, just to gain more followers themselves. Who click “like” on every post without reading a single one. It makes me feel as if all my readers have hidden motivates, only reading and commenting to boost their own popularity.

It’s kind of a depressing thought. I don’t really want a part in that side of blogging. So the question is why am I still posting on WordPress?

Because I love writing.

I want to grow in my abilities.

I want to make connections through my writing.

I wish to receive feedback.

And I long to encourage others as well.

I’m not here to become famous. I’m just here to write.

Today, I needed to remind myself of this again. And I wonder if possibly, someone else out there needed the reminder too.