Blame it on my blood

I have always written, but I didn’t know how much I wanted to be a writer until I was already out of college and working as a teacher. There were signs.

My dad worked as a printer and brought home all sorts of scrap paper and cardstock, just what I needed to make my own paper dolls. I can still smell the ink of the permanent marker, and I remember winters, sitting in our kitchen floor in front of the wall heater cutting and coloring. But sometimes I cut my characters from the Sears and Roebuck catalogue and created a village on the braided rug in our living room. I guess my parents were glad there was just one of me. I’m sure I made quite a mess.

When I hit third, fourth, or fifth grade, I graduated to writing and illustrating my own stories. I still have them—in my own squiggly handwriting and crayon and Magic Markers. They’re held together in cardstock folders with prongs. I hope my boys will care enough to pass on these little books to children someday. I wish I could have had a peek into my grandparents’ lives as children. What a treasure that would be!

On a side note, I have hint where my interests came from. The family of my Great Grandmother Smoot came here from Ireland (which probably explains why I’m so crazy about anything Irish). But on my grandfather’s side, my Great Grandmother Bell came from Denmark. She was only sixteen when she arrived in New York City. She played the guitar just like me. And, if I have the story right, her brother, my Great Uncle Will Hansen played the accordion and wrote poetry. (I hear copies of these poem still exist. I wish I could make a photocopy of them.)

My father remembers him putting on a variety show with his singing and dancing. I think they lived on a big farm in the Fredonia area for much of their lives. He and his brother Chris were multi-talented, expert craftsmen who made their own furniture, even their own coffins.

When I used to babysit my younger cousins, I coerced them into creating a newspaper, The Bell Family Times. Despite my threats, I think all three of them turned out pretty normal, well, except for the younger one, James. He’s a songwriter now—and a pretty good one at that. If he ever writes a number one hit, he’ll have to give me a cut of his royalties. (I was his high school English teacher too. You can ask him how many times he failed my class. The number changes with his mood. So it is with the Bells’ and their storytelling. They tend to exaggerate.)

By the time I made it to high school, I had turned into the extremely shy hopeless romantic I am today. Like James I wrote songs too, but these were really bad songs. I played a horrible guitar so cheaply made that I could barely push the strings down to fret the chords. I don’t remember showing these songs to anyone except one friend. But when all members of our class prepared to go their separate ways before graduation, I remember sending one of these songs off with two of my best friends, hoping it might inspire them to find their dreams in the music industry.

During my first years of college, I was a recording industry management (RIM) major, and I worked for the head of the department. I actually got up enough nerve to show these songs to him, and he was the first person to tell me about hooks and choruses and bridges and syllable counts—all the things my songs were lacking. I wish I had listened, but life got in the way, and I couldn’t tell you whatever happened to those songs.

If it weren’t for my English professor Charles Wolfe, I doubt I would have ever taken my writing seriously. I turned in an assignment for his folklore class, and he liked it so much he asked if he could publish it in the Tennessee Folklore Bulletin. It even made the cover. I always admired Dr. Wolfe. Years later, after I had been several articles published in contemporary Christian music magazines, I contacted him and asked him how I might write about nonfiction about the Christian music industry. He was an expert in his field regarding country music and was the author of numerous books.

He sent me a letter with a long list of contacts and lots of encouragement. The next thing I knew Vanderbilt University was sending me info about how to have my not yet written book published through their school. I never followed up on that interest. Again, life got in the way. But ironically, years later my work was published through the University of Tennessee. I would have never know if I hadn’t done an Internet search of my name and found that my story had been chosen for A Tennessee Folklore Sampler (2009).

People often ask me how I began writing for magazines. The answer is fairly simple. I was too naïve to think I couldn’t, so I sent clips, and several magazines responded by giving me assignments.  But first I wrote without pay for anyone who was willing to publish me. I have endless gratitude for Rebekah Hurst, who published The Parent Paper. She gave me a spot for my column, and from there on the writing bug bit and wouldn’t let go. Today I’m a frequent contributor to The Living Light News in Alberta, Edmonton. I have made just enough money to pay for my gas and writing conferences, but it’s been well worth every penny.

Contemporary Christian music isn’t what it used to be, so when I write music articles today I write about people who make their living in the general entertainment market. I’ve been blessed to chat with Smokey Robinson, Tony Orlando, Charlie Daniels, Ricky Skaggs, Clay Walker, heavy weight boxing champion Chris Byrd, Sting (the wrestler), and many others. They tell me stories of how God has changed their lives. I don’t write for the New York Times or People magazine, but I am still so grateful that God chose me to pass on these stories. He could have chosen someone else.

Some people write for therapeutic reasons; some people write for money. I write because I want to make a difference in other people’s lives—and because it’s a form of safe adventure for me. Okay, I’ll admit it. I like the adrenaline rush. But could you imagine what I’d be like in a real mystery or adventure? I guess I’m more like Scooby and Shaggy than I’d like to admit. My children get this trait from me. They brag about venturing off someday to find adventure foreign lands, but then they freak out when we do donuts in the Walmart parking lot after a big snow. By the way, is that illegal?

Occasionally, I do write for myself. I keep a book of blessings hidden away where I work. I never ever write about anything bad. Sometimes I write about my students; sometimes I write about my friends or my family. Sometimes I write about strangers. No one ever sees this writing except for me and God. But on those days when everything seems to go wrong, I take out my book and literally count my blessings and name them one by one.

Friday is New Year’s Eve. Tomorrow after midnight we have a brand new year to follow our dreams. Who are you? What are your roots? Is writing in your blood? Then write. Put away the excuses. We may not write a bestseller, but we can write for local publications, our churches, our children, ourselves.

For 2011, I challenge you to take a leap of faith and to see where your writing takes you. What’s your dream?

But don’t keep it hidden. Tell somebody. You never know who might help you make it happen if only they knew. Let’s make 2011 a year of bold adventure.

Special note: Thanks to all of you who have taken time to read my blog, to offer a word of encouragement, to make me laugh, to inspire me. You can bet you’ve got a special place in my book of blessings. I wish you a Happy New Year.

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Writer Recess

Ahoy, ye mateys. I’ve been on somewhat of a writing rant for the last couple of posts, so I’ve decided to unwind a bit with an easy, breezy topic.  The new year’s almost here. Let’s take a moment to relax. What say ye?

I’m winding up the last bit of my Christmas vacation, and when the calendar rolls over, I won’t have time for idle chit chat. I have a lot of work to do on my first WIP for the ACFW Genesis contest, and I plan to finish my second WIP. I have another idea floating around, and it would be fun to dive into something new.

With all of these ideas swimming around my head, I feel like I’m going under before I even set sail. What I need is a break, a vacation, a moment for mind to stop swirling and to start drifting.

Remember when you were back in elementary school? Those were the good days, huh? We went outside to play, and a simple playground transformed in the blink of an eye into a major league stadium, a safari hunt, a battleground between Mario…and well whoever Mario battles these days. I’m not much into video games.

How about joining me for a Writer Recess? I occasionally use these writing exercises with my students. It’s a great way to relieve stress and to get those creative juices flowing. Maybe they’ll help you too.

Movie Music. For this exercise, I don’t give my students any warning. I ask then to take out paper and pen and to prepare to write a stream of consciousness story or movie script based on what they hear. I provide the background music, and their characters must engage in dialogue and action as the music guides. For years I’ve used snippets of instrumental rockabilly, ska, Irish bagpipes, electronica, rap, blues, big band, etc. I try to pick music that’s not on their iPods.

Maybe you could set your iPod on shuffle and write to whatever tune pops up.

Dangerous Dialogue. The day before this exercise I have my students choose well-known characters (real, fictional, and even cartoon) and drop their names in a bucket. The students then pair up and draw a name. I create a scenario, and my students must make their two characters meet and solve a problem. It’s a GREAT way to help students learn how to get into the heads of their characters and to write the way their characters speak—not the way they speak.

Just for fun you could imagine “what if” two totally opposite characters from your two favorite shows met up for a blind date. Who knows? Change the names and their descriptions, and these characters may develop lives—or a romance–all their own.

Character Creation. Similar to the Dangerous Dialogue exercise, the Character Creation exercise allows students to become masters of their own universe. I give them a sheet of paper with background questions similar to those a dating service might ask. My students can create whoever or whatever they want to create. Sometimes they choose their alter egos, their evil twins. Sometimes they create their fantasy dream dates. Sometimes they go for shock value and try to make me laugh by their outrageous personas. It doesn’t matter. I then put the students in groups of three or four and make their characters interact. I ask them basic questions about where they met and how they came together, along with conflicts and resolution. But then I throw in twists. For example, as the students create their stories, they must incorporate one character’s pet peeve and another character’s annoying habit. This exercise forces them to fill in gaps and to learn transition from one scene to another.

You might consider choosing three random names from the phone book and creating personas for each. Then let your imagine take the story where it will.

I Spy. This exercise is the most dangerous yet. It borders on stalking—and my students get a thrill of “going undercover.”  I ask them to observe a random person at the mall or the coffee shop. They must stay a respectable distance and do nothing that will get me or them arrested. All it takes is a few minutes of observation. The students must then create a background story about who the random person really is. Sometimes the stories get really wild—but so far we’ve all remained jail free.

There’s no need for you to alter the plan here. Just go and have fun. But please don’t carry it to the extreme. Always respect other peoples’ privacy and dignity—and, you single people, this should not be used as an excuse to get a date.

Date Night. For me, nothing sparks my creativity than to become a part of the story and to spend some quality time with my characters in their environment. As I’ve mentioned before, my current WIP takes place in Memphis during the Christmas season. Oh, how I wish I were there to “feel” the atmosphere. But the days are packed. The town is so far away. If I can’t make it to Memphis, I’ll just have to bring Memphis to me—maybe indulge in some soul food, maybe listen to a really good blues guitar player. No writing, just thinking. The writing can come later.

Pick your spot and go. Does your character like espresso, greasy cheese burgers, sci-fi conventions. Go! Have a blast. “Feel” the atmosphere. “Feel” the story. And then write it.

My last soapbox rant for 2010

Boy, oh boy. I may be in trouble with this blog.

My goal is to keep it light, to make people smile, and to make people think—to encourage. But I’ve had this nagging idea to pervade my thoughts for several weeks, and it just won’t go away.

So here I stand on my soap box.

Most of us have heard pastors preach that we are to be in the world but not of it. That’s right. We have the go ahead to live our lives and mingle within society…but the red light of conviction stops us from compromising our values—from adopting the attitudes of the world around us.

I have no problem with this belief, but I do have a fear—perhaps burden is a better word.

I’m troubled that the majority of Christians have become so weakened that we can’t function in the world anymore. Instead of marching boldly into war, we retreat into our churches, our Christian schools, our home schools, our homes.

It’s really easy to stand up for Christ when everyone you know is standing with you. But if we all build fences around us to protect us from the world, who’s left to reach out to the world? Doesn’t it feel awkward when we finally step outside that fence and try to build a relationship with a person we’ve shut out?

It’s only natural we should do what we can to protect our children. I often wish I taught in a Christian school. But…what would happen if we all retreated to our safe Christian environments?

Imagine a world in which only the Christian engineers associated and worked together. Or Christian plumbers only serviced Christian homes. And Christian mechanics worked only on cars of believers.

Sounds kind of silly, doesn’t it? But we’re tempted to condemn those in the media when they mingle with others in their professions. I’m talking about musicians, film makers, actors, broadcasters, journalists, writers, novelists, etc.

Can’t we appreciate the skills or crafts of other engineers or mechanics even though they aren’t believers? Who’s left to share Jesus if we disappear?

Just as the little song says, if we retreat, we hide our light under a bushel. Darkness prevails.

My heart’s desire is to write Christian fiction for young adults. But I would be blessed even more richly should nonbelievers find Jesus through what I write.

The Christian voice has been silenced—not so much by others but by ourselves! We’re leaving the general market, and the general market isn’t necessarily forcing us out. When the majority of Christians retreat, the remaining Christian voices are drowned out by cacophony of competing beliefs. The Christian majority no longer exists.

Back in the 1990s, I spent a lot of time writing about contemporary Christian music. Not only did these artists receive condemnation from segments of the church, but I did too—just for believing in and writing about their work.

Yet, in my heart, I felt a strong conviction that these Christians were spreading the gospel of Christ in a non-confrontational way that helped others understand. I still do. These artists took the gospel to clubs and bars and pubs, places where empty hearts are often searching for something, someone to fill them. Why not Jesus? Listen to the question again.

Why not Jesus?

These artists spoke the language of the natives yet maintained their Christian convictions, not unlike what missionaries do in foreign countries. Jars of Clay, for example, toured with Sting and shared the stage with mainstream artists Matchbox Twenty, Seal, and Lenny Kravitz. They didn’t sing to the choir. They sang to the world, in it but not of it.

I fear a similar situation is happening in the publishing world today. We have a need for Christian publishing. But we have a greater need for writers to use their stories as Jesus did His parables as a way to share the Truth with people who would never look at Christian lit.

When we’re tempted to retreat to our safe havens, when we’re tempted to condemn those who, like missionaries. take the message to world–but through modern media, we should remember that Jesus left His haven, heaven, to come to the world—to be in the world so that we might hear and believe.

Jesus has His own plan for taking us out of the world. It’s called the rapture.

Right now I think we have a job to do. In my humble opinion, we need to get into the world and be the light. But we had better toughen up so that we don’t conform. Plus, it’s easy to share Jesus with people who already know Him.

It’s a whole lot tougher to do it in front of a world that may mock, persecute, or even kill us for our beliefs.

Just go ahead and tattoo me

The clinical name is atychiphobia. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Maybe you’ve got it—the fear of failing.

Psychologists tell us we develop atychiphobia due to a major embarrassment that occurs as the result of a minor failure. I can name a few. How about you?

People who develop a fear of failure become paralyzed. They may even sabotage their own success by coming up with excuses as to why they can’t do what’s expected of them. It’s not uncommon for people to fake an illness, to quit a job, to end a relationship just so they won’t have to face failure.

I see it quite often in my kiddos at school. Some of them are at the top of their class; some of them just struggle to get by.

The ones at the top take every honors class and work themselves into a frenzy to get an A. Yet they rarely take a risk. Isn’t that what honors classes are designed to do—provide opportunities for the brightest of the bright to explore new horizons and to think new thoughts? Who said every step had to be perfect? Whatever happened to trial and error?

The ones at the bottom, on the other hand, don’t try at all. It’s easier to save face just by saying, “I didn’t try.” It’s much harder to say, “I couldn’t do it.”

Oh, how I can relate.

I don’t remember the year, but I do remember the song. I was in music class, singing “Bingo” at the top of my lungs, loving every minute of me. My teacher reprimanded me in front of the whole class. To this day I won’t sing in front of anyone, not really.

Silly isn’t it? And scary too to think that we can affect other peoples’ lives with a few careless words. My teacher didn’t mean anything by it. I’m sure I was being too loud. She just didn’t realize the fragile being behind those loud notes.

I still remember my first grade teacher sending a note home on my report card because I cried if I missed anything—anything! How embarrassing.

My second grade teacher stopped my family in the local department store and replayed the time I became very upset because I misspelled clothes as close on a spelling test. Mind you this event occurred, what, 20 or 30 years ago. And she remembered it! Was I that bad?

My parents should have just tattooed my forehead with the letters NERD:  Needs Extreme Reassurance Daily.

I guess I was just destined to be a forever basket case.

But as with all of God’s plans, He can take a negative and turn it into a positive. Because I continue to struggle with the fear of failure, I try to be more sensitive to my students who have this fear.  I emphasize the word try because I know no matter how hard I try, sometimes my words come out wrong too. I hurt others even when I don’t mean to.

Simply put, I fail. And then I feel just terrible.

The last month or so God has been sending me through some rough waters. I’m reading for calm, but he’s making me fight to stay afloat. Nothing has been easy—teaching, parenting, managing a household, playing guitar.

Even writing this blog has been tough. The more I learn about writing, the more I realize that every word counts. So I measure every word. I aim for perfection. What if it’s not good enough?

Help! What are your ways of coping with the fear of failure?

Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you’ve got a goal for 2011, but you are afraid of the obstacles you’ll have to overcome to meet it. What are your fears?

It’s never easy, never easy. There will always be trials.

That’s life, a daily obstacle course. But I guess that’s how God grows us. Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors. And perfect people don’t need God.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Phillipians 4:13

Rebel with a cause

A writer who is a real writer is a rebel who never stops.

~ William Saroyan  ~

A year and a half ago I knew if I didn’t come up with 250 words in 15 minutes I would never become a writer.

I was supposed to meet a friend so that we could ride together to Lebanon to a writer’s conference. I had planned to submit the first page of my novel for critique, but there was one problem. I didn’t have a novel. I certainly couldn’t write one in 15 minutes. But all I needed was a page.

In a tear, I sat down at my computer and tapped out the introduction to a story that had been echoing in my head. I hit print, and off I went, first page in hand.

Art by Michelle Spiziri (www.galeriemichelle-online.com)

I put my page in the basket with the work of the other writers’, and when it was my turn for critique, the editors actually showed an interest. They said it showed potential. That’s all I needed. Just a smidgen of encouragement.

Within a year of that conference, I wrote my first manuscript, The Edge—without having attended a major writers’ conference, without having talked to an editor, without having  worked with a critique group.

What was I thinking?

I was thinking I wanted to be a writer. Nobody told me that I should do all of these things. I learned them the hard way—by making my mistakes and then by having some kind, patient, compassionate, unselfish soul gently show me how to correct them.

I am now a member of a writers’ group and a critique group. I’ve attended several conferences this year, including the impressive ACFW in Indianapolis. I’m already planning on going to St. Louis in September, and I am polishing my Genesis entry.

I don’t know when or how God will grant the desires of my heart. But I do know that whatever He gives me, I will return to him.

I hope if God chooses to grant me publication that he will bless me with the desire to show kindness, patience, compassion and unselfishness so that I can encourage other people like me to pursue their dreams.

I’ve always been the kind of person who zigs when other people zag. I don’t follow the same scripts other people do. Not that I’m an intentional rebel, mind you. I just see things differently, so I act differently. When everyone else is watching the drama unfold on stage, I like to go behind the scenes and find out what makes people tick.

I don’t have an ulterior motive. That’s just the way I’m wired.

I write because God is doing something with my life, and I want to share the experience with as many people as possible.

I may not be an authority in the publishing field. But I do consider myself an authority on being a quirky, clumsy goof ball with little self-confidence and a whole lot of self doubt. Is there anyone else out there who feels this way too?

I’m a dreamer—I’ll admit it. But if I can provide a smidgeon of encouragement that helps other people overcome their fears and purse their dreams, then I will have succeeded.

http://fineartamerica.com/featured/day-dreamer-michelle-spiziri.html

From one dealership to another

Picture it. A North American missionary and his family renovate an old warehouse, turning it into a church. The missionary-turned pastor fills a spray bottle with holy water, and he and his prayer warriors patrol the neighborhood, anointing the street corners, where the dealers sell their drugs and the prostitutes sell their bodies.

The dealers move out. The pastor moves in. God moves through the people’s lives.

My family and I traveled hours from Tennessee to West Charleston, West Virginia, to help the pastor with his thriving warehouse ministry. We took with us our two small boys and a group of rebellious teens, some of whom were frequent visitors to my husband’s alternative school program.

Our beloved “hoodlums” made the trip even more interesting—duct-tapping one of the girls to the wall, stuffing my older child into a locker, and threatening to leave one another on the asphalt like road kill. (All things considered, we took those threats seriously.)

We stayed in the gymnasium of an affluent church down the road. We slept on the floor, but in the morning we had access to hot showers. That’s fine for adults and teens, but my younger child Michael was not keen on showers—or sleeping. I had to bathe him in a bucket.

At night he refused to sleep. One night after finally getting him down, all the kids deemed it safe enough to quietly go about their business. I’ll never forget that moment when his little head popped up. Every kid in the gym without prompting hit the floor in unison, combat style, pretending to sleep right where they were.

Kenny and I finally resorted to driving him around the neighborhood in the wee hours. If he didn’t sleep, we couldn’t sleep. If we didn’t sleep, we couldn’t work. Looking back, I appreciate God’s protection even more. We were cruising Crime Central in the middle of gang territory.

Ironically, although we planned to work with the urban ministry, the pastor gave us a different job. Our job was to promote an ultimate teen RIOT (Radical Impact on Teens) that would attract teens from the congested trailer park miles away from the warehouse to a small rural church across the highway. Unlike the urban church, this church was losing numbers, and the goal was to spread a little enthusiasm among the younger generation.

The people in charge gave us a key and told us to make ourselves at home. The church met in a very small abandoned used car dealership that was literally on the side of the road. One wrong step, and we could easily find ourselves in a real traffic jam.

“See these Christmas lights?” the minister’s wife said to me. “If you plug them in and stick them in that bowl of potpourri, you won’t even notice the smell.”

Smell? What smell?

It was mid-summer. It didn’t take us long to discover what she was talking about. Not only was the church dying, it also smelled like it. They didn’t tell us hundreds of rats had crawled inside the walls and expired. (That’s a nice way of saying they kicked the bucket and stunk up the place.)

Let me give you an olfactory image. Imagine what the essence of rotten rat and stale Christmas cinnamon smells like in 90-degree temps in a building with no air conditioner? Yeah, you got it.

Despite the problems, we were ready to RIOT. We had plenty of food and prizes and games and Bible study to outfit all of West Charleston. Three of us brought our guitars, and we were ready to rock the trailer park. (Mind you, I am a mediocre player at best. The other two guys, even at their whippersnapper ages, were already accomplished musicians.)

We built it up, and they came.

All ages. ALL ages. I’m not just talking about middle schoolers, high schoolers, and the college crowd. I’m talking Granny, Uncle Albert, Cousin Steve and pre-schoolers of every size, shape, and temperament. Our RIOT turned into a shindig. But we were prepared—for TEENAGERS!

Prior to our trip, Kenny and I had visited every Christian record company in Nashville and had secured boxes of Christian CDs to give away—hip hop, rock, and even ska. But Granny didn’t appreciate ska like she did in the old days. So we had to adapt our contemporary praise service to our meet the needs of the people.

“Good to see ya’ll,” our amazing lead guitar player said. “Come on in here, and make yourself at home.” He didn’t mention anything about the rats—didn’t have to. “We take requests.”

I flipped out. There is only so much a mediocre guitar player can do with a G, C and D.

The whole building was packed, and hands shot up from everywhere. We played everything you could imagine. I say “we” loosely. I made up chords and notes as the night progressed. Granny was happy. So were Uncle Albert and Cousin Steve, the teens and the toddlers. We made a joyful noise.

The beauty came in the form of the beautiful faces of all ages and colors and backgrounds. Behind every face was a story. Sadly, we didn’t have time to hear all of these stories. We heard a few, and we witnessed God’s intervention on a few occasions. But we had to leave the remainder of the stories for the next intersection of souls.

One of my greatest pleasures as a writer has been to listen to people tell their stories. I have been blessed beyond measure. God has opened doors I could NEVER open. The faces I’ve met are beautiful. Their stories are beautiful. I am amazed at how Jesus can transform an ordinary life into something spectacular.

I am not the story. I am the scribe, but God allows me an inside look. How cool is that? Why me? What a wonderful gift He has bestowed. I’ve interviewed a former terrorist, an inventor, a child prodigy, a woman who risked her life to deliver meals across the border to hungry children in Mexico, a wrestler named Sting, a heavy weight boxing champion, pop stars, country singers, Christian artists, and even three really cool guys who wrote the song of the year for Eric Clapton.

My point is that not one of these stories He has shown me is more amazing than the other. When Jesus intersects with a life, the results are always supernatural, phenomenal.

As much as I enjoy doing interviews, I have a desire to write fiction, and I think I finally know why. When I write my own stories, I become a student of human nature. I watch everyday people do everyday things—and I incorporate the people and their actions into my story.

I sit. I watch. I listen. And I hear God. When I’m doing interviews, I’m on someone else’s schedule. I’m usually too hyped up to REALLY hear until after I go back and transcribe the notes from my recorder.

It’s really easy to become fascinated with people who show up on the pages of magazines, but if we take time to study the beautiful faces of people we encounter every day, we can see them the way Jesus sees them. They become important, and we have a greater desire to reach out to them.

My advice for a budding writer?

Slow down. Be still. Listen for God’s instructions. Become God’s instrument. Take note of what He is allowing you to experience with your five senses. He might just have an assignment for you.

Kaleidoscope

I am a self-confessed hopeless romantic. I see live people. And I imagine who they are, what they’re doing, where they’re going, and why they do what they do. Everyone has a story.

Occasionally I’m right. More often, I’m wrong. The downside to being a hopeless romantic? We get burned. There’s no way around it.

Most of the time, I like to imagine the best out of people. Oh, if only people just lived by my scripts. I love happy endings. But sadly, I usually find myself picking up the pieces of a broken heart because the people I invest in don’t live up to my expectations. Should they?

I teach. I’ve probably tried to intervene in two or three thousand lives in the span of my career. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried over a kid who refused to be reached.

People are more than characters, more than stereotypes. We are multi-dimensional, always changing with every twist and turn in life.

We are kaleidoscopes. All the pieces of our personalities and characters come together to create unique, ever-changing kaleidoscopes.

Why wouldn’t God see us as kaleidoscopes? He created us. He knows our quirks and whims and fears and desires. Sometimes the picture we paint for ourselves isn’t very pretty, but God constantly moves the pieces of lives so that we can be something new, something beautiful in His eyes.

Because I write, I feel as though I have a “license” to be a people watcher. I have an excuse. I’m “researching” people for my next work in progress.

What I really want to do is see people through God’s eyes, to see them as kaleidoscopes.

We humans can do and say some pretty ugly things, especially when we’re hurt. Remember one twist, one turn in our lives, can change the pattern of pieces of who we are and how people see us (and how we see others).

My heart’s desire is to never give up my “hopeless romantic” instinct. I want to find the beauty in each person, even if it means risking rejection, being hurt, or being disappointed. I hope that others will find me (and all my ugly flaws) worth the risk too.

WINNER     WINNER     WINNER

Congratulations to Kuby! You are the WINNER of the Christmas edition of the Chicken Soup for the Soup book. Please send me a private email letting me know where you would like the book sent and if you would like it to be autographed (by yours truly—I have a story in the book! Woo hoo. My first).

Hey readers, you’ve got to check out Kuby’s Korner. Oh, my goodness! YUM!

http://kuby2u.wordpress.com/