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Daily Prompt: Audience of One

Picture the one person in the world you really wish were reading your blog. Write her or him a letter.
Daily Prompt: Audience of One

My Dearest, Beloved Daddy,

It’s me again, you know, your needy and almost always desperate daughter. Have I told you lately how much I love you and need you? Sometimes, I get so caught up worrying about my own issues and needs that I forget to let you know how much I love you and appreciate everything you’ve done for me.

I know you’ve heard me say it lots of times, but I feel like even if I say it over and over again throughout eternity, I’ll never be able to express my love for you and my need for your approval. And I know you’ve shown me over and over again how much you love me, but the truth is that I don’t always feel lovable, and even if you shower me with your love throughout eternity, I’ll still need to hear you say, “I love you, Cheryl and you are the apple of my eye.” Could you just tell me once more?

I know I probably sound like a hopeless mess, but why should I bother trying to hide it? It is what it is, right? Daddy, I want you to be proud of me. I want your chest to swell with pride as you look at me and say, “That’s my baby.” 

You know, I worry about so many things. Oh, I know, I can just see you shaking your head at me and telling me, “Child, get it together. Worrying isn’t going to add another day to your life, and if you keep on worrying, it’s just going to lead you to an early grave.” But Daddy, sometimes it’s really hard not to worry.

I know you say you love me, but I can’t help but think I’m a big disappointment to you. I know I disappoint me. You see, I try so hard to hold myself together, and do the right things, but somehow, I still manage to screw things up. I get so frustrated with myself, you know? I don’t know why – ok, now I’m lying… I do know why I don’t feel like I’m good enough, and you know it too.

Daddy, I’m 51 years old, and it’s so hard for me to change how I see things. Anyway, I’m trying really hard to do what you’ve asked me to do. Remember when you told me to start writing again? Wow. I hadn’t written in many years, and then you told me to start writing everyday, so I took your advice and I started writing.

I started this blog called Burning Fire Shut Up In My Bones, and since October, when you told me to start writing again, I’ve been doing it everyday, just like you told me. So far, I’ve written 81 posts. Actually, this one’s number 82. Not too bad for having only started in October, huh?

And you know what, Daddy? It’s like a forest fire. I would have thought I would have gotten tired of writing by now, but it’s like a fire raging through dry prairie grass. The words flame within me, and if I try to suppress them or hold them back, they just burn in my belly and I can’t rest until they are out of me. Is that why you told me to start writing again, Daddy?

So anyway, Daddy, I was just wondering… Are you reading everything I’ve been writing? Do you like what I’m writing? Does it make you proud of your little girl?

I know I shouldn’t be too worried about what other people think about my writing, but there’s no use in lying to you, is there Daddy? You know me too well, and I do worry about whether my writing touches other people, and I won’t even lie to you, I get so excited when that little orange comment box, or star or + sign lights up by my name, and I see that someone has either “liked”, commented or started following my blog. It’s like an affirmation that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, you know?

But as much as it blesses me to see that other people approve of my writing, it’s your approval that I really need. Daddy, do I express myself well? Do you think I’ve done a good job in sharing everything you’ve taught me about life and love? When I complete those flaming words, and you read them, do they make you smile?

The only thing I really, really need is your approval. Even if nobody else ever “liked” another word that I’ve written, and even if everyone stops following me, and nobody ever even looks at the words I’ve written, it would make me sad, but I could handle that, as long as I know that YOU read and “like” the words I’ve written.

So, in closing Daddy, could you let me know what you think of my blog? I think I’ll continue writing as long as you keep putting those flaming words inside of me. Thank you, Daddy for the gift you’ve given me. I love you so, so much!

Love always,
Your Daughter Cheryl

P.S. – When I saw the title of this daily prompt, this song immediately came to mind, and I knew that you were the one I wanted to write to! Listen and be blessed, Daddy.

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Daily Prompt: Take It From Me (Also Known As “Do As I Say, Not As I Do”)

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve given someone that you failed to take yourself?

Daily Prompt: Take It From Me

One of the things that always set my teeth on edge was when my parents would say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Aaahhh! Does anyone else hate to hear that? Did anyone else ever rebel against that? Did you ever swear to yourself, very self-righteously, “I would never say or do that?” Did you ever catch yourself doing that very thing you swore you would never do?

I have to confess to you – I really didn’t and don’t like this daily prompt. It forces me to examine my heart too closely, and I don’t like what I see in it. It’s painful, and what I thought would just be a fun little exercise in writing doesn’t feel very fun at the moment, because I’m having a hard time figuring out which “piece of advice I’ve given to someone else that I failed to take”, I should use. I wonder if anyone else feels this way?

Suddenly, I’m beginning to wonder, “Is this really a daily prompt or is it something more? Is it possible that God wants me to spend some time examining my heart?” My mind immediately goes to a scripture that I often pray, Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT)

Ok, so this daily prompt is an answer to prayer, a painful answer. Where do I start? Much of the advice I give to others comes from experience, which is why I can’t condemn someone for failing to do the right thing.

When my daughter confessed to me that she was pregnant, out of wedlock, how could I condemn her? Although I didn’t get pregnant out of wedlock, I could have, because the only difference between her actions and mine was the pregnancy that resulted. I told her not to do as I had done… Another “Do As I Say, Not As I Do?” Actually, it was really “Do As I Say, Not As I Did.”

Or how about when I’ve advised people, very wisely, not to lie. Always be honest… I couldn’t even tell you how many times in my life I’ve lied to save my own neck. There was a time in my life when I was younger, that I lied so much I began to think the truth was a lie. I regret that, and I’ve asked God to forgive me, which He has done… But there you have it, another instance of “Do As I Say, Not As I Did.” 

How about the times I advised my children, the children of others, and adult men and women not to smoke, because it is hazardous to your health? I smoked for 24 years, from the time I was 12 years old, until I quit at the age of 36. This is yet another instance of “Do As I Say, Not As I Did.”

Oh yes, and I also advise people not to drink in excess, and do not abuse drugs, and yet, in my youth, I did all of that. As I reflect on it, I believe that a lot of my life has been “Do As I Say, Not As I Did.” 

And unfortunately, some of it is still, “Do As I Say, Not As I Do.” When I minister, I often advise people, “Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27 NLT) Yes, as I think about it, this and one other sin, Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall (Proverbs 16:18 NLT), are the things that I continue to struggle with, while advising others not to fall into their traps.

I believe my aversion to “Do As I Say, Not As I Do,”  and “Do As I Say, Not As I Did” has diminished. You see, when I advise people  to “Do As I Say, Not As I Do,”  or “Do As I Say, Not As I Did” (and even though I don’t use those words, it’s exactly what I’m doing), I’m speaking to them in love, hoping and praying that they don’t make the same mistakes and fall into the same pitfalls that I have fallen into. Is it possible that this was my parents’ motivation as well? And is it possible, that when I rebelliously decided that I would never advise someone not to do what I’m doing, that I was misjudging my parents, which is another piece of advice I give to others… “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. For others will treat you as you treat them. Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged.” (Matthew 7:1-2 NLT) 

So there we have it – a daily prompt that I thought would be a mere play with words turned into a self-examination, revealing that there is still a lot of work to be completed in me. What a relief for me to know that, God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again. (Philippians 1:6 NLT)

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Daily Prompt: An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse

Here’s the title of your post: “An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse.”
Daily Prompt: Race the Clock

“Let’s do it,” he said, and I couldn’t resist. It was an offer I just couldn’t refuse. My fiance had just begun working swing shift, and after completing the 4p-12a shift, we were desperate to have more time together. “Next weekend is long weekend,” he said, “let’s get married then.” I was ecstatic – of course my answer was yes.

It didn’t matter that both of us still lived at home with our parents, and we had no place to call our own. It would all work out… and it did! Within a week, he had found an apartment for us, we had made arrangements with the justice of the peace to marry us and we had received his parents’ blessing.

My parents were another story. My mother was absolutely certain that I was pregnant, and she made that week one of the most miserable weeks of my life as she kept demanding the “truth” from me. And I have to tell you, it’s pretty horrible when your own mother calls you a “no good whore.”

Still, we made it through that week, and we married on a Friday night in April, at 6:00pm. I rode to the courthouse with my parents, who are always early to everything, and waited for my soon to be husband to arrive. I have to tell you, I was never so happy as when I saw his ugly white Pinto pull into the parking lot.

We were married not a minute too soon, and I always thought of him as not only my husband, but also my rescuer. You see, he rescued me from an oppressive household of abuse, and he loved me and accepted me just the way I am. One of my mother’s parting shots before we left to get married was that this marriage would never last more than six months, but I am happy to tell you that though we only dated for seven months, and although we decided to get married so quickly, we’ve now been married 31 1/2 years and still counting.

He is the love of my life, and I am blessed to be his bride. I always called him my red tag special, because we met at Ames Department Store, where we both worked, and when I saw the title of this post, “An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse,” my heart and my mind immediately flew to my husband.

Daily Prompt: Fight or Flight

Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?
Daily Prompt: Fight or Flight

I’m 51 years old, but I remember it vividly, as if it was only yesterday. I was 14 years old, and I thought I was only going to babysit for the two children I normally watched, while their father went out on a date. However, there was a change of plans, and I was asked to watch the girlfriend’s three children as well as my two regular children.

I didn’t mind. I loved children, and I was very good with them. In fact, I dreamed of one day having a whole house full of children, and besides, this would mean extra money for me. It was a win, win situation for me as far as I could see.

It was summertime, and there was still daylight when Mr. M and his girlfriend left their children with me. I played games with the children and fixed dinner for them. Ha! I even remember what I fixed them for dinner – a couple of Chef Boyardee Pizza kits.

In those days, young children like these (they were all under 5 years old), had to be in bed by 7:00pm. However, because I was the “cool” babysitter, I usually let the children stay up until 8 or 8:30. The kids loved me for this, and when the time came for them to go to bed, they didn’t put up a fight.

The Carol Burnett Show
The Carol Burnett Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember it was really hot and muggy that night, and that I had all of the windows open, including the sliding glass doors. After the children went to bed, I turned the television on. It was a Saturday night, and I remember watching television until The Carol Burnett Show was over, and then turning the volume down so I could read.

I used to love watching the Carol Burnett Show, but after that, the news came on, which wasn’t so interesting to this 14-year-old girl. That wasn’t a problem though, because I was an avid reader from a young age, and I had brought a really engrossing book with me that night. It was Mary Higgins Clark‘s “Where Are the Children?” 

I got up periodically to check on the children, who were all sleeping soundly and peacefully, and then I would return to my book, but I was beginning to nod off. I remember checking the clock at around 1:45am, and being irritated because Mr. M wasn’t home yet, and I had to get up for church the next morning. I also remember that I was ticked off, because Mr. M didn’t pay extra when he was out past midnight, like the parents of other children did. “That’s just wrong,” I remember thinking as I got up to check on the children and see what time it was.

Where Are the Children? book cover
Where Are the Children? book cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Finally, sometime after 2:00 am, I heard Mr. M’s car pull up in the driveway. “It’s about time,” I huffed to myself, unlocking the door as I heard their car doors slam shut. After unlocking the door, I pulled it open wide, and I heard a man, not Mr. M, shouting, “Alright, M, get your @#&&*@) a$$ on the ground!” I looked, and saw a gun flash in the moonlight, as I quickly shut and locked the door.

My heart was pounding loudly and rapidly, as I stood, with my back against the door, my breath coming out in short little gasps. “Oh God,” I prayed silently, “What do I do?” Then I took a deep breath and ran from the den, to the enclosed breezeway, which connected the den, a later addition, to the rest of the house. Inside the breezeway was a telephone – directly across from 2 windows, which overlooked the driveway, where some madman was swinging a gun around and cussing.

I couldn’t risk the madman seeing me try to call for help, so crouching beneath the windows, I crawled to the kitchen, then stood and ran to Mr. M’s bedroom, where there was another phone. I didn’t dare turn any lights on for fear of the madman seeing me and killing me! I grabbed the telephone into my shaking hands and tried to rapidly dial (yes, this was in the days when there were still rotary dial phones) my parents’ house, which was just across the street.

Head on view of a Rotary Phone
Head on view of a Rotary Phone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was no longer a mature 14-year-old girl. At that moment, I was reduced from my almost adult status (at least in my own mind), to a little girl who desperately wanted her mommy and daddy to come and save her. In my sheer panic, I misdialed my parents’ number, and I remember thinking to myself, “Oh my gosh! He’s cut the telephone wires! We’re trapped!” I told you, I was well read, and I had a vivid imagination. And let’s face it, the current novel that I had just been reading only fed into those fears.

I sat on the floor beside Mr. M’s bed for what seemed like hours, debating in my mind what I should do. I knew I just couldn’t stay there, waiting for the madman to enter the house and kill me and the children, but the question was, “Oh God, what should I do now?”

In reality, only a few seconds passed before I decided what to do. I had to run across the street to my parents’ house and safety, but now my dilemma was, “Do I wake all 5 of the kids up and try to take them over too? And what if one of them gets shot when we go? Or what if they make too much noise when I wake them up, and the madman breaks in and captures us all?”

I needed to go alone. The children’s best chance for survival and my best chance for survival was to let the children continue to sleep, while I ran to my house for help. I quickly unlocked the living room door and yanked it open, only to have it stop abruptly and loudly (to me at least) because in my haste to open the door, I had forgotten to remove the chain latch. I quickly shut the door again, my heart nearly pounding out of my chest, as I continued to hyperventilate and waited, listening for the madman to shoot his gun or break into the house, but I heard nothing, so I unlatched the chain latch and carefully opened the front door.

I could hear the madman on the other side of the house cursing and swearing as he threatened Mr. M and his girlfriend. I remember shooting up a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord for my back brace. You see, I have scoliosis, and I had to wear a plastic jacket 23 hours a day, to keep my spinal curvature from getting any worse. In my naiveté, I thought, “At least if he shoots me, this will be like wearing a bullet-proof vest.” Then, taking a deep breath, I opened the screen door and darted down the front step, across the road and up the sidewalk to my house and safety, as my sandaled feet clacked loudly on the pavement.

I’ve never run so hard and so fast in my life, and I didn’t slow down any as I ran through the living room, and into the kitchen, where my sandals slid across the floor, and I fell into the green utility table that held the toaster, blender and other small appliances, knocking everything into the floor with me. Not sure what was going on, my dad leaped up with his shoe in hand swinging it back to hit whoever was after me. Mom was the only one behind me, and almost got hit with the shoe as she followed me to see what was going on.

I clambered to my feet, hysterically babbling that there was a man with a gun across the street at Mr. M’s house, and that was all Dad needed to hear. Out the door he stormed, bellowing across the street to the madman, who had heard my wild dash across the street, and was already fleeing the scene, gun still in hand. “Come back here you stupid, *&%*&(*&^!” my dad yelled, as the man continued to run off, pleading with Dad to leave him alone. “You scared my daughter,” Dad continued to yell at him, while Mom telephoned the police.

Remember, this was long before 911, so contacting the police was much more difficult and time consuming then. That’s why I had tried to call my home at first, because I didn’t know the phone number to the police department. I remember being wide awake and trembling, as Mom held me, while Dad stood outside guarding his family, until the police showed up.

There would be no sleep for me that night. I was terrified, until there was a knock at the front door, about an hour later. A policeman came in and talked to Mom and Dad, telling them that the madman was actually the husband of Mr. M’s girlfriend. Apparently, she had been cheating on him with Mr. M.

They had found his footprints in back of the house, by the sliding glass doors, which I had opened to allow some air in the house. Apparently, he had been there for quite some time, and had probably seen me sitting in the den, watching television and reading. They figured that he must have come after dark, after the children were already in bed, asleep, and that he probably didn’t even realize that his own children were there too. The policeman informed Mom and Dad that I had no reason to be afraid of this man anymore though, because he had gone down the road, to a water pumping station, where his car was parked, crawled under his car and shot himself. He said that the man had planned to kill Mr. M, his wife and himself, and that he probably would have succeeded if I had not run across the street when I did.

I was sad and scared and relieved at  the same time. I haven’t thought about this for a long time… I am so thankful that God, in His mercy and love, kept me and the children from harm. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life; You stretch out Your hand against the anger of my foes, with Your right hand You save me. (Psalm 138:7)

Daily Prompt: Connect the Dots

Daily Prompt: Open your nearest book to page 82. Take the third full sentence on the page, and work it into a post somehow.

I opened Tommy Tenney‘s The God Chasers” to page 82, only to find that page 82 was a blank page, so I went to page 83, and the third full sentence said, “I wasn’t laughing when I said it.” Therefore, this is my submission:

I wasn’t laughing when I said it
I thought for sure you’d understand
The girl that you said was unfit
Was desperate for your hand

http://wordhavering.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/tear.jpg

All she wanted was some kindness
Just to know that someone cared
But you, in your blindness
Condemned her as you glared

O can’t you see how much she longs
To feel your warm embrace
To hear you say that she belongs
As you wipe the tears from her face

I wasn’t laughing when I said it
And now her heart is broken
You crushed it and you tossed it
With the cruel words that you’ve spoken

© 2012
Cheryl A. Showers

So also, the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is full of wickedness that can ruin your whole life. It can turn the entire course of your life into a blazing flame of destruction, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals and birds and reptiles and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it breaks out into curses against those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! (James 3:5-10 NLT)

Daily Prompt: Success!

What is a life well lived to you?

Dictionary.com defines success as:

  1. the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.
  2. the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.
  3. successful  performance or achievement: The play was an instant success.
  4. person or thing that is successfulShe was a great success on the talkshow.
  5. Obsolete . outcome.
SUCCESS (magazine)
SUCCESS (magazine) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t see it that way. There are many very wealthy, prosperous people who have achieved great position or status in life, and many who have received numerous honors, but that does not mean that their lives are a success. Just because someone’s career is a success does not mean that their life is a success.

To me, a successful person is one who has loved, even when he/she hasn’t received love in return. A successful person is one who lives his/her life giving glory to God, because we were created for His glory. A successful person is one who forgives the wrongs committed against him/her, and continues to love those who wronged him/her.

A successful person puts the needs of others above his/her own. A successful person gives of him/herself, without expecting or even wanting recognition. A successful person is selfless. A successful person knows the purpose which he/she has been created for, and works to fulfill that purpose.

A successful person will stand firmly for what he/she believes in without compromising his/her values. He/She has counted the cost and is willing to pay the price for taking a bold stand for what is right, no matter how many may turn against him/her.

A successful person leaves a legacy when he/she dies – not a legacy of money, which can be blown pretty quickly, but a legacy of love, a legacy of others who desire to be just like that person. When a successful person passes away, he/she can pass easily knowing that they accomplished what they were created to accomplish. That’s the kind of success I pray for.

© 2012
Cheryl A. Showers

Daily Prompt: Last Words

You have the chance to write one last post on your blog before you stop blogging forever. Write it.

Time is short. I only pray that I have enough time to share all that needs to be shared with you before they arrive. I pray that I will have enough time to click “Publish”.

We knew this day was coming, and many tried to warn us, but like foolish children with their fingers stuck in their ears, we didn’t want to hear the warnings. We belittled their wise counsel, because we didn’t want to acknowledge the very real threat to our society and our freedom. Who knew that it could really happen here in the United States of America? Who could have realized that little by little, one by one, our basic rights would be stripped away from us, until none were left?

The new laws and the new policies seemed so good to us at first. Laws against hate crimes – who could have known that that one little law would rip away our freedom of speech? Who could have known that laws affording us the right to choose would result in the widespread euthanizing of the elderly, who tried to warn us, reminding us of the Holocaust?

But already, the proselytizing had begun. The schools were teaching children that the Holocaust was just a figment of the imaginations of the ignorant. They were teaching the youth that they had nothing to gain from the elderly, who were both feeble minded and physically frail. The world would be better off without them, and truly, the elderly would be grateful if they were put out of their misery. When it began, none of us believed that anyone would actually take this foolishness seriously, much less act on it. We were wrong.

The elderly population began to die off rapidly, and then the “suicides” and “mercy killings” began to spread to the physically and mentally handicapped. After all, they reasoned, no one would want to live with a disability, and with the money the government would save, they could provide better health programs for the younger population.

Sure, there were some who cried out against it at first, but then, those who were the most outspoken began to die mysteriously in “accidents.” And still, as the reality of the situation was beginning to register with some of  us, we refused to believe that this could really be happening. It was just like a bad movie or a nightmare. Mankind is basically good, right?

Surely people are going to wake up and realize that this is wrong and it must cease! But it didn’t. Children began to turn on their parents, reporting them for “hate” crimes and treason against the government.

Phone calls were intercepted, and the “news” was merely propaganda now. Those who did report the truth on the internet were now  underground, in fear of their lives, and with good reason. Just like in old western times, posters, and photos were posted on television, in post offices and on the internet, offering huge rewards for the capture of these “insurrectionists”. They were wanted dead or alive.

Civil war spread throughout the nation, as foreign terrorists joined in the fray. In the government’s effort to stop the people from mutiny, they created a national religion, which embodied “the best” of all religions, while outlawing Judaism and Christianity altogether.

The right to bear arms was terminated also, with the passing of the gun control act, but fortunately, many had seen this coming, and had already taken their arms and their computers underground. There are just a few of us spread throughout the country, trying to report the truth without being discovered. Someone has to speak out against the atrocities that are being committed in the name of justice.

I fear that my time is short. I’m almost certain my location has been pinpointed, and that in just a few short minutes, my life and my computer will be taken. That’s why I must hurry.

Listen! Time is short. This is not the way it should be. Our country was founded on freedom and democracy. We were a republic. We were united in one cause – freedom and justice for all.

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…”

My friends, these are the words of our country’s Declaration of Independence, and it has become necessary for us to dissolve our ties with the current government and pursue our rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We must now stand up and tell our government in the words of Patrick Henry, one of our founding forefathers, Give me Liberty, or give me death!

I hear their footsteps outside my door – I must

© 2012
Cheryl A. Showers