The Why of My Writing

Jesus with an award

“I won’t buy your book unless you allow me to read a story or two first,” a young lady at a craft fair explained. She said she had no intention of buying without trying. She also informed me that she did not know or care to know my Jesus. But she had an uncle whose birthday was coming up.  He was a retired pastor and she thought it might be a book he’d enjoy.

I voiced no objection, cleared the seat next to me and patted it. I gave her a cup of coffee and told her I would attend to other customers as she read. I got lost in conversation with another buyer and didn’t look in the direction of the woman sitting next to me for well over five minutes.

People who write books do it for a variety of reasons. The writing is enjoyable to me, but the marketing can be daunting. At some point almost all of us have asked, “Why am I doing this?” It’s easy to become discouraged by few reviews, poor rankings or tiny royalty checks.

Then this woman who did not believe in my Jesus but had a pastor uncle who did, sat down to take my book for a test drive. When I had some breathing room from other customers, I looked at her and began to speak. The words I planned to share were prohibited in their progression when I observed tears rolling down her cheeks.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

She nodded and said, “Yes, Ma’am. I’m so moved by this piece I…”

In the silent space we shared, I prayed no one would invade. I waited. When she did not say anything for several minutes, I broke the silence.

“What story did you read?” I asked.

“‘Last Waltz’, the one about your work as an elf at an event where you danced with a dying child. It is beautifully written but so sad. Did it really happen?”

“Yes, all the stories in this book are true,” I told her.

“I’ll take three books please. Sign one for my Uncle Robert and one for me. Please  sign the other without addressing it to anyone in particular. I don’t know who I’ll give that one to yet.”

I did as she asked. When she walked away with her package, I sat back in my chair and thanked God for opportunity to see the impact of the book in real time. This is a gift not often given to authors. I praised Him for revealing why He asks me to write and why I am unable to resist His request.

As I watched the young lady walk away,  I heard a man clear his throat. “Did you write this book?” he asked, picking up a copy. “It looks interesting. I love the title, and the cover.”

He turned the book over to read the back cover and told me he too was an author who has published a few books.

“Would you mind if I read a story or two?” He asked.

“No, not at all,” I said, “Not at all.”

Copyright December 2018
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Connect with me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett  or Facebook Author Page

Check out the books I have published:

“Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

“Jesus in Shorts: Twenty-five Shorts Stories of Life-Changing Jesus Moments,” available at  Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. Or see the Upcoming Events tab on this website for locations where Laura will be selling and signing her books.

See my Publications tab on this website for books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.

 

 

Help from my friends

“We look to God a lot for our future. But He’s not done with your past. He’s still attentive to things of the past.” These are words from a Christian friend and fellow author as she talked about healing through writing her debut fiction novel. She was giving a radio interview. Her words offered me a spiritual “Aha” moment. I looked at my husband and smiled. Another piece of the wholeness puzzle was placed in my wounded heart with such truth and exquisite gentleness, it brought me to tears.

That lady’s name is Jan Fallon and her first book, “Campsite Six” is full of opportunities to know her and ourselves a little better. That day as I listened, again, to the podcasted interview I felt gratitude for those God brings into my life to help me resist temptation to isolate in times of pain.

Jan’s statement came at a time when I was studying a book by another Christian author and dear friend, Paula Moldenhauer. In the final installment in her four-part “Soul Scents: A Spiritual Journey in the Son’s Embrace” devotional series, Paula talks about flourishing by giving God permission to drain abscesses resulting from hidden, unhealed, and deep past wounds.

As I reflected on the words of these two friends, I remembered a luncheon I had with Dawna Hetzler, a precious sister in the Lord and author of “Walls of a Warrior: Conquering the Fears of our Hearts.” Dawna and I have embarked on different kinds of healing journeys in recent months. But we have found great similarities and shared feelings when looking into our past experiences. During lunch, we prayed, held hands, cried and set the stage for the great spiritual surgeon to clean places that keep us stuck in dis-ease, unable to move forward into the His anointed assignments.

As a child, I was taught to “suck it up and move on” because no one wants to be burdened with the emotional baggage of others. I’ve become a master at doing just that in my adult life (for the most part) until I suffered a severe financial and physical assault one year ago. The injuries were difficult to process because they came from a trusted friend and employer, and were reminiscent of past wounds. The incident sent me into a downward spiral challenging my faith, threatening my marriage, and calling my sanity into question.

I remember standing in my basement one night and screaming, “How could you let this happen to me? Where are you God? This feels the same as it did when I was a little girl. I’m lost. I’m scared. I’m confused. Was this my fault? Why didn’t I see this coming? And I’ve already processed all this icky stuff from my past – the wound, the infection that threatened to devour my soul.”

He was silent. I was persistent, resistant, defiant, and in His face until exhaustion forced me to my knees.

In the surrender of understanding that I did not understand, I heard Him say, “I am with you beloved. We must deal with the old wounds or they will forever be the basis from which you process the imperfections of others. What happened to you recently is not okay or deserved. I will deal with the perpetrator. But I want you to see that this level of pain isn’t so much about today. It’s about a buried, festering yesterday.”

“What do you mean, ‘we’? I cannot see you in any of this. I cannot hear you in any of this. Where are you in this ‘we’ business?”

He said three words, “Jan, Paula, Dawna.” Then He added, “These Christian siblings bring my words and my love. They are there because they understand. I have worked through, and am still working through their pain, their pasts and their scars in order to help others. These sisters are not in your life by accident, little one. Listen to My servants, your sisters. Then do not fear the crying release that authors authenticity. When you empty yourself and bring your burden into the light, you will be able to grant permission for me to work on the tender spots that cannot heal without My touch.”

Today the current and past wounds are healing. Progress is slow but moving in the right direction. With God’s guidance, I sought professional help from two brilliant Christian counselors. The injuries have left scars. That’s okay.

I’ve learned to no longer bury pain or “suck it up.” I weep when I need to, pray because I want to and hope someday my words and my story will touch/help others. I thank God I don’t have to lie about my past or my personal journey.  I ask Him to make me willing to open up, share my healed wounds and say to another, “Run to God for what you need dear one.”

My friends, through their words and books, have shown me how to say, “And I will run alongside you. Listen to the stories of those who have trod a similar road. Take strength from me when you feel broken by weakness. I am not in your life by accident.”

As I walk fully into this season of my life, I ask God to use me in ways I never imagined when I entered His holy operating room (imagery from Paula’s work). If you are hurting today for whatever reason, hold fast to Him and His people. He designed us to live and thrive in community. I believe my year-long journey back to health and wholeness has convinced me of that more than ever before.

Today, I am not shy about asking for, and accepting, help from friends. That has been a valuable lesson. But it is even more valuable and important for me to be able, and willing, to offer another person help from a friend.

Friends

Copyright October 17, 2018
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Connect with me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett  or Facebook Author Page

Check out the books I have published:

“Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

“Jesus in Shorts: Twenty-five Shorts Stories of Life-Changing Jesus Moments,” available at  Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

See my Publications tab on this website for books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.

 

Holy Humor Saves the Day

Stop and go traffic is not uncommon at any time, on any day, when one travels a busy motorway in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, called Wadsworth Blvd. Friday afternoons can present stressful driving conditions with traffic congestion. During one Friday this past summer, I learned a lesson in letting go of a situation, letting God take control and relaxing in the fact that indeed there is a funny side to most things in life.

I was moving at a snail’s pace and had given myself plenty of time in order to deal calmly with the line of break lights I knew would greet me along my path. I’ve traveled the Denver Metro Area all my life and I learned a long time ago the clock is only my friend when I don’t try to challenge Father Time with excuses for why I couldn’t leave room for possible (probable) delays.

I sat in line with other cars waiting for the light to turn and allow traffic to move a few yards forward and heard the screech of brakes. When I looked in my rear-view mirror I saw an SUV skid to a stop just inches from the rear of my car. With my eyes fixed on the car and realizing I was almost in an accident, I let my breath out between clinched teeth and said some words that could not qualify as a prayer of gratitude.

The driver of the SUV shook her fist and waved her arms at me as if I  was sitting there in traffic, stopped behind dozens of other cars, in order to personally cause her a delay. Although I am always happy to see another Italian individual waving arms in wild gestures of self expression (a trait we Italian people are famous for – with good reason), I was pretty sure this lady wasn’t attempting to relate to me from an ethnic identity corner.

My own Italian-Irish temper began to infuse my thought pattern as I became more annoyed with her hand signals and horn honking. I’ve seen, and been the victim of, out of control road raging. I’ve learned there is nothing I can do to make it better, but tons of stuff I can do to make it worse. So I sat in my car, kept my eyes on the driver behind me, my own hands (prone to return gesture engagement) and prayed for temper control. I also asked God for a temporary case of lockjaw if she got out of her car and came toward me.

I  prayed out loud, “Lord, please intervene and use something, anything, to return me to my previously serene mindset.”

As the traffic crawled forward, the driver in the SUV decided we weren’t moving fast enough and took matters into her hands. She swung around my right back bumper, missing it by inches, and put her foot down hard on the accelerator of her vehicle as she traveled the right turn lane for several blocks.  When she passed me, she showed me the lovely manicure she had on only one finger of her left hand and shouted something I’m glad I couldn’t hear. As she sped past I saw a sign in her back window. It read, “Please drive with care – baby on board.”

I burst out laughing and thanked God for his impeccable comic relief timing. I also petitioned Him to keep me from thinking, “Baby on board indeed – behind the wheel.” Okay, I admit I did think that.

As I made my way to my meeting, I continued thanking God that even in the most irritating situations, if I turn to Him in prayer for deliverance, He will show up without fail. He has my backside and, in this case, my car’s backside. He chose to use something that can usually pull me out of a situation where I can make things worse. He used His glorious sense of humor.

 

Copyright September 10, 2018
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Connect with me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett  or Facebook Author Page

Check out the books I have published:

“Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

“Jesus in Shorts: Twenty-five Shorts Stories of Life-Changing Jesus Moments,” available at  Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

See my Publications tab on this website for books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.

 

 

 

Trevor’s Bible

BibleWhen I first accepted Jesus as my Savior, I met two of the most remarkable people I have ever known. They were in their 60’s, and I was in my 20’s. They sort of adopted and took care of me in many ways, including spiritually. I saw them as my parents. They never judged me or tried to be responsible for my walk. They simply loved me and walked a life I wanted to emulate. Their names were Trevor and Dolores.

Several years after Trevor’s death, his daughter asked me if I would like to have his Bible. With unspeakable gratitude, I accepted the worn Bible in its leather cover with tabs placed at the beginning of each book. I remembered Trevor telling me that as he got older he had trouble remembering where the books were located in the Holy Scriptures. The tabs provided him a way to find the books quickly and without frustration experienced because of failing memory. Believe me, I understand that now as I stand at the latter part of my sixth decade.

I use this Bible on a daily basis. True, I think I have become dependent upon the little tabs that tell me where each book is, in order to find my way around. But I wouldn’t give up this treasure for anything in the world for many reasons.

Being dependent upon a guide to the Bible reminds me that I am totally dependent upon God’s word to live my daily life. I have been reading the Bible for over 40 years, and I have some idea where certain themes/lessons are. But this is a book I could read all day for the rest of my life and never be able say I know it all. The lessons are new each day, and I am grateful to find certain passages with ease.

Like me, Trevor wrote in the margins of his Bible. When I search the Scriptures for understanding, comfort, and more knowledge of God, I find Trevor’s little notes. These were his way of recording his own revelations and understandings during his searches through the years. It is like he is still teaching and loving me through his words, as I travel on my personal spiritual journey. I can clearly see his questions, his moments of epiphany and his sense of humor. What gifts these are – what blessings!!

Perhaps one of the most poignant things about this book is that as I use it, I gain more gratitude each day for God’s word and for the people He sent to grow me spiritually. Like all people in close relationship, Trevor and I had our disagreements. But this man truly loved the Lord with all his heart, soul and mind. And he truly loved me. I find myself humbled that even through separation by the curtain of death he continues to show me what that looks like.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Trevor.

Copyright February 2018
llpadgett
Lakewood, CO 80401

Connect with me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett  or my Facebook Author Page

Check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

See my Publications tab on this website for books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.

Waiting

I’m sitting in the silence, and I’m waiting.

For what?

For an answer?

What’s the question?

I’m watching the darkness, and I’m waiting.

For what?

The lifting, the light? Will I embrace the fog?

I juggle fear with peace.

I desire one but cannot release the other, and I’m waiting.

For what?

My dreams? An outcome?

What dreams? What outcome?

I relax.

I fight to own sleep, and I’m waiting.

For what?

Do I know? Can I guess?

Will I know when the wait is over?

Will I recognize/accept the answer?

I grasp then release trust, and I am waiting.

For what?

I am accomplished in  many areas.

But I do not wait well.

Why? Do I know? Can I guess?

Do I stand in hell, heaven, in between?

Perhaps I’m in a classroom, and I’m waiting.

For what?

An insight? A lesson? A new season? The end of this one?

Is waiting in fact the insight, lesson, beginning of a new season, the end of this one?

I don’t know.

Is not knowing the same as knowing?

I breathe, pray, hold space, and I’m waiting.

I am waiting.

 

For JL

 

Copyright February 26, 2018
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Connect with me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett  or Facebook Author Page

Check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

See my Publications tab on this website for books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.

 

 

Twenty-Five and Counting

Anniversary trip, Ft. Lauderdale, 2016

We’ve all heard that opposites attract. But in marriage is attraction enough? Can we sustain a relationship when there are polar opposite characteristics and life situations? Are there seas of differences that can not be bridged, regardless of love?

Those were questions Keith and I asked as we began dating almost twenty-seven years ago. Neither of us were into casual dating. We knew we were attracted to each other and were not surprised when we eventually fell in love. Still, we took two years to be sure we wanted to commit to a lifetime together. Our doubts and questions were shared by some friends/family members on both sides; and that compounded our uncertainty.

There was a ten-year age difference to consider. His children were raised, educated and on their own. I still had a young child at home. Keith was born and raised in farm country and his interests were mostly centered around agriculture. I was a city girl who loved crowds, noise, bright lights and fast-paced living. He liked country music. I liked jazz. He was methodical, logical and even-tempered. I was D: None of the above. Is it any wonder we took two years and bathed in buckets of caution before making the decision to make “the” decision?

We were not without common ground, however. We shared our love for the Lord Jesus Christ, His word and a conviction He brought us together. Still, we knew love may not be enough to keep a marriage from crumbling. Both of us learned that lesson from hard and painful experiences. We often prayed as a couple, and separately, for God to bless or block our union. The Lord never even hinted at a veto vote.

On February 14, 1993, we did what many considered reckless because the world’s decision-making criteria often displaces God’s truth, even in Christian lives. In front of family and friends we took each other for better or worse, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others. We promised to surrender our lives and marriage first and foremost to God.

Like most married couples, we have been called upon to live our commitment through all kinds of scenarios. It is, and has been, far from perfect. We’ve laughed, cried, fought, struggled through loss and rejoiced in gain. We’ve walked away in anger and come back together out of surrender of self for the sake of another and out of obedience to the God we worship. We’ve traveled the world and found/formed bonds around common interests, like all things produced by the BBC. We’ve embraced our similarity and honored our diversity. We’ve weathered life-threatening illnesses and rejoiced at miraculous curative intervention. We’ve come to understand it is commitment, and not attraction, that cements a marriage. We’ve seen growth as individuals, and as a couple, multiplied in opposition.

Today as we celebrate another anniversary, we have hearts full of gratitude to God and growing appreciation, affection and admiration for each other. We often say we’re glad we didn’t let fear of failure keep us from believing God’s plan for success. Of course we still find each other extremely  attractive. But long ago we were blessed to enter into deeper exploration of what truly loving and choosing another person means.

For the most part our traits and individual human make-up show us as very different people. Keith is down to earth, and I am out in space.

Every morning, in our daily devotionals, we give God thanks for each other. And in my personal devotional time I praise God that Keith keeps me centered, and I teach him to fly.

For Keith

 

Machrie Moor, Arran Island – Scotland 2006

 

Copyright February 14, 2018
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Connect with me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett  or Facebook Author Page

Check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

See my Publications tab on this website for books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.

 

Some Gave All

“He was a hero, you know.” A stranger announced this while I sat at my father’s grave in Ft. Logan National Cemetery. It was Memorial Day Weekend. She was moving from grave to grave, placing small American flags in front of each headstone.

“Was he?” I asked.

She put a flag at the grave next to my dad’s, then turned to face me. “Why yes. All these men and women were heroes.” She swept an arm around the immediate vicinity to emphasize inclusion.

“They paid a high price to help us stay free. Some paid with their physical and mental health; and some with their lives. We must never forget or dishonor their sacrifices.” She resumed her journey, the full skirt of her red dress swaying with movement of her trim figure.

I stared at my father’s tombstone. I hadn’t made many visits to this site during the forty plus years since his passing. Even when I did make an outing to the cemetery, I did it out of some sort of obligation. I felt guilty sometimes because I didn’t make more of an effort to go to his burial place. Over the years, I practiced keeping thoughts and feelings about my dad far from my mind. That morning, however, during my devotional time I felt compelled to make an appearance at the cemetery.

“Here we go, water for the flowers and a screwdriver to dig out the metal vase.” My husband had dropped me at the grave side, parked the car and brought the necessary equipment to decorate the grave.

“What’s wrong?” Keith asked when I made no acknowledgement of his return. “What is it? I thought you wanted to come here today.”

“I thought I did too. But when I got here, all the old feelings of resentment and fear of this man I barely knew came flooding back. Then some woman in a red dress declared him a hero,” I snorted.

Keith went about adorning the grave with multi-colored irises and digging out grass that had grown near the vase. I watched him in silence until he finished.

“Do you want to go now?”

“No, I want to just sit here for a few minutes. I need to catch up with myself and try to figure out what just happened.”

It was a warm May day with a slight breeze moving shadows of leaves on the massive tree that grew a few feet from my dad’s grave. I watched the lady in red walking among graves and placing flags. I thought about what she said, wondered why she spoke to me and how she knew anything about my father. I didn’t even know very much about him.

“Maybe it was a mistake to come here, Keith. I didn’t know much about this man other than he had a bad temper that struck out at the slightest provocation. Why would God be so clear about directing me to sit at the grave of someone I have such strong negative feelings about?” I directed my remarks to my husband but kept my eyes on the ground.

“Maybe you just don’t remember the good things about him. Maybe it’s time you stopped hating your father and made peace with the past. What did she say?” He nodded in the direction of the red-clad stranger.

“She said these men and women sacrificed their health, even mental health…” I trailed off and grasped.

“Where did your dad serve, Laura?”

I whispered the answer as I let out my breath. “Northern Africa. He was a munitions expert on the front lines. He always said his hearing wasn’t right because of explosions and yells from his fellow shoulders who were injured or…” again words failed me.

“Keith, do you think my dad had PTSD and that was why he had such erratic and violent outbursts? I know he died from a service-connected disability in his fifties, after decades of suffering. But do you think what they once called ‘shell shock’ was the major factor in Papa’s mental instability?”

“I don’t know, Honey. I think it’s very likely. What else to you remember about him, besides his temper? Papa. Is that what you called him?” Keith asked. I nodded.

I sat for several minutes allowing the warm breeze and sunshine breaking through the tree’s shelter to form a safe place for unpacking memories. I shook my head to clear almost fifty years of mental cobwebs laced with resentment.

“Well, he had a great sense of humor and quick wit. He loved music and Ed Sullivan. He fancied himself quite the dancer. He and my mother went dancing a lot at the old Elitch’s Tracadero Ballroom. They won quite a few contests, you know. He was passionate about gardening too and particularly loved his trees.”

A memory of his funeral surfaced. I recalled my older sister saying he would be pleased if there was a tree next his resting place some day. That thought brought a smile to my heart.

“He loved baseball and even though he completed school only through the fifth grade, he had a photographic memory that allowed him to tell you who won most World Series contests and who was on the pitching mound at the time. One of his happiest days was when he could afford to take his family to see the New York Yankees play an exhibition game at Mile High Stadium. All his favorites were there – Mickey Mantle, Roger Marris, Joe Pepitone. Oh yeah, Yogi Berra was there too. I can’t be sure but I think Whitey Ford was on the mound. Papa smiled and stuck his chest out like those men were his personal friends.”

For the next two hours, we sat under the big tree as shadows shifted on and around us while I told Keith about my dad. I alternated laughter with tears and silence until I realized why God directed me to Papa’s grave that day.

Keith was right. It was time to begin the healing and understand that my father was not an angry, brutal monster. He had something no one diagnosed in those days – one of the effects of war – PTSD. He had no way of understanding or controlling it. As we strolled through my childhood there were as many, or more, good memories as bad. Those memories were buried under years of anger, resentment, lack of understanding and even unprocessed grief.

As evening approached, Keith reminded me we had a dinner commitment and needed to leave. I reluctantly agreed, but not before cleaning off my father’s headstone and rearranging the irises. I stood for a few minutes searching the massive cemetery for the lady in red, but I couldn’t spot her.

“Did I tell you Papa’s favorite flower was the iris? He grew them you know.”

“No I didn’t know that, Laura. “ Keith took my hand and with tenderness guided me toward the car. I turned to look back at the grave of Albert Carvallo, Tech 5, U.S Army, WWII.  Through tears of new-found recognition, I thanked him for the gift of my freedom that cost him his sanity, his family and ultimately his life. For the first time, I saw my father as a true war hero.

That night I offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God for encouraging me to accept His healing balm on the soul of a little girl in a grown woman’s body. I’ve since cried many tears of loss and released my resentment toward my dad. I’ve processed where our country would be without the brave men and women in uniform who selflessly sacrifice to protect and defend our freedom.

There are still many things I do not and probably will never know about my father. But one thing I am clear about. My future visits to Papa’s final resting place will no longer be done out of obligation.

For Papa

Copyright February 4, 2018
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Connect with me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett  or Facebook Author Page

Check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

See my Publications tab on this website for books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.