Monday, September 11, 2017

A funeral, a missing cat, and a promise

This prompt was taken from I accessed the site today, 9/11/17. "Write a story that contains all three of these elements: A funeral, a missing cat, and a promise."

It was coupled with the word of the day: bibelot (BEE-buh-loh), meaning 'decorative ornament' or 'trinket.' I challenged my students to use "bibelot" in the writing sample.

It was over. Mom and Dad had decided to hold a backyard funeral for our missing cat, Sparkles. We'd spent two months searching for her, and the last we'd heard, she was seen running down the road with her favorite bibelot in her mouth, past the farm with all the stray dogs. I wondered if they'd eaten her, though they didn't seem the killer type.

Mom had promised we would search until we found Sparkles or her bibelot. Sparkles was nowhere to be found, but the trinket had turned up two days ago. Dad said we would bury the toy in a shoebox, and we could say a few words in memory of Sparkles. I wasn't ready to forget Sparkles yet, but I understood that we couldn't wait for her forever.

I loved my cat. She'd been with us for six years. She wasn't super-cuddly, but she'd let me pet and hold her when I was sad or crying. She was also playful and independent, so it wasn't too surprising that she ran off sometimes. It was just heartbreaking for me when she didn't return this time. Mom and Dad explained that cats don't like to die around their owners, and that maybe she knew her time was coming, so she ran away. At least we had her bibelot to bury; it provided me a little closure.

As we tossed dirt on the shoebox, a few tears slipped down my cheeks. "Good-bye, Sparkles," I whispered.

Rudy the Red has had enough

The following prompt was written by Brian A. Klems, and it was posted at, on December 16, 2016. I accessed it on 1/24/17, but wrote my wee story on 9/8/17.

"After two years of teasing and name-calling, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has finally had it. Write a strongly-worded letter to all the other reindeer from Rudolph, allowing him to air his grievances and announce that he is quitting to join ____________."

Dear Bucks,

For many years I have endured shame and humiliation from you weak-minded doe-jumpers, and I have reached my limit. You ruined my childhood! How could you spend your life bringing joy to children, while heaping misery on one of your own? You think you are so special, macho, and handsome, but you are really just cowards.

Even after I saved the day on that foggy Christmas Eve, your ridicule and jealousy didn't stop. You think I haven't noticed all the nasty names you've called me all these years? You think I've been oblivious to the fact that you haven't let me play in your reindeer games?

Well! You may keep you self-important life, you feeble-minded sons of buck-whores! I'm quitting this sordid business to go where I'm appreciated! I'm going to join the Peace Corps Traveling Petting Zoo, where I can help children all over the world all year long, and not just on Christmas Eve.

Let the hunters get you next season and mount your heads on their walls as trophies. I have just one thing left to say to you: Buck you!

Good riddance to the lot of you!

Rudy the Red

What I do now

I teach multiple subjects in a correctional facility in my state. I've been full time for about four years now, and I enjoy what I do. As with all jobs, it has its challenges and frustrations, but overall, I am content.

Betimes, I provide some of my students with writing prompts, and lately, I have joined with them to see what I can produce during the time allotted to them. There is nothing earth-shattering in what I write, but it can be fun to jot down a few lines and see what comes of a few minutes' prose.

Whether you read it or not, like it or not, or respond to it or not, matters little to me. I've simply decided to post it in this blog. Perhaps you'll take the same prompts and write your own stories?

Bill, the Moose on Patrol

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Adopted, chosen and redeemed

This is the second of two poems on adoption that I wrote for my creative writing class this fall.

Adopted, Chosen and Redeemed

Life chosen and redeemed,
Rescued from hardship, neglect, or danger.
Though starting off we were strangers
Forever Family now we’re deemed.

Your life began within another
Whose love brought you to earth.
In due time, she gave you birth,
But she’s not the one you call Mother.

Having love was not enough
To feed, clothe, house, protect you.
Giving you up, though right to do,
Mentally, physically, emotionally rough.

We wanted children, one or two,
But we weren’t naturally blessed with any.
Private adoption cost pretty penny,
So foster-to-adopt is how we got you.

It was December, barren, cold,
 Crying, hungry, our first boy.
Sally there to share the joy,
When C arrived, just three weeks old.

M  was born two Novembers later
Making C a proud big brother.
We decided not to take another;
Their bond is sealed, what could be greater?

Visits, hearings, process trying,
All attempts to end the strife.
Judge Woodcock ruled each boy’s life
Be spent with us, with love undying.

Adoption is life chosen, redeemed,
Rescued from hardship, neglect, or danger.
Though starting off we were strangers

Forever Family now we’re deemed.

This is a long one

This is a long one.

For two weeks we have been contending with winter and poor health. A ten-inch snowstorm was followed a week later by an ice storm. During that time, I missed one whole day and two half-days of work due to acute bronchitis, the effects of which are not yet completely gone. On Monday afternoon, as I prepared to leave work and was scraping the ice off my car, I ended up with a spider-web cracked back window and a hole the size of a football in said window. A generous coworker picked me up at my house on Tuesday morning (it was definitely out of her way to do so). Later, I was talking with a student that had been shoveling the sidewalk when the window broke and he was asking about the situation. I mentioned that my home was also without electricity. He was sympathetic, which was nice. But it was also a chance to say that I believed that God was watching out for my family and that He would provide whatever we needed. The young man expressed appreciation for my outlook.

As my coworker drove me back to town, I called my brother-in-law to ask his advice (as a homebuilder, he tends to have good ideas!) on making sure our pipes wouldn't freeze as the temp was expected to drop below zero that night. He said that he had a kerosene heater that we could use, and he took the time out of his day to get it out of his barn, clean it up, and get it ready for us. He agreed to bring it to the Christmas Eve service at our church and give it to us then.

My coworker dropped me off at the church, as it was in her neighborhood, and Laurel and the boys picked me up there a few minutes later. In the meantime, I had called my folks to see how they were doing and to let them know what was going on with us. We ran some errands (lunch, a haircut for me, a couple of last-minute items for Christmas) and then went home to get ready for the service.

By the time we were ready to go, both my folks and my sister's family had offered to let us spend the night at their respective homes to stay warm. When we got to the church early for rehearsal, conversations there led to similar offers from the pastor's family and an elder's family. We also learned of several other church families that were without electricity. One couple offered to let me pick up kerosene from their home after the service to use with my brother-in-law's heater.

The service was simple, but beautiful. The special music was soul-stirring. The sermon was short, but powerful in reminding us that our Savior was born to die that we might live, that He became poor that we might receive Him and be rich. My heart still swells with joy at the love of God for His people, and I am so grateful that He has made me His own!

After the service, another man in the church offered us the use of a small generator (brand new, still in the box, he said) to power our furnace, so that we would at least stay warm. He said he'd provide gas for it, too, to save me the trouble of getting some, as my gas can is inside a shed I can't access just now (door frozen to ground). My brother-in-law offered to bring it to us and hook it up, as our furnace is hard-wired and would need a handyman to connect it safely (and I'm no handyman). We agreed that this was a better solution than the space heater, especially since it would help the whole house.

All the arrangements were made. He would pick up the generator and other necessary supplies and come to our house later. The elder that offered us a place to stay would call and check on us to see if we would be coming that night or if we'd want to go to their home on Christmas. The boys were exhausted and needed sleep. We still had presents to wrap, of course.

As we drove into our town, I suddenly noticed that some homes had lights where darkness had held sway earlier. Then, about a mile from the house, we saw a utility truck, with men hard at work. Hope began to rise in our hearts. Alas, it was still dark on our stretch, so I parked the car carefully to allow room for my brother-in-law and me to get the necessary supplies to the house to set up the generator.

We went into the house, where Laurel promptly put the boys to bed in their sleeping bags. I stayed downstairs in the candlelight, trying to clear a space for my brother-in-law to work. The elder called to see what our plans were. I thanked him, as I had thanked my folks, my pastor, and my sister, and said that we would stay in our own home for the night, but promised I would call again if our plans changed.

I also called the power company to try to find out approximately when our electricity might be on again. The woman with whom I spoke was very gracious. As I gave her my name and address she said, “Oh!”
She was about to say that the problem that affected us had taken out 1,000 customers in one fell swoop. However, as she spoke, I interrupted. “Oh! Our power is on!” I got off the phone and went upstairs, where I told Laurel and the boys that the power really was on; it wasn’t the generator. They prayed and thanked God for that. I called my brother-in-law, who had gone home for some parts before picking up the generator, and told him he could spend Christmas Eve with his family.

My heart was already filled with thanksgiving to God for who He is and for what He has done for my family and for me, but this really showcased so much of how He has provided for us. His grace was at work through the generosity of so many people, and then He provided the power itself to restore what we really needed.

We are called to obey. We are called to walk by faith and to trust in His goodness. Walking by faith in these circumstances this week seemed to involve trying to solve our problems with the knowledge of how life works and with the wisdom God has promised to give us. Triple-A got my car home on Monday (too far to drive with too great a likelihood of having tiny shards of glass all over the back seat of my car), and Geico will send Safelite to my home next Monday to replace the broken window.  I asked for help, and friends and family responded.   

Asking for help involves humility and grace. The kindness of strangers, family and friends were demonstrations of grace. Contentment with or giving thanks in all circumstances is a command of God, and yet He also provides the means of obedience. I was tempted to complain, but a colleague pointed out on Tuesday that I have a full-time job now, and as difficult or as challenging as this situation seems, I have the financial means to deal with it that I did not have a year ago! The more I thought about his words, the more I started thanking God for each means of grace in this situation.

God is good. God has been good to us. God is being good to us, and God will continue to be good to us. That’s who He is. It is not based on my faithfulness to Him, as I have none apart from His grace. It is based in His character and His love.

I have much to thank God for. This week’s little twists and turns have proven to be a microcosm of God’s faithfulness, goodness and love for us. In a bigger picture, the provision of full time employment in a position that matches my gifts and skills is an answer to prayer that took more than a day or two to work out. The same steps of trust and faith were required, though the process was longer than getting heat and electricity back in the house. More than that, however, is all the circumstances of life and God’s provision in every single one. Godly parents and upbringing, godly and loving wife, faithful pastors and churches, discipleship in Christ, children, family, friends, coworkers—every situation and every life intertwined are in the hands of our good, faithful, loving, holy God. I cannot imagine a better place to be than that.

My heart is bursting with gratitude for such a wondrous love from the God Who Provides. Thank you, Lord. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The search is over

I've been hired as GED-Prep teacher at the youth development center where I've been subbing for the last two years. Eventually, I 'll be working with juveniles and young adults. Praise the Lord!


My professor wanted me to write a poem about being an adoptive father.Here is the first of two.


Our eager expectation lost,
We mourned with the mournful.
Trying, waiting, nothing gained.
Others’ quivers filled plentiful,
We tried rejoicing with the joyful.
Bitter envy knocked, tears streamed,
Was having children just a dream?

“Foster-to-adopt takes courage.
Children placed and moved,
Bonds forged and broken.”
Was it how we should proceed?
Doors opened, we went, with no regret.

DHHS trained us for the worst,
Yet we hoped for the best.
Invasive home studies, cautioning tales.
Water tests, deck rails, window changed.
Not yet approved, we still waited.

Pregnant pauses notwithstanding,
One phone call changed everything:
“We have a boy, three weeks old.
Would you like him?”
We were bold. “Yes, what time?”
“We will bring him in early evening.”

Unlike others, no nine-month warning,
We needed a crib, bedding, food, clothing!
Bosses accommodated, friends assisted.
In the evening, we were holding
a little boy who’d be our own.

Visits, hearings, all the process,
Attempt to reunify—
An unwanted recess.
Three weeks later he came home,
Truly never more to roam.

Adoption hearing with the judge:
”C is yours until you’re dead.
Be good to him, now Mom and Dad,
Provide for, love and cherish him,
Forever family. Rejoice. Be glad.”

We overflow with gratitude
That we have this treasured son.
To gain another two years later,
Adopting two who were so young.
This is our little, joyful brood.