Archive for the ‘you can’t make this stuff up’ Category

I will not tell this story well. I’ll try, but it’s one of those “you had to be there” things. Still I feel a need to share it. Some former writing teacher of mine will read what I’ve just written, that I’ve started by saying “I will not tell this story well” and will have my head for it. Writing publicly is always such risky business. :-)

Here’s the story, just briefly:

omeletteAt a restaurant on Saturday morning, the man from the next table comes over and introduces himself to Wally and I. He recognizes me from a photo he saw online.

He’s a very nice man. He’s there with his wife and grandson, having breakfast. He’s also hoping to speak with the owner about a job for an ex-con. He says he knows the place has hired people with records in the past and he’s going to give it a shot.

The three of us have a little conversation and discover a connection, a shared interest in prison ministry.

Wally and I leave the restaurant amazed. What was the likelihood of running into this fellow, that he would be at this restaurant, situated at the very next table, at such an early hour on a Saturday morning? AND that he would recognize me from a photo (when, let’s face it, we all work so hard to put up a photo that doesn’t look like the real us)!

Even more amazing is WHY we are at this particular restaurant, which is not near our home and is a little off the beaten path. In truth, we would never have known about the place, except that back in 2014, when we still lived in Ohio, I was visiting a friend one day and there were 6-7 people from InterVarsity there using part of my friend’s home for a staff retreat.

One young woman said, “We heard you are moving to Louisville. My parents have a restaurant there.” She gave me the name.

If not for that day back in Ohio, I would probably not be aware of the place and certainly would not have been present on Saturday for the conversation with the man from the next table who recognized my photograph.

I told you I wouldn’t tell it well enough.

But here’s the thing and my reason for telling the story: Every now and then I catch of glimpse of the hand of God, orchestrating things. And it blows my mind.

Could He really be IN this mess we call life? If so, that changes everything.


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I stole this off Megan's blog because it's cool.MEGAN WILLOME, fellow-writer-I-met-in-cyberspace-and-got-to-meet-in-person-at-Laity-Lodge, devoted an entire post to her reflections on my car wash thoughts in “Poetry with Marilyn Yocum.” (It’s really weird to see your own name pop up on Feedly.) I was honored! Plus, I learned more about what I was really writing about. Sometimes someone has to point these things out.

Anyway, it’s nice for writers to know something they’ve written spurred someone else’s thoughts. We rarely hear about this. BTW, Megan is a fun person to follow on Twitter for all things tea, poetry, dogs and more.

* * *

A MAN in THE CLASS I’M TAKING on Wednesdays said, “Aren’t all writers just people who stand on the sidelines? Isn’t that why they write, because it’s the only way then can engage with the world?” Just so you know, I did not lean forward and clock him on the head.

* * *

THE POST OFFICE PEOPLE are used to me stepping up to the counter and asking what kinds of cool stamps they have. I use run-of-the-mill flag stamp for letters going to places where the stamps are removed before the envelope is delivered (AKA prison ministry). More than once I’ve taken a picture of my latest cool stamps and inserted the photo into a letter, just to inject some color.

BTW, the run-of-the-mill flag stamps have improved. They have a better look.

* * *

my cabin

I HAD A GREAT CABIN of 7th-graders at the winter retreat in January, but when I saw the photo, I couldn’t for the life of me remember when it was taken. Certainly I would not have voluntarily posed in a t-shirt, front and center. Maybe it’s a dummy somebody stuck in there, propped up by the girls. Maybe it was the IBC root beer.

About this….getting involved in ONE ministry of the church was yet another thing done intentionally this past year as a way of getting a life back.

* * *

Someone told me I have spunk. I’ve never been told that before. I’ve been living off the compliment for two weeks. :-)

I hope you are well. Drop me a line.

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THERE’s A STORY BUSTING to be told, but I’m not exactly sure yet what it is. Maybe it’s what I’m already writing, daily, in 1,000-word installments. Not here of course, And maybe never here. Maybe this isn’t the venue at all. I don’t know yet.

But a number of you have asked where I’ve gone. You’ve caught glimpses of me in the comments section of others’ blogs, and ask, why am I never at home when you come calling? The same post has been hanging on my home page for over a month.

Thank you for noticing and for caring enough to ask. Am I not encircled by the coolest group of friends, scattered all around and yet very near? I am!

I’m here. Watching, waiting, writing. Keeping all my counseling appointments. And mining for gold, a box of Cheezits never too far out of reach. (Tsk, tsk.)

Keep blogging, friends. I’m reading. And thanks for the emails. I read every single one.


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Have a story you wish wasn’t yours? I’m at Sarah’s today, talking about the power of story! JOIN ME.

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like a block of wet cement,
my whole life
people coming and going
leaving impressions on me

My head
could burst
from the cast of characters
crammed in there,
penned up together,
corralled like horses,
new ones coming in all the time,
few, if any, going out,
the boundaries
pressed on all sides.

They’ve taken over,
manifest-destiny style,
like they have a right to the space
and they become more confident by the day.

Also, very demanding
like I should do something with them.

* * *

THE WOMAN NEXT TO ME in cooking class
tells me 3 times
within 8 minutes of my sitting down
how she’s just returned from Europe,
and once class begins
keeps raising her hand,

“When I was in France, they served….”
“This isn’t quite the same as the cheese they have in Spain…”
“In Germany, you can get a much better such-and-such…..”.

I know
no matter hard I try to prevent it
she is
settling into my head,
another impression on the wet cement of me.

I fumble for the OFF switch. No luck.

I return home
with several new recipes
and another character I don’t know what to do with.

But now I’ve blogged about the experience, so that’s one less.

* * *

If only I was a fiction writer,
I might know what to do.

But my feet are firmly planted in non-fiction, and besides,
as Nora Ephron wrote,

“I can’t believe how real life never lets you down.
I can’t understand why anyone would write fiction
when what actually happens is so amazing.”

And the curse of being a writer
is that you can’t keep the impressions
out of your cement

* * *

Post adapted from a 2011 post. Perchance I have mixed metaphors. I can live with the guilt of it.

quote: “I Feel Bad About My Neck” by Nora Ephron. Published by Vintage, a division of Random House. New York: 2008.

See all the writing-related posts HERE.

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I REMEMBER STANDING in the CLOSET, sandwiched between coats, holding my school books, waiting.

I get one foot in the door after school
and smell booze rather than dinner cooking.
My heart sinks.

“One little drink,”
she says, when I ask.
“One little drink won’t hurt me.”

Second-grader only, but at age 7,
already I know
one little drink is all it takes.
Surely she knows this, too.

“Worry-wart,” she calls me.

* * *

Before age 10,
I work out a better response.

I softly close the door
and slip into the closet.

At 10, already,
I have honed the art of avoidance,
sliding the closet door shut,
except for a slim crack through which to spy.

I stand between a crush of coats, holding
books until my arms could break off
and my breath until I’m about to burst.

I wait for my chance to make a break.

Hearing her footsteps descend the stairs
and turn into the kitchen,
I slide the door open slowly,
round the corner,
tiptoe up the stairs,
skip the third step – the third one squeaks –
arrive in my room,
shut the door gently,
breathe again.

Funny. I can still hear the squeak of that 3rd step.

* * *

DADDY CAME HOME at 7:20. Every night. Like clockwork.
I hear their conversation downstairs,
him asking where each of us is.

“And where’s Marilyn?”
“I haven’t seen her since she left for school this morning.”

Thirty years later it strikes, me that if 4 hours had passed since school ended and I hadn’t seen the face of my child, I’d have had the cops on the phone. But you can’t compare apples with oranges.

Daddy knew right where I was.

Whatever made Ma say she knew I’d do a good job telling the story?

* * *

Next post: Daddy Tells Me What I Do Not Want to Hear

Questions, thoughts….EMAIL ME. Comments are disabled at the moment because a public discussion could get me off my game here and heaven knows I’ve been off it long enough. Am enjoying feedback on recent posts, though. Appreciate the encouragement and am honored by the stories you are sharing as well. Thanks!

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COFFEE WAS ALL THE TALK in the foyer yesterday morning, 8:20.

“Had my first taste of coffee when I was just a young child.”

I can’t for the life of me recall how it came up, but there I was, well-greeted by the two gentlemen who man the door.

They always look so happy to see me, possible backslider, sporadic attender. (They don’t know I’m at 9:45 the other 3 Sundays of the month.)

They shook my hand and gave me a bulletin.

“Yep, I was just a boy. My mother would pour some over a piece of toast, then sprinkle sugar on top.”

“I take mine straight up. Nothing added,” said the other, dapper in his green sport jacket.

“That was our breakfast sometimes. French toast, so to speak. That’s how poor we were. Didn’t have no syrup, so she poured on coffee and sugared it.”

WHY IS IT these little conversations seem more important to me than almost anything else I hear? Nonsensical perhaps, inconsequential, with no claims for world peace or rescue for the economy or cures for cancer. But by them I am rendered rich and made to feel the luckiest girl in the world. All before 8:30 on a Sunday morning. The real stuff of life.

* * *

The candidates descend on Ohio now and I’m fairly certain nothing I hear will inspire me as much as this minute or two with the church greeters.

You might also like:

Oldest Woman in the Church

Old Man in the Red Sweater

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