Words of Hope

Are you beginning this new year the usual way – reviewing the past and considering your direction for the future?

acceptanceFor my 2019, I have set goals to complete three nonfiction books, begin a Coaching group and continue working on another novel.

Each goal includes its own set of action steps and deadlines for accomplishment.

But without too much of a focus on tomorrow, I am trying to learn how to live in the present. Grateful for the past and faith-filled for the future, it is nevertheless in the present that I live each day.

So what is it about words that helps us live well today?

The Power to Communicate. Whether expressing needs or chatting with a friend, communication is the core of how we relate.

If you’ve ever visited another country where you were not fluent in the language, you know how desperate it feels to not be able to communicate.

In my opinion, one of our greatest gifts is the freedom of speech – to communicate what we believe, using any medium, without fear of condemnation.

The Expression of Creativity. Every serious writer recognizes that moment when the a-ha Spirit invents a new word or crafts the perfect sentence.

That feeling of creating art gives significance to our craft and helps us realize we are co-creators with God Himself.

Each day, I am hoping to learn more about the gift of creativity and the quiet beauty God uses to infuse spiritual truths into my particular world.

Words as Tools. As a wordsmith, each construction becomes a building block for sentences, paragraphs and stories.

Without words, I am silent. Without words, I feel bereft.

I empathize with Reverend G who lost her words due to expressive aphasia. I cannot imagine such a terrible fate. Check out her story and the rest of the trilogy.

Words I loved in 2018 and want to use better in 2019 include:

  • Synchronicity – a meaningful coincidence. It brings me comfort to imagine a loving God who sends me a terracotta sunset just as I am longing for New Mexico. Or meeting a new friend who just happens to like chunky jewelry and lots of it.
  • Parameters – physical properties that determine characteristics or behaviors. This type of structure sets the boundaries for my character sketches.
  • Expectations – We all have them, good and bad. Often misconstrued, the proper expectations help me keep a positive outlook.
  • Fantabulous – I just like the way this word sounds.

I feel blessed to begin a new year thinking about words and their power to add or subtract from the quality of life.

The blessing of words comes inherently from how they are used – to destroy or to build up. I choose the latter.

How different would our world look if we used our words to communicate hope, express creativity and construct a truly caring community?

Wouldn’t that be fantabulous!

©2019 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

Check out all my words at Author Central on Amazon.

What Jacob Thinks About Alzheimer’s

When I write a novel, I do quite a bit of pre-writing on character sketches. Some writers focus on plots, but I believe that if you really know your characters, they will write the book through you. So lately I’ve wondered, how is Jacob doing these days? How is he dealing with his mom’s Alzheimer’s and the affect it has on him? Below is his answer.

Mom is sleeping now so these quiet moments give me time to write a few thoughts. The facilitator of our Alzheimer’s support group said it was helpful to journal about our feelings.Alz awareness

At first, I had a hard time writing about it. I hate this disease that is taking my mother away from me, piece by piece. In fact, my first journal entry only included the words “I hate Alzheimer’s” – plastered on the page about 50 times.

But gradually, since Chris, Jess and I have been attending the support group, it’s become easier for me to write about it. Jess say I’m becoming more “open,” whatever that means.

I still can’t believe this horrible thing has happened to my mom. She spent her life helping others yet now, she can’t help herself. Today, she’s having trouble even focusing on the chapter in the Bible she tried to read.

As a devoted mom, she never forgot about me in the process of serving her church and community. She cleared her schedule to attend my ballgames and several times, I heard her yelling encouragements to me from the bleachers.

“Atta’ boy, Jacob. Nice catch. Way to go.”

One time, she forgot her title was Reverend, and she yelled at the ump. To be fair, he made a bad call, but he was slightly blinded by the dirt that flew up when my buddy, Tommy, slid into third base.

Mom hollered, “Are you nuts, Ump? He was safe by a mile. Go get your eyes checked – now!”

She did apologize after the game, and the ump tipped his hat toward her. He was either being nice about it or recognized her as Reverend G and gave her some grace.

Even now, I can hear Mom’s voice, although she hasn’t spoken clearly to us for several days.

“Expressive aphasia,” the speech therapist calls it.

“Exasperating,” is how I label it.

I can predict when Mom tries to communicate. Her forehead scrunches up and she fiddles with her long white braid. Sometimes a clear word or two slips out, but usually it’s a nonsense type of sentence. Then when we can’t understand her, Mom gets frustrated. One time last week, she threw a coffee cup across the room. It must be so terrible to want to speak and not be able to connect with anybody else in the room.

Mom just opened one eye and peered at me. She tried to say something, but quit when only a squeak came out.

Instead she reached out her hand to me and I held it in my own. She has tiny hands and now, she’s lost so much weight, I can see almost every vein.

But I’ll sit here as long as I can, until she falls asleep again. I’ll wait and hold her hand, because I know a day will come when she’ll no longer reach for me.

I hate Alzheimer’s.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1

Liking My Words

As I started editing the third and final book in the Reverend G series, I wanted to be as objective as possible. Besides the work I do as a Life Coach and an Author – I am also an Editor. I know how to proofread for grammar mistakes, punctuation errors and content miscues.

Even with my own writing, I’m ruthless with edits. It doesn’t kill me to delete whole sections – even an entire chapter, if it doesn’t carry the story forward.3D Rev G cover

In fact, I often rewrite the entire manuscript seven or eight – even twelve times, striving for that best word, that a-ha moment and that paragraph that carries an internal truth.

But when I started editing this book, with my red pen in hand, I worked several minutes before I made any marks. I looked for mistakes, knowing that even the most careful writers make them. And yes, I found a couple of typos, but nothing glared at me that needed to be rewritten.

In fact, I quickly found myself immersed in the story of this woman minister as I walked with her into the world of expressive aphasia. I felt the intense struggle of Reverend G who wants more than anything else in the world to communicate God’s love to others, yet she has lost the ability to string common sense words together into intelligent sentences.

This is the world of many Alzheimer’s patients as they grow increasingly frustrated with their inability to communicate.

But for Reverend G, it seems worse. This was a woman who thrived on the ministry of words – the sermons she wrote and delivered, the counseling sessions where she asked open-ended questions and the love notes she left her son, Jacob, and later – the love of her life, Chris.

Fortunately, for me – the writer – I have written this series in the deep viewpoint so I can escape into the mind of Reverend G and know what she is thinking even if she cannot fully express it.

So I read her thoughts – my words – with awe and wonder, is it okay to really like my own writing? Is it helpful for a creative writer to enjoy the cadence of her own voice? Is it all right for a Christian writer to read a paragraph and then say, “Dang! That’s good!”

Maybe I like my words because I really do love this character, this Reverend G who wears leather pants and refuses to be stereotyped within the legalistic jargon of religion. Maybe I appreciate my words because I know how many hours I have put into this series and what it has meant to me when people read my books and compliment me.

And maybe – after over 40 years of freelancing – I’m finally settling on my real voice and becoming the writer God created me to be.

Whatever the reason, I’m liking this book and as much as I enjoyed Book One, I really think Book Two is even stronger and I believe Book Three will be the perfect ending for Reverend G’s story.

So I’ll include a couple of paragraphs here and let you be the judge. Do you like it, too? Are you looking forward to finding out more?

Oh God, my God, why did it have to be words? These were the tools of my profession, the way I communicated with my God, my people and my particular world. The sermons I wrote and then preached behind the special pulpit designed for me, the open-ended questions I devised for counseling sessions, the Bible verses I quoted so easily to bring hope and encouragement to my congregation.

“All these pieces of ministry included words which gave me effective ammunition to further the kingdom of God. Like an important piece of machinery tuned to the Gospel, I found my significance in words. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Holy Word lived within my words.”

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1