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Who is the real heroine of Gone with the Wind: Scarlett O'Hara or Melanie Wilkes?

July 15, 2017

When I think of Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O'Hara comes to mind because it's her story. From the opening scene where she's surrounded by admiring suitors to her on-again-off-again relationship with Rhett Butler to her dogged determination to keep Tara by any means, we see her morph from a self-absorbed debutante to a self-absorbed widow again and again. But one overriding characteristic persists. Scarlett wants what she can't have. There's no doubt she's a survivor, and we admire her resolve to overcome her circumstances, but through it all, she doesn't change; she's still self-absorbed and wants what she can't have.

Melanie Wilkes didn't get her cousin's self-absorbed genes. She doesn't have Scarlett's indomitable spirit. She doesn't have Scarlett's resolve and ingenuity to overcome obstacles. But what Melanie has is the ability to see the best in people like Scarlett and others. She is gentle, kind, faithful, loving, forgiving. Sounds like a list of the fruit of the Spirit, doesn't it? Books aren't written with Melanie as the main character. That bothers me. We're more drawn to self-absorbed people like the Scarletts and the Kardashians and the housewives from every metropolitan city.

The thing is I think I'm more like Scarlett than Melanie. What about you?

The Wonder of Forrest Gump

July 7, 2017

The Wonder of Forrest Gump

July 7, 2017

Have you ever had that sensation where you hear some new word or name or anything, and then it pops up several times within a day or so? When that happens you wonder if that new thing was always there but you hadn't paid attention to it?

That sensation happened to me in the last week or so. I've been writing a book called A Good Little Nurse, and since I spent three weeks with my mother, who is a retired nurse, I thought I'd pick her brain, since I'm clueless when it comes to nursing. It wasn't easy because her memory isn't as sharp as it used to be, but she told me story after story about her experiences as a student nurse. It occurred to me that my mom has led an extraordinary life.

One night we watched Forrest Gump. Here was an ordinary person, just like my mother, and he was a witness of or a participant in extraordinary events. The comparison between the two of them resonated with me as I traveled back to Florida. Certainly, my mother didn't meet President Johnson, but she was mistaken for Mrs. Nixon at a hotel (that was her name) and put in the presidential suite with secret service guarding her door. She didn't have a clue. She didn't carry soldiers on her shoulders like Lieutenant Dan, but she cut off a man's arm to save him from crushing his head in a press.

My first week back at church, guess what the theme was? Heroes-ordinary people who do extraordinary things! Some people would call that a coincidence, but I call it a God-thing. In the Bible, it was referred to as a "double witness," a legal concept that required two witness to convict a suspect of a crime.

One last thing--have you ever seen a person in a crowd that resembles someone you know, and then you see other people that look like the same person? That happens to me all the time. I consider it a prompt to pray for that person. Call me naive. I just prefer providence to coincidence. What are your thoughts?

 

My new novella is live on Amazon! http://amzn.com/B06XWZQBMJ

April 1, 2017

Modern Manna

March 16, 2017

It amazes me that I enjoy writing—me—the girl who spent more time counting the words on a page in school than writing them. So, imagine my surprise now more than a few decades later that I look forward to writing every day. It boggles my mind.

It all started when we lost everything, or so it seemed. Our house, our savings, my husband’s job, and with it his joy and love of life, even part of both feet. For four years, we struggled, but those four years were sweet because God gave me manna.

Manna isn’t always wafers from heaven. Manna is provision that can’t be explained or described until one receives it. It’s special and personal and different for each person. It lasts for a season, and it’s gone, but the effects remain.

For me, manna showed up in two forms. One, I discovered the ability to memorize scripture and put it to music—my music, sung to the Lord as I walked around a lake close to home. The list of verses increased over the four years to the point that I could sing my way around the lake. And the tunes were good. The verses chronicled different problems with which we were dealing and promised an end to the darkness. I clung to those verses as I sang them, as I clung to God. For me, it’s during the hard times that I cling, and he feeds me.

The second way manna showed up in my life was in a new-found love of writing, all because of Faith. Faith was a second-grade teacher at a school where I was principal in the 90s. She was young, fearless, and loads of fun. The students adored her. We lost touch over the years until Facebook reunited us. It was Faith that challenged her friends to write a novel in a month, not unlike Nanowrimo.

I took Faith up on the challenge. For one month, every day, I wrote 2000 to 3000 words after a day of teaching high-school French and caring for my mother who was living with us at the time. I was a woman driven to finish, no matter what. And out of that came my first novel, although it took years to revise and edit. But more than that, God gave me a newfound love of writing. If you knew me in high school, you’d know it was a miracle.

Manna came at a time of need. I just read II Kings 4 this morning. A widow was down to her last jar of oil. She cried out to Elisha to help her before the creditors took her sons as slaves. Like the Israelites, she was in survival mode. God didn’t take away her debt. Instead, he took that jar of oil and filled all the containers she could find. Her part was to ask her neighbors for containers. God did the rest, providing her with a way to pay off her debt.

God gave manna to the Israelites for a limited time when they needed it. It was something that hadn’t existed before, and except for a slice kept in the Ark of the Covenant, it hasn’t been seen since. But my manna will live on in the form of more books and more songs.

 

 

I love to Tell a Story

March 4, 2017

I Love to Tell a Story

By Sherri Stewart

I love a good story. Having taught for well over thirty years, thousands of teenagers have heard my tales whether they wanted to or not. Indeed, many students have come back and told me the thing they remembered most about my class were the stories (not so much the curriculum).

            We all know a story must have a conflict. If everything goes the way it’s supposed to, you might as well close the book. Think of the perennial first assignment in any English class—write about what you did last summer. How utterly boring! We teachers should ask instead, “Tell about something that went wrong this summer.” Then you have an interesting paper.

Author Steven James taught me a valuable lesson about conflict. He said that every moment of escalating conflict should be followed by the next logical thing. He advised the writer to ask themselves what should logically occur next and then write it. Then follow it with something that is not predictable. Back and forth between logical and unpredictable makes for a great story and is an antidote to writer’s block. It works well for suspense at least.

            One of my favorite stories comes from an obscure book written during the early part of the twentieth century. The author wrote about her life as a sister with a twin who had leukemia.

            The story occurred when the girls were teenagers. The narrator was not a person of faith at the time, although her twin sister was. In those days, nothing could be done for a person who had the disease, and it was only a matter of time before the sick girl was on her deathbed.

As the narrator sat at her twin sister’s side, she made one last request. “You know how we’ve always been close, so close we could finish each other’s sentences and read each other’s thoughts. When you pass to the other side, find a way to come back and tell me what it’s like.”

            Years passed without a word from her deceased sister, and with time, she forgot about her request until one night. It came in the form of a dream—one that she remembered perfectly when she woke up.

In the dream, her sister came to her and said, “Everything our parents told us about heaven is true, but there’s so much more. I can’t wait for you to join me.”

 “If it’s so wonderful, why did it take you eight years to tell me this?”

The deceased sister looked confused. “Eight years? I was just waiting for the song to end.”

Did you predict the ending of this story? I didn’t when I read it the first time. By the way, this wasn’t a book of fiction.