Sunday, November 29, 2015

Writing prompt #18: Tell about a casserole

And again... here's the pledge...

Writing prompt #18: Tell about a casserole

It all started with a casserole. One casserole was all it took to change my life forever. It was the way the cheer on top was cooked. Perfectly golden, bubbles undulating, just waiting to collapse in my mouth. My saliva glands warmed up. Two more people in front of me and it would be mine.

This was why I endured the silly ritual of breaking my once-a-month fast with all these late 20-something (and spattered early 30's) almost strangers. It was the food. Every other day of the month, I was content with microwave pizza, deli sandwiches from the cafe around the corner of my office and protein bars while navigating my way through morning traffic. But, once a month, I indulged my taste buds. Real, actual home-grown food. Multiple entrees, sides, and even desserts.

I reached for the utensil ladling the casserole and grasped. Air. What? I looked down. The serving utensil was gone. Someone else was helping themselves to my casserole. Was even scaring off the cheesy goodness. What nerve!

"Excuse me!" I said, following the hand holding the ladle up. A strong hand. Clean, clipped fingernails, long sleeve light blue button up shirt. As I reached his face, he stopped scooping and looked at me. His eyes smiles, a deep, blue smile. And, suddenly, I really wasn't all that hungry.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Writing prompt #17: stream of consciousness gratitude

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought I'd share the prompt from our last writer's meeting. We were asked to write a list of things we were grateful for, but instead of just a list, to qualify them with a phrase or two of explanation. Here is mine:

1. The way time passes when I'm fast asleep because it means I'm really resting and rejuvenating, something I've struggle with for too much of my life.
2. The way Dave comes and finds me wherever I am in the house when he gets home to give me a hug and kiss.
3. The way my family rallies around each other at the slightest hiccup of a need, but allows space to breathe an independent life.
4. The way my daughter makes it a point to tell me goodnight and is often the first to say, "love you,"
5. The various positions of blankets and clothing choices I find my youngest daughter in when I go to check on her before retiring. It lets me know she was busy imagining up a new world moments before finally surrendering to slumber.
6. The way by quiet son nods his head in agreement whenever I comment on how smart he is. He's not cocky, but simply aware of a gift and self-confidence enough to not deny it.
7. The ability to be a stay-at-home mom and learn and stretch and grow according to a timeline not imposed by a paycheck.
8. Tender experience in my youth that established a rock of a foundation in my belief in God and His Son, Jesus Christ and in the Kingdom here on earth.
9. Opportunities to serve others in a wide range of callings and capacities that open my soul to see others in a light that can only be sourced in Heaven.
10. The look on my husband's face when he follows through on some inspiration he's felt -- to visit his parents, to call a friend, or to rethink organizing his work space.
11. The way technology connect me to family and friends all throughout the world so I can celebrate and mourn and converse with people I might never see with my mortal eyes again.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Writing prompt #16: Tell the backstory of a phobia

Here's my pledge.

Writing prompt #16: Tell the backstory of a phobia

We were relegated to her bedroom. Again. It's what happens with seven kids plus friends and a small house when no TV is allowed, it's raining outside, and our brothers were being, well, brothers.

After rehashing who said what and who did what during exciting 5th grade, we sat on her bed and looked around for our next source of entertainment.

To this day, I have no idea which one of us suggested it first, but we both jumped on board.

"Let's take turns climbing in the toy chest and seeing how long we can last in there,"

We cleaned it of stuffed animals and baby blankets. We were both on the small end for our ages, but still, even squished up, it'd be a tight fit.

The rules were simple and clear. One of us went in. The other sat on top of the closed chest. Then, the person inside would count in their heads. When they were ready to come out, the knocked three times. The person on top got up and opened the chest. The person with the highest count won.

Jenny went in first. I sat excitedly on top, trying to visualize what she was going through. Playing with my fingers, awaiting my turn at adventure.

Knock, knock, knock. I jumped up and opened it to see her smiling face. "50" she said and unhinged her body out of the box.

My turn. I crawled in, bending my legs and arms to fit them in all the crevices and crouched my head down in the corner. "Okay, go!" I said. Darkness enveloped me, but I just started counting. "One, two, three..." This was easy easy. "Forty-nine, Fifty." Ten more for good measure. "Okay, I'm done."

Knock. Knock. Knock.


Knock. Knock. KNOCK.




"Jenny?" I pushed hard against the top of the chest. It wouldn't budge. My legs started contributing now. I was stuck. "Help!" My heart started to race and I felt like I was about to die. "Jenny! It's not funny anymore! Let me out!" Tears sprang to my eyes as I realized I just might die in this silly chest.

Then, she opened it. She was silently laughing. "I tricked you!" she said, laughing, until she saw the tears streaming down my face.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Writing prompt #15: A secret message

I, Jennie Blaser, promise to uphold my prompt posting pledge.

Writing prompt #15: A secret message

'Crap!' I thought, setting the 17th box of the morning down. 'What did I just break? Already.' I turned around and bent down. I couldn't see any cracks, but I knew I had heard something. I retraced my steps. There. I see-sawed on and off of one of the large 20 inch Italian tiles that had only been one of the myriad of reasons I had fallen head over heels in love with this 85-year old fixer-upper. I crouched and fingered the edge of the tile in question. Yep, I had definitely cracked the grout holding it in place. I moved it around and suddenly it came up in my fingers. It was heavy. Heavy.

'This must be grant or marble,' I thought. As I was inspecting it, a sliver of something caught my eye. I slid it gingerly to the side, wondering what it was underneath the tile that had grabbed my attention. The more I moved it, the more I could see. Yes, that was definitely some words -- writing. I rotated it slightly to get the sunlight on the exposed hole. Tiny, almost illegible scribbles were somehow etched into the floor.

"January 20, 1929. My name is Peter LaForce. I built this home. If you are reading this, beware. This home is haunted."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Writing Prompt #14: A different ending to a fairy tale

I, Jennie Blaser, promise to uphold my Prompt posting pledge.

Writing Prompt #14: Write a different ending to a fairy tale

NOTE: I wrote this on October 15, 2013, long before the new Disney Cinderella came out. Long before I had ever heard the phrase, 'have courage and be kind.'  Nice to know the Disney writers and I think alike...

Revenge was just not in my nature. My parents had raised me well. Well, my real parents. My sweet mother had been scorned when she married my father -- a duke. She had been the second daughter of a miller. But, my father, who knew what mattered, had fallen in love with the goodness, both in and out, of my mother. He didn't care that his family taunted and begged him to reconsider. Love was more important than money or title. During their first few years, before I came along, my mother dealt with all sorts of duplicitous townsfolk, trying to trip her up in her new 'lofty' state, to cause her to believe she was less than her married-into-status. My father and mother held hands and stood together, strong and full of the confidence that comes from within, from a pure soul.

Often, as a child, my mother would tell me these stories. About people who now loved her who used to make fun of her. "I could have been vengeful towards them, as my influence in the town grew, but that is never the answer. Love always is. Remember that, sweet Ella. Always return good. Good for good. Good for evil. Good even for only mediocre. If you have only good in you, only good will be able to come out,"

Now, here I was, the crown princess with more power and influence than my mother or father ever dreamed of having. And the court room full of dignitaries and dukes awaited my decision.

My step-mother and two step-sisters, who had done nothing but injure and demean me for years stood in front of me. What would be their fate? Revenge could certainly be justified. But, I remembered my mother's words. Always return good.

I smiled, "Let them be free."

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Writing prompt #13: A disastrous family picnic

I, Jennie Blaser, promise to uphold my prompt posting pledge.

Writing prompt #13: Write about a disastrous family picnic...  {And, as you can see below, sometimes the time runs out before I even broach the writing prompt's intended topic}

"If we don't leave NOW, it's going to be too dark to enjoy the scenery," I shouted to anyone who bothered to listen. Sometimes I felt like my voice was nothing but white noise in my kids' ears. Chatter they tuned out unless it has the words 'ice cream' or 'play' in it.

I'd heard about this spot from a few friends. Seen posts online. They made it look idyllic. Eden-like. We could use some Eden-like in our lives right now. My husband's job security was, well, un-secure. A recent car incident had left our financial situation more topsy-turvy than a tumbling new toddler. Our oldest child had officially entered teenage-dom with its eye-rolling amendments and attitude regimes.

Our youngest was so obsessed with puppy dogs, she only ate from under the table and bake at me if I didn't call her by her new self-given name of "Princess Puppy."

Our middle child had discovered a website with DIY practical jokes. Twice I'd fallen for the saran-wrap over the toilet bit. Twice.  Yes, we needed idyllic.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Confessions of a scripture-reading family

We are a scripture-reading family. But we are not a perfect scripture-reading family. If we only read scriptures when circumstances were perfect, we would be stretching the truth to state we were a scripture-reading family.

I'm a numbers person, so here is what I mean, broken down by digits.

25% of the time we read scriptures, a member of our family is missing. Dave is out of town for work or busy with a church calling. I'm gone to book club or a child has a late activity. Dave leaves for work at 5:00 a.m., long before the rest of our alarms are even gearing up. Eden leaves at 6:45, Josh leaves at 7:30, and Teya leaves at 8:25. And, Teya needs the extra sleep. If we were to wake her any earlier than absolutely necessary, we'd pay a price in family accord we just aren't willing to pay. Thus, we read at night.

20% of the time we read, we actually listen to the scriptures being read by the male voice on gospel library as we are driving home from a family outing or dinner with grandparents.  Car = Captive audience.

20% of the time we don't read scriptures at all. We forget. Dave and I are out for a date night. We are just too tired. It happens. We decide a family prayer will have to suffice for the evening.

100% of the time at least one member, if not multiple members of our family are reading them on our phones or electronic devices. Those phones are always nearby and sometimes we can't find scriptures bags that were hastily placed somewhere after church on the way to raid the fridge.

So, if you imagine the Blaser family sitting around in a circle, our leather-bound scriptures open and the five of us pondering and commenting and marking and reading every day, you'd be imagining fiction.

But if we waited until the circumstances were perfect -- until we were all home, had found our physical scriptures, and weren't tired, well, we probably would have a horrible scripture reading track record.

So, we read the scriptures when and how works best. And we love them. However we get the words of inspired prophets into our minds...

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Why I dislike parenting books...

I recently read a book on parenting for my book club. It was a good book full of new insight and wonderful concepts and ideas on being a better parent and I plan to implement many of them. However, as a general rule, I don’t enjoy reading parenting books. Every parenting book I’ve read has been what someone else in our book group has chosen over the years. I try to read every book because I love to learn.

So, why don’t I read or like to read parenting books? Because I’m a perfect parent already and don’t need the help? Hardly. I think it stems back to my childhood. (Something I learned from reading parenting books is that most of our issues as adults stemmed from childhood). 

My parents raised us using the scriptures as their parenting manual. 

I know, I know. Preachy, churchy, etc., etc. But as a 40-something mother, when I reflect on what my parents taught me about being parents, I realize the lessons that sunk in deepest and formed my core beliefs surrounding parenting was using the scriptures and making Heavenly Father a co-parent. 

Here are just a few specific memories:

I remember sitting around our large round wooden table as a family reading the scriptures. We were reading in 1 Nephi, where Nephi discusses building a boat. He had no previous knowledge of how to build a boat. He was not a shipwright. He was not educated in construction. But, he turned to the Lord and the Lord helped him build a boat. After he and his brothers finish building the boat, Nephi said, “ Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men.” (1 Nephi 18:2)

My mom read that verse and then looked up and said, “That’s how I’ve always felt about being a parent. I am trying to build a family, but not after the manner which was learned by men. I’m trying to build a family after the manner which the Lord as shown me and continues to show me.”

That idea stuck like super glue on my soul. Build a family after the manner of the Lord, not after the manner the world tells you to.

Years later, I was leaving on my mission to Slovenia. It was the summer of 1994 and Slovenia was a brand new country that still tousled with aftershocks of war and independence. It bordered Croatia, where Serbia and Bosnia still battled and bombs and tanks reigned supreme. I wasn’t worried to go there because I was born with an adventurous spirit and knew the Lord had called me to go there. But what my mom said in her talk the day of my farewell cemented the faith of brilliant parenting into me. 

“You might think, ‘why would I be okay with sending our daughter across the world into a war-torn area, where we will worry for her safety and well-being’. Well, before she was our daughter, she was His. He knows what is best for her, and we trust Him.”

Before my children were my children, they were (and still are) His children. He who is all powerful, all knowing, all loving is their parent. He wants what is best for them. He knows what is best for them. And He will share that knowledge in an instant if we but ask.

So, I have asked. And received answers. And asked. And read verses that provide insight into appropriate courses of actions. And asked. And felt impressions from church talks. And asked. And felt inspired to say certain words. And asked. And sometimes… felt inspired to remember something I read in a parenting book chosen in book group. And asked. And listened. And read. And pondered. And asked. And always, always, He answers.

For I am not building a family after the manner of men. My parenting book is written by the first and best parent. He wants what is best for our children. For they are His children.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Writing prompt #12 Which door?

Writing prompt #12: Four doors exist: Disappointment, Delight, Frustration and anticipation. Which one do you walk through?

"I'll be fine. Fine." I tell myself over and over. Forcing myself to be positive. This is no big deal. But maybe it is. Maybe your life is going to change today.


Positive thoughts yield positive energy. No big deal.

I'm in the small waiting room of the doctor's office. Nondescript music wafts through  from the receptionists area. Three-month-old magazines lie scattered on a bleached wooden coffee table. My youngest daughter plays quietly on my phone next to me. She woke up with a slight fever and cold. She had to miss her very first day of 3rd grade and grandma didn't answer my call about watching her, so she's here with me. She has no concept of my journey to this point. The endless blood tests, ultra sounds, MRIa, and the waiting. The wondering. The unknown. Oh, the unknown. It can take years off a life as fast as the six-fingered man's contraption in The Princess Bride.

I ruffle through my purse. Aimless fingers. Anything to distract me. They call my name.

"He'll be in shortly," she says after taking my blood pressure. I wonder if it will be super high from nerves. But it's normal. Maybe those forced positive thoughts helped.

I smil at my daughter. She's as quiet as a mouse in such unfamiliar surroundings.

A small knock and he's inside. He shakes my hand and asks how I'm doing. "Fine," I reply. But I'm really just waiting for him to tell me how I'm doing.

"The spots on your liver are hemangioma." I have no idea what that is. Am I supposed to be relieved or worried? He continues, "They aren't uncommon and absolutely nothing to be worried about. Follow up with your primary care doctor in about 6 months, but there is no need to see an oncologist anymore. You are free to go!

Free! I float down off the exam table. I can't hide my smile as I take my daughter's hand and we walk, no, glide out the door called delight.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Prompt #11: After the happily ever after...

I, Jennie Blaser, promise to uphold my prompt posting pledge.

Writing prompt #11: Start writing a sequel to a fairy tale...

July 1, 2013

Happily ever after? As if! The music stopped playing a week or so after the honeymoon. Then Eric was whisked away to meet with foreign dignitaries and religious leaders to haggle about boundaries and rules and cargo and land, land, land.

I love my legs, but they sure get tired. I can't just swish my hips and get from here to there. I have blisters all over my new toes from those awful shoe things. As the princess, I'm supposed to wear a different pair with each outfit. No time to get used to them! And my hand maid gives me no sympathy. I swear she purposely tightens the straps over the rawest blisters. She isn't fond of me, I can tell. I ask too many questions and need too much help.

I never realized being married to the man of my dreams would be so lonely. I can't really open up to him about how much I miss my sea legs, my tail, or all my friends. I don't want him to think I regret my decision to become human, because I don't. At all. It's just hard to adjust. A lifetime turned upside down in weeks and not a single face from my old life is present in my new one. Well, unless you count tonight's entree.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Prompt #10: A Different point of view

I, Jennie Blaser, promise to uphold my prompt posting pledge.

Writing prompt #10: Write about a character you cannot relate to -- someone very different
(Please note -- this is fiction and I tried to come up with a character that was as far from someone I could relate to as possible)
June 17, 2013

They always plead to their God. Begging me, snot running down their noses in a pitiful attempt, to not do my job. Ten years and God had never interceded. Once my cartridge jammed. The look of reprieve on his face when he heart the muffled click and then felt nothing -- as he slowly unscrunched his eyes was laughable. It took me fifteen seconds to clear the channel. If His God had intervened, it was only to hiccup. His body joined the others at the bottom of the lake. Maybe the God of fishes heard his prayer. Made him useful.

These men and women are nothing more than a pile of papers that need to be filed. Memos weighing down my inbox. Waiting to be properly re-categorized. Money borrowed, never repaid. Secrets divulged. Used-up affairs with too much knowledge. I hardly bothered to ask why anymore. The man who paid my bills, with which I put food on my table and drink down my throat told me to. It was my job. I didn't enjoy it. But who really likes their job these days? I haven't met someone who was actually happy for decades.

My mom was happy. But then a stranger came in that night with the gun. I hid under my bed and prayed to God. But He didn't intervene. He never does.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Prompt #9: What do you carry?

I, Jennie Blaser, promise to uphold my prompt posting pledge.

Writing prompt # 9: Write about the things you carry around.
May 2013

Physically, I carry a phone, almost always now-a-days. Now that I have a smart phone, that is truly smarter than me and can get me safely to the nearest hardware store or save me from even four minutes of boredom should I have to wait in a line anywhere.

And sunglasses. I live in the Valley of the Sun, where it is, well, sunny. An optometrist once told me my irises were so devoid of something I should never be without sunglasses. I've turned back home if I've forgotten my sunglasses. Not so if I've forgotten my phone, even the smart one.

And a hair tie. Even if I've done my hair all nice and neat, I need a hair tie as my crutch. In case I want to be more comfortable, even in the middle of a black-tie dinner.

I guess I need to feel safe, smart, and comfortable, at all times. Probably to make up for the burdens I carry around figuratively. Burdens of actual, Live, Personal knowledge that this life is not safe or comfortable. That car crashes do kill people. That best friends and family members are those one in eight that get breast cancer. That I'm that one mental check away from my next panic attack. That babies will drown in swimming pools and that young friends can be taken from a heart attack, even on Christmas morning.

No, life is not safe and not comfortable. There are no sunglasses that I can carry around to block out that fact. No hair tie of convenience to allow me to unknow what I know.

But the most precious knowledge I carry around with me always is like a big beautiful pair of rose-colored, no... heaven-colored glasses, letting me know, it was all be -- eternally -- just right.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Prompt #8: A shoe on the road

I, Jennie Blaser, promise to uphold my prompt posting pledge.

Writing prompt #8: You see a shoe on the road... why is it there?
April, 17, 2013

The leaves danced across the road, echoing my joy at the successful conclusion of another day completed. My factory-issued off-white jumper hung a little too much off my hips. The meter would notice I hadn't been eating my entire allotment. But I could only stomach so much compound a day. It was tasty, but so, so colorless. The leaves seemed on my side, showing off their vibrant colors, even as they had shed their master life source and trickled away to end up as concrete chatter. They had colors, why couldn't our food, or our clothes. What was so wrong with color?

As if in response to my thoughts, a burst of unreal color peered out underneath a pile of patterned leaves. It was the color of the sun, but with more of a grassy hue. I peered around me, making sure no one was watching as I deviated from my scheduled route home. I bent over and picked up the object. It was pliant, yet hard. Worn, yet vibrant. I turned it over and over. One side had a pattern on it. It had been white, but was now mostly the color of earth. The other side, the colorful side, had stripes and metal holes all over it. A thin, frayed rope was laced through the metal holes, as if to hold the thing, or some thing trapped inside it.

I put it up closer to my face and accidentally inhaled. Phew! The smell was like a rotten egg.

(My scene takes place in a futuristic world w/o shoes apparently)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Writing prompt #7: Just the conversation, ma'am

I, Jennie Blaser, promise to uphold my prompt posting pledge.

Writing prompt #7: Write for 10 minutes using only dialog. (Conversation between two people, one in italics for easier separation)
March 19, 2013

"What do you mean?"
"Exactly what I said."
"But, but, that's not possible. No."
"The signs were there all along. The bouts of disappearances. The glazed over gazes. The food that was just moved around and never actually consumed. I can't believe it took us this long to figure it out, actually."
"But, but what about the scar?"
"High quality stage makeup."
"I found the bottles in the trash this morning."
"The stories? The trombone? How could those be..."
"He must have read his journals. It wouldn't surprise me. As far as the trombone, it could have been purchased anywhere. The dings and scratches re-created."
"I don't believe it. I mean, I don't want to believe it. What will we tell Nancy? How will she ever recover?"
"I haven't got that far yet. I'm still reeling in the news myself."

(P.S. I ran out of time.... not sure where this one was going -- what do you thing they had discovered?)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Death is a love song

A few months ago, I had a health scare. Fortunately, it turned out to not be what the doctors thought it was, but for a week or two, I thought my body was harboring an early expiration date. During this time, I also reminisced on the 10th anniversary of the premature death of my best friend, Trudy Barrett, who was killed in a car accident. One night, I couldn't sleep, and lines of a poem traversed my wakeful brain. So, I got out my ever-near laptop, and wrote this up. With very little editing, here it is:

Death is a love song
by Jennie Blaser 7/2015

Death is a love song,
plaintive and true.

Knees hitting floors 
in a constant beat
Hands stretched in service, 
a ballad so sweet.

arms ‘ere enfolding,
never alone, 
wishes and gratitude
harmony of hope

and memories,
and laughter,
and more of the same.

and what-ifs,
and miss-outs,
and tears without name.

Fears and regrets
tempt to devour.
Faith’s steady rhythm
displays its power.

Family, oh! Family,
the chorus swells.
Friends left with legacies,
stories to tell.

and worries,
and achings,
and notes strive to mend.

and last walks,
and last talks,
and see you agains.

Parts where no lyrics
could hope to convey
wills given over,
plans to obey.

With flowers that grow,
and are cut premature,
their comfort, their wisdom
adorning the earth.

Death is a love song,
plaintive and true.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Writing prompt #6 "What's inside the old box?"

I, Jennie Blaser, promise to uphold my prompt posting pledge.

Writing prompt #6 "You see an old box. What is on the inside of it?"

May 15, 2013

Only the edge of the box is visible, but the color is enough to draw my attention. It's a deep burgundy, a sort of velvet texture; letting me know this box is meant for something extraordinary, special, unique.

I move the pile of magazines on top of it to the side and squat down, wiping off what must be decades of dust. No price tag is visible. I gently prod the square lid off, freeing more dust as I do.

I peer inside and see a large heavy book. Leather-bound, ornate scrolling on the spine. I tilt my head to the side to read it. It's not English. It's not even the Roman alphabet. I set the lid down gingerly and cradle out the large book with both hands. It's heavier than it appears.

I'm about to stand up and look for my elderly neighbor, the one whose estate sale this is -- when she appears at my side.

"Marvelous, isn't it?" she asks, staring at the book.

"Ye," I reply, "But what is it? Where is it from? What language is that?" I ask, pointing to the lettering that is engraved in the leather cover with what appears to be gold-infused ink.

"Oh, it's no language you've ever heard of," she says, "Come, bring the book and the box inside." She asks her daughter to stay outside with other potential shoppers and clears a path to her study. She turns on a copper floor lamp, but it barely registers with the sun leaking through the partially opened blinds.

"I'm so happy you found the box and the book," she says, motioning me to sit down on the couch crowded with piles of books and papers. "It means you've been chosen."

"Chosen?" I say, half-smiling at her odd choice of words.

"Yes, dear. Chosen. That book is only visible to those chosen. For, you see, you have the gift. This book is written in a dying language, but not a dead on. It's written in pure magic."

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Writing prompt #5 "How do you want to be remembered?"

I, Jennie Blaser, promise to keep my prompt posting pledge.

Writing Prompt #5: "How do you want to by remembered?"
May 1, 2013

At my funeral, if people simply say, "Jennie was kind." I'd be satisfied. I'd stand up in heaven and smile and sigh with relief.

The word 'kind' is so simple, yet so profound. It means so much more than just nice. It carries more weight: that real thought and emotion was put into an action.

I didn't always feel this way. I used to strive for greatness. I'd pile up acheivements and adventures like notches on some grand comparison scale, ready with an impressive personal anecdote for any situation. Then I got sick. My body betrayed me. My mind betrayed me and I was left a shell of my former self-imposed glory.

During one of these rock-bottom nights, a timely phone call from my father started me down a new road.

"I don't know why the Lord is allowing all these things to happen to you," he said, "But I know He needs compassionate and kind people -- as many as He can get in this world. And if this it how He gets you to become one, than maybe it's all right."

His words sunk like stones -- no line an anchor I didn't realize was missing -- into my should. Compassion. Kindness. That is what the Lord needs. Not achievement and action-packed anecdotes. Kindness.

So that is how I live my life now. And the great thing about being kind, at least I hope, is that it never has to end. Ever.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Writing prompt #4: 5 love languages

I, Jennie Blaser, promise to uphold my prompt posting pledge.

June 7, 2012

Writing prompt #4: The 5 love languages

I recently attended a church meeting full of sisters of all ages where we learned about our love languages. I had a stand-out winner: words of affirmation. What is it about words that affect me so?

As a child, my parents never said, "I love you" as often as I try to say it to my kids. We just weren't a lovey-dovey, sappy type of family. But, I know I was loved. And, it isn't 'words of love' that is the love language. It is words of affirmation. And, countless times, my parents expressed their faith in my, their trust, their support, their belief that I was beyond extraordinary.

Today, words still affect me more than any other form of emotional language. An unexpected compliment can feed my soul for days. I will lie in bed and relive the words over and over, not in a prideful way, but in a "I am worth something" sort of way.

I can take a kind thought or generous praise with me through difficult trials, boring exercise classes, and cold, lonely nights. Chocolate, roses, or even a tender kiss won't do that!

For better, and sometimes for worse, words leech onto me and it is hard to shake them off. I try to use discretion with which phrases I bond with, trying to cement the positive and distill the negative. But, like with all words... easier said than done.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Writing prompt #3: Blejski Vintgar

I, Jennie Blaser, promise to uphold my prompt posting pledge.

Writing prompt #3

June 22, 2012

Writing prompt: The color green

Blejski Vintgar. Forever in my mind those two words will conjure up visions of lush green life. A half a mile up a mountain trail from the scenic lake Bled, hidden by pine trees and forest growth, unless you know where to look, is the small entrance to a breathtaking gorge. A winding canyon covered from floor to ceiling with more shades of green than could ever be named.

Earthy green moss hugs rocks and sides of tree trunks, swallowing up any harshness that might come about from their ordinary brown undertones. Wet new leaves cling to branches, still green with birth from a myriad of trees and bushes.

Water, but unlike any water you might have heretofore seen, rushes by, drinking in the forest, the emerald, the foam, the pine, the deep and the light, reflecting back a brilliant, transparent flowing green that mesmerizes even as it moves.

A thin wooden walkway, planks worn down with countless enchanted visitors hugs the side of the canyon, blending in perfectly to its forest surroundings. Bridges crisscross the gorge, trading sides to facilitate travel.

I stop half-way across one of these bridges, enveloped by every color of green and shout, echoing with the life so abundantly surrounding me.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Writing prompt #2: Haiku or two

I, Jennie Blaser, promise to uphold my prompt posting pledge.

Writing prompt #2

June 7, 2012

Prompt: Write Haikus

Frustration growing
Deep breath, eyes closed, inhaling
Peace and courage come

A bird is chirping
The wind is whistling hello
Morning has broken

Bikes clatter and fall
Backpacks drop. Voices clamber
School is out again.

Pulse racing at the
inevitable question:
What is for dinner?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Writing Prompt #1: remembering a sound...

I, Jennie Blaser, promise to uphold my prompt posting pledge.

April 12, 2012

Prompt: Right a memory inspired by a sound

"Do -- do -- do... if you'd like to make a call, please hang up and dial again... do -- do -- do"

Tittering laughter elbows me on my right and I fight not to join in. My mom is saying one of her prayers and our knees have all adjusted to the indents in the carpet. Fidgeting has started. And the beige phone, taken off the hook by my dad just before my mom started, has already gone through the cycle of busy beeps, tri-tones and the female robotic sounding voice three times.

My dad forgot to place the phone inside the second drawer and cover the speaker with the stack of well-used phone books. Well-used as muting devices during prayers, especially my mom's prayers. I know she can hear the distracting tones, the interrupting voice as well as the rest of us, but she is trying to make a point. Prayer is sacred. We should all be showing proper respect for the real communication happening.

But I smell the hot rolls sitting on the table, the smell of melting butter emanating off the lazy susan and tickling my taste buds. I try to focus on my mother's words. I am impatient now. All of us kids are hungry. Fighting back the giggles. And I think, "Come on mom, you've lost us. Enough already. If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and dial again."

The Prompt Posting Pledge

I've decided to post some of the results of writing prompts of five years of writer's group meetings.

If you don't understand what that means, let me explain. Five years ago, three dear friends, Liz, Kami, and Liz invited me to join their writer's group. We meet about twice a month and start of each meeting with a writing prompt (a phrase, a situation, some key words, really, it can be anything). We then have 10 minutes to write about that prompt. Then we share and critique our results. So, I thought it would be fun to post some of those. (Some would be too boring to even re-type, let alone read).

But, to make it more interesting, I came up with and will abide by my my Prompt Posting Pledge:

I, Jennie Blaser, promise to post exactly what I wrote during my 10 minutes of writing, and not to edit it (except to correct a typo) whilst typing it on this blog.


Jennie Blaser

Monday, August 24, 2015

What I've been doing for the past two years....

It's been almost two years since I last posted, but not two years since I last wrote. In fact, I have been written a book since my last post.

Really? A book? What's it about? What's it called?

These are the most common questions I get when I tell people what I've been up to. So, here are the answers:

Yes, really. I wrote an entire book. All 87,000 words.

It's a Young Adult novel about Bree, a reserved teenager with control issues who discovers she has been programmed against her will to carry out the vendetta of a brilliant but broken man. She hates being an unwilling soldier, but is overcome with pain anytime she attempts rebellion.

Along her new, coerced path, she hurts those she loves, encounters new friends, has to decide where her heart belongs, and learns disturbing secrets about her father’s past. Can she find the strength necessary to break the invisible chains clamped around her before she commits the unthinkable?

The book is titled CLICKED.

What do you think? Does it sound like a book you might like to read? I hope so. I'm starting the process of getting it published. This is a long, difficult process, so wish me luck! And if you know anyone in the publishing industry, I'd love a referral!


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