To become a writer . . .

To become a writer, you must write
by Liz Thompson
Published June 30 and July 20, 2011
Suburban News Publications

So you want to write? Grab a pad of paper and pen and go at it. Don’t worry about what you say or if you’ll ever be published. Just write. Write what you know and from the heart. Each person has a unique perspective and maybe someday yours will see the light of day in print, maybe not.

If your aspiration is only to become famous and wealthy, you might want to rethink your goals. As with most art, you must love it.

Most writers I know have a need to write. One such friend said it well– “Ideas circle around my head almost continually like airplanes circling an airport waiting for clearance to land.” Once the idea lands, it’s time to go to work.

Next I advise you to read—classics, fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, magazines and even children’s books.

My 12-year old granddaughter is a budding writer. She writes poetry, stories and is working on a Christian fiction book. She will surpass me with her writing and I will continue to cheer her on.

While reading some of her work, I enjoyed her beautiful imagery and wording that smacked of the classics. “I wish people still talked like that,” she said.

“How did you learn to use this style of wording?” I asked her. My daughter home schools her children and I know they have read classics and a wide scope of material since a young age.

Her response to me was, “Read Ivanhoe, Nana. It takes awhile to get through, but it’s worth it.” When a 12-year old tells me to read Ivanhoe, I head to the library.

Since before I was my granddaughter’s age, I knew I wanted to be a writer. How that dream would be realized was a mystery to me; one that seemed elusive.

My dream was put on hold for years as I raised a family, worked at various jobs while dabbling in poetry and writing music and lyrics. Little did I know that losing my hearing would bring me one step closer to realizing my dream. Being gregarious, I had to find a way to express myself other than music and voice. I found it through using my hands.

Yes, I learned sign language but I’m talking about using my hands to talk through writing. When Suburban News Publications published my first column in January 1998, my learning curve swelled. Through his editing, then Commentary Editor Cliff Wiltshire taught me how to send my message in 800 words or less.

Now it’s more like 500 words or less because of newspapers downsizing but I have the basics. Next I became a reporter at SNP and editor Marty Rozenman was my teacher, along with each editor for my current news beat.

Seeing my byline is a private thrill, true, but in time the message superseded the need to be published. My desire to learn and improve is constant. I read continually, watching other writing styles, including my granddaughter’s.

Now working on my third book, I thank God for bringing me the long way around to realizing my dream. That way I have my priorities straight knowing who to thank.


Ashamed of me?

Many of us have received the email asking if we are ashamed of Jesus. If we delete the email and don’t pass it on — or something like that — we must be ashamed of Jesus. Well, this type of email really bugs me. I’m not ashamed of Jesus or my love for him or his sovereignty in my life but I don’t think an email tells that to the world — I think it’s how I play out my faith every minute of every day.

Today in worship we sang a hymn I had not heard before. Even with my cochlear implants, music pitches are somewhat elusive. If I don’t know the song, I sing quietly the best I can.

The last words in the last verse struck me hard, but in a good way. It said, “I hope Jesus is not ashamed of me.”

I’m not worried about deleting an email but I would worry if Jesus would look at me with sorrow. I don’t want him to be ashamed of me. I know he forgives me day after day but I pray every day that I won’t keep him too busy in that department.


Cleaning windows and pulling weeds

Cleaning windows is tedious work, true, but the results make for clear views to the outside. Ohio has had it’s share of rain this year, along with many parts of the U.S. So we have a lot of green to enjoy through our now clean windows.

Because of the rain, we also have our share of weeds in our yard and garden. Years ago I wrote a column about taking time to pull the weeds from our soul and to make time to enjoy the beauty in life. If we are choked with weeds — sin and sometimes too much busyness — we won’t flourish and grow. The same goes for our flowers, grass and vegetable gardens. Weeds choke the life out of them. So out they must go.

While wiping the dirt off the windows, inside and out and in the runner part where the windows slide open and shut, I found dead spiders and flys. Yuck is a good word for this type of work.

Yet so necessary.

It’s hard not to draw analogies. We must keep our vision clear so the yucky stuff in life doesn’t take the lead. Our focus must be on God and what he wants us to do with this life he gave us.

We all have detours and I’ve had my share. But with every twist and turn, I learned what is important. I’m still at it and hope to learn till my last breath.

So today, take a moment and think about what you find important in your life, what you can change to make better and how you can be a blessing to someone.

Even if it’s as small as cleaning a window or pulling a weed. Less clutter, more beauty.

The photo at the top of my website is a sparrow photo one of my grandsons took for me. Jacob is quite the photographer but more than that, he has a good eye.

Irritating flys

The book I’m currently reading, Hawaiian Sunrise,  by Lauraine Snelling is a good read and I recommend it.

Today a quote struck me as funny and indicative of life’s irritations. A woman is visiting her mother and her brother is there, too. Her two boys are playing and she said she had a poem, apparently one of her sons wrote, from Vacation Bible School:

“If Noah really had been so wise, why didn’t he swat those two old flies?”

I laughed out loud. God could have left the flies and all the other pesky creatures off the ark, true. But life without bumps and irritations would be rather bland. Smooth. No obstacles overcome. Besides, it is a challenge to chase those errant flies with a fly swatter when they get in the house.

Every creature on this earth has a purpose – that includes each of us. I’ll be seeking my purpose in God’s plan for the rest of my life because  I think it shifts with His need. And God’s plan doesn’t always fit nice and neat into what I think my life plan should be. That makes life interesting. What will God have me do next? And I wait and listen.

This year our church is basing Vacation Bible School on the first two books of the Bible: Genesis 1 and 2. If you haven’t read it lately, pick up your Bible and read it again. It will be interesting to see what the 5th- and 6th-graders I’m teaching have to say; I’m counting on some wonderful comments about God’s creation.

As things are still so green here in Ohio and our garden is producing food, I stand in awe of how God made every seed to grow into a plant. Each green bean I plucked from the plants today, made me thankful for His love for us. When I see the seeds poking green stubs of plants through the dark soil, I realize I’m holding my breath in wonder.

Then this pesky fly whizzes past my ear and I jump. Then laugh.

I’m listening, Lord. Show me the way.

Name that book

I need your ideas.

When a writer has an idea for a story or a book, typically a title comes to mind. Even though a publisher will likely change that title, an author has to submit a book proposal with a working title.

I’m calling my third book 10 Years Later. I am revisiting people I interviewed, mostly while I was deaf, from 2000-2003 when I was a reporter and writing about where they are today — or where the issues stand today. These people include:

  • Firefighters who were part of Task Force One to NYC on 9/11/01,
  • City councilwoman who was a Cuban refugee at age 12,
  • A ballet teacher who survived a Japanese war camp from age 1-5,
  • Music in education; in particular one music teacher, now retired and the work of another music teacher who has since passed away,
  • A musician who was inducted into the Senior’s Music Hall of Fame,
  • A pediatrician who has led 12 medical missions to Honduras,
  • A high school valedictorian with dreams.

What title would make you pull it off the shelf and read it?

Brainstorm and write your ideas in comments below. One idea leads to another so have at it!

And thanks.

I know it’s summer…

As I plant my bare feet in the dark soil, the signal goes to my brain clearly, “It’s finally summer.” I love the feel of warm dirt under my feet and sifting it through my fingers comes second. It’s the child in me I hope never dies.

Gardening is something I have loved for years. More recently, I have had to rethink how I go about doing this so I don’t end up plopped down in the dirt. My balance plays tricks on me and my right leg has a tendency to not work as I will it to. MS can be dirty business at times but I refuse to give up and give in.

So as my husband placed the tomato plants, I weeded the dirt to give the plants a clean start. I generally use gardening gloves but I do have a nail file and use it often. Soap works wonders for getting that grime off my fingers.

Planting vegetables is the opposite of housework. We water and weed the plants and eventually we see the fruits of our labor–fresh food for our table. Housework has a short-term effect. You dust, vacuum and polish but in no time at all the dust and bits of dirt and paper end up on the furniture and floor all over again. It’s an endless cycle with a short-term reward.

Gardening begins in late spring and continues through the fall season with many rewards. The first bite into that tomato you pick is heaven-sent for sure. The Good Lord willing, if your garden is abundant, you have the pleasure of sharing your harvest. That is another joy in itself.

So I run the garden hose water over my dirty hands and feet and once I’m  cooled and clean and rest a bit, I tackle the next small job in the yard. I love this cycle and the change of seasons.

These days remind me of an old Girl Scout camp song:

“There’s a blue sky way up yonder, there’s a blue sky o’er my head.
There’s a blue sky way up yonder that’s a cover for my head.
So no matter where I wander and no matter where I roam,
There’s a blue sky way up yonder that’s calling me home.”

I just know in Heaven God will give me plenty of blue sky and, yes, green grass with dark, moist soil underneath for me to wiggle my toes in. But I’ll enjoy it here on earth for now and count my blessings I can still enjoy these small treasures, even if I don’t run the meadows. I watch my grandchildren do that.

Stay cool.

To everything, there is a season…

Winter seemed hard and long. But with a cold winter, spring seems all the more delightful. The sun feels warmer and every flower that breaks through the ground more beautiful.

When we lived in Arizona, grass was only important on the many golf courses. Coming by lush, green grass took a lot of water and effort. Our “lawn,” like most others, was decorated with colored stone. We had grass in the backyard out of habit, I think. Mowing took some thinking like, “Is it really growing? Do I really need to mow?” It was similar to whether or not we really need a haircut even if our hair looks fine but it’s uneven.

The ground in Arizona was hard as rock. It was amazing to see flowers and greenery break through the ground.

But Ohio is another matter for grass and mowing. It’s not whether it needs mowing but more like how often it needs mowing. It seems to grow as we watch it. But the lush, rich grass is nice to walk on with our bare feet. The dog loves to romp in it and rest in the shade of a tree when the sun bears down.

Water is not a problem this year as the sky has been relentless in its downpours. Flooding is a problem in parts of Ohio and in the southern states and much like wanting the snow to abate, we want the excess water to take its leave as well.

In due time, this will all happen. But again we are waiting for the weather to cooperate with our agenda when there is nothing we can do but prepare. Have our raincoats and umbrellas on the ready. Put gas in the mower for the sunny, drier days. Make sure our sump pump is operating. Turn on that dehumidifier in the basement, if you have one.

When all else fails, cozy up with a good book or The Good Book and catch up on your reading until the rains run off to the streams, rivers and lakes where they belong most of the time. Thank God for the blue sky, leafy trees and gorgeous flowers. (achoo!!)

We were able to plant onions, lettuce and beans during a respite from the rain. Now our wet garden has green sprouts contrasting the dark soil. We have harvesting to look forward to, and more planting.

That reminds me of the song from the 60s taken from Ecclesiastes. “To everything, turn, turn, turn; there is a season, turn, turn, turn…”

Ecclesiastes 3
English Standard Version

A Time for Everything

1For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Prayers for new Foster Parents Nick and Beth

Nick and Beth have chosen to follow God’s direction in their lives. They are in their 20’s and have chosen to become foster parents.  I don’t personally know this couple but my daughter asked me to pray for them. Which I am and will continue to do.

Opening your home to children you don’t know and may walk or be carried in your door at any time of day or night takes faith–and lots of prayer.

Are they ready? Their hearts are apparently ready and  that’s the most important factor when you consider the emotional needs of a child needing a home–albeit, temporarily.

My daughter is hosting a “baby” shower for the couple. Think about it–a baby has certain need whereas a toddler has others. An elementary-aged child has different needs, too. Clothing, bedding, toys; it all changes every year. The people attending this tea/shower has grown to 30 women all eager to help this couple prepare their home and to show their love and  support for their decision.

No matter what child or children are brought to Nick and Beth’s home, I have a strong feeling that the child will be welcomed, loved and cared for.

Think back on your own childhood. What was the most important element for you to feel safe and loved? I encourage you to pray for this couple to be able to provide that for the children they will care for. Whether it be a story read at bedtime, food in their bellies, shoes that fit so you can run and play, a hug when you wake in the morning and so much more. Most of what we desire costs nothing. Love. Comfort. Laughter and tears. A strong arm to hold you when you are weak. Someone to cheer you when you succeed, even if it’s learning to tie your shoes.

Nick and Beth, and their church and friend community, are going to open their hearts and home to do just that for children in need.

God bless them on their journey and let God’s strong arm comfort and support them. May their days be filled with joy and growth and their nights be filled with restful sleep.

Thank God for people like Nick and Beth who are willing to  listen to God’s voice and take steps to the unknown; not for their own benefit but to give hope and love to children who need it; children who did not ask for their situations and need to know there are people who care. In that way, they will learn that our Heavenly Father cares for them, no matter where they lay their tiny heads at night.

Finding a decent movie, or two

I love a good movie. Hunkering down with a bowl of popcorn — buttered, of course — and watching a good drama or comedy makes for a fun evening. The trick is to find a movie that isn’t filled with bad language, excessive violence and needless sexual encounters or innuendos. Tough to find but worth the search.

I’d love your suggestions since the well is running dry for me. More recently, I watched Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993) and Extraordinary Measures (2010), both rated PG and based on true stories. I recommend both highly and you can watch them with your children or grandchildren.

I don’t want to fill my head with visions of violence that is called action and love scenes that show too much for comfort. I love a good mystery or love story but I like my imagination to be challenged, not bombarded with senseless actions that go nowhere and have no positive lasting effect.

Do you have any good movie suggestions? I’d love to hear them.

Thanks for listening.

Does God answer prayer?

April 16 was the Columbus, Ohio Walk MS at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. My team, Thompson’s Trekkers, of 15 people was ready to go. Our fundraising was successful toward our goal.

But the weather was not cooperating. High winds and downpours were predicted. This walk takes place rain or shine. Oh how I prayed for shine–at least no heavy rain.

The walk itself is only 1 1/2 miles total and walkers can stop and look at the animals along the trek. It’s a wonderful outdoor experience. Since I’m the one on the team with multiple sclerosis (MS), I use my power wheelchair instead of my legs. Distance walking is in my past. My husband bought me a beautiful rain cape made for people riding in any type of wheelchair and it would protect the power controls on my chair.

Saturday, April 16 I woke at 5:30 a.m. to heavy rain and wind. I returned to bed praying specifically, “Please, God, have the rain abate just till the end of the walk today.” I admit I said this more than once and was hopeful.

At 6:00 a.m. I put our dog outside and the rain had stopped! It was cloudy but quite warm. I learned it was 50 degrees. I believed God was answering my prayer.

We arrived at the zoo around 8:00 a.m. to see thousands of others there for the Walk MS. The sun was peeking through the clouds and the air was cool. While we gathered and waited for our team to arrive, we all commented on the wonderful break in the weather. I shared that I had prayed for a reprieve in the rain. Others had done the same.

We completed the walk, saw bright flamingos, wolves, polar bears, and more. A breakfast was enjoyed by all and we snapped photos. On our way out of the zoo, we stopped to see the manatees and aquarium. We noticed the clouds rolling in.

When we exited this exhibit, the rain had begun. A light drizzle that gets your glasses a little wet. We headed for the car and as we loaded my power chair, the rain stopped again.

Does God answer prayer? Yes he does. I thanked him repeatedly throughout the day for making the Walk MS more pleasant and successful due to no rain.

Thompson’s Trekkers minus a few walkers.

“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:22