Eight Thrifty Writing Posts on WordPress Today

winter scene

The air is brisk outside.  Ice-encrusted snow continues to make walking hazardous.  It’s been a good day to stay inside.  Listening to George Jones.  Leaning back on this electric recliner.  Being grateful I’m not out filling pot holes or patrolling city streets.

Instead, I’m reading blog posts on writing to share with you.    Here are some good ones you might want to check out.

30 Stories, Day 6: The Door” (The Read Room) offers a review of E.B. White’s “The Door”… “a wonderfully nonsensical story by a renowned grammar nazi!”

7 Lessons Learned From Blogging Every Day of 2012” (Next Practices) reveals some insights gained from a discipline of daily writing.

Thank you, George Washington” (My Teaching Portfolio) shares a class writing assignment and gives an example of one wondrous result.

She Was a Few of His Favorite Things” (charlottesville winter) responds to a writing prompt by celebrating and bemoaning the unrequited love of artist and muse.

“… and our hearts forever” (mothering spirit)  pays tribute to an alma mater – Notre Dame – a place to grow in faith and love as a person and as a writer.

The black in my blood” (Writer Michael Burge) describes one man’s ambivalent journey from the country to the city (and back again).

A Christian Writer’s Confession” (John Erik Patterson) points to the temptation “just below the surface” to lead a wild and reckless life (for which many artists become known).

May All Your Dreams Come True, with No Expiration Date” (Kaye Munroe Writes, Too) details the hard work of one artist realizing her dream of publishing a book.

(image “Ottawa Ontario Canada March 2011” from dugspr — Home for Good, some rights reserved)

Be More Like a Child at Christmas (and beyond)

In the fifth post of Christmas, I truly give to you…

smiling children

… Christmas is not only the mile-mark of another year, moving us to thoughts of self-examination: it is a season, from all its associations, whether domestic or religious, suggesting thoughts of joy. A man dissatisfied with his endeavours is a man tempted to sadness. And in the midst of the winter, when his life runs lowest and he is reminded of the empty chairs of his beloved, it is well he should be condemned to this fashion of the smiling face. Noble disappointment, noble self-denial are not to be admired, not even to be pardoned, if they bring bitterness. It is one thing to enter the kingdom of heaven maim; another to maim yourself and stay without. And the kingdom of heaven is of the childlike, of those who are easy to please, who love and who give pleasure. 

(from “A Christmas Sermon” by Robert Louis Stevenson)

Sometimes we think we are doing good when we are our own worst critiques.  We count ourselves “noble” to set unattainable goals then feel miserable when we fall short (and repeat the cycle, or do even worse the next time).  We see this a lot this time of year, with new year’s resolutions, promises we make to ourselves or vows we make to others that this year things are going to be different.

I have a number of regrets in my life.

– I regret I’ve not been a more loving father.

– I regret I’ve not been a more attentive husband.

– I regret I’ve not been a more effective pastor.

I have so many regrets and now, perhaps foremost among them, I regret most that I have so many regrets.

In his “A Christmas Sermon”, Stevenson shows that this human instinct to become embittered with ourselves when we fail only leads us to be even more critical of others.  This was precisely the thing Jesus accused the Pharisees (the religious leaders of his day) of doing.  Trying to live not only by the letter but by the brush strokes of each letter of the law, they wound up enforcing it on others and overlooking ways they could improve themselves.

So what do we do instead?  Does this mean we set no goals, have low standards or no standards at all.  I don’t think so.  It means we re-direct our focus away from ourselves and to… children.  Children, says Stevenson, are easy to please.  They love.  And they give pleasure.  (I would only add that children properly raised display these “natural” qualities.  When you see a child whining about getting clothes for Christmas instead of electronic toys, you have to wonder what’s going on.)

But children can be good teachers.  Not that they are innocent, but they are more at ease being in a dependent relationship, being grateful for what they are given, sharing love freely instead of trying to bargain for something at a price, being pleased and giving pleasure.  Laughing for the sheer joy of laughing.

As I celebrate this Christmas season and look forward to a new year, I’m still going to set some goals, but I’ll base them on the right models.

     Goal #1:   I’m going to be more grateful for what I’ve been given.

     Goal #2:  I’m going to love more freely.

     Goal #3:  I’m going to be pleased – in God, in others, and in myself.

How about you?  What are your goals this Christmas season (and beyond)?

(photo “Smile” from  Literally Photographysome rights reserved)

*****

– Introduction to “The 12 Posts of Christmas

– In the first post of Christmas, I truly gave to you…. “God is With Us (a Christmas Story based on Matthew 1.18-2.12)

– In the second post of Christmas, I truly gave to you… “Assaulting a Felon with a Fruitcake.”

– In the third post of Christmas, I truly gave to you… “Some of the Best Christmas Blog Posts for 2012

– In the fourth post of Christmas, I truly gave to you… “I Wonder as I Wander

– In the sixth post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “Five Favorite Movies for the Christmas Season

– In the seventh post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “From India to Indiana: My New E-Pal

– In the eighth post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “What Sam Found in His Backpack After Break (A Prompted Poem)

– In the ninth post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “The Precise Dilemma: A Book Review

– In the tenth post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “Potentially Praiseworthy Poems Posted on WordPress

Some of the Best Christmas Blogs for 2012

In the third post of Christmas, I truly give to you….

blog

… some of the best blog posts I have read (thus far) about the season.  It wasn’t an easy task.  I read so many posts tagged “Christmas”, I think I’m ready to join WordPress’ “Freshly Pressed” staff.  For better and for worse, a few things didn’t make it on the list, three of these include –

– any posts strictly devoted to the Biblical narrative of the first Christmas.  I figured my lengthy post “God is With Us” would serve this purpose.

– Christmas cards disguised as blog posts, though I do respect the thrift involved in saving money on stamps.

– diatribes against the consumer culture that drives us to spend so much money on so much stuff.  Again, I thought my “Wendell Berry (and me) on Consumerism” covers this sufficiently.

Now, the blogroll please…

Do They Know It’s Christmas Yet?” (Protocol) raises the specter of doubt over the allocation of resources raised through the 1984 charity single that led to the massive benefit concert “Live Aid”  According to the post, the jury is still out about how much of the aid went into actual relief.

It Christmas” (Bigfoot Child Have Diabetes) conveys an endearing record of one family’s Christmas in this hectic world.  Word of caution: I debated with myself about whether I should feel guilty over laughing at what could be construed as racist dialect, but I decided it is done here in good fun.  Goodness sakes, read Faulkner or Twain if you have a problem with this.

Shut the Front Door!!”  (tipsyartist’s Blog)  displays a colorful, textured painting of a Christmas tree that is both artistic and thrifty.  I tried to get her to donate it to me, but it has family names on it and I don’t think taking a Sharpie to them would be a good aesthetic choice.

The Satin Christmas Horse” (Daruma Eye) is a memoir of one girl who was never taught to believe in Santa Claus yet who comes through her childhood with a deep respect and love for what her single mother has given her.

All I Want for Christmas, Part One: Planted Feet and Palms Pressed Together” & “…, Part Two: To Believe” (Rebekah Faubion, Writer) depicts one woman’s longing to be settled after being divided between two lands and how she finds faith in the eyes of her child.

(image “50 Golden Blogging Tips…” from Kris Olin)

*****

– The Introduction to “The 12 Posts of Christmas

– In the first post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “God is With Us (a Christmas Story based on Matthew 1.18-2.12)“.

– In the second post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “Assaulting a Felon with a Fruitcake

– In the fourth post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “I Wonder as I Wander

– In the fifth post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “Be More Like a Child at Christmas (and beyond)

– In the sixth post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “Five Favorite Movies for the Christmas Season

– In the seventh post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “From India to Indiana: My New E-Pal

– In the eighth post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “What Sam Found in His Backpack After Break (A Prompted Poem)

– In the ninth post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “The Precise Dilemma: A Book Review

– In the tenth post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “Potentially Praiseworthy Poems Posted on WordPress