David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the tag “Determination”

Sticky Notes (2015-05-06 Daily)

Reality is such an inconvenience. It’s a hill shaped like an elephant, colored white. Have you ever noticed how it seems to pull out in front of you the instant you’ve finally regained your momentum, how it demonstrates Newton’s First Law by lobbing its bowling ball squarely at your humble cue? Reality can be such a bummer, the rationalizations for your deviated trajectory so overused—not enough time,  not enough money, not enough breaks, not enough talent—but always plenty of excuses worn thin from not enough fresh. Oh my God, they killed Kenny, your little voice screams as you shake the ragdoll of your calling until fluff spills from its ears. It’s no longer listening. No one is. Those bastards. But you keep trying to breathe life into it, even if what you’re attempting to resurrect hocks a loogie into your face. Some things are better left lying on Victor Frankenstein’s table, you think. But no, not this time. Not ever. Keep calm and carry on, they say. “If life is a bowl of cherries,” Erma Bombeck lamented, “what am I doing in the pits?” I’ve heard you can make liqueur from cherry pits. Hmm. …

Reality can be a psychopathic torturer of lucid dreams. Lucky dreams, those—at least you had the opportunity to carry them around with you, maybe for months, years, decades, gestating them, gesticulating, ingesting. Guessing. Always keeping you guessing. But isn’t that what it’s all about? Fantasy Island in real time, complete with Kool-Aid-colored cocktails in cone-shaped cups? Avoiding alliteration—and clichés—like the plague? Ha! You laugh, but have you ever wondered what’s behind curtain number one as you pull the rope to open number three? And so you persist—nay, you thrive—consider yourself lucky, even blessed, as once again you dump the grist into the grinder and turn the crank to blend life’s experiences into something someone—anyone—might want to sample.

Sticky notes

I look around my office, at the swirl of sticky notes defining what I do—who I am—as if I have a clue about how to execute this dream that for four decades has so passionately wrapped its hands around my heart. And my throat. I didn’t ask for it: it just showed up, along with puberty, creativity, a sense of humor, and the sudden realization that my arms were too skinny. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? Right? “Is there anybody in there?” Pink Floyd asked. “Just nod if you can hear me.” Because I’ve come this close to dying and I lived to tell about it—every moment of my existence has been lived to teach, instruct, share. With you. And share it gladly I do. Like Mr. Rogers implored, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” Gotta dig the red cardigan.

Sticky notes

Please, won’t you listen? My sticky notes do. They start out blank, arranged in neat little piles, the same number of the same color in the same package, lined up just for me. They now parade across the front of my dusty in-box piled high with things to remember and even some things to forget, pink and yellow and orange squares, two-dimensional shouts cascading into three dimensions, even four, surrounding my mouse, calling. They overflow from my in-box and spew across my desk, angling toward me, a glacier of neon ideas resolutely inching toward my fingers, begging me to touch them, to manipulate them, to use them, to cast them into the world and see where they land. I’ve always said I have more ideas than I can use in a lifetime, but still they march in, and still I jot them down. Gotta get it where I can get it.

Sticky Notes

“Does anyone actually read books anymore?” one note whines as attention spans shrink, molded by the lightning strikes of flash-nonfiction scrolling across smart phones. “In Due Season” another one proclaims. Sure has been an awfully long season! I holler back. Snippets of Scripture, titles of essays, story ideas graze amongst the hopeful sheep lined up to throw themselves over the cliff, if only I lead them. They comfort me, nuzzle my shins, give me hope. They are my memory, my brain, my reminder that I am in the world but not of it. Thus I hold reality at bay with little more than the flat palm of tenaciousness pressed firmly against its insistent face. It growls. I growl back. Grr.

Reality is such an inconvenience. It’s a hill shaped like an elephant, colored white. As it collides with my avocation, I cringe but don’t shrink; I tighten my seatbelt and stare through the Plexiglas, waiting for the crash that may never come but one which I always survive. I’ve never cared for the sound of that collision, the subsonic boom of God’s calling plowing headlong into the world’s necessity. But, alas, this is our lot in this life. The squeal of my thin mettle being peeled back, the rush of bodies, the whoosh of air as reality clangs and whumps and snaps against the bulkheads of twisted dreams. …

I emerge then, from a silken cocoon, a wet, crinkled, formless thing that, only with a groan of unfairness, pumps its wings up under the heat lamp of domestication. But now, in this this great moment of “oh,” poetry has stepped in, pinching my wing spars and carrying me outside into the flood of sunlight. Sticky notes flutter around me as I perch on a folded purple coneflower. “Butterflies,” they shout.

Reality is once again subdued.

 

Copyright © 2015 David C Hughes

The Shift (2015-01-15 Daily) [Part 3 of 3]

The shift. Looking straight ahead. Letting go. Throughout my life I’ve experienced this quantum change in my state of being on both a large and a small scale. It’s the clarification of existence when I finally step out of the way and allow myself be swept away by the Spirit’s current, by nature’s grace, by creativity’s uplift, when the supernatural clicks into place and the wheels come up. I’m flying. It’s those eureka moments, the epiphanies, the awakenings, when I’m in the zone, the sweet spot of the moment, the satori, when reality sloughs off to reveal the Face of God and my reason for existence. And there’s no time I experience this phenomenon more than when I’m writing.

Not long ago I was struggling with an essay, fighting every inch of the way to put words together into sensible order. The essay stared at me, flat, uninspired, languishing in a puddle of literary drool. Then I remembered the Apostle Paul’s words in Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17 NKJV). I prayed, offering my work up to the Father and giving thanks in Jesus’ name for not only my talents and abilities, but also for the opportunities to serve the Kingdom in my gifting. Almost immediately the words started coming together on the screen. I’d shifted into the zone, and in no time I’d crafted a decent opening to the essay. Two days later I finished it.

When I worked on my novel On the Inside, a story about a writer forced to transition into his own book to kill off an unruly character, I experienced the shift many times as I transitioned into my own work to bring my characters to life. When I’ve gone back to read sections of The Epiphany of Joy, I sometimes wonder who actually wrote that book, then I remember what I told God when He gave me the assignment: “Okay, this is Your deal. I’m a conduit for Your Spirit to work through me. I’ll provide the fingers and the brain and the computer, but Your Spirit has to provide the rest.” In other words, I needed wisdom to show up at my gate in a hurry so I could complete my Daddy’s assignment. I needed to experience the shift. And God has never disappointed me.

For over thirty years I traveled through life self-focused. Despite my firm belief in God, I believed in myself more. I embraced the American way of independence and self-sufficiency as I wrestled with God over my purpose, my direction, and my bank accounts. I was fascinated—obsessed—by the power of the subconscious mind and I dutifully indoctrinated myself with cassette tapes filled with secular affirmations and messages reinforcing my self-absorption. I was number one! Then my life unraveled. My first marriage dissolved. My health followed suit. The Kingdom of David C. Hughes built on the sandy foundation of selfishness and self-sufficiency washed away, leaving me gasping in the surf of despair and depression. Then God stepped in by pointing me to chapters 30 and 40 in the Book of Job, a book I’d never read in a faded Bible I’d hardly ever opened. At that moment I experienced a profound shift, away from self-righteousness to the righteousness of God.

Since then I’ve lived that shift daily. I’ve shifted from an attitude of pridefulness to an attitude of God’s sovereignty. I’ve shifted away from faith in myself and toward a more absolute faith in God. I’ve shifted from a wishy-washy relationship with the Second Person of the Trinity to a solid, unquestioning belief in Jesus Christ as not only my Savior but my Lord. And I recognize I’m now on the cusp of another profound shift, a change that will define my life to the end, a final push to an absolute trust. I think Neil T. Anderson said it best in his book Victory Over the Darkness: “We accept what God says is true and live accordingly by faith, and this abundant life works out in our experience. If we try to make it true by the way we live, we will never get there.”[1]

I desire above all else to live each moment of my life with no hesitation about the veracity of God’s word, believing without a doubt that what God says is true, that God is always faithful to His promises. I want to continue to build my foundation on Jesus and stand on God’s Word. I confess I’m not there yet—I still have a tendency to look down at my feet—but I can touch the fringes of the shift—the confidence this hope instills lifts my heart and keeps me pedaling forward, albeit wobbly at times. Like Hannah learning how to ride her bicycle, or like my dance lessons so long ago, I’ve got to lift my eyes off the ground, look straight ahead, and keep moving.

 

Copyright © 2015 David C Hughes

 

[1] Anderson, Neil T. Victory Over the Darkness. Ventura, California: Regal Books, 2013. 83.

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