When Thanksgiving is a Sacrifice

Photo by Sean McGrath | CC BY 2.0
Photo by Sean McGrath | CC BY 2.0

I don’t want give thanks. Sorry, Ann Voskamp, but my heart can’t hear you now.

I gaze at the starry sky, watch thunderheads roll out over the ocean and lightning bolts streak from the clouds to the water; I stand in speckled green sunlight beneath rows of cypress trees draped with Spanish moss…and I don’t want to say, thank you.

Because to accept these things, these moments, as gifts, and to open my heart to offer thanks, feels wrong somehow. More than wrong. It actually hurts.

To thank Him for what He’s given, reminds me of what He’s taken. Thanksgiving requires receiving. And to receive I must open my hand, my heart…see, feel the ugly, weeping wound. To receive, I must let go.

He gives and takes away.

Continue reading “When Thanksgiving is a Sacrifice”

All That I Am (If We Were Having Coffee…)

Cup of Tea (Because I actually don't drink coffee) | Photo by Nichole Q Perreault
Cup of Tea (Because I actually don’t drink coffee) | Photo by Nichole Liza Q.

If we were having coffee right now
I would be laughing
or crying
or ranting.
It depends on which me shows up. 

If default-Nichole showed up, I would tell you about how I busy I am, how I love my job and my family and my friends and creating things and fleshing out ideas. How my girls are becoming beautiful women and my dearest friends. How my husband, somehow, all at once, drives me absolutely nuts and yet amazes me with his undeserved love and loyalty. I would tell you that lately, God speaks to my heart in ways so deep they can hardly be searched out and formed into words. And I would listen. I would listen to you and laugh with you and love you.

If grieving-Nichole showed up, I would tell you through tears that I don’t know how to do this thing we call life anymore. That I hate what God has done to our family. I would tell you that I still startle upon remembering that my baby brother is gone. Dead and gone from this world forever. I would remind you that in the last five years we’ve lost six family members and two beloved dogs. I would tell you that my girls are growing up and leaving me and I am crushed. That their going – even the prospect of their going – feels like having the air sucked out of my lungs, like my heart and body are drying out, shriveling like dead leaves. I would tell you that I am alone. And I am lost.

Continue reading “All That I Am (If We Were Having Coffee…)”

A Thousand Secrets

photo by Nichole Liza Q.

In secret

She lives

but barely

Hiding

always behind painted eyes

and heavy hair

She tucks a strand

over her ear

Runs a finger

down

smoothing

the blackness

down

Fingertip

grazing

her neck

Skin

Brushing skin

Her eyes rise

to yours

glistening

like black opal

She smiles

a smile

that knows

a thousand secrets

You

only care

about

one

© Nichole Liza Q.

A Few Things I’ve Learned from My Favorite (and not so favorite) Books

WordPress Writing 101 Day 2 Assignment: Write a List

Photo by Plum Leaves | CC BY 2.0
Photo by Plum Leaves | CC BY 2.0

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
You can paint a world with words and invite others to step inside.
Also, writing in the second person is for more than just letters and instruction manuals.

Anything by Dr. Seuss
Sentences can sing, words warble, letters lilt.
Also, it’s ok to make up words. Like fedderzhilt or beggarspilt
Or anything that rhymes
with the previous line.

The Works of Shakespeare
Think you don’t know Shakespeare? Think again.
Also, under some circumstances, it’s totally acceptable for an educated adult to use spark notes.

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
“There are no ‘if’s’ in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety…”
Also, this is courage. This is sacrifice. This is love.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
In the game of life, nobody gets out alive. Remember who the real enemy is. Love changes everything.
Also, you can always count on Hollywood to mangle a male lead.

The Color of Water by James McBride
A moving, eye-opening, “black man’s tribute to his white [and Jewish and born-again Christian] mother”…how can you NOT learn something from this book?
Also, if my kids could someday say about me what McBride says about his mom: she loved Jesus…

Continue reading “A Few Things I’ve Learned from My Favorite (and not so favorite) Books”

From Here to There

Photo by María Helena Carey | CC BY-ND 2.0
Photo by María Helena Carey | CC BY-ND 2.0

A piece of fiction Writing 101:

“And don’t come back in ’til I call you! You hear me?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Sammy muttered under her breath.

“Babygirl! I said, do you hear me?!”

“I am not a baby girl!”

“Do. You. Hear me?”

“Yes, Mama. I hear you,” she grumbled.

Sammy let the screen door slam behind her, took a few steps and sat down on the front stoop. She kept to her family’s side of the porch. Mr. Johnson, who lived in the other half of the duplex, didn’t like anyone on his side of the porch, especially little girls.

Continue reading “From Here to There”

Not Mine to Keep | A Poem of Love and Loss

Family Photo
Family Photo

For my girls:

Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh is this child
this woman
who now walks away from me

Always she is walking away…always, she is going

I wish she had come with a note,
like a present with a ribbon tied ’round her wrist
and a card attached
with the words:

“Just passing through.
I will come to you,
into your body, into your home,
into your wallet, your schedule, your dreams
and most of all
into your heart.
But I will not stay.
I’m just passing through.”

Continue reading “Not Mine to Keep | A Poem of Love and Loss”

Home

Mom & Grandma
Mom & Grandma

I moved 21 times before I turned 12. That makes 22 different homes and no, my parents weren’t in the military. 22 apartments but only two school systems. So actually, all that moving wasn’t as disruptive as you might think.

I mean, sure, it was draining. And we did reach a point where we stopped unpacking the essentials and lived out of boxes.

Boxes. Most of us live in them already: big boxes with doors and windows, divided into smaller boxes with doors and archways. And we live out of them too: cabinets, closets, drawers and shelves. And we create them: boxes in our minds and walls in our hearts. When I was a kid, some of our boxes just happened to be made out of cardboard.

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Unanswered

Photo by jarmoluk | CC Deed CC0
Photo by jarmoluk | CC Deed CC0

I find the letter. Worn. Faded. The words still familiar.

Melodic whispers of another time, another place. Of two faces, close together, flushing beneath a thousand sunlit cherry blossoms. The blushing trees stretching endlessly in every direction, motionless…as if holding their breath, waiting, listening.

His soft, brown eyes already asked the question. Her heart beat out an answer. An answer. An answer.

He held her in his eyes. She touched his cheek. And for a moment they were one. They were forever. All that was, all that would be, colliding in perfect stillness…

Before I finish reading, I slip the yellowing paper back into its envelope.

I close my eyes and find that moment…crystalized, frozen in time…pink petals suspended in the air. No questions. No fear. No doubt.

No words left unspoken. No letters left unanswered.

Just him. And me. And my heart still beating out an answer. An answer. An answer.

© Nichole Liza Q.

Written in response to Writing 101: Be Brief 

Committed

As in, I should be…committed…somewhere quiet, soft, with baby pink walls and no sharp objects. Because otherwise I might hurt myself.

What was I thinking?! Signing up for an online 30 day writing class. And just three days in – three days! – they ask for a commitment. Commit to a writing practice, they say. Ummmm…ok? OK. Yeah, sure. Why not? I can do this. It’ll be good for me. And fun..no, yeah, it’ll be fun, I say. 15 minutes day, I say.

And so I do it. I write pretty freely on the topic of favorite songs and I don’t publish it because it’s rubbish and it was just a free write exercise anyway. For me, at least.

Continue reading “Committed”

Freedom, Fear and the Discovery of Truth…Sort Of

Photo by Stephen | CC BY-ND 2.0
Photo by Stephen | CC BY-ND 2.0

To my friends, readers and subscribers. I have been a little “stuck” lately in my writing and so, in trying to get “unstuck” I have joined WordPress.com’s Writing 101. As a result, I may be posting more than usual over the next month. My apologies for clogging up the inboxes of my subscribers. I debated not posting this one, but so many of you are my friends and while I write primarily to understand, I also write to be understood. So those of you who are my friends and family: Welcome to 20 minutes (or a bit longer) of my free-wheeling inner dialogue and thanks for being my friend anyway.  

So after hours of agonizing over this “free” write assignment, here I am. Writing. How “free” it is, I’m not sure. The only way I can even do this assignment is to tell myself or at least pretend that I’m not going to publish it. Because the moment I think someone is going to read it, all freedom goes out the window. Which I hate. Because, honestly, I like to think of myself as someone who is rather free-spirited and not burdened by what others think. The reality, however, is that I do care what others think.

Continue reading “Freedom, Fear and the Discovery of Truth…Sort Of”

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