Stories that Shine on an Awesome God

Archive for the ‘Healer’ Category

If I had known…

If I had known all the arduous effort, attention to detail, and mind-and-heart-breaking labor my first literary work would take, I probably wouldn’t have started.


It has been a labor of love from the first day, but I had no idea what a degree in creative writing would involve—even though it’s only a home-schooled course. If I had known, I might have chosen a different field.

Fortunately, I didn’t know.

Even more fortunate, this school has a fabulous Teacher. He knows the end from the beginning. He views a thousand years as only one day and one as a thousand.


My teacher knows that in order to heal, one must go back to the point of pain and doing that takes time.

It takes experiencing the healing process in the now, even if one turns gray in the meantime. For me, it meant setting my work aside for about twelve years, but my Teacher didn’t give up. It’s been messy. It will continue to be messy, but he continues to teach.


His most recent lesson, the one that brought this blog concept to the forefront, involves Point of View.

Disclaimer: The following includes shop talk. I know from experience how tedious shop talk can be for those not interested in the shop. I’ll try to make this succinct.

I studied the craft of writing stories. I wrote and wrote and rewrote and rewrote. I shared my manuscript baby. I cut out complete scenes. I pitched to publishers. I entered contests. I applied the judges’ suggestions. I submitted to publishers. I involved editors. I even lived life beyond writing. I submitted again.

The latest answer? “Resubmit when it is in Deep Point of View.”

Resubmit, for those not in the shop, is a very encouraging word from a publisher. It’s another word for “Your manuscript has potential…but…are you a serious writer? Really? Are you willing to stretch yourself more than you ever dreamed possible? If so, resubmit.”

Evidently, I was still telling too much and not showing enough. Still? Yep. After all my long nights and early mornings and solitude and tucked-in-around-living writing-time…after all my gray hair…it was still too easy for the reader to get out of the character’s head.


I bought a different book on deep point of view. I read and reread.

My “telling” statements began to pop out like hands waving in a classroom. I began my umpteenth edit.

“Now, I’m done,” I said. “I’m ready to resubmit.”

“Uh, not so fast,” said my Teacher. “Take a look at that blog. Yeah, that one, right there, on your email feed that you were about to delete. The one for writers that you subscribed to. The one with the headline about point of view.”

I opened the blog and learned that having the character’s name too many times in a scene distracts the reader. Pronouns work better. It was a simple point. The kind I should have recognized myself. Did I really want to resubmit with reader-distraction words embedded in my scenes? Messy work, this.

My Teacher had caught me just in time.

I am so ready for graduation. I’m ready to move to the next level as I start a new project, but these instances with my Teacher are worth all my work.

There’s no guarantee for a publishing contract. I may have to submit far into the future, but it’s all good because…

My Teacher controls the calendar and that’s OK with me.

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4

On the subject of God’s school…



I’m including a little bonus for those who have read down this far. It’s one of those scenes I just told you about, out of my book. At this point in the story, Rose-Marie, the main character, is fourteen and just graduated from eighth grade. This is how she formed her ideas about being in God’s school. Matthew is a sixteen-year-old she has deep feelings for. Enjoy!


Whew. What a night. She slid off her shoes. What would Matthew’s card say? The bathroom would be private enough to find out.

On the front was an owl wearing a graduation cap with the word, “Congratulations.” Inside was the single word, “Smarty!” She chuckled. That rascal. Such a tease.

Even what Matthew had said under the streetlight had been half teasing, but it had also been true. You will enjoy dating. She squirmed, remembering. What else had he written?

Dear Rose-Marie, I found this quote and thought about your graduation. Something to remember: ‘The highest education possible is learning God’s will and God’s way. Build upon principles that are eternal, not on the principles of this world.’ Yours truly, Matthew.

What a way of making her laugh while making her think—all with one simple card. She would hide it in her Bible.

She slipped off her A-line dress with three-quarter bell sleeves. Its filmy outer layer with a leafy pattern in aqua, slid between her fingers. Pretty, but not sweet. She had sewn it for graduation., but with her graduation gown covering the dress most of the evening, Matthew hadn’t even seen it. Oh, well.

The house was quiet with everyone else in bed. A warm bath for relaxation would be just the thing.

God’s education? She lowered herself into the tub. God’s education was different than graduating from elementary school, high school, or college. And more important. Eternal salvation depended on how well she learned God’s lessons. She rubbed the soap, with its sweet bouquet, over her bare arms. How would she do in God’s school?

Writing Prompt

Oranges…  I see. I feel. I taste….

Oranges as a creative writing prompt?

I could turn this into a blog. I’ve needed to blog for months. Fallen way behind, doing other writing and editing and living. Blogs are important for writers to keep up. Mine is particularly important, because I’ve dedicated it to sharing God, in little “penpoints” of light.

Why not?Oranges

I was nine, just home from school, and ready to play. The garden patch with its tangle of dried plants and weeds beckoned my little brother and I into a game of Hide-and-seek.

Run and disappear into the weeds. Wait for footsteps. Jump up. Run. Repeat. Laugh a lot.

Trip. Fall down. Scream. Leap up. Scream some more. Swat at yellow jackets angry that you landed on their home. Dash to yours.

Mom met me at the door, stripped off my clothes, and prepared a tub of water and Epson salts. As she sponged the healing potion over my seventeen stings, my tears subsided.

“You stay here and soak,” she cooed. “I will bring you something to help you relax.”

Enter oranges.

A plate of orange wedges placed, eye level, on the edge of my tub. A whole plate of expensive and therefore, scarce and carefully doled out fruit, all to myself. To be savored in private. One at a time. Each section glistened with succulent promise. Mom smiled, turned, and closed the door.

oranges 3

My nose touched the plate. I sniffed the tangy, citrus burst, then closed my eyes and took time to inhale the smell of comfort.

The surface of the wedge of orange between my fingers pressed firm yet pliable, smooth yet dimpled. Most of the wedges included the globular flesh of the orange’s navel. I would tug them off to savor their peculiar texture and their enhanced sweetness. Under the skin, a layer of white cushioned the juice. Perfect. The pith of a navel orange would extend the pleasure.

I sank back into my very first luxury soak, and brought the orange to my lips. As the elixir slipped between my teeth and over my tongue, the stings on my body receded. I sucked the wedge dry and reached for another. And another. Life was again worth a game of Hide-and-seek.

As my friend, Grand Andrew wrote and sings, I was “living in the luxury of the little things.” (Check out his music, here. Grant Andrew Music )

To this day when I’m in pain, and if I’ll remember, there is comfort in the little things. There is luxury and solace in the smell, the taste, the feel of the oranges in my life.

 “The [orange] trees of the Lord are watered abundantly.” – Psalms 104:16

If I take the time to relax and enjoy God’s simple gifts, so are my days.

Old Fashioned Sanity – 2

Southern Appalachia isn’t the only place our ancestors eked out an existence clearing virgin timber and hauling rocks from new fields. Across our nation, across our world, survival usually depended on hardy folks with muscles hard. Folks in touch with nature and in tune with the soil. When food was scarce, what fed their souls? Other than fellowship, when they lost a loved one, where did they go for comfort?

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?”


They lifted up their eyes to the hills, the windswept prairies, over the sandy beaches across the infinity of water, or up to a night of pulsating stars. Nature, mixed with its wild surprises and eternal solidity drew their souls to a larger existence.

Every day they woke up knowing oneness with the earth and there was something, someone, larger than they. They could depend on spring loosening the grip of winter. They were assured autumn would slow the intensity of summer’s hot work.

Nature can still do that.

It did for Rose-Marie, the protagonist in my manuscript, my work still-in-progress-submitting-to-publishers. A couple scenes pulled from an early draft describe nature’s role in her heart’s healing:

“At the top of Newfound Gap, Rose-Marie and her friends piled out of the car. A road, dipping and twisting along the mountainside, had long forgotten the teams of loggers that had rutted its surface. Now, blanketed with snow, it called to the teens. They grabbed their sleds.

When the afternoon grew late, she took a final ride, reached the end of the normal run, and continued to glide on deep into the forest. Snowflakes drifted. Hemlock and spruce stood like mute soldiers with their giant boughs drooping with snow in a world that was very still. Her sled stopped. She listened to the silence, turned onto her back, and with flakes gentling her face, gazed into the vast gray sky. There, in the peaceful quiet, she longed for Matthew.”


 Near the end of the book, with teens of her own, nature continued to feed her soul:

“That weekend, fresh air currents swept the mountain and took the fog with them over the grassy bald, leaving a holiday scent of Frasier fir and Carolina blue sky. A mass of lavender rhododendron spilled a bank. Rose-Marie’s workweek slipped away like a leaf through an eddy.

She stepped into a clearing and dropped her pack. Soft, layered branches of majestic hemlocks drooped to the forest floor. Green expanses of fern waved from mossy ground.

Sunset spun the air with filtered gold and reflected from the white quartz outcropping where her family sat in awe surrounded by a sea of mountains. Forever they went, in hazy, folded shades of blue while the golden sun settled itself for the night. God had done his homework.”


God still does his homework. Lift up your eyes to the hills and know where your help comes from. Take the time. Find the place.

In our complex, often crazy world, get out in the woods, the creek side, the ocean. Drink in the sanity it provides. Appreciate the symmetry and strength of a tree even if its growing in the medium of a traffic-jammed highway. Know, deep in your soul, that your help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

“I lift up my eyes unto the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalms 121:1 & 2


Pristine Presence

“Are the rooms clean?” I asked when I called for reservations. Well, I didn’t know. It was a center, a Family Reconciliation Center they called it, made available for the family and friends of those incarcerated while they came for prison visitation. I had never done this before, so how was I to know? It seemed like a logical question. “Yes, they’re clean and my husband can pick you up from the airport.” If Donna thought my question rude, she never let on. “He’s bald. Got a beard. I think he’s kinda cute. His name is Lee.” “I’m sure we’ll recognize him, and thank you, Donna. This is a huge help. ” image of Barbed wire fence The horseshoe bend of the river formed a natural moat for the sprawling state facilities below our wings. I counted three. A deep rock quarry in clear outline locked the remaining land mass from the rest of the world. Serious security. We circled, landed, and lost our omniscient view. Suitcase in tow, my husband and I left the terminal. A bald man with a beard approached us. I agreed. Through the eyes of love, he was kinda cute. Lee led us to a van that sported a large dent on its side and welcomed us on board. The precursory small talk lasted until he pulled out onto the street. His quiet and unassuming manner belied the misery of his story. He stopped the van at a clapboard house surrounded by a low metal fence and a lawn that was as tidy as a napkin covering a plate of communion wafers. image of Front Walk and Yard “There’s a support group going on in the front room, but just go on in.” Lee invited. “You won’t interrupt.”

Donna’s smile when she met us half-way to the kitchen illuminated the soft contours of her motherly face. She stretched out her arms and drew me into a hug that said, “I’m a woman whose been there and survived.” The light in her eyes kindled her abundant auburn hair.

image of Donna “Soup’s warm on the stove, but first let me show you your room,” she said. It was a guest house, actually—through the kitchen, out the side door, and next to a swing set for kids. The simplicity of the bedroom indicated that thriftiness was an art. The spotless bathroom indicated that someone understood the adage of cleanliness being next to Godliness. “The sheets are clean. But here are fresh ones for tomorrow.” Donna handed us neatly folded linens. “Just put them on in the morning and the bed will be ready for tomorrow night’s guests.” Back at the kitchen table, we devoured her luscious vegetable soup and macaroni salad. Lee, now silent, lingered beside his wife while she poured out her carbon copy story. A mother and a father filled our stomachs while their hearts still bled. image of the Kitchen A grown son. A motorcycle accident. A lost leg and adjoining pelvis. A life-long catheter. Despair. Spousal abandonment. Rage. Imprisonment. Special needs facility. Neglect. Abuse. Solitary confinement. Chains. Filth. Lack of food. Denied communication. A mother’s stubborn intervention. Prayers. Continued court hearings . . . . Lee and Donna talked on. Their misery mounted but their joy could not be suppressed. Only a survivor could understand such a paradox. They had been slammed with the plight of prisoners. They had ached with the pain of the parents. Then they had been given this Kingdom ministry, this Family Reconciliation Center, and their mourning had been turned into dancing. Image of Donna and Lee “God worked it out for us to be here.” Donna said. “We couldn’t imagine doing anything else. He’s given us a passion for others, right here near the prisons. To help others like ourselves. God is so awesome.” Praise fell from the lips of this red-headed mother from Ohio who had suffered a childhood of abuse. “I have never been so happy, so fulfilled in all my life.” Beamed Lee, the kinda cute man from West Virginia’s farm country who had survived his own struggles. image collage of DONNA AND LEE How does one thank such a host and hostess? How does one say an adequate goodbye? We could do little except join them in praising the God who works all things together for good. Then we finally said goodbye to a cottage pristine with the presence of Divinity.

“You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord, my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” Psalms 30:11-12

Perhaps you have a story where God turned your mourning into dancing. Please share it by clicking here.

Provider of Poems

Guest Blog, Poetry, and Photography by JerryAnn Berry

Finding my way to identity while filled with the shame of sin and abuse was like a maze of mirrors. I never knew if what I was seeing was my reflection at all. In the end I realized God found me and He knew where I was the whole time. The past 20 years of recovery are coming to a close. It has been a long journey out of shame and pain, walking into the healing light of God.

Poetry was one of the only ways I could express the situations in which I found myself. When reality had been processed and distilled down to its simplest, most authentic form, poetry was my heart’s elixir. This came through my connection with my Creator as He led me step by step. His view blended with my view, simplified the intense complexities and in the succinct words of a poem I could see clearly, often for the first time.

These three poems are examples of the progressive work of His Spirit mingling with my spirit. They are in sequence of experience and discovery. The last one I wrote this past weekend. Each one has come with new revelation of a God who knows how to touch me and heal my heart. In His presence each experience turns into silent words fitly spoken.

 Jeri's LifeLight Postcard - poem on image of stone hall

Shame, the darkness of not “BEING” right. Satan first introduced it as a subtle thought to the perfect pair that God has just joyfully completed. Not “being” right in the not knowing. “Such a horrible state of being–Not knowing. Such an easy thing to fix.” Satan told the Eden Pair!

And shame was accepted when the satanic reflection was accepted. And change was sought. And God’s perfect work was thrown away for a change of “being” – a new knowledge.

And it seems God went into hiding after that. Not because He wanted to but the shame of not “being “ right made God an unwelcome visitor. Humankind had accepted the reflection instead of what was real. But it wasn’t God that held the mirror.

Jeri's Maze of Mirrors Postcard - Poem on Image of glasses & vases

And now life is full of mirrors.  Lost in a maze of mirrors we turn from side to side banging into the solidity of the deception in our attempts to find escape from shame. Many give up long before they find freedom. Many knock themselves out banging against what isn’t real.

Only as God begins to restore what is real can it be distinguished from the shameful reflections. Only His light shows the way through the mirrors that result in more shame.

We all experience in some way the maze of mirrors that magnifies our shame. We all need to find our way out of the maze and into freedom.

God did not leave us without a way to know freedom. He says it simple and plain. It is in Truth that we find freedom. Not reflected “truth” from any other human, only the Truth that He gives. Truth that is discerned deep within the individual heart and seen through eyes touched by the light heaven shines into the soul.

Positioning is the main tool we have to access this healing. And the starting position is pretty low. Much lower than we find comfortable. Much lower than our protective minds are willing to take. Heaven knew we needed a friend in low places. And so one came and went there in the agony of shame. So we could go there too. And know the joy of resurrection. Today the Conqueror of Shame gives us hope. Only HE knows the way out of this mirror maze.

“He Endured the Shame for the Joy that was set before Him.”

Jeri's Image of the Desert will blossom Postcard

Yom Kippur Atonement
by JerryAnn Berry

With a long list of sins
I come to you
Not because you demand me to eat crow.
But because I know
You hold the fuller’s soap
The refiner’s fire
The Life giving blood.
I can exchange this dead stuff for
Your light
Your goodness
Your joy
Your restoration.
The closer I get to you
The more I see Your goodness.
My stack of “important” sins
Trickles through my fingers
Like sand.
You have forgiven them already.

I just needed to see
You had the way
to put them in the
Bottom of the sea.
Where all sand should be.
No condemnation here.
Only life and the beautiful curl of a wave
Glistening in the Son’s light.

Jeri's image of Hatteras Sunrise

Fixin’ My Boy

Image of Dad's Shop button - Broken Toys & Feelings Fixed for Free

“And the God of grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” — I Peter 5:6-11 (NIV)

Whenever my toddler son needed something fixed, he took it to his daddy. They often went downstairs to the workshop. The workshop held promise of restoration. With glowing eyes, he watched enthralled while his daddy made repairs.

“Daddy fixed it, Momma!” He offered a mended toy for my approval.

One evening I was rubbing his back. His body, still warm from his bath, lay across my lap in a cherished moment of quiet. He lifted his head.

“Are you fixin’ your boy?”

“I sure am. I’m fixin’ my boy.”

“You needs to take me down to the workshop and fix him in the workshop.”

Oh, that it were that simple. That I could take him to his daddy’s workshop and fix any broken part of him, any of his pain. Yet I know there is a workshop—God’s workshop for the soul. I have often gone there longing to be fixed. When the battle rages, Spirit against flesh, I have gone there needing help and encouragement.

It is the workshop of God’s Word, full of promise.

When I read “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you , than he that is in the world,” (1 John 4:4),  I feel like my son who depended on his daddy to fix his toys. I feel my heavenly Father fixing me. He loosens my dependence on my strength and gives me courage to depend on His.

Image of sign:  Daddy's Tools

“Remember, my child,” He seems to say when I read Hebrews 12:1-3, “all those who have gone before you. Though they were weak like you, they did not let go of their faith. They surround you like a cloud — a cloud of witnesses to My power. So throw off everything that hinders you and the sin that so easily entangles, and run the race I have marked out for you. Run it with perseverance. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. Never forget that, for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorned its shame, and sat down at the right hand of My throne. When you consider Him who endured such opposition, you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

As I ponder the promises in the workshop of His Word, I praise Him for taking me down to His workshop and fixin’ me.



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