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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Write Your Story

Photo Credit:  snowbear from
I’m sure many of you have received an e-mail similar to the following one over the years:

“This is part of a brain study.  If you can read the paragraph below, then you have a strong mind.  Better than that, they say that Alzheimer's is a long, long way down the road for you!”

7H15 M3554G3 53RV35 7O PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5!  1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5!  1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG 17 WA5 H4RD, BU7 N0W 0N 7H15 LIN3, Y0UR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 17 4U70M471C4LLY W17H0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17.  B3 PROUD!  0NLY C3R741N P30PL3 C4N R3AD 7H15.

(The answer key that my daughter insisted I provide: This message serves to prove how our minds can do amazing things!  Impressive things!  In the beginning it was hard, but now on this line, your mind is reading it automatically without even thinking about it.  Be proud!  Only certain people can read this.)

What about this one?  Can you read this?  They say that only 55% of people can.  I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg.  Its the phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy.  It dseno't mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are.  The olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae.  The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it whotuit a pboerlm.  This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe.  Azanmig huh?  Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!  Ha!

(Here goes: I couldn’t believe that I could actually understand what I was reading.  It’s the phenomenal power of the human mind, according to a research at Cambridge University.  It doesn’t matter in what order the letters in a word are.  The only important thing is that the first and last letter be in the right place.  The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without a problem.  This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself, but the word as a whole.  Amazing huh?  Yeah and I always thought spelling was important! Ha!)

Although I have successfully read these passages above on numerous occasions, I still enjoy the challenge.  I re-read them each and every time they pop up in my inbox.  I want to see if my gray matter is still functioning at full (or at least, semi-full) capacity.  It always gives me a little jolt of delight when my mind works with me instead of against me.

Our minds are amazing, aren’t they?  God blessed us with something incredible.  We can multi-task, learn, recall all types of information, remember beautiful and not-so-beautiful times in our lives, help our children with difficult homework assignments, be creative, think, pray, and on and on and on.  Personally, I’m certain that I take for granted the fact that my brain is working properly when I get out of bed each day.  I need to make more of an effort to thank God for that.

On the flip-side of a mind that is bursting at the seams with information, thoughts, and creativity, there are certainly times when I experience tabula rasa.  What in the world is tabula rasa?  Well, I first heard the term a few weeks ago and it has ironically been “on my mind” since then.  Tabula rasa is a Latin phrase often translated as "blank slate" in English.  It originates from the Roman tabula or wax tablet used for notes, which was blanked by heating the wax and then smoothing it.

As a writer, I get antsy when my mind feels like a blank slate.  I am a bit anxious when I think that I just might not have anything at all to share.  Nothing.  Zilch.  Nil.  Zero.  Nada.  However, during those times in which I experience tabula rasa, I have found that that is when I pray more.  I seek God’s assistance and advice.  I ask Him what He wants me to write.  I say, “Lord, write YOUR story and use me as an instrument.”

Recently, I heard a Christian song with the lyrics, “I’m an empty page.  I’m an open book.  Write your story on my heart.”  It resonated with me as I continued to ponder what tabula rasa meant.  It made sense.  If we feverishly attempt to fill the book of our life with all the words WE want to write, when do we let God fill in a chapter or two?  Do we ever put down the pen and let Him have some quality writing time?

Little by little, I’m actually getting more comfortable with tabula rasa.  I am learning to appreciate the delicate dance between having so much to say and having so little to say.  I’m also working on being okay with silence.  When I experience tabula rasa, my mind becomes quiet.  Then, I become quiet.  That is when I can truly listen.  Try talking and listening at the same time.  It’s not a great combination and we do it so often, don’t we?  I know I do.

Have you ever been at a loss for words?  Maybe a tragedy of some sort has affected your family or friends?  Maybe there is an unexpected death?  Maybe someone you love gets the news that they have a terminal illness?

These are prime examples of different chances to give God the pen and ask Him for the words.  They are perfect opportunities for God to guide our words…if words are even necessary.  Sometimes, there are no words needed.  What if we’re just supposed to listen?  At times, there can be a greater gift…that of presence. 

As a person who simply adores words, I used to think that I always needed to find the perfect words to share in any given situation.  Over the years, I have found that I don’t.  Sometimes, words aren’t what someone needs.  Many times, my presence is all someone needed.  What if YOUR presence is all someone needs?

Oftentimes, people are uncomfortable being quiet together though.  Haven’t you known someone who can’t help but fill every single solitary second with a word or a sound?  How about um and uh?  Those two-letter words like to hang around in the awkward silence, don’t they?

Anyway, with the increase in activity during the upcoming holidays, I realize there won’t be oodles of opportunity for being quiet.  However, I challenge each of you to squeeze in a few moments for the gift of silence.  Hand over your pen and let God write some of your story this Christmas season.

Actually, now that I think about it, one of my tabula rasa moments ended up as a children’s book, once I asked God to write the story.  I know I’ve mentioned it already…buuuuut…my first children’s book, Gabriel’s Golden Key, will be available in early 2016!  Woo-hoo!

I would also like to wish each of you a Blessed Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!  I thank God for each of you and I ask Him to bless you and your families.  Thank you for spending time with me over here at Sips of Sunshine.  It’s been such a pleasure for me to write these posts and I have loved all of your feedback throughout the year.  I will be taking a few weeks off from blogging to wrap up 2015, BUT I will definitely be back with lots of sunshine to share again in January! 

Oh!  I have a tiny favor…if you would be so kind, please feel free to share my blog with others and head on over to my Sips of Sunshine facebook page.  Be sure to “like” it and get updates on my book as it gets closer to publication date.  (Can you tell I’m just a teeny weeny bit excited?!  Yeah!  Thank you for sharing in my joy!)

Until then, let God write your story.  I hear He has a wonderful way with words!

See you in 2016, Sunshines!

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