Inside the soul of a writer

Author Archives: Alisa Russell

Cross-posted from my Thriving in Grace blog.

 

Facebook memories can be a funny thing. They can also be one of the things to inspire a blog post as they have this morning. I was looking over my memories earlier and saw that on this date, four years ago, I published a post about writing quotes, https://writewhatyouknowdotorg.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/writing-quote-thursday/. I looked over the post and smiled. It was a fond memory of where I was as a writer four years ago and how far I’ve come since then.

Learning never stops though, and between this Facebook memory and the challenge issued by the writing blog, Positive Writer, http://positivewriter.com/7-inspirational-quotes-that-could-change-your-life/, I thought I would do another quote post today and talk about different quotes and what they mean to me.

I’ve been working on myself this year and how my faith in God brings me closer to the person He wants me to be. It’s a struggle. All of us come to Him with baggage. Heck, all of us have baggage, period. One of my struggles is believing in myself so the quotes I have chosen today reflect this struggle and how far I’ve come. They were all encouraging to me in different ways. Here is the first one.

“We are all unique, and have our own special place in the puzzle of the universe.” – Rod Williams

This reminded me of Psalm 139 which has become my Scripture reading of choice when my confidence lags and my insecurity reigns.

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” – Booker T. Washington

When I think about this quote along with what I’ve had to overcome with my faith, I don’t feel as insignificant to God as I felt on Sunday when my church was doing a ground breaking ceremony. People tell me that I mean a lot to my church, but sometimes I just don’t see it. I know I mean everything to God though, and that is what counts the most.

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human experiment.” – E. E. Cummings

I feel like this is what I’ve done with my blogs over the past four years. I’ve published words I wouldn’t ever say out loud, except maybe in my pastor’s office. 🙂 I’m not successful like the world defines success, but I know God has a purpose in the words I share, and that is the success that means the most.

“Always be yourself, and have faith in yourself.” – Bruce Lee

This is so plain it shouldn’t have to be spelled out, but I’ve had to work on it anyway. I’m the person God made me to be, and He doesn’t want me to change though I have tried.

“You are braver than you believe, smarter than you seem, and stronger than you think.” – Winnie the Pooh

This is my favorite of these quotes. It teaches me to reach beyond my thoughts and feelings about myself and live the way God wants me to. God gave us thoughts and feelings, yes, and we are to express them honestly. But, He also wants us to have our value rooted in Him and no one else.

And finally, the last quote.

“We are made to persist. That’s how we find out who we are.” – Tobias Wolff

For awhile, I forgot how to persist. I’ve been so busy trying to make myself into the person I thought God wanted me to be that I lost track of who I actually was. No more though. My words are who I am and writing them down is my best way of honoring my God-given gifts and being true to myself and the person God is growing me to be.

Hope everyone has a great day!

 

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It’s been a long time since I’ve written in this blog. So long, in fact, that I thought people had forgotten about it. But people are still finding this blog and following it which has been pretty amazing in and of itself. This has brought me to a decision. I’m going to start cross-posting the posts I write for my Thriving in Grace blog, https://alisarussell.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/following-jesus/, in this space to attempt to revive this blog. And come up with some original material for you all to enjoy too.

I’ve never made a secret in this blog of being a Christian, and that is where today’s topic comes from. Hope and redemption–two words that are used often in Christian circles. I never considered though that there might be a distance between them until the other day.

First, to gain some clarity, let’s define each of these words. Hope is to cherish a desire with anticipation or to have trust and reliance while redemption is the act or process or an instance of redeeming. Those of you who are Christians might have also heard of redemption being spoken of as the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.

So, hope is a desire and redemption is action. Both are spoken of in Scripture. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  Romans 3:24 says, “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (the action Jesus took by dying on the cross for us)

Both of these are necessary for the Christian faith. If there is hope without redemption, no change is ever made, and we won’t experience God’s love in this world. If there is redemption without hope, we are just doing good deeds without knowing the why behind them. Therefore, it is possible for a distance to develop between these words like I spoke of earlier.

I’ve experienced this distance myself in recent weeks, and I wasn’t sure why. A distance between me and my Lord and Savior. Human beings do a good job of hiding their inner selves from the people around them. We can even hide the deepest part of our souls from ourselves. Of course, they’re not hidden from God, but he can’t start to help us or start the healing process until we are willing to let them bubble up to the surface. That takes us being willing to ask ourselves the hard questions or having trusted people in our lives who are willing to ask us the hard questions. I had one of those moments last week, and once he asked the question, and I answered, I felt the layers of distance between hope and redemption dissolving through the tears. It was not something I had considered, but it was something which was totally correct. It was rejection and insecurity from my past I had not dealt with.

Oh, I thought I had, and maybe to a certain extent, I had. But, I was under a mistaken impression which God corrected in those moments in that office and in the moments for the rest of that day. What was that impression, you ask? I thought I could deal with and then put rejection and insecurity in the back of my heart, and it would stay there, never to come out again. It took me awhile, but with God’s help and my friend’s help, I finally figured out life doesn’t work that way.

That was what brought me back to the distance between hope and redemption. I can’t work on my issues until I’m willing to take action and bring closure to the distance. God wants me to take my fear of rejection and my insecurity to him each and every day when I wake up. This will not be something I will ever “get over”. I will leave these fears at His feet and pick up the truth of who He is and who I am in His Kingdom as I live this crazy messed-up life of mine. The distance between hope and redemption disappears as I know without a doubt I am God’s daughter, and nothing will ever change that!

 

God’s blessings on you all today!


A happier topic this morning and a continuation of my writing prompt series. Here’s the prompt.

Balloons … Streamers … Cake. I love a good party! What would be the best
theme if someone were throwing a party for you? What would capture your
all-time favorite things? What unique decorations would be used? What food
would be served? What music would be playing? Would there be costumes?
What do the centerpieces look like? What different elements would make it
the ideal party specifically for you? Capture the scene with your words …

My 50th birthday was last December. I hinted to my husband in every way I could that I wanted the day or days around it to be special. (since the actual day of my birthday was on a Monday) I would have to say he did well with the hints taking our family to dinner the night before and to see Christmas lights for the first time in the city we now live in. He also asked our entire church to sing to me when he was making an announcement after the service was over in the morning. I was not expecting that, and it was pretty cool.

What made it really special though was the actual day of my birthday. I’m a pretty simple person as far as decorations and centerpieces are concerned. It doesn’t matter to me whether I eat off of china or paper plates. I’m a meat and potatoes kind of girl who likes country and Christian music. So, when a good friend invited me to Shane’s Barbecue for lunch, I was very happy to get to spend time with her and wasn’t expecting anything else. Boy, was I Wrong! I write that with a capital W because I was wrong. Let me set the scene. I walked into the restaurant, and she came up and hugged me leading me to the back of the restaurant. I was bewildered because usually, ordering was done before sitting down. But, I walked back there and saw a group of our friends from church. It was a surprise party! It had been a long time since I had someone plan one of those for me. I was greeted and hugged by everyone and was especially excited to see my birthday buddy who turned 5 on that day. It made me feel good to know that I counted with these people because I struggle with that. Anyway, we ordered and had a good time talking and laughing as we ate lunch and the birthday cupcakes my friend had brought. People even brought me presents which was the last thing I had expected–mainly writing journals and Christmas decorations. The party was precious and made me cry. It was the best birthday party I had ever had. I’m very grateful for the community around me who showed me the love of Christ that day and who put up with me even when I’m not the best person to be around. I guess that’s what grace is all about. 🙂

Hope everyone has a great day!


This morning I’m going to let the words flow and see where they take me. I’m overwhelmed, overwhelmed with sorrow, and I don’t understand why. No, I understand why. It’s depression in its finest form. I’ve been told I do well with writing down things in order to understand them so that’s what I’m going to attempt by giving you a glimpse into my life with depression.

First, let me reassure you I am under the care of a doctor and am on medication to help me cope with this disorder, Sometimes though, it gets the best of me like it has for the past few days. I feel, today, like I have ants running around in my head. They’re fire ants so each time they bite I want to stop and scratch, but because they’re inside my head, I can’t. So, each nibble hurts and doesn’t stop hurting. It’s hard to explain the feeling to someone who has never experienced it, but this is the pain that’s been in my head for the last few days. One side of me is saying I can’t cope with this by myself, and the other is saying that being by myself is the way to go. So, I have a war going on inside of my head–not the way I wanted to start my day if I was being honest.

I do know God is with me. I know He is holding me and won’t let go. I have a strong faith that I’m not renouncing or denying just because I struggle with depression. Some Christians would say that my faith couldn’t be strong if I’m admitting to this, but to them I would say, ‘Talk to me after you’ve climbed out of the pit as many times as I have’.

No, what I’m fighting is feeling like I need to be by myself with no other human beings around. Feeling like no one wants to bother with or understand my struggle so why should I bother. Yes, that’s the battle. I feel alone so I think I need to be alone. What makes this more difficult is my status as an introvert. Being alone feels like a present to me even when I shouldn’t be alone, and I have to fight extra hard to push myself out into the world.

Another thing that makes my battle with depression more difficult is feeling like I can’t talk about it. People want to try to fix me when I talk about what’s going on inside my head like they would fix someone with a physical illness. It doesn’t work that way with a mental illness though. Yes, there are medicines which I take. For me though, depression stays at the edge of my brain, even when I’m in a good place, watching, seeking, wanting to devour the things in my life that are good. When I’m feeling at my worst, it accomplishes all it has set out to do. What I need from others when I’m in this place is a chance to talk, cry, or pray, but I don’t feel like I can ask because I suffer from depression and not a physical illness.

So, this is my battle today–wanting to isolate myself from the world. Sometimes I win these battles quickly and am able to go into the world with a renewed heart. Sometimes though I have to crawl into bed and wait for a new day to come so I can fight again.

I hope this has given you a glimpse into the world of someone who fights depression. Thanks for reading!


This is a continuation of my month of prompts series.

Is there one line from a movie that makes you laugh or smile every time you
hear it? Or that you quote frequently? What’s the line and what’s the movie?
Do you remember it because of the film? Or perhaps because of the people
you were with? How would you persuade someone else to see the movie?

There are plenty of lines from movies that make me laugh. In fact, there are lines that make me cry too. If a movie or television show touches me in a particular way, quotes from said movie or television show will enter my quoting vocabulary, and I will use a quote when a situation arises in my life.

The quote I’m going to discuss today comes from the movie Independence Day. Not the one that came out this year, but the one that came out twenty years ago. I’ve talked before in this blog about how watching this movie on the Fourth of July every year has become a family tradition. https://writewhatyouknowdotorg.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/family-traditions/ So, it makes sense that this movie would also contain lines that I’m fond of quoting.

Here’s the quote: “I’m a pilot. I can fly.” Randy Quaid’s character of Russell Casse speaks this line to Adam Baldwin’s character of Major Mitchell towards the end of the movie when they are recruiting pilots to go up against the alien spacecraft. What makes the line so interesting is that Russell Casse is sobering up when Major Mitchell questions him and delivers it in a memorable accent. Memorable enough that I use the line years later whenever I am trying something new. I use the line especially if the something new I’m trying is difficult or nearly impossible. I do this because, in the past, I have had problems summoning the courage to try difficult things. Just like the character of Russell Casse. In the movie, his character touched me because, in the end, he did the right thing to save his children and the planet. While I don’t think decisions I would make at the end of my life would be so monumental, I would hope that people would look back at my life and say I did my best to do the right thing.

I would have to say I remember the line because of one of the people I was with when I saw the movie and a person who was not here yet, but who was growing inside of me. Yes, the first time I saw the movie I was pregnant with my first son and was with my husband at the movie. We are both sci-fi people and thought it would be a movie we would enjoy. It turned out we did, and we both have quoted lines from the movie to each other over the years. Even though the movie is special to us because of what it means to our family, I would think I could persuade someone else to see it by talking about the plot, the characters and the interesting science fiction elements. I would also talk about how the people in the movie ended up coming together to save the planet even though they had been so divided before. All in all, I believe this movie would be a great movie to see for anyone who enjoys science fiction.


I’m continuing with my month of prompts this morning.

Today, use all of your senses to paint a word picture. Pick an everyday
item. Describe it using five visual descriptions (what does it look like?), four
tactile descriptions (how does it feel?), three audio descriptions (how does it
sound?), two olfactory descriptions (how does it smell?) and one description
about how it might taste.

We have a tradition in my family of getting a box of fried chicken every Saturday after grocery shopping is completed and pairing it with Hawaiian rolls. The other sides we get differ. Sometimes, it’s mashed potatoes; sometimes, it’s mac and cheese. But, fried chicken and rolls are always a staple on Saturday afternoons. There are several places around town where it is available, and I think we’ve tried them all. When we go to one of the good places though, it usually has a certain appearance. The chicken is golden brown with crinkled skin to show where it has been fried. I can also see bubbles where the oil has merged with the skin and the chicken. When I peel away the skin, I can see white meat just waiting for me to sink my teeth into. Each bite brings me closer to the bone which has a gray appearance.

Picking up the chicken allows me to experience the roughness of the texture which is there because of the way the chicken has been cooked. Chicken which has been cooked a different way doesn’t feel the same when I pick it up. I also can feel the grease in the skin which gets on my hands and mouth. Sometimes, it feels hot if it has just come out of the oven. I can also feel the hardness of the bone underneath the skin and the meat.

I don’t think hearing food is something we usually think about, but there are sounds that come to my mind when I think of fried chicken. The first is the popping sound it makes when it is cooking or being reheated in the microwave. I took some of the leftovers to church for lunch yesterday, and I remember hearing those sounds when it reheated. I can also hear the skin crunch and the meat gurgle as I eat it.

Smelling food can evoke all kinds of memories. It can bring good memories to mind or bad ones. I like the smell of the skin as it cooks and the hardy, homelike smell it brings to my home as we begin eating.

And finally, the best sense of all when it comes to fried chicken–the sense of taste. The feel of the skin on my mouth, all of the spices combined together, brings a cacophony of music to my mouth filled with good family times and traditions.

Hope everyone has a great day!


Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger all play important roles in Inside
Out, Pixar’s movie about the emotions inside the head of an 11-year-old girl
named Riley. Now it’s your turn to let one of the emotions have control of the
console.

Write five or six different emotions on little slips of paper and put them in
a bowl. Draw one at random. Write a review of a recent movie or TV show
you’ve seen using only the one emotion you drew.

In the first two episodes of Season 4, it has been easy to tell that the show has turned in a new direction. New elements have been introduced along with new characters. With the introduction of Gabriel Luna as Robbie Reyes/Ghost Rider, an edgier element, or one could say an element involving fear, has become a part of the show.

This was evident in Tuesday’s episode entitled Meet the New Boss. As the title suggests, we got to see who the new director was and found out things we weren’t expecting to find out. What was unexpected about the director along with the other parts of the episode added fear which upped the stakes and made the show exciting to watch.

The question could be asked as to why this is, but I think all of us who are consumers of media instinctively know already. Fear, or conflict overall, makes things more interesting. People don’t want to watch or read about people whose lives have nothing wrong in them. They want to know how people get through their problems and resolve whatever’s happening.

This is what makes shows like Agents of SHIELD popular. The people who watch it want to know how Agent May gets over her fear of her colleagues because of the pathogen she’s been infected with. They want to know if people will stop being afraid of the Ghost Rider. They want to know if the ghosts will be cured so people won’t be afraid of them. And finally, they want to know if people are afraid of the new director now because he’s an Inhuman.

So, Tuesday’s episode had more questions than answers. It had the emotion of fear as well as other emotions. But, mainly, it had the conflict that everyone who watches it has come to expect.

Hope everyone has a great day!