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Brown Paper Bag

By Tomi Leslie

The wood-planked floor, of a one-room schoolhouse stage, creaked. Slowly, my girlfriend and I stepped across it. And at center stage we turned to face the audience. She gently nudged her elbow against my side, but nothing calmed my quivers. The lyrics of Jingle Bells danced a jitterbug step within my mind. Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh . . . But as I glanced right, it was the Christmas tree aglow with reds and greens; the scents of pine that eased my stage fright–for about six seconds.

A hush fell over the room as my third grade teacher placed several brown paper bags on the stage, then made her way to an old, oak upright piano. She touched the piano key, Middle C. Fifteen minutes later, my class Christmas program entered history. And I vowed never again to stand beside my friend while facing an audience. She and I had giggled through every word of Jingle Bells. And afterwards until we grabbed brown paper bags and exited the stage.

Later, I gazed inside my bag–the gift. There were oranges and old-fashioned hard candies. But hidden near the bottom, I found my favorite treat, chocolate fudge. And as I savored the first bite, I named it Chocolate Fudge Delight – Made in Heaven. The next few years, following the Christmas program, I received a brown paper bag filled with goodies. And each year that familiar taste of chocolate fudge filled my memory as a heavenly scrumptious delight.

Indeed, while growing up in a rural community, my childhood carried the earmark of Hallmark Christmases. Consequently, I try not to compare my hectic Christmases of adulthood to the simple Christmases of my childhood.

Childhood was special. The time I first tasted of God’s goodness!

In my life, as well as writing, it is with eyes of a child that I hope to enter Christmas 2016. And as I approach Year 2017, I long for that vein of God’s goodness to sparkle within my blogs and book scenes. So much of my writing creativity is based on experience, the results of happy, mundane, and sad times. Whether in my childhood, or adulthood, God’s goodness has remained constant with me.

I strive to carve a deep crevice of conflict between characters where dark flushes out one’s wise judgment and light exposes another’s unwise judgment. Show versus tell, my ultimate target, is never easy for me. How do I lasso God’s goodness enough to perfectly write of it? How do I reveal profound and hidden things where the reader sees, feels, hears, and tastes of Him? How do I paint with words the vision of His goodness shining from the setting sun; His goodness powering along the rushing river? Impossible! I, Tomi, cannot with precision capture and describe God’s goodness apart from the works of the Holy Spirit. But He can, through me.

My assignment is to taste, trust, then type.

Guaranteed, I have decided, His goodness is far better than nibbling a Chocolate Fudge Delight, even if perhaps Made in Heaven.

‘O taste and see that the LORD is good . . .’ (Psalm 34:8 NASB).

Tomi LeslieTomi Leslie describes herself in three phrases, Get real, Oh well, and Laugh a lot. She has completed her first suspense novel, Beyond Snowy Bridge; book one of a proposed three-book series. And she draws on personal internal gems while seeking to develop more real and complex characters. But Tomi also exhibits an adventurous side. Whether scaling a Colorado mountain from a 4-WD vehicle, or walking near breaking waves of the Pacific in California, Tomi views places and people as gifts from God. Thus, she works to maintain deep, authentic relationships with her husband, her three adult children, and her long-term friends. She resides in Colorado Springs.

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