Heavenly Lost & Found


Sala pulled the placard off the counter, turned it around and held it up to Gaaliel’s face.  “What is this?”

“It’s my sign.  Every business has a sign.”

Sala turned the sign back around and gave it a proper look.  “LOST & FOUND.  What does that mean?”

“That’s what I do.  I manage things that are lost and try to get other things found.  At least, that’s what THEY call it.”

Sala snorted and put the sign back down where it had been.  “If you ask me, I think you have spent too much time with THEM.  You are starting to sound like THEM.”

Gaaliel’s face fell and Sala, feeling ashamed for discouraging one of his brightest protégés, quickly added with enthusiasm, “I have been looking forward to viewing your work, Gaaliel!  Let me see your current projects.”

With a brilliant smile, Gaaliel pulled a large flat-screened monitor out from under the counter.  “I can’t wait to show you, Sala!”

Confused, Sala frowned.  “And this? What is this thing?” he questioned, tapping the display unit.

“Oh, please humour me, Sala!  Just watch.  I think you will like it.  It is called a television.” Seeing Sala’s scowl, Gaaliel hurried on. ” It displays moving pictures.  I know it is silly, but I like displaying my work with THEM this way.  Makes me feel a bit closer to THEM.”

Sala was about to retort that Gaaliel was getting much too close to THEM, but held his tongue and urged Gaaliel to continue by nodding his head.

Sala waved his hand over the screen and moving images appeared.  Unlike a real television, however, these were not recorded films but live scenes.

“These are my latest labours,” Gaaliel narrated.  “This boy,” he pointed to a grinning youngster who was chatting to a group of friends, “is very poor and has no food.  And this boy,”  he pointed to a second child, “heard the summons and shared his lunch!”

“A good beginning,” remarked Sala.  “Have you more?”

“Oh, yes, Sala!” Gaaliel again passed his hand over the screen and the setting changed.  Now there were two young women sitting on a park bench together.  One had her face buried in her hands and the other had her arm around the first.  “This woman’s mother has just been taken to her eternal home. The woman is heart-broken because the last words she spoke to her mother were harsh.  And this woman,” he pointed to the woman who was comforting her friend, “gave her peace.  She shared her knowledge that the mother is with the MAKER. She spoke the words of her FATHER!”

“Good, good!  Is there more?”

“Yes, Sala, one more for now.” Again he swiped his hand and the scene changed.  Now there was an old man lying in a bed and a young woman at the bedside holding his hand.  “This one, Sala, this one is special.  This man lived a life running from his FATHER.  He lived to please himself only and in doing so he deeply hurt those around him.  This is his daughter.” Sala pointed to the young woman.  “She has borne much sorrow and anger because of this man’s treatment of her.  She lived in the darkness of hate for many years.  Then she saw the truth of the FATHER and her heart melted within her.  She received forgiveness and then became a channel of that forgiveness to this man.”

“Very nice, Gaaliel!  You are listening and obeying well.  See the healing that flows from the FATHER to his CHILDREN!  Well done!” and Sala affectionately patted Gaaliel’s hand.  “But I don’t understand this ‘Lost and Found’ thing.”

“Well,” began Gaaliel, “on EARTH when something is missing they call it ‘lost’ and when something is restored they call it ‘found.’  The boy was missing more than just his lunch; he gained a meal and a friend.  The woman who lost her mother was filled with regret, but it was replaced with comfort and assurance.  And the last one, the woman was missing peace and found joy.  There were things that were gone, and now things have been redeemed.  ‘Lost and Found’!”

Sala chuckled and shook his head.  “Well, you may call it whatever you like, Gaaliel.  You are serving the FATHER well!  Continue with your ‘Lost and Found.'”


Today’s assignment:  Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings.
Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.
Today’s twist: If you’d like to continue our serial challenge, also reflect on the theme of “lost and found” more generally in this post.

STYLE (diction and tone) and VOICE


(We have been exploring VOICE and STYLE in WRITING 101.  I found these notes helpful.)

Style, Diction, Tone and Voice


Style is the way in which something is written, as opposed to the meaning of what is written. In writing, however, the two are very closely linked. As the package for the meaning of the text, style influences the reader’s impression of the information itself. Style includes diction and tone. The main goal in considering style is to present your information in a manner appropriate for both the audience and the purpose of the writing. Consistency is vital. Switching styles can distract the reader and diminish the believability of the paper’s argument.


Diction is word choice. When writing, use vocabulary suited for the type of assignment. Words that have almost the same denotation (dictionary meaning) can have very different connotations (implied meanings).
Examples– Formal Diction: “We are not angry.” Casual Diction: “We aren’t mad.” Slang (very informal): “We ain’t ticked.”
Besides the level of formality, also consider positive or negative connotations of the words chosen.
Examples– Positive: “pruning the bushes” Negative: “slashing the bushes”
Some types of diction are almost never advisable in writing. Avoid clichés, vagueness (language that has more than one equally probable meaning), wordiness, and unnecessarily complex language.


Aside from individual word choice, the overall tone, or attitude, of a piece of writing should be appropriate to the audience and purpose. The tone may be objective or subjective, logical or emotional, intimate or distant, serious or humorous. It can consist mostly of long, intricate sentences, of short, simple ones, or of something in between. (Good writers frequently vary the length of their sentences.) One way to achieve proper tone is to imagine a situation in which to say the words being written. A journal might be like a conversation with a close friend where there is the freedom to use slang or other casual forms of speech. A column for a newspaper may be more like a high-school graduation speech: it can be more formal, but it can still be funny or familiar. An academic paper is like a formal speech at a conference: being interesting is desirable, but there is no room for personal digressions or familiar usage of slang words.  In all of these cases, there is some freedom of self-expression while adapting to the audience. In the same way, writing should change to suit the occasion.


Anything you write should still have your voice: something that makes your writing sound uniquely like you. A personal conversation with a friend differs from a speech given to a large group of strangers. Just as you speak to different people in different ways yet remain yourself, so the tone of your writing can vary with the situation while the voice — the essential, individual thoughts and expression — is still your own.

(from: http://www.wheaton.edu/Academics/Services/Writing-Center/Writing-Resources/Style-Diction-Tone-and-Voice)

Lost Chance


For the last ten years the Eshowe Art Exhibition has been a real crowd gatherer.  It also helps raise substantial amounts of money for three different charities.  And, most importantly, it showcases the works of our talented local artists.

Held in the infamous George Hotel, artists submit their framed work to the organisers.  Then, on a long Thursday afternoon and evening, each picture is hung, rehung and then hung again until it has found its own special place in the show.  I have watched year-after-year as each artist grows, each slowly discovering their own style, their own interpretation, their own voice.

I love the build up to the opening night, the fancy wine glasses, the decor, the small groups of people clustered together (some discussing the art, others discussing the rugby score), the joy of discovering a piece that captures my breath and the greater joy when I find it is not yet sold and I can afford it.

This year at the close it was announced that there would be no art exhibition in 2015.  At first I didn’t believe the news.  I didn’t want to believe the news.  I love this exhibition.  Then I got angry.  How dare they take it away from the local people who love and support the exhibition year after year, from the humble artists who in trepidation unveil their offerings.

Besides, next year, I’d told myself, I would finally get my act together and put something on show.




Today’s Assignment:  Think about an event you’ve attended and loved.  Imagine you’re told it will be cancelled forever.  How does that make you feel?

Today’s twist: While writing this post, focus again on your own voice. Pay attention to your word choice, tone, and rhythm.

Teacher Teacher


Dear Mrs Matina,

Thank you for being my teacher.  I don’t think that you got to pick who was in your class. And I didn’t get to pick you.  But thank you anyway for teaching me.

Mom told me to write this letter to you because it is World Teacher’s Day on the 5th of October.  I didn’t know there was a day for teachers.
Is there a day for ventriloquists? That’s what I want to be.  Do you know what that is?  I saw a guy on TV who was a ventriloquist. I started practicing.  Do you remember that day when you got mad cuz you thought Billy Baker was farting?  That was me being a ventriloquist.  I am getting pretty good.

Mom says there is not very much money in ventriloquism.  That means they don’t get paid very much.  She also says that teachers don’t get paid very much.  She said that if I want to make money then I should be a doctor or a plumber.  I don’t want to be a doctor because I don’t like guts.  And I think Mom was just saying plumber cuz she was yelling last week about how much we had to pay a guy to come fix our toilet.

Anyway, maybe I will be a teacher and a ventriloquist.  Then I could get paid twice.  And I could throw my voice around the classroom and scare the kids.

I think you are a pretty good teacher, Mrs Matina.  Specially when you are not tired and crabby.  You look tired a lot.  Are you tired of telling us that a lot is two words?  See — I remembered. I think Billy Baker must make you the most tired.  He doesn’t remember anything.

Well, I have to go do my homework now so my teacher won’t get crabby.  (Ha ha, that was a joke.)

Happy Teacher’s Day.

From your student,
Greg Hollister


Today’s Assignment:  Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration.   Today’s twist: write the post in the form of a letter.

My word came from There Was a Country by Chinua Achebe.  There it was, page 29 — “I went home to my village at the end of the holiday and visited a secondary school within my district in Oba near Ogidi.  I asked the principal to give me a job as an English teacher.  And he did!”  Thought it must be fate, what with Sunday being World Teacher’s Day and me being a teacher.

Lost and Found


I hated him. With every fibre in my being, I hated him. It didn’t matter that he was my father. In fact, that probably made me hate him more.

He was asleep when we left for school and gone when we got home. There was no telling when he’d return, but one thing was guaranteed — he’d be angry drunk when he did. If he came home during dinner, within ten minutes there’d be dishes on the floor.. If he drove up before bedtime we’d scatter and dive into bed with our clothes on, praying he’d be too tired to start yelling. And if he arrived after we’d retired (we’d never fall asleep – we’d lay awake listening for the car) we’d shiver under our bedclothes and wait. Wait for the inevitable, fierce, ranting rage.

Many times Mom would grab her bag (with the spare keys for the Buick) and run. We had to be quick and shadow her. Fortunately drinking made Dad slower and more clumsy. We’d squeeze into the car and roar off into the night, pyjamas and all, stomachs churning, bodies quivering. On more than one occasion we slept in the parked car, too afraid to go home. In the morning we would creep back and silently get dressed for school while Dad snored away on the couch. That afternoon he would be gone and the entire scenario would play itself out again.

By the time I reached 14 I had begun to fight back. My insides would be like jelly and I would feel sick to my stomach, but I would rise to meet his wrath with a righteous indignation of my own. How dare he! How dare he treat us this way!

In the Autumn of tenth grade I had a long weekend reprieve. A good friend invited me to a high school retreat at a camp nestled next to a national forest. The four days were filled with diverting activities and side-splitting entertainment. Every evening we would gather to sing and listen to a speaker share words of faith.

I was a believer. As a five-year-old I’d “given my heart to Jesus.” This meant, I was assured by the Sunday School teacher, that Jesus would take me to heaven when I died. Somewhere along the line I had also learned (perhaps unintentionally) that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. That seemed fair to me, so I tried to be a good person. It is all degrees of comparison, right? So, I took the worst person I could think of, whom I knew was going to hell, and compared myself to him. Surely I was a million times better than my father. He deserved hell!

The last night of camp the speaker challenged us to go off by ourselves and talk to God. I wandered off to the banks of a grassy field. On my back, looking up at a legion of stars, I began a monologue. I talked and talked and talked until I was empty of words and exhausted. Then, what had begun as a soliloquy turned into a discourse. In my mind’s eye I stood before a mirror. There I was, me in all my gawkiness and effort. I was comfortable with what I saw and not displeased. “This is how you see yourself,” I heard. Then, as I watched, my image slowly transformed into the image of my father. I began to shake but I couldn’t look away. “This is how I see you.” And I knew it was the truth.

Tears began to stream down the sides of my face. I knew. I knew that in the eyes of a holy and righteous God there was no difference between me and my father. I saw the hate in my heart, the ugly, palpable hate. And I was devastated. Helpless. Sick.

Then I saw in the mirror a dazzling image. But perhaps “felt” the image is more accurate. As I looked my insides were filled with a profound peace and flooded with joy. “This is how I see you in my Son. Let go and let me come in.”

A new person got up from that bank.  A new person walked back into that home.

I lost hate that night.   But I found joy.



Today’s assignment: On day four, you wrote a post about losing something.

Today, write about finding something.

The Twist: Use this assignment as the second instalment of that post.

(If you would like to read the first post first, you can find my Day Four Post here.)

Tour Guide for a Day

Leave a comment

Most things can be stretched only so far before they snap.

Our local economy is pretty much tied up in sugar cane.  Hills once covered in indigenous shrubs are now covered in cane.  When the wind is blowing, sugar cane bows and bends in mighty ripples.  While only a handful of the community are actual farmers, there’s not a soul in town that doesn’t know all about sugar cane.  It’s our “bread and butter,” if you will.

Our second largest “industry” is tourism.  We have a forest in the heart of the borough and a resident bird for which “twitchers” will come half-way round the world.  We are close to game reserves and the Indian Ocean.  We have a history museum, a cultural museum and a butterfly dome all on the same property.

One Saturday I was approached by a neighbourhood tour guide.  Please would I drive his mini-bus for the day?  He knew I had a special license to drive larger vehicles.  The man who usually drove his small bus was sick in hospital.  He implored me and he promised me compensation.  Since I had nothing better to do, I agreed.

At the airport I waited in the vehicle while the guide ran into the building waving a sign: “Herbert.”  A short while later he returned, all smiles and non-stop chatter, with a family of four in tow.  Hastily he loaded their luggage and urged them to take a seat somewhere in the bus.  As I pulled away from the curb he introduced me and then turned his back to me and forgot I was there.

That’s when the prattle began.  I have rarely heard more entertaining and fanciful pieces of fiction.  The tour guide regaled the family with hundreds of interesting bits of local history.  Most of his stories had their roots in truth but he deviated from fact soon after starting and landed up telling the most outrageous tripe.  It was a good thing my back was to the travellers as my face would have betrayed my incredulity.

The last straw was laid on the camel’s back when we were just a few kilometres outside of town.  “Now, do you see those fires?” he asked, pointing out the windows toward the smoke-filled horizon.  “They are burning the sugar cane.  They do this just before harvest. They burn the cane in order to produce the nice dark brown sugar you all enjoy.”

A young voice piped up, “Is THAT how brown sugar is made?”

“Yes, indeed,” answered the knowledgable tour guide.  “The cane they harvest without burning will be white sugar and the cane they burn will be made into brown sugar.”

That did it.  I finally broke my silence.  “And don’t forget to tell them about the special cows we raise.  The white ones make regular milk and the brown ones make chocolate milk!”

Needless-to-say I wasn’t ever asked to drive again.  And come to think of it, I don’t remember getting any compensation for the day!


Today, write a post with roots in a real-world conversation. For a twist, include foreshadowing.

Home Sweet Home


Twelve.  My thirteenth year.  It was the best of years, it was the worst of years.

My early years were spent in the Bay Area.  Then at 12,5 years of age, I relocated to Sacramento.

It was difficult to leave friends in sixth grade.  Most of us had been together since kindergarten. We pledged to remain friends forever across what we saw as a great divide (just under 100 miles).  But it didn’t happen.  I moved and spent the next nine months trying to fit in to a new school and community.  They carried on with their lives, my vacant seat eventually filled with someone else.   I became a memory in that place.

Our new home was a tract house.  Thanks to Abraham Levitt our home in suburbia was an affordable cookie-cutter.  It had the same 4’x6′ patch of lawn in the front of the house as every other house in the 10-block neighborhood.  A Platanus occidentalis (or American sycamore) was plonked dead center.  The front door opened into a large section, half of which was the living room, one-third of which was the dining room and a sixth of which was the kitchen.  A fireplace cut the total area in two, providing a divider between the lounging space and the eating space.

A passage led off to the left from between the living room and kitchen. Two small bedrooms were situated on the left side of the passage with a small bathroom on the right.  Then, at the very end of the hall to the right was the master bedroom with an en suite bathroom.  All of the walls were white.  The low ceilings were popcorn spackled.  There was wall-to-wall shag carpeting in various hues of brown.

Only, our house was different to all the other houses in the tract.  Where everyone else had a two-car garage, we had a rumpus room.

The two steps down into this chilly, black-and-white tiled, over-sized room set the space apart, as if the room were in another galaxy.  The biggest room in the entire dwelling, this land became my sister’s and mine.  We had to put up with water pouring in through the crack between the south wall and the floor.  (After the first flood, we learned to leave nothing of importance on the floor.)  We had to wear extra clothes and pile on blankets in the winter.  We had to sleep under thin sheets, flapping them to regulate airflow and to frighten off mosquitoes, in the summer.  No matter.  It was ours.

Despite all the hardships (puberty in a new place, a river running through my bedroom), there was also joy (new friends, my own space).  And this strange new building slowly became home.


Today’s assignment:  Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve.   Today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.

Older Entries Newer Entries