Happy… Day! (A Valentine’s Day Afterthought)

First thing Saturday morning–using the term ‘first thing’ somewhat loosely–my husband kissed me (after brushing his teeth, and me having brushed mine) and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

Oh yes… that’s today... I thought. “Happy Day to you too,” I said, laughing. He grinned, knowing I’m torn between the romantic notions of the day, and wanting to boycott the obvious marketing ploy. “Happy our Day”, I added, just to make my point.


We’re pretty down-to-earth people, Tim and I. Mostly, what you see is what you get. So, if you don’t like what you see, run. Because it isn’t going to be much of a show beyond the obvious. Tim is laid back, yet strong and determined. He’s not overly social, but enjoys time with close friends in a ‘not too big’ a group. He steps out of that box for ministry, and pushes himself to be ‘present’ in bigger crowds, reaching out to hearts that are hurting. He is always a calm and peaceful presence. Being a man of few words, the few he speaks carry weight, and what he says is direct.

I’m outgoing and crazy, sometimes, and love crowds, sometimes. When it comes to speaking, the bigger the crowd, the more energized I am, though I’ve learned to enjoy the smaller groups and not feel suffocated by the ‘nearness’ of the people. The intimacy of it is growing on me. There are also times when I’m somewhat recluse, and prefer alone-ness, and, if the whole truth must be told, I return from most social events, depleted to sheer exhaustion. Like Tim, I speak directly, but haven’t mastered the art of condensing an entire book into a chapter, a chapter into a paragraph and a paragraph into two or three words… or a sentence, to be generous.

Life at home reflects who we are; practical and fairly direct. So, when days like Valentine’s Day roll around, we don’t get too caught in the hype. Sure, we’ll exchange cards at some point, and there might even be some little gift of flowers, chocolate, candy or even boxers and a negligee–in spite of the fact that the latter never gets its value in wear–or some such thing.  We do these things, some years, and other years it’s a card only, and we’re just as happy. (The bigger fuss was a big deal, years ago, but with time Valentine’s Day became more about our family, with little gifts for our children and a special family dinner.

Last year we went all out and decorated something crazy and I thought we’d do it again this year, but, alas, the busyness of life took over. One child is dating and she and her boyfriend pretty much boycott the Hallmark holiday, calling it a silly money-grab. While they’re gracious about others fussing over it, they celebrate their relationship other days and other ways. Another daughter headed out to a friend’s house, one son is in Germany for three months, leaving us with two boys.

That said, this Valentine’s Day, we stayed in our everyday duds, chilling at home and doing things that need doing, like cleaning, writing and tax preparation stuff. (Yay!) And we organized everything for a huge dinner, which we enjoyed at noon Sunday. There was turkey–with cranberry sauce, of course–dressing, corn, squash, and mashed potatoes for first course. And, for dessert, lemon meringue pie, banana cream pie, and my personal favourite, chocolate cream pie–all homemade. (Okay… I cheated on the crust and used Tenderflake.) Dinner was delicious. But more importantly, we were together as a family–minus our son in Germany–and shared love and laughter together.

No matter the day, Valentine’s Day, or how we spend it, I know this, I am loved. While I welcome special dates, from time to time, I would choose the ordinary, every day kind of love that we have, over one day of fuss and 364.5 days of mediocre co-existence, if it had to be one or the other. And I’d rather wake up each morning next to the man who loves me practically and sincerely all year, and indulge in genuine kisses, than to look at the flowers on the table the week after Valentine’s, eating lonely chocolates kisses, having never had his heart.

For those who choose to celebrate the day large, and live that love daily, good on you! The rest of us shouldn’t feel jealous, cheated, or guilty.  It is a wonderful thing to celebrate love and relationship in a way that is meaningful and personal.

For us, one day soon, it will happen… as it does, spontaneously, two or three times a year…  I will look at Tim with pleading eyes, probably somewhere around 9:00pm on a Friday or Saturday night, and the words will pop out, “I’m hungry for mussels.” And he will know exactly what that means. As much as he likes the quiet of home and the comfort of his chair, he will slip into a coat or jacket–if the weather still demands it when it happens–and we’ll drive to Kitchener for a late night date at the Symposium. Or maybe he’ll walk in the door this summer with a handful of gladiolas or some other roadside stand flowers, and I’ll pretend he spent a fortune, and laugh when I remind him that the first time he brought them, he announced with great pride that they were 25¢ a piece. And the moment will be filled with love and memories of days gone by, and I will know, again, that I am loved.

And, who knows? Maybe next Valentine’s Day we’ll leave the kids a few treats and a note saying, “We love you, there’s soup in the pantry–stuff for grilled cheese if you want to go all out–and please don’t lock the door when you go to bed.

Now off to enjoy this new Canadian holiday, Family Day… Tim plans to take our youngest skating, the teens are chilling with friends, and I have more writing, laundry and cleaning to do. In that order of preference…


~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

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To Be A Published Author… And Offer Hope to ‘My (Mennonite) People’

Dutifully I placed all my workbooks on the table before me, then seated myself in front of the stack. Grade 6 was over, and I had a long summer before me. Long enough to write a story, I thought to myself.

Flipping through the pages, I tore out all the used, marked and badly worn pages, and set them aside for the burning pile, leaving behind lined paper for my writing project. I soon learned to cut out the pages, instead of tearing them, to avoid losing the pages at the back of the book.

Having completed this task, I transferred the workbooks into double grocery bags to be used as my book bag. Next, I collected a handful of pens. I would need blue or black for writing, and read for correcting. And I’d always want a few extra. Just in case.

Finally, I picked up my emerald-green Pathway Publishers book. I had saved up my own money to by it at John Martin’s book store. How I treasured that book! It was the one book I could call ‘mine’. Such a beautiful green. And perfectly spotless when I purchased it. With that book as my guide, I would learn to write a good story…

I had access to countless books, growing up, Whether the school library, the church library, old Reader’s Digest–not all of which were age appropriate, however interesting–and even the old Encyclopaedias. I mostly liked reading about birds, animals and the human body. It was the source of my more explicit, though not necessarily damaging, sex education.  Not that I fully understood what I read, and that was just as well.

Always books played a role in my life. Some good. Some bad. And always I dreamed of becoming a published author, starting back at age eleven or twelve, a little Mennonite girl on the farm.

“You have a way with words,” people told me then already. When salesmen came to the door, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, I was the one who most often spent time dealing with them, or debating and challenging. Now, an adult, I wonder what they must have thought to have this young 12-yr-old as the family ‘spokesperson’. (The Filter Queen salesmen called me that.) I would enjoy such a debate, if the tables were turned.

Mind you, I said all the ‘right things’ that I was taught and indoctrinated to say, not necessarily having challenged my own mind to explore. Still, the exercise was good for me in that it did present me with other views and taught me to think critically of my own beliefs, and the beliefs of others, rather than accepting every thought and opinion shared, as my own.

Words and book. Two things that influenced my world like nothing else. In earlier childhood books opened up a fantasy world before me, stirring the mind and imagination. But by my pre-teens and teens, most of what I read had powerful life lessons, evoking feelings, emotions and convictions that continue to influence and shape me, to this day.

And through those years the dream of becoming a published author have never died. Oh, they’ve gotten booted around in frustration, when the dream seemed impossible. I have, figuratively, cast the dream at God’s feet and given it a few extra kicks before turning my back on the crumpled heap. But always, somehow, the dream comes back to life, like that hardy perennial that exudes determination no matter the fierce weather it has endured.

So it was, in August 2011, at the John Maxwell Team conference, that I looked at my group of new friends and blurted out, somewhat randomly, “I have a great idea!”

In the minutes that followed I shared my dream of writing a book, but suggested the seven of us–Babak, Danny, Dennis, Elias, Eric,  Sheri and I–all write  our stories of overcoming  struggles and challenges and arriving at living our dreams. That seemed so much easier than writing a whole book. And we’d be a built in editing team for each other. It was brilliant, they said.

We never did write that book, though we worked on the concept a while. It wasn’t the dream everyone else was meant to live. But it awakened in me a new determination. And I said it publicly. This time I would do it, no matter what. And that was what it took. Knowing that people were expecting it to happen. That there were people I had never met, in other countries–people I would never meet–who, together with my friends at home, cheered me  on. A note here, a word there, a little reminder, “When will you publish your book?” A promise to my Amish friend, Rosemary Gascho, that one day I would drive to her farm and deliver a signed copy.

All of these thing propelled me forward. But, ultimately, it was God’s call that fueled my vision. The desire to tell others it isn’t over when it feels over. There is purpose in the pain and hell of life. There is redemption. There is hope. There is Jesus. And, for those who don’t believe in Him, my story will offer a glimpse into a religious culture and faith experience that even an atheist, I expect, will find inspiring. We don’t have to agree to be moved, challenged and inspired by one another. And that ‘touching of lives and hearts’ is my motive for sharing the story of the first eighteen years of my life.

It is also the reason I have dreamed, for years now, of publishing in my mother-tongue, Low German, and offering a book in story form, to ‘my people’. Only in recent years has it become a written language, and my dream is for my story to bring hope to my Low German, Russian and Mexican Mennonite friends and relatives.

And these dreams are beginning to come true, though not without challenge and hard work. Yesterday, May 27, 2014, I signed a publishing contract for my first book. The working title is “forgiveness for A Secret Sin“, but this may well change at the Publisher’s discretion, as well as the cover.

A Secret Sin--Working Title 2

For the translating part of my dream, I invite you to join me. The cost, because it is a virtually unwritten language, is prohibitive. The translating and editing of it will be very time-consuming and a work to which I cannot contribute much. (I speak quite fluently, but have nothing to offer in the way of actual translating.)

For several years I have been in touch with a team of people who are able to make this happen, and reach many of my ancestors. The copyright of the Low German book will belong to Generations Unleashed, and the funds generated will support the ministry, financially.

To give you opportunity to be part of this amazing ministry, and join me in changing many lives, and offering them hope, we have set up a crowdfunding event, through Indiegogo. To read about it, and support the cause, visit our fundraiser HERE.

Please tell your friends, and contribute in any way you are able–whether financially or by sharing the event–every effort helps make this dream possible. There are ‘Perks’ for specific donation amounts, but if you wish to make a donation for another amount, simply choose the ‘contribute now’ button.  (Sharing is made easy when you visit the site, with buttons just below the photo.) 

Words changed my life. Words gave me hope. Please join me in giving a word of hope to ‘my people’. Together we can make dreams a reality. Together we can change the world.

Thank you, and God bless!

© Trudy Metzger

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Blogging Daily–How Do I Do it? You Ask…

Before I return to blogging about Sexual Abuse & Violence, and their impact on the church, I will answer a question I am asked quite frequently.

Some of you picture me at my computer, spending many hours writing to get my daily post out. In fact, I don’t. It is 11:29pm, and I am just starting my post for tomorrow morning. I’m a bit late tonight. I try not to do this, but it’s how my day turned out.

I have a Faith Girls Unleashed women’s conference coming up in Canton Ohio, October 11 & 12, at the North Industry Christian Church and my day was invested, from morning until night, in the logistics, and various admin aspects of the event. This prevented me from getting at my writing. And that has been the case for the past few days.

Typically, I prefer to write in the morning, immediately after posting my blog for the day, and getting it done as quickly as possible. Fortunately I took typing in Grade 9, with my dad’s treasured typewriter, learning proper finger placement and key memorization. While I was not good at it then, I never forgot those details, and it serves me well now.

About eleven years ago Tim bought me a computer and gradually I taught myself how to use it. While pregnant with our youngest son, the following year, I completed an entire manuscript for a book on marriage. (I have a polite rejection letter from the editor at Waterbrook Press, telling me she read the manuscript but, alas, they are publishing one too similar.)

When I first started, I could type approximately 10 words per minute, on a good day. Often when I timed myself, it was only 5, but gradually I improved. Over time my speed picked up, as did my writing skills, moving to 20, then 30 and better. Now, if I lay aside all distractions and know my story, or topic, I type non-stop at anywhere from 40 to 60 words a minute. I’ve had a lot of practice communicating, both orally and in writing, making it easier for me to finish without encountering writer’s block.

And, because I write mostly about life experience and topics about which I am very passionate, everything I write is premeditated. I know what I want to tell the world. I know the message I want to communicate, so when I sit down, my thoughts are usually well ahead of my fingers, preventing a delay and virtually eliminating writer’s block.

It is now 11:42. I have typed approximately 31 words a minute, while watching the news and pausing to talk with several family members, and my post is at least half done. (My goal is to stay at 800 words or less, though I have failed miserably in this area recently. It’s hard to interrupt a story, when it needs telling and there are details that make it more interesting.)

When I have finished typing a post, I don’t edit it. This is blogging. I’ve heard it referred to as ‘glorified graffiti’. And, while I don’t agree with that harsh judgement, I do agree that it is a less formal way of writing and should have a warm, conversational feel to it, minus the formality of a text-book or other formal book.

Before posting in the morning, I read through once looking for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and ensuring good syntax. While I read through, I watch for spots where a picture might help communicate the message, or compliment it.

Occasionally I even choose a picture that will create an inaccurate mental image, for example when telling someone else’s story, to protect the identity of the person I’m writing about. Typically I keep the gender of the character as it really is, though I have on very rare occasions and in extreme situations, changed the gender to protect a vulnerable individual.

When I have read through the blog, corrected any glaring mistakes, and added the appropriate pictures, I schedule it to post at about 12:05am, so that it is ready for me to post to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, in the morning. But, as I said, lately I have not kept to this schedule. Life has been busier and I end up doing my writing at night, and doing the read through and pictures in the morning.

And that is what I plan to do again tomorrow morning. It is now 11:53m. I have typed almost 800 words and my post is ready for the ‘once over’ and photos first thing in the morning. It has taken me 24 minutes to do this post, at approximately 32 words a minute including interruptions, but not including the 20 to 30 minutes I will spend tomorrow morning for final touches and photos.

Now you know how I do it. As fast as I am able, so that I can move on to other things.

Of course there is always the risk that in the morning I will have thought of something else I should add. (Wonder what made me think of that?) Oh, yes…. It is morning and I thought I should explain why I write frequently.

I did some research a while back to find out what is the best way, as a relatively new blogger, to impact a larger audience. Numerous sites all gave one consistent tip: write frequently, daily, or up to three times daily, if you can manage it. That was mid-May. At that time I had approximately 5500 hits on my blog, since starting in summer of 2010. I am now up to 40,450, so that is 35,000 in three months time, and growing.

Lest you worry that this is an ego trip, let me explain my purpose. Currently I’m writing my life story in book form. The book is roughly 50% complete, and that is where it needs to stay for now, if I want to find a traditional publisher. (I hear their editors like to boss writers around a little bit and tell them how to write their books… I suppose we need that extra set of eyes.)

That being said, if a blogger is able to generate over 60,000 hits in a month, they say a publisher is a influenced by that, and therefore far more likely to look at their manuscript. At 60,000 hits a month, the daily goal is roughly 2000 and currently I average between 600 and 700, so I am about one-fourth of the way there since I started blogging regularly three months ago.

Besides having my story about half done, I also have a book in progress where I talk about some of the impact abuse and violence had on my life. I write about the process of overcoming fear, shame, guilt, as well as learning to do healthy relationships. And then I have another ten book ideas, some of which already have a few chapters written.

So my goal is to show a publisher that there is a need for this kind of material. That there are, in fact, people who read it. And, more importantly, (to them) that I am able to hold an audience.

When I started blogging, I told God, “I will write for an audience of One, and that’s enough. Whomever I am able to impact in the process, I am thankful for.”

That probably sounds like I’m uber-righteous… almost a saint. But I’m not. And that is just why it is important that I write for Him. Otherwise I could fall into the trap of writing for popular opinion. I could avoid speaking truth (God’s truth) into topics that make people angry. Like abortion, homosexuality, sexual purity, Jesus as ‘the Way’, and many more. When I write for an audience of One, and feel He blesses me when all is said and done, then I avoid that trap.

In the process I have discovered that I love blogging and writing daily. I expect I will continue, though, with time, I will cut back to 2 or 3 posts a week, and let people get caught up, and stay caught up. (Everyone tells me I write so much they can never catch up.)

Most of all I love your comments on the blog, as well as many private emails and the stories you have shared with me. This people contact is amazing. You have encouraged, supported and blessed me in ways I never expected when I started this commitment. You have shared your hearts, your pain and your disappointments, letting me know how blessed you are. And that blesses me!

I have reconnected with friends from days gone by. In fact, just yesterday I heard from Sandra, wife of Bishop Stephen Ebersole, whom I mention in A Silent Torment, A Gentle Haven.

All in all, it is a wonderful and rewarding experience! Thank you for making it that!

Ps. I have nearly doubled my blog length this morning to that forbidden ‘over 1000 words’ length….

Thank you for reading my blog!

© Trudy Metzger

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