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There are periods in our lives when life seems full of notice. Jamaica was like that for me. Compacted into 7 short years was preparation for life ahead. #Notice #OnBeingaWriter

photo: Canva

Today is the 4th in the series at Kate Motaung’s blog titled On Being a Writer by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. The book is also available at the website. This is week two. She has links to all these links and earlier posts on her site. Here are the links to my earlier posts: Identify, Arrange, Surround. 

Notice seems like it would be essential for a writer. I definitely get why it is paired with surround!

Notice is something I haven’t struggled with a lot. But it doesn’t always come through in my writing…at least not the sensory part.

Notice has affected me in the way people respond to my questions…in and out of Church!

My problem in real life has been how to tactfully comment on what I notice. As a child and young person, notice took the form of gazillions of questions! For my mother, they were not particularly enjoyable, particularly after #5 question! She preferred questions she could answer and most of mine were not easy to answer, at least not to my satisfaction! Remember, we didn’t have google back then.

My problem in real life has been how to tactfully comment on what I notice. Click To Tweet

Sadly, I learned that particularly in the church, there were some questions you just didn’t ask! Years later, in the churches we served, I made sure to ask those questions aloud…or some form or them. I wanted people to know they were in a safe place to ask those questions and find the answers.

  • What if you don’t have your devotions every day?
  • What if you have difficulty forgiving?
  • How do you forgive when a person has hurt you deeply?
  • How do you love people who are just plain weird and you can’t find anything in common with them?   etc.

As I grew up, I met and married my husband. He loved questions…even those He didn’t know the answer to. He enjoyed the challenge of finding answers. He even had questions I hadn’t thought of! He helped me understand that not all questions have easy or quick answers. Some will never have full answers this side of heaven.

He is a quieter person than I, but no less thoughtful. He is a much better listener than I for sure! The church members who talked to him loved that about him. His father died when he was in junior high. He didn’t blurt out his questions or answers, but we would discuss them often in the light of what we knew and often we found answers together.

Our years in Jamaica were full of notice, not always easy, but full of new experiences and awareness of feelings!

During our years in Jamaica, my senses were particularly assaulted…in delightful and difficult ways!

  • the beauty of the blue-green Caribbean waters,
  • the smells in a crowded bus on a hot day where deodorant was rarely used,
  • the colors of the pink anthurium, blue agapanthus, the red ginger lillies and hibiscus in colors this Florida girl had never seen, mixed with the lush greens of the tropics
  • the tastes of curried goat, fried plantain, rice and peas, fricassed chicken, to name a few…and who can forget the flavor of Pickapeppa sauce!
  • It was a sensory place to live with music and sounds all around.

No, it wasn’t quiet. But quiet wasn’t what we needed then. We needed to learn to feel, taste, smell…and love.

No, it wasn't quiet. But quiet wasn't what we needed then. We needed to learn to feel, taste, smell...and love. Click To Tweet

Our home was where the long distance phone was for the campus…and the public speaker for off hours communication to students.

Our children were born during those years. I needed to be up and dressed in the mornings each day because people were in and out of my house at unpredictable times!  It was a little crazy for sure!

Our American values were challenged to the core…as well as former Christian ones

And we noticed so much about our own values too. How much we as Americans focused on tasks instead of people, how our lives rotated around time and tasks instead of people and their needs.

We noticed so much about our own values much we as Americans focused on tasks instead of people. Click To Tweet

Living in Jamaica for those 7 years was absolutely life changing. It affected our later ministry…sometimes to the frustration of some church members. I was never able to leave someone who was struggling including one of my kids, in order to be on time for a church event. (I was rarely leading them. It was one of the reasons I didn’t teach Sunday School!) I knew the church could go on without my presence very well. It didn’t happen often, but if it did, I knew where my priority was. Jamaica did that for me.

I learned more about feeling, in Jamaica. I noticed things about people that I never did before. My father died suddenly while I was there and that whole event changed me in ways that made me notice others and their pain more.

It was the balance I needed to my prior life that was constantly pushing me to ignore feelings, my gifts, the ways GOD had inclined me to serve…and be totally logical and a bit of a robot. Supposedly, it was Biblical, but it was anything but!

Even though I wasn’t writing then, it was all great preparation for a writing life. Noticing…the world around me, the pain and joy of others in my world, the humor that is happening in the now, the beauty in GOD’s creation, and the experiences of my life…it is all right there to incorporate into what I write about.

How delightful!