Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Write Before His Eyes

When I was 23 I was a singer in a rock band...hard to fathom, I know...but true nonetheless. The leader of said rock band was impressed with my voice...I won the audition after all...but not so much with many other things about me. He scolded me for laziness, was constantly aggravated over my inability to hear harmonies and was in general...a General. But little by little I began to see that he truly wanted better for me than I was settling for. He was the big brother I never had...my very first mentor before I knew what the word meant. For my 23rd birthday he gave me some light reading by the name of "Sophie's Choice" and I walked through (ok trudged through) my first piece of literary writing. There were books to be read other than The Little House series....who knew! One day he pulled me aside...finally, utterly appalled at my bad grammar and said "One of these days you will be interviewed and you will be mortified at how often you 'talk wrong'." Apparently there was a right way to speak. He proceeded, with my permission, to bring to my attention every instance of my law breaking....

And so for years after I had left that band and was walking through the real word (ok trudging through) I remembered all he had said and this crazy girl began to read everything she could get her hands on and fell in love with language...and writing...and lessons learned.

We lost touch with each other for a long time, but I somehow managed to find him and contact him when in 1995 when I sold a novel to HarperCollins...a little book publisher right down the street from where he now worked as an editor in New York City. He laughed out loud he was so happy (and probably stunned). When "what's his name" ran off with "what's her name" he was one of the first to tell me..."it'll be ok..."you are awesome"..."he's an idiot."  In the summer of 2001 I was in NYC and we had a great lunch together catching up on the years and marveling at how I could now speak without double negatives. A few years ago he wrote me and suggested I try out this thing called Facebook, because the old band members were on there and we could share pictures of our lives. I said ok...I'll try it. He was my first Facebook friend.

Last night my precious, intelligent, funny and true friend lost his wife to cancer waaaay before her time. I know his heart is broken...their daughter's heart is broken. I am so glad that I know about his wife's passing...I am so glad that we reconnected so that I could know this. You are in my prayers my dear friend and I will think of you often in the days to come. You know where I am and you know you are loved. And if I could somehow put it into words the ways you have impacted my life....I would.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Letter to Whiteclay.....

This has been one of our most read posts and we are reprinting it with a little updating in both text and images. Please take a moment and read the "letter" God gave me a year ago. It was all Him. I can't take credit for a single word. As Mama T (Mother Theresa) used to say..."I am a pencil in the hand of a writing God sending a love letter to the world."

Whiteclay, Nebraska is a town of approximately 14 residents and 4 liquor stores. The first oneconveniently sits 250 yards from the border of the "dry" Pine Ridge Indian Reservation; a reservation that has been shattered into a million little pieces by the ravages of alcoholism.  If Whiteclay could read...I might send it an e-mail something like this....

To: hey-i-am-not-breaking-any-laws@shame-on-you.com

Dear Whiteclay,

You don't know me...and sometimes I wish I didn't know you. But I have walked your streets, talked to your homeless, slept in your zip code, and prayed in your fields. I know you perhaps better than you know yourself. You're not fooling anyone. You fly the flag of capitalism (and when no one is looking you salute it), defending yourself all the way to the bank. In the way that matters to you, you are successful. In the way that matters to anyone who has seen you at work....you are the equivalent of
twist-off-top atomic bomb. They hand you a few dollars and you hand them destruction as complete as Hiroshima...only no one comes back to rebuild the nation.

The first time I met you, you frightened me, I'll admit it. I locked my car doors, didn't make eye contact and set my GPS to find the corner of "get me the hell out of here" and "what was I thinking?" I was kinda hoping I wouldn't run into you again, but it seemed everywhere I turned on the Pine Ridge Reservation I met people who had visited your house.  What kind of neighbor, knowing the house next door was made of flammable material, would pour gasoline on it...and light a match?  

But here's the deal. My God is here to put you on notice. I believe there are spirits in the invisible realm. I believe some are so petty that a thousand of them could fit in my shoe. I also believe some are huge, having fed themselves on injustice and evil for many generations. They have gorged on unforgiveness and fear and washed it down with hopelessness. When they open their wings they cover an entire valley....or an entire First Nation.  There is a darkness to their shadows that lingers.

But there is a renaissance afoot; a revolution marching to the beat of creativity, original language, pride, and in step with God and His Son and The Holy Spirit.  The Lakota people you have tried your best to destroy are determined to be a mighty Sioux Nation again. They are warriors. God made them that way. They know how to stand and fight and they know how to get on their knees...and fight. You are no match for the seventh generation. You are no match for the Cross....and the God of the Angel Armies. You think you are safely surrounded by the cloak of darkness that will hide you...but in reality you are surrounded by armies of light that can only be put into motion when the people pray. And the people are praying, Whiteclay. From the four directions...they are praying.

We may not be able to foreclose on your physical residence, but we can take the streets back and there is nothing you can do about. We will love you right out of the neighborhood. Feed them, clothe them, visit them....you get the picture. You tried more than once to shut down this pool of love, but we are ripping off the "Keep out" sign and jumping in the deep end. As a matter of fact your dark notoriety will be our diving board. For as surely as the world has been stunned by the sight of the shattered spirits you roll into ditches...it will have no choice but to take notice of the love that pulls them out. Our hands are raised and we are shouting His name...which from what I have come to understand means that you have to go. Shriek, howl, curse....whatever you gotta do. The shadow of the Cross has fallen across your gutters and you have to go.

Pine Ridge will be a City on a Hill...a light to show the way to other nations of First People. And you Whiteclay, the dark room that you are....will have no choice but to give way to the light. For when light enters a room...darkness has to flee. This is your notice. Consider yourself formally served.

All For Him....KC Willis


Monday, August 5, 2013

All Tied Up And No Place To Go

Reprint from a blog I wrote in 2011...
When I was ten years old I was picked on a lot for some reason. Oh wait...I remember. I was skinny, wore glasses and cried at the drop of a hat. A bully's dream target. On a really cold winter day I was hitting the tether ball with a friend at recess. Actually I should say I was trying to hit the tether ball. Physical coordination and I were not on speaking terms.

A couple of tough guys who were in the fifth grade decided they wanted the tether ball and my girlfriend told them they couldn't have it.

Tough Guys:  Get outta here. We're gonna play now.

Best Friend: (in a confident manner foreign to this writer at that age)   Can't have it!

KC: muffled giggle (thrilled with such bravery)

Now keep in mind I wasn't that one who said they couldn't have it. I simply giggled.  But to these boys, who I realized later had insecurities much larger than their bravado, the giggling was the ultimate insult. That and the fact that they knew they couldn't out-spur the wonderful and brave Linda, they instead turned their attention to the kid that cried.  At that exact moment I thought I had been saved from their anger by the ringing of the bell. Linda must have thought so too, because she dashed off into the building. The boys did as well, but not before they grabbed the tether ball rope and tied me to the pole. One of them looked over his shoulder and yelled. "What are you gonna do now?"

Within a two minute span of time I had gone from a giggle to being abandoned, tied to a cold pole while everyone else ran inside. I think they missed seeing me because I was so skinny the pole hid me from view. And so I did what I did best....I cried.  I recall being scared that no one would know I was missing until I was a frozen, blonde lump on the pole.

But HE knew...THEY knew.  God and....my teacher, Mr. Setter. He was my hero. Not just that day, but everyday. He seemed to know I was tender-hearted (as my Dad called it) and he went out of his way to be extra nice. Sometimes girls like me can be invisible to teachers, but he knew I had not come in from recess and he went looking for me. So not only did he untie the ropes that held me to an immovable object, but he held my hand, wiped my tears and majorly kicked some fifth grade butt. Definitely my hero.

I thought about that story today as I looked back over a pretty tough year. And it occurred to me that Mr. Setter (Mr. Go Get Her) and that whole incident was not unlike what happened to me AGAIN these past few months.  The Great Distractor tied me up and turned me every which way but loose. He grabbed a rope that said Health and one that said Prosperity and entangled them with a hundred knots...leaving me to struggle in vain against them. One minute the pole was ice cold and my tongue stuck to it when I complained and the next it was red hot and miserable. And in my ear every morning he would whisper over and over..."What are you gonna do now?"

And I did what I do best....I cried. I cried in my coffee, I cried in my bedroom....but most importantly I cried while giving Him praise.

And HE heard me...the God of my childhood, the Rescuer of my Right Now. He knew I hadn't come home. He knew that I was missing. He knew exactly where I was.  And He arrived with a big fat knife with the word Redemption written on it and he cut those ropes into little bitty pieces and kicked some Great Deceiver butt. I'm not out of the woods, but He is holding my hand and He knows where He is leading me.  And when I think of what He has planned for me in this new year, in this new life....I can't help but giggle.