Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction


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Through a Glass Darkly: The Quilter

As an author, here’s how I see things vs. how they really are. Sort of.

The way I imagined it . . .   

Jeff ConwayRecently, while walking through the Mall of New Hampshire, I noticed a man, probably in his mid-forties, with his hair rolled into a slick pompadour like Jeff Conaway as Kenickie in Grease. He wore a royal purple  satin jacket with knit collar and cuffs. Embroidered in gold on the back were the words “Perth Amboy Foreign Autos.”

A short, sandy-haired woman dressed in a flowered turtleneck and denim jumper held his arm and clogged along loudly beside him. She looked nothing like Stockard Channing as Rizzo.

While the happy couple admired the display of miniature hand-blown glass animals at a kiosk, I “found” them a family.

A trio of tittering pre-teens, windowshopping outside Claire’s, seemed perfect for the role of their daughters. I named them Sephira, Solara, and Sienna.

A 15-ish square-built boy, looking bored near the escalator, became their son. The crotch of his jeans was almost level with his kneecaps. Crippled by this ill-advised design, I dubbed him Yugo.Yugo

They’d traveled all the way up from Perth Amboy, New Jersey for the “Happy to be Scrappy” Ladies of the Lakes Quilters Triennial Quilt Show. It had been held over the weekend at Kingswood High School in Wolfeboro, where “Mrs. Kenickie” had taken first place.blue-ribbon

The family planned to return home directly after the judges’ decision in time to phone friends and family before the news got old. They would’ve, too, but for the nuisance of a dragging muffler on their 1992 Chrysler Town & Country mini van.

Rather than pay for an extra night at Motel 6, they hiked to the mall about a mile from the mechanic’s garage. Before they entered, their kids watched as their proud dad pinned the blue ribbon to their mom’s jumper.

The family whiled away the hours, not bothered by their car trouble, just pleased to be together to celebrate this milestone occasion.

The way it was . . .   

John Travolta hairThe couple, Hank and Betty Dutra, hailed from Raymond, NH. Hank combed his hair this way because twenty-seven years ago Betty told him he kinda looked like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

Hank bought the royal purple satin jacket (practically brand new) with the Perth Amboy logo for $5.00 at Goodwill because he’d never owned anything from Australia before. Betty hated it. He wore it today mainly because she’d made him come to the Mall.

Despite Hank’s jacket and hard-headedness, Betty wanted this day to feel special. That’s why she’d exchanged her comfy sweats for a proper jumper. After all, it was Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester, not Dollar Tree in Raymond.

Used to her everyday sneakers, she clung to Hank’s arm, unsteady in her dress clogs.clogs

As they passed by the kiosk filled with miniature hand-blown glass animals, Betty  whispered to Hank, “Who on earth would pay these prices?”

Hank answered, “Who knows? Maybe the kind of people who live in Hollis and Bedford and Exeter.”

They listened to a trio of girls cackling outside Claire’s and witnessed a teen boy’s jeans slip down to his knees.

Hank shook his head. “Aren’t you glad we have dogs?”

“Don’t forget the chickens,” Betty said. “They might cackle but at least they keep us in eggs.”

flex-seal-liquid_1000After a few hours of browsing, they bought some Flex Seal Liquid Rubber (as seen on TV) so they could repair the used truck bed liner they purchased for their 2016 double cab Ford 2500.

The blue ribbon on Betty’s jumper? It was there when they left the house. She’d taken first place in the “Happy to be Scrappy” Ladies of the Lakes Quilters Triennial Quilt Show held at Kingswood High School in Wolfeboro that weekend.

And Hank made sure everyone in the Mall of New Hampshire knew it.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV)

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May God Bless You With . . .

true love
good health
restful sleep
stronger faith
financial stability
abundant wisdom
a generous spirit
hearty laughter
sweet peace
food enough
loyal friends
pure joy
Turkey 2015
Thanks for your love and encouragement!
Clarice

 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)


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God’s Antonyms to News Sound Bytes

hope PsalmIn the wake of the world events of last week, I could find nothing funny to write about. When God makes my heart merry again, the upbeat person I purport to be will return.

Until then, God help us all.

“. . .  if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.: ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

Antonym — Noun. A word that means the opposite of another word.

  • Allies vs. Enemies
  • Balanced vs. Radical
  • Blessing vs. Tragedy
  • Comfort vs. Torture
  • Compassionate vs. Heartless
  • Concern vs. Disregard
  • Defend vs. Attack
  • Educated vs. Ignorant
  • Feed vs. Starve
  • Forgiveness vs. Bitterness
  • Free Will vs. Brainwash
  • Gentle vs. Brutal
  • Genuine vs. Fake
  • Healed vs. Injured
  • Healthy vs. Sick
  • Heaven vs. Hell
  • Hero vs. Villain
  • Holy vs. Evil
  • Hope vs. Despair
  • Joy vs. Heartache
  • Kindness vs. Harm
  • Life vs. Death
  • Light vs. Darkness
  • Love vs. Hate
  • Mentor vs. Mislead
  • Merciful vs. Merciless
  • Peacemaker vs. Terrorist
  • Peace vs. Violence
  • Purification vs. Defilement
  • Rescued vs. Imprisoned
  • Reverence vs. Desecration
  • Reward vs. Payback
  • Spare vs. Kill
  • Sensitive vs. Desensitized
  • Sighted vs. Blind
  • Tenderhearted vs. Hardhearted
  • Truth vs. Lies
  • Victory vs. Defeat

One more antonym:  God’s bloodshed for the love and salvation of us all versus man’s bloodshed for hate and power over all.  

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him [Jesus] there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.  The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar  and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 

There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews 

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”  ~ Luke 23:33-4 (NIV)


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Dating and the Half-Blood Prince

Nine years ago, I remarried after being widowed for eight years. I found a great guy who understands meyet, amazingly, has never tried to run off.

That I know of.

Because I found happiness again, single women often ask me how I met my husband. As if how I met David would work the same way for them.

My advice to them is to pray and wait. Do things you enjoy, learn something new, help someone less fortunate, and spend time with your family and friends. If God has someone for you, He is more than able to bring you two together—without your help.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lordbe strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. ~ Proverbs 27-13-14 (NIV)

Why am I qualified to give this advice? Because I did everything wrong.

Most of my seeking was on faith-based, online dating sites. Though I found a number of men in my age-bracket, our other brackets didn’t line up. I know “wacko” isn’t a nice word, but let’s just say, I had family and friends who would’ve chased these men off with a stick.hoFleischmannRapidRiseYeast (2)

  • The man who took turns doing jail time with his fourth wife on domestic abuse charges. He told me, “Don’t worry, we’re getting a divorce.”
  • The man who refused to date a woman who had ever had a yeast infection.
  • The man who lived in the woods while waiting on the Lord to give him a trailer.
  • The man who lived in a trailer while waiting on the Lord for the right time to downsize.

To be clear, I didn’t date many men at all during those years. Sometimes just reading their profiles was enough (or should have been). However, I did communicate with a number of them via the websites, email, or phone.

I often asked myself why. Why did I respond to every inquiry? Why did I continue after the initial exchange? Why did I agree to speak by phone?

The answer is complicated. Since I was lonely, bored, and insecure, empathy played a big part. I felt bad for them. I didn’t want to be mean or rude and make them feel worse. Sometimes it was the writer in me, rubbernecking from a safe distance. Their lives were so different from mine; I wanted to get up close, but not too personal.

I knew my curiosity wasn’t healthy. It got the best of me the night I agreed to meet one of the online bachelors at a Borders bookstore. I knew we weren’t a good fit the moment I saw him. Yet fascination drew me in. And there was the whole not wanting to be mean thing.

We ordered coffee and found a table. He sat facing the window; I sat facing him and the store. Since my interest had peaked prior to the date, when he told me that he and his older brother lived with their mother [Did I mention they were in their fifties?], what little interest that remained waned.

Trying to salvage the conversation, I asked, “So what do you do for a living?”

His face lit up. “I mow lawns. My brother has a paper route.” [Did I mention they were in their fifties?]

tumblr_kzb0vfjtHR1qbrupjo1_400 (2)Pretending to pay attention is a lot like lying. And I’m not good at it; I felt guilty. So when an eerie pale-faced, bald man dressed in black slithered through my peripheral vision, I thought I was being chastised.

I recovered my composure and changed the subject. Since his profile had been on a Christian website, I asked, “So what church do you attend?”

“We attended a great church in New Jersey, but we haven’t found one we like here yet.”

“Oh. How long have you lived here?”

“Eighteen years.”

I tried to morph my “you’re kidding me” face into a calm “I see” expression. My disingenuous reaction only stirred up an even more ominous-looking apparition, which skulked back and forth behind my date’s chair.

I remember thinking, “If I keep my eyes straight ahead and try to be kind and truthful, maybe the hallucinations will go away.”half-blood

It didn’t work. I started seeing witch hats and broomsticks between the books shelves. And it was June.

But when Harry Potter himself sat down nearby for a chai latte with Professor Dumbledore, I had to ask my date if he saw them, too.

“Sure. J.K. Rowling’s latest book. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came out today. Most of the staff and customers are in costume.”

I scanned my date for the umpteenth time. Was he dressed up, too? Did I dare ask?  I considered his two possible answers. Neither would brighten our future.        

The very next day I surrendered my will and my search and deleted all my online dating accounts. As I was doing one final click-through, Yahoo Personals popped up–a site I had not joined. Or had I? I did a quick look to be sure.

And—yahoo!—I found David.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. ~ Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)


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Walking the Narrow Path Together

The-Narrow-Path“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  ~ John 13:34-35 (NIV)

Hard to believe, I know, but none of us are perfect and all of us are different. Some of us are naturally jovial, sociable, and fun-loving; others are practical, serious-minded, and even cranky. Some make decisions based on emotion; others use every ounce of common sense and logic they possess. Some are selfless; others are self-centered. Some can be needy, anxious, and troubled; while others are independent, calm, and at peace.

Most of us are all of the above and more at one time or another. Yes, even Christians.

So how do we relate to the different personalities we encounter? The most honest answer I can give is, “It’s different every time.”

Although we can’t heal those with physical ailments, we can comfort and care for them. We can’t make people happy, but we can give them a smile and share a laugh. We can’t remove their grief, but we can listen as they share their memories. We can’t force peace on others, but we can exhibit it. We can’t stop the fear, but we can pray them through it. We can’t fix emotional problems or repair broken relationships, but we can encourage them through the Word. We can’t stop life’s craziness, but we can offer hope.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ~ Leo Buscaglia, Author (1924-1998)

In encouraging each other, let’s be creative and use our God-given gifts. If you’re an artist, draw or paint someone a picture. If writing is your thing, compose a note of encouragement. Are you a comedian? Make them laugh! Do you crochet or quilt? They will cherish whatever handmade item you make them. If you love to cook, make them a meal filled with love. If service is your love language, run errands, help them clean their house or mow their lawn. If you’re a good listener (and that is a gift, I assure you), sit and listen as they talk.

We all need the Lord, and we need each other. With His help, let’s lend a hand as we walk the narrow path of His calling together.