Thoughts On the New Year

As I was lying on my bed
with capricious thoughts swirling and spinning
in my head, keeping me from the
rest that spawns new dreams
I looked back so I could look forward

Glancing back on the old year
sentimentality tempted me
to view fondly my history
in a rearview mirror

Looking forward to the new year
practicality encouraged me
to prepare diligently for change
on a not-so-distant horizon

Struggling to reconcile what was with
what will be
Facing a future with challenges and
shifting priorities

Glimpsing success just around the corner
into the future
Tracing the faded outlines of hopes and dreams
born in the past

As I was lying on my bed
with capricious thoughts swirling and spinning
in my head, hoping the new year
gives new life to my dreams
I looked back so I could look forward

(c) Denise Moncrief 2011

Read more Carry on Tuesday at http://carryontuesdayprompt.blogspot.com/

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Southern Inquisition

Leda May sat with her hands in her lap. She didn't know how much the chair beneath her butt cost the Pine Valley Country Club, but she was sure it wasn't cheap. She clasped one hand over the other. Now wasn't the time to indulge in nail biting.

Her husband Elrod settled his large frame into the seat next to hers. He didn't appear to be the least bit nervous. Not like Leda. Her nerves probably looked like a downed power line, all jumpy and sparky.

The membership committee entered the room and positioned themselves in a neat semi-circle facing Leda and Elrod. An inquisition committee couldn't have emitted more threatening vibes. The primmest of the prim spat her question at Elrod. "So, Mr.…" She looked down at something in her hand. "…Smelly, how long have you lived in our fair community?"

Leda cringed. Elrod's family name always produced a snigger from the less refined. She hated the name when it was mispronounced. "Smel-lay," Leda corrected the woman. Elrod jabbed her for her effort.

"Leda has lived here all her life, but I've only been here about four years."

"Really? I don't remember you, Mrs. Smel-lay." Her over-exaggerated pronunciation could have sawed a two-by-four in half.

"Thirty-six years," she beamed.

The Prim One uttered her thinly veiled accusation. "I don't recall having seen you before today."

"Surely, you have. I've lived in Worthington all my life." Leda squinted at the blurry speaking blob. The voice sounded familiar, but she couldn't see the woman without her glasses. Elrod had urged her to leave them in her pocket, as he had explained to her that appearances meant everything.

"Oh, I see," the woman simpered.

But Leda didn't think that she did.

The interrogation continued. "How many children do you have?"

She relaxed. This was a comfortable topic for her.

"Two." Elrod answered for them. This was their agreement before the meeting. He would be their mouthpiece.

"Oakridge or Sheldon?"

Eldon shifted in his seat. Six pairs of penetrating eyes stabbed her husband. A crime show would have called it multiple stab wounds. He seemed speechless as the blood drained from his face. It was gross to behold.

The quiet was embarrassing. Leda jumped into the fray. Feigned ignorance might be the best offense. "Pardon?"

"What school?"

The clocked ticked louder than a beating kettledrum as the committee waited for her reply. She knew they knew her children did not attend one of the elite private schools in town.

Leda exhaled a barrage of words. "J.S. Templeton. They're both honor students. They're in the gifted program. Heather is in All City Choir, and Jordan is on the football team…"

"I see," the woman interrupted her.

Leda bit back the rest of her babbling. Did the woman look as pointy as she sounded? She scrounged in her pocket for her glasses. The entire committee stood just as she found the wayward spectacles. The Prim One issued their verdict without discussion. "We appreciate your interest in Pine Valley. But unfortunately, we have no openings available for new membership at this time…"

Elrod rose from his seat. "That's not what Jim told me…"

Leda's eyes focused and settled on the Prim One. "Oh, it's you." She beamed. This might turn out right after all. "How was your trip to the beach?"

Fire flamed up the woman's neck. "My trip to the beach?" she stammered.

"It was such a wonderful week for a beach vacation. The weather was perfect. It's a shame we didn't get acquainted while we were there. But maybe we can now. Your husband is such a nice man…"

Another member of the committee found his voice. "Alice, what is this woman talking about?' A vein popped in the man's cheek as he hurled his question at her.

"Myrtle Beach. Last week. She and her husband make such a handsome couple. You know him, right? He's such a nice man."

"Mrs. Smelly," the man sputtered. Her teeth ground to stifle another correction. The man continued, his anger mounting by the microsecond. "I am her husband."

Leda's eyes grew three times their normal size. "Oops."

The Prim One lost her aplomb. "She's lying. I swear it."

Leda lost her cool. She'd had enough of these people and their condescension. "Why would I lie about that? Our money spends just as well at Myrtle Beach as yours does."

Alice's husband left the room, leaving fiery patches of anger in his wake. The remaining members of the committee turned inquisitive eyes on Alice. She trembled so much that only snatches of incoherency tumbled from her lips.

One of the other women addressed Leda and Elrod. "We apologize for the inconvenience, but I think perhaps we should reschedule this interview for another time." She turned to Alice. "The committee has some things it needs to discuss."

Leda and Elrod left with their dignity intact.

The following week a formal invitation arrived in the mail. Leda May and Elrod Smelè declined the Pine Valley Country Club's gracious offer of free membership, preferring the companionship of the Mountain Ridge Square Dance Association.

(c) Denise Moncrief 2010


Thirteen New Year's Resolutions

Lose twenty pounds some weight (hahahaha)

Eat healthier (hahahaha, again)

Exercise (I’ll see if I can work that into my schedule)

Drink less coffee (Um… not happening)

Swear less (Need new co-workers)

Read at least 100 books (This might happen!)

Contract my novel with a publisher (A possibility…)

Keep my blog up (Now we’re talking)

Save money to visit Costa Rica (I can dream, can’t I?)

Catch up on my scrapbooking (Okay, I need three years)

Paint my bathroom (Hum… maybe I’ll start today)

Write some everyday (I can do this)

Eat more chocolate (Finally something I can accomplish)

Read more Thursday Thirteen at http://thursday-13.com/


Design For the Future

The blueprint of the future
  is the pattern of the past
Demolish the weary and worn
  constant reminder
  of what once was
  vibrant and fresh
Transform the tattered and torn
  old promise into
  a new resolution
  clean and whole
Recognize the past as the
  original design for the future

(c) Denise Moncrief 2011

Read more Three Word Wednesday at http://www.threewordwednesday.com/

Read more Theme Thursday at http://www.theme-thursday.com/


Festive Festivities

Deck the halls with boughs of holly
It’s a wonderful life
Bells are jingling, ring ting tingling, too

Voices singing, let’s be jolly
Ignore the stress and strife
Just left the shopping mall, aka the zoo

Gazing on the depth of folly
Despair cuts like a knife
Let’s get it over and face the year anew

Christmas lost in all the commotion
As the world sinks deeper in darkness
Going through the motions


A Ray of Hope Flickers in the Sky

John 1:4-5 “In him was life,
and that life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness,
but the darkness has not understood it.”

(c) Denise Moncrief 2011

Read more Sunday Scribblings at http://sundayscribblings.blogspot.com/ 

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A flash of lightning rent the sky outside my window, illuminating my room for a moment before dark descended once again. The weatherman forecast clear skies. Guess he was wrong again. I could hear raindrops smacking against the glass panes.

I tossed in bed, twisting the covers into knots, wondering when the phone would ring. Would the police deliver the bad news? Or would the hospital call? Or my husband? Who would tell me what I didn’t want to hear?

I cried. I couldn’t help it. My imagination took me in directions I didn’t want to go. His car hydroplaning. His car running into a tree. His car twisting around a telephone pole. No, his car in a ditch. His car with the water over the roof. Why did I let him join the millions of other teenage boys who drive?

A voice jolted me awake. “Mom, wake up." My youngest son gazed at me, a look of consternation on his face. “Were you having the dream again?”

“Yes, and I’ll keep having the dream until… I don’t dream anymore.”

He smiled, a bittersweet smile. “You know I’m extra careful.”

We both glanced toward the framed photo on my nightstand—the picture of my oldest son, the one I lost.

(c) Denise Moncrief 2011


My Thirteen Favorite Christmas Ornaments


The Gift

Mommy, what did Santa bring me?
Mommy, give it to me now.
Three special gifts I gave her
Wrapped with tissue, box, and bow
Trappings torn and tattered
Tossed upon the floor as if my hard work didn’t matter

From the box she pulled
Happiness and turned it side to side
Good health received a fleeting glance
Before she found her fulfilled life
Enhanced with family, faith and friends
Her cherub face dissolved in tears of disappointment.

Where is my fame and fortune?
Instant gratification?
The triple pack of self-centeredness
Selfishness and self-absorption
My heart was torn between two inclinations
To give my baby what she wants or what she really needs

After looking back on thirty years
I turn my face towards today
My daughter with her children
As she tells them what my mother told me
Dear children, these are the gifts that
Bring more than fleeting pleasure
These fundamental things bring peace, joy, and satisfaction

(c) Denise Moncrief 2011

Read more Theme Thursday at http://www.theme-thursday.com/

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Give and Take

The wind off the Gulf whipped streaks of color around Chelsea’s face. Too listless to lift her hand, she let her hair fly about her. Her eyes trailed a fast food cup as it floated downstream, pulled toward the open sea with the straw still captured in the claws of its lid. Looking down into the bilge, she shivered and pulled the hood of her sweater over her head. It seemed a futile action. What did it matter if she froze, right here on the edge of the river?

She cried some more even though she thought she was past that.

How could life have turned so vicious? She dumped her dreams somewhere in Tennessee. Hope vanished in Alabama. Sanity took a hiatus in Mississippi. And now? She couldn’t remember how she arrived in New Orleans. Yet here she stood on the edge of her final solution.

The river smelt like death. “The river giveth and the river taketh away,” she muttered. The hag on Jackson Square had screamed her prophecy into Chelsea’s ear, and she had absorbed the old crone’s truth. The river promised her release from the pain lacerating her heart. “Just close your eyes and take a step…”

A firm hand grasped her wrist. Startled by the unexpected touch, her leg stalled in mid-air. Looking up into the bluest eyes she’d ever seen, she backed away from her decision. Her knees buckled. The man’s uncanny resemblance to Mark pulled the last smidgen of sanity from her.

“Why?” she screamed and pounded his chest. “Why did you leave me?”

“It had to be.” Mark’s mouth moved, but his words didn’t match the motion, like a film off track with the audio.

“You left me. You have no right to come back. Not when I’m about to—”

The Natchez blasted its warning, her paddle churning the dark water in her wake. Chelsea’s muscles tightened at the assault on her eardrums. An answering blast from a tanker shook the airwaves around them. Her backbone stiffened into a rigid ribbon down her back.

Mark’s mouth formed another excuse in the midst of the cacophony. “I couldn’t stay.”

She shook her head and tugged. His grip remained firm. Just as during his life, he imprisoned her. Mark owned her. Even in death, he controlled her.

“Let me finish what I started,” she pleaded.

“I’m sorry, Chels,” he smiled, mockery dancing in the depths of his eyes, the sea of blue drowning her without a drop of water. She hated it when he called her Chels. “You have to live with this.”

“No. I can’t.” The thought petrified her.

“You have no choice.”

A surge of hatred darkened her soul. She did it once; she could do it again. A step to the right. Another. His fingers burrowed into her wrist. “But I do,” she countered with narrowed eyes. One glance at the river confirmed her judgment. Yes, the choice was hers.

“You had no right to take my baby from me.” With her last ounce of strength, she plunged into him, sending them both headfirst into oblivion. To her dismay she emerged, her lungs gasping for oxygen. Bouncing up and down in an awkward dog paddle, her willful body struggled for continued existence, despite her firm resolve to give up the fight.

Death cheated her again.

Mark didn’t surface for a horrid moment or two. Once again she thought she’d forced his absence from her life. A hand and then a head shot out of the water. Horror washed over her as a stranger grabbed a piece of driftwood.

“Who are you? Where is Mark?”

The man sputtered his answer. “Give me your hand.” She didn’t want to touch him. She’d rather sink. “The current is too strong,” he argued, spitting river water out of his mouth. “You’ll drown.”

“I deserve to die.”

“No one deserves to die—”

“I killed him…”

Once again the stranger reached for her, trying his best to save the un-savable. “I know,” he yelled over the approaching storm. The fog over her mind lifted, and she recognized the cop—the one that had been following her for days. "But no one deserves to die like this." His eyes glistened with entreaty, a hopeful gleam that snagged her soul.

The will to live coursed through her. After wiping the hair from her eyes, she grabbed his hand.

(c) Denise Moncrief 2010



Thirteen of My Favorite Things…

1.     Coffee

2.     Coffee with breakfast

3.     Coffee in the afternoon

4.     Coffee with dessert

5.     Coffee with family

6.     Coffee in my favorite mug

7.     Coffee from that Seattle-based chain that shall remain     

8.     Coffee flavored drinks with crushed ice in them

9.     Coffee with friends

10.   Coffee with co-workers before starting work in the   

11.   Coffee with my husband

12.   Coffee brewed by my husband

13.   Coffee before I get out of bed in the morning

Not necessarily in this order…

Read more Thursday Thirteen at http://thursday-13.com/


Ultimate Act of Defiance

Immobile—my heart stops dead in its tracks. I know I play a dangerous game.

Close proximity to the object of my desire might prove the death of my long held dreams.

Retribution for my act of defiance
will surely come in the morning.

I sigh. One more Oreo won’t hurt, will it?
Maybe I won’t step on the blasted scales tomorrow.
Maybe I’ll let my diet take the day off.
An early Christmas present. Or birthday present.
Happy Birthday to me! Yum.

Read more Three Word Wednesday at http://www.threewordwednesday.com/


Life Lived Well But Once

Life lived well but once
Trailing discarded firsts
Relived over and over
Impressing memories
Into the far reaches of
The corner of the heart

Unwinding stream of time
Seconds and minutes
And hours and days and
Spiraling and spinning until
Nothing remains but
Remnants of a once-lived life

(c) Denise Moncrief 2011

Read more Carry on Tuesday at http://carryontuesdayprompt.blogspot.com/


Wake Up Sleeping Beauty


Wake up, my sleeping beauty
Not all dreams are crushed by the uncaring
Nor all hopes dashed

Forget him, your prince not charming
Not all dreams are denied a happy ending
Nor every wish unfulfilled

Did the glass slipper fit?
Did the soft kiss awaken?
Did the knight's armor shine?

Or did the coward sneak out the back door?
Did the glitter diminish?
Did the prince turn into a dragon?

Write again, my sweet lyricist
Not all music is inspired by unrequited love
Nor all words empty

Seek the truer heart
Dream the better dream
Write the sweeter song

(c) Denise Moncrief 2011

Read more Sunday Scribblings at http://sundayscribblings.blogspot.com/


My Daughter

The day I discovered I was pregnant with my first child I became a mother. There was no ambivalence; this was something I had wanted desperately and had agonized over in prayer for years. I wanted a baby.

Several months into my pregnancy, my obstetrician scheduled an ultrasound. It was then that the technician pronounced my child a girl. My ears heard the word girl; my heart heard the word daughter. Suddenly the living thing inside me was no longer a baby; this wonderful creation of God was my daughter.

In my mind, my child was never a fetus. Oh no, my child was always a person I would have the pleasure of knowing and loving. Love for this wonderful being was growing within me steadily, day by day. It grew even stronger with those first few fluttery feelings as I began to feel her movements inside of me.

During my pregnancy, I would summon up images of this daughter-to-be. I couldn’t quite picture a newborn or even an infant. The first images my mind created were of a six-year-old girl that looked amazingly like me. In my daydreams, my daughter wore a sweetly feminine Sunday dress, a pair of my high heels, a pair of my white gloves, and my Easter hat. Why? Because my mother has a picture of me at about that age wearing a similar outfit.

The next age my mind could conceive was twelve. At this age, my daughter shares her secrets with me. At this age, my daughter still thinks of me as her best friend. At this age, she is still innocent… some of the time. She is still dressed in a sweetly feminine Sunday dress.

In my dreams I couldn’t fathom a grown daughter or a daughter who had children of her own. It was as if my daughter was stuck in my consciousness as either a six-year-old or a twelve-year-old. Then the day arrived that she was born into this world a living, breathing human being, not some figment of my fertile imagination.

Until the day she was born, I thought I knew love. Then the doctor placed this tiny baby on my stomach. I was too scared to move, afraid that somehow my movements would cause the helpless little thing to fall off of me and slide onto the floor below my bed. With trembling hands, I touched my daughter for the first time. I had only thought I knew maternal love. At that moment, such a burst of love overwhelmed me that I cannot describe in mere words.

I never took a picture of my six-year-old daughter dressed in a Sunday dress in my high heels, wearing my gloves and hat. I don’t own an Easter hat or a pair of white gloves. There is a picture of a three-year-old girl in the hallway. She’s dressed in a blue and white Sunday dress, wearing an Easter hat, a matching handbag, and black patent leather shoes. In my bedroom, hangs a picture of an eleven-year-old girl in a cap and gown. And now this year, she’ll graduate from high school.

Is my daughter all that I dreamed she would be? Oh yes, she’s all of that and so much more. Does she tell me her secrets? I think maybe she does… most of the time. Is she innocent? I think she is… most of the time. Are we friends? We are as much friends as a mother and daughter can be. There is a fine line between friendship and parenting. I have found this to be a fundamental truth of being a girl’s mother.

When my sweet daughter was three months old, I set about learning everything I could about being a good mother. What if I wasn’t doing something right? What if I was scarring her for life? What if there was something vital I should be doing for her that I was somehow overlooking? Was I being a good mother? Could I be?

I researched the subject, reading everything I could find about mothering. Some of it was useful; some of it isn’t worth mentioning. After all my study, I came to one fundamental conclusion about the mother-daughter relationship and the vitally important task of mothering. I realized that I needed to be the kind of woman I want my daughter to grow up to be. That realization hit me hard; because I knew I wasn’t, and I wasn’t sure I could be. Nothing in my life has ever shaken me to the core of my being like that one particular revelation did.

Am I everything I hope my daughter to grow up to be? No. I cannot say that. But I must be doing something right because my sweet daughter tries to emulate her mother, and when she does I am very proud of her. Thankfully, she is reflecting my good qualities and not my bad.

What are my daydreams for her now? Only that she grows up to be a godly woman, nothing more, nothing less. Do I want more for her than I have? I don’t know. I look at my life and I’m content. I guess that’s what I want for her more than anything, to be content with what God gives her in her life. God certainly did well by me when he gave me her.

(c) Denise Moncrief 2011
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