Genesis 5020

Stories for His Glory

Write to the Point with Ann Lee Miller September 23, 2015

Filed under: Author Interviews — Melissa Finnegan @ 10:38 am
Tags: ,

ann

Today we get write to the point with Ann Lee Miller. Her newest book touches on a very hot topic. I haven’t had the chance to read her book but I have read the first chapter and that alone was enough to know this book wouldn’t be a fluffy read. The reality is we live in a world that needs to look at these tough issues and see the brokenness underneath and respond as Christ would. 

Today she shares about her own relationship with her dad, may you be touched and encouraged by her words.

Bio:
Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. When she isn’t blogging memoir at AnnLeeMiller.com or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her husband or meddling in her kids’ lives. Over 100,000 copies of her debut novel Kicking Eternity, have been downloaded from Amazon.

Forgiving Dad

 

I stood in a slice of sun and dust motes coming through a gap in the storage barn while Dad rooted through our pre-boat life.

Dad barked at me to help him look for the box labeled “memorabilia.” He hunted the April, 1953 Athletic Journal that contained a four-page pictorial spread of him doing the backstroke for an article by swimming great Doc Counsilman.

I smarted from his tone of voice as I climbed over R.J.’s old crib that Mom held onto hopes of filling with a new baby.

Twelve years of Dad’s barbed words and disappointed sighs stuffed inside me like our possessions packed into the horse stall. Some of Dad’s slights were small like the green, blue, and brown antique bottles he salvaged from mangrove swamps, now tucked in dust-covered liquor boxes. Some were big like the dining room table with the broken base we’d propped up with a cement block.

I hefted aside the glass case that held Dad’s swimming medals. My knuckles brushed dust from the footboard of my parents’ bed, and I was six again, hanging upside down, letting my hair flop over the end of the mattress, contemplating a Dr. Seuss inverted world. I scrambled across the rumpled bedding to peer over the edge where Dad leaned against the headboard, reading the newspaper.

He smelled like Ivory soap.

Sunshine streamed through the open windows and glanced off the terrazzo floor, happy like I felt inside.

But Dad had run out of patience with my antics. He told me to quit trying to peek under the sheet at his birthday suit.

I squawked in protest. I didn’t even know he wasn’t dressed. And besides, my baby brother’s pee-shooting sack of extra flesh had satisfied all my curiosity about male anatomy.

But I could tell by his expression he didn’t believe me.

I slid boneless from the bed and slunk from the room.

I packed the emotional relic back into its cardboard box and shoved it into a corner of my soul with the rest of the things I didn’t want to think about.

Five years later when I was seventeen, Dad would stop me on the front stoop of our house in New Smyrna Beach—the step where I’d ducked out of more good-night kisses than I’d stood still for.

Dad must have sensed the Clampett collection of complaints I’d piled between us. “You hate me, don’t you?”

Of course, I didn’t hate him. He was being dramatic. But I didn’t particularly like him, either.

That year I chose Janis Ian’s At Seventeen—a song about an ugly, ignored girl—to play as I was presented on the homecoming court. A weird choice for a girl just voted attractive and popular by her classmates. But the song was true underneath my skin. Dad had written it there when I was six.

At twenty-two I scribbled a short story on loose leaf as Jim, my fiancé of ten months, studied across the living room of Fern’s boarding house where he lived.

“Write what you know,” my professor had said.

I knew… Dad and a hodgepodge of hurts.

I glanced at Jim. We thought we knew everything about each other, but Jim had never met Dad. I’d told him things that didn’t matter. Dad held a BS in business. He built a sluice box to pan for gold out West the year I was five. He made wine in the bathtub from grapefruit Hurricane Betsy knocked down.

I heaved in a breath and read aloud the bitterness I’d bled in ball point ink. Then I told the stories that hurt my throat to tell.

Jim waded through the flapped open boxes of my life and sat down, sliding an arm around me. “You hate your Dad.” The words echoed Dad’s on the stoop.

“I strongly resent him.”

“You need to forgive.”

I looked at Jim, incredulous. “Didn’t you hear anything I said? He doesn’t deserve my forgiveness.”

Jim covered my hand with his. “The forgiveness is for you.”

I tore my gaze from the compassion in his eyes “I can’t. It’s too hard.”

Jim’s voice was gentle, probing. “Do you believe God is strong enough to help?”

I surveyed the wreckage littering Fern’s Persian rug and sensed the dead calm I’d felt in the eye of Hurricane Betsy.

Bible words wafted to me, nothing is impossible with God.

I scanned Fern’s delicate old lamps and figurines that peered at me from the edges of the room. “I guess if He wanted to, He could use some of His power to help me forgive Dad.” But I wasn’t sure I wanted to let Dad off the hook.

“Good. Let’s pray.” Jim gripped my hand tighter, hope in his eyes.

“Now?” It took me six months to decide to get a haircut and Jim expected me to forgive Dad two minutes after the idea materialized?

“Yeah.” Jim’s arm felt heavy on my shoulders like his will pressing down on me.

But Jim was the one person who loved me unconditionally, who’d given me a picture of how God loved me. Neither of them would do anything to hurt me.

“Okay. Fine.” I dropped my chin to my chest, my hand still wrapped in Jim’s larger one.

His prayer splashed over me in a gentle rain of encouragement, and it was over way too soon.

I wondered where Fern and Jim’s housemates had gone. Were there any Hawkins Market cream sticks on the kitchen table?

I inhaled a breath for fortification. “I believe You can do anything. If You want to—help me forgive Dad.”

My eyes popped open. The anger sucked out of me as though through a divine vacuum cleaner. I felt… free. In its place something new sprouted. For the first time, I wanted to see Dad.

That was the day Dad started his bicycle trek from California to Ohio for my wedding—sleeping in graveyards along the way.

Three months later, I walked into my Aunt Barb’s house in Canton, Ohio, and gripped Dad’s bony shoulders in an awkward hug. The faint, familiar scent of BO clung to him.

He shook Jim’s hand as the room buzzed with relatives. And before the evening was over, Dad volleyed me a criticism.

Acid poured into my stomach, my body stiffened, bracing for the plunge and twist of Dad’s emotional knife.

But his negative words melted off me, pooling at my feet. Not even a flesh wound, Monte Python said in my head. And Dad’s words never again pierced me.

Far from lily white, I’m not proud of spending my adult life stiff-arming Dad from coming closer—as though God weren’t up to protecting me after all He’d done. I got in digs when I could.

But after the boat years, after my parents’ divorce, Dad kept coming back—every year of my life. He found me in Florida—Coconut Grove, Stuart, New Smyrna Beach, Ormond Beach, Lakeland, and Deland—Ashland, Ohio, Indianapolis, and Phoenix. He persisted, pursuing relationship with me when I wanted to give up. It was his steadfastness that told me he loved me.

And when liver cancer yellowed his skin and the whites of his eyes, he came home to die with me.

I rode away from the storage barn on that Miami winter day in 1970 in our two-toned Plymouth Valliant. In my lap, I cradled Dad’s past and my future God would heal.

Chasing Happy Back cover:

After an epic fail in the hetero world, Ash Jackson heads cross country to Arizona to figure out his bisexuality and make peaceChasingHappyFinal with himself and God.

Nashville Star Samma Templeton’s music career bankrolls her future husband’s political campaigns. But she throws up before every concert and feels relegated to an item on the senator’s calendar.

When Ash moves into Samma’s apartment building their childhood friendship resurrects, and Samma must choose between promoting a political agenda that will benefit millions or following her heart. Ash must face his inner demons for the girl who was his past and feels like his future.

Thanks so much for sharing with my readers, Ann. I pray God will continue to bless your writing journey. 

 

Write to the Point with Ann Lee Miller October 31, 2012

Today we get write to the point with Ann Lee Miller. She is sharing a Genesis 5020 with us.

She has a great giveaway, everyone wins! Just leave a comment and your email and Ann will send you an ebook if Kicking Eternity. You will need to leave your email written in your comments so Ann will see your address. When you do, use (at) and (dot).  If you don’t want to leave your email see Ann’s directions below.

Please comment by November 6.

Giveaway: Anyone who leaves a comment with an e-mail address will receive a free e-book copy of prequel Kicking Eternity. Those who don’t want to leave an e-mail may contact Ann for their free book at AnnLeeMiller.com.

 

 

E-mail From God

 By Ann Lee Miller, Author of The Art of My Life

 

God spoke to me through an e-mail that showed up in my in-box last November, during a year I strained to wring out the deeper novel my literary agent was convinced I had in me. I needed to scrape out my emotions and smear them on the page. But I only knew how to shove them inside.

When I was six my Chatty Cathy doll tumbled over the stucco banister worn shiny from my family’s hands and those who had lived in the Miami apartment before us. Salty tears tickled my face. I scooped her up in chubby, little girl arms and pulled her string. But she who won me countless friends on a year-long Volkswagen van trip across Mexico would never talk again. “Quit your crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about,” my daddy said.

When I was thirteen, Mama drove me and my six-year-old brother away from Biscayne Bay and Daddy. We left the sailboat Daddy built in the back yard—where we and our belongings had been crammed into thirty-six feet that smelled of mildew and last night’s fish. Our blue Rambler braked at a house, peering owlishly through black-framed windows. Mama looked back at us, Jack-in-the-Box smile stitched in place. “Isn’t this a wonderful adventure?”

Our footsteps echoed off cold terrazzo, as barren as I felt inside. I needed to be strong for Mama. But it wasn’t so hard. I didn’t remember how to cry.

At nineteen I hurled myself at Jesus, Someone who didn’t think my emotions were too loud and bothersome, Someone who listened to my heart.

For three decades I locked my childhood and my emotions behind Get Smart steel grates. If I wasn’t such an Eeyore, if I had an ounce of gratitude, I would have said my childhood was okay. A lot of people suffered worse.

A flash of blond hair out a firehouse window unearthed a firefighter’s memory of a fifth-grade girl walking home from St. Hugh’s Catholic School in Miami. He was a sixth-grader who could never understand why his carpool whisked past me day after day as I plodded through a ramshackle neighborhood in the sticky heat headed for the marina.

Though we never spoke, the man googled me and e-mailed, “I always thought how sad and lonely you looked.”

I felt as though Jesus pressed three fingers into my right shoulder and said, “Yes, your childhood was sad.” The doors to my past and emotions burst open.

As a child I shut off my voice because it wouldn’t be heard or believed.  Now I’m starting to come all-out with my husband, children, and friends. They listen and believe me. They embrace me. I am showing them the core of who I am. Color and intensity of feeling are shooting through my deadness. I am learning to pen pain and joy.

Ironically, in my writing people have told me for years that my unique voice is my strength. Could there be people desperate for my message, could my words be valuable?

God went out of His way to love a girl nobody listened to, to restore her voice and emotions. How can I not speak?

Bio:

Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her husband or meddling in her kids’ lives.

Back Cover:

The Art of my Life

Cal walked out of jail and into a second chance at winning Aly with his grandma’s beater sailboat and a reclaimed dream of sailing charters.

Aly has the business smarts, strings to a startup loan, and heart he never should have broken. He’s got squat. Unless you count enough original art to stock a monster rummage sale and an affection for weed. 

But he’d only ever loved Aly. That had to count for something. Aly needed a guy who owned yard tools, tires worth rotating, and a voter’s registration card. He’d be that guy or die trying.

For anyone who’s ever struggled to measure up. And failed. 

AnnLeeMiller.com

Twitter @AnnLeeMiller

Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/AnnLeeMillerAuthor

Buy Links:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Art-My-Life-ebook/dp/B009BICC2G/ref=cm_rdp_product_img

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-art-of-my-life-ann-lee-miller/1112910892?ean=2940015675597

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/230031

Thanks so much for sharing your story with us Ann. I pray God’s blessings over your writing.

Readers, don’t forget, just leave a comment and you will receive Ann’s book.