Thursday, November 6, 2008

Unwritten Contest


For the past few months, the song Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield has been going through my mind, over and over again. I've been thinking a lot about the choices I've made over the past fifteen years - choices that have led me to where I am today.

If you're not familiar with this song, here are the lyrics:

Unwritten
by Natasha Bedingfield

I am unwritten
can't read my mind
I'm undefined

I'm just beginning
the pen's in my hand
ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in

No one else, No one else

Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

I break tradition
sometimes my tries
are outside the lines

We've been conditioned
to not make mistakes
but I can't live that way

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in

No one else, no one else

Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in

No one else, no one else

Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

The rest is still unwritten





The writer in me loves the analogy of my future as an unwritten book. It's up to me to chose how to write the words that will be in each of the chapters that will make up my Book of Life.

And just like writing a book where the characters "take over" and make choices the author wasn't expecting, my life has turned in directions I would never have expected.

As an idealistic teenager, I never would have pictured finding myself in an abusive marriage and divorced before even turning twenty years old. I wouldn't have written my Mom's graduation to Heaven when I was the tender age of nineteen. I never thought of motherhood as filled with IEP's, speech therapy, and behavior interventions.

But with each "wouldn't have", I've grown and received tremendous blessings.

My bruised soul couldn't have imagined that less than a year after my divorce I would find an honorable, incredible man who has treated me like a valuable and loved queen - even after ten years of marriage.

There are no words that accurately express the love I still feel from my mom, and the tenderness I feel knowing she and I will be together again for eternity after this life. Families are forever.

Thanks to my incredible son, I have been blessed to be immersed in a world full of people with all different abilities, each of whom have touched my life in a special way. I have been blessed to learn that motherhood isn't just having a child grow under your care, but rather it's a journey full of discovery, acceptance, and love.

Through this short journey of fifteen years, I have not only grown - but have been uplifted by incredible people along the way.

My sister had the courage to chase after her dream of graduating from the state police academy.

Natalie put her career as an incredible artist on hold to bring her beautiful daughter into the world and be a stay-at-home mom.

After her dear husband passed away, Helen found joy and purpose in helping others by volunteering at her local hospital and organizing a neighborhood ladies group for other widows. They each enjoy having a "family night" every Monday, going to plays, celebrating their birthdays, and supporting each other.

Karen didn't just raise her children with autism, instead she advocated for young children throughout her county by working with other parents to raise money for an autism preschool and served as president of the Autism Society in her area for many, many years. Today, she is attending college to get a Masters degree as she continues her journey to help educate children with autism.

Pam and Kevin have adopted seven children into their loving family.

Many years ago, Sue, with her husband, created the Olathe Special Olympics team and has continued supporting and organizing activities ever since.

Dana calls her friends just to ask how their day is going and to let them know she's thinking of them.



Some things we do are "big". Other things seem small, possibly even inconsequential. But both have big impact on those around us. We've each had many, many experiences that have taken us through our own personal refiner's fire. And we've had many blessings along the way as well.

What I love about Unwritten is that it reminds me the journey is not over. No matter where we are in our lives today, our tomorrow is unwritten.

If you're in the middle of a chapter, you get to choose what to write on the next page. And if you find yourself at the beginning of a new chapter, you get to explore and discover what that chapter will hold.



I'm sure you're thinking this is an odd way to introduce a contest. You're right. And that's because this contest is unusual in itself.

To enter the contest, leave a comment on this post and tell me two things:

1) What do you want written on your page tomorrow?

and

2) Share a story of someone who was a blessing to you as you've been writing the "novel" of your life.

Be sure to post your entry before noon on November 15th. I will post name of the winner that afternoon. Each of the stories submitted will be compiled for a "Count Your Blessings" blog before Thanksgiving. Submissions can be humorous, uplifting, etc. But they should all be sincere!

The winner will receive an autographed copy of Red Dragon Codex by R.D. Henham (a.k.a Rebecca Shelley). If you have a Dragonlance fan on your Christmas list, this is THE perfect gift!

From Amazon:
For fans of The New York Times best-selling A Practical Guide to Dragons, a new series of fantasy fiction focusing on the power of dragonkind.

The Dragon Codices chronicle adventures with each of ten dragons of Krynn. From the fiery, evil red dragon to the playful copper, each dragon's tale is unique. Sindri Suncatcher, narrator of A Practical Guide to Dragons, shared these tales from his travels with library scribe R.D. Henham.

Mudd lives a peaceful life in his small town, tinkering with the mill and any mechanical devices that he can find. But his peaceful life soon changes when, out of nowhere, a red dragon attacks, burning the town and kidnapping Shemnara, the village seer. Only one clue is left behind--a cryptic note telling Mudd, "Seek the silver dragon."

About the Author
R.D. Henham is a scribe in the great library of Palanthas. In the course of transcribing stories of legendary dragons, the author felt a gap existed in the story of the everydragon: ordinary dragons who end up doing extraordinary things. With the help of fellow scribes, R.D. had filled that gap with the Dragon Codices.


“Red Dragon Codex is fun tale of wonder, adventure, and dragons aplenty. R.D. Henham is a fine new storyteller, off to a very promising start.”

—David Farland, New York Times best-selling author

19 comments:

Cindy Beck said...

Danyelle,
Ooo, count me in for the contest. :o)

What I'd like written on my page of life for tomorrow: Cindy discovered a new herb that takes off ten pounds and ten years in ten seconds.

Someone who has blessed my life: There are so many people, that this is a tough one to answer. However, from an eternal perspective, the one who blessed my life for forever is the missionary who introduced the gospel to my husband and me ... Elder Richard Delewski.

Tristi Pinkston said...

This was a lovely post, Danyelle, and I want to point something out. Not only have you been blessed through these challenges, but as you've faced them with faith, you've allowed them to turn you into the incredible person you are. You've influenced me positively in a hundred different ways.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Ah, Tristi. You made me all teary-eyed. Thank you.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Cindy - If you discover that herb, you be sure to email me first! :)

Thank you for sharing your blessing of receiving the gospel.

Rebecca Shelley said...

Great contest. I thought I'd drop by and leave a comment even though I don't need to be considered to win the book. I've already got a copy. *wink* And of course I think it is an exciting read.

Anyway, this contest is a great idea, the thought of starting out on a new page and writing what we want our life to become. Very timely in my own life as I have just the week before last pulled my kids from school so that I could home-school them. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I'd do something like that, but life has lots of funny twists and turns.

The good news is that the kids and I are really enjoying it. They say they don't ever want to go back to regular school (they say that now. LOL. We'll see what they say down the road a bit).

But this makes writing a bit of a challenge for me. Gone are my six peaceful hours while they were at school in the morning. Now I have to train myself to write in the evenings instead and train my family to leave me alone and let me do it.

This is definitely a blank page, and I'm not sure where it will take me in the end.

As for someone who has blessed me. My 9th grade English teacher, Mrs. Brown, was the first person to really believe in me and my writing. She told me I could write a book. I believed her and did it. I wish I knew where she is now so I could thank her.

Rebecca Shelley

themeese2 said...

When you say, "tomorrow" I'm not sure if you're getting at my ACTUAL tomorrow, which won't have much more than "Kim went to work, froze her tail off outside counting inventory, and then came home and went to Relief Society Craft Night" or if you're getting at the sum total of all of my "tomorrows." I'm going to go with Choice B. I think that when my Book of Life is read someday, I would like it to have an overriding theme that runs through every page. And that theme would be something along the lines of "This woman truly learned to love her brothers and sisters with the pure love of Christ. The people who encountered her throughout her life were treated with kindness and cheer, even if they were people who lived a life different from hers, or disagreed with her in some fashion. They were welcome in her home and in her heart, and she never hesitated to help when the need arose. She was liked by many, and loved by more." If I can reflect, in even a small measure, the depth of charity our Savior has for each of us, into the lives of everyone that crosses my path, in real life and yes, even online, then I will have lived well, and my story will be all the richer for all the other characters in it.

My hero in that regard is, without question, my own dear mother, who left us so suddenly on March 12, 2008. On the evening of her viewing, what touched me the most was how many people came who worked with her. These people knew her in a situation outside a religious setting. They did not necessarily share her values or her beliefs, but every person who came had positive memories of how my mother had treated them. Every kid in the neighborhood was welcome in her home, and there were some who actually LIVED in it! There was always company for holidays. The missionaries, or a struggling single, or a family from the ward who had just moved in, or the parents of her childrens' friends. All were welcome in my mother's eyes, and I owe my own outgoing, positive nature to her. I am happy to be much liker her, and I miss her more than I can say.

Kim

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Rebecca -

Changing from public school to homeschooling is definitely worthy of a whole new chapter in your life! I wish you lots of organizational skills and inspiration while you teach!

That is so awesome about your 9th grade teacher. You should try calling the school she worked at to see if they could forward a letter to her. Think of what a wonderful gift that would be for her - to see how you've made one of your dreams come true!

Thanks for writing such a fun book. I'm very excited to offer it as a prize!

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Kim - You've been an incredible inspiration to me. When I first met you a year after joining the LDS Church, your bright smile (and hats!), and bubbly personality helped me feel so welcome at the Penn State Nittany Branch. Seeing how you have continued with in the same manner (minus the hats!), I think you are well on your way in following your mom's example.

Like you, I consider my mom to be among the very,very top of the list of people who have uplifted and inspired me during this life. Here's a toast to our two incredible moms. I hope they have become good friends up there in Heaven!

G. Parker said...

Danyelle-- I love that song! My husband doesn't quite understand the reason, but it's for so many things. I think part of it's the same reason you have, but mostly because I feel she is talking to me. It's amazing. Anyway - all of you in authors incog have inspired an uplifted me, but the person I have to point out, was my mom.
She took me in as an 18 year old foster child who had no one to love her. She taught me what it was to be loved unconditionally and showed me what it meant to be a mother. All I learned (the little it was) I learned from her fine example. She went on to be "back on the bird committee" as we jokingly tell each other (she loved birds and claimed she was in on the creation of them)about six years ago. I still keenly feel the loss at times. I feel more sorrow with her being gone than my own mother, since I didn't even know her.
What I wish were written tomorrow? That is hard. Each day is a new page - each choice is a new line written. I have always wanted to be a published author. I never thought I'd be the mother of 7, and be where I am today. I pray every morning that I will hear where the Lord wants me to go. I'm still cleaning out my ears, but I'm trying. Thanks for the wonderful blog.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Gaynell - What an incredible woman and mother. You were both lucky to find each other. And what a blessing that you know you'll be together again as well. I still talk to my mom. And when I really, really need her, I pray to Heavenly Father and ask Him to send her a message from me, filled with lots of hugs and kisses - cause if I need them, I'm sure she needs them, too.

Thank you for your wonderful thoughts, Gaynell.

Weston Elliott said...

I would like it written that I lived up to the legacy of strength and faith left by the family that came before me.

I have had many influences, but the most poignant example comes from my father. His dying words to me were "You can do anything you set your mind to."

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Weston - Thank you for your sharing your father's wise words with us.

ali said...

Hi Danyelle, what a beautiful post. Wow.

That song, Unwritten, is my current 'theme song' for myself. I love it.

Right now, I'm really trying hard to receive Christ's image in my countenance. I feel like I've grown a little apathetic in my worship and feel that I don't shine right now as much as I'd like. So for the rest of my current chapter, I'd like for others to be able to see the light of heaven shining from my eyes. I'd like for it to be written that I was kind and helpful, that I truly was an instrument in God's hands.

As for a previous chapter in my life and the person who most influenced me, I'd say my sister, Heather. I have been blessed by so many, it's hard to name just one, but at this time of year I'm always reminded of the loss of my mom when I was 19 and the friendship I discovered with my sister because of mom's death.

Heather and I had sort of a love/hate relationship before Mom became ill. But when Mom was dying, we had to work together and serve Mom together. We discovered that she was weak where I was strong and I was weak where she was strong. We came to have a great love and respect for each other we wouldn't have had otherwise.

After Mom passed away, Heather took me in. Mom was my only parent and when I lost her I kind of lost my way for a while. Heather and her husband took me in while I got my feet back under me. She was not only kind and loving, she was also a tough drill sergeant who taught me so much about growing up, about being an adult and how to face life with my chin up.

When I was ready to fly on my own, Heather let me go. But she's never really let me go of me. She is my mother now, by choice, because she loves me. We are the truest sort of friends because of the trial we faced together. Our hearts are knit together with more than just love, but with service and sacrifice as well.

themeese2 said...

Uh, we're not going to be able to choose a winner from all of these beautiful comments! I love everything that folks have had to say. It may not be Mother's Day, but Here's to Moms or women who might as well be! Whether they are here with us or on the other side, they never stop loving us.

Danyelle, I do the same thing. I pray for Mom to be able to do the things that she has been assigned to do on the other side and that she's doing it in her usual cheerful fashion and meeting all sorts of amazing people. I ask Him to make sure she knows how much we love and miss her and that she be kept up on all our news. I would hope that she's had the opportunity to meet your Mom! And Pres. Mitchell, whom I still miss deeply.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Ali

I love your goal for the rest of your current chapter!

My mom passed away when I was 19, too. It sounds like your sister and my sister are quite similar! I know from sharing the same type of experience, what a tremendous blessing your sister was to you. I'm grateful you've both found and created an unbreakable sisterly/best friend bond. You'll be blessings to each other for the rest of this life, and on into eternity.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Kim - Thank goodness I'm not picking a winner by their stories! I'm compiling the stories for a "Count Your Blessings" post just before Thanksgiving. But other than that, every gets their name put in a hat & my youngest will pull a name.

Whew! :)

themeese2 said...

I think that's the best way to go, Danyelle. Luck of the draw on this one for sure! :-)

Sara said...

This is a great idea for a post.

If I could write my own story, I would write these words..."Sara is a great mother." I would just write that over and over.

So many people have influenced me throughout my life, but one person that sticks out is my Pennsylvania grandma, Annie. I have not met a person yet who can live up to her spunk and kindness. She helped me move from Utah, my comfort zone, to PA...my way NOT comfort zone! She is amazing!

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Sara - Being a great Mom is an awesome goal! I love it!

Your Grandma sounds like lots of fun! :)

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