I experienced a miracle.

This morning I walked to the bathroom without limping. This is notable because I haven’t done that in over a year.

Preparing for my first marathon in 2013, my left heel started to ache not far from the end of our 22 miler. I assumed it was a minor thing that would get better given time, but it didn’t.

After six months of ignoring, babying, and resting my heel in turn, I went to see the athletic trainer at the school where I teach. As she probed and manipulated my foot, she asked how I injured it and recommended I see a physical therapist who could better diagnose and treat the problem.

Long story short, I became a regular at the physical therapist’s office. She determined due to the scoliosis in my lower back, my left leg extended further than my right leg, and as I ran, my left foot struck the ground with increased force. That additional impact either caused a bone spur or plantar fasciitis, enough of a problem to cause my heel to hurt constantly and tighten up when not in use without warranting surgery.

Along with visiting my chiropractor regularly, the therapist told me stretching and exercising my foot would help my heel, so I should continue running but would deal with the injury the rest of my life.

I believe Jesus is God, all-powerful and all-good, that he loves and heals people, so for a while I asked Him to take away the pain. After receiving prayer a few times at church and not experiencing any change, I figured because God’s kingdom is here but not fully established, an achy heel would be something with which I’d live.

That was until yesterday. Our church had a conference this weekend where they invited a pastor from Northern Ireland to come and share how God has been working in their city. Just like in the book of Acts, the members of his church are going out, praying for the sick, seeing them healed, and leading people to Jesus. Because he wanted to not only describe the power of God but to show it as well, the pastor invited the Holy Spirit to come in power and heal.

Friday evening, we saw many healed. One lady who hasn’t been able to kneel, knelt for the first time in 15 years. Someone else with an injured rotator cuff swung his arm around without any pain. Seeing these and other miracles, I anticipated God taking care of my foot, but nothing happened. It hurt just the same walking across the parking lot following service, and I limped on it after a 14 mile run the next morning.

Sunday morning, the pastor from Ireland spoke again of God’s power and once again asked Him to show up. Several people, myself excluded, reported getting healed, but I felt God working on me, and when the pastor asked those who received healing to pray for others, I stepped forward.

Matt, with whom I run and familiar with my injury, came over and prayed for me. As he did, I felt a warmth going from my left calf all the way down my heel, and after he finished, I moved my foot around in a way that would normally exacerbate the pain, but it didn’t.

My heel feels better than it has in over a year and hasn’t tightened up on me since.

There’s still some pain, and I know God gives good gifts, so I anticipate a full restoration. I write this, believing the more I share about God’s goodness, the more authority He has to do good work.

God performed a miracle for me. If He were to do a miracle for you, what would you want it to be? Let me know in the comments.

Writing Fiction

After earning an MFA in creative nonfiction, I’ve started writing a sci-fi story, which is a whole different experience. Instead of rooting through my past, unearthing painful moments I buried long ago, I activate my imagination, watch the movie playing in my mind, and try to get it down on paper.

Sometimes the movie goes off-script. It feels like the scene playing doesn’t jive with what’s come before, so when this happens, I skip back to the last scene and let it play from there.

I don’t know if all fiction writing works this way, but it’s super-fun because even though I’m the author of this story, I don’t even know the name of my main character or even quite what he is, because my mind-movie hasn’t gotten to that scene yet. Whereas with nonfiction, I return to the writing because I have a driving question I want to answer, with fiction writing, I sit my ass In the chair because I want to discover what happens next.

I feared my writing would languish without the accountability of the MFA program, and to some extent, it has, yet trying a new genre rejuvenated the practice as did getting published and returning to a biweekly writer’s group. As adding a social component encouraged my enjoyment of running, meeting with fellow writers unlocked a heretofore hidden chamber in the well of creative expression that is word smithing. In other words, hanging out with other writers helps me like writing more.

If you have ideas of what encourages your creative expression, or if you have something to share about writing fiction, please post it in the comments.

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I’ve Been Published

If you go here, you’ll find my essay, “Battle of Hoth,” the seed of which I wrote as a writing sample to get into Ashland University’s MFA program nearly five years ago.

It’s crazy to think how one weird moment serves as the impetus to set you on a path you dreamt about as a kid but never expected to find yourself walking down. Let’s answer some imaginary FAQs:

Now that you’ve been published by an online journal, what will you do?

Knowing there’s at least one person who likes my work encourages me to produce more of it and continue to submit for publication.

Why publish at a place called Burlesque Press? Doesn’t that have something to do with adult entertainment?

I published there because they asked me to, and any opportunity I have to get my work out to be seen, I’ll take. The website shares similarities with a burlesque show in name only. The word is synonymous with ‘parody’ or ‘travesty’ which means they publish work that’s not what one expects, elevating the mundane and subverting the exalted.

Now that you’re rich and famous, can I borrow 20 bucks?

Though some publications pay for original work, Burlesque Press does not. I’m super-stoked just because they picked my piece. Actually, if you want to borrow 20 bucks, talk to someone else. I parked in front of somebody’s driveway last night and almost had my car impounded, so between the cost of the ticket and the fee for the tow truck, I’m not flush with cash.

If it takes five years of work to get published without even getting paid for it, why do it?

This I’ve asked myself many times. I do it because I love it, and because of my pursuit of writing, I now get to teach English to 8th graders, which is pretty special.

Will you ever get published again?

How would I know that? Actually, Burlesque Press accepted two of my pieces, so I’ll be published again on Tuesday.

What are you writing now?

Aside from this blog post, nothing. I can’t write two things at once.

Alright, smart-aleck, answer the question.

I have many writing projects, all in various states of disrepair. There’s the collection of essays I want to convert into Programming the Robotic Soul: A Nerd’s Memoir. There’s the story of how my maternal grandfather abandoned his family in the early ’60s to lead the Undergrounders, a cult that built a church, houses, and bomb shelters out in Benson, Arizona, believing nuclear war was imminent and they’d be the only ones to survive. I’m also writing a sci-fi piece about a genetically-modified creature who becomes self-aware to see where it goes.

What’s it feel like to create something and have someone who also creates that same sort of thing deem it worthy of sharing with the world?

It feels like the time I defended my thesis and realized the English professors saw me as a writer. It feels like affirmation.