Emma’s Dancing Socks (Faith in Flash Fiction)

MEME - Psalm 30 v 11 - Photo by Karen B. for Emma's Dancing Socks - April 22, 2017My jaw clenched as I smoothed Emma’s yellow satin dress. “Hold still.”

Fighting a frown, I ignored her giggles and tied the orange sash into a bow. Precisely aligned front and center. At least I could still control some things. My fingertips lingered at the hem of her dress.

“Isn’t it perfect, Mama?”

“Of course. It’s the perfect length for showing off long multicolored, mismatched socks. The perfect style for twirling.”

The perfect reminder of my helplessness after my only child begged me to sew the orange sash under the empire waist. Orange was the new black in my world.

Emma’s arms quivered like sprigs in a cool spring breeze as she adjusted her yellow knitted cap until its orange bow rested over her right ear. “How do I look?”

I prayed the sting in my eyes wouldn’t trickle into reality. “Peautiful!”

Her naked brows lifted over wide maple-syrup eyes. “You mean beautiful?”

“Nope. Peautiful! Perfect and beautiful.”

“You’re so silly, Mama.”

“Let me get a better look at you, Emma Bear.”

“I’m too old for nicknames.” She pinched each side of her skirt between her thumbs and pointing fingers, spreading the material into a fan. She swished her arms right to left, gazing into the full-length mirror. “I’m almost thirteen, you know.”

Almost. Not thirteen, yet. I bit my lip. “Does that mean I can’t call you Princess, either?”

Emma placed one palm flat on her chest. “Only a princess can dance with the King! That’s not a nickname. It’s my life.”

I turned toward her canopy bed and preoccupied myself with a wicker basket full of colorful patterned socks.

Emma hugged the white bedpost. “So, when are you going back to the studio?”

“Leave it alone, Sweetheart.”

“Miss Sarah’s a great dancer, but you’re the best teacher.”

I held up a matching pair of blue socks with pink polka dots and purple triangles. “For the umpteenth time, I’ll go back when I’m ready. We can’t rush God’s timing.” We couldn’t slow down His timing, either.

Emma plunged her hand into the basket and pulled out a purple sock decorated with neon green-and-black zebra stripes. She snatched one of my polka-dot socks and held her creation at arm’s length. “Now these make me feel like dancing.”

“The clashing patterns?”

“The color of joy.” Emma closed her eyes and tilted her head toward the ceiling. “The kind of joy we can’t lose, even when we’re sad.”

Forgive me, Lord. Please, help me with my unbelief. I coupled a rainbow-striped prize with the abandoned polka-dot sock. “How about this mismatched sensation?”

“I could twirl across the clouds in these.” Emma grabbed the socks and scooted to the middle of the bed. She stretched the cotton to her knees before blessing me with jazz hands and a tired laugh, complete with a soft snort.

I placed the laundry basket onto the floor and eased onto the bed. Leaning into the oversized pillows nestled against the headboard, I invited her into a side hug.

Emma settled next to me, smoothed her dress and adjusted her sash. She wiggled her toes and crossed her hands over her chest like Sleeping Beauty. “I’m ready now.”

I wasn’t ready. I would never be ready. I pulled away from my daughter, slid off the bed, and stumbled across the hardwood floor until the garage door closed behind me. Crumpled on the cement floor, I inhaled the fading scent of my father. The sunset pouring through the windows painted his tool wall with a soft peach glow.

Emma entered the garage. She clutched a mismatched pair of neon socks in her small fist. “Do you remember what you told me when Poppa Joe went to Heaven?” Her voice flowed like a hymn, soft and sure.

I pressed my cheek into the cold cement when I felt her frail body against my back.

“You said perfect healing comes when we get to Heaven with Jesus.” Her fingers combed through my hair. “You said Poppa Joe wasn’t hurting anymore.”

I pushed myself into a sitting position, slid my hands down my face, and turned toward my daughter. Emma’s smooth bare brows and relaxed grin kissed my heart.

“Don’t you believe what you told me, Mama?”

“Of course I believe.” I pulled her close to my chest. “It’s just hard.”

“God’s with us, Mama. I feel Him.” She handed me the pair of socks she’d been holding. “May I have this dance?”

I helped her to her feet, kicked off my blue ballet flats, and pulled on one rainbow striped sock and one yellow sock with hot pink hexagons outlined in neon green. I stood and extended my hand.

Emma’s laughter bounced off the walls when I twirled her in two complete circles. Her skirt rose and fell like gentle waves lapping onto a sandy beach.

After our dance, I tucked her into bed and knelt beside her. “Would you like me to pick out a pair of fresh socks?”

“I want to wear these tonight.” She placed her hand in mine. “Will you wear your dancing socks, too?”

I tapped the tip of her nose with my pointing finger. “I just might have to start my own collection.”

“I would like that very much, Mama.” She huffed a chuckle. “Will you sleep with me tonight?”

“Anything for you.”

“You promise?”

“Of course.” I lifted her pink Bible off the nightstand.

“Go back to the studio. Teach them to feel the music, just like you taught me.” She closed her eyes. “Imagine Poppa Joe and me dancing with you.” Opening one eye, she grinned. “Freestyle!”

My laughter was like an abandoned gold mine. “It’s getting late. What do you want me to read today?”

Emma clasped her hands together. “Psalm thirty. Verses ten to twelve.”

I flipped through the crinkling pages. As the words blurred, I prayed for the strength to read without wavering voice or faith.

“Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.”

I set the Bible on the nightstand and said a short prayer before curling up next to my daughter and wrapping her in a hug.

“You’re holding on too tight, Mama.”

I forced myself to loosen my embrace and kissed the top of her head. “I’m sorry, Baby Girl.”

“It’s okay.” She leaned into me. “I love you, too.”

***

Emma took her last breath less than three months later, a week after we rang in the New Year.

The yellow tulips in our backyard didn’t bloom as bright when they popped out of the ground the following spring. The warmth of the sun pricked my cheeks like pine needles. Still, I kept my promise after the summer haze surrendered to the nip of autumn.

When I lugged a cardboard box into the dance studio, Miss Sarah had the girls lined up at the bar in front of the mirrors.

“You’re back! You’re back!” A gaggle of prima ballerinas, ages ten to thirteen, bombarded me with hugs as soon as I dropped my cargo in the corner. Every one of these girls had attended the funeral. Everyone was grieving the loss of their friend.

“I have a surprise for you, Ladies.”

My hands trembled as I opened the box of brand-new socks.

Please, help me feel Your constant presence, Lord. I can’t do this without You.

I passed out the colorful mismatched creations. My breath quickened as the girls stretched socks over their ballet shoes.

Giggles erupted when I tossed my assistant a turquoise sock with lime green swirls and a black sock with red hearts, purple squares, and yellow triangles.

I half-skipped to the stereo and plugged in my iPod. “Drumroll, please.”

The dancers obliged.

“Let’s begin with a classic.” I selected Emma’s favorite song. “Freestyle!”

Miss Sarah dabbed the corner of her eye with her finger and slipped her feet into the unconventional dance attire.

I miss my baby girl, Lord.

I swallowed hard before starting the music. We danced, arms flowing and hips shaking to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

A belly laugh followed by a loud snort bubbled up out of my heart as I slid across the floor in my own pair of Emma’s Dancing Socks. This time, the sound didn’t squeeze my chest.

I twirled across the floor, ending in a graceful curtsey before my King.

The young ballerinas followed my lead.

Surrendering to peace, I whispered, “Hallelujah.” Deep in my soul I knew that my sweet angel was doing the same in the presence of our Heavenly Father.

***

 

MEME - John 3 v 16 - Photo by Karen B - for Emma's Dancing Socks - April 22, 2017

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“Emma’s Dancing Socks” was written after my mom received her diagnosis, Leukemia, in January 2014. After a bone marrow transplant, my sweet mom was welcomed into the arms of her Savior, Jesus Christ, on October 22, 2014. This story was previously published in Inspire Promise in November 2014.

I process my emotions through prayerfully reading the Bible and writing. I never shared this story with my mom, but I wish I would have.

“When Yes Means No,” a snippet of my mom’s story, was published as my first devotion in Our Daily Bread on April 1, 2017. As I read these two stories again and share them with you, I’m grieving the loss of my friend, Suzanne Nixon Thompson.

Suzanne battled Leukemia and had a bone marrow transplant earlier this year. She joined my mom in the loving arms of Jesus on April 6, 2017. I didn’t find out until April 22nd.

As I remember these two mighty women of faith, my heart aches but beats with peace because we shared an unshakable hope in Christ.

These fierce women of faith have changed me and inspired me. Both will be missed, their lives celebrated, and their impact for Christ will never be forgotten.

Please join me in praying for those brave warriors and their courageous families who are battling cancer, those who have survived cancer, and those whose ultimate healing came when they danced into the arms of Jesus.

As my mom said, “God is good and that’s all there is to it.” Oh, how I miss her!

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Special thanks to K.B. and B.B. for providing the photos for these memes.

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A Christian Writer’s Christmas Poem

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“A Christian Writer’s Christmas Poem” by Xochitl E. Dixon

 

’Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the land,

not a writer was stirring, none lifted a hand.

With paper and pencils put up with great care,

scribes opened their Bibles, to meet Jesus there.

 

Refreshing their spirits−they’d intended to do−

inhaling the Scriptures, believing they’re true.

With nary an argument, all snuggled in grace,

each writer excited to seek the Lord’s face.

 

A break from the hurry, they needed this season,

to affirm, with great hope, that Christ was their reason.

Yes, God−above all−gave them purpose to write.

The Lord−above all−was their Hope and their Light.

 

They prayed for their loved ones. They prayed for their readers.

They prayed for their projects, their friends, and their leaders.

Hearts fully surrendered, they asked God to be clear.

They asked Him for wisdom to last through next year.

 

Each writer confessed their worldly behavior.

They wanted so much to be changed by their Savior.

Transformed by God’s love and empowered by grace,

these writers prepared for the obstacles they’d face.

 

Discouragement. Doubt. Some would even fight fear.

But, the scribes would not quit. Not today. Not next year.

They had readers to serve, with each word and each story.

In the power of the Spirit, they’d write for God’s glory.

 

Be it novels or poems, their message the same.

Through devotions and articles, they’d spread the Lord’s name.

No frets over platform. With no worries, they’d edit.

With courage they’d write and give God all the credit.

 

Honing their craft, they’d trust the Lord’s choices.

They’d share the Good News, with their God-given voices.

In courage and faith, they’d gather for training.

No comparing, competing, criticizing, complaining.

 

They’d encourage each other, giving Jesus their best.

But the day before Christmas, in God’s presence they’d rest.

There’d be time to meet deadlines, to critique, to write brave.

And they’d make time to reflect on all that God gave.

 

’Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the land,

Christian writers were resting secure in God’s hand.

They’d surrendered their dreams to the Lord and obeyed.

In His unchanging character, their hope and faith stayed.

 

No matter what words the Lord gave them to write,

it was His words they’d ponder, each day and each night.

Equipped with His truth and empowered by grace,

these scribes would persist, content with God’s pace.

 

They’d honor their Savior and bask in His love.

They’d serve with great gladness, as He watched from above.

With total submission, on God they’d depend.

They’d trust in His plan and be willing to bend.

 

Though some days would be harder and tempt them to hide,

the Spirit of God would be with each brave scribe.

With challenges ahead and struggles so real,

they’d follow the High Priest, who knows how they feel.

 

Springing to action, with words at the ready,

God’s scribes, moving forward, persevering and steady.

Filled with deep joy, they’d shout into the night,

“On this Christmas we rest. For tomorrow, we write!”

 

 

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“A Christian Writer’s Christmas Poem,” was written by Xochitl E. Dixon on December 23, 2016. “A Christian Writer’s Christmas Poem” by Xochitl E. Dixon appeared first as a personal blog post on December 23, 2016 at http://www.xedixon.com/writer-to-writer/a-christian-writers-christmas-poem/ and may not be copied, printed, or dispersed in part or in its entirety, without expressed written consent from the author, Xochitl E. Dixon. “A Christian Writer’s Christmas Poem” by Xochitl E. Dixon, may be shared on social media accounts, by using the share buttons on Xochitl E. Dixon’s personal website, or the share buttons under the December 24, 2016 posting of this poem on the Inspire Christian Writers website. “A Christian Writer’s Christmas Poem” by Xochitl E. Dixon may be shared through the various options offered through social media, as long as the original author is credited. However, “A Christian Writer’s Christmas Poem” by Xochitl E. Dixon may not be shared, in part or in its entirety, on a personal or community website without expressed written consent from Xochitl E. Dixon. Please submit your request to share on a personal or community website in the comment section below the original posting of the poem on Xochitl E. Dixon’s personal website or the Inspire Christian Writers website. When sharing this poem on social media accounts, please note the following: “A Christian Writer’s Christmas Poem” by Xochitl E. Dixon. The original link for “A Christian Writer’s Christmas Poem” by Xochitl E. Dixon is: http://www.xedixon.com/writer-to-writer/a-christian-writers-christmas-poem/

Photo taken by and Meme created by X.E. Dixon.

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Harmonizing Voices

 

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God blessed me with an opportunity to share my devotion, “Harmonizing Voices,” on the Deeper Waters website today.

Hallelujah!

I’d love to hear how the Lord has helped you embrace your special voice and experience contentment and joy through the specific job He’s given you to do for His glory.

I’m looking forward to connecting with you through the comment section on the Deeper Waters website.

Click here to read my story in “Harmonizing Voices,” and to share your story so that others can be encouraged to celebrate God’s sovereign and purposed creativity.

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Meme created by and used with permission by Denise Hughes, originally featured on the Deeper Waters website to accompany the article, “Harmonizing Voices,” the day 17 devotion written by Xochitl E. Dixon for the Word Writers Ephesians study.

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Inspire Promise Book Launch – Saturday, December 13, 2014

When circumstances feel overwhelming, we can count on God to keep His promises.

I’m thankful for the privilege of having three of my stories published in Inspire Promise.

In “The Promise,” Logan struggles with the shame of his temptation and discovers he’s not the only one who needs to hope in God’s promises of forgiveness and redemption.

In “A Beautiful Mess,” Melissa agrees to a dreaded visit with the pastor and an unlikely ally helps her realize God’s promises of unconditional love and grace applies to her and her unborn child.

In “Emma’s Dancing Socks,” a mother is forced to admit that clinging to God’s promises requires her to trust Him, even when she’s not ready to let go of her greatest fear.

Inspire Promise Book Cover 2014Please join me and my fellow Inspire Christian Writers as we celebrate the release of our 2014 anthology.

The Inspire Promise book signing event will be held on Saturday, December 13, 2014 from 11am-1pm at Oasis Christian Mission Center, 10255 Old Placerville Road, Suite #1, Sacramento, CA 95827.

Inspire Promise will make a great Christmas gift to encourage anyone who is trusting God to keep His promises in and through their own circumstances.

 

 

To read my stories, along with the other great stories written by my fellow Inspire Writers, you can buy your copy of Inspire Promise online at Barnes and Nobel or Amazon.

You may also enjoy reading Inspire Victory, the 2013 anthology that celebrates victories in Christ and includes my short stories, “The Apology” and “Never Alone,” and my poem, “Amazing by Grace.”

Inspire Victory Book CoverInspire Victory will be sold at the book signing event on Saturday, December 13th, and is also available online at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Thanks for your continued support and encouragement as I share God’s truth through the writing and speaking ministry He’s placed on my heart.

Your prayers and fellowship as readers is priceless.

 

 

 

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Celebrating the Inspire Victory Book Launch

Inspire Victory Book CoverInspire Christian Writers is celebrating the launch of Inspire Victory during the month of May, 2014.

I’m praising God for the privilege of serving through this awesome ministry opportunity.

My short stories, Never Alone and The Apology, and one poem, Amazing By Grace, have been published in this year’s anthology.

Praise the Lord!

 

 

Inspire Victory - Book Launch - 2I pray God will use every writer in this anthology to inspire readers to rise up with victorious praise in all circumstances.

 

 

 

Please help us spread the word so we can continue spreading God’s Word through the art of storytelling and poetry.

 

Inspire Victory - Book Launch - 7You can order your copy at Barnes & Noble or Amazon today!

Thanks for your support.

 

 

 

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My Devotion has been Published in The Upper Room Magazine!

6_URE_JF14_C1.jpgOver two years after submitting my devotion to be considered for publication, “The Master Craftsman” is being read internationally in The Upper Room magazine and online on February 18, 2014.

 

 

 

To God be the glory for this humbling privilege, as I’m blessed with the opportunity to serve through the ministry of The Upper Room.

This devotion was inspired by my dad’s passion for carving beautiful artwork into his custom made quivers, as well as my desire to see others, and myself, as God’s amazing masterpieces.

Please pray the Lord will overwhelm readers with His love as they read this simple reminder of our incredible design, priceless value, and unique purpose as God’s awesome creations.

I have already been blessed by the comments from the community of Upper Room readers who encourage one another and are ministering to my heart through their amazing faith and love for God’s people.

To read and share “The Master Craftsman,” please visit The Upper Room blog, where you can also see photos of my dad creating his leather masterpieces.

I’m grateful for your continual support in reading and sharing my work.

But most importantly, I’m thankful for the opportunity to grow with you as we walk by faith, one Spirit-empowered step at a time.

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