Mar
15

The ground here in Sano, Japan is still shaking as I write at noon on Saturday, March 12, 2011, the day after the largest earthquake in the nation’s history. It struck 21.5 hours ago.

I was working at my desk as usual when my shoji — sliding doors of translucent veneer in the case of my office, though covered in white paper in most cases — began rattling on their rails. They’re the best early warning system I’ve found, so I knew an earthquake was arriving but had no idea how big it would be.

The early tremors that shook my shoji were nothing. The roar of the earth that followed is what really tipped me off that this was no ordinary wineglass rattler. Imagine a wind you might have heard high on a mountain sweeping down toward you. That’s scary enough. Now, imagine that wind not being made of air overhead, but of earth underfoot and barreling down on you. Continue Reading

Mar
14

As I sit on a couch swing in the backyard, I listen to the birds singing. They always sound a little more cheerful during this time of year. Looking around me, I see nothing but flecks of color amidst a forest of green. The gentle breeze blows, and I know I have found the perfect place to do what I like to do best—read.

The stories written by the 21 finalists have been amazing. There were a couple with which I could relate; there were some that amazed me of the strength and fortitude of my fellow man; there were some that after reading I had to stop, take a breath and offer up a prayer for those who have faced such difficulties and sorrows. Precious stories, every last one, told by those who lived them, experienced them, and found the courage to write them to inspire us all. It always takes courage to share personal experiences, to show those we’ve never even met a part of our hearts, experiences, lives.

I truly hope that each of you have enjoyed the stories as much as I have. Thank you for taking time to read, to comment, to absorb, and maybe even to open your heart and let your life begin to change through the experiences of others. “No man is an island” and through these stories, perhaps new bridges have been built, new friendships made, and new encouragement given to those who have struggled with the telling of their tales.

We would like to give honorable mention to a few stories. By the comments from others, we know these stories were great! Continue Reading

Feb
28

Welcome to Scinti and our latest writing contest! We have received more than 200 submissions, each writer telling their own unique story. It was a pleasurable task reading through each and every story although it has been a challenge to choose 21 finalists out of many wonderful submissions. Thank you, to every one of you who took the time to write and send us your story. We wish that we could post each one, for everyone has a tale to tell.

We know that you will all enjoy reading through the 21 stories that have made it to the finalists. Guess who gets to choose the winners?

You do!

That’s right. It is up to you what the top ranking stories will be. By “liking” the story on Facebook, you will determine the contest winners. If there is a tie, then we will look at comments and are happy to hear which stories have touched your heart, brought a smile to your face, or even tears to your eyes. For more details on the voting process, please go here.

You can “like” your favorite stories any time between Monday, February 28th and Sunday, March 13th at 10PM eastern time. We look forward to hearing from you, as do the authors of these wonderful stories!

Our finalists for the Winter 2011 Scinti Writing Contest: Continue Reading

Feb
28

Watching your child come into the world is hard to comprehend, let alone explain.

When I returned home from serving a mission for my church, I kind of dreaded running into people that I knew because I knew they would ask me, “How was your mission?”

That might sound weird, but when you serve a mission; or perhaps you’re in the military and return home from serving your country; or after you climb Mt. Everest; or watch a loved one pass into the next life; or do pretty much anything that stretches you to extremes that you never thought you were capable of surviving, a question like that is almost insulting.

I just wanted to ask them in return, “Do you really want to know? Do you really care? It was the most exhausting, difficult, rewarding, beautiful, sacred, humbling, miserable, and challenging learning experience that I have ever endured. I gave my blood, sweat, tears, and heart. People spit on me, yelled at me, berated me, threatened me, and hated me. I loved every minute of it; even the parts that I hated. Everything that is good in my life right now is a direct result of the time I spent serving others. I would never trade it or do it over. It was the best time of my life.” Continue Reading

Feb
28
Adi Thelen

Adi Thelen

Dear cancer survivors and anyone close to them,

This letter is to remind us-and all of those we love-that we are teachers in our lives. Through these inspirational battles, it can be easy to allow sadness to wash over us and forget there are people who will be by our side along the way. Even if we tend to forget, we are always supported.

A close friend of mine passed away March 6. Adi Thelen was a teacher, a mentor and a personal hero to me and many other people. She battled cervical cancer. Despite her short life, Adi managed to revive an instinct kept deep inside of all of us: unconditional love. Continue Reading

Feb
28

“Mommy, help me. I’ve been raped.” Before I close my eyes to sleep, I hear those words again and the battle to hold back my tears begins.

Saturday, June 30, 2007 was a perfect day for mother/daughter bonding. My daughter, Jessica, and I have always had a close relationship, and this beautiful Florida morning was the beginning to a day of pampering and shopping. She picked me up promptly at ten, her little sports car with its top down looking more inviting than a stretch limousine. Off we drove to Starbucks to start our gabfest over hot cups of caramel macchiato – our favorite — before rushing off to our manicure and pedicure appointments.

Once we were sure that the dreaded polish smudges could be avoided, we slipped into our sandals and drove to the mall. With nothing special in mind, we searched the shops for the perfect outfit for work or play. Continue Reading

Feb
28

My world, as I know it, is full of complete sorrow.  I fight the urge to slice open my skin on a daily basis.  This self-inflicted pain was my only release for six years.  Then you came along.  You goofy, handsome, crazy boy.  I continued to cut for several months after we ’became official.’  But you knew about it.  And that night– New Years Eve— will always stick in my mind.  I can bring the past back, and feel you hold me. Continue Reading

Feb
28

I was waiting outside a movie theatre for its cash counter to open up. I knew I was going to see some really seducing curves on Katrina’s body, still I could not resist myself from seeing those I found on hot girls standing outside. Believe me, Nagpur is no less than Delhi, Mumbai or Pune when it comes to charisma that girls have.

Suddenly a shaggy figure loomed out of that happening crowd. I could make out that he was older than me but still quite young, may be in 30’s and he looked physically alright. Continue Reading

Feb
28

I have had a few loves in my life, my first real boyfriend who took up most of my time and heart in high school. My second love, although no one knew just exactly ow much I loved him, but there he was. He was there for me when the previous relationship ended, he was there when I had a benign tumor in one of my breast while in high school, he also happened to be my best friend. Through all of the heartbreak and doubt during high school there was someone who I could always rely on no matter what life had handed me. The kind of love that makes me cry thinking about him while I live 4500 hundred miles away for a year. Where it breaks my heart knowing that some other girl is having his love while I’m gone. I guess to know how a simple 19 year old girl can fall madly, movie romantic, crazy in love with a horse, you have to know the history. Continue Reading

Feb
28

(I tell this story with a sense of humor and one who has found freedom in love instead of a bunch of rules!!!)

It began when I found out that I was pregnant with my first child. I wanted things to go perfectly! I wanted God to be proud of me. I was going to do this His way. Or should I say the way I THOUGHT that He might want this to be!

A friend of mine gave me a book that could help me with my God pleasing birth. In this book it talked about how all you have to do is make a list of how you want things to be in the birthing of your baby. Naturally I wanted no Pain…so I wrote that down! The book told me how to be very precise in my prayers about what I wanted and how I wanted things to go. After making this VERY detailed list you must make sure that you do not doubt! YOU MUST KNOW that God can bring it forth. So I did! Continue Reading

Feb
28

Cigarettes and cell phones, the air thick with smoke and Chin-chat, loud. There is no other volume.  Cities redolent of urine, shit, vomit and garbage. Eau de Chine.

No fragrant incense here to mask the rude odours of the great unwashed; the smoke from raw Chinese cigarettes a poor but often welcome screen.

So many people everywhere. And so noisy.  Nonstop talking. Loud, shrill, insistent voices hammering home their points at one another.  The China din starts well before six am, and carries on, a constant cacophony until well after midnight. When the dogs start barking.

Cities so Western – concrete, glass and steel.  Cars, buses, trucks everywhere –even on the sidewalks.  This could be Chicago, New York, Vancouver. No oriental flavour here to savour. Continue Reading

Feb
28

Shredding the Layers to Find My True Self Underneath

I don’t know how she did it so well, but she did.  Maybe it was the bottomless carpetbag. Maybe it was her magical abilities.  Or maybe, just maybe, it was that she descended from the clouds as if she was sent from the Gods above.  Whatever it was, children respected her, everyone adored her, she was measured as practically perfect in every way, and it all came wrapped up with the most delightful British accent.

I, too, descended from the clouds, but unlike Mary Poppins, it was on a flight from Los Angeles to France.  My “bottomless carpetbag” was lost by the airlines somewhere between my layover in Chicago and destination to Lyon, and while I don’t know magic tricks, I can make an obscene amount of chocolate disappear before your eyes.  Okay, so maybe we don’t share much in common, Mary Poppins and I, but what we do share is our full time job of caring for children. Except I’m an Au Pair testing the waters of living abroad, meaning that this gig has a one year expiration date. And instead of a spoonful of sugar, I need Levatol for the stress and non-stop kid action that has my blood pressure on the rise. Continue Reading

Feb
28

Just like any other day of the week, we all show up at the gym a few minutes before six a.m.  It’s still dark, but uncommonly warm and sticky for the first of October.  I’m just wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  We sit in the hallway, waiting for coach to show up and say, “Let’s go.”  We stretch, joke around a little, make fun of someone’s bed head.  Coach shows up and says, “Let’s go,” so we get up and put our water bottles in the back of her car.  We all hesitate about starting the run, because once we start, there won’t be any stopping for the next two hours.

I start walking towards the street, and glance back a few times to make sure everyone is ready to go.  We start our watches and take off, super slow.  We’re just warming up for the first two miles, so there’s no need to push it.  We all get a little more awake once we start jogging, and the jokes get louder and funnier.  The lead switches between everybody, nobody really takes command of the group, since we all know where we are going.  A few minutes in, I start to sweat, and my legs start to loosen up.  There’s plenty of lactic acid built up in my muscles today, as we’ve had an extremely hard week of running.  I try to shake it loose and get my legs and lungs ready to work. Continue Reading

Feb
28

The woman didn’t look like an angel. She was short and squat and tired looking, with three squabbling kids, all under the age of ten. My friends and I were just behind her in line and we watched as she negotiated the counter, getting her children’s orders straight, taking her coin purse out of her shoulder bag and carefully counting out the money. She was wearing some sort of cleaner’s uniform and a pair of old shoes with the heels turned down, and she looked as though she’d had a long, hard day.

Just as she received her order, an ill-dressed man sidled up to the line. “Spare change?” he muttered.

The man reeked of alcohol. His long grey-streaked black hair was dull and greasy and he had obviously been sleeping in his clothes for God knows how long. We all shook our heads and averted our eyes, and so did the cleaning lady. Continue Reading

Feb
28

One day in I was walking down the hallway when I ran into this cute little blond girl. Sonja. I thought she was cute and in short order we started hangin out, goin out, and makin out. There was something about her that was different though something I couldn’t put my finger on. One friday night she was asking a bunch of her friends to come to a “meeting”. This started to irritate me because she wasn’t asking ME, finally I asked what was up? “I’m going to a Jesusmumblemumblemumble people meeting….” I said “A what?” a ” Jessumumble mumble mumble mmm Meeting” A what ” …..A Jesusmumblemumblemumble……uh…Meeting.”  Obviously she was afraid I ridicule h”er and frankly between the long hair,leather and drugs I wasn’t what ,you might say, a good candidate for a deacon at the local Baptist church. Finally I got it out of her clearly…WHERE ARE YOU GOING FRIDAY!!! A Jesus people Meeting….ok ….uh ….cool …ya want me to go?…Sonja said that would make her “happy”….how ya say no to that? Continue Reading

Feb
28

I don’t know you? Even you don’t have much knowledge about me but yet we are talking to each other, sharing our feelings. That’s Life? Maybe it is. Lets first make some things clear what this extract is all about.  Its NOT an article on How to be successful or 7 mantras to live life cheerfully, the matter is much more serious than that, I will be just telling you an incident, and I promise no pre or post lectures, just a narration.

Now let me tell you something that may stir you totally. This is a true narration and if you take it seriously, it may, can, will change your life a bit, a little, rather a lot. Let me take you somewhere, come with me, hold my hand. The country is India, the city is Delhi and where are we in the city is the Hospital ICU. Continue Reading

Feb
28

You can fall in love many different times with many different things… different people…and at all different times. I can listen to my husband play a certain song on his Martin guitar and I fall in love with him again…see a certain pair of shoes…taste a certain food…watch a certain movie. I can sit back and observe my life from a distance and I fall in love with the feeling of contentment.  This isn’t the life that I had planned for myself but this is the life that God knew that I needed…

As I sit and watch a movie on lifetime about a woman that has never wanted children that suddenly finds herself pregnant, as soon as she has the baby she falls instantly in love with the child. It makes me think back to a time when I myself was in that same situation…17 years old…normal teenager that had her whole life planned ahead and a child certainly wasn’t in that equation. That term “Falling in Love” keeps coming back in my mind. You know…  the books, society, your family, friends, everyone around you says you’re going to instantly fall in love with your baby the moment you see that sweet precious face. For me they were wrong…I didn’t…I’m probably breaking some sort of motherly code here by saying what I just said but I have lived 8 years with that tiny secret..Thinking I was a bad mother due to the fact that I didn’t feel what others said I should feel. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me….

Want to know what I felt?? Continue Reading

Feb
28

There are times in life when you stop coasting along, stop dead in your tracks and realize that things are out of control.  You take a long, hard look at what your life has become and ask yourself,  how did I end up here?  This is not my life, this is not who I want to be. But then what?  Change is difficult, and scary.  Fear of the unknown paralyzes you and sometimes it seems easier to keep being miserable because at least it is familiar territory.  My story is about what happened to me when I finally took that leap of faith, and decided to change my life for the better.  While they were happening around me, I had no idea how significant these events would eventually be.  This is the story of the best decision I ever made, the decision to take control of my life, to stand up for myself, and to love again… Continue Reading

Feb
28

You know what dream I had once (when I was hopefully, painfully young)?

I dreamed, well, I wished, that one day I would see with both eyes—and then I thought I would be whole.

Born with a micropthalmic right eye that was eventually removed, I have always warred against myself and my vision, and have never seen anything good about my situation.

I always felt so lacking and so apart. It was never funny for me, once I realized how different it made me and how much I was missing. I can’t even see in 3-D—which I suppose isn’t all that terrible, I mean, optical illusions for the most part don’t fool me. Then again, I could never experience those “Magic Eye” books—because I had no magic eye. It took me forever to figure that out, and I wonder why somebody didn’t just tell me. I stared and stared at those books, squinting and turning them every which way and all my friends said, “Hold it up to your nose and then slowly pull it away” when they were being patient and “Give it to me I’ll show you” when their patience wore thin. Why didn’t my teachers take those books away? I suppose they didn’t think about it, I suppose it’s not something that would immediately come to mind when you have a classroom of thirty children and you’re trying to keep them focused on one task—I was just lost in the shuffle. There was nothing malicious about it. Continue Reading

Feb
28

When Diana discovered she was an orphan, she immediately realized she had to make some changes in her lifestyle.

She studied the white piece of paper, it’s black ink faded to gray due to time and bad photocopying. Mother, she read, of medium height and weight, quiet, pleasant, brown hair, brown eyes. Her eyes moved down the page. Father also of medium height and weight, serious with a pensive demeanor, black hair, brown eyes. Then, slowly, as if fearing the words had suddenly changed in the last five minutes, she read the next line.

Legal Status: Orphan. Continue Reading

Feb
28

Life was good in February of 1998.  I was sixteen years old, just received my driver’s license, and seemingly had the world in the palm of my hand.  I had good friends and a good family.  School was mandatory, of course, but any chance I got I would be outside running, playing basketball, or throwing a baseball.  I was just beginning to really get good at athletic activities.  I genuinely looked forward to each and every day and the opportunities it would bring.

Then February 11 came.  I did not feel so good getting up, but I was excited about going to school and seeing friends.  I asked my father if I could use our 1978 Oldsmobile to drive to school.  He declined, saying, “Maybe tomorrow.”  That move possibly saved my life. Continue Reading

Feb
28

My son and I have a favorite book that a teacher lent to us.  The book tells a story of a little boy whose school is over-run by moles.  Later that evening as he is taking a bath the boy feels a lump on the top of his head and his mother tells him it is a mole.  The boy immediately interprets this as an animal coming out of his head.  He is later informed by a friend that his mom meant a “beauty mark”.

Some birthmarks don’t really start out as birthmarks.  After my son was born in 2001 I noticed a small spot forming on his chin.  Given the fact that I was nursing him, he was drooling constantly as all babies do, I brushed it off as a dry patch of skin.  I consulted all the popular books and magazines, bought myself the most recommended cream and applied it religiously each day.  At baby well visits with the pediatrician I mentioned it and was re-assured it would go away.

In fact, it didn’t grow away.  It grew bigger, fatter, rounder, darker.  It grew so much that I quickly realized that we didn’t have a dry spot on our hands we had a mole.  One that didn’t sneak back into a hole in the ground. Continue Reading