Tag Archives: Reneawinchester

Lost Things

Lost Things

I lost something. Something I dearly needed. . . my keys. Specifically, my room keys with my car keys attached.

I was key-less and 90 miles from home.

On an ordinary day I would classify these items as misplaced, something found later after a diligent search; but on Saturday they were lost.

The instructor gave an out-door classroom assignment. Since the workshop was held on a college campus, and because I wanted to collect as many experiences as possible, I wedged my car keys (key fob inside pocket) with the metal room key sticking out.

Then I was off.

Outside with pen and notebook in hand, tasked with collecting, observing —and then analyzing said observations into a story.

My novel in progress features a train and since I want to write accurately about my character’s experiences, I lit out, walking at a rapid clip.

Walking while writing.

Writing while walking.

Thinking. Listening. Observing. Writing.

I wove through the campus, through the woods, off the designated concrete path. 20170715_110450

Off the designated concrete path, I found a tree house that no one else knew about. Later, I found the tracks. I touched the tracks, laid down on the tracks, collected nails and bolts from alongside the tracks.

Then I returned, carrying said bolts and nails back to class, (mercy, they are heavy). I placed them on the table with a need to wash the rust from my hands. I reached into my pocket.

No keys.

The keys were lost.

Not missing. . . lost.

Creative minds will understand me when I say that I literally felt every drop of creativity leave my body. It slipped down my arms, cascaded from my fingertips.

Dashing to the restroom, I washed my dirty hands then whispered to the coordinator, “I lost my room key. No, not the swipe card.” I double checked my name badge where the exterior door swipe card safely remained tucked inside.  “Just the door keys.”

She called facilities and ordered a spare key.

Returning to the classroom, I wrote my observations, penned them into a story I would not share with the class. Creativity tends to take Confidence with it when it leaves. From that moment forward I focused on lost keys, especially after a pop-up storm dropped an inch of rain.

Sunday morning came, bringing with it the realization the keys were gone. I arose early, lit out again retracing my steps through the grass and gravel for the umpteenth time. With my aging car, I’d need a new key fob which would required an (expensive) call to a dealer.

Whatever, I thought, feeling lower than a whale’s belly. What-ever.

Then I began to pray.

Lord, I’m not going to pray for my keys because I know they’re gone.

I’m not going to ask you to return them, because I’ve already done my due diligence, retracing my steps, walking, looking, laying sideways in the gravel looking for something shiny. The keys are gone and I know that. So I’m moving on.

The catering van drove by, almost breakfast time. The driver smiled. I waived and continued praying, aloud.

Lord, thank you for everyone I’ve met here this weekend.

Thank you for the talented women at my table. I praise you that the agent is interested in Erika’s work and that Whitney might consider finding a place for her short story. Bless them both Lord. Bless our presenters, Jim, Bryn, Gary, Megan for their vulnerability and displays of raw emotion. Bless Christopher. Thank you for his honesty and that all the instructors were approachable and kind.

My walk, and prayers continued: Lord, bless Meg, Kate and Betsy who have labored in the sweltering heat to bring us a fantastic conference. May they be restored after the conference.

I made the loop, from beginning to end, praying out loud, walking, talking, and looking down at the grass, and the gravel, should the soggy keys magically appear.

They did not. I returned to the common area to the breakfast buffet. I placed items on the plate and settled in for another round of workshops.

Taking a seat, I began eating when Meg raised her hand and said, Renea, are these your keys?

From Meg’s beautiful hand dangled my room and car keys.

Of course they are my keys, I responded. I was just praying. I took the keys. “I’m curious, how did you get them?

“Someone found them lying in the concrete walkway,” she replied.


Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy, and, Farming Friends and Fried Bologna Sandwiches by Mercer University Press. She is currently working on her novel, Outbound Train,  set in her hometown of Bryson City


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Day Five: On Being Thankful

I really don’t need the month of November to nudge me into feeling thankful. I am a cancer survivor, descended from two cancer warriors, thankfulness flows in my imperfect blood. I gladly joined Shellie Tomlinson when she asked me to participate in the 30 day Ambassadors For Life Campaign. Before you get bleary-eyed this cause is a simple one. Water.

There are folk in this world who need water.

Shellie wants to raise money to build two wells and thanks to the generosity of many, she is on her way. Please consider donating $ 10.00 today at this link:

Yesterday, I had a pregnant pause about want versus need. I was sitting in the orthodontist’s office with my daughter, and before you fire up an email to me about the expense of vanity braces let me say that my daughter’s lower teeth were so crooked that (by age eleven) the pressure had caused her gums to recede. My option was braces now, or gum replacement later. I chose the braces.001

While waiting, I sifted through my pile of coupons. I am no coupon queen, but I do try to save every single dime I can, especially since the release of my third book is another year away and money is tight. (See above reference to braces).

Enter into the waiting room two women. These women travel a lot, and they are repainting the kitchen of a Florida home a lovely shade of white. One of them also needs a flu shot. They were loud talkers. While they both flipped through a single magazine one of the ladies stopped on a handbag she was interested in. “Oh, I couldn’t pay $ 600.00 for a purse,” the other woman said.

“I’ve got one just like it, only a different color. And, the purse isn’t $ 600.00. That’s the price for the wallet.”

Glancing down at my coupons, I couldn’t help but pause. Process. Wonder what makes people want to place that kind of money (their money) into the hand of another. Really. I do not understand. If I had six-hundred extra dollars I wouldn’t buy a new purse (or wallet).  I don’t want to come off as judgmental, but there are a lot of hurting people in this world. There are over 50 homeless kids in my daughter’s school. For those kids, six hundred dollars can put a roof over their heads.

waterforlifeSo as I glanced back at my clipped coupons I had a gigantic thankful moment. I am thankful that I can see the hurting and the hungry, and those who are literally, dying because of unsanitary water. Today I ask you, please, if you are financially able, make a ten-dollar donation to the Ambassadors For Life program. If you are considering purchasing a six-hundred-dollar wallet, would you consider donating instead to the Ambassadors program? I believe that donating to this cause will bring you more satisfaction in your heart than carrying around a purse.

Renea Winchester is a descendant of the Ridley’s and the Winchester’s of Rabun County, Georgia. She is the author of Mountain Memories, a collection of stories about her Southern People. Her first book, In The Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love and Tomatoes, earned her two prestigious nominations: Georgia Author of the year and the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance book of the year. In 2012, the Atlanta Pen Women named her Author of the year. Mercer University Press will release: Farming, Friends and Fried Bologna Sandwiches in 2014.



Posted by on November 5, 2013 in A Glimpse into My Life, Wrinkles and all


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