February 26, 2016

Collective Numbers by Marnie Pohlmann

I am eight of nine. Or perhaps that should be nine of 11. Or maybe I can best describe myself as just one of many or one of the collective.  Yes, I am a Trekkie (a fan of the Star Trek television series and movies).

Marnie's sibling collective
I was raised in a large family. My two sisters are the eldest, then came five boys, then me, and my younger brother. We also had two foster brothers who lived with us for most of my years at home, and many other foster children who came and went. Sometimes, when Mom wanted me, she called out the whole list of names before getting to mine.

There are other numbers society applies to me as well. One in 9 Canadian women diagnosed with breast cancer (2010 estimate). One in three girls in Canada who were sexually abused as a child.

Not all statistics are discouraging. 35 years of marriage is a good number, as uncommon as that is becoming in today’s world.

Being a nameless number is my comfort zone. I like being part of a crowd, yet invisible. I can observe life, participate when I feel confident, or fade into the background as needed for safety. And I love extended time by myself, playing or reading or imagining. When I need encouragement, though, my brothers and sisters are always there for me.

As a writer, enjoying alone time to work with words is a must and being a silent observer is very helpful. The writer in me also feels the need to be part of a larger crowd; a collective who understand my quirky ideas, give me feedback, and encourage me to keep on with perseverance.  I have a small writing family in Peace Region Christian Writers. We meet monthly to share our projects, try new skills, and cheer for one another.

I have found a writing collective at Inscribe. Membership allows me to be part of an extended writing group, yet remain as invisible as I please. I love the Yahoo list serve, where I can lurk in the shadows while benefiting from the conversations. This is a closed group not because it is elite, but so it is safe for our sensitive egos. My favourite part may be the monthly Word Challenge, where I can try various writing forms. The feedback received is amazing, yet all entries remain anonymous unless one actually wins. We are not in competition, but are growing together, much like a family does.

Assimilation into Inscribe has given me courage to venture out to meet the flesh and blood writers (not cyborgs!) at the Fall Conference or a WorDshop. I have dared to send pieces for publication. Recently I bravely started writing my own blog, Phosphorescent. Once again, I’m blessed by encouragement from my writer friends as well as non-writing friends and family.

Peace Community Church, Taylor, BC
In the eternal family of God, I also become one of many. I belong to a small local church family, one of 43% of Canadian church-goers who attend a church of 75 or less. This eternal family encourage me to grow in, practice, and share my relationship with God. I am also welcomed in the larger crowd of witnesses throughout the world and eternity. God designed His Kingdom to include as many as would follow Him.

These statistics in my life do not define me, but they have formed me. The collective numbers allow me to walk alongside others who also relate to these situations. I am a better individual for being one of many.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb 12:1-3 NIV)

*breast cancer ribbon - CCO Public Domain, Pixabay.com
  all other photos by MarniePohlmann

Marnie Pohlmann worships and writes in northern British Columbia. She ministers with her Pastor husband and works as support to our Canadian heroes in red serge. She leads a local Christian writing group, fights breast cancer, and wears a red shirt.
Read Marnie's blog at Phosphorescent


  1. You have a rich heritage and background from which to draw ideas and inspiration. Even the difficult and traumatic become ways to serve others through the gift God has given you to write. As always, I was moved by your post.

    1. Yes, God's light shines in the darkness, and he redeems those hard times. His presence makes all the difference!

  2. I must say that I envy you the brothers and sisters you have to encourage you in your writing. Keep on writing, my friend!

    1. Oh, Vickie, there have been many times I was not happy about being in a large family - but the older I get the better it is! Thanks for your encouragement!

  3. I come from a big family as well. But with the years has come separation. So happy for you that you find support there.

    1. Yes, time will do that - we are spread across the country, so don't often see one another (other than stalking on facebook and the annual Christmas letter that some send out!) The picture above was taken in 2013, at a niece's wedding. It's hard with large families!

  4. How beautiful to hear your story through the unique focus of statistics. I come from a family of 6 and do enjoy the bigger family. I think we're all better individuals for being one of many--God made us that way and it is good. And I'm also a trekkie. Woohooooooo! I'm finding more and more of those in our group.

  5. Thanks, Marnie, for another blog that shows your individual--may I say, "Querky"--point of view." And I mean that in a very loving way. You are truly "one in a million." I believe you will touch many with your writing and your God-given perspective on sensitive and important issues.


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