Where I play with words. I can't promise it'll make sense.
|I received an email congratulating me for signing up at writing.com twelve years ago today.
Twelve years. It seems like a long time, but at the same time, not long enough.
I wondered at how much I have accomplished in that time, and I felt a little twinge of almost regret. When I started here, I had the singular dream of being published. Now, twelve years later, I'm still unpublished (mostly).
Have I wasted those twelve years?
Then I read the next email. Someone kindly reviewed one of my items:
Hello vivacious ,I'd like to wish you a very happy account anniversary, may you have a magical day. I chose this item to review for your anniversary because I thought the title and the item description were very curious. I think this poem is very short on words however it packs with it a powerful message in which I totally agree with.
I think this is an easy to understand and very special poem. it makes me feel like I am glad to be alive and that I am but a child being guided through life by an all powerful God. I did not see any mistakes with your writing.
thank you for sharing this item with me I appreciate your talent, you keep writing and I'll keep reading God Bless You
The item in question I remembered was a poem, but that's it. After looking at the date I added it, I knew why: 2006. Eleven years ago.
The poem in question:
"I Am Not Here"
It's short enough, so here it is:
These are not my words.
This is not my voice.
These hands are not mine.
Count this not as wisdom from me.
Only to God.
Only to God does this all belong.
Between the review and the poem, I realized two things:
These last twelve years were not a waste. Quite the opposite. I've touched many people here (figuratively speaking). I've made many friends that I keep in contact with both here and on other sites. Perhaps my words have encouraged and even blessed others.
Best of all, the review and the poem together smacked me across the face (figuratively speaking). It was God's way of not allowing me to feel sorry for myself. My words matter. I matter, because he created me.
Regardless of how many years of my life passes, God will use me in ways both seen and unseen. Whether my own lofty dreams come to pass In the time or ways I want to expect them to is not important as far as eternity is concerned. What matters is that God's will be done when it needs to be done. Not too soon, and never too late.
|I tried to find a synonym to "horizons" that started with an "e", because a little alliteration for a title is always kinda neat methinks. Alas, I found none.
Aristotle theorized that people who read fiction in particular are better able to understand and experience life, and empathize more with their peers.
Several studies have shown his theory has credence: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/opinion/sunday/the-neuroscience-of-your-brain-...
What I found most interesting in the article was how the mere mention of a word such as cinnamon or other smells lights up the part of the brain dedicated to smells as if that person actually smelled it. The same goes for how fiction describes characters, their thoughts and how they interact with other characters and their surroundings. Our brain activity when reading reacts as if we're engaging with actual people.
So if we want a more empathetic society, we need to read, and encourage others (children especially) to read more. It doesn't have to be fiction only, because some non-fiction is written in the same way as fiction such as describing the world around them, and interactions with others.
God's genius is obvious here, because he not only designed our brains to learn language at an early age, but the desire to share our lives and experiences through that language, whether written or spoken. He did so, because of our inherent need to understand the world around us, ourselves, and each other.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have some reading to do.
"We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little." ---Anne Lamott
|I set a goal of writing every day with the help of "The Writers Devotional" by Amy Peters. First week in, and I skipped Thursday and Friday. I'm not off to a good start.
However, after reading Friday's focus on biography and Saturday's focus on what books to read, they tie together well enough to combine them into a single entry.
Why do you write? Is it to entertain with a great story, to improve a person's life with a self-help book, or perhaps encourage people to improve their life through fiction?
Another question (and if you don't write for others), what's the one book that changed you the most?
Friday's biography focused on George Orwell who wrote Animal Farm and 1984.
Aside, and a bit of useless trivia: George Orwell came up with the title 1984 not necessarily because he was prescient, but merely switched the year of when he wrote it in 1948.
His books serve as cautionary tales when governments run amok that still today have a wide readership. They are nearly timeless, and show that power will always corrupt no matter how we try to guard against it -- and always will at the expense of entire populations.
Friday's focus on what book to read was "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson. It was about the dangers of the insecticide DDT. Because of her book, the chemical was banned.
Neither author expected to see how large of an impact their words would have. Unfortunately for Orwell, he never saw how much of an impact. To quote Carson, "It would be unrealistic to believe that one book could bring about a complete change."
Yet that's what so many writers want, and need. Writing is daring to pour our heart and soul on the page. It is an act of bravery to let others read our writing, because doing so we risk people stomping our soul into slippery red goo when it's rejected.
My first novel I wrote out of discontent. Not like Orwell with his overarching fear of where society is headed, or the more immediate dangers of scientific or technological advancements like Carson. My frustration stemmed from science fiction leaving out -- or being outright hostile to -- the existence of God, and Christian fiction focused almost solely on romance with little to no fantasy and science fiction.
I'm still having problems finding an agent/publisher for that novel, because the Christian publishing market is still slow to accept science fiction of my variety, and most of the mainstream science fiction market doesn't want anything to do with religion. Because of that, I'm more focused on finding an agent for my mainstream science fiction novel.
I'm not out of options, though. I can still self-publish my first novel, but I'm not as yet willing to put in the work (and money) required for it to succeed. I'm lazy that way. Does that mean I don't believe in my story as much as Orwell or Carson? That's a good question that will require some serious thought.
More questions that need answering: How much do I want my words to impact my readers, and how important is that to me? What -- if anything -- am I willing to sacrifice to see it through?
"In a time of universal deceit---telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -- George Orwell.
"Great storms announce themselves with a single breeze, and a single random spark can ignite the fires of rebellion." - Bishop from the movie Ladyhawke
|When thinking of the natural world — science if you will — we rarely tie morality into it. They should be mutually exclusive, because science is the study of the natural world, whereas morality is considered a construct invented by man (or God depending on your beliefs) in order to create civil society.
I watched a video where a philosopher contorted herself into a mental pretzel while trying to describe how some "early fetuses" have no moral status when other "early fetuses" do, and as such abortion is not a moral issue.
Aside: This post isn't about abortion, per se, but about how biological knowledge can and should, in many circumstances, define our morality.
Nowhere in the video did the philosopher or the two men interviewing her bring up the biology of said fetuses and how one — scientifically speaking — has moral status, and therefore a right to be born, when another doesn't. You can find the video here:
This in turn reminded me of another conversation (paraphrased, because it happened a while ago) when someone argued that biology and laws have no bearing on each other, especially when it comes to human rights.
I said (again paraphrased), "Biology has everything to do with it. For instance, we don't give monkeys or dogs the same rights as humans. Why? Because they're not biologically human."
Humans have known that almost instinctively for thousands of years, even though they had no idea what a cell looked like, let alone a DNA strand that more definitively proves the differences between all species, whether animal, plant, or other.
I'll even wager most of our morals depend on our understanding of the natural world. They should be, and always remain, intrinsically linked.
A few months ago, I read portions of Leviticus. Many find it dry and boring, because it contains laws about holiness, ritual cleanliness, family life, and a slew of others.
What I found most interesting is many of the laws, especially with regard to sanitation, we use and take for granted today. The difference is, we do those things not for religious or moral reasons, but because we understand the science of how diseases spread.
If we choose to ignore biology, and try to make a "moral" stance based on how we think our biology should be instead of what it is, we do so at our own peril.
That society is trying to erase what it means to be human, man, woman, boy and girl, became abundantly clear with the reaction to the release of the so-called "Google memo." You can find the text of the memo below. I encourage you to read it, and not depend on my opinion of it (or anyone else for that matter, including the writer of the linked article):
Mr. James Damore (who wrote the memo) made a valid point — which many scientists have proven time and again — that men and women are different. Men — on average — react one way to a particular situation, and women — on average — react another way. One isn't necessarily better or worse than the other. It should show, however, that men and women complement each other. Where one is weak, the other is strong, and vice-versa. When we work together as partners with different roles to play — other than having and raising children — we can accomplish great things.
In short, trying to make women and men, and boys and girls the same, we both ignore and destroy what makes each beautiful, unique, and strong. Morally, we should acknowledge, encourage, and embrace our biological differences, because if we don't, we will, in the end, destroy each other and ourselves.
|Everyone needs a method of expression. Some express through painting, dancing, singing, music, mathematics or simply through speaking to others.
I am good at math, and liked to draw and paint when I was younger. I even liked to dance and sing, but I never tried to be good enough to do it in front of others.
Speaking, now there's a talent that I never had. I always say that God didn't connect my mouth to my brain. Growing up, when I had a thought, I could never express it how it formed in my mind. If anything it came out the opposite of how I intended.
For instance, my grandmother gave me a silver and turquoise ring when I was about eight or nine. Maybe ten. I noticed the price in black marker on the inside said "$10." For a turquoise ring. I thought, "Wow, I expected it to be worth more than that, because it's so beautiful. Grandma got a real good deal on it."
What came out of my mouth: "Wow, this ring was cheap."
Grandma was not impressed, and in fact felt (rightly) insulted. She said, "Well if you think it's cheap, you can give it back."
I was shocked that she got angry, and couldn't understand how I hurt her feelings. After she calmed down, we talked about it, and I was able to explain better what I meant. I also realized how my words hurt her feelings.
There are countless other instances, and even today I find myself eating my feet.
Another instance was in 1st or 2nd grade. All the students took turns reading part of a book out loud. When it came to my turn, I stumbled over the words to the point a boy sitting next to me said, "Don't you know how to read?"
Apparently the teacher noticed as well. She recorded me and called my mom to replay it. She was concerned enough that she believed I needed to be placed in a class for the learning disabled.
My mom put the kibosh on that by saying, "Can my daughter read, and comprehend what she's reading?"
"Yes," the teacher said.
"So she can't read out loud. That's not a learning disability."
My mom didn't tell me any of that until years later, and for a long time, I wondered if something was wrong with me when it came to reading out loud. After a while, I realized it was because my brain was reading faster than my mouth could keep up with. Hence the stumbling. Even today I have to concentrate on making sure my eyes and brain read at the same speed as my mouth. I don't always succeed, and I admit it's frustrating.
I hope no one asks me to do a reading of one of my books if ever I get published.
Writing, on the other hand, for some reason that came easy, even at an early age. Now as I look back, I'm grateful God didn't give me the ability to speak well. It forced me to find another way to express myself, and writing became (and still is) my outlet. Most everything I write, especially when writing from my heart and soul, comes out on paper how my brain envisioned it. That's not to say it doesn't need editing for spelling, grammar, and concision (I tend to ramble), but the meat and bones are there. The best part is I'm rarely misunderstood. Not as often as when I talk anyway.
|That is the question.
It's not a matter of money (or lack thereof). Nor is it determined by the temperature of the air.
It's how this aging body of mine can't seem to make up it's mind. I'm either cold or breaking out into a hot get-me-out-of-this-sudden-sauna sweat. Every five minutes (not really, but it seems that way).
Still, I have to consider the people around me. Their personal thermostats are working just fine, so to turn on the AC one minute only to turn it off three minutes later in favor of the heater, and then once again complain about it being too hot … Yeah, why share the torture?
I have to remind myself that this is merely the natural progression of aging. It is what it is, and I will simply have to endure.
One thing I am grateful for is I'm not having the typical and severe mood-swings associated with menopause. I hope I never do, because I watched what it did to my mom, and by extension, those around her. It was rather hellish for everyone.
This is my own theory, so you're welcome to give it zero credence if you like, but I think the whole mood-swing thing is purposeful from a survival stand point. When we over-react to things, it's usually a sign of unresolved emotions or conflicts. Those mood swings force us to either face them or fight them, but they need to be resolved one way or another. They can no longer be ignored or suppressed.
Why during menopause, you wonder? Because our body, our mind and our heart simply can't handle the stress and distress we could when we were younger and more resilient.
For instance, I read one reason heart disease increases after menopause is largely due to no more monthly periods. Our bodies tend to hoard iron, because millennia ago, with diseases, infections, and injuries, humans tended to bleed a lot more. Our bodies are designed to hold onto iron so that it can create more blood cells quicker – hence increasing our chances of survival. At least in first-world countries, people live healthier, so they don't bleed as much. When a woman no longer bleeds once a month, iron builds up in the body and can lead to heart troubles.
Add stress to the equation, and our health is further compromised.
While I do have periods of stress in my life, I resolved my larger issues years ago. Because of that my mood-swings – at least so far – have been quite manageable. I can feel them coming on, but before they overwhelm me, I tell myself to stop and ask why I feel like punching someone, or bawl over a toy commercial. When no legitimate reason comes to mind, I know it's hormonal (or lack thereof), and it usually goes away.
I know it's easier said than done. Some of our oldest issues, hurts and scars are the most difficult, especially if they're caused by people who have passed, who want nothing to do with us, or we want nothing to do with them. There are no easy answers, so I can't provide them. I just hope that anyone going through the same thing will stop, consider, and try to at least find a solution.
Putting yourself and those around you through the hell that is menopause isn't worth not trying, and your life could very well depend on it.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to turn on the air conditioner.
|Like others who've decided to write more often, I, too, am not immune to the blogging bug.
My reasoning is I need to keep up the practice, but also as a means to avoid doing other things - such as finding an agent. I know, bad idea, but maybe, just maybe, I can convince myself to do both. After all, if I were to add up all the time I waste during the day, I bet I can do both with time to spare. That's the idea anyway.
The real challenge is coming up with ideas to write about. I don't want to end up with the moniker of Uniblogger. Anyone remember where that term came from?
A few years ago, my hubby bought me a book titled "The Writer's Devotional" by Amy Peters. The subtitle reads "365 Inspirational Exercises, ideas, tips & motivations on writing."
I figured I should start now since I want to write every day. Each day of the week is structured differently. For instance, Monday focuses on what other writers have to say about writing, and Tuesdays are tips and tricks to help motivate us to keep writing.
I thought I would start today, but changed my mind. Next week sounds better. For one, I was having issues with my other blog (which I hope are finally resolved), and I do need to keep pushing forward on finding an agent.
What does this have to do with the title of my entry? Only that you are no longer safe from my bloviations. Hopefully I won't kill you with writing boring entries every day. That would be sad.
|It seems with many today, those two terms are redundant and interchangeable.
No matter what we say or what we do, people will call us hypocrites. For instance, part of our faith requires we help the poor, the orphan and the widow, yet there are countless examples of many Christians who don't.
We consider adultery and lying sins, yet we support leaders and politicians who have. Scripture warns against gossip, yet how many of us gossip all over the place?
I submit that to be a Christian is to embrace our own hypocrisy. In many ways we can't have one without the other.
Paul even said (Romans 7:14-25), "So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
"And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
"I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin."
Christians are required to acknowledge two things: That Jesus is the son of God who died for us, and that we are sinful creatures. As long as we live we will never be sinless. Sure, we try not to sin, and many times we succeed, but as many times as we refrain, we also give in. We simply can't help ourselves. I still gossip. I envy and covet, and I too often take the Lord's name in vain. I even hate, which as far as God is concerned, that's murder (See 1 John 3:15).
Jesus knew this, which is why he told us not to judge (see Matthew 7:1-6). He once convinced a crowd not to stone an adulterous woman by saying, "Let the one who has not sinned throw the first stone." (See John 8:1-11)
Aside: I don't think the irony of Jesus being the only one qualified to throw that stone was lost on him.
The problem with people's perception of Christians these days (sometimes deserved, sometimes not) is that we focus too much on people's wrong-doings. We appear to forget that Jesus never pointed out a person's sin without first offering them grace. The adulterous woman is one example, but also the Samaritan woman at the well (see John 4:4-38), and many others, man and woman, rich and poor.
After all, Jesus didn't walk into my room one day, give me a list of all my horrible thoughts and deeds and say, "Clean all that up first, and then I will forgive you." Quite the reverse, actually.
Am I a hypocrite? Yes, and worse. But that's irrelevant, because I still try to be the best person I can be. Not because it's required for my salvation, but as an expression of my gratitude for Jesus saving me when I wasn't being the best person I can be. Hell, I'm still not even close, but at least I'm working at it. Either way, it doesn't erase God's love, nor his grace.
Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. (Romans 3:18-22)
|No? Me neither. Too much noise.
And it's all of my own making. Between television, radio and social media, I don't hear the birds outside my window in the morning, the wind through the trees and dry grass (we're in the middle of a severe drought), or the crickets at night. I can't remember the last time I sat outside to watch the sunset. Or a sunrise.
Over Independence Day weekend, I read three books in four days. Guess how many I've read since? Not even one. I also haven't read my Bible much, and I can tell my spirit is a bit starved.
Again, it's all of my own making. I've given in to the temptation of current events and politics. Two things that are so fleeting that in the greater scheme of things, they matter almost not at all.
There's a scene in the original “Terminator” when a little boy spooned a scoop of ice cream in Sarah Connor's apron pocket. Her friend saw it and said, “Think of it this way. In a hundred years, who's going to care?”
God, and especially Jesus saw and did (and still do) things with eternity in mind. Does he care that I trip over a crack in the sidewalk or have to wash bird poop out of my hair? It may make both of us laugh, but to spend more than a minute lamenting my misfortune is a true waste of time. So, too, by letting my electronic gadgets take the place of mending and strengthening my relationships - both with God and everyone else in my life.
And doing what God has charged me to do – in whatever way he needs me to. After all, do I glorify him when I allow my attention to remain focused on the unimportant? Do I praise him when I don't immerse myself in his creation, because I'm too busy getting myself all worked up over what everyone else in this world is doing - or not doing? Getting frustrated and angry over things I can't control anyway?
I knew a man named George. He was the original owner of the company I still work for, and in his 80s when I first met him. Even though he no longer owned the company, and was officially retired, he kept an office in our building. I think he enjoyed getting out of the house, as most retirees do, I suppose.
He told me a story once about how he smoked over two packs of cigarettes a day. One day he found himself on his hands and knees looking for a butt of a cigarette to smoke. “I realized at that moment that anything that forces me to my knees is something I don't need.” He never again smoked another cigarette.
I wonder if social media, television, et al is my version of smoking. While not having it isn't physically driving me to my knees, it is putting my brain on its knees in supplication and in some ways stupification. It's an addiction.
Maybe once I get rid of it all, I'll not only hear nature's sounds, but God's voice a little clearer, too. And my spirit will soar instead of crawling on the floor looking for butts.
Ignore the one that yells.
One of my favorite scriptures is when Elijah ran to the wilderness to escape from Jezebel's death threat after God had destroyed 500 of Baal's prophets.
His own faith had taken a strong hit, and he wanted to die, for he felt as though he had failed the Israelites, and because people sought to kill him anyway.
And [the Lord] said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” - 1 Kings 19:11-13
Almost a year ago now, an agent I spoke to at the ACFW conference wanted me to send the first three chapters of my novels (three of them). After a few months, I heard nothing back. Six months later, still nothing.
Many have suggested that if you don't hear back within a certain amount of time (unless their submission guidelines say different), it's appropriate to email said agent to verify they received your submission.
After six months I thought, “Perhaps I should send the agent an email.”
But that little voice I learned to trust a long time ago told me not to. So I didn't. Every few weeks or so, I once again asked myself if I should. Again, the voice said no.
I figured it was God's way of telling me to forget about it.
I received this email a few hours ago:
As we are coming up on conference season, I wanted to thank you so much for allowing me the time to read, research and consider your proposal. Unfortunately, at this time I'm going to pass on offering representation. The concept is strong and I like your writing, but I feel I am not the best agent to take this product forward into the marketplace.
I wish you all the luck on your journey to be published!
When I saw who the email came from, I admit my heart thudded a few times. For five seconds I gleefully entertained the idea that said agent agreed to represent my books.
As you can see, not this time. I still liked the email, though, especially the first half of the last sentence. I responded thusly:
Thank you so much for the response and comments. It's always nice to hear positive (and negative for that matter) feedback on my writing, so I appreciate you taking the time to do so.
All the best to you and yours.
So was that “still small voice” God's way of telling me to wait? I think so. Sure it resulted in news I didn't necessarily want, but at the same time, it's teaching me patience, and to trust that God's timing isn't the same as mine. The fact the agent liked both my concept and my writing gives me a boost of confidence I sorely need. Perhaps that was the point.