Category Archives: Life

Speaking for the Dead

For a long time, I was never a fan of cemeteries. Too depressing, all those dead people.

Until I spent an afternoon with my husband’s grandmother as she placed flowers on graves during Memorial Day. I listened to her stories and realized how much history a cemetery contains. Without them, we would soon forget the lives those tombstones represent.

What I also appreciate are the inscriptions, and sometimes the items people leave. In this case a handful of small tomatoes. I don’t know the reason for them, but I don’t necessarily need to. It was personal and therefore beautiful.

Note: this was taken last Sunday at the Veteran’s Cemetery in Mandan, ND.

Living Up to Subtitles

The subtitle of my blog is “A Writer’s Journey.” Yet when I read through my entries over the last few years, other than chronicling the occasional writers conference, I’ve talked of anything but.

I’ve been writing (obviously), but as far as sharing my pursuit of publication, not so much. How can I write about something I’m not doing?

Yep, I’ve been lazy. Procrastination is a real thing—if largely self-inflicted.

I managed to fight off the lazy/procrastination bug this time. Yesterday I sent off the two requests for proposals that I mentioned in a previous entry.

So now I get to wait. Always my strong suit (not). I have to force myself not to check my email 156 times a day.

Although, much to my surprise and delight, one of the editors emailed me back saying my proposal was received and will be delivered to the appropriate team to read through. Normally a publisher/agent won’t send a response unless it’s an acceptance, rejection, or request for more information. This is the first time I received an acknowledgment that it was received.

The best part is I now don’t have to worry about my submission getting lost in email limbo (the other was submitted through an online submission form).

This publisher prefers series over stand-alone novels. The one I sent is currently just one book, but as I do with all my novels, I leave a door or two open for more. That means I should probably start the second… Even if they don’t take it, I should probably write it anyway. Most publishers prefer series over stand alone novels, especially for sci-fi and fantasy.

At the very least doing so will keep me off social media. I’m a bit frustrated with it all at the moment. It seems people can only talk about the one thing-that-shall-not-be-named, and I’m not inclined to participate. It’s not beating a dead horse at this point, it’s pounding the poor horse’s sun-bleached bones into dust.

Realm Makers 2012 – Day 3

Today when compared to the last two days was fairly uneventful. I finished out the session on finding one’s readers (aka: marketing), and another on wounding the human body by Carla Hoch (author of “Fight Write”) which my son also attended. He enjoyed the teen track, but I think he might have enjoyed her sessions even more. She’s an absolute hoot. If you want to know more about writing believable/accurate fight scenes and what a human body can survive/not survive, her book, blog, and videos are a must (you can find everything on fightwrite.net).

Frank Peretti also had a Q & A session and gave the closing keynote. As before, he was exuberant, funny, and also wise.

For the keynote, he recited the scene from the first Jurassic Park movie where Dr Ian Malcom (played by Jeff Goldblum) warned (paraphrased), “You were so determined in finding out if you could do something, you never stopped to ask if you should.”

Frank compared how Hammond and the scientists’ attempt to control nature failed rather spectacularly to how we’ve lost control over technology in much the same way. And how now it’s controlling us. He asked us to step back and figure out at what point we say enough is enough.

As he was speaking I wrote in my notes (with paper and pen, even though I’m using that evil tech to write and post this): “Yes Big Tech knows a lot about me, probably a lot more than I think they do. They can use it to destroy me and my life if they choose, and with very little effort. Jesus, however, still knows more about me, and I can trust him to not misuse that information or try to destroy me with it.” None of us can say the same for Silicon Valley, or even our own government that knows a lot more about us than they will ever admit.

Right after the keynote ended, two fellow “Realmies” happened to read my nametag. They pulled out their copy of Havok’s “Sensational” anthology asking, “Didn’t you write a story in this?” They then asked me to sign it, which always makes me happy. But it’s also humbling. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel worthy of being asked to give an autograph. I’m no different than the two ladies who only want people to read their writing, find joy, and be inspired or strengthened by it.

The day ended with a book expo and author signing that was open to the public. Not as many showed up as in previous years, but I would still call it a success. The line for Frank Peretti was understandably the longest.

Believe it or not, but Tom bought more books than me! Or I should say, I bought Tom more books than I bought myself…

So Realm Makers 2021 is now officially over. I did, however, sign up for the post conference workshop on using social media to sell more books. I’m determined to not let my fear of using it deter me from using it…

Interesting, don’t you think, considering I just wrote about how such technology is controlling us… ?

A Heap of Hot Coals

Many of you know how much I’ve been simmering on the unprofessional and unethical behavior of a few people since March and how much I’ve hated it. Because I’m not supposed to hold grudges (See Ephesians 4:26).

Until I noticed a small mistake one of them made that, if not fixed right away, could cause them some embarrassment.

Yes, I considered saying nothing. A little payback or karma if you will. But then God kept whispering Proverbs 25:21-22 to me:

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.”

So I resolved to be the better person and informed him of the error. He seemed grateful and fixed the issue in time.

My reward: When I saw him the next day, I felt no twinges of anger or irritation. I was able to give him a genuine smile and treat him with respect without having to force myself.

He seemed a bit startled by it, but no matter. By God freeing me from all that negativity, I no longer care how he receives my words or deeds.

Although, I do hope he felt the heat of the coal I heaped in his head, and that he will be a bit wiser in how he treats others in the future.

Ill Will

I normally don’t hold grudges. It’s not in my nature. Doing so doesn’t necessarily hurt the person I’m angry at, but it always hurts me. Holding on to anger is akin to living in the past, preventing me from enjoying the present and looking forward to the future.

Yet that’s exactly what I’m doing. I mentioned a few months back about some people I work with acting in an unprofessional manner, made worse by the fact I still have to work with them and still be professional when I want to be anything but.

I can’t wait for the day I no longer have to interact or work with any of them. Ever. Again.

In short, while I may never outwardly show my contempt as much as may want to, I look forward to, at the very least, giving them my indifference.

As of now, though, my attitude is so sour, I find myself wishing—praying even—for them to fail at everything they do. I want others to see what I see and abandon them. I want their reputation to take such a spectacular nose-dive, no one else will ever want to work with them, either.

I know what you’re thinking: That’s not very Christ-like of me. After all, does not God love them as much as he loves me? Does God hold his mercy and grace back simply because this piddly little human is angry? The idea is utter foolishness when seen from that perspective, isn’t it?

While my heart is a rabid animal gnawing at the bars of its cage, growling to be let loose to rip apart and devour those who hurt me, my brain is holding the door closed, whispering calm. Reminding my heart that grace, mercy, and forgiveness are always the best roads to travel.

God never wishes me ill will no matter what I’ve done, so I can do no less.

Nor am I supposed to wait until I no longer have to deal with someone in order to do so. God wants us to forgive when it matters most, because he forgives us when it matters most.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” ~ Ephesians 4:29-32

I Am Stone

I see people on fire for the Lord. They spread the Good News like flames surging through dry brush during a summer drought.

While I stand on the edge of the field. Watching. Silent.

Envious.

I am not fire. I am stone. Hard and heavy. Immovable.

Yet that is my gift. Because God can use stones to spread the Good News, too.

How, do you ask?

Stones provide strength, a firmer foundation on otherwise shaky ground, such as a beach where sand gives sway to the waves and wind.

Why God chose to make me a rock over a flame, I don’t know. Perhaps I will. Someday. Then again, it’s not a question that deserves an answer. What matters is I remain that rock and depend on God to make me stronger.

All who get fatigued need a place to rest, and be certain that where they rest will be steady. Immovable. And yes, even silent, because sometimes it’s in the silences that we hear God’s voice the clearest.

So while those on fire will find the ones who need to be set aflame themselves, I will watch and wait, not with envy, but with anticipation for those who need a rock to stand on or rest upon. Perhaps, God willing, so they can hear God’s voice in the silence.

“Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant.”

Anyone who’s read my blog and comments will be familiar with one of my most loyal readers, Arnie Fleck.

He didn’t always agree with me, and he was also never afraid to say so. Our discussions were often lively yet always respectful—with some humor thrown in now and then.

Whenever I wrote an entry, especially with regard to Jesus, scripture, or religion in general, I always thought of him and tried to anticipate his reaction. Doing so always helped me make certain I made my stance clear so as not to awaken the dragon who learned how to argue in law school.

I tease, but his love of Jesus, scripture, and law, and to always look deeper has always inspired me.

He passed away on April 1, 2021 at the age of 63.

I will miss him, his words, his encouragement, and, yes, his almost eager willingness to disagree, but I also look forward to the same lively discussions when I, too, reach beyond this mortal veil.

God speed, my friend.

Abandoned?

Last night I watched Episode 2, Season 2 of The Chosen, and it undid me. I bet I blubbered for five minutes after the show ended.

In one scene, the character, Nathanial, cried out to God when a building he designed failed, and how could he fail when everything he did was for God’s glory? At one point he even asked, “Why have you turned your face from me?”

Later he meets Jesus, and one of the first things Jesus said was, “I could not turn my face from you.”

I can’t count how many times I felt as though Jesus has turned away, that all I do—or at least attempt to do—to glorify him is nothing but ash, meaningless, without purpose, a waste of time.

Yet Jesus has not turned away from me, or any of us who seeks him out. We just have to be patient and understand that how we’re using our talents/skills today may take an entirely different turn tomorrow. That our failure may instead be a new opportunity, and Jesus is ever present, ever aware, and will never turn his face away.

A Walking Eyeball?

The instructor for my Wednesday Bible study could be described with one word: evangelist. Her heart and soul is filled with desire to bring others to Christ, to the point of overflowing. She sincerely loves Jesus like few I’ve ever seen.

I am simultaneously inspired, envious, and saddened at my own lack of the same.

Unlike her, I don’t feel the same pull to evangelize to non-believers. As such, I can’t help but ask why. Am I lacking in my own faith? Am I not focused enough on his voice and his word, so in the end he has no (or little) use of me?

Some of you will be rolling your eyes at me, I’m sure. Me questioning my strength and faith is nothing new, and some of you have expressed (for years), that I’m silly to doubt my faith.

Let me assure you that I don’t doubt my faith. My questions derive from my need to strengthen it. How can I do that if I don’t ask questions and seek out where I’m weak?

So back to my question. Am I lacking in something, because I have neither the gift nor desire to win lost souls to Jesus?

Or do I have neither, because Jesus has other plans for me?

One thing I love about both Jesus and Paul are their surgically sharp use of exaggeration and rhetoric to make a point.

In this case, how Paul describes the Body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. Because of its imagery, verse 17 in particularly has always stuck with me: “If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?” The first part makes me think of Mike Wazowski in Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.”

Silly imagery aside, it’s the perfect vehicle to make a point, or as Rush Limbaugh used to say, “Being absurd to illustrate absurdity.”

Paul was illustrating the absurd notion that all our gifts should be the same.

Thus proving my own absurdity for believing I (and my gifts) are lacking, simply because my life, gifts and desires don’t mirror others.

So what then are my gifts? What does Jesus intend for me to do if it’s not to evangelize to the lost?

All I can do is ask where my passions point toward instead of where they don’t.

In the simplest terms, I love the Bible, God’s Word. And what I hate is when people (Christians especially) twist scripture to mean the exact opposite of what it says, or when they ignore certain passages in favor of others in order to give themselves license to act a certain way.

That’s not to say I shouldn’t point the lost to Jesus. Quite the contrary. That is the ultimate goal of all within the Body of Christ—of which I’m a part. I’m simply not an evangelist whereby that’s my main and singular goal. Perhaps my job instead is to encourage and help those who do.

So does my passion make me an apologist instead, perhaps even a critic?

I’ll be the first to tell you I don’t know ten percent of what I should about scripture… I know just enough to be dangerous. Yet lately I’ve been in a studious mood both with the Bible study as well as reading non-fiction by those far more knowledgeable about scripture than me.

Or maybe I’m not an apologist so much (at least not yet) as I am a student. Either way, that’s where I belong in the Body as of now (because that could always change). And who am I to argue with God that I’m an ear instead of an eye—figuratively speaking?

Keeping It Professional

I believe that one must always be professional when at work. To let our emotions get the best of us not only tarnishes our reputation, it lessens people’s respect.

That’s not to say it’s always easy, because one can get blindsided by the unprofessional behavior of fellow employees and/or clients.

Such an incident happened to me on Monday with several at my work, and I’ve been struggling ever since.

With clients, the more unprofessional/indignant/belligerent they get, the nicer I act toward them. It works, too. More than once, said rude client has called me back to apologize.

When people I have worked alongside for years break my trust, yet I still must work with them, it takes almost all my willpower to not get passive-aggressive at least and be downright rude and/or think of ways sabotage their own work until their last day. Yet I must set aside my anger, because the work as well as our clients are what matter. They’re certainly not going to care about my bruised feelings if the quality of our product suffers.

So I silently seethe, and internally wish them ill will now and in the future even as I smile and treat them as if nothing’s changed. To be professional regardless of the circumstances. I know, not very “Christian” to curse them—even in my head—but I also have to be honest before I can work past it.

I also think of Proverbs 25:21-22: “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”

Emotions are fleeting, and a person’s bad behavior will always come back around to bite them eventually. As long as I keep my professionalism, I won’t have to worry about the same.