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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

And the Moral of the Story Is: Never Use Your First Draft

I read one of my previous posts, and boy, do I need to edit! Sheesh. I can tell I just wrote and posted. Maybe I need to write, save as a draft, then edit and publish it. I've got a big day of housework planned tomorrow, but I'm gonna have a go at editing on Friday.

It's funny how God is teaching me how to do the writer thing through blogging. I feel like I'm on a journey of self-discovery in a way. I don't know if that's interesting to anybody else in the world, but that's all I got right now. I'm going through a lot of spiritual upheaval. My faith is changing and growing, but in a direction I didn't even know was possible.

I think that once I get through whatever this is, I will know what direction to take in my writing. I actually thought about non-fiction, but I'm not famous, I don't have a degree in anything, and I'm not consistently funny enough to do humor. I'm not an expert on anything, either. I have a lot of opinions, and some pretty extensive experience in being a wife and mother [10 years married and 8 years mommy, unless you count the years for all three, then it's fifteen, which sounds more impressive, don't you think?]

Okay, so anyway, I'm searching, and hoping to find something interesting to talk about for tomorrow's post, because this is boring even me...


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Yo-Yo Day

Well, today was an interesting day. I started out happy. I e-mailed friends, cleaned out my e-mail address book. I read blogs, news articles, more blogs, and mostly sat in front of the computer all day.

Bad idea.

By the time George got home from work [he's back on days again], I was depressed, pissed off at everything that moved, and generally not much fun to be around. I think the pixels fried my brain. I stayed grumpy until after the kids were in bed. Then we watched an Adam Sandler movie. I can't help it, I like Adam Sandler movies. Even the ones I look at and think, "No way, that's the dumbest premise for a movie I've ever seen," I end up liking. It may very well speak badly of my taste in movies, but there you go.

I also love the fact that he puts his friends in every single movie he does. Loyalty is important to me, and he seems to have it, so I like him.

After the movie, I was happy again.

Which makes me wonder: Can you be bi-polar if you have mood swings like this all in one day? Probably not. [Actually, I looked it up... Isn't the 'net a great thing, and the answer is no, the swings have to last one to two weeks.] But anyway, it was a hellish day.

Today is the first day since I started blogging that I didn't really want to do it. But here I am, slogging through. I need this, and I won't give up. I'm still working through stuff, trying to figure out where I belong and what I should be doing [as far as writing goes]. This is a strange path of self-discovery for me, which is not exactly what I had in mind to put out in cyberspace for every one to see. But who knows, maybe some one will stumble upon this sight and read something familiar and not feel so alone.

Then again, maybe not. You just never can tell about these things, can you?

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Beginning Is Now

I spent most of the day trying to figure out what I want to talk about next. I was supposed to get a couple of new books yesterday at church, but I didn't get a chance to get them because my kids were having a meltdown. So, today, I kept coming back to my writing.

Specifically, my fiction. I have three novels that I started but couldn't finish for various reasons. I think the main reason is self-doubt. I am annihilating that one even as I type this. Through this blog, I am learning that it doesn't really matter what I write about, as long as I write something, and as long as I'm honest. I may be full of crap, but I can guarantee you that I'm speaking the truth as I see it.

On the technical side, I've learned that it takes me about two hours to write one of these, and that they average between 700 and 900 words each. That does include editing, but my editing process for blog posts consists of a spell check with a glance at punctuation and grammar. I may not be perfect at it, but this is how I speak in real life, and that's the tone I'm going for. I think I have a fair grasp of the English language, and I am learning every day how to convey emotion through the written word [y'all let me know how I'm doin' okay?].

What I've been pondering today, though, is: What the heck do I want to write?

The books I've begun are fantasy [which I love to read]. The first one, I went completely organic, just writing as I went. About 8,000 words in, I fell into these huge plot holes, and couldn't find my way out.

The second one, I went with the Marshall Plan for novel writing. I plotted about half of it, and then started writing from the beginning using my handy-dandy novel sheets. I think I got distracted from that one, but also, after I had planned out and written down everything that was going to happen in the scene [without actually writing it in manuscript form] I felt like I had written it already. I also started changing things as I wrote the actual manuscript, which rendered useless over half of my novel sheets for later in the book. So it ended up being an exercise in futility.

The third one was my NaNoWriMo entry. I tried, but never really got past the starting gate on that one. I will probably try it again next November, but for this year, I'm done.

I liked all the ideas for my novels, but I hit a brick wall with all three. So, I'm trying to figure out what that block is. Several contributing factors come to mind, though. They may all go back to one root cause, but here goes.

1. Until now, I have not set apart time every single day to write. My kids are seven, four, and two, but there are a lot of professional [female] writers who have young kids and manage just fine. I think that I have not prioritized my writing as I should have. It's been more of a 'when I feel like it' kind of thing and I'm here to tell you, it doesn't work. I've been manufacturing guilt feelings, thinking I'm a bad mom if I take the time I need to do this.

I'm also very disorganized, and a little scatterbrained when it comes to house work, so I feel guilty if I'm writing when I think I should be cleaning [which I almost never do, so the writing never gets done, either.] Lord 'o mercy, got neuroses?

2. There's the fear of failure thing. What if I suck? What if I send it off and get a letter back saying, "This is positively the worst drivel I've ever seen! What were you thinking, you nitwit?" [yeah, I know that wouldn't happen, but I'm wallowing here, so cut me some slack!]

3. Then there's this evil woman who has lived in the back of my brain for as long as I can remember. She talks too much, and says stuff like this: You suck. You're lazy. You never finish anything. Writing is work, and you have never worked at anything else in your life, you always give up when it gets hard, remember? [then she spews a long list of every failure, real or imagined, in my life.]

Yup. I'm thinking it's time to kill the b****, what do you think?

Let's give her a name. It can't be mine, because while she's part of me, she's a damaged part that isn't the real me.

When I was in the seventh grade, I had a friend who called me snelby. I hated it. It made me feel degraded because she always said it with this snide nasal tone, and I never could get her to stop.

Wow, I had forgotten feeling that way, but it's all right here, and I think that could be where Negative Girl might have come from. Anyway, I always felt degraded, put down, made fun of, and so small and helpless with those people who were supposed to be my friends. I don't know what the motivation was for them to act that way, and I don't know why I put up with it[looking back, you'd think I would have found some different friends, wouldn't you?].

So anyway, let's call her Snelby, because that name encompasses all the pain of my childhood, always trying, but never quite fitting in. I don't think we have to kill Snelby. I think we have to heal her broken heart. And we have to forgive the people who hurt her, because whatever their reasons, it wasn't something wrong with me. It was a broken place in their own hearts.

I forgive you, my school friends,
For hurting the fragile child that I was.
I forgive you, "Snelby,"
For believing the lies they told.
You were never stupid,
Or ugly,
Or unworthy of support,
Love, and success.
Take back your power, child.
The beginning is now.

We've Come Full Circle

Tonight before bed, my seven year old daughter read "Green Eggs and Ham," by Dr. Seuss. She did beautifully, and made me remember all the nights my husband and I read that very book to her when she was a baby. She recited it and "One Fish, Two Fish," before she turned two [picture a tiny little girl with huge round eyes, a rosebud mouth, and wild, ringlet curls saying, "Dat Sammy am, Dat Sammy am, I not like dat Sammy am," in a voice so high pitched it made the dogs howl. She sounded like a munchkin on helium.]

When she got older, she got sick of Dr. Seuss, and we were despondent. Hubby and I are life long fans of the great Doctor, and sometimes we would refuse to let her or my son pick the bedtime book because we wanted Seuss, dang it, and they never picked him! Sometimes we made the children suffer one more rendition of One Fish, Two Fish, or Fox In Socks [complete with voices, supplied with great vigor, by my husband] "just for old time's sake," [probably a good two years' therapy, right?]

And tonight, after she had finished reading, she said, "Mom, I think I love this book!"
Glory be! It's a good day, my friends, a good day indeed.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

[Drum roll] The Final Installment of Where Do We Go From Here?

Okay, I'm pretty much done with this, but there was one more thing that struck me about "The Story We Find Ourselves In" by Brian D. McLaren. [If you're interested, previous posts about this book are as follows: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.]

The episodes of the story of God and humans are:
Ep. One: Creation: God creates the universe

Ep. Two: Crisis: Humans decide they don't need to keep the boundaries God has set and sin[evil] enters the world.

Ep. Three: Calling or Conversation: God calls Abraham into a relationship with him and then speaks to the Israelites through priests, prophets, poets and philosophers.

Ep. Four: Christ. The most important part and the one I've spent the least time on. [something not quiet right there, I know] Jesus came to earth to show us, through his ministry and teachings, how to live. He was betrayed by the human race, who cared more about their own selfish desires than what he was trying to teach. He threatened their self-righteous, self serving beliefs and they killed him for it. But in the end, he won, because three days after he was buried, he rose from the dead, whole, healthy and real.

When we choose to follow Jesus, we become his disciples, which is just a fancy word for student. Then we become apostles [although I think a lot of people forbid use of that word for people today... Not sure why, which probably means it's some tradition started umpteen hundred years ago..*rant off*] apostle is just a fancy word for teaching student.

It's like Jesus is a master violinist. People come to him wanting to learn his method of the violin. He teaches us, then he sends us out and we begin to teach others. We're teaching others to play the master's music in the master's way. But what if he expects us to also become composers, too? Then we would still be creating music in his tradition, but adding our own flair and style to it.

Isn't that what happened with all the writers of the Bible? I mean, they were inspired to tell the story by God, but they were allowed [even encouraged] to use their own words, their own style and personality. And that's kind of what we've done with Christianity today, what with all our denominations and stuff. You've got Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Nazarenes [and a bunch of others I don't know how to spell!] they've all got a different spin on the same story, don't they?

But ultimately, we're all pretty much the same at the core.

Ep. Five: Community. Here is something I have secretly thought in my heart of hearts for years, but was afraid to talk about because I just knew someone would think I was a heretic. God is not enough. Holy crapoly, Batman! Here comes the lightning! But really, He isn't. I know we all [Christians, anyway] talk about God's grace being sufficient and how we don't need any one but God, and all that other gobbledygook that has crept into our language.

I think it got there partly because when you really find God, He changes your whole life. Turns it upside down sometimes. So it makes sense that, with that kind of overhaul, and that kind of natural high, you feel invincible.

And, unfortunately, it also crept into our collective belief system, because at the core, we all want to feel special, to feel like we're better than other people. So when I look at someone who is grieving and floundering without their loved one, or another person who hangs out with a group of friends that isn't good for them, but they can't seem to get out of the situation, I can say to myself [and a lot of us say it to the person in trouble] "I have my God and He's all I need. You just need to give it to God, and He'll make you strong."

The fact is, we need each other, too. God does give immeasurable strength to those who need it. But most times, he uses other people to give us that strength. Me and God against the world isn't enough. I need friends to prop me up when I can't stand on my own. If you're alone, reach out to God, but also reach out to people. And if the first person you meet is a big fat jerk, reach out to some one else. It's too important not to.

Oh yeah, Episode six is called Consummation. That's when we die and go to be with Jesus. And that part, my friends, is truly just the beginning of the adventure!

Blog ya later!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Where Do We Go From Here part 4

Yes, it really is part four, but the end [of this tangent, anyway] is near, I promise. If you're interested, parts one, two, and three are here, here, and here. The next part is the Calling. Specifically, when God called Abraham into a covenant with him. In essence, God promised Abe that he would make a great nation out of Abe's seed, and Abe promised to obey God and follow him [you know, I wonder if this is like the red and blue pills in Matrix, and if Abraham ever wished he'd chosen to stay in the, you know what I mean! I know I would have about the time God said "circumcision."]

God says,

"I will make you into a great nation

and I will bless you;

I will make your name great,

and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you,

and whoever curses you I will curse;

and all peoples on earth

will be blessed through you." Genesis 12:2-3

"I will bless you, and you will be a blessing." Hmm. McLaren says in his book:

"When religions assume that their adherents are chosen only to be

blessed, and forget that they are blessed to be a

blessing, they distort their identity and they drift from God's

calling for them... when they see themselves as blessed to the exclusion

of others rather than for the benefit of others, they become part of the

problem instead of part of the solution." [McLaren p64]

Later, they talk about the part that says He will bless those who bless Abe's people, and curse those who curse his people. McLaren defines blessing someone as expressing love and support for that person. Cursing is defined as withdrawing that love and support. So God isn't saying that He's gonna destroy anyone who stands in His way, just that if anyone doesn't support and love Abraham, then He will not support and love those people. The book goes on to say:

"Anybody who opposes the general direction of creating good, of helping the world become

better not worse... would be working against God, kind of unmaking

or uncreating the world that God has been making, [or] destroying God's work... and of course,

God would be against that." [p67]

This is so fascinating to me, because this definition of good encompasses everything positive, not just trying to preach the gospel and convert people [like Christians sometimes believe], and evil is everything that damages or destroys part of God's creation, including the plants and animals, but also the people in it. And we each have to choose whether we will help God create His world, or whether we will work against Him and try to destroy it.

Another thing that is so exciting to me is that we are co-creators with God. Artists, musicians, and writers are the most visible about this, but we all create things in our own lives, whether consciously or not. This is profound for me because I've always been led to believe that God is the Creator and we are just His creation. Maybe not puppets, but certainly not anything worthy of the title creator. I thought that ideas only came from God, and He only gave them out to 'special' people, and that He was the one who controlled everything that happened to me. But I'm thinking that maybe we really do create our own destiny. That maybe the only choice we have to make is whether to serve Him [by co-creating the world He dreamed of when He made us], or to serve evil [aka Satan] and destroy it. And once we choose to serve Him, where we go from there and how well we do our job is up to us.

It's up to us, but we are not left to muddle through alone. I think He is there to help us every step of the way, if we ask Him to. I think He's more than happy to help us figure out what we want to create, maybe helps us see our potential in a given area. But ultimately, how far we go to reach that potential is up to us.

So, we are all called into a relationship with God. When we enter this relationship, we become co-creators with Him, creating the world of His dreams [which I can guarantee you is far more wonderful than we can imagine!]

Woo Hoo!! Okay, I'm done for now. Blog ya later!

The Zen of Stand By Me

Okay, this is weird, but growing up, my favorite movie of all time was "Stand By Me," based on a short story, "The Body," by Stephen King. The summer after my seventh grade year, I saw Stand By Me for the first time. Something about the movie resonated with me on a level that was almost spiritual. I was always a weird kid, so I watched it over and over. In just three months, I managed to watch that movie almost 90 times [total count was 83 or so]. Yup, I had the whole freakin' thing memorized. My classmates didn't get it, but they talked about it quite a bit.

Just in case you've never seen it, Stand By Me was a story of four friends who go on a trek out in the woods to find the body of a dead kid who was probably hit by a train. One of the characters [Vern, played by a chubby Jerry O'Connell] overhears his older brother talking about seeing the body of the missing kid [Ray Braur was his name, I think, but keep in mind I haven't seen the move in 15 years or so]. So Vern goes back to his friends and tells them. They decide that if they find the kid, they'll be heroes and get their names in the paper. So, they pool their money, go by some food and head out.

Vern is the good-natured, slightly goofy kid who gets made fun of a lot. Gordie, [played by Wil Wheaton], is the sensitive one who makes up awesome stories about barf-o-ramas and other interesting topics. He The story is told from the adult Gordie's perspective as he's remembering and writing it down. Then there's Teddy, [played by Corey Feldman] who is crazy. He comes from a dysfunctional family, and his father is in a mental hospital for almost burning Teddy's ear off by holding it to a hot stove. And finally, there's Chris Chambers, [played by River Phoenix]. Chris is the bad boy who never had a chance. He comes from a bad family, his older brother is a delinquent, and he believes he will never get out of the town they live in.

The story was so powerful to this 12 year old girl. I had to watch it over and over. I wanted that movie to be my life. Not the dead kid part, but the four friends taking on the world part. I could relate most to Gordie. Sensitive, skinny, and a little weird. I never felt like my friends 'got me' like Gordie's friends got him. I just remember wanting friends like that more than anything. To belong to a group that alone, were weak, but together, could take on the world. A group that would embrace me in spite of [and because of] my weirdness. Friends who would encourage me to be the best I could be and not put me down or make me feel inferior. I never had anything like that [from friends] growing up. Somehow, I was the one who got made fun of in whatever group of friends I had at the time. If I was one on one with a person in the group, things went fine, but if we were all together, the others would usually gang up on me about something.

That may not actually be what happened, but that's how I felt. I never really found anyone I connected with. So when I found a movie that had what I wanted so desperately in my own life, I kinda went overboard with it. Those characters became almost more real to me than the people in my own life. As I said before, I felt like I could relate most to how Gordie felt, but Chris was my favorite, and therefore, River Phoenix became my favorite actor.

Looking back, I have to giggle. For an entire year, I thought about nothing but River Phoenix. I even wrote school reports on him! My eighth grade English teacher [Mr. Cox... I still remember you!] gave me more crap about being in love with River. And I'm sure I was beyond annoying. I wanted to move to Hollywood and become an actress so I could meet him and marry him. For a whole year, this obsession went on, then it was over. The next year when I came back to school, Mr. Cox asked me why I wasn't carrying around pictures and talking about River anymore. I said, "I grew up." He asked me, "Well, why wasn't I notified about this?" I looked him in the eye and said, "Because it's none of your business." For a moment, my classmates were in awe of me.

But here's the weirdness about this whole story [no, really, what you just read isn't it]. I kept track of those four actors who played my best friends for a year. In the movie, Chris grows up and makes good, but dies horribly. In 1993, the year after I graduated high school, River Phoenix died of a drug overdose outside the Viper Room nightclub, owned by Johnny Depp.
The character Teddy spends time in jail and has a hard time adjusting to life... Corey Feldman got into trouble with the law for abusing drugs. Vern grows up to be a pretty normal guy, which I think Jerry O'Connell has done, and last I read was engaged to Rebecca Romijn. That may have changed by now, being Hollywood, but there you go. And last but not least, Gordie grew up to become a writer, and guess what? Wil Wheaton has gone and become a writer! So you see, there are some odd coincidences with the movie.

I don't know if that's actually Zen or not, since I'm not sure what the heck that means, but I'm done for now, so I'll blog ya later!

Friday, November 25, 2005

And Now, Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program or Where Do We Go From Here part 3

You know, when I thought of the title for this post [part 1], I had no idea I was gonna have so much to say about one book. If you're new here and wondering what I'm talking about with this post, part 2 of my thoughts about "The Story We Find Ourselves In," is here.

Just so you know, thanks do my beloved eighties-hair-band-metal-head husband, every time my brain hears 'where do we go' it starts playing Sweet Child of Mine by Guns-n-Roses. Ugh. Not my favorite song, in fact, I can't stand GnR at all. Axl Rose just bugs me. His voice, and the way he does that freaky microphone dance thing. Just makes me want to hurt somebody.

But I digress. We were talking about the book "The Story We Find Ourselves In" by Brian D. McLaren. One if the main characters, Neo, is telling his friend the story of God's relationship with humans throughout history [as it is in the Bible]. Episode one is Creation, and episode two is Crisis, or what we Christians commonly refer to as the Fall. The book brings up the fact that a lot of 'post-modern' people laugh at the whole 'Adam & Eve and the Apple' scenario, and then puts forth an interesting take on the story.

Which got me to thinking [which I do too much, but I can't help myself]. What if the writer of Genesis condensed the story down to one event [Adam and Eve eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, see their nakedness, hide from God and then refuse to take responsibility for their actions by blaming each other] when it was really a much more gradual process?

What if Adam and Eve and their children... You ever notice how we always think of A&E being alone in the garden with no children until after they get kicked out? What if they did have children, lots of them, before death came? God walked around with them in the garden. What if childbirth was painless because in the garden there were special foods/herbs/etc. That prevented pain, or that being in the Presence of God did? I wonder if He attended all the births before A&E got too big for their britches. I don't know, of course, it's just a thought.

Humans started out as hunter-gatherers, they wandered around and got what everything they needed from the earth [in the beginning, I imagine that food was abundant and plentiful, and it wasn't hard to stay well-fed]. The early humans were peaceful, and lived in harmony with the earth.

Then, they learned more, developed language, and began domesticating animals. With herds of animals, they let them eat whatever they wanted and when the food was gone, they moved on. You can't let animals feed on a certain spot too long, or they will destroy all the plants, bushes, and trees in the area, making that spot barren. Maybe some of the early people didn't know that or didn't' t care, thus destroying vital plant life. It got harder for those still hunting and gathering to find food.

The next step was farming. Now, instead of depending on foraging/hunting expeditions for food, they could grow their own food [and not have to depend on God to provide?]. With farming, came trouble, I imagine. The farmers wouldn't appreciate the herders coming onto their land and letting their animals feed on the crops. Can you guess what happened? Yup. Cain killed Abel. The world's first murder probably happened over a land dispute. How many wars in our history have started the same way? History really does repeat itself, doesn't it?

This is how McLaren's character Neo explains the Fall:

"When I read Genesis... I don't see just one crisis. I see an avalanche of crises. And they all relate to a disintegration of the primal harmony and innocence of creation. In a sense, they all involve human beings gaining levels of intellectual and technological development that surpass their moral development-- people becoming too smart, too powerful for their own good."

"So what do Adam and Eve do? They say, 'We don't want to have to answer to anybody. We want to be at the top of the food chain. We want to be like gods ourselves.' And they go beyond the limits they know they should keep. That's what taking the fruit is about. It's about experiencing evil, tasting evil... And as soon as they do, they lose trust in one another. They feel shame, fear, because human trust is based on respect for limits." [The Story We Find Ourselves In pp 54-55]

We became independent in that we could grow our own food, settle down and live in one place. Is it possible that when we became independent, we lost our connection to God? When Adam and Eve gained knowledge, they turned their backs on God, and without God, there can be no life. But God, being the good and merciful being that He is, didn't destroy the stupid humans. Instead, He limited their lifespan, and separated Himself from them. He went into the heavens, and the garden went with Him.

Okay, that's episode two of human history. Tomorrow, we'll talk about episode three: Calling.
[by the way, all the Cs came from McLaren, who borrowed them from a pastor friend of his.]

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

What I Did Today, or Why I Didn't Get the Laundry Done

It's 8:46 pm, the kids are in bed, finally. Hubby is at work, so the bedtime routine is up to me. The chaos in this house is amazing sometimes. It makes me wonder how Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar manage to stay sane with 16 kids! One of the great mysteries, I'm sure. I actually watched the show on Discovery Health Channel when they had number 15, and I was really impressed with them. There's no doubt that they love each other, and have a strong and sincere faith. Seems to me that's a pretty good combination.

Anyway, I spent a large part of my evening playing with the settings on my blog. I've never messed with html or blog templates, so it was a bit of a nightmare getting stuff to work right. I've given up for the day. I'm not cut out for that kind of thing. I'm a plug and play type person, technical stuff irritates the crap out of me. But, I finally got it to work, and you see the results to your left, labeled "Blogs I Read." Not many so far, but like I said, I gave up for the day.

No Rules. Just Write. is Brenda Coulter's blog. I read her because she just cracks me up. She's a very funny lady and she writes inspirational fiction for Steeple Hill, which is owned by Harlequin [you know, the romance publisher?] I found a copy of her first book in the library after I found her blog on the web. Romance [especially inspirational romance] usually irritates the crap out of me, but I really enjoyed Finding Hope. It was laugh out loud funny in spots, and I can never resist funny. Which is why I also love her blog. Did I mention that already? Oh.

Paperback Writer is another favorite of mine. It's written by Sheila Kelly, who writes as... Well LOTS of people. Let's see if I get everybody. S.L. Viehl, Lynn Viehl, Gena Hale, Jessica Hall, and Rebecca Kelly. There may be others, but I think I got 'em all. She writes several novels a year (I think I read six somewhere) and, well, half that many is considered prolific. And her novels are good. Really good. She's published like 31 novels since 2000 or something, but I've only read six or seven, and I haven't found one yet that I didn't like. [Sheila also writes science fiction, which I usually hate, but I really like her stuff.]

Holly Lisle is an amazing person. She started a writer's forum called Forward Motion and ran it for about seven years [if you go there, you'll notice the sheer size of the thing... I joined several months ago and have yet to post because it's just too overwhelming. Makes me laugh when I think of the troubles I had trying to get a frickin' blogroll to work on my sidebar.] She also has a website which has so many articles on writing, it's just amazing. If you have any interest in writing novels, I highly recommend Forward Motion and Holly's website. Oh yeah, did I mention it's all FREE?

Her books are amazingly well-written, but not for the faint of heart. She goes into some seriously dark places with her writing. Her characters go through hell and back, and you go with them. You can't help it, the characters are so real. [embarrassing admission, I got so into her books once, I found myself praying for the characters. I know, I know. Pitiful. I stopped when I realized what I was doing and prayed for Holly instead, but that gives you an idea of how good she is with characters. Or maybe it just tells you a little too much about me!*sheepish grin*]

Anyway, these women are all very different in every way imaginable, but they have a lot in common, too [besides being published authors]. They are all strong, funny, smart, and generous, and those are things I aspire to be each day [oh yeah, I'd like to be published someday, too].

Okay, this thing grew way too big. Sorry 'bout that.

Strange Weirdness at Casa Forcie

The weirdness [this time] comes from my two-year-old. Now granted, that's just a weird age to begin with, what with all the temper tantrums and asserting independence and the other stuff that goes with being two. [Side note: Believe it or not, number three kid is the only one to EVER have a rolling-on-the-floor-kicking-and-screaming temper tantrum. Really, I could have lived my whole life just fine without ever having to experience one of those, but there you go. It was interesting, though, and a bit comical in spots. Watching her scream, roll, and scoot all the way across the living room floor was really funny, and if I hadn't laughed, I might have lost my mind instead. She has an incredibly piercing scream, that kid. Besides, my personal parenting philosophy is "See The Humor Where You Can, Because It Could Always Be Worse,"... Or maybe, "Laugh or Die Trying" ;-)...]

Okay, so anyway, the past few nights, I've put her to bed, covered her up, turned the light off and said goodnight. Within two minutes, she starts screaming bloody murder, and I'm not talking about the "You've put me in bed and I don't want to be here so I'm mad and gonna tell you about it," cry. I'm talking about the "Something just poked me really hard with a needle and I'm scared to death," cry. Awful, that.

Each night, for the past three nights, I've gone into the bedroom, turned on the light, looked for spiders, needles, bugs, thorns, anything that might have been causing the screaming. The first night, she didn't have any socks on, and was laying on her back with her feet up in the air shaking them like something had bitten her toes. I checked her feet for splinters, bites, etc. Nothing. I put some socks on her, and she finally went to sleep. Well, by the third night of this, I'm thinking the kid's just lost her mind or something. I put socks on her last night before she went to bed, did the usual bedtime thing, and left the room.

Again with the screaming. I went in and checked her. Nothing. So I took her out of the bed, took the sheet off, flipped the mattress, put a clean mattress pad and sheet on the bed, switched pillows, put her back in bed, turned the light off, said good night, and came in to the computer to write.

Yup, you guessed it. Blood curdling screams. At this point, I'm thinking, maybe I'll just let her cry for a while and see if she calms down on her own. It might have worked, but for the seven year old who shares a room with her. Number one kid comes in and says, "Mom, I think there's something wrong with [number three]. She keeps looking under the covers and screaming like there's something under there. I think something's trying to get her." Oh boy.

One last time, I thought to myself. I went into the room, looked at my beautiful daughter, who, at the sight of me, stopped crying and sat up in the bed. I said something like, "What is your problem, child?" "Uh, da do um rnmnm dat," she said. [She doesn't speak English yet, but I think, roughly translated, it means, "I'm doing my very best to drive you crazy, Mother. I believe I've almost succeeded, what do you think?"]

So, I did what any good mother would do. I took her blanket away from her. If she didn't have anything to look under, maybe she'd stop, right? Then I just looked at her for a minute. Can you guess what she did? She looked at me, gave me the tiniest [and most adorable] mischievous grin, rolled over on her side, hugged her cloth burpy diaper, and closed her eyes. I didn't hear another peep from her for the rest of the night. I'm not making this up! I've said before that the more kids we have, the weirder they get, and this is just one more example of how true that statement is.

Welcome to my world.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Where Do We Go From Here [part 2]

Okay, so we were talking about "The Story We Find Ourselves In" by Brian McLaren. In it, he explains the story of humans and God and how we've interacted over time. He starts off with Creation. I think most people fall into one of three categories of belief about how the world came to be. On one side, you have those who believe that God created the world in six days [each lasting 24 hours] and then rested on the seventh. On the other, you have those who believe that there was a big bang and out of the resulting chaos, the earth [solar system, galaxy, universe] evolved over millions [maybe billions?] of years. Then in the middle, you have people who believe that God created the universe, but he did it by using the principles of evolution.

I used to be a 'six days and a rest' kind of girl, but with all the symbolism we find throughout the Bible, I'm wondering if maybe it was more of a way for non-scientific humans to explain the unexplainable. Does that mean I believe all of the Bible is symbolic instead of literal? Nah, I wouldn't go that far, but I am wondering about some parts that I used to accept at face value.

Now, for some, that kind of thinking would send their whole belief system into a tailspin. [If it affects you that way, then don't give it another thought. This is just some rambling of a curious housewife who thinks too much... Please disregard this post and have a nice day.]

But for me, I don't doubt the truth of the Bible, or the relevance, or that it is God inspired, so this is just interesting thinking material. It doesn't worry me in the least to think that the Genesis account of creation is not exactly how it happened. It's still a cool story, and the point is the same, regardless.

What's the point, you ask? Simply this: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." God created something out of nothing. He made something real and beautiful and good. He started with nothing but a dream of how he wanted the world to be. He imagined a world, and then he started the process of bringing that world into being. And whether it took him six days or six billion years to do it is completely irrelevant. The point, my friends, is that it was God who made it, and that was just the beginning.

Okay, it's late now and I need sleep, but I'm having a ball writing about this stuff, so I think we'll continue tomorrow [many apologies if you're bored to tears... Maybe I'll write about some other stuff, too, but after sleep... must lee................................

Monday, November 21, 2005

Where Do We Go From Here?

I just finished reading "The Story We Find Ourselves In" by Brian D. McLaren which is a fictional account of conversations McLaren has had while exploring the postmodern world and how the Christian church fits into the current culture. Parts of the story take some serious concentration because McLaren goes into some complicated stuff, scientific and theological theories that most of us don't think about every day. I'd give examples, but I'm too tired right now.

The main thing that I got from this book is that a lot of the 'religious' aspects of Christianity don't seem relevant to many people who have never been exposed to 'church things.' Many people are offended when they think of God as being a great engineer who controls everything, deciding ahead of time what our lives are going to be like, and knowing in advance who will be saved and who won't. To be honest, that irritates me too, and I've been a Christian for over ten years now.

It seems like we have been taught that God pushes us from behind, or from the past. Like he created us and then began pushing us forward into the future. In essence, forcing us to move ahead with our only choice being to turn left or right, heading inexorably toward death, judgment, and heaven or hell.

One of the interesting things this book brought up is a shift in this theory. What if, instead of pushing us from behind, God is beckoning us [from the future] toward him. The analogy used in the book that really resonated with me was a couple with a child who is just learning to walk. Suppose the father has the child in one corner of the room and the mother goes across the room to another. The mother kneels down, holds her arms out and says, "Come to Mommy!" The child wants her mommy, so she takes one step, then another, and falls. That's when big brother comes and helps baby up, encouraging her to keep going. Mommy is still calling, and waiting, Daddy is watching and hoping, and big brother is standing guard, encouraging and helping when Baby stumbles, falls, or gets distracted by the big red ball that rolls into her path.

What if that's how it is with God, only in our story, he is mommy, daddy, and brother all rolled up into one? He began by creating something out of nothing, coaxed it into something that was good, even very good [note that the Bible doesn't say perfect? What if he created the universe as a 'baby' so to speak, and it's been developing, changing, growing, and dare I say it, evolving ever since?]

Sheesh, there's so much in my brain, and I'm struggling with how to get it out and be coherent at the same time. I think I need to sleep on this and come back tomorrow. Join me for part 2, won't you?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Some Thoughts on Love

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, 13

Let's break this down a bit:

Love is:

  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Always protects
  • Always trusts
  • Always hopes
  • Always perseveres
  • Rejoices with the truth

Love does not:

  • Envy
  • Boast
  • Keep record of wrongs
  • Delight in evil

Love is not:

  • Proud
  • Rude
  • Self-seeking
  • Easily angered

Love never fails.

Huh? Never? Sheesh. How is that even possible? And what about the rest of the list? Where's the part about love feels good? I don't know about you, but none of these things come naturally to me [except Love always protects]. I'm not very patient most days. I get mad when I don't get my way [that's self-seeking, rude, and easily angered]. I lose hope sometimes, and I give up when anything gets uncomfortable... At least I used to, writing this is pretty uncomfortable, but I will finish it.

And you know what the worst thing is? My family, the people I claim to love the most, are the people who see my worst behavior. The people who get to see the not-so-pretty side of me are the very people I would cut off my left arm to protect [I'm left handed]. What's up with that?

I love them in the sense that I feel a strong emotional attachment to them. But, if I'm reading this right, that's not what the Bible means when it talks about love. It's talking about a choice, not an emotion. I can choose to be patient with people (and do so every time I let some one cut me off in traffic without flipping them off.) I can choose not to cut people down behind their backs (or even just in my head) when they appear more successful than I do right now. I can choose to be genuinely happy for people when they accomplish something. And you know what's weird? Sometimes when you choose to love people even though you aren't "feeling" it right then, the feeling will come after. That's just amazing to me. It's kind of like the whole "you will see it when you believe it" thing. You will feel love when you show love to others. Is that true, do you think?

But back to loving my family. I have a lot of years worth of showing my worst side to those I love most, and old habits die hard. I'm gonna have to work on this every day and consciously CHOOSE to love my family 1 Corinthians style. And while it's true that we have to do the foot work, I don't think this is something we can do alone. I'm talking about prayer. Lots of it. Like maybe every morning asking God to help me love my family the way He loves me. 'Cause, you know, when God told us about love, He was using himself as the example.

That comforts me, because I can know from these verses that God never fails, he never allows anything that can't be used to our good if we love him [trust, hope, and persevere no matter what?]. God is Love. He made it up. He is faithful and will choose to love us every time. Best of all, he will help me CHOOSE to love others His way, every day. Even my family [especially my family] and the blue haired lady driving way too slow in the passing lane on the highway, and the obnoxious kids down the street, and the rude cop who pulled me over and gave me a ticket... well you get the idea.

*disclaimer: except for my family, the examples listed above are inventions of my imagination and in no way represent real people or events... no, seriously...*

So what do you think? Am I on the right track, here?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Hmmm... Random thoughts and a bit of self-psychoanalysis

Okay, so a few days ago, I started blog entry number two. We left for a few days for the hubby to go deer hunting with my dad, and now we're back. The house is just awful, but I didn't' t come here to tell you that. Blog entry #2 was about my first experience with racism. It happened in Kindergarten, on the first day of school. I grew up in a very small town, and in the entire school (grades K-12) there was one black kid. Actually he was biracial, but I didn't know that word back then

Anyway, I started writing #2, and about half way in, my Internal Editor kicked in and the words just shut down. I began revising it in my head, but I kept finding excuses not to go to the keyboard. Now, granted, we had to pack, my back went out, and all sorts of other minor catastrophes happened, giving me ample excuses. But that's the thing about me. I always have excuses... Anything that gets me out of doing something that's uncomfortable.

Even in my fiction, where no one would ever recognize an event or character as me, or something that's happened to me, I get to a point and can't go on. Even sitting here writing this, my instinct is to run away. I've spent the past three hours reading blogs online instead of tackling the kindergarten story.

Is it that big of a deal? Probably not. But it means work. It means telling a story that hurts me. It means baring my soul just a little, exposing parts of myself I'm not proud of. And I'm scared. It's dumb, I know, no one's even read this thing yet. Possibly no one will, even if I do publish it on the 'net. That's not the point. Nope, it's just me fighting against my own demons of self-doubt.

There it is again. My brain started editing and my instinct is to save this as a draft and come back to it later. So I'm publishing it right now, [without editing, so forgive any typos] and winning a small battle for once.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Number One Post... Testing...

Okay, so I've been reading blogs for almost a year now, and I've finally decided to take the plunge and give it a try. At this point, I'm not sure how to classify myself in the blogosphere. I am a stay at home, homeschooling mother of three wonderful kids, ages 7, 4, and 2. I'm not sure if I will be publishing their names... I may just call them by number (One being the 7 year old, Two being the four year old, and Three being the two year old...)

We have one dog named Sydney, and way too many fish all swimming around together in a 10 gallon tank. We've only named a few of the fish... our algae eater is named Pirate Ship (courtesy of my son.. a name which always makes me laugh), Sunny (breed unknown, but she's yellow fading to orange with black spots... named Sunny by me, it's short for Tequila Sunrise.. My husband just shook his head when I named her). We know Sunny is a girl because she had babies not too long ago, at least five, but possibly more. We also have four fish named Eenie, Meenie, Minie, and Moe... also of unknown breed, and an incredible number of feeder guppies (who keep making more) that I refuse to name and don't want, though I don't have the heart to get them out of the tank and throw them away.

Okay, so now that you know more than you ever wanted to know about my fish tank, I have to go fix dinner for the masses. Thus ends my first post. Here's hoping it only gets better from here.