Category: Uncategorized

Weary – Five Minute Friday

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

Rev 21It must be very difficult to believe that God will really make a new heaven and a new earth, that He will wipe away every tear, that He will dwell with His people, that He Himself will be with us. Difficult, at least, for those who don’t believe in Him and even for some who do. Life goes along pretty much as it always has. Nothing changes very much, at least not dramatically. There may be an unexpected illness or a catastrophe, but then, we get back to normal; there is life, there is death.

But we can dwell with God. Right here. Right now. We can discover Him remaking us and our lives each day. We can experience His power in immense ways: Being healed when life shreds our hearts, having the strength to go on when it’s the last thing we want, discovering community and friendship and family where there was none, clinging to God even when He keeps saying ‘No’ only to discover that holding fast to Him, dwelling with Him was the important thing in the first place.

Cling to Him. Dwell with Him. Trust that He dwells with us. See God’s new heaven and new earth taking shape today.

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On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

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Bacon – Five Minute Friday

baconThis week, the WHO placed bacon on it’s list of carcinogens. I was shocked and a bit frightened until I discovered that most food is listed as an actual or probable carcinogen. The only way to avoid cancer and, perhaps, live forever is to starve oneself or, at the very least, forego delicious food. It’s a glum world and I have better things to do.

So I’ll eat bacon and chocolate and eggs and cream and all sorts of other goodies that may hurt me. Everyone’s life comes with an unsurprising surprise, death. And death, for those who follow Christ, is a doorway from the initial experience of eternal life that begins in this world to the never ending experience of eternal life that will be filled with bacon and so many other joys.

I doubt heaven will the pig of Eden. Then again, Homer may be onto something here:

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On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Image source: http://www.fwweekly.com/2013/02/11/bacon-enough-already/

Joy: Five Minute Friday

I know I’m a good writer but…

I’ve doubted myself. And then I began the University of Iowa course, “How Writers Write Fiction,” and learned that I’m a better writer than I thought. It’s a scary bit of knowledge. A bit of knowledge full of joy. I never thought I’d be able to commit all that goes on inside to paper so that it makes sense.

in the oceanThe surface of my life is only a tiny part of reality. I’m like that line in A Horse With No Name: “The ocean is a desert with it’s life underground and the perfect disguise above.” We see all that water but don’t recognize that there is a huge ecosystem we can’t live in. There’s so much more under the visible surface.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some of my completed assignments. It would be sheer joy to have my readers’ comments.

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On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Image source: http://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-6171821-stock-footage-ocean-underwater-scene-with-sunlight-coral-and-fish-scuba-diving.html

Trust – Five Minute Friday (a day late again)

Flanner O'Connor stampI’m participating in the University of Iowa MOOC, How Writer’s Write Fiction. MOOC, is an acronym for “massive open online course.” Many, such as this one, are free. Flannery O’Connor (whose picture will be on a stamp) studied writing at the University of Iowa’s Writing Workshop and I’m honoured to be in such great company. My hope is that the course will help me develop the complexity of characters and situations in my work-in-progress-but-nearing-completion book, Loved As If.

I went into the course with a great deal of fear and dread. How can I trust my work, which proceeds from a solid Christian worldview, to those who have little or no grounding in Christianity? How do I trust that what I write will even speak to those whose initial points of reference are so antithetical to mine? For some time, anxiety has buzzed just below the surface: What is God expecting of me? How can I possibly deliver? Won’t this be like university where I had to find ways to write about faith without mentioning any actual experience of faith?

I find God is only expecting me to do my best. Thus far, the instructors, mentors, and other writers perceive my work not as religious but as writing. Some may get it, others not. But they respond to well-written characters and situations. Two weeks in and I’ve already discovered that I can express a character’s anxiety or joy or anger without using adverbs (anxiously) or telegraphing action (she felt joy rise within her and said…) or being the narrative voice that explains what the characters are doing (“I hate you!,” she screamed in anger.) What matters is that I can trust God even when He sends me into hostile territory.

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On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Image source: http://aleteia.org/2015/05/28/flannery-oconnor-to-be-honored-with-us-postage-stamp/

Find – Five Minute Friday

“How do you walk through it?” Her unlined forehead furrowed softly. “I mean when you find yourself in that powdery desert?”

Her boss’s face resolved into puzzlement as he searched for the word.

“There is no how,” I replied after a time. “You just do it.” Her boss nodded. “If you waste your time worrying about how…”

“You’ll die,” her boss completed my thought. Our eyes met for an instant. Though we had different experiences, we both understood finding our way through the desert.

find desertBut so many I know don’t understand what to do if they find themselves in the desert. So many have never been told that it’s not an intellectual exercise; there’s often little time to plan. Mostly, one just begins and prays for strength to continue walking while continuing to walk. Mostly, the “how” has been implanted in our hearts by the day to day work of self-sacrifice and faith. Mostly, it’s just the ongoing work to find ourselves or be found. Beyond that, there is only placing one foot in front of the other.

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On Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Here – Five Minute Friday

here cozy libraryWere I able to have anything I want, here would always be a cozy, halcyon place. (I used to nag God about when my halcyon days would come.) Here would be a place where visitors could select a good book, get a cup of tea or coffee, and sink back in a deep, cozy chair. Here they could find space to stretch, paths for walking, an adventure or two, and always back in time for a delicious dinner, a happy evening, and a good night’s rest in a comfy bed. All would know that God is always be here and all would be happy.

But the here in which I actually live is not a halcyon place. (I stopped nagging God when I realized earth is not heaven.) Here I live with an excruciating past and have been given the job of translating those horrors into some sort of readable shape that is honest while not being a platter of horrors. God holds all of my here, including the excruciating past, in His hands. What He will do with the outcome of my writing, I don’t know. All I know is that while here is not as comfortable and halcyon as I’d like it to be, here is real. Here is rich with God and many, many adventures.

The halcyon days were a fantasy. Reality is where I find God. Given my choice, I’d run to God every time. With Him there is endless joy and adventure; there is so much more than I can imagine. God isn’t limited to the boundaries of my imagination and here, with Him, neither am I.

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On Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Image source: https://www.pinterest.com/domienova/home-library-ideas/

Fantasy – Five Photos, Five Stories – 2

fantasy prison A story beckoned and my imagination cast me as the main character: Cinderella, Bernadette Soubirous, Sara Crewe, Pipi Longstocking. Sometimes, I was Julie Andre in my version of Daddy Long Legs or Jo Stockton in Funny Face or one of many, many other characters from books or from one of the few films or television programs I was allowed to watch (or watched without permission when the adults failed to guard the living room). My imagination took me away from the girl who was abused and neglected, the girl who had to keep so many secrets, the girl who was not even allowed to reveal that she remembered the before time.

Somehow the fantasies always became wound up with that first rape. At first, the prince rescued me from the molesting step mother, the brutalizing step children. But by the time I became an adult, there was no prince; my fantasies became darker and increasingly abusive. My imagination created scenes that I knew, even as they played themselves out in my mind, I never wanted to live. Anxiety – good or bad – triggered fantasy and fantasy became a prison. It was beyond my control. Somewhat pleasurable, dark horrors arose in my mind: What if I had been sold as a sacrifice? What if I had been sold as a slave? What if I had innocently wandered into a relationship only to find myself trapped, brutalized, and murdered by someone who took pleasure in hurting me because he could?

Intellectually, I knew that I was reliving the horrors I had experienced as a young child. I was trying to rework them, make them, somehow, okay. But I also knew that nothing in my power could ever make them okay. I held the gaping wounds up to God and begged Him to heal me. I ended fantasy after fantasy confused, unable to fathom how the creeping darkness would dissipate. How could I be healed? How could I ever stop fantasizing? How could I be free? Therapy hadn’t helped. I had never trusted my therapists enough to tell them much about my fantasies anyway. And I had assumed that finding my family would cure all my ills. But my family was dead and I couldn’t hope for healing that way.

Finally, I was freed from prison in a totally unexpected way. A friend who knew about my past scandalized me. For a year I suffered from flashbacks and fantasy had no appeal. Wide-eyed joy eventually blossomed: “There must be something innocent in me,” I told God. “Otherwise, I couldn’t have been scandalized.” I find more and more innocence in me. Learning that abuse had caused me to be confused elicited more joy and fantasy still had no appeal. Another round of flashbacks which another friend triggered cauterized my soul – I couldn’t even imagine wanting fantasy.

These days, I experience rare temptation to lose myself in fantasy; life hasn’t become exactly easy. But fantasy still has no appeal. Fantasy limits me to my own imagination. And though I have an immense imagination, it’s not much next to what God does. He brought me along, healed me bit by bit, and, when I was strong enough, reset my default from fantasy, when I’m anxious, to prayer, exercise, chatting with a friend, singing, all sorts of activities that lead me into the light.

Real life continues to be filled with the hard work of living but it’s good work, like the work I’ve been doing to strengthen my knees and correct an imbalance in my leg muscles. Today, for the first time in a long, long time, I climbed and descended several sets of stairs with a minimum of pain. I’ve still got a ways to go but my knees and leg muscles are getting stronger. Living the moments of my life without escaping into a world of my own creation is becoming easier. I still have plenty of dreams but remind myself that with work and help from God, some of those dreams can come true, just as they have in the past. Fantasy is ephemeral. It’s like eating whipped cream all day. It can be pleasant but it’s nothing real, nothing sustaining. I do better with real food.

Five Minute Friday: Meet

After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:66-69)

“When did you meet Jesus?”

So many times I’ve been asked that question. I imagine myself walking along and discovering Him around the corner. Or being introduced at a party — a bbq or wine and cheese — or sitting next to Him at a formal dinner.

words to eternal lifeMy response has always been, “I did not meet Jesus. I have no memory of not knowing Him. Over time, I have come to know Him better and plan to continue getting to know Him. He seems to have just swooped me up like my Papa did when I was little. He’s never stopped swooping me up and I hope He never does.”

Many times, curiosity, fear, attraction have sent me scurrying off after something that seems to be meet and right. Eventually, I discover that if I’m scurrying away from Him, even if it’s towards something that looks glorious, I’m going in the wrong direction. Too often, I’ve gotten what I want only to discover I really don’t want it. (Once is more than enough.) And “swoop”! There He is, swinging me high into the air. Where else would I go?

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers. Kate Motaung at  Heading Home provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

2015 A to Z Challenge Reflections

At the end of each annual A to Z Challenge (that’s what the month of April is all about), bloggers write a post reflecting on the experience.

A year ago, I launched launched Loved As If. This year, I reworked the years between escaping the minister and his crazy family and finding healing. In my book, that period is “Attic Clearing.” I encountered many other bloggers and some of their readers. ‘Twas lovely. Blogging two posts each day, one here and one at Glam Of God, a fashion blog I launched during this year’s Challenge, was hard work. And again, ’twas lovely. I’d do it again. Well, maybe I’ll limit myself to one post or write more posts in advance. The A to Z Challenge is a great opportunity to devote a concentrated amount of time to a writing project even when other things are calling my attention. That, along with meeting other bloggers, is what I love.

I do wish it was easier to follow the blogs. Perhaps next year I’ll program a spreadsheet and tick off the blogs I’ve already visited. Except, I happen along an interesting blog and want to return (or, worse, subscribe) and then I’m overwhelmed. It may not be an A to Z Challenge issue but a personal issue. If I program that spreadsheet, I’ll make it available to any who want it.

Thank you for such a lovely challenge. I’m looking forward to next year. Who knows, I might have a theme.

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