Monday, January 1, 2018

Goodbye, 2017. We Tried.

I really did try, too. I wanted to like 2017 so much.

I like the new president. Yes. I really do like Trump. He's way funnier than Hillary.

No other Turtle household member died (although I had my doubts a few times).

I made measurable progress on the mortgage.

I spent lots of time in The Swamp, front and back, and avoided city citations.

I even wrote on my next book. That kinda stopped when the cat family moved in but I believe it will pick up again.

I adopted a dog and a kitten.

On the other hand, I got to see just how entrenched evil is in my country.  I mean, I suspected, but this year I have actual proof. Work got weirder than it has been in a while. I've felt incredibly restless and apathetic, often at the same time. I know more people with cancer than without. OK, not quite on that one, but it feels that way. I stopped blogging. Not like I have anything to say that I haven't said before. I also like making little side comments on Facebook instead of writing a small essay. It's easier.

I'm curious and wary about 2018. A paid-off mortgage is huge, but it can't be at the expense of my emergency fund. Work will change again; the upcoming election will see to that. The household includes four cats and a dog. That's the line, though. Last year taught the adult me that three cats are plenty, but I'm glad Dandelion joined the gang. He's sleeping on my lap at the moment, resting between destructive rampages. Avery is asleep at my feet, and I'm glad she's here, too. When the weather warms up a bit, we'll resume our walks.

I'm learning to say "thank you, Lord," no matter what. It's called the "sacrifice of praise," and it's a sacrifice because, while I don't always feel thankful, if I believe God is good - and I do - then whatever comes will result in good ultimately.

That's my belief for 2018. Whatever comes, good will result ultimately.

Happy New Year, folks.

Friday, March 31, 2017

If You're a Writer...

I'm taking a class about powerful prayer that involves creating a prayer journal. In this instance, journal connotes notebook for holding lists more than diary. Nothing wrong with that.  Prayer is communicating with God, and talking is one means of communication.

When asked how our prayer efforts were going, I said I prefer to write out scriptures and prayers. I do. Something about using a nice pen on lined paper makes my heart sing and my mind focus. I mean, I have all those pens and that paper (what writer doesn't? Didn't we all start by drooling over blank journals and composition books in the school supply aisle?). Why not use them?

I suspect I am the only person in the group that does this. I'm likely also the only person who has only cats to talk to at home. C'est la vie.

Later, while illustrating a point, the teacher waved in my direction with: "If you're a writer..."

I had to smile. That sums it up, doesn't it? If you're a writer, you write. You write your prayers and your thoughts on scripture. You write blog posts, if that's your bent. You write business letters or short stories or fiction books. The written word is your medium, and you are as comfortable with it as a turtle in water.

After a million words of practice, and another million words or more of application, I am a writer. My first drafts are almost publishable. I would never do that, of course.

It's not that I don't write. It's that I no longer have the drive to write. I have some story ideas. I have the ability to write them down in a readable way. I just don't have the urgency I used to have. It's not a muse thing. I am too practiced to blame a muse's absence for lack of productivity. It's that I don't care anymore whether my stories get told.

I will write, because I'm a writer. What I will write is the question.

Applaud the jellyfish.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

100 Days

There's a Stargate SG-1 episode by that name, when O'Neill is stranded on a planet after the stargate is buried in an explosion. Based on the movie character, you would expect him to commit suicide, and he considers it. But a widow explains that after she lost her husband, she wanted to die at first, but slowly, by the 100th day, she was ready to at least try to live again.

Since December, I haven't seen much of the cats. We came together for meals, yes, and playtime, but afterwards, each went to a separate corner of the house and slept or stared out a window or did whatever they were doing when they weren't fighting over me. My narrow bed contained only me.

I thought this is what it will be like now. These aren't my snugglers. These aren't my people-oriented furbabies. Those are gone. We're going to share space in this house until, you know, The End.

In the last 10 days or so, the cats have returned to old patterns. Skamper has resumed sleeping in my lap during the day (he just joined me at the computer and is lying between my arms as I type). Skuttle is torn between GloveLove and being stand-offish. Miss Kitty is chasing anyone who will run.

I counted. Today is the 110th day since Simon journeyed to Aslan's Country. They must have been watching that episode with me and decided we've mourned long enough. Time to resume at least trying to live again.

I hear you, kiddos. Begin next chapter.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

My Prayers

I've decided I'm glad about all the national turmoil. Passion is evidence of energy; apathy is nearly impossible to work with, from a therapy standpoint. My prayer for the last two years has been that God would expose evil and remove it. Well, it's exposing itself all over the place.

I've developed some go-to prayers since November.

1. God, make us one as you are one. John 17:21.

I can't imagine what would happen if everyone who says he's a Christian would pray this prayer with me. Discord? Not any more. Revival? Certainly. Powerful witness to unbelievers? Yeah. No wonder Satan works to keep us divided.

2. God, guide our leaders as you would have them go. Proverbs 21:1, 1 Timothy 2:2

I didn't pray for our last president. I figured he was God's answer to us demanding our own way. Who am I to pray against God's permissive will? What might have been different had I prayed? I'm not making that mistake again.

Nearly every day, some days more than once, I pray for our leaders. That God will grant them his wisdom, that he will open doors that lead to his glory, and close doors that lead to evil. I pray that he will open those hearts that will turn to him, and limit the evil being done by those who will never turn to him. And on the subject of evil...

3. Let the evil be caught in their own nets. Google gave me four off the bat: Psalm 141:10, Psalm 35:8, Proverbs 11:6, Proverbs 5:22.

The world is full of evil men. Powerful, evil men. Why did God banish Adam and Eve from Eden (Gen 3:22)? So they wouldn't eat from the tree of life and live forever doing evil. Because he is good, he limited the amount of evil one person can do in a lifetime. We screwed that up with the creation of perpetual corporations, that accrue nearly limitless power and money for people who didn't have to learn how to wisely manage those resources, and we daily see the consequences of flouting God's wisdom.

(The "Evil Corporation" is really a post for another time. Corporations by themselves are a tool, like a gun or a shovel, or a government. Not inherently evil, but so prone to misuse they give the impression of evil.)

The only way to fight that kind of long-lived evil potential is with an eternal, wise, merciful, holy God. May God deal with such things as he sees fit, save those who will be saved, and stop those who will not be saved.

These are my daily prayers. I don't think they're radical in anything other than actively asking God to do what he thinks is best for us. I pray in humility that God opens my eyes, too. If I'm misunderstanding his will or character, I want to change.

I hope you'll join me. If ever there was a time to pray for real peace and unity, this is it. Christians, time to put up or shut up. Call on your God and expect great things.

Keep the faith.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A 2017 Goal

I don't do New Year resolutions. If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing the moment you think it. It's also worth doing if you miss a day. I mean, if I miss a meal, I don't give up eating. Not that I have a lot of experience with missing meals, but the theory is sound. Giving up a good thing because of one failure is the worse failure.

I'm an Old Testament Christian. (Is that possible? Hmm.) I know the OT better than the NT. I prefer reading the OT to the NT. Maybe it's the narrative style. Maybe it's the violence. Maybe it's the do right or get stoned to death clarity that appeals to my judgmental nature. I don't know. I just know I don't spend that much time in the New Testament in general.

This is my year to change that. I have shelved my chronological NIV Bible and pulled out the new Holman Christian Standard Version I bought to match the new pastor's readings. I normally read from the New American Standard Version I used in college, but, hey, I'm willing to branch out. Since I don't read Hebrew or Greek, it's OK to see how different translators work with different words.

One of the things I'm doing is reading the books as books, and not verses. I ignore chapter breaks and sub-groups, and look for trains of thought. I'm applying some of my knowledge of book writing to asking why certain things were written in certain orders. Sorry, college professors. Only took me 25 years to want to do this on my own.

I'm starting by reading the books with the same authors in order. So, Matthew (based on Peter's account) followed by 1 and 2 Peter. I skipped Mark, which is historically based on Matthew's account of Peter's account, but I have all year, so no worries.

I've been reading a chronological Bible that cuts and pastes books together "in order." I warned My Dear Friend if she used one, not to take it as gospel. Get it? Don't take the Bible as gospel? But you really can't. The editors could be wrong and bits can get left out. It can be annoying to read all the books as they are, especially the ones that tend to overlap, but God preserved them for a reason, so it's worth the effort.

I'd forgotten a lot about how the gospels read. Where they start and stop. Where the focus is for each author. The same parts and the different parts. My goal in this study is to get to know Jesus better. He's the one part of the trinity that puzzles me, but he's the part I'm supposed to relate to best, because he's the part that became human.

Did you hear the story about the farmer who saw a flock of wild geese land in his field during a terrible winter storm? Wanting to help them, he tried to drive them into his barn where they could be safe, but they ran from him. Then he brought out his own geese and the wild ones followed them to safety in the barn.

It's a modern parable. Jesus became human because I have a better chance of understanding and following a human example than I do an invisible, all-powerful example (even though they're the same God, but that's another post). Maybe I'm a goose for trying, but if he went to all the trouble to get here, the least I can do is try to understand what he was doing. That's really what the New Testament is about. Why he came, what he did, and how we're supposed to respond.

Keep the faith.