Writing is a journey, not a destination.

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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.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


One of the good changes in the Turtle household is the resumption of playtime.

I am not physically capable of recording playtime while playing. You'll just have to watch Cole and Marmalade on Youtube and imagine my trio instead.

It was nearly impossible to play with seven animals at one time. Little Brother attacked anyone who got too excited. Sweetie stampeded over anyone who got between her and the laser light. Following a swinging string could land you in the middle of a fight, and that's a hard con to forget. Miss Kitty tended to hog the toy.

Three cats manage to respect each other's space. Miss Kitty gets the first couple of minutes of frantic running to calm her down. Skuttle has finally remembered how much fun string is to chase (she doesn't care for the laser). Skamper takes a while to warm up, but he is by far the best catcher.

Skamper has learned when I say "no teeth," he's to drop the string. I lost too many strings to his one-chomp equals one-severing ability. He confines himself to claws.

Skuttle likes to grab the string and walk off with it. Since it's attached to me, that's never successful, but she does try. She likes chasing a thing she can catch, so I'm careful to let her catch it every so often.

Miss Kitty has no boundaries until she's tired, and she has jumped on her siblings' catches just to prove she's involved. That's when I say, "If you want to play, you have to let go." She's not as language smart as her brother.

While I'm typing, Skamper has found his tiny jingle wand and is throwing it around the living room. Of course, my phone is ten feet away. Sorry.

Hey, I got to my phone without too much disruption. 

Group playtime happens around 7 PM, but they've started playing individually, too. Now that they sleep upstairs, I've heard them playing quietly in the middle of the night. Well, as quietly as a tiny jingle bell can be. At least Miss Kitty no longer hunts closet gremlins at 2:33 AM. I've found my sleep doesn't matter to me as much anymore, as long as the kids are happy and healthy.

I hope you're happy and healthy today, too. Here's another video to help with that.

Applaud the jellyfish.

Friday, January 13, 2017

TruTouch Grooming Glove vs Cats Update

You've seen it. You've wondered. Would that rubber glove thingy work on my furry friend?

I found mine in Walgreen's as-seen-on-TV aisle, which is great, because I would never call an 800 number to buy something.

There's a learning curve. It's a larger than normal, rubber-smelling grabby thing where Mom's hand normally is, so patience is a good plan. Leave it out where the cats can smell on it for a while, although, if you have a cat who tends to ferret things, don't leave it out unattended.

Application of the glove requires a bit more pressure than normal petting and that ups the "strange" factor. I've found using both hands can help at the beginning.

The goal, of course, is not to frighten the cat. Cats remember stuff, and they will absolutely remember that the sound of velcro means I'm about to get grabbed and mashed and pulled on. Don't give them reason to fear that memory.

Start small, with a few strokes, to give you both a feel for how this might progress. Toffee was fine with the glove from the first touch. Miss Kitty sees it and preps for attack-mode within minutes (she's not afraid, but she doesn't seem to find it relaxing). Skuttle expects me to pet her for five to seven minutes every morning and even rolls over so I can get both sides.

Skamper doesn't attack, but he did start avoiding me if he thought the glove could be brought into play. For him, the glove will be a specific time and place only, and I might follow it with food for that extra nudge in the right direction. His long hair is the main reason I bought the thing, and I'm determined he will benefit from it.

I have found that the amount of hair removed increases with use. It took several days with Skuttle before I had to clean the glove. Now, I pull hair off the glove every time.

I didn't have a chance to try it with Sweetie, but I suspect it would have gone the same as with Skamper. She didn't fight being brushed, but it wasn't her favorite thing, either.

Pluses: 1) It's rubber, so the static charge issues of a dry house, dry cat, and metal comb don't come into play. I hear the static, but no one is feeling it. 2) It's thick, so even when Miss Kitty or Skamper have had enough and bring the five-point maul strike into play because I missed the signs, I'm not shredded and bleeding. I can calmly remove my intact limb and put the undamaged glove away. 3) I found it at Walgreens, so I didn't have to speak with or give payment information to a telesales representative.

Minuses: It's bulk means its harder to groom "tight spaces" on smaller cats. I can gently grab their tails (which is great because combs just don't go there), but under the chin must proceed with care. Frankly, I can't think of any other complaints, but I went into this with knowledge of my cats and the goal of giving us all time to get used to something new.

In short, I like it. I think it would work best for people who can schedule it into their pet's day rather than grab the glove and go to town because the mood calls, but that probably depends on the pet, too.

Applaud the jellyfish.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Person of Interest

I finally watched the last two seasons of the show, and I do mean the last two seasons, since it was cancelled halfway through season 5. Typical. Shows I like always get cancelled. Perhaps because I don't watch them while they're being created. NBC taught me never to trust a show in production.

I liked this show. A lot. All the way to the end.

Yes, it had many issues, like promoting the idea that bad guys can be completely incapacitated by being shot in the knee, and people regularly survive getting t-boned by large trucks, and there is no limit to how many bullets to the chest you can take without dying. Not to mention being told where to fire by an ASI (artificial super-intelligence) makes you immediately proficient with weapons and a crack shot to boot.

But... It was ultimately a show about redemption. How people who made bad choices can learn to make better choices. How self-sacrifice is contagious. How violence is never the answer. Actually, the show wanted to teach that, but even Finch picked up arms at the end, so sometimes violence is the only answer.

Produced by JJ Abrams, PoI didn't have many of his trademark themes, other than true love is eternal. Perhaps because it was mostly written by Jonathan Nolan, of Batman Begins fame. The show was more about lost love, lost chances, and the triumph of good over evil through ultimate sacrifices.

Harold Finch is absolutely my favorite character, but, by the end, Lionel was second. He came the farthest, I think, of all of them.

Unlike Lost, this show had an ending ready to go for when the studios pulled the plug, and I will be forever grateful. The ending was bittersweet, like the show, but I was satisfied. I'm sorry they went out, but I'm glad they went out on top.

I look forward to the next Michael Emerson project.

Applaud the jellyfish.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Begin with Forgiveness

It's been a few years since the Lavender Squeak incident, where I learned to apply forgiveness in my own life, so I'm finally willing to say with some authority "yes, this solution works."

Let it go.

One of the curses of living in time is that the past can't be changed. What happened, happened. Whatever the cost, whatever the result, dwelling on it will not do anything except make you miserable and useless now.

Forgiveness begins with forgiving God. Some Christians gasp when you say that. "You can't forgive God! God never makes mistakes!" Maybe not, but God can do or allow things that get my dander up, and, like any friendship, require me to forgive him for testing our relationship.

When I was mad at God, I had to forgive him first. It wasn't an emotion. It was a decision. I decided that I would no longer hold that action against him. It was done, it was behind us, and we would move forward from that moment on without looking back. I marked the account "paid" and I turned the page. The offense is not something I review daily or hourly. It collects dust in a shoebox under the rafters, untouched, waiting for the retention schedule to wind down before being chucked into the shredder.

This is not the same as avoidance. I am fully aware of the offense. I chose not to seek retribution. I chose not to obsess. I chose to let it go. I use past tense because the initial choice solves the problem. I don't entertain the thought "I'm forgiving you for this terrible thing" daily. That isn't forgiveness. Forgiveness is making the choice to let it go, and then letting it go.

For me, the decision to forgive and the release from the anger and the hurt took one night. I decided to forgive, I went to bed, and I woke up lighter than I'd been in years. The anger, bitterness, and hurt was completely diffused. I had trouble even remembering the intensity of the emotions I'd felt fewer than 12 hours before. I believe that my decision to forgive allowed the divine mystery that is God's forgiveness to free me from my past. I do not know if this works for non-Christians. I do not believe it is something a human can do apart from God. I only know that I didn't experience release until I made the decision to let it go.

The offense surfaced in my mind a few more times, but each time I set it firmly behind me and focused on the future. I would have to review this blog to even remember the exact string of events now, so far have I come from that pain, although it was only a few years past.

Please, dear Brothers and Sisters, let it go. All of it. Decide to forgive. Set your past offenses, hurts and tortures down, and walk away from them. They are past. You have the whole future ahead, and how much easier it will be without all that garbage crushing you. As you let go of the past, you may find a whole string of things you didn't even know were there that also require forgiveness. I did. I forgave them, too. I was unbound.

Forgive God, forgive yourself, and forgive your torturers. There will one day be a divine reckoning, and we will be forgiven as we have forgiven others. There's no better time to start your new life.

Embrace your faith.