I stabbed the unsterilized pin into my thumb, then squeezed it until I was rewarded with a small blob of blood. With a scrunched face and a small squeal, my girlfriend followed suit.
We triumphantly held up our bloodied thumbs, then pressed them together. We were blood sisters forever!
As an adult, I cringe at the memory of the unsterilized pin and the possible exchange of viruses or whatever else we could have contracted that day. But we were only eight and we’d seen a similar blood ceremony in a movie. That day, however, was the start of a long sisterhood and a close bond that lasted through making forts behind sofas to giggling about boyfriends in high school. We trusted each other implicitly and would never have knowingly hurt each other. We would have sacrificed a hundred date nights than to have stood idly by watching pain enter each other’s lives.
I’ve since discovered even more of a trusting and protective relationship between my husband and I. Our soul aim within our relationship is to try and make each other happy and secure.
But yesterday I was reminded of the most important relationship of my life. I strode into my friend’s hospital room, and was greeted by the radiant smile of my sister in God. She had been in and out of the hospital for years with infections due to circulatory problems. Last year after a few toes had been amputated on her left foot, she lost her whole foot and ankle. Now she is facing more amputations on her right foot. But through it all, her faith remains strong. Of course there were tears, especially when she told me about her son who hadn’t visited for two years. God promised that there would be problems in this life, but He also promised He would never abandon us, and would always walk through trials with us.
Learning how to trust God through trials takes me back to another story, this time, from my teen years. I worked at a stable in exchange for riding lessons. One horrible night, I smelled smoke in the hallway of the barn. While a few people raced to battle the blaze in the feed room, others ran to evacuate the horses.
One horse refused to budge from his stall. There was smoke funnelling down the hallway and all his senses told him that his stall was the only secure place. I hauled at his halter, but when a thousand pound animal sets its feet against a hundred pound girl, there is no contest. It was only when I covered his eyes with my sweater that he allowed me to lead him through the smoke. When he arrived with the rest of the horses outside the smoky barn and I took off his blindfold, he immediately settled down.
Similarly, we have to relinquish control and walk ahead by blind faith alone at times of trials. When there is pain in our lives, we have to trust that God has a master plan for it all. If we could see our lives from beginning to end, we wouldn’t receive gifts like faith, and hope.
My friends earn my trust by not hurting me or allowing pain to enter my life. However trusting God is a different kind of trust. God isn’t interested in protecting me from all pain – he has a much bigger goal in mind. As a parent, I do understand that to shelter my kids from pain is to not allow them to grow stronger as adults. And unfortunately pain is often God’s tool to increase my faith in Him. Like the blindfolded horse that had to relinquish control to walk through the smoke, I too have to trust that His plan is the best, even if it hurts.
After all, this world isn’t our home, and God isn’t in the business of making us comfortable and happy here. If nothing else, pain is a reminder that I’m not meant to handle life’s trials alone.
Here is my gift to you! If you haven’t heard Laura Story’s song Blessings, you are in for a treat. Have a listen!
Remember those good old TV shows from the Fifties? Andy Griffith, Leave It to Beaver, The Lone Ranger, and a host of others. Today’s viewers say, “Boring. No conflict. Not enough action.”
Excuse me? While superheroes didn’t bounce out of the sky and smash a city to individual cinder blocks, the characters in those programs faced real problems and taught children how to solve them. In many family comedies, Dads led their wives and children through a jungle of moral decisions. The parents, as a team, guided their children toward wisdom, unlike many of the buffoons in today’s sitcoms.
Take Eddie Haskell, a problem that never stopped. Wally and the Beaver didn’t like him, but they treated him with grace. Their parents told them to, they obeyed, and further conflict was averted. At least, until Eddie tried something else, and the cycle repeated.
Or Opie Taylor, Andy Griffith’s son. I remember an episode where he had to choose: prepare to fight the bully for what was right or join the crowd to do wrong. Thanks to his father’s consistent example, Opie chose to stand for righteousness.
Dennis the Menace entertained us with his inept efforts to be helpful, and his generous heart taught children like me to love our neighbors. His parents were often at a loss as to how to handle what Dennis might get into next, but they always explained to their son how he might have done things differently with less disastrous results.
Even westerns taught Judeo Christian morality. In The Rifleman, a father taught his son right and wrong and to use violence as a last resort to save other lives. The Lone Ranger never looked for credit for his good deeds. The rescued asked, “Who was that masked man?” as he rode into the sunset. Lessons in humility.
I want the same lessons of goodness in the books I read where characters solve problems in an honorable manner. It’s why I prefer the classics, books that contain intact families who love each other and face conflicts together. I get so tired of the dysfunctional families and missing parents in today’s literature. As an experiment, I went through the archives of The Scriblerians and checked the family situations in each of the books I’ve reviewed. I was dismayed by the results:
Dysfunctional Family/Missing Parent Intact, Loving Family
//// //// //// //// // //// //// /
Even if I discount the handful of books written past 1990, I found that authors use the lack of a good parent as an integral part of the conflict for the child protagonist. As much as I love each one of these stories, I’m saddened by that reality.
Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars is a case in point. Thirteen-year-old Sara lives with her snarky teenage sister, her little brother Charlie, and their aunt. Their mother died; their dad split. Charlie has unnamed developmental disabilities. Today we might say he’s on the autism spectrum. Sara loves Charlie; she hates his neediness. She hates herself as many young adolescents do. The novel is beautiful and character-driven with a flawed protagonist who finally realizes she loves her family as it is.
Most of the events in the plot could have been accomplished with a mom and dad still around. Two parents could have struggled together in dealing with Charlie’s eccentricities, and teens in their struggle for independence get in grand funks even when they grow up in wonderful, loving homes.
Strong families are not exempt from ongoing crises. I’m currently writing a fictionalized memoir covering the first five years of my little sister’s life. Our parents enjoyed a solid marriage, and they had to cope with the uncertainties of raising a profoundly deaf child. Heartbreaking events occurred, and comical episodes still made life fun. We were strong. We were together.
This is what I feel called to do in my writing, to glorify God with stories of family who strive together to overcome the obstacles in their path as they journey through life, pilgrims on the way to the Promised Land.
You may notice that each of the Scriblerians is developing a distinct and focused column on this site, complete with a lovely meme expressing the theme of the column.
We decided it was time that each of us took a more focused approach to our posts, so we searched our past work for patterns that could point us in specific directions.
For those of you who don’t know me as well as the Scriblerians do, I thought I’d explain the meaning of my meme (and thus my column) before I start writing its theme-driven posts. Just so you’ll know what to expect.
“Better Late Than Never Written” refers to the fact that I got a very late start writing fiction. My age was, well, let’s just say middle-aged.
My first novel was published (the first time) in 2014, over a decade after it was begun. To my thinking at the time, that book took so long to write and get published that I might not have enough decades left to write a second one and get it published before … you know.
It seemed like every fiction writer I knew had started writing at a much younger age than I, and if not yet published, had at least two or three manuscripts completed. The published authors my age had several novels to their credit. How would I ever catch up?
The writing, and then finding the right publisher, made up only half the problem. There was so much to learn regarding the marketing of books. A lot of tools for book marketing are free or of little cost, but finding them and choosing the right ones are not easy.
So that’s what my column will be about. I plan to share with you some of the things I had to rush to discover, to learn, and to accumulate. About writing. About publishing. About marketing. Stuff I’ve compiled that I hope will save you time, especially if you got a late start in life like I did.
So please stay tuned. And remember, it’s better to have written late than never to have written at all. Wait—should that have been the title of my meme?
Early in my college career, I was adopted into a group of friends that had attended the same high school. They hung out at night and on the weekends, sometimes traveling home or visiting friends at nearby universities. Sometimes those friends came to visit as well.
One weekend a guy named Tom came in from a rival school. I didn’t talk to him because I didn’t find him particularly attractive (physically or personality-wise). I didn’t know it at the time, but he claimed to have met me before. In fact, he claimed that I was what the Bible would refer to as a “promiscuous woman.” Apparently, I made the woman at the well look like a saint.
Of course, I didn’t find this out until much later. Not until my friend Amy told me what he’d said about me. By then, the damage had been done. I had an undeserved reputation.
But here’s the thing: it didn’t bother me. If people wanted to believe untrue things about me, that was their problem, not mine. I laughed, shrugged it off, and went about my business.
But it got me thinking about rumors.
The Bible says that rumors are dainty morsels that sink into someone’s heart. And that is so true. How often do you hear rumors about someone famous or even someone you know? Juicy tidbits that are so surprising and you have to share them with others. It’s like that scandalized feeling is contagious. Once you receive it, you want to give it to others.
Rumors are insidious, though. I spent part of my life as a manager, and having people speculate about possible changes and their outcomes is dangerous. Mishandled, and you end up with a group of very disgruntled employees.
Rumors surrounding people are worse. I know girls who would be crushed if someone claimed such scurrilous lies about them. And college is very different than junior high and high school. If those types of comments were made about a younger girl… well, that’s the sort of things TV specials and popular YA lit are made from.
The worst things about rumors are that once you’ve heard them, you can’t UNhear them. They stick like glue (sinking deeper into one’s heart). Take celebrity gossip. There was a vicious rumor about Richard Gere around the time Pretty Woman came out. I still can’t hear his name or see a gerbil without thinking of the rumor. Sheesh. Scarred for life.
Therefore, go and do no evil. Think about what you’re going to say before you say it. Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? If not, stuff a fortune cookie in your mouth and chew until you think of something better to say.
Now you… how have rumors impacted your life or the lives of those around you?
Lisa Godfrees is on the hunt for the ever elusive-jackalope. She probably would have found one by now if she ever got up from her desk and ventured outside. When she’s not reading, writing, or mommying, she amuses herself by learning to draw. She’d be tickled turquoise if you’d connect with her on #Twitter or Facebook.
I have always known that I was adopted as an infant. Same with my three younger brothers.
Before we could truly grasp what it meant to be “adopted”, we knew we had been adopted. Seriously, my youngest brother who endured surgery for a double hernia at the age of two and two-thirds months, thought his surgery scars were from being adopted. His older and wiser siblings who knew all about this adoption stuff tried to correct his faulty thinking but to no avail. We finally gave up, deciding he’d figure it out eventually.
Our understanding of adoption came from this book, read to us continuously from the day we became part of our adoptive parents’ family. I promise you, “read continuously” is not an exaggeration. I’m certain I could recite the book by a very young age.
When I searched for the book by title, the first books I found were not the familiar plain green cover I remembered so well. Knowing the book had to be on the elderly side, I feared I wouldn’t be able to find it. But I persevered and further digging uncovered an earlier edition that looked exactly as I remembered.
Talk about a trip down memory lane! The illustrations, the characters’ names, even the look of the print were all so familiar. In my mind I could see myself “reading” the story to the brother next in line behind me when we were something like 3 and 1 1/2 years of age.
By the time brother #2 came along, the book was in tatters and had to be replaced. One of the revised covers I discovered seems a little familiar so I’m wondering if the replacement book had that cover. But the copy I’ll always and forever remember is the one above.
While our parents’ chose to receive no information about our birth parents, they felt it was important that each of us be aware of our adoption, and the fact that they wanted us very, very, very much. Hence the reading of the “The Chosen Baby” time and again.
Four days after I penned my last “slice of life” post, I discovered a rather intriguing fact about my past. A fact my adoptive parents’ knew all along but chose not to relay to me as a child who might not receive the news well. I understand that. A child’s ability to sift through information and to reason is unpredictable at best. I also get why they struggled with the question, “So, when DO we tell her?” after I became an adult.
It seems I was left on the door step of a residence in a small, Midwest town in the wee morning hours of a cold November day in 1963. Wrapped in a man’s black wool shirt and a blanket, I was approximately 3 days old, having not been born in a hospital. I was 20 in. long, weighed 5 lbs. 12 oz., and found to be in good health.
Talk about a “slice of real life”! In the less than three weeks I’ve known this bit of information, my mind has been spinning. I’ve already embarked on a journey to see what I can learn about my biological beginnings.
If this story doesn’t testify to GOD’s intervention in my life, I can’t imagine a more fitting example. I never had feelings of abandonment or shame concerning my adoption. I always assumed whomever gave birth to me didn’t feel capable of caring for me, so she/he/they chose to allow someone else to raise me.
GOD knew a young couple several counties away desperately wanted a family, and HE put the pieces of the puzzle together. And HE put the pieces together again three other times to create our family of six.
I’ll keep you updated on my journey in future columns.
UPDATE from last time. Remember how my early twenty-something son relayed news of a really-not-so-good-kind while I was writing the “They Need a Mom…” post–the one about letting young adults figure stuff out of on their own? While I’d love to report that things on that front have been resolved —you have no idea how much I’d love to be able to report that–alas, it is not so. Still, I know GOD is in control. This mama is continuing to pray GOD’s power and presence over the situation and to trust in HIS plan.
Call Beth a “cheerleader for abstinence”! She’s passionate about saving sex for marriage and believes strongly in accountability and mentoring as crucial tools to success in postponing physical intimacy until marriage. She’s equally as passionate about “renewed waiting”. Because SEX is worth waiting for. YOU are worth waiting for. She’d love to hear from you! Comment here OR email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. And connect with her on Facebook at Beth Steury, Author.
My name is Tim Akers and this blog is devoted to all the wonderfully strange and marvelous things that exist in heaven and earth. Welcome my Imagitorium.
They’re everywhere! In cars, thermostats, microwaves, telephones, and especially people. I’m talking about computers, and are they ever cool.
Once upon a time this article was about that mysterious beige box sitting on a desk, but computers have become so much more. They can be in your DVR, car, cell phone, and even toys.
Have you ever thought about what your computer/phone/DVR/ or whatever does to make all those wonderful applications work? I could give you a long boring explanation with mega-this or giga-that, or we could play a game. How many of you vote for a game?
Take a flashlight, one you can turn off and on easily, and stand in a room. Don’t move, then have someone shut the lights off. Are you there? Great!
I want you to turn your flashlight on and then off. Ready, go. On, now off.
This time, turn your flashlight on and count “one.” When the light goes off count zero. Ready? Go.
Now, turn the flashlight on and off for ten minutes straight without stopping. Off. On. Off. On. Zero. One. Zero. One. Be sure you count how many times you turn the light off and on. Ready go. Done?
Turn the lights back on please – safety first. How many times did you turn the light off and on. Didn’t write it down? You weren’t allowed. You have to remember without writing it down. This is what a computer does.
Technically, a computer follows a list of commands to perform functions. Operating systems like Windows and OSX for Mac, are nothing but elaborate lists of instructions that tell your computer what to do. In order to do those commands, it still counts one’s and zero’s. Every time you are surfing the web or texting your friends, whatever device you’re using, all its doing is counting how many times the lights go on and off.
That doesn’t sound all that hard does it? The real amazing part is that is all the things a computer does when it’s counting. We have pictures, phone calls, television,math, videos, games,graphics, flying airplanes, and more. Computer technology exists because of math and a particular numbering system zeroes and ones.
We humans use Base Ten. A Base Ten system counts groups of tens. We count to ten like this: zero,one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, one complete ten. It can also look like this: 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. The next group of ten looks like this: 10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19. In a binary system, numbers are grouped in two’s or, 0 and 1.
In a binary system we count: 0,1. The next group of two’s are counted: 10,11. If we count further in base two, it would look like this: 0,1,01,10,11,100,101,111,1000,1001,1010,1011… and so on. Machine languages are based on binary numbers, or lights off and lights on.
Computers use other number systems too like hexidecimal, but that’s another blog.
According to How Stuff Works, the average human brain is capable of handling ten quadrillion instructions per second. Your desktop can manage one hundred million instructions per second (MIPS), or maybe double that. Want to see what those numbers look like?
100,000,000 = one hundred million
10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 = ten quidrillion.
Your brain is still cooler than a computer.
See you next time!
Tim, Lisa, Kathrese, & I just returned from Realm Makers. Next month a couple of others will be attending the ACFW conference. ‘Tis the (conference) season. So what do you do when you get home to come down from the conference high?
If you’re lucky, your firstborn will start football and junior high while your second born starts the “big kids'” elementary school. Bonus if it’s the junction of first of the month (status reports) and critical project milestones. Nothing like the outside world to pierce your enthusiasm like an arrow through a hot air balloon.
Even if your week is a bit nuts and especially if you have time to ease back in, do a few things to keep the spirit alive.
1. Post pictures on social media
You get to see the conference all over again. Also it allows you to tag people while your memory is fresh. This helps keep you in the loop.
2. Post highlights on social media
Same reason and purpose as above. If time is limited, set specific times or do this when you have down time.
3. Blog about it
Yes, everyone and their mascots will be writing them too. You may not get many views but then again you might. If nothing else, you have a record of your time there.
4. Make a to do list
Did you have appointments? If so, follow up with the materials each person requested. If the person you met with wasn’t interested, send a thank you anyway. They took their time to meet with you. It never hurts to be gracious.
Gather the business cards you received and enter them into your contacts list. Correspond with anyone who might not have your information. Organize your class notes.
You’re all rejuvenated and ready to write. Set goals and get to work. That’s why you spent the money to go.
Now I’m off to fill out permission slips and emergency contact forms.