Posts made in October, 2012

10 Observations from the Hurricane

Posted by on Oct 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

So, my family and I were in New Castle County, DE when Hurricane Sandy touched down. We lost power at noon Monday and got it back Tuesday around 5:30. Here’s some quick thoughts.
  1. Prepping for a storm is like prepping for the zombie apocalypse without the aching moral questions.
  2. Losing power is not the end of the world; it is simply an invitation to do things from which electronics distract us.
  3. Just because wires are down in your backyard does not mean they are live and will kill you, but operating under that assumption is still wise.
  4. Books on paper are still wonderful.
  5. Walkmen and normal AM/FM radio still have their place in modern society. Who knew?
  6. You can survive for some time with sterno heaters and a few cans of soup. And, of course, water. Stock up now.
  7. Writing by candlelight is just as romantic as the movies make it appear.
  8. Evening passes more slowly when the power is gone, and the constant movement of flashlights will make you feel like you live in a post-Se7en horror film (or CSI). This is not conducive to feeling safe.
  9. The Delmarva power company is efficient–those in their care are in good hards.
  10. Those who have lived without power for any extended period of time are tough–much tougher than the average 21st century suburbanite.

That being said, we made it. Thanks for your prayers and concern! Here’s hoping some time passes before we experience that again!
C.J.

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A brief update, well as brief as I write, anyway.

Posted by on Oct 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

October is almost finished. November is about to begin.

And it will be a doozy. Major changes are coming to the blog, though I am still unsure of what they will be. October has not been slow, but it has been focused. November will be much more varied. I will likely begin a part time gig, finish the fourth draft of one novel, complete the first draft of another, submit a brand/theme to a toy company, and possibly land a full-time job. This is just how the dominoes are falling. I don’t know if I can do it. In fact, of my own strength, I’m sure that I can’t. I need to put all of this into a priority listing; and once I do, I need to stick to it.

Needless to say, the old schedule is done (not that I was able to keep it as well as I wanted, anyway). I still plan to role with a 6-day workweek followed by Sabbath, but I think I will need to drop a few peripheral things and ensure that I keep my eyes on point. “Point” being “Jesus, above all else”.

It’s funny. I feel I am working twice as hard as I did at my salaried finance job, but I am getting no pay as of yet and feeling the pressure of lacking that income. That’s not to say I feel I’m off track. I’m not treading water, friends. I’m swimming upstream in the cold in the mountains; but both my wife and I are where God wants us. I still have no doubts about that. My peace is constant; my joy is apparent.  Right now some things are not where we want them to be. That’s the reality of it, but not the truth. The truth is that we are okay for now, and things take time to develop. Transitions like the one we’ve made are hard. Life can be difficult to navigate. But I believe God is getting glory through what we’re doing; and therefore, every day is a good one.

November will be rough, but I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for reading,
C

 

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An Encounter with Jehovah’s Witnesses

Posted by on Oct 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

People say I am nice.

If they spent 20 minutes in my brain, they would realize I am narcisstic, megalomaniac. Not kidding, either. But for the grace of God I may very well have become some sort of Bondian villain–and not a cool specialist like Oddjob or Jaws. I would have been the henchdunce that falls into the vat in of acid. (Ha ha “henchdunce” [I should be TMing that])

But I digress. They say I am nice, and perhaps the Jehovah’s Witnesses with whom I met Monday would agree. But I don’t feel very nice. In fact, I feel rather foolish and rightly so. Let me tell you what happened.

A knock came at the door. A knock. And voices. These walls are thin. I answered in my writing suit (that is, my pajamas), to find two find two women carrying what appeared to be Bibles.  They asked me how I was, and I responded that I was well and hid the fact that I was very inconvenienced by their arrival. One was named Babi, and she was visting from India and also doing some evangelism.

It’s hard to say no to a woman who has traveled across the world to share her faith, and it’s more difficult to do so when you believe her doctrine is inaccurate. I considered the best way to respond. I thought of some of the stories Christian have told me over the years of how they treated Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I also thought of I John 4, which I am trying to memorize. The incongruence between these recollections was of such level that my brain turned to vapor. I simply thought, “It cold. Ask in.” which I did, though with slightly more eloquence than my brain had used during the inner monologue.

When they entered, I directed them to two specific seats, and they sat wherever they wanted. I grabbed my cup of tea and did two things incorrectly. The first was that I sat comfortably, which meant that the fly was open on my jammies, and my stripey underpants were, for all intents and purposes, no longer “under” but available for all to see. Second, I offered them nothing to drink, though I enjoyed my lukewarm tea.

I should add that during our introductions on the porch I was forthcoming that I believed in salvation by Christ. They affirmed all I said and claimed they agreed, making me feel I had missed something in my statement of faith and also that I knew little of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

So, that stage being set, we chatted. They claimed their own position as being a type of Christian. They offered me a book. They read the Lord’s Prayer and presented an interpretation, to which I expressed a differing viewpoint. They discussed the importance of the heavenly kingdom on earth, and I did the same with more qualifiers. Overall, we had a cordial time; even when I was firm on the fact that they were not to come back to this house.

Why then do I feel like such a failure? Was I supposed to shut the door in their face and get back to writing without a second thought?  Was I supposed to, at the very least, keep our conversations outside in the cold?

Last time evangelist’s came to my door, it was my apartment in Cali, and they were Mormons. When they came knocking four years ago, I answered, informed them that I was ill,  and told them to have a nice day–but not before making some pithy remark about the Biblical canon’s completion at the council of Nicea in 323–a fact set that was sure to show them I knew less about church history than they did. I have thought of those two young men at times, and I lament how I handled that situation. I wish I would have sat with them, let them speak, and shared my faith in return. Instead I told them I had far less interest in their eternal plight than they clearly had for mine.

I wanted to do this one better, and I am unsure if I did. Two things specifically lead to my self-abasement. First, Peter tells believers how to engage in dialog, by answering with gentleness and respect. This is hard, especially when you’re me and say things like this, “I appreciate your offering me this [100-page reader with pictures], but I would hate to mislead you ladies into thinking I am on the market for a new faith system when I am not. In light of having these [multiple Bible translations] on my phone and throughout the house, I won’t be reading this book; and I would hate for it to sit gathering dust on some shelf after you paid to have it printed.”  Of course, then they just handed me leaflets. Or there was this doozy when they asked if they could come back Saturday, “I feel very uncomfortable about your doing so, for this is not my house. This house belongs to my parents; and while I will enjoy in these discussions, I certainly do not want to impose them on anyone else at this residence. You are more than welcome to tell me where you are located, and I can come there if I want to dialog, but I would ask that you not return here in the future.” Plus, remember how I failed to offer them beverages.

But maybe in some circles, the above text qualifies as having “gentleness and respect”. But that is not what bothers me. In hindsight I realize that regardless of my demeanor, my second issue is the major one. I missed the biggest question for each of these women, “I understand what the text says, but what do you say? What do you believe, deep down? Did Christ pay the ransom for you personally or is that just a tenant?” Had I really cared about the plight of these women and not fulfilling my own needs to be kind (or, at least, try), I think that this question would have sprung to mind. I think it would have been the first thing I thought to ask, but it wasn’t.

I am in a weird head space. Part of me thinks I improved over my prior encounter with door-to-door folks, but another part of me is burdened with my own lack of concern for them as well as my selfish conceits. So, dear readers, I have a request! If you have stories about your own experiences, anecdotes on how to respond, or links to those who do, please share. I have this aching suspicion that if I continue to write from home, I am going to be navigating these waters with frequency; and I think some more reflection for such encounters will be useful.

As far as my posts go, this was a Sir-Hiss-level long one, so I value your reading all the way through it. Thanks as always,

C

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Expectation, Reality, and the Grey in between.

Posted by on Oct 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

That “grey” of course, being earl grey.

For that is what I am drinking. After a cup-and-a-half of coffee, seeing my parents off for their trip, and telling my wife good-bye for her first day at a new job, I am sitting on a couch in my boyhood home, sipping the grey as autumn leaves fall within view out the front room window. It’s just me, a cup of tea, and the wonderful silence. The honest silence.

I love the silence. There was a time I didn’t. At one point in my life I needed the noise, the din and hum  that kept me the quiet, for the quiet is void without distraction where one must meet the still, soft voice.

As a Christian, I believe in the Holy Spirit, the imbued seal of God on the hearts of Christ’s followers, who speaks when they will listen, oftentimes in the silence. I realize others have a very different experience–they hear the nothing, a reinforcement of emptiness, an affirmation of being dust on a cosmic carpet. For some that brings peace, for others, anxiety. I lament for both, for I wish they experienced what I do–that soft, quiet voice of the Holy Spirit speaking into the soul.

The reason that his presence is so pertinent today is because I am at a crossroads where the voice is most needed. My expectation of how I would feel when my wife left for work is finally meeting reality. The collision was imminent; now it is fulfilled. Frankly, I expected this morning to be hard. I was prepared to feel like a derelict, to let all the jests of my “doing nothing” cut to my heart and wound me accordingly. I was ready to sit in the silence and weep, to feel like a failure whose faith was misplaced.

However, I experienced none of this. I have peace that transcends the cares of the world and a reminder of Christ’s words in the gospels not to worry. I have been full of anticipation for the days to come and a sense of tranquility over the days thus far. I have a Holy Spirit sense of being where I need to be, at a place where a dark expectation exists but the Lord flips it onto its head for his glory.

I am not one for prophecy but the following may qualify. I am assured that someday, maybe two months from now, maybe two years, someone will have a copy of my novel–the one on which I’ll work this morning after this is posted. How that person acquired it I do not know, but I know that he or she will read it; and they, too, will have a moment in the silence not unlike the one I had this morning. In that moment, the text will prove useful–how I don’t know, to what degree I’m unsure; but a reader will by changed by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, through my mediocre words set against a white backdrop. That’s why I set out to write it my novel in the first place, and that endgame is coming. That expectation will become reality; and for that reason, today’s expectation didn’t.

Thank you again so much for reading and for joining me on this journey. I hope that these thoughts and ideas encourage you, and that you, too, find time in the silence.

C

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Work stuff

Posted by on Oct 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

So, as many of you know, I have been looking for work since my move to Delaware in August. This has been difficult. This is not an employee’s market. This is a hirer’s market; and for every one job, hundreds of qualified applicants may apply. This is discouraging.

At least it should be to the sane individual. Luckily, I am a writer and, as such, do not fit into this category. Sanity is overrated after all, right? (don’t answer that). Bottom line is, I am not discouraged; in fact, I am really excited (remember that bit about not being sane).

My lack of work or, rather, my search for work has lent itself to some wonderful realizations, not the least of which is my desire and ability to write as a profession. I have put myself on a fluid-but-productive schedule, and seen real results from doing so. I know that if I get a job that requires self-starting, editing, and deadlines, I can excel. I enjoy it, and it comes naturally. I seem to have a certain knack for self-imposed labor, which is real writing after all, is it not?

All that to say, November is going to be a big month for me creatively. Even as I continue to look for full-time work and interim “gigs” (as we writer’s call them), I’ll have a plethora of unpaid projects with earning potential in the fire. I will outline them in the beginning of November, when I explain my new blogging schedule.

So, what does this mean, really? Why I am prattling on about my status as unemployed, novice writer? Because I am grateful for all of you, I am thankful to have you on this journey with me, and I want to continue engaging you on it, even as it changes or becomes more difficult. Many of you post “likes” and comments on facebook, and you have no idea how much that drives me to excel, how much it gives me that midday adrenaline boost to edit when I want to stop, how much it means to me that anything I write means something to you. I hope to repay you with some more full works in time, but for now the blog will have to do.

Thanks so much for stopping by it again! More to come!
C.J.

 

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