Posts made in November, 2012

After Three Months of Unemployment…

Posted by on Nov 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

This week, we crossed the three-month anniversary of our move from California to Delaware. That time may seem short, but it has not felt like it. Our very nice, immensely comfortable lower middle class existence in sunny SoCal seems like a memory of another life. The constant warmth of the southwest has given way to the northeast’s bitter chill; and frankly, I had forgotten just how taxing that can be day-to-day (although running in it is pretty rewarding). Everything is so different these days–the people, the culture, the tone, and speed of life.

And I have remained without full-time, paid employment. I use that wording specifically becuase I am working these days, just not on things for which I am paid (more on that this Saturday). I have applied for numerous positions, but none have moved beyond interviews. I have two major opportunities that could lead to a job starting at the opening of 2013, but it seems 2012 will close without a paid gig (as far as I can see at present). We are living in a house that is warm and loving but not our own. We are experiencing more social complications than we expected, and the dead of winter is coming fast. So yes, things have been hard. Some days have been discouraging. Others frustrating. My wife and I have had many hard conversations with each other, and I have had more than one pity-party.

And yet, in general, I am hopeful and also encouraged. I feel the need to just tell everyone with whom I speak that I still believe God is working, and I am as assured as ever that we are here with purpose. I see so much benefit from our being in the area, not only for us but those with whom we interact–not to say that we are so wonderful but to say that we have been privileged to really assist friends and family since our coming, in ways we have not been able to for years until now. I am learning a great deal about the art of writing, the habits of being a full-time writer, and the methods of self-publication and marketing that I will use in 2013 to launch my first novel. We likely will be part of a strong local church family early next year, and the Lord continues to draw my wife and I closer to each other as he continues to draw us nearer to himself.

Things are hard. They’ve been hard, but I’ve been in my Bible and in prayer more in the last three months than in any other time in immediate memory, which is saying something given how much prayer went into the move. I guess all I can say, really, is that I am truly full of thanks these days, and I feel like God has big plans for us here in the Ware (or “302”, as we say on the streets).

We’ll see where we are in another three months (but I’ll post updates before then, I promise).

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Stronghold is Finished…And It’s Out of My Hands

Posted by on Nov 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

One week ago, I completed the 5th draft of my first novel, STRONGHOLD. I solicited help from some key friends to read it based on their professions and personal experience, and I sent them both the text to proofread and critique as well as a survey to answer some pointed concerns.
Now I wait.
I presented my readers with a deadline, and I am sure they will get back to me within the time allotted. In the meantime, however, I am in a holding pattern, one that is truly puzzling. On the one hand, I am very confident in the book’s premise, and I am proud of the execution–despite this being my first book, completed without professional direction or assistance. On the other hand, I am terribly insecure about my own tunnel vision and inability to see gaping plot holes, poorly-constructed sentences, and an overall lack of dynamic language and literary merit. These contrasting attitudes have caused something of a fluctuating model of excitement and terror, anticipation and anxiety.
And I wait.
And I pray, and peace comes in whispers. Solace rises in my heart. This is a strange experience to explain, but I will try. I thank the Lord for completion of the novel, for bringing me to a place to not only start the project but see it through to the end (for now, at least). I then surrender the novel to his care and for his glory, begging him to use it and to do what he will, without my getting in the way. Once this is done, the nervousness fades to grey. I accept that what the readers find will be accurate and that I have a great deal of work ahead of me that will begin anew when they return their coverage. I embrace that the Lord has prepared their hearts and minds to read it just as he prepared my heart and mind to write it. I revel in the fact that regardless of my efforts and my longing for the book’s effect on others, I have no control. God does. In the end, I find it very difficult to worry over something that belongs to God. If he wants to use it, he’ll use it; if not, he won’t. All I can do is give him my best, which I believe I have done in this instance; and he’ll take it from there.
So I wait…with great anticipation for all the Lord will do. I just want to serve him in it. Hopefully I’ll get my chance.

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A Stone Heart Made Living by Gentle Hands.

Posted by on Nov 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

I don’t believe in visions. Well, at least I don’t have them. But here is one thing I imagined during a recent time in prayer. It’s graphic, but I am a kid of the “Extreme Ultra Surround Sound 1990s”, the age of Image Comics and over-exaggerated everything, so sometimes my imagination runs a little wild. In defense of the nineties, however, the below scene is more akin to the 1980s film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom than anything else. 

I was angry, bitter really. What led to this I cannot say, but my lacking tenderness was evident. I did not want to pray for whom I felt led, and much of what I had to say to the Most High was laced with a  certain level of indignation. I had to even take a moment to pray that the Sprit would move in me to make me want to pray for others as I should.
Answers come when we pray in truth.
I envisioned Christ walking toward me and without a word punching his fist into my chest. He ripped my heart from my body and, behold, it was stone–gray with tributaries of black throughout its frozen form.
With his strong, nail-pierced hands, he caressed it, even as I watched him in disbelief. As he massaged the surface of my hardened heart, the rocks began to chip away, and the debris began to rain toward the ground. It broke to dust in the air and was carried away before any of it hit below me.  The dead encasing gone, my organ lay in his hand, still lifeless and pale pink.
With one faithful grasp of his hand, gentle enough not to damage but strong enough to have effect, Christ brought life to it again. I heard the faint thumping of it pass through the holes in his palms. Blood burst from the edges as the rich crimson color returned to the muscle. With a smile, Christ tenderly returned the living flesh to my body, and as his hand left my chest, the gaping wound closed.
My heart bled, and I prayed. I hurt for those who hurt and expressed joy for those who were joyous. I prayed and praised, and my heart was as Christ’s.
So be it.

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Giving Thanks…One for each day in the month of November

Posted by on Nov 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

So for funsies I decided to bullet point the first 31 things that came to mind for which I am thankful. Not shifting the order either, just letting it run. Free-associative exercise! Ignite!

I am thankful to the Lord and my Savior Jesus Christ…
  1. For the song “Blocks” by Derek Webb, a deeply honest and unabashedly sincere ballad of longing for love.
  2. For Social Media and the joy of constant interaction with others—old friends and new, digital acquaintances alike.
  3. For potatoes and the various forms one can prepare them.
  4. That The Hobbit is a trilogy now. As long as it is good, it means more time in Middle Earth, certainly my favorite fictional universe since pre-1983 Star Wars.
  5. For films – Specifically Apocalypto, Before Sunrise, Do the Right Thing, Slacker, Hoop Dreams, Schindler’s List, Blade Runner, and Emma
  6. To be a child of the 80s – G.I.Joe, Ninja Turtles, NES, national pride, cassette tapes, mom-and-pop rental stores. I am so blessed to not a be child right now. Children in the 2000s have social and material pressures I cannot imagine. The need for a cell phone, the assault of media without end, the loss of innocence thanks to internet deviance–kids, particularly those with two working parents and in public school, have it rough.
  7. For nieces and nephews who have given me a glimpse of what it would have been like to have younger siblings and children. Love ‘em all.
  8. For the success of Pixar animation studio. Quality work such as good as theirs deserves to be awarded and appreciated
  9. For my faith, the faith of my parents and a great number of witnesses before me. I adore having a worldview with a powerful, almighty God at its head and a beautiful, sacrificial Savior at its center. I love salvation and basking in the grace afforded me.
  10. For church families I have known throughout my years. I am thankful for the peers, the mentors, the young, and the time spent them with them all. As we look for a new church family here on the East Coast, I do so with great anticipation for the new relationships we will form
  11. For my wife. That woman…she puts up with a lot. Always.
  12. For different translations of the Bible. I feel as though every language after the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic is something of a remix/adaptation of the Spirit-breathed text, but they all seem to lend their own beauty to the meaning. I don’t care if the KJV have less accurate semantic choices than the ESV, some passages of the KJV are lyrically breathtaking.
  13. For deeper literacy in regard to not only words but images. I love the fact that books and films are more complex now than they were when I was a teen or even a college student. I am so thankful that the time invested in learning how to better experience art yields exponential rewards so constantly.
  14. For the success of Scott Derrickson.Scott was an adjunct who taught my foreign Film Studies class at Biola University. He was forthcoming and insightful and fair, and his most recent film, Sinister, has made over 15x its production budget. I just love the fact that he is doing so well right now.
  15. For my hearing. I love the music of instruments and the music of life–the bubbling of a brook and the rustling of wind in the leaves, the laughter of children of play and the percussive symphony of a hundred runners racing.
  16. For creativity and the practice thereof. It is no secret that I am a staunch ultimate creationist (meaning that God is the source of existence, regardless of the mechanism by which he brought it). When I create, whether with Lego or putting words on the page, I feel I am echoing the action by which all existence was made manifest.
  17. For my family and friends. I have a wonderful family, I married into a wonderful family. I have wonderful friends, and I am blessed.
  18. For fictional creatures: minotaurs, griffons, goblins, orcs, and gnomes. They are just so much fun. Also, pegasus. A horse with wings?  Excellent.
  19. For modern plumbing. Showers, toilets, running water.
  20. For my teeth. I have the strangest dreams about losing my teeth, and I always become so disheartened. I think it’s because I know I have not taken care of them as I should and my subconscious is in a constant state of reconciling that carelessness with my fairly balanced pursuit of health for the rest of my body. I am glad I have not lost my chompers yet.
  21. For Crackers and Cheese. Any meal of the day, any day of the week, I can make this work for me. Oh snap, for breakfast get some scrambled egg on that jaunt—delicious.
  22. For Books
  23. For Pants.
  24. For Laughter. What a wonderful experience laughing is.
  25. That my novel has gone out to readers. I am thankful I am in a place spiritually, emotionally, and physically to have written a novel, and I am thankful that this week, I was finally able to share that completed work with a select group who will help me improve it.
  26. For my relationship with Jesus Christ. Answered prayers, inherent joy, peace in the face of uncertainty, and a longing to experience and express eternal love—Jesus gives it all and fulfills it.
  27. For the current, extended stint I have had without giving into lust’s temptation.
  28. For the paradigm the internet has enabled for the dissemination of independent art such as books, music, and film. The day’s of limited exposure due to cultural gatekeepers has truly shifted, and the inmates are starting run the asylum. This has led to my discovering a wonderful array of art I would not have otherwise.
  29. That I do not have a lot of money right now due to my lack of full time employment. The Lord provided a job for my wife so that our month to month bills are covered for phone, storage, etc; but our spending cash is severely limited. This has forced me to grow and be much more discern with my fiscal choices.  I truly am thankful for this sanctification. That being said, I do lok forward to working full-time again, when that right fit is presented.
  30. For the work of David Fincher, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Spike Lee, and Donald Miller
  31. For food. Man, I love food.
Wow, so we got overlap and some oddballs, but there you have it.  Funny thing. As soon as I finished, about another dozen things flooded my mind. For what are you thankful?

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5 Ways Sickness is Good for Me

Posted by on Nov 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

Being sick is of great benefit to me. I don’t know how anyone else feels about it, but I know a good cold or bout of flu does wonders for my perspective. That is not to say that I want to be sick. On the contrary, being sick fills me with a wealth of physical and emotional exhaustion and listlessness. However, some things that are exceedingly good for me are things I enjoy the least. Why do I say this? Here’s 5 points.

1) Being sick reminds me of my fragility. I think pretty highly of myself–much more than I ought, I’m sure. Part of this esteem is my health and fitness, the belief that I take care of myself well, and I am still as strong and youthful as I was in my teens. Being sick tells me that I am no longer in college, and I cannot maintain the lifestyle I did then. It makes stop and assess my health choices. Sometimes it leads to make better ones (that I will inevitably drop, only to get sick again).

2) Being sick forces me to appreciate my health. Like so many humans, I take my health for granted. I feel as though I deserve it or that it’s a given, but I am wrong. A great number of people do not have the health I do. As I age, my health will gradually fade. Being sick reminds of the blessing of good health, of basic abilities, of the mere opportunity to live day to day.

3) Being sick causes me to marvel at the human body. I won’t give you the details of the biological warfare that took place while I was sick last week, but seeing the way in which my body rallied to renew itself was powerful. The body is such an amazing thing, and I give the credit for that to its beautiful design, provided by a magnificent Creator. When I am sick, and I see how hard my body works inherently in spite of its fragility and in pursuit of its health, I cannot help be full of gratitude to God and marvel at his work.

4)  Being sick is a wonderful pause button. I am something of a workaholic–especially these days when I am trying to edit one novel, write another, complete a half-dozen small projects, and apply for full time work. In part, I believe that my overflowing plate is due to my insecurities and need to show others that despite my unemployment I am not a derelict or bum–maybe, I am trying to assure myself of these things. But being sick last week put my work on hold and forced me to just lay, pray, and listen. What a valuable requirement!  I had nothing clouding my attention; I was basically sleeping, eating, and laying, and the laying led to praying and self-examination and Scripture-by-audio that recalibrated my attitudes and priorities when getting well.

5) Being sick recharges my batteries in order to take off running anew. Rest is hard for me; I have said as much on this very blog. Inasmuch as the body requires work to repair itself during an illness, being laid on one’s back and accepting the inability to accomplish things is restful. One can resign him or herself to doing nothing and really live in that reality without feeling lazy. By the evening of the third day, when I was feeling well again, I could not believe how much I was ready, wiling, and able to dive into my tasks with focus and drive. While I lost three days of efficiency in bed, I sure made up for that time over the last week. My mind and body were ready in a way that they are not after my weekly Sabbath.

So there you have it. Being sick…maybe it’s not so bad.

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