Quiet Fire

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Fire, Black and White by colleen721 | deviantart.com
“Sit in the chair,” Joshua Fields Millburn admonished in a recent podcast by The Minimalists. Stop putting off your writing and just sit down. The more ritual you build around the act of writing, the less likely you are to ever do it.

Continue reading Quiet Fire

A New Romance

I finished The Scarlet Thread yesterday. Spike came in while I was on the last few pages. “You don’t look like you love that book,” he smiled. I didn’t realize I was actually scowling. “It’s high fructose corn syrup Christianity,” I said, surprised at my own precisely accurate description. “It’s sickeningly sweet. And fake.”

I’ve already ranted about my issues with this book, but I can’t leave it alone. It isn’t in me to complain about the way things are without offering a solution.

I love classic romances. Wuthering Heights was actually the first novel I ever read, and I was hooked. I read a lot of Jannette Oke books when I was in junior high and high school too. I wonder if I would still love them, or if I would sense the same HFCS Christianity overtones now. Of course my romance reading had a heaping side helping of Disney princess movies. My mother was once warned not to let me watch Sleeping Beauty so much because it would warp my sense of true love. Luckily for me it came from her mother-in-law, whose advice she never took, so I continued to dress up and lie on top of my toy box, waiting for Prince Phillip. (He never came of course, but I loved to pretend.)

I’m still drawn to romances as an adult, but more in the form of TV shows and movies. Downton Abbey is my most recent favorite. It’s the perfect mix of romance and my other favorite genre: historical fiction. I’ve watched every movie and TV series I can get my hands on that’s based on a Jane Austen novel.

Is there a way to present romance that doesn’t send people screaming or set their eyes rolling? Could I write a better romance? I’m fairly certain I’m at least living a better romance than the one I just read, so that’s a start. I could tell my story. It’s full of heartache and tears and miracles. Would anyone read it? I know I would, which is really the most important part of writing anyway. I would have a lot of help from that bookshelf full of journals.

Three Gold Stars

I had an amazing appointment with my naturopath yesterday. Let’s start off with the fact that he gave me a homeopathic remedy for my allergies that blew my socks off (or my nose out? that’s gross). He gave me the little bottle at the beginning of the appointment. My ears were itching, throat was raspy, and eyes were watering. A dropper-full of that formula and half-way through the appointment, I felt 90% better! He said continued use will make even more effective. Signed up for that!

After talking about the life changes I’ve experienced over the last few months he said he was going to do something he’s only done a handful of times in the last ten years of his practice.

He gave me three gold stars.

Three Gold Stars  |  Earned March 20, 2015
Three Gold Stars | Earned March 20, 2015

It sounds like a ridiculous, juvenile reward, but he was so proud to give them to me! I was just as proud to receive them.

The first star was for the fact that I admitted to needing help. I didn’t accept that clinical depression was simply my lot in life, as it is in my lives of my family members, and I should just get used to the idea. I didn’t throw in the towel and continue to watch myself slide deeper into depression and malnutrition and obesity.

The second star was for recognizing the unforgiveness in my life and not brushing it off as something that didn’t affect me. He said many Christians may see that forgiveness is needed, but they only pay it lip service. “I’m saved. I’ve forgiven. It’s done,” but when they’re in the same room with the person they “forgave” or they hear their voice, their physical reaction gives away their insincerity. Their hearts pound, their eyes narrow, their chests tense. They may have spoken the “magic words,” but their spirit is still starving for forgiveness, and their body is paying the price.

The third gold star was for taking steps to alter the course of my life. Three months ago I had barely enough weepy motivation to get through the day. Today I’m waiting on an acceptance letter to a university to finish my bachelor’s degree, I have a hearing date to gain Legal Guardianship of my goddaughters, I’m on the warpath to make a career move, and I’ve naturally stopped overeating (which, I don’t think I’ve mentioned before).

My heart sings more sincerely. I am transformed. I am mighty.

Three gold stars, justly won.

Women, Respect Your Men

I didn’t mean for this to get so out of hand, but apparently I have an opinion about this.


 

I woke up, wide-awake, at 6:00 this morning. I made some coffee and cleaned the kitchen. Spike came out and joined me at about 6:30. He usually gets up about that time, but he doesn’t usually speak. I don’t either, but I was somewhat chatty this morning, talking about the book my friends and I are reading: The Scarlet Thread. I like Francine Rivers, especially Redeeming Love, but I’m having a hard time with this one. It’s 300 pages of terrible marriage followed by 75 pages of all you need is Jesus. I’m not knocking the power of Christ, but really? The heroine has a revelation that she’s been a bitch and her marriage gets to go back to normal after all the horrifying things she slung at him for three years? I don’t buy it. I guess that’s why it’s a romance: a completely unrealistic portrayal of real life.

If I sound pessimistic, I am. Marriage might be able to recover from that kind of communication breakdown. Anything is possible, but I’m passed the point of encouraging anyone to think they will be the exception to the rule. You cannot disrespect your husband and expect to stay happily married. You cannot dump on his dreams and his goals and his vision and his desire to provide and protect and expect him to lovingly wrap you in his arms. You can have one or the other. Your husband is not a robot. He hears the shit you say and he isn’t likely to forget it!

I am speaking from a position of judgment and observation and also from first-hand experience. I don’t speak in absolutes very often, but I am absolutely convinced of this. The moment a wife turns down a path of disrespect for her husband, it marks the start of her journey toward divorce. Sometimes the loss of respect is warranted, but if she cannot regain it, the marriage is doomed.

If you haven’t read Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, I would highly recommend you do before you even think about marriage, especially if you’re a woman. Our culture trains boys to love their mothers and their girlfriends and their wives. It puts the pressure on them to buy flowers and sign greeting cards and be sappy in order to let women know they’re loved. But the other side of that equation is what the man gets out of it. Men want to be loved, of course, but never as much as they need to be respected. A man needs to know he’s respected more than anything, and our culture does a piss-poor job at showing women how to do that.

The traditional father figure in Modern Family is a joke. The guy that tried to stay married and have kids in Friends is a joke. Women who manipulate and condescend and judge and harp are heroes in the media! Voicing your opinion and putting a man in his place is heralded as a sign of a strong and independent woman – but she is not likely to make a relationship last.

Hear my heart, women – you probably don’t have any idea what kind of damage you’re doing. Until reading this, you have been innocent and oblivious of your crimes against men. But I have to say it, because our men never will. The don’t dare. The moment they say they need respect we will nail them to the wall as chauvinist pigs. They know we will, so they suffer in silence. They absorb every emasculating comment and tone and spirit because they love us. God help them, they love us! Do your part, and respect them! If you do not or cannot respect them, for God’s sake, don’t marry them in the first place.

[End ranting and raving.]

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Fake internet points! Yay me!! Spike is jealous, probably. Although he did just beat his brother to 300K people on SimCity Build It, so he’s got that going for him. I gave up because he built up double my population in half the amount of time. I’m not particularly competitive when I get completely blown out of the water. I just give up; not the type to focus on my weaknesses. I’m proudly better at other things! (We won’t talk about all the ways Spike is better than me here. I’m supposed to be enjoying my fake internet points, after all.)

Many Thanks

Thanks are certainly in order to Warrior Freya for being truly awesome and for nominating me for this award. Also, many thanks to her blog that inspires me to write as often as I can.

Seven Facts About Me:

  1. I had a serious dream of being a mermaid when I was a girl. I spent hours in my friend’s pool, even after all the other kids had gone inside, pretending to play with the sea people. Their pool was kept clean with salt instead of chlorine, which only added depth to the fantasy. I loved the movie Splash. You’d think Little Mermaid, but no – Splash was what did it for me. (I thought the the Little Mermaid was a stupid, disrespectful little wench actually.) I watched Ondine awhile back and it revived all those old, girly pretending hours.
  2. I’m intrigued by the idea of urban exploration. I took a nature writing class awhile back and it popped up as one of the topics. I had never heard about it before, but it inspired so much freedom to imagine as an adult. I was blown away at the invitation to dream and make up stories and play like I did when my parents left the refrigerator box in the back yard. Those abandoned places are a blank slate to dream. If it weren’t for my respect for private property, I would probably make a regular habit of breaking into abandoned buildings and writing stories about the people I could imagine who spent their lives there.
  3. My favorite zoo animal is the orangutan. I could watch them for hours! Their eyes are so precious.
  4. I’ve never been arrested or broken a bone. I’m not sure if those are related, but I’ll pair them up. Sure.
  5. I was in a fashion show at a hotel when I was four years old. I wore a yellow shirt, blue shorts, and a yellow ribbon in my hair. I also wore a fanny-pack type thing that was a actually stuffed bear wearing a backpack that you clipped around your waist. They let me keep the clothes and the accessory. I loved that thing till its stuffing came out.
  6. I have exactly three ex’s: one ex-boyfriend, one ex-fiance, and one ex-husband. It makes it easy to tell stories.
  7. I am still amazed at the Word Press community and their encouragement toward each other. It’s a lovely, lovely thing and I’m truly honored to be followed by people who inspire me to bravely be exactly who I am. I’m a firm believer in word-of-mouth referrals and this seems as good a way as any to find new, recommended blogs. Congratulations to my nominees! I sing your praises as often as I can. You have become a part of my life by sharing your thoughts, and I consider myself truly blessed to know you the way I do.

And my Nominees for Very Inspiring Blogger are:

  1. This is My Design
  2. What I Like to Do by Steve
  3. Authentically Aurora
  4. Christian INTP
  5. I Refuse to Follow Your Blog
  6. Surpassing the Odds
  7. INFJ Ramblings
  8. Ben’s Bitter Blog
  9. Becoming Minimalist
  10. Streams of Conscious Thoughts
  11. Adventures Alone
  12. The Minnie Path
  13. See, There’s This Thing Called Biology…
  14. Aging Introvert
  15. Blissful Britt

The Rules

  • Post the award on your blog
  • Thank your nominator because they’re awesome
  • List 7 facts about yourself
  • Nominate 15 other blogs for their awesomeness
  • Post the rules so people know them

Mama Spike

Architect: Ricardo Bofill | San Just Desvern, Spain

Spike showed me pictures like this one awhile back and I went completely Pinterest-nuts over finding everything I could on converted warehouses. I love this like I love my own soul. It reminds me of how I designed our wedding invitations. We only invited about 40 people, so we only had to make a couple dozen invitations. And they were awesome. I had the invitation printed on metal and then I wrapped each one in satin and ribbon. It matched us perfectly: Spike the metal worker, and me the lover of soft and delicate things.

A home like this would fits us like nothing else would. We’ve considered the tiny house idea, but as introverts, we need more space between people. The more space the better, really. We need a fortress of solitude (yes, like Superman). We’re homebodies, so why shouldn’t our home be a castle?

I adore the white linens and white stairs. People think it’s hard to keep clean, but have you ever tried to keep dark colors looking crisp? The moment there’s a spec of dust, it looks shabby. White is easy to match too. White towels, white bed sheets, white drapes. It looks so clean and fresh! I don’t know if I could do the white couches and chairs though. I don’t think people would be as likely to feel relaxed if they think they’re going to mess up my furniture, including me.

I could never live in a home like this with just one or a few other people. But what if we were Fostering? We’ve talked about being Foster parents before. Spike even became a approved Foster parent in another state to get our girls out of the system before we were married. My eyes have sparkled to think of taking kids out of the system who are about to age-out; to give them a place to finally feel safe and accepted and supported.

And what if I was an MBA and Spike was a mechanical engineer, which is the path we’re on now? We could offer the world to those kids. They might not take it. They might hate us for trying. But some might latch on to the opportunities. Some might come alive to see how their life could be. We could teach them mechanics, bookkeeping, customer service skills, and even just basic life skills to give them a handle on being full-fledged adults.

Of course, this all sounds so easy in a dream, but it feels like a dream that’s been building since I was first told I would never have children of my own – ten years ago. There’s that number again. Ten. That same year a woman I trusted said she saw a vision when she was praying for me. It was night and there was a house with a single light in the window, and the light never went out. Ten years. I had no idea what it meant then. Could this be the house with the light that will forever welcome people home?

The plan no longer includes having babies, but it doesn’t discount the idea that I could be Mama Spike someday.

Dostoevsky’s Pride and Joy

The best version of myself. That’s what I’m hoping for. Since having my education plans slapped around for ten years, I’ve at least learned to be flexible. I’m okay with the plan changing, as long as there’s always a plan. But the plan has always involved having children, and now it doesn’t. Suddenly, after a long while of dragging myself through the mire, it doesn’t. It’s the first time I’ve ever been comfortable with the idea that my own offspring will not be ruling the world. No one will see epitaphs like these: Here Lies Mrs. Spike’s Son, the Ultimate Bad Ass, or Beloved Daughter of Mrs. Spike, Supreme Diplomat and Queen. Just no.

It’s a freeing notion that I’ve never thought to revel in. I’ve only thought to grieve – always grieve. It’s like I’ve suddenly realized the tightrope I was walking toward motherhood is actually a six-lane freeway bound for… anywhere! The potential and the possibilities are vastly more appealing than I ever thought to explore. I’m only surprised I’ve never wandered down this line of thinking before. Really, never? No, never. I’ve joked about how 3:00 am feedings and diaper changing would be nice to skip, but to be free in my prime to pursue anything I want? No responsibility of child care (our goddaughters are half-grown already). No guilty conscience for having borne a horrible human being. No paralyzing pride for having borne a saint. Just no.

I met with a Degree Completion Program Representative at lunch today. The cohort starts in August. If all goes according to plan, I’ll graduate February 2017, which is fitting. It will be almost exactly ten years from when I originally planned to graduate. Ten:

The number of divine perfection. There are 10 commandments (Ex. 20); 1/10 of your income is a tithe; the were 10 plagues on Egypt (Ex. 9:14ff); 10 x 10 silver sockets formed the foundation of the Tabernacle (Ex 38:27); There are 10 “I AM’s spoken by Jesus in [the book of] John…”

I’m not usually into numerology, but I’ll go with that.

It feels exhilaratingly self-absorbed to take a step that is one hundred percent for my own good. I’m not sacrificing another day of this thirty-year-old life for children that will never be. I will not make another decision with their best interests in mind. The plan doesn’t have me pregnant and raising children. For the first time. It’s the very definition of existentialism:

a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.

Dostoevsky, my favorite author, would be proud.

I AM There

I haven’t thought of myself as an anxious person. It actually drives me crazy to listen to people who worry and wring their hands because of things they have no control over.

I’m learning though; anxiety can come out in overreactions. Angst, apprehension, concern, disquiet, doubt, dread, misery, mistrust, panic, trouble, uneasiness – all synonymous with an issue I didn’t think I had.

I met with a friend yesterday who offered an excellent tool for dealing with ugly emotions. She used the thesaurus to look up antonyms, and to answer to question, “How should I strive to respond instead?”

Belief, blessing, calm, certainty, confidence, contentment, faith, peace, security, trust.

The truth I see is the root of my overreactions doesn’t come from worry, but from unbelief. Not belief in God, but belief in others. I doubt their intentions. I criticize their motives.

But I am semper fidelis – gifted with eternal Faith. What if God is leading me to use that gift in my relationships – to place my unfailing confidence in the Spirit of others?

I would rather be called to preach to poisonous snakes in a desert wasteland.

The thought of trusting and hoping in others terrifies me. At the fear of disappointment, I will wring my hands and wail. My heart will race, and I will hold my breath. What if they use this Faith against me?

God never fails. He never disappoints. My Faith in Him is justified. Or is it?

I spent five years waiting to hear His Voice, and I never doubted Him.

But I knew He was good. I knew He was Love.

Was it loving for Him to seemingly ignore me? Was it kind to disappoint me by never revealing Himself? In those moments, I believed in His kindness. I believed in His love, even though I couldn’t perceive it.

Could I do that with people?

He has proven to me that I have Faith to move a mountain of doubt. Now He’s asking me, “Will You continue to use that Gift only for Yourself, only for Our Communion Here inside of You? Or will You use it in Your Communion with Others? Will You put Your Faith in the Spirit I have placed inside of Them? Will you trust that I AM There as well as Here?”

My Life On A Shelf

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Unpacked

On Wednesday I unpacked a box of journals. Tonight I did something I’ve never done as an adult. I’ve never had enough shelving to fit everything in one place, but with all the reorganizing and purging, I finally had space!

I gathered up all my notebooks and journals and organized them (somewhat) in chronological order. The result? Twenty years of my life on a shelf. It’s a beauty to behold. The top shelf is everything from 1995 through 2004. The bottom shelf is the last ten years. I think I’ll replace the post-its with actual labels. Maybe then I’ll always have a place for these, no matter where I may go in the future.

 

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