Saturday, September 28, 2013

Morbid Introspection Realization #87: Justified by Disaster

So there I was getting angrier and angrier at my hubby because of these guardianship papers, but also because of a lot of other crap he has put me through.

Let us face it: men can be willful. It's a kind of pride, I suspect...a male pride that doesn't listen to women. And it might also be combined with a "resistance" to being told what to do by a "woman" or "mother-figure." Add certain other issues of his upbringing and well, you know what I have to deal with. And no, I'm not saying I'm easy to live with either. But I am pliable, and I have a very bad case of morbid introspection so  I really can't get away with generally thinking I'm right. I'm always skulking around inside and within and around the edges of my conscience wondering if there is anything kooky or selfish in my thoughts.

So there I was working on these guardianship papers and fuming because things would've been oh oh oh oh so much less stressful if hubby had simply listened to me ages ago. And I got to think of all the things I have asked him to do that he didn't do that turned out badlly for us. Alas, a wife is often caught in the wake of her husband and dragged along -- kicking, screaming, and nagging.

And thinking hidden dangerous thoughts.

So there they were before me..the same old hidden thoughts of vindication and justification.

Hadn't I told hubby not to give younger son cookies and milk? When we go to the ENT on Tuesday, what if the doc says, "I'm sorry, your son has a mastoid problem because of the milk. He is dying." Well, THEN, hubby would see how wrong he has been to give Oreos and nilk to younger son although the allergist warned him!

OR

"I have told this guy I wanted to move from this house for AGES!!!! If Indian Point Nuclear Reactor breaksdown and the entire town gets radiation contamination, THEN hubby will see I was right to want to move."

OR (and this happened with older son)
"That kid never listens to me and was so rude. I'm not going to talk to him, even if he apologizes. He will see how much he really hurts his mom if I die." (This thought followed by vain imaginings of me in a casket and son beating his chest in regret that he was nasty to mom.)

Okay, granted this is not that unusual: Tons of parents think like this, speak this ploy manipulatively above their kids, or spitefully (in anger) wish for disaster on their kids. It's a kind of willing/wishing for disaster. In short a combination of an inner vow and a curse on one's life or the life of others.

Taken to the extreme, it is a kind of vindictive schadenfreude...Christians pointing to Lot's Wife: SEEEEEEE, God got her! Or unloving Christians sneering at some disaster that happens in a supposedly evil region. Or Islamic extremists sneering at a disaster that happens in a Christian nation. Or atheists sneering when they feel a Christian has finally realized that God is a total pipe dream or crutch. Humans alas are born wanting to be right. We all have that tree of knowledge of good and evil growing out of our heads..and we still haven't learned to cast aside judging others as evil or good...so the tree of life which is love and healing (including our own healing when we feel others don't see our hearts) is not eaten of.

BUT WOW, when I pondered the implication of it in my own life!

How can I be wishing for my health, son's health, increased communication for my husband when at the same time I'm thinking that something outward/outside of myself needs to happen for all my needs to be addressed and all my warnings justified.

Isn't this a kind of double-mindedness?

Isn't this a kind of vain imagination that battles against true hope?

And if thoughts do affect our lives and our directions in mystical ways, am I not by these consistent thoughts setting up and creating some crappy reality for myself? (Yes, yes, I know...it's magical thinking to think our thoughts affect our lives...but thoughts really do affect our lives. And while I don't think my mind will make Indian Point fail, it is possible that my mind would make me fail to realize I should leave town before Indian Point fail...so my inner vow and need for justification would be fulfilled.}

The Bible says God knows the plans He has for us, plans for a future and a looked-for end, to give us a hope and a promise. A looked for end. A HOPEFUL looked for end. We are urged to hope and to think of whatever things are lovely, pure, of good report, hopeful, joyful, etc, etc,

So what am I to do to get out of this need to be justified/vindicated by disaster?

FIRST: I have to die to some of my will and learn not to get my way.
SECOND: If I am in the position of Mom-defender of youngerson, I MUST get my way and nag and nag and not give up until I get my way. The doctor has warned us about the dairy and the cookies and I simply cannot give in on this the way I have. So I must learn to argue and WIN the argument, which means I have to commit to the notion that another person HAS to change because I want that person to change. Hard to do because I'm not a fighter. But for the sake of younger son, I have to turn myself into fearless MOM-ACTIVIST.
THIRD: I have to imagine and hope for a good outcome...a looked for happy end. I must train my imagination not to feel vindication must come for me through disaster. I must cast aside the sense that hubby is hopeless in some situations and I must infuse hope into my thoughts. Aish, this is hard for me. I do have a pessimistic streak a universe wide.

Will just have to put my need for justification, my need to help older son, my despair at changing hubby into God's hands...and let God sort it out and change me. We'll see how that works out.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Catching up

So this week I'm trying to finish reviewing

Book of Common Prayer by Alan Jacobs -- a history of how the book came to be. Will probably do this on Examiner or Blogcritics. So..all those many years ago when I saw Keith Richards and Glenda Jackson on Masterpiece Theater, I didn't "get" Cranmer. Didn't get him either in A Man for All Seasons. But now...yeah... I'm feeling the guy. Not enough to go executing people but eh.. I've met folks like him and I see where he's coming from.

Am trying to finish ALL OUR YESTERDAYS, which i don't really have to review but which I might. It's got a Groundhog Day/RETURNER vibe. It's okay, but if you're a time travel afficionado, try the k-drama NINE, or a film like REPEATERS, or Proposal Daikusen if you're into J-dramas. Or, A Knight in Shining Armor (book), or Primer, or Mirae's Choice (which will be a new drama coming up in a week.) ALL OUR YESTERDAYS is a YA with two girl protags. So that's something.

Speaking of which there are three other spec-fic books by friends I intend to reivew. (It was four but the fourth one was just sooo ...well, I'm not going to review it. Why stress myself trying not to hurt someone's feelings? Younger son threw those other books somewhere..behind, beneath, under....Mercifully, those were books I bought for myself so no one's looking for the review.

A book on being Vegan for women. Haven't started reading it yet but I flipped the pages and dang! I'm not sure I'm so committed to health that I'll give up leather shoes. Yeah, she is seriously committed to saving the earth. There's also a book on being gluten free. These are for curledup.com

But Dark Girls is gonna be the hardest to review. Yes, the DVD came in the mail. I -- Little Miss Transparent, who always has to tell her soul on the internet and who has mega-issues with being dark-skinned-- now have to face issues and review this. Aaargh. Bummer! But maybe I'll be healed or semi=healed.

When I tell folks I don't look at mirrors, they think I'm nuts. But alas, it is true. I do not look at mirrors. I'll wake up one day and see a picture of some old gray black woman....and i'll be like "WTF? So that's me?" Yes, i should be saner about these childhood wounds...at age 53, one is usually saner. But alas, I am not. And yes, none of my characters in my novels look in mirrors too.

Tomorrow is the last day of Two Weeks, the best k-drama thriller of the summer. Am waiting for Viki to come out with the subs. And a certain screenwriter-nim had better not piss off all the world by giving us a sad ending. Same screenwriter who did 49 days....so yeah... folks are preparing for the nihilistic bad ending. But seriously, if PD-Nim creates a character who survives utter implausibilities then "kills" him at the end, it wouldn't ring true. I'm sure Friday's Open Thread on dramabeans.com  will be a buzzing about the ending. Whatever the ending, the OST "Run" by Nell is totally one of my faves of the summer. Along with Toxic love (Dear Love) by WAX from that god-awful Sword and Flower drama. I can't hate a drama that gave us such a beautiful OST but I can fume and be disappointed, I guess.

Which reminds me. I've now sworn off downloading OSTS from 4shared.com. Call it a guilty conscience but after a certain unknown person put up the Wind Follower pdf on 2shared...well, it would fel a bit hypocritical, (wouldn't it?) to keep downloading OSTs from there?

Other than that, am working on Scapegoats and Sacred Cows of Bible Study. Because I just keep getting pissed at some of the stuff I hear in sermons. It's as if Bible studies train us to hate some of these folks and a lot of the assumption is based on prejudice and assumption. So it is up to yours truly to defend Absalom, Michal, Lot's Wife, Job's Wife and the lot. The question is whether I should be all researchy in the book or just be totally conversational and bitchy.

Also working on My life as an Onion. I'm gonna self-publish this one. Since it's such a weird little book and kind though the Wildside and Prime Books folks are, it's not for them. Nor is it really up the christian pub alley. Yes, i am gonna attempt to mix eroticism, interracial dating, and Korean chaebol tropes with religion and supernatural stuff. Can I do it? Lord knows. But at least I'm gonna try.

Upcoming dramas: Heirs. (It has a way longer title but am too out of it to write it here.)  I looked at the character charts and thought, "Seriously????"

I can let the whole K-drama habit of coincidences go. As a western writer, I'm none too thrilled but I accept the whole A) it's fated for folks to meet and for all of Seoul and Busan to revolve around them   and B) Korean production companies don't have a lotta money (witness the suicides of some of these producers) so they can't have a whole lot of characters. But that chart was...off the charts when it comes to contrivances.

But it's got Lee Min HOT in it and Choi Jin Hyuk and Park Shin Hye.... Yeah, all folks I love. So, I might just force myself to watch it. And who knows? It might be this fall's drama crack.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fantasy travelling blog tour: Evil and the Fantastic

Evil comes in many form. It can be subtle, like a self-loathing thought. It can be impersonal like a famine, man-made like a war. It can be global, like a swarm of alien invaders, or it can be personal where one finds one's self and only one's self turning into a fly. It can be crushing like poverty or falsely joyful like crack cocaine or soma. It can be, invasive and occult like a cancer. It can be deceptive like a double-agent, giving wrong information...like Iago turning all our white to black..or like a demon diguising itself as an angel of light.

I'm a Christian so I guess I'll write about Personalized Personified Evil. There are so many things to hate about evil -- its pettiness, it's selfishness, its delusion, its egotism. But what I have always disliked about evil is its relentlessness, it's ugly, ugly will. As a Christian, I'll say it even more clearly: I hate Satan --him and his ugly, ugly will.

The relentlessness of evil is not fascinating, certainly not in daily life. Although sometimes the great villains -- as in the scifi film Terminator-- are fascinated because they have the human quality of relentlessness.

Sometimes the "evil" is a system --as in The Hunger Games or Stepford Wives
or non-human --as in HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, or TRON, or the MATRIX
or an oligarchy/cult -- as with the nine-headed-hydra of Greek myth or Metropolis or Rosemary's Baby or even Deliverance or of the kind of kin/households one often finds in horror fims --
then the evil must be endured, made powerless, or systematically dismantled section by section. That is structural relentlessness.

Very often, however, the pattern of evil is of the pattern shown in the Bible.
Evil is contained within one Person. That person has control of many systems, minions of differing hierarchy, has A) superior knowledge, B) a rationalized goal, C) the lack of care for those who must be trampled for the completion of the goal, D) total power or near-total power and E) the utter dislike of personal failure. And finally...relentlessness, which is the mental strength to commit to the goal repeatedly and to reassess and recalibrate until the goal is achieved or the evil Person is destroyed.

Jesus described the Devil as one who comes to kill, to steal, to deatroy and the best Biblical representation of evil or Satan is shown in the battle between Moses and Pharoah. The lines are drawn. A good God and and enslaved people on one side and on the other side a relentless Figure of Power who refuses to let the enslaved people go. It doesn't matter how defeated the Figure of Evil (or his minions) are -- the goal is enslavement of another.

The human characters in fantasy can be considered demonic, even though they don't represent the Devil himself. So while there are many evil characters in fantasy who come to kill, steal, and destroy, the fact is an evil character can elicit pity, identification, and fear. We fear evil in the fantastic because we recognize its immensity. We identify with the evil because we see our own flaws in them. And we pity the evil (sometimes) because we recognize that at one point or another, we were stopped by a greater power or we realized our own powerlessness.

Other posts on this topic can be found here:

http://warrenrochelle.com/2013/09/30/great-fantasy-traveling-roundtable-blog-september-2013-evil-and-the-fantastic/

Warren Rochelle has taught English at the University of Mary Washington since 2000. His short story, "The Golden Boy” (published in The Silver Gryphon) was a Finalist for the 2004 Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Story and his novels include The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010. He also published a critical work on Le Guin and has academic articles in various journals and essay collections.

Theresa Crater has published two contemporary fantasies, Beneath the Hallowed Hill & Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently “White Moon” in Riding the Moon and “Bringing the Waters” in The Aether Age:  Helios. She’s also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner and their two cats. Visit her website athttp://theresacrater.com 

Andrea K Höst was born in Sweden but raised in Australia.  She writes fantasy and science fantasy, and enjoys creating stories which give her female characters something more to do than wait for rescue.  See: www.andreakhost.com

 I began writing professionally in 1982 as Deborah Wheeler with JAYDIUM and NORTHLIGHT, and short stories in ASIMOV'S, F & SF, REALMS OF FANTASY and STAR WARS: TALES FROM JABBA'S PALACE. Now under my birth name, Ross, I am continuing the" Darkover" series of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, as well as original work, including the fantasy trilogy THE SEVEN-PETALED SHIELD. I'm a member of Book View Cafe. I've lived in France, worked for a cardiologist, studied Hebrew, yoga and kung fu, and am active in the local Jewish and Quaker communities.
 http://deborahjross.blogspot.com/

Sylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia. She writes fantasy and SF set in analogue or alternate Australian settings. She has published six fantasy novels, two of which were finalists for best fantasy novel of the year in the Australian Aurealis genre fiction awards, and some short stories in Australian and US anthologies. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Stronghold #67 and #68

Stronghold #67: Out of the frying pan into the fire

Okay, so there I was lying in bed awake -- as usual--

And pondering: Why do I always think things will get worse if I move? Or if my son is healed?

Is it really a fear of change?
If I create a negative possiblity --only negative possibilities-- then stasis is a good thing.

Is it a kind of perverse Calvinism?
I'm not a Calvinist by any means but it would appear that my heart has a Calvinistic streak when it comes to dealing with getting out of pain, the fear that getting out of pain (or my son's getting out of his pain) might be a bad thing.

In India, some poor beggars in the lower castes break their children's legs to make sure the children aren't tempted to get out of their karma. I've often found myself thinking, "Well, Gabe is sickly --thus he is a good kid-- and perhaps God "knows" that if he had been healthy he would become a thug. Yes, i have thought that.

Is it a failure of imagination due partly to having seen so much negativity that I can't simply imagine better?
Is it a failure of imagining that things can be better? Is it comparison mode? ("Well, after all, there are people out there suffering more than you are, Carole, so accept this? Why expect more?") But comparison mode doesn't work when I think of hos much suffering younger son goes through everyday? And it doesn't work when I consider how much suffering Christ went through that we might have salvation in our spirit, will, soul, mind, body.

I think of Jesus's parable of the feast where "if you give a party, bring in the maim, poor, rejected, etc and all they who cannot repay you." It's two fold: one -- you aren't hoping for recompense from the earth. God will repay you. But also, I suspect that when the poor are well-treated they begin to see that they are worthy of good. They look at the rich potentate's house and they think, "But I can have this as well." It fires up their imagination because before their imaginations were so full of sickness and poverty, they couldn't see clear.

Stronghold #68: The "don't go past your quota" stronghold.

The feeling that one is intruding by asking for something, the feeling that one shouldn't take advantage of love or ask too much of the universe.

It's as if I say to myself, "Okay, you've had enough good for a while."

I remember a week where one good thing happened after another, funny, odd, miraculous thing. And then I seemed to say to myself, "It is all too much. Stop expecting this good stuff to continue." And when I'm asking for some great thing, I think (because I never really had a father) "Who are you to ask for such a big thing? Aren't you intruding?" And it stopped...all that weird wonderful flaky loving stuff from the universe...just stopped. Apparently, some part of my heart must be holding on to the "Carole, you have overstayed your welcome" issue from when I was a kid. I do this with my human non-godly friends as well. Kindness past a certain boundary or amount makes me very uncomfortable. I've started avoiding my friends Lisa and Mike because they are always giving me cakes and food when I visit them. So this wounded heart of mine affects how I receive God's kindness and God's grace as well.

So, it's not as if I limit God. I've kinda moved past limiting God. But I limit his love for me by thinking he's like the horrible relatives who had a quota on the amount of love or kindness I am supposed to receive from them.

When my husband's sister was dying when she was eleven, my father-in-law knelt at the bed and said, "God, I never ask you for anything. And I promise you I'll never ask for anything again if you answer this prayer. Please let my daughter live."

My father-in-law had a tough, Irish-Catholic Father.

I had no father. And when Mama went to the US to earn the Yankee dollar, (even though she paid the relatives money to take care of me, sending them money all the time) the relatives spent the money on themselves -- a good Jamaican life. And yet, I felt like an intruder.

So this is my 68th stronghold. (Actually, I'm not really counting. I just picked a coupla numbers out of the blue)

VERSE FOR ME:
3Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, "The LORD will surely separate me from His people." Nor let the eunuch say, "Behold, I am a dry tree." 4For thus says the LORD, "To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant, 5To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, And a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.… Isaiah 56:3-4

ALSO -- God didn't mind someone latching unto him.
Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. Genesis 5:24

ALSO
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7

So am working on God's love for me, on the idea that God doesn't stint...that God doesn't stint toward me. I might have to re-read Traherne's Centuries because he writes so well about the givingness of God.

But, at least I'm working on this heart of mine. So the prayer/seed can find good ready ground in which to bloom.

Hubby's working on discovering his heart as well. His is "Have I been desperate enough?" There is a difference between desperation and fervency, I guess. And there is also the idea of the flagellants who wanted to show God how terribly fervent they were in their self-loathing. Legalists do bring in the old repentance as penance thing. True repentance just means turning your heart and mind to seeing how much God loves you and how your path moves you away from God's love. But Christians often mix up repentance with penance, and they believe if they have suffered enough or if God feels they have suffered enough, then at last they are worthy enough to be blessed.

Hubby is also pondering the stronghold in his heart of thinking his prayer won't be answered unless he gets his ducks all in a row and does everything necessary to get the healing done. He wants to be fully free in his ability to receive from God without putting these weird requisites on himself or his apacity to receive.

BIBLE VERSE FOR HUBBY: It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God's mercy. Romans 9:16

So...yeah..gonna have to meditate on some wonderful verses about God's unlimited love and and my worthiness.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Truth of the Cross by R C Sproul

The Truth of the Cross
by R C Sproul



  • File Size: 857 KB
  • Print Length: 178 pages
  • Publisher: Reformation Trust Publishing (July 1, 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001YQF3H4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled 


  • Here's the blurb:

    Dr. R.C. Sproul surveys the great work accomplished by Jesus Christ through His crucifixion the redemption of God s people. Dr. Sproul considers the atonement from numerous angles and shows conclusively that the cross was absolutely necessary if anyone was to be saved. Opening the Scriptures, Dr. Sproul shows that God Himself provided salvation by sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross, and the cross was always God s intended method by which to bring salvation. The Truth of the Cross is an uncompromising reminder that the atonement of Christ is an absolutely essential doctrine of the Christian faith, one that should be studied and understood by all believers.


    About the Author

    Dr. R.C. Sproul is the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international multimedia ministry based in Lake Mary, Florida, and can be heard teaching around the United States and overseas on his daily radio program Renewing Your Mind. He also serves as senior minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew s Chapel in Sanford, Florida.

    During his distinguished academic career, Dr. Sproul has helped train men for the ministry as a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary and later at Knox Theological Seminary.

    He is the author of more than sixty books, including The Holiness of God, Chosen by God, What is Reformed Theology?, The Invisible Hand, Faith Alone, and A Taste of Heaven. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.

    His impact on evangelical publishing was recognized in 2007 when the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association presented him with its Jordon Lifetime Achievement Award, which is given in recognition of exceptional contributions to the Christian publishing industry.

    Dr. Sproul and his wife, Vesta, make their home in Longwood, Florida.








    Monday, September 16, 2013

    Sage and Bards Virtual Book Tour: Trails by M J Moore



  • Paperback: 124 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 18, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 149102223X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1491022238

  • Here'sthe blurb:

    A killer who preys on lonely women. A millionaire widow. A dreamy child who lagged behind once too often. A mechanic with a penchant for common girls. Each of them left a trail, and each of those trails was followed. 
     
    Who's trailing you?

    About the Author

    M J Moore was born Melissa Jane Moore in 1972 in Melbourne, Australia. She has been writing horror stories since before she was old enough to read them, but is rather ironically too chicken to watch most horror movies. She still lives in Melbourne, Australia with her son Griff and two small, neurotic dogs.


    The book excerpt (part of a story called Woodland Park) is below.  


     Miss Duff hated finger painting.  She appreciated the need for children to try to express themselves – it cut into time they would otherwise have spent doing it verbally.  The boffins in charge were of the opinion that what children created were self-portraits, but she wasn't a psychiatrist.  She was an educator, and sometimes a warden.  She strolled around the art room, glancing with glazed eyes at each abstract masterpiece.  All she was able to glean from them was that, at this age, children were about as profoundly expressive as blindfolded orang-utans.
    One such orang-utan was Veronica Walsh, although Miss Duff would never have put her in the same category as the rest of them.  To Miss Duff, she was polite, helpful, precocious, adored by her large circle of friends.  What Miss Duff didn't know was that they were all uniformly terrified of her.  Veronica Walsh was what you might call a uniting force; anyone who didn't side with her would soon be forced to.
    ‘Boys and girls,’ Miss Duff paused to allow the incessant chatter to stop, ‘I am going to see Miss Trilby for a moment.  I will be in the very next room.  If I hear any nonsense going on, the child who causes it will spend their lunch hour in here with me, is that understood?’
    All of the children recited the obligatory pledge of obedience, despite the fact that it was clearly directed at one child in particular.
    ‘Wonderful,’ Miss Duff smiled.  She had been gone approximately thirty seconds before Veronica, who today happened to be sitting next to Samantha Stone, seized her opportunity.
    ‘You’re a dummy, that’s why you can’t talk.  My mummy says you shouldn't be at this school.  She says her jacksies are being mishandled,’(this innocent grammatical error went unnoticed by Veronica’s equally ignorant audience, but her words would prove rather prophetic when, at the age of twelve, she would come home early from school to find her mother being bent over the back of the couch by her father’s rather dashing accountant, looking for change).
    Veronica poked Samantha in the back, hard.
    ‘See, she doesn't even feel it.  She is a dummy!’  She picked up a pot of black paint and emptied it onto Samantha’s painting, making a sludgy ruin of what had been a depiction of the cluster of trees that lined the street on which she lived.  But Veronica’s smarmy smile vanished when Miss Duff’s flaming red hair appeared in the glass above the sliding door.
    ‘Thank you, children, for being nice and quiet while I was gone…’
    A shrill, nasal wail arose from the back of the room.
    ‘What on Earth is it?’
    ‘Samantha wrecked my painting!’
    Miss Duff marched over to Veronica’s desk, on top of which sat a piece of butcher’s paper so utterly sodden with black paint that it seemed to float on the surface.  The fact that the strategically placed pencil jar sitting on the paper in front of Samantha didn't quite cover the artist’s name, leaving the letter V plainly visible, escaped her notice.  She took Samantha’s wrist and smacked her hand seven times.  If she felt it, her face wasn't giving it away.
    8.
    Samantha soon found herself adopting this blank expression for much of the school day thanks to her arch nemesis, who was having much more fun manipulating the fortune of her new plaything than those of the hundreds of dolls she shared a room with.  Samantha wasn't the custodian of a great toy collection, but one thing she wasn't wanting for was outdoor playtime.
    When the mercury had retreated to its lowest ebb, the girl could be seen trudging through the snow, a trail of boot prints advertising to all and sundry that her mummy needed a bit more time alone than others.  In the summer, she was lucky to see the inside of the house at all until the moon came out, which was when her father came to fetch her.  On those days, the woodland at the end of Samantha’s street became a country estate, and she was a Princess - her cardboard crown said so.  The country was at war, and it was her duty to tend the castle grounds and guard the oft-sleeping queen until the king returned from battle.
    It was her land and hers alone, but there was no shortage of villains out to steal it from her.  The beak-nosed Lady Millthorpe, from the neighbouring castle of number thirty-two, often threatened to send in her guards, the Welfare Brigade, to capture the princess, but the queen silenced her by sending a scroll instructing her to mind her own fucking business, lest Sir Millthorpe be made aware that his dwindling gold supply was being wagered on the steeds at Newmarket.
    The estate was also home to a large family of faeries called the Dots.  A favourite way to wind down after a hard-days guard duty was to chase the faeries through the shrubbery, race them from flower to flower.  One sunny afternoon Princess Samantha, who could usually be seen lumbering along with the grace of a peg-legged drunk, managed to catch one of the Dots just as it was about to light upon a daisy.  She bent over to catch a breath, grinning triumphantly as her chest heaved.  Then something snapped.
    ‘Hello, Miss; you’re looking very pleased with yourself.’
    The little girl pointed to the creature crawling along the end of her finger.
    ‘Ooh, you've found a ladybird!  They’re lovely aren't they, Miss?’
    She nodded.
    ‘Oh, I do beg your pardon,’ he bowed gravely, ‘Your Highness.’
    The princess grinned.
    The man returned her smile and indulged her further.
    ‘I was taking my lady on a drive through the county in my carriage, you see, and I must have taken a wrong turn.’
    The Princess’s eyes were locked onto a navy blue sleeved arm that was hanging out of the passenger side window of the carriage.  The man grinned.
    ‘You must allow me to make amends.  Tell you what, I’ll give you a lift back to your castle.  Evening will be upon us soon and evil creatures roam these woods after dark.’
    A horn sounded just as he extended his hand.
    ‘Oh, I see your carriage is here.  Oh well,’ he took the princess’s hand and kissed it, ‘Good day, Your Highness.’
    The girl ran in the direction of the honking, loping along.  The man watched after her, waiting for the sound of the retreating engine before returning to his coach and his ‘lady.’  The girl hadn't seen much, as far as he could tell, and for all she knew, his date could have been taking a nap.  Had she been a normal, chatty girl, he would have had an additional reconnaissance and clearance mission to worry about, but he sensed there was a reason she didn't say anything, and it wasn't because she lacked wit.
    9.
    For Samantha, the advantage to being disadvantaged was that nobody expected much of her.  Her father expected her to coast along being herself, her doctor expected her not to cut people, and her mother expected that the medicine the doctor prescribed would knock Samantha out all night and allow her to get drunk in peace.  None of them would have expected Samantha to take a pair of pinking shears to her mattress.  None of them would have expected her to stash her pills in the slit.
    None of them would have expected her to plan out the quickest and safest route from her house to the woodland, and the stranger in the balaclava certainly didn't expect a person he dwarfed physically and intellectually to have the guile to climb out her bedroom window, shimmy down the drainpipe, run past dozens of houses and steal into the woods in the middle of the night to look for a dead body otherwise, he wouldn't have returned.
    10.
    Samantha lay with her eyes closed when her father came in to kiss her on the forehead.  She watched the crack at the bottom of the door for her parent’s bedroom light to go out.  She listened for her mother’s thunderous snoring, the sound that signalled her lapsing into one of her brandy comas.  The killer drove down Steeple Street at a virtual crawl, turned down North Wood Road, then let the car roll until he came to the tree with the distinctive lime green slash painted on the trunk.  Should anyone stumble upon it, they would probably dismiss it as the product of bored urchins and poorly stored house paint, thanks to the red and yellow slashes he painted on several other trees.  As it turned out, the only other people in the woodland that night were a couple of teenagers in a Celica, and they were far too occupied with their own illicit activities to notice.
    If anyone else, say for example local law enforcement, should happen along, it would be the naked girl bouncing on her groaning boyfriend’s lap to the muffled musical accompaniment of Pilot who would attract immediate attention, providing a distraction that would allow enough time to give the second girl to die in the woods today a proper burial.
    Samantha took off her bunny slippers and crept along the hard ground in her bare feet.  She felt perfectly calm.  She turned off her father’s torch as she passed the Celica, not feeling the slightest bit inclined to press her nose up to the window – if people wanted to dance in their cars in the middle of the night,that was their business.  There was something far more intriguing waiting for her at the end of the tracks that stretched beyond the rocking green car, and the person who made them had also inadvertently signposted directions to his whereabouts along an avenue of trees.  She put the torch into the pocket of her shorty pyjamas and allowed the iridescent red and yellow stripes to light her way.
    A mound of soft earth lay directly beneath the single green striped tree, but Samantha would have found the spot without the aid of a marker.  It was the finish line from her race with the faerie.  She had known from attending a couple of funerals with her parents that the woman would be buried, but how to dig her up was something she hadn't considered until now.  When she stuck her hand into the dirt as deeply as she could and touched nothing, she resolved to come back the next night with her father’s trowel.
    She scrambled behind a tree when another car came along, sure her father had gone into her room to check on her and, finding her missing, knew exactly where to begin the search.  She couldn't afford that.  Daddy was her only grown-up advocate, the only thing standing between her and the home for naughty girls her mother wanted to send her to.  When the car got to within a metre of her hiding spot, she let out a quiet breath from behind her hand.  It wasn't Daddy’s bottle green station wagon that momentarily caused pictures of kiddie prison to flash in her mind; it was a black T-bird.  Whenever Daddy took his car in for a quick once-over at the garage, he would always stop to admire the gleaming classic that the boss parked out front for all the world to see.  But it wasn't the man in the grease-stained blue coveralls Samantha last saw lovingly brandishing a polishing rag who stepped out of the car now.  It was his apprentice mechanic, who also happened to be his son.
    The reason Samantha didn't recognise him before was that he was driving a plain old sedan that looked almost exactly like every other plain old sedan in her neighbourhood and came in various shades of brown.  The thought that The Mechanic had taken his father’s car without permission gave an added sense of danger to the adventure that he and, by extension she, was embarking on, and her pulse juddered with the thrill of it all.
    Then the supposedly dead woman The Mechanic had hoisted over his shoulder began to scream, and the excitement was almost too much for the both of them.  He was a muscular man, but the woman very nearly brought him to his knees with a barrage of girly kicks and punches.  His fear soon gave way to anger, tripling his strength and making his victim feel weightless as he picked her up by the shins and swung her face first into the tree trunk that was her predecessor’s makeshift headstone.
    The sickening thud of skull meeting wood, and the consequent thud of the body attached to it hitting the ground wasn't loud enough for anyone not in the immediate vicinity to hear, but The Mechanic still felt a twang of anxiety.  He took five paces away from the body in a southerly direction toward the spot his intuition was leading him.  After a moment’s pause, he darted behind the unmarked tree, ready to make short work of the dumb bastard who’d probably come out here to consume some imported vegetation in the peace and tranquillity of nature, never dreaming that running into the coppers wouldn't be the worst way for his night to end.
    The Mechanic’s vigilance garnered him a cotton ball.  The oddity of the find pricked his curiosity and he picked it up, only to discover that it was a dirty, half-mangled rabbit’s tail.  He tossed the grim talisman over his shoulder with a smirk and went about his business; rabbits were hardly a rarity in these parts, and even the healthy ones didn't have the deftness of hand required to operate a rotary telephone.  He returned to the car and took his father’s tools from the back seat.  With the patience of a surgeon, he cut the body into several dozen manageable pieces, matching each part to the appropriate tool so as not to litter the scene with any more gore.  Once the job was completed to his exacting standards, he took his father’s shovel from the boot of the car and used it to dig up his first victim, then he went over to the unmarked tree and dug a much deeper hole where both ladies could be deposited while the little white rabbit watched him from under the T-Bird.
    11.
    ‘Does Samantha seem different to you?’
    Bill dipped his toast in his tea.
    ‘Bill!’
    ‘Yes?’
    Anne cocked an eyebrow.  ‘Was that a “Yes, what did you say dear?” or was it an affirmative response to my query?’
    Bill sighed.  ‘What did you say, dear?’
    ‘Does Samantha seem different to you?’
    Bill resumed munching on his toast and reading the paper.  ‘In what way?’
    ‘Not that you notice much at all, but she seems more, I don’t know, alive lately.’
    Bill looked across the table at his daughter, then attempted to peruse the paper a third time. ‘That’s because her medication’s worn off by the time you wake up.’
    ‘I walked past her room the other morning, and I could have sworn I...’
    ‘Yes, dear?’
    ‘I saw her talking.’
    Bill looked up again.  ‘Talking.’
    ‘She was asleep, or at least she had her eyes closed, and she was lying on her side, facing the wall.  It was as if she was reciting some sort of mantra.’
    Bill dropped the paper.  ‘Perhaps it’s time you got off the Mother’s Ruin.’
    ‘I only drink to calm my nerves.’
    ‘Any calmer and I’d have to embalm you.’
    Anne bit her lip, and Bill knew he’d gone too far.  ‘She hasn't uttered a syllable for six years, Anne.’
    Anne ripped his plate out from under him and threw it in the sink.


    Sunday, September 08, 2013

    Even if I am deluding myself

    Lately I've been wondering two things.

    The first: Is God really good?
    The second: Does God really love me?

    The first is a temptation that comes to all believers. Indeed, it is the first temptation. Are you sure that there is a kind-heartedness at the center of the universe? (Browning's phrase.)

    Part of my problem is that I was deceived as a kid. Not the Santa deception-then-horrifying-discovery of NOT-Santa that turns many kids off God when they realize the whole world has conspired to create a lie for and against them. No, nothing like that. But I was Jamaican and back when I was growing up Jamaican parents didn't think squat about lying to their kids. They lied in the morning, they lied at noonday, they lied when the sun went down. They did it to control us, to get us out of their way, to terrify us, to appease us. One was always being faced with some stupid uncle laughing in one's face at the success of his deception and at one's gullibility. Or one was faced with disappointment. It was a cultural thing. For this reason I find lying one of the worst sins and the root of all sins.

    So I have always had this nagging feeling that one of these days when I die I will go to heaven and this stupid practical-joke playing God will say, "I was bored and I'm really evil." I sometimes pray to God with this feeling that I really do not trust him. And no, it's not the silly Calvinist fear that God is going to do something bad to you for your "own good" but a feeling that God would do something bad to you because He is just plain evil.

    Then there was the second problem: The worry that God did not love me.

    This stems from yet another personal issue.

    I was once told by my half-sister that my father did not love me. She said it was because I was too dark. To this day I do not look in mirrors and neither do many of my female characters. I don't even look at my driver's license. I will one day accidentally catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror or a glass door and will suddenly be surprised that I'm an old woman with gray hair. (Maybe that's why folks say I look so young..I never see my age passing.)

    Anyway, this great declaration from light-skinned half-sister has entered such a deep part of my being that I am always thinking that I am not loved. I always think people are tolerating me or deceiving me. The reason this doesn't fall into full-blown paranoia is because I am smart enough to keep my fears to myself. But it does leak out into all sorts of situations. There is one website I visit often..and "apparently"" the folks there like me. But I really don't think so. I take their kind words -- about my insight, etc-- with more than a grain of salt. I feel one day it will become quite clear that I am not really loved and the whole website will suddenly make it quite clear to me that I am NOT loved. I am like this on facebook as well, always ready to drop out of facebook if no one comments on my posts. I must say my comments on facebook and my tweets on Twitter are an example of bravery in the face of such incredible fear..but only God and my husband are aware of how nutty and pitifully brave I am when I connect on social media.

    Of course, such a thing cannot be allowed to continue long. I'm 53 after all and I should learn to deal with childhood-created issues.

    So today this morning, I totally fell apart in prayer and said to God: "I am going to believe that you love me, that you are madly enamoured and crazy about me. When I'm on one of the social media, I am going to say to myself: 'I AM LOVED HERE.' I am going to believe you love me, Lord and that you are good to me...even if I am deluding myself. I will err on the side of walking positively through life feeling happy that I am so loved. And if I am deluded at least I will be happy and the paranoia and hurt will go."

    Thus I have fallen into Pascal's wager...but not with faith. I have never had a problem with believing in God's existence. But I have fallen into the wager on the theme of love. So, universe, I am loved. I am loved here. 

    Friday, September 06, 2013

    Do What Jesus Did by Robby Dawkins

    Do What Jesus Did
    by Robby Dawkins


  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Publishing Group (May 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800795571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800795573




  • Here's the blurb:
    A Real-Life Field Guide to Doing What Jesus Did

    The things Jesus did are not just for Bible times. They are for today. For everyone. Chicagoland pastor Robby Dawkins sees this again and again in his ministry to hurting people and even to gang members. Everyday people are seeing God's power unleashed through simple faith in God's Word; they are healing the sick, routing demons, and making a dynamic impact for the Kingdom of God.

    But many other believers are missing out, unaware that they have far more power and authority than they realize.

    Dawkins shares dynamic, real-life instruction and amazing stories from the front lines of ministry, showing that believers carry the authority of the Son of God and the power of the Holy Spirit wherever they are. When we walk in the presence and authority of God, we will do what Jesus did.

    About the Author

    Robby Dawkins, born to missionary parents, knew from a young age that God had called him into ministry. He and his wife, Angie, responded to God's call to plant what is now the Vineyard Church of Aurora, Illinois, which they have pastored since 1996, and which uses power evangelism continuously. He has traveled to over 30 countries, including many Muslim nations, helping build the Church internationally. Robby and Angie have six sons and live in Aurora, Illinois.






    Blog Archive

    Popular Posts